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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3


From Sally Cobb Paine

12 July 1775

From David Cobb

16 July 1775
From Abigail Greenleaf
Greenleaf, Abigail RTP
Taunton July 14th 1775 Dear Uncle,

This morning early Aunt Paine had a visit from Mr. Collins with your welcome Pacquet. His account of you & your letters was a fine repast to us before breakfast. Mr. Collins’s agreable address & behaviour demanded a welcome reception, but his being commissioned by you Sir made him doubly welcome. How agreable it tis to see a Person that has so Lately been in company with an absent Friend? His visit was not so long as we should have been glad to have had, as we wanted to ask many more questions than we had time to think of. I have taken my feather from the jay as you directed & thank you Sir for your kind remembrance of all us poor refugees from the realy distressed town of Boston. I have long thought it my duty to write to you, but things have wore so melancholy an aspect that I did not feel stedy eno’ to write any thing worth sending so far as Philadelphia. I hope Sir you will not think it want of respect. I am under Such infinite obligations to you & my Aunt, that my heart overflows with gratitude when I reflect upon the many blessings indulgent heaven has bestowed upon me above many hundreds of the Poor Sufferers who have not a Friend to go to when they are deprived of every Convenience of Life. My Sister Polly & I came here the 25th of April, the day after you left your family. I was Sorry for my own sake you was not here. We were then in a most melancholy afflicted 67state. Papa Mama & our little Sister lying at Gages mercy which you know, Sir, was not to be depended upon & Papa one of the most obnoxious men in town, to the present Government. Heaven! only knows, what I Suffered in one fortnight, which was spent, without hearing one word from Papa, any more than from those in the Silent tomb. Our whole Consolation was, that we Put all our trust in that God, who is able to deliver his People out of the deepest distresses, where no humane aid can help them, & that being to whom we looked for mercy did not forsake us, but after three weeks cruel Seperation we all met again, at your hospitable mantion (happy in that Privilege) which we all flew to for Safety from Insant danger having no other Freind who resided in a Place of Safety. But Sir, you cant imagine how Painfull the reflection, that we had no home nor where withal to Provide ourselves one. However as it will serve no one good end to think too much upon the dark & melancholy side, according to yr. kind injunctions, we make ourselves as happy as we can & enjoy in the most Prudent maner, the many blessing kind heaven has bestowed upon your Family & thro’ them upon us, with hearts full of gratitude to him who, is benefisence itself for his divine interssotion between us & our enemys. He seems to have espoused our Cause & will if we walk in the ways of religion & virtue extricate us from our presant afflections. Tis nesasary we should be Chastised, & we must humbly kiss the sod which has already given us several severe strokes, & Perhaps will many more, ere, those happy days of Peace & tranquility, America used to enjoy will return to us again. You have before this time, had a Particular account of the battle at Charlestown & of the destruction of that town the 17th of June, the loss we met with in the death of our amiable & worthy Friend Doctor Warren. I will not attempt to describe, but he dyed gloriously in a glorious Cause, & we must be all Submission to the ways of Providence knowing they are unerring wisdom.

We divide the labour of the Family amoung us so as not to burden my Aunt any more than we cant help. We are sorry to be obliged to enlarge her Family so much. She is very kind to us & is I think more cheerfull & sprightly than she used to be, so I hope she does not esteem it a very great affliction. We all try to make ourselves as agreable & usefull as Posible to her, that her Life may be as happy as the Present scituation of affairs both Public & private will admit.

Papa is employed in Publick business at Cambrige Watertown &c. only comes to see us he is with us now, but will leave us in a day or two. 68We all thank you for the Sermon you sent us. Tis very much admired.1 I long to hear that Gentleman Preach. The Doctor says he will Preach it to us in the Pulpit if the Parson will give us an introductory Prayer.


Your little ones are all well. Cousin Bob improves much in a manly behaviour & in reading. He says he will go to Philadelphia & have the small Pox if I will go with him & take care of him. Sally goes to meeting every sunday & is good girl. Tommy is a Saucy chattering Boy. We all love him tho he is not very good natured. Your garden grows finely. We have had a fine Plenty of Peas & beans & Sallad & some Squashes. No Cucumbers yet. It has been very dry but we have lately had fine refreshing rains & very hot weather. Fruit of every kind will be very Plenty this year.

I think Sir I have done my share at writing. I wish it were more agreable & inteligable but such as it is, I hope you will receive it in a Leasure hour & find time to asure me you read it as a token of my most gratefull thanks duty & respect. I shall be much gratified with a line from your Pen. I am dear Sir with my Prayers for the blessings of heaven upon all yr. labours both Publick & Private yr. most obliged Niece & humble. Sert.

Abigail Greenleaf

RC ; endorsed: “Nabby Greenleaf July 25 1775.”


A Sermon on the Present Situation of American Affairs. Preached in Christ-Church, June 23, 1775. At the Request of the Officers of the Third Battallion of the City of Philadelphia, and District of Southwark, by William Smith (1727–1803), provost of the College of Philadelphia. This sermon, as several subsequent family letters note, was printed in both Philadelphia and Wilmington, and later that year went through editions in London, Bristol, Dublin, and Belfast. It caused quite a stir in the patriot community, promoting the concept that “the people of this country know their rights, and will not consent to a passive surrender of them” (iv).