A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-04-10-02-0283

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1795-06-15

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] my Dearest Friend

I have regularly received Your Letters and thank you for them. I have read the pamphlets.1 the Bone has much good natured Witt, contains many painfull facts, & Shows in a strong light what manner of Spirit actuates the pretended Patriots. the writer has in some places taken, a poetical Licence I have not offerd it where I am. Society and Interest and dissapointed ambition will have their influence upon most minds— be assured I am remarkably cautious upon the Subject of Politicks. I am satisfied mine would essentially clash with any one, who could call the Peace System, a milk & water System.
{ 452 }
I hope and trust the decision upon the Treaty will be a wise and candid one. that it should not be Suddenly rejected or accepted will I believe be more acceptable to the people than if it was otherways. I hope however a fortnight at furthest will be found Sufficient. My Health has been much mended by my Journey. Johns Ague after 3 fits of it, terminated by falling into his face.
you mention having read a part of the Dispatches from the Hague. are they made publick to the Senate?
My best respects to the President & mrs Washington. Love to mrs otis Betsy smith &c
most affectionatly / yours
[signed] A Adams
have you read G. Adams Speach to the assembly it is Seasoned a little.2
RC (Adams Papers); addressed by CA: “The Vice President of the United States / Philadelphia”; endorsed: “Mrs A. June 15 / Ansd 17. 1795.”
1. In addition to his letters of 9 and 11 (2) June, all above, JA wrote AA a second letter on 9 June in which he reported that the reading of the treaty and the record of negotiations had begun the previous day and also enclosed for AA a “misterious Poem for your Amusement,” which has not been found (Adams Papers).
2. On 3 June Gov. Samuel Adams addressed both houses of the Mass. General Court in a speech that extolled the virtues of American democracy and advocated for public schooling and increased judicial salaries. The speech was first printed in the Boston press on 6 June and in New York and Philadelphia on 11 June (Mass., Acts and Laws, 1794–1795, p. 609–613; Boston Columbian Centinel, 6 June; New York Argus, 11 June; Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 11 June).

Docno: ADMS-04-10-02-0284

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1795-06-15

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dear Madam.

We have very seldom an opportunity of hearing from you; and still more seldom that of writing you by a direct opportunity. An indirect one presents itself, and I cannot let it pass, were it barely for the pleasure of writing you that we are well, and enjoy in profound tranquility the beauties of the Season.
The Peace and Alliance between France and Holland; the violent insurrection against the Convention recently suppressed at Paris; the revolt quelled at Toulon, the war broken out once more in the Vendee, and the surrender of Luxemburg to the french Army, are all, important events that have happened since I wrote you last;1 but this letter will be so long before it can reach you, that it would be idle to dwell upon any article of News.
Not one vessel has sailed for Boston from any port in this { 453 } Country since we have been in it. Not one has arrived from thence. Once in a while I see the face of an old acquaintance, and have recently seen my friend T. H. Perkins of Boston, and Mr Hichborn; they are now both returned to France.2
My latest letters from any part of America are more than three months old. We have however accounts down to the latter end of April.— Full of new complaints against british depredations and rapine.— The Spirit of Rapine is the character of the Nation; they have commenced again the capture of neutral vessels bound to France with provisions. It is some satisfaction to find the cordiality with which they are detested by every body. I am fully convinced that not a breath of air from any quarter of the Heavens over the whole surface of the Earth is wafted along, but is loaded with some malediction against them. For my own part I have always considered the wish of Caligula, as no less atrocious than it was extravagant.3 But reasoning from analogy, I begin to suppose, that it might be dictated by the purest and most refined sentiment of Justice and humanity.
your affectionate Son
[signed] John Q. Adams.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed by TBA: “Mrs: A Adams / Quincy / near / Boston”; internal address: “Mrs: A. Adams.”; endorsed: “J.Q Adams June / 15 1795.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 128.
1. Since JQA’s letter to AA of 16 May, above, several events had occurred in France and in the war in Europe. On 17 May (An. III, 28 floréal), a Jacobin revolt broke out in Toulon that took two weeks for the revolutionary government to quell. On 20 May (1 prairial), a Parisian mob again stormed the National Convention demanding bread and the reinstitution of the Jacobin Constitution of 1793. Unlike the previous mob of 1 April 1795, for which see TBA to William Cranch, 8 April, and note 2, above, this one became violent, killed one member of the Convention, and paraded his head on a pike. It took three days and the arrival of 20,000 troops in Paris before the mob surrendered.
From La Vendée, rumors emerged that the peace of 15 Feb. between the French government and one of the rebel leaders had been falsely signed by the Vendéens, and the disarmament of the rebels, a condition of the peace treaty, could not be achieved. In fact, terms were reached between the revolutionary government and other Vendéen factions in early May, and the peace, although tenuous, would hold until 1796.
The fortress town of Luxembourg, which had been besieged by the French Army in Nov. 1794, finally surrendered on 7 June 1795 (Cambridge Modern Hist., 8:381–382, 386–387, 388–389, 391, 442; Edward Cust, Annals of the Wars of the Eighteenth Century, 5 vols., London, 1859, 4:291).
In his long letter to JA of 27 June (Adams Papers), JQA further described these events but also questioned the actions of various foreign governments. France’s ill-conceived winter demonstration of its naval presence in the English Channel had left “the fleet so shattered and disabled, that it has not yet been repaired, and will be able to do nothing this Season.” He found in British military strategy that “the pride, pomp and circumstance of their hostility consist, not in the neighing steed, the shrill trump, the spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife, or the royal banner, but in forgery and famine. Their troops have been the terror of their friends and the derision of their enemies; but their artists are inimitable at counterfeiting an assignat, and their frigates and privateers are invincible against the merchant vessels of neutral Nations.” And about the inchoate Batavian Republic, JQA wrote, “The same { 454 } languor and imbecility which characterized the former government is equally discovered by the present. No vigour, no exertions, no public spirit, but abundance of common place about liberty, equality and the rights of man; abundance of invective against the house of Orange and its partizans; abundance of patriotic exultation together with frequent ebullitions of rage restrained, and of revenge repressed but ready to burst forth in all its violence … This spirit of turbulence is preserved and stimulated by the popular societies, as numerous and almost as mischievous here as they are elsewhere.”
2. During an eight-month stay in Europe, the Boston merchant Thomas Handasyd Perkins, for whom see CFA, Diary, 2:151, visited JQA on 31 May and 1 June. Benjamin Hichborn, whom JQA characterized as “more frenchman than ever” after their 12 June visit, was a Boston lawyer and former state representative who had been living in Europe since 1792 (DAB;D/JQA/24, APM Reel 27; Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 17:41–42).
3. Upon hearing a crowd of spectators applaud a rival competitor, the Roman emperor Caligula reportedly said, “If only the Roman people had a single neck” (Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, Lives of the Caesars, transl. Catharine Edwards, Oxford, Eng., 2000, p. 153). Among JQA’s books at MQA is Suetonius, L’histoire de empereurs Romains, Amsterdam, 1699, which he purchased at The Hague on 9 Sept. 1795 (Catalogue of JQA’s Books;D/JQA/24, 9 Sept., APM Reel 27).
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.