Abigail Adams to John Adams
Braintree August 10 1775
Tis with a sad Heart I take my pen to write to you because I must be the bearer of what will greatly afflict and distress you. Yet I wish you to be prepaired for the Event. Your Brother Elihu lies very dangerously sick with a Dysentery. He has been very bad for more than a week, his life is despaired of. Er’e I close this Letter I fear I shall write you that he is no more.
We are all in great distress. Your Mother is with him in great anguish. I hear this morning that he is sensible of his Danger, and calmly resigned to the will of Heaven; which is a great Satisfaction to his mourning Friend’s. I cannot write more at present than to assure you of the Health of your own family. Mr. Elisha Niles lies very bad with the same disorder.—Adieu.
I have this morning occasion to sing of Mercies and judgments. May I properly notice each—a mixture of joy and grief agitate my Bosom. The return of thee my dear partner after a four months absence is a pleasure I cannot express, but the joy is overclouded, and the Day is darkened by the mixture of Grief and the Sympathy I feel for the looss of your Brother, cut of in the pride of life and the bloom of Manhood! in the midst of his usefulness;1 Heaven san[c]tify this affliction to us, and make me properly thankful that it is not my sad lot to mourn the loss of a Husband in the room of a Brother.
May thy life be spaired and thy Health confirmed for the benefit of thy Country and the happiness of thy family is the constant supplication of thy Friend.2
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams Esqr.”
1. JA’s tribute to his brother Elihu, who “had commanded a Company of Militia all Summer at Cambridge,” is in his Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:326.
2. From this it appears that the speed of JA’s return journey surprised everyone, including his wife, and that urgent business in the General Court caused him to pause in Watertown before proceeding to Braintree, where he had evidently hoped to turn up on his own doorstep unannounced after nearly four months’ absence. The editors’ inference in a note 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 (2:166), that he first went home and then to Watertown to attend the Council, is therefore wrong. During the rest of August JA spent weekends at home and weekdays attending the Council until the General Court adjourned on the 24th. AA came with him to Watertown for the last three days of the session. After a final weekend at home he left early on Monday the 28th for Philadelphia, but stayed for two or three days’ further attendance in Council before leaving Watertown, probably on 1 September. See his Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:167–168, and references there; JA to Mercy Warren, 26 Aug., Warren-Adams Letters description begins Warren-Adams Letters: Being Chiefly a Correspondence among John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Warren (Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections, vols. 72–73), Boston, 1917–1925; 2 vols. description ends , 1:104–105; AA to Mercy Warren, 27 Aug., printed below.