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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3

From Abigail Paine Greenleaf
Greenleaf, Abigail Paine RTP
Taunton Feb: 26. 1776 Dear Brother,

We are rejoicing at receiving a letter from you dated 29 Jan:1 hope long before this time you are Convinc’d that we are not so tardy as we appear’d to be when you wrote. Really we have not been able to send to Providence since the week after we sent letters dated about 20th Jan: if you have receiv’d that packet you see I strove to be very good and sent quaintity to compensate for the difficiencys in quallity. I’ve lost all the little faculty I once had of letter writing, but in such absence as yours I judge a simple narration of what and how we do will be an ease to your anxious breast. I think to continue as I set out in my last.

The fifth inst. Mr. Greenleaf left your hospitable roof had some post office business to attend at Watertown and he writes me shall set out next week for Brookfield. I wish he may be successful in his plan to serve his country and get bread for his family. If he don’t meet with great disapointments we think of carrying our family there, but at present every thing is so uncertain I dare not look forward, nor have any depandance upon any sheme however promising soever the present aspect. We are amiss with a talk of attacking Boston before the first of April. The prospect causes us poor females many palpatations. We look forward to the spring with dread but endeavour to enjoy the present security depending upon 166protection from harm from him who governs all events. My faith is very strong that somthing diffiret from the prsent prospect will turn up. I read accounts from England very carefully and rejoice at increasing divisions among them. But this is all out of my plan. I’ll return to naration.

Last sunday seven’ht Mrs. Leonard sent me word that Naby was ill. Sister sent me to her. I found her so and on fryday brought her to your house and sent for the docto. She is now much better but not able to write. There is a bad cankor fever at Rainham that proves mortal, which allarm’d the family but she is suffering her old disorder. It has been a very health time but the sudden changes in the weather, tis fear’d will bring on fevers. We have had many snow storms but it turns to rain and south winds so that half the time our roads are like breaking up of winter then a suden frost chills all nature, thus the winter has spent only a few days sleding at christmas consequently colds have been a universal complaint. Sister Paine has had her share but is better tho; her health not so good as I cou’d wish the children are well, and under very good regulation and I think forward in learning. I long for your return that you may see and rejoice in them. I don’t know enough of military affairs to send you an account of the new commissions only that Coll: George Williams is cheif Coll: & Zeph. Leonard Esqr. Lieut. Coll: in the militia. Mr. Barnum is going with the consent of his people, down to the Army a chaplain for a year. I han’t heard who is to supply his place here, but tis talk’d that Mr. Read of Titicut’s son2 has engag’d. In my last I desir’d the favour of you to bring a peice of linnin for Tommy but by a mistake directed for a finer cloth than I desire fine enough to wear well is sufficient and shall be glad of less if a whole peice will be too great a burden. We are greatly oppress’d by the extravagant price and scarcety of every sort of cloathing and material to make them.

Naby & Eunice send their duty to you are longing for your return. We want a further description of the country and people through which you journey’d. I imagine you were highly gratified. I’ve wore out my pen and tir’d my eyes and almost fill’d my paper so conclude wishing you every needed Blessing. Your oblig’d Friend & Sister

Abigail Greenleaf

RC ; endorsed.


Not located.

167 2.

Solomon Reed (1719–1785), a 1739 graduate of Harvard, was minister of the Third Parish of Middleboro (now the North Titicut Congregational Church) ( Sibley’s Harvard Graduates , 10:398–400). Three of his sons eventually became ministers. This reference is probably to either John (1751–1831), a 1772 Yale graduate, or his brother Solomon (1753–1808), a 1775 graduate of the same college (Dexter, Yale Biographies, 3:453–455, 585–586).

From Robert R. Livingston
Livingston, Robert R. RTP
Clare Mount 26th Feby. 1776 Dr:Sir,

I recd: your favour of the 26th: ult: I feel with the most gratefull acknowledgments your tender sympathy in my repeated losses— losses of which no one can form an adequate Idea who has not known the harmony with which we lived, the characters of the deceased, & the force of freindship cemented by the nearest connections & hightned by a similarity of pursuits, interests, & inclinations. But it does not become us to repine at the dispensations of providence. I derive much consolation from the glorious end of my dear freind & when I grieve it is more for my country than myself. In his integrety & abilities I saw not only an able Champion for our rights but a firm barrier against those who may be tempted to derive advantages from the calamities of the country.

But the power that has hitherto protected us will raise up other Hero’s to fight our battles. This is the season for genius to display itself. I for my part think our prospect brightens daily, the weakness & divisions of our enimies give us advantages which they can never recover, if we are careful to make the proper use of them. Let us then endeavour to compromise every little provincial despute & heartily join in the glorious persuit of freedom which I am satisfied we shall not in that case fail to obtain. Whatever may be our object I am persuaded that it is time the people should be weaned from too warm an attachment to a people nation who have lost the vertues on which it was originally grounded. It will be easy to return to their old prejudices (if necessary) when Britain offers such terms as we can safely close with. This I once hoped expected from their justice, then hoped from their fears, & am now growing more indifferent about.

I am much pleased at the progress made in the manufacture of salt petre. I must own that I have had more fears on that score than any other. The powder mill you speak of is rebuilt. If you think it necessary I have 168several convenient streams on which on the shortest notice I will have as many erected as the congress will direct on any terms which they will think it reasonable to propose. My Brother1 (who has the mill you speak of ) is with you. I will be obliged to you if you will inform him that the brasses are not yet done, & that he had best bring a set from Philadelphia if he is like to get any considerable quantity of saltpetre. You will serve me & the publick by expediting his business that he may attend to his mills. I would just hint to you, that you should not suffer yourselves to be deceived by exagerated accts. which the avarice of the powder makers will enduce them to give—for be assured if you make every allowance for repairs, bad weather, & failure of water in some places, you can not expect more than 400 lb a week at an average from a mill.

Genl. Schuyler here he tells me wrote for a committee to set at Albany. You must be convinced of its necessity. Pray let it be done. I am not without hopes of seeing you on that errant. I must confess I should like to be joined with you, if it takes place, as I may then at the same time contribute my mite to the publick service & attend a little to the affairs of my family, which the death of both my grandfathers, my Dear father & worthy brother renders a necessary duty.

Farewell! present my comps. to your worthy colleagues & Mr. Langdon if he is still with you. May your kind wishes be returned with interest to your bosom. I remain Dear sir Your most obt. Hum. Servt.

Robt. R. Livingston

RC ; addressed: To The Hon: Robert Treat Paine Esqr. at Congress Philadelphia To care of Mr. Hazard D:postmaster N:Y: free R. R. Livingston; endorsed; postal stamps: “FREE” and “N.YORK.MA. 7.” A draft of this letter, dated Feb. 27, is at the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Identified as John Robert Livingston (1755–1851) in Letters of Delegates, 3:711.