Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

1 John Adams to Isaac Smith Sr., 1 June 1776 JA Smith, Isaac Sr. John Adams to Isaac Smith Sr., 1 June 1776 Adams, John Smith, Isaac Sr.
John Adams to Isaac Smith Sr.
Dear sir Philadelphia June 1. 1776

Your favours of May 14. and 22d. are now before me. The first I shewed to Mr. Morris, as soon as I received it. The last contains Intelligence, from Hallifax of the Streights to which our Enemies are reduced, which I was very glad to learn.

I am very happy to learn from you and some other of my Friends that Boston is securely fortified; but still I cannot be fully satisfied untill I hear that every unfriendly Flagg is chased out of that Harbour.

Cape Ann, I am sensible is a most important Post, and if the Enemy should possess themselves of it, they might distress the Trade of the Colony to a great Degree. For which Reason I am determined to do every Thing in my Power to get it fortified at the Continental Expence. I cant be confident that I shall succeed but it shall not be my Fault if I dont.

I am very glad you gave me your Opinion of the Utility of that Harbour and of the Practicability of making it secure, because I was not enough acquainted with it before to speak with Precision about it.

Your Observations upon the oppressive severity of the old Regulations of Trade in subjecting Ships and Cargoes to Confiscation for the Indiscretion of a Master or Mariner, and upon the Artifice and Corruption which was introduced respecting Hospital Money, are very just: But if you consider the Resolution of Congress, and that of Virginia of the 15th. of May, the Resolutions of the two Carolinas and Georgia, each of which Colonies, are instituting new Governments, under the Authority of the People; if you consider what is doing at New York, New Jersey, Pensilvania, and even in Maryland, which are all gradually forming themselves into order to follow the Colonies to the Northward and Southward, together with the Treaties with Hesse, Brunswick and Waldeck and the Answer to the Mayor &c. of London; I believe you will be convinced that there is little Probability 2of our ever again coming under the Yoke of British Regulations of Trade. The Cords which connected the two Countries are cutt asunder, and it will not be easy to splice them again, together.

I agree with you, in sentiment, that there will be little Difficulty in Trading with France and Spain, a great deal in dealing with Portugal, and some with Holland. Yet by very good Intelligence I am convinced, that there are great Merchants in the United Provinces and even in Amsterdam, who will contract to supply you with any Thing you want, whether Merchandize or military Stores by the Way of Nieuport and Ostend, two Towns which are subject to the Empress of Austria, who has never taken any public Notice of the Dispute between Britain and Us, and has never prohibited her Subjects from supplying us with any Thing.

There is a Gentleman, now in this City, a Native of it, and a very worthy Man who has been lately in those Towns as well as Amsterdam, who informs me that he had many Conversations there, with Merchants of figure, and that they assured him they should be glad to contract to furnish us with any Supplies, even upon Credit, for an Interest of four Per Cent.1

Other Intelligence to the same Purpose, with Additions of more Importance, has been sent here. But the Particulars may not be mentioned.

Europe seems to be in a great Commotion; altho the Appearance of a perfect Calm is affected, I think this American Contest will light up a general War. What it will end in, God alone knows, to whose wise and righteous Providence I chearfully submit, and am with great Esteem and Respect for the Family, your Friend & servant.

LbC (Adams Papers). This is the first entry printed from JA's letterbooks in the present series of Adams Family Correspondence, though not quite the earliest entry in those letterbooks. It is the fourth entry in Lb/JA/1 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 89); the very first letterbook copy is dated 26 May 1776 and is a letter to James Sullivan (printed in JA, Works , 9:375–378). Concerning the Adams Letterbooks in general, see the Introduction to the Family Correspondence. For JA's purchase of his first two letterbooks, and his motives in doing so, see the letter immediately below to AA, (2 June 1776). It should be noted here that the early entries in the JA letterbooks are actually drafts, which the writer corrected and then copied out fair for transmittal, and also that small variations in form and phrasing between letterbook and recipients' copies are not ordinarily recorded by the editors.


Not clearly identifiable, but quite possibly William Bingham (1752–1804), College of Philadelphia 1768, who just at this time was appointed agent of the Continental Congress in Martinique, to serve under orders from the Committee of Secret Correspondence (of which he had been acting as secre-3tary). See DAB ; JCC , 4:366; Force, Archives , 4th ser., 6:783; Deane Papers , 1:137; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 2:64, 96; Margaret L. Brown, “William Bingham, Agent of the Continental Congress in Martinique,” PMHB , 61:54–87 (Jan. 1937), esp. p. 54–57.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 2 June 1776 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 2 June 1776 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
June 2. 1776 1

Yesterday I dined with Captain Richards, the Gentleman who made me the present of the brass Pistolls. We had Cherries, Strawberries and Green Peas in Plenty. The Fruits are three Weeks earlier here than with you, indeed they are a fortnight earlier on the East, than on the West side of Delaware River. We have had green Peas, this Week past, but they were brought over the River from New Jersey to this Markett. There are none grown in the City, or on the West side of the River yet. The Reason is, the Soil of New Jersey is a warm Sand, that of Pensilvania, a cold Clay. So much for Peas and Berries.

Now for something of more Importance. In all the Correspondencies I have maintained, during a Course of twenty Years at least that I have been a Writer of Letters, I never kept a single Copy.2 This Negligence and Inaccuracy, has been a great Misfortune to me, on many Occasions.—I have now purchased a Folio Book, in the first Page of which, excepting one blank Leaff, I am writing this Letter, and intend to write all my Letters to you in it from this Time forward. This will be an Advantage to me in several Respects. In the first Place, I shall write more deliberately. In the second Place, I shall be able at all times to review what I have written. 3. I shall know how often I write. 4. I shall discover by this Means, whether any of my Letters to you, miscarry.

If it were possible for me to find a Conveyance, I would send you such another blank Book, as a Present, that you might begin the Practice at the same Time, for I really think that your Letters are much better worth preserving than mine.3 Your Daughter and Sons will very soon write so good Hands that they will copy the Letters for you from your Book, which will improve them at the same Time that it relieves you.

RC and LbC (Adams Papers). LbC is the first entry in Lb/JA/2 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 90), one of two folio volumes that JA had recently purchased from William Trickett, “STATIONER & BOOKBINDER from London,” in Front Street, Philadelphia. (Trickett's trade card is among the illustrations in the present volume.) In the first of these JA began entering 4letters relative to public affairs; the second he reserved for family letters, mainly to AA.


In LbC the date is preceded by “Philadelphia,” and this is the case in many of the letterbook copies that follow in 1776. Omission of the place in recipients' copies, like the omission of the writer's signature, was a device of concealment, springing from JA's experience with the famous first and second intercepted letters of July 1775.


Substantially but not literally true. A few retained drafts and copies of JA's letters prior to this date have been found among his papers, some of them in his Diary .


AA kept a letterbook for only a brief period, 1779–1780, and then only fitfully; see Lb/JA/9 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 97).