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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 8

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The Adams Papers

Series IISeries II
Adams Family Correspondence

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Adams Family Correspondence

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Volume 8 • March 1787 – December 1789

The Belknap Press
of Harvard University Press
Cambridge, Massachusetts
and London, England
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This edition of The Adams Papers
is sponsored by the
Massachusetts Historical Society
to which the Adams Manuscript Trust
by a deed of gift dated 4 April 1956
gave ultimate custody of the personal and public papers
written, accumulated, and preserved over a span of three centuries
by the Adams family of Massachusetts
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The Adams Papers

Administrative Committee
John Adams
Margery Adams
Levin H. Campbell
W. Dean Eastman
Joseph J. Ellis
Lilian Handlin
Edward C. Johnson 3d
Henry Lee
Pauline Maier
Zick Rubin
Hiller B. Zobel
Editorial Advisory Committee
Joyce O. Appleby
Bernard Bailyn
David Herbert Donald
Linda K. Kerber
Thomas K. McCraw
Gordon S. Wood
The acorn and oakleaf device on the preceding page is redrawn from a seal cut for John Quincy Adams after 1830. The motto is from Cæcilius Statius as quoted by Cicero in the First Tusculan Disputation: Serit arbores quæ alteri seculo prosint (“He plants trees for the benefit of later generations”).
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[Note: for permissions reasons, not all illustrations from the letterpress volumes are available in this digital edition.]

