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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0296

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1780-09-03

Abigail Adams to James Lovell

Where is my Friend Mr. L[ovel]l? Can he be an inhabitant of this world and inattentive to a Lady? Can he suffer Letters repeatedly to reach him and not deign a line in reply? Can he be so apsorbed in the Region of politicks as to have forgotten Social engagements?
Snatch him some friendly Genius from the Region of torpitude, { 408 } bear him hence Benevolence, he is your intimate acquaintance. Hospitality open your doors, his are ever ready to receive you, Friendship and Love embrace a wanderer who is still your own.
Not a line nor even a vagrant paper for six whole weeks. So long have I been accustomed to indulgence, that like the Nobler Sex I claim that as a right, which was first granted me as a favour, and look every post for a line or two at least, and feel myself inti[t]led to a return where I have not remitted a refusal. I have more patiently sufferd under my dissapointment, having been much engaged in writing and receiving Letters from abroad, yet do not feel satisfied with my own portion tho a large one. An Evish disposition prompts me to ask of you any communications from your Letters that may safely be entrusted to Portia.—No advances towards a negotiation have yet taken place. Brittain still persists in her mad career, nor will she exchang her Hostile weapons for the peacefull olive Branch. I had hoped e'er this period that the Tranquil Goddess would have erected her Banners and every sighing Heart rejoiced beneath the Roof of domestick felicity, and even the long absent Mr. L——1 been permitted once more to visit his Native State.
Tomorrow will be a great and important day in the political Systim of this State. There is one Man who it is said will have the votes of the wise and judicious part of the State, but the popular choise will fall where it has been meanly sought and much coveted—

“Then Let me have the higher post

Suppose it but an Inch at most

I have no title to asspire

Yet when you sink I seem the higher.”

Rejoice with me sir on the plentifull rain this day dispenced to the dyeing corn, the Barren pastures and desolated Gardens. So severe a droubth as we have experienced through this Summer has not been felt for many years. Not a vine that had Humbly and modestly crept along the Ground, unasspiring of a nearer approach to the Burning God of Day, but has crumbled to dust beneath his scorching Rays. Ceres witherd Head reclines, Virtumnus is fled and Pomona is scattering here and there the half grown fruit, e'er she too, bids us adieu.
I rejoice to hear that our Sister States are not sharers in the same distressing calamity, and hope they will Benevolently feed the Hungry and satisfy the poor with Bread.
This will be handed you by Mr. Brown a young Gentleman who is a Native of Carolina, but last from France. He brought me Letters from Mr. Adams, and a Letter of recommendation in his countanance. { 409 } I was much pleased with his modest and affable deportment, his easy manners and his Good Sense. He wishd for a Letter as he was unacquainted in Philadelphia and I have taken the Liberty to introduce him to you and know you will esteem him according to his merrit, which is all that is requested by your unalterable Friend,
[signed] Portia

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0297

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1780-09-03

James Lovell to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

I have at length an Opportunity by Mr. Brown1 to forward Bills of Exchange; and I only add the News Paper of Yesterday. Bell so long expected from France is arrived. He sailed with the Alliance. You know much more of your Mr. Adams than we, as only a Letter of April 10th. is come to hand from him.2 I assure you we feel very angry with Somebody, as neither Congress or the Minister have yet received a single Letter brought by the Alliance twenty days ago.

[salute] Your most obedt.

[signed] J L
RC (Adams Papers). Enclosed “Bills of Exchange” (not found) paid the balance due JA on his accounts for 1778–1779 as settled finally on 15 April 1780; see Lovell to AA, 14 May, above, and references in note 3 there. Enclosed newspaper not found.
1. This Mr. Brown, obviously not Joseph Brown Jr. of South Carolina, mentioned several times just above, has not been further identified.
2. JA addressed the first, second, and thirdthree letters to President Huntington on this dateof 10 April that survive in PCC, No. 84, I, and in JA's letterbooks; two are printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:604–608.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0298

