A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 6

Docno: ADMS-04-06-02-0168

Author: Smith, William Stephens
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1785-12-29

William Stephens Smith to Abigail Adams

An anxiety to preserve a consistancy of Character in the opinion of Mrs. Adams (in whose favourable sentiments I feel myself more and more interested) induces me to say, that I have some reason to believe, that the late Connection,1 which appeared an insurmountable Obstacle to the accomplishment of the Wish nearest my heart—exists no longer. And from the opinion I have of the Lady, I am persuaded, that nothing dishonourable on her part could have occasioned it.
Strongly impressed with sentiments which induce a sacred attention to the Laws of hospitality, and a lively sense of Moral Obligation, I cannot postpone informing her, that her Amiable Daughter, is the only Lady of my acquaintance, either in Europe or America, that I would connect myself with for Life. With a Mind deeply impressed with her Virtues, apparently established by the principles of her education, Mrs. Adams will not be surprised at my anxiety to gain her confidence, and to lay a proper foundation for a future Connection, which must insure me all the happiness I can wish, provided it should meet with her wishes, and the approbation of her friends.
I have no inclination, My dearest Madam, to be precipitate on this Subject, but I should feel Guilty, whenever I entered your Doors, If I did not give you the earliest information of my wishes and intention. It now rests with you Madam, and her honoured Father to Object in the early stages of it, if at all, and be assured, your decission will greatly influence my Conduct. You once charged me with precipitancy, but believe me Madam, I did not merit it, as I can fully convince you, should you think proper to Converse on the Subject.
This Communication, (perhaps,) you may think, ought to be made to Mr. Adams, but I feel more easy in the communication with you. And as I do not Know that he is acquainted with my sentiments respecting the Lady, (as well as you are Madam), it would render a long and formal Letter necessary, while perhaps this mode may answer every end, as I suppose you will be in a great measure governed by his sentiments on the Subject, it is probable, you will submit this to his perusal.
I feel myself under every disadvantage. I am almost a stranger—and it might appear strange were I to say nothing of myself, but strange as it may appear, delicacy checks my pen. I can only say, my family { 509 } are neither Obscure, nor unknown, and in whatever relates to them, or myself I submit freely to your investigation and you may take what time you please to satisfy yourself on the Subject. However, I shall neither appear the Child of fortune nor the offspring of Illustrious Ancestors, but such as I am, I seek your friendship, and aspire to your Daughters Love.
What has been my Conduct, and what the Lines which have marked my Character, since I entered into Life, will be better explained to you and perhaps more to your satisfaction, by the papers which accompany this,2 than if I were to become my own Panegyrist. After the perusal of these papers, I wish it to be recollected, that altho' “it is better to marry a Gentleman alway's involved in business, than one who has no Profession at all,” that I have some claim to indulgence on that point; having sacrificed that important Period of my Life in my Country's Service, which others have (perhaps more wisely) spent in their private concerns and arrangements. If Mrs. Adams knew the situation of my family before the war, she would be satisfied, that a fixed profession, was not at that time considered absolutely necessary for my support, or to enable me to move in that Circle which my Education, Conduct and Connections have hitherto entitled me to.—The Papers will convince you, that I may without presumption boast of the honourable Profession of Arms, which I have followed with success and have received my Country's acknowledgement with such assurances as the Nature of our Goverments will admit of, of Mention thro' Life.
Seperate from this, I feel myself competent to an honourable Profession, suited to the peaceful walk of Life, which with my very small fortune and moderate Abilities, will enable me to live in content and retirement, whenever I chuse to make the experiment with a friend, detached from the follies and vices of society.
It now rests with you Madam and Mr. Adams to determine whether I shall confine myself to the duties of my station, or whether I may be permitted to cultivate the further friendship of your family.
I am, Madam, in relation to you and Yours all that honour and inclination can make,
[signed] W. S. Smith3
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in JA's late hand: “Smith 1785.”
1. Between AA2 and Royall Tyler.
2. The papers have not been found.
3. No reply to this letter by either AA or JA has been found.