Descriptive List of Illustrations

1. Mary Rutledge Smith, by George Romney, 1786   14  
Mary Rutledge (1747–1832), the younger daughter of Dr. John Rutledge and Sarah Hext, married Charleston merchant Roger Moore Smith (1745–1805) in 1768. Mary's brothers John and Edward represented South Carolina in the Continental Congress and both later served as governor of that state. Roger, himself from a prominent mercantile family, made his early fortune in the slave trade. Their marriage produced thirteen children, only seven of whom survived infancy (South Carolina Genealogies: Articles from the South Carolina Historical (and Genealogical) Magazine, 5 vols., Spartanburg, S.C., 1983, 4:10–11, 132; DAB; N. Louise Bailey and others, eds., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina Senate, 1776–1985, 3 vols., Columbia, S.C., 1986, 3:1507–1508).  
Mary traveled to London in 1785 so her children could receive the benefits of an English education. In 1786, she posed for a full-length portrait with her infant son Edward Nutt Smith (1785–1786) at the London studio of George Romney (1734–1802), a renowned English portrait painter. Members of elite society sought after Romney's refined and elegant artistic style, and at twenty guineas for a three-quarter length portrait, he charged considerably less than other well-known portrait artists. Romney became known for his portraits of families and children, and the depiction of Mary and her son captures the maternal bond as well as Mary's noted beauty. The artist also exhibits his technical skill in the rendering of varied surface textures, including the satin of Mary's dress, her elegantly coiffed hair, and the fine detail of the lace. The baby is posed with a piece of fruit, typically a symbol of life and vitality; sadly, he died not long after the completion of the painting (Maurie D. McInnis, ed., In Pursuit of Refinement: Charlestonians Abroad, 1740–1860, Columbia, S.C., 1999, p. 132; Grove Dicy. of Art).  
Courtesy of the Historic Charleston Foundation.  
2. Peacefield, by E. Malcom, 1798   90  
“We have come into a house not half repaired, and I own myself most sadly disappointed,” Abigail Adams wrote to her daughter in July 1788. “In height and breadth, it feels like a wren's house. Ever since I came, we have had such a swarm of carpenters, masons, farmers, as have almost distracted me—every thing all at once, with miserable assistance” (to AA2, 7 July 1788, below).  
The house that would become John and Abigail's permanent residence was built about 1731 by Maj. Leonard Vassall (1678–1737), a West Indies sugar planter, who willed the property to his daughter { x } Anna Vassall Borland and her husband John Borland (1728–1775). After her husband's death, the loyalist Anna Borland fled to England, but her family reclaimed the house following the war. Royall Tyler then bought the property, perhaps with plans to make it a home for himself and Abigail Adams 2d, but he defaulted when Nabby broke off their engagement and his relationship with the Adamses soured. In September 1787, Cotton Tufts negotiated the purchase of the house and 83 acres for John and Abigail (vol. 3:264–266; Charles E. Peterson, The Adams Mansion, Quincy, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, 1963, p. 9–20).  
Despite Abigail's initial disappointment about the state of the property, she and John grew to love the house. John wrote in his Diary on 8 September 1796: “I think to christen my Place by the Name of Peace field, in commemoration of the Peace which I assisted in making in 1783, of the thirteen Years Peace and Neutrality which I have contributed to preserve, and of the constant Peace and Tranquility which I have enjoyed in this Residence.” The name would be supplanted later by “Montezillo,” or “Little Hill,” a self-deprecating allusion to Jefferson's Monticello. The most enduring name for the Adams family residence has simply been “the Old House” (JA, D&A, 1:74–75, 3:247–248).  
The earliest known depiction of the house is this 1798 wash drawing by E. Malcom of New York. Nothing more is known of the artist. The building shown to the rear is an older farmhouse fitted out as a wood house with three arched doorways, a structure that no longer exists. The property is now owned by the U.S. National Park Service, which has operated the Adams National Historical Park as a museum since 1946 (Wilhelmina S. Harris, Furnishings Report of the Old House, The Adams National Historic Site, Quincy, Massachusetts, 10 vols., Quincy, 1966–1974, 2:177, 9:822–823).  
Courtesy of the Adams National Historical Park.  
3. Quincy Coat of Arms, by Eliza Susan Quincy, 1822   154  
A visit to Winchester, England, in the summer of 1787 prompted Abigail Adams to contemplate her Quincy roots in a letter home to her sister. Abigail reported that a Saer de Quincy, 1st Earl of Winchester (d. 1219), was one of the Magna Carta barons and might be a forebear: “They bear the same Arms with those of our Ancesters except that ours Substituded an animal for the crest in lieu, of an Earls coronet. . . . You will Smile at my Zeal, perhaps on this occasion, but can it be wonderd at, that I should wish to Trace an Ancesstor amongst the Signers of Magna Carta” (to Mary Smith Cranch, 15 Sept. [1787], below; DNB).  
Abigail's hope proved unfounded; rather, the American Quincy family probably descends from William Quincy of Aldwynkle, Northampton (ca. 1485–1550). Nonetheless, Abigail's American ancestors did use the Earl of Winchester's coat of arms. In the eighteenth century, Judge Edmund Quincy (1681–1738) installed an engraved stone on the family plot in the Braintree burial ground that bore the coat of arms of Saer de Quincy's son. The memorial { xi } was broken during the Revolution and removed entirely in 1812 (George Bellew, “English Ancestry of the Quincy Family,” NEHGR, 92:30–31 [Jan. 1938]).  
In 1822, the stone was reassembled and sketched by descendant Eliza Susan Quincy (1798–1884), a fourth cousin of John Quincy Adams and his siblings. Quincy was an historian, artist, and ardent protector of the family name. An obituary lauded “her intense interest in the historical past of her native New England, and of the family of which she was a member, her wonderfully retentive memory, her thorough knowledge of facts and dates, her indomitable perseverance and self-renouncing devotion” (NEHGR, 38:145–146 [April 1884]; MHi:Quincy Family Papers).  
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.  
4. Advertisement for Sayer's Bathing Machine, 1791   157  
The burgeoning eighteenth-century trend in therapeutic and recreational sea bathing required a bathing machine—a small, horse-drawn vehicle with two doors. The bather would enter at one end, change into bathing clothes, and be carried down to the sea to step out into the water through the other door. Benjamin Beale, a Quaker, was credited with inventing the bathing machine at Margate in 1750. By 1780, twenty bathing machines were registered at Margate with double that number by 1800. The use of bathing machines persisted at some English resorts into the early twentieth century with very little change to the original design.  
The 1791 trade card for the Sayer bathing machines and seaside lodgings advertises, “For Bathing in the Sea at Margate, John & Mercy Sayer late Partners with Mr. Beale have good accommodations for Bathing, Where Favours confer'd on them will be gratefully acknowledg'd Mr. Sayer will attend ye Gentlemen & Mrs. Sayer ye Ladies as usual NB: By ye Favour of a Letter Lodgings & Stabling will be Provided.” Like John and Mercy Sayer, local families offered lodgings for rent and advertised their services as bathing “guides.”  
The bathing machine depicted in Sayer's advertisement returning to the bathing house could transport five to six people and a guide. Decency required that the bathers be submerged in a proper depth of water and shielded from public view by a tent on the back of each machine. Strictly enforced rules for the use of bathing machines separated male and female swimmers from each other by at least 60 feet, and all were expected to dress in heavy cloaks.  
Abigail “tried the experiment” of sea bathing while in Southampton, England, and reported to her sister, “the places are under cover, you have a woman for a Guide, a small dressing room to yourself an oil cloth cap, a flannel Gown and socks for the feet.” Quite taken with the experience, Abigail lamented that “such conveniencys” were not available in Massachusetts' coastal towns (to Mary Smith Cranch, 15 Sept. [1787], below). Many years later, John Quincy Adams also developed a fondness for the water, but foregoing such modesty, he sometimes swam in the nude (Martin { xii } Stanton, “Sea Bathing at Margate,” History Today, 33:21–23 [July 1983]; John K. Walton, The English Seaside Resort: A Social History 1750–1914, N.Y., 1983, p. 159, 182; Lynn Hudson Parsons, John Quincy Adams, Madison, Wis., 1998, p. 154, 177, 266).  
Courtesy of the Balnea Museum, Rimini, Italy.  
5. “A North View of Blenheim House And Park in the County of Oxford,” by John Boydell, 1752   181  
When Abigail Adams visited Blenheim Castle in Oxford County, England, in the summer of 1787, she wrote six pages of superlatives about it to her niece Lucy Cranch: “This Castle is upon the Grandest scale of any thing I have ever yet seen. We enter the park through a spacious and elegant portal of the Corinthian order, from whence a Noble prospect is opend to the palace, the Bridge the Lake, with its valley, and other beautifull Scenes.” She could not say enough about its decorations and furnishings, paintings and sculpture, vistas and gardens—and its romantic history (3 Oct. 1787, below). Built over two decades beginning in 1705 on land gifted to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, by the British government, Blenheim was in the eighteenth century and is still today one of the most spectacular estates in England.  
In the foreground of this illustration is the Doric “Column of Victory,” which Henry Herbert, 9th Earl of Pembroke, and Roger Morris designed and built between 1727 and 1730. Standing 130 feet tall, the column is crowned by a statue of the Duke of Marlborough done by Robert Pit. Henry St. John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke, wrote the inscription on the base (after Alexander Pope refused the work), which tells of the duke's victory at the Battle of Blenheim.  
John Boydell (1719–1804) began his career as an engraver of landscapes, of which this image is a typical example. He also worked as a printer and publisher, through which he amassed a considerable fortune. His most noteworthy undertaking was the publication of a series of prints illustrating Shakespeare's plays, based on original pieces by English artists, a project designed to promote British art abroad (Christopher Hibbert, The Marlboroughs: John and Sarah Churchill, 1650–1744, N.Y., 2001, p. 162, 170–171, 340–341; DNB).  
Courtesy of the British Library.  
6. “A View of the Tryal of Warren Hastings Esqr.,” by Robert Pollard and Francis Jukes, 1789   237  
The corruption trial of Warren Hastings, the first governor-general of India, began on 13 February 1788 and was the subject of intense interest in London. Multitudes attended the hearings in Westminster Hall, including Abigail Adams. “There is at present sitting here one of the most august Assemblies that this country can convene,” she wrote to Cotton Tufts on 20 February. “The House of commons the House of Lord's the Bishops the judges &C all convened in { xiii } westmister Hall for the Trial of Warren Hastings. about Two thousand persons half of whom are Ladies, attend this trial every day. it is opened with the utmost order & continued with the greatest regularity, & no person admitted to it, but with Tickets which are not very easily procured. as a Foreign ministers Lady I have had a Seat in the Box appropriated for them, and have had the pleasure of hearing mr Burk speak 3 hours” (below).  
The London Times of the same day confirmed that tickets were highly prized. “Before eleven, not a seat was to be obtained,” the newspaper reported. “The box allotted for the Royal Family, and the Prince of Wales's Box, were both full at a very early hour,—each, from the first Peeress in the realm, to the lowest rank of individuals, equally anxious to hear the oratory of the Speaker, and the fate of the decision.”  
Warren Hastings (1732–1818) went to India as a merchant in 1750. Working his way through the ranks of the colonial government, he was appointed its first governor-general. After twelve years of service, he left the post in 1785 and retired to England, but he soon faced corruption and bribery charges initiated by a bitter political rival, Philip Francis, whom Hastings had wounded in a duel in 1780. Francis' cause was championed by Edmund Burke and Charles James Fox and resulted in Hastings' impeachment. Although Abigail judged Hastings guilty, after a protracted trial of seven years' duration, he was acquitted of all charges on 23 April 1795 (DNB; Jeremy Bernstein, Dawning of the Raj: The Life and Trials of Warren Hastings, Chicago, 2000, p. 39, 82, 158–161, 165, 177, 263–264).  
This engraving by Robert Pollard (ca. 1755–1838) depicts the trial in session on 13 February 1788 but was issued a year later. Pollard had been engraving since 1771 and often employed Francis Jukes (1745–1812) to aquatint his prints. The Hastings trial print is based on a drawing by Edward Dayes (1763–1804), a Royal Academy artist who favored classical and Biblical scenes but also created topographical and scenic work for the London market (Grove Dicy. of Art).  
Courtesy of the British Library.  
7. Mrs. Henry Knox, ca. 1790   264  
Lucy Flucker (1756–1824), daughter of Thomas Flucker, royal secretary of Massachusetts, first encountered the future general Henry Knox when she frequented his Boston bookstore prior to the Revolution. “A young lady of high intellectual endowments, very fond of books, and especially the books sold by Knox,” Lucy fell in love. She and Henry married in 1774 against her family's wishes; Thomas Flucker, a tory, disapproved of his son-in-law's patriot leanings. By all accounts, the Knoxes had a happy marriage, despite hardships and lengthy separations during the Revolutionary War. Later, they were considered one of the leading couples in the new government and their home a social center. Together, they had twelve children, though only three survived to adulthood.  
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This amateur painted silhouette is attributed to one of the sons of Robert Morris, the financier, and was done in Philadelphia around 1790—at the same time Henry Knox was serving as secretary of war. While obviously a caricature, this illustration does demonstrate two of Lucy Knox's most commonly noted features: her girth and her hair. Abigail Adams Smith remarked to her mother in mid-1788 that “Mrs. Knox is much altered from the character she used to have. She is neat in her dress, attentive to her family, and very fond of her children. But her size is enormous; I am frightened when I look at her; I verily believe that her waist is as large as three of yours, at least” (15 June 1788, below). Likewise, Manasseh Cutler commented in his journal: “Mrs. Knox is very gross, but her manners are easy and agreeable. She is sociable, and would be agreeable, were it not for her affected singularity in dressing her hair. She seems to mimic the military style, which to me is very disgusting in a female. Her hair in front is craped at least a foot high, much in the form of a churn bottom upward, and topped off with a wire skeleton in the same form, covered with black gauze, which hangs in streamers down to her back.” Nonetheless, given her genial nature, Lucy Knox probably enjoyed this gently mocking representation (Francis S. Drake, Life and Correspondence of Henry Knox, Boston, 1873, p. 16–17, 63, 66, 101–102, 111, 118, 125–126).  
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.  
8. The Needles, Isle of Wight, by William Westall, ca. 1835   268  
The Needles, located on the far western tip of the Isle of Wight, are a geological formation of three 100-foot tall white pointed rocks. An awe-inspiring sight, the Needles mark a notoriously hazardous passage of choppy seas and jagged rocks. The American minister plenipotentiary Richard Rush marveled at the spectacle during his passage in 1817 and noted, “the most exact steering seemed necessary to save the ship from the sharp rocks that compress the waters into the narrow strait below” (Richard Rush, Memoranda of a Residence at the Court of London, Phila., 1833, p. 27–28). A lighthouse, constructed high on a rocky bluff, guided the passage of John and Abigail Adams around the Needles in 1788 on their journey home to Massachusetts.  