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1780-09-04

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dear Portia

I have ordered the Things you desired for yourself and Mr. Tufts by Captain Edward Davis in the Brig Dolphin. They are very dear, as you will see. I insured them at 25 per Cent.
The French and Spaniards have at length, made a Hall as the saying is of 40 or 50 ships at once from the English. A few more such strokes will answer a very good End.1 But not make Peace. This will never be while the English have one soldier in the United States.
We are all well—thank Nabby for her Letter,2 and tell Master T. that I should have been obliged to him for one.
We are all Impatience to hear from N[orth] A[merica] and the W. Indies. Proportional good News from thence would make Us very happy.
{ 410 }
I have been here three or four Weeks, and have spent my time very agreably here. I am very much pleased with Holland. It is a singular Country. It is like no other. It is all the Effect of Industry, and the Work of Art.
The Frugality, Industry, Cleanliness, &c. here, deserve the Imitation of my Countrymen. The Fruit of these Virtues has been immense Wealth, and great Prosperity. They are not Ambitious, and therefore happy. They are very sociable, however, in their peculiar Fashion.
Adieu, yours forever.3
1. This action took place off Cape St. Vincent, Portugal, on 9 August. Nearly sixty ships in a British convoy, mainly bound for the West Indies but including some East Indiamen as well, were intercepted by the combined French and Spanish fleet and were brought into Cadiz. See JA to Huntington, 4 Sept. (PCC, No. 84, II, printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:45; Annual Register for 1781, p. 2–3).
2. Not found.
3. It is not now possible to tell whether this is the first letter JA wrote to AA from the Netherlands. The announcement “I have been here three or four Weeks” suggests that it may be; on the other hand, the letter appears much too brief and casual to cover so long a period and such important news. (Note that JA does not even mention here that the two boys have come with him from Paris—an oversight for which AA chided him in her answer of 13–24 Nov., vol. 4, below.) We also know that Captain Davis of the Dolphin, who sailed from a Dutch port early in September and arrived in Boston in mid-November, threw overboard most of his mail when chased by an American privateer flying British colors. Among that mail there must have been other JA letters, presumably including some to AA. See William Smith to AA, 20 Nov.; AA to JA, 13–24 Nov.; both in vol. 4 below.
At all events this was the first letter AA received from JA after his of 23 June, above. The Adams party had traveled by way of Brussels (where JA had satisfying talks with Edmund Jenings and William Lee) to Antwerp and Rotterdam, from there by canal boat (“trekschuit”) to Delft and The Hague (where JA met C. W. F. Dumas, who was to become his faithful man-of-all-work in the Netherlands), and then via Leyden and Haarlem to Amsterdam, where the Adamses arrived on 10 Aug. (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:442–445; JQA, Diary, 29 July10 Aug. 1780). In Amsterdam they stopped at the Hôtel des Armes d'Amsterdam but moved on the 12th to better family quarters in the house of “Madame La Veuve du Monsier Henry Schorn, op de Agterburgwall by de Hoogstraat” (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 343; JQA, Diary, 1112 Aug. 1780).
On 14 Aug.JA resumed his dispatches to Congress, writing President Huntington that day explaining his trip to the Netherlands and deploring Laurens' continued absence:
“He would not be publickly recieved, at least until the States [i.e. the States General of the United Provinces] shall take a decided part with the other Maritime Powers against England. This Case however may soon happen. But there is not in Europe a better Station to collect Intelligence from France, Spain, England, Germany, and all the Northern Parts; nor a better Situation from whence to circulate Intelligence, through all parts of Europe, than this. And it may be depended on, that our Cause has never suffered from any thing more, than from the failure of giving and recieving Intelligence. A Minister here from Congress would be considered as the Center of Communication between America and this and many other Parts of Europe; and I have since my Arrival here been more convinced { 411 } than ever, that Congress might open a considerable Loan here, and be supplied from hence with Stores, and with Clothing, and at the same time be gradually extending the Commerce between this Country and America to the great Advantage of both” (PCC, No. 84, II; printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:29–32; also in JA, Works, 7:244–246, from LbC, Adams Papers).
The two matters dealt with in the foregoing paragraph, together with his work as a publicist and propagandist of the American cause, principally occupied JA's attention in the coming months. After receiving in mid-September his “new Orders” to stand in for Laurens, he decided to stay and doubled his efforts; and after learning in October of Laurens' capture at sea he redoubled them. No brief summary of his intense and wide-ranging activities during the latter part of 1780 and the first half of 1781 can approach adequacy, which is the more unfortunate because the correspondence in the present volumes reflects them very spottily. His diary entries are equally spotty, and, to make matters worse, his Autobiography breaks off (in the middle of a sentence of a letter copy) in March 1780. To compensate for these gaps there is the fairly full documentation for this period selected by CFA for publication in JA's Works, 7:244–430, and the very valuable but extremely disorderly mass of documents and comment in what the editors of the Adams Papers have called JA's “second autobiography,” namely his Correspondence in the Boston Patriot—now, unfortunately, a rare book. Nearly four-fifths of that portion of his reminiscences that was issued in serial parts in 1809–1810 is devoted to these eleven months of “militia diplomacy” in Amsterdam and The Hague. Short of the manuscript files themselves, the Correspondence is thus the best single source for this chapter of JA's public life, and since JA did not keep copies of the letters he wrote to the Patriot at such white heat and in such profusion, important material is printed in the Correspondence that can be found nowhere else at all.
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/