Docno: ADMS-04-06-02-0169

Author: Storer, Charles
Recipient: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Date: 1785-12-29

Charles Storer to Abigail Adams 2d

I join fully with you, Amelia, that whatever is, is right. Yet I cannot but regret that the winds hurried me so soon from England. But weigh the matter, says prudence. The office was important, the task arduous, and very much expected from it.1 Had I failed, what an everlasting blot. This is a thought, Amelia, that would have staggered me in my wish to go; nor would self-examination have aided me in the least. As it is, then, I may truly say it is right; for now, to use a common expression, I save my credit and bacon too; and have only to acknowledge myself obliged by your interest in my behalf, and your good opinion. I have written your papa about Lambe, who from all accounts is an unworthy character. I wish he may not do more hurt than good.
Believe me, Amelia, I think myself indebted to you, for your attention and remembrance of me, and return you many thanks, for your letter of the 15th October, via New-York,2 which is just come to hand.
Surely Monsieur le Baron would regret your absence, and so I suppose would all the foreigners of the diplomatic circle, who dined with your papa, on the day of Feasts;3 for I believe, in France, Madame la femme du ministre presides at the table. England, you know, was never remarked for politeness. But you do not say where you dined; whether in the house-keeper's room, or in your own chamber. I have heard, however, that you spent the day with Mrs. Hay, to whom I beg my compliments, as we go along. That you miss me, Amelia, I can well suppose, particularly as Colonel Smith was not returned. But how you can think this a mortifying circumstance, I am at a loss to find out. Did I not use to execute your commissions, and especially when you were with me, with much pleasure? You saw the West Indian4 performed; a good piece 'tis called. I wish I had been with you. I hope you had not Gretna-Green5 again for the Farce. And you saw their majesties, and the two eldest princesses. Were you near enough to be recollected by them? Apropos, methinks I see you making your reverence to them. The fashionable courtesy, you know, is very low, and slow. Have you learnt to make it gracefully? I ask because I want you to teach it here, when you return; they make such little bobs and dodges as would make you laugh most heartily. Miss Grant, sister to Betsey G., who was here some years ago, is here from England. I introduced my Maria6 to her; of course there were { 511 } courtesies on both sides. Miss G. prepared her feet; Maria made a little bob; Miss G. began to sink; Maria bobbed again; Miss G. continued to sink; Maria made another bob; Miss G. was stationary; Maria bobbed again; so in the same proportion in rising again; making in the whole, about six bobs or dodges. Paint it now to yourself, Amelia, and add thereto how prettily the dodger must feel. I have been ever since trying to bend her limbs, and are [am?] soon going to put her into shapes, according to the frame you gave me: so I hope we shall ere long be in due form and order. * * * * * * * * * * * Why do you neglect your old friends, Amelia? Mrs. Russell, whom I love, and you too, I believe, says you promised to remember her, and to write; but that she has not received one line from you since you left this country; nor can she learn that you have once mentioned her to any one: she is a worthy woman; don't forget her—nor especially
[signed] Eugenio
MS not found. Printed from (AA2, Jour. and Corr., 2:40–43.)
1. Storer evidently refers to the diplomatic mission to Algiers. AA2 was confident that JA would have asked Storer to join Capt. John Lamb on this mission if Storer had stayed in England only one more week (AA2 to JQA, 18 Oct., above).
2. Not found; it presumably contained AA2's news about the mission to Algiers.
3. Probably 30 Sept., when JA entertained the diplomatic corps of London at his home in Grosvenor Square. Because women traditionally were excluded from such events, AA and AA2 went to the home of their good friend Mrs. Rogers for the evening (AA2 to JQA, 24 Sept.; AA to Mary Cranch, 1 Oct., both above). “Monsieur le Baron” who regretted AA2's absence was probably Baron de Lynden, the Dutch minister to Great Britain. Another guest who missed the Adams women, however, was the British foreign minister, the Marquis of Carmarthen (AA2 to JQA, 24 Sept., above).
4. See AA2 to JQA, 18 Oct., note 8, above.
5. The play Gretna Green by Charles Stuart was first performed in 1783. Notices appeared in London newspapers announcing many performances of the farce during the summer of 1785. Gretna Green, a village in southern Scotland, was widely known as a convenient location for quick and clandestine marriages that could not be performed in England.
6. Probably Storer's sister Mary.