This watercolor by William Westall (1781–1850), dated around 1835, captures the sublime rocky coastline, with crashing waves in the foreground and a horizon dominated by the Needles' craggy chalk stacks. Westall's interest in topographical views inspired the subject matter of most of his works, and the Needles provided the artist with a unique opportunity to capture an evolving landscape. A solitary pillar of rock, known as Lot's Wife, once dominated the center of the formation but tumbled down in 1764; further erosion reduced a stratified archway to the small column and first rock on the left of the painting (William Henry Davenport Adams, The Isle of Wight: Its History, Topography, and Antiquities, London, 1882, p. 232–234).  
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Benjamin West recommended the eighteen-year-old Westall to serve as the landscape artist for an expedition to Australia commanded by Matthew Flinders, thus launching Westall's art career. His drawings from this voyage and subsequent trips to China and India were exhibited in England, and in 1812, Westall was inducted as an associate of the Royal Academy (DNB).  
Courtesy of a private collection.  
9. “Federal Hall, the Seat of Congress,” by Amos Doolittle, 1790   342  
On 30 April 1789, “the Great and illustrious Washington, the favourite son of liberty, and deliverer of his country, entered upon the execution of the office of First Magistrate of the United States of America.” This first presidential inauguration marked the formal beginning of the U.S. government under the new Constitution. In a carefully staged ceremony, George Washington, accompanied by John Adams and numerous senators and representatives, stood on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City to take the oath of office as given by Robert R. Livingston, chancellor of the State of New York. The decision was made to have the ceremony on the balcony “to the end that the oath of office may be administered to the President in the most public manner, and that the greatest number of the people of the United States, and without distinction, may be witnesses to the solemnity.” After the ceremony and a speech by Washington, the entire party adjourned to St. Paul's Chapel for a service conducted by the chaplain of Congress (New York Daily Gazette, 1 May 1789).  
This printed engraving by Amos Doolittle, issued in 1790 after a painting by Peter Lacour, is the only known contemporary rendering of this momentous occasion. Doolittle (1754–1832) was a self-taught engraver from New Haven, Connecticut, who produced portraits, maps, book illustrations, and, most notably, a collection of four pieces on the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Lacour was probably Pierre Lacour (1745–1814), a French painter and director of the Academy of Bordeaux who was best known for his historical and religious works. His original sketch or painting is apparently not extant (DAB; Stokes, Iconography of Manhattan, 3:537–539; Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale).  
Courtesy of the I. N. Phelps Stokes Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library.  
10. Richmond Hill, by Cornelius Tiebout, 1790   352  
In May 1789, John Adams rented the house known as Richmond Hill to serve as his residence in New York City while vice president. Located on the west side of New York facing the Hudson River in what is now Greenwich Village, it had previously been used as George Washington's headquarters early in the Revolutionary War. In later years, Aaron Burr and John Jacob Astor both owned the { xvi } home for a time. After being moved, then converted to a theater, it was demolished in 1849 (Stokes, Iconography of Manhattan, 1:416–417).  
As soon as John moved in, he encouraged Abigail to come along with their son Charles, and also invited Abigail 2d, William Stephens Smith, and their two children—William Steuben and John Adams Smith—to join them. Niece Louisa Smith arrived with Abigail in late June.  
Abigail was enamored of the home as soon as she saw it, particularly loving its rural setting. She wrote to her sister Mary Cranch, “The House is situated upon a high Hill which commands a most extensive prospect, on one side we have a view of the city & of Long Island, the River in Front, Jersy and the adjasant Country on the other side, you Turn a litle from the Road and enter a Gate a winding Road with trees in clumps leads you to the House, and all round the House, it looks wild and Rural as uncultivated Nature” (12 July 1789, below). A contemporary account agreed with her assessment: “It is beautifully situated, near the city of New-York, on the Banks of the Hudson. . . . The venerable oaks, and broken ground, covered with wild shrubs, give it a very romantic air” (New York Magazine, June 1790, p. 317).  
This illustration by Cornelius Tiebout (1777–1832), a young New York engraver, was originally published in the New York Magazine in June 1790. Abigail was not entirely pleased with the rendering, believing that “the great Beauty could not be taken upon so small a scale. . . . How I regret the thoughts of quitting it” (AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 4 July 1790, AA, New Letters, p. 54; DAB).  
Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society.  
11. “The Washington Family,” by Edward Savage, 1789–1796   381  
In 1789, two of Martha Washington's grandchildren accompanied her to New York: Eleanor “Nelly” Parke Custis (1779–1852) and George Washington Parke Custis (1781–1857). Her two other grandchildren, Elizabeth and Martha Custis, remained in Virginia. All four were the children of Martha Washington's son by her first marriage, John Parke Custis, and his wife Eleanor Calvert Custis (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series, 1:4–5).  
The Washington Family, by Edward Savage, depicts a life-sized George and Martha Washington, along with their two grandchildren, Nelly and George Washington Parke, and a family slave, Billy Lee. Savage (1761–1817) was a respected engraver, painter, and museum proprietor. He initially composed individual portraits of the children in New York in 1789, then combined them with bust portraits of George and Martha Washington to create the family composition in Philadelphia in 1796. The face of each figure is carefully detailed, but the composite nature of the painting results in the family's lack of eye contact. Savage's technical skills as an engraver were superior to his brushwork as a painter; consequently, his figures appear slightly wooden.  
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Abigail Adams noted that “mrs Washington is a most frindly good Lady, always pleasent and easy doatingly fond of her Grandchildren to whom she is quite the Grandmamma” (to Mary Smith Cranch, 11 Oct. 1789, below). While the inclusion of the children in the portrait certainly suggests the closeness of the family that Abigail observed, only minimal interaction takes place between the figures. Martha Washington holds a corner of a plan for the new capital city while her granddaughter unrolls the opposite edge. George Washington sits across from her with his sword and hat close by; his grandson rests his hand atop a globe. In this way, the Washingtons play the dual role of devoted parents to their adopted children and their country.  
Although Savage completed other portraits of George Washington, this family painting is his best-known work and was widely distributed as an engraving. A 17 March 1798 advertisement in the Gazette of the United States offered “an elegant Engraving” depicting “General Washington and his Lady (two capital likenesses) sitting at a table on which lies a plan of the Federal City” (Edward Savage, Exhibition of the Important Oil Painting, Washington and His Family, N.Y., 1892, p. 24–27; Grove Dicy. of Art; MHS, Procs., 19:9–11 [Jan. 1905]).  
Courtesy of Andrew W. Mellon Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.  
12. “The Republican Court (Lady Washington's Reception day),” by Daniel Huntington, 1861–1865   398  
Throughout her husband's presidency, Martha Washington opened her home to polite society for Friday evening levees. While primarily a gathering for ladies, the president frequently appeared at these events and conversed freely with the women in attendance. Abigail Adams characterized the nature of the receptions in a 1791 letter to Cotton Tufts: “On fryday Evenings mrs washington has a drawing Room which is usually very full of the well Born and well Bred. Some times it is as full as her Britanick majesties Room, & with quite as Handsome Ladies, and as polite courtiers” (6 Feb. [1791], Adams Papers). Abigail hosted levees of her own once a week, and while an invitation was not required to attend, it was understood that only members of the social elite were welcome (AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 9 Aug. 1789, below).  
Created during a four-year period between 1861 and 1865 in the midst of the Civil War, The Republican Court (Lady Washington's Reception Day) celebrated an earlier period of American unity. Daniel Huntington (1816–1906), an internationally known artist, had exhibited at major art institutions in the United States and at the Royal Academy in London and made a lasting contribution to the art world as a founder and vice president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For The Republican Court, he combined his interests in portraiture and history painting; the image includes 64 individual portraits of Revolutionary era political figures and their { xviii } wives. As a tribute to early national high society, the belles of the republican court—including the alluring Anne Bingham and Sarah Livingston Jay, both friends of Abigail's—occupy the very center of the painting, while other politically influential figures from this era are relegated to the outer edges of the crowd. All are present to pay their regards to Martha Washington on her raised dais, including Abigail Adams on the far left and John Adams shown fourth from the left. Given Huntington's desire to pay tribute to an era, rather than a specific event, some of his guests at the reception are anachronistic, including Nathanael Greene and Arthur Middleton, both of whom died before Washington took office (Karal Ann Marling, George Washington Slept Here: Colonial Revivals and American Culture, 1876–1986, Cambridge, 1988, p. 47, 49; Grove Dicy. of Art; Description of Mr. Huntington's Picture of Lady Washington's Reception Day, N.Y., n.d., p. 2).  
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.  
13. Park Row and St. Paul's Chapel, New York, by Charles Milbourne, 1798   415  
“I have sometimes gone to St Pauls,” Abigail Adams wrote to Mary Cranch in October 1789, three months after moving to New York. “There I find much more liberal discourses, but bred a desenter and approveing that mode of worship, I feel a reluctance at changing.” She attended the Episcopal St. Paul's Chapel after tiring of the sermons of substitute preachers at the Presbyterian Church of New York. “They address their Audience with so much self importance, and Priestly despotisim, that I am really surprizd at their having any men of sense and abilities for their hearers” (4 Oct. 1789, below).  
At St. Paul's, Abigail likely heard the sermons of Bishop Samuel Provoost (1742–1815). Provoost was appointed assistant minister of New York's Trinity Church in 1766, but he resigned in 1771 when his patriotic sermons raised the ire of loyalist members. After the evacuation of the British from New York, he returned to the city and his former parish. Trinity Church had burned in 1776, so Provoost was appointed to officiate at its ancillary St. Paul's and St. George's chapels. In 1786, he was elected the first Episcopal bishop of New York. On 30 April 1789, Provoost conducted services at St. Paul's in celebration of George Washington's inauguration (DAB).  
Local stone was used to construct St. Paul's Chapel between 1764 and 1766. Manhattan's third Episcopal church building is traditionally attributed to Scottish architect Thomas McBean and resembles St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London's Trafalgar Square, the masterpiece of McBean's mentor James Gibbs. St. Paul's tower was designed by James C. Lawrence and added in 1794, and so was not present when Abigail Adams attended. Today St. Paul's is Manhattan's oldest surviving church (having narrowly escaped destruction on 11 September 2001 when the neighboring World Trade Center collapsed around it) and is considered one of the nation's finest examples of Georgian architecture (Morgan Dix, Historical { xix } Recollections of S. Paul's Chapel, New York, N.Y., 1867, p. 25–26; Andrew S. Dolkart and Matthew A. Postal, Guide to New York City Landmarks, 3d rev. edn., Hoboken, N.J., 2004, p. 23–24).  
Charles Milbourne painted this watercolor of St. Paul's in 1798. He emigrated from London in 1792 and worked as a theater-scene painter and landscape artist in Philadelphia and New York until 1816. In April 1794 New York Magazine lauded Milbourne's work: “The paintings and scenery are equal to the generality of the European, and do the greatest credit to the pencil and genius of Mr. Milbourne” (Martin P. Snyder, City of Independence: Views of Philadelphia before 1800, N.Y., 1975, p. 194–196; William Young, ed. and comp., A Dictionary of American Artists, Sculptors and Engravers, Cambridge, 1968).  
Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society.  
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The years from March 1787 to December 1789 covered by volume 8 of the Adams Family Correspondence represent an important transitional period for the Adams family. These letters chronicle John and Abigail Adams' final year in London and the beginning of their time as central actors in the United States government under the new Constitution. They also describe important changes in the lives of the Adams children, especially Abigail 2d's new experiences as a wife and mother, and John Quincy's graduation from college and the beginning of his legal training.
Because of these changes, the correspondence printed here provides a particularly rich view of this complex period in American history. It offers perspectives on the debates over the new Constitution from both Europe and America, from those directly involved in the ratification process and those observing from the sidelines. But as always with the family correspondence, these letters also comment on more intimate social and domestic issues, dealing with such diverse topics as education, travel, household management, matchmaking, and childbirth.
Once again, as in previous volumes in the Adams Family Correspondence series, fully 80 percent of the letters are written to or by Abigail Adams; roughly a quarter of those are letters to or from her sisters, Mary Smith Cranch and Elizabeth Smith Shaw. Their correspondence is especially vivid during Abigail's final year in London, but it also resumed in full force in mid-1789 when Abigail relocated to New York City. Mary and Elizabeth continued to be her eyes and ears in Massachusetts, reporting on the family's well-being, other household concerns, and local and national political news. They rejoiced with Abigail in the Adams children's successes and took on the difficult task of conveying the news of loved ones lost. Abigail in turn shared her private hopes and fears with her sisters and entrusted them with the responsibility of caring for her family in her absence.
The other major letter writers include John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Abigail Adams Smith, though all three found their time { xxii } for correspondence curtailed by other responsibilities: John's writing A Defence of the Constitutions, John Quincy's schooling, and Nabby's new role as mother. In particular, John Quincy and Nabby discontinued the lengthy journal-letters by which they had maintained their transatlantic communication. Now both in America, they continued to write to one another, albeit more sporadically, thus providing some perspective from the younger members of the family. And as they came into their own as adults within the family, their insights into national affairs matured accordingly.

