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Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 7 April 1798

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch

April 7th 1798

my dear sister

The senate on thursday voted to have the dispatches from our Envoys made publick, and orderd them Printed, but not the instructions.1 I hope however that those too, will be published; the People will then be convinced that every word Containd in the Presidents message of the 19 of march can be justified both by the instructions given, and by the dispatches received, and that what Jugartha said of Rome is literally applcable to France.2 when the Instructions were read in the House, the words of milton might have been applied to the Jaco’s

“Abash’d the Devil stood

And saw virtue in her own Shape

How Lovely—”3

not one of the clan have dared to say, that they themselves would have been willing to have conceided more; or that more could have been granted “consistant with the maxims, for which our Country has contended at every hazard; and which constitutes the basis of our National Sovereignty”4 Some of those who have been voters, more than speakers, came forward and declared their intire satisfaction in the conduct of the President and their conviction of his sincere desire to preserve Peace,—their astonishment at the profligate Demands of France, and an abhorence of her conduct. these are Some of those who have been decived and declare so, but their is yet a Number of a different sort, those whom the French boast of as their Partizens who will not leave them, very wicked men, who tho now convicted will only shift their ground, retreat for a little while seeing the current without doors sits so strongly against them; but return to the Charge again, as soon as their plans are concerted and matured. it is however come to such a crissis, that they will be adjudged Traitors to their Country. I shall not be able to send you the Dispatches untill twesday next. in the mean time I inclose you Fennos paper which will give you a few of the out lines.5 If the communications should have the happy effect which present appearences lead me to hope, that of uniting the people of our Country, I shall not regreet that they were call’d for. out of apprehension what might prove the result of such communications to our Envoys, if they still remain in Paris, the President forebore to communicate them and in his Message was as explicit as was necessary for those who reposed confidence in him, but such lies and falshoods were continually circulated, and base and incendary Letters sent to the house addrest to him, that I really have been allarmd for his Personal safety tho I have never before exprest it.6 with this temper in a city like this, materials for a Mob, might be brought together in 10 minuts. when the Language in Baches paper has been of the most insolent and abusive kind when Language in the House of Rep’s has corresponded with it, and anathamas have been thunderd out by members without doors, and a call upon the people to Humble themselves before their maker, treated with open contempt and Ridicule, had I not cause for allam? but that which was meant for evil, I hope may terminate in good.

I am not without many fears for our Envoys. the wretches may imprison them and since they avow Algiers for their pattern, oblige us to Ransome them at an enormus price; they are like the three Children in the Furnace—7 I wish they may have as safe a deliverence, but none of these fears should transpire. poor mrs Gerry with such a family as she has, may be very misirable with the apprehension if she should know that it is feard they will not be permitted to leave France.

Let mrs Black know that my Little Ward has quite recoverd from the Small pox— I expect it here tomorrow.

I have received cousins Letter and have answerd it by a little Box which is to be put on Board a vessel going to Boston committed to the care of mr smith & addrest to him. I shall say more to her when I write to her upon the subject.8

I know not when I shall see you, but I exhort the Members to dispatch business so as to rise in May. I hope their will subsist more harmony & union Peace and good will in the House than has appeard this Session. may the people be united now they have before them such proof of the base veiws and designs of France to Plunder us of all we hold dear & Valuable, our Religion our Liberty our Government and our Property—

My kind Regards to mr Cranch to Mrs Welch to sister smith, and all others who interest themselves in the happiness of your / Ever affectionate sister

Abigail Adams

RC (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters).

1On 5 April the Senate voted to publish the commissioners’ dispatches. Thomas Jefferson, in describing the closed vote, wrote, “The votes for & against publication have been not at all party votes, but a perfect jumble. all see something they like & something they do not like.” The House of Representatives similarly voted for publication on 6 April, and a number of Philadelphia newspapers, including the Gazette of the United States and the Philadelphia Gazette, dedicated their 9 April issues to printing the dispatches and the commissioners’ letters of credence and full powers (Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 30:252; 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., 2d sess., p. 536–537, 1380). The papers were also soon published as pamphlets; see, for example, Message of the President of the United States, to Both Houses of Congress. April 3d. 1798, [Phila., 1798], 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, Mass., 1903–1959; 14 vols. description ends No. 34812.

2Before Jugurtha, leader of Numidia, came to Rome to stand trial, he sent emissaries to bribe the Roman senate. After his acquittal, Jugurtha reportedly stated that Rome was a city for sale and could be purchased by a rich buyer (vol. 5:284, 285; Sallust, The Works of Sallust, Translated into English, London, [1744], p. 166, 172, 193–194).

3Milton, Paradise Lost, Book IV, lines 846–848.

4AA was quoting from JA’s 19 March message to Congress.

5A brief summary of the instructions to and dispatches from the envoys to France was printed in the Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 6 April.

6In a letter dated [April 1798], “A Friend to America & Truth” informed JA of a 9 May plot that “all good men will shudder at,” warning, “Do not sleep in fearless security: the hour of danger is near at hand. … Have an eye to the Frenchmen. Look to that grandest of all grand Villains— That traitor to his country—that infernal Scoundrel Jefferson— he has too much hand in the Conspiracy” (Adams Papers).

7A reference to the plight of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were cast into the furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel, 3:12–21).

8The letter from Elizabeth Smith has not been found, but the “square Box coverd with canvass” contained a dress “with the handkerchief Ruffels &c” valued at $30.00 and intended “for Betsys wedding dress.” Carried aboard the sloop Mary and Sally, Capt. Joshua Bradford, which sailed from Philadelphia on 11 April and arrived in Boston between the 18th and 21st, the box was not received by Cranch until 10 June, a fact that caused AA much anxiety (AA to Cranch, 4 June, MWA: Abigail Adams Letters; Cranch to AA, 10 June, Adams Papers; Philadelphia American Daily Advertiser, 11 April; Boston and Charlestown Ship Registers description begins Ship Registers and Enrollments of Boston and Charlestown, Boston, 1942. description ends , p. 128; Boston Columbian Centinel, 21 April).

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