Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

John Quincy Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams

Richard Cranch to John Adams

261 Abigail Adams to John Adams, 18 January 1780 AA JA


Abigail Adams to John Adams, 18 January 1780 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
My Dearest Friend Janry. 18 1780

It is now a little more than two months since you left me. I have many hopes that you had a prosperous voyage and that you were some weeks ago safely landed in France.

I have been so happy as to hear from you twice upon your passage. Capt. Carr arrived safe and carefully deliverd your Letters.1 You left this coast in the best time that could have been chosen. Winter set in with all its horrors in a week after you saild, and has continued with all its rigours ever since. Such mountains of snow have not been known for 60 years. No passing for this fortnight, only for foot travellers, and 2 no prospect of any as one Storm succeeds another so soon that the roads are filld before a path can be made.3

I hope you are in a climate more Friendly to Health and more condusive of pleasure than the unsocial Gloom and chill which presents itself to my view.

The Blocade of the roads has been a sad hinderance to the meeting of the convention, a few only of the near Members could get together, so few that they were obliged to adjourn.4 Many of them mourn the absence of one whom water, not snow seperates from them. They are pleased to say that he was more attended to than any other member, and had more weight and influence upon the minds of the convention.

This Town have received an invitation to elect an other member in the room of your Excellency, but do not appear to consider the importance of it, since the fear of expence overpowers every other consideration. Indeed their is but one person who could do them any Essential Service were they to elect a member and they might consider his being their representitive as an objection, tho that rule has been broken over in many places.5

It is a pitty that so noble a structure should undergo such a mutilation as to make it limp and totter all the rest of its life, yet I fear this will be its fate. Enclosed to you are the journals and News papers which Mr. Lovell has forwarded to me with directions to enclose them to you. Generall Warren has just acquainted me that a packquet will sail for Spain in a day or two, that Mr. Austin goes in her in a publick character with dispatches for you, and that you may have the opportunity of conveying whatever you please in a State Frigate.6

You will learn from Mr. Austin the state of our currency and the rate of exchange which renders it needless for me to say any thing upon the subject.


John Paul Jones is at present the subject of conversation and admiration. I wish to know the History of this adventurous Hero, his Letter to Lady Selkirk fixed him in my memory.

I need not add how much I wish to hear of your safety and happiness, as well as the success of your Embassy. Of the latter I can form no very flattering expectation at present.

Present my respectfull complements to Mr. Dana. The inclement Season has prevented all communication between his good Lady and your Portia, but when ever the Season will permit shall not fail visiting a sister in seperation, and hope by that time to rejoice with her in the assurance of the safety and happiness of our partners.

Believe me dear sir with the tenderest sentiments of regard affectionately yours.

LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “To the Honble john Adams minister plenipo/ry at paris.” For the fate of the missing RC and its enclosures, see note 6.


JA's letters to AA of 15 and 29 i.e. 20 Nov. 1779, both above, sent from the Grand Bank of Newfoundland by the privateersman Capt. John Carnes.


MS: “are.”


The winter of 1779–1780, when for the only time in recorded history the harbors of both Boston and New York froze solidly, was long known as “the Hard Winter.” Its effects were felt from Maine to Georgia and from Detroit to New Orleans. Contemporary evidence on its rigors has been conveniently assembled in David M. Ludlum, Early American Winters, 1604–1820, Boston, 1966, p. 111–133. Dr. Cotton Tufts of Weymouth, who was among other things an amateur of science, compiled a record of the extraordinary weather of this winter and spring, which he enclosed in his letter to JA of 25 July 1780; the enclosure is printed with Tufts' letter, below.


On 11 Nov. the Convention, meeting at the First Church in Cambridge, had adjourned to meet next in “the Representatives' Chamber” (in what is today the Old State House) in Boston on 5 Jan.; but it was then obliged for lack of a quorum to adjourn repeatedly until the 27th (Mass. Constitutional Convention, 1779–1780, Journal , p. 49–55).


The “one person” was Richard Cranch, who was serving in the General Court. Not until the following 5 June did Braintree elect a successor to JA in the Constitutional Convention; this was Joseph Palmer ( Braintree Town Records , p. 510).


Jonathan Loring Austin (1748–1826) had brought the news of Burgoyne's defeat from America to France in 1777 and during the following summer had acted as JA's secretary in Passy; see the note on him in JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:300, and references there. His current mission, which was to borrow money and obtain supplies in Europe for Massachusetts, is fully detailed in Richard Cranch's letter to JA of the present date, which follows. Austin sailed on 29 Jan. in the Zephir Packet, which was captured at sea, the letters he carried were thrown overboard, and Austin was taken to England but contrived to obtain his release and to make his way to the Continent ( DAB ; William Singleton Church [i.e. Thomas Digges] to JA, London, 14 April, Adams Papers; JA to AA, 12 May, below).