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-04-01-02-0238

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-03-29

John Adams to Abigail Adams

I give you Joy of Boston and Charlestown, once more the Habitations of Americans. Am waiting with great Impatience for Letters from you, which I know will contain many Particulars.
We are taking Precautions to defend every Place that is in Danger—The Carolinas, Virginia, N. York, Canada.
I can think of nothing but fortifying Boston Harbour. I want more Cannon than are to be had, I want a Fortification upon Point Alderton,1 one upon Lovells Island, one upon Georges Island, several upon Long Island, one upon the Moon, one upon Squantum.
I want to hear of half a Dozen Fire ships and two or three hundred Fire Rafts prepared. I want to hear of Row Gallies, floating Batteries Built, and Booms laid across the Channell in the Narrows and Vesseauu de Frize, sunk in it. I wish to hear, that you are translating Braintree Commons into the Channell.
No Efforts, No Expence are too extravagant for me to wish for to fortify that Harbour so as to make it impregnable. I hope every Body will join and work untill it is done.
We have this Week lost a very valuable Friend of the Colonies, in Governor Ward of Rhode Island, by the small Pox in the natural Way. He never would hearken to his Friends who have been constantly advising him to be inoculated ever since the first Congress began. But he would not be perswaded. Numbers, who have been inoculated, have gone through the Distemper, without any Danger, or even Confinement, but nothing would do.—He must take it in the natural Way and die.
He was an amiable and a sensible Man, a stedfast Friend to his Country upon very pure Principles.
His Funeral was attended with the same Solemnities as Mr. Randolphs. Mr. Stillman being the Anabaptist Minister here, of which Perswasion was the Governor, was desired by Congress to preach a sermon, which he did with great Applause.2

[salute] Remember me as you ought.

1. Point Allerton, at the tip of the Nantasket peninsula.
2. Samuel Ward (1725–1776), former governor of Rhode Island and delegate to the Continental Congress from its beginning in 1774, died on 26 March and was given a public funeral next day (DAB; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:376).

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0239

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tufts, Cotton
Date: 1776-03-29

John Adams to Cotton Tufts

[salute] My dear sir

We are impatiently waiting for Intelligence of further Particulars from Boston. We have only heard that General How and his Army have left it, and that General Washington with a Part of his, has taken Possession of it. How shall I express my Joy to you at this great Event! As we are in Possession of Dorchester Heights, Charlestown Heights and Noddles Island, I think there can be no Danger of their Returning to Boston very soon. I hope, the Instant they leave the Harbour, that our Colony will begin to fortify it in such a Manner, that no hostile Fleet shall ever enter it again. I hope We shall fortify upon the Heights of Point Alderton, upon Lovells Island, Georges Island, Governors Island, Castle Island, Dorchester Heights and Noddles Island. I had like to have forgot Long Island And the Moon and Squantum, for there should be a Fortification upon each of these.
What can be done to obstruct the Channell between the West Head of Long Island and the Moon? But more especially, can nothing be done in Nantaskett Road, or in the Narrows to obstruct the Channell.
Will Gallies, carrying heavy Cannon be of any service? The Men of War seem to dread them exceedingly. They convey a sure shot and a terrible one, and they are very nimble and alert.
But cannot some thing be done, with Fire? Fire ships or sloops, or schooners, or Fire Rafts or all together, I should think might be used to some Purpose.
They are making Preparations to defend this River in this Way, I mean with Fire. They have several Fire Vessells besides several Hundreds of Fire Rafts, ready. They would fill the whole River with Flame.
If the Bottom in the Narrows of our Channell is hard, I should think that the Vesseau de Frize, which is used in this River would do. They are large Frames of great Timber, loaded with stone and sunk. Great Timbers barbed with Iron, pointed and feathered, are placed in such a Posture as to intangle a Vessell, and shatter her, and sink her.
I hope that No Efforts, No Labour, or Expence will be spared in securing Boston Harbour against Enemies. It will be our Interest to do it, for as Privateering is begun and Trade will be opened, nothing will draw into our Country so many Prizes, so much Trade and Wealth as an impregnable Harbour. It will become the Principal Rendezvous { 368 } in my Opinion of Privateers, and American Men of War, as well as a Principal Mart.
I hope, if Batteries, fixed or floating, Fire Works, Gallies, Vesseau de Frize, or all together can secure that Harbour, let it be done.
We are taking every Precaution to secure N. York, Virginia, Carolina and Canada, and by the Blessing of Heaven, I have great Hopes We shall do it with success. My Duty to Mrs. Tufts and Love to Mr. Cotton,1 and believe me to be your sincere Friend,
[signed] John Adams
RC (NhHi).
1. Cotton Tufts Jr.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0240

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Quincy, Norton
Date: 1776-03-30

John Adams to Norton Quincy

[salute] Dear sir

The Acquisition of Boston, and its Harbour is of such vast Importance to the Province of Massachusetts Bay and New England in general, and indeed to all the confederated Colonies; that the Utmost Wisdom and public Spirit of our Countrymen ought to be employed in order to preserve it by such Fortifications as will make it impregnable for the future by any hostile Fleet.
There is not in the whole World perhaps an Harbour, whose Channell is commanded by so many Eminencies, both upon Islands and the Main: But in order to avail ourselves of the full Benefit of these natural Advantages many heavy Cannon and much Powder will be wanted. I hope that Measures will be fallen upon to procure a supply of both.
I think that the Militia of every Town which lies around Boston Harbour, ought to be formed into Matrosses or Artillery Men, that so they may be ready upon Occasion to go down to the Garrisons in the Harbour, and there officiate for the Defence of their Country.
It is now Twelve Days, since our Army entered Boston, and We have heard no Particulars. I wish you would be kind enough to put your Pen to Paper, now and then, for the Edification, Comfort, Information &c. of your Friend,
[signed] John Adams
Remember me to all.
MS not found. Printed from a facsimile of RC in (Anderson Galleries, N.Y., Catalogue of Sale No. 2026 (Manning Sale, pt. 1), 19–20 Jan. 1926, lot 281). RC sold later by Samuel T. Freeman, Phila., Frederick S. Peck Collec• { 369 } tion, pt. 3, 13–14 May 1947, lot 1, where the address is given as “to the Hon. Norton Quincy.”

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0241

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-03-31

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I wish you would ever write me a Letter half as long as I write you; and tell me if you may where your Fleet are gone? What sort of Defence Virginia can make against our common Enemy? Whether it is so situated as to make an able Defence? Are not the Gentery Lords and the common people vassals, are they not like the uncivilized Natives Brittain represents us to be? I hope their Riffel Men who have shewen themselves very savage and even Blood thirsty; are not a specimen of the Generality of the people.
I am willing to allow the Colony great merrit for having produced a Washington but they have been shamefully duped by a Dunmore.
I have sometimes been ready to think that the passion for Liberty cannot be Eaquelly Strong in the Breasts of those who have been accustomed to deprive their fellow Creatures of theirs. Of this I am certain that it is not founded upon that generous and christian principal of doing to others as we would that others should do unto us.
Do not you want to see Boston; I am fearfull of the small pox, or I should have been in before this time. I got Mr. Crane to go to our House and see what state it was in. I find it has been occupied by one of the Doctors of a Regiment, very dirty, but no other damage has been done to it. The few things which were left in it are all gone. Cranch1 has the key which he never deliverd up. I have wrote to him for it and am determined to get it cleand as soon as possible and shut it up. I look upon it a new acquisition of property, a property which one month ago I did not value at a single Shilling, and could with pleasure have seen it in flames.
The Town in General is left in a better state than we expected, more oweing to a percipitate flight than any Regard to the inhabitants, tho some individuals discoverd a sense of honour and justice and have left the rent of the Houses in which they were, for the owners and the furniture unhurt, or if damaged sufficent to make it good.
Others have committed abominable Ravages. The Mansion House of your President2 is safe and the furniture unhurt whilst both the House and Furniture of the Solisiter General3 have fallen a prey to their own merciless party. Surely the very Fiends feel a Reverential awe for Virtue and patriotism, whilst they Detest the paricide and traitor.
{ 370 }
I feel very differently at the approach of spring to what I did a month ago. We knew not then whether we could plant or sow with safety, whether when we had toild we could reap the fruits of our own industery, whether we could rest in our own Cottages, or whether we should not be driven from the sea coasts to seek shelter in the wilderness, but now we feel as if we might sit under our own vine and eat the good of the land.
I feel a gaieti de Coar4 to which before I was a stranger. I think the Sun looks brighter, the Birds sing more melodiously, and Nature puts on a more chearfull countanance. We feel a temporary peace, and the poor fugitives are returning to their deserted habitations.
Tho we felicitate ourselves, we sympathize with those who are trembling least the Lot of Boston should be theirs. But they cannot be in similar circumstances unless pusilanimity and cowardise should take possession of them. They have time and warning given them to see the Evil and shun it.—I long to hear that you have declared an independancy—and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.
That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity. Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your Sex. Regard us then as Beings placed by providence under your protection and in immitation of the Supreem Being make use of that power only for our happiness.
Not having an opportunity of sending this I shall add a few lines more; tho not with a heart so gay. I have been attending the sick chamber of our Neighbour Trot whose affliction I most sensibly feel but cannot discribe, striped of two lovely children in one week. Gorge the Eldest died on wedensday and Billy the youngest on fryday, with { 371 } the Canker fever, a terible disorder so much like the thr[o]at distemper, that it differs but little from it. Betsy Cranch has been very bad, but upon the recovery. Becky Peck they do not expect will live out the day. Many grown person[s] are now sick with it, in this [street?] 5. It rages much in other Towns. The Mumps too are very frequent. Isaac is now confined with it. Our own little flock are yet well. My Heart trembles with anxiety for them. God preserve them.
I want to hear much oftener from you than I do. March 8 was the last date of any that I have yet had.—You inquire of whether I am making Salt peter. I have not yet attempted it, but after Soap making believe I shall make the experiment. I find as much as I can do to manufacture cloathing for my family which would else be Naked. I know of but one person in this part of the Town who has made any, that is Mr. Tertias Bass as he is calld who has got very near an hundred weight which has been found to be very good. I have heard of some others in the other parishes. Mr. Reed of Weymouth has been applied to, to go to Andover to the mills which are now at work, and has gone. I have lately seen a small Manuscrip de[s]cribing the proportions for the various sorts of powder, fit for cannon, small arms and pistols. If it would be of any Service your way I will get it transcribed and send it to you.—Every one of your Friend[s] send their Regards, and all the little ones. Your Brothers youngest child lies bad with convulsion fitts.5 Adieu. I need not say how much I am Your ever faithfull Friend.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in an unidentified hand: “To The Honble. John Adams Esqr: In Philadelphia”; franked: “Free”; endorsed: “March 31. April 5. answd Ap. 14th.”
1. This is probably a slip of the pen for “Crane,” AA's agent in Boston mentioned above. (At least two Crane “housewrights” active in Boston at this time are recorded in the Thwing Catalogue, MHi.) AA normally refers to her brother-in-law Richard Cranch as “Mr. Cranch.”
2. John Hancock.
3. Samuel Quincy.
4. AA's spelling of this word is very uncertain.
5. Susanna, daughter of Peter Boylston Adams. She had been born the previous July and died later in the present month.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0242

Author: Adams, Peter Boylston
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-04

Peter Boylston Adams to John Adams

So far Sincable of my duty to Comply with your Dissier to write to you I now Take my pen in hand to give you a narative of the Evelotions thats hapned Since you Left us. Before the Taking Posseseon of { 372 } Dorchester hills the Militia [of] Braintree Was Called Upon to go to the Lines at Dorchester Neck to be in Readiness of an Atack from the Regulors. What makes me Relate this is I was one of these hardy hereos Led on by a Brave Corl. [Colonel] Who Spoke to his men nearly to this Purpose fellow Solgers its Proviable before this affair is Ended We may be Called to action the Man that Turns his back Upon the Enemy I Sware by all that good and Sacred I will Shute him and I give you the same Liberty to Kill Me if you see me flinch. Thus Much and Return to give an account as well as I can of the first Night. Our Generals I think Played the man for by Cannonading as they had done two or three Nights before our People went on the hill with three hundred and Eighty Teams and Some Carreyed Seven Loads before Light without haveing a Single Cannon fired at them how Ever Cannon have got to be Very farmilliar to Us and the Blase of Booms [Bombs] dont Seem to Terefye us, but Reather Raize our Spiritts I Saw four Booms flying Like flying Committs at a Time. The Continueass Thunder of Cannon it Terefyed Some so that they Could Not Sleep but this I can tell you, I Neaver Was so brook of sleep but that I had annough When I Went to bed. I have ben Obliged to Turn out and Take Turn to guard upon the Shoars after the fleet Left the Town till We Ware Releved by Corl. Tupper who has ben Prepaireing fire Rafts to Send among them and had got them Ready and would have Lighted the Torch as he calls it that Evening if there Sailing before had not Prevented it. Our frends I beleve are generly well our young Child has been Very sick but is better. Poor Trott has Lost two of his Children his oldest and youngest. Your house1 is Not So Much damaged as I was afraid it would be So I Conclud by assureing I am your Sincear frind and brother,
[signed] P B Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in an unidentified hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esqr. in Philadelphia”; franked: “Free”; endorsed: “ansd. Ap. 14.” (JA's answer has not been found.)
1. In Boston.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0243

Author: Smith, Isaac Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-06

Isaac Smith Sr. to John Adams

[salute] Mr. Adams

I wrote you a post or two Ago, of being informd Mr. Gearey had wrote his brother to procure a Cargo or two of fish, to ship to Europe and had Applyed to me for some I have by me, but as I have sundry Vessells of my Own lying by should be glad to have them imployed, { 373 } and iff the Congress wants to purchase I would let them have mine and would see to the loading of her and to follow there directions. Suppose I may have from 10 to 1200 Q[uintals] of good fish and a friend of mine 6 or 700 more, probable Enough to make up two fishing schooner Cargo's. I should be Oblidged to you to write me Answer by the retarn of this post iff you may not have done itt. Your Compliance will Oblidge Your frd. and hume. servt.,
[signed] Isaac Smith
Ps Commodore Manleys fleet has taken a brigantine bound to Halifax on board of which is Bill Jackson and all his Effects and itt's said she has a large quantity of the Stolen goods—and there is on board likewise One Greenbrush, receiver general of the stolen goods and has distinguisht himself in that way by demanding People's propaty from them. Itts said he came from Y[ork]1 and itts said those Carpenters and runagarders from that way has behaved worse than any Others.2—A sloop is on shore at the Cape, beleive nothing very Valuable on board but itt Appears they (the inhabitants)3 went away in a most dismal Cituation, not haveing even Water sufficient and crowded and some sick with the small pox.
Boston Doctr. Cooper Preacht Yesterday for the first time att the Old brick a sermon proper to the Occasion which hope will be printed. Preacht from 2 Saml. 7 Chap. 10 V.—sung the first part 9 Psalm, and 126.
The small pox being in Town and am Apt to think will spread as so many people and soilders are in Town, which will be a hindrance of the Inhabitants coming to tarry att present. We have two to have itt. Iff there should be liberty to Innoculate should Advise Mrs. Adams and the Children to come.

