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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 2

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0151

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1777-04-06

John Adams to Abigail Adams

This Evening Major Ward deliverd me Yours of 23d. of March.—It is a great Pleasure to me to learn that your Flour has arrived. I begin to have some opinion of my good Fortune. If I could have been certain, of the Vessells escaping the many Snares in her Way, I would have sent a dozen Barrells.
The Act, my dear, that you were so fond of will do no good.1 Legislatures cannot effect Impossibilities. I detest all Embargoes, and all other Restraints upon Trade.2 Let it have its own Way, in such a Time as this and it will cure its own Diseases. The Paper emitted by the states jointly and separately is too much, it is more than enough to purchase every Commodity and every Species of Labour that is wanted, and this Excess of Quantity is the true Cause of the Artificial Scarcity of Things, but the Price of this will be in Proportion to the Demand, in spite of all Regulations.—To save my self the Trouble of thinking I will transcribe for your Amusement a few observations of Lord Kaims, on the subject of Money, Scarcity, Plenty, and Demand. Read them, compare them with the Increase of Money in America, the Decrease of Goods and Labour, and the Increase of Demand for both, and then judge whether the Regulations and Embargoes can do any good. . . .3
LbC (Adams Papers); note at the foot of the text reads: “Sent. most of it”; but no RC has been found.
1. The Massachusetts act fixing the prices of wages and commodities; see AA to JA, 8 Feb. and note, and 23 March, both above.
2. In Dec. 1776 the General Court had laid an embargo on all private vessels, forbidding them to trade with any but American coastal ports and banning the export of a long list of foodstuffs and other goods from Massachusetts. Though modified in one way or another in the following months, the embargo carried very heavy penalties for violations, was extended in February to goods carried out of the state by land as well as water transport, and (as shown by frequent allusions in letters that follow) was much complained of. See the numerous resolves relating to the embargo, Dec. 1776 – May 1777, in Mass., Province Laws, 19:713–714, 721–722, 773–774. 808–810, 928.
3. The remainder of this very long letter, omitted here, is a transcript of very nearly the entire fourth section, entitled “The Origin and Progress of Commerce,” in Henry Home, Lord Kames' Six Sketches on the History of Man, Phila., 1776 (Evans 14801), the abridged first American edition of his Sketches of the History of Man, 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1774. The passage copied { 202 } by JA runs to more than 4,000 words and is taken from Six Sketches, p. 78–96, with a few omissions and JA's usual small copying errors. In it Kames explains wage and price fluctuation in terms of the classical law of supply and demand, drawing examples, as was his way, from all over the known world.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0152

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1777-04-07

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I hope to receive some Letters from you this week, the date of the last was the 7 of March and now tis the 7 of April. I cannot suppose according to your usual practice but you must have wrote several times since; I sent a Letter to the post office a Saturday, but yesterday hearing of an express I thought to write a few lines by it, just to tell you that the family are well as usual, that I visit you almost every night, or you me, but wakeing the agreable delusion vanishes—“like the Baseless fabrick of a vision.”
I have nothing new to write you. The present Subject of discourse is the unfortunate Daughter of Dr. C[oope]r, who having indiscreetly and foolishly married a Stranger, after finding him a Sot, has the additional1 misery of finding herself the wife of a married Man and the Father of 5 children who are all living. About 3 weeks after he saild for the West Indias a Letter came to Town directed to him which was deliverd to her, and proved to be from his wife, who after condoling with him upon his misfortune in being taken prisoner, Lets him know that she with her 5 children are well, and to add to mortification tis said her complexion is not so fair as the American Laidies.
I most sincerely pitty her unfortunate Father, who having but two children has found himself unhappy in both. This last Stroke is worse than death.2
Let me hear from you by the return of this express, and by every other opportunity.
My Brother is going Captain of Marines on board MacNeal.3 I hear there has been an inquiry at the Counsel Board why he has not saild before? and that the blame falls upon the continental Agent.4
I suppose you are in Bloom in your climate whilst we are yet hovering over a fire and shivering with the cold.

[salute] Adieu. Yours with an affection that knows no bounds,

[signed] Portia
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Portia”; docketed in an unidentified hand.
1. MS: “additionally.”
2. Rev. Samuel Cooper had two children, both daughters. The elder, Judith, married Gabriel Johonnot, a Boston mer• { 203 } chant, in 1766, and died in 1773; their son Samuel Cooper Johonnot was to accompany JA and JQA on their voyage to Spain in 1779 (NEHGR, 44 [1890]: 57; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:417–418).
Cooper's younger daughter, Abigail (1755–1826), married in Jan. 1777, at Boston, Joseph Sayer Hixon, a well-to-do and well-connected British merchant and slaveowner of Montserrat in the Leeward Islands, who had been captured while on a voyage to London and brought into Boston on a Continental prize ship in Oct. 1776. In the spring of 1777 Hixon went back to Montserrat, but during an insurrection there was captured again and taken to Copenhagen. In 1782 he returned to Boston, was reunited with Abigail, had several children by her, and died in Boston in 1801. (MS letters of Samuel Cooper introducing Hixon to influential friends in France and England, March 1777, in CSmH; NEHGR, 44 [1890]: 157–58; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 11:206.)
3. William Smith did not sail with McNeill in the Boston, but as a captain of marines in the American Tartar, a 24-gun privateer, Capt. John Grimes, and after a successful cruise in the Baltic was captured and carried into Newfoundland (AA to JA, 6–9 May and 16 Nov., both below; MHS, Colls., 77 [1927]: 73).
4. Capt. John Bradford, Continental prize agent for Massachusetts since April 1776 (JCC, 4:301; William Bell Clark, George Washington's Navy, Baton Rouge, 1960, p. 151 and passim). Without much doubt it is to Bradford's conduct as agent that JA alludes darkly in a passage on official peculation in his Diary and Autobiography, 2:402.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.