Adams Family Correspondence, volume 7

Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts, 10 January 1786 AA Tufts, Cotton


Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts, 10 January 1786 Adams, Abigail Tufts, Cotton
Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts
Dear Sir London Janry 10th. 1786

A Boston paper which reachd us by way of Newyork informd me of the Death of my dear Aunt 3 weeks before I received the melancholy account from your own Hand.1

From your last Letters and those, of my other Friends, I was led to fear, that I should never see her more; I feel my Dear Sir all that Sympathy for your loss, which a tender affection and the recollec-7tion of her amiable Life, and benevolent conduct inspires. Altho her tender state of Health confined her wholy to her own domestick abode, the benevolence of her Heart extended to all the sons and daughters of affliction of whatever kindred or Country, her liberal hand was streached out to the needy and upon her tongue was the Law of kindness. Notwithstanding her bodily infirmities prevented her personal labour, yet she looked well to the Ways of her Household.2—Blessed be her Memory, and let this falling Tear the tribute of my affection towards her be dried away by the firm belief of her happy destination; and her releasment from all those infirmities which was her School of trial whilst she inhabitted Mortality, and through which, (by the accounts of my Friends) she rose refined to a World of Spirits.

Thanks to our Benificient Creator who tho he has constituted us subject to mortality has given us the broad Basis of a future happy existance to build our hopes upon, and the best grounded assureance, that we shall obtain it; by persueing the dictates of our consciences, in the excercise of Love to God; and good will to man.

“No Man too largely from Heav'n's love can hope If what is hop'd he labours to secure”3

Mr Adams will write to you soon, and will I suppose give You some state of political affairs.

With regard to Domestick, I have some things to mention in confidence and Friendship. I am happy to find that the return of my son has met the approbation of his Friends. His kind reception from them, he speaks of; with gratefull pleasure and heartfelt satisfaction. I hope he will continue to merit their Esteem. You add Sir to my satisfaction by the account you give, of my son Charles.4 Heaven Gaurd him from the snares and temptations of vice. The kind care and good advice of my Friends will not I hope be lost upon any of my children. Tommy is not yet launchd into the wide world; the good example and principles which he constantly hears and sees, will make such lasting and abideing impression upon his mind, as to secure him I hope from the practise of vice whenever he is call'd out into the World. Can Life afford a higher satisfaction to a Parent than that of seeing their Children persueing the paths of virtue and rectitude? It is a pleasure which the Almighty himself enjoied, when he lookd upon the Works which his hands had formed and pronounced that all was Good.

My daughter sir has not been less solicitious to conduct herself with propriety, and to secure the approbation of her own mind, and 8that of her Friends in the step she took last fall, I hope no unkind censure with will fall upon her in concequence of it. I think proper to acquaint you Sir in very explicit terms, that she is now addrest by a Gentleman of unexceptionable Character, both in publick and private Life.5 In the Army which he enterd at the commencment of the War, he distinguishd himself by his Bravery his intrepidity and his Humanity, of which he has the amplest testimony from General Sullivan and Washington.6 By the latter and by congress he was appointed to inspect the evacuation of Newyork, and afterwards received a comission of Secretary of Legation to this Court. He possess as high a sense of honour, and as independant a Spirit as any man I ever knew; and these Ideas appear to be founded upon principals of Religion and Morality. We have every reason to beleive that his Character will bear the strickest Scrutiny. Against this Gentleman we could have no objection, excepting a wish that a longer time might have elapsed before any thing of the kind had been tenderd from any quarter. But as the parties were agree'd, Col Smith conceived that he should be guilty both of a breach of his own honour; and the laws of hospitality, without an immediate parental sanction, which he has solicited and obtaind.

