Adams Papers
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Abigail Adams to William Smith, 10 June 1797

Abigail Adams to William Smith

Philadelphia June 10th 1797

Dear sir

Will you be kind as to see mr Frothingham and tell him that I wish him to have the Coachee cased, and put on Board the first vessel which sails for this place agreeing for the freight of it, before he puts it on Board I have a Leeding Brass Harniss at Quincy which I will write to have sent to mr Frothingham that the whole may come together.1 Dr Welch has in his Hands three hundred Dollors which he was to repay to mr Frothingham when he had done the Carriage. mr Frothingham will credit me that and send on his Bill for the remainder.

We hope that Congress will be Warm’d out of the city by the middle of July. I believe they will rise before, not by accomplishing the buisness, but by not doing it. this Dead weight of Pennsilvanna consisting of Quakers, who are always opposed to every arming proposition, of more Jacobins than any other city, who all wish to see our Government Prostrate, and a proportionable part of timid Men who fear offending the terrible Nation. all these causes have their influence upon a proportion of those members who wish for an excuse to rise without doing any thing more than negotiate these people however are very ready to advocate Convoys which may it is said be a protection to the trade of this state, and further southard, but will by no means be a sufficient shield to the trade of the Eastern states. these Members are willing that vessels should Arm for the East Indias and for the Meditarranean but not for the west Indias.2 we want more Men of Deeds, and fewer of Words. a speech which shall take up ten Collums of a News paper and part of an additional supplement must contain very weighty and important matter indeed to induce people to hear it patiently, or read it afterward.3 there is no Man from our state, whose abilities talants and integrity are more highly spoken of than mr sewalls, and none who has more weight in the House. if his talants are not so striking as mr Dexters, he has qualities which are an adequate compensation mr otis too is highly spoken of, but it requires some time to be Way wise, and from reading his speeches, I think him too personal and too great a share of satire and Wit. he is a thorn to the antis, accordingly they abuse him—

I hope you had a pleasent journey home and found mrs smith and Family well. I do not despair of seeing you this summer if congress rise in any season the President says he must take a journey, and it seems quite necssary for him. the buisness accumulates, instead of lessning. the Dons are cutting out work for us,4 stimulated no doubt by our Dear Friends the French.

I hope as mr Frothingham is a Man of his Word, that the Carriage will not fail of being ready to come— My Love to cousin Betsy. mr otis and Family are well—

Yours affectionatly

A Adams

RC (MHi:Smith-Carter Family Papers); addressed: “Mr William Smith / Boston”; endorsed: “Philaa. 10. June. 1797.”

1For the Adamses’ previous discussion of purchasing a coach from Nathaniel Frothingham, see vol. 11:521, 522–523. AA wrote to Smith on 1 July, lamenting that Frothingham had not yet finished their coach, and then again on 19 July, stating that they still had not received the coach in Philadelphia and that it should be held until their return to Quincy (both MHi:Smith-Carter Family Papers).

2Privateers from the French West Indies had been plundering American ships in the Caribbean since 1796. After a House resolution was introduced on 5 June 1797 “for regulating the arming of the merchant vessels of the United States,” debate arose about specifying the East or West Indies. On 7 June Joshua Coit proposed inserting the phrase “bound to the East Indies and to the Mediterranean,” and Robert Goodloe Harper proposed further including the “West Indies.” Although William Loughton Smith, the resolution’s author, did not believe that arming U.S. vessels heading for the West Indies would lead to war, Samuel Smith argued that adding the phrase “brought them to an issue; for it was war or no war.” On 8 June a vote was taken on the two amendments; the addition of “West Indies” failed, but the “East Indies and the Mediterranean” passed. Ultimately, however, the House voted 45 to 37 against the entire resolution on 9 June (Alexander DeConde, The Quasi-War: The Politics and Diplomacy of the Undeclared War with France 1797–1801, N.Y., 1966, p. 124; Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States [1789–1824], Washington, D.C., 1834–1856; 42 vols. description ends , 5th Cong., 1st sess., p. 253, 257, 259, 280, 281–282).

3AA was referring to Edward Livingston’s 24 May speech, which required ten columns in the Philadelphia Gazette of the United States and was published over four issues, 30, 31 May and 1, 3 June. The Philadelphia Porcupine’s Gazette, 27 May, noted that Livingston spoke “upwards of three hours. He did not address himself to the reason or the passions, but to the patience of his hearers, which he, at last, completely overcame.” The article further stated that if “the merits of an orator are to be measured by the page or the column, I do not hesitate to affirm that Mr. Livingston will be counted the Cicero of his day.”

4In Sept. 1796 Andrew Ellicott left Philadelphia to survey the boundary line between the Spanish colonies of East and West Florida and the United States. Ellicott planned to meet his Spanish counterpart at Natchez, Miss., according to the arrangement made in the 1795 Pinckney Treaty. The men agreed to commence drawing the line on 19 March 1797, but while Ellicott waited for the Spanish commissioner to arrive, he received word from Gov. Manuel Gayoso de Lemos that Spain would maintain jurisdiction over the Floridas until the second article of the Pinckney Treaty (regarding withdrawing from posts) was further clarified. On 8 June Timothy Pickering received a report from Ellicott regarding the difficulties he encountered with the Spanish authorities in Florida. Pickering sent the report to JA on 10 June, and JA submitted it to Congress on the 12th (Amer. State Papers, Foreign Relations description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–1861; 38 vols. description ends , 2:20–21, 26; Robert V. Haynes, The Mississippi Territory and the Southwest Frontier, 1795–1817, Lexington, Ky., 2010, p. 13). For more on the correspondence between Ellicott and Gayoso de Lemos, see Amer. State Papers, Foreign Relations description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–1861; 38 vols. description ends , 2:20–27.

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