Adams Family Correspondence, volume 9

Thomas Boylston Adams to Abigail Adams, 17-18 July 1792 Adams, Thomas Boylston Adams, Abigail
Thomas Boylston Adams to Abigail Adams
My dear Mother, Philadelphia July 17–8th 92

I have just taken your letter from the Office and, as Briesler has not according to expectation sailed to day, I will add a few lines to what I have already given him. To hear from Colo and Mrs: Smith was an agreeable circumstance, tho’ much unhappiness is occasioned by it, under their peculiar situation. I had heard about a week since of their arrival at Dover, and of their illness—but had no conception of the dangerous situation of Mrs. Smith, till I read your letter.1 I have written by most of the Vessels that have sailed from this Port, this Season, and am every day expecting letters myself.

As to Politics, I am very little acquainted with their present State— I have heard a suggestion of the same nature with that you mention— It will never succeed—but if I dared I would express a wish that it might. I wish this People to smart a little for their folly— I wish to have them taught by a little dear Bought Experience, to reward their best friends, and neglect those who despise them. They never will do this so long as they proceed upon the unwholesome 295absurd and dangerous principle, of changing a good man, for the chance of getting a worse. It may be mortifying to be neglected after having for a long course of years fulfilled every duty of every station with fidelity; but in my mind it would be much more so, to serve a people who could be capable of leaving so much virtue to languish in obscurity, (or if better) in retirement; when such an instance occurs He, against whom the slight is levelled—may say with the old Roman; “I banish my Country.”2 There may be secret machinations which are yet concealed under the garb of dissimulation, and which are waiting till time shall favor their appearance, but how extensive, or how deep they really are, I shall certainly not be the first to learn. It will turn out right if I have any luck at guessing: I go into no company where such subjects are talked off—therefore I guess upon my own bottom altogether. Everything which appears in public wears the face of peace & order as yet.

I have followed the advice of Mr. Coxe with respect to the House, and if I have any applications, I shall endeavor to take advantage of them; Briesler will give a particular account of all our movements hitherto, and I will transmit those which may follow— Money matters must be aranged suddenly—or I shall be dunned for Rent. Mrs. Keppele will in my [. . .] command a thousand Dollars, if she is determined upon it in the Fall—a[nd] Rents should come down else where— It is now comparatively a cheap house—and yet I can get no body who will even enter the House for nothing—for the time we have in it.3

I am &c

Thomas B Adams

PS. I have smoothed matters where they appeared to Rub a little—and I believe healed the breach effectually.

Tell John if you please to send me Blake's Oration, If worth it.4

Poor France, We had an attempt at Celebrating the Anniversary of their Revolution, but it was quite as lame & confused as the commemorated event— Even Odes composed upon the occasion, appear to be at war with Grammer, Meter, and even good sense—and I account for it in this way— These old standards, which have often witnessed many a hard battle, and always proved victorious, are now suspected of treachery, and being over powered by numbers have fallen a sacrifice to appease the rage of dullness and ignorance. In short—Good sense & Nonsense—ignorance & wisdom—are all Generals alike—like the French Army.5

Yours &ca


RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs: Abigail Adams / Quincy / near Boston.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.


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A paraphrase of Shakespeare, Coriolanus, Act III, scene iii. After Brutus says of Coriolanus, “There's no more to be said, but he is banish'd, / As enemy to the people and his country,” Coriolanus replies, “You common cry of curs, whose breath I hate / As reek o’ th’ rotten fens, whose loves I prize / As the dead carcasses of unburied men / That do corrupt my air, I banish you!” (lines 117–118, 120–123).


Tench Coxe (1755–1824), a Philadelphia businessman, served as the commissioner of the revenue for the federal government. Coxe, who had previously helped the Adamses locate the home at the corner of Fourth and Arch streets in Philadelphia in the fall of 1791, recommended to JA that TBA attempt to find a new tenant for the house. The owner, Catharine Keppele (or Keppley), was unwilling to allow them to break their lease, and the rent amounted to $900 per year ( DAB ; Coxe to JA, 3 Sept. 1791, 20 Sept. 1791, and [ante 8 July 1792], all Adams Papers; Philadelphia Directory , 1793, Evans, No. 25585).


Joseph Blake Jr. (1766–1802), Harvard 1786, gave a “very pertinent and animated ORATION . . . elegantly pronounced” at Boston's Independence Day celebration. Benjamin Russell subsequently printed it as a pamphlet (Boston Independent Chronicle, 5 July; Joseph Blake, An Oration, Pronounced July 4th, 1792, at the Request of the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, Boston, 1792, Evans, No. 24123).


The Philadelphia newspapers reported “the Anniversary of the French Revolution, was noticed in this city, by demonstrations of joy.” The celebrations included a French ship's firing its cannon in the harbor, “splendid” meals, and various toasts, after which “the evening was closed by a brilliant display of Rockets and other fire-works, which met with the greatest applause from a vast concourse of spectators.” One ode published in the newspapers exhorted, “Sound, sound the minstrel, sound it high! / Till hardy Despots quake for fear, / And turn away their jaundic'd eye, / To let fair Liberty appear!” (Federal Gazette, 16 July; American Daily Advertiser, 17 July; National Gazette, 18 July; General Advertiser, 16 July).

Charles Adams to Abigail Adams, 15 August 1792 Adams, Charles Adams, Abigail
Charles Adams to Abigail Adams
My dear Mamma New York August 15th 1792

After a very fatiguing and a very anxious jaunt, I have returned from Albany with my Certificate of admittance to pratice the law I suffered much anxiety from the hesitation which the Court made at the certificate given me by Mr Lawrance who had not exactly pursued the form which is required in such cases. The great stumbling block was that he had expressed That “I entered his office” at a particular period mentioned and “studied law with him for two years” The Court said that in a certificate of that kind The words “Served a regular clerkship” were material. However trivial this objection appeared it required some efforts to remove it. Mr Lawrance was in Philadelphia and there was not time before the rising of the Court to obtain another certificate from him I suggested these things to the judges and offered to take an oath of the facts upon this and the certificates of several gentlemen who certified that they had often seen me at Lawrance's office employed at the business of a Clerk 297&ca They after mature deliberation which kept me in hot water for two days gave up the point. A gentleman of the bar with whom I conversed upon the subject told me that he had privately expressed his surprise to the Judges that upon so trivial a point they should put me to so much trouble, that they had answered that they could none of them doubt but I had served regularly but that in my case it was necessary to be somewhat more severe than with any one else how far this excuse may be sufficient with men who ought to be independent I am not able to say. I was examined with seven more and have been flattered by being told I was not behind any of them in the propriety of my answers. I am now looking out for an office but the rents in the most public parts of the City are so extremely high that I cannot think it justifiable to take one in the center of business. I went today to look at a room in Hanover square not near so large as my brothers office, and I could not hire it under forty pounds. I received you kind letter of the 21st ult upon my return and also one from my brother John which I shall soon answer1 He says We ought to submit to what has happened in this State he may be right but I doubt whether all his argumentative faculties could convince the people to acquiece. The flame instead of subsiding blazes more fiercely than ever, and the several Co[urts?] are preparing their remonstrances for the next session of our Legislature. Heaven grant a happy issue! There is too much warmth to expect a very quiet one. I am glad to hear of your resolution to remain at home this winter you will be much more at your ease than in Philadelphia Remember me with affection to my dear father to whom as soon as I can write in my own office I shall thank for his last letter.2 My love to all friends and if they have any disputes to settle in New York I offer my services.

I am my dear Mother you affectionate and dutiful son

Charles Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs Abigail Adams / Quincy.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.


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