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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 8

Docno: ADMS-04-08-02-0130

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Smith, Abigail Adams
Date: 1788-05-29

Abigail Adams to Abigail Adams Smith

[salute] My Dear Daughter:

I hope you are safe landed at Jamaica, before this time, with Mr. Smith and my sweet boy; how often have I thought of him, amidst the turbulent waves, which have so frequently encompassed us { 267 } upon our passage, and prayed that you might have met with more prosperous gales, and a shorter passage than has fallen to our share. On the 20th of April we embarked from Cowes, from whence I wrote you; we had the wind fair only until we past the Needles,1 when it came directly ahead, but the tide assisted us, and we strove to work out of the channel until Monday night, when it blew so hard as to oblige us to put into Portland; here we remained a whole week, the same wind prevailing. This place is just by Weymouth, so that our gentlemen went twice on shore during the week; I did not venture, as the wind blew very high. After a week lying here, 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; sometimes we have been obliged to lie to, and once to put in our dead-lights; fortunately our ship is much easier than Hyde's, or as the weather has been much worse, I know not what I should have done.2 'Tis agreed by all the hands, that they never knew so blustering a May. We have met with several ships, with which we have spoken; and one morning after a very heavy wind we espied a ship in distress, having lost her masts; we steered immediately for her, and found her to be an American ship, captain M——, called the Thomas and Sally, bound to Baltimore.3 We lay to, and sent hands on board of her, to assist in getting up another mast. We sent our old doctor on board to bleed two men, much hurt by the fall of their masts; and Mr. Boyd, one of our passengers, said he would go on board and see if there were any passengers; as the sea ran high I thought it was rather dangerous, but he was young and enterprising;4 our mate, carpenter, doctor, and four sailors, accompanied him. It was late in the afternoon before they could get back, and really at the hazard of their lives, for the wind had increased to a storm and the sea ran mountain high; we were all very anxious for them, but happily they all returned safe; Mr. Boyd bringing us an account, that there were four passengers on board, amongst whom was poor Hindman, almost terrified to death;5 but as the ship was a very good one, and they had got up a new mast, we left them, we hope, safe. We spoke the same day with a brig from London to Virginia, and an American ship from Bordeaux to Boston. For these four days past we have had finer weather, but alas no good winds, and no prospect of reaching Boston until the middle of June, if then.
{ 268 } { 269 }
You will be anxious to know how we have done: really better than my fears. With respect to myself, I have been less seasick than when I crossed before: want of sleep I have suffered more from. Your papa has been very well. But Esther you say, what have you done with her? Yesterday at five, she had a daughter, a poor little starvling, but with special lungs, old nurse Comis is just the thing, never sick, can eat and sleep, at all times, as well as any sailor on board. We got through this business much better than I feared we should. I had for the first time in my life, to dress the little animal, who was buried in its clothes. At present, we seem to want only a good wind. I am almost exhausted, and my patience wearied out; if we had been favoured with a fair wind, we should have got home before this matter took place. Brisler has been much the sickest person on board ship. I expected him to have been half nurse, instead of which, he has wanted constant nursing. I hope and pray, I may never again be left to go to sea: of all places, it is the most disagreeable, such a sameness, and such a tossing to and fro. Our passengers are agreeable; our captain is very clever; our ship very clean. We have many things to be thankful for. Adieu!
[signed] A. A.
MS not found. Printed from AA2, Jour. and Corr., 2:76–79.
1. For the Needles, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 8, above.
2. Presumably a reference to Capt. Nathaniel Byfield Lyde's ship, Active, on which AA and AA2 sailed to Europe in 1784. For AA's description of that ship, which she found uncomfortable and unclean, see JA, D&A, 3:157–158; vol. 5:359, 361.
3. The Thomas and Sally, Capt. F. Dorset (Dorsett), left London on 15 April and arrived safely in Baltimore by 24 June. She lost her foremast and topmast in a gale on 18 May (Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser, 24, 27 June; Pennsylvania Mercury, 26 June).
4. The Massachusetts Centinel, 18 June, identified him as “William Boyd of Portsmouth.” In her Diary account of the voyage, AA indicated that Boyd was “a young Gentleman who received His Education in this Country” (JA, D&A, 3:214).
5. Possibly William Hindman (1743–1822), a lawyer who had studied at the Inns of Court in London. He represented Maryland in the Continental Congress from 1784 to 1786 and later served in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate (Edward C. Papenfuse and others, A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635–1789, 2 vols., Baltimore, 1979).

