Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 1 January 1779 AA2 Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 1 January 1779 Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA) Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch
My Dear Friend Plymouth jan 1 17791

I take my pen to perform my promice of writing to you and to wish you a happy new year may heaven pour down those blessings upon you that will make this life agreable


this is an unsertain World we know not what a day may bringh forth & when we think we are in the utmost dainger we may be in the least

Mrs. Waren has lately had a severe trial of her fortitude A Son as it ware raisd from the arms of death in that voielent Storm of last saturday her Son Charles2 was no more than a mile from the shore comeing from Boston in a little sloop expecting every moment to go to the Bottom, but surpriseingly his Life was spaird and he arived safe on his native shore on sunday Morning:

In the same storm the Brig General Annould belonging to Col. Sears and Company wrect and seventy Men frose to death there never was so mallonclery an event took place in this harbour before—we have heard of other damages.3

I belive this letter will give you the dumps if you are free from them when you receive it—

I dont know whether this will find you at Braintree Germantown or Boston if you are at Germantown I suppose you are very happy in the company of that Worthy family4 a letter from either place will be very accepttable to your Sincere Friend


PS in some future letter I shall give you some account of the white chaimber the sun is now shineing into it & looks very pleasant

RC (MHi:Cranch Papers); addressed: “To Miss Eliza Cranch Braintree”; endorsed or docketed: “AA plyth. Jan 1 1779.” The text of this earliest MS letter from AA2 known to survive is given here in literal style.


“Your pretty Daughter is here on a Winter's Visit to Mrs. Warren. She is very well, and wont own that she is not happy” (James Warren to JA, Plymouth, 1 Jan. 1779, Adams Papers).


Charles Warren (1762–1785), Harvard 1782, 3d son of James and Mercy (Otis) Warren (Mrs. Washington A. Roebling, Richard Warren of the Mayflower, Boston, 1901, p. 28).


“On Friday the 25th ult. at 6 A.M. the Wind to the Westward, sailed from this Port the Brig General Arnold, James Magee, Commander; and about Meridian the Wind chop'd round to N.E. and looking likely for a Gale, they thought best to put into plymouth, and came to Anchor in a Place called the Cow Yard. On Saturday the Gale encreasing, she started from her Anchor, and stuck on the White Flatt; they then cut both Cables and Masts away, in Hopes to drive over, but she immediately bilged; it being low Water, left her Quarter-Deck dry, where all Hands got for Relief. A Schooner lying within Hail, heard their Cries, but could not assist them. On Sunday the Inhabitants were cutting Ice most of the Day before they got on board, when they saw 75 of the Men had perished, and 34 very much froze, which they got on Shore; and on Monday they got on Shore and buried the dead. Great Part of her Stores, &c. will be saved.—Some evil-minded Persons have raised a Report that she was plundered by the Inhabitants, which is entirely false, as they behaved with the greatest Humanity.” (Boston Gazette, 4 Jan. 1779, p. 3, col. 2.)


Presumably the Joseph Palmer family at Friendship Hall.


In adopting fanciful names for their girlish correspondence AA2 and her cousin Elizabeth Cranch (“Myrtilla”), later Mrs. Jacob Norton, followed the 145practice of their elders twenty years or so earlier. Some of the persons mentioned under poetical names in the extended series of letters between them during the following decade (of which AA2's are now in the Cranch Papers but Miss Cranch's are lost) cannot now be identified.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 1 January 1779 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 1 January 1779 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Passy Jany. 1. 1779

I wish you an happy new Year, and many happy Years—and all the Blessings of Life. Who knows but this Year may be more prosperous for our Country than any We have seen. For my own Part I have hopes that it will. Great Blessings are in store for it, and they may come this Year as well as another. You and I however must prepare our Minds to enjoy the Prosperity of others not our own. In Poverty and Symplicity, We shall be happy, whenever our Country is so. Johnny sends Duty. Mr. Williams waits—I knew of his going but this Moment.1—I think I shall see you this Year, in spight of British Men of War. If it should be otherwise ordered, however, we must submit.

RC (Adams Papers).


Jonathan Williams, Franklin's grandnephew, often called Jonathan Williams Jr., had been at Passy planning a voyage to America, but at Nantes on 12 Jan. he informed Franklin that the loss of a vessel had altered his plans (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:228; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 2:6).

