Abigail Adams to John Adams
May 28 1777
This is Election Day, but the news of the day I am not able to inform you of as I have Heard nothing from Town. The House is not so unwealdy a Body this year as the last. Very few Towns have sent more than one, and those are many of them new Members. Whether they have changd for the better time will discover.
I recollect a remark of a writer upon Goverment,1 who says that a single assembly is subject to all the starts of passion and to the caprices of an individual.
We have lately experienced the Truth of the observation. A French vessel came into Boston laiden with a large Quantity of dry goods. The War office had the offer of any thing they chose to take, after which some things were offerd for sale by the captain at a higher rate than the Regulated price, whilst some were offerd for less. Upon this a certain B[osto]n Member who comes under the Denomination of a furious Whigg2 Blusterd about and insisted upon it if he would not comply he ought to be orderd out of the Harbour, and procured a very unanimous vote for it in the House, but upon its being sent up to the Counsel there was but one vote in favour of it.
I have been interrupted by company from writing farther. I have been happy in receiving a number of Letters from you of various dates, since I wrote last. I have not time to notice them now, I will write by the next post, and be more perticular. We Have no News here of any kind. There has been no stir at Newport yet.
Every method is taking to fill up the continental Army which I hope will be effected soon. Many of the soldiers who have inlisted for this Town, are in the Hospital under innoculation. We have two Hospitals in the upper parish, one just opend. Dr. W[ale]s has had great Success. Since March 200 have had the distemper under his care, and not one died. He has now more than a hundred in it from this and the neighbouring Towns.3 6 or 7 of my neighbours went in yesterday, and one from my own family, Jonathan.4
The Spring in general has been very cold, a few extreem Hot days, the rest of the time you might sit by the fire which I now do.
Our Fleet saild Last week and had several days of fine wind and weather.
I hear your president is upon the road Home with his family—I hope He brings me Letters. Adieu most sincerely yours.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in John Thaxter’s hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esqr. at Philadelphia”; endorsed: “Portia”; docketed in two different hands, one of which is CFA’s.
1. JA, in his Thoughts on Government (1776); see his Works description begins The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols. description ends , 4:206.
2. A political type that had recently received rough treatment at the hands of a Philadelphia newspaper essayist whose article was reprinted in Boston: “The Furious Whigs injure the cause of liberty as much by their violence as the timid Whigs do by their fears. They think the destruction of Howe’s army of less consequence than the detection and punishment of the most insignificant Tory. They think the common forms of justice should be suspended towards a Tory criminal, and that a man who only speaks against our common defence, should be tomahawked, scalped, and roasted alive. Lastly, they are all cowards, and skulk under the cover of an office, or a sickly family, when they are called to oppose the enemy in the field. Woe to that State or Community that is governed by this class of men!” (Continental Journal, 10 April 1777). The particular Boston member and “furious Whigg” to whom AA alludes has not, however, been certainly identified.
3. Dr. Ephraim Wales, Harvard 1768, had settled in the South Precinct of Braintree (now Randolph) about 1770 and was long prominent in town affairs. In March 1777 the town appointed “a Committee to Treat with Doctr. Wales with respect to his Inoculation for the Small pox, contrary to the vote of Town,” and “Restrictions” were accordingly laid upon him. The issue was “the distance from the Hospital to the Road,” which the committee had found to be “one Hundred and fifteen roods,” evidently not enough. However, at its May meeting the town voted, 121 against 70, to permit smallpox inoculation and authorized Dr. Moses Baker and Dr. Ephraim Wales to conduct “Hospitals” for the purpose, “under the Limitation & Regulation of the Law & the Selectmen of the Town.” (Ebenezer Alden, The Early History of the Medical Profession in the County of Norfolk, Mass., Boston, 1853, p. 12; Braintree Town Records description begins Samuel A. Bates, ed., Records of the Town of Braintree, 1640 to 1793, Randolph, Mass., 1886. description ends , p. 478–480, and passim.)
4. A young servant or farm laborer.