[salute] I am Yrs.,

[signed] IS
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To the Honble. John Adams Esqr. Philadelphia”; postal marking: “Prov Free”; endorsed: “Mr. Smith,” with date of letter added in hand of William Gordon(?).
1. MS torn by seal. Smith undoubtedly meant New York.
2. The vessel taken by Manley's squadron was the Elizabeth, a straggler from the British fleet evacuating Boston. She was loaded with a great quantity of goods looted from Boston warehouses during the last days of the siege, and was brought into Portsmouth on 4 April (William Bell Clark, George Washington's Navy, Baton Rouge, 1960, p. 130–132, 137–138). Among the captives was the tory merchant William Jackson (d. 1810), who was brought to trial in Boston for misappropriation of patriot property. His statement in self-defense provides a vivid picture of events in Boston just before and during the evacuation (Jackson to the Mass. Council, 12 June 1776, contemporary copy, MHi: Hancock { 374 } Papers). On Jackson and his misfortunes see also Isaac Smith to JA, 16 April 1776 (Adams Papers), and Jones, Loyalists of Mass., p. 178. The captive mentioned by Smith as “Greenbrush” was Crean Brush, an Irish adventurer who was a member of the New York Assembly and whose daughter had married Ethan Allen. Appointed by Howe to superintend the removal of property and stores from Boston, Brush used strong-arm methods that made him quickly and thoroughly disliked. He was tried in Boston and imprisoned until Nov. 1777, when he escaped and made his way to New York, where he died the following year. See Rowe, Letters and Diary, p. 301–302; Clark, as cited above; French, First Year, p. 666–667, 672–673; Jones, Loyalists of Mass., p. 288 and note. For an anonymous tract by Crean Brush attacking the Continental Congress, see T. R. Adams, “American Independence,” No. 154.
3. Parentheses supplied around two words written above the line in MS.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0244

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-07

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I Received two Letters from you this week one of the 13 and the other the 19 of March.1 I know not where one of my Letters is gone, unless you have since Received it. I certainly wrote you in Febry. and the first Letter I wrote I mention that I had not wrote before. I have write2 four Letters before this. Believe I have Received all yours Except one you mention writing from Framingham which I never heard of before.3
Have Received all the papers you sent, the oration and Magizines. In the small papers I some times find peices begun and continued, (for instance Johnstones Speach) but am so unlucky as not to get the papers in order and miss of seeing the whole.
The Removal of the Army seem's to have stoped the current of news. I want to know to what part of America they are now wandering. Tis Reported and creditted that Manly has taken a schooner belonging to the Fleet richly Laden with money, plate and english Goods with a Number of Tories. The particuliars have not yet Learnt.
Yesterday the Remains of our Worthy General Warren were dug up upon Bunker Hill and carried into Town and on monday are to be interred with all the Honours of War.
The Dr. was Buried on monday the Masons walking in procession from the State House, with the Military in uniforms and a large concourse of people attending. He was carried into the Chaple, and their a funirel Dirge was played, an Excellent prayer by Dr. Cooper, and an oration by Mr. Morton which I hope will be printed.4 I think the Subject must have inspired him, a young fellow could not have wished { 375 } a finer opportunity to have displayed his talents. The amiable and heroick virtues of the disceased recent in the minds of the Audience, the noble cause to which he fell a Martir, their own Sufferings and unparrelled injuries all fresh in their minds, must give weight and energy to whatever could be deliverd upon the occasion, the Dead Body like that of Caesars before their Eyes, whilst each wound, “like dumb mouths did ope their ruby lips, and beg the voice and utterance of a Tongue.”

“Woe to the Hands that shed this costly blood;

A curse shall light upon their line;

Domestick fury, and firce civil Strife

Shall cumber all the parts of Britton.”5

I take my pen and write just as I can get time, my Letters will be a strange Mixture. I really am cumberd about many things and scarcly know which way to turn myself. I miss my partner, and find myself uneaquil to the cares which fall upon me; I find it necessary to be the directress of our Husbandery and farming. Hands are so scarce, that I have not been able to procure one, and add to this that Isaac has been sick with a fever this fortnight, not able to strick a Stroke and a Multiplicity of farming Business pouring in upon Us.
In this Dilemma I have taken Belcher into pay, and must secure him for the Season, as I know not what better course to stear. I hope in time to have the Reputation of being as good a Farmeress as my partner has of being a good Statesmen.—To ask you any thing about your return would I suppose be asking a Question you cannot answer.
Retirement, Rural quiet, Domestick pleasure, all all must give place to the weighty cares of State. It would be meanly poor in Solitude to hide an honest Zeal unwarp'd by party Rage—

“Though certain pains attend the cares of State

A Good Man owes his Country to be Great

Should act abroad the high distinguish'd part

And shew at least the purpose of his Heart.”

I hope your Prussian General will answer the high Character which is given of him. But we who have been bread in a land of Liberty scarcly know how to give credit to so unjust and arbitary a Mandate of a Despot—to cast of a faithfull Servant only for being the unhappy bearer of ill news degrades the Man and dishonours the prince.
The Congress by imploying him have shewn a Liberality of Senti• { 376 } ment not confined to colonies or continents, but to use the words of common Sense, have carried their Friendship on a Larger Scale, by claiming Brotherhood with every European christian, and may justly triumph in the Generosity of the Sentiment.
Yesterday was taken and carried into Cohasset by 3 whale Boats who went from the Shore on purpose a Snow from the Grenades, laiden with 354 puncheons of W.I. Rum, 43 Barrels of Sugar, 12,500 weight coffe, a valuable prize. A Number of eastern Sloops have brought Wood into Town since the Fleet saild. We have a Rumour of Admiral Hopkings6 being engaged with a Number of Ships and tenders off Road island—are anxious to know the event. Be so good as to send me a List of the vessels which sail with Hopkings, their Names, Weight of Mettal and Number of Men—all the News you know &c.
I hear our jurors refuse to serve because the writs are issued in the Kings Name. Surely they are for independance.
Write me how you do this winter. I want to say many things I must omit, it is not fit to wake the Soul by tender strokes of art, or to Ruminate upon happiness we might enjoy, least absence become intolerable. Adieu Yours.
I wish you would burn all my Letters.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in an unidentified hand: “To The Honble. John Adams Esqr. In Philadelphia To the care of Col Warren”; endorsed: “Ap. 7.”
1. That of the 19th is above. No letter of the 13th has been found, but AA almost certainly meant JA's letter of 17 March, above, to one topic in which she alludes in the present letter.
2. Altered by overwriting from “wrote.”
3. All of AA's letters are printed above. For JA's supposed letter from Framingham see his letter to AA of 19 March and note 1 there.
4. Perez Morton, An Oration; Delivered ... April 8, 1776, on the Re-interment of the Remains of ... Joseph Warren, Boston, 1776; reprinted in New York and Philadelphia; T. R. Adams, “American Independence,” No. 221a–d.
5. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1, slightly adapted to AA's purpose.
6. Ezek Hopkins, first commander of the Continental Navy (DAB).

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0245

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-04-12

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Inclose a few Sheets of Paper, and will send more as fast as Opportunities present.
Chesterfields Letters are a chequered sett. You would not choose to have them in your Library, they are like Congreeves Plays, stained with libertine Morals and base Principles.
{ 377 }
You will see by the Papers, the News, the Speculations and the Political Plans of the Day.
The Ports are opened wide enough at last, and Privateers are allowed to prey upon British Trade.1 This is not Independency you know.—What is? Why Government in every Colony, a Confederation among them all, and Treaties with foreign Nations, to acknowledge Us a Sovereign State, and all that.—When these Things will be done, or any of them, Time must discover. Perhaps the Time is near, perhaps a great Way off.
1. See JCC, 4:229–233, 251–254; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:373–375, 377.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0246

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Warren, Mercy Otis
Date: 1776-04-13

Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Dear Marcia

I Received a few lines1 from you more than a week ago, and determined to have replied immediately to them, but tho you will scarcly believe me, I have never found an opportunity to take up my pen till this moment, which is ten oClock Saturday evening; tis true I have wrote several evenings since, but only to my Nearest Friend, and he has chid me for my delays, delays of which I have not been guilty, but the Letters have not reachd him. I miss'd the very kind care of my much valued Friend2 greatly in that respect.
Your freedom in detaining the pamphlets was very agreable to me, it assurd me that Marcia made no Stranger of her Friend; and judging by her own Heart, knew that any entertainment or pleasure of her Friends contributed to her happiness.
I find myself dear Marcia, not only doubled in Wedlock but multiplied in cares to which I know myself uneaquel, in the Education of my little flock I stand in need of the constant assistance of my Better half.3
I can not do them the justice I wish to, from the multiplicity of other concerns which devolve upon me in consequence of the continued absence of my associate.
I find it necessary not only to pay attention to my own in door domestick affairs, but to every thing without, about our little farm &c. The Man upon whom I used to place dependance was taken sick last winter and left us. I have not been able to supply his place—therefore am obliged to direct what I fear I do not properly understand. Frugality, Industery and ecconomy are the Lessons of the day—at least they must be so for me or my small Boat will suffer shipwreck.
{ 378 }
I have been much gratified with the respect shewn to the remains of our worthy Friend. I hope and believe that the orator excerted himself upon the occasion—he had a fine field to display himself in.

O pardon me, thou bleeding peice of Earth!

That I am meek and gentle with these Butchers

Thou art the Ruins of as brave a Man

As ever live'd in the tide of times;

Woe to [the] hand that shed this costly Blood

Over thy Wounds now do I prophesy,

(Which like dumb mouths, do ope their Ruby lips

To beg the voice and utterance of a Tongue)

A curse shall light upon that line of Men

Domestick fury and firce civil Strife

Shall cumber all the parts of Brittain.

Shakspear

But where do I ramble. You inquire for inteligence. I immagine you have the same that I have. I have more news papers than Letters. My Last containd an account of the Death of Governor Ward of Road Island with the small pox, “an amiable and sensible Man, a stedfast Friend to his Country upon very pure principals.”
I hope you will fullfill your promise of writing me a long Letter. How do you like Mrs. Washington. Any other person you have seen, and noticed should be glad of your opinion. I love characters drawn by your pen.—When do you think of returning? Suppose you have not ventured into Boston. I dare not tho I have a great desire to look at it.
My affectionate Regards (Shall I use that word) to the Coll. from his and your assured Friend,
[signed] Portia
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “To Mrs Mercy Warren Watertown”; docketed in two later hands: “Mrs. Adams. Apr: 1776 No 7.”
1. Not found.
2. James Warren, who had usually seen to the forwarding of AA's letters.
3. AA's ambiguous punctuation has been preserved. Full stop after “uneaquel” or after “flock”?

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0247

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-14

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I have misst my Good Friend Col. W[arre]n from Watertown in the conveyance of my Letters; you make no mention of more than one, write me how many you have had and what the dates were. I wrote { 379 } you upon the 17 of March.1 Perticuliars it was not then posible to obtain; and after that I thought every pen would be imployed in writing to you a much more accurate account than I could give you.
The Fleet lay in the Road allmost a fortnight after the Town was evacuated; in that time Major Tuper came with a Body of Men to G[e]r[man]t[ow]n and procured two Lighters, (one of them was that of which you are part owner) and fitted them with every sort of combustable Matters, Hand Grenades &c. in order to set fire to the Fleet, but the very day he was ready they saild and it was said that they had inteligence from Boston of the design. However he carried the Lighters up to Town for the next Fleet that appears.
Fort Hill is a fortifying I suppose in the best Manner, committes have been appointed to survey the Islands &c. but we are scanty of Men, tis said we have not more than 2000 Effective Men left, and the General thought it necessary to take the Heavy cannon with him. We have many peices spiked up which they are imployed in cleaning, about an 100 peices I have heard was left at the Castle with their trunnels broke or spiked. The Castle you have no doubt heard was burnt by the Troops before they saild, and an attempt made to blow up the walls in which however they did not succeed any further than to shatter them.
There are so many things necessary to be done that I suppose Buisness moves slowly. At present we all seem to be so happy and so tranquil, that I sometimes think we want another Fleet to give some energy and spirit to our motions. But there has been a great overturn and people seem to be hardly recoverd from their amazement. Many Building[s] in Town sustaind great damages more perticuliarly at the South end, the Furniture of many houses was carried of or broken in peices. Dr. Gardiner left all his furniture and Medicine valued tis said at 400 Sterling. Dr. Loyd is still in Town, Dr. Whitworth too, both ought to be transported.2 Mr. Goldwait [is] in Town [and] all the Records of which he had the care safe, tho it seems part of them were carried into Boston. All the papers relating to the probate courts are missing.3 Mr. Lovel and all the prisoners taken at the Charlstown Battle are carried of. The Bells are all in Town, never were taken down. The officers and Tories have lived a life of Dissipation. Inclosed is a prologue of Burgoines, with a parody written in Boston soon after it was acted.—Burgoine is a Better poet than Soldier.4
As to goods of any kind, we cannot tell what quantity there is. Only two or three Shops open. Goods at a most extravagant price—all the better to promote Manufactures.
The small pox prevents my going to Town; several have broke out { 380 } with it in the Army since they went into Boston. I cannot help wishing that it would spread.5 I think the Country is in more danger than ever. I am anxious about it. If it should spread there is but one thing would prevent my going down to our own House and having it with all our children and I dont know but I should be tempted to run you in debt for it.
There is talk of raising an other Regiment. If they should I fear we shall suffer in our Husbandery. Labour is very high. I cannot hire a Man for six months under 20 pounds Lawfull money.
The Works upon the Neck are levelling. We keep Guards upon the Shoars yet.—Manly has taken a vessel Load of Tories. Among them is Black the Scotchman and Brasen head Jackson, Hill the Baker &c. What can be done with them. I think they ought to be transported to England. I would advertize for tory transports.
Hanover has made large quantities of salt peter.
This week we are to hold court here, but I do not imagine any thing will be done.
I have a Letter from you the 29 of March. Tis said there is one from Mr. Gerry the 3 of April acquainting us with your opening trade. Who is the writer of Common Sense, of Cato, of Casandra?6
I wish you would according to promise write me an account of Lord Sterling. We know nothing about him here.
All the Tories look crest fallen. Several deserters from on board the commodore['s] ship say that tis very sickly on board. We have only that and two or 3 cutters beside's.7 We fear that a Brig laiden with 70 tons of powder which saild from Newbury port has fallen into the enemys hands upon her return.
Pray continue to write me by every opportunity, the writing Books were very acceptable presents.
I rejoice in the Southern Victorys. The oration was a very elegant performance, but not without much Art—a few Strokes which to me injure the performance.8
I know not any thing further which I ought to say but that I am most affectionately Yours.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in an unidentified hand: “To The Honble. John Adams Esqr. In Philadelphia To the care of Col: Warren”; endorsed: “Ap. 14.” The stated enclosures were not received by JA; see note 4.
1. 16–18 March, above.
2. James Lloyd Sr. (1728–1810), of whom there is an account in Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, vol. 12 (in press, 1962); and Miles Whitworth Sr., who is mentioned under his son's name in Jones, Loyalists of Mass., p. 295.
3. AA's carelessness in the foregoing passage leaves her meaning a little uncertain. Ezekiel Goldthwait (1710– { 381 } 1782) was, among other things, clerk of the Suffolk Inferior Court of Common Pleas; there is an account of him and of what happened, so far as known, to the court records during the siege of Boston, by John Noble, Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns., 5 (1902):5–26.
4. JA said in his reply of 28 April, below, that the enclosures were not with the letter when he received it. On Burgoyne's efforts in drama writing during the siege of Boston, among others The Blockade of Boston, acted in January and parodied as The Blockheads, or The Affrighted Officers, see Winsor, Memorial History of Boston, 3:93, 161–162, with references there.
5. So that the town authorities would permit inoculation.
6. JA answered these questions in his reply of 28 April, below.
7. Meaning British ships left behind to divert troop and supply vessels that might have sailed from England. This squadron, under Capt. Francis Banks in the Renown, patrolled Nantasket Roads and the lower harbor until mid-June (French, First Year, p. 672, 682–683). See Mary Palmer to JA, 15–17 June, below.
8. William Smith's Oration on Montgomery, Perez Morton's more recent Oration on Warren, or some other?

