Adams Family Correspondence, volume 4

James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 5 March 1781 Lovell, James AA James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 5 March 1781 Lovell, James Adams, Abigail
James Lovell to Abigail Adams
Dr. Madam March 5th. 1781 Midnight

Doctr. Winship left this City Today and has been so kind as to take into his Care two small Packages. I could not impose more on his Goodness. I hope they will escape Thieves and all Injury from Wet or Rubbing. I have cautioned and he has promised. You will find at Mrs. Lovell's or Mr. Smith's after the Doctr. reaches Boston, a Package in a very coarse Wrapper. It contains your Band Box, your Gauzes, your striped Persian and your Gloves, Your Threads and your Tambours Cotton. Mrs. L will find in a small Bag a few Articles for Mr. Wibert with some for Mr. Gerry. My Daughter's straw Trunks have also a little parcel for Mr. Wibert with something for Col. Peabody. It would have afforded me much Pleasure to have been able to send all the small Articles for my Friend Cranch, Mr. P. B. Adams, Mr. Tuffts and Mr. Wibert. If I do not soon find a Chest Conveyance I shall as the Weather mends the Roads find frequent private Opportunities for small Parcells.

I am not very well; and it is too late to detail News, and the opportunity of Carriage is not that by which I chuse to say the great Deal I have to say about our Friends in Holland. He is doing well I am persuaded.

Yr. respectfully affectte. JL

RC (Adams Papers).

Elizabeth Ellery Dana to Abigail Adams, 6 March 1781 Dana, Elizabeth Ellery AA Elizabeth Ellery Dana to Abigail Adams, 6 March 1781 Dana, Elizabeth Ellery Adams, Abigail
Elizabeth Ellery Dana to Abigail Adams
My dear Madam Cambridge March 6 1781

Your favor of the 5th gave me sensible pain. Had I had the least doubt that you was not so happy as to have heard from Mr. Adams by the Mars, I should before this communicated part of the contents of mine from Mr. Dana dated Amsterdam Nov. 7th when all friends were well. Mr. D was to leave Holland for Paris the next week but whither in company with Mr. Adams he did not write. He writes that Mr. A——s had recieved a letter from Mr. Smith Boston in which he tells him he forwards letters from you and me. Mr. A——s was fortunate enough to recieve yours some time After—as for mine it had not got to Mr. Dana when he wrote. I cannot but flatter myself that you have a letter. I went into Boston the day after I recieved mine and enquired particularly whither there was letters for you. Mr. Austin told me that you had letters and some things come. I will send to him to Morrow and know what has become of them, and if any forward them immediately. Could persons have but a faint Idea of what we suffer through their inattention they would never neglect our letters as they do, but be as impatient to convey them as we are to recieve. It was above 6 months from the date of my last from Mr. D when I recieved this last welcome one. He mentions writing me in that time. But they are gone. I wish from my heart there was soon to be an end of this intercours by letters—and we in exchange might be happily seated down with the objects of our affections. But to wish and hope is all we can do—and at times I am almost afraid to wish their return without there should be Peace, for should they fall into the hands of the cruel Britain—I will not dwell upon the thought it is too, too, painful. Must hope that before you recieve this that you have been made as happy by letters from Mr. A——s as I was the last week by mine.

The ladies desire their best regards to you Madam and family in which joins them your affectionate and sympathizing Friend, Eliza Dana

RC (Adams Papers).

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 11 March 1781 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 11 March 1781 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dear Portia Leyden March 11. 1781

My Letters by Davis, Mr. Guild1 &c. are lost.—Pray did you get the Goods by Davis?


This goes by Mr. De L'Etombe Consul of France, a worthy Man. He will do honour to his Country and good to ours.

My Boys are both Students in the University of Leyden.—All well.—Write me by the Way of Spain, France, Holland, Sweeden and every other. Jones carried your Chest, Samson carried another.—Yours with more Tenderness than it would be wise, if it were possible to express.


RC (Adams Papers).


Benjamin Guild (on whom see sketch at vol. 3:322–323, above) was captured off Newfoundland on his return voyage in the Fame, which was carried to Ireland (AA to James Lovell, 13 May, below). In a manner unknown, Guild soon made his way back to the Netherlands; see JQA to JA, 17 May, below.


It will be noted that this laconic note is the first surviving communication from JA to AA since his letter of 18 Dec. 1780, above. Presumably he had written others, as he implies in his first sentence here, but he did not keep copies of them, and it seems likely that he had not written often or at length. One reason was his fear of enemy interception at sea, but this did not cut off the flow of his dispatches to Congress on European affairs, especially in regard to the Anglo-Dutch war crisis. It may be suggested that, as sometimes before when JA was deeply troubled, he simply did not record his inmost thoughts, either in correspondence or diary entries. (His diary contains essentially no entries between the end of Aug. 1780 and the brief and scattering entries in Jan.–Feb. 1781, and a very long gap ensues.)

A more obvious, yet in some degree superficial, explanation for the lack of personal records by JA at this time would be his quite literal “busyness” on the Dutch scene. During his early months in the Netherlands he was cultivating friends among journalists, moneyed men, and political functionaries; writing and circulating pro-American propaganda; and studying Dutch life, literature, and institutions. The most detailed and thoroughly documented account of these activities yet available is by Sister Mary Briant Foley, The Triumph of Militia Diplomacy: John Adams in the Netherlands, 1780–1782, Loyola Univ. doctoral dissertation, 1968, chs. 2–3.

During the weeks immediately before he wrote the present letter JA had been much on the move between Amsterdam, Leyden, and The Hague. On 25 Feb. he received dispatches from Congress which commissioned and instructed him as minister plenipotentiary to the States General of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, in succession to the captured Henry Laurens, to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce as voted by Congress on 29 Dec. 1780, and also to adhere on the part of the United States to the Armed Neutrality among the northern maritime powers, according to a resolve of Congress voted on 5 Oct. 1780. See Samuel Huntington to JA, 1 Jan., with duplicate of 9 Jan. 1781, and enclosures (Adams Papers; printed in JA, Works , 7:349, letter only; printed from PCC, with letter of credence, in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 4:224–225; for the respective resolves of Congress, including JA's instructions, see JCC , 18:905–906, 1204–1217; 19:17–19). At The Hague on 8 March JA submitted a brief memorial to the States General regarding the Armed Neutrality (Adams Papers; JA, Works , 7:373; see the related correspondence which follows in Works and also in Corr. in the Boston Patriot , p. 392–395).

For JA's strategy and efforts to obtain recognition of American independence by the Dutch as that nation drifted into a full-scale war with Great Britain, see the notes under his next and only slightly less laconic letter to AA, 28 April, below.