A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0234

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-03-17

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

Our worthy Friend Frank Dana arrived here last Evening from N. York, to which Place he came lately from England in the Packet.1 In Company with him, is a Gentleman by the Name of Wrixon, who has been a Field Officer in the British Army, served all the last War in Germany, and has seen service in every Part of Europe. He left the Army some time ago, and studied Law in the Temple, in which Science he made a great Proficiency. He wrote lately a Pamphlet under the Title of the Rights of Britons, which he has brought over with him. He is a Friend of Liberty and thinks justly of the American Question. He has great Abilities as well as Experience in the military Science, and is an able Engineer. I hope We shall employ him.2
The Baron De Woedke, We have made a Brigadier General, and ordered him to Canada. The Testimonials in his favour I shall inclose to you.3
Mr. Danas Account, with which Mr. Wrixons agrees, ought to extinguish in every Mind all Hopes of Reconciliation with G. Britain. This delusive Hope has done us great Injuries, and if ever We are ruined, will be the Cause of our Fall. A Hankuring after the Leeks of Egypt, makes us forget the Cruelty of her Task Masters.
I shall suffer many severe Pains, on your Account for some Days. By a Vessell from Salem a Cannonade was heard from Dark till one O Clock, last night was a Week ago. Your Vicinity to such scenes of Carnage and Desolation, as I fear are now to be seen in Boston and its Environs, will throw you into much Distress, but I believe in my Conscience I feel more here than you do. The sound of Cannon, was not so terrible when I was at Braintree as it is here, tho I hear it at four hundred Miles Distance.
{ 362 }
You cant imagine what a Mortification I sustain in not having received a single Line, from you since We parted. I suspect some Villany, in Conveyance.
By the Relation of Mr. Dana, Mr. Wrixon and Mr. Temple,4 Mr. Hutchinson, Mr. Sewall, and their Associates are in great Disgrace in England. Persons are ashamed to be seen to speak to them. They look dejected and sunk.
I shall inclose an Extract of a Letter from Monsr. Dubourg in Paris and a Testimonial in favour of our Prussian General. Adieu.
RC (Adams Papers). Enclosures not found.
1. Francis Dana (1743–1811), Harvard 1762, a lawyer of Cambridge, Mass., and a political moderate, had gone to England early in 1775 with notions of finding some mode of reconciliation between the ministry and Massachusetts. His observations evidently convinced him that separation was the only course. On returning home he was at once elected to the Council; in 1777 and again in 1784 he was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress. Dana accompanied JA on his second or “Peace” mission to Europe in 1779 as secretary of legation, and during 1781–1783 served as the first (but never accredited) American minister to the Russian Court at St. Petersburg, young JQA going with him as French interpreter. He was appointed an associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in 1785; from 1791 until his resignation in 1806 he presided as chief justice. See DAB; Cresson, Francis Dana (a rather unreliable work); and JA, Diary and Autobiography, passim. For many years Dana was one of JA's most trusted correspondents; he was friendly as well with other members of the family; and he will often appear in the story of their lives as told in their correspondence. The middle name of the first Charles Francis Adams, who was born the year after Dana retired from the Massachusetts bench, signalized JQA's respect and friendship for Dana.
2. Elias Wrixon was appointed to a colonelcy but declined it. See JCC, 4:219–220, 242, 275, 316; also JA's Diary and Autobiography, 3:382. His “Pamphlet” has not been further identified.
3. Frederic William, Baron de Woedtke, a Prussian soldier of fortune, was appointed a brigadier general, was sent to the northern army, turned out to be a drunkard, and died in the summer of 1776 at Ticonderoga (Benjamin Rush, Letters, 1:112; see the references there).
4. William Temple of New Hampshire (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:387).

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0235

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-03-19

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Yesterday I had the long expected and much wish'd Pleasure of a Letter from you, of various Dates from the 2d. to the 10 March. This is the first Line I have received since I left you. I wrote you from Watertown I believe, relating my Feast at the Quarter Master General with the Coghnawaga Indians, and from Framingham, { 363 } an Account of the ordnance there,1 and from New York I sent you a Pamphlet—hope you received these.
Since my arrival here, I have written to you as often as I could.
I am much pleased with your Caution, in your Letter, in avoiding Names both of Persons and Places, or any other Circumstances, which might designate to Strangers, the Writer, or the Person written to, or the Persons mentioned. Characters and Descriptions will do as well.
The Lye, which you say occasioned such Disputes at the Tavern, was curious enough.—Who could make and spread it? Am much obliged to an Unkle, for his Friendship: my worthy fellow Citizens may be easy about me. I never can forsake what I take to be their Interests. My own have never been considered by me, in Competition with theirs. My Ease, my domestic Happiness, my rural Pleasures, my Little Property, my personal Liberty, my Reputation, my Life, have little Weight and ever had, in my own Estimation, in Comparison of the great Object of my Country. I can say of it with great Sincerity, as Horace says of Virtue—to America only and her Friends a Friend.
You ask, what is thought of Common sense. Sensible Men think there are some Whims, some Sophisms, some artfull Addresses to superstitious Notions, some keen attempts upon the Passions, in this Pamphlet. But all agree there is a great deal of good sense, delivered in a clear, simple, concise and nervous Style.
His Sentiments of the Abilities of America, and of the Difficulty of a Reconciliation with G.B. are generally approved. But his Notions, and Plans of Continental Government are not much applauded. Indeed this Writer has a better Hand at pulling down than building.
It has been very generally propagated through the Continent that I wrote this Pamphlet.2 But altho I could not have written any Thing in so manly and striking a style, I flatter myself I should have made a more respectable Figure as an Architect, if I had undertaken such a Work. This Writer seems to have very inadequate Ideas of what is proper and necessary to be done, in order to form Constitutions for single Colonies, as well as a great Model of Union for the whole.
Your Distresses which you have painted in such lively Colours, I feel in every Line as I read. I dare not write all that I think upon this Occasion. I wish our People had taken Possession of Nook Hill, at the same Time when they got the other Heights, and before the Militia were dismissed.
Poor Cousin!—I pitty him. How much soever he may lament certain { 364 } Letters I dont lament. I never repent of what was no sin. Misfortunes may be born without Whining. But if I can believe Mr. Dana, those Letters were much admired in England. I cant help laughing when I write it, because they were really such hasty crude Scraps. If I could have foreseen their Fate, they should have been fit to be seen and worth all the Noise they have made. Mr. Dana says they were considered in England as containing a comprehensive Idea of what was necessary to be done, and as shewing Resolution enough to do it. Wretched Stuff as they really were, (according to him) they have contributed somewhat towards making certain Persons' to be thought the greatest Statesmen in the World.—So much for Vanity.
My Love, Duty, Respects, and Compliments, wherever they belong.
Virginia will be well defended, so will N.Y., so will S. Car. America will eer long, raise her Voice aloud, and assume a bolder Air.
1. No such letter has been found. In his letter of 28 April, below, JA admitted that he had perhaps not written from Framingham.
2. His authorship of Common Sense was also, to his chagrin, “propagated” in Europe; see his Diary and Autobiography, 2:351–352.
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, 2018.