Abigail Adams to John Adams
Quincy May 10th 1794
my Dearest Friend
I received your’s of April 27th & 30th together with the Pamphlets last Evening.1 two of them from the spirit they breathe denote their origin to be of southern extract. they are a counter part with the attacks upon the Secretary made last year in the House. I have ever thought with respect to that Man, “beware of that spair Cassius—”2 this might be done consistant with prudence, and without the illiberal abuse in many respects so plentifully cast upon him. the writers however discover too plainly that envy Pride and malice are the Sources from whence their opposition arrises, in stead of the publick good. they are written in the stile & spirit of Honestus, a Rancourous malice or a dissapointed ambition at bottom. you and I know that in two Instances the Letter writer Lies most wickedly and from thence, if he could not be convicted in other instances yet we might safely conclude that many things which he alledges against the secretary are equally false, and I shall Say of the knavish writer as the Son of Vattel says of Genet, that the Books which he abuses will out live his malice and his Mushroom Letters:3 the North and South appear to be arranged very formidably against each other in politicks and one judas appears from this quarter too conspicuous for his honour, or reputation. tis said here that the Southern Members have promised him the vice Presidency the next Election if the southern states force us into a war—4 I hope their Negroes will fight our Battles, and pay these real & haughty Aristocrats all the Service due to them, from the Real & true Republicans. the Pamphlet upon Prophesy I shall send to mr Cranch who has some time been upon the subject, and told me not long since, that he was persuaded we were entering upon the third woe Trumpet.5 he has borrowd the last volms of Gebeline lately which he is delighted with.6 when I have read the dreadfull Scenes which have past, and are still acting in France, when I behold so Numerous and powerfull a Nation overturning all their old established forms both of Government and of Religion opposing & baffeling so successfully so many powers, and that under no Government, that deserves the Name, I have been led to contemplate it, as no common or natural event, arrising from the pressure of any increasd burdens or any new infringment upon their Priveledges, but the over ruling hand of Providence fulfilling great designs. it is the Lords work and it is Marvelous in our Eyes— the skirt of the cloud will pass over us—and thankfull may we be if justice and Righteousness may preserve us from its Artiliry
we are very dry, quite as much so as the last Season— I aim at no rivalship I only wish to fullfill my duty and pursue that which shall be for our mutual advantage. yet I fear I shall be deemd an unprofitable Servant and that some things will be left undone; which ought to have been done. I have the satisfaction however of thinking that I am more usefull here than I could be by residing at Philadelphia
I have very little hopes to give you respecting our aged Parent, who has had a relapse, and a very severe one, but has survived it, and is again better, tho mere Skin and bone, and unable to walk a step alone. tis the decline of Nature aided by a long Sickness. mr Cranch has accepted the post office— I check every rising wish & suppress every anxious desire for your return, when I see how necessary you are to the welfare and protection of a Country which I love, and a people who will one day do justice to Your memory the reflection however of always having done what you considerd as your duty, will out weigh all popular Breath and virtue be its own reward— I am most / Tenderly and affectionatly / Your
mr Jeffry has sent me the english papers to the 6th of March, and I have been reading the Parlimentary debates7 the President must feel a pleasure & satisfaction at the justice done to his wise and prudent conduct, and the enconiums paid to his Merrit. Britain has playd a knavish Game towards us, the extent of which, even those who condemn her conduct towards Neutral powers, do not appear to be fully apprizd of. I see not but she must humble herself and treat with the Ruling powers in France, or be overwhelmd herself.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “May 10. 1794.”
1. For two of the pamphlets, see JA to AA, 30 April, and note 2, above. In his letter of 27 April, JA sent AA an additional pamphlet on prophecy (see note 5, below) and reported on TBA’s imminent departure for the Pennsylvania interior (Adams Papers).
2. “I do not know the man I should avoid / So soon as that spare Cassius” (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act I, scene ii, lines 200–201). AA refers to Alexander Hamilton.
3. On 3 May the Boston Columbian Centinel reprinted an item from the Leyden Gazette, 27 Dec. 1793, by C. A. M. Vattel, the son of Emmerich de Vattel and an officer in the Swiss Guards. He took offense at a statement by Edmond Genet attacking his father and others as “hireling writers” producing “worm-eaten volumes,” and replied, “I have a sovereign contempt for Citizen Genet; but I owe it to the memory of Mr. Vattel, my father, to hinder those flat calumnies from deceiving honest people. My father, when he wrote on the law of nations, was in the pay of no body, nor was he in chains, for he was a member of one of the Swiss Cantons (Néufchatel,) where the most happy freedom reigns.— As to his works being eaten by worms, they will perhaps remain longer than the French Republic.” The item also appeared in other newspapers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York.
4. Probably Aaron Burr, the only northern senator to vote against John Jay’s appointment to negotiate an Anglo-American commercial treaty (Monaghan, John Jay, description begins Frank Monaghan, John Jay, Defender of Liberty, New York and Indianapolis, 1935. description ends p. 367).
5. The pamphlet may have been Prophetic Conjectures on the French Revolution, and Other Recent and Shortly Expected Events, Phila., 1794, 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. 27564, which was first advertised for sale in Philadelphia in late February (Philadelphia American Daily Advertiser, 25 Feb.). The “third woe Trumpet” refers to the sounding of the seventh, or final, trumpet ushering in Christ’s kingdom (Revelation, 11:14–15).
6. Antoine Court de Gébelin, Monde primitif, analysé et comparé avec le monde moderne, 9 vols., Paris, 1773–1782. A set of this work is in JA’s library at MB (Catalogue of JA’s Library description begins Catalogue of the John Adams Library in the Public Library of the City of Boston, Boston, 1917. description ends ).