Adams Family Correspondence, volume 7

Abigail Adams to Elizabeth Smith Shaw, 20 January 1787 AA Shaw, Elizabeth Smith Peabody, Elizabeth Smith Shaw


Abigail Adams to Elizabeth Smith Shaw, 20 January 1787 Adams, Abigail Shaw, Elizabeth Smith Peabody, Elizabeth Smith Shaw
Abigail Adams to Elizabeth Smith Shaw
My Dear sister London Janry 20 1787

You will see by the inclosed that I wrote you a long Letter, and that it has lain some time without meeting any opportunity of conveyance.1 In the mean time, two kind Letters have reachd me from 453you. In the last you complain that I did not write you, but sure captain Callihan had a Letter for you.

I had heard for some time that Cushing would not sail till March, and I have been absent at Bath near 3 weeks, but upon my return I found he was to go by the 20th of Janry. I have many Letters to write and the Birth day of her Majesty to prepare for, alass I shall be behind hand. Mrs Smith very unwell too, a voilent cold taken at Bath attended with a good deal of fever. She is however better, and I will hasten to scrible you off a few lines. I send the Books which my Nephew requested, and beg his acceptance of them as a New Years gift from his Aunt. There has been as you will see a valuable addition of two more volms to them, and I think them well calculated to pour the fresh instruction over the mind, and to instill the best of principals. Mr Adams has directed one of his Books, the defence of the American constitutions, to be deliverd to mr Shaw, and I hope it will prove equally Serviceable to Children of a larger growth, who seem so much disposed to quarrel with their best Friends, the Laws and Government. I should like to know how the sentiments and doctrines are received. I have been much mortified and grieved I assure you to find mr Sparhawks accounts so well founded, tho at the time he gave them, I was disposed to think much better of my Countrymen. May the triumph of the wicked be short, and the fair fabrick of Liberty still be protected by Minerva, whilst Discord and faction those vile deamons are banishd to their Native Regions of Darkness.

I have Sent to my Neice some Silk which I have had died and scowerd. You may pick a shirt perhaps from it. As to any kind of milinary which your sister has worn, the Sea coal smoke and the hair Powder so totally distroys it, that even my maid cannot wear it till it is washd. With regard to any other articles of dress, you would not find your sister better drest here, than she used to be by her Braintree fireside. A calico or a chintz a muslin or a double Gauze handkerchief and Apron is her usual dress. Tis True her Hair suffers more torture than in America and the powder covers the venerable Gray. Tis time to think of being venerable when tis probable a few Months will make her a Grandmamma and she has now got to look out a Nurse and make Baby linnen &c &c. A thousand New cares and anxieties as well as pleasures attend new Relatives.

I was really shocked at the Death of mr Anger as I had never heard of his Sickness. Alass our Worthy Friend mr Perkins, he is gone too, to the Land from whence their is no return. But he was a 454virtuous well principald Man, and possessd that great ornament of society, Honesty, without which all the Graces and Embelishments of Life are but varnish and unsubstantial qualities which the artfull assume for purposes of deceit.

Adieu my dear sister. I dine abroad and must therefore quit my pen to dress. I shall write You again by captain Barnard who will sail in a few weeks. I have no time to coppy. You must therefore excuse every inaccuricy. My Regards to mr shaw to mr and Mrs Allen to my Nephew and Neice, and to every one who inquires after Your affectionate Sister

A Adams

RC (DLC: Shaw Family Papers).


Apparently AA enclosed her last letter to Shaw on 21 Nov. 1786, above, in this letter.

Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts, 24 January 1787 AA Tufts, Cotton


Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts, 24 January 1787 Adams, Abigail Tufts, Cotton
Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts
Dear sir London Janry 24th 1787

I designd to have written you a much Longer Letter than I shall now be able to. The State of politicks in our Country is such as to give pain to every Friend and well wisher of it. I hope the pamphlet mr Adams has lately written and which captain Cushing carries out, will have a benificial influence if it comes not too Late. I inclose to you a ministerial publication which has past through four Editions in about ten days.1 What he says with respect to the Kings popularity in the English Nation is at this present time stricktly true. His Characters are drawn with freedom, his intention is however to wash Some Etheops White.

This day col Franks arrived here with the Emperor of Morocos Treaty and will sail in the next packet for New York with it.2

Mr Adams has directed me to request you upon the receit of this Letter to purchase two hundred Guineys worth of congress Paper. We are told that it is sold at 2 and 6 pence pr pound. Do not be affraid, as the little he has is in publick Securities, it is as safe in one kind as an other, and if one sinks all must Sink, which God forbid. We are told here that the Name of the person must be enterd upon the Treasury Books, or the Name of a Friend, but you doubtless know the method. Our credit is not yet so low, but what Foreigners are eagerly tho Secretly buying up this paper. You will draw upon mr Adams for the Money—it will never be at a lower ebb than at present unless actual war takes place. You will find an account forwarded in mr Adams letter.3 Scot is arrived but none of our Letters 455are yet come up. Inclosed is a letter from mrs Smith. It was only two small red coverd Manuscrip Books which the Gentleman had and not pocket Books. Will that House be to be sold do you imagine which he owns?4

Regards to all inquiring Friends from Dear Sir your ever affectionate Neice A Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed by WSS: “The Honorable Cotton Tufts Esquire Boston”; endorsed: “Mrs. Ab. Adams rcd April 19. 1787.”


Sir Nathaniel William Wraxall, A Short Review of the Political State of Great-Britain, at the Commencement of the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-seven, London, 1787. Wraxall (1751–1831), a member of Parliament, published the pamphlet anonymously. In the first few weeks of publication, it went through six editions and sold roughly 17,000 copies in England ( DNB ).


The Treaty of Peace and Friendship negotiated by Thomas Barclay for the United States and signed by the emperor of Morocco in June and July 1786. The English translations were signed and sealed by Jefferson in Paris on 1 Jan. 1787 and by JA in London on 25 Jan. (Miller, Treaties , 2:185–227).


Probably JA to Cotton Tufts, 15 Jan. (Adams Papers), but the account has not been found.


For an extended discussion of the Vassall-Borland House (Adams Old House) and Royall Tyler's aborted purchase of it, see vol. 3:264–266.