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-04-01-02-0249

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.
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/