Abigail Adams to John Adams
Braintree Sepbr. 7 17761
Last monday I left the Town of Boston, underwent the operation of a smoaking at the lines and arrived at my Brother Cranchs where we go for purification; there I tarried till wedensday, and then came Home, which seem’d greatly endeard to me by my long absence. I think I never felt greater pleasure at comeing Home after an absence in my Life. Yet I felt a vacuum in my Breast and sent a Sigh to P[hiladelphi]a. I long’d for a dear Friend to rejoice with me. Charlly is Banished yet, I keep him at his Aunt Cranch’s out of the way of those who have not had the Distemper, his Arm has many Scabs upon it which are yet very soar. He is very weak and sweats a nights prodigiously. I am now giving him the Bark. He recoverd very fast considering how ill he was. I pitty your anxiety and feel sorry that I wrote you when he was so Bad, but I knew not how it might turn with Him, had it been otherways than well, it might have proved a greater Shock than to have known that he was ill.
This Night our good unkle came from Town and brought me yours of August 20, 21, 25, 27 and 28th for all of which I most sincerely thank you. I have felt uneasy to Hear from you. The Report of your being dead, has no doubt reach’d you by Bass who heard enough of it before he came away. It took its rise among the Tories who as Swift said of himself “By their fears betray their Hopes” but How they should ever take it into their Heads that you was poisond at New York a fortnight before that we heard any thing of that villans Zedwitz plan of poisoning the waters of the City, I cannot tell.2 I am sometimes ready to suspect that there is a communication between the Tories of every State, for they seem to know all news that is passing before tis known by the Whigs.
We Have had many Stories concerning engagements upon Long Island this week, of our Lines being forced and of our Troops retreating to New York. Perticuliars we have not yet obtaind. All we can learn is that we have been unsuccessfull there; having Lost Many Men as prisoners among whom is Lord Sterling and General Sullivan.
But if we should be defeated I think we shall not be conquered. A people fired like the Romans with Love of their Country and of Liberty, a zeal for the publick Good, and a Noble Emulation of Glory, will not be disheartned or dispirited by a Succession of unfortunate Events. But like them may we learn by Defeat the power of becomeing invincible.
I hope to Hear from you by every Post till you return. The Herbs you mention I never Received. I was upon a visit to Mrs. S. Adams about a week after Mr. Gerry returnd, when She entertaind me with a very fine Dish of Green Tea. The Scarcity of the article made me ask her Where she got it. She replied her Sweet Heart sent it to her by Mr. Gerry. I said nothing, but thought my Sweet Heart might have been eaquelly kind considering the disease I was visited with, and that [tea] was recommended as a Bracer. A Little after you mention’d a couple of Bundles sent. I supposed one of them might contain the article but found they were Letters. How Mr. Gerry should make such a mistake I know not. I shall take the Liberty of sending for what is left of it tho I suppose it is half gone as it was very freely used. If you had mentiond a single Word of it in your Letter I should have immediately found out the mistake.
Tis said that the Efforts of our Enemies will be to stop the communication between the colonies by taking possession of Hudsons Bay.3 Can it be effected? The Milford frigate rides triumphant in our Bay, taking vessels every day, and no Colony nor Continental vessel has yet attempted to hinder her. She mounts but 28 Guns but is one of the finest sailors in the British Navy. They complain we have not weighty mettle enough and I suppose truly. The Rage for privateering is as great here as any where and I believe the success has been as great.
It will not be in my power to write you so regularly as when I was in Town. I shall not faill doing it once a week. If you come home the Post Road you must inquire for Letters where ever the Post sit out from.
Tis Here a very General time of Health. I think tis near a twelve month since the pestilance raged here. I fear your being seazd with a fever, tis very prevalant I hear where you are. I pray God preserve you and return you in Health. The Court will not accept your Resignation, they will appoint Mr. Dalton and Dana to releave you.
I am most affectionately Yours.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Portia ansd. Sep. .”
1. In his reply of 21 Sept., below, JA read this date as 9 Sept., and CFA also printed this letter in Familiar Letters description begins Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams, during the Revolution. With a Memoir of Mrs. Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams, New York, 1876. description ends with that date. Although AA’s 4’s, 7’s, and 9’s are often scarcely distinguishable from each other, the editors believe she intended “7” here.
2. Lt. Col. Herman Zedtwitz of the New York Line was court-martialed, convicted, and cashiered on 25–26 Aug. for attempting to give intelligence to the enemy, specifically for writing a long letter to Gov. William Tryon (dated 24 Aug. and promptly turned in by an agent Zedtwitz had bribed) which contained a hodgepodge of truth and fancy. One of his fancies was that he had seen “4 Fellows at the Generals [Washington’s] Hous wich proposed to Spoil the Watering place [on Staten Island where the British were encamped], they brought along 14 Botles of Stof as Black as an Ink it was Tried and Found good as they [. . .] The gen: promised Every one £1000 if it Stands 6 weeks.” The proceedings of the court martial are printed and a facsimile of Zedtwitz’s letter is reproduced 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 , 5th ser., 1:1159–1162.
3. Thus in MS, but meaning, surely, the Hudson River.