Docno: ADMS-04-06-03-0003


The Adams Family, 1782–1785

1782   Oct. 8   After lengthy negotiations, JA signs the first Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the Netherlands and the United States, at The Hague.  
1782   Oct. 17   JA leaves The Hague for Amsterdam and then Paris, where he arrives on 26 October.  
1782   Oct. 30–Nov. 30   JA participates in negotiating and, with his fellow commissioners, signs at Paris, on 30 Nov., the Preliminary Treaty of Peace between the United States and Great Britain.  
1782   Oct. 30   JQA leaves St. Petersburg for The Hague by way of the northern route, through Finland and across the Åland Islands to Sweden.  
1782   Nov. 8   JA tells AA to put CA and TBA in a school and come to Europe with AA2 if she can get assurances that Congress will keep him in Europe another year.  
1782   Nov. 22   JQA arrives in Stockholm.  
1782   Dec.   JA writes to Congress, asking to resign his position. He informs AA of his decision, telling her to stay in America. Royall Tyler is a serious suitor of AA2; AA informs JA.  
1782   Dec. 31   JQA leaves Stockholm to travel across Sweden to Göteborg.  
1783   Jan.   AA2 visits the family of James and Mercy Otis Warren at Milton, and later in the month, the family of Samuel Allyne Otis in Boston.  
1783   Jan. 25   JQA arrives at Göteborg.  
1783   Feb. 11   JQA leaves Göteborg for Copenhagen, where he arrives on the 15th.  
1783   Feb. 23   The Shelburne ministry falls in Great Britain; shortly to be replaced by the Fox-North ministry.  
1783   March 5   JQA leaves Copenhagen for Hamburg, where he arrives on the 10th.  
{ 526 }
1783   April   AA sends CA and TBA to live in Haverhill with their aunt, Elizabeth Smith Shaw, where they prepare for college with their uncle, Rev. John Shaw. CA remains in Haverhill until he enters Harvard in 1785. TBA lives there until he matriculates in 1786.  
1783   April 5   JQA leaves Hamburg and travels through Bremen to Holland.  
1783   April 21   JQA arrives at The Hague, where he continues his study of Latin and Greek with C. W. F. Dumas until JA's arrival in July.  
1783   April 27   JA, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay begin conferring with David Hartley on the definitive treaty with Great Britain.  
1783   May   AA buys land in Braintree for JA from the heirs of Micajah Adams.  
1783   June   CA ill with measles. AA and AA2 go to Haverhill to visit, and to bring CA home to Braintree to recover. He returns to Haverhill in August.  
1783   July 17   AA and AA2 attend Harvard commencement.  
1783   July 19   JA leaves Paris for The Hague, where he arrives on 22 July and is reunited with JQA after two years' separation. They travel to Amsterdam on 26 July, returning to The Hague on 30 July. JQA begins serving as his father's secretary and continues in this role until his departure for America in May 1785.  
1783   July—Aug.   John Thaxter and Charles Storer travel to London. Thaxter returns to Paris on 25 Aug., but Storer remains in England, and then moves to northeastern France.  
1783   Aug. 6   JA and JQA leave The Hague for Paris, arriving on 9 August.  
1783   Sept. 3   JA, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay sign the Definitive Treaty of Peace with Great Britain in Paris. On 7 Sept. they learn that Congress has resolved to appoint them to a joint commission to negotiate a commercial treaty with Great Britain. JA immediately asks AA, with AA2, to join him in Europe.  
1783   Sept. 14   John Thaxter, JA's private secretary since Nov. 1779, leaves Paris for America. Carrying the definitive treaty to Congress, he sails from France on 26 September. Landing at New York, he reaches Philadelphia with the treaty on 22 Nov., and Braintree on 14 December.  
1783   Sept. 17   Death of AA's father, Rev. William Smith of Weymouth, Mass.  
1783   Sept. 22   JA and JQA move to Thomas Barclay's house in Auteuil, near Paris, where JA recovers from a serious illness; they remain { 527 } there until 20 October. This is the house that the Adamses will occupy in Aug. 1784.  
1783   Oct. 20   JA and JQA travel to England, where they visit London, Oxford and Bath, remaining until 2 January.  
1783   Oct.–Nov.   AA visits Haverhill to nurse TBA, who suffers from “a severe fit of the Rheumatism”; she returns on 10 November.  
1783   Dec.   AA buys land in Braintree for JA from William Adams. AA meets Francis Dana in Boston upon his arrival from St. Petersburg, over four years after his departure from Boston for Europe with JA.  
1783   Dec. 19   William Pitt the younger forms his ministry in Great Britain.  
1783   Dec.–Jan.   AA2 visits relatives and friends in Boston for over a month.  
1784   Jan. 2   JA and JQA leave England and travel across the North Sea to the Netherlands, where JA seeks and secures a second Dutch loan to save America's credit. JA and JQA remain at The Hague, with brief visits to Amsterdam bankers for JA, and JQA's long trip to London, until July-August.  
1784   March   AA2 visits the Warrens in Milton.  
1784   April   AA delays arranging her departure for Europe, hoping to hear again from JA, and from Elbridge Gerry, who keeps her informed about Congress' decisions concerning America's diplomatic missions.  
1784   April—June   CA and TBA visit AA and AA2 in Braintree, before the latter depart for England.  
