Adams Family Correspondence, volume 1

John Adams to Abigail Smith, 7 April 1764 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Smith, 7 April 1764 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Smith
My dear Diana Saturday Evening Eight O'Clock 7 April 1764

For many Years past, I have not felt more serenely than I do this Evening. My Head is clear, and my Heart is at ease. Business of every Kind, I have banished from my Thoughts. My Room is prepared for a Seven Days' Retirement, and my Plan is digested for 4 or 5 Weeks. My Brother retreats with me, to our preparatory Hospital, and is determined to keep me Company, through the Small Pox.1 Your Unkle, by his agreable Account of the Dr. and your Brother, their Strength, their Spirits, and their happy Prospects, but especially, by the Favour he left me from you,2 has contributed very much to the Felicity of my present Frame of Mind. For, I assure you Sincerely, that, (as Nothing which I before expected from the Distemper gave me more Concern, than the Thought of a six Weeks Separation from my Diana) my Departure from your House this Morning made an Impression upon me that was severely painfull. I thought I left you, in Tears and Anxiety—And was very glad to hear by your Letter, that your Fears were abated. For my own Part, I believe no Man ever undertook to prepare himself for the Small Pox, with fewer 3 than I have at present. I have considered thoughrououghly, the Diet and Medicine prescribed me, and am fully satisfyed that no durable Evil can result from Either, and any other Fear from the small Pox or it's Appurtenances, in the modern Way of Inoculation I never had in my Life.—Thanks for my Balm. Present my Duty and Gratitude to Pappa4 for his kind offer of Tom. Next Fryday, for certain, with suitable Submission, We take our Departure for Boston. To Captn. Cunninghams We go5—And I have not the least doubt of a pleasant 3 Weeks, notwithstanding the Distemper.—Dr. Savil6 has no Antimony—So I must beg your Care that John Jenks makes the Pills and sends them by the Bearer. I enclose the Drs. Directions. We shall want about 10 I suppose for my Brother and me. Other Things we have of Savil.

Good Night, my Dear, I'm a going to Bed!

Sunday Morning 1/2 After 10.

—The People all gone to Meeting, but my Self, and Companion, who are enjoying a Pipe in great Tranquility, after the operation of our Ipichac. Did you ever see two Persons in one Room Iphichacuana'd together? (I hope I have not Spelled that ineffable Word amiss!)7 I assure you they make merry Diversion. We took turns to be sick and to laugh. When my Companion was sick 17I laughed at him, and when I was sick he laughed at me. Once however and once only we were both sick together, and then all Laughter and good Humour deserted the Room. Upon my Word we both felt very sober.—But all is now easy and agreable, We have had our Breakfast of Pottage without salt, or Spice or Butter, as the Drs. would have it, and are seated to our Pipes and our Books, as happily as Mortals, preparing for the small Pox, can desire.

5 o clock afternoon.

—Deacon Palmer has been here and drank Tea with me. His Children are to go with us to Cunninghams.8 He gives a charming Account of the Dr. and your Brother, whom he saw Yesterday. Billy has two Eruptions for certain, how many more are to come is unknown—But is as easy and more (the Deacon says) than he ever saw him in his Life.

Monday. Ten O'Clock.

—Papa was so kind as to call and leave your Favor of April the Eighth—For which I heartily thank you. Every Letter I receive from you, as it is an Additional Evidence of your Kindness to me, and as it gives me fresh Spirits and great Pleasure, confers an Additional Obligation upon me. I thank you for your kind and judicious Advice. The Deacon made me the offer Yesterday, which, for the very Reasons you have mentioned, I totally declined. I told you before We had taken our Vomits and last Night We took the Pills you gave me, and we want more. Lent We have kept ever since I left you, as rigidly as two Carmelites. And you may rely upon it, I shall strictly pursue the Drs. Directions, without the least Deviation. Both the Physick and the Abstinence, have hitherto agreed extreamly well with me, for I have not felt freer from all Kinds of Pain and Uneasiness, I have not enjoyed a clearer Head, or a brisker flow of Spirits, these seven Years, than I do this day.

