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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0219

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1796-12-04

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] my Dearest Friend

The Weather has been & held so uncommonly cold ever since you left Me, that I had no expectation of getting a line from you untill you reachd N york, but that line I have not yet received, and by this Time I presume you have reachd the city of Sedition, the Hot bed of France; I wrote you this Day week, and inclosed to you our Sons Letters. Genll Lincoln & mrs Lincoln Dined with Me yesterday on their return from Boston & left me the papers—centinal Mercury & Chronical.1 all of them are nearly filld With Adets Note, and concequently leave little Room for Speculation. an extract of a Letter in the Chronical from Virginna however, tells us that mr Jefferson will have an unanimous vote there. the Majority of the Federal Ticket is { 429 } given by the Same paper in Pensilvana, by which I presume they have lost hopes of an alteration.2 Adets Note does not create any great allarm here the Chronical as might be expected, shakes it over us as the rod in pickle, as an event to have been looked for, after the audacious treaty we had the assurence to make with great Britain. “Where is the American who does not behold the Salvation of America, included in the protection the French republick, but as if Heaven intended to chastise the measures of our Government in not considering that the cause of France and of America was one indivisible, a Temporary disaffection had taken place between the two republicks, which had now left us but one moment to reflect upon our conduct, and to decide whether we will declare in favour of Monarchy, or Republicanism
The French Directory is the herald to anounce the Heavenly mission, and if we still adhere to our perfidious Friends the English, and disown our long experienced Friends the French, the concequences of our choice must rest on ourselves and Posterity;”3
This is pretty plainly acknowledging the Directory of France, the Directory of America.
What American but must Spurn the Wretch who thus insults us?
I cannot give You a satisfactory account of the opperations at Home. the Ground is so frozen that neither plowing or stone wall can go on. three Days Billing workd upon the Wall two in the Barn Yd with Vesey, since which Vesey has been in the woods. Billings employd some time in making part of a new wheel to the Waggon, and has been twice in the woods. the Rivers are frozen & the harbour below hangs Man Island.4 We are apprehensive of want of water for the cattle. Billings says when he cuts the Ice, the Stream Scarcly runs. no body so anxious as Billings. he comes for the News paper every Day & wants to know if I have heard. I laugh & tell him I am very easy.
whilst I am writing the Philidelphia paper of the 25 is sent me with Miflins Proclamation declaring the Antifed Electors chosen.5 I repeat I feel very easy, and shall consider it as it respects myself & Partner a Mercifull escape from Danger tho I would not shrink from what I considerd an honorable, call to the Service of My Country. I need not urge it upon you to refuse the station in which I presume you will be placed let no intreatys prevail with you. if our Country, or a part of it, is become so corrupt as already to bend their necks to foreign influence in so ignominious a Manner, they are fit for the shackles which are prepairing for them.
{ 430 }
Let me hear soon from you I anticipate that your absence will be short from your / ever affectionate
[signed] A Adams
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs A. Decr. 4. 1796 / Ansd 12.”
1. That is, Gen. Benjamin Lincoln and his daughter-in-law, Mary Otis Lincoln.
2. The Boston Independent Chronicle, 28 Nov., reprinted a letter from Williamsburg, Va., of 8 Nov. reporting that “Mr. Jefferson will get a unanimous vote in Virginia, after every attempt to defeat him.” The same paper reprinted information from the Philadelphia American Daily Advertiser, 19 Nov., giving JA’s electors 11,984 votes to Thomas Jefferson’s 11,057.
3. AA quotes from an editorial in the Independent Chronicle, 28 November.
4. For Hangman’s Island, see JA, D&A, 1:141.
5. In compliance with Pennsylvania law, Gov. Thomas Mifflin issued a proclamation on 24 Nov. identifying the fifteen electors who received the most votes during the 4 Nov. election. The proclamation was published on 25 Nov. in the Philadelphia Gazette of the United States and the Philadelphia Gazette.