1. Returning to America

By early 1787, John and Abigail Adams had begun to make plans to move back to America. While Abigail had generally enjoyed her years abroad, the European lifestyle had lost its appeal. This, combined with the ongoing difficulties of serving as the wife of the first United States minister to Great Britain and increasing concern for the political turmoil within the United States, made her ready to go home. On 24 January 1787, John tendered his resignation to Congress, and by early March, Abigail wrote to her sister Elizabeth, “I hope to see you in the course of an other Year, as we are determined to return to America and share the fate of our Country whether she stand firm like mount Atlass—or make it treason to harbour an Idea that she will fall.”1
Of course, such a departure could not be effected immediately. John had been in Europe for eight years and Abigail for three; it would be another year—and an active one for the family—before the Adamses finally set sail for Massachusetts. In April, they welcomed their first grandchild when William Steuben Smith was born to Nabby and William Stephens Smith. Abigail was quite giddy with delight over this event, gushing to her niece, “I am a Grandmamma! my Grandson be sure is a fine Boy, & I already feel as fond of him as if he was my own son, nay I can hardly persuade myself that he is not.” Nabby came through the birth relatively well and was able to “dine below” three weeks later. With the aid of an especially attentive nurse—“the best Nurses I ever saw,” according to Abigail, one of the rare situations in which she found the British way better than { xxiii } the American—Nabby took to raising her son with her usual quiet enthusiasm.2
The family continued to socialize in London, albeit somewhat curtailed by Nabby's lying-in period and Abigail's recurring ill health. Nonetheless, Abigail found time to attend a series of scientific lectures, as always embracing an opportunity for the more formal education she had been denied earlier in life.3 In June, Mary Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson's younger daughter, paid the Adamses a visit while en route to Paris to join her father and sister. This gave Abigail an opportunity to mother another young girl—a project she embraced with great zeal, perhaps recognizing and mourning somewhat the fact that her own daughter had moved on to another stage of life—and also introduced her to a young woman destined to play an important role in Jefferson lore, Sally Hemings. The teenage Hemings was chosen to escort Mary Jefferson from Virginia to Europe after an older slave was unable to make the voyage. Abigail did not think much of Hemings, complaining that she “wants more care than the child, and is wholy incapable of looking properly after her.” Unstated but doubtless present was also Abigail's continuing skepticism over slavery in general, as either a moral or effective labor system.4
The Adamses found time to travel as well, taking an extended holiday along the west coast of England, visiting Axminster, Exeter, and Plymouth. The primary reason for the trip was Abigail's ill health. “I have been very frequently ill through the Spring & Summer,” she complained to her sister Elizabeth, “and am advised to this journey as a restoritive.” The family toured southwestern England for a month, covering over 600 miles and visiting such noteworthy sights as Blenheim Palace and Winchester Cathedral. As Abigail always did when she traveled, she kept a type of travel diary through her letters to her sisters and nieces, tartly observing and commenting not merely on the usual tourist sights but also on the people, customs, economy, and social practices of the areas she visited.5
John's public work led him on other excursions, to the Netherlands to negotiate two additional loans from the Dutch to keep the { xxiv } American government afloat, and to Portsmouth to chase down counterfeiters of American currency.6 He also made further progress during this time on his A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, the first volume of which received favorable reviews in Europe and America in the spring of 1787. Richard Cranch, Abigail's brother-in-law, informed John that his book “is eagarly read by Gentlemen of all the learned Professions here. It came to America at a very critical Moment just before the Meeting of the grand Convention at Philadelphia for revising and amending the Confederation. . . . I have my self conversed with many Gentlemen here of the first Rank for Learning and Abilities, who, after reading your Book with great attention, gave it as their Opinion that you have supported your System of the Ballance in a most masterly manner.”7 John completed the second volume in September and a third in February 1788. While the work distracted John from other letter writing, he considered the topic too important to let go: “I cannot get mr Adams to write half the Letters I want him to,” Abigail complained to her sister Mary, “He is so buisily employd about his Books, I tell him he will ruin himself in Publishing his Books, he says they are for the Benefit of his Country, and he allways expected to be ruind in her service.”8 While still in England, John was clearly already focused on the situation back in the United States and anticipating the political battles that would ensue over the creation of a new government.
Returning to America required dealing with a number of practical considerations. At the advice of Mary Cranch, who wisely realized that their old home would never adequately accommodate them, the Adamses assigned Cotton Tufts, their agent, the task of locating a new house for them in Braintree. Mary had watched over the Adamses' home while they had been away in Europe but warned them, “you can never live in that house when you return it is not large enough. you cannot crowd your Sons into a little bed by the side of yours now, & you will never inlarg it.” She suggested that Abigail instruct Tufts to acquire the Vassall-Borland estate to serve as their new home, and in fact mentioned it to him before writing to the { xxv } Adamses on the subject. With John and Abigail's approval, Tufts purchased the house in September 1787.9 Ironically, the previous owner had been none other than Royall Tyler, Nabby's estranged former fiancé, who defaulted on the purchase of the house shortly after the couple broke off their engagement. This home, named Peacefield by Abigail and John, and commonly called the Old House by later generations of Adamses, remained the family's estate into the twentieth century.
While Tufts served as their agent on the ground, Abigail played an active role from afar in preparing the house, issuing specific instructions on its furnishings and decoration. “The east lower room to be painted what is calld a French Grey,” Abigail ordered, “and as the furniture is red, a paper conformable, will look best. the Chamber over it will have Green furniture, and may be in the same manner, made uniform by a paper Green & white.” Not even the style of locks and chimney backs were details too minor for Abigail's keen eye and exacting standards. She also saw to the concerns of the broader household, assigning long-time servant (and former slave) Phoebe Abdee to take charge of the dairy, making recommendations to Tufts for tenants and farmhands, and determining specific plantings for the gardens.10
After considerable planning, formal leave-taking from the Court of St. James, and good-byes to friends in England and to the Smiths, who were themselves leaving for New York, the Adamses finally began their voyage home in spring of 1788. It was not without its starts and stops. They were delayed first at Portsmouth and then again at Cowes, waiting for their ship to arrive, their baggage to be loaded, and for favorable winds to sail. The crossing itself was tumultuous. Their ship, the Lucretia, had barely gone beyond Weymouth when it was forced back to port by high winds; after a week there, Abigail reported to Nabby, “the wind changed, and we sailed with a northeaster; this lasted us just long enough to carry us out of the channel, when the west wind set in, and alternately we have had a violent blow, squalls, and then calms, from that day to the present.” On 17 June, two and a half months after departing from London, the Adamses finally reached Boston, where Gov. John Hancock { xxvi } and many others formally welcomed them home to their native land.11
Despite this warm reception, the transition back to American life was not always easy for Abigail. The Vassall-Borland estate, while spacious by Braintree's standards, seemed to Abigail a mere “wren's house” compared with the Adamses' mansion at Auteuil, France, and their gracious home at Grosvenor Square in London. Abigail warned her daughter Nabby that if she and William Stephens Smith were to visit from Long Island, New York, where they had settled, “be sure you wear no feathers, and let Col. Smith come without heels to his shoes, or he will not be able to walk upright.”12
But while the physical surroundings in Braintree did not always suit her, the opportunity to be back home, amidst her extended family, certainly did. Abigail expressed no regrets for making her European tour, but she also did not hesitate to state her preference: “I have never spent half so many pleasent hours in Europe, in the same space of time, as I have known at the foot of pens Hill.”13 If the house was too small and the travel inconvenient, John's uncertain political future frustrating and their finances worrying, the blessing of family and friends so nearby, the sheer familiarity of her dear Massachusetts, more than made up for it.

2. Becoming Adults

While John and Abigail wrestled with all the implications of their return to America, the Adams children, too, were facing new challenges in their lives. The Puritan tradition in New England deemed that a son had not reached full adulthood until he had both a calling and a wife. By the late eighteenth century, however, the path to reaching that point had become increasingly complex. Consequently, the line between child and adult had begun to blur—and John Quincy, Charles, and shortly Thomas Boylston found themselves moving into that fuzzy in-between: no longer children but not self-supporting and fully adult either.14
{ xxvii }
John Quincy remains the most prominent brother in the Adams Family Correspondence. While Charles and Thomas Boylston are largely known from the words of others (no letters of theirs have been found for this time period), John Quincy appears in his own voice, as well as through the writings of other family members. As the eldest son, he faced the highest expectations—and in general succeeded in living up to them. Ironically, however, trying to be the best and the brightest sometimes left him single-mindedly focused on his schooling to the exclusion of a more rounded life, which in turn became a cause for some concern within his family. If anything, Abigail worried that he would become too obsessed with his studies, to his own detriment: “I fear a little that my Eldest son will be so much of a Book worm & Scholar that he will grow too neglegent of those attentions which are due to the World, & which tho they may appear little, & trifling, much of our happiness is found by experience to depend upon them.”15
But his hard work paid off. Despite John Quincy's anxieties prior to the day itself—“oh Lord! oh Lord,” he prayed, “I hope it will rain hard that all their white wigs may be wet who would not let us have a private commencment”—he performed admirably at his Harvard graduation exercises in July 1787. Elizabeth Shaw recognized that he might not have been the best speaker of the day (that honor went to one Nathaniel Freeman) but still believed that “the admirers of dignity of Sentiment, & Composition would at least have debated upon the Preference— I am sure no one could be a Judge of Mr Adam's Eloquence unless they kept their Eye fixed upon his Face, & saw each Passion, & each Feeling called up, & most strikingly, & happily delineated there.”16 After graduation, he took only a brief vacation before moving to Newburyport to begin his legal training with the noted attorney Theophilus Parsons.
John Quincy found life in Newburyport and the study of law more congenial than he had expected. “The study itself,” he noted to his mother, “is far from being so destitute of entertainment, as I { xxviii } had been led to expect.” But prone to anxiety, John Quincy could not stop himself from fretting over the state of the legal profession and his own financial difficulties. His repeated need to request money from Cotton Tufts (acting as agent for John Quincy's parents) clearly mortified and frustrated him—he yearned to be independent and self-sufficient. On more than one occasion, his sister Nabby had to chide him out of his depression: “It gives me uneasiness my Dear Brother to observe from the tenor of your letter that you permit the Cross accidents of Life to affect your spirits too much, true Philosophy does not Consist in being insensible to them, but in supporting ourselvs above them with becomeing dignity, and in acquiessing with chearfullness to those events which are irremidable, and by striving to attain such a Station in Life as we may not be subjected to their influence.”17 His self-pity and occasional difficulties aside, by 1789, John Quincy was well on his way to a successful legal career.
Not everything went so smoothly for the younger sons. Charles found himself embroiled in a Thanksgiving day riot at Harvard in the fall of 1787, although it is not clear if he was an active participant or merely an unwitting witness (from his post as a dining-hall waiter) who took the blame rather than betray his friends by testifying against them. Either way, there were other indications of troubles. Cotton Tufts found that “some Imprudencies (at least) had given Countenance to Suspicion” about Charles' character and behavior. A year later, John Quincy felt the need to give Charles a serious talking to upon some unnamed misconduct: “I wrote him a very serious Letter three weeks ago and conversed with him at Haverhill upon the subject in such a manner as must I think lead him to be more cautious.” Hints to the problem exist in letters from Abigail and Mary Cranch, both of whom expressed concern over the company Charles had been keeping.18
The family made the decision in May 1789 to bring Charles to New York even before his formal graduation from Harvard later that year, and to situate him in a law office—first that of Alexander Hamilton and later, once Hamilton became secretary of the treasury, that of John Laurance—right away. There he seemed to settle down and { xxix } worked hard; his mother noted that he “will not go into any company but such as his Father or col Smith introduces him to. he appears steady and sedate & I hope will continue so.” Abigail seemed anxious to reassure the family back in Massachusetts that he was once again behaving appropriately.19
The extant correspondence offers no direct explanation for the family's concerns about Charles beyond worry for the people with whom he associated. One possible explanation, however, is that he had begun to frequent taverns and drink excessively. Alcoholism plays a recurring role within the Adams family, and the family may have been especially sensitive to Charles' nascent problems in the wake of another family tragedy—the death of Abigail's brother, William Smith. A long-time alcoholic who had repeatedly deserted his wife, Smith died of jaundice in September 1787. At the time, he was estranged from all of his sisters, none of whom learned of his fatal illness until it was too late. His death provided the three sisters with an opportunity to contemplate both William's failings and how such a troubled man could have been raised in the same household with them. As Elizabeth Shaw put it, “The same air, we breathed—the same cradle rocked us to rest—& the same Parental Arms folded us to their fond Bosoms—& who can refrain full many a Tear at such a Death!”20
Thomas Boylston Adams remains in this volume the least noticed of the three sons. Also a student at Harvard (he would not graduate until 1790), he was apparently much beloved by his aunt Elizabeth Shaw and the other residents of Haverhill, who raised him while his parents lived overseas in Europe. By all accounts he was a respectable, well-behaved student, but references to him are unfortunately relatively rare, leaving a less clear picture of his character than exists for his other siblings.
The first extant letter from Abigail to her youngest son was written in March 1787 and reflects a typical parent's concern for her child's moral development: “Nature has implanted in the humane { xxx } mind nice sensibilities of moral rectitude and a natural love of excellent & given to it powers capable of infinate improvement and the state of things is so constituded that Labour well bestowed & properly directed always produces valuable Effects. the resolution you have taken of persueing such a conduct as shall redound to your own honour & that of your family is truly commendable.” But Abigail also did not hesitate to recommend more prosaic and practical skills for her son, including that he improve his handwriting and “learn the use of arms.” Clearly still a child in his family's eyes, Thomas Boylston was the furthest away from achieving full independence.21
All three boys benefited from the care and concern of their aunts, Mary Cranch and Elizabeth Shaw. In Abigail's absence, they provided John Quincy, Charles, and Thomas Boylston with clothing, places to stay during the school vacancies, and much love and affection. Both sisters fretted over the boys' health and well-being, particularly that of John Quincy, who was prone to overwork and neglect himself if no one intervened. Mary wrote to Abigail of one such bout: “His staying at cambridge during the winter vacancy was of no service to his Health whatever it may have been to his mind. He look'd so pale & wan when he came home this spring that I was not a little alarm'd about him. . . . His complants are wholly oweing to want of air & exercise & too great an attention to his studys.”22
Abigail's sisters similarly watched over the romantic lives of the Adams brothers, concerned lest the boys marry in haste and repent at leisure. Elizabeth Shaw especially was attuned to the boys' changing interests, which she dutifully reported to Abigail. Elizabeth confessed that she had been “very anxious for your young Hercules, lest his Heart might be subdued by One whom I knew his riper Judgment, could never approve.” Fortunately, John Quincy himself was able to reassure her: “Indeed my Aunt (said he) I know you have been concerned for me, but you need not have the least fearful Apprehensions with regard to this Lady, for though I was exceedingly pleased at first, yet I have lived long enough with her to know her Principles, & see into the motives of her Conduct, & the Lord knows, she is not the Person who would engage my Affections.”23
{ xxxi }
Charles, too, had his interests, to judge by the number of hair rings Mary Cranch found in his pockets. “But my dear,” she reported her conversation with Charles to Abigail, “have you left her any hair upon her head if all the rings you have are made of her hair you must have thin'd it a little at least.” The middle brother also had noteworthy good looks: “The Misses think Charles a mere Adonis—a perfect Beauty,” his aunt Elizabeth shared with Abigail. She added—then crossed out—the additional hope that “Minerva with her broad Sheild, preserve the dear Youth, from every Guile.” Fortunately, Charles was apparently too busy flirting with various girls for the aunts to worry that he might settle down with just one. Thomas Boylston, by contrast, wanted no part of this nonsense. Mary observed that “honest Tom he does not think that the Ladys need so much attention—'is sure that they have Legs as well as he & may walk without leaning upon his arm.'”24 Regardless of how quickly the boys matured, they remained fortunate to have a caring extended family to watch over them.
The situation for Abigail 2d was somewhat different. As a married woman and a mother, she was unquestionably an adult, even as she continued at times to live in her parents' homes, first in London and later in New York.25 This new stage of life still certainly contained its challenges. Like her mother, Nabby was quickly confronted with one familiar difficulty of marriage to a diplomat: long separations. Mere weeks after the birth of their first child, Nabby's husband William Stephens Smith departed for a four-month trip to Portugal to deliver a message to the queen from the United States government. As Abigail noted to her sister, “it is the first seperation even of a day since he was married. Mrs Smith thought it a Sad affliction. She has not been innured like her mamma, and I hope she never may to such long dangerous & painfull seperations. she however behaved well when it came really to the trial.”26
Also, Nabby's allegiances had to change, a process she (and the Adamses) sometimes found difficult. While Abigail was overseeing { xxxii } her and John's relocation to Massachusetts, Nabby was navigating a similar transition for her young family to New York, William's home state. They left England in the spring of 1788, arriving in New York City in late May. They settled into a home on Long Island, near the Smith family, and quickly found themselves immersed in the New York social scene. But Nabby's separation from her parents and siblings was not easy for any of them. She repeatedly encouraged them to come and visit her, bemoaning to John Quincy that “this seperation of families which prevents us from paying to each other those attentions which our affection would dictate is to me the most painfull circumstance in Life.”27 Still, Nabby had other activities to keep her occupied: she built close relationships with her new Smith relatives and, in November 1788, gave birth to her second child, John Adams Smith.
Some early concerns also arose around William Stephens Smith, whose disinclination to settle into a profession in New York worried his ever-ambitious in-laws. Smith had already had a distinguished career, first in the military and then in the American diplomatic corps, but his seeming contentedness to rest on his laurels did not sit well with John and Abigail. John felt strongly that William should pursue a career in law—like his father-in-law—and did not hesitate to make this recommendation to Nabby. William was less in a hurry to settle on a profession and felt to some extent entitled to a public office, given his earlier service to the nation.28 This conflict would continue to fester for many years and lead to tensions between the Smiths and Adamses. For the moment, however, both families were content to wait and see what new circumstances New York and the new government there would bring.

