A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close
-
The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0160

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1775-07-07

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dear

I have received your very agreable Favours of June 22d. and 25th. They contain more particulars than any Letters I had before received from any Body.
It is not at all surprizing to me that the wanton, cruel, and infamous Conflagration of Charlestown, the Place of your Fathers Nativity, should afflict him. Let him know that I sincerely condole with him, on that melancholly Event. It is a Method of conducting War long since become disreputable among civilized Nations: But every Year brings us fresh Evidence, that We have nothing to hope for from our loving Mother Country, but Cruelties more abominable than those which are practiced by the Savage Indians.
The account you give me of the Numbers slain on the side of our Enemies, is affecting to Humanity, altho it is a glorious Proof of the Bravery of our Worthy Countrymen. Considering all the Disadvantages under which they fought, they really exhibited Prodigies of Valour.
Your Description of the Distresses of the worthy Inhabitants of Boston, and the other Sea Port Towns, is enough to melt an Heart of stone. Our Consolation must be this, my dear, that Cities may be rebuilt, and a People reduced to Poverty, may acquire fresh Property: But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrender their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.
The Loss of Mr. Mathers Library, which was a Collection, of Books and Manuscripts made by himself, his Father, his Grandfather, and Greatgrandfather, and was really very curious and valuable, is irreparable.2
The Family picture you draw is charming indeed. My dear Nabby, Johnny, Charly and Tommy, I long to see you, and to share with your Mamma the Pleasures of your Conversation.
I feel myself much obliged to Mr. Bowdoin, Mr. Wibirt, and the two Families you mention, for their Civilities to you. My Compli• { 242 } ments to them. Does Mr. Wibirt preach against Oppression, and the other Cardinal Vices of the Times? Tell him the Clergy here, of every Denomination, not excepting the Episcopalian, thunder and lighten every sabbath. They pray for Boston and the Massachusetts—they thank God most explicitly and fervently for our remarkable Successes—they pray for the American Army. They seem to feel as if they were among you.
You ask if every Member feels for Us? Every Member says he does—and most of them really do. But most of them feel more for themselves. In every Society of Men, in every Clubb, I ever yet saw, you find some who are timid, their Fears hurry them away upon every Alarm—some who are selfish and avaricious, on whose callous Hearts nothing but Interest and Money can make Impression. There are some Persons in New York and Philadelphia, to whom a ship is dearer than a City, and a few Barrells of flower, than a thousand Lives—other Mens Lives I mean.
You ask, can they reallize what We suffer? I answer No. They cant, they dont—and to excuse them as well as I can, I must confess I should not be able to do it, myself, if I was not more acquainted with it by Experience than they are.
I am grieved for Dr. Tufts's ill Health: but rejoiced exceedingly at his virtuous Exertions in the Cause of his Country.
I am happy to hear that my Brothers were at Grape Island and behaved well. My Love to them, and Duty to my Mother.
It gives me more Pleasure than I can express to learn that you sustain with so much Fortitude, the Shocks and Terrors of the Times. You are really brave, my dear, you are an Heroine. And you have Reason to be. For the worst that can happen, can do you no Harm. A soul, as pure, as benevolent, as virtuous and pious as yours has nothing to fear, but every Thing to hope and expect from the last of human Evils.
Am glad you have secured an Assylum, tho I hope you will not have occasion for it.
Love to Brother Cranch and sister and the Children.
There is an amiable, ingenious Hussy, named Betcy Smith, for whom I have a very great Regard. Be pleased to make my Love acceptable to her, and let her know, that her elegant Pen cannot be more usefully employed than in Writing Letters to her Brother at Phyladelphia, tho it may more agreably in writing Billet doux to young Gentlemen.
The other Day, after I had received a Letter of yours, with one or two others, Mr. William Barrell desired to read them. I put them into { 243 } his Hand, and the next Morning had them returned in a large Bundle packed up with two great Heaps of Pins, with a very polite Card requesting Portias Acceptance of them.3 I shall bring them with me [when]4 I return: But when that will be is uncertain.—I hope not more than a Month hence.
I have really had a very disagreable Time of it. My Health and especialy my Eyes have been so very bad, that I have not been so fit for Business as I ought, and if I had been in perfect Health, I should have had in the present Condition of my Country and my Friends, no Taste for Pleasure. But Dr. Young has made a kind of Cure of my Health and Dr. Church of my Eyes.
Have received two kind Letters from your Unkle Smith5—do thank him for them—I shall forever love him for them. I love every Body that writes to me.

