Adams Papers
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Abigail Adams Smith to John Quincy Adams, 8 June 1788

Abigail Adams Smith to John Quincy Adams

New York june 8th1788—

to your Candour my Dear Brother—I must appeal for Pardon that I have thus long delayed to inform you of our safe arrival in this City— I have presumed that we were People of such importance that the news of such an event must have reached you through the Chanell of the news Papers as soon as it would have done, had I have written you immediately upon Landing—1 and realy my time has been so wholy occupied in receiving and returning visits—that I have not been able to find one half Hour unoccupied—

I heard this morning by MrWm.Knox—who left Boston on Wedensday last,2 that a Ship was comeing up the Harbour on Tuesday Evening which was supposed to have been Callihan— with all my heart I wish it may so prove for I begin to be anxous for our Parrents—and Shall now be very impatient untill I hear of their arrival, and health if they Sailed when they expected the begining of April they must have had a long and I fear a tedious Passage—

I will hope that ere this you have seen them and that you are all mutually happy— I shall expect to hear from you very soon and very often— the tedious distance we have so long been at—is now lessened—and in four days if you please you may gratify yourself and make me very happy by making me a visit. I do not ask it at present—but when we get settled upon Long Island, where we have taken a House—I shall think you very deficient if you do not make us a visit— it will be advantageous to your health—& I see no injury that so Steady and experienced a youth can receive from a relaxation of a week, or two from hard, and unintermiting studies, we are in daily expectation of the arrival of the Ship which has on Board our Baggage— as soon as it arrives—and we can collect together a little furniture—we shall take up our residence upon Long Island—and in a few weeks I shall inform you that I am ready to receive you—and expect you to set off Post Haste upon receipt of my Summons. if my other Brothers could accompany you at this season I should be very happy—but if they cannot at present I shall request the pleasure and favour of a visit from them the first moment they can find a release from their studies— you must give my Love to them and desire them to write to me soon and often I shall write them very soon—but MrGore I am informed Leaves this City tomorrow—and I have only time to finish this Letter—3

I have been reading over the letters which you wrote me from this Place4 many Persons mentioned in them I have become acquainted with—and in general find your observations just— Lady Wheat has lately married Capt Cochrane and goes soon with him to Scotland,5 Miss Becca sears preserves her Beauty and is very handsome— MrsJarvis and Miss Broom arrived in town on Wedensday—and were very well last Evening at Eleven—6 I supped in Company with them— General Knox has fallen away—and Mrs—— is not more than one yard and an half round her waist— they have been very friendly and polite to us since our arrival— MrRucker is very ill there is no hopes of his recovery,—7 Miss R—— fatter than Miss Adams,—8 I have received visits from Sixty Ladies so that you, knowing how punctilious we Ladies of N York are must easily imagine that I have my hands full (as the saying is)9 in returning the visits—and accepting invitations to dinner, Tea, and Supper, parties— I am quite impatient to get out of Town—for the weather for two days past has been almost insupportably Warm—

Franks is here and first Aid de Camp to the President of Congress— MrB—— is here and passingly civil—. MrsB——m would be wretched if she had not some distant hopes of seeing Europe again—. but has no curiossity nor desire to travell through her own Country— New York does not afford an House—that She could possibly accommodate her family in—10

you must write me all the news, and anecdotes that you can hear of— tell me if the report is true that Elisa Cranch is going to enter the Holy Bands of Matrimony and if so—with whom—and offer her my Congratulation upon the Event,— I have seen the American Magazines for this year—and have picked up some news from them— such as an account of Marriages and Deaths— Cousin Cotton—is I find Married at last—and Poor MrLincoln is Dead— I was greived for my friend Mrs:Lincoln— many many are the ups and downs of Life— were I to visit Boston—I should find a Great chasm in the Circle of my acquaintance—and mourn the Loss of many Kind and good friends—

