Adams Papers

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 5 January 1797

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Philadelphia January 5. 1796 [1797]

My Dearest Friend

Mrs Swan and her Daughters, conducted by Mrs Otis came into the Senate Chamber this morning to see the Room and Pictures. There I had Opportunities to see for the first time the fair young Ladies.1

I send you Guillotina, the most wanton Muse of the whole ten.—dreadful Truths are told in jest— Dallas tho, innocent, Dallas is much injured.2

I have now recd Votes from Kentucky the last state: but these could make no Alteration in the Destiny. All was settled before.—More than a Month must intervene before the Declaration can be made. That will be on the 8. Feb.

Half the Town is out on the Delaware every Day as the whole Town of Amsterdam Used to be on the Amstell, when it was frozen over, Skaeting. I have not seen any Women however in skaets tho many are walking.

Mr Greenleaf called to see me— He has commenced Suits against Morris & Nicholson for five hundred thousand Dollars. What will be the Fate of all these men I know not nor guess—3 I hear nothing from smith— I wrote him but get no Answer.— Poor Nabby!

Charles seems to be very busy— I hope he will get his Bread.—

Ask Billings, after my Regards to him whether our noble Wall keeps off Captn. Baxters sheep or not.

My Duty to Mother & Love to all particularly to Louisa.— Ask her if she will come to Philadelphia next Winter?

J A4

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs A”; endorsed: “Janry 5 1797.”

1For Hepzibah Clark, who had married James Swan in 1776, see LCA, D&A, description begins Diary and Autobiographical Writings of Louisa Catherine Adams, ed. Judith S. Graham and others, Cambridge, 2013; 2 vols. description ends 1:168. The couple’s three daughters were Hepzibah Clark, Christiana Keadie, and Sarah Webb (same, 1:175; 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 ).

2The poem “Guillotina,” attributed to Lemuel Hopkins, was published on 1 Jan. 1797 and addressed to the readers of the Connecticut Courant. The work champions the Federalist Party and parodies several Democratic-Republicans, including John Swanwick, Albert Gallatin, and Thomas Jefferson, for their support of French minister Pierre Auguste Adet. The poem also alludes to the alcoholism of Pennsylvania governor Thomas Mifflin, who asks Alexander James Dallas, the de facto governor, to “hold me up” in the middle of a drunken speech. Dallas, described as “deeply vers’d in whiffling,” is also accused of aiding Mifflin in playing “many a Democratic prank / In fleecing Pennsylvania Bank” (lines 144, 158, 338–339, 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. 31979; ANB description begins John A. Garraty, Mark C. Carnes, and Paul Betz, eds., American National Biography, New York, 1999–2002; 24 vols. plus supplement; rev. edn., description ends ).

3James Greenleaf had been involved in two financial ventures with Robert Morris and John Nicholson: a Washington, D.C., land scheme, for which see William Cranch to JQA, 16 Sept. 1796, note 2, above, and the North American Land Company. On 28 May 1796 Greenleaf sold his third of the company to Morris and Nicholson; neither of his former partners could make the necessary payments, however, so Greenleaf brought suits against both men. Nicholson countersued, insisting that Greenleaf owed his former partners for overvaluing Washington property. All three men ended up in debtors’ prison, and the disputes were not settled until after Morris’ and Nicholson’s deaths (Shaw Livermore, Early American Land Companies: Their Influence on Corporate Development, N.Y., 1939, p. 168; Robert D. Arbuckle, Pennsylvania Speculator and Patriot: The Entrepreneurial John Nicholson, 1757–1800, University Park, Penn., 1975, p. 136, 137, 138, 183). See also Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 10, above.

4In a second letter to AA of the same date, JA described dining with Benjamin Rush and the company in attendance and also passed along additional news about the election (Adams Papers).

Index Entries