Adams Papers

From Abigail Smith Adams to Elizabeth Smith Shaw Peabody, February 1801

[ca. February 1801]

a Contrast, which they may lament, but cannot now remedy. to a total and final relinquishment of publick Life, we retire to the rural Scenes of Quincy; not to become querilious with the world, not to molest or disturb the administration of the new Government, if it adopts not measures ruinous to the Country, but hopeing for better prospects than present themselves now to our view—that we may be allowed to lead peaceable and quiet Lives—is our most fervent wish—as one of the principle pleasures of my Life has been to do good according to my ability with the means indulged me; my sole regret, as it personally respects myself is, that those means will in future be so greatly curtailed, and limited; the wish and the will, will not forsake me I trust—

you inquire respecting the City. the Situation is pleasent. the House Magnificent, much beyond the present establishment allowd to the chief Majestrate; if the whole of house was finished, thirty Servants would be necessary for the house Stables and gardens. I have found thirteen as few as I could possibly do with; and entertain the company required of me to See; my thirteen may be Set against 20 blacks. you can form no conception of the listlessness, the indolence and apparent want of capacity for buisness of these black people. they appear to have no Sort of Stimulous, but their driver. how is it possible they should have any ambition? the blacks with us, living with so great a proportion of freemen have imbibed the Spirit & Character of freemen, and that before they were really made so; there is amongst the lower class of white people; a want of diligence enterprise and energy which renders them very mean, & very misirable. the Country through which we traveld from Pensilvanna here is a <[. . .]> Wilderness, coverd with trees, and destitute of natural as well as artificial Beauty. from this woods you rise a high & Sandy hill, and below it are presented with the City of Baltimore lyeing in a hollow. It is become flourishing and oppulent, Since the Revolution. but you no sooner leave this City, than you again enter woods, and with the exception of a small village or two travell on to this city 60 miles, without meeting a House, here and there a mud walld negro Hut Scatterd within Six or Eight miles of each other. added to this the Roads are hilly Sandy, never mended or repared and not a Bridge over Streams of water which appear <to> terrifying, and frequently are dangerous. I must Say that they are an age behind us, in the comforts and conveniencies of Life. daving brought on my own domesticks I have not experienced a thousand part of the difficulties I Should otherways have had to encounter.

I am soon to take a final Leave of this City. My Journey in mid winter will be an uncomfortable one. I hope I Shall be carried safely through—our Nephew Mr Cranch looks like an other being to what he did. he has removed to the middle of the city, and is appointed one of the Commissoners in the place of one lately diseased, to superintend the publick Buildings. his spirits are good; his Character respectable and his prospects I think flattering—I am certain he will be a rising Character here. I shall return to Quincy with renewed pleasure being able to report So favorably to my dear Sister. mrs Cranch is a most excellent woman, and has truly been a Crown to her Husband, without her he would have Sunk. and now my dear Sister, for your Son, he is young virtuous, Sensible and amiable, and I hope will make his way in this bustling World, but he, as well as his Friend and benefactor will be turnd upon the world with Small means, with this difference, that one has Spent his Life in the Service of his Country; and is too old to labour. the other is young and rising into Life, and therefore may the better buffet the world. Soloman tells us time and chance happen to all Men—

my Love to my Neice and Grandsons whom I expect will be upon a visit to their parents about the time I reach N York—present me to mr Peabody with wishes for his perfect restoration to health, and be assured of the constant Love and affection of your Sister

Abigail Adams

DLC: Shaw Family Papers.

Index Entries