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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0163

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1775-07-17

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dear

About five O Clock this Morning, I went with young Dr. Bond at his Invitation and in his Carriage, to his Fathers Seat in the Country. His Mother, with three of her Grand Children, little Girls, resides here. The old Lady has lately lost two of her Children grown up, and as she cannot forget them, retires to this little Box, to indulge or aswage her Grief.1 The House is only one small room, with one Chamber over it. But the Farm is large, the Gardens very spacious, the orchards noble, and the Fruit Trees, very numerous and of great Variety. Noble Rowes of poplar Trees, in Europe they are called Tulip Trees, a more noble and beautifull Tree, than our Lime Trees. The House stands upon the highest Land, that is any where to be found in the Neighbourhood of this City. The Prospect round it is rural, very spacious and very agreable. The Air is very pure.
We breakfasted, upon balm Tea and Bread and Butter. A most amuzing and refreshing Excursion We had, and such Excursions are very necessary to preserve our Health, amidst the suffocating Heats of the City, and the wasting, exhausting Debates of the Congress.
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This young Dr. Bond is above thirty, perhaps near forty. He has lost his Wife, and has two pretty little Girls—one about Ten Years old who sings most sweetly and dances, delightfully. He is the Tom Brattle of Philadelphia2—fat and jolly, a Lover of Pleasure, educated at the Colledge here, has been in Trade, and sunk his father five or six thousand Pounds sterling, and then returned to the Study and practice of Physic. Wine and Women he uses very freely. There is a pretty Girl, in a Chamber opposite to his Lodgings in the City, with whom he is supposed to have Connections.—Epicurism and Debauchery, are more common in this Place than in Boston.
I never observe in the World, an Example, of any Person brought to Poverty from Affluence, from Health to Distemper, from Fame to Disgrace by the Vices and Follies of the age, but it throws me into a deep Rumination upon Education. My poor Children, I fear will loose some Advantages in Point of Education, from my continual Absence from them. Truth, Sobriety, Industry should be pe[r]petually inculcated upon them.
Pray my dear, let them be taught Geography and the Art of copying as well as drawing Plans of Cities, Provinces, Kingdoms, and Countries—especially of America. I have found great Inconvenience for Want of this Art, since I have had to contemplate America so much, and since I had to study the Processes and Operations of War.
But their Honour, Truth, in one Word their Morals, are of most importance. I hope these will be kept pure.
1. Thomas Bond Sr. (1712–1784) studied medicine in Annapolis and in Europe and is best remembered for suggesting the idea and collaborating with Benjamin Franklin in founding the Pennsylvania Hospital, 1751–1752; his wife was the former Sarah Roberts (DAB). Their son Thomas (1743–1794), College of Philadelphia 1760, served as a medical officer during the Revolution (Benjamin Rush, Letters, 1:154 and passim; Louis C. Duncan, Medical Men in the American Revolution, Carlisle, 1931, p. 184 and passim).
2. Thomas Brattle (1742–1801), Harvard 1760, son of JA's old antagonist Gen. William Brattle of Cambridge. There is a brief account of his somewhat curious career in MHS, Colls., 1st ser., 8 (1802):82–85.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0164

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1775-07-23

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dear

You have more than once in your Letters mentioned Dr. Franklin, and in one intimated a Desire that I should write you something concerning him.
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Dr. Franklin has been very constant in his Attendance on Congress from the Beginning. His Conduct has been composed and grave and in the Opinion of many Gentlemen very reserved. He has not assumed any Thing, nor affected to take the lead; but has seemed to choose that the Congress should pursue their own Principles and sentiments and adopt their own Plans: Yet he has not been backward: has been very usefull, on many occasions, and discovered a Disposition entirely American. He does not hesitate at our boldest Measures, but rather seems to think us, too irresolute, and backward. He thinks us at present in an odd State, neither in Peace nor War, neither dependent nor independent. But he thinks that We shall soon assume a Character more decisive.
He thinks, that We have the Power of preserving ourselves, and that even if We should be driven to the disagreable Necessity of assuming a total Independency, and set up a separate state, We could maintain it. The People of England, have thought that the Opposition in America, was wholly owing to Dr. Franklin: and I suppose their scribblers will attribute the Temper, and Proceedings of this Congress to him: but there cannot be a greater Mistake. He has had but little share farther than to co operate and assist. He is however a great and good Man. I wish his Colleagues from this City were All like him, particularly one,1 whose Abilities and Virtues, formerly trumpeted so much in America, have been found wanting.
There is a young Gentleman from Pensylvania whose Name is Wilson, whose Fortitude, Rectitude, and Abilities too, greatly outshine his Masters. Mr. Biddle, the Speaker, has been taken off, by Sickness. Mr. Mifflin is gone to the Camp, Mr. Morton is ill too, so that this Province has suffered by the Timidity of two overgrown Fortunes. The Dread of Confiscation, or Caprice, I know not what has influenced them too much: Yet they were for taking Arms and pretended to be very valiant.2—This Letter must be secret my dear—at least communicated with great Discretion. Yours,
[signed] John Adams
1. John Dickinson.
2. On 6 May 1775 the Pennsylvania Assembly had added three men to its delegation in the second Continental Congress: Benjamin Franklin, who had just arrived from England; Thomas Willing, a rich and conservative merchant in Philadelphia; and James Wilson, a lawyer in Carlisle (Penna. Archives, 8th ser., 8:7231). Of the six who had been elected earlier, JA mentions here that Edward Biddle and John Morton were ill too much of the time to be of much service, and that Thomas Mifflin had gone into the army. Though JA does not mention them specifically, the other two (besides Dickinson)—Charles Humphreys, a Quaker, and George Ross, of { 254 } Lancaster—were relatively inactive members. The “two overgrown Fortunes” who dominated the Pennsylvania delegation were, therefore, Dickinson and Willing.
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/