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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0310

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1778-02-13

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] Dearest of Friends

I had not been 20 Minutes in this House before I had the Happiness to see Captn. Tucker, and a Midshipman, coming for me.2 We shall be soon on Board, and may God prosper our Voyage, in every Stage of it, as much as at the Beginning, and send to you, my dear Children and all my Friends, the choisest of Blessings—so Wishes and prays yours, with an Ardour, that neither Absence, nor any other Event can abate,
[signed] John Adams
Johnny sends his Duty to his Mamma and his Love to his sister and Brothers. He behaves like a Man.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. Adams”; docketed in an unidentified hand.
1. The house of AA's uncle Norton Quincy was on his Mount Wollaston farm, in that part of Quincy Bay still known as Adams Shore, just east of where Black's Creek empties into the Atlantic. (This farm later passed into the possession of the Adamses, and here soon after the Civil War JQA2 built his { 389 } home called “Merrymount” from its proximity to the site of Thomas Morton's famous maypole. See CFA2, Three Episodes, vol. 1: chs. 10–19. A state highway marker has been placed near the site of the maypole.) Norton Quincy's house is pretty accurately located, by a building called “Quinzey,” on “A Plan of the Town and Chart of the Harbour of Boston” in the Gentleman's Magazine for Jan. 1775, which is reproduced in the first volume of the present work.
2. Capt. Samuel Tucker (1747–1833) commanded the Boston, a 24-gun Continental frigate launched at Newburyport in June 1776 (DAB; Dict. Amer. Fighting Ships). His instructions from the Navy Board in Boston concerning this voyage are printed in JA's Works, 3:94, note. There is implied if not explicit evidence in JA's papers, comparatively scanty as they are at this time, that his appointment as joint minister and particularly his sailing arrangements were kept as secret as possible, no doubt in order to avoid alerting British cruisers in New England waters. This may well be the reason why he embarked at Braintree rather than Boston. It will be noted from subsequent letters (and there are others in the files to the same effect) that JA left for France without taking care of pressing legal business and that some of his close friends and family connections did not know of his appointment until after he had sailed.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0311

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1778-02-13

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] Dearest of Friends

I am favoured with an unexpected Opportunity, by Mr. Woodward the lame Man who once lived at Mr. Belchers, and who promises in a very kind manner to take great Care of the Letter, to inform you of our Safe Passage from the Moon head, on Board the ship.1—The seas ran very high, and the Spray of the seas would have wet Us, but Captn. Tucker kindly brought great Coats on Purpose with which he covered Up me and John so that We came very dry.—Tomorrow Morning We sail.—God bless you, and my Nabby, my Charley, my Tommy and all my Friends.

[salute] Yours, ever, ever, ever yours,

[signed] John Adams
1. JA's term “Moon head” is puzzling, but from various sources it is known that he and JQA walked from Norton Quincy's across Hough's Neck (the peninsula that forms Quincy Bay on the southeast) to a barge which took them to the Boston lying in Nantasket Roads. See AA to Thaxter, 15–18 Feb., following; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:269–271;4:6–7. The fullest contemporary record of the voyage is JA's own Diary, beginning in vol. 2 as just cited, supplemented by Tucker's log (quoted in editorial notes on the Diary entries) and also by the retrospective account in JA's Autobiography, beginning in vol. 4 as cited.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0312

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Thaxter, John
Date: 1778-02-15

Abigail Adams to John Thaxter

[salute] Dear Sir

I little thought when you left me, that so much time would have Elapsed before I had taken my pen to write to you, but indeed Sir my Hands and my Heart have both been full. My whole Time has been taken up in prepareing my dearest Friend, and Master John for their Voyage, and yesterday they Embarked from this Town, the place you well know, Hofs Neck.2 I think the wind has been fair for them to day, but they have not yet saild. I hope before I close this Letter to acquaint you that they are gone, tis a mortification to me to have them one day inactive. Since they are seperated from me I long to know that they are making the best of their Way to their desired Haven.
And now cannot you immagine me seated by my fire side Bereft of my better Half, and added to that a Limb lopt of to heighten the anguish. In vain have I summoned philosiphy, its aid is vain. Come then Religion thy force can alone support the Mind under the severest trials and hardest conflicts humane Nature is subject to.

“Religion Noble comfort brings

Disarms our Greifs or Blunts their Stings.”

