Adams Family Correspondence, volume 1

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 28 August 1774 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 28 August 1774 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My Dr. Prince Town New Jersey Aug. 28th. 1774

I received your kind Letter, at New York, and it is not easy for you to imagine the Pleasure it has given me. I have not found a single Opportunity to write since I left Boston, excepting by the Post and I dont choose to write by that Conveyance, for fear of foul Play. But as We are now within forty two Miles of Philadelphia, I hope there to find some private Hand by which I can convey this.

The Particulars of our Journey, I must reserve, to be communicated after my Return. It would take a Volume to describe the whole. It has been upon the whole an Agreable Jaunt, We have had Opportunities to see the World, and to form Acquaintances with the most eminent and famous Men, in the several Colonies we have passed through. We have been treated with unbounded Civility, Complaisance, and Respect.1

We Yesterday visited Nassau Hall Colledge, and were politely treated by the Schollars, Tutors, Professors and President, whom We are, this Day to hear preach. Tomorrow We reach the Theatre of Action. God Almighty grant us Wisdom and Virtue sufficient for the high Trust that is devolved upon Us. The Spirit of the People wherever we have been seems to be very favourable. They universally consider our Cause as their own, and express the firmest Resolution, to abide the Determination of the Congress.


I am anxious for our perplexed, distressed Province—hope they will be directed into the right Path. Let me intreat you, my Dear, to make yourself as easy and quiet as possible. Resignation to the Will of Heaven is our only Resource in such dangerous Times. Prudence and Caution should be our Guides. I have the strongest Hopes, that We shall yet see a clearer Sky, and better Times.

Remember my tender Love to my little Nabby. Tell her she must write me a Letter and inclose it in the next you send. I am charmed with your Amusement with our little Johnny. Tell him I am glad to hear he is so good a Boy as to read to his Mamma, for her Entertainment, and to keep himself out of the Company of rude Children. Tell him I hope to hear a good Account of his Accidence and Nomenclature, when I return. Kiss my little Charley and Tommy for me. Tell them I shall be at Home by November, but how much sooner I know not.

Remember me to all enquiring Friends—particularly to Uncle Quincy,2 your Pappa and Family, and Dr. Tufts and Family. Mr. Thaxter, I hope, is a good Companion, in your Solitude. Tell him, if he devotes his Soul and Body to his Books, I hope, notwithstanding the Darkness of these Days, he will not find them unprofitable Sacrifices in future.

I have received three very obliging Letters, from Tudor, Trumble, and Hill.3 They have cheared us, in our Wanderings, and done us much Service.

My Compliments to Mr. Wibirt4 and Coll. Quincy, when you see them.

Your Account of the Rain refreshed me. I hope our Husbandry is prudently and industriously managed. Frugality must be our Support. Our Expences, in this Journey, will be very great—our only Reward will be the consolatory Reflection that We toil, spend our Time, and tempt Dangers for the public Good—happy indeed, if we do any good!

The Education of our Children is never out of my Mind. Train them to Virtue, habituate them to industry, activity, and Spirit. Make them consider every Vice, as shamefull and unmanly: fire them with Ambition to be usefull—make them disdain to be destitute of any usefull, or ornamental Knowledge or Accomplishment. Fix their Ambition upon great and solid Objects, and their Contempt upon little, frivolous, and useless ones. It is Time, my dear, for you to begin to teach them French. Every Decency, Grace, and Honesty should be inculcated upon them.

I have kept 5 a few Minutes by Way of Journal, which shall be your Entertainment when I come home, but We have had so many 146Persons and so various Characters to converse with, and so many Objects to view, that I have not been able to be so particular as I could wish.—I am, with the tenderest Affection and Concern, your wandering

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree Massachusetts Bay To be left at Mr. Adams's Office in Queen Street Boston favoured by no name given”, endorsed: “C 1 No 1.” (In this and following endorsements on JA's letters, “C” may possibly stand for “Congress.”)


See JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:97 ff.


Norton Quincy (1716–1801), Harvard 1736, AA's uncle, of Mount Wollaston. See Adams Genealogy.


All recent or current clerks in JA's Boston law office. John Trumbull, the young poet and future judge, has already been identified. Only Tudor's letter, dated 21 Aug. 1774 (Adams Papers), has been found.

William Tudor (1750–1819), Harvard 1769, had studied law with JA for three years beginning in Aug. 1769 and was then admitted to the bar; in July 1775 he was elected judge advocate of the Continental Army with the rank of lieutenant colonel and served until 1778; he later resumed the practice of law in Boston and held various political offices. Tudor was one of the founders of the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1791, and some of his papers are among its collections, including some early love letters to his wife Delia Jarvis very recently acquired; a selection of his correspondence, including letters from JA, who was a warm friend and intimate correspondent for many years, is printed in the best biographical sketch known to the editors, MHS, Colls. , 2d ser., 8 (2d edn., 1826):285–325.

Edward Hill (1755–1775), of Boston, Harvard 1772, died so young that he is less known to history. He had commenced clerk in JA's office in Oct. 1772 and was still engaged there at the time this letter was written. He died of “camp fever” in March 1775. (“Suffolk Bar Book,” MHS, Procs. , 1st ser., 19 [1881–1882]:151; “Letters of John Andrews,” same, 8 [1864–1865]:403; information from Harvard Univ. Archives.)


Rev. Anthony Wibird (1729–1800), Harvard 1747, minister of the First or North Precinct Church in Braintree (later Quincy) from 1754 until his death (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , vol. 12 [in press]). In earlier years JA had been a close companion of Wibird, who is mentioned frequently in JA's Diary, not always in flattering terms.


MS: “keep.”

