Adams Family Correspondence, volume 5

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 19 December 1782 AA2 Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch


Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 19 December 1782 Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA) Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch
Germantown Thursday evening ca. 19 December 1782 1

Yesterday, my Dear Eliza, I came here to pass a few days with our friend. I found her much indisposed.2 She is better to day, and has flattered me by saying, my company has been of service, to her. I wish I could feel conscious that this is not the result of her complasance.

You are now seated in Boston—agreeably—I hope. You aught to be happy, for to deprive your friends of so great a degree of pleasure, as your absence does, and yourself decrease in happiness—is a disagreeable consideration, to each, jointly and seperately. Dont you think so. Should the passing moment be made more agreeable, to you, we shall not repine, but submit for your sake. Betsy Palmer received your letter this morn. Unkind Girl you are, to deprive us all, the pleasure of hearing it, how mortifying.

Mr. Palmer goes to town tomorrow, and will I suppose hand you this. Accept it my Dear as a proof of the affection, and remembrance, of your friend, but not as proof of her tallent, at letter writing, as I should be loth it should be received in that light, tho it may be my vanity, that suggests to me, I can ever exceed this, poor scrale.

I have been recollecting, and do not think of aney news, to tell you. Tis determined, I suppose you know it, that Mr. Robbins, is to leave us, this week. I am sorry, are not you. The boys lament it greatly. I believe it is in that sphere he shines. Last saturday mornings production, I am not at present at liberty to send you.3 Next time you hear from me you shall have it.

Eliza4 says—“give my love to Betsy Cranch. Tell her I thank her for her letter—and by the next opportunity she may expect an answer.” 50It might be proper, perhaps, for me to answer the letter5 I last received from you. I do not feel very capable of it at present. I have read it again—but can only thank you for it. I have had two or three disputes, about you, within this week. Do tell me if I have had the wrong or the right side of the question. Some person, or persons have asserted, that they knew you had, a little attachment for the amiable youth, you write so favourably of, that, to present appearances, it is increasing, and to what it will arrive at we know not, but hope, end favourably to ye both. Now remember, I have opposed the subject, and have not joined with the oppinion. But let me tell you my Eliza that I cannot but believe there is;—no small foundation, for the supposition. You know I dare say the state of your own heart, and are the only proper judge, how great a degree of esteem, of friendship—of Love—you find existing in your own breast. If the Dear youth has gained, a place in your susceptible heart, the seat of goodness, of benivolence and every worthy sentiment, I believe I may venture to say, there is a mutual esteem. Sure I am I wish it, you know my oppinion of him. Time will improve him, and render him, I hope, as great as he is at present amiable. You are both my friends—and I wish you both, truly happy.6

This unsullied sheet of paper, was laid before me. Two sides I have filled, with such a parcell of nonsense as I am ashaimed of. Do my Dear if you should receive it, peruse it, and commit it to the flames, and you shall receive my sincere thanks.

Next week I believe I shall be at Milton.7 Perhaps upon that Mount of knowledge, your friend may receive some inspiration, which, you now perceive is absolutely necessary. Do keep a journal while you are absent from us, and do me the favour of a perusal of it. I admire bargains and will propose one to you. Write freely the occurances and feelings of the every day. I will do the same and at the end of every week, exchange—our productions. I will promise no eye but my own shall see a line of the matter, unless you say you had rather it should be communicated. You shall make the same to me. My only fear is that instead of wishing you to return I shall wish you to continue absent.

I feel so conscious that every word of this will add so much to your pleasure—that I will offer no apology, for thus intruding upon your attention. Good night my friend, sweet sleep and pleasing dreams attend you. Write me soon. Present my every sentiment that had aught to be exprest, where they are due. My Love to Nancy Quincy, and Maria Storer,8 to Betsy Otis. Much believe thine

Amelia 51

RC (MHi: C. P. Cranch Papers); addressed: “Miss Elizabeth Cranch Boston to be left at Smiths, D—r”; endorsed: “AA Dec 1782.” Also on the address sheet, but folded under when mailed, in a different ink but possibly AA2's hand: “Love”; “manna” mama; and “Miss Betsey.” Some damage to the text from blotted penstrokes, folds, and worn edges.


AA2's reference, below, to Mr. Robbins' departure “this week”; the docketing of “Dec 1782”; and AA's entrusting Robbins with a letter to JA on 10 Jan. 1783, below, all point to the last Thursday in December, the 26th. But AA2's statement, also below, that she intended to visit the Warrens at Milton “next week”; her statements, in an undated Jan. 1783 letter to Elizabeth Cranch, written on a Saturday from Milton, below, that she had been there for one week, and that Mr. Robbins “is going to sail for France next fryday”; and AA's statement in her 10 Jan. letter to JA, that AA2 was then at home, suggest a date for this letter of 19 Dec.; and for AA's letter from Milton the date of 4 Jan. 1783, where the editors have placed it.


AA2 probably refers to Mary Cranch Palmer, Richard Cranch's sister; she lived with her husband, Gen. Joseph Palmer, and two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, in Braintree's Germantown section. AA2 describes Mrs. Palmer's ailments in her ca. 22 Dec. 1782 letter to Elizabeth Cranch, below. The Palmers are fully identified in vol. 1:18, note 8.


The editors have not deciphered this reference. It could refer to some journal or occasional account that AA2 was keeping. Her first known journal covered the period Aug. 1784–Nov. 1787, and is often cited below.


Elizabeth Palmer; the editors have punctuated the quotation.


Not found. No letters from Elizabeth Cranch to AA2 are extant. Many of the letters inherited from AA2 by her daughter, Caroline Amelia Smith de Windt were probably destroyed in the fire that consumed the family home at Fishkill, N.Y. in 1862, some years after Mrs. de Windt's death. See vol. 1:xxx and note 22.


The youth who had allegedly turned Elizabeth Cranch's head has not been identified. He could have been Henry Warren, son of James and Mercy Warren, whom Betsy had recently visited in Milton, or some youth in Boston, where she was currently visiting (see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, 9 Nov. , above, and ca. 22 Dec. , below). He could also have been any one of a number of Braintree youths, perhaps even Royall Tyler Jr., who boarded with the Cranches, and whom AA saw as courting AA2 (AA to JA, 23 Dec., below). It is worth noting here that in the very month that AA writes to JA about AA2's growing attraction to Tyler, AA2 writes only of her cousin's supposed affair of the heart.


In Jan. 1781, Gen. James Warren had bought the late Gov. Thomas Hutchinson's country home on Milton (or Neponset) Hill, and the Warrens spent much time there until 1788, when they returned permanently to Plymouth.


The youngest daughter of Col. Josiah Quincy, just Elizabeth Cranch's age (vol. 2:48, note 5); and Charles Storer's sister Mary (Storer to AA, 17 Oct., note 4, above).