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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0114

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-07-17

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

No Letter from you, yet. I believe I shall Set off Tomorrow or next day, for the Hague, and Shall bring John with me back to Paris in about 3 Weeks. There will be an Interval, before the Signature of the definitive Treaty, and Several publick Concerns oblige me to go to the Hague for a Short time.1 When I get my Son with me, I shall be ready to go to any Place, where I may embark for home, as soon as I get Leave.
I am weary beyond all Expression of waiting in this State of Uncertainty about every Thing. It is at this Moment as uncertain as it was six months ago when the definitive Treaty will be signed. Mr. Laurens and Mr. Dana have leave to go home. Mr. Danas is upon a Condition, however, which is not yet fullfilled so that he will not go home for some time. Dr. Franklin Says he is determined to go home, and Mr. Jay talks of going next Spring.
In Short it is a terrible Life We lead. It wearies out the Patience of Job, and affects the health of Us all.
Mr. Smith writes me2 that Charles and Thomas are gone or were going to Haverhill, under the Care of Mr. Shaw. I approve of this very much. They will learn no Evil there. With them at Haveril, yourself and Miss Nabby and Mr. John with me, I could bear to live in Europe another Year or two. But I cannot live much longer without my Wife and Daughter and I will not. I want two Nurses at least: and I wont have any, at least female ones but my Wife and Daughter.
I tremble too, least a Voyage and change of Climate should alter your health. I dare not wish you in Holland for there my Charles, Mr. Thaxter, My servants and myself were forever Sick. I am half a Mind to come home with the definitive Treaty, and then if Congress dismiss me, well—. If they send me back again I can take you and your Daughter with me. However I can determine upon nothing. I am now afraid We shall not meet till next Spring. I hear, by Word of Mouth that Congress will not determine upon my Resignation till they have received the definitive Treaty. Heaven know when this will { 203 } be. It will be a Mercy to Us all, if they let me come home: for if you and your Daughter come to Europe you will get into your female Imaginations, fantastical Ideas that will never wear out, and will Spoil you both.3
The Question is whether it is possible for a Lady, to be once accustomed to the Dress, Shew &c. of Europe, without having her head turned by it? This is an awfull Problem. If you cannot be Mistress enough of yourself, and be answerable for your Daughter, that you can put on and put off these Fooleries like real Philosophers, I advise you never to come to <your> Europe, but order Your husband home, for this you may depend on, your Residence in Europe will be as uncertain as the Wind. It cannot be depended on for one Year no nor for Six Months. You have Seen two or three very Striking Instances of the Precariousness, of Congress Commissions, in my first, second and third. The Bread that is earned on a Farm is simple but sure. That which depends upon Politicks is as uncertain as they.
You know your Man. He will never be a Slave. He will never cringe. He will never accommodate his Principles, sentiments or Systems, to keep a Place, or to get a Place, no nor to please <his Wife> his Daughter, or his Wife. He will never depart from his Honour, his Duty, no nor his honest Pride for Coaches, Tables, Gold, Power or Glory. Take the Consequences then. Take a Voyage to Europe if the Case should so happen that I shall write to you to come live three Months. Let your Man See something in a different Light from his Masters, and give them offence, be recalled. You and he return back to the Blue Hills, to live upon a Farm. Very good. Let Lyars and slanderers without any of this, write Reports and nourish Factions behind his back, and the same effect is produced. I repeat it. It will be a Blessing to Us all, if I am permitted to return.
Be cautious my Friend, how you Speak upon these subjects. I know that Congress are bound, from regard to their own honour as well as mine, to send me to England, but it is the most difficult Mission in the Universe, and the most desperate, there is no Reputation to be got by it, but a great deal to be lost. It is the most expensive and extravagant Place in Europe, and all that would be allowed would not enable one to live, as a set of insolent Spendthrifts would demand. I am quite content to come home and go to Farming, be a select Man, and owe no Man any Thing but good Will. There I can get a little health and teach my Boys to be Lawyers.
I hope New York and Penobscot will be evacuated before this reaches you. That will be some Comfort. You must pray Mr. Storer { 204 } or your Unkle Smith to send Your Letters to me, by Way of New York Philadelphia, London Bilbao, Holland France or any way. If they inclose them to any of their Friends in London they will get to me.

[salute] Farewell, my dearest Friend Farewell.

1. Thomas Barclay, the American consul general in France, had just told JA that he (Barclay) and Matthew Ridley, an agent for Maryland who was seeking a European loan, were authorized to adjust “all the accounts which the United States have in Europe.” JA explained to Barclay that he needed to obtain his papers at The Hague to render his accounts (JQA, Diary, 1:181, and notes 2 and 3; Barclay to JA, 8 July, and JA to Barclay, 9 July, LbC, both Adams Papers). To Robert Livingston, JA explained that he was going to The Hague to improve his health and to “endeavor to assist the loan” sought by the United States from Holland (18 July, Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:560–562).
2. This letter, presumably from Isaac Smith Sr., has not been found.
3. This sentence was squeezed into the space before JA's original last paragraph (“I hope New York . . .”), and a mark following the inserted sentence indicates that the following three paragraphs, beginning “The Question is whether . . .,” although written below JA's close, were also intended to precede “I hope New York . . . .”

