Adams Papers
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William Smith Shaw to Abigail Adams, 16 February 1799

William Smith Shaw to Abigail Adams

Philadelphia Feb 16th. 99

My dear Aunt

I have just received your letter of the 8th of Feb. and feel grieved to find you in so low spirits and so unwell, but flatter myself that the sight of your son (whom I hope has long before this happily arrived,) & his excellent company will revive your spirits and restore your health.1 The snow has almost entirely left us and we have had some days of the past week as pleasant and warm as we have at the eastward in April, but the change of weather here is enough to kill one— yesterday and to day have been as cold as we have had almost any time this winter.

You will see by the papers that Mr King is appointed to negotiate a commercial treaty in London, with The Emperor of all the Russias & that Mr Smith is sent to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce with the Sublime Ottoman Porte—this last nomination excited considerable debate in the house Senate & was finally caried by a majority of two only, fourteen & twelve.2

Sam. Smith made a motion in the house for augmenting the salaries of the Executive officers, but the motion was lost by a majority of two or three votes only.3 I hardly know what to make of a great majority of Congress.

Have you read Gen. Heaths memoirs? If I can judge of them by the extracts which I have seen in the newspapers and I presume I may— they must be foolish indeed. Parson Gardner I presume must be the author of the Agawam Critick, published in the Centinel.

Love to L & affectionate remembrance to / Mr. Adams / your

Wm. S. S—

Monday Morn. Saturday night & yesterday we had so much snow as to make it good slaying.

RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Wm S Shaw.”

1In her letter to Shaw of 8 Feb., AA reported having insomnia and relayed news from Elizabeth Smith Shaw Peabody, including the speculation that Stephen Peabody Webster had been “unfortunate in buisness” (DLC:Shaw Family Papers).

2After overtures from Count Semon Romanovich Vorontsov, Russian minister to Britain, and Yusuf Agah Efendi, Ottoman minister to Britain, JA pursued treaty negotiations with both powers. JA nominated on 6 and 9 Feb., and the Senate confirmed on the 7th and 11th, respectively, the appointments of Rufus King to negotiate with Russia and William Loughton Smith to negotiate with the Ottoman Empire, the latter confirmation coming on a vote of 16 to 12. Neither appointment resulted in a treaty, and Smith’s mission never proceeded. The appointments were reported in the Philadelphia Gazette, 14 Feb. (Hamilton, Papers description begins The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold C. Syrett, Jacob E. Cooke, and others, New York, 1961–1987; 27 vols. description ends , 22:500–502; U.S. Senate, Exec. Jour. description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1789–. description ends , 5th Cong., 3d sess., p. 310–312; Walther Kirchner, Studies in Russian-American Commerce, 1820–1860, Leyden, Netherlands, 1975, p. 15; Albert Matthews, “Journal of William Loughton Smith, 1790–1791,” MHS, Procs. description begins Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings. description ends , 51:27 [Oct. 1917]).

3On 23 Jan. Maryland Democratic-Republican Samuel Smith introduced in the House of Representatives a resolution to increase the salaries of executive officers of the federal government. Debate of the bill on 16 Feb. centered on the inclusion of particular officers and the size and duration of salary increases. At the close of the day the bill failed by a vote of 45 to 42. A resolution proposed the next day calling for smaller increases of three years’ duration was passed on 26 Feb. and signed into law on 2 March (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., 3d sess., p. 2754, 2792, 2821, 2920–2927, 3019–3020; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, 1789– , Boston and Washington, D.C., 1845–. description ends , 1:729–730).

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