John Adams to Abigail Adams
May 1. 1777
This is King Tammany’s Day. Tammany was an Indian King, of this Part of the Continent, when Mr. Penn first came here. His Court was in this Town. He was friendly to Mr. Penn and very serviceable to him. He lived here1 among the first settlers for some Time and untill old Age and at last was burnt.
Some say he lived here with Mr. Penn when he first came here, and upon Mr. Pens Return he heard of it, and called upon his Grandchildren to lead him down to this Place to see his old Friend. But they went off and left him blind and very old. Upon this the old Man finding himself forsaken, he made him up a large Fire and threw himself into it. The People here have sainted him and keep his day.2
RC (Adams Papers). There is nothing to prove beyond question that this letter was addressed to AA, and from its tone one might plausibly suppose it was addressed to one of the Adams children, perhaps AA2. But lacking evidence to the contrary, the editors believe, with only the slightest shadow of doubt, that AA was the intended recipient.
1. MS: “he.”
2. On the history of the St. Tammany Society in Philadelphia, founded in the early 1770’s and similar in its politics to the Sons of Liberty in New York and Boston, see a rambling serial article by Francis von A. Cabeen, “The Society of the Sons of Saint Tammany of Philadelphia,” PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. description ends , 25 (1901):433–451; 26 (1902):7–24, 207–223, 335–347, 443–463; 27 (1903):29–48. The Society was named for a chief of the Delaware tribe who had died many years before but was endowed with all possible virtues by his admiring followers, particularly the virtue of being indisputably all-American, unlike the legendary patrons of such societies as those of St. George, St. Andrew, and St. Patrick. See DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; 20 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends under Tammany.