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Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 14 March 1798

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch

Philadelphia March 14th 1798

my dear sister

yesterday dispatches were received from mr King up to the 9th Jan’ry in a postscrip he says, I have just learnt that mr Adams has been received by the new King notwithstanding his commission was to his Father. this is civil and will enable him to proceed with business—1 I received a Letter from dr Tufts yesterday that allarmd me. I thought I inclosed him some Bills. I might as I wrote you the same [ti]me put them into yours, for the dr in a post scrip says that you had written him that you had them—2 when the dr writes to me inclose his Letters in yours, for as those are held sacred now by a promise not to open them I shall receive them, in a way I wish— the dr and I have some buisness transaction which are between ourselves—

Nothing new transpires but what your Boston papers have; warm words in congress must be apprehended, whilst some are for going shares with France submitting intirely to her Will and quietly disposed to receive every lash she pleases to inflict— Northern Blood boils, and I do not know what will take place— I hope they will be cooler to day—but Giles has just opend his batteries.—3

Pray is Betsy going to steal a wedding upon us? she inquires the fashions they are as various as the Changes of the moon— the young Ladies generally have their Hair all in Curls over their heads, and then put a Ribbon Beads Bugles or a Band of some kind through the fore part of the Hair to which they attach feathers. the Band is put upon Ribbon sometimes on wire. frequently two are worn which cross each other they tye behind under over the hind Hair & then a small Bunch of Hair turns up behind in which a small comb is fixd and the ends of the hind Hair fall Back again in curls the Gounds are made to have only one side come forward and that is confind with a belt round the waist, the waist made plain. Some sleaves are drawn in diamonds some Robins drawn up & down with bobbin in 5 or 6 rows. in short a drawing room frequently exhibits a specimin of Grecian Turkish French and English fashion at the same time, with ease Beauty and Elegance equal to any court—

what a medley are my Letters. I had yesterday to visit me after the Prisidents Levee, the Kings of 3 Indian Nation. one of them after Sitting a little while rose and addrest me. He said he had been to visit his Father, and he thought his duty but in part fulfilld, untill he had visited also his mother, and he prayd the great spirit to keep and preserve them. they all came and shook me by the Hand, and then took some cake and wine with me. there were nine of them one of them spoke english well. they then made their bow and withdrew.4 much more civil than the Beast of Vermont.

adieu my dear sister / I am most affectionatly / Your

A Adams5

RC (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters); addressed: “Mrs Mary Cranch / Quincy.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.

1Rufus King’s 9 Jan. letter to Timothy Pickering, which arrived on 12 March, summarized the current situation in Europe but did not include any information about JQA. The information AA notes here was mentioned in a postscript to King’s letter of 14 Jan. (DNA:RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to Great Britain, 1791–1906, Microfilm, Reel 5).

2Cotton Tufts’ letter to AA has not been found, but see her letter to Tufts of 6 Feb., above, in which she forwarded money. In Cranch’s 26 March reply to AA, she explained that she had taken the money from AA’s letter to Tufts and had given it to him the next time she saw him (Adams Papers).

3During a heated House debate over arming U.S. frigates, William Branch Giles argued that while he supported defending the coasts, he viewed the proposal “to afford a defence beyond the limits of the United States, as a part of that system which had a direct tendency to involve us in war.” In a jab at the Federalists he further claimed “that there was not only a part of this House, but a part of Government, determined on war,” to which Harrison Gray Otis responded, calling it a “bold, ungraceful, and … disgraceful assertion.” An indignant Giles expected that Otis “would have been called to order” over the comments, at which point the Speaker of the House gave a “loud call to order” and declared “in vain that he endeavored to confine gentlemen to order Almost every member who had spoken had transgressed in this respect” (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. 1256–1257, 1260–1262).

4The Kahnawake Mohawk tribe of the upper St. Lawrence River region of Quebec was involved in an ongoing feud with Mohawk chief Joseph Brant over the alleged sale of Kahnawake lands to the United States. Although Brant denied having sold the land, by 1798 the controversy had escalated into a threat of war, and the Kahnawake tried to enlist support among other northern tribes and the United States. The Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 24 Feb., reported that two Kahnawake chiefs, along with five chiefs from other First Nation tribes, were traveling to Philadelphia, via New York, to present their claims to JA and Congress. Additionally, the group carried information about a proposed “confederated Council” of tribes led by Brant, which to them “appeared to be fraught with mischief against the United States.” Ultimately the trip proved futile because they lacked evidence of their claims (Isabel Thompson Kelsay, Joseph Brant, 1743–1807: Man of Two Worlds, Syracuse, N.Y., 1984, p. 178, 548, 551–552; Vergennes Gazette (Vt.), 25 Oct. 1798).

5AA also wrote to Cranch the previous day commenting on William Cranch’s concerns over the financial trouble of Morris, Nicholson & Greenleaf and JA’s struggle to decide what to do with the recently deciphered dispatches from the U.S. envoys to France (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters).

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