Abigail Adams to John Adams
Braintree August th 15 1774
I know not where this will find you whether upon the road, or at Phylidelphia, but where-ever it is I hope it will find you in good Health and Spirits. Your Journey I immagine must have been very tedious from the extreem heat of the weather and the dustiness of the road’s. We are burnt up with the drouth, having had no rain since you left us, nor is there the least apperance of any. I was much gratified upon the return of some of your Friends from Watertown who gave me an account of your Scocial Dinner, and friendly parting. May your return merrit, and meet with the Gratefull acknowledgments of every well wisher to their Country. Your task is difficult and important. Heaven direct and prosper you. I find from Mr. A——r of B——r1 that the chief Justice is determined to take his Seat, and that the court shall proceed to Buisness if posible, even tho the Sheriff should be obliged to return no other but the late addressers.2 He talks as he always used to—sometimes one thing sometimes an other, pretends the money would not have been collected in that town for the congress if he had not exerted himself, tho it seems he staid till the eleventh hour, and it did not get to town before you left it. I found by a hint he dropd that he used all his influence to surpress the Nonconsumption agreement which some of them had drawn up to sign, and that he has in-listed himself intirely under the influence of the ch[ie]f J[ustic]e. He also expresses great Bitterness against C[olone]l W[arre]n of P[lymout]h for encourageing young Morton to setle there3—seem’s gratified with the thought of his loosing his place, &c.—So much for politicks—now for our own Domestick affairs. Mr. Rice came this afternoon. He and Mr. Thaxter are setled over at the office.4 Crosby has given up the School,5 and as it is to move to the other parish Mr. Rice cannot have it. I must therefore agree with them to take the care of John, and school him with them, which will perhaps be better for him than going to the Town School. I shall reckon over every week as they pass, and rejoice at every Saturday evening. I hope to hear from you by Mr. Cunningham when he returns tho I know not when that will be but he was so kind as to send me word that he was going and would take a letter for me.
Our little ones send their Duty to their Pappa, and the Gentlemen their respects—and that which at all times and in all places evermore attends you is the most affectionate regard of your
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in an unidentified hand: “August <
25> 15 1774.”
2. Chief Justice Peter Oliver did indeed take his seat on the first day (30 Aug.) of the new term of Suffolk Superior Court, but both the grand and petit juries unanimously refused to be sworn, on the ground that Oliver had been impeached by the House and never acquitted. After vainly attempting to do business on the three following days the Court adjourned sine die. “Thus ended the Superior Court and is the last common Law Court that will be allowed to sit in this or any other County of the Province” (William Tudor to JA, 3 Sept. 1774, Adams Papers). See also Gage to Dartmouth, 2 Sept. 1774 (Gage, Corr. description begins The Correspondence of General Thomas Gage with the Secretaries of State, 1763–1775, ed. Clarence E. Carter, New Haven, 1931–1933; 2 vols. description ends , 1:371). The formal statements by the two juries were printed in Mass. Spy, 1 September.
3. Perez Morton (1750–1837), Harvard 1771, a young attorney who soon left Plymouth and became very active in the patriotic cause. He served as deputy secretary of the Revolutionary Council of State, 1775–1776; representative in the General Court from Boston, 1794–1796; from Dorchester, 1800–1811; speaker, 1806–1808, 1810–1811; attorney general of Massachusetts, 1811–1832. In 1781 he married Sarah Wentworth Apthorp (1759–1846), briefly but not very appropriately known as the “American Sappho” because of her numerous poetical effusions, one of which was a pleasant tribute to JA during his years of retirement at Quincy (“Stanzas. Written on a Social Visit to ... John Adams, Late President of the United States,” in her My Mind and Its Thoughts ..., Boston, 1823, p. 194). Despite Morton’s Jeffersonian politics, the Mortons and Adamses were for many years family friends. See a sketch of Perez Morton by John Noble in Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns. description begins Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Publications. description ends , 5 (1902): 282–293; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; 20 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends article on Mrs. Morton; Emily Pendleton and Milton Ellis, Philenia: The Life and Works of Sarah Wentworth Morton, Orono, Maine, 1931, passim.
4. Both of these young men had recently entered JA’s office as law clerks; see an entry in the Suffolk Bar Book, 26 July 1774, approving their engagement by JA (MHS, Procs. description begins Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections and Proceedings. description ends , 1st ser., 19 [1881–1882]:152). Nathan Rice (1754–1834), of Sturbridge, Harvard 1773, joined the army in May 1775 and wrote letters to AA and JA from camps at Dorchester and Ticonderoga, 1775–1776; he served through the war, during a good part of it as major and aide-de-camp to Gen. Benjamin Lincoln (information from Harvard Univ. Archives; Heitman, Register Continental Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, new edn., Washington, 1914. description ends ). John Thaxter Jr. (1755–1791), of Hingham, Harvard 1774, was first cousin to AA; he accompanied JA to Europe in 1779 as private secretary, returning in 1783, and is often mentioned in JA’s Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends ; see, further, Adams Genealogy.