Adams Family Correspondence, volume 9

Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts, 11 March 1791 Adams, Abigail Tufts, Cotton
Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts
Dear sir Philadelphia March 11. 1791

I received your kind Letter of the 23 Febry and was happy to learn that our Friends were all well. my son Set of on his return to Boston last week, in company with mr Gerry & Ames. he was desirious of going then that he might have the pleasure of good company. this tho a very agreeable circumstance on a long journey, will I believe scarcly compensate for the badness of the Roads at this season; provided they should be eaqually so, to the Eastward as they are here.1 March is not a favourable Month for Congress to break up. this Session sir has been marked with great dispatch of Buisness, much good humour & tho varying in sentiment upon some very important 197 image

198subjects those subjects have been ably discussd, and much light thrown upon them, and finally carried by large majorities. the Bank is one, which Bill as past I inclose to you and the supplement it is thought here by those who are esteemed the best judges that it will not have any of those concequences which some of its opponents have imagined. as it will be the interest of those individuals who are incorporated and subscribers, to watch carefully over its interest, and to gaurd it with Argus Eyes you will see by the Bill that you may purchase a share with four hundred dollers one fourth of which must be specie the Accession of the state of vermont during this Session to the union, and the uninimnity with which they were received is a most happy and important event in our Annals and will add weight to the Northen Scale. Kentucky is also agreed to be received but her Government is not yet organizd.2 thus sir one pillar rises after an other, and add strength I hope to the union. the people here in this state feel the Benificial effects of their own state Governments having three Branches in lieu of one assembly, and tho the old squabling spirit is not intirely extinct, it appears to be near its dissolution.3 they have placed their Governour upon a respectable sallery of 5 thousand dollors pr Annum, the Governour of the state upon the same footing with the V.P of the united states, whom they have obliged to remove twice at his own expence in the course of two years—and to a city where the expence of living is a third dearer than at N york. I hope to spend 5 Months of the present year at Braintree and to be there by the first of May. the Roads will not permit us to try them sooner. as my Family will consist of 8 persons I must request some little provision to be made previous to our comeing, such as wood, (Hay I presume we have in our Barn) 50 Bushels of oats. these articles I think mr Adams ought to write to his Brother to look to, and if he was not his Brother I would do it, but now I have said I will not, therefore I think it not unlikly that we may be Destitute of some of them. I have engaged to write to you for those things which may be imediatly necessary upon our arrival viz a Box of candles part mould & part dipt a Barrel of soap a Barrel of super fine flower a Loaf of sugar 14 Brown 1 pd suchong Tea half dozen pd coffe ditto chocolat. Grain Rye & Indian are easily procured suppose I need not be anxious about that. Beaf and Hams you have already secured cider is an other article of which we shall want half a dozen Barrels in Articles of furniture I want mr Pratt or any one Else to make me 2 kichin tables one a common seize one of 6 foot long 4 wide a Bread peal a roling pin, kitchin 199Tongues & slice I have none a spit, I must request Miers to have them ready for me. some other articles may have escaped my memory but I have no design to get a superfluous article. a couple of wash Tubs I shall find necessary to have made. the Garden I should like to have manured and dug mrs Cranch wrote me respecting a Negro Man who lived with Pheby.4 if you think proper you will be so good as to employ him about it. I am sorry sir to be so troublesome to you, but your many kind offices, and long habit of doing good, has always made me consider you in the different characters, of Friend, Gaurdian & Parent, and as such the whole Family look to you for advice & assistance. if you have not any cash in your Hands belonging to us, I suppose I may get credited for a month or two.

Before your Letter arrived here sir the Supervisors were all appointed for the different states. I own I was surprized to see the Name of G——m instead of Jackson who I supposed would have had it.5 mr A after your Letter came went and talkd with the secretary of the Treasury knowing that there would be inspectors of districts, but he was told that the intention was to multiply officers as little as possible and to divide the state of Massachusetts only into two, and mr Jackson was determind upon for that part of the country the President has Appointed col smith supervisor for the state of Nyork; it will be an arduous office but one for which I believe he is very well calculated, and if he can perform the whole duty of supervisor & inspector that state will not be divided, and the compensation will be something handsome this will be much more agreeable to me & to his Family than sending him abroad.6 we have not yet heard from him, but the packet in which he saild the Prince William Henry is upon Loyds list of arrivals the 2 of Janry which gives him a passage of 28 days my best respects to your good Lady whom I hope e’er long to embrace and the rest of my Friends. be assured dear sir that I am with sincere Regard your affectionate Neice

A. Adams

RC (NHi:Misc. Mss. Adams, Abigail); endorsed: “Mrs. Ab. Adams March 11. 1791.”


