Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

1 James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 1 April 1778 Lovell, James AA James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 1 April 1778 Lovell, James Adams, Abigail
James Lovell to Abigail Adams
Dear Ma'am York Town Apr: 1st. 1778

When I tell you that no Credit is to be given to the late Report of an attempted Assassination of Doctor Franklin, you are not to attribute my Assertion to an Endeavour to give Relief, at all Adventures, to the anxious Mind of an amiable Sufferer. Had your Letters of the 1st. and 8th. of March1 reached me before this Morning, I could not have given you so much Satisfaction as at present. I could only have told you that no Letter of mine had “confirmed” the Report. I did, it is true convey it to Boston, in hopes that I should procure a Contradiction of it, by Intelligence received at the eastern Ports later in Date than what Capt. More brought to Maryland.2 He left Bordeaux the 12th. of December and had pickt up his Story at Blaye before that period. But we have a fresh Packet from Mr. Bingham our Agent at Martinique in which he gives us the Substance of Letters from Paris dated Decr. 22d., ten Days after More left his Outport. Mr. Bingham's Correspondents are certainly a Class of Men who could not be ignorant of a capital Event respecting our Commissioners near a Fortnight after it is said to have happened, and who also would not have omitted to mention the Attempt upon Doctr. Franklin's Life, if it had really been made. The Connecticutt Gazettes tell us the Doctor was well about the 31 st. of December.

Call me not a Savage, when I inform you that your “Allarms and Distress” have afforded me Delight.

I assure you, Ma'am, that my Intimates think me not devoid of the most tender Sensibilities: But, if you expect that your Griefs should draw from me only sheer Pity, you must not send them to call upon me in the most elegant Dresses of Sentiment and Language; for, if you persist in your present course, be it known to you before hand, that I shall be far more prompt to admire than to compassionate Them.

I do not at all recollect the subject of those letters which you men-2tion to have fallen under your eye after the sailing of the Boston, I rely altogether on your discretion to burn or forward them.3 I have a degree of curiosity to know what was the purport of that from which you scratched the name, and delivered it to the Judgement of Genl. Warren.4

I have honestly confessed to you my delight springing from your afflictions, you must not therefore attribute it to Mr. Gerry's Celibacy, only in part, that he takes singular pleasure in finding your “Heart was not at Ease.”5

You must take this last as my opinion, for Mr. G—— instantly disavows the truth of it. Let us set this down as a great symptom in his favour that he knows and means speedily to turn into the truest road of earthly felicity.—May you, Dear Ma'am, only leave that road to enter the eternal Paradise.

RC (Adams Papers.)


That of 1 March is printed in vol. 2, above; that of 8 March has not been found.


On the (false) report that Franklin had been assassinated, see AA to Lovell, 1 March, as cited in preceding note. Captain “More” should probably be Moore; see Samuel Cooper to AA, 2 March, vol. 2, above.


The letters referred to were from Lovell to JA, 8, 10 Feb., which are in the Adams Papers.


See AA's reply to the present letter, printed under the assigned date of 24 June, below.


For this allusion to Elbridge Gerry, see vol. 2:397.

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 3 April 1778 Thaxter, John AA John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 3 April 1778 Thaxter, John Adams, Abigail
John Thaxter to Abigail Adams
Madam York Town April 3d. 1778

I have just heard a piece of news from Mr. Lovell, which he says comes in a packet lately arrived at New York from England, and which has been published in the New York and Philadelphia papers. It is as follows viz. that the reduction of Genl. Burgoyne has convinced the minister of his weakness in America, and roused the spirit of the nation—that one hundred thousand men are to be raised and sent over—that ten men to a parish are to be raised which will amount to the aforesaid number, as there are 10,000 parishes.

That the minister is convinced of his imbecillity in America no one can doubt: that one hundred thousand men are to be raised and sent over appears to have as much wildness and Utopianism in it as many of the British projects have of late been characterized with. The design is lame and weak and the execution will be retarded by various causes. First; they know France would instantly take advantage of such a prodigious number of men being sent over to America, by discharging 3upon that Island that Resentment and Vengeance which a sense of reiterated injuries during last war kindled, and fourteen years has not extinguished. The vial would be oponed by such a favourable opportunity. It is a known fact that notwithstanding the repeated assurances which the minister treacherously says he receives of the pacific intentions of France and Spain, that the British cabinet is often alarmed by facts of a serious nature from those powers.

They know that France and Spain are making very formidable preparations, however pacific their intentions. Can it be supposed that those powers would tamely suffer such a force to go from Great Britain without operating against them, or at least demanding an ecclarcismment? They know Britain is reduced, and losing her boasted omnipotence fast.

In the second place; the exhausted state of her finances, and the immense debt that at present bears her down, would embarrass her exceedingly. They are taxed intolerably now, and the people would never submit to the enormous addition which must take1 to pay and support those men when employed. Men do not so easily part with property, hardly earned, to be squandered away in a fruitless and hopeless expedition.

Thirdly; the people at large are not affectionately fond of the measures. It is more of a ministerial than a national war. The ministry cannot expect that support from the people thus disposed, which is necessary to carry on their works of darkness and blood. It would be natural to suppose that men might be recruited if the war met with the approbation of the people at large. If a disinclination to the service impedes the recruiting business, what number can be raised in the proposed way? Can they buy that number? No. Their present civil thraldom is more eligible than a military one. Administration cannot reason the people collectively out of their feelings however they may plunder their purses.

I cannot help considering this attempt as the last struggle of an expiring ministry.

Much more might be said, and many more objections raised to shew the impracticability and absurdity of the measure, but these together with the ones already suggested cannot escape that penetration which you are so happily possessed of.

With great esteem I am Madam, your very Humble Servt., J.T.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree”; endorsed: “April 3.”

4 1.

Thus apparently in MS, which is, however, slightly torn by the seal at this point.