Docno: ADMS-04-08-02-0131

Author: Smith, Abigail Adams
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1788-06-08

Abigail Adams Smith to John Quincy Adams

to your Candour my Dear Brother—I must appeal for Pardon that I have thus long delayed to inform you of our safe arrival in this City— I have presumed that we were People of such importance that the news of such an event must have reached you through the { 270 } Chanell of the news Papers as soon as it would have done, had I have written you immediately upon Landing—1 and realy my time has been so wholy occupied in receiving and returning visits—that I have not been able to find one half Hour unoccupied—
I heard this morning by MrWm.Knox—who left Boston on Wedensday last,2 that a Ship was comeing up the Harbour on Tuesday Evening which was supposed to have been Callihan— with all my heart I wish it may so prove for I begin to be anxous for our Parrents—and Shall now be very impatient untill I hear of their arrival, and health if they Sailed when they expected the begining of April they must have had a long and I fear a tedious Passage—
I will hope that ere this you have seen them and that you are all mutually happy— I shall expect to hear from you very soon and very often— the tedious distance we have so long been at—is now lessened—and in four days if you please you may gratify yourself and make me very happy by making me a visit. I do not ask it at present—but when we get settled upon Long Island, where we have taken a House—I shall think you very deficient if you do not make us a visit— it will be advantageous to your health—& I see no injury that so Steady and experienced a youth can receive from a relaxation of a week, or two from hard, and unintermiting studies, we are in daily expectation of the arrival of the Ship which has on Board our Baggage— as soon as it arrives—and we can collect together a little furniture—we shall take up our residence upon Long Island—and in a few weeks I shall inform you that I am ready to receive you—and expect you to set off Post Haste upon receipt of my Summons. if my other Brothers could accompany you at this season I should be very happy—but if they cannot at present I shall request the pleasure and favour of a visit from them the first moment they can find a release from their studies— you must give my Love to them and desire them to write to me soon and often I shall write them very soon—but MrGore I am informed Leaves this City tomorrow—and I have only time to finish this Letter—3
I have been reading over the letters which you wrote me from this Place4 many Persons mentioned in them I have become acquainted with—and in general find your observations just— Lady Wheat has lately married Capt Cochrane and goes soon with him to Scotland,5 Miss Becca sears preserves her Beauty and is very handsome— MrsJarvis and Miss Broom arrived in town on Wedensday—and were very well last Evening at Eleven—6 I supped in Company with { 271 } them— General Knox has fallen away—and Mrs—— is not more than one yard and an half round her waist— they have been very friendly and polite to us since our arrival— MrRucker is very ill there is no hopes of his recovery,—7Miss R—— fatter than Miss Adams,—8 I have received visits from Sixty Ladies so that you, knowing how punctilious we Ladies of N York are must easily imagine that I have my hands full (as the saying is)9 in returning the visits—and accepting invitations to dinner, Tea, and Supper, parties— I am quite impatient to get out of Town—for the weather for two days past has been almost insupportably Warm—
Franks is here and first Aid de Camp to the President of Congress— MrB—— is here and passingly civil—. MrsB——m would be wretched if she had not some distant hopes of seeing Europe again—. but has no curiossity nor desire to travell through her own Country— New York does not afford an House—that She could possibly accommodate her family in—10
you must write me all the news, and anecdotes that you can hear of— tell me if the report is true that Elisa Cranch is going to enter the Holy Bands of Matrimony and if so—with whom—and offer her my Congratulation upon the Event,— I have seen the American Magazines for this year—and have picked up some news from them— such as an account of Marriages and Deaths— Cousin Cotton—is I find Married at last—and Poor MrLincoln is Dead— I was greived for my friend Mrs:Lincoln— many many are the ups and downs of Life— were I to visit Boston—I should find a Great chasm in the Circle of my acquaintance—and mourn the Loss of many Kind and good friends—
