A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0146

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1775-06-11

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dear

I have been this Morning to hear Mr. Duffil,1 a Preacher in this City whose Principles, Prayers and Sermons more nearly resemble those of our New England Clergy than any that I have heard.
His Discourse was a kind of Exposition on the thirty fifth Chapter of Isaiah.—America was the Wilderness and the Solitary Place, and he said it would be glad, rejoice, and blossom as the Rose. He laboured to strengthen the weak Hands, and confirm the feeble Knees. He said to them that were of a fearful Heart, be strong, fear not: behold your God will come with Vengeance, even God with a Recompence will come and save you. No Lyon shall be there, nor any ravenous Beast shall go up thereon, but the redeemed shall walk there—&c.
He applied the whole Prophecy to this Country, and gave us, as animating an Entertainment, as I ever heard. He fill'd and swell'd the Bosom of every Hearer.
I hope you have received a Letter, in which I inclosed you, a Pastoral Letter from the Synod of New York and Phyladelphia: by this you will see that the Clergy, this Way, are but now beginning to engage in Politicks, and they engage with a fervour that will produce wonderfull Effects.2
I can now inform you that the Congress have made Choice of the modest and virtuous, the amiable, generous and brave George Washington Esqr., to be the General of the American Army, and that he is to repair as soon as possible to the Camp before Boston.3 This Appointment will have a great Effect, in cementing and securing the Union of these Colonies.—The Continent is really in earnest in defending the Country. They have voted Ten Companies of Rifle Men to be sent from Pensylvania, Maryland and Virginia, to join the Army before Boston. These are an excellent Species of Light Infantry. They use a peculiar Kind of [ . . . ][ca]ll'd4 a Rifle—it has circular or [ . . . ] Grooves within the Barrell, and carries a Ball, with great Exactness to great Distances. They are the most accurate Marksmen in the World.
{ 216 }
I begin to hope We shall not sit all Summer.
I hope the People of our Province, will treat the General with all that Confidence and Affection, that Politeness and Respect, which is due to one of the most important Characters in the World. The Liberties of America, depend upon him, in a great Degree.
I have never been able to obtain from our Province, any regular and particular Intelligence since I left it. Kent, Swift, Tudor, Dr. Cooper, Dr. Winthrop, and others wrote me often, last Fall—not a Line from them this Time.
I have found this Congress like the last. When We first came together, I found a strong Jealousy of Us, from New England, and the Massachusetts in Particular. Suspicions were entertained of Designs of Independency—an American Republic—Presbyterian Principles—and twenty other Things. Our Sentiments were heard in Congress, with great Caution—and seemed to make but little Impression: but the longer We sat, the more clearly they saw the Necessity of pursuing vigorous Measures. It has been so now. Every Day We sit, the more We are convinced that the Designs against Us, are hostile and sanguinary, and that nothing but Fortitude, Vigour, and Perseverance can save Us.
But America is a great, unwieldy Body. Its Progress must be slow. It is like a large Fleet sailing under Convoy. The fleetest Sailors must wait for the dullest and slowest. Like a Coach and six—the swiftest Horses must be slackened and the slowest quickened, that all may keep an even Pace.
It is long since I heard from you. I fear you have been kept in continual Alarms. My Duty and Love to all. My dear Nabby, Johnny, Charly and Tommy come here and kiss me.
We have appointed a continental Fast.5 Millions will be upon their Knees at once before their great Creator, imploring his Forgiveness and Blessing, his Smiles on American Councils and Arms.
My Duty to your Uncle Quincy—your Papa, Mama and mine—my Brothers and sisters and yours.