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0248

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-04-14

John Adams to Abigail Adams

You justly complain of my short Letters, but the critical State of Things and the Multiplicity of Avocations must plead my Excuse.—You ask where the Fleet is. The inclosed Papers will inform you. You ask what Sort of Defence Virginia can make. I believe they will make an able Defence. Their Militia and minute Men have been some time employed in training them selves, and they have Nine Battallions of regulars as they call them, maintained among them, under good Officers, at the Continental Expence. They have set up a Number of Manufactories of Fire Arms, which are busily employed. They are tolerably supplied with Powder, and are successfull and assiduous, in making Salt Petre. Their neighbouring Sister or rather Daughter Colony of North Carolina, which is a warlike Colony, and has several Battallions at the Continental Expence, as well as a pretty good Militia, are ready to assist them, and they are in very good Spirits, and seem determined to make a brave Resistance.—The Gentry are very rich, and the common People very poor. This Inequality of Property, gives an Aristocratical Turn to all their Proceedings, and occasions a strong Aversion in their Patricians, to Common Sense.1 But the Spirit of these Barons, is coming down, and it must submit.
It is very true, as you observe they have been duped by Dunmore. But this is a Common Case. All the Colonies are duped, more or less, at one Time and another. A more egregious Bubble was never blown up, than the Story of Commissioners coming to treat with the Congress. Yet it has gained Credit like a Charm, not only without but { 382 } against the clearest Evidence. I never shall forget the Delusion, which seized our best and most sagacious Friends the dear Inhabitants of Boston, the Winter before last. Credulity and the Want of Foresight, are Imperfections in the human Character, that no Politician can sufficiently guard against.
You have given me some Pleasure, by your Account of a certain House in Queen Street. I had burned it, long ago, in Imagination. It rises now to my View like a Phoenix.—What shall I say of the Solicitor General? I pity his pretty Children, I pity his Father, and his sisters. I wish I could be clear that it is no moral Evil to pity him and his Lady. Upon Repentance they will certainly have a large Share in the Compassions of many. But let Us take Warning and give it to our Children. Whenever Vanity, and Gaiety, a Love of Pomp and Dress, Furniture, Equipage, Buildings, great Company, expensive Diversions, and elegant Entertainments get the better of the Principles and Judgments of Men or Women there is no knowing where they will stop, nor into what Evils, natural, moral, or political, they will lead us.
Your Description of your own Gaiety de Coeur, charms me. Thanks be to God you have just Cause to rejoice—and may the bright Prospect be obscured by no Cloud.
As to Declarations of Independency, be patient. Read our Privateering Laws, and our Commercial Laws. What signifies a Word.
As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh. We have been told that our Struggle has loosened the bands of Government every where. That Children and Apprentices were disobedient—that schools and Colledges were grown turbulent—that Indians slighted their Guardians and Negroes grew insolent to their Masters. But your Letter was the first Intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerfull than all the rest were grown discontented.—This is rather too coarse a Compliment but you are so saucy, I wont blot it out.
Depend upon it, We know better than to repeal our Masculine systems. Altho they are in full Force, you know they are little more than Theory. We dare not exert our Power in its full Latitude. We are obliged to go fair, and softly, and in Practice you know We are the subjects. We have only the Name of Masters, and rather than give up this, which would compleatly subject Us to the Despotism of the Peticoat, I hope General Washington, and all our brave Heroes would fight. I am sure every good Politician would plot, as long as he would against Despotism, Empire, Monarchy, Aristocracy, Oligarchy, or Ochlocracy.—A fine Story indeed. I begin to think the Ministry as deep as they are wicked. After stirring up Tories, Landjobbers, Trimmers, { 383 } Bigots, Canadians, Indians, Negroes, Hanoverians, Hessians, Russians, Irish Roman Catholicks, Scotch Renegadoes, at last they have stimulated the [] to demand new Priviledges and threaten to rebell.2
RC (Adams Papers). Enclosed newspapers not found or identified.
1. Thomas Paine's pamphlet.
2. For JA's more serious thoughts on the question of women's rights, see his letter to James Sullivan, 26 May 1776 (LbC, Adams Papers; Works, 9:375–378).

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0249

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-04-15

John Adams to Abigail Adams

I send you every News Paper, that comes out, and I send you now and then a few sheets of Paper but this Article is as scarce here, as with you. I would send a Quire, if I could get a Conveyance. I write you, now and then a Line, as often as I can, but I can tell you no News, but what I send in the public Papers.
We are Waiting it is said for Commissioners, a Messiah that will never come.—This Story of Commissioners is as arrant an Illusion as ever was hatched in the Brain of an Enthusiast, a Politician, or a Maniac. I have laugh'd at it—scolded at it—griev'd at it—and I dont know but I may at an unguarded Moment have rip'd1 at it—but it is vain to Reason against such Delusions. I was very sorry to see in a Letter from the General that he had been bubbled with it, and still more to see in a Letter from my sagacious Friend W[arren] at Plymouth, that he was taken in too.
My Opinion is that the Commissioners and the Commission have been here (I mean in America)2 these two Months. The Governors, Mandamus Councillors, Collectors and Comptrollers, and Commanders of the Army and Navy, I conjecture compose the List and their Power is to receive Submissions. But We are not in a very submissive Mood. They will get no Advantage of Us.
We shall go on, to Perfection I believe. I have been very busy for some time—have written about Ten sheets of Paper with my own Hand, about some trifling Affairs, which I may mention some time or other—not now for fear of Accidents.3
What will come of this Labour Time will discover. I shall get nothing by it, I believe, because I never get any Thing by any Thing that I do. I am sure the Public or Posterity ought to get Something. I believe my Children will think I might as well have thought and laboured, a little, night and Day for their Benefit....4 But I will not bear the { 384 } Reproaches of my Children. I will tell them that I studied and laboured to procure a free Constitution of Government for them to solace themselves under, and if they do not prefer this to ample Fortune, to Ease and Elegance, they are not my Children, and I care not what becomes of them. They shall live upon thin Diet, wear mean Cloaths, and work hard, with Chearfull Hearts and free Spirits or they may be the Children of the Earth or of no one, for me.
John has Genius and so has Charles. Take Care that they dont go astray. Cultivate their Minds, inspire their little Hearts, raise their Wishes. Fix their Attention upon great and glorious Objects, root out every little Thing, weed out every Meanness, make them great and manly. Teach them to scorn Injustice, Ingratitude, Cowardice, and Falshood. Let them revere nothing but Religion, Morality and Liberty.
Nabby and Tommy are not forgotten by me altho I did not mention them before. The first by Reason of her sex, requires a Different Education from the two I have mentioned. Of this you are the only judge. I want to send each of my little pretty flock, some present or other. I have walked over this City twenty Times and gaped at every shop like a Countryman to find something, but could not. Ask every one of them what they would choose to have and write it to me in your next Letter. From this I shall judge of their Taste and Fancy and Discretion.
1. JA defines and illustrates this use of the verb rip very clearly in his Diary and Autobiography, 1:97.
2. Parentheses editorially supplied around words inserted above the line in MS.
3. JA's anonymous essay entitled Thoughts on Government: Applicable to the Present State of the American Colonies was advertised on 22 April as published by John Dunlap in Philadelphia (T. R. Adams, “American Independence,” No. 205a–b). JA sent a copy of it to James Warren on 20 April (Warren-Adams Letters, 1:230–231). It was essentially a reply to Common Sense—not to Paine's arguments for independence but to his naive “Notions” (as JA considered them) about the new governments that would have to be formed in America; see JA to AA, 19 March, above. Though JA believed that his pamphlet eventually exerted substantial influence on a number of the early state constitutions, no detailed study of the nature and amount of its influence has ever been made. For the complex and still partly obscure history of the composition of Thoughts on Government, see JA's Diary and Autobiography, 3:331–333, and references there. In Oct. 1961 one more of the four different MS versions known to have been written by JA in the weeks preceding the present letter came to light. This is the holograph text he prepared for the North Carolina delegate William Hooper, who had left Congress at the end of March to attend the Provincial Congress at Halifax, which had in contemplation a new constitution. The document was found in the North Carolina State Department of Archives and History (Nc–Ar) in the David L. Swain Papers. Thus there remains to be found only the holograph furnished by JA to Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant for { 385 } use at Trenton; JA said this one was “larger and more compleat, perhaps more correct,” than the version that was “put ... under Types” (to James Warren, 20 April, cited above).
4. Suspension points in MS. Actually these are curled dashes, a device that JA began to use about this time, evidently to indicate elisions of thought more pronounced than dashes would serve to indicate.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0250

Author: Warren, Mercy Otis
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-04-17

Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams

If my dear friend Required only a very Long Letter to make it agreable I Could Easily Gratify her but I know There must be many more Requisits to make it pleasing to her taste. If you Measure by Lines I Can at once Comply, if by Sentiment I fear I shall fall short. But as Curiosity seems to be awake with Regard to the Company I keep and the Manner of spending my time I will Endeavour to Gratify you.
I Arrived at my Lodgings before Dinner the day I Left you: found an obliging Family, Convenient Room and in the Main an agreable set of Lodgers. Next Morning I took a Ride to Cambridge And waited on Mrs. Washington at 11 o'clock, where I was Receiv'd with that politness and Respect shewn in a first interveiw among the well bred and with the Ease and Cordiallity of Friendship of a much Earlier date. If you wish to hear more of this Ladys Character I will tell you I think the Complacency of her Manners speaks at once the Benevolence of her Heart, and her affability, Candor and Gentleness Quallify her to soften the hours of private Life or to sweeten the Cares of the Hero and smooth the Rugged scenes of War.
I did not dine with her though much urge'd, but Engaged to spend the Ensuing day at head quarters. She desired me to Name an Early hour in the Morning when she would send her Chariot And Accompany me to see the Deserted Lines of the Enemy And the Ruins of Charlston: A Malencholy sight the Last which Evinces the Barbaraty of the Foe, and Leaves a Deep impression of the sufferings of that unhappy town.
Mr. Custice is the only son of the Lady Above Discribe'd.1 A sensible Modest agreable young Man. His Lady2 a Daughter of Coll. Calvert of Mariland, appears to be of an Engaging Disposition but of so Exstrem Delicate a Constitution that it Deprives her as well as her Friends of part of the pleasure which I am perswaded would Result from her Conversation did she Enjoy a Greater share of Health. She is prety, Genteel, Easey and Agreable, but a kind of Langour about her prevents her being so sociable as some Ladies. Yet it is Evident it is { 386 } not owing to that want of Vivacity which Renders youth agreable, but to a want of health which a Little Clouds her spirits.
This Family which Consists of about 8 or 9 were prevented dining with us the Tuesday Following3 by an alarm from N port But Call'd and took Leave of us the Next day, when I own I felt that kind of pain which arises from Affection when the object of Esteem is separated perhaps forever.
After this I kept house a week amusing myself with my Book, my work and sometimes a Letter to an absent Friend.
My Next Visit was to Mrs. Morgan, but as you are acquainted with her I shall not be perticuler with Regard to her person or Manner. The Dr. and she dine'd with us Last saterday in Company with General Putnams Lady.4 She is what is Commonly Called a Very Good kind of woman And Commands Esteem without the Graces of politness, the Briliancy of wit, or the Merits of peculier understanding above the Rest of her sex Yet to be Valued for an Honest unornamented plain Friendliness, Discoverd in her Deportment at the first Acquaintance.
All other Characters or occurances I shall Leave for another opportunity. Only shall Mention A Lady Who has been A Lodger in our Family for a week past, and has been a Great Addition to the Cherfulness and Good Humour of the Family. It is a Mrs. Orn of Marblehead5 a well disposed pleasant agreable woman.
The More Regard you Express for a Friend of mine the Greater my Obligation. I have sent Forward my Letters to Mr. Adams but suppose I shall have no answer unless stimulated by you. Therfore when you write again you will not forget your affectionate
[signed] Marcia
PS I am very Glad to hear Coll. Quineseys Family are well to whom my Regards.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree Favourd pr Coll Palmer.”
1. John Parke Custis.
2. Eleanor (Calvert) Custis.
3. See Mrs. Washington's note to Mrs. Warren, 2 April 1776 (Warren-Adams Letters, 1:220).
4. Mrs. Israel Putnam, the former Deborah (Lothrop) Avery Gardiner.
5. Wife of Col. Azor Orne, a member of the Council.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0251

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-18

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I cannot omit so good an opportunity as offers by Mr. Church of telling you that we are all well. I wrote you two Letters last week which { 387 } I sent to Watertown. In those I said every thing that occurd to my mind, nothing since of any importance has taken place. The 19 of April (ever memorable for America as the Ides of March to Rome and to Ceasar) is fixd upon for the examination of the Tories by a committee from the General Court. I could have wished that some other persons, in the Room of one or two might have been chosen. It is so dangerous mentioning Names that I refer you to Mr. Church for the Names of the committe, and then you will easily guess who I mean.
I wish I could tell you that Buisness in the Fortification way went on Briskly, but a Western Member in the General Court who has great influence there, has got it into his Head that Fort Hill and Noddles Island are sufficent and tho a Man possessd of a very good Heart, is sometimes obstinately wrong.1
The Court of Sessions set yesterday and went on with Buisness very smoothly.
We hear that Congress has declared a free trade, and I give you joy of the Success of Admiral Hopkins, not only in his Expedition, but in his Success upon his return. Great Brittain I think is not quit[e] omnipotent at Sea, any more than upon the land.
You promised to come and see me in May or june. Shall I Expect you, or do you determine to stay out the year? I very well remember when the Eastern circuts of the courts which lasted a month were thought an age, and an absence of 3 months intolerable but we are carried from Step to Step, and from one degree to an other to endure that which at first we think insuportable.
But I assure you I am obliged to make use of Reason and phylosophy in addition to custom to feel patient. Be assured I always Remember you as I ought, that is with the tenderest affection, Yours.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in John Thaxter's hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esq. at Philadelphia Favor'd by Mr Church”; on corner of cover in an unidentified hand: “Bracket”; endorsed: “Ap. 18”; docketed in an unidentified hand: “Portia April '76.”
1. In a letter to JA of 26 April, below, Cotton Tufts identified this “Western Member” as Joseph Hawley.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0252

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Date: 1776-04-18

John Adams to Abigail Adams 2d

[salute] My dear Daughter

I cannot recollect the tenderness and dutiful affection you expressed for me, just before my departure, without the most sensible emotion, { 388 } approbation, and gratitude. It was a proof of an amiable disposition, and a tender feeling heart.
But my dear child, be of good cheer; although I am absent from you for a time, it is in the way of my duty; and I hope to return, some time or other, and enjoy a greater share of satisfaction in you and the rest of my family, for having been absent from it for so long a time.
I learned in a letter from your mamma, that you was learning the accidence. This will do you no hurt, my dear, though you must not tell many people of it, for it is scarcely reputable for young ladies to understand Latin and Greek—French, my dear, French is the language, next to English—this I hope your mamma will teach you. I long to come home, but I believe it will be a great while first. I don't know when, perhaps not before next Christmas. My love to your mamma and your brothers, and the whole family.

