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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0175

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-04-12

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] My Dearest Friend

I hope this will be the last Letter which I shall have occasion to write to you, before I embark for Europe. Uncle Smith has been urgent with me to embrace the present opportunity and take passage on Board Capt. Calihan, and Captn. Callihan has sent me word that he would wait ten days for me, but I cannot think it prudent to embark untill I hear again from you, which I am daily expecting. Not a line has reachd me from you Since yours of November by Mr. Robbins,1 nor have I heard of you since. I am very anxious to know where you are, and how you do!
We have had an uncommon long and severe winter and tho the 12 { 318 } of April it Snows like Janry. All communication Seems to have been cut of for five months past. I wrote you last by way of Lisbon, about 3 weeks ago.2 If I receive letters from you in the course of a few days; I shall embrace the first good opportunity, which offers in May; Mrs. Jones continues in so bad Health that I fear She will never be able to go abroad: there is no prospect of my being able to be accommodated to any place but London.3
Mr. Winslow Warren to whom I commit this Letter is a passenger on board Captn. Callihan; it would have been agreeable to me to have accompanied him. He appears an amiable modest young Gentleman and I hope will succeed abroad: he is going to fix himself in Lisbon. Our Friends4 will lose their 3d son, Charles who is far gone in a Hectick.
And now I have adjusted all my affairs and determined upon comeing out, I summon all my resolution that I may behave with fortitude upon the occasion. The Hope, the Soothing flattering hope of meeting my dearest best Friend rejoiced, and rejoiceing with him, buoys me up, and supports my Spirits in parting with my Dear connexions.

“one sacred oath has tied our Loves

one destiny our Lives Shall guide

nor wild nor deep our common way divide

My thoughts are fixed, my latest wish depend

On thee Guide, Gaurdian, Husband, Lover, Friend.”

I derive a pleasure from the regret of others, a pleasure which perhaps I might never have experienced if I had not been called to quit my Country, the blessing and regret of the poor and the needy, who bewail my going away. The World furnishes us with real objects of Charity where ever we are placed, but the circle around me have been particularly necessitous through this long and severe winter. The real want of employment has multiplied the necessities of those, who are disposed to industery; and willing to obtain a livelihood by their Labour; and the expence of fire wood through this winter has far exceeded the ability of the widow, and the Fatherless. Much happier should I be if my abilities were such as would enable me to be more extensively usefull; that I might Streatch out my hand to the needy, and manifest the Law of kindness which is written upon my Heart.
With regard to politicks I hardly know what to write you. Our { 319 } General Court resembles the Parliments of Charles 2d. and James the 2d. By that time it has set a few days, it gets so turbulent that there is no manageing of it. Commutation, taxation, and Tories, set them all in a Flame. You know this people, they will Squable a while but do right in the end, when once they comprehend the whole System and are rightly informd they will submit. We have had our Anual meeting in this Town. The Govenour had the Majority of votes, but many persons at the meeting publickly declared that they voted for him upon no other principal, than that of keeping him in untill an other gentleman should return. I told Some of the persons who mentiond this to me, that however that gentleman might be flatterd by their good opinion of him, yet he would not approve of the principal, upon which they acted,—Since if a better Man was to be had, it was their duty as good citizens to Elect him, without favour or affection to any other. But there is a Town pride as well as a national pride, and they plume themselves that Braintree has given Birth to such Great Men, that the first Govenour of the common Wealth originated from them, that their foreign minister originated from this Town, and they say; God willing that their second Govenour shall be a Native of this Town too.5
Who can withstand the Majesty of the people! Our Brother Cranch had the vote here for Senator.6 We hope for a House chosen upon more liberal principals than the last. The passions of the people with regard to refugees are much cooler than they were, and I am ready to think they will attend to the Spirit of the Treaty and perform it with good Faith. But we have Some among us who love to fish in troubled waters, and who are more wroth at being neglected than at the measures of Goverment on any other account.
Remember me tenderly to our Son to whom I wrote by way of Lisbon.7 I press our Daughter to write and hope she will. Our Sons I heard are well. A Letter from Charles last week.8 His Aunt in speaking of him says, he studies as if he considerd the importance of Time. Tom, a Rogue loves his Birds and his Doves, makes bad Lattin9 and says as he grows older he shall grow wiser. Adieu my dear Friend and believe me ever ever Your affectionate
[signed] Portia
RC (Adams Papers); docketed twice, virtually identically, by CFA : “Portia April 12th 1784.”
1. Of 8 Nov. ( first and second letters two letters ), and probably also that of 18 Nov. 1783, all above.
2. On 15 March, above.
3. That is, ships from Boston were sailing only to England; AA could find no ships going to Holland ( AA to JQA , 25 April, below).
{ 320 }
4. James and Mercy Warren.
5. See AA to JA , 7 April 1783, and note 9, above. Gov. John Hancock, like JA , was born in Braintree, but moved to Boston at age nine, after his father's death, to be raised by his uncle ( Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 13:416).
6. But he did not succeed in the countywide vote. Cotton Tufts was reelected a senator from Suffolk County (Mass., Acts and Laws , 1784–1785, p. 197.)
7. On [ca. 15 March] , above.
8. Not found; see Elizabeth Shaw to AA , 26 March, above.
9. This directly contradicts the Rev. Shaw's opinion, as stated to AA by Elizabeth Shaw, 26 March, above.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0176