JQA left Philadelphia on 3 March with Massachusetts congressmen Elbridge Gerry, Fisher Ames, George Thatcher, and Jonathan Grout as well as Rhode Island congressman Benjamin Bourne, arriving in New York on 5 March. As AA predicted, he reported on “Bad roads” and “Bad fare” along the way. JQA spent several days in New York City, where he visited AA2 and was delayed until 13 March because of poor wind conditions. Sailing to Newport aboard the packet Hancock, along with several members of Congress, JQA finally arrived in Boston the evening of 16 March (D/JQA/16, APM Reel 19).


The Kentucky Statehood Act of 4 Feb. stipulated that Virginia's District of Kentucky would become a state on 1 June 1792 upon the organization of a state government. The Vermont Act of 2 March 1791 granted Vermont the status of the fourteenth state two 200days after passage ( First Fed. Cong. , 5:1215; 6:2003–2004).


On 3 Sept. 1790 a new Pennsylvania constitution replaced the constitution of 1776. The new system included a tricameral government of executive, senate, and house of representatives (instead of the unicameral Penn. Assembly), and the weak office of president of Pennsylvania was enhanced to become that of governor, with powers of appointment, veto, pardon, and command of the militia (Philip S. Klein and Ari Hoogenboom, A History of Pennsylvania, N.Y., 1973, p. 82–83, 100).


See Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 25 Jan. 1791, above.


On 4 March George Washington appointed Nathaniel Gorham supervisor of revenue for the District of Massachusetts to oversee the collection of duties under the new Duty on Distilled Spirits Act. Jonathan Jackson was appointed to the lesser post of inspector of revenue for the district on 15 March (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series , 7:511–512, 568).


Also on 4 March, Washington appointed WSS supervisor of revenue for the District of New York. The appointment entitled him to an annual salary of $800 and ½ of 1 percent of revenues collected. No inspectors were appointed to assist him (same, 7:511–512, 569; First Fed. Elections , 4:79).

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 12 March 1791 Adams, Abigail Cranch, Mary Smith
Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch
my dear sister Bush Hill March 12th 1791

I was just going to set down to write to you, when I received your Letter of 1 I am sensible I was much in Arrears to you, as well as to some other of my Friend's Since the Recovery of Thomas we have had Health in our dwelling, for which I have great reason to be thankfull. I have been happy with my three sons round me, but a sigh of anxiety always hung about my Heart, for mrs smith who ought to be with me during the absence of the Col. if I had remaind in N york, we should not have lived seperate this winter, but my removal here, and the expence of the removal of a Family for 5 or six months, was an obstical in the way, as the col is expected back in May. if he arrives as I hope he will, he will come immediatly into an office, which will afford to him and his Family a very handsome Support. it will be a very Arduous office in the state of N york, but he is of a very active disposition, and very well calculated for the discharge of it. a prospect of a Provision for himself and Family has releived my mind from a very heavy burden. I hope nothing will arrise to detain him abroad longer than we expect, and this provision for him at Home, is much more agreeable to us all than any employment abroad, which would have carried from me my only daughter. Charles is returnd to his office in Nyork and Boards with mrs Smith. I suppose J Q A will reach Boston by the time this Letter gets to you. he seems happy in the expectation of our passing the summer at Braintree, but he appears to have lost much of his sprightlyness and vivacity. he says that the want of Buisness in his profession and the dismal prospect for the practitioners of the Law 201in Massachussets, is the weight which depresses him, & that He should still be obliged at his age, to be dependant upon his parents for a support. altho these feelings are proofs of a good mind, and a sensible Heart, I could wish that they did not oppress him so much. he wishes sometimes that he had been Bred a Farmer a merchant, or an, any thing by which he could earn his Bread but we all preach Patience to him. Thomas follows his studies in the city with as much assiduity as his Health will permit, but he does not look well, and I think I cannot consent to leave him in this Hot climate during the summer. a journey may establish his Health, and prevent a return of that soar disorder the next fall as his Blood retains yet much of the materials for making it. every damp day warns him of the future, & reminds him of the past

