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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0202

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-10-21

Abigail Adams to John Adams

Tis ten Days since I have wrote you a line; I have received one Letter since dated 27 of Sepbr.1 You do not mention having heard from me altho I have wrote six Letters. I thought I should have heard oftner from you in this absence than I had ever done before, but it has been quite otherways. I never found the communication so difficult, and tis only in my Night visions that I know any thing about you.
I have now the pleasure to tell you that we are all well. Charlly has had an ill turn since I wrote, but soon got better. Mr. Thaxter and Mr. Mason are returnd to me, and my family begins again to appear as it used to. Hayden does not stir. Says he will not go out of the parish unless he is carried out—and here nobody will let him come in. I { 306 } have offerd him part of the House that Field is in if he will but go out, but no where suits, and it is not to be wonderd at as he has wood at free cost and has plunderd pretty well from the family they live <with> many articles.2 I have a great mind to send a sheriff and put him out.
The sickness has abated here and in the Neighbouring Towns. In Boston I am told it is very sickly among the inhabitants and the soldiry. By a Man one Haskings who came out the day befor yesterday I learn; that there are but about 25 hundred Soldiers in Town. How many there are at Charlstown he could not tell. He had been in Irons 3 weeks, some malicious fellow having said that he saw him at the Battle of Lexinton, but he proved that he was not out of Boston that day, upon which he was releazd, and went with two other men out in a small boat under their Eye to fish. They play'd about near the shore a while catching small fish, till they thought they could possibly reach Dorchester Neck; no sooner were they perceived attempting to escape than they had 20 cannon dischargd at them, but they all happily reachd the shore. He says no Language can paint the distress of the inhabitants, most of them destitute of wood and of provisions of every kind. The Bakers say unless they have a new supply of wood they cannot bake above one fortnight longer—their Bisquit are not above one half the former size. The Soldiers are obliged to do very hard duty, and are uneasy to a great degree, many of them declareing they will not continue much longer in such a state but at all hazards will escape; the inhabitants are desperate, and contriveing means of escape. A floating Battery of ours went out two nights ago, and row'd near the Town, and then discharged their Guns. Some of the Ball went into the Work house, some through the Tents in the common, and one through the Sign of the Lamb Tavern; he says it drove them all out of the common, Men, women and children screaming, and throe'd them into the utmost distress. But very unhappily for us in the discharge of one of the cannon, the Ball not being properly ramed down one of them split and killd 2 men and wounded 7 more, upon which they were obliged to return. He also says that the Tories are much distressd about the fate of Dr. Church, and very anxious to obtain him, and would exchange Lovel for him. This Man is so exasperated at the ill usage he has received from them that he is determined to inlist immediately. They almost starved him whilst he was in Irons, he says he hopes it will be in his power to send some of them to Heaven for mercy.
They are building a fort by the Hay market and rending down houses for timber to do it with. In the course of the last week several person[s] { 307 } have found means to escape. One of them says tis talked in Town that How will issue a proclamation giving Liberty to all who will not take up arms to depart the Town, and make it death to have any intercourse with the Country afterwards.
At present it looks as if there was no likelihoods of peace. The Ministry are determind to proceed at all events. The people are already slaves, and have neither virtue or spirit to help themselves or us. The time is hastning when Gorge like Richard may cry a kingdom a kingdom for a horse, and want even that wealth to make the purchase.
I hope by degrees we shall be innured to hardships and become a vi[r]tuous valient people, forgetting our formour Luxery and each one apply with industery and frugality to Manufactory and husbandery till we rival all other Nations by our Virtues.
I thank you for your amuseing account of the Quaker[s]. Their great stress with regard to coulours in their dress &c. is not the only ridiculous part of their Sentiments with regard to Religious Matters.

There's not a day, but, to the Man of thought,

Betrays some secret, that throws new reproach

on life, and makes him sick of seeing more.

What are your thoughts with regard to Dr. Church? Had you much knowledg of him? I think you had no intimate acquaintance with him.

“A foe to God was ne'er true Friend to man

Some sinister intent taints all he does.”

