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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 11


Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0081

Author: Peabody, Elizabeth Smith Shaw
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1796-02-06

Elizabeth Smith Shaw Peabody to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dear Sister

The tender solicitude you have shewn for my health, demands the earliest return I can make—& it is greatly to my satisfaction that I can inform you of my recovery, so as to be about the house again— I tried all in my power, not to have my indisposition noticed—but I struggled in vain, for at last I was obliged to go to bed, & lie there for three days— I told William not to tell you how sick I was, but to say I had got coldhead-ach, & a cold you know are very accommodating, & will answer for any indisposition either of body, or mind— But I really did catch cold, last week, a thursday we had our wood brought, & I exerted myself a little too much at that time— I suppose I should have got along nicely if it had not been for my folly— “careless creature,” I hear you say, now do not blame too much, because somebody who thinks they have a right gently to reprove, will fancy his hands strengthened, & look very grave, & say, I am sure you need not have done so— very true Sir, but I am not the first who have been wise too late—
I received your two very kind letters the one to me, & the other to my Daughter last monday eve—1 Mr. Peabody found them at Mr. Duncan’s, where we enquire of Rogers, or [Kindal?] for them,2 they come by him in the way of bundle for 4d, & if they go into the office 8 cents a single letter, 16 for a double, or under cover, & so on— But do not trouble yourself to pay Rogers, your Letters are cordials to my heart, & last monday saved me at lest half an ounce of Bark— I thank you my dear Sister, for your kindness, & the maternal affection you shew my Children— may they be more, & more worthy of your notice— They have failings, but I hope are not incorrigable— I wish them not to be so decided, so preremtory—Youth should submit to years, & experience— It requires great discretion I find, to stand upon proper ground, & check the errors, the temerity of youth— I know of no persons better qualified for the purpose than my Sisters— The sweet Temper, & address with which some persons can reprove, would make an ingeneous mind doubly cautious, how they incurred, a second time their displeasure—
Mr Shaw was excellent in governing youth— they loved & they feared him— That there should be a quick, ready observance & compliance to reasonable commands, & injunctions, was one of the fixed principles of his government— a wise Preceptor, or Parent will { 164 } always study the best interest of the Child, & I never love to see them reluctant, or hesitate when they have every reason in the world to suppose that a Parent scarcely wishes to live but for them— I do n[ot] make those observations because my Children are [more] refractory than others—but I believe they are [ar]rived at the most critical age, & are as inexperienced as ever any were— They have got this great & important lesson to learn, that they know nothing know nothing how to estimate Characters; real worth nor what it is to live—
Cousin Betsy leaves me tomorrow to spend a week, or two in Haverhill, & then she means to go to Boston, & Quincy, &cc— Mr Peabody says I lay no embargo upon any one, visit, & return as you find it agreeable—suit yourself & be happy—but I really fear they have no Idea of the priviledge they enjoy— It was said, William would not come, no—I might depend upon it he was going to spend the whole vacation with you, but yet he was wise enough to come, & behaved with as much respect as it was possible, & has greatly endeared him3
RC (Adams Papers). Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. Not found.
2. For James Duncan of Haverhill, see vol. 7:296. For Daniel Denison Rogers, see vol. 4:348.
3. The manuscript ends at this point and appears to be incomplete.

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0082

Author: Adams, Charles
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1796-02-07

