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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0082

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1774-07-01

John Adams to Abigail Adams

I am so idle, that I have not an easy Moment, without my Pen in my Hand. My Time might have been improved to some Purpose, in mowing Grass, raking Hay, or hoeing Corn, weeding Carrotts, picking or shelling Peas. Much better should I have been employed in schooling my Children, in teaching them to write, cypher, Latin, French, English and Greek.
I sometimes think I must come to this—to be the Foreman upon my own Farm, and the School Master to my own Children. I confess myself to be full of Fears that the Ministry and their Friends and Instruments, will prevail, and crush the Cause and Friends of Liberty. The Minds of that Party are so filled with Prejudices, against me, that they will take all Advantages, and do me all the Damage they can. These Thoughts have their Turns in my Mind, but in general my Hopes are predominant.
In a Tryal of a Cause here to Day, some Facts were mentioned, which are worth writing to you. It was sworn, by Dr. Lyman, Elder Bradbury and others, that there had been a Number of Instances in this Town of fatal Accidents, happening from sudden Noises striking the Ears of Babes and young Children. A Gun was fired near one Child, as likely as any; the Child fell immediately into fits, which impaired his Reason, and is still living an Ideot. Another Child was sitting on a Chamber floor. A Man rapped suddenly and violently on the Boards which made the floor under the Child [tremble?].1 The Child was so startled, and frightened, that it fell into fits, which never were cured.
This may suggest a Caution to keep Children from sudden Frights and surprizes.
Dr. Gardiner arrived here to day, from Boston, brings us News of a Battle at the Town Meeting, between Whigs and Tories, in which the Whiggs after a Day and an Halfs obstinate Engagement were finally victorious by two to one. He says the Tories are preparing a flaming Protest.2
{ 119 }
I am determined to be cool, if I can; I have suffered such Torments in my Mind, heretofore, as have almost overpowered my Constitution, without any Advantage: and now I will laugh and be easy if I can, let the Conflict of Parties, terminate as it will—let my own Estate and Interest suffer what it will. Nay whether I stand high or low in the Estimation of the World, so long as I keep a Conscience void of Offence towards God and Man. And thus I am determined by the Will of God, to do, let what will become of me or mine, my Country, or the World.
I shall arouse myself ere long I believe, and exert an Industry, a Frugality, a hard Labour, that will serve my family, if I cant serve my Country. I will not lie down and die in Dispair. If I cannot serve my Children by the Law, I will serve them by Agriculture, by Trade, by some Way, or other. I thank God I have a Head, an Heart and Hands which if once fully exerted alltogether, will succeed in the World as well as those of the mean spirited, low minded, fawning obsequious scoundrells who have long hoped, that my Integrity would be an Obstacle in my Way, and enable them to out strip me in the Race.
But what I want in Comparison of them, of Villany and servility, I will make up in Industry and Capacity. If I dont they shall laugh and triumph.
I will not willingly see Blockheads, whom I have a Right to despise, elevated above me, and insolently triumphing over me. Nor shall Knavery, through any Negligence of mine, get the better of Honesty, nor Ignorance of Knowledge, nor Folly of Wisdom, nor Vice of Virtue.
I must intreat you, my dear Partner in all the Joys and Sorrows, Prosperity and Adversity of my Life, to take a Part with me in the Struggle. I pray God for your Health—intreat you to rouse your whole Attention to the Family, the stock, the Farm, the Dairy. Let every Article of Expence which can possibly be spared be retrench'd. Keep the Hands attentive to their Business, and [let]3 the most prudent Measures of every kind be adopted and pursued with Alacrity and Spirit.

[salute] I am &c.,

[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree”; endorsed: “No 1 No 6.”
1. Word omitted in MS.
2. At a town meeting in Faneuil Hall, 27 June, which lasted all day and on account of the numbers present had to be adjourned to the Old South Meeting House, a tory group called for the reading of all letters written and received by the town's Committee of Correspondence. After the reading the same group moved “that some Censure be now { 120 } passed By the Town on the Conduct of the Committee of Correspondence; and that said Committee be annihilated.” This motion led to so protracted a debate that the meeting had to be adjourned until the 28th, when “after long Debates the Question was accordingly put; which passed in the Negative by a great Majority.” A motion commending the Committee was then put and “passed in the Affirmative by a Vast Majority.” (Boston Record Commissioners, 18th Report, p. 177–178.) John Rowe gives an interesting account and observations on this “Battle,” and furnishes the names of the speakers on both sides (Letters and Diary, p. 276–277).
3. Word omitted in MS.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0083

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1774-07-02

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dr.

