Adams Family Correspondence, volume 9

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 February 1793 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Philadelphia Feb. 3. 1793

General Lincoln setts out Tomorrow, and I should not dare to let him go without a Love Letter to you.

After a November December and January the fairest softest and finest that ever were known in this Place, The Month of February has been ushered in by a considerable Snow: but the Weather is again so fine that the sun will soon restore Us the naked ground: I 390should like it better in its White Robe of Innocence till the 20th of March.

I dined Yesterday at Mr Daltons. Mrs Dalton enquires affectionately and sends her regards &c

Fryday night I Spent with the Philosophical society. The Meeting was thin: but I was not able to perceive any great superiority to our Accademy, except in the President.1 There are able Men however, and I was agreably entertained. Mr Jefferson was polite enough to accompany me: so you see We are still upon Terms. I wish somebody would pay his Debt of seven Thousand Pounds to Britain and the Debts of all his Country men and then I believe his Passions would subside his Reason return, and the whole Man and his whole State become good Friends of the Union and its Govt. Silence however on this head, or at least great Caution.

I hope the Boston Rejoicings were at the success of the Arms of France, and not intended as Approbation of all the Jacobinical Councils. I am enough in the Spirit of the Times to be glad the Prussians and Austrians have not Succeeded, but not to exult in the Prison or Tryal of that King to whom though I am personally under no Obligation, my Country is under the greatest.2 It is Providentially ordered that I who am the only man American who was ever Accredited, to him and retired from his Court without his Picture, and under his displeasure Should be the only one to bewail his Misfortune. The accursed Politicks of his knavish Favourite have cost him his Crown if not his head. The Duke de la Rochefaucault too, is cutt to Pieces for his Idolatry.3 If I had not washed my own hands of all this Blood, by warning them against it, I should feel some of it upon my soul.

Macchiavels Advice to cutt off a numerous Nobility had more weight than mine to preserve them and Franklins Plagiary Project from Marchement Nedham had more Weight with Fools than all my Proofs strong as holy Writ.4 The Vengeance of Heaven for their Folly, has been revealed in more shivering Terms than in any of my numerous Examples

yours kindly

J. A.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Febry 3. 1793.”


JA is making fun of himself; he was elected president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston on 24 May 1791 after the death of the organization's first president, James Bowdoin. He would remain in that position—albeit largely in an honorary capacity—until his resignation on 4 June 1813. David Rittenhouse was president of the American Philosophical Society (Frank E. Manuel and Fritzie P. Manuel, James Bowdoin and the Patriot Philosophers, Phila., 2004, p. 250–253; Amer. Philos. Soc., Trans. , 3913:xxviii [1793], Evans, No. 25103).


Louis XVI, who had been arrested in Aug. 1792, was tried by the National Convention and executed on 21 Jan. 1793. Marie Antoinette was guillotined on 16 Oct. (Bosher, French Rev. , p. xiv, xx, 180). See also Descriptive List of Illustrations, Nos. 9 and 10, above.


Louis Alexandre, Duc de La Rochefoucauld d’Anville (1743–1792), a philosophe and friend of the United States who had corresponded with JA, was stoned to death by a French mob in Sept. 1792 (JA, D&A , 4:42; Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale ).


In The Prince, ch. 9, “Of the Civil Princedom,” Niccolò Machiavelli warns of the difficulty of a prince coming to power through the support of the nobility because he “finds many about him who think themselves as good as he, and whom, on that account, he cannot guide or govern as he would.” Machiavelli further notes that the prince “need not alwfays live with the same nobles, being able to make and unmake these from day to day, and give and take away their authority at his pleasure” (Machiavelli, The Prince, transl. N. H. Thomson, N.Y., 1910, p. 35).

Marchamont Needham (or Nedham) (1620–1678), a provocative British journalist, was best known for his satirical writings and frequently shifting allegiances during the English Civil War. Needham wrote several tracts in defense of Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth and the overthrow of the monarchy, including The Case of the Commonwealth of England Stated, London, 1649; The Excellencie of a Free-State; or, The Right Constitution of a Common-wealth, London, 1656; and Interest Will Not Lie; or, A View of England's True Interest, London, 1659 ( DNB ). JA believed that Franklin had been unduly influenced by Needham's antimonarchical writings and that the French, in turn, were unduly influenced by Franklin. See, for example, JA to TBA, 26 April 1795 (PWacD) and 7 April 1796 (DLC).

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 9 February 1793 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
my dearest Friend Quincy Febry 9th 1792 [1793]

I received your kind favour of the 24th of Jan’ry together with the News papers. the writings of the American Mirabeau, if he is an American & those under the Signature of Cincinnatus are insolent indeed, and are in unison with a Number of papers Published in the Boston Chronical calld the crisis, Supposed to be written in Philadelphia and sent here for publication as I was told in Boston that there was a Club, who were in constant correspondence with the s——y of state those papers are leveld at the Government & particularly against Hamilton, who will however I hope stand his ground.1 a very viruelent peice has appeard in the same paper signd stephen Colona Threatning the Government with the vengence of a hundred thousand Men, if certain Characters formerly stiled Antifeaderal were not more notised & appointed to office this writer says that the constitution was addopted by means of Artifice cagoiling deception & he believes corruption I read the peice at the time it was publishd, but had no Idea that the Author could be our former P——h Friend.2 a very good answer followd it written; by mr davis, signd Publius with a Quotation as the introduction from the Play calld the Ladies of castile—3


