Adams Family Correspondence, volume 5

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams

John Adams to Abigail Adams 2d

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 4 December 1782 JA AA


John Adams to Abigail Adams, 4 December 1782 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Paris December 4. 1782

Your Proposal of coming to Europe, has long and tenderly affected me. The Dangers and Inconveniences are such and an European Life would be so disagreable to you that I have suffered a great deal of Anxiety in reflecting upon it. And upon the whole, I think it will be most for the Happiness of my Family, and most for the Honour of our Country that I should come home. I have therefore this Day written to Congress a Resignation of all my Employments, and as soon as I shall receive their Acceptance of it, I will embark for America, which will be in the Spring or beginning of Summer.1 Our Son is now on his Journey from Petersbourg through Sweeden Denmark and Germany, and if it please God he come safe, he shall come with me, and I pray We may all meet once more, you and I never to Seperate again.2

Yours most tenderly. J. Adams3

RC (Adams Papers). LbC in Charles Storer's hand (Adams Papers).


Blotting shows that the underlining in the previous sentence was done just prior to folding, probably by JA. In this sentence the letterbook copy has “in Europe” after “Employments.” The letterbook copy does not have any underlining.

JA's letter of this date to R. R. Livingston, secretary of foreign affairs, accompanied the preliminary treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States, which had been signed on 30 November. JA resigned both his commission to borrow money in, and his letter of credence to the United Provinces and expressed the hope that Henry Laurens would be given full power to represent the United States in the Netherlands, and then declared: “I should not chuse to stay in Europe, merely for the honor of affixing my Signature to the Definitive Treaty.” In closing, he proposed that if Congress thought someone should take his place as peace negotiator, which he doubted was necessary, it pick Francis Dana (PCC, No. 84, IV, f. 301–302; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:106).

On 1 April 1783, Congress briefly considered the report of a committee that recommended accepting JA's resignation, but deferred its decision, at the request of the “Eastern delegates,” “untill further advices sh[ould] be received” ( JCC , 24:225; 25:952–953 [Madison's notes]; and see JA to AA, 13 July 1783, note 3, below). Congress never did accept JA's resignation, but instead, after long delays, appointed him in May 1784, with Franklin and Jefferson, to negotiate commercial treaties with the European powers.


JQA left St. Petersburg on 30 Oct., destined for Holland. Francis Dana informed JA of JQA's departure and his itinerary in a letter of 30 Oct. (Adams Papers), and predicted his arrival in December; but JQA did not reach The Hague until 21 April 1783, and did not meet his father there until 22 July (JQA, Diary , 1:153, 174, 176).


The present letter is JA's first known to AA after the signing of the preliminary peace 47terms; his failure to mention this event suggests that one or more letters to her may be missing. On 15 Dec., JA reported the treaty to both Richard Cranch, below, and Isaac Smith Sr. (both in MHi: Cranch Family Papers). John Thaxter informed AA of the signing on the same day, below.