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Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams, 20 April 1798

Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams

Quincy April 20th 1798

Dear Sister

I have read the dispatches from the Envoys with as much astonishment as the Jacobins in congress heard them but not with those twinges of conscience which some of them must feel. those who by their false representations to that nation of the designs of the Government here & the spirit of the People in General, those who have known the truth & have ly’d to the publick, those who have been all the Session abuseing the President in & out of the House— I envy not the feelings of the Vs. President—

I Question whether there will be a man in the united States who will not read them, & mr Otis exellent well tim’d Letter to Gen: Heath being printed in the Same paper will get read also—1 Dochester makes a Scrub figuer with their Petition & the article upon which they acted worded as it was in the warrent has afforded a Subject for much ridicule. I Charge the observations upon it in the centinal to mr [Otiss brevade?] & Suppose I am right. the Cobler is williard Baxter. the Coll you know the Deacon mr How.2 the Abington Specimen of folly tho handsomly worded, is said to be the product of Parson Niles.3 but Shame will be the Portion of them all— I am told that the People who were against arming are now for fighting them wherever they can meet with a Frenchman— So true is the concluding Sentence of mr Hopkin’s observations in the Pamphlit you was So kind as to send Mr cranch, & for which he thanks you.

It will be seen that the american Spirit can yet be rous’d nothing could be better calculated to awake them from their political Slumber than the insolent demand of Talarand & the Directory for their money. the Sound of their dollars pouring into French Coffers is greatly Superior to any marchal Musick Tis curious to observe that, the British Treaty is not amonge their list of complaints & here all their depradations were ascrib’d to it

I inclose a Letter from Doctor Tufts— I went yesterday to see mr Soule, & found him much better. I think if he is careful he may recover your building was raising the paint on your rooms looks very well but he went away without doing your lower closet Floor notwithstanding I charg’d the Painter to do it. it was night before he had done the other parts & he wanted to return. he may be wanted to do more then he must do it. I was quite vex’d about it, because it ought to be well dry. your Bacon is brought home mrs Porter had boil’d a Shoulder of it & I think I never Saw better—

I have got a fine parcel of Garden Seeds for you & hope to see you abound in vegitables. but as yet it has been So cold & for a week So like winter that no Gardening could be done to advantage this day is a fine one but it will take many Such to warm the [groun]d

I find mrs Quincy had a complication of dissorders. she [had] been some time unwell but keept about house & was so well [. . . .] be with her Daughter when She was ill. mrs Dowsse was also very Sick at the same time in the house; & mrs Quincy did not attend to herself as she ought. but her dessorder Suddenly put on the appearence of a dropsey & she Sunk away instantly almost—

we are all as well as usual, & our children—

I must write a few lines to washington, & I am going to see Miss Paine this morning. So Must be brief. I hope to get a Letter from you tomorrow, & will write again by Mondays Mail. I wish Cousen Louissa would make a little drapery gown out of a pice of old Linnen that we may form an Idea of it, & send me a pattern of one large enough for her & a pattern of a cap Such as I ought to wear. Cousen carried all hers Fashions to atkinson with her. a Hankerchief pattern also—

Love to all Friend from your ever affectionate sister

M. Cranch

RC (Adams Papers); addressed by Richard Cranch: “To / Mrs. Abigail Adams, / the President’s Lady, / Philadelphia.”; endorsed: “Mrs Cranch / 20 April 1798.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.

1The dispatches from the envoys were published in both the regular edition and a special supplement of the Massachusetts Mercury, 17 April, along with a long letter of 30 March from Harrison Gray Otis to William Heath. Heath, for whom see vol. 8:99, was one of the drafters of the Roxbury petition and had forwarded it to Otis on 21 March. In the letter Otis thanked his constituents for their sincere contemplation of the armament issue but suggested their opposition stemmed from a “sincere and laudable anxiety for Peace, rather than to a deliberate examination of the arguments relating to the subject.” He then justified his support for arming, beginning with the law of nature and law of nations, both of which “authorize the right of carrying arms for self defence.” Otis warned that should nothing be done the financial implications for Massachusetts commerce would be devastating and that of the three available courses of action—embargo, a public navy, and private armament—the last was the most expeditious route to protecting Americans and U.S. commerce. He further argued that French actions were tantamount to a maritime war, but that it could devolve into full-scale war only if “our American Hearts of Oak can be shivered and splintered” by French attempts to divide the American populace. Otis therefore beseeched his Roxbury constituents to “rouse from the enchantment of mistaken gratitude, from the dream of delusive friendship, from the indolence of peace, and the apathy of riches. It is time for them to realize that … Their liberties were never in such danger as at this moment.”

2A town meeting held in Dorchester on 2 April voted to petition Congress against armament, believing that “the late determination to take off the Restrictions for arming is pregnant with evils, which we apprehend will eventually involve the United States in a War, with our Sister Republic.” The meeting also voted to publish the petition, which accordingly appeared in the Boston Independent Chronicle, 2–5 April. In response, the Boston Columbian Centinel, 14 April, criticized the individuals who spoke during the meeting: “Rhetoric was rummaged, and exhausted of its tropes, fancy of its imagery, and falsehood and flummery drest in their most spacious garbs, to proclaim the wondrous love France still bears to America.” Further, the article mocked the public warrant calling for the meeting: “‘To see whether the town will allow the merchantmen to arm,’ and in fact, from the debates of the foregoing gentlemen it would seem as if they imagined the prerogative lay in Dorchester.” The “Cobler” was Edward Willard Baxter (d. 1819), a cordwainer and the son of Seth and Eleanor Allen Baxter of Braintree; the “Coll” almost certainly was James Swan; and the “Deacon” was John Howe (1740–1818), the current representative for Dorchester in the Mass. General Court. All three men were on the committee that drafted the petition (Sprague, Braintree Families description begins Waldo Chamberlain Sprague, comp., Genealogies of the Families of Braintree, Mass., 1640–1850, Boston, 1983; repr. CD-ROM, Boston, 2001. description ends ; Ellen F. Vose, comp., Robert Vose and His Descendants, Boston, 1932, p. 89–90; JA, Papers description begins Papers of John Adams, ed. Robert J. Taylor, Gregg L. Lint, and others, Cambridge, 1977–. description ends , 3:354; Anna Glover, Glover Memorials and Genealogies. An Account of John Glover of Dorchester and His Descendants, Boston, 1867, p. 304; Mass., Acts and Laws description begins Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [1780–1805], Boston, 1890–1898; 13 vols. description ends , 1796–1797, p. 493).

3Town meetings were similarly held on 2 and 6 April 1798 in Abington, Mass., the first to appoint a committee to draft a memorial opposing armament, and the second to approve its submission to Congress. The resulting report claimed that the arming of private merchants would “prove fruitless in the object, and destructive in the consequence.” Rev. Samuel Niles (1744–1814), Princeton 1769, was the minister of the First Church at Abington and the grandson of JA’s early political mentor of the same name (vol. 4:126; Boston Columbian Centinel, 14 April; Sibley’s Harvard Graduates description begins John Langdon Sibley, Clifford K. Shipton, Conrad Edick Wright, Edward W. Hanson, and others, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873–. description ends , 9:72; Sprague, Braintree Families description begins Waldo Chamberlain Sprague, comp., Genealogies of the Families of Braintree, Mass., 1640–1850, Boston, 1983; repr. CD-ROM, Boston, 2001. description ends ).

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