Adams Papers
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Abigail Adams to Benjamin Franklin Bache, 17 March 1798

Abigail Adams to Benjamin Franklin Bache

March 17th— [1798]


Taking up your paper yesterday morning, I was shockd at the Misrepresentation a Writer in your paper has given to the nomination and appointment of J Q. Adams, to sweeden for the purpose of renewing the Treaty with that Power.1 I could not but reflect upon the different feelings which must actuate your Mind, and the writer of the following paragraph, written last october, upon seeing Some ungenerous reflections in your Papers of the last summer upon the Change of [com]mission from Lisbon to Berlin—

“As for mr Bache, He was once my Schoolmate; one of the companions of those Infant Years when the Heart Should be open to strong and deep impressions of attachement, and never should admit any durable Sentiment of hatred or malice. There is a degree of Regard and tenderness that mingles itself in my recollection of every individual with whom I ever stood in that relation. The school and the College are the sources of the dearest friendships. they ought never to be those of malevolence or Envy. Mr Bache must have lost those feelings—or he would never have been the vehicle of abuse upon me, at least during my absence from the Country.”2

Mr Bache is left to his own reflections. this communication is only to his own Heart, being confident that the writer never expected it would meet his Eye.3

RC (private owner, 1990); addressed to “Mr B Franklin Bache.” This letter is included in the microfilm edition of the Castle-Bache Collection at PPAmP. Some loss of text where the seal was removed.

1The Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 16 March, reported: “When John Q. Adams, the son of our President was taken from the Hague, and sent to Berlin on a new appointment with a new outfit, we suggested, that he would be made to perform the circuit thro the Northern Courts of Europe, with a new outfit at each removal; as such business would be found more profitable than any he could follow at home, and as it was the du[t]y of every father to provide handsomely for his son, especially when it could be done at the public expence.” The article then argued that because the House of Representatives was expected to appropriate funds to support diplomatic appointees, the record of the votes in the Senate should be public in order that people could know “what Senators countenance this lavish expenditure of the public treasure?”

2See JQA to AA, 7 Oct. 1797, above.

3No response to this letter is extant, although the veracity of Bache’s article was challenged in the Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 16 March 1798. “A Member of the Senate” labeled the article “a falsehood from beginning to end” and noted that the appointment was a commission to renew an existing treaty, carried no salary, and would likely be concluded with the Swedish minister at Berlin. Junius offered a similar argument in a second piece but further discussed the expenses JQA had incurred by the sudden change in his mission from Portugal to Prussia, which went without remuneration as a new outfit was not awarded. The Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 17 March, responded to the “anonimous” senator’s assertions by suggesting it would take a “rare” Federalist to serve without compensation and that it would be “unusual, if it be not unprecedented,” for a diplomatic negotiation to be carried out at a foreign court “not interested in the business.” The Aurora, 19 March, responded to Junius, denying that it could be known whether “our chubby itinerent envoy” would not ultimately go to Sweden and thereby be granted further money toward his expenses, “which he may contrive, like another great man, to swell to the full extent, and a little beyond, the amount of the sum usually allowed for outfit.”

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