My Garden, and My Farm, (if I may call what I have by that Name) give me now and then a little Regret, as I must leave them in more Disorder than I could wish. But the dear Partner of all my Joys and sorrows, in whose Affections, and Friendship I glory, more than in all other Emoluments under Heaven, comes into my Mind very often and makes me sigh. No other Consideration I assure you, has given me, since I began my Preparation, or will give me I believe, till I return from Boston any Degree of Uneasiness.

Papa informs me that Mr. Ayers goes to Town, tomorrow Morning. Will you be so kind as to write the Dr., that I shall come into Town on Fryday, that I depend on Dr. Perkins and no other. And that I beg he would write me whether Miss Le Febure9 can take in my Brother and 18me in Case of Need. For My Unkle writes me, I must bring a Bed, as his are all engaged, it seems. I have written him, this Moment, that I can not carry one, and that he must procure one for me, or I must look out Elsewhere.10 I shall have an Answer from him to night and if he cannot get a Bed, I will go to Mrs. Le Febures if she can take us.

Should be glad if Tom might be sent over, Fryday Morning. My Love and Duty where owing. Pray continue to write me, by every opportunity, for, next to Conversation, Correspondence, with you is the greatest Pleasure in the World to yr.

John Adams

P.S. My Love to Mr. and Mrs. Cranch. Thank 'em for their kind Remembrance of me, and my Blessing to my Daughter Betcy.11

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “For Miss Abigail Smith Weymouth.” Enclosed prescription for antimony pills not found.


JA had two brothers, both younger than himself, Peter Boylston (1738–1823) and Elihu (1741–1775), on whom see the Adams Genealogy. It is not certain which brother was inoculated with JA, but the presumption is in favor of Peter, who is known to have been living at this time with his widowed mother, while Elihu had moved about 1762 to a farm he had inherited in the South Parish of Braintree (now Randolph, Mass.); see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:277.


The preceding letter, which, by its date and substance, has enabled the editors to date the present letter.


Word omitted in MS.


AA's father and JA's future father-in-law, Rev. William Smith. See Adams Genealogy.


James Cunningham (1721–1795), a glazier and militia officer; in 1742 he had married Elizabeth Boylston, sister of JA's mother. The Cunninghams owned extensive property on both sides of Washington Street in the old South End of Boston, between West and Hollis Streets. See Adams Genealogy; Thwing Catalogue, MHi.


Elisha Savil (1724–1768), Harvard 1743, Braintree physician, relative of JA by marriage, and for a time tenant of what is now known as the John Quincy Adams Birthplace. See Adams Genealogy and numerous references in JA's early Diary.


Ipecacuanha, “the root of ... a South American small shrubby plant, which possesses emetic, diaphoretic, and purgative properties; also popularly applied to various forms in which the drug is employed” ( OED ).


“Deacon” Palmer was Joseph Palmer (1716–1788), who will often be mentioned in the Adams correspondence, as will numerous members of his family, who belonged to an intimate circle of Braintree and Weymouth friends and correspondents both before and after the marriage of JA and AA. The Palmers were also connected with the Smiths of Weymouth by marriage, Joseph Palmer having married Mary, sister of Richard Cranch, in Devon, England, before coming to America in 1746. Richard Cranch had come out with his brother-in-law and sister, and Palmer and Cranch together conducted a glassworks in Germantown in the 1750's. The Palmer children were Mary, or “Polly” (1746–1791), sometimes referred to by her fanciful pen name “Myra”; Elizabeth, or “Betsy” (1748–1814), who in 1790 was to marry her cousin Joseph Cranch; and Joseph Pearse (1750–1797), Harvard 1771. On Joseph Palmer, later more commonly called “General” than “Deacon” because of his military role in the Revolution, see DAB ; and on him as well as the members of his family mentioned above, see the Adams Genealogy.


Probably Rebecca, widow of John Lefavour (spelled in a great variety of 19ways), at whose house Cotton Tufts had been inoculated (Tufts, MS Diary, MHi, 28 March 1764; Thwing Catalogue, MHi).


These letters have not been found.


Elizabeth Smith (1750–1815), AA's younger sister, later Mrs. John Shaw, and by her 2d marriage Mrs. Stephen Peabody. See Adams Genealogy.

