Adams Family Correspondence, volume 5

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 27 January 1783 AA2 Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 27 January 1783 Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA) Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch
Monday Morning ca. 27 January 1783 1

Your last letter my Dear Eliza, deserved from the goodness and friendship, expressed, a reply long ere this. I cannot with truth offer to you aney apology, but must submit the inattention to your candour. I have now taken my pen, and do not realy know what to write, unless you will permit me to give you an account of my yesterdays excursion. As I ever feel interested in every scene however trivial, wherein aney of my friends take a part, Ill judge by the feelings of my own heart, and without aney appology for my incapacity at narative, I will tell give you the journal of the day, begining at the breakfast table. I need not expose myself so much as to give you the hour—but as tis not one of my rules to hide my faults or foibles from my friends, Ill just hint twas after the first Bell had rung. Lazy Girls you may say.

Mr. Samuel Allyne Otis is as agreeable in his domestick line as in other company, more so I think, and our breakfast is ever pleasant and agreeable, enlivened in general by some very sivil speaches, for you know he is an adept. Miss Patty Gray, sent to know if Miss Betsy Otis and your friend, would accompany her to meeting. You know I suppose, that twas the first time that the society have met in, the oald south 2 as tis generally called. The Novelty of the thing, caried, a great number of people, and your friend, for once was led with the multitude. We went, had a very good seat, heard a sermon and returned as we went. Dined. Polly Coffin promised to send for me to accompany her in the afternoon. Dr. Dexter3 called for me. I sent to Mrs. Coffins, and with them went to meeting. Twas so crouded as to render it very uncomfortable. My seat was not half so agreeable to me as in the morning. We went to a pew where I had no acquaintance, and I felt a kind of consciousness—that I was an intruder. This to a person of my possessed of the independance of Disposition, that is attributed to me was rather disagreeable. I shall leave to persons of better judgment, to give you their oppinion of the sermons, that were delivered. I do not suppose myself a proper judge, as to their excellencys or demerits.

I went home with Polly Coffin and drank tea and past the eve. To you who know her, tis unnecessary to say I was pleased with her and my visit. I found a large circle, none of my acquaintance except Sally Bromfeild. She is an excellent Girl, I am much pleased with her. We often meet in company, and every meeting raises her in my oppinion. 81I intend to visit her. The circle was Miss Dalton,4 Miss Davis—to me her manners are disgusting, she passes, for a genteel Girl, Miss Palfrey5—a sweet amiable Girl, she looks like patience on a Monument smileing at Grief. She has just gone in Mourning for her pappa. You would Love to look at her—her countenance Appears “as! calm,6 an unruffled as the summers sea, when not a breath of wind flies oer its surface.” These were the Ladies. Dr. Dexter, you know him. Mr. Emery, he is cleaver I believe. Mr. Sawyer—you know from the report of others. I was much prejudiced against him. His behavour did not erase those prejudices, to be sure, to the Ladies of his acquaintance, that were present, I mean. I was not introduced, and therfore all that passed between us, was, I wish you a good evening. I am and have ever been convinced, that the behavour of a gentleman depends upon the company of Ladies he is in. They certainly can command, and do, his conduct. Twas evident here. They called him impudent, but at the same time let him know that his impudence was rather, pleasing. I thought however, that his manners were more becomeing, than some of the Ladys. Polly Coffin, Sally Bromfeild, and your friend were the elder set. You may smile if you please at my stileing myself, who was perhaps the youngest in company, in the elder set, but my acquaintance was with them, and we were very much diverted at the conversation of the others. They left us at nine.

Mrs. Coffin, is an exceeding fine Worthy Woman. I Loved her from the character I have had of her. From the slight personal knowledge I have of her, I more than Love her. I came home at ten, much pleased with my visit. Rouaby Coffin, you do not know I believe, she is younger than Polly, and was once justly characterized by the name of Miss Volubility. She is a good naturd Girl I believe, at least she is not severe.

Thus my Dear I have given you a full account of my visit, and in return should like to know were and how you passed your Eev. Was it by the fire side of my Mamma, and who was of your party. I could have joined you with pleasure. You know Eliza, my oppinion of Mr. Lincoln. You have often heard me speak of him, and not with the greatest degree of approbation. I have expressed the same oppinion, to every one to whom I have spoken of him. A gentleman who knows in what light he stands in my mind, and who has told me he thought I did not think justly of him, yesterday told me he was very much diverted at hearing Mr. L. oppine of me your friend—that we have imbibed, the self same ideas of each other. He supposes that I have a very good and important oppinion of myself, and I suppose his 82inattention has been intended to mortify my consumate vanity. I was realy diverted. What a pitty it is that it has not had the affect he wished, upon me.

