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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0086

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1774-07-06

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Mobs are the trite Topick of Declamation and Invective, among all the ministerial People, far and near. They are grown universally learned in the Nature, Tendency and Consequences of them, and very eloquent and pathetic in descanting upon them. They are Sources of all kinds of Evils, Vices, and Crimes, they say. They give Rise to Prophaneness, Intemperance, Thefts, Robberies, Murders, and Treason. Cursing, Swearing, Drunkenness, Gluttony, Leudness, Trespasses, Maims, are necessarily involved in them and occasioned by them. Besides, they render the Populace, the Rabble, the scum of the Earth, insolent, and disorderly, impudent, and abusive. They give Rise to Lying, Hypocricy, Chicanery, and even Perjury among the People, who are driven to such Artifices, and Crimes, to conceal themselves and their Companions, from Prosecutions in Consequence of them.
This is the Picture drawn by the Tory Pencil: and it must be granted to be a Likeness; but this is Declamation. What Consequence is to be drawn from this Description? Shall We submit to Parliamentary Taxation, to avoid Mobs? Will not Parliamentary Taxation if established, occasion Vices, Crimes and Follies, infinitely more numerous, dangerous, and fatal to the Community? Will not parliamentary Taxation if established, raise a Revenue, unjustly and wrongfully? If this Revenue is scattered by the Hand of Corruption, among the public Officers, and Magistrates and Rulers, in the Community, will it not propagate Vices more numerous, more malignant and pestilential among them. Will it not render Magistrates servile, and fawning to their vicious Superiours? and insolent and Tyrannical to their Inferiours? Is Insolence, Abuse and Impudence more tolerable in a Magistrate than in a subject? Is it not more constantly and extensively, pernicious? And does not the Example of Vice and Folly, in Magistrates descend, and spread downwards among the People?
Besides is not the Insolence of Officers and Soldiers, and Seamen, in the Army and Navy as mischievous as that of Porters, [or]1 Sailors in Merchant Service?
Are not Riots raised and made by Armed Men, as bad as those by unarmed? Is not an Assault upon a civil officer, and a Rescue of a { 127 } Prisoner from lawfull Authority, made by Soldiers with Swords or Bayonets, as bad as if made [by] Tradesmen with Staves?
Is not the Killing of a Child by R.2 and the slaughter of half a Dozen Citizens by a Party of Soldiers, as bad as pulling down a House, or drowning a Cargo of Tea? even if both should be allowed to be unlawfull.
Parties may go on declaiming: but it is not easy to say, which Party has excited most Riots, which has published most Libels, which have propagated most Slander, and Defamation.
Verbal Scandal has been propag[at]ed in great Abundance by both Parties. But there is this Difference, that one Party have enjoyed almost all public Offices, and therefore their Deffamation has been spread among the People more secretly, more maliciously and more effectually. It has gone with greater Authority, and been scattered by Instruments more industrious. The ministerial News Papers have swarmed with as numerous and as malicious Libels as the <Whiggs> antiministerial ones. Fleets Paper, Meins Chronicle,3 &c. &c. have been as virulent as any that was ever in the Province.
These Bickerings of opposite Parties, and their mutual Reproaches, their Declamations, their Sing Song, their Triumphs and Defyances, their Dismals, and Prophecies, are all Delusion.
We very seldom hear any solid Reasoning. I wish always to discuss the Question, without all Painting, Pathos, Rhetoric, or Flourish of every Kind. And the Question seems to me to be, whether the american Colonies are to be considered, as a distinct Community so far as to have a Right to judge for themselves, when the fundamentals of their Government are destroyed or invaded? Or Whether they are to be considered as a Part of the whole British Empire, the whole English Nation, so far as to be bound in Honour, Conscience or Interest by the general Sense of the whole Nation?
However if this was the Rule, I believe it is very far from the general Sense of the whole Nation that America s[hould] be taxed by the british Parliament. If the Sense of [all] of the Empire, could be fairly and truly collected, it would appear, I believe, that a great Majority would be against taxing us, against or without our Consent. It is very certain that the Sense of Parliament is not the Sense of the Empire, nor a sure Indication of it.
But if all other Parts of the Empire were agreed unanimously in the Propriety and Rectitude of taxing us, this would not bind us. It is a fundamental, inherent, and unalienable Right of the People that they have some Check, Influence, or Controul in their Supream Legislature. { 128 } If the Right of Taxation is conceded to Parliament, the Americans have no Check, or Influence at all left.—This Reasoning never was nor can be answered.
[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree To be left at Mr. Adams's Office in Queen Street Boston”; endorsed: “No 4.”
1. MS: “as.”
2. Ebenezer Richardson, a customs officer in Boston, shot and killed a boy named Christopher Snider on 22 Feb. 1770, in an affair that was a prelude to the Boston “Massacre”; see JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:349–350.
3. Thomas and John Fleet's Boston Evening Post, a conservative paper which expired in 1775; and John Mein and John Fleeming's short-lived and markedly tory Boston Chronicle, 1767–1770.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0087

