Adams Papers

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 29 January 1795

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Phila. Jan. 29. 1795

My Dearest Friend

The public Prints, announce the Death of my old esteemed Friend General Roberdeau, whose Virtues in heart Searching Times endeared him to Philadelphia and to his Country. His friendly Attention to me, when Congress held their Sessions at York Town, I can never forget, and excites a more lively Interest in his Loss than that of some others who have lately gone before him.1

Mr King is re-elected by the Legislature of New York by a majority of five in the House and two in the senate, in opposition to Mr Tillotson, whom you know, to have married a Sister of Chancellor Livingstone.2 This is a great Point gain’d.

Mr Jay, Chancellor Livingstone, Mr Burr, Mr Yates and Mr Hamilton, are mentioned as Successors to Gov. Clinton who has resigned— Mr Jay, if he should not return, will not run very fast. Mr Hamilton it is Said will not serve. Chancellor will stand no Chance as I hear, and it is doubted whether Burr or Yates will prevail.3

We are Still at Uncertainties whether Mr Jay or Despatches from him will arrive before the 4th of March, which makes me Still dubious whether it will be right for me to go away. I am most earnestly and ardently desirous of it but Will it do?

Mrs Washington is very happy at present in a Visit from her two Granddaughters, Nelly’s sisters as I suppose they are—4 one of them is a fine blooming, rosy Girl, who I dare Say has had more Liberty and Exercise than Nelly.

I dined Yesterday at Mr Morris’s whose Hospitality is always prescious. a Company of venerable Old Rakes of Us three score Years of Age, or a little over or a little Under Sat smoaking segars, drinking burgundy & Maderira & talking Politicks till almost Eleven O Clock— This will do once in a great While: not often for me—

In senate We have no Feelings this session— All is cool— No Passions. No Animation in Debate. I never Sat in any public Assembly, so serenely. What Storm may be preparing I know not.— a great Calm at sea & an uncommonly fine day at Land is called a Weather breeder— But if Jays Despatches dont Arrive We shall have no Tempestuous Weather this session.

I wish you a pleasant Thanksgiving though I fear I shall not be with you according to my Wishes.


Instead of an additional Snow, and a return of cold as I hoped this morning We have now a warm and plentiful Rain, which is melting the Snow and Spoiling the Slaying. I hope you have more Snow, more Steady cold, good Sledding and a Solid Mill Pond.

The Post to day, brought me no Letter. I dont always very Sanguinely look for a Letter on Thursdays. I Should be inconsolable on a disappointment a Monday.5

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Janry 29 1795.”

1For Gen. Daniel Roberdeau, a former member of the Continental Congress and Philadelphia businessman, see vol. 2:350, 352–353. Notice of Roberdeau’s death, in Winchester, Va., on 5 Jan., first appeared in the Philadelphia newspapers on 28 Jan. (Aurora General Advertiser; American Daily Advertiser).

2During New York’s congressional elections of 1794–1795, the Federalists retained both seats in the Senate with the narrow reelection of the incumbent Rufus King. His opponent was Dr. Thomas Tillotson (1750–1832), a Maryland native who had settled in New York after the Revolution. Tillotson served in the state assembly from 1788 to 1790 and then the state senate from 1791 to 1799. His wife was Margaret Livingston (1749–1823), the sister of Robert R. Livingston (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989. description ends ; Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson, A Biographical History of Clermont, or Livingston Manor, Clermont, N.Y., 1869, p. 256; Young, Democratic Republicans, description begins Alfred F. Young, The Democratic Republicans of New York: The Origins, 1763–1797, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1967. description ends p. 425).

3On 22 Jan. 1795 Gov. George Clinton announced his decision not to seek a seventh term as governor, citing ill health. Robert Yates (1738–1801), chief justice of the New York Supreme Court, was one of the many candidates to emerge during the 1795 gubernatorial race. A patriot and lawyer, Yates had served on the state court since 1777 and been appointed chief justice in 1790. His Antifederal leanings had tempered enough by 1789 for him to unsuccessfully stand as a Federalist candidate for governor. Six years later, Yates was again courted by some Federalist supporters before firmly aligning himself with the Republican cause. He won his party’s caucus to become the Republican candidate, but he lost the election to the Federalist John Jay (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 Young, Democratic Republicans, description begins Alfred F. Young, The Democratic Republicans of New York: The Origins, 1763–1797, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1967. description ends p. 430–434).

4Martha Washington’s two eldest granddaughters were Elizabeth Parke Custis (1776–1832) and Martha Parke Custis (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series, description begins The Papers of George Washington: Presidential Series, ed. W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Jack D. Warren, Mark A. Mastromarino, Robert F. Haggard, Christine S. Patrick, John C. Pinheiro, and others, Charlottesville, Va., 1987– . description ends 1:4–5).

5JA emphasized this last paragraph by writing it in large script.

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