You were not ignorant of the agitation of my mind upon this occasion. The World may talk of Honour, and the ignorant multitude of profit, but sure I am no Consideration weighd with me, but the belief that the abilities and integrity of Your Friend might be more extensively usefull to his Country in this Department at this perticuliar time, than in any other. I resign my own personal felicity and look for my satisfaction in the Consciousness of having discharged my duty to the publick.
My desire was you know to have run all hazards and accompanied him, but I could not prevail upon him to consent. The Dangers from Enemies was so great, and their treatment to prisoners so inhumane and Brutal, that in case of a Capture my sufferings would enhance his misiry, and perhaps I might be subjected to worse treatment on account of my connection with him. These arguments prevaild upon me to give up the favorite wish of my Heart. Master John was very happy in his pappa's consent to accompany him, But young as he is a Mothers Heart will feel a thousand Fears and anxieties upon the occasion. There are many snares and temptations, I hope some of the { 391 } worst [of] which on account of his age he will be likely to escape. Yet there are many very many which may stain his morals even at this early period of life. But to exclude him from temptation would be to exclude him from the World in which he is to live, and the only method which can be persued with advantage is to fix the padlock upon the mind.
I have to acknowledg the Recept of your very obliging favour of Janry. 10th, and the papers which accompanied it.3 Mr. Duche has acquired immortal fame by his performance if fame consists in being talked of, but tis a fame similar to what I have heard of a Man who murderd his Friend that he might not die unnoticed.
It gives me pleasure to see so distinguished a Genious as Mrs. Macauly Honourd with a Statue, yet she wanted it not to render her Name immortal. The Gentleman who erected it has sullied the glory of his deed by the narrow contracted Spirit which he discovers in the inscription, and if a Quotation from Lord Lyttleton (as I understand it) it is a pitty that what was meant to perpetuate the memory of that Lady should cast a shade upon the character of that Nobleman for whom heretofore I have had a great veneration. Even the most Excellent monody which he wrote upon the Death of his Lady will not atone for a mind contracted enough to wish that but one woman in an age might excell, and she only for the sake of a prodigy. What must be that Genious which cannot do justice to one Lady, but at the expence of the whole Sex?4
It is really mortifying Sir, when a woman possessd of a common share of understanding considers the difference of Education between the male and female Sex, even in those families where Education is attended too. Every assistance and advantage which can be procured is afforded to the sons, whilst the daughters are totally neglected in point of Literature. Writing and Arithmetick comprise all their Learning. Why should children of the same parents be thus distinguished? Why should the Females who have a part to act upon the great Theater, and a part not less important to Society, (as the care of a family and the first instruction of Children falls to their share, and if as we are told that first impressions are most durable), is it not of great importance that those who are to instill the first principals should be suiteably qualified for the Trust, Especially when we consider that families compose communities, and individuals make up the sum total. Nay why should your sex wish for such a disparity in those whom they one day intend for companions and associates. Pardon me Sir if I cannot help sometimes suspecting that this Neglect { 392 } arises in some measure from an ungenerous jealosy of rivals near the Throne—but I quit the Subject or it will run away with my pen.
Present my Regards to Mr. L[ovel]l and tell him I will compound with him for the Robbery he has lately been accessory to, since his motives were such as I cannot condemn, if he will permit you to communicate to me all the News and intelligence from your Quarter of the world which may be communicated to a Woman. Tell him I have a large share of Grandmother Eves curiosity and have had a very indulgent partner, but being deprived of him I claim some small right of knowledge from others.—I feel very lonely and miss you more than ever.5 The Boston saild a Sunday morning 6 o clock with a fair wind.
This Moment a Letter is deliverd me from on Board the Boston.6 I will note the contents and tell you.
They are these, that they got on Board safe tho the Sea ran very high, and that they saild on Sunday, but a Snow Storm obliged them to put in to Marble Head, from whence they saild a twesday since which I know they have had fair weather and a fine wind. I dont know whether you know it, but I am governd by impulces a little, and cruel as the Seperation is I receive some comfort from a secret impulse that they will have a short and favourable passage. God Grant it is my fervent prayer.

[salute] You must write me by every opportunity unless discouraged by the length of this Epistle from Your Assured Friend,

[signed] Portia
PS Enclosed you will find a Letter from your old Friend.7 All the young folks desire to be rememberd.
RC (MHi: Waterston Coll.); addressed: “To Mr. John Thaxter York Town”; endorsed: “Mrs. Adams 15th. Feby. 1778.” Dft (Adams Papers); incomplete and dated only “Saturday”; at head of text in JQA's hand: “to John Thaxter Yorktown Pa.,” to which CFA added: “Feby. 1778.” There are numerous small variations in phrasing between Dft and RC, but they have not been recorded here. Enclosure not found; see note 7.
1. AA's letter was almost entirely composed, in draft form, on Saturday the 14th, the day after JA and JQA had gone on board the Boston. She copied it fair, so far as her draft extended (see note 5) on Sunday the 15th, but in doing so she did not correct her reference to the embarkation “yesterday” (i.e. Friday the 13th). The last three paragraphs of text in RC, together with the postscript, must all have been added on Wednesday the 18th after AA heard from Marblehead that the Boston had sailed from there on Tuesday the 17th.
2. Hough's Neck; see note on preceding letter.
3. AA means Thaxter's letter to her of 20 Jan., above.
{ 393 }
4. All this relates to an incident in the life of Catharine (Sawbridge) Macaulay that caused a good deal of talk in England at this time and evidently also in America, where she had many admirers. In 1777 her generous but eccentric patron, Rev. Dr. Thomas Wilson, rector of St. Stephen, Walbrook, London, caused to be erected in his church (where he seldom officiated because he resided mostly at Bath) a white marble statue of her as Clio, leaning on the five stout volumes of her History. Whatever the merits of the statue, which was by a well-known sculptor, J. F. Moore, and heroic in its proportions, the vestry of St. Stephen's did not like it where it was and demanded its removal. Wilson eventually acceded, having lost some of his interest in Mrs. Macaulay after she married, in Dec. 1778, a 21-year-old surgeon's mate named William Graham. In 1872 the statue was given to the town of Warrington and placed in its town hall. A photograph of it is reproduced in Lucy M. Donnelly's article, “The Celebrated Mrs. Macaulay,” WMQ, 3d ser., 6:173–207 (April 1949).
The inscription of which AA speaks here was on a marble table at the base of the statue: “You speak of Mrs. Macaulay; She is a Kind of Prodigy! I revere her Abilities; I cannot bear to hear her Name sarcastically mentioned; I would have her taste the exalted Pleasure of universal Applause; I would have Statues erected to her Memory; and once in every Age I could wish such a Woman to appear, as a proof that Genius is not confined to Sex; but at the same time—you will pardon me—We want no more than One Mrs. Macaulay. 'Late Lord Lyttelton's Letters to Mrs. Peach,' p. 114.” There is reason to believe that the quotation from Lord Lyttelton was spurious. On the whole incident see the article on Mrs. Macaulay in DNB, and the very detailed and careful communications of Robert Pierpoint in Notes and Queries, 11th ser., 1 (1910):101–103, 142–144.
5. Dft breaks off here at foot of page with the phrase: “—a Sunday morning Six.”
6. One can only suppose that this was a letter from JA, written from Marblehead when the Boston sailed from there; but it has unaccountably not survived. See AA to JA, 8 March, below.
7. Not found. In a letter to AA from York on 13 March (Adams Papers), Thaxter mentions receiving “letters from Mr. Adams and master John,” presumably written before they left Braintree.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0313