[salute] I am your affectionate father,

[signed] John Adams
MS not found. Printed from (Journal and Correspondence of Miss Adams,... Edited by Her Daughter, New York, 1841–1842, 2:4–5.)

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0253

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1776-04-18

John Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] My dear Son

I thank you for your agreable Letter of the Twenty fourth of March.1
I rejoice with you that our Friends are once more in Possession of the Town of Boston, and am glad to hear that so little damage is done to our House.
I hope you and your Sister and Brothers will take proper Notice of these great Events, and remember under whose wise and kind Providence they are all conducted. Not a Sparrow falls, nor a Hair is lost, but by the Direction of infinite Wisdom. Much less are Cities conquered and evacuated. I hope that you will all remember, how many Losses, Dangers, and Inconveniences, have been borne by your Parents, and the Inhabitants of Boston in general for the Sake of preserving Freedom for you, and yours—and I hope you will all follow the virtuous Example if, in any future Time, your Countrys Liberties should be in Danger, and suffer every human Evil, rather than Give them up.—My Love to your Mamma, your Sister and Brothers, and all the Family.

[salute] I am your affectionate Father,

[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mr. John Quincy Adams Braintree.”
1. Not found.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0254

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-21

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I have to acknowledg the Recept of a very few lines dated the 12 of April. You make no mention of the whole sheets I have wrote to you, by which I judge you either never Received them, or that they were so lengthy as to be troublesome; and in return you have set me an example of being very concise. I believe I shall not take the Hint, but give as I love to Receive; Mr. Church talk'd a week ago of setting of for Philadelphia. I wrote by him; but suppose it is not yet gone; you have perhaps heard that the Bench is fill'd by Mr. Foster and Sullivan,1 so that a certain person2 is now excluded. I own I am not of so forgiveing a disposition as to wish to see him holding a place which he refused merely from a spirit of envy.
I give up my Request for Chesterfields Letters submitting intirely to your judgment, as I have ever found you ready to oblige me in this way whenever you thought it would contribute either to my entertainment or improvement. I was led to the request from reading the following character of him in my favorite Thomson and from some spiritted and patriotick speaches of his in the Reign of Gorge 2.

O Thou, whose wisdom, solid yet refin'd

Whose patriot-virtues, and consumate skill

So struck the finer springs that move the world

joind to what'er the Graces can bestow,

And all Apollo's animating fire

Give the[e] with pleasing dignity to shine

At once the Guardian, ornament and joy

Of polish'd life, permit the Rural Muse

O Chesterfield, to grace thee with her Song!

e'er to the shades again she Humbly flies

Indulge her fond ambition in thy Train,

(For every Muse has in thy train a place)

To Mark thy various full accomplish'd mind

To mark that Spirit which, with British scorn

Rejects th Allurements of corrupted power;

That elegant politeness which excels,

Even in the judgment of presumptuous France

The boasted manners of her shining court

That wit, the vivid energy of Sense

The truth of Nature, which with Attic point

{ 390 }

And kind well-temperd Satire, smoothly keen

Steals through the Soul and without pain corrects.

I think the Speculations you inclose prove that there is full Liberty of the press. Cato shews he has a bad cause to defend whilst the Forester writes with a spirit peculiar to himself and leads me to think that he has an intimate acquaintance with Common Sense.
We have inteligance of the Arrival of some of the Tory Fleet at Halifax that they are much distresst for want of Houses, obliged to give 6 Dollors per month for one Room, provisions scarce and dear. Some of them with 6 or 8 children round them sitting upon the Rocks crying, not knowing where to lay their heads. Just Heaven has given them to taste of the same cup of Afliction which they one year ago administerd with such Callous Hearts to thousands of their fellow citizen[s], but with this difference that they fly from their injured and enraged Country, whilst, pity and commiseration received the Sufferers whom they inhumanely drove from their Dwellings.
I would fain hope that the time may not be far distant when those things you hint at may be carried into Execution.3

Oh are ye not those patriots, in whose power

That best, that Godlike Luxery is plac'd

Of blessing thousands, thousands yet unborn

Thro' late posterity? Ye large of Soul

chear up dejected industery, and give

A double Harvest to the pining Swain

Teach thou the Labouring hand the Sweets of Toil

How by the finest Art, the Native robe

To weave; how white as hyperborean Snow

To form the lucid lawn; with venturous oar

How to dash wide the billow; nor look on

Shamefully passive, while Brittania's Fleets

Defraud us of the glittering finny Swarms

That heave our friths, and swarm upon our Shores

How all-enlivening trade to rouse, and wing

The prosperous Sail, from every growing port

uninjurd, round the sea incircled Globe.

Tis reported here that Admiral Hopkings is blocked up in Newport harbour by a Number of Men of War. If so tis a very unlucky circumstance. As to fortification those who preside in the assembly can give you a much better account than I.
{ 391 }
I heard yesterday that a Number of Gentlemen who were together at Cambridge thought it highly proper that a Committee of Ladies should be chosen to examine the Torys Ladies, and proceeded to the choise of 3 Mrs. Winthrope, Mrs. Warren and your Humble Servant.
I could go on and give you a long list of domestick affairs, but they would only serve to embariss you, and noways relieve me. I hope it will not be long before things will be brought into such a train as that you may be spaired to your family.
Your Brother has lost his youngest child with convulsion fits. Your Mother is well and always desires to be rememberd to you. Nabby is sick with the mumps, a very disagreable disorder.—You have not once told me how you do. I judge you are well as you seem to be in Good Spirits.—I bid you good Night, all the Little flock Send Duty; and want to see P——a.

[salute] Adieu. Shall I say remember me as you ought.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “ansd. My. 12.”
1. Jedidiah Foster and James Sullivan, commissioned 20 March (Quincy, Reports, p. 341).
2. Robert Treat Paine.
3. The following quotation, like that above, is from AA's “favorite,” James Thomson, whose The Seasons (first published complete in 1730) she seems to have read and reread until she knew it, despite its prodigious length, almost by heart. But it was her habit, whether quoting Thomson, Shakespeare, or any other poet, silently to adapt the texts to her purpose. The present passage is a good example of this habit. It is taken from the “Winter” section of The Seasons, specifically lines 910–926, and anyone interested in such matters may compare her version (or paraphrase) with Thomson's original in his Complete Poetical Works, ed. J. Logie Robertson, London, 1908, p. 165. Thomson's first line (in the passage here quoted) is: “Oh! is there not some patriot in whose power...,” which AA pluralizes to apply to the Continental Congress. The 11th–13th lines in the original rouse Britons against Dutch encroachments on their fisheries: “nor look on, / Shamefully passive, while Batavian fleets / Defraud us of the glittering finny swarm.” But AA converts this into perhaps the earliest assertion of American (as opposed to British) rights in the Atlantic fisheries.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0255

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-04-23

John Adams to Abigail Adams

This is St. Georges Day, a Festival celebrated by the English, as Saint Patricks is by the Irish, St. Davids by the Welch, and St. Andrews by the Scotch. The Natives of old England in this City heretofore formed a Society, which they called Saint Georges Clubb, or Saint Georges Society. Upon the Twenty third of April annually, they had a great Feast. But The Times and Politicks have made a schism in the society so that one Part of them are to meet and dine at { 392 } the City Tavern, and the other att the Bunch of Grapes, Israel Jacobs's, and a third Party go out of Town.
One sett are staunch Americans, another staunch Britons I suppose, and a Third half Way Men, Neutral Beings, moderate Men, prudent Folks—for such is the Division among Men upon all Occasions and every Question. This is the Account, which I have from my Barber, who is one of the Society and zealous on the side of America, and one of the Philadelphia Associators.
This curious Character of a Barber, I have a great Inclination to draw for your Amusement. He is a little dapper fellow, short and small, but active and lively, a Tongue as fluent and voluble as you please, Wit at Will, and a Memory or an Invention which never leaves him at a Loss for a story to tell you for your Entertainment. He has seen great Company. He has dressed Hair, and shaved Faces at Bath and at Court. He is acquainted with several of the Nobility and Gentry, particularly Sir William Meredith. He married a Girl the Daughter of a Quaker in this Place, of whom he tells many droll stories. He is a Serjeant in one of the Companies of some Battalion or other here. He frequents, of Evenings, a Beer House kept by one Weaver, in the City, where he has many curious Disputes and Adventures, and meets many odd Characters.
I believe you will think me very idle, to write you so trifling a Letter upon so uninteresting a subject, at a Time, when my Country is fighting Pro Aris et Focis.
But I assure you I am glad to chatt with this Barber while he is shaving and combing me, to divert my self from less agreable Thoughts. He is so sprightly, and good humoured, that he contributes more than I could have imagined to my Comfort in this Life.
Burne1 has prepared a String of Toasts for the Clubb to drink to day at Israels.

The Thirteen united Colonies.

The free and independent States of America.

The Congress for the Time being.

The American Army and Navy.

The Governor and Council of South Carolina,2 &c. &c. &c.

An happy Election for the Whiggs on the first of May &c.

1. In his accounts for 1777 JA gives the name of his “sprightly” Philadelphia barber as John Burn, or Byrne (Diary and Autobiography, 2:254, 255). The latter spelling is more plausible, and it is supported by Jefferson's accounts in { 393 } 1776 (quoted in PMHB, 31 [1907]:31). JA reported to AA further examples of Burn's entertaining chatter and “droll stories” on his wife; see especially his letters of 28 March and 23 April 1777, below.
2. South Carolina had recently adopted a new constitution and elected a governor. See Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:438 and note; also JA to AA, 17 May, below.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0256

Author: Tufts, Cotton
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-26

Cotton Tufts to John Adams

[salute] Dear Sr.

Soon after the Removal of our Enemies from Boston, I sat myself down to write You the Proceedings of our Army from their Cannonading the Town to their taking Possession of it. But meeting with some Philadelphia Papers (before an Opportunity of sending it presented) I found that You had a History of the whole, since then I received Yours of the 29th March and find that You had not then received Intelligence of the sailing of the Ministerial Fleet. On the 25th. of March 48 of them saild and the Remainder in Numbers 75—except one 50 Gun Ship and some Tenders left the Harbour on the 27th—to the great Joy and Comfort of the Province. And well might it have been expected that we should have then begun to fortify in such a Manner as to keep out any Fleet that should have venturd to molest us. I know it was the general Expectation. But must I tell You that not a single Stroke has been struck but within a fortnight past except what was orderd by General Washington on Fort Hill, and not untill the 12th Inst. was a Vote pass'd in General Assembly for the Purpose of securing the Harbour and this extends no further than the Security of Boston—a small Fort on Dorchester Point—Do. on Noddles Island, and Castle or Governors Island, Hulks to be sunk in the lower middle Ground.—I have been amazed at the Stupidity and Negligence of Goverment, and have not known to what Cause to attribute it. Perhaps there may have been an Expectation from General W[ar]d that he would have undertaken these Things. Had the Worthy Gen. Washington continued here, his Influence with the Court and his Assistance with the same Troops that are now here Would have effected much. But a Want of Spirit, order and Method will ever be attended with Inaction and Confusion—and to this much of our Conduct may be ascribed. We must have Men acting in distinct Departments. Our Counsellors must not be Judges, Generals, Colonels, Fortmakers and Omnium Gatherum Nor our Representatives sent throughout the Province during their Session upon Matters belonging to other Departments. We Want a Council of War, an able provincial General, a { 394 } Skilful Engineer &c.—With Powers from the Province similar to what is given by Congress to their General &c.
The best Security to the whole Harbour Would be Hull, Pedicks Island and Georges, these well fortified and supported, together with a few Row Galleys would under Providence secure the Harbour with but a little expence further, and perhaps without blocking up the Channell. But if need be the Narrows might be stopt up at a Quarter of the Expence they must now be at in stopping up the lower middle Ground near Casttle Island And if the Narrows are stopt up for ever it is no Matter as there is Plenty of Water thro the Western Passage I mean by Long Island West End and the Moon at which Places Forts might be erected to good Purpose and indeed one at the East End of Long Island might be of Advantage. These Places well fortified would have renderd any further Works above in some Measure unnecessary. Suppose a Fort on Point Alderton, one on North Head of Hull calld Lorings Hill, one on Pedicks Island opposite to that on Lorings Hill and the strongest and main Defence on Georges. Would not these be a noble Security. The fort on Lorings Hill and Pedicks would command Nantasket Gut as well as help command Ship Channell. Within this Gut on the South Side of Hull is as fine a Retreat or Harbour for Privateers and other Vessells up to 30 Guns as can any where be found. All Vessells passing thro this Gut must come within Musket Shot of a Fort on Pedicks, as All Vessells of 20 Guns and upwards passing by Georges up to Boston must be in the like Scituation. Row Galleys are absolutely necessary, to take Care of Broad Sound and to prevent small Craft from harassing the Islands, and would be a very excellent Support to our Islands and without them our Harbour will never be secure.
I have a great deal more to say upon this Subject than You will have patience to read or can be comprised in a single Letter. I will only add that this present Week Accidentally I fell in with the Courts Committee and labourd this Matter with them and I found the greater Part of them in Sentiment with me. I represented especially the Importance of Hull that if possess'd by the Enemy and fortified not any Army we could raise would dislodge them no not 40000 Men. I found out that all the Southern Members had been warm for fortifying below, the Western Members with Majr. H[awle]y had opposed it. In short I am sometimes out of Patience when I think upon this Affair, and can scarcely write or talk upon it—my Mind being possessd with this Idea—That the present Time may be the only Time for this Purpose. But I { 395 } check myself and am consold that God Almighty reigns and that he has by the Interpositions of his Providence during our Contest overruld our Delays, Neglects and seeming Blunders so as to produce much good and prevent much Evil.—Could a greater Blunder have been committed than that of Breeds Hill. Yet it finally has operated to our Advantage and trust will continue to do so. Was not the Delay of taking Possession of the Heights of Dorchester censur'd. Yet it was finally possessed at the very best Time so far as we can judge. For the Wind and Weather fought for us.—General Washington conducted this Seige with great Wisdom. Yet a Number of Events took Place that could be ascribed only to a kind superintending Providence, and that exceeded the most sanguine Expectations of any.
The General's Sagacity and Prudence was shewn in a very striking Light, in one Affair; which was reported here from good Authority and which I suppose to be true. For some Days before Bunker Hill was deserted, scarce any Soldiers were seen in the Fort. No Smokes from their Barracks and only here and there a Centinel. This led our Soldiers to imagine the Enemy had deserted it. Applications were dayly made and Petitions presented to the General that a Party might go and take Possession of it. To these He would by no Means consent. On the Day and Day before they left Boston 900 Men were seen to march out of it. This Fort is an almost impregnable one—a Security against 10,000 Veterans.
Well My Friend, I perceive You have given us Liberty to trade where we list; I wish we may not be lost in the Abyss. Might it not have been of general Utility to have established some Duties and Regulations for the whole Continent and publishd them with the Licence. I fear Provincial Regulations of Trade will not be salutary for the whole, nor Obedience equally paid to them as the Continental Merchants have no Object but their own particular Interest and they must be Contrould or they will ruin any State under Heaven. The Statesman must for ever keep a Watchful Eye on that order of Men. But perhaps I am too severe. As the Licence for Trade is almost unlimited, Will not almost every Man turn his Attention that Way. Will not this quench the Martial Spirit. Will not an Army be raisd under greater Disadvantages—The Difficulty of raising Men and supporting them be greater.
The particular State of our Colony at present has led me to think whether the securing and fortifying of Capital Places on the Sea Coast should not be a Continental Charge as particular Provinces may so { 396 } far neglect this as to involve the Continent in amazing Expences and unless there were something obligatory on the Side of the several Colonies to do it, Would they not be apt to neglect it.
By your late Resolves, You speak in a bolder Strain and may We not conjecture that You will not offend squeamish Minds with the Name Indepency yet that You will enter into a formal Confederacy. In Edes Paper of last Monday a Number of Articles for this Purpose are exhibited to publick View.1 In general they seem to be well calculated to take in all the Colonies. Perhaps less Power is committed to the Grand Congress than would be for the Peace and Good of the Whole. But more hereafter.
Last Week a Number of Marshfield Refugee Tories arrived at Marshfield (as is said) from Hallifax—Dr. Stockbridge, Deac. Tilden and Sons, Elisha Ford, 26 in all, Twelve at present. They are safe housd in Plimouth Goal.

