Adams Family Correspondence, volume 1

Abigail Adams to John Adams

Abigail Adams to John Adams

Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren, 5 November 1775 AA Warren, Mercy Otis Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren, 5 November 1775 Adams, Abigail Warren, Mercy Otis
Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren
Dear Marcia Braintree ca. 5 November1 1775

I hope the Historick page will increase to a volume. Tis this hope that has kept me from complaining of my friends Laconick Epistles. Our amiable Friend, who lately favourd me with a visit, informd you I suppose of the difficulty I Labourd under, of a Whitlow upon the fore finger of my right Hand, which prevented my writing to my dearest Friend; and to her who holds one of the first places among the female Friend's of Portia.

I have to acknowledge the kind care of both my Friends in the conveyance of Letters. I feel loth the House should rise whilst the Congress sits. But was not there some Mistake in the last Letters, has not your Friend one which must have been meant for me, by a mistake in 323the Superscription? I inclose the Letter. I read it, not regarding the Dear Sir, but could not comprehend how I came to have such a reply to a subject I had said very little upon. Upon Nabbys taking it into her hand she observed the address.

I am curious to know how you spend your time? Tis very sausy to make this demand upon you; but I know it must be usefully imployed and I am fearfull if I do not question you I shall loose some improvement which I might otherways make.

What becomes of the state prisoner? Is he not to have a trial? When weighd in the balance I fear he will be found wanting. A patriot without religion in my estimation is as great a paradox, as an honest Man without the fear of God. Is it possible that he whom no moral obligations bind, can have any real Good Will towards Man, can he be a patriot who by an openly vicious conduct is undermineing the very bonds of Society, corrupting the Morals of Youth, and by his bad example injuring that very Country he professess to patrionize more than he can possibly compensate by his intrepidity, Generosity and honour? The Scriptures tell us righteousness exaltheth a Nation.

I wish there was more of it to be seen among all orders and professions, but the Continental Connextion will not improve the Morals of our youth. A little less snearing at our New England puritanism would be full as honorary to our Southern Breathren.

I thank you my Friend for your invitation but cannot comply with it, tho my inclination is very strong. I want to see my Friends and hear our worthy Dr.2 Pray be so kind as to present my Regards to Dr. Winthrope and Lady. She desired me to write to her. I wish my Friend would let her know that I can better reply to a favour from her than begin a correspondence, tho I should esteem it an honour.

But Marcia can witness for me how averse I have been to writing.

I lament the Death of the worthy president as of an honest Man. Mr. Randolphs character has secured him Esteem. How well might some folks have saved their credit, and their Bacon too (as the phraze is) by a resignation of a certain place.3

O Ambition how many inconsistent actions dost thou make poor mortals commit!

Adieu my Friend. I hope soon to have the pleasure of seeing you at Braintree, and of a social Evening beside our fire. How happy should I esteem myself could the dear Friend of my Heart join us. I think I make a greater Sacrifice to the publick than I could by Gold and Silver, had I it to bestow. Does not Marcia join in this Sentiment with her

Portia4 324

RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); endorsed: “Mrs. Adams”; docketed in two later hands: “Mrs. Adams Novr. 1775 No 5.” Enclosure: a recent letter from JA to James Warren, sent by Warren to AA by mistake and not precisely identifiable.


If not written on 5 Nov., this letter was written close to that date. It is in reply to a note from Mrs. Warren of 3 Nov. (Adams Papers), and it mentions AA's sore finger that has prevented her writing to JA; see the preceding letter to him.


“I shall Not be heer i.e. at Watertown after Next sabbath so think you had better Come and hear Dr. Samuel Cooper then as He Designs to preach himself Notwithstanding a Late accident” (Mercy Warren to AA, 3 Nov. 1775, Adams Papers).


Peyton Randolph, formerly president of Congress, had returned to Philadelphia on 5 Sept. for the new session, but died on 22 Oct. (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:lxvi). There were others besides AA who thought that John Hancock should have stepped down from the presidency upon Randolph's return.


A few days later Mercy Warren acknowledged the present letter in a letter without date (Adams Papers, filed under Nov. 1775), which contains the following passage bearing on JA's intercepted letters:

“One Expression in one Letter recently captured aboard a vessel from Ireland I must tell you. The Writer says the Colonies must and will be Reduced, and Notwithstanding the spirit that appears, and the stand that has been made, They are Convinced by the submissive Terms in which the Petition to the king is Couched that there must be a Weakness somewhere.

“How will this make our pidling Geniuss appear, and will not the spirited sentiments, and the Enlarged plans of policy Hinted by a Certain Letter Writer be now applauded.”