Adams Family Correspondence, volume 6

Cotton Tufts to Abigail Adams

Cotton Tufts to Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 15 April 1785 AA Cranch, Mary Smith


Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 15 April 1785 Adams, Abigail Cranch, Mary Smith
Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch
No. 7. My Dear Sister Auteuil April 15 17851

There is a Young Gentleman going from Passy in the pacquet for New York. His Name is Chaumont, the Son of a Gentleman whose Name is well known in America. I have met him once or twice at Dr. Franklin: whose next Neighbour he is, and he has once dinned here: the Ministers have intrusted him with publick dispatches of importance to Congress. He appears a modest agreeable Young Gentleman. He proposes visiting all the States and has requested Letters of introduction from Mr. Adams, which he has given him, to some of 83our Boston Friends who will be kind enough to notice him.2 All foreigners who have visited America speak in the highest terms of the Hospitality of the people of Boston, and with reason, for I do not believe that it is exceeded, if equald: in any part of the World. Mr. Chaumont speaks english tolerably, so that he will have that advantage, over many others of his Nation. Nothing can be more dissagreeable than liveing in a Country, the language of which you cannot speak.

He has requested me to give him Letters but as I expect my son will sail in the next pacquet, I have not been very solicitious to write this way, as it is probable the Letters will be very old before they reach you.

I have not heard from my American Friends since December, but as the Spring opens I begin to have my usual impressions that there are some Letters on their way. If my Friends have any thing pressing at any time which they wish to communicate by covering to Mr. Jay who is Minister of foreign affairs; or to Mr. Gerry whilst he is at Congress it will come more speedily by the pacquets; I have writen by way of England when ever a private opportunity has offerd of conveying Letters from hence; most of the Americans who have past the winter in Paris, have left it, and are going, so that I fear we shall be very trist, especially when Master JQA leaves us. In proportion as a person becomes necessary to us we feel their loss: and in every way I shall feel his absence: I dare not trust myself with thinking upon the Subject. He is now at a time of Life when it is necessary for him to Regularly compleat his Education at some Seminary: that he may go into the Study of the Law which he proposes; we expect he will be at Home before his Brother enters Colledge: but if he should not, so that I should be able to write by him concerning Charles: I must request you to take care to provide what ever is necessary for him, and to have the Same care of him, that I would take for Yours, in the like circumstances. Whatever expences occur you will apply to Dr. Tufts, and consult with him in all things with respect to him. Mr. Adams and I both think that in order to prevent confusion all money Matters should pass through the hands of the Dr, and that he should make the necessary draughts upon Mr. Adams here, both for our sons in America and that which is going out, always remembring that there is to be no extrodanary expences on account of the publick Character which Mr. Adams sustains, because he is not half so able to bear them, as he would have been if he had been only a private citizen. In short I am weary of being obliged to eat and drink up all we have. 84This is very easily done, and have company no oftner than once a week neither: I dare say we should be able to live, and I hope educate our children in America. We shall do no more here, and must excercise a frugality to accomplish that; which is thought meaness here. A Minister who cannot keep a train of Servants, a publick table &c. is thought very little off. The Spanish Ambassodor Count d'Aranda has no less than Seventy 50 of whom are Livery and the British minister the Duke of Dorset who was invited to dine here to day, but was prevented by our inviting him upon one of the days in which he gives publick dinners: he has a train of 50 servants 25 of which are in Livery and lives in every other respect answerable to that Retinue, and So does every other foreign minister who resides here.3 It would be vastly more to my taste, and much more to my satisfaction to return to my own Country and live in that social Friendship and that Simplicity in which I formerly rejoiced. I take no pleasure in a life of ceremony and parade. I had rather dine in my little room at Braintree with your family and a set of chosen old Friends, than with the Marquisses Counts and countesses Abbes and Great folks who dine with us to day.4 Madam de la Fayette, I will however except. I should always take pleasure in her company. She is a good and amiable Lady, exceedingly fond of her Children and attentive to their education, passionatly attached to her Husband!!! A French Lady and fond of her Husband!!!

Remember me to all my Dear Friends in America. Tell Cousin Betsy, that I have procured of our gardner a parcel of Beautifull flower seeds for her, which I design sending her by her cousin, and that she must new Name them, calling them after our family. It is a fine season now a little too dry, but I have got some pots of flowers with which the gardner has presented me, now flourishing in my Chamber, and the peach blossoms are just shewing themselves. They complain here that it is very cold for the season. We are all well. Pray is Mrs. Otis a Mother yet? I want to hear; has Mr. Cranch forgot us that we see not his hand writing? Regards to Mr. Tyler. I hope he is very buisy and to great purpose.5 My paper calls upon me to close. Most affectionately and tenderly Yours

Abigail Adams

RC (MWA: Abigail Adams Corr.); addressed in JQA's hand: “Mrs. Mary Cranch. Braintree near Boston Massachusetts.”


The body of this letter may have been written, or at least drafted, on 14 April; see note 4.


Jacques Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont (later known in America, where he lived after 1800, as James Le Ray) was the son of the owner of the house in Passy in which Benjamin Franklin lived, rent-free, for nine years, 85and which JA shared with Franklin in 1778–1779. JA and JQA had known young Chaumont since 1778; AA met him on 17 March 1785, if not earlier, at Franklin's. Chaumont left Paris for Lorient and the New York packet on 14 April. JQA would travel with Chaumont from New York to Boston in August, and would correspond irregularly with him to 1821. See JQA, Diary , 1:236, and note 2, 249, 298–318 passim.

On 14 April, JA wrote letters of introduction for Chaumont to Samuel Adams (NN), Thomas Cushing, John Hancock, Samuel Allyne Otis (all LbC, Adams Papers), and William Tudor (MHi).


In February, JQA had commented on the servants, equippage, and other trappings of wealth and power displayed by the Conde d'Aranda, and had recorded the Duke of Dorset's expression of disgust at the ceremony of court life ( Diary , 1:224, 225–226). AA2 made similar observations on Aranda's and Dorset's households in April ( Jour. and Corr. , 1:71).


AA may be referring to the dinner which the Adamses gave on 14 April, for the Lafayettes, the Count and Countess Doradour, the abbés Chalût and Arnoux, Daniel Hailes, the secretary of the British embassy, and Count Sarsfield (JQA, Diary , 1:249).


Royall Tyler was in Braintree, maintaining his social ties with the Cranches, and by mail with the Shaws and the young Adamses in Haverhill. On 20 March, Elizabeth Shaw reported to Mary Cranch (DLC: Shaw Family Papers) that the previous week they had received a letter from Tyler, “accompanied by a genteel Present, of a Morocca Pocket-Book to Mr. Charles, and an elegant Set of Geographical Cards for Mr. Thomas; informing us at the same time that he had made several attempts to make us a Visit, but that all had proved ineffectual, and must therefore give it up for the Present. I hope however when the soft Season is further advanced, and the roads are become good, both Mr. Tyler, and my Cousins will be more fortunate. It would have given me pleasure to have seen them here.”