Adams Family Correspondence, volume 7

Elizabeth Cranch to Abigail Adams, 20 May 1786 Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch AA Elizabeth Cranch to Abigail Adams, 20 May 1786 Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch Adams, Abigail
Elizabeth Cranch to Abigail Adams
My dear Aunt Braintree May 20th 1786

We have sat off our English Friends1 for Boston. Mama has accompanied them; Sister Lucy has gone to your deserted habitation, and taken our Boy with her to clean the closets, rub the furniture &c. The dampness for want of Fires being kept in the Rooms moulds the things very much, and makes the Paper peal off, and it 171requires considerable care, to keep them in tolerably good order. And here is your Eliza left entirely alone. I would recollect my thoughts and arrange them in some degree of order if possible, but they have been so confused for some time past that I fear tis impracticable; The arrival of my Cousins this week, the reception of Letters from you by Lyde and Cushing,2 who came in this week also, together with the intelligence relative to my Cousin contain'd in yours, has quite turned my head, and I feel now as if I had just awoke from a dream.

You think some of my Letters must have miscaried as you have recd. none since that by Mr Wilson; Tis no wonder my Aunt should be loth to suppose her Neice capable of so great neglect, as she must prove herself to be, when she makes the mortifying confession, that She has not once written since that time! I will not attempt an apology: my future attention, must prove, my penitence and reformation.

I did not return from Haverhill, till the 17th of April, only a Visit of 7 months,! two of which I spent with my dear and amiable Aunt. I have pass'd the Winter very happily: Society and Amusements pleasing; Friends, attentive and sincere; Health my companion doubly pleasing, as long unenjoy'd; A heart (usually) at ease, and a mind perfectly disposed to relish and enjoy, all the good or pleasure which the bountiful hand of Heaven is pleased to spread before me; with all these blessings, why Should not I be happy? My Cousin JQA—s company afforded me much pleasure, he was very good to visit us often at Mr Whites. He is a great favourite with that family, I believe Mr W—— (natturally indifferent) never paid so much attention to any Person before; or felt a greater esteem. And as for my Friend Peggy, if she had not have lost her heart before,3 She would have stood no chance of securing it this winter. O! tis a comfortable thing to have ones heart secure, either in our own possession, or in the hands of one, who will treat and value it as their own.

You have puzzled us my dear Aunt most amazingly with respect to my Cousin; I want to write to her, but for my heart I dont know how to address her; whether as Mrs S——h Mrs H——p——s, or Miss A. I hope however, notwithstanding all changes, I may still call her my Friend, and be acknowledg'd as hers. Yesterday Mama recd. a small parcel from you containing a Crape Apron, and a peice of Ribbon wound upon a visiting Card. Curiosity induced some of us to read it. It was read and thrown by, I took it, and said instantly, it is my Cousins writing—what should she fill up a Card for Mr and Mrs Smith for? 172and who are they? Upon the whole we concluded it must be, even herself and Husband, and that this ingenious scheme for informing us of her marriage was of my good Aunts inventing. To finish the matter, we put the Card up in our post Office (by the side of my picture you know) and placed it before a Letter directed to Mr T.—— which was deposited their till his return, supposing He could very easily discern if it was her writing—was it cruel? Compassion! tenderness! Generosity! all, all forgive us if it was! The temptation was irisistable: perhaps, he knew it all before, and perhaps we are mistaken, another person may write exactly like my Cousin.4

You enquire, how your fruit Trees flourish. Phoebe says the Peach trees are decaying, the others are in good condition. The Laylocks are just opening, and have grown very much.

