Adams Papers
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Abigail Adams to John Adams, 1 March 1797

Abigail Adams to John Adams

Quincy March 1 1797

My Dearest Friend

This is the first Day of March, and I have no Letters from you of a later date than the 11th of Feb’ry. and then only a few lines.1 Several things which I have written to upon, and which I wish for directions before I proceeded to execute, are I suppose lost and forgotten by upon, in the Multitude of Your Thoughts. I must proceed with the advise of Dr Tufts, for whom I have this day sent, in order to consult with him. Vintons time is near out. there is an apprizement of the stock which must be made & he allowd for a quarter part of their increased value. a mate is to be procured for the ox we lost. I tell French he ought to buy it, as he expects a further indulgence with the team. he pleads that he is not able. I like French so well, and he seems disposed to conduct honorably that I think it had best be done. I believe I wrote you that I had hired a Young Man, for a Month, a son of Samll Bracket who went from this Town Some Years ago;2 he is very capable of Business but holds himself very high, so that I do not expect to agree for more than the present Month. Billings has had an other Caper of a week long I fear he will not do to hire again after his period expires. he is now comeing out of it. I shall be a better judge of the Qualities of Bracket at the expiration of a Month. he is large and Stout used to a team, of a good Stock himself, brought up to labour hard, and is now sought after by several persons for the Season, but gold may be bought too dear— prices are not setled untill April & May.

I yesterday sent for Mears and gave him my proposals in writing. the chief objection he offerd was, that being in a setled way of Business by which he must get his future living, he should lose his old custom, which would make it difficult for him to obtain it again. to obviate that difficulty I promised to Build him a shop, he to furnish the tools himself coal & Iron to the halves, and to receive half the profits. in Winter he could be pretty constant in it. he has the proposals under consideration, which whether he accepts or not he has promised to keep secreet, but I am more & more convinced that he is the only Person to put here.3

We had as I expected a very splendid Birth Day, an account of which you will see in the paper.4 His Honours politeness led him to stay untill he had conducted & seated me at the supper table. he however escaped as soon after as he could.5 I do the Managers but Justice when I say, I never saw an assembly conducted with so much order regularity & propriety. I had every reason to be pleased with the marked respect and attention Shewn me. Col Bradford, who is really the Beau Nash of ceremonies even Marshalld his company, and like the Garter King at Arms calld them over as they proceeded into the Grand saloon, hung with the prostrate Pride, of the Nobility of France.6 Swan had furnishd them with a compleat set of Gobelin Tapresty.7 as the Ladies only could be Seated at Table with about 20 or 30 of the principle Gentlemen the rest were requested to retire to the Boxes untill the Ladies had Supped. when they left the Table & took their seats in the Boxes whilst the Gentlemen sup’d, all was order and decency. about half after one, the company returnd to the Ball Room, and I retired with those who accompanied me to the Ball. most of the rest of company remaind untill 4 oclock. neither the Govenour or Lady or Mrs Gill were present. the only person who shewd that they felt mortified & placed in the back ground, was Mrs Scott. how could she expect any thing else? the seat assignd to the Lady of the President Elect was Hung with Gobeline Tapestry, and in the center of the Room, conspicuous only for the hanging. on my Right the Manager placed the Lady of Judge Lowel, and on my Left the Lady of Judge Sumner.8 Judge Dana, but not his Lady was present. when I was conducted into the Ball Room, the Band were orderd to play the President March.9 the Toast were only 6 in Number. I presume you will see them in the paper. have the Philadelphians behaved as well? every toast save one, made the Saloon resound with an universal Clap, and a united huza. that was the Vice President Elect. I was sorry it was so cold and faint.10

The scripture assures us, that it is better to go to the House of mourning than the House of Feasting11 previous to my attendance at the Ball Room, I performd the last office of respect to the remains of your Aunt Vesey, by following her to the Grave. I received notice of her death but the day before12 I considered this as a Duty which I owed to your Mother, and I found it a very acceptable notice to the Relatives. at six oclock I returnd to mr smiths, and prepaird for a different scene, not without reflections upon the visisitudes of Life.

