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Ruth Hooper Dalton to Abigail Adams, 20 March 1798

Ruth Hooper Dalton to Abigail Adams

Washington March 20 1798

To hear of your health and happiness my dear Madam is always pleasing to me when ever you can spare time from the many ingagements I know you have I shall esteem it a favour. I am flattered from the pleasing account you give of my Daughter White she was always a good Child and I think she will do all she can to render the Family she is in happy

Mrs Bartlett is a fine Woman.1 Mr Dalton and I have often wondered how he could leave his dear Family to come to Congress There seems a faseination in Congress that has induceed many to come to their prejudice I believe he is not much pleased with this Session and many others do not like the conduct of some of the members I hope there will not be any more spiting nor caining if there is may they be cained home and not be kept to disgrace a body that Ought to be so Honorable

I pity Louissa very much Mrs White wrote me of the death of her Brother such is the lot of mortals I hope it will not injure her health which I think used to be delicate We Visited Mrs Johnson when she first arived and have several times Since the connection they have with part of Your Family was a Sufficient motive We are pleased with the accounts we have of your Daughter Mr Lear was much acquainted with them in London speaks highly of her2 Miss Johnson is very much like Mrs Knox in look and Manners The young Ladies are agreeable.

When I gave the hint you are so kind as to notice I had reason to think there would have been a Vacancy in the Commissioners office in this City as there was not much Harmony among them at that time I am sorry to find so much contention and disputeing about the City my dear Madam the President is much desired and much wanted on the spot that He may see for Himself how things go on or rather do not go on as they might. I hope in a few Months I shall have that pleasure as we find what intelligence He has is from party and from one we know to be a very busy body that dont care for the Country nor the City any father than to answer his own particular porpose of whose Character Mr Dalton thought it incumbent on him to trouble the President with a Sketch knowing he would be in Philadelphia.3

Mr Dalton Mr and Mrs Deblois and the Young Ladies joyn me in respects to the President and Yourself and our love to Louissa Mrs Deblois has a large Family four Daughters one Son about six Month old which I hope she may have the Life of4

believe me dear Madam your / affectionate and Oblidged Friend

Ruth Dalton

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs Adams.”

1For Peggy White Bartlett, the wife of Bailey Bartlett, see vol. 7:404–405.

2Tobias Lear was in Britain from Dec. 1793 until June 1794; he spent part of that time in London where, presumably, he met the Johnson family (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series description begins The Papers of George Washington: Presidential Series, ed. W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Jack D. Warren, Mark A. Mastromarino, Robert F. Haggard, Christine S. Patrick, John C. Pinheiro, David R. Hoth, and others, Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends , 14:620, 15:115, 16:594).

3From the summer of 1797 through early 1798 disagreements emerged between Washington, D.C., commissioners Gustavus Scott and Alexander White and architect William Thornton regarding the construction of the U.S. Capitol. Scott and White, hoping to avoid unnecessary costs, voted against some of Thornton’s building designs. This was in part to address the more pervasive issue, the continuing shortage of funds, for which the commissioners sought federal loans. The commissioners also had to deal with a dispute between prominent landowners Uriah Forrest, who owned lots near Georgetown, D.C., and Thomas Law, whose holdings were close to the Capitol; both men wanted the federal buildings constructed near their respective properties. On 12 Feb. Tristram Dalton wrote to JA (Adams Papers) about Law’s intentions: “His whole Aim is to force improvements to the particular Spot where he has pitched—with a sole View of rendering that more valuable.” Dalton further noted that Law had “discouraged Persons, some of property, from coming to settle in the City—because he found they preferred another part to that where he was” (Papers of William Thornton, ed. C. M. Harris and Daniel Preston, Charlottesville, Va., 1995, p. xlvii, 415, 430–432; Bob Arnebeck, Through a Fiery Trial: Building Washington, 1790–1800, Lanham, Md., 1991, p. 442, 448, 465, 469). See also William Cranch to AA, 21 Nov. 1797, note 7, and AA to William Smith, 28 Feb. 1798, and note 3, both above.

4Lewis and Ruth Dalton Deblois’ surviving children at this time were Mary Ann (b. 1790), Charlotte (b. ca. 1791), Elizabeth (b. 1792), John (b. ca. 1797), and possibly Matilda (b. ca. 1798). Another son, Dalton, had died in 1793 (Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton, “Old Boston Families: Number One, The De Blois Family,” NEHGR description begins New England Historical and Genealogical Register. description ends , 67:16 [Jan. 1913]; Boston Repertory, 7 Nov. 1820; Boston Independent Chronicle, 18 July 1793).

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