Adams Family Correspondence, volume 4

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 17 August 1782 JA AA


John Adams to Abigail Adams, 17 August 1782 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend August 17. 1782

The Situation of my dear Brother, at the date of yours 17. June, has allarmed me so much that I dread to hear any further News of him. An Affection for him has grown old with me as it commenced very early in Life and has constantly increased. Mr. Smiths Letter of 6 of May1 did not surprise me so much because I had often known him in great distress in the Lungs but these disorders are new. The World has scarcely a worthier Man to loose.

My Friends may think strange that they dont receive Letters from me oftener. I believe they think I have a great deal of Leisure. I wish I could change Situations with them, and then they would see what a pretty Thing it is to be an American Minister.

I am not idler than I used to be. My whole Time is spent in necessary and unavoidable Services. The Silk Machine is not more complicated nor more delicate than the System of Politicks of the United States.2 It extends its Branches into every Court and Country of Europe. In order to know what it is they must come and see and try the Experiment.—I am weary of it.—I am no more able to maintain all the Correspondences I have than to remove mountains. I am obliged to sacrifice my Friendships as well as my other Affections to my Duty. Mr. Thaxter has been sick this 2 or 3 months, which has made the Burthen heavier for me, indeed too much for my feeble Frame. He is now pretty well. If I should be obliged to go to Paris or Vienna, to talk about Peace, another Scaene of Pleasure and Amusement would open upon me, such as I have had a long succession of. Such Pleasure and Amusement as millions of Perplexities, and millions 366of Humiliations and Mortifications aford. All of them however have not yet subdued my proud heart.

I have nothing to do but pray for the abundant Outpowerings3 of Patience, Patience, Patience.

A good Peace would be a Reward for all. I dont know how it is— I suppose it is my Vanity. But I was under no Fears of a bad Peace, while I was alone. I was very sure of my own Firmness or call it Obstinacy, if you will. I had no Jealousies, no Suspicions, no Misgivings. I cannot say the same now. I have a good Opinion, however, of one of my Colleagues, and wish I could have of the other. Yet if I had known that Mr. Jefferson would not have come and Mr. Laurens resigned, I would have refused to share in the new Commission.4 I shall do the best I can.—Adieu.

RC (Adams Papers).


Isaac Smith Sr. must be meant; his letter has not been found.


From the context this appears almost certainly to be a slip of the pen for “the United Provinces,” i.e., the Dutch Republic.


Thus in MS.


In the preceding sentence JA alludes of course to Jay and Franklin, respectively. Jefferson had declined appointment to the peace commission at the outset (Aug. 1781) because of the illness of his wife (who died soon afterward). After much vacillation, Laurens eventually served, but only during the very last days of the negotiation in November. See the exchange between JA and Laurens, 18 and 27 Aug. 1782 (both in Adams Papers, that of 18 Aug. a letterbook copy); JA, Works , 7:612–613, 614–616.

John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 18 August 1782 JA JQA


John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 18 August 1782 Adams, John Adams, John Quincy
John Adams to John Quincy Adams
My dear Son Aug. 18. 1782

It is with Pleasure that I enclose this amiable Letter from your Sister, which breaths a very commendable affection for You and solicitude for your Welfare. There is nothing more tender than these Correspondences between Families, as there is nothing more sacred than the Relations of Brother and sister, except that of Parent and Child. It is your duty to answer her.

I say again, it is a moral and a religious duty to cultivate these amiable Connections by constant Correspondence, when We cannot by Conversation. But I need not recur to any Thing so austere as the Idea of Duty. The Pleasure of corresponding with a sister so worthy of you ought to be Motive sufficient. Subjects can never be wanting. Discriptions of Cities, Churches, Palaces, Paintings, Spectacles, all the Objects around you, even the manners and Dress of the People will furnish ample materials.


It is a long time since you have written to me. You should think of your Fathers Anxiety, for the Success and Progress of your Studies.

You study I hope among other Things to make yourself as Usefull and agreable to your Patron as possible.

You have no doubt had the Opportunity to see the Empress upon some publick Occasions. I had that of supping, at Court, at the Maison du Bois with the Comte and Comptess du Nord.1 Your Patron will see in the Courier du Bas Rhin and in the Gazettes of Leyden and the Hague, a Projet or a Speculation, calculated to favour some of his Views.2 How does he like it? and how is it taken where you are? or is it not talked of.

I long to see you. You should be at Leyden or at Cambridge. A public Education you must have. You are capable of Emulation, and there alone you will have it.


RC (Adams Papers); docketed by JQA in a later hand: “J.A. Aug: 10: 1782.” Early Tr (Adams Papers), in JQA's hand. Enclosure in RC was probably AA2 to JQA, 3 May 1782, above.


Name assumed by Grand Duke Paul of Russia during his and his wife's visits in western Europe from 1780.


A paper, perhaps by JA, on international and particularly Russian affairs. It has not been located among the newspapers searched.