Author: Gerry, Elbridge
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1784-04-16

Elbridge Gerry to Abigail Adams

I am this day, Madam, favoured with your Letter of the 19th. of March, and embrace the earliest Oppertunity of informing You, that it is highly probable, Congress will make their Arrangements, for negotiating commercial Treaties this Week. The Subject has several Months been prepared, for Deliberation, but this has been prevented by the Want of a full Representation; untill of late, there being eleven States on the Floor, the Matter has been much discussed. I think it not improbable, that the Report, which provides, that a Number of commercial Negotiations shall be set on Foot, under the joint Direction of Messrs. Adams Franklin and Jay, will be accepted; upon our consenting that Mr. Jefferson of Virginia, who has an excellent character, and has been always on the most friendly Terms with Mr. Adams, shall be added to the Commissioners. I cannot however Madam, give You the fullest Assurance on this head, as some States are opposed to the augmenting the Number of the Ministers, and seem to insist on accepting the Resignation of Doctor Franklin, and on appointing Governor Jefferson to fill the Vacancy. This is a point, I should be disposed to push, was it practicable; but as I know it is not, at the present Crisis, the Addition appears to me a desirable object, more especially as Mr. Jay will probably return.1
Under these Circumstances, unless You have particular Reasons for wishing to take passage in Capt. Callahan it may be best to have every Thing in Readiness to embark on the shortest Notice, but not to engage positively to take a Cabin; lest, when the Ship is ready for the Sea, You should find the Measure inconvenient. If the Matter should be thus conducted, and You receive no further Information, You can proceed or not, as You may judge expedient; and should You determine in the Negative, You will probably not loose much Time, by taking Passage in the next Vessel, and will have an equal Chance for favorable Weather.
{ 321 }
I am very unhappy, to hear of the Death of Colo. Quincey. He was [a] Gentleman for whom I had the greatest Respect, and I sincerely condole with the Ladies of his Family and with all his Friends.
I have been somewhat explicit on the Subject of your going to Europe, that You may give our Friend some Information by Callahan, should You not proceed in his Vessel, and that Mr. Jay may be thus prevented, if possible, from returning. I would write a Line to Mr. Adams with the greatest Pleasure, but I have a dozen Letters to answer by this post, and must defer the Matter, untill I can give him more satisfactory Information.2
Inclosed is the Pamphlet You have mentioned,3 Mr. Jennings' two Publications are here, but they exceed the Bulk admitted to be carryed by the post, under the Denomination of a packet. I remain Madam with perfect Esteem & Respect, your most obt. & very hum ser
[signed] E Gerry
Neither Doctor Lee, nor Mr. Osgood are in Congress, the first has made an Excursion to Virginia; the other You will probably see at Braintree.
1. This report, presented by a committee composed of Jefferson, Gerry, and Hugh Williamson, was read in Congress on 22 Dec. 1783. As printed in the Journal at that date, the text has Jay's name crossed out as a commissioner, and Jefferson's added. The report was recommitted on 22 Jan., reported again on 4 March, recommitted on 12 April, and reported again on 14 April ( JCC , 25:821–828). Finally, on 7 May the Congress, having been informed by Franklin's letter of 9 March that John Jay definitely intended to return to America, elected Jay secretary for foreign affairs, and named Jefferson to replace him as a commissioner. It then granted the three commissioners, Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson, “or the greater part of them,” specific powers to negotiate treaties of commerce with sixteen nations, and approved detailed instructions for them (same, 26:355–362). Gerry reported this final action in a brief note to AA on 7 May (Adams Papers), declaring that “Mr. Adams, Docter Franklin and Mr. Jefferson are appointed in the Order mentioned,” and thought their new responsibilities would keep them abroad for “about two Years.” The order of appointment on this commission was of great importance to JA . He had complained in Oct. 1779, in a letter to Gerry that he never sent, that Congress had placed his name after that of Arthur Lee in the three-man commission of 1778–1779, even though he had done far more in service to his country than either Lee, ranked third in the commission of 1776–1778, or Silas Deane, the second-ranked commissioner, whom he replaced. In this same letter, JA voiced his irritation that Congress was placing John Jay, minister to Spain, above him in rank as a diplomat, although Jay, too, had achieved far less than he had. The latter complaint, however, was based on a misunderstanding that was soon cleared up (JA, Papers , 8:213–214). More important in 1784, of course, was the fact that Congress had renewed the first-place position that JA had held on the peace commission of 1781–1783, and thereby confirmed his clear precedence over his archrival, Franklin.
2. Gerry wrote to JA at length on 16 June (Adams Papers).
3. Enclosure not found, but see AA to Gerry, 19 March, and note 4, above.