Adams Papers

To John Adams from Abigail Smith Adams, 3 March 1799

Quincy March 3d 1799

My dearest Friend

I yesterday received yours of Febry 22d there has not been any measure of the Government since you have been placed at the Head of it, which has so universally electrified the public: as the appointment of mr Murray to France, not the man, but the appointment, it came so sudden was a measure so unexpected, that the whole community were like a flock of frightned pigions; nobody had their story ready: Some call’d it a hasty measure; others condemnd it as an inconsistant one; Some swore some cursd: and as you observe, the Federalist deserved the Sedition Bill. but what excited the more astonishment, was that the Heads of the departments were not consultd as had been customary; one of which as I was informd, took early care to let it be known that it was the first great measure Since he had been secretary, that had been adopted without a consultation; who ever will send with attention a late report, might possibly devine the reason why if it was the case, that head was not consulted, and if not him; it would have been too marked to have consulted the rest; I have not named but to our son; my own conjectures; an other inducement to the appointment, which my own mind has suggested, is the determination of Congress not to declare war Such a state of armed neutrality has many disadvantages; attendant upon it, amongst which, is all <that> our vessels of war cannot retake any vessels but of our own cration; the Army arrangment, might be an other good cause, I mean the intrigues which the organization of it naturally created; for Ranks for power, for Authority &c Many other Reasons no doubt led to the measure, of which I am still Ignorant; I Said with you, when I read porcupine impudence, that he deserved the Alien Bill. We may see by him, how the measure affects the Englishmen, tho few will venture to be so open & daring, the true Americans whose confidence is firm, and unshaken; believe & say, that the President acts an independant part, pinning his faith upon no mans sleave, and that they are persuaded he must have had Motives sufficiently powerfull to lead him to the Measure, but all who See no further through the mill stone than the Surface, are pleasd to wish <wich> the counsels of the Lady had been consulted; ascribing an influence to her, which she wholy disclaims, <of> one thing however she should have extremly regreted, if it had taken place; I mean that of uniting in the Embassy either the persons mentiond. It is full compliment sufficient to appoint one, after the Reception thesemet with.

Some wagers have been laid, that the Senate would not concur: and a curious story in the papers; that the Nomination was committed to 5 members of the Senate , possibly 5 members might be deputed to obtain information, but I <know> do not believe the Senate <does not> will take upon themselves the risk, of rejecting the nomination. The shock <is> has in some measure subsided, and the public expect to be satisfied in time, but they say it is well, it did not fall to Jefferson lot to nominate a Minister, that you are not personally vindictive, this New nomination fully proves for personally, who has been more affronted and insulted by the despots of France? I can fully understand your Quotation from the Statesman: and have been long sensible that your situation is liable to all the shocks, and from the Quarters you describe. I hope mr Murreys instructions will bind him down, and that he will not Depart from them—or take any risk upon himself. I have not any very Sanguine expectation of success. My Health which you so tenderly interest yours[elf] in, is better than for some time past, I have been greatly relieved by the Blisters which I applied, and as I have past through my usual Feb’ry scourge, I hope to have a respit for some months at least,

Thomas wrote you last week so that I was not so particular. In my last Letter indeed I had not then heard any thing upon the Subject, but that the Nomination had been communicated in private Letters accompanied with all the gastly hobgoblins which men raised at Philadelphia—Let me know in your next when it is probable I may expect your return to your / affectionate

A Adams.

MHi: Adams Papers.

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