Abigail Adams to John Adams
Braintree> Sepbr. 29 1776
Not since the 5th of Sepbr. have I had one line from you which makes me very uneasy. Are you all this time confering with his Lordship, is there no communication? or are the post Riders all dismissd.
Let the cause be which it will, not hearing from you has given me much uneasiness.
We seem to be kept in a total Ignorance of affairs at York. I hope you at Congress are more inlightned. Who fell, who wounded, who prisoner or their numbers is as undetermined as it was the day after the Battle. If our Army is in ever so critical a state I wish to know it, and the worst of it—if all America are to be ruind and undone by a pack of Cowards and knaves, I wish to know it. Pitiable is the Lot of their commander. Caesars tenth Leigion never was forgiven. We are told for Truth that a Regiment of Yorkers refused to quit the city and that an other Regiment behaved like a pack of Cowardly villans by quitting their posts. If they are unjustly censured it is for want of proper inteligance.
I am sorry to see a Spirit so venal prevailing every where. When our Men were drawn out for Canady a very large Bounty was given them, and now an other call [is made]1 upon us no one will go without a large Bounty tho only for two months, and each Town seem to think their Honour engaged in outbiding one an other. The province pay is forty shilings. In addition to that this Town voted to make it up six pounds.2 They then drew out the persons most unlikely to go and they are obliged to give 3 pounds to Hire a Man. Some pay the whole fine ten pounds; forty men are now draughted from this Town, more than one half from 50 to 16teen are now in the Service. This method of conducting will create a General uneasiness in the Continental Army; I hardly think you can be sensible how much we are thind in this province.
The rage for privateering is as great here as any where. Vast Numbers are employd in that way. If it is necessary to make any more draughts upon us the women must Reap the Harvests. I am willing to do my part. I believe I could gather Corn and Husk it, but I should make a poor figure at diging Potatoes.
There has been a report that a fleet was seen in our Bay yesterday. I cannot conceive from whence, nor do I believe the story.
Tis said you have been upon Staten Island to hold your conference, tis a little odd that I have never Received the least intimation of it from you. Did you think I should be allarmd? Dont you know me better than to think me a Coward? I hope you will write me every thing concerning this affair. I have a great curiosity to know the result.
As to Goverment nothing is yet done about it.3 The Church is opened here every Sunday, and the king prayed for as usual in open defiance to Congress.4 Parker of Boston is more discreet and so is Sargant.5
You have wrote me once or twice to know whether your Brother inclined to go into the Service. I think he wholy declines it. As to mine I have not heard any thing from him since his application to Court. Natll. Belcher goes Capt. and Tertias Bass Lieut. from this Town. They March tomorrow.
Poor Soper we have lost him with a nerveous fever, he died a fryday.6 A great loss to this Town a man of so interprizing a temper, more Especially when we are so destitute of them.
I should be obliged to you if you would direct Bass to Buy me a Barcelona Hankerchief and 2 oz. of Thread No. 18. Mr. Gerry said Goods were 5 pr. cent dearer here than with you, and by the way I hope you are not charged Eaquelly dear for the last Canister as for the first, the first is the Best of Hyson the other very Good Suchong.
If the next post does not bring me a Letter I think I will leave of writing, for I shall not believe you get mine.
PS Master John has become post rider from Boston to B[raintree].
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Portia ans. Oct. 8.”
1. Two words editorially supplied.
2. On 23 Sept. the subject of “Encouragement to the Soldiers” was taken up in Braintree town meeting, and it was “Voted, That each soldier that shall engage to go to New York, in Complyance with the Requesition of the Continentiel Congress, shall have six pounds per month including what is allow’d by the Congress during the time of his being in the service”; it was further voted that each soldier so engaging would receive £2 of his pay “previous to his marching” (Braintree Town Records description begins Samuel A. Bates, ed., Records of the Town of Braintree, 1640 to 1793, Randolph, Mass., 1886. description ends , p. 469–470).
3. Meaning a plan for a state constitution.
4. It was Rev. Edward Winslow who continued to pray for the King at Christ Church in Braintree, but under pressure from Attorney General Benjamin Kent in the following spring Winslow preached a farewell sermon and took refuge with British forces at Newport and, later, New York City (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates description begins John Langdon Sibley and Clifford K. Shipton, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873–. description ends , 11:104–105; see also AA to JA, 2 April 1777, below).
5. Rev. Samuel Parker, Harvard 1764, pastor of Trinity Church in Boston; and Rev. Winwood Serjeant, pastor of Christ Church in Cambridge (Weis, Colonial Clergy of N.E. description begins Frederick Lewis Weis, comp., The Colonial Clergy and the Colonial Churches of New England, Lancaster, Mass., 1936. description ends ).
6. Edmund Soper, first major in Joseph Palmer’s regiment of Suffolk militia, was serving as a Braintree selectman at the time of his death (Mass. Soldiers and Sailors description begins Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, Boston, 1896–1908; 17 vols. description ends ; Braintree Town Records description begins Samuel A. Bates, ed., Records of the Town of Braintree, 1640 to 1793, Randolph, Mass., 1886. description ends , p. 464–465).