John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia July 29. 1776
How are you all this Morning? Sick, weak, faint, in Pain; or pretty well recovered? By this Time, you are well acquainted with the Small Pox. Pray how do you like it?
We have no News. It is very hard that half a dozen or half a Score Armies cant supply Us, with News. We have a Famine, a perfect Dearth of this necessary Article.
I am at this present Writing perplexed and plagued with two knotty Problems in Politicks. You love to pick a political Bone, so I will even throw it to you.
If a Confederation should take Place, one great Question is how We shall vote. Whether each Colony shall count one? or whether each shall have a Weight in Proportion to its Numbers, or Wealth, or Exports and Imports, or a compound Ratio of all?
Another is whether Congress shall have Authority to limit the Dimensions of each Colony, to prevent those which claim, by Charter, or Proclamation, or Commission to the South Sea, from growing too great and powerfull, so as to be dangerous to the rest.1
Shall I write you a Sheet upon each of these Questions. When you are well enough to read, and I can find Leisure enough to write, perhaps I may.
Gerry carried with him a Cannister for you. But he is an old Batchelor, and what is worse a Politician, and what is worse still a kind of Soldier, so that I suppose he will have so much Curiosity to see Armies and Fortifications and Assemblies, that you will loose many a fine Breakfast at a Time when you want them most.2
Tell Betcy that this same Gerry is such another, as herself, Sex excepted.—How is my Brother and Friend Cranch. How is his other Self, and their little Selves. And ours. Dont be in the Dumps, above all Things. I am hard put to it, to keep out of them, when I look at home. But I will be gay, if I can.
RC and LbC (Adams Papers).
1. On 12 July the committee that had been appointed for the purpose just one month earlier reported John Dickinson’s draft of the Articles of Confederation, and it was ordered printed for the exclusive use of the members. On the 22d, Congress, in a committee of the whole, began a debate thereon, which continued at intervals until 20 Aug., when a revised text was submitted and ordered printed for later consideration. See JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 5:433, 546–556, 600 ff., 674–689. JA entered minutes of some parts of this debate in his Diary, 25 July–2 Aug., particularly on the question of the territorial claims of certain states (Article XV in the Dickinson draft) and the question of the basis of voting by the states in Congress (Article XVII); see his Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:241–250. JA’s notes of debates are supplemented by Jefferson’s for 30 July–1 Aug., which include speeches by JA (Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd and others, Princeton, 1950–. description ends , 1:320–327).
2. Gerry not only dawdled on the way home but through a misunderstanding delivered the precious canister of tea to the wrong person, namely Mrs. Samuel Adams, who with much satisfaction served some of it to AA during her stay in Boston. To make matters worse, AA did not receive the present letter until some time in September, so that clarification of the mistake was long delayed. See JA to AA, 5 Sept.; AA to JA, 7 and 20 Sept.; all below.