Adams Family Correspondence, volume 8

Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts, 20 February 1788 Adams, Abigail Tufts, Cotton
Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts
Febry 20th [1788] Grosvenour Square Dear sir

I have written twice to you by way of New York, but do not find by yours that either of them had reachd you, nor have I learnt that Captain Folger was arrived who had all my Letters, except one to mrs Cranch by Captain Cushing.1 in those Letters you will find what I wisht to have done to the House, as well as other matters respecting our Farm


I believe this will be the last Letter I shall write you previous to my embarking, which I hope will be in March, but is now uncertain on account of the difficulty mr Adams meets with in taking leave in Holland it is high time that we had a Goverment who know how to conduct our affairs with steadiness judgment, &, equity that they may not make themselves contemptable in the Eyes of all Europe. Congress accreditted mr Adams to their High mightynesses and to the Prince of orange, and in a Letter written to Congress more than a year ago, requesting permission to return at the expiration of his commission, he desires that Letters of Recall may accompany his permission, agreeable to the custom & useages of Nations. this he has several times since repeated instead of which they pass only a vote of approbation of his conduct with leave to return, but no Letter, either for this court or Holland. Mr Adams Sent a Letter to the Prince & a memorial to their High mightynessess, through mr Secretary Fagall, but all tho they express their Satisfaction personally as it respects mr Adams, they return the Letters saying they cannot receive his Resignation, but by a Letter from his Sovereign of recall, but shall continue to consider him as minister to them.2 if this Court do not make any difficulty, it will be from circumstances too humiliating to our Country to be prided in. mr Adams is very apprehensive that he shall be obliged to go over himself to Holland, which at this time will put us to great difficulty as we had begun to pack up & get ready for our departure.

With this Letter I send you the third volm of the defence. you will not permit it to go out of your hands untill the others arrive. as mr Adams had been at the whole expence of publishing this work, he could wish that they might not be reprinted untill what are gone out, are disposed of, for tho he never had an Idea of making money of them, he cannot afford to lose so much by them as he must, if they are reprinted. in the last Letter you will find his Sentiments respecting our New plan of Government. Some of his sentiments I presume will be very unpopular in our Country, but time and experience will bring them into fashion. every day must convince our Country men more & more, of the necessity of a well balanced Government and that a Head to it, is quite as necessary as a body & Limbs the Name by which that Head is called is of very little concequence but they will find many Heads a Monster.— I most sincerely wish you my dear Sir every direction & success which honest intentions & upright endeavours after the publick Honour, & welfare deserve. I know you have no sinister motives, no narrow selfish 235purposes to serve eitheir by the acceptation or rejection of the New system. I wish every one who opposes it, or commends it, acted from motives as pure, and then whatever its fate might be, we should not be involved in anarchy but tares will spring up amongst the wheat, and thistles & Thorns.3 we must take care that we are not goaded & pricked to death by either— There is at present sitting here one of the most august Assemblies that this country can convene. The House of commons the House of Lord's the Bishops the judges &C all convened in westmister Hall for the Trial of Warren Hastings.4 about Two thousand persons half of whom are Ladies, attend this trial every day. it is opened with the utmost order & continued with the greatest regularity, & no person admitted to it, but with Tickets which are not very easily procured. as a Foreign ministers Lady I have had a Seat in the Box appropriated for them, and have had the pleasure of hearing mr Burk speak 3 hours. I have been so much engaged in prepairing for my voyage that I have not been able to attend daily, but I propose going again tomorrow to hear mr Fox. The dukes & Lords & Bishops are all Robed, are preceeded by the Herald at Arms, are calld over according to their rank and take their Seats accordingly. The Prince of Wales duke of York Gloster & Cumberland are obliged to a constant attendance mr Hastings appears at present; as Burk call'd him, the Captain Generall of Iniquity,5 whatever he may have to say in justification of himself, it seems impossible to wash the Ethiope white.6 my paper warns me to close but not untill I have assured you of the Sincere & affectionate / Regard of Yours

A Adams

PS your last Bill is paid in favour mr Elworthy

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs. Abigl. Adams / Feby 20. 1788—”


AA to Tufts, 6 Nov. 1787, and 1 Jan. 1788, and AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 8 Oct. 1787 (2d letter), all above.


On 25 Jan. 1788, JA wrote to Hendrik Fagel, secretary of the States General of the Netherlands (JA, Works , 8:470), requesting that he forward memorials to William V and to the High Mightinesses of the States General indicating JA's intent to take leave of his post as U.S. minister plenipotentiary to the Netherlands (both dated 25 Jan., Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 , 2:829–831). Fagel replied on 12 Feb. that while the memorials were acceptable, they could not substitute for a formal letter of recall from Congress to the Dutch government ( Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 , 2:828–829).


