Adams Papers

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 19 October 1775

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Octr: 19. 1775

My Dear

It is some Time since I wrote you, and I have nothing, now, to write but Repetitions of Respect and Affection.—I am anxious to hear from you. I hope, the Family is better, and that your Grief for the great Loss We have all sustained is somewhat abated. I hope your Father and Sister Betcy, are well, tho they must be greatly afflicted. Give my Love to Betcy, and let her know that I feel, most intimately for her, as well as for myself, and the rest. I consider the Stroke must fall heavier upon her, as it was nearer to her. Her Prosperity is near my Heart—I wish her every Blessing which she can possibly wish for herself.

Really it is very painfull to be 400 Miles from ones Family and Friends when We know they are in Affliction. It seems as if It would be a Joy to me to fly home, even to share with you your Burdens and Misfortunes. Surely, if I were with you, it would be my Study to allay your Griefs, to mitigate your Pains and to divert your melancholly Thoughts.

When I shall come home I know not. We have so much to do, and it is so difficult to do it right, that We must learn Patience. Upon my Word I think, if ever I were to come here again, I must bring you with me. I could live here pleasantly if I had you, with me. Will you come and have the small Pox here? I wish I could remove all the Family, our little Daughter and Sons, and all go through the Distemper here.—What if We should? Let me please myself with the Thought however.

Congress has appointed Mr. Wythe, Mr. Deane and me, a Committee to collect an Account of the Hostilities committed by the Troops and Ships, with proper Evidence of the Number and Value of the Houses and other Buildings destroyed or damaged, the Vessells captivated and the Cattle, Sheep, Hogs &c. taken. We are about writing to all the general assemblies of New England, and to many private Gentlemen in each Collony to assist Us in making the Collections. The Gentlemen with me are able Men. Deane’s Character you know. He is a very ingenious Man and an able Politician. Wythe is a new Member from Virginia, a Lawyer of the highest Eminence in that Province, a learned and very laborious Man: so that We may hope this Commission will be well executed.1 A Tale of Woe it will be! Such a scene of Distress, and Destruction and so patiently and magnanimously born. Such a Scene of Cruelty and Barbarity, so unfeelingly committed.—I mention this to you my dear, that you may look up and transmit to me a Paper, which Coll. Palmer lent me containing a Relation of the Charlestown Battle, which was transmitted to England by the Committee of Safety. This Paper I must have, or a Copy of it.2

I wish I could collect from the People of Boston or others, a proper Set of Paintings of the Scenes of Distress and Misery, brought upon that Town from the Commencement of the Port Bill. Posterity must hear a Story that shall make their Ears to Tingle.


RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Adams Braintree”; endorsed: “Octobr. 19”; docketed in an unidentified hand.

1The committee to prepare “a just and well authenticated account of the hostilities committed by the ministerial troops and navy in America since last March” was appointed on 18 Oct., and on the 26th Congress ordered the resolution concerning it published (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 3:298–299, 307). Some of the letters of inquiry signed and sent by the committee survive (three from scattered sources are recorded in the Adams Papers Editorial Files), and there are many references to the project in JA’s private correspondence at this time. But contrary to JA’s hope, more pressing business prevented this plan from being “executed” at all.

2This “Relation” had been drawn up by the Committee of Safety, or by its order, and transmitted in a letter from Joseph Palmer to Arthur Lee in London, 25 July 1775. The narrative and covering letter are printed in Force, Archives description begins Peter Force, ed., American Archives: Consisting of a Collection of Authentick Records, State Papers, Debates, and Letters and Other Notices of Publick Affairs, Washington, 1837–1853; 9 vols. description ends , 4th ser., 2:1373–1376, though curiously not in the official record of the Committee of Safety’s proceedings, which ends at 15 July with an editorial statement that no further record is preserved (Mass. Provincial Congress, Jours. description begins William Lincoln, ed., The Journals of Each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of Safety, Boston, 1838. description ends , p. 597). Palmer forwarded a copy of the narrative to JA in a letter of 31 Oct. –11 Nov. 1775 (Adams Papers; enclosure filed at 25 July 1775); see also AA to JA, 5 Nov., below, which evidently forwarded another copy.

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