[salute] Our Families and Yours are well. I am with Affection Yrs.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “The Dr. ansd. June 23d.” This endorsement was later amplified in another (but contemporary) hand, which the editors believe to be that of Rev. William Gordon (see descriptive note on Isaac Smith to JA, 24 June 1775, above), in the following manner: after “The Dr.” appears the name “Cooper,” meaning Rev. Dr. Samuel Cooper, which is, however, an incorrect attribution because the letter itself, though unsigned, is in the unmistakable hand of Dr. Cotton Tufts and JA's reply to it, dated 23 June, will be found below; and preceding JA's notation of the date of his reply appears the date of Tufts' letter, “Apl. 26. 1776.” This is a good example of the meddlesomeness and unreliability of whoever reviewed and annotated portions of JA's correspondence for June 1775–Oct. 1776.
1. See “Proposals for a Confederation of the United Colonies,” an unsigned leading article in the Boston Gazette, 22 April. These were designed to be equally applicable to a state of independence or a restored colonial status.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0257

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Warren, Mercy Otis
Date: 1776-04-27

Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren

I set myself down to comply with my Friends request, who I think seem's rather low spiritted.
I did write last week, but not meeting with an early conveyance I thought the Letter of But little importance and tos'd it away. I acknowledg my Thanks due to my Friend for the entertainment she so kindly afforded me in the Characters drawn in her Last Letter, and if coveting my Neighbours Goods was not prohibited by the Sacred Law, I should be most certainly tempted to envy her the happy talant she { 397 } possesses above the rest of her Sex, by adorning with her pen even trivial occurances, as well as dignifying the most important. Cannot you communicate some of those Graces to your Friend and suffer her to pass them upon the World for her own that she may feel a little more upon an Eaquality with you?—Tis true I often receive large packages from P[hiladelphi]a. They contain as I said before more News papers than Letters, tho they are not forgotton. It would be hard indeed if absence had not some alleviations.
I dare say he writes to no one unless to Portia oftner than to your Friend, because I know there is no one besides in whom he has an eaquel confidence. His Letters to me have been generally short, but he pleads in Excuse the critical state of affairs and the Multiplicity of avocations and says further that he has been very Busy, and writ near ten Sheets of paper, about some affairs which he does not chuse to Mention for fear of accident.
He is very sausy to me in return for a List of Female Grievances which I transmitted to him. I think I will get you to join me in a petition to Congress. I thought it was very probable our wise Statesmen would erect a New Goverment and form a new code of Laws. I ventured to speak a word in behalf of our Sex, who are rather hardly dealt with by the Laws of England which gives such unlimitted power to the Husband to use his wife Ill.
I requested that our Legislators would consider our case and as all Men of Delicacy and Sentiment are averse to Excercising the power they possess, yet as there is a natural propensity in Humane Nature to domination, I thought the most generous plan was to put it out of the power of the Arbitary and tyranick to injure us with impunity by Establishing some Laws in our favour upon just and Liberal principals.
I believe I even threatned fomenting a Rebellion in case we were not considerd, and assured him we would not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we had neither a voice, nor representation.
In return he tells me he cannot but Laugh at My Extrodonary Code of Laws. That he had heard their Struggle had loosned the bands of Goverment, that children and apprentices were dissabedient, that Schools and Colledges were grown turbulant, that Indians slighted their Guardians, and Negroes grew insolent to their Masters. But my Letter was the first intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerfull than all the rest were grown discontented. This is rather too coarse a complement, he adds, but that I am so sausy he wont blot it out.
So I have help'd the Sex abundantly, but I will tell him I have only { 398 } been making trial of the Disintresstedness of his Virtue, and when weigh'd in the balance have found it wanting.
It would be bad policy to grant us greater power say they since under all the disadvantages we Labour we have the assendancy over their Hearts

And charm by accepting, by submitting sway.

I wonder Apollo and the Muses could not have indulged me with a poetical Genious. I have always been a votary to her charms but never could assend Parnassus myself.
I am very sorry to hear of the indisposition of your Friend. I am affraid it will hasten his return, and I do not think he can be spaired.

“Though certain pains attend the cares of State

A Good Man owes his Country to be great

Should act abroad the high distinguishd part

or shew at least the purpose of his heart.”

Good Night my Friend. You will be so good as to remember me to our worthy Friend Mrs. W——e1 when you see her and write soon to your
[signed] Portia
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed in two later hands: “Mrs. Adams April 1776 No 6.” Dft (Adams Papers); undated and without indication of addressee, but at head of text JQA wrote “To Mrs. Warren,” and CFA added the tentative date “May 1776?”; text of Dft slightly shorter than that of RC.
1. Mrs. John Winthrop. Last paragraph of Dft reads, instead: “I congratulate my Friend upon her Honorable apointment; I was told a few days ago, that a committee of 3 Ladies was chosen to Examine the Tory Ladies, your Ladyship, our Friend Mrs. W——e and your correspondent were the persons.”

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0258

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-04-28

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Yesterday, I received two Letters from you from the 7th. to the 14. of April.1 I believe I have received all your Letters, and I am not certain I wrote one from Framingham. The one I mean contains an Account of my dining with the Indians at Mr. Mifflins.2
It gives me Concern to think of the many Cares you must have upon your Mind. Am glad you have taken [Belcher]3 into Pay, and that Isaac is well before now I hope.
Your Reputation, as a Farmer, or any Thing else you undertake I { 399 } dare answer for....4 Your Partners Character as a Statesman is much more problematical.
As to my Return, I have not a Thought of it. Journeys of such a Length are tedious, and expensive both of Time and Money neither of which are my own. I hope to spend the next Christmas, where I did the last, and after that I hope to be relieved for by that Time I shall have taken a pretty good Trick att Helm whether the Vessell has been well steer'd or not. But if My Countrymen should insist upon my serving them another Year, they must let me bring my whole Family with me. Indeed I could keep House here, with my Partner, four children and two servants, as cheap as I maintain my self here with two Horses and a servant at Lodgings.
Instead of domestic Felicity, I am destined to public Contentions. Instead of rural Felicity, I must reconcile myself to the Smoke and Noise of a city. In the Place of private Peace, I must be distracted with the Vexation of developing the deep Intrigues of Politicians and must assist in conducting the arduous Operations of War. And think myself, well rewarded, if my private Pleasure and Interest are sacrificed as they ever have been and will be, to the Happiness of others.
You tell me, our Jurors refuse to serve, because the Writs are issued in the Kings Name. I am very glad to hear, that they discover so much Sense and Spirit. I learn from another Letter that the General Court have left out of their Bills the Year of his Reign, and that they are making a Law, that the same Name shall be left out of all Writs, Commissions, and all Law Proscesses. This is good News too. The same will be the Case in all the Colonies, very soon.
You ask me how I have done the Winter past. I have not enjoyed so good Health as last Fall. But I have done complaining of any Thing. Of ill Health I have no Right to complain because it is given me by Heaven. Of Meanness, of Envy, of Littleness, of—of—of—of—I have Reason and Right to complain, but I have too much Contempt, to use that Right.
There is such a Mixture of Folly, Littleness, and Knavery in this World that, I am weary of it, and altho I behold it with unutterable Contempt and Indignation, yet the public Good requires that I should take no Notice of it, by Word or by Letter. And to this public Good I will conform.
You will see an Account of the Fleet in some of the Papers I have sent you. Give you Joy of the Admirals Success. I have Vanity enough to take to myself, a share in the Merit of the American Navy. It was always a Measure that my Heart was much engaged in, and I pursued { 400 } it, for a long Time, against the Wind and Tide. But at last obtained it.
Is there no Way for two friendly Souls, to converse together, altho the Bodies are 400 Miles off?—Yes by Letter.—But I want a better Communication. I want to hear you think, or to see your Thoughts.
The Conclusion of your Letter makes my Heart throb, more than a Cannonade would. You bid me burn your Letters. But I must forget you first.
In yours of April 14. you say you miss our Friend in the Conveyance of your Letters. Dont hesitate to write by the Post. Seal well. Dont miss a single Post.
You take it for granted that I have particular Intelligence of every Thing from others. But I have not. If any one wants a Vote for a Commission, he vouchsafes me a Letter, but tells me very little News. I have more particulars from you than any one else. Pray keep me constantly informed, what ships are in the Harbour and what Fortifications are going on.
I am quite impatient to hear of more vigorous Measures for fortifying Boston Harbour. Not a Moment should be neglected. Every Man ought to go down as they did after the Battle of Lexington and work untill it is done. I would willingly pay half a Dozen Hands my self, and subsist them, rather than it should not be done immediately. It is of more importance than to raise Corn.
You say inclosed is a Prologue and a Parody, but neither was inclosed. If you did not forget it, the letter has been opened and the Inclosures taken out.
If the Small Pox spreads, run me in debt. I received a Post or two past a Letter from your Unkle at Salem,5 containing a most friendly and obliging Invitation to you and yours to go, and have the Distemper at his House if it should spread. He has one or two in family to have it.
The Writer of Common Sense, and the Forrester, is the same Person. His Name is Payne, a Gentleman, about two Years ago from England, a Man who G[eneral] Lee says has Genius in his Eyes. The Writer of Cassandra is said to be Mr. James Cannon a Tutor, in the Philadelphia Colledge. Cato is reported here to be Dr. Smith—a Match for Brattle. The oration was an insolent Performance.... A Motion was made to Thank the orator and ask a Copy—But opposed with great Spirit, and Vivacity from every Part of the Room, and at last withdrawn, lest it should be rejected as it certainly would have been with Indignation. The orator then printed it himself, after leaving out or altering some offensive Passages.
{ 401 }
This is one of the many irregular, and extravagant Characters of the Age. I never heard one single person speak well of any Thing about him but his Abilities, which are generally allowed to be good. The Appointment of him to make the oration, was a great oversight, and Mistake.
The late Act of Parliament, has made so deep an Impression upon Peoples Minds throughout the Colonies, it is looked upon as the last Stretch of Oppression, that We are hastening rapidly to great Events.6 Governments will be up every where before Midsummer, and an End to Royal style, Titles and Authority. Such mighty Revolutions make a deep Impression on the Minds of Men and sett many violent Passions at Work. Hope, Fear, Joy, Sorrow, Love, Hatred, Malice, Envy, Revenge, Jealousy, Ambition, Avarice, Resentment, Gratitude, and every other Passion, Feeling, Sentiment, Principle and Imagination, were never in more lively Exercise than they are now, from Florida to Canada inclusively. May God in his Providence overrule the whole, for the good of Mankind. It requires more Serenity of Temper, a deeper Understanding and more Courage than fell to the Lott of Marlborough, to ride in this Whirlwind.
1. 7–11 and 14 April, above.
2. Watertown, 24 Jan., above.
3. Blank in MS, but see AA to JA, 7–11 April, above.
4. Suspension points, here and below, in MS.
5. Dated 6–8 April and printed above.
6. The American Prohibitory Act (16 George III, ch. 5), passed 22 Dec. 1775, declared all American ships and goods subject to seizure and in effect outlawed the colonists (Merrill Jensen, ed., English Historical Documents: American Colonial Documents to 1776, N.Y., 1955, p. 853). “I know not whether you have seen the Act of Parliament call'd the restraining Act, or prohibitory Act, or piratical Act, or plundering Act, or Act of Independency, for by all these Titles is it call'd. I think the most apposite is the Act of Independency, for King, Lords and Commons have united in Sundering this Country and that I think forever. It is a compleat Dismemberment of the British Empire. It throws thirteen Colonies out of the Royal Protection, levels all Distinctions and makes us independent in spight of all our supplications and Entreaties” (JA to Horatio Gates, 23 March 1776, NHi; printed in MHS, Procs., 67 [1941–1944]:138–139).

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0259

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-07

Abigail Adams to John Adams

How many are the solitary hours I spend, ruminating upon the past, and anticipating the future, whilst you overwhelmd with the cares of State, have but few moments you can devote to any individual. { 402 } All domestick pleasures and injoyments are absorbed in the great and important duty you owe your Country “for our Country is as it were a secondary God, and the First and greatest parent. It is to be preferred to Parents, Wives, Children, Friends and all things the Gods only excepted. For if our Country perishes it is as imposible to save an Individual, as to preserve one of the fingers of a Mortified Hand.” Thus do I supress every wish, and silence every Murmer, acquiesceing in a painfull Seperation from the companion of my youth, and the Friend of my Heart.
I believe tis near ten days since I wrote you a line. I have not felt in a humour to entertain you. If I had taken up my pen perhaps some unbecomeing invective might have fallen from it; the Eyes of our Rulers have been closed and a Lethargy has seazd almost every Member. I fear a fatal Security has taken possession of them. Whilst the Building is on flame they tremble at the expence of water to quench it, in short two months has elapsed since the evacuation of Boston, and very little has been done in that time to secure it, or the Harbour from future invasion till the people are all in a flame; and no one among us that I have heard of even mentions expence, they think universally that there has been an amaizing neglect some where. Many have turnd out as volunteers to work upon Nodles Island, and many more would go upon Nantaskit if it was once set on foot. “Tis a Maxim of state That power and Liberty are like Heat and moisture; where they are well mixt every thing prospers, where they are single, they are destructive.”
A Goverment of more Stability is much wanted in this colony, and they are ready to receive it from the Hands of the Congress, and since I have begun with Maxims of State I will add an other viz. that a people may let a king fall, yet still remain a people, but if a king let his people slip from him, he is no longer a king. And as this is most certainly our case, why not proclaim to the World in decisive terms your own importance?
Shall we not be dispiced by foreign powers for hesitateing so long at a word?
I can not say that I think you very generous to the Ladies, for whilst you are proclaiming peace and good will to Men, Emancipating all Nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over Wives. But you must remember that Arbitary power is like most other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken—and notwithstanding all your wise Laws and Maxims we have it in our power not only to free ourselves but to subdue our Masters, and without voilence throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet—
{ 403 }

“Charm by accepting, by submitting sway

Yet have our Humour most when we obey.”