AA conflates two biblical references here: Job, 31:40 (“Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley”) and Matthew, 13:25 (“But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way”).


For the Warren Hastings trial, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 6, above.


In Edmund Burke's opening statement at the impeachment trial on 15 Feb., he described Hastings as “a captain-general of iniquity, under whom all the fraud, all the peculation, all the tyranny in India are embodied, disciplined, arrayed, and paid. This is the person, my Lords, that we bring before 236you. We have brought before you such a person, that, if you strike at him with the firm and decided arm of justice, you will not have need of a great many more examples. You strike at the whole corps, if you strike at the head” (The Works of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke, rev. edn., 12 vols., Boston, 1866–1867, 9:339).


A common expression, a variation on Jeremiah, 13:23: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?”

Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 21 February 1788 Adams, Abigail Jefferson, Thomas
Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson
London Febry. 21 1788. My dear sir

in the midst of the Bustle and fatigue of packing, The parade & ceremony of taking leave at Court, and else where, I am informd that mr Appleton and mrs Parker, are to set out for Paris tomorrow morning. I Cannot permit them to go without a few lines to my much Esteemed Friend, to thank him for all his kindness and Friendship towards myself and Family, from the commencment of our acquaintance, and to assure him that the offer he has made of his correspondence, is much too flattering, not to be gratefully accepted.

The florence and stockings were prefectly to my mind, and I am greatly obliged to you sir, for your care and attention about them. I have sent by Mrs Parker the balance due to you, agreeable to your statement, which I believe quite right

Be so good as to present my Regards to the marquiss de la Fayett, and his Lady, and to the Abbés—assure them that I entertain a gratefull rememberance of all their civilities and politeness during my residence in Paris. To mr Short and the young Ladies your Daughters Say every thing that is affectionate for me, and be assured my dear Sir, that I am / with the Greatest Respect Esteem & Regard / Your Friend and Humble Servant

Abigail Adams

RC (DLC:Jefferson Papers).

Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 26 February 1788 Adams, Abigail Jefferson, Thomas
Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson
London Febry. 26 1788 Dear sir

Mr Adams being absent I replie to your Letter this day received, that mr Adams has written to you upon the Subject you refer to.1 our time here is short and pressing, yet short as it is mr Adams is obliged to Set out on fryday for the Hague in order to take leave there, owing wholy to the neglect of Congress in omitting to send


him a Letter of Recall, tho he particuliarly requested it of them, when he desired permission to return, & has several times since repeated the Same request. a memorial would then have answerd, but now it cannot be received, and he finds at this late hour that he must cross that most horrid passage twice, & make a rapid journey there & back again as it would be greatly injurious to our credit & affairs to give any reasonable cause of offence. he would be delighted to meet you there, but time is so pressing that he cannot flatter himself with that hope, nor be able to stay a day after he has compleated his buisness yet as this Letter may reach you about the day he will leave London, you will consider whether there is a possibility of seeing each other at the Hague

I had sent my arrears to you before mr Trumble thought of informing me that it was to be paid to him. the Eight Louis you have since been so kind as to pay for mr Adams, shall be paid mr Trumble—2

I thank you my dear Sir for all your kind wishes & prayers, heaven only knows how we are to be disposed of. you have resided long enough abroad to feel & experience how inadaquate our allowence is, to our decent expences, and that it is wholy impossible for any thing to be saved from it this our Countryman in general will neither know or feel. I have lived long enough, & seen enough of the world, to check expectations, & to bring my mind to my circumstances, and retiring to our own little Farm feeding my poultry & improveing my Garden has more charms for my fancy, than residing at the court of Saint Jame's where I seldom meet with Characters So innofensive as my Hens & chickings, or minds so well improved as my Garden.— Heaven forgive me if I think too hardly of them— I wish they had deserved better at my Hands—

adieu my dear Sir and believe me at all times / and in all Situations Your / Friend & Humble Servant


RC (DLC:Jefferson Papers).


Jefferson wrote to JA on 6 Feb. regarding difficulties filling the latest Dutch loan—which had resulted from the suspension of interest payments on the previous loan until the establishment of a new American government under the Constitution—and a possible scheme to deal with the situation. JA replied on 12 Feb. strongly disapproving of the suggested plan (Jefferson, Papers , 12:566–567, 581–582).


On 28 March, John Trumbull gave AA a receipt for eight pounds (equal to eight Louis d'Or), which he took for Jefferson in Paris (Adams Papers).