Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

75 John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 August 1776 JA AA


John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 August 1776 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Aug. 3. 1776

The Post was later than usual to day, so that I had not yours of July 24 till this Evening. You have made me very happy, by the particular and favourable Account you give me of all the Family. But I dont understand how there are so many who have no Eruptions, and no Symptoms. The Inflammation in the Arm might do, but without these,1 there is no small Pox.

I will lay a Wager, that your whole Hospital have not had so much small Pox, as Mrs. Katy Quincy. Upon my Word she has had an Abundance of it, but is finely recovered, looks as fresh as a Rose, but pitted all over, as thick as ever you saw any one. I this Evening presented your Compliments and Thanks to Mr. Hancock for his polite offer of his House, and likewise your Compliments to his Lady and Mrs. Katy.

Aug. 4

Went this Morning to the Baptist Meeting, in Hopes of hearing Mr. Stillman, but was dissappointed. He was there, but another Gentleman preached. His Action was violent to a degree bordering on fury. His Gestures, unnatural, and distorted. Not the least Idea of Grace in his Motions, or Elegance in his Style. His Voice was vociferous and boisterous, and his Composition almost wholly destitute of Ingenuity. I wonder extreamly at the Fondness of our People for schollars educated at the Southward and for southern Preachers. There is no one Thing, in which We excell them more, than in our University, our schollars, and Preachers. Particular Gentlemen here, who have improved upon their Education by Travel, shine. But in general, old Massachusetts outshines her younger sisters, still. In several Particulars, they have more Wit, than We. They have Societies; the philosophical Society particularly, which excites a scientific Emulation, and propagates their Fame. If ever I get through this Scene of Politicks and War, I will spend the Remainder of my days, in endeavouring to instruct my Countrymen in the Art of making the most of their Abilities and Virtues, an Art, which they have hitherto, too much neglected. A philosophical society shall be established at Boston, if I have Wit and Address enough to accomplish it, sometime or other.—Pray set Brother Cranch's Philosophical Head to plodding upon this Project. Many of his Lucubrations would have been published and 76preserved, for the Benefit of Mankind, and for his Honour, if such a Clubb had existed.2

My Countrymen want Art and Address. They want Knowledge of the World. They want the exteriour and superficial Accomplishments of Gentlemen, upon which the World has foolishly3 set so high a Value. In solid Abilities and real Virtues, they vastly excell in general, any People upon this Continent. Our N. England People are Aukward and bashfull; yet they are pert, ostentatious and vain, a Mixture which excites Ridicule and gives Disgust. They have not the faculty of shewing themselves to the best Advantage, nor the Art of concealing this faculty. An Art and Faculty which some People possess in the highest degree. Our Deficiencies in these Respects, are owing wholly to the little Intercourse We have had4 with strangers, and to our Inexperience in the World. These Imperfections must be remedied, for New England must produce the Heroes, the statesmen, the Philosophers, or America will make no great Figure for some Time.

Our Army is rather sickly at N. York, and We live in daily Expectation of hearing of some great Event. May God almighty grant it may be prosperous for America.—Hope is an Anchor and a Cordial. Disappointment however will not disconcert me.

If you will come to Philadelphia in September, I will stay, as long as you please. I should be as proud and happy as a Bridegroom. Yours.

RC (Adams Papers). LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “Sent. by Post Tuesday, Aug. 6th:”


LbC, more correctly, reads: “that” (referring to the inflammation).


These reflections bore fruit in the founding of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1780. For JA's part in this undertaking see his letters to Benjamin Waterhouse, 7 Aug. 1805 (Ford, ed., Statesman and Friend , p. 22–29), and to the editor of the Boston Patriot, 31 July 1809 (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot , p. 159–165).


This word supplied from LbC.


This word supplied from LbC.

Mary Palmer to John Adams, 4 August 1776 Palmer, Mary JA


Mary Palmer to John Adams, 4 August 1776 Palmer, Mary Adams, John
Mary Palmer to John Adams
Sir Germantown August. 4th. 1776

I had the honour of your Letter of the 5th July above a fortnight ago, and should much sooner have acknowledged the favor had not an absolute want of Paper prevented, having none but blank Commissions in the House which we used for little Billets, but wou'd not do to send to the Congress. You do me great honor in receiving my Account of the Evacuation of the Harbour so well. I am sensible it was very imperfect, but it was the best I cou'd do at the time from 77my informations. One thing I think I greatly err'd in, which was that the Ships did not return the Fire upon Long Island, which I am since inform'd they did by those who were Eye Witnesses. I shou'd not have mention'd it now, but that I am loth that any misinformation of mine shou'd lead to a false Account of a Fact which ought to be represented as it really was, and transmitted to future Ages. Your Compliments are sufficient to make one vain, but still I make Allowances for the Privilege the Gentlemen assume of “flattering the other sex a little.” And perhaps it may be tho't necessary sometimes in order to ease us of that Bashful Diffidence so natural to most of us—A Plea for Flattery which I think the Gentlemen much oblig'd to me for. You really make me proud by desiring my future Correspondance, and I will not in hopes of being again ask'd, wholly decline the favour. All I shall say is this, that whenever there is any event of a Public Nature happens of which I can give you a proper Account to the best of my Abilities, it will give me pleasure to do it; but at present there seems little Likelihood of any such in these parts but what will be better told by your good Lady, to whom I shall chearfully resign the Pen on her Recovery from the Small Pox. There is nothing gives Papa much more Concern than his not being able to get time to write to You and Mr. Paine, oftener than he does; It is impossible for one Man to do more than he does, his time is wholly bestow'd on the Publick, both by Day and Night; It is but 3 Days in 2 Years that he has been at Home on his private Affairs, and even part of those 3 Days have been employ'd either in writing Expresses or Planning Forts. Few Gentlemen cou'd say the same. He is now the chief Commander at Hull in the Room of Genll. Lincoln who is innoculated, and very busy every Hour he can steal from Business or Sleep in Planning Fortifications and Salt Works. I am sorry the former are still wanted in our Harbour but every Body is not so Active as Papa, if they were they wou'd not be to be Plannd now. I most sincerely thank you for your Present of the Declaration of independancy; nothing cou'd have given me more pleasure. It was universally reciev'd with Joy by the friends of their Country. I dont know what the Tories think but I believe they say nothing. As this is a very important so I hope it may be a very happy Revolution and that the latest Posterity may have Reason to look back to the Year 1776, as the happy Era of their Liberties being secur'd by the Wisdom of the Congress. How pleasing is the reflexion of every true Patriot to be assur'd of having done his duty to his God and Country and of having his Memory rever'd by his Descendants and Countrymen to the End of Time.


The first of this Month was kept as a Day of Fasting and Prayer by this Colony. I hope that our repeated Petitions to the Throne of Grace will be Accepted, and that our unnatural Enemies may be turned from us.

I can say little of your family, only that we hear they are Comfortable. Ours is pretty well, except Miss Paine who has an ill turn, occasion'd by overdoing herself at Work Yesterday. I hope it won't last long but at present she is very ill.—As I don't know but my Letter may find the Way to Staten Island You will excuse my not 1 putting my Name to it any further than that of Your humble Servt.,


RC (Adams Papers).


This word editorially supplied.