Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch
providence june 19. 1789
my Dear sister
This day is the Aniversary of my Landing in Boston and Tomorrow that of my departure from it. many are the mercies I have to be thankfull for through all my Perigranations, all the painfull scenes I have past through, has been the temporary seperation from my Friends, fatigue either of Body or Mind I scarcly name amongst them for I have my pleasures and gratifications which I set down as a balance to them. cousin Lucy has told you that I left Home about 8 oclock we proceeded to Man’s Inn in Wrentham before we stop’d 27 miles where we dinned upon Roast veal roast chickings sallad &c, west India sweet meats I ought not to forget in the desert, it is really a very good Inn.1 we sat off at three oclock and reachd Attlebouroug about five where we Bated & Met with mr & mrs Mason & miss Powel going to Newport.2 we past an agreeable Hour to gether at Six we renewed, our journey and reach’d Providence at half after Seven. we put up at daggets Inn just at the entrance of the Town Situated upon a Hill opposite the State House commanding a fine view of the River & the whole Town. we are tolerably well accommodated, but should have been much better if the Governour had not taken the best Chamber before I came, (the court being now in Session) and he has not had the politeness either to offer to give it up or to make me a visit, tho he has had much conversation with Polly and now & then takes a Peap at me from entry.3 my first inquiry was after a packet. I found only Browns here, he came & I like him he has a very good packet & Bears a good character himself, but Says he cannot be ready to Sail till saturday morning, the wind to day is directly against us.
In about an hour after my arrival I received the visits of the following persons— mr & mrs Arnold,4 the Gentleman was one of the Committe who came to mr Adams—from the Towns of Newport & Providence mr & mrs Francis. this Lady is the daughter of mr John Brown of this Town, so celebrated for his Wealth5—miss Bowen the sister to the late Governour,6 Col Peck, mr Robins Tuter to the Colledge & mr Shrimpton Hutchinson and Mrs Nightingale,7 all of whom in the Name of many other gentlemen & Ladies regreeted that I had dissapointed them in not letting it be known when I should be here as they had agreed to meet me several miles out of Town. mr & mrs Francis invited me to take up my abode with them. I excused myself, but have promised to take Tea & spend the Evening if I do not go out of Town. this morning I am to take a ride with them to see the Town & to return my visits, if I am not prevented by company but my wish is not to be detained a moment. pray write me & let me know by the next post whether my furniture is all on Board Barnard & when he will Sail— I should be glad to hear how mrs Brisler is. I left her in great affliction.
I feel the want of mrs Brisler as a Hair dresser, on other accounts Polly does very well Matilda is well, & her finger much better. let mrs Storer know if you please— my best Regards to all my dear Friends. it grieved me to see you so dull, you used to keep up your Spirits better do not let them flagg. a merry Heart does good like a medicine we shall hear often from one an other, and the Seperation be renderd less painfull by that means—
This moment a Card is brought me from mr Brown & Lady with an invitation to dine with them to day & that they will visit me at ten—I accept it, as Brown cannot go till tomorrow. adieu my dear sister most / affectionatly Yours.
RC (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters); addressed: “To / Mrs Mary Cranch / Braintree”; endorsed by Richard Cranch: “Letter from Mrs A / Adams, Providence, / June 19th. 1789.”
1. This Wrentham, Mass., inn was originally run by Pelatiah Man (b. 1689) and then by his son David (b. 1724) (George S. Mann, Genealogy of the Descendants of Richard Man of Scituate, Mass., Boston, 1884, p. 22; Boston Evening Post, 19 May 1755).
2. Jonathan Mason Jr. (1756–1831), Princeton 1774, was a former law clerk of JA’s who married Susan Powell (1760–1841) in 1779. From 1786 to 1796, he represented Boston in the Mass. General Court, and he later served as a U.S. senator. Miss Powell was probably Susan’s sister, Anna Dummer Powell (1770–1848), who married Thomas Perkins in 1800 (vol. 4:337; 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 ; Boston, 24th Report, p. 299; NEHGR description begins New England Historical and Genealogical Register. description ends , 26:143 [April 1872]).
3. John Collins (1717–1795) served as the third governor of the state of Rhode Island from 1786 to 1790; he had previously represented Rhode Island in the Continental Congress from 1778 to 1781 (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 ).
Daggett’s Inn, which had been recommended to AA by Capt. James Brown, was probably run by the same Daggett family who operated the ferry across the Seekonk River along the main route between Boston and New York (JA to AA, 19 May, note 1, above; Edward Field, State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at the End of the Century: A History, 3 vols., Boston, 1902, 2:535–537).
4. Probably Providence merchant Welcome Arnold (1745–1798) and his wife, Patience Greene Arnold (1754–1809). Arnold was a business associate of John Brown and Joseph Nightingale (Franklin Stuart Coyle, Welcome Arnold (1745–1798), Providence Merchant: The Founding of an Enterprise, Brown Univ., Ph.D. diss., 1972, p. 6–7, 12).
5. Abby Brown (1766–1821), the daughter of Sarah Smith (1738–1825) and John Brown (1736–1803), of the wealthy Providence merchant family, was married to John Francis (1763–1796) of Philadelphia. Together, John Brown and John Francis formed the company of Brown & Francis, which was the first Providence house to engage in the China trade (James B. Hedges, The Browns of Providence Plantations: The Colonial Years, Providence, 1968, p. xx, 19; 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 ).
6. Jabez Bowen (1739–1815), Yale 1757, served as deputy governor of Rhode Island for most of William Greene’s administration from 1778 to 1786, at which time he was appointed a delegate to the Annapolis Convention. He married Sarah Brown (1742–1800) in 1762. Bowen had several sisters, at least three of whom—Nancy (1762–1801), Betsey (b. 1765), and Frances (b. 1768)—were still unmarried (Dexter, Yale Graduates description begins Franklin Bowditch Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College with Annals of the College History, New York and New Haven, 1885–1912; 6 vols. description ends , 2:452–454; Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island, 3 vols., Chicago, 1908, 1:1009–1011; James N. Arnold, Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636–1850, 21 vols., Providence, 1891–1912, 14:112, 527).
7. Probably Col. William Peck of Providence who had served as the adjutant-general of the Rhode Island militia during the Revolution (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford, Gaillard Hunt, John C. Fitzpatrick, Roscoe R. Hill, and others, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 8:561; Rhode Island, Acts and Resolves of the General Assembly, 1783, Providence, 1785, Evans, description begins Charles Evans and others, American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America [1639–1800], Chicago and Worcester, 1903–1959; 14 vols. description ends No. 18150, p. 11).
Asher Robbins (1757–1845) was appointed tutor at Rhode Island College (later Brown University) in 1782 and remained in the position until 1790. He subsequently studied law and became a U.S. district attorney, state assemblyman, and later U.S. senator serving from 1825 to 1839 (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, 1989. description ends ).
Shrimpton Hutchinson (ca. 1718–1811) had previously been a Boston merchant, running a store called the Three Sugar Loaves and Cannister on King Street (Boston Evening Post, 18 Dec. 1749; Arnold, Vital Record of Rhode Island, 13:516).
Probably Abigail Belcher Nightingale (1720–1794), widow of Samuel Nightingale (1715–1786) and mother of Providence merchants Samuel (1741–1814) and Joseph Nightingale (1748–1797) (William Richard Cutter, New England Families Genealogical and Memorial, 3d ser., 4 vols., N.Y., 1915, 2:928–929; NEHGR description begins New England Historical and Genealogical Register. description ends , 109:4 [Jan. 1955]).