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0220

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1796-12-04

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

After Spending a Day and a Night at East Chester with our Children there and another at Newyork with our Children there I came to this City on Fryday night after a cold ride of 80 miles from Elizabeth Town. There are great Complaints of Want of Water for grinding, for Cattle and for Families through the whole Country.
Yesterday I dined with the President in Company with John Watts the King of the Cherokees with a large Number of his Chiefs and their Wives—among the rest the Widow and Children of Hanging Maw a famous Friend of ours who was basely murdered by Some White People. The President dined four Setts of Indians on four several Days the last Week.1
The French Manoeuvres have gained the Votes of Pensilvania and how many others is unknown. The Election will be a meagre one and I shall not envy it.
I shewed the Letters of Mr J. Q. A. to the President who told me that Things appeared to him exactly as they did to his Minister. To Day he has Sent me a Letter to him from Mr T. Paine dated at Paris 20 of September 1795 which he Said was the most insulting Letter he ever recd.
Paine accuses the President of Connivance at his Imprisonment in France thinks he ought to have interposed in his behalf and reclaim’d him.
“I ought not to have Suspected you of Treachery, but I must continue to think you treacherous, till you give me cause to think otherwise. I am Sure you would have found yourself more at your Ease, { 431 } if you had acted by me as you ought, for whether your Desertion of me was intended to gratify the English Government, or to let me fall into Destruction in France, that you might exclaim the louder against the French Revolution, or whether you hoped by my Extinction to meet with less opposition in mounting up the American Government, either of these will involve you in Reproach you will not easily shake off.” These are his Words.2
I am told that Mr Pride of Virginia who had the Duel with Mr Carpenter in England went over to France and has return’d to America and brought Packetts and Letters for Mr Jefferson Mr Madison, Mr Giles & Mr Bache, as well as for the Sec. of State.3
Mr Paines long threatned Pamphlet against the President it is Supposed is Arrived and Mr Bache is to publish it, in the form of a Letter to George Washington. It is even Said that a Patent is to be obtained for the exclusive Priviledge of publishing it.4
Whether the French Directory have only been drawn in, to favour the Election of a Favourite, or whether in their Trances and Deliriums of Victory they think to terrify America, or whether in their Sallies they may not venture on Hostilities time will discover. Americans must, be cool and Steady if they can. Some of our People may be cured or their extravagant Love, and shaken in their unlimited Confidence. The French Character whether under Monarchical or Republican Government is not the most equitable, nor the least assuring of all Nations. The Fire, Impetuosity, and Vehemence of their Temperament is apt to be violent, immoderate and extravagant. The Passions are always outragious. A Frenchman in Love, must shoot himself or succeed— A Frenchman in Anger must shed the Blood of his Object, and so of the rest.
I hope We shall make two Houses tomorrow.5
My Duty to my Mother and Love to all
[signed] J. A
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs A”; endorsed: “December 4th / 1796.”
1. John Watts (1752?–1802) and Hanging Maw (d. 1796) were both war leaders of the Cherokees, though Watts represented the Lower Cherokees, who took a more militant stance against the U.S. government, while Hanging Maw served the Upper Cherokees and favored negotiation with the United States. Watts came to Philadelphia in December in an attempt to get the government to enforce boundaries established by the 1785 Treaty of Hopewell.
Hanging Maw was not killed in an attack but had died, apparently peacefully, in April 1796. His wife, however, had been injured by white settlers in an earlier attack on their home in which several other “well disposed Indians” were killed. Hanging Maw’s widow petitioned Congress on 17 Jan. 1797 for compensation for this and other attacks. The committee that reviewed the petition determined that although it supported “small pecuniary interpositions” for Native Americans as a means of keeping the peace on the frontier, it was the responsibility of the executive { 432 } branch to handle the matter (ANB;Stewart Kentucky Herald, 11 Oct. 1796; Robert J. Conley, The Cherokee Nation: A History, Albuquerque, N.M., 2005, p. 73, 78–79; Amer. State Papers, 4:406, 621).
2. George Washington’s cover letter to JA, enclosing the letter from Thomas Paine to Washington of 20 Sept. 1795, has not been found. Paine’s letter was among those published in his Letter to George Washington, President of the United States of America, on Affairs Public and Private, Phila., 1796, p. 29–31, Evans, No. 30951. JA accurately summarizes the contents and quotes from the final paragraph of the letter.
3. John Pride and William Fountleroy Carpenter, both young men from Virginia, fought a duel in London’s Hyde Park on 21 Aug. 1796 after arguing about the character of William Branch Giles and the merits of the Jay Treaty. Carpenter died from his wounds on 22 Aug. (Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 12 Oct.; Gentleman’s Magazine, 66:709 [Aug. 1796]).
4. Benjamin Franklin Bache secured a copyright to publish Paine’s Letter to George Washington, a collection of letters accusing Washington of being “treacherous in private friendship” and “a hypocrite in public life” but also condemning JA as one of the “disguised traitors that call themselves federalists” (p. 11–12, 63; Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 12 Dec.).
5. The 2d session of the 4th Congress was held from 5 Dec. 1796 to 3 March 1797. The House achieved quorum on 5 Dec. 1796 while the Senate did so the following day (Biog. Dir. Cong.; Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., 2d sess., p. 1518, 1590).
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.