I own I cannot but feel for the situation of a Gentleman who has by his own folly and indiscretion lost all hopes of a connextion where he once lookd for it. It is not permitted us to look into futurity, nor can we say with certainty what will be the Lot of any one, but I own both before I came to this Country and not less so since, I was trembling for the fate of a dear and only daughter. I thought time would fully develope and try Characters, and upon that I relied; keeping my anxiety as much as possible in my own bosom. I however wish all happiness to the Gentleman, he has virtues and amiable qualities, and may be much happier connected with many other families than he could have been in ours because he had certain habits which would never accord with mr A's sentiments and principals. Capt Young yet lies at Portsmouth, and we have only a part of our Letters. I shall write more, by the first direct conveyance. In the mean time I am with tender affection Yours


RC (Adams Papers); addressed by WSS: “Doctor Tufts Boston”; endorsed: “Mrs. Abigail Adams Jany. 10. 1786 Recd Via New York & Favd of Rufus King Esq May. 19.”


Lucy Quincy Tufts died 30 Oct. 1785 (Tufts to AA, 16 Nov. 1785, vol. 6:457).


Proverbs, 31:27.


Young, Night Thoughts , Night IX, lines 443–444.


To JA, 6 Oct. 1785 (vol. 6:412).


Col. William Stephens Smith (WSS) of New York, secretary of the U.S. legation in 9Great Britain, formally expressed the seriousness of his intentions regarding AA2 in a letter to AA of 29 Dec. 1785 (vol. 6:508–509).


Probably the certificates of honorable service given to WSS by Gens. John Sullivan and George Washington (13 Oct. 1779 and 24 June 1782, respectively, MHi: DeWindt Coll.).

Cotton Tufts to Abigail Adams, 12 January 1786 Tufts, Cotton AA


Cotton Tufts to Abigail Adams, 12 January 1786 Tufts, Cotton Adams, Abigail
Cotton Tufts to Abigail Adams
My Dear Friend Weymouth Jany. 12. 1786

I wrote to you last Week by Capt Lyde, expecting that He would have sailed the next Day. I find that He is still here And as Mr. Jenks the Bearer hereof, is going in his Vessell I am loth to omit the favourable opportunity of writing by Him.1 I propose to send by Him Our December Magazine, in which you will find a succinct Accountt of the Proceedings of the Genl Court in their last Session and what Measures will probably be taken for the Supply of our Treasury and the Payment of continental Interest.2 The Delay in the States to supply the continental Treasury gives me great Pain. Something more effectual must be done, and common Danger I suppose will lead to it. But How in the mean Time our foreign Ministers are to be paid, foreign Debts, Tributes to the Barbarians &c I know not. Lamb it is said has at length arrived in Europe.3 He is said to be a Person of a Droll Character and those that pretend to know the Man represent his Abilities and Prudence not in the most promising Light. Have you ever seen a certain Col. Norton (by whom I sent some Letters to you last spring). He is now I suppose in England soliciting Payment for the stock taken from Nantucket and Dukes County by the British Forces in the late War. He has been to England several Times on this Errand, and it would be a satisfaction to know whether He is not by this Time thoroughly Anglified. As I sat in Senate with Him, I have some Curiosity to discover what Part He takes in the whale Fishery. For as his Business lays with the British Ministry it is not improbable, that He will be tampered with.4

Do you know whether my Brors Son Simon is in England, I was in the year past informed that he was going from St. Augustine to London, the House of Champion & Dickinson he was formerly connected with, and if in London information may be had of them, should it lay in your Way, I wish you to enquire him out. I am been told that He wishes to return, but conscious to himself of the inoffensive part which he has acted, that he does not incline to return untill the way is fully open.5