It is a matter of great Speculation what will be his punishment. The people are much enraged against him. If he is set at liberty, even after he has received a severe punishment I do not think he will be safe. He will be dispised and detested by every one, and many suspisions will remain in the minds of people with regard to our rulers; they are for supposing this person is not sincere and that they have jealousy of.
Have you any prospect of returning. I hoped to have heard from you by the Gentlemen who came as a committe here, but they have been here a week, and I have not any Letters.
My Father and Sister Betsy desire to be rememberd to you. He is very disconsolate. It makes my heart ake to see him and I know not how to go to the House; he said to me the other day child I see your Mother, go to what part of the house I will. I think he has lost almost { 308 } as much flesh as if he had been sick, and Betsy poor Girl looks broke and worne with Grief. These near connextions how they twist and cling about the Heart and when torn of draw the best Blood from it—

“Each Friend snatchd from us is a plume

pluck'd from the wing of Humane vanity.”

Be so good as to present my Regards to Mrs. Hancoke.3 I hope she is very happy. Mrs. Warren call'd upon me on her Way to Watertown. I wish I could as easily come to you, as she can go to Watertown but tis my Lot. In the 12 years we have been married I believe we have not lived together more than six.
If you could with any conveniancy procure me the articles I wrote for I should be very glad, more especially the needles and cloth. They are in such demand that we are really distressd for want of them.
We have had abundance of rain since you left us. I hope the Sickness with which we have been excersised has not reach'd Philadelphia. Mr. Wibird has not been able to preach since you left us, and is in a very low state.
Our little ones are well. Tommy is so fat he can scarcly see out of his Eyes, but is still excersiced with them fits. Dr. Tufts son is sick with a slow fever. Adieu. I think of nothing further to add but that I am With the tenderest Regard your
[signed] Portia
PS [] Since I wrote the above I have received a Letter by Mr. Bayard for which I thank you. It gives me pleasure to find you in so good health. I have heard this Evening that a Man of War has been sent to Falmouth to make a demand of wood, upon which an express was sent of to our camp, and the express says a few hours after he set out, he heard a smart cannonade. The truth has not yet reachd us.4 We are anxious to hear from Canady.—If you can procure me some Carolina pink root from any of the Apothecarys I wish you would for Tommy. We think knots of worms is the occasion of his fits. I have tried worm Seed, but it has no Effect.—Write if you can to my Father and Sister. Send the news papers they are very acceptable.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in John Thaxter's hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esqr. at Philadelphia To the Care of Coll: Warren”; endorsed: “Portia's Letter Oct. 21. 1775.”
1. Not found.
2. Thus in MS.
3. John Hancock was married on 28 Aug. to Dorothy, daughter of Justice Edmund Quincy, at Fairfield, Conn. (DAB). See Adams Genealogy. The couple had long been engaged, but JA's surprise at the news was considerable and was expressed in a letter to James Warren of 17 Sept. (Warren-Adams Letters, 1:110).
4. The town of Falmouth (now Port• { 309 } land, Maine) was bombarded and burnt by a British naval squadron acting under orders from Adm. Samuel Graves, 17 Oct.; see French, First Year, p. 540–543, 765–766.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0203

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1775-10-21

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dear

This Letter will go by two Gentlemen, who are travelling to your Country, for the Sake of acquiring military Knowledge. The Name of one of them is Mr. John Folwell and the other Mr. Josiah Hart. Each of them is the Captain of a Company of Militia in their Country, which is no small Honour here. Captn. Hart is the Son of a Mr. Joseph Hart of Warminster in the County of Bucks in this Province, whose benevolent disposition has led him to exert himself, zealously to gather Collections of Money and other Things for the Relief of our Friends in Boston, and whose Character and Influence, has enabled him to do it with Success. These Travellers are visiting the Camp for the Sake of gaining military Knowledge by Experience, that their Country may have the Benefit of it whenever there shall be Occasion to call it forth.
I dont know that they will visit Braintree. If they should I hope you will treat them with as much Civility as your Circumstances will admit.
We have had a Calm for a long Time, but expect the Weather will change very soon. Remember me to all. My Duty to your Father, with my best Wishes for his Support under his severe Affliction.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Adams Braintree favoured by Messrs. Folwell and Hart. To the Care of Coll Warren”; above address, apparently in JA's hand: “J.A.”; endorsed: “ocbr. 21”; docketed in an unidentified hand.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0204