I received a Letter to day from our daughter dated Novbr the col children &c were all well.4 she writes that our minister complains loudly of expences that he had no Idea of them. mrs P—— complains of the impudence of trades people in that Country. they must be strangly alterd—for I never saw more civility in any country. Nay I have often been surprized at their confidence in strangers, but perhaps these people have been accustomed to slaves, and expect the same servility. mr M—— renders himself very obnoxtiuous in France by an active and officious Zeal in favour of the Aristocracy he has lately been obliged to keep close—for the Jacobines declare that if he was not an American with a commiss[ion] from Washington they would have had his Head upon a Pike long ago. they are astonishd that such a character should be sent them. short tis said is very voilent in Holland. Humphries is really going to marry a Lady of Ample fortune.5 his countrymen who have been in Lisbon speak highly of his polite attention to them, but complain that they are not noticed by others mrs smith had visited mrs Beach who was well and vastly pleasd with England—6 if there is any vessel going from Philadelphia pray write to mrs smith for she complains very much that she does not hear from her Friends. tis uncertain whether she returns in the Spring

I had a Letter to day from Charles he writes me that he had been sick with a fever which prevaild very much in NYork, but was quite recoverd.7 we have had a fortnight of Sad weather here one day very cold the next a warm rain and thaw. this has convinced me that I am still to suffer from my former complaint. I have been attackd with the old intermitting and am still strugling with it.

we have accomplishd drawing home the remainder of the Timber, & shaw has been employd with Faxon & two other hands whom I have hired in getting stuff from the ceadar swamp, in which they have found four or five pine Trees—old & fit for Boards these I have had cut & drawn to the saw mill we hope to get 2 thousand of Boards from them. we still have to cut and draw from the woods Trees for Jistes, but our snow comes & lies only a day or two, by which means we do not accomplish all we wish.

My affectionate Regards to all inquiring Friends tell Benson I do not know what he means by abusing me so, I was always for Equality as my Husband can witness. Love to Thomas, from your affectionate

Abigail Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Vice President of the / United States / Philadelphia”; endorsed: “Portia / Febry 9th 1792.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.


In the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, 7 Jan., “Mirabeau” addresses a letter to “Fellow Citizen” Thomas Jefferson, begging him to forgo retirement to continue his work as “the colossus of opposition to monarchial deportment, monarchial arrogance, and monarchial splendor.”

Addressed to members of Congress, the president, and the “Victorious & Patriotic Officers of the French Army,” Cincinnatus’ letters were published in the Philadelphia General Advertiser, 8, 11, 14, 21 January. Cincinnatus takes both George Washington and Congress to task for their failure to compensate fairly former members of the Continental Army, arguing that “the present government has been liberal to the late army in nothing but neglect and contempt” (11 Jan.).

Beginning the previous September, the Boston Independent Chronicle had been publishing a lengthy series of articles entitled “The Crisis,” signed “A Republican,” which would eventually total fourteen installments, concluding in Aug. 1793. The wide-ranging pieces cover various topics, including trade and commerce, taxation, public credit, the Indian War, economic relations with Europe, and the establishment of a national bank. The author attacks Alexander Hamilton as a “superficial financier” (15 Nov. 1792) and disputes the efficacy of many of his policies, especially his support of national and branch banks over state banks (Independent Chronicle, 6, 27 Sept.; 11, 25 Oct.; 1, 15, 30 Nov.; 10, 24 Jan. 1793; 7 Feb.; 26 April; 18, 25 July; and 8 Aug.).


The article by Stephen Colonna appeared in the Boston Independent Chronicle, 20 Dec. 1792. It complains of the poor treatment of Antifederalists, “excluded from any places of honour or emolument,” concluding, “And be assured, the awakened wrongs, and the active resentment of a hundred thousand men are not easily done away, or alleviated.” The Adamses’ “former” friend from Plymouth was James Warren.


Publius’ article, which was printed in the Boston Independent Chronicle, 10 Jan. 1793, decried Stephen Colonna's piece as “indecent and intemperate invective . . . a libel on the government and people of the United States.” Mercy Otis Warren's play The Ladies of Castile, written in 1784, was published in Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous, Boston, 1790, Evans, No. 23035. Publius quotes from Act II, scene v, lines 42–45: “’Tis all a puff—a visionary dream— / That kindles up this patriotic flame; / ’Tis rank self love, conceal'd beneath a mask / Of public good.” Mr. Davis was probably Caleb Davis (1738–1797), a Boston merchant and Federalist who had been a delegate to the Massachusetts state ratifying convention ( Doc. Hist. Ratif. Const. , 4:xxxv; 5:909).


Not found.


David Humphreys eventually married Ann Frances Bulkeley, the daughter of a wealthy English merchant, in Lisbon in 1797 ( Colonial Collegians ).


Sarah Franklin Bache (1743–1808), Benjamin Franklin's daughter, had served as his hostess until his death in 1790. She and her husband, Richard Bache, visited England in 1792 ( Notable Amer. Women ).


Not found, but on 20 Jan. 1793, CA wrote to JA, “I have but just now recovered from an attack of the epidemical fever which has for some time past raged in this City. It confined me somewhat more than a week to my chamber” (Adams Papers).