I have concluded, to mount my Horse, tomorrow Morning at four, and ride to Wells to hear my old worthy learned ingenious Friend Hemmenway, whom I never was yet so happy as to hear.1 Mr. Winthrop agrees to be my Company.2 Wells is about 15 Miles from this Place: from thence we propose to ride after the Evening Service is over, to Saco, i.e. Biddeford, which is about 30 Miles from hence, which will leave us an easy Journey to Falmouth for Monday.
Mr. Winthrop tells me, that he has heard the late Governor Hutchinson, while he was Chief Justice, frequently say for seven Years together, that Salem was the most proper, convenient, and suitable Place in the Province for the Seat of Government: That he frequently complimented the Gentlemen of Salem, with the Happiness and Convenience of their Situation, for the Seat of Government, and with his Prophecies, that it would certainly be made such, in a Course of Years. I mentioned this to Judge Trowbridge, and he told me that he himself remembered to have heard him say the same Thing.—I am very much mistaken if I have not heard him say so too. And I remember, I happened to be with Kent when he carried to Judge Lynde his Commission as Chief Justice.3 And Judge Lynde entertained me for some Time, with Conversation about making Salem the Seat of Government, and with the probable Effects of such a Measure one of which he said would be the Translation of a great Part of the Trade from Boston to Salem. But he said he did not want to have Troops in Salem.
Now let any one, who knows these Anecdotes judge, who was the Suggester, Planner, and Promoter of this wrong headed, and iniquitous Measure.
Safford my Barber, tells me, that his Minister Lyman is bribed to be a Tory. He says that whenever Deacon Sayward has a Vessell arrive, he sends the Parson, 10 Gallons of Rum, 2 or 300 of Sugar, 10 Gallons { 121 } of Wine, a Barrel of Flour &c. &c. &c. He says “he thinks that all Toryism grows out of Bribery.”
I thought the Barbers Observation as just and as memorable as Parson Moodys Doctrine “that when Men knew not what to do, they ought not to do they knew not what.”
I write you this Tittle Tatle, my Dear, in Confidence. You must keep these Letters chiefly to yourself, and communicate them with great Caution and Reserve. I should advise you to put them up safe, and preserve them. They may exhibit to our Posterity a kind of Picture of the Manners, Opinions, and Principles of these Times of Perplexity, Danger and Distress.
Deacon Sayward said at Table this Week in my Hearing that there was but one Point in which he differed, in Opinion from the late Governor Hutchinson and that was with Regard to the Reality of Witchcraft, and the Existence of Witches. The Governor he said would not allow there was any such Thing. The Deacon said he was loath to differ from him in any Thing. He had so great a Regard for him, and his opinions that he was willing to give up almost every Thing, rather than differ with him, but in this he could not see with him.
Such is the Cant of this artfull, selfish, hypocritical Man.
Pray remember me to my dear little Babes, whom I long to see running to meet me and climb up upon me, under the Smiles of their Mother.

[salute] I am &c.,

[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree To be left at Mr. Adams's Office in Boston, or at Mr. Cranches, in Hanover Street”; endorsed: “No 2 No 7.”
1. Rev. Moses Hemmenway (or Hemenway), a Harvard classmate of JA's, minister at Wells since 1759 (Weis, Colonial Clergy of N.E.).
2. Samuel Winthrop, a younger brother of Professor John Winthrop of Harvard and for many years clerk of the Superior Court of Judicature. He is frequently and usually approvingly mentioned in JA's Diary and Autobiography. There is a sketch of him illustrated by a fine Copley portrait, in Lawrence Shaw Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America, Boston, 1948, p. 193–196.
3. Benjamin Lynde Jr., Harvard 1718, was commissioned chief justice in March 1771 (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 6:250–257). Benjamin Kent, Harvard 1727, was an elder and somewhat eccentric colleague of JA's at the bar (same, 8:220–230).
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, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/