Author: Lowell, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1778-02-22

John Lowell to Abigail Adams

[salute] Dear Madam

I am not displeased that the Call of Business obliges me to address you at this Time, and gives me an Opportunity of expressing my sincere good Wishes, that Mr. Adams's Voyage may be agreable, and happy; I am sensible that the Prospect of so long a Seperation must be painfull to you, the tender social Connection which you have so highly enjoyed, must make the Struggle hard, but the Consideration that he is called to so honourable an Employment in the Service of his Country, I doubt not will greatly alleviate your Trouble. If during his Absence I can be of any Service in your Affairs, I hope you will command me freely, and be assured I shall be highly gratified in executing your Commands.—Judge Tyng of Dunstable will be the Bearer of this, there were two Actions of considerable Importance in one of which he was Plaintiff, and in the other Col. Eleazer Tyng, { 394 } both against Dr. Gardner and others.1 Mr. Adams was engaged for Dr. Gardner, and by the Clerks Minutes divers Papers filed in these Causes, were delivered to Mr. Adams, if they are at Braintree Judge Tyng will be obliged if you will let him look into them, and see whether some, which he must otherwise seek after, are among them. I do not propose, that Judge Tyng should take them as he was not Mr. Adams's Client, but if you will send them to Mr. Tudor there can be no Inconvenience as he is engaged on the same Side with Mr. Adams.

[salute] I am with most Esteem your most obedt. Servt.,

[signed] J Lowell
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams In Braintree.”
1. The cases were John Tyng v. Silvester Gardiner et al. and Eleazar Tyng v. Silvester Gardiner et al. (Eleazar was John's uncle; see sketches in Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, at 5:651–653, and 7:595–601, respectively.) They were part of the complex litigation over the Maine lands of the Plymouth or Kennebec Company, in which JA had been involved for some years before the Revolution; see his Diary and Autobiography, 1:54; 2:5–6; 3:280–282; and also a collection of printed tracts and MSS in the Robert Treat Paine Papers (MHi), mounted in a volume and labeled “Tyng v Gardiner / Kennebeck Purchase.” The particular cases to which Lowell alludes were subject to repeated delays and were in the courts until 1785, when, at length, the record of the Supreme Judicial Court reads: “Neither party appears.” See the letter immediately following, and Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Books 99, 105; Supreme Judicial Court, Minute Book 56; Records, June-Nov. 1785, fol. 21. Paine acted for the Kennebec Company in the later stages of this litigation.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0314

Author: UNKNOWN
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1778-02-23

—— —— to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

Mr. Adams for a long time has been engaged by the Kennebeck Company in a cause in which Colo. Tyng is a Party, which was reduced in one or more points to a special Verdict and was to have been argued this Court, but unfortunately being deprived of Mr. Adams to conduct the cause, by his sudden departure for France, the matter is suspended untill April, to give us time to provide for the debate.
When I had the pleasure to see Mr. Adams in Town he expected to conduct the cause and I gave him a Copy of the special Verdict, which with any other papers he may have left should be glad you will send by Colo. Tyng who will be so good as bring them to Boston.
I am not without expectations that Mr. Adams has left some minutes of importance to the Company as he promised me in consequence of his recommending Mr. Tudor to be joined with him, to confer with Tudor on the subject in dispute, who informs me he has { 395 } had no opportunity for it, and therefore hopes to be assisted by his advice on paper.1
If Mr. Adams has not mentioned any thing on this head to you, probably he did to the Young Gentleman who studied with him; should be much obliged to you to desire him to make sarch and if he finds any thing to seal it up and send it by this opportunity.
I sincerely hope Mr. Adams will have a safe and pleasant Passage; and that the consideration that he may be extensively usefull to his Country will console you who are more entimately connected, and his other Friends, in the absence of so agreable a Companion.

[salute] I am with great respect Your most obedint hum. servt.

RC (Adams Papers). Signature omitted inadvertently, but this doubtless indicates that the body of the letter is in a clerk's hand, prepared for another to sign. The intended signer was either a partner or agent of the Kennebec Company and may have been James Bowdoin. The tone and substance of the letter both suggest Bowdoin, but since he did not sign it and the clerk's hand has not been identified, this is only a plausible conjecture.
1. In R. T. Paine's collection of papers on Tyng v. Gardiner (see note on preceding letter), there are a few notes in JA's hand which may or may not be the “minutes” here inquired for.
So secret and “sudden” had been JA's preparations and departure that as late as 11 Feb. his friend and colleague William Tudor had written him from Cambridge: “Col. Henley waits upon You to engage You as Council upon the Prosecution against him by Genl. Burgoyne. Should You appear for him, which I hope You will, I would wish for an Opportunity of talking with You on the Subject. . . . Can You not come to Boston on Thursday or friday?”
(Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0315

Author: Storer, Hannah Quincy Lincoln
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1778-02-24

