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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


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/