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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0304

Author: Shaw, Elizabeth Smith
Author: Peabody, Elizabeth Smith Shaw
Recipient: Cranch, Mary Smith
Date: 1778-01-10

Elizabeth Smith Shaw to Mary Smith Cranch

[salute] My Dear Sister

I am very sorry I lost the Opportunity of conveying a Letter to Braintree by Mr. Thayer last week. We had company engaged to dine with us, expected Ladies to visit here in the PM and a very cold, short Day, when he called upon us. Otherwise I would have { 381 } perswaded him to have tarried while I wrote a few Lines and thanked you for your very kind enquiries after Madam and her Spouse.—I have the Pleasure of assuring you they are in fine Health, are exceedingly pleased with their Situation, have every thing they want, more than a Clergyman just entered into a Family could expect, in such perilous Times. She is as happy as she can, or ought to be, at such a distance from her dear Friends. You my Sister have experienced how much kindness, affection, and tender assiduity contributed to make you easy even in this particular; and Without these Cordials of Life, I should be miserable was I situated even in the midst of my numerous Friends.
You say I must give you an account of every thing a sister ought to know.—In the first place I will begin with our Family matters—Of which I cannot give you a very Economick Discription. In short we spend our Time in Eating, Drinking, sleeping, geting victuals, cleaning house, Dressing, receving, and returning Visits, like other fine Folks.—A dismal kind of life I hear you say. I acknowledge it. But while we are in this World, Society is essential to Man's happiness, and we are induced to conform, and suffer many things dissagreeable, for the sake of the Blessings, and the Comforts that flow from it. Charity, and Benevolence are thus spread from Family to Family, and Friendships are formed that soften the Cares, and mitigate the Ills of Life.
Among other things I suppose I must tell you what oppinion the People have formed of me. In general, they say my Character was very good, and they are no ways dissappointed, (thats clever). One says that I am a little heavenly body. Others are so favourable as to say “that she talks, and is as sociable as one of Us,” and the Children think that I am a dear pretty woman.–The People appear kind and hospitable, and as far as I can discern, no ways disposed to censure each other. If I live, I hope to gain their Affections, and to grow more and more worthy of their regards and Esteem.
Haverhill was once a beautiful and wealthy Town, flourished by Commerce, but now the best Families have quitted Trade, and live upon the Interest of their Money, which has greatly reduced their Estates.–This is now the Case of most populous Places.—I rejoice that you are out of them, and are the happy possessor of a long desired little Farm.
I am really troubled with Brother Adams for not returning from Portsmouth this way, it would have been but a few miles, if any, out of his way, and it would have rejoiced our Hearts to have seen him after so long an abscence. We congratulate Sister Adams however, { 382 } on his Health, and safe return, and wish that e'er long he may see Peace restored to the Commonwealth, and after toiling for the publick Good, enjoy unmolested, the sweets of domestic Life.
I want to hear from our Friends at Weymouth, how they do, whether Sister Smith has got to bed, and whether it is a son or Daughter.1 From my Father, from the Doctors Family, from Yours, from Sister Adams, from Miss Lucy, from Cousin Betsy, from Phebe, and all—every thing indeed that you, in exchange of places would wish to know.
This Day I was invited to a very elegant Entertainment at Mr. Duncan's, where I meet with Mr. Black from Boston who courted the once beautiful and amiable Polly Duncan, who instead of enjoying the fond endearments of a kind husband, lies now folded in the cold arms of Death. This is the dark side—a brighter Scene (from her Character) I trust she is the possesor of, than any earthly prospect could afford her.2
By this unhappy Lover, (for he had a tender and ardent affection for her) I propose to send a letter to Uncle Smith's, and from thence I hope it will soon be conveyed to my dear Sister, from Your truly affectionate
[signed] Eliza Shaw
PS My Love to Brother Cranch, and my little Cousins. Mr. Shaw desires to be remembered to every branch of my Connections.—When when shall I see them.
RC (DLC: Shaw Family Papers); docketed in Richard Cranch's hand: “Letter from Mrs. E. Shaw Jan. 10th. 1778.”
1. “Sister Smith” was the former Catharine Louisa Salmon (1749–1824), wife of William Smith, the writer's brother. The fourth of the Smiths' six children, Isaac, was born about this time, but neither his birth date nor much else about him is known to the editors. See Adams Genealogy.
2. Mary, daughter of James Duncan, a prominent Haverhill merchant, died on 31 Oct. 1777, aged 28 (Vital Records of Haverhill, Topsfield, Mass., 1910–1911, 2:387; George W. Chase, The History of Haverhill, Massachusetts, Haverhill, 1861, p. 452).