Hannah Quincy Lincoln Storer to Abigail Adams

I have often thought of You My good friend, and as often wish'd to See You, and did flatter Myself that I should injoy that happiness before Mr. A——departure. I am really Sorry that I was so unfortunate as to be absent from home when your first friend call'd to see Me. You Must Surely have call'd up all your Philosophy to Stand the Shock of his Absence a Second time for a Year.—Will My owning a truth lessen Me in your Esteem, if I thought it would, I Shoud be cautious how I confessed it. Indeed My good friend, I am Not so Stanch a friend to My Country as I find You are, for upon Examineing My heart I can't [say]1 that I should be willing to Make Such S[acrifices] as I think you have done. I hope that My patriotism will Never be proved in the way that Yours has, for I am confidant, that I should Make but a poor Figure in the like Situation.
{ 396 }
I had wrote thus far a few days back, but interruptions of Various kinds prevented My proceeding, and Now I have only time to Let My Worthy friend know that it would afford great pleasure both to Mr. Storer and Me to See you with your Children at the habitation, where I know that you'd receive a Sincere Welcome. I can [write]2 No More at present but am
[signed] H. Storer
P.S. Mr. Storer presents his Respects. My Love to Miss Nabby, and a[lso] to C——, T——.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams In Braintree.”
1. Here and immediately below, MS is torn by seal.
2. This word editorially supplied.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0316

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1778-03-01

Abigail Adams to James Lovell

[salute] Dear Sir

I am greatly allarmed and distressd at the intelligence from Bordeaux, with regard to Dr. Franklin, which if true must be attended with very serious consequences. I had just acquired fortitude sufficent to withstand the dangers of the Sea and open and avowed Enemies, but was not prepaird for the assassinateing knife of a Ravellick.1—Is there no method that congress can take to chain these infernal Emissarys, and render the persons of their Commissioners safe? Indeed Sir I wanted not this additional terror to heighten my anxiety.2
I want words to express my indignation at this black and infamous deed. Such a barbarous act of cruelty and injustice must fill every mind with horrour and can be eaqueld only by the “Macedonian Madman and the Sweede.” Must a Man so Respectable as the Dr., known and revered throughout Europe both as a Philo[so]pher and a Statesman, whose only crime is that of defending the rights and privileges of his Country, be meanly assassinated for fulfilling the first of duties. O Britain can the Lusture of former deeds, or the Splendor of high atchivements blot out such baseness or cover such cruelty. May all Nations detest thee and the indelible Stains of this Haughty Tyrants Reign decend upon his posterity even to the third and fourth Generation.
I should be very much obliged to you Sir if you would let me know by the first opportunity what foundation you have for this report, tis said that it comes confirmd in a Letter from you. You cannot wonder at my concern when what I hold dearest on Earth is embarked in the same hazardous enterprize.
{ 397 }
Your Letters of the 8 and 10th of Febry. have just arrived.3 Those which accompanied them I deliverd to General Warren to be forwarded by the first opportunity.
Tell Mr. G[err]y that if my heart was more at Ease I would rally him upon his Defence of Batchelors. I am sure he can shine in a good cause, but I will not affront his abilities so much as to take this as a Specimen of them.
When ever any perticulars arrive with regard to this black affair I must beg of you to acquaint me with them. They cannot add too, but may possibly Mitigate the anxiety of your Friend & Humble Servant,
[signed] Portia
1. François Ravaillac assassinated Henry IV of France, 1610 (Century Cyclo. of Names).
2. The “intelligence” that so agitated AA was a news story published in the Boston Gazette, 23 Feb., p. 3, col. 1: “A Letter from Bourdeaux of December 12, mentions, That the illustrious Patriot Dr. Benjamin Franklin has been assassinated in his Bed-Chamber, at the Instance of Lord Stormont. The Villain left him for dead; but one of the Doctor's Ribs prevented the Stab from being instantly fatal, and he lay in a languishing Condition when the Vessel sail'd that brings this Account.” This rumor was not discredited for more than a month; see Thaxter to AA, 31 March, below, and Lovell to AA, 1 April 1778 (Adams Papers).
3. These were both addressed to JA and are in Adams Papers.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0317

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Storer, Hannah Quincy Lincoln
Date: 1778-03-01

Abigail Adams to Hannah Quincy Lincoln Storer

My dear Mrs. Storers obliging favour was handed me to day. It found me with an additional Weight of anxiety upon my mind. I had been just able by the force of philosophy and I would fain hope by nobler Motives, to acquire a sufficent Stock of fortitude to support me under the most painfull Seperation I have yet been call'd to endure, when last Mondays paper gave me a Shock that I was not armd against.
Against an open and avowed Enemy we may find some guard, but the Secret Murderer and the dark assassin none but that Being without whose Notice not a Sparrow falls to the ground, can protect or secure us. My own solicitude1 will not avail. When I was call'd to this trial, I asked not my Heart what it could, but what it ought to do, and being convinced that my Friend might be more extensively usefull in this department at this perticuliar time than in any other, hard as the Struggle was I consented to the Seperation. Most willingly { 398 } would I have hazarded the danger of the Sea to have accompanied him, but the dangers from Enemies was so great that I could not obtain his consent.
You have a sympathetick Heart, and have often I dare say compasionated your Friend who feels as if she was left alone in the world, unsupported and defenceless, with the important weight of Education upon her hands at a time of life when the young charge stand most in need of the joint Efforts and assistance of both parents. I have sacrificed my own personal happiness and must look for my Sati[s]faction in the consciousness of having discharged my duty to the publick. Indulge me my Friend when I say few people have so valuable a treasure to resign, none know the Struggle it has cost me. Tender as Maternal affection is, it was swallowed up in what I found a much stronger, nor had it, its full opperation till after the departure of my Son when I found a larger portion of my Heart gone than I was aware of.
I was in hopes that a few Months would releave me from a Large Share of anxiety by the happy tidings of the safe arrival of my Friend, but a new Source of Distress has opened to my view. I was not aware of the assasinating knife of a Ravelick. Join with me my Friend in Suplications to Heaven for the safety of my Friend, and for the success and faithfull discharge of the important trust committed to him.
I rejoice in the happiness of my Friend, tho my own felicity is over cast. I little thought so much time would have elapsed before I had the pleasure of seeing her in her own habitation. She has left a vacancy here which cannot be supplied, but I will not regret it since she has contributed to the happiness of a worthy Man, and a deserving family—to whom as a peculiar Blessing of Heaven may she long be continued which will contribute much to the happiness of her affectionate
[signed] Portia
Dft (Adams Papers); at head of text in CFA's hand: “March 1778.”
1. MS: “solicituted.”