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0115

Author: Cranch, Richard
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-07-18

Richard Cranch to John Adams

[salute] Dear Brother

The Bearer Mr. Benjamin Austin is a Son of the Honble. Benjamin Austin Esqr. of this Town, and Brother to Mr. Jona. Loring Austin who was lately in Europe.1 He expects to see France and Holland before he returns, and wishes that he may have an Oportunity of being made personally known to your Excellency. I am not very particularly acquainted with this young Gentleman, but the great Esteem that I have for his Father and Family makes me wish that you would take a friendly notice of him, not doubting but his Conduct will be such as to make him deserving of it.
I wrote you the 26th. ultimo by Cousin William Smith, who sail'd from hence the 7th. Instant, bound to London, on board Capt. Callahan. I then gave you an account of domestick matters, and that all our dear Connections were well. Nothing remarkable has taken place since. Our Honble. Friend Cotton Tufts Esqr. wrote you at the same time,2 giving you some account of our Publick Affairs. The General Court was adjourned the 11th. Instant to the 24th. of September. The two chief Objects of Debate this session have been the 5 Per Cent Duty recommended by Congress as a Fund for paying the Interest of the National Debt; and the Commutation with the Officers of the Army in lieu of the half Pay for life that Congress had promised them. The former was pass'd, but clog'd with such Condi• { 205 } tions as, I fear, will make a Difficulty.3 But the present Spirit of the House seems very averse to the Commutation, (how consistant with Justice and good Faith is yet to be shewn) so that nothing is done in that behalf; but a Remonstrance, on the contrary, has been agree'd upon to be sent to Congress to shew their disapprobation of the Conduct of Congress in making such a Promise to the Army. I now send you, by the care of the Bearer, a Collection of State Papers on the Subject, and among the rest the cellebrated Letter of his Excellency Genl. Washington on his quitting the publick Theater and retiring to his Farm and private Life; which he does with a Dignity that would do honour to a Roman General in the most virtuous Days of their Republick.4
Please to present my best Regards to your Son, if return'd, and to our very worthy Friends Thaxter and Storer; and believe me to be, with the highest Esteem, your affectionate Brother
[signed] Richard Cranch
I saw your Lady and Daughter, and Master Charles at Commencement yesterday, all well. They were at Mrs. Dana's who with her Family are all well. Master Tommy was well, the Day before Commencement, at Haverhill.
1. In 1780 the Massachusetts Council named Jonathan Loring Austin to negotiate a loan in Europe (vol. 3:262, note 6, and 263; Council to JA and Francis Dana, 13 Jan. 1780, JA, Papers, 8:308–309, and notes).
2. Cotton Tufts to JA, 26 June (Adams Papers).
3. For Congress' action on the debt and its address to the people concerning it, see JCC, 24:257–261, 277–283. During this summer session the Massachusetts General Court did not in fact agree upon an impost bill for the benefit of the Confederation; but the legislative history is complicated, and Cranch, who was not in the legislature, could easily have been confused (Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass., A.1b, Reel No. 11, Unit 1, p. 148, 155, 157–159, 163, 165–167, 170; Mass. A.1a, Reel No. 16, Unit 2, p. 113). The impost was passed during the second session on 20 Oct., the measure repealing the impost of 4 May 1782. Again the legislative struggle was prolonged and sharp (Mass., Acts and Laws, 1782–1783, p. 541–543; same, 1780–1781, p. 589–592; AA to JA, 27 Dec., note 9, below). The text of the final impost act heaped up conditions: violators were to be tried by jury only in Massachusetts with final appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court. Excessive fines and cruel punishments were forbidden. The state was to have an annual accounting of monies received and the amount for each imported item and an annual statement of receipts taken by Congress from each of the other states.
4. See also Cotton Tufts to JA, 26 June (Adams Papers). Washington's long circular letter, sent to each of the thirteen states, addressed several topics that the General deemed of the utmost importance, among them the commutation of the army's half-pay as recommended by Congress (The Writings of George Washington, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, 39 vols., Washington, 1931–1944, vol. 26:483–496). On an order from the Massachusetts General Court, Washington's letter was printed along with earlier letters of his and of other army officers, and the related actions of Congress, as A Collection of Papers Relative to Half-Pay and Commutation thereof Granted by Congress . . ., Boston, 1783. The collection is similar to, but contains fewer { 206 } documents than, that with a like title printed in Fishkill, New York, 1783, by Samuel Louden. The title of this collection ran, in part, Compiled, by Permission of General Washington, from the Original Papers in His Possession; although quite extensive, it omitted Washington's farewell to the states (Evans Nos. 18256 and 18255). Washington probably sent this larger collection with his farewell letter to Massachusetts, and the General Court chose to print several documents from it along with the farewell.
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/