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Abigail Adams to William Smith, 16 November 1797

Abigail Adams to William Smith

Philadelphia Novbr 16 1797

my dear sir

I wrote you from East Chester and inclosed you 90 dollors to pay a Note in mr Frothinghams hands. I have not received a line in acknowledgment of the letter, which makes me a little anxious for its fate.1 you was so good as to Say you would send me Some salt fish. I should like a couple of kental to treat our good Massachusetts Friends. I will thank you to send it by one of the first vessels, and 6 Gallons of neats foot oil from Hughs—Brislr says he used to buy it there at half a dollor pr Gallon—2

we reachd here on the tenth, and found our Family all well. from the Mobility who appeard in the Streets on the Day of our arrival, no one could have imagined that there had been either sickness or deaths in this place. in short it is like the wave of the sea, when it is past no vestage remains, I am affraid not even in their Hearts. You cannot affront a Philadelphian more than by intimating that the fever originated with them.

No congress yet a House was made yesterday but no senate, nor are they like to make one this week the Vice President is detaind by a Law suit, which is still on trial, and will not be here this fortnight.3 mr Tazewell is sick. no loss neither—4 no certain accounts of the arrival of our Envoys, and poor souls what can they do when they get there. what but voilence is to be seen in that devoted Nation, honour & justice, Religion & virtue are fled from the land, or so abashed that their voice is not heard. I have not the smallest hope remaining that any thing durable can be effected with a people or Government, which to day is and tomorrow is not.

I hope Mrs smith and your little flock are well. give my Love to them. Mrs Cranch wrote me that mrs Welch was unwell. I hope she is better pray let me know, and acquaint me if mrs Gill is like to recover—5

I am dear sir affectionatly / Your

A Adams

your sister otis and Family are well Love to cousin Betsy

RC (MHi:Smith-Townsend Family Papers); addressed by JA: “William Smith Esqr / Merchant / Boston”; endorsed: “Philaa. Mrs. Adams / Novr. 16. 97. / Ansd”; notation by JA: “J. Adams.”

2Robert Hewes, for whom see vol. 9:231, sold neatsfoot oil, as well as soap, glue, rosin, and varnish, from his Boston shop (Boston Columbian Centinel, 7 May 1796; Boston Directory description begins Boston Directory, issued annually with varying imprints. description ends , 1798, p. 62).

3Thomas Jefferson, as an executor of his father-in-law John Wayles’ estate, was involved in a legal dispute regarding payment owed to an English firm for a consigned cargo of slaves delivered to Virginia in 1772, on which Wayles’ business partner had been unable to collect bonds from the slave owners. In Nov. 1790 a suit was brought against the executors of the estate; the case did not go to trial until 1797, and on 28 Nov. the jury found in favor of the defendants. Jefferson took his seat as president of the Senate on 13 Dec. (Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 15:642–644, 647–649; 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. 477).

4Henry Tazewell (1753–1799), William and Mary 1770, represented Virginia in the Senate from Dec. 1794 until his death in Jan. 1799. He took his seat for the 5th Congress on 27 Nov. 1797 (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–2005, Washington, D.C., 2005; rev. edn., description ends ; 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. 472).

5Rev. William Walter wrote to AA on 22 Dec. with an update on Rebecca Boylston Gill’s health. He reported that although Gill continued to regain her strength and that Moses Gill intended for her to travel to Boston, he feared “the undertaking will be too much for her, for she has never been out of her Warm room, & sets up but about 20 minutes in the Forenoon & as much in the Afternoon” (Adams Papers).

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