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 2 September 1774 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 2 September 1774 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
Braintree Sepbr. 2 1774

I am very impatient to receive a letter from you. You indulged me so much in that Way in your last absence, that I now think I have a right to hear as often from you as you have leisure and opportunity to write. I hear that Mr. Adams1 wrote to his Son and the Speaker2 to his Lady, but perhaps you did not know of the opportunity. Suppose you have before this time received two letters from me, and will write me by the same conveyance. I judg you reachd Phylidelphia last Saturday night. I cannot but felicitate you upon your absence a little while from this Scene of purtubation, anxiety and distress. I own I feel not a 147little agitated with the accounts I have this day received from Town. Great commotions have arisen in concequence of the discovery of a Tratorous plot of Colonel Brattle's—his advice to Gage to Break every commisiond officer, and to seize the province and Towns Stock of powder.3 This has so enraged and exasperated the people that there is great apprehension of an immediate rupture. They have been all in flames ever since the new fangled counsellors have taken their oaths. The importance with which they consider the meeting of the Congress, and the result thereof to the community, withholds the arm of vengance already lifted but which would most certainly fall with accumalated wrath upon Brattle were it posible to come at him, but no sooner did he discover that his treachery had taken air, than he fled not only to Boston, but into the camp for Safety. You will by Mr. Tudor no doubt have a much more accurate account than I am able to give you, but one thing I can inform you of which perhaps you may not have heard, viz. Mr. Vinton our Sheriff it seems received one of those twenty Warrants which were issued by Mr. Goldthwait (and Price, which has Cost them such bitter repentance, and Humble acknowledgments, and which has reveald the great Secret of their attachment to the liberties of their country and their veneration and regard, for the good will of their countrymen.4 See their address to Hutchinson and Gage). This Warrent which was for Stotingham5 Vinton carried and deliverd to a Constable there, but before he had got 6 mile he was overtaken by 60 men on horseback who surrounded him and told him unless he returnd with them, and demanded back that Warrent and committed it to the flames before their faces, he must take the concequences of a refusal, and he not thinking it best to endure their vengance returnd with them, made his demand of the Warrent and consumed it, upon which they disperced and left him to his own reflections. Since the News of the Quebec bill arrived all the church people here have hung their heads and will not converse upon politicks, tho ever so much provoked by the opposite party. Before that parties run very high, and very hard words, and threats of blows, upon both sides were given out. They have had their Town meeting here which was full as usual, chose their committee for the County meeting, and did Buisness without once regarding or fearing for the concequences.6

I should be glad to know how you found the people as you traveled from town to town. I hear you met with great Hospitality and kindness in Connecticut.

Pray let me know how your Health is, and whether you have not had exceeding hot weather. The drought has been very severe. My 148poor Cows will certainly prefer a petition to you, setting forth their Greavences and informing you that they have been deprived of their ancient privilages, whereby they are become great Sufferers, and desiring that they may be restored to them, more espicially as their living by reason of the drought is all taken from them, and their property which they hold else where is all decaying. They Humbly pray that you would consider them least hunger should break thro the Stone walls. Our little flock are well, and present their Duty to their Pappa. My Mother is in a very low State occasiond by a return of her old complaints. Nabby has enclosed a letter to you—would be glad I would excuse the writing, because of a soar Thumb, which she has.7 The tenderest regard evermore awaits you from your Most Affectionate

Abigail Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed in an unidentified hand: “To The Honble. John Adams Esqr. att Philadelphia”; docketed in an unidentified hand: “September 2d 1774 AA.” Enclosure missing; see note 7.


Samuel Adams.


Thomas Cushing.


On 27 Aug. Brig. Gen. William Brattle of Cambridge wrote to Gage informing him among other things that military companies in the neighboring towns were under orders “to meet at one Minute's Warning, equipt with Arms and Ammunition,” and that the selectmen of the towns were withdrawing large stocks of powder from the Provincial arsenal at Quarry Hill in what is now Somerville. Gage at once ordered a detachment of regulars to remove the powder to Castle Island, but with extraordinary carelessness he dropped Brattle's letter on a street in Boston. It was soon published, Brattle was obliged to flee for his life to the protection of the troops in Boston, and Gage began fortifying Boston Neck against roving bands of militia aroused by these events. See “Letters of John Andrews,” MHS, Procs. , 1st ser., 8 (1864–1865): 350–355; Rowe, Letters and Diary , p. 283–284; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 7:20–22; text of Brattle's letter printed in Boston Gazette, 5 Sept. 1774.


Under the Massachusetts Government Act freeholders were no longer to elect jurors, who were instead to be selected by sheriffs appointed by the governor. Ezekiel Goldthwait and Ezekiel Price, joint clerks of the Suffolk Court of Sessions and both addressers of Hutchinson, were obliged to apologize for attempting to carry this new regulation into effect. Their statements are in Mass. Spy, 1 Sept.; see also MHS, Procs. , 2d ser., 14 (1900–1901) 51–54.


That is Stoughtonham, an early name for what is now Sharon, Mass.


The powers of town meetings were greatly curtailed by the Massachusetts Government Act, but the new regulations were generally ignored and evaded. One of the evasions was the convoking of county conventions, a scheme gotten up by the committees of correspondence. At a Braintree town meeting on 22 Aug. it was voted that Braintree be represented in a proposed Suffolk Convention to be held at Dedham on 6 Sept., and that the Braintree representatives be empowered to act on “all such matters & things in said Convention or in a General Provincial Convention as they may judge of public utility in this time of publick & General Distress” ( Braintree Town Records , p. 450). Steps such as these were the first in the rapid process of overthrowing British authority and assuming the powers of government.


This letter is missing, but JA's reply to it will be found under 19 Sept., below.