Tho I have heretofore had orders from Mr. Adams to draw to a 10larger Amount than I have already done, yet It would be agreable to be informed from Time to Time, what sums I may with your Convenience draw for. Bills will fetch at least 5 pr. Ct. above par. The Expences of your Children, Repairs of Buildings &c for the current year will exceed your Incomes here by at least £100 Lawful Money. The Payment of the Interest of your Loan office Notes, will be uncertain both with respect to Time and Value, when paid Certificates will be given for the Interest, which will not be converted into Specie without discount as I imagine. Last year I received a years Interest in Certificates and with great Exertions I finally turned them into the Hands of a Collector who gave me his promisory Note for the full Value of them, Certificates of the same kind are now sold at a Discount of near 40 pr Ct. About £90 of the £100 which I drew in Favour of Mr Samll Eliot was converted into public and private Securities, from the public (I purchased,) there will arise an Interest of £18 ann—but this Interest will not be paid earlier than a year hence, as the Treasurys is much in Arrears. Sloanes Bond has been sued and Execution is now against him. I expect we must take the Lands.6 I had despaired of Lamberts Debt, but am informed that there is a Prospect of recovering it.7 The Collection of Debts is a tryall of Patience and when Recourse is had to Law the process is tedious—and I apprehend more expensive and lengthy than need be.—The amazing sums of Money which are sent to England by every Vessell that goes from hence renders Cash very scarce and makes me almost wish that the intercourse was cut off.

Dr. Gordon has wrote a History of the American Revolution which will be printed in 4 Vols. Octo.8 I have not as yet heard where it is to be printed, but I suspect in Scotland. Subscriptive Papers are handed about here—the Type and Paper are elegant.

As Mr. Jenks will probably deliver this to you, youll be able from Him to get Intelligence of what passes amongst us, he is very intelligent and is much respected in Salem, and should you have occasion to write on his return you may rely on his Care. I forgot to mention, that a piece of Linnen will be of use to yr Children in the coming summer, perchaps some of the Captains would take a piece in their Chests.

Wishing every Blessing I am yr—

RC (Adams Papers).


Cotton Tufts had been the guardian of John Jenks (1751–1817) after the death of his father. A surgeon's mate in 1778–1779, Jenks became a Salem merchant (vol. 3:114, 163; Essex Inst., Hist. Colls. , [3 April 1861]:94).


The Boston Magazine reported that Con-11gress had assessed Massachusetts $448,854 “for the services of the present year, and for paying one years interest on the foreign and domestic debt.” The General Court proceedings also listed Massachusetts' debt at £1,468,554.7.5 with the annual interest for the year £88,112.13.3, “and that by a calculation which had been formed, an annual tax of 200,000£ would cancel the whole debt, both principal and interest, in fifteen years, and at the same time, pay the ordinary charges of government” (The Boston Magazine, Dec. 1785, p. 474–475).


John Lamb spent several months in transit carrying the commissions, given to him by John Jay on 11 March 1785, directing JA, Franklin, and Jefferson to negotiate with the Barbary powers. He arrived in London around 24 Sept. (vol. 6:265, 383).


Col. Beriah Norton traveled on the Active with AA in 1784 (vol. 5:359–360). On his long-term efforts seeking redress for damages done by the British during their raid on Martha's Vineyard in 1778, see Charles Edward Banks, The History of Martha's Vineyard, 3 vols., Boston, 1911–1925, repr. Edgartown, Mass., 1966, 1:384–403. Cotton Tufts was not alone in his suspicions of Norton's patriotism (same, 1:398, 403).


Simon Tufts Jr. (1750–1802), a Boston storeowner, left for Halifax with the British Army in 1776, later making his way to London. He was proscribed as a loyalist by the Massachusetts Act of 16 Oct. 1778 and never did return to the United States ( Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 16:540–542).


In a quitclaim dated 17 April, David Sloan released to JA eleven acres of land in Braintree's New South Precinct, now Randolph. In Tufts' account of properties he describes the transaction as “arising from Sloanes Mortgagd and is but of little Value” (“List of private papers, . . . left at JA's decease, 20 July 1826”; “An Account of the Real Estate . . . lying in Braintree and Milton,” [post 1787]; both Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 607; Pattee, Old Braintree , p. 290–291).


Tufts' hopes were not realized. In June 1787 he ordered the high sheriff of Lincoln County (now part of Maine) to sue Lambert unless he received the money immediately (to AA, 30 June, Adams Papers).


Rev. William Gordon's The History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United States of America was published in London in 1788 ( DAB ).