Charles Adams to John Adams

[salute] My dear Sir

Our Legislature have been some time occupied in debating upon what are called The Virginia resolutions which you have doubtless seen and which have been so industriously forwarded to the different States for their concurrence though our good Sister has not been treated quite so cavalierly by New York as she was by Massachusetts yet I beleive they both concur in thinking her a very whimsical Old maid.1 Among the other objects which occupy the attention of our Statesmen the reduction of our penal code to a spirit of more mildness is one the most interesting to humanity. The Senate have passed a bill to abolish the punishment of death in all cases murder treason and burglary excepted.2 The House have also had under consideraton a bill for the gradual abolition of Slavery but it does not meet with much encouragement. I am not certain but it will be best to let the evil work its own remedy. individuals are daily { 165 } liberating their Slaves but people do not like to be forced to be generous. The Quakers in this State formerly held slaves but they took it into their heads that it was wrong and set them universally at liberty. no sooner had they done this than they wanted to oblige their neighbours to do that by force which they had done voluntarily and the methods they take to attain their purpose are not always the most delicate.3 I have received several letters lately from Holland which have been opened and perused by The British. this is not very civil treatment but I have one consolation that they do not find many compliments paid them. Mrs Adams joins with me in the sentiments of respect with which I am your affectonate son
[signed] Charles Adams4
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Vice President of The United States / Philadelphia”; endorsed: “C. Adams. 7. Feb. / ansd 9. 1796.”
1. The N.Y. assembly began debating the Virginia resolutions on 29 Jan. following Gov. John Jay’s presentation of them to the legislature during the opening of the legislative session. After lengthy consideration and various proposed motions, the assembly resolved on 6 Feb. that “it does not appear to the Legislature expedient to concur in behalf of this state in the propositions contained in the resolutions of the state of Virginia” (N.Y. Assembly, Jour., 19th sess., 1796, p. 45–47, 56, 59, Evans, No. 47862).
2. Jay’s message of 6 Jan. to the New York legislature contained a request to consider “how far the severe penalties prescribed by our laws in particular cases admit of mitigation; and whether certain establishments for confining, employing and reforming criminals will not immediately become indispensible.” The following day a committee was appointed to consider the subject, and on 28 Jan. it reported two bills for consideration, which were eventually combined into a single “Act Making Alterations in the Criminal Law of This State and for Erecting State Prisons.” Debate over the bill continued until 19 Feb., when it passed the senate. The assembly concurred, after various adjustments, on 25 March. The act allowed for capital punishment in the case of murder and treason but, after debate, excluded burglary, arson, counterfeiting, and a variety of other crimes (N.Y. Senate, Jour., 19th sess., 1796, p. 6, 7, 22, 27–28, 29, 41, 44, 87, Evans, No. 30871).
3. The Society of Friends in New York had long formally opposed slavery, and in 1771 adopted a resolution requiring members to manumit their slaves or risk expulsion from the New York meeting. In 1785 the state legislature began to consider various means for implementing gradual emancipation of all slaves in the state. Although the assembly was nearly unanimous in its support for emancipation, the bill stalled over the question of suffrage for emancipated slaves. Thereafter, between 1792 and 1799, abolitionists routinely sought to introduce legislation for emancipation. In 1796 that legislation, although it was debated in committee, failed again to make progress, stumbling particularly over the issue of compensation for slaveholders. Finally, in 1799, the legislature reached an agreement that abolished slavery through gradual manumission (Edgar J. McManus, A History of Negro Slavery in New York, Syracuse, N.Y., 1966, p. 149–150, 162–165, 174–175; Patrick Rael, “The Long Death of Slavery,” in Slavery in New York, ed. Ira Berlin and Leslie M. Harris, N.Y., 2005, p. 124–125).
4. CA’s next letter to JA, on 28 Feb. 1796, following CA’s visit to Philadelphia (for which see JA to AA, 13 Feb., below), contained further comment on the New York legislature, which remained in session “and will remain so until the river opens which is always their rule whether they have any thing to do or not. It is a great pitty that these excressencies cannot be lopped off and that we cannot consent to be wholly under the direction of one general government.” CA also noted receiving JQA’s 29 Nov. 1795 letter, for { 166 } which see JQA to AA, 24 Nov., note 7, above. According to CA the 29 Nov. letter “relates to nothing but private affairs, but refers me to several letters of a date anterior which I have not received.” Finally, CA enclosed for JA a clipping from the New York American Minerva, 27 Feb. 1796, with an English translation of the preface to the 1792 French edition of JA’s Defence of the Const. (Adams Papers).
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.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/