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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


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).
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/