Adams Papers

Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 10 September 1787

Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson

London Sepbr 10th [1787]

Dear sir

your obliging favours of july and August came safe to Hand. the first was brought during my absence on an excursion into the Country. I was very happy to find by it, that you had received your daughter safe, and that the dear Girl was contented. I never felt so attached to a child in my Life on so short an acquaintance, tis rare to find one possessd of so strong & lively a sensibility. I hope she will not lose her fine spirits within the walls of a convent, to which I own I have many, perhaps false prejudices.

Mr Appleton delivererd my Lace & gloves Safe. be so good as to let Petit know that I am perfectly satisfied with them. Col smith has paid me the balan[ce whic]h you say was due to me, and I take your word for it, but [I do] not know how. the Bill which was accepted, by mr Ada[ms i]n the absence of col Smith, I knew would become due, in our absence, and before we could receive your orders. the money was left with Brisler our Servant, who paid it when it was presented. on our return we found the Bill which you had drawn on mr Tessier, but upon presenting it he refused to pay it, as he had not received any letter of advise tho it was then more than a month from its date, but he wrote immediatly to mr Grand, and by return of the next post, paid it.1

with regard to your Harpsicord, Col Smith who is now returnd, will take measures to have it Sent to you. I went once to mr Kirkmans to inquire if it was ready. his replie was, that it should be ready in a few days, but [. . . .]2 no orders further than to report when it was [. . . .]3 to write you, but he seemd to think that he had done all [that was] required of him.4 The Canister addrest to mr Drayton deliverd to mr Hayward with Special directions, and he assured me he would not fail to deliver it.

The ferment and commotions in Massachusetts has brought upon the Surface abundance of Rubbish; but Still there is Some sterling metal in the political crusible. the vote which was carried against an emission of paper money by a large majority in the House, shews that they have a sense of justice: which I hope will prevail in every department of the State. I send a few of our News papers, some of which contain Sensible speculations.5

To what do all the political motions tend w[hic]h are agitating France Holland and Germany? will Liberty finally gain the assendency, or arbritary power Strike her dead.

Is the report true that is circulated here, that mr Littlepage has a commission from the King of Poland to his most Christian Majesty?!6

we have not any thing from mr Jay later than 4th of july. there was not any congress then, or expected to be any; untill the convention rises at Philadelphia7

Col Smith I presume will write you all the politiks of the Courts he has visited—and I will not detain you longer than to assure you that I am at all times / your Friend and Humble Servant


RC (DLC:Jefferson Papers); endorsed: “Adams mrs̃.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed and due to a torn manuscript.

1Louis Tessier had served as the Adamses’ London banker since 1780. Ferdinand Grand had performed the same function in Paris since 1778 (JA, Papers description begins Papers of John Adams, ed. Robert J. Taylor, Gregg L. Lint, and others, Cambridge, 1977–. description ends , 9:140, 245, 393, 398, note 3; JA, D&A description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:303; Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, Princeton, 1950–. description ends , 12:194).

2Approximately three words missing.

3Approximately three words missing.

4The firm of Jacob Kirckman (1710–1792) and his nephew Abraham Kirckman (1737–1794) was one of London’s leading harpsichord makers in the late eighteenth century. Jacob came to London from Alsace in the 1720s and began producing instruments in 1744. The firm shifted from harpsichord to piano construction after its founder’s death and operated until the end of the nineteenth century. Thomas Jefferson purchased a Kirckman harpsichord in 1786 (Raymond Russell, The Harpsichord and Clavichord: An Introductory Study, N.Y., 1973, p. 79, 82, 90–91).

5The Massachusetts Gazette, 26 June 1787, reported that on 23 June, the House of Representatives had rejected a motion to issue paper money by a majority of 56.

6Lewis Littlepage (1762–1802), a native of Virginia, was appointed chamberlain by King Stanislaus II of Poland on 2 March 1786. He negotiated treaties for Poland with Russia and Spain and served as a secret commissioner to France and other European courts (DAB description begins Allen Johnson, Dumas Malone, and others, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; repr. New York, 1955–1980; 10 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ).

7John Jay reported to JA on 4 July 1787 that the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention had brought the activities of Congress to a standstill; consequently, he had found no opportunity to present formally JA’s resignation. If the secret proceedings of the convention were to fail, Jay wrote, “the Duration of the Union will become problematical. For my own Part I am convinced that a national Government as strong as may be compatible with Liberty is necessary to give us national Security and Respectability” (Adams Papers).

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