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0318

Author: Cooper, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1778-03-02

Samuel Cooper to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dear Madam

Many besides my self partake with you in the Sollicitude you express respecting our dear Friend; for no Man could carry with him more of the ardent good Wishes of his Country than Mr. Adams did. { 399 } His Merit is great in denying himself so much for the Service of his Country, and your's not a little in giving up so much domestic Happiness for the Sake of this Service. Heaven, I trust, will protect and reward you both. I deferr'd till this Time answering your Letter,1 in Hopes of an exact Copy of the Account you refer to, but have not been able to procure it; I remember, however, all the material Circumstances distinctly. Mr. Purveyance, a Gentleman of Character in Maryland, writes to his Friend at Congress, that Capt. Moore had arriv'd there from France, which he left the 12th. Decr.; that on the Day before he sail'd the Governor of the Place where he was receiv'd Dispatches from Paris, among which was an Account that Dr. Franklin had been assassinated by an Emissary, as was suppos'd, of L[ord] Stormont, who got into his Chamber, stabb'd him with a Knife, left him for dead, and made his Escape; but the Knife striking upon a Rib, it was hoped the Wound was not mortal. The Governor's Secretary gave this Account to Capt. Moore. Nothing can be more just than your Reflection on the Horror of this Deed. How many keenly feel the Weapon that pierc'd the Bosom of a Franklin! But this Assassination at once heightens his own Glory, and the Infamy of our Enemies; and the Abhorrence and Indignation it cannot fail to excite, must prove in the End highly advantageous to our Cause, and to the future Safety of our Friends in that Quarter: for it must unavoidably produce such Precautions on all Sides, and particularly in the Court of France, as to render the illustrious Sufferer himself, should he survive, as well as all his Colleagues, more secure than ever from such Attempts. It is in this Way I sooth my own Mind upon so affecting an Occasion, and would alleviate the Anxiety of your's.
The Sentiments and Expressions of your Letter have given me so much Pleasure that I cannot but wish to have it repeated as often as your Leisure will allow; and must beg you to command me in ev'ry Thing in which I can be suppos'd capable of doing you the best Service.
I am, Madam, with particular Regard, Your Friend and humble Servant,
[signed] Saml: Cooper
Mrs. Cooper and my Daughter remember you in the most affectionate Manner.
1. Not found. AA had presumably asked Cooper to inquire more closely into the origin of the story of Franklin's supposed assassination. See, further, James Lovell to AA, 1 April 1778 (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0319

