Abigail Adams to John Adams
Quincy April 28th 1796
my Dearest Friend
What ever the Majority of the House of Representitives may think of their conduct, and motives, the people, the Sovereign people will Support their constitution, and no stab has ever been more fatal to the Enemies of our Government than what they will now receive from the voice which cries from all New England. our Faith Shall be preserved, we will fullfill our engagements, we will not submit to an usurped authority, and it Must reach every state in the union. The Jacobins thought there Authority of Sufficient weight to
counteract, the merchants who were signing a petition to Congress. they insisted upon a Town meeting. they accordingly met at Funel Hall. they were two numerous, and adjournd to the old south. tis Said more than two thousand persons were collected. Jarvis made a motion that the President should be petitiond to deliver the papers. this was almost unanimously rejected. Jarvis Austin were the Speakers on one side Dr Warren1 coffin Jones & otis on the other. the Speah of the latter is much applauded, and is said to have been so pathetic as to Draw tears from the Audience.2 Dr Jarvis observed that personally this Subject concernd him very little as he found himself hastning to the World of Spirits. mr otis retorted upon him, that when he arrived there he hoped he would be Satisfied with the Government, of it when the Antis found how the pulse beat, they were for adjourning without taking the Question, “are you for petitioning that the Treaty may be carried into effect,[”] but the call for the Question was so loud and vehement, that it was taken, and the Majority was as a humdred to one. in Newburry port only three Dissenting voices in short the Spirit is Spreading far and wide, and the Country Towns are assembling.3 the Nakedness of the Majority
is pretty well understood, and in the House of Representitives is discoverd, and their conduct with respect to this Treaty has taken of the Scales from Many an Eye.
Whilst I see the desire of equity order and good Government, rising up to oppose War Anarchy and confusion, I feel ready to make every personal sacrifice in aid of the cause. I shall not therefore say one word, of when will you return? that I wish for it, You cannot Doubt but I wish more that your Health may not be injured by so long and close application. I also wish that a just speedy and happy termination may be the issue of this contest, and that the Government may stand firmer and Surer for having been thus assaild.
The Thoat Distemper rages again in Boston. poor Genll Knox has lost two of his youngest children in one Day with it two more lye sick—4
I went yesterday and spent the Day with mrs Cabot, and Sweet communion we had, tho neither She or I ralishd the Idea of next March, but this matter must come speedily to a close.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs A. Ap. 28. 1796.”
1. For Dr. John Warren, see JA, Papers description begins Papers of John Adams, ed. Robert J. Taylor, Gregg L. Lint, and others, Cambridge, 1977– . description ends , 3:357. Along with his political activities, Warren served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, where he was the first Hersey Professor of Anatomy and Surgery from 1782 to 1815. He was also president of the Massachusetts Medical Society from 1804 to 1815 (Martin Kaufman, Stuart Galishoff, and Todd L. Savitt, eds., Dictionary of American Medical Biography, 2 vols., Westport, Conn., 1984).
2. Harrison Gray Otis spoke on the strength of Great Britain and the horrors of war that would occur if the Jay Treaty was not implemented. Otis concluded by contrasting George Washington with Albert Gallatin, the latter of whom Otis accused of leading the treaty opposition in Congress (Boston Independent Chronicle, 28 April 1796).
3. The Newburyport meeting occurred on 23 April, when reportedly only one person voted against petitioning Congress “to make provision for carrying the treaty with Great-Britain into execution,” and 400 residents signed the petition. Similar town meetings occurred at this time in Beverly, Marblehead, and Hingham (Boston Federal Orrery, 25 April; Leominster, Mass., Rural Repository, 28 April).
4. Two of Henry Knox’s children, Augusta Henrietta and Marcus Bingham, died on 23 April from diphtheria. Only one other child, George Washington Knox, was sick at this time, and he died in December (Mark Puls, Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution, N.Y., 2008, p. 229–230).