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Abigail Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, 18 March 1798

Abigail Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams

Philadelphia March 18 1798

Dear Thomas.

When I have written to your Brother I feel as if I had exhausted all the subjects which it is proper for me to write upon, but as your Hand writing allways gives me pleasure tho I see it only upon the superscription of a Letter, or in a few Promissory lines in the cover, I judge you will allways be gratified with a few words from me tho they contain no more than a Bullitin of our Health and that of your Friends. I find in this city many of your old acquaintance who profess Friendship for you, and speak of you with affection. there are several of your sisters yet unmarried, the Miss Brecks miss Westcot & miss Wilson— Miss Breck I have been told is engaged, and has been so for a long time to a French Gentleman. miss Lucy to your old Friend Wycoff. Miss Betsy stael is lately married, and I am told by mrs Judge Cushing who lodges there, when she is in this city, that she is well married.1 dr Rush also frequently inquires after you. he is lately appointed treasurer, of the Mint.2 your master Ingersol goes on getting Money in his Profession.

It is a long time since I received a Letter from you. so many new scenes must open before you that I should receive much entertainment if a free communication was proper. there will be many things which I should like to hear and know, which will have no connection politicks and of which you are very able to detail. The customs and Manners of the people, the fashions of the Ladies all of which you can draw, in an agreable point of view

I can tell you a peice of News— Mrs Law formerly Miss custos, has been to make a visit here this Winter. she says that Nelly is unmarried, and that she thinks few young men of the present day are Worth having She Said that, She should have been very happy to have had her marry one of my sons— now as two of them are married, who could she mean? I have had Some hints as tho your Heart was some where near the city of Washington. as yet it is not fixed at Mount Vernon

You are a freeman. fix where you like. I shall never controul you. all I require is the means of supporting a Family before a young Man engages in so important a transaction.

write to Hamburgh & commit your Letters to the care of mr Pitcarn. if these French men, who have never recoverd the stroke of the Hammer, will but come to reason, and grow quiet and calm, we shall be a very happy people, but I know not when they will cease to torment and afflict. I am my dear Thomas / most affectionatly / Your Mother

Abigail Adams

RC (MQHi); addressed by Louisa Catharine Smith: “Thomas B. Adams Esqr: / Berlin”; endorsed: “Mrs: A Adams / 18 March 1798 / 17 May Recd: / 16 June acknd”; notation by ECA: “To my / Father / from his / Mother / one hundred / & 2 years / old.”

1Hannah Breck, for whom see vol. 9:237, did not marry until 1809; her sister Lucy (b. 1777) died of yellow fever in Sept. 1798 at the same time as her friend Elizabeth Wescott. Mary (Polly) Wilson (1772–1832) was the daughter of Judge James Wilson and his first wife, Rachel Bird. Henry Wikoff (1770–1826) was the son of Philadelphia merchant Peter Wikoff; when TBA returned to Philadelphia in 1799, the two resumed their friendship. Elizabeth Stall (1779–1821) was the daughter of John Stall, in whose boardinghouse TBA had stayed in 1793; she married William Lytle of Kentucky on 28 Feb. 1798 (vol. 9:436, 10:346; Samuel Breck, Genealogy of the Breck Family Descended from Edward of Dorchester and His Brothers in America, Omaha, Neb., 1889, p. 41; Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 12 Sept.; Charles Page Smith, James Wilson: Founding Father, 1742–1798, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1956, p. 42, 49; C. S. Williams, Descendants of John Cox, N.Y., 1909, p. 44–46; TBA, Diary, 1798–1799, 2 May, 9 June 1799; For Honor, Glory, and Union: The Mexican and Civil War Letters of Brig. Gen. William Haines Lytle, ed. Ruth C. Carter, Lexington, Ky., 1999, p. 4, plates following 114; Byron Williams, History of Clermont and Brown Counties, Ohio, 2 vols., Milford, Ohio, 1913, 1:300; Penna. Archives description begins Pennsylvania Archives, Selected and Arranged from Original Documents in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1935; 119 vols. in 123. description ends , 2d ser., 9:580 [1880]).

2JA nominated Benjamin Rush to be the treasurer of the U.S. Mint on 24 Nov. 1797, and the Senate confirmed the appointment three days later. His duties amounted to little more than bookkeeping, but the appointment kept Rush’s finances afloat after the backlash against his use of bloodletting to treat yellow fever harmed his medical practice. Rush retained the position until his death in 1813 (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., 2d sess., p. 251; Rush, Letters description begins Letters of Benjamin Rush, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Princeton, N.J., 1951; 2 vols. description ends , 2:797, 1209–1212; 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., description ends ).

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