I thank you for several Letters which I have received since I wrote Last. They alleviate a tedious absence, and I long earnestly for a Saturday Evening, and experience a similar pleasure to that which I used to find in the return of my Friend upon that day after a weeks absence. The Idea of a year dissolves all my Phylosophy.
Our Little ones whom you so often recommend to my care and instruction shall not be deficient in virtue or probity if the precepts of a Mother have their desired Effect, but they would be doubly in-forced could they be indulged with the example of a Father constantly before them; I often point them to their Sire

“engaged in a corrupted State

Wrestling with vice and faction.”

I designd to have finished the sheet, but an opportunity offering I close only just inform you that May the 7 our privateers took two prises in the Bay in fair sight of the Man of war, one a Brig from Irland the other from fyall [Fayal] loaded with wine Brandy and the other Beaf &c.1 The wind was East and a flood tide, so that the tenders could not get out tho they tried several times, the Light house fired Signal guns, but all would not do, they took them in triumph and carried them into Lyn.
Johnny and Charls have the Mumps, a bad disorder, but they are not very bad. Pray be kind enough to remember me at all times and write as often as you possibly can to your
[signed] Portia
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in an unidentified hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esqr. In Philadelphia To the care of Col: Warren”; docketed in an unidentified hand.
1. Thus punctuated in MS.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0260

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Warren, Mercy Otis
Date: 1776-05-08

Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Dear Marcia

Mr. Morton has given me great pleasure this morning by acquainting me with the appointment of our Worthy Friend to the Bench.1 Have I any influence with him? If I have I beg he would accept. I know very well what he will say, but he has long been accustomed to { 404 } Courts and the office he held led him to some acquaintance with Law, and his own abilities will easily qualify him to fill the place with Dignity.
If he refuses it will bring a contempt upon the place; to have those offices banded about from hand to hand may give the World just occasion to say that they are not considerd of any importance.
I know the Service of his Country is his chief aim, and he who is upon principal desirous of it cannot faill of the important end. I need not add how much pleasure it will give to my perticuliar Friend and to your
[signed] Portia
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed in two later hands: “Mrs. Adams 1776 No. 8.”
1. William Read having declined his appointment to the Superior Court, James Warren was commissioned, but Warren considered himself not qualified, and, despite appeals from his friends, after some hesitation declined to serve. See Warren to JA, 30 April–1 May and 8 May 1776 (Warren-Adams Letters, 1:238, 240); AA to JA, 9 May and 17 June, below.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0261

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-09

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I this day Received yours of the 20 of April1 accompanied with a Letter upon Goverment. Upon reading it I some how or other felt an uncommon affection for it; I could not help thinking it was a near relation of a very intimate Friend of mine. If I am mistaken in its descent, I know it has a near affinity to the Sentiments of that person, and tho I cannot pretend to be an adept in the art of Goverment; yet it looks rational that a Goverment of Good Laws well administerd should carry with them the fairest prospect of happiness to a community, as well as to individuals. But as this is a perogative to which your Sex lay almost an exclusive claim I shall quit the subject after having quoted a passage in favour of a Republic from an anonymous author intittled Essays on the Genius and Writings of Pope.2 “The fine arts, in short are naturally attendant upon power and luxury, but the Sciences require unlimited freedom to raise them to their full Vigour and Growth. In a Monarchy there may be poets, painters and Musicians, but orators, Historians and phylosophers can exist in a Republic alone. The Roman Nation by their unjust attempt upon the Liberty of the World, justly lost their own, and with their Liberty they lost not only their force of Eloquence, but even their Stile and Language itself.”
{ 405 }
This province is not in the most agreable situation at present, it wants a poize, a stability which it does not possess. The Counsel have recommended it to the Superior Court to sit at Ipswich the next Term. Judge Cushing call[ed] upon me yesterday with his Lady and made me a very Friendly visit. Said he wish'd earnestly for the presence of the Chief Justice, he had many things he wished to say to him. I requested him to write, and he has promised to.3
The Spirit of fortification has just awaked, and we are now persuing with vigour what ought before this time to have been compleated. Fort Hill, the Castle, Dorchester point, Nodles Island are allmost compleated, a committe are sent down to Nantasket, and orders are given to fortify the Moon, Gorges Island &c. I believe Nodles Island has been done by Subscription. 6 hundred meet every morning, inhabitants of the Town of Boston, in the Town house from whence they March with fife and drum with Mr. Gorden, Mr. Skilman and Mr. Lothtrope4 at their head to the long Wharf where they embark for the Island, and it comes to the Subscribers turn to work 2 days in a week.
You have no doubt heard of the appointment of your Friend as judge. He seems loth to accept, and his Lady I think loth that he should; surely it does not look well to have those offices banded about from hand to hand. If they could not obtain one from the bar, that Gentleman will fill the place with honour to himself and his Breatheren. But Mr. L[owel]l ought to have come in, instead of some others, but there are some in C[ounci]l who require more than Heaven, that demands only repentance and amendmant.5

[salute] Let me hear from you often. Yours unfeignedly.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed in John Thaxter's hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esq. at Philadelphia”; endorsed: “answd. May 27. 1776”; to this JA added “Portia” in the handwriting of his very old age; docketed in an unidentified hand.
1. Not found.
2. [Joseph Warton,] An Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope, published in its earliest form in 1756.
3. Judge William Cushing wrote JA on 20 May, congratulating him on his appointment to the chief justiceship and expressing cordial wishes for his return to take his place on the bench (Adams Papers). JA's reply, written from Philadelphia, 9 June, reflects his uncertainty about undertaking the service, especially in view of Cushing's superior qualifications (RC in MHi: William Cushing Papers; printed in JA, Works, 9:390, from LbC, Adams Papers).
4. Rev. William Gordon of Roxbury; Rev. Isaac Skillman, College of New Jersey 1766, of the 2d Baptist Church in Boston; and Rev. John Lathrop, College of New Jersey 1763, of the 2d Congregational Church in Boston (Weis, Colonial Clergy of N.E.).
5. John Lowell (1743–1802), Harvard 1760, a lawyer of Newburyport and afterward a leading Federalist politician, had in May 1774 signed a friendly farewell address to Governor Hutchinson { 406 } from the loyalist lawyers of the Province. His public recantation some months later did not appease all the patriot leaders, though from this point on he was firmly on the American side of the question. See DAB; Stark, Loyalists of Mass., p. 125–126.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0262

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-05-12

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Yours of April 21. came to Hand yesterday. I send you regularly every Newspaper, and write as often as I can—but I feel more skittish about writing than I did, because since the Removal of Head Quarters to New York, We have no Expresses, and very few Individual Travellers, and the Post I am not quite confident in. However I shall write as I can.
What shall I do with my Office1—I want to resign it for a Thousand Reasons. Would you advise me?
There has been a gallant Battle, in Delaware River between the Gallies and two Men of War, the Roebuck and Liverpool, in which the Men of War came off second best—which has diminished, in the Minds of the People, on both sides the River, the Terror of a Man of War.
I long to hear a little of my private Affairs, yet I dread it too, because I know you must be perplexed and distress'd. I wish it was in my Power to relieve you.
It gives me great Pleasure to learn that our Rulers are at last doing something, towards the Fortification of Boston. But I am inexpressibly chagrin'd to find that the Enemy is fortifying on Georges Island. I never shall be easy untill they are compleatly driven out of that Harbour and effectually prevented from ever getting in again. As you are a Politician, and now elected into an important Office, that of Judgess of the Tory Ladies, which will give you naturally an Influence with your sex, I hope you will be instant, in season and out of season, in exhorting them to use their Influence with the Gentlemen, to fortify upon Georges Island, Lovells, Petticks [Peddocks], Long, or wherever else it is proper. Send down Fire ships and Rafts and burn to Ashes those Pirates.
I am out of all Patience with the languid, lethargic Councils of the Province, at such a critical, important Moment, puzzling their Heads about Two penny fees and Confession Bills and what not, when the Harbour of Boston was defenceless. If I was there I should storm and thunder, like Demonsthenes, or scold like a Tooth drawer.
Do ask Mr. Wybirt and Mr. Welld, and Mr. Taft to preach about { 407 } it. I am ashamed, vex'd, angry to the last degree! Our People by their Torpitude have invited the Enemy to come to Boston again—and I fear they will have the Civility and Politeness to accept the Invitation.
Your Uncle has never answered my Letter.2 Thank the Doctor. He has written me a most charming Letter, full of Intelligence, and very sensible and usefull Remarks.3 I will pay the Debt as far as my Circumstances will admit, and as soon. But I hope my friends will not wait for regular Returns from me. I have not yet left off “pitying the fifty or sixty Men”4 and if My Friends knew all that I do, they would pity too.
Betcy Smith, Lazy Huzzy, has not written me a Line, a great While. I wish she was married—then she would have some Excuse. Duty to Pa. Love to all. How is the Family over against the Church?5
1. The chief justiceship.
2. JA to Norton Quincy, 30 March, above.
3. Cotton Tufts to JA, 26 April, above.
4. See the second paragraph of JA's (intercepted) letter to AA, 24 July 1775, above.
5. The Richard Cranch family, who were living in a house near Christ Church on what is now School Street, Quincy.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0263

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-14

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I set down to write you a Letter wholy Domestick without one word of politicks or any thing of the Kind, and tho you may have matters of infinately more importance before you, yet let it come as a relaxation to you. Know then that we have had a very cold backward Spring, till about ten days past when every thing looks finely. We have had fine Spring rains which makes the Husbandary promise fair—but the great difficulty has been to procure Labourers. There is such a demand of Men from the publick and such a price given that the farmer who Hires must be greatly out of pocket. A man will not talk with you who is worth hireing under 24 pounds per year. Col. Quincy and Thayer give that price, and some give more. Isaac insisted upon my giving him 20 pounds or he would leave me. He is no mower and I found very unfit to take the lead upon the Farm, having no forethought or any contrivance to plan his Buisness, tho in the Execution faithfull. I found I wanted somebody of Spirit who was wiser than myself, to conduct my Buisness. I went about and my Friends inquired but every Labourer who was active was gone and going into the Service. I asked advice of my Friends and Neighbours [and] they all adviced me to { 408 } let Isaac go, rather than give that price. I setled with him and we parted. Mr. Belcher is now with me and has undertaken to conduct the Buisness, which he has hitherto done with Spirit and activity. I know his virtues I know his faults. Hithertoo I give him 2 Shillings per day, and Daniel Nightingale works with him at the same lay. I would have hired him for the season but he was engaged to look after a place or two for people who are gone into the Army. I am still in quest of a Man by the year, but whether I shall effect it, I know not. I have done the best I could. We are just now ready to plant, the barly look[s] charmingly, I shall be quite a Farmeriss an other year.
You made no perticulir agreement with Isaac so he insisted upon my paying him 13. 6 8. I paid him 12 pounds 18 & 8 pence, and thought it sufficient.1
When Bass returnd he brought me some Money from you. After the deduction of his account and the horse hire there remaind 15 pounds. I have Received 12 from Mr. Thaxter which with one note of 20 pounds which I exchanged and some small matters of interest which I received and a little Hay &c. I have discharged the following debts—To my Father for his Horse twice 12 pounds (he would not have any thing for the last time). To Bracket, £13. 6s. 8d. To Isaac 12. 18. 8. To Mr. Hunt for the House 26. 15. 4.2 and the Rates of two years 1774, £4 14s. 8d. and for 1775: £7. 11s. 11d. Besides this have supported the family which is no small one you know and paid all little charges which have occurd in the farming way. I hardly know how I have got thro these thing's, but it gives me great pleasure to say they are done because I know it will be an Ease to your mind which amid all other cares which surround you will some times advert to your own Little Farm and to your Family. There remains due to Mr. Hunt about 42 pounds. I determine if it lays in my power to discharge the bond, and I have some prospect of it.
Our Little Flock send duty. I call[ed] them seperately and told them Pappa wanted to send them something and requested of them what they would have. A Book was the answer of them all only Tom wanted a picture Book and Charlss the History of king and Queen. It was natural for them to think of a Book as that is the only present Pappa has been used to make them.

[salute] Adieu—Yours,

[signed] Hermitta
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in John Thaxter's hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esqr. at Philadelphia”; docketed in an unidentified hand.
1. A slip receipt in the Adams Papers (text in AA's hand, signature in Copeland's) reads: “April 30 1776. Received of Abigail Adams twelve pounds { 409 } Nineteen Shillings Lawfull Money for my years Wages. Isaac Copeland.”
2. This was a payment to Shrimpton Hunt for the Adamses' house in Queen (Court) Street, Boston; see JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:63–64; 3:296–297.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0264

Author: Smith, Isaac Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-14

Isaac Smith Sr. to John Adams

[salute] Mr. Adams

I received last post a letter from Mr. Morris with referance to the fish I wrote to you about, sometime Ago—since which, and not hearing from you sooner I have concluded to ship itt on my Own Account.1
Upon Over hauling some of itt, by itts lying so long has hurt itt very much, some part of which is Only fit for the West India Market. I know of some which has been sold lately for the European Market not better, but I should not choose to ship itt Altogether As itt is, and therefore could not with propriety ship itt As fish of the first quality On any body's else Account.
I am sensible your time is taken up in more important Affairs than Mercantile Ones, and should not have troubled you [now?]2 had not Mr. Morris desired to know through you.
We have nothing New from Europe. A schooner from the West Indies with about 1,000 wt.3 powder on the publick Account—& are Sr. Your Most hume. servt.,
[signed] Isaac Smith
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble. John Adams Esq. Philadelphia”; postmarked: “BOSTON 16 MA,” with “Free” added by hand; endorsed: “Mr. Smith”; docketed in the hand of William Gordon(?): “May 14. 1776.”
1. See Smith to JA, 22 March and 6–8 April, both above.
2. Word torn away by seal.
3. This is something of a guess for a symbol written above the line.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0265

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-05-15

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Mr. Church setts off, tomorrow Morning. I have sent this Morning by Mr. William Winthrop, about half a dozen Letters containing Papers &c. Have nothing new to write.
We have been very busily engaged for 4 or 5 days in procuring Assistance for Boston.1 Congress has at last voted three Additional Battallions for Boston and that the five old ones be filled up, and We shall send you a Major General and a Brigadier General—Gates and Mifflin I hope but cant promise.2
{ 410 }
With much Pleasure I learn that, the People of Town and Country as well as the Troops are at length aroused and active to fortify Boston Harbour. I hope they will learn to make and use Fire ships and Fire Rafts.
1. See the resolves of 14 May concerning “the eastern department” (JCC, 4:355–356).
2. The choice was to rest with Washington. On 16 May Congress elected Gates a major general and Mifflin a brigadier general in the Continental service (JCC, 4:359); and on the same day the five Massachusetts delegates signed a letter (of which the text is in JA's hand) informing Washington of this fact and saying “that no Officers in the Service would be more agreable to Us” than those two (PHi: Gratz Coll.).