3. The New Government

In the wake of Shays' Rebellion and other signs of dysfunction within the Articles of Confederation, Americans began during this time to move toward restructuring the federal system to create a stronger central government. As keen observers of the troubles in Massachusetts, the Adamses supported this action, though John's distance from Philadelphia, where the Constitutional Convention { xxxiii } met, reduced substantially his influence on the process. Still, they followed events as closely as they could with a mixture of hope and anxiety. Abigail, writing to John Quincy, mused: “I wish most sincerely that the meeting of our Convention which is to take place this month, may reform abuses, Reconcile parties, give energy to Government & stability to the States, but I sometimes fear we Must experience new Revollutions, before we shall set under our vines in peace.”29
News from the family back home significantly shaped the Adamses' perspective on circumstances in America. Mary and Richard Cranch, Cotton Tufts, and John Quincy faithfully reported on the aftermath of Shays' Rebellion in Massachusetts, commenting especially on the spring 1787 elections to the General Court, which repudiated many of the actions the Massachusetts government had previously taken to suppress the rebellion. As Cotton Tufts noted, “The Spirit of the Day has brought into public Life Characters that in sober Times would have been hissed off the Stage and been expelled as Members unfit to grace the Seats of Legislaters.” Tufts reported derisively the election not only of some who had supported Shays' Rebellion but also, going further back in time, of loyalists who had opposed the Revolution altogether.30
The results of the Constitutional Convention, announced in September 1787, created an entirely new political firestorm as Federalists and Antifederalists vied for support during the ratification process. Again, Cotton Tufts weighed in to Abigail: “The System of Government reported by the late Continental Convention has afforded much Matter for Pens and Tongues. . . . which of the Parties will carry their Point, is difficult to say— Many of the Advocates for the Constitution are enthusiastic open & severe in their Attacks upon all that oppose it, those on the other Side act more secretly, but with great Success.” John disliked some aspects of the new Constitution but argued strongly “for accepting the present Plan as it is and trying the Experiment. at a future Time Amendments may be made.”31 He had seen firsthand in Europe the difficulties created by a weak central government in America and longed for some improvement, even if the new system was not perfect.
{ xxxiv }
John initially rejected the idea that he would take any new public position once he had resigned as minister to Great Britain: “It is mr A's intention to retire to Braintree as a private man,” Abigail informed Cotton Tufts, somewhat disingenuously, “nor need any one fear that he will become a competitor with them for offices. he has always dealt too openly & candedly with his Countrymen to be popular.” But even before he left Europe, his name had been raised as a possible vice president, and his daughter Nabby wisely recognized that “he would not I am well Convinced be Happy in Private Life.”32 While he succeeded in generally retaining a low profile initially after his return to the States, there was little doubt that his so-called retirement would be of brief duration.
Once the states' ratification of the Constitution advanced far enough to ensure its implementation, politicking for positions in the new government began. While everyone accepted that George Washington would be elected the first president, John Adams was one of a number considered for vice president. When the new Senate finally achieved a quorum in early April 1789, they proceeded immediately to counting votes from the electoral college and determined that John would indeed become the first vice president under the new Constitution. By mid-April, John was en route to New York amid much fanfare to take up his new office. Abigail followed a few months later, after she had made arrangements for the care of their home in Braintree and John had rented a suitable residence for them, an estate called Richmond Hill, located just outside of the city.
In New York both John and Abigail had to adapt to a very different lifestyle from that to which they had become accustomed either in London or in Braintree. John quickly discovered that his new position restrained and limited him. His only real work—serving as president of the Senate—was curtailed early on by the decision to disallow him to speak on any substantive issues other than procedural motions. He could cast his vote to break ties but nothing more. Needless to say, John found this incredibly irksome. Predictably, he launched into his usual litany of complaints to Abigail: “I have as many difficulties here, as you can have; public and private. but my Life from my Cradle has been a Series of difficulties and that Series will continue to the Grave.”33 Never lacking for an { xxxv } opinion on any subject, John—even as he dutifully attended every session—chafed at his inability to influence the critical decisions being made by Congress.
Abigail adjusted more successfully to her new life. She loved Richmond Hill, repeatedly singing the praises of this stately home to her sisters: “We are most delightfully situated, the prospect all around is Beautifull in the highest degree, it is a mixture of the sublime & Beautifull.” She also enjoyed the company of the Washingtons—whom she particularly admired and felt compared favorably with the king and queen of England—and other old friends such as Sarah and John Jay. She did, however, find the pace of visits wearing. “I have never before been in a situation,” she complained to her sister Mary, “in which morning noon & afternoon I have been half as much exposed to company.” She was expected to hold regular levees herself and entertain all members of the Senate, as well as attend other ladies' gatherings on occasion. It made for a social whirlwind. But overall she was pleased with her newfound circumstances: “I fear they will Remove from this place I am too happy in the situation of it, I fear to have it lasting I am every day more & more pleased with it.”34 Abigail referred, of course, to the possible relocation of Congress to a permanent home—one of many contentious issues still to be settled as the president, vice president, senators, congressmen, and other interested parties sought to build the new federal government.

