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John Adams to Abigail Adams, 18 November 1794

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Philadelphia Nov. 18. 1794

My Dearest Friend

I had just Sent off to the Poet office, my Letter in which I requested a Diary of Husbandry when I went to The Senate Chamber where I found your Letter of the 10th, which contained the very Thing I had asked for, very accurate & pleasing. I hope for a continuance of it, for nothing refreshes me like it, in the dull Solitude to which I am destined for four months.

A Senate was made to Day, by the Arrival of Col Burr, as fat as a Duck and as ruddy as a roost Cock. An hundred Thousand Pounds is a very wholesome Thing I believe, and I Suppose my manifold Infirmities are owing to my Poverty. I know not whether fame lies, on this occasion, but she begins to whisper that Burr has been very fortunate and Successful as well as Several others of Govr Clintons friends, by means that I will not explain till fame explains them more in detail.

These Simple Republicans are rewarded in this World for their Virtues, as well as admired for their Talents.

Tomorrow We shall have the Speech, which is to be delivered in the House of Representatives as there is some doubt of the Solidity of the Building to hold a Crowd in the Senate Chamber.1

They have built us no Gallery, from which neglect, Some conclude that the Soi-disant friends of the People are afraid that the Senate will appear to the People better friends than them Selves. The Debate on Mr Gallatin’s Election Seems to have abated the public Curiosity.

Mrs Cabot comes here, without Handmaiden or female Companion, in Six Days by the Stage Coach and is as alert as if she had done nothing.

I am glad you went to Haverhil to see our unfortunate afflicted Sister, but am anxious about that paltry River, lest it should bring again your intermittent.


J. A.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Novbr / 18 1794.”

1George Washington’s speech to both houses of Congress on 19 Nov. contained a detailed description of the Whiskey Rebellion and the government’s response. According to Washington, “In the four western counties of Pennsylvania, a prejudice, fostered and embittered by the artifice of men, who labored for an ascendancy over the will of others, by the guidance of their passions, produced symptoms of riot and violence.” Washington deemed these actions threats to “the very existence of social order” and a violation of “the fundamental principles of our Constitution.” Still, he emphasized, he did not make the decision to use force to put down the rebellion lightly: “to array citizen against citizen, to publish the dishonor of such excesses, to encounter the expense, and other embarrassments, of so distant an expedition, were steps too delicate, too closely interwoven with many affecting considerations, to be lightly adopted.” Still, Washington used the rebellion as an opportunity to press Congress to pass laws regarding “the power of organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia; and thus providing, in the language of the Constitution, for calling them forth to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection, and repel invasions” (Annals of Congress, description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States [1789–1824], Washington, D.C., 1834–1856; 42 vols. description ends 3d Cong., 2d sess., p. 787–792).

Both houses of Congress met in Congress Hall, formerly the county courthouse, at the corner of Sixth and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia. The House of Representatives gathered on the first floor, and the Senate met on the second (Edward M. Riley, “The Independence Hall Group,” in Historic Philadelphia: From the Founding until the Early Nineteenth Century, Phila., 1953, p. 27–29).

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