Federalist, or Ante federalist, is the question—and pray upon which side of the important question do you Stand I could almost answer for you three months forward—for you will find your Father a great Advocate for Federalism— there has been great rejoiceing amongst the Former—at the late accession of Carolina—to the Union—but the friends of the new Constitution are very doubtfull of its Success in this State— the Convention are to meet upon the Seventeenth of this month— MrJay is a Member and many other very strenuous advocates in its favour11 —but the Governor of the State— is said to be opposed to it—and Some say he has taken all means to prejudice the Country People—against its adoption—12 the party against it are silent—and seem to be ashaimed of being known— how it will prove eventually is uncertain— it ever has been and ever will be the Case that upon every Subject there is a diversity of opinion— and it is a very rare instance that People who disagree in Sentiment should be friendly and benevolently disposed towards each other— thus we must ever expect to see—One Party rejoice at the ill success of its opponent—and Useing all the means in its Power to render the opposite disregarded disrespected and—all their measures frustrated—and untill the milenium in Politicks arrives we can not expect any alteration of System— so much for Politicks— I must close my Letter—and request you to remember me to all friends—and beleive me / your affectionate Sister

A Smith—

CollnSmith desires his Love to you—

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “My Sister—8. June 1788.” and “My Sister. June 8. 1788.”

1Several Boston newspapers reported AA2 and WSS’s arrival in Halifax, beginning with the Massachusetts Centinel, 24 May; their arrival in New York was listed in the Massachusetts Gazette, 30 May. In Newburyport, where JQA was living, the Essex Journal printed the Halifax information on 28 May.

2William Knox, the brother of Henry Knox, was a clerk in the war department and later U.S. consul in Dublin (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series description begins The Papers of George Washington: Presidential Series, ed. Dorothy Twohig, Mark A. Mastromarino, Jack D. Warren, Robert F. Haggard, Christine S. Patrick, John C. Pinheiro, and others, Charlottesville, 1987–. description ends , 1:196, 5:474).

3For Christopher Gore, see vol. 6:377; JQA, Diary description begins Diary of John Quincy Adams, ed. David Grayson Allen, Robert J. Taylor, and others, Cambridge, 1981–. description ends , 1:330.

4JQA wrote three long letters to AA2 when he passed through New York City on his way back to Braintree from Europe; see JQA to AA2, 17 July, and 1, 9 Aug. 1785 (vol. 6:225–231, 242–248, 251–256).

5Lady Maria Waite, the widow of Sir Jacob Waite, married Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane in April 1788 (DNB description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, New York and London, 1885–1901; repr. Oxford, 1959–1960; 21 vols. plus supplements. description ends ; John Marshall, Royal Naval Biography, 4 vols. in 8, London, 1823–1835, 1:266).

6Amelia Broome Jarvis (1765–1788), wife of James Jarvis of New York, and Elizabeth Broome were sisters. Amelia would die on 1 December. Elizabeth later married Col. Joseph Fay of Bennington, Vt. (Donald Lines Jacobus, comp., Families of Ancient New Haven, 9 vols. in 3, Baltimore, 1974, 2:344–345).

7John Rucker died on 15 June (New York Independent Journal, 21 June).

8Probably Betsey Ramsay.

9Closing parenthesis editorially supplied.

10Probably Anne and William Bingham, whom the Adamses had known in Europe. William Bingham represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress from 1786 to 1789 (DAB description begins Allen Johnson, Dumas Malone, and others, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; repr. New York, 1955–1980; 10 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ).

11South Carolina ratified the Constitution by a vote of 149 to 73 on 23 May 1788; the news was widely reported in the New York newspapers in the first week of June. The New York state convention began meeting on 17 June. Although several noted Federalists—including John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and Robert R. Livingston—were elected delegates, the convention opened with a decidedly Antifederalist majority (Doc. Hist. Ratif. Const. description begins The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, ed. Merrill Jensen, John P. Kaminski, Gaspare J. Saladino, and others, Madison, Wis., 1976–. description ends , 20:xxiv, 1132–1133; John P. Kaminski, “New York: The Reluctant Pillar,” in Stephen L. Schechter, ed., The Reluctant Pillar: New York and the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Troy, N.Y., 1985, p. 79).

12George Clinton (1739–1812), a lawyer and former major general in the Continental Army, served as governor of New York from 1777 to 1795 and again from 1801 to 1804. He subsequently served as vice president of the United States from 1805 until his death. An outspoken critic of the U.S. Constitution, he led the Antifederalists in the New York state ratifying convention, where he also served as president (Doc. Hist. Ratif. Const. description begins The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, ed. Merrill Jensen, John P. Kaminski, Gaspare J. Saladino, and others, Madison, Wis., 1976–. description ends , 19:495; DAB description begins Allen Johnson, Dumas Malone, and others, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; repr. New York, 1955–1980; 10 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ).

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