you wrote me in your Letter of Janry 25th of a Negro Man and woman whom you thought would answer for me this summer. if she is cleanly and only a tolerable cook I wish you would engage her for me. I had rather have black than white help, as they will be more like to agree with those I bring. I have a very clever black Boy of 15 who has lived with me a year and is bound to me till he is 21, my coachman will not allow that he is a negro, but he will pass for one with us.2 Prince I believe I shall leave with mr Brisler I shall bring Polly—and dismiss the rest of my servants. tis probable we may hire the Black man part of the time as a Gardner, but I design to make those I bring with me work if I can I will be obliged to you if you will go to the House, and look over the things and write me what you think I shall have absolutely need of towards keeping House. I have written to the dr to get mr Pratt to make me two kitchin tables and some other articles there were some old Bed Steads in the House but none perfect. will you ask mr Pratt if he can make me one that is movable like one which Polly says he made for mrs Apthorp with a sacking bottom and doubles up together. I do not know any Name for them to distinguish them by; I had one made in N York which I found exceedingly usefull when Thomas was sick. I have no coars ware neither milk-pan, or bowl or dish, Broom or Brush. I shall want Some tow cloth, ten or a dozen yds at my first arrival. I do not know if the dr has any Money in his Hands, to procure me these articls but if he has not, I will send you some for the purpose. as I cannot think of comeing there with a Family—and then haveing every thing to look out for afterwards, besides I shall not have Brisler to manage for me. I shall take some spoons & what little plate I may have occasion for with me. mrs Brisler left some 202chairs which I shall take of her. I think I have as much table & bed linnen as I shall want I wish the Roads were such that we could set out immediatly, but that cannot be. I hope however to be with you by the first of May—and I look forward to it with great pleasure I assure you. I shall send by the first vessel a Trunk with some cloaths &c—as we wish to travell with as little Bagage as possible. I dinned yesterday at the Presidents it was a take leave dinner. the President sets of this week on a Tour to those parts of his dominions which he has not yet visited Georgia & North Carolina.3 our publick affairs never lookt more prosperious—the people feel the benificial effects of the New Government by an increasing credit both at Home and abroad and a confidence in their Rulers. some grumbling we must always expect, but we have as a people the greatest cause for Gratitude and thankfullness to the supreeme Ruler of the Universe for our present happy and prosperious circumstances as a Nation.

adieu my dear sister every blessing attend you and yours is the Sincere wish of your ever affectionate / Sister

A Adams

my kind regards to mr Cranch to mr & mrs Norten to cousin William & Lucy and a kiss for my young Richard

RC (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters); endorsed by Richard Cranch: “Letter from Mrs / A. Adams, Bush hill, / Mar. 12. 1791.”


Probably a letter of 20 Feb., in which Mary Smith Cranch observed that she had not heard from AA since her letter of 9 Jan., above, and discussed her recent correspondence with AA2. Cranch expressed concern about her niece's loneliness, remarking, “She does not know it but this feeling of hers is intirely owing to that uncommon reserve which marks her character. . . . my dear Neice wishes to retain her reserve & yet injoy all the Benfits of a more communicative disposition; this She will find She never can do I shall write to her again Soon—I feel most tenderly for her” (Adams Papers).


The fifteen-year-old was probably James, who would serve the Adamses as a servant for many years; see AA to JA, 4 Dec. 1792, below. The coachman was likely Robert, who would be discharged by AA in 1792; see AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 20 April 1792, below.


On 21 March 1791 George Washington departed Philadelphia for a 3-month, 1,816-mile tour of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, fulfilling a pledge to visit all parts of the United States during his presidency. A typical stop was one made at Georgetown, S.C., on 30 April, which featured a public dinner, tea party, and ball after a grand entrance: “He was rowed over the river by seven Captains of vessels, dressed in round hats trimmed with gold lace, blue coats, white jackets, &c. in an elegant painted boat. On his arriving opposite the market he was saluted by the artillery, with fifteen guns” (Washington, Diaries , 6:96–98; Portsmouth New Hampshire Spy, 1 June).