I see by the paper your address of leave to the senate.13 I do not wonder that you was affected upon the occasion. The Chronical, I am told, assures all good Republicans that they ought to rejoice in your Election, first because you was opposed to the British Treaty, 2dly because you are not Enimical to France, 3d because you are no party man and will have an oppinion of your own, fourthly because Hamilton Secreetly opposed your Election, and 5ly because you and the Vice President will harmonize— Wonderfull Discoveries.! and much of a peice with all their late publications.14

I see there has been an arrival at N york from Amsterdam. I hope Dispatches from our sons have arrived15

present me kindly to the Vice President when he arrives, and if you think it will do, tell him I am glad that he is your successor. I shall now take my leave of the Vice President, and address my next Letters to the President, whom neither Rank or station can more permanantly fix in the Heart of His / ever affectionate

Abigail Adams

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs A. March 1. / Ansd 11. 1797.”

1For a summary of JA’s letter to AA, 11 Feb. (Adams Papers), see vol. 11:554.

2Samuel Brackett (1741–1826) relocated from Braintree to Peterborough, N.H., in the 1780s. His second son, John (b. 1775), was probably the farmhand AA hired (Herbert I. Brackett, Brackett Genealogy Descendants of Anthony Brackett of Portsmouth and Captain Richard Brackett of Braintree, Part 2, Washington, D.C., 1907, p. 543; Sprague, Braintree Families description begins Waldo Chamberlain Sprague, comp., Genealogies of the Families of Braintree, Mass., 1640–1850, Boston, 1983; repr. CD-ROM, Boston, 2001. description ends ).

3For AA’s suggestion that George Mears become the overseer at Peacefield, see vol. 11:517, 527, 565.

4For AA’s attendance at the Boston ball celebrating George Washington’s birthday, see same, 11:566–567. Boston newspapers reporting on the festivities included the Columbian Centinel, 25 Feb. 1797, and the Boston Price-Current, 27 February.

5That is, Lt. Gov. Moses Gill.

6Lt. Col. Samuel Bradford (1759–1818) was marshal for the district of Massachusetts as well as commander of the Independent Company of Cadets, the parade escort for Massachusetts governors. AA’s comparison of Bradford to Beau Nash was a reference to Richard Nash (1674–1761), long the master of ceremonies and arbiter of fashionable society at Bath, England (Doc. Hist. Supreme Court description begins The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789–1800, ed. Maeva Marcus, James R. Perry, and others, New York, 1985–2007; 8 vols. description ends , 6:184; Samuel Bradford Jr., Some Incidents in the Life of Samuel Bradford, Senior, by His Son, Phila., 1880, p. 12–13, 15, 16; DNB description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, New York and London, 1885–1901; repr. Oxford, 1959–1960; 21 vols. plus supplements; rev. edn., description ends ).

7The Gobelin factory in Paris, established in 1662 as the state-sponsored manufacturer of decorative arts, became especially well known for its tapestries (Oxford Art Online).

8Elizabeth Hyslop had married Increase Sumner in 1779 (DAB description begins Allen Johnson, Dumas Malone, and others, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; repr. New York, 1955–1980; 10 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ).

9For the President’s March, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 11, above.

10Reports of the Boston celebrations of Washington’s birthday appeared in the Philadelphia Gazette of the United States and American Daily Advertiser, 7 March 1797. Similar to news reports in Boston, descriptions failed to include the toasts offered at the Federal Street Theater. For the Philadelphia festivities, see vol. 11:575–576.

11Ecclesiastes, 7:2.

12Jerusha Boylston Veasey, for whom see vol. 8:246, died on 19 February. Notice of her death appeared in the Massachusetts Mercury, 21 Feb., and in the Boston Columbian Centinel the following day.

13For JA’s 15 Feb. address upon taking leave from the Senate, see vol. 11:575, 576. The Boston Price-Current and Boston Independent Chronicle were the first to reprint the speech on 27 Feb.; it appeared in the Boston Columbian Centinel on 1 March.

14The Boston Independent Chronicle, 27 Feb., reprinted a piece from the New York Journal, 18 Feb., claiming that “the republicans are well satisfied with the election of Mr. Adams” and, in addition to the reasons stated by AA, that JA would “distribute public office, among men of probity and talents, and not select those only who may approve of his administration.”

15On 27 Feb. the Boston Price-Current reported the arrival of the ship Three Friends, Capt. Sherry, from Amsterdam at New York between 17 and 20 February. For the letters it carried, see AA to JA, 12 March, and note 1, below.

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