John Adams to Abigail Adams
Prince Town New Jersey Aug. 28th. 1774
I received your kind Letter, at New York, and it is not easy for you to imagine the Pleasure it has given me. I have not found a single Opportunity to write since I left Boston, excepting by the Post and I dont choose to write by that Conveyance, for fear of foul Play. But as We are now within forty two Miles of Philadelphia, I hope there to find some private Hand by which I can convey this.
The Particulars of our Journey, I must reserve, to be communicated after my Return. It would take a Volume to describe the whole. It has been upon the whole an Agreable Jaunt, We have had Opportunities to see the World, and to form Acquaintances with the most eminent and famous Men, in the several Colonies we have passed through. We have been treated with unbounded Civility, Complaisance, and Respect.1
We Yesterday visited Nassau Hall Colledge, and were politely treated by the Schollars, Tutors, Professors and President, whom We are, this Day to hear preach. Tomorrow We reach the Theatre of Action. God Almighty grant us Wisdom and Virtue sufficient for the high Trust that is devolved upon Us. The Spirit of the People wherever we have been seems to be very favourable. They universally consider our Cause as their own, and express the firmest Resolution, to abide the Determination of the Congress.
I am anxious for our perplexed, distressed Province—hope they will be directed into the right Path. Let me intreat you, my Dear, to make yourself as easy and quiet as possible. Resignation to the Will of Heaven is our only Resource in such dangerous Times. Prudence and Caution should be our Guides. I have the strongest Hopes, that We shall yet see a clearer Sky, and better Times.
Remember my tender Love to my little Nabby. Tell her she must write me a Letter and inclose it in the next you send. I am charmed with your Amusement with our little Johnny. Tell him I am glad to hear he is so good a Boy as to read to his Mamma, for her Entertainment, and to keep himself out of the Company of rude Children. Tell him I hope to hear a good Account of his Accidence and Nomenclature, when I return. Kiss my little Charley and Tommy for me. Tell them I shall be at Home by November, but how much sooner I know not.
Remember me to all enquiring Friends—particularly to Uncle Quincy,2 your Pappa and Family, and Dr. Tufts and Family. Mr. Thaxter, I hope, is a good Companion, in your Solitude. Tell him, if he devotes his Soul and Body to his Books, I hope, notwithstanding the Darkness of these Days, he will not find them unprofitable Sacrifices in future.
I have received three very obliging Letters, from Tudor, Trumble, and Hill.3 They have cheared us, in our Wanderings, and done us much Service.
My Compliments to Mr. Wibirt4 and Coll. Quincy, when you see them.
Your Account of the Rain refreshed me. I hope our Husbandry is prudently and industriously managed. Frugality must be our Support. Our Expences, in this Journey, will be very great—our only Reward will be the consolatory Reflection that We toil, spend our Time, and tempt Dangers for the public Good—happy indeed, if we do any good!
The Education of our Children is never out of my Mind. Train them to Virtue, habituate them to industry, activity, and Spirit. Make them consider every Vice, as shamefull and unmanly: fire them with Ambition to be usefull—make them disdain to be destitute of any usefull, or ornamental Knowledge or Accomplishment. Fix their Ambition upon great and solid Objects, and their Contempt upon little, frivolous, and useless ones. It is Time, my dear, for you to begin to teach them French. Every Decency, Grace, and Honesty should be inculcated upon them.
I have [kept]5 a few Minutes by Way of Journal, which shall be your Entertainment when I come home, but We have had so many Persons and so various Characters to converse with, and so many Objects to view, that I have not been able to be so particular as I could wish.—I am, with the tenderest Affection and Concern, your wandering
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree Massachusetts Bay To be left at Mr. Adams’s Office in Queen Street Boston favoured by ”, endorsed: “C 1 No 1.” (In this and following endorsements on JA’s letters, “C” may possibly stand for “Congress.”)
2. Norton Quincy (1716–1801), Harvard 1736, AA’s uncle, of Mount Wollaston. See Adams Genealogy.
3. All recent or current clerks in JA’s Boston law office. John Trumbull, the young poet and future judge, has already been identified. Only Tudor’s letter, dated 21 Aug. 1774 (Adams Papers), has been found.
William Tudor (1750–1819), Harvard 1769, had studied law with JA for three years beginning in Aug. 1769 and was then admitted to the bar; in July 1775 he was elected judge advocate of the Continental Army with the rank of lieutenant colonel and served until 1778; he later resumed the practice of law in Boston and held various political offices. Tudor was one of the founders of the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1791, and some of his papers are among its collections, including some early love letters to his wife Delia Jarvis very recently acquired; a selection of his correspondence, including letters from JA, who was a warm friend and intimate correspondent for many years, is printed in the best biographical sketch known to the editors, MHS, Colls. description begins Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections and Proceedings. description ends , 2d ser., 8 (2d edn., 1826):285–325.
Edward Hill (1755–1775), of Boston, Harvard 1772, died so young that he is less known to history. He had commenced clerk in JA’s office in Oct. 1772 and was still engaged there at the time this letter was written. He died of “camp fever” in March 1775. (“Suffolk Bar Book,” MHS, Procs. description begins Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections and Proceedings. description ends , 1st ser., 19 [1881–1882]:151; “Letters of John Andrews,” same, 8 [1864–1865]:403; information from Harvard Univ. Archives.)
4. Rev. Anthony Wibird (1729–1800), Harvard 1747, minister of the First or North Precinct Church in Braintree (later Quincy) from 1754 until his death (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates description begins John Langdon Sibley and Clifford K. Shipton, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873– description ends , vol. 12 [in press]). In earlier years JA had been a close companion of Wibird, who is mentioned frequently in JA’s Diary, not always in flattering terms.
5. MS: “keep.”