Adams Family Correspondence, volume 5



“I Cannot O! I Cannot Be Reconcild to Living as I Have Done for 3 Years Past”
Abigail Adams to John Adams, 8 October 1782 108 [page] [image]

The fall of 1782 marked three unbroken years of separation for Abigail and John Adams, the longest of their lives, and it would continue for nearly two years more. Beginning with John Adams' departure for Europe on his second diplomatic mission on 13 November 1779, accompanied by his and Abigail's two elder sons, John Quincy Adams and Charles Adams (vol. 3:224, 233–235), this separation would last until 7 August 1784, when they were reunited in xiiLondon (see John Quincy Adams to John Adams, 6 August 1784, below). The anxiety of these years was heightened for both parties, first by the war, then by John's serious fevers in Amsterdam and Paris, and the delays and mishaps that interrupted transatlantic mail nearly as effectively in the first years of peace as they had during the War for Independence.

Abigail Adams' letter of 8 October 1782 to John Adams, the first page of which is reproduced here, eloquently expresses these frustrations, and just as effectively conveys the balance in Abigail's mind between her desire to be reunited with John, her feeling that she ought to come to Europe to “try to soften, if I cannot wholy releave you, from your Burden of Cares,” and her own dedication to John Adams' mission in Europe: “I feel loth you should quit your station untill an Honorable peace is Established. . . . Tis no small satisfaction to me that my country is like to profit so largely by my sacrifices.”

From the original in the Adams Papers.