1784   May 7   John Jay elected secretary for foreign affairs by Congress. Thomas Jefferson elected by Congress to join JA and Benjamin Franklin to negotiate treaties of amity and commerce with over twenty European and African powers.  
1784   May 14   JQA leaves The Hague for England, reaching London on 18 May. There his purpose of meeting AA and AA2 is frustrated by their decision to delay leaving Boston. He stays in London until about 26 June and makes several visits to Parliament and to the Court of Chancery.  
1784   June 1   John Jay sails from England for America.  
1784   June 18   Thomas Jefferson arrives in Boston, too late to arrange a passage on the ship taking AA to England. He sails on 5 July, reaching England on 26 July, and Paris on 6 August.  
{ 528 }
1784   June 20   AA and AA2 sail from Boston for England on the Active, landing at Deal, England on 20 July. They proceed to London, arriving on 21 July, and remain until 8 August.  
1784   July 26   JA, upon hearing from AA, and learning that Jefferson has been named a commissioner and is headed for Paris, decides to join Jefferson and Franklin there. He still plans, however, to have AA and AA2 come to The Hague first, and sends JQA to London. JQA arrives on 30 July and joins AA and AA2 after a separation of nearly five years.  
1784   Aug.   JA, having heard that Jefferson has already arrived in France, changes his plan and on 7 Aug. arrives unexpectedly in London, where he is reunited with AA after nearly five years apart. The Adamses travel from London to Paris, arriving on 13 Aug.; on the 17th they move to Auteuil, where they live until May 1785. JA, with his colleagues Franklin and Jefferson, immediately begins corresponding with several European powers to arrange commercial treaties with America.  
1784   Dec. 21   John Jay accepts Congress' appointment as secretary for foreign affairs; he is the first secretary to be in sympathy with JA's views on foreign policy.  
1785   Feb. 24   Congress names JA to be the first U.S. minister to Great Britain.  
1785   March 10   Congress names Thomas Jefferson U.S. minister to France, in place of the retiring Benjamin Franklin.  
1785   May 12   JQA leaves Paris for America to attend Harvard College. On 21 May he sails from Lorient on the Courier de l'Amérique.  
1785   May 20   JA, AA, and AA2 leave Auteuil for England, arriving in London on 26 May. They reside in London until 1788.  
1785   June 1   JA has his first audience with King George III; he is presented to Queen Charlotte at Court on 9 June.  
1785   June 23   AA and AA2 are presented to King George and Queen Charlotte at a Court Day at St. James's Palace.  
1785   July 2   JA, AA, and AA2 move into the first American legation in London, a rented house on Grosvenor Square.  
1785   July 12   Benjamin Franklin leaves Passy, where he had lived for over eight years, to return to America. He sails from England on 28 July.  
1785   July 17   JQA arrives in New York City, where he stays with Richard { 529 } Henry Lee, president of Congress, and visits extensively with congressmen and with leaders of New York society.  
1785   mid-July   CA is admitted to Harvard College; he begins his studies in mid-August.  
1785   Aug. 4   Col. William Stephens Smith, the secretary of the American legation in London, asks JA for leave to attend Frederick the Great's review of the Prussian army at Potsdam. He departs for Prussia on 9 Aug., and extends his stay in Europe into December, visiting Vienna and Paris.  
1785   Aug. 5   JA signs the first Treaty of Amity and Commerce between Prussia and the United States. (Franklin and Jefferson sign in France in July; the Prussian envoy Baron von Thulemeyer signs at The Hague in September.)  
1785   Aug. 13   JQA leaves New York for Boston, taking the overland route through central Connecticut and Massachusetts.  
1785   mid-Aug.   AA2 breaks off her engagement with Royall Tyler; AA writes to Mary Cranch to explain this decision.  
1785   Aug. 25   JQA arrives in Boston, after an absence of nearly six years. He visits Cambridge on 26 Aug., where he is reunited with his brother, CA, and his cousin, William Cranch, both students at Harvard. On 27 Aug. he visits his Adams and Cranch relatives in Braintree.  
1785   Aug. 31   Harvard's President Joseph Willard advises JQA to seek further preparation to enter the college as a “junior sophister” in the spring.  
1785   Sept. 7   JQA, with his aunt, Mary Cranch, visits Haverhill for a week to arrange for his intensive study of Latin and Greek under the guidance of his uncle, Rev. John Shaw. There he is reunited with his brother TBA. On their return from Haverhill, JQA and Mary Cranch visit his aunt Catharine Salmon Smith.  
1785   Sept. 19   Charles Storer sails for America.  
1785   Sept. 30   After further visits to Boston and Braintree, JQA returns to Haverhill.  
1785   Oct.   JQA pays a short visit to the Daltons in Newbury with his cousin, Elizabeth Cranch, who lives with the John Whites of Haverhill for the entire fall. On 25 Oct., CA and William and Lucy Cranch arrive for a one-week visit.  
1785   Dec. 5   William Stephens Smith returns to London with Col. David Humphreys.  
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, 2018.