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 2 January 1779 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 2 January 1779 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
My Dearest Friend Janry. 2 1779

You have directed me to draw Bills upon you for what Money I want, and add, that if my Bills are scrupled, to get them indorsed. I thank you sir, but I have no occasion for an indorser. My credit will last here; till it fails upon the other side of the water, I should find no difficulty in selling many more Bills than you would chuse to pay. I have had various applications to me for Bills, but not a single six pence can I get of substantial coin. That is kept up as choise as the life Blood; if our currency was two weeks together upon the same footing, I should not so much regard receiving it for Bills. Merchants do not care to buy small Bills, and if I draw for more than I have immediate use for, it sinks in my hands.

Remittances made in goods, provided it could be done with any safety, will fetch hard Money, or may be parted with as occasion requires. Every article either of Merchandise or provision has been rising for this Month. I had occasion for a Sum of Money to discharge 146my last years accounts and to provide some family stores, which has obliged me to draw a Bill upon you in favour of Mr. Blodget who is in the Alliance, to the amount of a 100 pounds which added to the Bill I drew in favour of Smith and Codman amounts to 2 hundred pounds Lawfull Money.

I hope you will not think me extravagant, I could account for the expenditure of every shilling to your satisfaction; I will give you one instance of prices here. Yesterday I gave 12 pounds Lawfull Money for one pound of Bohea tea and 14 pounds of ordinary brown sugar. Our crops were so cut of by the drought, and distroyed by the Storm, that 23 Bushels of corn is the sum total of my last years crop. Not a single Barrel of cider was made upon the Farm. I do not exaggerate when I say that 100 and hundreds of families have not a mouth full of Bread to eat. Grain is not to be had at any rate in this State and the Embargoes of other States, has hitherto prevented any supplies.

My determination was, that the Bills I had already drawn should answer all the purposes of the last year; but last Night Mr. Williams the Bearer of this Letter,1 and your former pupil, applied to me for a Bill in his favour, but I declined, as I had lately made so large a Draught, and had paper sufficent for all my present Demands. He then offerd me ten guineas if I would draw a Bill for them. As I knew I should be no loser by having hard money in my Hands I consented to draw for that, and have accordingly given him a Bill. Both my unkle and Genll. Warren had been trying a month for me, but not a shining morsal could they procure for me, nor will they give near so much in paper as dollors sell for, which I think a very great hardship. If on any occasion I should be offerd gold and silver for Bills I shall venture to draw, but will not exceed 2 hundred Lawfull Money yearly if I can posibly avoid it—and if I should receive the articles you say you have orderd for me, I may not perhaps have occasion for near that Sum. I have given to Mr. Williams a List of articles2 nearly the same which I have sent to you and if you give him leave, he will purchase and convey them to me, he has also promised to take perticular care to convey any Letters you may wish to send from time to time. The publick packet in which Capt. Ayers went to France arrived at Cape Ann, and was in the most voilent Storm ever known here, drove ashore, happily no one perish'd. Capt. Ober who I find now commands her, has not got to Boston yet. I expect Letters by him—what shall I attribute it to if I have not? My dissapointment will be great, yet should their be a paper addressed to me, and enclosed should I find what may properly be termd a Letter, my agreable dissapointment will be great 147indeed. Surely I have been the most unfortunate person in the world, to loose every Letter you have wrote me since your absence, and to receive only a few lines at various times wrote in the greatest haste, containing only the state of your Health, perhaps making mention of your Son and Servant and then concluding abruptly yours.

I determine very soon to coppy and adopt the very concise method of my Friend—and as I wish to do every thing agreable to him, send him Billits containing not more than a dozen lines at the utmost Especially as paper has grown so dear, which will afford some coulour of an excuse to his most affectionate


PS Mr. Williams goes in the vessel calld the 3 Friends. I wrote Letters by her a month ago and supposed she was gone. My Love to my Son he will find letters for him on board the same vessel.3

RC (Adams Papers); addressed in John Thaxter's hand: “Honble: John Adams Esqr. Commissioner of the United States of America at Passi near Paris. Pr. favor of Mr. J. Williams”; endorsed: “Portia Jan. 2. 1779 ansd. Feb. 19. 1779.”


Not, of course, the “Mr. Williams” mentioned in the preceding letter, but a young Boston relative of his who bore the same name, Jonathan Williams, and who has been identified at vol. 1:123, above. He was on his way to France, where he arrived in mid-February, partly to improve his health (see Williams to JA, 16 Feb. 1779, Adams Papers), but he died in 1780; see Thaxter to JA, 7 Aug. 1780, below.


List not found.


These letters are not clearly identifiable and were presumably lost.