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1774-07-06

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Our J[ustic]e H[utchinso]n is eternally giving his Political Hints. In a Cause, this Morning, Somebody named Captn. Mackay as a Refferee. I said “an honest Man!”—“Yes” says H[utchinso]n, “he's an honest Man, only misled.—He he he,” blinking, and grinning.—At Dinner, to day, Somebody mentioned Determinations in the Lords House (the Court sitts in the Meeting House).—“I've known many very bad Determinations in the Lords House of late” says he, meaning a Fling upon the Clergy.—He is perpetually flinging about the Fasts, and ironically talking about getting Home to the Fast. A Gentleman told me, that he had heard him say frequently, that the Fast was perfect Blasphemy.—“Why dont they pay for the Tea? Refuse to pay for the Tea! and go to fasting and praying for Direction! perfect Blasphemy!”1
This is the Moderation, Candor, Impartiality, Prudence, Patience, Forbearance, and Condescention of our J[ustice.]
S[amuel] Q[uincy] said Yesterday, as Josa. told me, that he was for staying at home and not going to Meeting as they i.e. the Meetings are now managed.
Such is the Bitterness and Rancour, the Malice and Revenge, the Pride and Vanity which prevails in these Men. And such Minds are possessed of all the Power of the Province.2
S. makes no Fortune this Court. There is very little Business here, it is true, but S. gets very little of that little—less than any Body.
Wyer retains his old good Nature and good Humour, his Wit, such as it is, and his Fancy, with its wildness.
Bradbury retains his Anxiety and his plaintive, angry Manner, David Sewal his Softness, and conceited Modesty.
Bradbury and Sewall always roast Dr. Gardiner, at these Courts, { 129 } but they have done it more now than usual, as Gardiner had not me to protect him.—See how I think of myself!
I believe it is Time to think a little about my Family and Farm. The fine Weather, we have had for 8 or 10 days past I hope has been carefully improved to get in my Hay. It is a great Mortification to me that I could not attend every Step of their Progress in mowing, making and carting. I long to see what Burden.
But I long more still to see to the procuring more Sea Weed and Marsh Mud and Sand &c.
However my Prospect is interrupted again. I shall have no Time. I must prepare for a Journey to Philadelphia, a long Journey indeed! But if the Length of the Journey was all, it would be no burden. But the Consideration of What is to be done, is of great Weight. Great Things are wanted to be done, and little Things only I fear can be done. I dread the Thought of the Congress's falling short of the Expectations of the Continent, but especially of the People of this Province.
Vapours avaunt! I will do my Duty, and leave the Event. If I have the Approbation of my own Mind, whether applauded or censured, blessed or cursed, by the World, I will not be unhappy.
Certainly I shall enjoy good Company, good Conversation, and shall have a fine Ride, and see a little more of the World than I have seen before.
I think it will be necessary to make me up, a Couple of Pieces of new Linnen. I am told, they wash miserably, at N. York, the Jerseys and Philadelphia too in Comparison of Boston, and am advised to carry a great deal of Linnen.3
Whether to make me a Suit of new Cloaths, at Boston or to make them at Phyladelphia, and what to make I know not, nor do I know how I shall go—whether on Horse back, in a Curricle, a Phaeton, or altogether in a Stage Coach I know not.
The Letters I have written or may write, my Dear, must be kept secret or at least shewn with great Caution.
Mr. Fairservice goes tomorrow: by him I shall send a Packett.
Kiss my dear Babes for me. Your
[signed] John Adams
I believe I forgot to tell you one Anecdote: When I first came to this House it was late in the Afternoon, and I had ridden 35 miles at least. “Madam” said I to Mrs. Huston, “is it lawfull for a weary Traveller to refresh himself with a Dish of Tea provided it has been honestly smuggled, or paid no Duties?”
{ 130 }
“No sir, said she, we have renounced all Tea in this Place. I cant make Tea, but I'le make you Coffee.” Accordingly I have drank Coffee every Afternoon since, and have borne it very well. Tea must be universally renounced. I must be weaned, and the sooner, the better.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree To be left at Mr. Adams's Office at Boston Queen Street”; endorsed: “No 6.”
1. Quoted matter in this paragraph has been slightly repunctuated for clarity.
2. JA always believed that Samuel Quincy had felt overshadowed by his younger brother Josiah's greater talents, and that Hutchinson and Sewall, perceiving this, had attached Samuel to the side of government by having him appointed Provincial solicitor general in succession to Sewall in 1771 (JA to Jedidiah Morse, 22 Dec. 1815, PHi; JA, Works, 10:195).
3. This and the following paragraph were silently omitted by CFA when he published this letter, for the first time, in JA–AA, Familiar Letters, p. 16–18. The passage is typical of many of the same homely or intimate kind that CFA excised in his several editions of his grandfather's and grandmother's correspondence.
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/