Adams Family Correspondence, volume 5

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 27 November 1782 Thaxter, John AA


John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 27 November 1782 Thaxter, John Adams, Abigail
John Thaxter to Abigail Adams
Madam Paris 27th. Novr. 1782

You will believe me, when I inform You, that I am grievously disappointed in only having to acknowledge the reciept of just two Lines and an half from You1 by Capt. Grinnell. I am sorry that the Shortness of your Notice has deprived me of so much Happiness. The Card however will keep alive my Expectations 'till the promised Letters arrive. But lest Miss Nabby should think I set no Value upon her Letters, You will please to make her my particular Regards for most unceremoniously writing a most unceremonious Letter2 to me, and tell her that I will not be offended if She is culpable in that Respect as often as She has an Inclination to be so.

I am very happy, that the Negotiations of your dearest friend have been at length noticed.3 Some former Letters of mine, when they arrive, will shew that many Difficulties arose in the progress of the Negotiation, that were perhaps unthought of in America, and that some thing beyond Patience was necessary to remove them. Patience was a Virtue of indispensible Necessity—but not the only one deserving an Eulogium. A patient and a skillful Negotiator are Characters of a very different Cast, and both Qualities were necessary in the Country, where the Scene of Action was displayed, which from its earliest History has ever been remarkable for the Troubles and Diffi-45culties with which it embarrasses every Negotiation. The complicated Frame of their Constitution and the Character of the Nation are widely variant from all other European ones. The Springs and Motives, which actuate the human Heart, or in other words, a thorough knowledge of human Nature, were very requisite. Distrusts, Fears, Jealousies and Prejudices were to be combated and removed. Open and disguised Enemies were to be managed, with all their Malice and ill Will. The Stability of our political Existence to be proved, and a Multiplicity of other disadvantages arranged in a formidable Phalanx were to be borne down, in order to procure a cordial Embrace to the two Sisters,4 and great Address, great Abilities, Faith, Patience, Firmness and Perseverance were necessary, and were employed, in attaining so important an Object. I have mentioned but a few Embarrassments—I could enumerate many, as I have been an Eye Witness to most of them. The Honor of a Commission is one thing—the Trouble of it another. Those who are fond of fishing in troubled Waters, I wish may be indulged. There is perhaps a Nutriment in Honor of this kind that is occult—some folks have not found it out. It is an unsavory Sauce in an hour of perplexity, and I should suppose not a very consoling Balm to embarrassed Negociations—at least where Vanity was not so predominant a Passion as to have extinguished all Sensibility. The Ways of Negociation are not always of pleasantness neither are all her Paths the Paths of Peace5—they are but too often rugged and thorny. I have no disposition to travel in such kind of Roads, and I am as unqualified as indisposed. My Situation has led me to be witness to many Anxieties—and I must have been callous to every feeling, that distinguishes Man from the inferior Orders of Creation, not to have felt them.——The Work is now done, and well done. The Sisters have embraced—and in time I believe they will be as fond and loving as most Connections of this sort are—perhaps more so. Time will point out the fruits of the Negotiation.

Mr. Laurens was much hurt at the Death of his Son—but bears it heroically. “The Wound is deep, says he, but I thank God I had a Son, who dared to die for his Country.”6 There is something magnanimous and noble in this Sentiment. He could not have expressed more affection to his Son and more Attachment to his Country more feelingly. God bless the old Hero.

With invariable sentiments of Esteem & Regard, I have the honor to be, Madam—&c. J

RC (Adams Papers).

46 1.

Not found.


Not found.


Perhaps a reference to the letter in the Independent Chronicle, praising JA's negotiation of the Netherlands' recognition of American Independence. See Cotton Tufts to JA, 10 Oct., note 6, above.


That is, the United States of America and the United Provinces of the Low Countries.


Thaxter adapts Proverbs 3:17.


Thaxter quotes from Henry Laurens to JA, 12 Nov. (Adams Papers). See AA to Thaxter, 26 Oct., note 7, above.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 4 December 1782 JA AA


John Adams to Abigail Adams, 4 December 1782 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Paris December 4. 1782

Your Proposal of coming to Europe, has long and tenderly affected me. The Dangers and Inconveniences are such and an European Life would be so disagreable to you that I have suffered a great deal of Anxiety in reflecting upon it. And upon the whole, I think it will be most for the Happiness of my Family, and most for the Honour of our Country that I should come home. I have therefore this Day written to Congress a Resignation of all my Employments, and as soon as I shall receive their Acceptance of it, I will embark for America, which will be in the Spring or beginning of Summer.1 Our Son is now on his Journey from Petersbourg through Sweeden Denmark and Germany, and if it please God he come safe, he shall come with me, and I pray We may all meet once more, you and I never to Seperate again.2

Yours most tenderly. J. Adams3

RC (Adams Papers). LbC in Charles Storer's hand (Adams Papers).


Blotting shows that the underlining in the previous sentence was done just prior to folding, probably by JA. In this sentence the letterbook copy has “in Europe” after “Employments.” The letterbook copy does not have any underlining.

JA's letter of this date to R. R. Livingston, secretary of foreign affairs, accompanied the preliminary treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States, which had been signed on 30 November. JA resigned both his commission to borrow money in, and his letter of credence to the United Provinces and expressed the hope that Henry Laurens would be given full power to represent the United States in the Netherlands, and then declared: “I should not chuse to stay in Europe, merely for the honor of affixing my Signature to the Definitive Treaty.” In closing, he proposed that if Congress thought someone should take his place as peace negotiator, which he doubted was necessary, it pick Francis Dana (PCC, No. 84, IV, f. 301–302; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:106).

On 1 April 1783, Congress briefly considered the report of a committee that recommended accepting JA's resignation, but deferred its decision, at the request of the “Eastern delegates,” “untill further advices sh[ould] be received” ( JCC , 24:225; 25:952–953 [Madison's notes]; and see JA to AA, 13 July 1783, note 3, below). Congress never did accept JA's resignation, but instead, after long delays, appointed him in May 1784, with Franklin and Jefferson, to negotiate commercial treaties with the European powers.


JQA left St. Petersburg on 30 Oct., destined for Holland. Francis Dana informed JA of JQA's departure and his itinerary in a letter of 30 Oct. (Adams Papers), and predicted his arrival in December; but JQA did not reach The Hague until 21 April 1783, and did not meet his father there until 22 July (JQA, Diary , 1:153, 174, 176).


The present letter is JA's first known to AA after the signing of the preliminary peace 47terms; his failure to mention this event suggests that one or more letters to her may be missing. On 15 Dec., JA reported the treaty to both Richard Cranch, below, and Isaac Smith Sr. (both in MHi: Cranch Family Papers). John Thaxter informed AA of the signing on the same day, below.