Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

Abigail Adams to John Adams

John Adams to Abigail Adams

121 James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 14 November 1778 Lovell, James AA


James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 14 November 1778 Lovell, James Adams, Abigail
James Lovell to Abigail Adams
My dear Lady Sat. Eveng. 14th. of Novr. 1778

Having a good Opportunity, I now forward those Things which were left at York Town by your worthy Husband. I have never yet got the Box of Papers which were carried away by Mr. Sprout's Family.1 They consigned the Box to a most careful Man, Mr. Houston who has promised to send it to me.2 But perhaps it will be a Thing convenient to the Carrier of what is now with me to call at Princeton for the other Property. I took a memorandum of the Contents of the Chest delivered to me by Mrs. Clymar on the day I received it. Perhaps Mr. Adams may have done so at his Departure for Home.

As the Box is not full, I am now thinking to make one Package of Mr. A's, Mr. Dana's and some Articles of my own which will be of use to my poor Boys. I have cast my Eye upon a Box that will answer such a Purpose. The Box though rougher than Mr. A.'s will be as useful in a Family Way. I am yet undecided; but shall let Mrs. Lovell know, by a few Lines, my Decision when made. I mean solely at this Time to name the Articles.

a Brown Summer Coat & Jacket

a Black Cloth Suit

a Nankin Coat & two Pr. of Breeches

a pr. of Cotton Velvet Breeches

a pr. of Buckskin do.

a pr. of Black Silk Stockings

a pr. of Shoes

a pr. of Mittens

a Steel Swivel for an Hanger

2d. Vol. of Symes's Military Guide

2 Vols. on Horsemanship in French

3 Vols. of Vertot's Revolutions

1 Vol. Molesworths account of Denmarc

Horace in Vellum

Tully's Epistles do.

Thoughts on Government—Marble3

Not a line from Mr. A—— up to the 12th. of Augst. tho' I have written to him 14 Times. I shall write again on Monday. I know that several Vessels going hence have failed.—Believe me continuing your affectionate humble Servant,

James Lovell 122

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. Adams Braintree To the Care of Mrs. Lovell Boston.”


The papers had been left at the house of Rev. James Sproat, JA's last landlord in Philadelphia, when Congress hurriedly left that city in the face of Howe's invasion, Sept. 1777. See Lovell to AA, 9 July, above, and references there.


William Churchill Houston (1746?–1788), Princeton 1768, professor of mathematics at Princeton (where he served as JA's guide around the College in 1774), delegate to the Continental Congress, 1779–1781, 1784–1785 ( Biog. Dir. Cong. ; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:112).


The books can for the most part be identified as JA's. The clothes may have been partly Francis Dana's. The books include: Thomas Simes, The Military Guide, for Young Officers, Phila., 1776 ( Catalogue of JA's Library , p. 230); two works on horsemanship that had been presented to JA by Augustin Mottin de La Balme (same, p. 174; see also above, vol. 2:xii–xiii, 268, and illustration facing p. 263); one or more of the numerous historical works of the Abbé René Aubert de Vertot d'Aubeuf (see above, vol. 2:292); Robert, 1st Viscount Molesworth's Account of Denmark, as It Was in the Year 1692, of which JA eventually owned a London, 1694, edition and the sixth edition, Glasgow, 1752 ( Catalogue of JA's Library , p. 170); and JA's own Thoughts on Government . . ., Phila., 1776. For Molesworth and the notable influence of his Account of Denmark on American Revolutionary thought, see Caroline Robbins, The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman, Cambridge, 1959, p. 98–109, 393–394; Bailyn, ed., Pamphlets , 1:31–32, 43–44, and passim.