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Abigail Adams to William Smith, 21 November 1797

Abigail Adams to William Smith

Philadelphia Novbr 21. 1797

Dear sir

I received your obliging favour of Novbr 8th the day after I last wrote you. I inclose the amount of your account with many thanks for your kindness—1

The Betsy is arrived with the fish, and if my cook can be taught to dress it, some of our Nothern Friends shall Toast your Health.2

The state of N Jersey as you observe, most certainly manifested a very marked respect and approbation of the Government by the unfeigned, and affectionate reception which they gave to the President, some personal instances could not fail of impressing the Heart.

It was oweing to a mistake in the post office, that the invitation to dine at Trentown on the 9th was not received, and accepted. I was sorry for the dissapointment, as the Legislature were sitting, and the Dinner prepared. The Govenour of the state with a numerous concourse of Persons, and a Troop of Light Horse met us 6 miles from Trentown, to accompany us into Town— The President stoped and deliverd his answer to the address— I past on and crossd the Ferry, in about half an hour. the whole procession came to the Ferry, and waited on the opposite side untill the President reachd the Pensilvanna side accompanied by the Govenour the Marshal and several officers, where they took an affectionate Leave of us—3 if the publick were to judge of our reception here by Ben Baches account of it, they might suppose that we were deliverd over to satan to be buffetted by his imps so far as it respects that contemptable Hireling. it is true, but Pensilvanna at no time, can bear a comparison with N England in their Militia, clogd as they are by the spirit of Quakerism and cursd as they are by the spirit of Jacobinism. they are a House divided against itself. the greater Number of their officers, I have the Authority of their Marshal for it, are taken from the lowest grade of Society. few of them can read or write, and are Popular demagogues who can procure votes for a Govenour, by mixing with the Herd. to do them all the justice they deserve, on this occasion, they made as good an appearence as they could. they were well clad and mounted.4 there is a Triumvirate of Printers in Boston N york and Philadelphia who richly deserve that French Freedom and Liberty which has been excercised against 18 or 20 Printers in France—5

since I wrote you last we have reason to think that both mr Marshal & Gerry are arrived. no offical account of mr Gerry, yet report thus states it— no senate yet formed. our Weather is very cold for November. if there should be any quantity of good oats to be sold this fall as low as 2 shillings or two and 4 pence, will you be so good as to take a Hundred Bushels and send our people word to come for them. in the spring they are scarce—

my best Regards to all Friends / affectionatly yours,

A Adams—

inclosed is 60 dollors please to pay the overpluss to mrs smith for sundries she has against me

RC (MHi:Smith-Townsend Family Papers); endorsed: “Philaa. 21. Novr 97 / Mrs Adams. / Ansd.

1See AA to Smith, 23 Oct., note 1, above.

2AA was mistaken about the arrival of the ship; the schooner Betsey, Capt. Robert Welsh, did not reach Philadelphia until 6 December. AA noted the error and reported receipt of the shipment in mid-December (Massachusetts Mercury, 3 Nov.; Philadelphia Gazette, 6 Dec.; AA to Smith, 18 Dec., MHi: Smith-Townsend Family Papers).

3On 9 Nov. JA arrived in Trenton, N.J., escorted by a troop of cavalry and met by Richard Howell (1754–1802), the governor of New Jersey from 1793 to 1801, and Thomas Lowry (1737–1806), the state’s marshal from 1789 to 1802, “together with a number of citizens.” Welcoming JA with “a Federal salute” from an artillery company “and the ringing of the different bells,” the state legislature then addressed JA, taking “this opportunity of assuring you of their high respect for your person and character, both in your political and individual relations.” JA responded: “Your kind compliments to me, merit my best thanks and strongest assurances, that should any thing in my administration protect your interest in common with all those of your fellow-citizens thro the union, promote harmony and unanimity among the citizens of these states, and friendly sentiments and intercourse with all mankind, I should esteem myself the happiest of all men” (New York Commercial Advertiser, 15 Nov. 1797; ANB description begins John A. Garraty, Mark C. Carnes, and Paul Betz, eds., American National Biography, New York, 1999–2002; 24 vols. plus supplement; rev. edn., www.anb.org. description ends ; Mark Edward Lender, “This Honorable Court”: The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, 1789–2000, New Brunswick, N.J., 2006, p. 15, 46).

4William Nichols (1754–1804), a Revolutionary War veteran, served as marshal of Pennsylvania from 1795 to 1799 (Emma St. Clair Whitney, Michael Hillegas and His Descendants, Pottsville, Penn., 1891, p. 37; Nichols to JA, 29 Nov. 1799, Adams Papers).

5Following the 18 fructidor coup, freedom of the press was greatly curtailed in France. Warrants were issued for the arrest of several writers and editors, and at least 29 Parisian newspapers were suppressed after a new law gave the Directory the power to ban publications by decree. In his 25 Sept. 1797 letter to Timothy Pickering (LbC, APM Reel 129), JQA noted that after the coup “about forty printing presses were destroyed, and the Editors and Printers of them, committed to Prison” and that “all sorts of periodical papers and printing presses” had been “placed for a year under the controul of the Directory” (Jeremy D. Popkin, Revolutionary News: The Press in France, 1789–1799, Durham, N.C., 1990, p. 54, 101, 173–174).

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