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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 11


Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0143

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1796-04-24

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dear Mother.

You will find by the papers that I send with this letter, what you will perhaps know before the receipt of it; that is that the negotiations for Peace have stumbled at the threshold, and that a trial of one more year of War is to be endured by the contending Nations. The Notes of Mr: Wickham & Mr: Barthelemi are considered as decisive upon this point.—1 The scarcity of provisions has suddenly disappeared both in France and in this Country. Wheat and flour have fallen from excessive to very moderate prices. There are complaints here of a great scarcity of money, but it will find its relief in a new loan for seven millions and an half which is already made.
I send you likewise some late reviews which may give you the literary news, more valuable because more durable than those of a political nature.—2 The famous Shakespeare manuscripts about which I wrote you soon after my arrival here, are now generally considered as mere forgeries. The play of Vortigern was once performed, and fairly laughed off the stage.
I had not an opportunity to judge of it myself as I could not attend on the Evening of its first and only performance, but the opinion of all those who heard it appears to be unanimous, that it is not only an imposture but a very awkward and clumsy one.— Volumes have been written & published on the subject, and men of all sorts take now a pride in girding at the poor proprietor of the manuscripts.
I have no letters from my father dated later than December. None from you later than January, none from any of my friends in America of a more recent date. Still I flatter myself I have not been forgotten. I write so much and so often that I seldom get a correspondent of equal punctuality with myself.— From other Americans however, I collect the information of that Country, as late as the { 271 } beginning of March.3 It looks fair and promising. But our political tides ebb and flow with such rapidity and violence that I place not the most thorough reliance on the permanency of any favourable prospect.
I beg to be remembered affectionately to all friends, and remain your invariably faithful Son
[signed] John Q. Adams.
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs: Adams. Quincy.”; endorsed: “J Q A April 24 1796.” FC-Pr (Adams Papers); APM Reel 131.
1. William Wickham (1761–1840) was a British politician and diplomat. In 1795 he became the British minister plenipotentiary to Switzerland. Wickham wrote to François Barthélemy, the French minister to Switzerland, on 8 March 1796 asking him to respond to three questions concerning the possibility of negotiating a peace with France via a congress or written communications with Wickham or some other means. Barthélemy replied on 26 March that although the Directory desired “a just, honourable, and solid peace,” it did not want to enter into a congress with Britain that would “render all negotiation endless.” A British note of observation, dated 10 April, concluded that at that time “nothing is left for the king but to prosecute a war equally just and necessary” (DNB; Parliamentary Hist., 32:1407–1409).
2. This enclosure has not been found but was possibly from one of the London newspapers that provided reviews of the first and only performance of Vortigern on 2 April at the Drury Lane Theatre; see, for example, London Times, 4 April, or London Lloyd’s Evening Post, 1–4 April.
3. Probably Oliver Wolcott Jr. to JQA, 10, 17, and 27 Feb.; and Timothy Pickering to JQA, 9 March (all Adams Papers). Wolcott’s letters discussed U.S. Treasury remittances being sent to Dutch bankers and his confidence that America would be able to pay all of the interest and installments on its loans through 1 June. Pickering’s 9 March letter expressed regret that the instructions for further negotiations between the British government and the United States did not reach England in time for JQA to participate in the exchange of ratifications for the Jay Treaty.

