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Sarah Wentworth Apthorp Morton to Abigail Adams, 11 June 1799

Sarah Wentworth Apthorp Morton to Abigail Adams

Dedication To Mrs Adams

[ca. 11 June 1799]1


The following production is one of my favorite children; it speaks to the heart, and without ornament, or personal beauty, is recommended by all the chaste virtues, and interesting attributes, of the most favored mortal.—

I know not any Individual, to whom a model of conjugal excellence, of refined understanding, and attractive accomplishments, can with more propriety be devoted, than to the confided friend, the cultivated companion, the amiable partner of a Character, in which America glories, and whom the world venerates.

Yet the writer of these pages supplicates no patronage, and solicits no support, except the flattery of your esteem, the encouragement of your approbation; and is less influenced by the benefit she may derive, than by the emulation she feels, in expressing the high respect and admiration, with which she has the honor to consider herself / Your humble Servant

The Author

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs Adams / Quincy”; endorsed: “Mrs Mortens / Dedication.” Filmed at [1808?].

1This dedication to AA appeared in Morton’s Virtues of Society, A Tale, Founded on Fact, Boston, 1799, Evans, description begins Charles Evans and others, American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America [1639–1800], Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–1959; 14 vols.; rev. edn., description ends No. 35844. The letter’s dating derives from AA’s reply of 12 June, in which AA wrote: “I received yesterday, by Mr. Morton, your polite request of dedicating to me what you are pleas’d to call ’one of your favorite children.’ Portrayed as it is by your pen, I cannot but receive, and foster it, with particular regard. The very flattering manner in which you have introduced it to me merits my acknowledgment. If, in the two most important characters of female life, I have been so happy as to discharge the duties of them in such a manner as to merit the approbation of the good and the virtuous, it will be a sufficient Eulogy to me. Upon the purity, honour and chastity of the female character, depend the morals, the virtue, the religion and independence of our country, as well as its domestic felicity, and the elegant pen of Mrs. Morton cannot be more beneficially employ’d than in inculcating and celebrating those virtues; which, whilst they do honour to her sex, are fully exemplified in her own conduct; and will shed upon her character more unfading Laurels than the distinguished literary and poetical talents which she so eminently possesses” (printed in Thomas Birch’s Sons, Catalog No. 694, 1892, item 145). For a later tribute by Sarah Morton to JA, see vol. 1:141.

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