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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 11


Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0112

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1796-03-15

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dearest Friend

Your delicious Letter of the 5th. came to my hand Yesterday. Your beautiful and pathetic Reflections on the Match in our Presidential Family are such as I expected. It is to me, one of the most delightful Ideas that is treasured in my Mind, that my Children have no Brothers nor sisters of the half or quarter Blood. one such Consciousness would poison all the Happiness of my Life.— { 217 } “Remembered Follies, Sting,”1 and none could pierce my heart with such corrosive & deleterious Poison as this.
I am So disgusted with this kind of Life that I am Sometimes disposed to take rash Resolutions that I never will live another Winter out of my family. Pray what is become of your new Charriot? Is it possible to afford to have it built?
Is it not vexatious? have We not plagues enough? Must our own Friends conspire to torment Us? Is Imprudence and Turbulence so entailed upon Us, that Members of the wisest Bodies must conspire with their own Ennemies? Here is a Folly complained of in the House by Baldwin. The Georgia Speculation is in a fair Way to rid the World for what I know of some of the Hairbrains— But why should wise honest & independent Men run wild.?
Jackson has had a Rencontre, and Gun has sought one. The Bostonians have been the Dupes.2
Sobrius esto. Be Sober. Be calm, Oh my heart and let your Temperance and moderation be known to all Men. But it requires a great command of ones Passions to be Serene amidst Such Indiscretions and Irregularties of wise Men when We have so much Extravagance of the Unwise and so much Malice of the wicked to contend with at the Same time.
I believe I told you that Thomas was become quite a Negotiator at the Hague, and his Brother in London. The latter however will return, I suppose to Holland upon the Return of Mr Pinckney to England.
Mr Gore and Mr short I conjecture will be appointed Commissioners to estimate depredations & Damages and perhaps J. Q. A may be named one of the two who are to be by Lot converted into a 3d.3 But all this must be Secret. I am trying your Capacity to keep secrets, you see.
1. “Grief aids Disease, remember’d Folly stings, / And his last Sighs reproach the Faith of Kings” (Samuel Johnson, “The Vanity of Human Wishes: The Tenth Satire of Juvenal,” lines 119–120).
2. In January the Ga. house of representatives had appointed James Jackson to chair the committee investigating the Yazoo Act. The findings of the committee led the Georgia legislature to rescind the act on 13 Feb.; meanwhile, James Greenleaf continued to sell land to Boston investors. Jackson, who was known as the “prince of duelists,” fought at least four duels with Yazooists. On 2 March Abraham Baldwin gave a speech in the House of Representatives attacking land speculators, noting that “persons whom we have supposed worthy of our confidence and esteem” have been “publicly practising the meanest and most disgraceful arts and tricks of swindling.” James Gunn demanded to see the written proof Baldwin had against speculators, and when Baldwin refused to turn over his evidence, Gunn challenged him to a duel. They { 218 } never fought, and Gunn eventually apologized for his conduct (Abernethy, The South in the New Nation, p. 151, 152; James F. Cook, The Governors of Georgia, 1754–2004, Macon, Ga., 2005, p. 73–74; Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., 1st sess., p. 402–403; George R. Lamplugh, Politics on the Periphery: Factions and Parties in Georgia, 1783–1806, Newark, Del., 1986, p. 135).
3. Christopher Gore did receive an appointment, but William Short and JQA did not. For the final composition of the commission, see Joshua Johnson to JQA, 30 Sept., and note 4, below.