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-10-22

Abigail Adams to John Adams

Mr. Lorthorp1 call'd here this Evening and brought me yours of the 1 of October a day which will ever be rememberd by me, for it was the most distressing one I ever experienced. That morning I rose and went into my Mothers room, not apprehending her so near her Exit, went to her Bed with a cup of tea in my hand, raised her head to give it to her, she swallowed a few drops, gaspd and fell back upon her pillow, opend her Eyes with a look that pirced my Heart and { 310 } which I never shall forget. It was the eagerness of a last look—“and O! the last sad silence of a Friend.”
Yet she lived till 5 oclock that day, but I could not be with her. My dear Father prayed twice beside her Bed that day. God Almighty was with him and suported him that day and enabled him to go thro the Services of it. It was his communion day. He had there a tender scene to pass through—a young Grandaughter Betsy Cranch joining herself to the church, and a Beloved Wife dying to pray for—weeping children, weeping and mourning parishoners all round him, for every Eye streamed, his own heart allmost bursting as he spoke. How painful is the recollection, yet how pleasing?
I know I wound your Heart. Why should I? Ought I to give relief to my own by paining yours?

“Yet the Grief that cannot speak

Whispers the o'er fraught heart and bids it burst.”

My pen is always freer than my tongue. I have wrote many things to you that I suppose I never could have talk'd.
My Heart is made tender by repeated affliction. It never was a hard Heart. The death of Patty came very near me, having lived four years with me, under my care. I hope it will make me more continually mindful and watchfull of all those who are still committed to my charge.
Tis a great trust. I daily feel more and more of the weight and importance of it, and of my own inability. I wish I could have more of the assistance of my dearest Friend but these perilous times swallow him up.
Mr. Lorthrope has given me this account of the demand upon Falmouth. A Man of War and two tenders went down and sent to the inhabitants to demand their Arms and require them to Stand Nutur, they required time to consider, they gave them till nine oclock the next day, which time they imployed in removeing the women, children and the rest of their most valuable Effects out of Danger when they sent their answer in the Negative. Upon which they began a cannonade and were continuing it when the Express came away.— Hitchbourn and an other Gentleman got out of Town in a small Boat, one of the fogy nights we have had this week.2 I have not heard what intelegance he brings. An other person says that How enlarged all the prisoners but Lovel and he would not come out.
I have since seen the pharaphrase as tis call'd but tis as low as the mock oration tho no reflection upon your private character further { 311 } than immoderately whiping your Schollers when you kept School, a crime any one will acquit you of who knows you. As a specimen of the wit and humour it containd I will give you the tide—a pharaphrase upon the Second Epistle of John the round Head to James the prolocutor of the Rump parliment. Dear Devil &c.
I had it, but it was when I was in so much distress that I cared nothing about it. I will mention when I see you the foolish conjectures of some who want always to be finding out something extraordinary in what ever happens.
Mr. Cranchs family are well and send Love to you. Your Mother too, is always anxious for you, and is so apprehensive least a fleet should be sent to Bombard Philadelphia that she has not much comfort. Brothers family are well except young Crosby who had the dysentery very bad, and has left him Bereaved of his reason.3 Isaac is so far recoverd as to return after six weeks and Susy is returnd to me again. Our neighbours are now all getting well.

[salute] I hope to hear often from you which is all the alleviation I have of your absence, and is next to seeing you the greatest comfort of your

[signed] Portia
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in John Thaxter's hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esq. at Philadelphia To the Care of Coll: Warren”; endorsed: “Portia Octr. 22. 1775.”
1. Probably Isaac Lothrop, of Plymouth, who had been James Warren's colleague as a member of the General Court and of the several Provincial Congresses; see their Journals and Warren-Adams Letters, passim.
2. Benjamin Hichborn escaped from Adm. Graves' ship, Preston, in Boston Harbor on 19 Oct. by eluding a sentry, climbing out of the gunroom port, and dropping into the captain's canoe, in which he reached Dorchester Neck (Hichborn to JA, 25 Nov.–10 Dec. 1775, Adams Papers).
3. Presumably Joseph Crosby Jr. (1751–1783), Harvard 1772, younger brother of Mrs. Peter Boylston Adams (Mary Crosby); in 1802 his daughter Elizabeth Anne married her cousin, Boylston Adams, son of Peter Boylston Adams. (Information from Harvard Univ. Archives.)
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/