Abigail Adams to James Lovell
Your Letters arrived in the absence of Mr. Adams who is gone as far as Portsmouth, little thinking of your plot against him.1
O Sir you who are possessd of Sensibility, and a tender Heart, how could you contrive to rob me of all my happiness?
I can forgive Mr. Geary because he is a Stranger to domestick felicity and knows no tenderer attachment than that which he feel[s] for his Country, tho I think the Stoickism which every Batchelor discovers ought to be attributed to him as a fault.
He may retort upon me and ask if in such an Instance as this he is not the happier Man of the two, for tho destitute of the highest felicity in life he is not exposed to the keen pangs which attend a Seperation from our dear connexions. This is reasoning like a Batchelor still.
Desire him from me to make trial of a different Situation and then tell me his Sentiments.
But you Sir I can hardly be reconciled to you, you who so lately experienced what it was to be restored to your family after a painfull absence from it, and then in a few weeks torn from it by a call from your Country. You disinterestedly obeyed the Summons. But how could you so soon forget your sufferings and place your Friend in a more painfull situation considering the Risk and hazard of a foreign voyage. I pittied the conflict I saw in your mind, and tho a Stranger to your worthy partner sympathized with her and thought it cruel in your Friends to insist upon such a Sacrifice.
I know Sir by this appointment you mean the publick good, or you would not thus call upon me to sacrifice my tranquility and happiness.
The deputing my Friend upon so important an Embassy is a gratefull proof to me of the esteem of his Country. Tho I would not wish him to be less deserving I am sometimes almost selfish enough to wish his abilities confind to private life, and the more so for that wish is according with his own inclinations.
I have often experienced the want of his aid and assistance in the last 3 years of his absence and that Demand increases as our little ones grow up 3 of whom are sons and at this time of life stand most in need of the joint force of his example and precepts.
And can I Sir consent to be seperated from him whom my Heart esteems above all earthly things, and for an unlimited time? My life will be one continued scene of anxiety and apprehension, and must I cheerfully comply with the Demand of my Country?
I know you think I ought, or you [would]2 not have been accessary to the Call.
I have improved this absence to bring my mind to bear the Event with fortitude and resignation, tho I own it has been at the expence both of food and rest.
I beg your Excuse Sir for writing thus freely, it has been a relief to my mind to drop some of my sorrows through my pen, which had your Friend been present would have been poured only into his bosome.
Accept my sincere wishes for your welfare and happiness and Rank among the Number of your Friend[s], Your Humble Servant,
Dft (Adams Papers); undated; at head of text in JQA’s hand: “to James Lovell,” to which CFA added: “1778.”
“I am charged by all those who are truly anxious here for the best prosperity of our affairs in France to press your acceptance of the Commission which has this day been voted you. The great sacrifices which you have made of private happiness has encouraged them to hope you will undertake this new business. As one I hope that you will not allow the consideration of your partial defect in the Language to weigh any thing, when you surmount others of a different nature. Doctor Franklin’s Age allarms us. We want one man of inflexible Integrity on that Embassy. . . . You see I am ripe in hope about your acceptance, however your dear amiable Partner may be tempted to condemn my Persuasions of you to distance yourself from her farther than Baltimore or York Town. [¶] Great as Brother Geary’s hurry is he threatens to take his Pen in hand because I am not enough urgent with you; he feels all the Callosity of a Bachelor. I am but too ready to pardon his hard heartedness on this occasion where the eminent Interest of my Country is pleaded in excuse for him.” (James Lovell to JA, undated, but undoubtedly written on 28 Nov. 1777, Adams Papers.)
On 28 Nov. Henry Laurens, recently elected John Hancock’s successor as president of the Continental Congress, wrote JA enclosing “an extract from the Minutes of Congress” in Charles Thomson’s hand (letter and enclosure in Adams Papers), as follows:
“Congress proceeded to the election of a commissioner at the court of France in the room of S. Deane esqr. and the ballots being taken
“John Adams esqr. was elected
Extract from the minutes
Charles Thomson secy”
Though the Journal is, as usual, uninformative, it is known that the nomination of JA was made by Elbridge Gerry, who told Congress that he had sounded out JA on the subject before the latter left York. In a letter to JA of 29 Sept. 1779 (Adams Papers; printed in JA’s Works description begins The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols. description ends , 9:491–496), Gerry told JA some of the story behind the nomination and the vote, which was between JA and Robert R. Livingston, who had been nominated by the New York delegates. By marking a copy of the Journals for 1777, called Volume III, just printed by Dunlap in Philadelphia, Gerry signified to JA who had voted for him (and by implication who had not). This marked copy is among JA’s books in the Boston Public Library (shelfmark 200.1, vol. 3; see p. 547 therein). CFA recorded Gerry’s tabulation of the vote in a note in JA’s Works description begins The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols. description ends , 9:492. See also note 3 on JA to AA, 15 Dec., below.
2. This word editorially supplied.