4. Notes on Editorial Method

This volume marks the first Adams Papers publication using a substantially revised policy concerning the presentation of documents, as well as an adjustment of the selection policy for the Adams Family Correspondence series. Accordingly, it seems an appropriate opportunity to offer a full overview of the project's editorial method. Readers may still wish to reference the statements of editorial policy in previous volumes, most notably the Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, 1:lii–lxii, and the Adams Family Correspondence, 1:xli–xlviii, as they document the original conception of the Adams Papers project, but some aspects of those statements have now been superseded.
{ xxxvi }
Materials Included
The Adams Family Correspondence series continues to draw its material from the wealth of extant letters written between various members of the presidential line of the Adams family, whether related by blood or marriage. The editors also consider for inclusion in this series any letters from Adams women to non-family members, such as Abigail Adams' extensive correspondence with Thomas Jefferson and Mercy Otis Warren. Similarly, correspondence from Thomas Boylston or Charles Adams to non-family members may be included (as there is no plan to publish their papers separately), but only if such a letter speaks directly to issues related to the Adams family. Finally, in rare instances, the editors have printed letters between two non-Adams family members (usually letters between Abigail's two sisters or between a sister and a cousin) if they provide extended commentary or particularly rich insight into the Adamses themselves. However, only omitted letters to or from an Adams family member are included in the List of Omitted Documents found at the end of each Family Correspondence volume.
The bulk of this correspondence comes from the Adams Family Papers manuscript collection at the Massachusetts Historical Society, with important additional materials owned by other manuscript repositories and private individuals throughout the country. The series also occasionally reprints letters from nineteenth-century sources that are no longer available in manuscript form if those items are particularly important to complete the documentary record. The descriptive note at the end of each letter identifies the location of the original or the printed source, as appropriate.
As the Adams family has expanded over the project's chronological period, the editors have been and will continue to be increasingly selective about which letters to print in these volumes. The focus remains on John and Abigail Adams, with the correspondence between them and their children and siblings at the core, though as the children themselves have become more active correspondents, their letters appear with greater frequency. Increased selectivity in future volumes will especially extend to correspondence among more distant relations. For instance, letters between two siblings will receive priority over letters between first cousins, who in turn will receive priority over letters between second cousins.
The series is rapidly reaching the point where John Quincy Adams has matured to adulthood and begun to assume a public role. { xxxvii } Consequently, the editors intend to reserve more of his letters for printing in the series of volumes that will be devoted to his public papers, the Papers of John Quincy Adams. While any of his letters to family members are and will be considered for the Family Correspondence series, those that focus purely on public matters will be published in the Papers series instead. Such omissions will not be included in the List of Omitted Documents at the end of each Family Correspondence volume as they will be considered as part of the Papers series and dealt with there.
Within these basic guidelines, however, the editors continue to emphasize the quality and significance of each individual letter and judge each letter on its merits.
Treatment of the Texts
The editors have adopted a new textual policy. Beginning with the current volume, the texts are and will be rendered as literally as possible given the limitations of modern typography and the ability to translate handwritten manuscripts into printed documents. While some important but less extensive changes have been introduced to the edition (see Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 7, and Papers of John Adams, vols. 12 and 13), the publication of this volume marks the most important change from the earlier volumes in which the editors substantially intervened to regularize the presentation of the texts. The implementation of this policy to present a more literal interpretation preserves more of the original document and allows the reader to determine the significance of the authors' spelling, grammar, capitalization, and other mechanical aspects of their writing. In that spirit, the following is a summary of the specifics of the project's new policy.
Spelling is preserved as found in the manuscripts. Irregular spellings and spelling mistakes, even when they are obviously simple slips of the pen, are retained. The index will continue to offer corrected spellings of proper names and places, but no such corrections are made in the text itself. If a proper name is otherwise unidentifiable without some clarification, that explanation is provided in a text note.
Grammar and syntax are preserved as found in the manuscripts. Ambiguous statements resulting from grammatical errors may be explained in text notes. Inadvertent repetition of words, however, is silently corrected, and all new paragraphs receive a standardized { xxxviii } indent, whether such paragraphs are indicated in the original manuscript by indents, extra space, hanging indents, extended dashes, or other conventions.
Capitalization is preserved as found in the manuscripts, even when it violates conventional standards, such as lowercase letters used for proper nouns or at the beginnings of sentences. In indeterminate cases, where the editors cannot be certain whether the writer intended for a letter to be capital or lowercase, the editors will follow modern usage.
Punctuation is preserved as found in the manuscripts. Occasionally, punctuation marks need to be supplied by the editors to preserve (or create) readability. In those instances, the punctuation is enclosed in brackets and rendered in italics to indicate that it has been editorially supplied. Additionally, as both John and Abigail Adams used periods and commas relatively interchangeably, the editors have retained some license to interpret those marks as makes sense grammatically, relying less on the structure of the character (both Adamses tended to use a single mark that might be either an elongated period or an abbreviated comma) than on the context of the sentence. Finally, the punctuation around abbreviations and contractions has been standardized in a limited fashion: (1) Underlining below a superscript is rendered as a period following the superscript. Similarly, two periods or commas under a superscript is rendered as a colon following the superscript. (2) Marks over letters used to indicate contractions or abbreviations have all been rendered as tildes. If such a mark appears over multiple letters within a word, the tilde is placed over the first letter.
Abbreviations and contractions, in general, are preserved as found in the manuscript. Ampersands are now retained in all instances, as are superscripts. Thorns, however, will be rendered as “th” and per symbols will be spelled out as “per.”
Missing and illegible matter is indicated by square brackets enclosing the editors' conjectural readings (with a question mark appended if the reading is uncertain) or suspension points if no reading can be given. Three points are used to indicate a single missing word and four to indicate two missing words. When more than two words are missing, a footnote is provided indicating an estimate of the total amount of missing material. If a single letter of a word is missing, the editors may silently supply it.
Canceled matter in the manuscript (whether scored out or erased) is disregarded unless the editors deem it to be of some { xxxix } significance. In those instances, the text is included but crossed out typographically (e.g., “the further Reduction of public Securities <is unnecessary> will not be attempted this Session”35). The editors will no longer use angle brackets and italicized text to indicate canceled matter as was done in earlier volumes.
Variant readings (variations in text between two or more versions of the same letter) are ordinarily indicated only when they are significant enough to warrant recording, and then always in notes keyed to the basic text that is printed in full.
Interlineations are silently included within the body of the text unless the editors deem the placement of the interlineated material worthy of mention, most commonly when it is written at the bottom or along the margin of a page and marked for insertion. Such explanations are provided by text notes.
Editorial insertions are now relatively rare and used largely to indicate errors in dating or to supply necessary punctuation. The vast majority of editorial comment can be found in the annotation, rather than interpolated into the text. Editorial insertions are still rendered in italicized text in brackets.
As has been the policy from the beginning of this editorial project—and one of the few requirements of the Adams Manuscript Trust, which donated the papers to the Massachusetts Historical Society and created the Adams Papers project—all letters that appear in the Adams Papers volumes are printed in full.36 The editors, however, reserve the right to omit publishing enclosures to letters. If multiple versions of a letter are available, the recipient's copy—the copy intended for the recipient, whether received or not—is favored over all others. Differences between that version and any other available versions of a letter (such as a letterbook copy or a draft) are explained in textual notes. In general, only significant differences (rather than mere stylistic changes) are so described, and no comment is made of material included in the recipient's copy but excluded from a letterbook copy or draft.
The formal parts of each document are organized as follows:
The place-and dateline is printed as literally as possible using the same standards outlined above. It is always placed at the head of the letter, even if it appears elsewhere in the manuscript (for { xl } instance, at the foot of the text). Undated and misdated letters have their dates editorially supplied or corrected using italicized text inside square brackets.
The salutation is also printed as literally as possible on the left-hand side of the same line as the place- and dateline (space permitting). All punctuation is as it appears in the original except when a line is used to separate the saluation from the text. Such lines are silently omitted.
The complimentary close is printed literally but, in the interests of saving space, run together in paragraph style. Virgules are used to indicate line breaks within the complimentary close.
The signature is printed literally. If a letter was unsigned, it is printed as such without comment unless special circumstances require some explanation.
Enclosures are always acknowledged editorially but only printed selectively. If they belong in the sequence of family correspondence, they appear in their proper chronological places; if not, and they warrant printing, they are attached to the letter that originally covered them.
Annotation and Index
While the most important function of these volumes is to provide accurate and authoritative texts, the editors also strive to offer additional information to help readers fully understand the nature of the documents and the historical context in which they were written.
Following each letter is a descriptive note that indicates the physical nature of the document printed and the manuscript repository where the original is located. If the document is no longer available in manuscript form, the source from which it is reprinted is provided. The note also contains any markings on the original manuscript, including addresses (both cover and internal), endorsements (made by the recipient or on his or her behalf at the time of receipt), and docketings (made by the recipient or third parties at a later date). Additional notes on the manuscript may be recorded if the editors deem them of value. Any relevant comment on handwriting is also provided. Archivists' markings and postmarks/stamps are not recorded. As with the complimentary close, multiline text is run together with virgules used to indicate line breaks.
In addition, the descriptive note also now lists all variant versions of the document contained within the Adams Family Papers manuscript collection. Variant texts owned by other respositories are not { xli } listed unless those variants are referenced in the annotation of the document. Enclosures to the main document are listed here even if they are not reprinted in full.
The editors do not supply information on previous printings of letters published in the Adams Family Correspondence unless there are special reasons for doing so, such as the disappearance of the manuscript or earlier printing in an unexpected place or unusual form.
All other matters annotated—textual, biographical, bibliographical, and so on—are dealt with in a single series of numbered notes for each letter. In general, the editors hope that the letters in large part annotate themselves, that together they provide an overarching sense of the activities of the Adams family and of the events in which they were immersed. Still, certain categories of material require some additional explanation, and the editors attempt to supply that through brief factual notes. Among the types of information covered in the notes, the following are the most common:
1. Persons and personal names. The single largest category of notes are identifications of individuals, whether family members, friends, political colleagues, or acquaintances. While certainly not all of the people mentioned within the letters can be meaningfully identified, short biographies are provided for as many as possible at their first significant mention within one of the project's series. When an identification is tentative, the caveats “possibly” or “probably” are used to indicate the editors' level of uncertainty. Text notes are also used to clarify spellings of names when the variations are substantial enough to make locating them in the index difficult (in most cases, names are “corrected” or regularized only in the index) and to provide cross-references to identifications available in volumes in other Adams Papers series.
2. Books and other publications. The editors attempt to supply full bibliographical information on the books and publications mentioned in the letters, especially those being read by members of the Adams family. Information on whether the family owned the item in question—either in John Adams' library, now held at the Boston Public Library,37 or in John Quincy Adams' library, now located at the Stone Library of the Adams National Historical Park—is also included when available.
{ xlii }
3. Correspondence among family members. Demonstrating the network of correspondence among the Adams family members as well as with their other correspondents has long been of great interest to the editors of this project. Consequently, specific letters mentioned but not printed within the volume are explicitly located if the editors have any record of them, while those mentioned of which no record exists are designated in the notes as “not found.” When precise identification of letters is not possible—most commonly due to faulty dating or vague references—the editors may offer likely suggestions.
4. Other subjects are annotated on an ad hoc basis, primarily in order to clarify the text, either by providing some historical context or to explain topics that the editors believe would be unfamiliar to modern readers.
After the documents, each volume contains an appended List of Omitted Documents. This includes all Adams materials eligible for inclusion in a particular volume but not printed in that volume, with information on the location of the manuscript, any additional copies contained in the Adams Family Papers manuscript collection, and any modern printed versions thereof. The selection principles for the Adams Family Correspondence are provided above. The principles for selection in the Papers of John Adams series will be provided in the introduction to volume 14 of that series, forthcoming.
In the Family Correspondence series, as in the Diaries, a chronology for each volume follows the appendix, providing a brief overview of the activities of the various members of the Adams family during the period covered by that volume.
An index now appears as the final section of each volume, no longer in every other volume, as was the practice through volume 6. The index, besides serving as a guide to locating people, places, and subjects covered in the book, also provides a wealth of additional information. Most notably, each individual's full name is provided (wherever possible), whether it was used in full in the text or not, along with a brief description of that individual, such as his or her profession, place of residence, connection to the Adams family, and so forth. Birth and death dates are additionally supplied for all members of the Adams family, including more distant relatives. These index entries also supply corrected spellings of names or spelling alternatives, as appropriate.
Main entries of any length are subdivided into subentries to offer easier access and more specific searching within the text. Initially, those subentries were provided in page number order, but in recent { xliii } volumes (Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 7, and Papers of John Adams, vol. 13), the editors have begun to supply them alphabetically, to aid in their use.