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1778-03-06

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams

[salute] Dear Madam

Your much esteemed favor came to hand this day, in which you inform me of the departure of your “dearest Friend.” I sincerely wish for your sake it had been convenient and safe for you to have accompanied him: But the danger you mention must, I think, have made the voyage disagreeable and had the event taken place, doubly aggravating on his part.—I can picture to myself the separation and your present situation; but it is too affecting a picture. My feelings are exceedingly interested. I feel the force of sympathy sensibly on the occasion. But let the consideration of its being a sacrifice to the glorious American Cause draw a shade o'er this affecting Picture, and Religion, which supplies the place of weak failing philosophy, on which you rely not, support you. To this source you have applied to blunt the edge of keen anguish—the sincerity of the application must ensure those consolations which “disarm grief or blunts it's stings.” The principle, on which you assented to his departure, was noble, and marks that zeal and attachment to the cause of our country, which has so eminently distinguished you. Honor or profit weighed not with either of you, I am certain. Let the inadvertent and ignora[n]t amuse themselves with the rattle of Honor and profit. Time will convince them that far more noble and disinterested principles actuated the bosom of him who under heaven, is securing and will be securing and establishing that Independance which haughty Britain compelled us to avow.
A sacrifice like this is almost without parallel. But I will no longer dwell on a subject, which must wound that exquisite sensibility which your delicately susceptible mind is possessed of.
You will pardon me Madam for not writing oftener when I tell you that I have been in suspense ever since you had thoughts of going. I did not know till I received your letter, but that you was gone. I will now trouble [you]1 often with my Scrolls.
I cannot pass over that part of your agreeable favor which contain some strictures on the statue of [Mrs.]2 McCaulay, and the difference in point of Education between [male] and female, without an acknowledgment of the justice of the observations. They are so ingenious, and at the same time so just, that if complaisance did not suggest silence, Reason would tell me that the subterfuges of sophistication would be defyed in breaking silence and attempting to explain them { 401 } away. After mentioning that our sex wish a disparity, you subjoin a suspicion that Jealousy of rivalship is the foundation of the neglect of your sex. Madam, I am positive it is too often the case. It is an “ungenerous Jealousy” as you justly term it.
General Burgoyne and his family have leave to embark for England. This was in consequence of a representation of his ill state of health. He is desirous of going to the Baths in England—he thinks the only method of saving his life—he has tried the Bath often he says with success. He gives his parole and the officers of his family to return and redeliver themselves when called upon.
Congress will not recede from their resolutions of the 8th. of Jany. for suspending the embarkation of the troops. There is nothing they say in his last long argumentative letter sufficient to induce them to recede.3
<[ . . . ]>4 My duty is excessively laborious—eight, ten or twelve hours in the day at the pen. This York Town is a vile quarter. The streets and its Dutch inhabitants are happily assimilated.
Remember me to all friends—your little remaining flock. Poor Johnny is gone you tell me. I think he is now laying the foundations of a great man.
I hope to be honored with your further correspondence, and believe me when I say there was sufficient encouragement in the last for the perusal of many however long, yet to be sent to Your most obedient & very humble Servant,
[signed] J T.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree”; endorsed: “March 16 [sic].”
1. This word editorially supplied.
2. Here and immediately below, MS is torn by seal.
3. The report of a committee recommending that the embarkation of Burgoyne and his army be suspended “till a distinct and explicit ratification of the convention of Saratoga shall be properly notified by the court of Great Britain to Congress” was adopted by Congress on 8 Jan. and is printed with the accompanying resolves in JCC, 10:29–35. This action had been preceded and was to be followed by a controversy which still continues in historical discussions of the “Convention troops” and their fate. Burgoyne's remonstrance mentioned by Thaxter was in a letter to Congress of 11 Feb., in PCC, No. 57, printed at p. 73–76 in Charles Deane's still valuable memoir on the Convention of Saratoga, Amer. Antiq. Soc., Procs., Oct. 1877, p. 12–77. On 3 March Congress voted to permit Burgoyne and his immediate military family to sail home on parole (JCC, 10:218).
4. One or two sentences at the beginning of this paragraph were heavily scratched and blotted out, probably but not certainly just after they were written. They cannot now be read.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0320

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-03-08

Abigail Adams to John Adams

Tis a little more than 3 week[s] since the dearest of Friends and tenderest of Husbands left his solitary partner, and quitted all the fond endearments of domestick felicity for the dangers of the Sea, exposed perhaps to the attack of a Hostile foe, and o good Heaven can I add to the dark assassin, to the secret Murderer and the Bloody Emissary of as cruel a Tyrant as God in his Riteous judgments ever sufferd to Discrace the Throne of Brittain.
I have travelled with you over the wide Atlantick, and could have landed you safe with humble confidence at your desired Haven, and then have set myself down to have enjoyed a negative kind of happiness, in the painfull part which it has pleased Heaven to allot me, but this intelligance with Regard to that great Philosopher, able Statesman and unshaken Friend of his Country, has planted a Dagger in my Breast and I feel with a double Edge the weapon that pierced the Bosom of a Franklin—

“For Nought avails the Virtues of the Heart

Nor tow'ring Genious claims its due Reward

From Britains fury, as from Deaths keen dart

No worth can save us and no Fame can guard.”

The more distinguished the person the greater the inveteracy of these foes of Humane Nature. The Arguments of my Friends to alleviate my anxiety by perswading me that this shocking attempt will put you more upon your Gaurd and render your person more secure than if it had never taken place, is kind in them and has some weight, but my greatest comfort and consolation arrisses from the Belief of a Superintending providence to whom I can with confidence commit you since not a Sparrow falls to the ground without his Notice. Were it not for this I should be misirable and overwhelmed by my fears and apprehensions.
Freedom of sentiment the life and soul of Friendship is in a great measure cut of by the Danger of Miscarrages, and the apprehension of Letters falling into the hands of our Enemies. Should this meet with that fate may they Blush for their connextion with a Nation who have renderd themselves infamous and abhorred by a long list of crimes which not their high atchivements nor the Lusture of former Deeds, nor the tender appellation of parent nor the fond connextion which { 403 } once subsisted, can ever blot from our remembrance or wipe out those indellible stains <of their> cruelty and baseness.1 They have engraven them with a pen of Iron and Led in a Rock forever.
To my dear Son Remember me in the most affectionate terms. I would have wrote to him but my notice is so short that I have not time. Injoin it upon him Never to Disgrace his Mother, and to behave worthy of his Father. Tender as Maternal affection is, it was swallowed up in what I found a stronger, or so intermingld that I felt it not in its full force till after he had left me. I console myself with the hopes of his reaping advantages under the carefull Eye of a tender parent which it was not in my power to bestow upon him.
There is nothing material taken place in the politicall world since you left us. This Letter will go by a vessel for Bilboa from whence you may perhaps get better opportunities of conveyance than from any other place. The Letter you deliverd to the pilot came safe to hand.2 All the little folks are anxious for the Safety of their Pappa and Brother to whom they desire to be rememberd—to which is added the tenderest Sentiments of affection and the fervent prayers for your happiness and Safty of Your
[signed] Portia
Dft (Adams Papers). RC, sent by a vessel bound for Bilbao, has not been found, was never acknowledged by JA, and therefore probably never reached him.
1. Thus in MS. The sentence is defective, but only because it is not clear which words AA would have omitted and which she would have let stand in her fair copy.
2. His second letter of 13 Feb., above, sent from the Boston in Nantasket Roads, or a missing letter sent from Marblehead when the Boston sailed from there? See AA to Thaxter, 15–18 Feb., above.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0321

