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From Abigail Smith Adams to Abigail Amelia Adams Smith, 27 November 1800

Washington, 27 November, 1800.

My Dear Child,

I received your letter by Mr. Pintard. Two articles we are much distressed for; the one is bells, but the more important one is wood. Yet you cannot see wood for trees. No arrangement has been made, but by promises never performed, to supply the newcomers with fuel. Of the promises Briesler had received his full share. He had procured nine cords of wood; between six and seven of that was kindly burnt up to dry the walls of the house, which ought to have been done by the commissioners, but which, if left to them, would have remained undone to this day. Congress poured in, but shiver, shiver. No woodcutters nor carters to be had at any rate. We are now indebted to a Pennsylvania waggon to bring us, through the first clerk in the Treasury Office, one cord and a half of wood, which is all we have for this house, where twelve fires are constantly required, and where, we are told, the roads will soon be so bad that it cannot be drawn. Briesler procured two hundred bushels of coals or we must have suffered. This is the situation of almost every person. The public officers have sent to Philadelphia for woodcutters and waggons.

You will read in the answer of the House to the President’s Speech a full and explicit approbation of the Administration; a coöperation with him equal to his utmost expectations; this passed without an amendment or any debate or squabble, and has just now been delivered by the House in a body. The vessel which has my clothes and other matters is not arrived. The ladies are impatient for a drawing-room; I have no looking-glasses but dwarfs for this house; nor a twentieth part lamps enough to light it. Many things were stolen, many more broken, by the removal; amongst the number, my tea china is more than half missing. Georgetown affords nothing. My rooms are very pleasant and warm whilst the doors of the hall are closed.

You can scarce believe that here in this wilderness city, I should find my time so occupied as it is. My visiters, some of them, come three and four miles. The return of one of them is the work of one day; most of the ladies reside in Georgetown or in scattered parts of the city at two and three miles distance. Mrs. Otis, my nearest neighbour, is at lodgings almost half a mile from me; Mrs. Senator Otis, two miles.

We have all been very well as yet; if we can by any means get wood, we shall not let our fires go out, but it is at a price indeed; from four dollars it has risen to nine. Some say it will fall, but there must be more industry than is to be found here to bring half enough to the market for the consumption of the inhabitants.

With kind remembrance to all friends / I am your truly affectionate mother,

A. A.

Printed Source--Letters of Mrs. Adams. Edited by Charles Francis Adams (Boston: 1840)..

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