5. Related Digital Resources

Beyond their continuing support of the Adams Papers editorial project, the Massachusetts Historical Society has also committed itself to making Adams resources available online. Two digital resources in particular supplement the Adams Family Correspondence volumes and will be of great interest to all Adams scholars and readers—the Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive and The Diaries of John Quincy Adams: A Digital Collection. Both collections are available through the Massachusetts Historical Society's website at www.masshist.org/adams.
The Adams Family Papers Electronic Archive offers images and text files of the complete correspondence between John and Abigail Adams owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society, all of John Adams' diaries, and his autobiography. The files are fully text-searchable and can also be browsed by date.
The digital collection of the Diaries of John Quincy Adams provides digital images of all pages of John Quincy Adams' enormous 51-volume diary, kept by him for nearly seventy years. The images can be searched by date or browsed by diary volume.
Finally, the editors are pleased to announce the forthcoming launch of a major new digital initiative to make all of the previously published Adams Papers volumes available online. Thanks to the generosity of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Harvard University Press, and the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Founding Families Digital Edition is scheduled to become available on the Historical Society's website in 2008. This project will provide fully searchable text files of 38 Adams Papers volumes (all except the Portraits volumes), as well as 7 volumes of the Winthrop Family Papers, published by the Historical Society in the early twentieth century. While the editors intend to continue making the Adams Papers available in letterpress editions, a complementary digital edition will greatly enhance the accessibility and utility of these volumes.
The 246 letters contained in volume 8 of the Adams Family Correspondence are best read in conjunction with the other published { xliv } materials of the Adams Papers for this period, notably John Adams' Diary and Autobiography, 3:203–223, and John Quincy Adams' Diary, 2:167–465. Future volumes of the Papers of John Adams will further extend the story of John Adams' public life as he moved from his role as an American diplomat abroad back to his political roots in the United States as the first vice president.
Chronicling an important period of transition for the Adamses—from Europe to America, from adolescence to adulthood—and for the United States—from Confederation to Constitution—the correspondence in this volume provides the unique perspective of this preeminent family during a crucial time in American history.
Margaret A. Hogan
September 2006
1. JA to John Jay, 24 Jan. 1787, PCC, No. 84, VI, f. 392–395; AA to Elizabeth Smith Shaw, 10 March, below. See also AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 8 March, and to Isaac Smith Sr., 12 March, both below.
2. AA to Lucy Cranch, 26 April 1787, and to Mary Smith Cranch, 28 April, both below. For AA2's comments on her son, see, for instance, AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, 19 July, below.
3. See AA to Lucy Cranch, 26 April 1787, below.
4. See AA's letters to Thomas Jefferson of 26 and 27 June 1787, and 6 and 10 July, and Jefferson's to AA of 1, 10, and 16 July, all below.
5. AA to Elizabeth Smith Shaw, [19] July 1787; to Mary Smith Cranch, 15 Sept.; to Elizabeth Cranch, 1 Oct.; and to Lucy Cranch, 3 Oct., all below.
6. For the loans, see AA to WSS, [30] May 1787; JA to AA, 1 June; JA to AA, 11 March 1788; JA to AA, 14 March, all below, and Winter, Amer. Finance and Dutch Investment, 1:273–319. For the counterfeiting, see John Brown Cutting to AA, 25 April 1787, and AA to Cotton Tufts, 29 April, both below.
7. Richard Cranch to JA, 24 May 1787, below.
8. AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 8 Oct. 1787, 2d letter, below. See also vol. 7:365–366 for a fuller discussion of JA's Defence of the Const.
9. Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 22 April 1787, below. See also Cotton Tufts to JA, 13 June, and AA to Cotton Tufts, 1 July, both below. For a full discussion of the history of the Old House and its purchase by the Adamses, see vol. 3:264–266, and Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 2, above.
10. AA to Cotton Tufts, 6 Nov. 1787, 5 Oct., and 1 Jan. 1788, all below.
11. AA to AA2, 29 May 1788, and 7 July, both below.
12. To AA2, 7 July 1788, below.
13. AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 11 May 1787, below.
14. For a full discussion of eighteenth-century attitudes toward the transition from childhood to adulthood, see Harvey J. Graff, Conflicting Paths: Growing Up in America, Cambridge, 1995, ch. 2.
15. AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 28 April 1787, below. To date, no letters written by CA or TBA prior to 1790 and 1791, respectively, have been located.
16. Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 16 July [1787], and Elizabeth Smith Shaw to AA, 22 July, both below. The Massachusetts Centinel, 21 July, reported that “the two principal performances were the Orations by Mr. Adams and Mr. Freeman. The first of these certainly declaimed upon a well chosen subject, in a manly, sensible and nervous style of eloquence. The publick expectations from this gentleman, being the son of an Ambassador, the favourite of the officers of the College, and having enjoyed the highest advantages of European instruction, were greatly inflated. This performance justified the preconceived partiality.” For additional comment on the newspaper reports of the commencement, see JQA, Diary, 2:265–266.
17. JQA to AA, 23 Dec. 1787; AA2 to JQA, 10 Feb. 1788; JQA to Cotton Tufts, 16 Feb.; and AA2 to JQA, 20 Aug., all below.
18. Cotton Tufts to JQA, 5 March 1788; JQA to William Cranch, 27 May 1789; AA to JQA, 30 May; and Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 21 June, all below. For the Thanksgiving riot, see JQA to Cotton Tufts, 16 Feb. 1788, below, and JQA, Diary, 2:355–356, and note 1.
19. AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 12 July 1789, below. JQA firmly supported the plan to place CA more closely under his parents' supervision, arguing “that if any thing can keep him within the limits of regularity, it will be his knowlege of my fathers being [near him and the?] fear of being discovered by him” (to William Cranch, 27 May, below).
20. Elizabeth Smith Shaw to AA, 17 Nov. 1787, below. See also Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 21 Oct.; AA to Cotton Tufts, 1 Jan. 1788; and AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 10 Feb., all below. Several decades later, CFA observed in his Diary that “the Smith blood seems to have had the scourge of intemperance dreadfully applied to it.” Besides William Smith Jr., CA and TBA both suffered from alcoholism, as did JQA's children, JA2 and GWA (CFA, Diary, 5:143–144).
21. AA to TBA, 15 March 1787, below. See also JQA to TBA, 3 May 1788, below, in which JQA lectures TBA on appropriate conduct as a college student. TBA's reaction to this letter is unknown, but CA was apparently frustrated enough by JQA's “Mentorial airs,” as JQA recounted the situation, that he threatened to break off all correspondence with JQA.
22. Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 22 April 1787, below.
23. Elizabeth Smith Shaw to AA, 20 May 1787, below.
24. Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 19 Aug. 1787, and Elizabeth Smith Shaw to AA, 22 July, both below. See also Elizabeth Cranch to AA, 23 Sept., below.
25. The transition to adulthood for women centered on marriage, the establishment of an independent household, and the rearing of children (see Graff, Conflicting Paths, p. 51–53). AA2 and WSS had initially established their own household following their marriage in June 1786 but returned to the Adamses' home in Grosvenor Square for the birth of their first child and WSS's subsequent departure for Portugal. Over the next several years, the Smiths would continue to alternate between living on their own and living with their respective families.
26. AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 28 April 1787, below. For WSS's mission, see AA to JQA, 20 March, note 5, below.
27. AA2 to JQA, 28 Sept. 1788, below. For other letters from AA2 encouraging her family to come visit, see AA2 to JQA, 8 June; to AA, 15 June; to JQA, 20 Aug.; and to AA, 7 Sept., all below.
28. JA to AA2, 16 July 1788, and AA2 to JA, 27 July, both below.
29. AA to JQA, 6 May 1787, below.
30. Cotton Tufts to JA, 30 June 1787, below. See also Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 22 April; Elizabeth Smith Shaw to AA, 20 May;Richard Cranch to JA, 24 May; and JQA to JA, 30 June, all below.
31. Cotton Tufts to AA, 18 Dec. 1787, and JA to Cotton Tufts, 23 Jan. 1788, both below.
32. AA to Cotton Tufts, 6 Nov. 1787, and AA2 to JQA, 10 Feb. 1788, both below.
33. JA to AA, 14 May 1789, below.
34. AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 28 June 1789, 12 July, 9 Aug., and 1 Sept., all below. For more on Richmond Hill, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 10, above.
35. Cotton Tufts to JA, 30 June 1787, below.
36. Remarks of Thomas B. Adams, then president of the Massachusetts Historical Society and trustee of the Adams Manuscript Trust, in The Adams Papers: A Ceremony . . . Marking the Publication of the Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, 22 Sept. 1961, p. 5.
37. The Boston Public Library has recently completed a major effort to create an online catalog of the library of John Adams, including a record of the extensive marginalia John Adams generated in his books. See www.johnadamslibrary.org for more information.
{ xlv }


