John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia March 31. 1777
I know not the Time, when I have omitted to write you, so long.1 I have received but three Letters from you, since We parted, and these were short ones. Do you write by the Post? If you do there must have been some Legerdemain. The Post comes now constantly once a Week, and brings me News Papers, but no Letters. I have ventured to write by the Post, but whether my Letters are received or not, I dont know. If you distrust the Post, the Speaker or your Unkle Smith will find frequent Opportunities of conveying Letters.
I never was more desirous of hearing frequently2 from Home, and never before heard so seldom. We have Reports here, not very favourable to the Town of Boston. It is said that Dissipation prevails and that Toryism abounds, and is openly avowed at the Coffee Houses. I hope the Reports are false. Apostacies in Boston are more abominable than in any other Place. Toryism finds worse Quarter here. A poor fellow, detected here as a Spy, employed as he confesses by Lord Howe and Mr. Galloway to procure Pilots for Delaware River, and for other Purposes, was this day at Noon, executed on the Gallows in the Presence of an immense Crowd of Spectators. His Name was James Molesworth. He has been Mayors Clerk to three or four Mayors.
I believe you will think my Letters, very trifling. Indeed they are. I write in Trammells. Accidents have thrown so many Letters into the Hands of the Enemy, and they take such a malicious Pleasure, in exposing them, that I choose they should have nothing but Trifles from me to expose. For this Reason I never write any Thing of Consequence from Europe, from Philadelphia, from Camp, or any where else. If I could write freely I would lay open to you, the whole system of Politicks and War, and would delineate all the Characters in Either Drama, as minutely, altho I could not do it, so elegantly, as Tully did in his Letters to Atticus.
We have Letters however from France by a Vessell in at Portsmouth—of her important Cargo you have heard.3 There is News of very great Importance in the Letters, but I am not at Liberty. The News, however, is very agreable.4
RC and LbC (Adams Papers).
1. JA apparently forgot about his brief letter of 28 March, above, of which he had failed to retain a copy and thus supposed his last to AA was that of the 22d, also above. Note that he speaks in the present letter of the spy James Molesworth as if he had not mentioned him before, though his letter of the 28th deals exclusively with the Molesworth “Plott.”
2. This word supplied from LbC; probably omitted inadvertently from RC.
3. This was the Mercure, which had brought cannon and other military supplies from Nantes, together with the French officer Preudhomme de Borre; the Mercure arrived at Portsmouth on 17 March (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 7:211–212; Lasseray, Les français sous les treize étoiles description begins André Lasseray, Les français sous les treize étoiles (1775–1783), Macon and Paris, 1935; 2 vols. description ends , 2:368; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, Washington, 1921–1936; 8 vols. description ends , 2:352 and note).
4. One of the letters containing this “very agreable” news was the dispatch from Commissioners Franklin, Deane, and Lee in Paris to the Committee of Secret Correspondence, 17–22 Jan., summarized in JA’s next letter to AA, 2 April, below, and printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 2:248–251.