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William Smith to Abigail Adams, 14 April 1798

William Smith to Abigail Adams

Boston. 14th. April 1798

Dear Madam

I am much oblig’d by your favors of the 30 Ult. & 6th Inst. with the inclosures1 the communications from our Commiss. will, when publish’d, have the most happy effect. Many who were zealous friends to French, not long since, are now as zealous friends to their own country. I hope our Commiss. will be able to make good their retreat, before the contents of their dispatches arrive.— we have had for a few days a rumor of an Embargo I hope this measure will not be adopted if the Merchants are allow’d to consult their own interest, they may embargo themselves or not as their feelings dictate this measure is only advocated by those who are unfriendly to their country, who wish to throw a great number of Men out of employ, to give them an oppertunity to excite their feelings & passions to obstruct the measures of Government—2

To the number of our friends whose deaths we have lately lamented, we must add Mr Carter, Mrs S. Father. he was taken with a faintness Yesterday Morning abt. 4 oClock and died in half an hour.3 we are now setting out to attend the funeral. he has supported thro’ life an unblemished character as a Christian & an honest Man. he was in his 83d. Year.— this event tho’ expected for some time, (added to the death of our late worthy Dr.) is almost too much for Mrs. S. I trust that time & a christian resignation to the will of Providence will restore her sperits.—

Mrs. S. joins me in affectionate regards to you & the President.


Wm. Smith.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. Adams / Philadelphia”; internal address: “Mrs. Adams—”; endorsed: “Mr smith / April 14th / 1798”; notation: “per Post.”

1In her 6 April letter to Smith, AA enclosed a pamphlet by Joseph Hopkinson and noted that JA had submitted the envoys’ dispatches and instructions to Congress. She also commented that the recent town meetings in Massachusetts “only Sit the minds of the people in a ferment, at a time when we want coolness in deliberation, calmness in opperation union and decisions in counsel” (MHi:Smith-Carter Papers).

2On 27 March the Senate voted 22 to 5 against adopting a resolution “that it is expedient to lay an embargo, for a limited time, on all ships and vessels owned wholly or in part by citizens of the United States.” The Boston Gazette, 9 April, advocated an embargo in order to prevent showing “our partiality to Great Britain, and our dislike to the people of France,” further noting that the “distress such a step would produce … would not bear comparing with the horrors of war” (U.S. Senate, Jour. description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1789–. description ends , 5th Cong., 2d sess., p. 463).

3The death of Nathaniel Carter Sr. on 13 April was reported in the Newburyport Herald, 17 April, which summarized his loss to the community: “His family have lost in him a kind and affectionate parent, the poor and the distrest a patron and benefactor, and religion a steady friend and supporter.” On 22 April AA wrote to Hannah Carter Smith offering her condolences, writing, “Whilst we experience the loss of our Earthly Props, may it lead us to fix our hopes, and our attention, upon that Being, whose duration is not limited, and whose tender Mercies are over all the Works his hands hath formed” (MHi:Smith-Carter Papers).

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