John Adams to Abigail Adams
June 2. 1776 1
Yesterday I dined with Captain Richards, the Gentleman who made me the present of the brass Pistolls. We had Cherries, Strawberries and Green Peas in Plenty. The Fruits are three Weeks earlier here than with you, indeed they are a fortnight earlier on the East, than on the West side of Delaware River. We have had green Peas, this Week past, but they were brought over the River from New Jersey to this Markett. There are none grown in the City, or on the West side of the River yet. The Reason is, the Soil of New Jersey is a warm Sand, that of Pensilvania, a cold Clay. So much for Peas and Berries.
Now for something of more Importance. In all the Correspondencies I have maintained, during a Course of twenty Years at least that I have been a Writer of Letters, I never kept a single Copy.2 This Negligence and Inaccuracy, has been a great Misfortune to me, on many Occasions.—I have now purchased a Folio Book, in the first Page of which, excepting one blank Leaff, I am writing this Letter, and intend to write all my Letters to you in it from this Time forward. This will be an Advantage to me in several Respects. In the first Place, I shall write more deliberately. In the second Place, I shall be able at all times to review what I have written. 3. I shall know how often I write. 4. I shall discover by this Means, whether any of my Letters to you, miscarry.
If it were possible for me to find a Conveyance, I would send you such another blank Book, as a Present, that you might begin the Practice at the same Time, for I really think that your Letters are much better worth preserving than mine.3 Your Daughter and Sons will very soon write so good Hands that they will copy the Letters for you from your Book, which will improve them at the same Time that it relieves you.
RC and LbC (Adams Papers). LbC is the first entry in Lb/JA/2 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 90), one of two folio volumes that JA had recently purchased from William Trickett, “STATIONER & BOOKBINDER from London,” in Front Street, Philadelphia. (Trickett’s trade card is among the illustrations in the present volume.) In the first of these JA began entering letters relative to public affairs; the second he reserved for family letters, mainly to AA.
1. In LbC the date is preceded by “Philadelphia,” and this is the case in many of the letterbook copies that follow in 1776. Omission of the place in recipients’ copies, like the omission of the writer’s signature, was a device of concealment, springing from JA’s experience with the famous first and second intercepted letters of July 1775.
2. Substantially but not literally true. A few retained drafts and copies of JA’s letters prior to this date have been found among his papers, some of them in his Diary description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends .
3. AA kept a letterbook for only a brief period, 1779–1780, and then only fitfully; see Lb/JA/9 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 97).