[salute] Adieu.6

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree”; notation on cover: “Forwarded by your very hum sevt John Hancock Philada. 18 June 1775”; endorsed: “C No 10.”
1. Rev. George Duffield (1732–1790), College of New Jersey 1752, minister of the Third Presbyterian Church, Third and Pine Streets (Sprague, Annals Amer. Pulpit, 3:186–192).
2. A Pastoral Letter from the Synod of New York and Philadelphia, to the Congregations under Their Care; to Be Read from the Pulpits ... June 29, 1775, N.Y., 1775 (Evans 14410). This had { 217 } been written by John Witherspoon as chairman of the committee to draft it (Varnum Lansing Collins, President Witherspoon: A Biography, Princeton, 1925, 1:176–177; 2:248–249). The letter in which JA enclosed it to AA is not identifiable.
3. Washington was unanimously elected commander in chief on 15 June (JCC, 2:91). JA's vivid recollections of this event and of his own part in it are in his Diary and Autobiography, 3:321–324.
4. MS worn, here and below, by creasing.
5. See JCC, 2:81, 87–88; 3:507; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:353; JA to AA, 23 July, below.
6. Probably unsigned, but the MS is worn away in a crease where the signature, or possibly initials, would have appeared if written.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0147

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-06-16

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I set down to write to you a monday, but really could not compose myself sufficently: the anxiety I sufferd from not hearing one syllable from you for more than five weeks; and the new distress ariseing from the arrival of recruits agitated me more than I have been since the never to be forgotten 142 of April.
I have been much revived by receiving two letters from you last Night, one by the servant of your Friend and the other by the Gentleman you mention, tho they both went to Cambridge, and I have not seen them.3 I hope to send this as a return to you.
I feard much for your Health when you went away. I must intreat you to be as careful as you can consistant with the Duty you owe your Country. That consideration alone prevaild with me to consent to your departure, in a time so perilous and so hazardous to your family, and with a body so infirm as to require the tenderest care and nursing. I wish you may be supported and devinely assisted in this most important crisis when the fate of Empires depend upon your wisdom and conduct. I greatly rejoice to hear of your union, and determination to stand by us.
We cannot but consider the great distance you are from us as a very great misfortune, when our critical situation renders it necessary to hear from you every week, and will be more and more so, as difficulties arise. We now expect our Sea coasts ravaged. Perhaps, the very next Letter I write will inform you that I am driven away from our, yet quiet cottage. Necessity will oblige Gage to take some desperate steps. We are told for Truth, that he is now Eight thousand strong. We live in continual expectation of allarms. Courage I know we have in abundance, conduct I hope we shall not want, but powder—where shall we get a sufficient supply? I wish we may not fail there. Every Town is fill'd with the distressd inhabitants of Boston—our House { 218 } among others is deserted, and by this time like enough made use of as a Barrack.—Mr. Bowdoin with his Lady, are at present in the house of Mrs. Borland,4 and are a going to Middlebouragh to the house of Judge Oliver. He poor Gentleman is so low, that I apprehend he is hastening to an house not made with Hands—looks like a mere skelliton, speaks faint and low, is racked with a voilent cough, and I think far advanced in a consumption. I went to see him last Saturday. He is very inquisitive of every person with regard to the times, beged I would let him know of the first inteligence I had from you, is very unable to converse by reason of his cough. He rides every pleasent Day, and has been kind enough to call at the Door, (tho unable to get out) several times. Says the very name of Hutchinson distresses him. Speaking of him the other day he broke out, “religious Rascal, how I abhor his Name.”
We have had very dry weather not a rainy day since you left us. The english Grass will not yeald half so great a crop as last year. Fruit premisses well, but the Cattepillars have been innumerable.
I wrote you with regard to the money I had got from Providence.5 I have since that obtain'd the rest. I have done as you directed with regard to the payment of some you mentiond, but it incroachd some upon your Stock. You will write me with regard to what you have necessity for and how I shall convey to you.—Mr. Rice is dissapointed of his place in the Army but has hopes of joining a company much talked of here under Mr. Hancock when he returns. I came here with some of my cousin Kents6 who came to see me a day, or two ago, and have left company to write you this afternoon least I should fail of conveyance. Pray be perticuliar when you write as possible—every body wants to hear, and to know what is doing, and what may be communicated, do not fail to inform me. All our Friends desire to be kindly rememberd to you. Gage'es proclamation you will receive by this conveyance. All the records of time cannot produce a blacker page. Satan when driven from the regions of bliss, Exibeted not more malice. Surely the father of lies is superceded.—Yet we think it the best proclamation he could have issued.7