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0144

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1796-04-25

Abigail Adams to John Adams

And why should I feel so anxious, so heavy at My Heart, and So depressed in My spirits? I cannot help it, aya, theres the Rub. if I could help the matter, seeing the subject in the light in which I view it, I would instantly comply, and vote the necessary measures for preserving the Plighted Faith, the honour reputation and the Peace of My Country. these were my Sleepless reflections, as I lay ruminating upon the contents of your Letters of the 9th and 13th. I wanted to write the next Day, but I could not take my pen. I could not Sit Down with a mind at ease. my reflections were painfull, and my anticipations gloomy. whilst I was in this state of mind mr Gardner arrived, and brought me Letters from our Dear son in England News papers and pamphlets. the pleasure of hearing directly from him, and seeing his particular Friend revived my spirits, and gave { 272 } me a temporary relief. the latest date is the 20 & 28 Febry. I have papers to the 11th of March. his Letters acknowledge the receipt of Letters by Scott. he writs but little politicks. he says every thing in England is very quiet, tho the Scarcity of Bread was constantly increasing, and that the Winter had been mild beyond all example, that mr Randolph vindication had been publishd there. he observes “Among the thousand proofs that I meet with every Day, of the influence that party spirit has upon the Moral Sense, I have considerd it as one of the strongest, that there are Americans, who avow themselves of opinion that his conduct amounted only to an indiscretion, and that he has been harshly treated. Whilst I am writing he adds I receive the Boston Centinels to the 27th of Jan’ry. the speach of the G——r at the opening of the Sessions is almost as strange to me, as Randolphs vindication. indeed the Massachusetts have great respect for persons or they would hardly suffer a Man, depreciated to the delivery of such a speach, to appear in the face of the World as their chief Magistrate”
He had been unwell, and found it necessary to take a journey, which he Did in company with his Friends Craffts & Gardner to Cambridge. the excursion was an agreable one and was of Service to him. Thomas too, had been visited in Jan’ry with his Rhumatick complaint, but was better. He Says that [“]his last Letters from America, after the meeting of congress gave him a more pleasing aspect of the State of our affairs and encouraged him to hope that our Peace would be yet preserved, and that comprehended in itself the enjoyment of almost every blessing that a Nation could possess.”1
I fear his and our hopes will be frustrated. last Evening I received yours of the 16 & 19th there is not much more encouragement in them, than in the former but the sensation is spreading far and wide; the allarm for the peace of the Country strikes forceably. you will see by the papers the Votes & resolves of Salem.2 the petition in Boston was yesterday fill’d by 15 hundred Subscriber, and opend only the Day before the Clergy as a Body are uniting in a similar petition;3 there <is> an attempt at calling a Town meeting, by the old Jacobin party as yet they have not succeeded. Commerce is obstructed Merchants are discharging their Sailors, underwriters refusing to insure the Mechanicks ask what does this mean? in an other fortnight the Damage will be more Severely felt, as the stagnation increases
Whilst the publick is thus threatned I can say nothing to induce { 273 } you to quit your ground, otherways I should wish you at home, and press for your return. the Season is uncommonly dry, more so than even the spring before the last. the Earth is like powder. our people yesterday finishd the sowing & Rooling the Hill. they next go to the potato ground Cleopatra has been turnd into the Green behind the Barn for this fortnight & has not had any Grain for some time. the Clover looks well. I have purchased six Tons of English Hay 4 for my Horses and one for Burrels Barn, and one for the other place one more I must have here. I was fortunate to get it as I did the price has risen to six & Seven pounds in a few Days—oweing to the prospect of a Drougth. What can not be remedy’d must be endured, but I am put to much of this expence, merely for want of useing the poorer Hay. in its proper season surely we had more English Hay by many Tons last year than we ever had before. I hope the present year we shall not Labour to such disadvantage as the last. to have to purchase a hundred and 20 Dollors worth of English Hay, is too, too bad— adieu adieu hopeing to hear more agreable intelligence I am most affectionatly / Your
[signed] A Adams
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs A. April 25 / 1796 / Ansd 30th.
1. In both instances AA quotes from JQA’s 28 Feb. letter, above.
2. At a meeting on 22 April the “freeholders” of Salem voted to present a memorial to the House of Representatives “praying that they would make provision for carrying the TREATY with Great-Britain, into full and honorable effect” (Boston Columbian Centinel, 23 April).
3. On 22 April Boston residents met and prepared a memorial urging the House to execute the Jay Treaty, determining that signatures from “every class should be requested and admitted” for the memorial “that it might not appear the doings of a few partial individuals” and soliciting at least 1,300 signers. At a 25 April meeting 2,000 Boston residents heard a debate on the memorial, and when they were asked “Will the town agree with the sentiments contained in the Memorial?” it was reported that only 100 attendees were in opposition. In their roles as “the Ministers of PEACE” Massachusetts clergy who supported the Jay Treaty petitions asked their congregations to sign memorials at the conclusion of church services (same, 23, 30 April; Massachusetts Mercury, 26 April).
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/