[salute] I am forever yours—

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree”; endorsed: “C No 14.”
1. Corrected from “June” by overwriting.
2. The Mather family books and MSS largely survived and now form “the greatest treasure of the American Antiquarian Society” (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 7:236). JA's knowledge of this famous collection derived from direct use of it; see his Diary and Autobiography, 3:302.
3. See AA's request in her letter to JA of 16? June, above. Barrell's “Card” has not been found, William Barrell (d.1776) was “a worthy Bostonian transmuted into a worthy Philadelphian” (JA to James Warren, 30 July 1775, Warren-Adams Letters, 1:95). A collection of Barrell's papers is in MHi, including a long and important series of letters written to him by his brother-in-law John Andrews, 1772–1776, printed in MHS, Procs., 1st ser., 8 (1864–1865): 316–412.
4. MS torn by seal.
5. Only one has been found, that of 24 June–1 July, above.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0161

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-07-12

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] Dearest Friend

I have met with some abuse and very Ill treatment. I want you for my protector and justifier.
In this Day of distress for our Boston Friends when every one does what in them lyes to serve them, your Friend Gorge Trott and family moved up to Braintree, went in with her two Brothers and families with her Father, but they not thinking themselves so secure as further in the Country moved away.1 After they were gone Mr. Church took the house and took a number of borders. Mr. Trott had engaged a house near his Friends but being prevented going quite so soon as he { 244 } designd, and the great distress people were in for houses, the owner had taken in a family and dissapointed Mr. Trott, nor could he procure a house any where, for the more remote from the sea coast you go the thicker you find the Boston people. After this dissapointment, he had his Goods without unloading brought back to Braintree, and he with all his family were obliged to shelter themselves in your Brothers house till he could seek further.2 You know, from the situation of my Brothers family it was impossible for them to tarry there, Mrs. Trots circumstances requiring more rooms than one. In this extremity he applied to me to see if I would not accommodate him with the next house, every other spot in Town being full. I sent for Mr. Hayden and handsomely asked him, he said he would try, but he took no pains to procure himself a place.3 There were several in the other parish which were to be let, but my Gentleman did not chuse to go there. Mr. Trot upon account of his Buisness which is in considerable demand wanted to be here. Mr. Trott, finding there was no hopes of his going out said he would go in with him, provided I would let him have the chamber I improved for a Dairy room and the lower room and chamber over it which Hayden has. I then sent and asked Mr. Hayden to be so kind as to remove his things into the other part of the house and told him he might improve the kitchen and back chamber, the bed room and the Dairy room in which he already had a bed. He would not tell me whether he would or not, but said I was turning him out of Door to oblige Boston folks, and he could not be stired up, and if you was at home you would not once ask him to go out, but was more of a Gentleman. (You must know that both his Sons are in the army, not but one Days Work has been done by any of them this Spring.) I as mildly as I could represented the distress of Mr. Trot and the difficulties to which he had been put—that I looked upon it my Duty to do all in my power to Oblige him—and that he Hayden would be much better accommodated than hundreds who were turnd out of Town—and I finally said that Mr. Trott should go in. In this State, Sister Adams got to bed and then there was not a Spot in Brothers house for them to lie down in.4 I removed my dairy things, and once more requested the old Man to move into the other part of the house, but he positively tells me he will not and all the art of Man shall not stir him, even dares me to put any article out of one room into an other. Says Mr. Trot shall not come in—he has got possession and he will keep it. What not have a place to entertain his children in when they come to see him. I now write you an account of the matter, and desire you to write to him and give me orders what course I shall take. I must take Mr. Trott in with { 245 } me and all his family for the present, till he can look out further or have that house. It would make your heart ake to see what difficulties and distresses the poor Boston people are driven to. Belcher has two families with him. There are 3 in Veses [Veasey's] house, 2 in Etters, 2 in Mr. Savils, 2 in Jonathan Bass'es and yet that obstinate Wretch will not remove his few things into the other part of that house, but live there paying no rent upon the distresses of others.
It would be needless to enumerate all his impudence. Let it suffice to say it moved me so much that I had hard Work to suppress my temper. I want to know whether his things may be removed into the other part of the house, whether he consents or not? Mr. Trott would rejoice to take the whole, but would put up with any thing rather than be a burden to his Friends. I told the old Man I believed I was doing nothing but what I should be justified in. He says well tis a time of war get him out if I can, but cannon Ball shall not move him. If you think you are able to find 3 houses, for 3 such tenents as you have they must abide where they are,5 tho I own I shall be much mortified if you do not support me.6
I feel too angry to make this any thing further than a Letter of Buisness. I am most sincerely yours,
[signed] Abigail Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams Esqr Phyladelphia To the care of the Committee of Safety.”
1. George Trott, a Boston jeweler who lived in the South End and was an active Son of Liberty, had in 1776 married Ann Boylston Cunningham, daughter of JA's uncle James Cunningham (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:294; Adams Genealogy).
2. This brother was evidently Peter Boylston Adams; see note 4.
3. Braintree literally teemed with Haydens, old and young, and the particular Hayden or Haydens who were at this time apparently tenants in the John Adams Birthplace cannot be identified. (This entire letter and all other allusions to the dispute with old Mr. Hayden were omitted by CFA in editing the correspondence of AA and JA.)
4. AA reported the recent birth of a niece in her letter to Mercy Warren, 24 July, below; and a daughter of Peter Boylston and Mary (Crosby) Adams was baptized Susannah on 16 July (Quincy, First Church, MS Records). She died in April 1776. See Adams Genealogy.
5. Thus in MS.
6. Three years later AA felt that she had “wrought almost a miracle” when she finally succeeded in getting Hayden “out of the house, or rather hired him to remove” (to John Thaxter, 9 April 1778, Adams Papers).
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/