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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4


Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0127

Author: Gerry, Elbridge
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1781-07-30

Elbridge Gerry to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dear Madam

I have been honored with your Letter of the 20th Instant, on a Matter of the highest Concern to the Continent, as well as to our mutual Friend, who represents it in Europe.
Previous to the Receipt of the Letter I saw a Copy of one from Dr. F[ranklin] to C[ongress],1 and was soon after confidentially informed by a Gentleman at the southard of the proceedings thereon, which I confess have given me the greatest Pain and uneasiness. I cannot write so freely, Madam, as I shall confer with You, at a convenient Opportunity; but thus much I am greived to impart, that the Decree is past for revoking all the former Powers of our Friend, and for appointing him to execute new Instructions, with a Fraternity, some of whom to injure him, would I fear go greater Lengths than Judas did, to betray his Lord.2
I think it no difficult Task to trace the Vestiges of an undue Influence, which dared to approach our publick Councils as early as the period of the first Instructions, and which appears to me, for political purposes foreign to the Interest of America, to have produced a deep layed Plan for removing a Gentleman from office, upon whom alone many of the States could rely for obtaining a safe and honorable Peace.
If I have a right Idea of the last Powers, there can be no great Honor in executing them, either seperately or jointly; and the only object worth contending for in C[ongress] will be, a Revocation of these, and a Confirmation of the former Instructions with one Minister to execute them: but it is a Matter of Doubt in my Mind, whether the proceedings of C[ongress] have not made such a Measure altogether impracticable.
We shall however, Madam, be better able to judge understandingly, on the Return of Mr. L[ovell] who in his last Letter proposed soon to be in Boston: and altho the Times may justify the Sentiment that “the Post of Honor is a private Station”3 I shall not decline a publick one, whilst there is the least prospect of serving my Country on so important an occasion. I need not add Madam that nothing will afford me greater pleasure than an opportunity of rendering Services to Yourself and Family, and that I have the Honor to be with the sincerest Esteem your most obedt. & very hum. sert:,
[signed] E. Gerry
RC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “Portia.” Dft (MHi:Gerry-Knight { 190 } Collection). Only one of the numerous cancellations and alterations in Dft has been noted below.
1. Franklin's controversial letter to Huntington, 9 Aug. 1780, criticizing JA's conduct toward Vergennes; see above, Lovell to AA, 13 July, and note 7 there. Gerry's allusion makes clear that copies of Franklin's letter were sent to Boston at this time through more than one channel.
2. In a letter of the present date to Lovell (Dft, heavily corrected, on verso of Lovell to Gerry, 17 June 1781, MHi: Gerry-Knight Coll.), Gerry wrote:
“I have seen a Copy of the Letter from <Doctor Franklin> to <Congress> respecting <Mr. J. Adams>and fear that his Zeal for his Country has far exceeded his usual Caution. Be that as it may I feel a deep Concern for our worthy Friend, and apprehend that the<ungrateful and>ungenerous Treatment he has received will be productive of Disgrace and irreparable Injury to his Country. <Gerard> You well remember was ever against our saving the Fishery, and as he received his Instructions from the <Court of France>, is it not probable they have layed a plan to oust Mr.<Adams> in order to carry their Measures into Effect.”
Whether the names stricken by Gerry in his Dft, and which appear here as cancellations, were replaced in RC with identifying initials, were written in cipher in keeping with Lovell's usage in his letter on recto, or were left blank to be supplied by Lovell, cannot be known.
3. In Dft, Gerry at this point wrote and then cancelled: “I would chearfully make a Tour to the southard.”

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0128

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-08-01

Abigail Adams to John Adams

O that I could realize the agreable reverie of the last Night when my dear Friend presented himself and two Son[s] safely returnd to the Arms of the affectionate wife and Mother. Cruel that I should wake only to experience a renual of my daily solicitude. The next month will compleat a whole year since a single Line from your Hand has reachd the longing Eyes of Portia. No vessels have arrived here since the declaration of war from Holland. Congress have no dispatches later than october from you. I hope and hope till hope is swallowed up in the victory of Dispair. I then consider all my anxiety as vain since I cannot benifit any one by it, or alter the established order of things. I cannot relieve your mind from the burden of publick cares, or at this distance alleviate the anxiety of your Heart, tho ever so much distressed for the welfare of your Native land or protect you from the Slanderous arrow that flieth in Secret, a Specimin of which you will find inclosed in a Letter from Mr. C[ranc]h1 but which you must I think have received before as many coppies have been sent. My Indig[nation] is too big for utterance.

Falsehood and fraud shoot up in ev'ry soil

The product of all climes—Rome had its Cea[sar.]

I will not comment upon this low this dirty this Infamous t[his] { 191 } diabolical peice of envy and malice as I have already do[ne] it where I thought I might be of service—to your two Friends L[ovell] and G[err]y.

True consious Honour is to know no Sin—

and the firm patriot whose views extend to the welfare of Mankind tho obstructed by faction and vice, tho crossed by fortune, tho wounded by calumny and reproach, shall find in the end that his generous Labour is not lost—even tho he meets with no other reward than that self approveing hour, which the poet tells us [outweighs?] whole years of stupid starers and of loud Huz[zas.]
When ever any opportunity occurs write, and write me a volume to amuse, to comfort and inform me. I turn to the loved pages of former days and read them with delight. They are all my comfort, all my consolation in the long long [in]terval of time that I have not received a line. Should I name my dear Boys a tear will flow with the Ink—not a line have I received from them for more than a Year. May they be their Fathers comfort and their Mothers delight.
No very important military events have taken place since I wrote you last which was by Capt. Young to Bilboa. Green is driving Cornwallis acting with much Spirit and viggour. We are here looking upon each other in a mere maze. Our old currency died suddenly, the carkases remain in the hands of individuals, no Burial having been yet provided for it. The New was in Good repute for a time, but all of a Sudden and in one day followed [its] Elder Brother—so that with old and New in my hand, I can not purchase a single Sixpence worth of any thing yet taxes must be paid, men must be raised for Road Island and West Point and paid too, yet the profits of what each one has sold for paper avails them not. This was a stroke of our Enemies by employing Emissaries to depreciate it who were detected and put into jail. Barter and hard money is now the only trade. The strugle will be to supply our army. How after having sold our commodities for paper we can raise hard money to pay the next demand which must be speedy, I know not. I had collected a sufficient Sum of paper to pay a very large tax which the last Session of the court levied. It now will avail me not a groat. I mentioned in a former Letter that [I] wished you to send me a chest of Bohea tea by any vessel of Mr. Tracys or Smiths.2 It would turn into money quicker [remainder missing]
Dft (Adams Papers); incomplete. The MS is worn and torn along one edge, requiring a number of words to be partly or wholly supplied by editorial conjecture.
{ 192 }
1. Franklin's letter to Huntington of 9 Aug. 1780, a copy of which was enclosed in Richard Cranch to JA, 16 July, q.v. above.
2. AA to JA, 23 April, above.
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/