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1778-03-21

James Lovell to Abigail Adams

[salute] Dear Ma'am

I am to thank you, in my own name, and on the public account, for that exercise of laudable patriotic prudence, which you have modestly termed the “Freedom” of inclosing to me Mr. McCreary's letter to your worthy Husband.1 I read it in Congress, and I think it will be useful to the commercial Committee. The same Gentleman wrote to Mr. Adams in Sepr. some interesting history,2 of which he gave me a copy, just before he undertook his late vast Sacrifice to his Country's Wellfare.—I fear I shall have wounded you by carrying { 404 } your mind back to a day which you ought to strive to forget, by confining your imagination strictly to that of your future reunion: but, your billet under my eye, by developing your character, made my pen mark the expression “vast Sacrifice,” while my heart acknowledged its individual portion of the debt of gratitude, which our Mr. Adams may charge against the Public.
All the intelligence which we received from France, about the period of Mr. McCreary's letter, was of the same tenor; our friends in Martinique wrote in like style on Decr. 3d.; but, on the 28th. of that month and the 26th. of January we have an ecclaircisement of the gallic finesse. The most open protection is afforded to our trade, privateers are fitted out, and their prizes not only sold, but a duty of 1 pr. Ct. regularly paid upon their cargoes towards the governmental revenue. The Governor of Antigua has no resource left but impotent threats to the General at St. Pierres of the Resentment that may arise in the breast of his Britannic Majesty, when the affair is properly represented. I suspect that England will more easily draw France in to open War by talking about Reconciliation than by boasting of subduing us by force. Louis thinks the latter impossible: his only fears are about the former.
I cannot give you any thing agreable from this neighbourhood. I cannot promise you that we shall owe our prosperity to our own spirit and preperations, in any degree comparable to what we shall owe to the Enemy's embarrassments and the unmerited favour of Providence, but, our hope of the latter is hardly supported in a ballance by the Justice of our Cause, counteracted by the selfish spirit of the Times: Justly may I be turned to the Parable of the Beam and Mote while I beg you to count me among yr. affectionate humb Servant[s].
1. AA's letter to which Lovell is replying has not been found. In the Adams Papers, however, is a paper in AA's hand containing copies of two letters to JA from William McCreery at Bordeaux, 10 and 25 Oct. 1777, the substance of either or both of which AA may have furnished to Lovell. There is no record in the Journal that they were read in Congress. Concerning McCreery, a Maryland merchant who had some acquaintance with JA and had recently established himself in Bordeaux, see JA's Diary and Autobiography, 2:293–294, and passim; also AA to JA, 18 May (Adams Papers). JA and McCreery corresponded for some years on commercial matters.
2. This may refer to McCreery's letter to JA from Nantes, 29 Sept. 1777 (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0322

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1778-03-31

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

Since I wrote you last,1 the mystery of blank Dispatches being sent by Capt. Folgier from France has been developed. One Capt. Hinson (who was honored with Dr. Franklin's confidence) was guilty of the treachery and robbery. Hinson it seems was to have brought the Dispatches if Folgier declined. But when he found that Folgier accepted the trust, he, from his knowledge of the position and, I believe, nature of the dispatches, was not put to any difficulty which to select for Stormont. He carried the dispatches from the Dr. to Havre de Grace where Folgier was. There was a circumstance which render'd Hinson's conduct rather suspicious previous to the delivery of the packet containing the dispatches. He went to a certain place after he found that Folgier was determined to take charge of them, where it is conjectured he took such papers as he wanted. Folgier says he was at a loss to conceive what he could have to do at that place with the Dispatches. However the affair is now unfolded, and it is beyond the reach of doubt that he robbed the packet at said place.2
How few men, Madam, have virtue enough to withstand the temptation of a glittering bribe. May it not shelter this perfidious wretch when apprehended, from the hand of strict Justice. The secret machinations and subterfuges as well as the open assaults of our enemies are to be guarded against.
Men of inflexible fidelity and uncorrupted virtue should only be employed, and honoured with the confidence of our Commissioners. Such [men]3 will be hereafter engaged.
It gave me great uneasiness to find your apprehensions alarmed respecting the attempt on Dr. Franklin's life; I have now the pleasure to inform you that the report appears to be without foundation. Mr. Lovell will write you particularly about the matter4 as also the foreign news, which I would have done myself the pleasure of transmitting you, had he not with great cheerfulness undertaken the business himself. I will postpone my congratulations till the agreeable and important news receives an authentic confirmation from proper authority.5
It comes, says the gentlemen6 at Martinico, through so many channels, that the most incredulous cannot doubt. The General of Martinico pays full credit to it, altho, he has not received any particular advices. The proposal of Ld. Chatham for an accomodation, and the relinquishment of that Independence which American virtue first established, and still supports with unabated fortitude, will produce { 406 } some serious deliberations in the cabinet of Versailles if America inclines to accede to it. The French Court will defeat the possibility of an accomodation says the Gentlemen at Martinico. America will not easily be flattered or frightened into an accession. Lord Chatham is a great and good man I sincerely believe, but I must subjoin with great deference to his Lordship, that he is a stranger to American politicks, if he thinks to mediate an accomodation upon that footing.

