John Adams to Abigail Adams
Baltimore Feb. 17. 1777
It was this Day determined, to adjourn, tomorrow Week to Philadelphia.1
How, as you know my opinion always was, will repent his mad march through the Jersies. The People of that Commonwealth, begin to raise their Spirits exceedingly, and to be firmer than ever. They are actuated by Resentment now, and Resentment coinciding with Principle is a very powerfull Motive.
I have got into the old Routine of War Office and Congress, which takes up my Time in such a manner that I can scarce write a Line. I have not Time to think, nor to speak.
There is an united States Lottery abroad.2 I believe you had better buy a Tickett and make a Present of it to our four sweet ones, not forgetting the other sweet one. Let us try their Luck. I hope they will be more lucky than their Papa has ever been, or ever will be.
I am as well as can be expected. How it happens I dont know nor how long it will last. My Disposition was naturally gay and chearfull, but the <
awful> Prospects I have ever had before me, and these cruel Times will make me melancholly. I who would not hurt the Hair of the Head of any Animal, I who am always made miserable by the Misery of every sensible being, that comes to my Knowledge, am obliged to hear continual Accounts of the Barbarities, the cruel Murders in cold Blood, even by the most tormenting Ways of starving and freezing, committed by our Enemies, and continual Accounts of the Deaths and Diseases contracted by our People by their own Imprudence.
These Accounts harrow me beyond Description.3
These incarnate Daemons say in great Composure, [“that]4 Humanity is a Yankey Virtue.—But that they [are] governed by Policy.”—Is there any Policy on this side of Hell, that is inconsistent with Humanity? I have no Idea of it. I know of no Policy, God is my Witness but this—Piety, Humanity and Honesty are the best Policy.
Blasphemy, Cruelty, and Villany have prevailed and may again. But they wont prevail against America, in this Contest, because I find the more of them are employed the less they succeed.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. Adams at Mr. John Adams’s Braintree”; docketed in pencil by AA.
1. That is, Congress was to adjourn at Baltimore on the 25th, but on that day the adjournment was suspended in consequence of letters received from Gen. Washington and Robert Morris. On the 27th Congress adjourned to “Wednesday next [5 March], to meet at the State House in Philadelphia,” but a quorum was not assembled there until 12 March. See JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 7:127, 157 and note, 168, 169.
2. Authorized by Congress in Nov. 1776; see Lucius Wilmerding Jr., “The United States Lottery,” N.Y. Hist. Soc., Quart., 47:5–39 (Jan. 1963).
3. MS: “Destription.”
4. Here and below, MS is torn by seal.