Adams Family Correspondence, volume 10

Abigail Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, 30 November 1794 Adams, Abigail Adams, Thomas Boylston
Abigail Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams
my dear Thomas. Quincy Novbr 30th 1794

Well my Dear Son, how did the watery world agree with you? I hope it was propitious to your passage, and that thirty or 40 days, at 280 furthest Landed you safe in a Country, for which I have ever Since my residence in it, entertaind a fondness and partiality.

As you are a New Traveller I expect from your pen; many judicious observations, but what will be most valuable to me, will be the News of your safe arrival, your Health and happiness.

There have been some Changes in the political World since you left us. Insurgency and Jacobinism droop their Heads. the Democratick Clubs sink into insignificance, or to keep themselves from total contempt come forward and approve the measures persued by Government, especially in the suppression of the late Rebellion, that under that cloak they may not be considerd as the Authors of it. The destruction of Robertspears whom they considerd as the great Champion for Liberty and equality, and the odium cast upon his Memory; has had no small share in depressing the Enemies of Government; There is at present a prospect of more quiet amongst ourselves than the last year afforded

Congress have been in session ever Since the 1 Monday of this Month, but have not been able to make a senate till the 19th I will inclose to you the Presidents Speach if I can obtain it. Genett has really, and truly married Cornelia Clinton, tis reported for political purposes—against the Govenours consent. he thinks I presume that it would injure his Election. I wish him joy with a connection which is held in ——— by every honest mind.

Charity Smith married to mr shaw Brother to the late Consul. Your Friend and Cousin William Cranch gone to the City of washington there to reside, and transact buisness for mr Greenleaf—

I would not damp the begining of my Letter, by informing you of the suden death of your uncle Shaw— on the Night of the 9th of Sep’br having preachd through the whole day and not having made any complaint, he went well to bed. when your Aunt wakd in the morning, she spoke to him. he did not answer she tried to rouse him, but tho he Breathd, he was past recovery, nor would he Blead when a vein was opend. the shock was dreadfull to us all, to her feeble constitution more than I thought she could Sustain, but her fortitude, her truly Christian Deportment exhibited itself in its full lusture, and she conducted herself with that firmness and dignity which did honour to herself to her Family, and to that Being who saw fit to call her to such a trial.

The people Buried him and put the Family into mourning—and she is to remain in the House untill an other Minister Setles. Her 281 circumstances are difficult, tho mr shaw was not in Debt, yet the poor sallery of a Minister can barely give him a living. Her Friends will enable her to carry her Son through Colledge. I know both you and your Brother will sincerly sympathize with her.

I begin to hope soon to hear from you. Louissa desires to be kindly Rememberd so do all your Quincy Friends—and Polly requests me to give information for her that Ten long weeks she has been constant, and as a proof asks me to inclose a Letter.1

adieu Heaven preserve the Lives and Health of both my dear sons and grant me the happiness of seeing them again in their Native Land Your ever affectionate Mother

A Adams

RC (Adams Papers).


The letter has not been found but was presumably from Polly Doble Howard to Tilly Whitcomb, TBA and JQA’s servant, with whom Howard had an informal engagement. The couple eventually broke off the engagement, and Howard married Jonathan Baxter Jr. in June 1797 (Sprague, Braintree Families ; AA to TBA, 21 Feb. 1797, Adams Papers).

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 1 December 1794 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My Dearest Friend Phila. Decr. 1. 1794

Your Letter of the 19th of Nov. gave me, in addition to the ordinary Satisfaction I receive from your Letters, the Pleasure of knowing that your Visit to Haverhill, the damp Vapour of whose River I dreaded, had not injured your health.

You ask me, if Dr Tufts may be collecting Materials, this Winter for Building on the Medford farm? I fear it will be a very costly Undertaking considering the Extravagant Prices of every Thing, and it will keep me Streightened and poor for a long time. I expect the Expence of Building will be 300£, the Interest of which is Eighteen Pounds a Year near half the annual Rent of the whole Estate. I am willing to sell the whole for what it will fetch or to buy the whole at any reasonable Rate. But is it desired of me to build the whole House at my own Expence, when the half only of the Place is yours? I know however your tender and laudable Attachment to the Place, and will consent cheerfully to whatever you determine. or I will desire Dr Tufts to consider me as his son, when he considers sister shaw as his Daughter, and do for Us both, as a father.

We had last night and to Day another North East Storm which I hope has brought up a fresh Stock of Seaweed upon the Beach. 282 Your Annals of Agriculture are more entertaining to me than political History or amorous Romance.

You will see the Address of the House and the Reply. cold, frozen, Stiff, awkward Stuff— The Reply as an Echo to the Address is an admirable one.— richly merited.1

The News from Europe is enigmatical enough at present. The whole Theatre of Europe has been taken up, for years, with the Representation of a Tragedy of Errors. one knows not what is true, nor what is false: what is right nor what is wrong. Suspense and Pyrrhonism is all my Mind can rest on— One Truth however results from every fact and every Report, every certainty and every Supposition—our own indispensible Duty to preserve our Neutrality.

The Members of Congress begin to See the Danger of receiving Foreigners with open Arms, and admitting them into our Legislatures so easily as We have done. The Western Insurgents are almost all Irish White Boys, and peep O Day Boys &c imported and many of them sold since the Peace.2


J. A

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Decbr 1 1794.”


The House of Representatives appointed a committee on 20 Nov. to draft a response to George Washington’s address to Congress and began to debate the committee’s draft the next day. Those debates continued until 28 Nov. when a majority agreed to the text; they delivered the response to Washington on the 29th and he replied the same day. The House’s address, while supportive of Washington’s actions, was formal in tone and emphasized the “consolation” of the Whiskey Rebellion and its aftermath: “It has demonstrated to the candid world, as well as to the American People themselves, that the great body of them, every where, are equally attached to the luminous and vital principle of our Constitution, which enjoins that the will of the majority shall prevail; that they understand the indissoluble union between true liberty and regular Government; … in a word, that they are capable of carrying into execution that noble plan of self-government which they have chosen, as the guarantee of their own happiness, and the asylum for that of all, from every clime, who may wish to unite their destiny with ours.” Washington replied briefly, acknowledging the support of the House but emphasizing that, “notwithstanding the consolations which may be drawn from the issue of this event, it is far better that the artful approaches to such a situation of things should be checked by the vigilant and duly admonished patriotism of our fellow-citizens, than that the evil should increase until it becomes necessary to crush it by the strength of their arms” ( Annals of Congress, 3d Cong., 2d sess., p. 891–892, 893–905, 906–949, 950).


While many Irish and Scots-Irish immigrants were involved in the Whiskey Rebellion—and were the ethnic groups most frequently blamed for it—in fact, Germans, English, and Welsh were also heavily involved (Slaughter, Whiskey Rebellion, p. 66, 194–195, 269–270).

“Peep-o’-day Boys” were members of an Irish secret society of Protestants, established in the mid-1780s and known for their attacks on Catholics. The name came from their practice of “visiting” Catholics early in the morning to search for illegal arms (Charles George Walpole, A Short History of the Kingdom of Ireland, 2d edn., London, 1885, p. 421–422).