[salute] I am with great respect Your very humble Servt.,

[signed] J T.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree”; endorsed: “March 31.”
1. Since his letter of 6 March, above, Thaxter had written to AA on the 7th, the 13th, and the 21st. None of these except the last was of much moment, but in that letter he gave a long paraphrase of Burgoyne's “argumentative” letter to Congress of 11 Feb., with critical comments thereon. The letters of the 7th and 13th are in the Adams Papers; that of the 21st is in MHi: Thaxter Papers, is incomplete, and may be a retained copy.
2. The story of the “blank Dispatches,” innocently brought to Congress in January by Capt. John Folger, is told in detail by Lewis Einstein in Divided Loyalties, Boston and N.Y., 1933, p. 55–71. The originals, being a large packet of letters from the American Commissioners in France, had been stolen and taken to London by Joseph Hynson, a Marylander who had been very confidentially entrusted with the dispatches by Silas Deane but who was in the pay of the British secret service.
3. MS torn by seal.
4. See Lovell to AA, 1 April (Adams Papers).
5. This may be the first hint of the proposals by the British ministry that developed into the famous but wholly abortive Carlisle conciliatory mission. Contrary to Thaxter's present assurance, Lovell did not think himself at liberty to discuss this highly secret matter outside Congress so soon and so freely as the young clerk in the Secretary's office did. For a connected and authoritative account of the British conciliatory mission of 1778, see Carl Van Doren, Secret History of the American Revolution, N.Y., 1941, chs. 3–4.
6. Thus in MS, here and below.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0323

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Shaw, Elizabeth Smith
Recipient: Peabody, Elizabeth Smith Shaw
Date: 1778-03

Abigail Adams to Elizabeth Smith Shaw

I was meditating a Letter to my dear Sister when her agreable favour2 reachd my Hands. Tho my own felicity is over cast, I can rejoice in that of my Friends and tis with pleasure I hear of your Health and happiness which are very dear to me.
The Scene which I have had to pass through, and in which you so kindly sympathize has put to the full proof all my fortitude and patriotism, and required the aid and assistance of a still nobler motive to bear up and support the pained anxious mind.

“Religion noble comfort brings

Disarms our Greifs or blunts their Stings.”

{ 407 }
Known only to my own Heart, is the Sacrifice I have made, and the conflict it has cost me. Call'd by the unanimous voice of his Country to an Embassy important to America and attended with much greater difficulties than tis prudence to represent—willing to resign all his domestick felicity and to devote fame, fortune and life to the Service of his Country, he bid defiance to ease, affluence and the allurements of ambition on the one hand and pushd forward against the threats of Calamity on the other. Satisfied as I was that his integrity and abilities were calculated to do essential Service at this critical season, I was determined to resign my own personal felicity and happiness and at all Events to bring my mind to acquiese in the cruel Seperation from the dearest conexion on Earth—a connexion formed early in life, matured by age and strengthend by the virtues of a Heart all my own, a Seperation for an unlimitted time, if it should please Heaven to preserve his life—seldom like to hear from him, unable to afford him any assistance in case of sickness, exposed to the Dangers of the Sea, to the open assaults of Enemies, and O Good Heaven, perhaps to the dark assassin and secret Murderer.
In this conflict my Heart has sufferd a distress which words cannot discribe and which nothing could alleviate but a confidence in that Being without whose notice not a sparrow falls to the ground.
The infamous attack upon the life of a Man so respectable as Dr. Franklin is a convincing proof that no regard is paid even to venerable age dignified by virtue, and distinguished by abilities which do honour to humane Nature.

For Nought avails the virtues of the Heart

Nor tow'ring Genious claims its due reward

From Britains Fury as from Deaths keen dart

No Worth can save us and no fame can guard.

Tis with a double edg I feel the weapon that pirced the Bosome of a Franklin. Nor can I refrain from imprecating the just vengance of Heaven upon the base and diabolical Counsels of a Nation who have not only deprived individuals of happiness, but by their cruelty, Rage and rapine laid waste oppulent cities, populus Towns, fruitfull villigaes and pleasent Feilds, but reduced to misiry and famine the widow, the Fatherless and the orphan. No former atchivements of Glory, illusterious deeds nor high renown can wipe out the indelliable stains dyed with Rivers of American Blood, and shed by the hands which ought only to have been lifted for her protection.
But I quit the subject and return to my own private affairs. I am { 408 } endeavouring to put the Farm I am in possession of out of my Hands which will releive me from a load of care, and be more Beneficial to my Interest I believe than to struggle along as I have done from year to year. If I effect this I hope to be more at leisure to visit my Friends. One of the first visits will be to Haverhill.
Our Worthy parent was well this day and in good Spirits. The Roads have been so bad that I have not been to Weymouth since I saw you. I have but a few enducements to encounter difficulties to visit a place which has but one link left of a chain which once bound me to it.
Remember me in affectionate Terms to Mr. S[ha]w, who I dare say from the sympathetick Soul he possesses has participated in my anxiety—and to my Little Neice who I compasionate that she has not a Father whom she can Honour.3 I thank my Sister for her Remembrance of a Nephew who I hope will never disgrace his parents or bring shame upon his relations. He mantaind a manly firmness at parting tho his Sister and Brothers burst into Tears. I need not add that the Mothers Heart is dissolved at the recollection, yet what ever it pleases Heaven to allot me the knowledg of your happiness will always give joy to Your Sister,
[signed] A A
Dft (Adams Papers); at head of text in JQA's hand: “to Mrs. Elizabeth Shaw. Haverhill,” to which CFA added: “March 1778.”
1. This letter was answered by Mrs. Shaw on 5 April (Adams Papers).
2. Not found.
3. The “Little Neice,” presumably staying with the Shaws at the time, was one of the daughters of AA's and Mrs. Shaw's brother, William Smith. This is the first indication in the Adams correspondence—there will be many more and quite explicit indications later—that William was delinquent toward his family.
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/