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0113

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1796-03-19

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dearest Friend

We have a Turn of Weather as cold as any We have had through the whole Winter. The Violence of the North West Wind which has thrown down Chimneys and blown off Roofs in this City, We suppose has prevented the Eastern Mail from crossing the North River and deprived me of my Thursdays Letter as yet. I hope it will come to day.
A Thousand and one Speeches have been made in the H. of Reps. upon the Motion for petitioning the P. for Papers. Twenty complete Demonstrations have been made of the Constitutionality of it, and twenty more of its Unconstitutionality. Ten of its Expediency and as many of its Inexpediency, five of its Utility and the same number of its Inutility. After all they will ask and receive—and then lash and maul a while and then do the needful.1 I dined on the 17th with the friendly sons of st. Patrick2 and to day I dine with Rush. Judge Cushing departs this Morning and Mrs Cushing will call upon you. Elsworth embarks in a day or two for S. C. & Georgia.3 We have a Party Business from Kentucky: a Strange Complaint as Mr Marshall—which oblige is Us to sit to day a saturday4 I regret this, because it is too exhausting to me to sit so constantly. My Task is pretty severe, especially in cold Weather.—
This Wind will delay Intelligence from Europe for ten days or a fortnight.
Liancourt is going with Elsworth and Tallerand talks of embarking for Hambourgh.5
Having no Horse and reading more & walking less than Usual I am solicitous about my health.—
The Birds in Numbers and Vanity began to sing and the grass to grow green before this last Gripe of Queen Mab. The poor Birds have hard times now.—
The two Miss Daltons have been here all Winter. I delivered Your Message to Mrs Green & General Wayne.
{ 219 }
I cannot see a ray of Hope, before June— If the House should be frenzical We must sit till next March and leave it to the People to decide by choosing a new President senate & House, who will harmoniously go all lengths, call George a Tyrant to his face the English Nation Pyrates break the Treaty enter into an alliance offensive with France & go to War, with spirit, Consistency & Dignity.
But I believe the House will adopt the Language which says that the Just keep their Promisiss though they have made them to [this trust?] and that they must make the best of a bad bargain and come off thus as well as they can by abusing Jay President & senate and Treaty without pretending to annul it.—
Hi! Ho! Oh Dear! I am most / tenderly
[signed] J. A.
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs A”; endorsed: “March 19 1796.”
1. On 2 March Edward Livingston presented a resolution to the House of Representatives “That the President of the United States be requested to lay before this House a copy of the instructions given to the Minister of the United States who negotiated the Treaty with Great Britain … together with the correspondence and other documents relative to the said Treaty.” Debate on the resolution began on 7 March with numerous members speaking at great length on the subject. On 24 March the House finally approved the resolution, and it was sent to George Washington the following day. On 30 March Washington presented a written response to the House arguing that such foreign negotiations required secrecy, and that “a just regard to the Constitution and to the duty of my office … forbid a compliance with your request.” The House began debating a response to Washington’s message on 6 April; the next day it approved a resolution reiterating its right “to deliberate on the expediency or inexpediency of carrying such Treaty into effect” (Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., 1st sess., p. 400–401, 426, 759–762, 769, 771, 782–783). For the entirety of the debate, see Annals, p. 424–783.
2. The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick had been established in 1771 in Philadelphia but by the 1790s had begun to fade as an organization. It was gradually replaced by the Hibernian Society for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland, founded in 1790. JA likely attended the anniversary dinner of this latter organization, which took place on 17 March 1796 at the Harp and Crown Tavern. The Sons of St. Patrick did have a small gathering on the same date at a private home, but no guests were recorded as having attended (John H. Campbell, History of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and of the Hibernian Society for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland, Phila., 1892, p. 33, 60–61; Philadelphia American Daily Advertiser, 26 March).
3. Oliver Ellsworth was setting out to attend the southern circuit of the federal courts in his new position as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (William Garrott Brown, The Life of Oliver Ellsworth, N.Y., 1905, p. 238).
4. On 26 Feb. the Senate received material requesting that it investigate Sen. Humphrey Marshall of Kentucky for charges of perjury. A memorial printed in Kentucky in Feb. 1795 had made the original accusation against Marshall, but a case was never formally brought against him. The governor and representatives of Kentucky thus requested that the Senate pursue it. Marshall concurred in the request, presumably to allow for his name to be cleared of the accusation, which had circulated publicly but never been adjudicated. The matter, initially referred to a senatorial committee, was taken up by the whole Senate on 14 March 1796. Debate continued over several days, including Saturday, 19 March. On 22 March the Senate adopted a report arguing that in the absence of any formal charge, prosecutor, or evidence, and lacking jurisdiction, “any further inquiry by the Senate would be improper” (Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., 1st sess., p. 47–49, 51–60).
5. François Alexandre Frédéric, Duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, was traveling { 220 } throughout the United States for his eventual publication, Travels through the United States of North America, 2 vols., London, 1799. He and Ellsworth took the same ship from Philadelphia to Charleston, leaving on 24 March and arriving six days later. The duke spent three weeks in South Carolina, then moved on to Georgia before returning to Charleston in early May (Travels, 1:552–553, 593, 618).
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord had decided to leave the United States for Hamburg by March but did not actually embark, on the Danish ship Den Nye Prove, until mid-June. He reached Hamburg at the end of July (David Lawday, Napoleon’s Master: A Life of Prince Talleyrand, London, 2006, p. 87; Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 13 June).
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/