As with all volumes of the Adams Papers, this book received assistance from many quarters without which it would never have come to fruition.
We are particularly grateful for the work of three new members of the Adams Papers staff—Founding Fathers Papers Fellow Karen Northrop Barzilay, and editorial assistants Sara B. Sikes and Judith S. Graham—each of whom made important contributions, providing invaluable help with annotation, verification, illustrations, and the entire production process. They have graciously pitched in on innumerable tasks, both large and small, always with great skill and good humor. Similarly, Paul Fótis Tsimahides, a former member of the Adams Papers staff now working on the Founding Families Digital Project, ably assisted with the early stages of the book.
Our copyeditor Ann-Marie Imbornoni once again saved us from many unfortunate errors, reviewing the entire manuscript with care and precision.
Many people contributed to the research behind this book. We particularly wish to thank Edward B. Doctoroff, Head of the Administrative Services Division at Harvard's Widener Library; and the reference staffs at Harvard University's Houghton and Lamont libraries, Radcliffe's Schlesinger Library, the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department at the Boston Public Library, and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
As with previous volumes, Kevin and Kenneth Krugh of Technologies 'N Typography in Merrimac, Massachusetts, did an admirable job typesetting the volume. At Harvard University Press, we thank John Walsh, Assistant Director for Design and Production; Lisa Roberts, Paperback Manager; and Kathleen McDermott, Editor, History and Social Sciences, for all of their assistance with the publication and marketing of the book.
The Massachusetts Historical Society continues to provide this project with the use of its unrivaled collections and the support of its knowledgeable staff. In particular, we thank Dennis A. Fiori, Director; Peter Drummey, Stephen T. Riley Librarian; Conrad E. { xlvi } Wright, Worthington C. Ford Editor; Brenda M. Lawson, Director of Collections Services; Mary E. Fabiszewski, Senior Cataloger; Kimberly Nusco, Reference Librarian; Rakashi Chand and Carrie Supple, Assistant Reference Librarians; Nancy Heywood, Digital Projects Coordinator; and Anne E. Bentley, Curator of Art. Finally, we also greatly appreciate the contributions made by the Adams Papers Administrative Committee to the success of this project.
{ xlvii }

Guide to Editorial Apparatus

The first three sections (1–3) of this Guide list, respectively, the arbitrary devices used for clarifying the text, the code names for prominent members of the Adams family, and the symbols for the various kinds of manuscript originals used or referred to, which are employed throughout The Adams Papers in all its series and parts. The final three sections (4–6) list, respectively, the symbols for institutions holding original materials, the various abbreviations and conventional terms, and the short titles of books and other works that occur in volume 8 of the Adams Family Correspondence.

1. Textual Devices

The following devices will be used throughout The Adams Papers to clarify the presentation of the text.
[. . .]   One word missing or illegible.  
[. . . .]   Two words missing or illegible.  
[. . . .]1   More than two words missing or illegible; subjoined footnote estimates amount of missing matter.  
[ ]   Number or part of a number missing or illegible. Amount of blank space inside brackets approximates the number of missing or illegible digits.  
[roman]   Conjectural reading for missing or illegible matter. A question mark is inserted before the closing bracket if the conjectural reading is seriously doubtful.  
roman   Canceled matter.  
[italic]   Editorial insertion.  
{roman}   Text editorially decoded.  

2. Adams Family Code Names

  First Generation  
JA   John Adams (1735–1826)  
AA   Abigail Adams (1744–1818), m. JA 1764  
  Second Generation  
AA2   Abigail Adams (1765–1813), daughter of JA and AA, m. WSS 1786  
WSS   William Stephens Smith (1755–1816), brother of SSA  
JQA   John Quincy Adams (1767–1848), son of JA and AA  
LCA   Louisa Catherine Johnson (1775–1852), m. JQA 1797  
CA   Charles Adams (1770–1800), son of JA and AA  
SSA   Sarah Smith (1769–1828), sister of WSS, m. CA 1795  
TBA   Thomas Boylston Adams (1772–1832), son of JA and AA  
AHA   Ann Harrod (1774?–1845), m. TBA 1805  
{ xlviii }   Third Generation  
GWA   George Washington Adams (1801–1829), son of JQA and LCA  
JA2   John Adams (1803–1834), son of JQA and LCA  
MCHA   Mary Catherine Hellen (1806–1870), m. JA2 1828  
CFA   Charles Francis Adams (1807–1886), son of JQA and LCA  
ABA   Abigail Brown Brooks (1808–1889), m. CFA 1829  
ECA   Elizabeth Coombs Adams (1808–1903), daughter of TBA and AHA  
  Fourth Generation  
LCA2   Louisa Catherine Adams (1831–1870), daughter of CFA and ABA, m. Charles Kuhn 1854  
JQA2   John Quincy Adams (1833–1894), son of CFA and ABA  
CFA2   Charles Francis Adams (1835–1915), son of CFA and ABA  
HA   Henry Adams (1838–1918), son of CFA and ABA  
MHA   Marian Hooper (1842–1885), m. HA 1872  
MA   Mary Adams (1845–1928), daughter of CFA and ABA, m. Henry Parker Quincy 1877  
BA   Brooks Adams (1848–1927), son of CFA and ABA  
  Fifth Generation  
CFA3   Charles Francis Adams (1866–1954), son of JQA2  
HA2   Henry Adams (1875–1951), son of CFA2  
JA3   John Adams (1875–1964), son of CFA2  

3. Descriptive Symbols

The following symbols are employed throughout The Adams Papers to describe or identify the various kinds of manuscript originals.
D   Diary (Used only to designate a diary written by a member of the Adams family and always in combination with the short form of the writer's name and a serial number, as follows: D/JA/23, i.e., the twenty-third fascicle or volume of John Adams' manuscript Diary.)  
Dft   draft  
Dupl   duplicate  
FC   file copy (Ordinarily a copy of a letter retained by a correspondent other than an Adams, for example, Jefferson's press copies and polygraph copies, since all three of the Adams statesmen systematically entered copies of their outgoing letters in letterbooks.)  
Lb   Letterbook (Used only to designate Adams letterbooks and always in combination with the short form of the writer's name and a serial number, as follows: Lb/JQA/29, i.e., the twenty-ninth volume of John Quincy Adams' Letterbooks.)  
LbC   letterbook copy (Letterbook copies are normally unsigned, but any such copy is assumed to be in the hand of the person responsible for the text unless it is otherwise described.)  
{ xlix } M   Miscellany (Used only to designate materials in the section of the Adams Papers known as the “Miscellany” and always in combination with the short form of the writer's name and a serial number, as follows: M/CFA/32, i.e., the thirty-second volume of the Charles Francis Adams Miscellany—a ledger volume mainly containing transcripts made by CFA in 1833 of selections from the family papers.)  
MS, MSS   manuscript, manuscripts  
RC   recipient's copy (A recipient's copy is assumed to be in the hand of the signer unless it is otherwise described.)  
Tr   transcript (A copy, handwritten or typewritten, made substantially later than the original or other copies such as duplicates, file copies, or letterbook copies that were made contemporaneously.)  
Tripl   triplicate  

4. Location Symbols

DLC   Library of Congress  
DSI   Smithsonian Institution  
MeHi   Maine Historical Society  
MB   Boston Public Library  
MH-Ar   Harvard University Archives  
MHi   Massachusetts Historical Society  
MU   University of Massachusetts, Amherst  
MWA   American Antiquarian Society  
NjMoHP   Morristown National Historical Park  
NAlI   Albany Institute of History of Art  
NHi   New-York Historical Society  
NN   New York Public Library  
NNC   Columbia University  
ViMtvL   Mount Vernon Ladies' Association  

5. Other Abbreviations and Conventional Terms

  • Adams Papers
  • Manuscripts and other materials, 1639–1889, in the Adams Manuscript Trust collection given to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1956 and enlarged by a few additions of family papers since then. Citations in the present edition are simply by date of the original document if the original is in the main chronological series of the Papers and therefore readily found in the microfilm edition of the Adams Papers (see below).

  • The Adams Papers
  • The present edition in letterpress, published by The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. References to earlier volumes of any given unit take this form: vol. 2:146. Since there is no overall volume numbering for the edition, references from one series, or unit of a series, to another are by title, volume, and page, for example, JA, D&A, 4:205. { l }

  • Adams Papers, Adams Office Manuscripts
  • The portion of the Adams manuscripts given to the Massachusetts Historical Society by Thomas Boylston Adams in 1973.

  • APM
  • Formerly, Adams Papers, Microfilms. The corpus of the Adams Papers, 1639–1889, as published on microfilm by the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1954–1959, in 608 reels. Cited in the present work, when necessary, by reel number. Available in research libraries throughout the United States and in a few libraries in Canada, Europe, and New Zealand.

  • Thwing Catalogue, MHi
  • Annie Haven Thwing, comp., Inhabitants and Estates of the Town of Boston, 1630–1800; typed card catalogue, with supplementary bound typescripts, in the Massachusetts Historical Society. Published on CDROM with Annie Haven Thwing, The Crooked and Narrow Streets of the Town of Boston, 1630–1822, Massachusetts Historical Society and New England Historical and Genealogical Society, 2001.

6. Short Titles of Works Frequently Cited

  • AA, New Letters
  • New Letters of Abigail Adams, 1788–1801, ed. Stewart Mitchell, Boston, 1947.

  • AA2, Jour. and Corr.
  • Journal and Correspondence of Miss Adams, Daughter of John Adams, . . . Edited by Her Daughter [Caroline Amelia (Smith) de Windt], New York and London, 1841–[1849]; 3 vols.
    Note: Vol. [1], unnumbered, has title and date: Journal and Correspondence of Miss Adams, 1841; vol. 2 has title, volume number, and date: Correspondence of Miss Adams . . . Vol. II, 1842; vol. [3] has title, volume number, and date: Correspondence of Miss Adams . . . Vol. II, 1842, i.e., same as vol. 2, but preface is signed “April 3d, 1849,” and the volume contains as “Part II” a complete reprinting, from same type and with same pagination, of vol. 2, above, originally issued in 1842.

  • AFC
  • Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Marc Friedlaender, Richard Alan Ryerson, Margaret A. Hogan, and others, Cambridge, 1963–.

  • ANB
  • John A. Garraty, Mark C. Carnes, and Paul Betz, eds., American National Biography, New York, 1999–2002; 24 vols. plus supplement.

  • Ann. Register
  • The Annual Register; or, A View of the History, Politics, and Literature for the Year, ed. Edmund Burke and others, London, 1758–.

  • Appletons' Cyclo. Amer. Biog.
  • James Grant Wilson and John Fiske, eds., Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography, New York, 1887–1889; 6 vols.

  • Biog. Dir. Cong.
  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, 1989. { li }

  • Boston Directory, [year]
  • Boston Directory, issued annually with varying imprints.

  • Boston, [vol. no.] Reports
  • City of Boston, Record Commissioners, Reports, Boston, 1876–1909; 39 vols.

  • Braintree Town Records
  • Records of the Town of Braintree, 1640 to 1793, ed. Samuel A. Bates, Randolph, Mass., 1886.

  • Brewer, Reader's Handbook
  • E. Cobham Brewer, The Reader's Handbook of Famous Names in Fiction, Allusions, References, Proverbs, Plots, Stories, and Poems, rev. edn., London, 1902.

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Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2017.