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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 7


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Docno: ADMS-04-07-02-0181

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Jefferson, Thomas
Date: 1787-01-29

Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson

[salute] My dear sir

I received by Col Franks Your obliging favour1 and am very sorry to find your wrist Still continues lame. I have known very Salutary effects produced by the use of British oil upon a spraind joint. I have Sent a Servant to See if I can procure some. You may rest assured that if it does no good: it will not do any injury.
With regard to the Tumults in my Native state which you inquire about, I wish I could say that report had exagerated them. It is too true Sir that they have been carried to so allarming a Height as to stop the Courts of Justice in several Counties. Ignorant, wrestless desperadoes, without conscience or principals, have led a deluded multitude to follow their standard, under pretence of grievences which have no existance but in their immaginations. Some of them were crying out for a paper currency, some for an equal distribution of property, some were for annihilating all debts, others complaning that the Senate was a useless Branch of Government, that the Court of common Pleas was unnecessary, and that the Sitting of the General Court in Boston was a grieveince. By this list you will see, the materials which compose this Rebellion, and the necessity there is of the wisest and most vigorous measures to quell and suppress it. { 456 } Instead of that laudible Spirit which you approve, which makes a people watchfull over their Liberties and alert in the defence of them, these Mobish insurgents are for sapping the foundation, and distroying the whole fabrick at once. But as these people make only a small part of the State, when compared to the more Sensible and judicious, and altho they create a just allarm, and give much trouble and uneasiness, I cannot help flattering myself that they will prove Sallutary to the state at large, by leading to an investigation of the causes which have produced these commotions. Luxery and extravagance both in furniture and dress had pervaded all orders of our Countrymen and women, and was hastning fast to Sap their independance by involving every class of citizens in distress, and accumulating debts upon them which they were unable to discharge. Vanity was becoming a more powerfull principal than Patriotism. The lower order of the community were prest for taxes, and tho possest of landed property they were unable to answer the Demand. Whilst those who possesst Money were fearfull of lending, least the mad cry of the Mob2 should force the Legislature upon a measure very different from the touch of Midas.
By the papers I send you, you will see the benificial effects already produced, an act of the Legislature laying duties of 15 pr cent upon many articles of British manufacture and totally prohibiting others.3 A Number of Vollunteers Lawyers Physicians and Merchants from Boston made up a party of Light horse commanded by col Hitchbourn Leit col Jackson and Higgonson, and went out in persuit of the insurgents and were fortunate enough to take 3 of their Principal Leaders, Shattucks Parker and Page. Shattucks defended himself and was wounded in his knee with a broadsword. He is in Jail in Boston and will no doubt be made an example of.4
Your request my dear sir with respect to your daughter shall be punctually attended to, and you may be assured of every attention in my power towards her.
You will be so kind as to present my Love to Miss Jefferson, compliments to the Marquiss and his Lady. I am really conscience Smitten that I have never written to that amiable Lady, whose politeness and attention to me deserved my acknowledgment.
The little balance which you Stated in a former Letter in my favour,5 when an opportunity offers I should like to have in Black Lace at about 8 or 9 Livres pr Ell. Tho late in the Month, I hope it will not be thought out of season to offer my best wishes for the Health Long Life and prosperity of yourself and family, or { 457 } to assure you of the Sincere Esteem and Friendship with which I am Yours &c &c
[signed] A Adams
RC (DLC: Jefferson Papers); addressed by Col. David S. Frank Franks : “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Paris”; endorsed: “Mrs. Adams.” Dft (Adams Papers).
1. Probably Jefferson to AA , 21 Dec. 1786, above. Jefferson also wrote to AA on 7 Jan., but that letter has not been found (Jefferson, Papers , 11:24).
2. The Dft has “the cry of the people” in place of “the mad cry of the Mob.”
3. In the Dft , the paragraph begins, “The disturbances which have taken place have roused from their Leathargy the Supine and the Indolent animated the Brave and taught wisdom to our Rulers.” On 17 Nov. 1786, the Massachusetts legislature passed “An Act to Raise a Public Revenue by Impost,” which placed impost taxes ranging from 1 to 15 percent on various goods and prohibited outright the importation of others (Mass., Acts and Laws , Acts of 1786, Sept. sess., ch. 48). The paper was probably the Boston Independent Chronicle, 30 Nov., which reported this information.
4. The Dft arranges the first three sentences found in the RC paragraph somewhat differently and identifies Lt. Col. (Jonathan) Jackson as a man Jefferson had met in France and Lt. Col. (Stephen) Higginson as a former member of Congress before closing with the sentence: “It is not unlikly that some examples must be made before the riots will be totally quelled and peace and good orderd restored.”
5. Probably Jefferson to AA , 9 Aug. 1786, above, showing a balance of £6.11.11 1/2 due to AA .