My pen has, gone till I believe you are tired and will not be able to read what I have wrote. Adeu adeu. Write me soon. Shall you not be in town tomorrow. My Love to all and believe me thy friend Amelia

RC (MHi: C. P. Cranch Papers); addressed: “Miss Eliza Cranch. Braintree”; endorsed: “Jany. 83—AA.”


AA2 wrote this letter from Boston, possibly on 20 or, more likely, 27 Jan. (see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, ca. 18 Jan. , and note 1, above).


This was the Third Church in Boston, gathered in 1669. The congregation's meetinghouse in the Revolutionary era had been built in 1729, and still stands at the corner of Washington and Milk streets. From 1777 to late 1782 or early 1783, however, Old South services were held either in King's Chapel or in the Old State House because the British army had damaged the meetinghouse by turning it into an officers' riding school during its occupation of Boston. After 1870 the Washington Street structure was called the Old South Meetinghouse to distinguish it from the congregation's new house of worship, the Old South Church on Copley Square. See Winsor, Memorial History of Boston , 2:517; Everett W. Burdett, History of the Old South MeetingHouse, Boston, 1877, p. 86; Hamilton Andrews Hill, History of the Old South Church, Boston, 1890, 2 vols.


Probably Dr. Aaron Dexter, later Erving Professor of Chemistry and Materia Medica at Harvard Medical School ( Harvard Quinquennial Cat. , p. 24, 196). He visited AA in Braintree in May 1781 and carried letters from her to JA (vol. 4:138, 141).


Probably one of Tristram Dalton's daughters.


Probably Susan Palfrey, daughter of Col. William Palfrey, paymaster general of the Continental Army; she was about two years younger than AA2 ( NEHGR , 31:111 [Jan. 1877]; 35:308 [July 1881]).


Thus in MS.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 29 January 1783 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 29 January 1783 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Paris January 29. 1783

Your kind Letters of Oct. 25. and November 13 came to hand but to day. A Packet from you is always more than I can bear. It gives me a great Pleasure, the highest Pleasure, and therefore makes me and Leaves me Melancholly, like the highest Strains in Music.

I have written you many times and Ways, that I have written to Congress a Resignation, and that I expect the Acceptance of it by the first ships, and will embark for home as soon as it arrives. There is a Possibility that one Case may happen, vizt. that Congress may accept my Resignation, and send me at the same time a Renewal of my old Commission to make a Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain. There is not in my Opinion the least Probability of this, nor do I desire it, the first desire of my Soul being to go home. But if it should 83happen, I beg you would come to me with it, for nothing but your Company will make it acceptable. However brillant a Feather it might be in my Cap, to make a Treaty of Commerce with G. Britain, and how much soever malicious Wits may suppose me disappointed by the Extraordinary Resolution of Congress which took from me a distinction, which I had dearly earned by accepting and attempting to execute a Commission which they had given me with so much Unanimity and without any solicitation of mine, yet I assure you I think I can be employed more agreably to my self in America, if not more usefully to the Public.1

However this may be my Resolution is fixed, to return home unless Congress should restore me my Honour, whether they accept of my Resignation or not.

My “Image,” my “superscription,” my “Princess,” take care how you dispose of your Heart.2——I hoped to be at home and to have chosen a Partner for you. Or at least to have given you some good Advice before you should choose.

If I mistake not your Character it is not Gaiety and Superficial Accomplishments alone that will make you happy. It must be a thinking Being, and one who thinks for others good and feels anothers Woe. It must be one who can ride 500 miles upon a trotting Horse and cross the Gulph stream with a steady Heart. One may dance or sing, play or ride, without being good for much.

But I must conclude, by my Wishes and Prayers for your Direction in all Things, and by assuring you that no Words can express the Feelings of my Heart, when I subscribe myself Yours forever.

RC (Adams Papers).


JA's extant correspondence for this period reveals no hint from anyone that Congress intended to renew his commission for negotiating a treaty of commerce, so this possibility appears to be his own idea. On 5 Feb. JA wrote R. R. Livingston (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:242–247) suggesting the accrediting of a minister to the Court of St. James's who could negotiate a commercial treaty, and he set forth qualities such a man would need in terms that could describe himself. Thus although he proposed John Jay for the post, he may have been inviting his own nomination. See his letter to AA of 4 Feb., below.

JA was first renominated by a congressional committee to negotiate a commercial treaty with Great Britain, in conjunction with Benjamin Franklin and Jay, on 1 May 1783 ( JCC , 24:321). On 7 May 1784, Congress finally created a new three-man commission, consisting of JA, Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, to negotiate treaties of amity and commerce with twenty-three European and African nations.


This and the following paragraph were addressed to AA2.