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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0092

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1774-08-15

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I know not where this will find you whether upon the road, or at Phylidelphia, but where-ever it is I hope it will find you in good Health and Spirits. Your Journey I immagine must have been very tedious from the extreem heat of the weather and the dustiness of the road's. We are burnt up with the drouth, having had no rain since you left us, nor is there the least apperance of any. I was much gratified upon the return of some of your Friends from Watertown who gave me an account of your Scocial Dinner, and friendly parting. May your return merrit, and meet with the Gratefull acknowledgments of every well wisher to their Country. Your task is difficult and important. Heaven direct and prosper you. I find from Mr. A——r of B——r1 that the chief Justice is determined to take his Seat, and that the court shall proceed to Buisness if posible, even tho the Sheriff should be obliged to return no other but the late addressers.2 He talks as he always used to—sometimes one thing sometimes an other, pretends the money would not have been collected in that town for the congress if { 141 } he had not exerted himself, tho it seems he staid till the eleventh hour, and it did not get to town before you left it. I found by a hint he dropd that he used all his influence to surpress the Nonconsumption agreement which some of them had drawn up to sign, and that he has in-listed himself intirely under the influence of the ch[ie]f J[ustic]e. He also expresses great Bitterness against C[olone]l W[arre]n of P[lymout]h for encourageing young Morton to setle there3—seem's gratified with the thought of his loosing his place, &c.—So much for politicks—now for our own Domestick affairs. Mr. Rice came this afternoon. He and Mr. Thaxter are setled over at the office.4 Crosby has given up the School,5 and as it is to move to the other parish Mr. Rice cannot have it. I must therefore agree with them to take the care of John, and school him with them, which will perhaps be better for him than going to the Town School. I shall reckon over every week as they pass, and rejoice at every Saturday evening. I hope to hear from you by Mr. Cunningham when he returns tho I know not when that will be but he was so kind as to send me word that he was going and would take a letter for me.
Our little ones send their Duty to their Pappa, and the Gentlemen their respects—and that which at all times and in all places evermore attends you is the most affectionate regard of your
[signed] Abigail Adams
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in an unidentified hand: “August <25> 15 1774.”
1. Mr. Angier of Bridgewater; see JA to AA, May 1772, note 4.
2. Chief Justice Peter Oliver did indeed take his seat on the first day (30 Aug.) of the new term of Suffolk Superior Court, but both the grand and petit juries unanimously refused to be sworn, on the ground that Oliver had been impeached by the House and never acquitted. After vainly attempting to do business on the three following days the Court adjourned sine die. “Thus ended the Superior Court and is the last common Law Court that will be allowed to sit in this or any other County of the Province” (William Tudor to JA, 3 Sept. 1774, Adams Papers). See also Gage to Dartmouth, 2 Sept. 1774 (Gage, Corr., 1:371). The formal statements by the two juries were printed in Mass. Spy, 1 September.
3. Perez Morton (1750–1837), Harvard 1771, a young attorney who soon left Plymouth and became very active in the patriotic cause. He served as deputy secretary of the Revolutionary Council of State, 1775–1776; representative in the General Court from Boston, 1794–1796; from Dorchester, 1800–1811; speaker, 1806–1808, 1810–1811; attorney general of Massachusetts, 1811–1832. In 1781 he married Sarah Wentworth Apthorp (1759–1846), briefly but not very appropriately known as the “American Sappho” because of her numerous poetical effusions, one of which was a pleasant tribute to JA during his years of retirement at Quincy (“Stanzas. Written on a Social Visit to ... John Adams, Late President of the United States,” in her My Mind and Its Thoughts ..., Boston, 1823, p. 194). Despite Morton's Jeffersonian politics, the Mortons and Adamses were for many years family friends. See a sketch of Perez Morton by John Noble in Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns., 5 (1902): 282–293; DAB article on Mrs. Morton; Emily Pendleton { 142 } and Milton Ellis, Philenia: The Life and Works of Sarah Wentworth Morton, Orono, Maine, 1931, passim.
4. Both of these young men had recently entered JA's office as law clerks; see an entry in the Suffolk Bar Book, 26 July 1774, approving their engagement by JA (MHS, Procs., 1st ser., 19 [1881–1882]:152). Nathan Rice (1754–1834), of Sturbridge, Harvard 1773, joined the army in May 1775 and wrote letters to AA and JA from camps at Dorchester and Ticonderoga, 1775–1776; he served through the war, during a good part of it as major and aide-de-camp to Gen. Benjamin Lincoln (information from Harvard Univ. Archives; Heitman, Register Continental Army). John Thaxter Jr. (1755–1791), of Hingham, Harvard 1774, was first cousin to AA; he accompanied JA to Europe in 1779 as private secretary, returning in 1783, and is often mentioned in JA's Diary and Autobiography; see, further, Adams Genealogy.
5. Probably Joseph Crosby (1751–1783), Harvard 1772 (Harvard Quinquennial Cat.).