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0266

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-05-17

John Adams to Abigail Adams

I have this Morning heard Mr. Duffil upon the Signs of the Times. He run a Parrallell between the Case of Israel and that of America, and between the Conduct of Pharaoh and that of George.
Jealousy that the Israelites would throw off the Government of Egypt made him issue his Edict that the Midwives should cast the Children into the River, and the other Edict that the Men should make a large Revenue of Brick without Straw. He concluded that the Course of Events, indicated strongly the Design of Providence that We should be seperated from G. Britain, &c.
Is it not a Saying of Moses, who am I, that I should go in and out before this great People? When I consider the great Events which are passed, and those greater which are rapidly advancing, and that I may have been instrumental of touching some Springs, and turning some small Wheels, which have had and will have such Effects, I feel an Awe upon my Mind, which is not easily described.
G[reat] B[ritain] has at last driven America, to the last Step, a compleat Seperation from her, a total absolute Independence, not only of her Parliament but of her Crown, for such is the Amount of the Resolve of the 15th.2
Confederation among ourselves, or Alliances with foreign Nations are not necessary, to a perfect Seperation from Britain. That is effected by extinguishing all Authority, under the Crown, Parliament and Nation as the Resolution for instituting Governments, has done, to all Intents and Purposes. Confederation will be necessary for our internal Concord, and Alliances may be so for our external Defence.
{ 411 }
I have Reasons to believe that no Colony, which shall assume a Government under the People, will give it up. There is something very unnatural and odious in a Government 1000 Leagues off. An whole Government of our own Choice, managed by Persons whom We love, revere, and can confide in, has charms in it for which Men will fight. Two young Gentlemen from South Carolina, now in this City, who were in Charlestown when their new Constitution was promulgated, and when their new Governor and Council and Assembly walked out in Procession, attended by the Guards, Company of Cadetts, Light Horse &c., told me, that they were beheld by the People with Transports and Tears of Joy. The People gazed at them, with a Kind of Rapture. They both told me, that the Reflection that these were Gentlemen whom they all loved, esteemed and revered, Gentlemen of their own Choice, whom they could trust, and whom they could displace if any of them should behave amiss, affected them so that they could not help crying.
They say their People will never give up this Government.
One of these Gentlemen is a Relation of yours, a Mr. Smith, son of Mr. Thomas Smith.3 I shall give him this Letter or another to you.
A Privateer fitted out here by Coll. Reberdeau [Roberdeau] and Major Bayard, since our Resolves for Privateering, I am this Moment informed, has taken a valuable Prize. This is Encouragement, at the Beginning.
In one or two of your Letters you remind me to think of you as I ought. Be assured there is not an Hour in the Day, in which I do not think of you as I ought, that is with every Sentiment of Tenderness, Esteem, and Admiration.
1. Corrected by overwriting from “16.” Congress did not sit on the 17th, “This being,” as Joseph Hewes put it, “a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer (or in vulgar language Congress Sunday)” (letter to James Iredell, 17 May, Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:455).
2. Or, rather, of the preamble, adopted on 15 May, to a resolve voted after long debate on 10 May. The resolve of the 10th recommended to the assemblies and conventions that they “adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general” (JCC, 4:342). JA, Edward Rutledge, and Richard Henry Lee were named a committee to draft a preamble suitable to prefix to this momentous resolve when published. The preamble, written by JA, reported on the 13th, adopted on the 15th, used markedly stronger language than the paper it accompanied, calling for the total suppression “of every kind of authority” emanating from Great Britain. Conservatives in Congress found it too strong for their acceptance, James Duane pronouncing it “a Machine to fabricate independence”; and their failure to defeat it opened the way directly to what JA here calls “a compleat Seperation.” The resolve and preamble were published in { 412 } the Pennsylvania Gazette, 22 May. See JCC, 4:351, 357–358; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:238–241; 3:335, 382–386; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:443 ff.
3. Benjamin Smith (1757–1826), a distant cousin of AA; he had studied at the Middle Temple and in 1810 became governor of North Carolina (AA and JA to I. Smith Jr., 4 Jan. 1770, above; E. Alfred Jones, Amer. Members of the Inns of Court, London, 1924, p. 200–201).

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0267

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-05-22

John Adams to Abigail Adams

When a Man is seated, in the Midst of forty People some of whom are talking, and others whispering, it is not easy to think, what is proper to write. I shall send you the News-Papers, which will inform you, of public Affairs, and the particular Flickerings of Parties in this Colony.
I am happy to learn from your Letter, that a Flame is at last raised among the People, for the Fortification of the Harbour. Whether Nantaskett, or Point Alderton would be proper Posts to be taken I cant say. But I would fortify every Place, which is proper, and which Cannon could be obtained for.
Generals Gates and Mifflin are now here. Gen. Washington will be here tomorrow—when We shall consult and deliberate, concerning the Operations of the ensuing Campain.1
We have dismal Accounts from Europe, of the Preparations against Us. This Summer will be very important to Us. We shall have a severe Tryal of our Patience, Fortitude and Perseverance. But I hope we shall do valiantly and tread down our Enemies.
I have some Thoughts of petitioning the General Court for Leave to bring my Family, here. I am a lonely, forlorn, Creature here. It used to be some Comfort to me, that I had a servant, and some Horses—they composed a Sort of Family for me. But now, there is not one Creature here, that I seem to have any Kind of Relation to.
It is a cruel Reflection, which very often comes across me, that I should be seperated so far, from those Babes, whose Education And Welfare lies so near my Heart. But greater Misfortunes than these, must not divert Us from Superiour Duties.
Your Sentiments of the Duties We owe to our Country, are such as become the best of Women, and the best of Men. Among all the Disappointments, and Perplexities, which have fallen to my share in Life, nothing has contributed so much to support my Mind, as the choice Blessing of a Wife, whose Capacity enabled her to comprehend, and whose pure Virtue obliged her to approve the Views of her Husband. { 413 } This has been the cheering Consolation of my Heart, in my most solitary, gloomy and disconsolate Hours. In this remote Situation, I am deprived in a great Measure of this Comfort. Yet I read, and read again your charming Letters, and they serve me, in some faint degree as a substitute for the Company and Conversation of the Writer.
I want to take a Walk with you in the Garden—to go over to the Common—the Plain—the Meadow. I want to take Charles in one Hand and Tom in the other, and Walk with you, Nabby on your Right Hand and John upon my left, to view the Corn Fields, the orchards, &c.
Alass poor Imagination! how faintly and imperfectly do you supply the Want of original and Reality!
But instead of these pleasing Scaenes of domestic Life, I hope you will not be disturbed with the Alarms of War. I hope yet I fear.
1. See JA to AA, 3 June, below, and JA's Diary and Autobiography, 3:390, with references there.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0268

Author: Smith, Isaac Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-22

Isaac Smith Sr. to John Adams

[salute] Mr. Adams

Your esteemed favors of the 29th. Ulto. and 6th Inst.1 now before and in Answer say I shall att all times be willing to communicate my sentiments or give any intelligence, that may tend to the public good.—As to Boston I think when the works are compleated the enemy will never attempt coming that way, but as soon As that is compleated hope there will be some way found to keep the ships from rendevousing att Nantasket, but should that succeed there may be a dificulty as great iff they should make C[ape] Ann a harbour as they would then stop all Coasters coming which now do get a long, but iff C. Ann was well fortifyed which by Nature Is best Able with proper batteries to defend itt self of any I know. Indeed M[arble] H[ea]d and Salem are well cituated, and iff properly fortifyed would keep Out almost any thing but C. Ann would be the safest harbour for them.
I dont know how many ships there are in Nantasket but almost every day they are Out. There are two ships and a brigantine most Constantly cruzeing between Cape Codd and Casco bay. One is the Milford of 28 Guns which goes exceeding fast. Yesterday a Coasting skipper came thro here that had been taken and after taken a sloop with Sparrs &c. from the Eastward, takeing likewise he was put on board to go to Boston but managed itt so as to get in to Casco—itts said { 414 } belongd to N York. Several Masters &c. are come from Halifax. 12 days from thence three belonging here. There not being barracks enough the rigements take turn to go a shore.—There was nothing lately from England. The reason they give of Leaveing Boston was on Account of Provisions. On Approach of some part of the fleet they say they knockt of the Truneons of off 60 or 70 Canon and spikd the guns up.—With regard to trade I think there is One very unjust Account2 with regard to the Owners of Vessell[s] which is That An Owner of a Vessell in these parts of the World is lyable by any Misconduct of the Master or people by bringing a trifle unbeknown to the Owner to have his Vessell forfeited and I dare say not One Vessell in fifty but is lyable. In England they are some Articles intirely prohibited but in general they are Allowed port entries and iff proper entries are not made by the Master Yet the Owner is not lyable for the forfeiture of his Vessell. Only the goods—which I think, is right. But we have even been debar'd that p[rivile]dge which is certainly unjust. And As to Hospital money's which sailors pay, and are not entiteled to any benifit by itt is Unreasonable for no sailor belonging to this part of the World can be Admited, but when any English sailor falls sick here we take care of them upon the public expence, and the governours of which are Not Allowed 2. or 3.000 a Year to come Out of the poor sailors pockets.
You desire to know whether itt would be likely Our Vessells would be stopt in foreign ports. As to France and Spain there Appears no dificulty but in Lisbon and Holland &c. am Apprehensive there will be a dificulty As the English Consells have such a power there and those Nations seem to [be Aided?]3 by the Ministry that I am of Opinion no Vessell would be safe going to those places. I have lately received a letter from Lisbon On that subject, which says you must be very cautious as to any Vessell coming here as all the Consells att the differant ports, are scrupeliously exact in regard to all Vessells that enter—for which reason I have hauld up a Vessell I was going to send there. Possibly some more things may Occur or turn up as to trade but expecting the post to pass thro every moment have not to Add saveing to say am sorry to here of the disagreeable News from Quebeck and are Y &c.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble. John Adams Esq. Philadelphia”; postmarked: “BOSTON 23 MA,” with “Free” added by hand; endorsed: “Mr. Smith an. June 1”; docketed in hand of William Gordon(?): “May 22. 1776.”
1. Neither has been found.
{ 415 }
2. Smith doubtless meant to write “Act.”
3. MS partly torn and partly illegible; the reading is very conjectural.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0269

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-05-27

Abigail Adams to John Adams

What can be the reason I have not heard from you since the 20 of April, and now tis the 27 of May. My anxious foreboding Heart fears every Evil, and my Nightly Slumbers are tortured; I have sent, and sent again to the post office, which is now kept in Boston at the office of the formour Solisiter General, not one line for me, tho your hand writing is to be seen to several others. Not a scrip have I had since the General Assembly rose, and our Worthy Friend W[arre]n left Watertown. I fear you are sick. The very Idea casts such a Gloom upon my Spirits that I cannot recover them for Hours, nor reason my self out of my fears. Surely if Letters are deliverd to any other hand than those to whose care they are directed tis cruel to detain them. I believe for the future you had better direct them to be left in the post office from whence I shall be sure of obtaining them.
I am desired by Sister A——s1 to ask you if you will take 28 acres of wood land which she mentiond to you. It must be sold, has a very fine Growth of Walnut wood upon it, as well as other wood, tis prized at forty shillings per acre which by looking into his deed of it, I find to be the same he gave for it. The distance which it lies from us is the chief objection in my mind. You will be so good as to send me word as soon as you Receive this. They are about setling the Estate as soon as posible. What can be done with, or about the Lighter I know not. I was told that she was taken for a fire ship, but was Misinformed. There is no regular account of any thing but the ropes, cable and sails, nor any thing which appears to shew the cost of her. I think it can only be left to those who Built about that time to say what they believe she cost. They have prized one half of her very Low 33. 8. 4. I have asked my unkle Q[uinc]y to assist in your stead. The watch she says you desired to have. I know nothing about it; not having heard you mention it. She sits it at 6 pounds.
I wrote you two Letters about a fortnight ago which were both coverd together, hope you have received them. We have no News here but what you will be informd of long before this reaches you unless it is the politicks of the Town. At our May Meeting Mr. W[ibir]d was desired to preach a Sermon previous to the choise which he did to great acceptation. The debates were not who; but how many should { 416 } be sent. They agreed upon 3—Mr. B[a]ss for the upper precicnt, Col. T[haye]r for the middle and an unkel of ours for this, but he beg'd to be excused, as his State of Health was so infirm and so subject to a nervious headack that he was sure he could not stand it to sit in so numerous an assembly. The next vote was for your Brother and a tye took place between him and Col. P[alme]r but the Latter declairing that he would tarry in the house if chosen there, the vote fell upon him.2
The dissagreable News we have from Quebeck is a great damper to our Spirits, but shall we receive good and not Evil? Upon this occasion you will recollect the Sentiments of your favorite Sully. Without attempting to judge of the future, which depends upon too many accidents, much less to subject it to our precipitation in bold and difficult enterprizes, we should endeavour to subdue one obstacle at a time, nor suffer ourselves to be deprest by their Greatness and their Number. We ought never to despair of what has been once accomplished. How many things have the Idea of imposible been annexed to, that have become easy to those who knew how to take advantage of Time, opportunity, lucky Moments, the Faults of others, different dispositions and an infinite Number of other circumstances.
These are Sentiments worthy the Man who could Execute what he pland. I sincerely wish we had the Spirit of Sully animateing our counsels.3
My Heart is as light as a feather and my Spirits are dancing. I received this afternoon a fine parcel of Letters and papers by Coll. Thayer, it was a feast to me. I shall rest in quiet I hope this Night; the papers I have not read but sit down to write you for Mr. Bass has just been here to let me know that Harry will call upon him to-morrow and take this Letter for me. I would not have you anxious about me. I make out better than I did. I have hired a Negro fellow for 6 months, am to give him ten pounds which is much lower than I had any prospect of getting help, and Belcher is exceeding assiduous and I believe faithfull in what he undertakes. If he should purloin a little I must bear that; he is very diligent, and being chief engineer is ambitious. If you could find a few moments leisure just to write him a few lines and let him know that I had wrote you that he had the care of the place, and that you should be glad of his best Services upon it, of his constant care and attention I believe it would go a good way towards insureing it.—You will find by one of the Letters which I mention as { 417 } having sent an account of some of your affairs. My best endeavours will not be wanting in every department. I wish my abilities were eaquel to my wishes.
My Father and your Mother desire to be rememberd to you in very perticuliar terms. The family you mention are well. So is your Brothers, your own are tolerably comfortable. Charls has the Mumps and has been very sick but is now better. Can you tell how I feel when they come to me as the two youngest often do, with a Mar, when will par come home?
Charllys Grandmama tells this Story of Him. She was carrying him to meeting the Sabbeth the Regulars left Boston when a person stop'd her upon the road to tell her the news. Gone from Boston says he with his Eyes just ready to run over. What gone away themselves. Yes replied his Grandmamma. Then I say they are Cowards, for they have stood it but one year and we would have stood it 3.
I took a ride last week and ventured just as far as the Stump of Liberty Tree.4 Roxbury looks more injured than Boston, that is the Houses look more torn to peices. I was astonished at the extensiveness of our lines and their strength. We have taken a most noble prize the inventory of which you have in the paper. The poor Captain has since lost his life in a desperate ingagement with 13 Boats from the Men of War which attacked him and attempted to Board him, but by a most brave resistance they sunk four of the Boats and fought so warmly with their spears and small Arms as to oblige them to quit him, tho he had but 27 men and they 5 times his number. He unhappily fell and was the only one who did.5 Many dead bodies have since been taken up among whom is an officer.—We have now in fair sight of my unkells the commodore, a 36 Gun frigate, an other large vessel and 6 small craft. I hope after Election we shall have ways and means devised to drive of these Torments. Providence seems to have deliverd into our Hands the very articles most needed, and at a time when we were weak and not so well provided for as we could wish. We have two Row Gallies Building, and Men of Spirit to use them I dare say will be found. One engagement only whets their appetite for an other. I heard last Night that we had 3 Regiments comeing back to us with General Gates to head them, at which I most sincerely rejoiced. I think he is the Man we want.
Believe you may venture Letters safely by the Post. Mine go that way, and for the future I will send to the post office for yours.
You ask my advice with regard to your office. If I was to consult only my own private Satisfaction and pleasure I should request you to { 418 } resign it, but as that is of small moment when compaird to the whole, and I think you qualified and know you disposed to serve your Country I must advice you to hold it, at least for the present year.6
And in saying this I make a Sacrifice which those only can judge of whose Hearts are one.
I was much affected the other day with a Letter which I saw from the Lady of the late worthy General Montgomery. Speaking of him, she says, suffer me to repeat his last words to me; you shall never Blush for your Montgomery. Nobly has he kept his Word. As a wife I must ever mourn the Husband, Friend and Lover of a thousand virtues, of all domestick Bliss, the Idol of my warmest affections and in one word my every dream of happiness. Methinks I am like the poor widow in the Gosple, having given my Mite, I sit down disconsolate.
These are only detached parts of the Letter to which I fear I have not done justice, as I have only my memory to serve me, but it was a very fine Letter.
Our Worthy Friends are in great trouble, their eldest Son is disorderd in his mind.7 I have not had a line since he was carried home, and I know not the cause. I want to hear from them, but know not how to write to them.
I bid you good night. O that I could annihilate Space. Yours.
You have been misinformd. The Regulars have not made any fortifications any where. It was so reported but was not true.
The Season promises very fair for Grass, and a fine Bloom upon the Trees. Warm weather we want which will make every thing look finely. I wish you could be here to injoy it.8
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “ansd. June 16.”
1. This must be the widow of Elihu Adams, since the settlement of an estate is mentioned below.
2. The laconic entry in the Braintree Town Records merely says of this election, which took place on 20 May: “Representatives. Voted, To send three Representatives to the Generall Court, (viz) one from each Precinct. Then Joseph Palmer, Ebenr. Thayer & Jona. Bass were chosen” (p. 467). AA's uncle who declined election was Norton Quincy; JA's brother who lost to Palmer was Peter Boylston Adams. By saying he “would tarry in the house,” Palmer meant he would decline reelection to the Council. See, further, JA to Peter Boylston Adams, 15 June, below.
3. The Catalogue of JA's Library lists two sets of the celebrated Mémoires of the Duc de Sully owned by JA, one in French, 8 vols., London, 1767; and one in English, called the 4th edn., 6 vols., London, 1763; each volume of the latter contains JA's autograph followed by the date 1772. JA made prompt and effective use of AA's quotation from Sully, in a letter he addressed to Gen. Nathanael Greene, 22 June 1776 (LbC, Adams Papers; JA, Works, 9:404).
4. Just over Boston Neck at what is now the corner of Essex and Washington { 419 } Streets. See Samuel Adams Drake, Old Landmarks ... of Boston, Boston, 1873, p. 396 ff.
5. For the capture by the Franklin privateer, Capt. James Mugford, of the Hope, with a valuable cargo of munitions, 17 May, and Mugford's death in in an engagement in Boston Harbor two days later, see William Bell Clark, George Washington's Navy, Baton Rouge, 1960, ch. 16.
6. In his letter of 12 May, above, JA had asked, “What shall I do with my Office[?],” by which he unquestionably meant the chief justiceship. In answering, AA misunderstood him, for she is here talking about his post as delegate in Congress; but see her letter to JA of 17 June, below.
7. James Warren Jr. (1757–1821), subsequently an officer on the Alliance: wounded in the fight with the Serapis; in later years postmaster at Plymouth (Mrs. Washington A. Roebling, Richard Warren of the Mayflower..., Boston, 1901, p. 27; Mass. Soldiers and Sailors).
8. A comparison of this letter (now printed in full for the first time) with the text as printed in JA–AA, Familiar Letters, p. 178–181, provides a striking example of CFA's methods (and short-comings) in editing the correspondence of his grandparents. Though it is an extreme case, the kinds of material silently excised by CFA are perfectly representative of his taste and practice throughout.
In the 1st paragraph CFA omitted the words “our Worthy Friend W[arre]n left Watertown. I fear you are sick.” This was certainly an unintentional omission, perhaps by CFA's copyist or printer, and not characteristic of his usually careful copy reading. It of course distorts the meaning of the following sentence.
In the 6th paragraph (“My Heart is as light as a feather ...”), CFA omitted everything concerning affairs on the Braintree farm beginning with the sentence “I have hired a Negro fellow.” He also struck out the two following paragraphs containing anecdotes of the children.
In the 9th paragraph (“I took a ride...”) CFA made an “overcorrection” of the kind that often occurs when editors in normalizing manuscript texts misunderstand the writer's actual meaning. CFA's rendering of a sentence about halfway through that paragraph begins: “We have now in fair sight of my uncle's the Commodore, a thirty-six gun frigate,” &c. AA's “commodore” does indeed refer to a vessel, but, as frequently in the 18th century, by the name of its chief officer rather than by the name of the vessel itself. The commodore was actually Capt. Francis Banks, R.N., and his ship was the Renown; see AA to JA, 14 April, above, and note 7 there.
CFA omitted the 10th paragraph entire (“Believe you may venture Letters...”), perhaps because he thought it inconsequential.
Except for a single sentence, “Oh that I could annihilate space,” CFA entirely omitted the last four paragraphs of the manuscript, ending with AA's remarks on Mrs. Montgomery's letter and suppressing, for various reasons, the news of young James Warren's being “disorderd in his mind,” her correction of JA's report of fortifications by the “Regulars,” and her comments on the weather in Braintree.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0270