The grass Plot before the house looks most delightfully green. I went and stood at the door the day before Yesterday, and could not help thinking, how often you had ocupied the same place and with how much satisfaction you used to observe the dayly increasing Verdure; Could you my dear Aunt look upon it now do you think, with the same pleasure you formally did? Your Cottage then had charms and its appearance was equal or superior, to any in the Village; Could you return to it now, and after comparing it with the splendor and elegance of your present habitation, still pronounce it pleasing, still find it the abode of contemtment, of rational enjoyment and domestick peace? O! if you could how happy should We be! I took some encouragment to hope from one expression in your last Letter to me, that you did think of returning. You say “how shall I leave your Cousin?” Unpleasing as the Idea is to me of her settling so far from us, your connecting it, with the truly pleasing one of your return, divested it of some of its dissagreableness and rendered it more surportable; but I must hope it will not be always. I cannot, cannot, consent to it! I am sure she cannot be so happy in Europe. Tho the possessing the sincere and affectionate attachment of one worthy Heart, may be to her the first of blessings, yet, how much more might enjoy that here, in the midst of friends interested for her and who would greatly encrease her happiness, by being the pleasd witnesses of it. She must indeed return.

You inquire about the flower seeds, you was so good as to send me. They came too late for planting last year; I sent for them to Haverhill this winter, to take out some for Mr Dalton, who has a beautiful Garden at Newbury.5 The remainder I put up in my Trunk to bring home, but to my great dissapointment I cannot yet get it 173brought from H——. I am very much affraid they will be too old, I shall however try them in Pots, and distribute, some to my Friends who are curious in that way. Mr Apthorp6 makes great dependance upon rearing some of them. He has had a very pretty Fence before his House since you went away, and made the enclosure look very neat and elegant.

I hope you will congratulate us upon the probability of a new Fence to Our Garden. Mr A—— has long been ashamed of ours, for us, and indeed we have stood in need of one. It is to be like Genll. Warrens, the materials for it are gatherd togather in the Yard, as also for a new Barn, which is as far advanced as framing.

I am exceedingly obligd to you my dear Aunt, for your kind attention to me and my Sister, we shall ever retain a grateful remembrance of your goodness. Mama informs you of all the News. She writes so largely, that she leaves very little for me to say. I have read the Poem you was so good as to send me and am much pleasd with—but accidentally, I suppose, in the sewing, 4 Pages are wanting, just at the conclusion. I was very sorry as it leaves it quite unconnected.

I hope you will be so good as to continue to write to me. Your Letters in some measure compensate for, and fill up that dreadful Chasm which your absence makes, in our enjoyments and which would otherwise be quite insuportable. Please to offer my respectful and affectionate regards to my Uncle. I shall write my Cousin by the next Vessel, which will sail a few days, after this. I have not had but one Letter from her since her Brothers arrival—tis Strange!

I am my dear Aunt with the Sincerest Love & gratitude your obligd & Affectionate Neice Eliza Cranch

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Betsy Cranch May 20th 1786.”


See Richard Cranch to JA, 20 May, below.


AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, 14 Feb.; AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 21 March and 6 April; AA to Elizabeth Cranch, 2 April; and AA to Lucy Cranch, 2 April, all above.


Peggy White lost her heart to Bailey Bartlett; the two married on 21 Nov. (Vital Records of Haverhill Massachusetts to the End of Year 1849, 2 vols., Topsfield, Mass., 1910–1911, 2:329).


The visiting card was not an announcement of AA2's marriage. The William Smiths of Clapham left the card at Grosvenor Square. See AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 4 July, below.


Elizabeth Cranch sent the flower seeds to Ruth Dalton, daughter of Tristram Dalton, a Newburyport merchant and one of JA's classmates at Harvard. Dalton served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, 1782–1785, and Senate, 1786–1788, as well as the U.S. Senate, 1789–1791. At one time the wealthiest citizen of Newburyport, Dalton lost his fortune and ended his days as surveyor of the port of Boston.

Dalton's countryseat, Spring Hill, located on the Merrimack River, was admired by many for its terraced garden, fruit trees, hot house, dairy, and picturesque view of 174the surrounding countryside (Ruth Dalton to Elizabeth Cranch, 8 April, MHi: Jacob Norton Papers; Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 13:569–578; Eben F. Stone, “A Sketch of Tristram Dalton,” Essex Inst., Hist. Colls. , 25:1–29 [Jan.–March 1888]; Recollections of Samuel Breck with Passages from His Note-Books (1771–1862), ed. H. E. Scudder, Phila., 1877, p. 97–99).


