Adams Papers

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 17 December 1795

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Philadelphia Decr 17. 1795

My Dearest Friend

I went to Senate this morning with Expectations highly raised of receiving my first Letter from you: and happily was not disappointed. I began to entertain fears for your health.

I know not how to account for it, but your Short Accounts of the Progress of Business upon the farm Serves as a Substitute for the Pleasure of Seeing it as it goes on: and every Word of it is a cordial drop. The Weather Since the 10th the date of your Letter has been as fine as it had been from the time I left you: so that I presume our People have made a good hand of it, in Spreading the Manure from the heaps. You must not forget your Wood.

I congratulate you upon the Receipt of your Miniatures, and am very glad you find them Likenesses: I shall have my feast in looking at them next Summer. Col. Pickering told me, he had Letters from John dated in September. He loves to read his Correspondence and contrast it with another which he cannot admire.1 I doubt now whether my Son will go over to England at all: but am not certain.

The Negative put by the Senate on the Nomination of Mr Rutledge gave me pain for an old Friend, though I could not but think he deserved it. C. Justices must not go to illegal Meetings and become popular orators in favour of Sedition, nor inflame the popular discontents which are ill founded, nor propagate Disunion, Division, Contention and delusion among the People. I never thought him the greatest Man in the World, nor had any fixed Confidence in his Penetration or his Constancy or Consistency. I have also had Reason to suspect that the French had too much Influence with him to leave him perfectly neutral or impartial. The Disarrangement of his Affairs the Reports of his Eccentricities &c had not made so much Impression upon me. But all Things considered, the senate were very decided that such an Example ought to be made.

I know you will naturally inquire whether any Notice will be taken of Mr Masons Disobedience to the order of the Senate, in his publication of the Treaty. I make no Inquiries upon such Subjects— they are not connected with any Branch of my Duty. But from accidental hints I have heard the subject is not forgotten.2

The Complexion of the House of Representatives is not so formidable as many expected and the Voice of the People from Maryland Northward is much more favourable to the Treaty than was imagined. and indeed in North Carolina, though they may not disapprove of the Votes of their senators their disposition to acquiesce in the decision of Authority, is Said to be very good.3

Gen. Jackson of Georgia has resigned and my old Friend Walton is coming in his Place. Gunn writes that he is for order and good Government.4

We are daily overlooked by our Masters in the Gallery: but there has not yet been many debates which could afford much Gratification to their Curiosity. The Debate on the Answer to the Presidents Speech has been the only one of any Consequence. The Arguments of those who were in favour of it have been very poorly reported to the Public in Gazettes. This Partiality will be one ill Effect of the Gallery. But upon the whole I hope it will do more good than harm. I will present your Respect and Affection as you desire. My Duty to my Mother.

I am as ever most affectionately yours

J. A

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs A”; endorsed: “December 15 / 1795.”

1JQA had written twice to the secretary of state in September, once on 14 Sept. and again on 29 Sept. (LbC’s, APM Reel 129). The one whose correspondence “he cannot admire” was presumably U.S. minister to France James Monroe, a Democratic-Republican.

2No formal action was taken against Stevens Thomson Mason by the Senate for his breaking the embargo on publication of the Jay Treaty (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 ).

3By a vote of 82 to 15, the N.C. House of Commons on 8 Dec. declined to debate resolutions “reprobating the [Jay] Treaty, and returning thanks to our Senators for voting against it” (Journal of the House of Commons, State of North-Carolina, at a General Assembly, Begun … the Second Day of November … One Thousand and Seven Hundred and Ninety-Five, Edenton, N.C., 1796, p. 53, 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. 30910; Philadelphia Gazette, 23 Dec.).

4The English-born lawyer James Jackson (1757–1806) of Georgia had served in the state militia during the Revolution, as a representative in the 1st Congress, and as a senator since 1793. Following his resignation, the state of Georgia appointed George Walton to replace Jackson. Walton (1750–1804), also a lawyer, had served with JA in the Continental Congress and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He had been governor of Georgia and also served as chief justice of the state. He remained in the Senate only until Feb. 1796, when a successor was elected. James Gunn (1753–1801), the other Georgia senator, was a Savannah lawyer. He served in the Senate from 1789 to 1801 (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989; rev. edn., description ends ). No letter from Gunn to JA from this time has been found.

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