Docno: ADMS-04-07-02-0182

Author: Tufts, Cotton
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1787-02-06

Cotton Tufts to Abigail Adams

Col. Jacob Davis not long since called upon me for the Payment of one of the Lots of Land in Vermont State which you recd. a Deed of and was not paid for, by his Brother Ebenr Davis whom he empowered for that Purpose. I accordingly paid it, he requested Interest from the Time the Deed was given, I did not conceive myself authorized to allow it as You did not give me any directions relative to it. He said it was customary and supposed You would allow it if present. As he desired me to mention it to You I wish You to write to me in your Next on the Subject. I also paid him £6. 8. 0 for Taxes on the Four Rights. The Tenure on which you hold these Rights, does not appear to me sufficiently secure. Mr. Davis could not give me any particular Information relative to them. I believe I must take Mastr. Charles or Thos in some Vacation and make a Tour there and see to the Safe recording &c of them. A very good Plan, but when shall I get Leisure.1
The Legislature have at length found it necessary to declare Rebellion existing in the Commonwealth. An Army under Genl Lincoln is employed to crush it.2 A few Days will in great Measure determine whether We shall have the Constitution remain or not. { 458 } Whether we shall have Law and Justice administerd or not. A strange Infatuation has seized a great part of the People, Should I say two Thirds of the whole Body. It would not be far from the Truth. I flatter myself notwithstanding that their Eyes will be opened very soon and their Minds Yield to Conviction. <this Evil I have As> Sufficient Addresses have made to their Interests these have been in Vain. An Address to their Fears, is now tried, and I trust will be the only succesful Advocate.
The Insurgents under Shays and the other <officers> Heads of the Army have not been much short of 3000. They have however crumbled away from Day to Day, since Genl Lincolns appearance in the Western Counties. After their Dispersion at Petersham (of which you have an Account in the News Papers new sent3 and which News came to hand (this Moment)) their Number appeared to be about 940, and they were shaping their Course to the County of Berkshire. The March of Genl Lincoln last Saturday Evening from Hadley and reaching Petersham the next Morning by 9 oc was perhaps as great an Enterprize as as ever been undertaken. A Snow Storm when they set out, followed about One or Two Clock the same Night with a Shift of Wind and excessive cold the Wind blowing like a Hurricane, till they reachd Petersham, suffering more with the blowing of the Snow and the severe cold, than can possibly be conceived off but by those who have been in similar Circumstances; no proper Place to halt for Refreshment. Yet they persevered with out murmuring, till they reached Petersham, a March of 30 Miles. Many were frost bitten.
Shays with about 100 Men is said to be at Chesterfield in Newhampshire State—the riot dispersed. Gen. Lincoln is gone into the County of Berkshire, with his Army. The Insurgents there will probably submit, without much Difficulty. We have ordered two or three Regiments to be kept up for 3 or 4 months. And I hope we shall by and by get into a more orderly State. Should this Insurrection or rather Rebellion have prevailed here, it would undoubtedly have run through all the States. As the Papers will give You a particular Acctt. of the doings of the Genl Court and of Genl Lincolns' Movements, I refer you to them for further Information.
{ 459 }
Mr. John dind with me yesterday,4 he is solicitous of knowing with whom he is to purrsue his Studies in the Law after Commencement. If Mr. Adams has any particular Instructor in view, that he would prefer before any other and will give timely Notice, We shall pursue his orders, otherwise we shall act according to our best Discretion. At present We think that at least Part of the Three Years Study, may be under some Gentleman in the Country (or rather out of Boston): the Expence Less, and Advantages equal. I have consulted with several Gentleman and shall make every Enquiry that I think necessary to form a Result beneficial to your Son and to your Interest.
The aforegoing has been wrote by Piece Meals, as I could catch an opportunity, and you must excuse the Errors of Your affectionate Friend and H sert
[signed] C Tufts
Pray remember me to Mr Adams Mr and Mrs Smith.
Your Children here and all Friends well.
RC (Adams Papers). Tufts also produced “Minutes of a Letter wrote to Mrs. Adams” in which he summarized the details of this letter and added the note, “Sent this Lettr. by Capt Folger”; filmed at 8 Feb. 1787, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 369.
1. In early 1782, AA arranged to purchase five 330-acre lots in Salem Township (now Derby and Newport, Orleans County), Vt., from Col. Jacob Davis of Worcester, who headed a group settling the area. She paid for four of the lots then, and obligated herself to pay for the fifth “in a few months,” holding off on making full payment until the title to the land could be made more secure (vol. 4:315, 316–317, 345 ; AA to Tufts, 29 April, Adams Papers).
2. On 4 Feb., the same day that it formally acknowledged the existence of a rebellion in western Massachusetts, the General Court belatedly recommended to Gov. James Bowdoin that he authorize Gen. Benjamin Lincoln to either enlist new members or extend the enlistments of current members of the Massachusetts militia, so that it could continue its work of suppressing the rebellion (Mass., Acts and Laws , Resolves of 1786, Jan. sess., ch. 5, 6).
3. Probably the Massachusetts Centinel, 7 Feb., which printed a 4 Feb. letter from General Lincoln at Petersham that had arrived in Boston on 6 February. The letter describes Lincoln's progress in dispersing the insurgents, who had begun to retreat after Lincoln took nearly 150 of them as prisoners.
4. JQA dined with Tufts and Richard Cranch at James Foster's ( Diary , 2:157, where he is misidentified as Joseph Foster).