James Apthorp (1731–1799), the Cranch family's neighbor (John Wentworth, The Wentworth Genealogy: English and American, 3 vols., Boston, 1878, 1:519–520). For JQA's thoughts on Apthorp, see Diary , 1:329–331; 2:247, 267.

Richard Cranch to John Adams, 20 May 1786 Cranch, Richard JA Richard Cranch to John Adams, 20 May 1786 Cranch, Richard Adams, John
Richard Cranch to John Adams
Dear Bror Boston May 20th. 1786

We have received the Favour of your Letters and those from Sister Adams, by the Captains Cushing and Lyde. Cushing arrived on Sunday last and Lyde on Monday.

I thank you for the further explanation of your Sentiments respecting the probable Operation of our Navigation Act, and think they are well founded. I think what you mention about the Sugar Trade with France in return for our Oil, is a matter of vast Importance to the N England States, and may be prosecuted to great Advantage by our Merchants. The Vessell said to belong to Tom: B—— is this week arrived at Boston with a Cargo of Sugars from France; and, it is reported, will make a fine Voyage. I have not time at present to write on publick Matters—a great Cry in some Parts of the State for Paper Money—great aversion to it in others—probably it will be warmly agitated in the lower House, perhaps carried there: But I think it will not pass the Senate. R: Island has just passed an Act for making an Emission of Paper Money, to be on landed Security, but it is greatly opposed and remonstrated against by their principal Towns.1

The Votes for Govr. and Lt. Govr. in this State are returned, and are said to be full in favour of Govr Bowdoin and Lt Govr Cushing. Senators are much the same thro' the State as last Year. In this County all but Mr. Lowell came in by the People. Mr Lowell and Mr. Ben: Austin (the Father of J: L: Austin) are the Candidates. In Worcester is one Vacancy, Mr Sprague the Lawyer did not come in by the People. He and Genl. Ward are the Candidates.2 Our Friend Doctr. Tufts is unanimously chosen for Member for Weymouth, as well as Senator by the highest number of Votes in the County. Your Sons at the University, and Master Tom: at Haverhill are well. Cous: Charles was here this Week. They behave unblameably as far as I can learn, and follow their Studies with the greatest Attention. I 175have not heard a Complaint or Suggestion against either of them. They and Billy make an agreeable young Triumvirate, and are very happy together. My Kinsman Mr. Wm: Bond, who married Mrs. Elworthy's Sister, arrived here safe from Bristol with his Wife and two Children and her Sister Ebut, after a very agreeable Passage, on Saturday last.3 The Ladies and Children went up to Braintree last Wednesday, where they are at present at our House. They expect to sail for Falmouth in Casco Bay the first fair Wind. You will please to let Cousn Elworthy know this. Your Hond. Mother and your Bror. and Family are all well, as are all the Circle of our near Connections.

May 22d.

Since writing the above we have received your favours by Mrs. Hay who is safe arrived at Boston. I thank you for the learned and very valuable account of Virginia by Govr. Jefferson, which you sent me, and shall follow your injunctions respecting it. I have diped into it in various places, and find his Natural History of that Country to be very curious, and his Observations on the Varieties among the Human Species, particularly with respect to the Indians and Blacks, to be ingenious and worthy of a Philosopher. His Argument drawn from Fact in favour of american Genious, would be greatly strengthened, if, to a Washington, a Franklin and a Rittenhouse,4 we should add a Jefferson.5

Your favour of the 11th. of March contains Matters of vast moment to all the United States, but more especially to those concerned in the Cod-Fishery. I mean the american Commerce with Britain, and the War with the Moors. But as I am in hourly expectation that Capt. Barnard will sail for London, and fearing lest I should loose this Oportunity of acknowledging the receipt of your and Sister Adams's obliging Favours, I must postpone the Consideration of those important and interesting Matters for the present.