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-05-27

John Adams to Abigail Adams

I have three of your Favours, before me—one of May 7., another of May 9. and a third of May 14th. The last has given me Relief from many Anxieties. It relates wholly to private Affairs, and contains such an Account of wise and prudent Management, as makes me very happy. I begin to be jealous, that our Neighbours will think Affairs more discreetly conducted in my Absence than at any other Time.
{ 420 }
Whether your Suspicions concerning a Letter under a marble Cover, are just or not, it is best to say little about it.1 It is an hasty hurried Thing and of no great Consequence, calculated for a Meridian at a great Distance from N. England. If it has done no good, it will do no harm. It has contributed to sett People a thinking upon the subject, and in this respect has answered its End. The Manufactory of Governments having, since the Publication of that Letter, been as much talk'd of, as that of salt Petre was before.
I rejoice at your Account of the Spirit of Fortification, and the good Effects of it. I hope by this Time you are in a tolerable Posture of defence. The Inhabitants of Boston have done themselves great Honour, by their laudable Zeal, the worthy Clergymen especially.
I think you shine as a Stateswoman, of late as well as a Farmeress. Pray where do you get your Maxims of State, they are very apropos.
I am much obliged to Judge Gushing, and his Lady for their polite Visit to you: should be very happy to see him, and converse with him about many Things but cannot hope for that Pleasure, very soon. The Affairs of America, are in so critical a State, such great Events are struggling for Birth, that I must not quit this station at this Time. Yet I dread the melting Heats of a Philadelphia Summer, and know not how my frail Constitution will endure it. Such constant Care, such incessant Application of Mind, drinking up and exhausting the finer Spirits upon which Life and Health so essentially depend, will wear away a stronger Man than I am.—Yet I will not shrink from this Danger or this Toil. While my Health shall be such that I can discharge in any tolerable manner, the Duties of this important Post, I will not desert it.
Am pleased to hear that the superiour Court is to sit, at Ipswich in June.2 This will contribute to give Stability to the Government, I hope, in all its Branches....3 But I presume other Steps will be taken for this Purpose. A Governor and Lt. Governor, I hope will be chosen, and the Constitution a little more fixed. I hope too that the Councill will this year be more full and augmented by the Addition of good Men.4
I hope Mr. Bowdoin will be Governor, if his Health will permit, and Dr. Winthrop Lt. Governor. These are wise, learned, and prudent Men. The first has a great Fortune, and wealthy Connections, the other has the Advantage of a Name and Family which is much reverenced, besides his Personal Abilities and Virtues, which are very great.
Our Friend,5 I sincerely hope, will not refuse his Appointment, for { 421 } although I have ever thought that Bench should be fill'd from the Bar, and once laboured successfully to effect it, yet as the Gentlemen have seen fit to decline, I know of no Gentleman, who would do more Honour to the Station than my Friend. None would be so agreable to me, whether I am to sit by him, or before him. I suppose it must be disagreable to him and his Lady, because he loves to be upon his Farm, and they both love to be together. But you must tell them of a Couple of their Friends who are as fond of living together, who are obliged to sacrifice their rural Amusements and domestic Happiness to the Requisitions of the public.
The Generals Washington, Gates, and Mifflin are all here, and We shall derive Spirit, Unanimity, and Vigour from their Presence and Advice. I hope you will have some General Officers at Boston soon.—I am, with constant Wishes and Prayers for your Health, and Prosperity, forever yours.
1. JA's Thoughts on Government.
2. In an editorial note in Quincy's Reports, Samuel Miller Quincy gives the following summary account of the reopening of the Superior Court (p. 341):
“In May, 1776, was passed the act changing the style of commissions, writs, processes, and proceedings in law, from the name and style of the King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c., to the name and style of the Government and People of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. Anc. Chart. 798. The first Court held under the new organization appears to have been in Ipswich, for the County of Essex, on the 3rd Tuesday in June, 1776. The records of this term are entitled 'Colony of Massachusetts Bay,' and the Court was held by 'Wm. Cushing, Jedediah Foster, and James Sullivan, Esqrs., Justices,' 'They having first produced Commissions under the Government Seal, severally appointing them Justices of the said Court.' Rec. 1776, Fol. 2.”
3. Suspension points in MS.
4. As a result of rising murmurs over plural officeholding, JA had recently resigned his seat in the Council (JA to James Otis Sr., 29 April, printed in JA's Works, 9:374, from a MS not now to be found). On the first day the new House sat, 29 May, a mass resignation of councilors took place, and the new Council contained twelve new members (among twenty-eight elected), and none who were serving as delegates to the Continental Congress (Mass., House Jour., 1776–1777, p. 6–7). See also JA's Diary and Autobiography, 3:360–363.
5. James Warren.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0271

Author: Warren, Mercy Otis
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1776-05-27

Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams

My dear Mrs. Adams will undoubtedly Wonder that she has not heard from me since I Left Braintree, but want of Health, a Variety of Avocations, with some Axiety of Another Nature must be my Excuse. I have scarcely taken up a pen since my Return to Plimouth. Indeed I feel as if I was about to quit the use of it. So Great is the force { 422 } of Habit that not accustoming myself to that Employment in which I have taken so much Delight, I find would soon Make it a task Rather than a pleasure.
As to your kind Interrogations with Regard to the health of your Plimouth Friends,1 for myself I Can Give no very Good account though am much Better than when I Left Watertown, but I hope the Countenance of the Bearer of this will Convince you that the salutary air of Plimouth has been very Advantagous to him, and I dare say he will Join me in Recommending a Journey this way as a Restorative to the Health of Portia before the Exstreem heat Comes on. I would propose that Next week should Give me this pleasure. If that is not Convenient, do Let me know when it is probable you may Execute this plan. I shall order a person to Call on you on Fryday for Letters, and as it will be a Good oppertunity should be Glad of some other Volumes of Rollins History. The young Gentleman for whose use I ask them would have Returnd the first by this Conveyance but I have Detained it A Little Longer.
I am Exceedingly Concernd at the accounts we hear from Canada. If you have any Late Inteligence do Let me know.
A severe Nervous head ach has afflicted me for two days, and is now so painful that it Renders me unfit Even to Attemp to Entertain my Friends in the Epistolary way, nor should I have made an Effort of the kind but that I might justly put in my Claim to what you know [would give great?]2 pleasure to your affecti[onate][ . . . ]
RC (Adams Papers); at head of text in CFA's hand: “27 May 1777”—a mistake which caused this letter to be filed and microfilmed a year late in the Adams Papers.
1. AA's letter to which the present letter is a reply has not been found.
2. MS torn, possibly for signature.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0272

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Warren, Mercy Otis
Date: 1776-01

Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] My Dear Marcia

Our Country is as it were a Secondary God, and the first and greatest parent. It is to be perferred to parents, to wives, children, Friends and all things the Gods only excepted.
These are the considerations which prevail with me to consent to a most painfull Seperation.
{ 423 }
I have not known how to take my pen to write to you. I have been happy and unhappy. I have had many contending passions dividing my Heart, and no sooner did I find it at my own option whether my Friend should go or tarry and resign; than I found his honour and reputation much dearer to me, than my own present pleasure and happiness, and I could by no means consent to his resigning at present, as I was fully convinced he must suffer if he quitted. The Eyes of every one are more perticuliarly upon that assembly, and every motion of every member is inspected, so that he can neither be droped nor resign without creating a thousand Jealousies in the minds of the people, nor even obtain leave for a few weeks absence to visit his family, without a thousand malicious Suggestions and Suspicions—first I suppose broached by the tories and from them catchd by the Gaping multitude. All those who act in publick life have very unthankful offices and

“will often sigh to find the unwilling Gratitude

of base Mankind.”

I believe you will think me petulant, but believe me I could fill this paper with Stories of Expulsion from Congress, loss of influence, affronts from D[ickinso]n, deserting the cause, affraid of being hung &c. &c.
All of which are not worth regarding only as they serve to shew Humane Nature, popular favour and the Gratitude of ones Country, whilst a person is giving up to distruction all their own private concerns, depriving themselves of all the pleasures and comforts of domestick life, and exerting all the powers both of Body and Mind, and spending their lives in the Service of their Country. Thus does it reward them whilst it will hug a canting hypocrate who has been drawing out its vitals.2 The post of honour is a private Station. Tis certainly the most comfortable Station. Yet in these days of peril whilst the vessel is in a storm, it would be guilt in an able passenger not to lend his assistance.
Thus having run a rig and given a losse [loose] to my pen I would ask my Friend how she does? and why she does not let me hear oftner from her.
Since I wrote you last all my Little ones have had a setled fever. Johnnys was a plurisy, and he was very dangerous. I have been confined myself for more than a week; but have Recruited again. I hope you and yours are well.
You make a request, I dare not comply with.3 I am so apprehen• { 424 } sive least my Letters should miscarry that unless I knew the hand by which I sent them I am affraid to write any thing which ought not to come to the publick Eye. I have many reason[s] to be careful of what I write as the fates if I may so express myself seem to delight in bringing into publick view private correspondencyes, and making a malicious use of very trifling circumstances. I have reason for saying this which I may one day or other explain to you.
We have not any thing new at present, tis conjectured that a Storm will e'er long succeed to the present calm. I pray heaven it may be an Efectual one. Let me hear from you soon which will much oblige your Friend,
[signed] Portia
Dft (Adams Papers); undated; at head of text in JQA's hand: “December 1777,” to which CFA added: “Copy. Mrs. Warren.” This letter is printed out of chronological order because the date assigned by JQA and apparently accepted by CFA was not corrected until after the present volume was in page proof; see note 1.
1. AA undoubtedly wrote and sent this letter, of which only her undated draft has been found, between the date of JA's departure from Braintree for Congress, 24 Jan. 1776 (see his letter of that day to AA from Watertown, above) and Mrs. Warren's letter to AA of 7 Feb. 1776 (also above), which is clearly a reply. The present letter should therefore have been printed between those two letters, at p.343, above.
2. Robert Treat Paine. See AA to JA, 21 Feb. 1776, above, and note 2 there.
3. See Mrs. Warren to AA, 11 Dec. 1775, above, requesting, apparently, to see some of JA's diary volumes.
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/