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0305

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-01-10

John Thaxter to John Adams

[salute] Dear Sir

The morning after my arrival to this place, I waited on the President with your letter; upon reading of which, he informed me, that he did not think it in his power to give me the place which you so { 383 } kindly sollicited for me, but assured me he would use his Endeavours to procure some place for me.1 I then waited upon General Roberdeau and the Massachusetts Delegates, who gave me the same assurances. Mr. Lovell, who has been particularly friendly, advised me to write in the Secretary's Office for the present, till some other Employment could be found. In pursuance of his Advice, I have enter'd the Office, with an Allowance of fifty five Dollars pr. Month. Ten Dollars and better, I am obliged to give a Week for Board, besides paying a seperate Bill for washing. My board is cheaper than I could have expected from Mr. Lovell's Representation of matters; who says a Man must pay ten dollars for glancing at a Tavern, and ten or twelve Shillings a night for his horse's gnawing the Rack.—I am in great hopes something will turn up for me, in another department, or that my present allowance will be augmented; otherwise I must return home, as the present office will not support me.
Lord Cornwallis, it is said, was kill'd in an Action lately, in which the Marquiss de Fayette was engaged. The Report seems tolerably well founded. Dr. Rush says the following facts are well attested, viz., That an Officer was seen carried off the field, to a certain House—that about a fortnight after, a very elegant Coffin was carried to that House—that a most pompous funeral was made—and that the Officers of the Army wear black Crape on their Arms. The Doctor, however, is not positive. There is an Account also that his Lordship's baggage is on board the Vessel bound to England, but no Certainty of his being on board; it is said he is not.
Mr. Duchè is gone to England: very penitent, Dr. Rush says. The illiberal manner in which he has treated Congress and General Washington has excited some Emotions of Grief and penitence. This may be depended on.–Please to give my respects to Mrs. Adams and Love to the Children.

[salute] I am, Sir, your most obedient Servt.,

[signed] John Thaxter Junr.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr. thaxter”; docketed by CFA: “Jany. 10th. 1777.”
1. Thaxter had arrived at York after “a long, cold and tedious Journey of 16 days” from Hingham (Thaxter to John Thaxter Sr., 10 Jan. 1778, MHi: Thaxter Papers). He was armed with five letters of introduction from JA, all dated 9 Dec. and all found in Adams Papers, Lb/JA/1; they were directed to Pres. Henry Laurens, to three Massachusetts delegates (Dana, Gerry, and Lovell), and to Daniel Roberdeau; and they commended Thaxter's qualifications for a secretarial post in the office of the President or elsewhere. Laurens' reply (which is in his own hand, not that of a clerk) contains a paragraph sufficiently remarkable to be quoted here even though the full text will presumably be included in Series III of The Adams Papers:
“I desired that Young Gentleman to { 384 } call on me the Morning after he arrived intending to have conversed with him and to have aimed at some plan for procuring a suitable employment for him, but I found that by the Interest of his friends he had been introduced into the Secretary's Office. You may depend upon it Sir, if it shall hereafter be in my power, I will not fail to join those friends in order to give him a lift in proportion to his merit. For my own part long experience has convinced me that inaccuracy and confusion attend supernumerary Clerks in any Office. The duties of mine demand the Eye and hand of the principal and afford sufficient, oftentimes heavy employment for every moment between adjournments and Meetings of Congress, borrowing deeply of the Night and stirring very early every Morning but there is not half work enough for a Clerk who would have the whole day for the easy business of Copying which is all he ought to be entrusted with. I have a Young Man who serves me tolerably well in that branch and at intervals he finds other necessary work to do” (to JA, 15 Jan. 1778, Adams Papers).
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/