You ask what is become of the Art of making Saltwater fresh? I think it is come to nothing, and that our old Friend Pater West has been imposed on by a worthless Fellow, who is now said to be run off and left him in the lurch. Mr West like many other recluse Men, tho' very learned, is credulous and open to Imposition.6 I hear he is greatly mortified.

The Coins, if they be so called, found at Mistick, have been a Subject of Speculation. They are extremely inelegant in their Form, and the impressions very few and clumsy. I rather think they are 176 neither of Phoenician nor Moorish Original; but that they were a kind of Substitute for the Indian Wampum, and used by our first Settlers in their Trade with the Natives while in their rude and most simple State. I will endeavour to send you some of them.

I herewith send you a Packett of Letters from our Family to yours, and shall only add my most affectionate Regards to your deservedly dear Partner, and most amiable Daughter; assuring you that I am with the highest Esteem your obliged Friend and Brother.

Richard Cranch

RC (Adams Papers; addressed:) “To His Excellency John Adams Esqr: L. L. D. Minister from the United States of America at the Court of Great Britain. Grosvenor Square, Westminster”; stamped: “COWES SHIP LRES”; notation: “3/3½” and “5/11”; endorsed: “Mr Cranch. May. 20. Ansd. July. 4. 1786.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.


In an effort to control the state's internal debt, the Rhode Island legislature passed an act to print 100,000 pounds in paper currency to issue as loans in return for mortgages on real estate. Additional legislation required creditors to accept the paper money or forfeit the amount of the loan and be subject to a fine. Every delegate from the towns of Providence, Newport, Bristol, Portsmouth, and Westerly opposed the initiative, which was enacted at the behest of Rhode Island farmers (Boston Independent Ledger, 15 May; Daniel P. Jones, The Economic and Social Transformation of Rural Rhode Island, 1780–1850, Boston, 1992, p. 30–31).


John Sprague (1740–1800) had represented Lancaster, Worcester County, in the state House of Representatives from 1782 to 1785, and in the state Senate from 1785 to 1786; he was not reelected in 1786 ( Doc. Hist. Ratif. Const. , 6:1187).

Gen. Artemas Ward (1727–1800), having served numerous positions in state government as well as representing Massachusetts in Congress, was reelected as the representative from Shrewsbury, Worcester County, and also chosen to serve as speaker of the house by a near unanimous vote (Mass., Acts and Laws , Resolves of 1786, ante May sess.; Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 12:326–348).


William Bond of Kingsbridge, England, and his wife Hannah Cranch, the niece of Richard Cranch and sister of Elizabeth Cranch Elworthy, emigrated to Falmouth (now Portland, Maine). Hannah's younger sister Ebbett died in Falmouth in 1789. By 1796, Bond was established as a watchmaker in Boston (Extract from a Register of the Bond and Cranch Families, 1852, MHi: Cranch-Bond Papers; Boston Directory, 1796; “Richard Cranch and His Family,” NEHGR , 27:41 [Jan. 1873]).


Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia included his response to the Abbé Raynal's observation that America had not yet produced “a man of genius” in any of the arts or sciences (Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, ed. William Peden, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1955, p. 64–65).


Cranch emphasized the name “Jefferson” by writing it in oversized letters.


Rev. Samuel West, Harvard 1754, minister of the First Congregational Society in Dartmouth, now New Bedford, was taken in by Mr. Allen's claims that he could desalinate seawater. West brought Allen's “discovery” to the attention of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and had also “written a pompous account of this affair to the Ambassador of the Court of London” ( Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 13:501–510; Massachusetts Centinel, 4 Feb.; John Eliot to Jeremy Belknap, 8 Feb., The Belknap Papers. Part III, MHS, Colls. , 6th ser., 4 [1891]:308–309). For Allen's scheme, see JA to Richard Cranch, 11 March, note 5 note 4 , above.