Federalist, or Ante federalist, is the question—and pray upon which side of the important question do you Stand I could almost answer for you three months forward—for you will find your Father a great Advocate for Federalism— there has been great rejoiceing amongst the Former—at the late accession of Carolina—to the Union—but the friends of the new Constitution are very doubtfull of its Success in this State— the Convention are to meet upon the Seventeenth of this month— MrJay is a Member and many other very strenuous advocates in its favour11 —but the Governor of the State— is said to be opposed to it—and Some say he has taken all means to prejudice the Country People—against its adoption—12 the party against it are silent—and seem to be ashaimed of being known— how it will prove eventually is uncertain— it ever has been and ever will { 272 } be the Case that upon every Subject there is a diversity of opinion— and it is a very rare instance that People who disagree in Sentiment should be friendly and benevolently disposed towards each other— thus we must ever expect to see—One Party rejoice at the ill success of its opponent—and Useing all the means in its Power to render the opposite disregarded disrespected and—all their measures frustrated—and untill the milenium in Politicks arrives we can not expect any alteration of System— so much for Politicks— I must close my Letter—and request you to remember me to all friends—and beleive me / your affectionate Sister
[signed] A Smith—
CollnSmith desires his Love to you—
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “My Sister—8. June 1788.” and “My Sister. June 8. 1788.”
1. Several Boston newspapers reported AA2 and WSS's arrival in Halifax, beginning with the Massachusetts Centinel, 24 May; their arrival in New York was listed in the Massachusetts Gazette, 30 May. In Newburyport, where JQA was living, the Essex Journal printed the Halifax information on 28 May.
2. William Knox, the brother of Henry Knox, was a clerk in the war department and later U.S. consul in Dublin (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series, 1:196, 5:474).
3. For Christopher Gore, see vol. 6:377; JQA, Diary, 1:330.
4. JQA wrote three long letters to AA2 when he passed through New York City on his way back to Braintree from Europe; see JQA to AA2, 17 July, and 1, 9 Aug. 1785 (vol. 6:225–231, 242–248, 251–256).
5. Lady Maria Waite, the widow of Sir Jacob Waite, married Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane in April 1788 (DNB; John Marshall, Royal Naval Biography, 4 vols. in 8, London, 1823–1835, 1:266).
6. Amelia Broome Jarvis (1765–1788), wife of James Jarvis of New York, and Elizabeth Broome were sisters. Amelia would die on 1 December. Elizabeth later married Col. Joseph Fay of Bennington, Vt. (Donald Lines Jacobus, comp., Families of Ancient New Haven, 9 vols. in 3, Baltimore, 1974, 2:344–345).
7. John Rucker died on 15 June (New York Independent Journal, 21 June).
8. Probably Betsey Ramsay.
9. Closing parenthesis editorially supplied.
10. Probably Anne and William Bingham, whom the Adamses had known in Europe. William Bingham represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress from 1786 to 1789 (DAB).
11. South Carolina ratified the Constitution by a vote of 149 to 73 on 23 May 1788; the news was widely reported in the New York newspapers in the first week of June. The New York state convention began meeting on 17 June. Although several noted Federalists—including John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and Robert R. Livingston—were elected delegates, the convention opened with a decidedly Antifederalist majority (Doc. Hist. Ratif. Const., 20:xxiv, 1132–1133; John P. Kaminski, “New York: The Reluctant Pillar,” in Stephen L. Schechter, ed., The Reluctant Pillar: New York and the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Troy, N.Y., 1985, p. 79).
12. George Clinton (1739–1812), a lawyer and former major general in the Continental Army, served as governor of New York from 1777 to 1795 and again from 1801 to 1804. He subsequently served as vice president of the United States from 1805 until his death. An outspoken critic of the U.S. Constitution, he led the Antifederalists in the New York state ratifying convention, where he also served as president (Doc. Hist. Ratif. Const., 19:495; DAB).
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, 2018.