John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia Feby. 11. 1776
Here I am again. Arrived last Thursday,1 in good Health, altho I had a cold Journey. The Weather, a great Part of the Way, was very severe, which prevented our making very quick Progress, and by an Accident which happened to one of my Horses, which obliged me to leave her at Brookfield and hire another, was delayed two days. An Horse broke loose in the Barn and corked2 mine under the fore-shoulder. I hope that Bass upon his Return will find her well.
My Companion was agreable and made the Journey much less tedious than it would have been.
I can form no Judgment of the State of public Opinions and Principles here, as yet, nor any Conjectures of what an Hour may bring forth.
Have been to meeting and heard Mr. Duffill  from Jer. 2.17. Hast thou not procured this unto thy self, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by the Way?—He prayed very earnestly for Boston and New York, supposing the latter to be in Danger of Destruction.
I, however, am not convinced that Vandeput will fire upon that Town3—It has too much Tory Property to be destroyed by Tories.
I hope it will be fortified and saved. If not the Q[uestion] may be asked “hast thou not procured this &c?”
Tomorrow, Dr. Smith is to deliver an oration in Honour of the brave Montgomery.4 I will send it, as soon as it is out, to you.
There is a deep Anxiety, a kind of thoughtfull Melancholly, and in some a Lowness of Spirits approaching to Despondency, prevailing, through the southern Colonies, at present, very similar, to what I have often observed in Boston, particularly on the first News of the Port Bill, and last year about this Time or a little later, when the bad News arrived, which dashed their fond Hopes with which they had deluded themselves, thro the Winter. In this, or a similar Condition, We shall remain, I think, untill late in the Spring, When some critical Event will take Place, perhaps sooner. But the Arbiter of Events, the Sovereign of the World only knows, which Way the Torrent will be turned. Judging by Experience, by Probabilities, and by all Appearances, I conclude, it will roll on to Dominion and Glory, tho the Circumstances and Consequences may be bloody.
In such great Changes and Commotions, Individuals are but Atoms. It is scarcly worth while to consider what the Consequences will be to Us. What will be the Effects upon present and future Millions, and Millions of Millions, is a Question very interesting to Benevolence natural and Christian. God grant they may and I firmly believe they will be happy.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. John Adams Braintree.”
1. 8 February.
2. That is, calked: “To wound with a calk, as a horse’s leg” (Webster, 2d edn.). Calk (in the sense of a projecting metal point affixed to a shoe to prevent slipping) appears frequently in American colloquial usage as “cork”; thus “corked boots.” See DAE description begins Sir William A. Craigie and James R. Hulbert, comps., A Dictionary of American English on Historical Principles, Chicago, 1938–1944; 4 vols. description ends and Dict. of Americanisms description begins Mitford M. Mathews, ed., A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles, Chicago, 1951. description ends under both calk and cork.
3. Capt. (later Adm.) George Vandeput, then commanding H.M.S. Asia in New York Harbor.
4. JA was mistaken about the date. The ceremonies in honor of Gen. Richard Montgomery, who was killed in the American assault on Quebec on the last day of 1775, were not held until Monday, 19 Feb., when Rev. William Smith, provost of the College of Philadelphia, delivered an oration in the “Dutch Calvinist” (i.e. German Reformed) Church in Philadelphia that JA later said was considered such “an insolent Performance” that Congress declined either to thank the orator or to print his speech. However, “The orator then printed it himself, after leaving out or altering some offensive Passages” (to AA, 28 April, below). What offended JA and others were Smith’s markedly loyalist sentiments. See entries in Richard Smith’s Diary of Proceedings in Congress for 25 Jan., 12, 19, 21 Feb., in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, Washington, 1921–1936; 8 vols. description ends , 1:327, 347, 356, 359 and references in editorial notes there. For Smith’s Oration as printed, see “Bibliographical Notes” in JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 6:1117–1118; also T. R. Adams, “American Independence,” description begins Thomas R. Adams, “American Independence: The Growth of an Idea. A Bibliographical Study of the American Political Pamphlets Published between 1764 and 1776 ...,” Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Publications, vol. 43 (in press, 1963). description ends No. 228a-h.