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0093

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1774-08-19

Abigail Adams to John Adams

The great distance between us, makes the time appear very long to me. It seems already a month since you left me. The great anxiety I feel for my Country, for you and for our family renders the day tedious, and the night unpleasent. The Rocks and quick Sands appear upon every Side. What course you can or will take is all wrapt in the Bosom of futurity. Uncertainty and expectation leave the mind great Scope. Did ever any Kingdom or State regain their Liberty, when once it was invaded without Blood shed? I cannot think of it without horror.
Yet we are told that all the Misfortunes of Sparta were occasiond by their too great Sollicitude for present tranquility, and by an excessive love of peace they neglected the means of making it sure and lasting. They ought to have reflected says Polibius that as there is nothing more desirable, or advantages than peace, when founded in justice and honour, so there is nothing more shameful and at the same time more pernicious when attained by bad measures, and purchased at the price of liberty.
I have received a most charming Letter from our Friend Mrs. W[arre]n.1 She desires me to tell you that her best wishes attend you thro your journey both as a Friend and patriot—hopes you will have no uncommon difficulties to surmount or Hostile Movements to impeade you—but if the Locrians should interrupt you, she hop[e]s you will beware that no future Annals may say you chose an ambitious Philip for your Leader, who subverted the noble order of the American Amphyctions, and built up a Monarchy on the Ruins of the happy institution.
I have taken a very great fondness for reading Rollin's ancient History since you left me. I am determined to go thro with it if posible in { 143 } these my days of solitude. I find great pleasure and entertainment from it, and I have perswaided Johnny to read me a page or two every day, and hope he will from his desire to oblige me entertain a fondness for it.2—We have had a charming rain which lasted 12 hours and has greatly revived the dying fruits of the earth.
I want much to hear from you. I long impatiently to have you upon the Stage of action. The first of September or the month of September, perhaps may be of as much importance to Great Britan as the Ides of March were to Ceaser. I wish you every Publick as well, as private blessing, and that wisdom which is profitable both for instruction and edification to conduct you in this difficult day.—The little flock remember Pappa, and kindly wish to see him. So does your most affectionate
[signed] Abigail Adams
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in an unidentified hand: “August 19 1774.”
1. Dated 9 Aug. 1774 and printed above.
2. Charles Rollin (1661–1741), rector of the University of Paris, was a compiler of narrative histories which were translated and issued in innumerable editions in England and America until far into the 19th century. His books had a pervasive influence on several generations of Americans because they were a principal medium through which they learned about classical heroes—the predecessors, as American orators and writers never tired of pointing out, of their own political and military heroes. A study of the circulation and reading of Rollin's books and of his influence on American patriotic attitudes would prove rewarding. The present letter shows how the earliest events of the Revolution sent readers to Rollin's books. Four different works by Rollin remain among JA's books in the Boston Public Library, including The Ancient History..., 5th edn., 7 vols., London, 1768; and The Roman History..., 3d edn., 10 vols., London, 1768. Among JQA's books in the Stone Library (MQA) are a set of the Histoire ancienne, 13 vols. in 14, Amsterdam, 1740; and two sets of the Histoire romaine, each in 16 vols., Amsterdam, 1739, and Paris, 1759–1781. It is more likely that at this period AA and JQA were reading Rollin in English than in French.
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/