I shall when ever I can, receive and entertain in the best Manner I am capable the Gentlemen who have so generously proferd their Service in our Army. Goverment is wanted in the army, and Else where. We see the want of it more from so large a body being together, than when each individual was imployd in his own domestick circle.—My best regards attend every Man you esteem. You will make my complements to Mr. Miflin and Lady. I do not now wonder at the regard the Laidies express for a Soldier—every man who wears a { 219 } cockade appears of double the importance he used to, and I feel a respect for the lowest Subaltern in the Army.—You tell me you know not when you shall see me. I never trust myself long with the terrors which sometimes intrude themselves upon me.
I hope we shall see each other again and rejoice together in happier Days. The little ones are well, and send Duty to Pappa. Dont fail of letting me hear from you by every opportunity, every line is like a precious Relict of the Saints. Pray dont Expose me by a communication of any of my Letters—a very bad Soar upon the middle finger of my right hand has prevented my writing for 3 weeks. This is the 5 Letter I have wrote you. I hope they have all come to hand.—I have a request to make you. Something like the Barrel of Sand suppose you will think it, but really of much more importance to me. It is that you would send out Mr. Bass and purchase me a bundle of pins and put in your trunk for me. The cry for pins is so great that what we used to Buy for 7.6 are now 20 Shillings and not to be had for that. A bundle contains 6 thousand for which I used to give a Dollor, but if you can procure them for 50 [shillings] or 3 pound, pray let me have them. Mr. Welch8 who carries this to head Quarters waits which prevents my adding more than that I am with the tenderest Regard your
[signed] Portia
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in an unidentified hand: “To John Adams Esqr. in Philadelphia To the Care of the Committee of Safety at Cambridge”; docketed in an unidentified hand.
1. AA inserted the day of the month above the line and then partly overwrote it so that it cannot now be read with certainty. But the letter was at least in part written on the same day as her letter to James Bowdoin of the 16th, q.v., following.
2. Thus clearly in MS, but meant of course for “19”–an example of AA's habitual and extreme unreliability in dating anything whatever.
3. The letters were those of 29 and 26 May respectively, one of which came by John Hancock's servant and the other by the Halls of Maryland; both are printed above.
4. The Vassall-Borland house, now the Adams National Historic Site, 135 Adams Street, Quincy. John Borland, a loyalist, who had used the house as a summer residence, had died earlier this month in Boston; his widow, Anna (Vassall) Borland, recovered this portion of her property after the Revolution, and in 1787, while still in London, JA bought the house and extensive farm surrounding it from Mrs. Borland's son, Leonard Vassall Borland. The “Old House,” as it was long called by the family, was occupied by four generations of Adamses, until the death of BA in 1927. In 1946 the house, outbuildings, and furnishings were presented by the family to the United States, and the property has since then been administered by the National Park Service. See HA2, “The Adams Mansion,” Old-Time New England, 19:3–17 (July 1928), an illustrated account which was issued in an enlarged and separate form by the Adams Memorial Society, Quincy, 1935. As the headquarters of the family during most of the years covered by this edition of The Adams Papers, the Old House will play a large if not a speaking part in the volumes that follow.
{ 220 }
5. No such letter has been found. Since AA says farther on that she has now written five letters to JA since he left Braintree, and this is only the fourth known to be extant, one is obviously missing from the sequence.
6. These were children of AA's uncle Ebenezer (1700?–1776) and aunt Anna (Smith) Kent (1708–1781). See Adams Genealogy; also note 8 below.
7. A proclamation issued by Gage on 12 June but actually written by Gen. John Burgoyne in his characteristically bombastic style. It was directed to “the infatuated multitudes, who have long suffered themselves to be conducted by certain well-known incendiaries and traitors”—all of whom, however, with the exception of Samuel Adams and John Hancock, were promised pardon if they ceased resisting royal authority. Ford, Mass. Broadsides, No. 1814; Evans 14184.
8. Thomas Welsh (1752?–1831), Harvard 1772 and honorary M.D. 1811, who in 1777 was to marry (2dly) AA's cousin Abigail Kent (1750–1825). See Adams Genealogy.
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/