Abigail Smith to John Adams, 8 April 1764 AA JA Abigail Smith to John Adams, 8 April 1764 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Smith to John Adams
Sir Weymouth April 8. 1764

If our wishes could have conveyed you to us, you would not have been absent to Day. Mr. Cranch and my Sister have been here, where they hoped to have found you. We talk'd of you, they desire to be rememberd to you, and wish you well thro the Distemper. Mr. Cranch told me that the Deacon with his children design for Boston next Saturday and that they propose going by water—that the Deacon would have you go with them, but I would by no means advise you to go by water, for as you are under prepairation you will be much more exposed to take cold, the weather too is so uncertain that tho the morning may look promissing, yet you know it is frequently very raw and cold in the afternoon. Besides if you should wait till then and Saturday should prove an unplasent Day, you will make it so much the longer before you get into Town. Suffer me therefore to injoin it upon you, not to consent to go by water, and that you have no need to do as Tom will wait upon you any day that you desire. Let me know whether you took your vomit, whether you have got your pills and whether you have begun Lent—how it suits you? I am very fearful that you will not when left to your own management follow your directions—but let her who tenderly cares for you both in Sickness and Health, intreet you to be careful of that Health upon which depends the happiness of Your

A Smith

RC (Adams Papers).

John Adams to Cotton Tufts, 9 April 1764 JA Tufts, Cotton John Adams to Cotton Tufts, 9 April 1764 Adams, John Tufts, Cotton
John Adams to Cotton Tufts
My dear Friend Ap. 9th 1764

I have nothing to do at present but to play with my Pen. I have long thought with Horace in his Dulce desipere: But now they tell me it is Utile dulci. I dare not think, for fear of injuring my Health, and for my soul I cannot set still without Thinking; so I am necessitated to keep my Pen in Motion to avoid it, and I believe you are well satisfyd it has answerd the End.

I rejoice to hear you have so fine a Prospect of passing easily through. 20Please to tell Dr. Perkins I depend on him. I dont know but your Neice has written you to ask Mrs. Le Febure to receive us. If she has you need not give yourself the Trouble, as I have this Moment a Letter from my Unkle, informing me, that he has procured us a Bed. We shall have an Hospital that deserves the Name. Deacon Palmers 3 Children, my Brother and myself at least if no more, will be at my Unkle's. And a tolerable Time of it, may we have!

My Gardens and my Farm, are complaining of Neglect, and Disorders, and all that: But I tell them, Patiens, Prudens—next Year I'le take better Care of Ye. Next Year, Ye shall have your Bellies full of Carrotts and Onions, and Beats, and Parsnips, and Cabbages and Potatoes, and every Thing that is good. But Ye must permit the little Villains call'd the small Pox to have their Feast this Spring.

They tell me, that Dr. Mayhews Observations have received an Answer in England, a few Copies of which have straggled over to America. The Answer they say is extreamly elegant, delicate, genteel and all that. If so I believe the Dr's People had an old sermon last sunday. The Arch Bp. of Canterbury has the Credit of the Answer. If this Credit is just, the —s Genius will be roused, and will produce something that Messrs. Reviewers will be puzzled to Name. I suppose you have heard or read, that they have Christend the Observations, the Devils Thunder Bolt, full of Contents weighty and urged home.1

This Controversy I hope will prevent the future Waste of the societies Money in the Maintenance of Insects that are Drones in the Cause of Virtue and Christianity; but the most active and industrious of the whole Hive in the Cause of Hierarchical Policy. I should have concluded long ago, if I had not been absolutely idle, with the Name of your Fr'd,

John Adams

RC (NHi); addressed: “For Cotton Tufts Esqr. Boston.”


Rev. Jonathan Mayhew in his Observations on the Charter and Conduct of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts ..., Boston, 1763 (Evans 9441), hinted that the Society's missionaries in America were concerned more with political than religious objectives. Among other replies to Mayhew's tract was an anonymous one by Thomas Secker, Archbishop of Canterbury, An Answer to Dr. Mayhew's Observations ..., London, 1764, which was reprinted in Boston the same year (Evans 9832).