John Adams to Abigail Adams
May 27. 1776
I have three of your Favours, before me—one of May 7., another of May 9. and a third of May 14th. The last has given me Relief from many Anxieties. It relates wholly to private Affairs, and contains such an Account of wise and prudent Management, as makes me very happy. I begin to be jealous, that our Neighbours will think Affairs more discreetly conducted in my Absence than at any other Time.
Whether your Suspicions concerning a Letter under a marble Cover, are just or not, it is best to say little about it.1 It is an hasty hurried Thing and of no great Consequence, calculated for a Meridian at a great Distance from N. England. If it has done no good, it will do no harm. It has contributed to sett People a thinking upon the subject, and in this respect has answered its End. The Manufactory of Governments having, since the Publication of that Letter, been as much talk’d of, as that of salt Petre was before.
I rejoice at your Account of the Spirit of Fortification, and the good Effects of it. I hope by this Time you are in a tolerable Posture of defence. The Inhabitants of Boston have done themselves great Honour, by their laudable Zeal, the worthy Clergymen especially.
I think you shine as a Stateswoman, of late as well as a Farmeress. Pray where do you get your Maxims of State, they are very apropos.
I am much obliged to Judge Gushing, and his Lady for their polite Visit to you: should be very happy to see him, and converse with him about many Things but cannot hope for that Pleasure, very soon. The Affairs of America, are in so critical a State, such great Events are struggling for Birth, that I must not quit this station at this Time. Yet I dread the melting Heats of a Philadelphia Summer, and know not how my frail Constitution will endure it. Such constant Care, such incessant Application of Mind, drinking up and exhausting the finer Spirits upon which Life and Health so essentially depend, will wear away a stronger Man than I am.—Yet I will not shrink from this Danger or this Toil. While my Health shall be such that I can discharge in any tolerable manner, the Duties of this important Post, I will not desert it.
Am pleased to hear that the superiour Court is to sit, at Ipswich in June.2 This will contribute to give Stability to the Government, I hope, in all its Branches....3 But I presume other Steps will be taken for this Purpose. A Governor and Lt. Governor, I hope will be chosen, and the Constitution a little more fixed. I hope too that the Councill will this year be more full and augmented by the Addition of good Men.4
I hope Mr. Bowdoin will be Governor, if his Health will permit, and Dr. Winthrop Lt. Governor. These are wise, learned, and prudent Men. The first has a great Fortune, and wealthy Connections, the other has the Advantage of a Name and Family which is much reverenced, besides his Personal Abilities and Virtues, which are very great.
Our Friend,5 I sincerely hope, will not refuse his Appointment, for although I have ever thought that Bench should be fill’d from the Bar, and once laboured successfully to effect it, yet as the Gentlemen have seen fit to decline, I know of no Gentleman, who would do more Honour to the Station than my Friend. None would be so agreable to me, whether I am to sit by him, or before him. I suppose it must be disagreable to him and his Lady, because he loves to be upon his Farm, and they both love to be together. But you must tell them of a Couple of their Friends who are as fond of living together, who are obliged to sacrifice their rural Amusements and domestic Happiness to the Requisitions of the public.
The Generals Washington, Gates, and Mifflin are all here, and We shall derive Spirit, Unanimity, and Vigour from their Presence and Advice. I hope you will have some General Officers at Boston soon.—I am, with constant Wishes and Prayers for your Health, and Prosperity, forever yours.
RC (Adams Papers).
1. JA’s Thoughts on Government.
2. In an editorial note in Quincy’s Reports, Samuel Miller Quincy gives the following summary account of the reopening of the Superior Court (p. 341):
“In May, 1776, was passed the act changing the style of commissions, writs, processes, and proceedings in law, from the name and style of the King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c., to the name and style of the Government and People of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. Anc. Chart. 798. The first Court held under the new organization appears to have been in Ipswich, for the County of Essex, on the 3rd Tuesday in June, 1776. The records of this term are entitled ’Colony of Massachusetts Bay,’ and the Court was held by ’Wm. Cushing, Jedediah Foster, and James Sullivan, Esqrs., Justices,’ ’They having first produced Commissions under the Government Seal, severally appointing them Justices of the said Court.’ Rec. 1776, Fol. 2.”
3. Suspension points in MS.
4. As a result of rising murmurs over plural officeholding, JA had recently resigned his seat in the Council (JA to James Otis Sr., 29 April, printed in JA’s Works description begins The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols. description ends , 9:374, from a MS not now to be found). On the first day the new House sat, 29 May, a mass resignation of councilors took place, and the new Council contained twelve new members (among twenty-eight elected), and none who were serving as delegates to the Continental Congress (Mass., House Jour. description begins Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts [1715– ], Boston, reprinted by the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1919–. (For the years for which reprints are not yet available, the original printings are cited, by year and session.) description ends , 1776–1777, p. 6–7). See also 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 , 3:360–363.
5. James Warren.