Adams Papers

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 28 February 1780

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Paris Feb. 28. 1780

My dearest Friend

I have already sent to the Marquis de la Fayette, a Number of Letters for you, and the Children, from their Brothers, who favoured me with their Company last night and are just gone off to the Accademy. Charles’s Master is full of his Praises, and John I think is more solid and steady than ever.

In two of the Letters to you, you will find no Writing, only a small Present to you and Miss Nabby, not meaning to exclude Mr. Tommy. I will endeavour to send more little Things of this Nature in the same manner, by several Opportunities. I can send small Things in this Way by Gentlemen, who may go by french Frigates or other good Opportunities, and I wish you would inform me, what Things you want that may be sent in the same manner.

I hope the Marquis will do your Ladyship the Honour of a Visit, at Braintree, and am sure he will if he comes to Boston and is not too impatient to get to the Field of Honour, which from the Keenness of his Passion for Glory, may very possibly be the Case.

The Marquis has a son since his Arrival in Europe, whom he has named George, not from the King of G.B. but his Friend Washington.1

Dr. F. told me News Yesterday, which he has from England, but it seems too extraordinary to me, to be true. That the Irish Parliament have repealed Poynings Law:2 declared that no Legislature has Authority over Ireland, but the Irish Houses of Lords and Commons and the King of Ireland, and prohibited all Appeals from the House of Lords in Ireland to the House of Lords in England —and sent these Laws to England for Approbation of the King. Ireland to be sure is not yet quieted, by all Lord Norths Address, which contrasted with his Conduct to America is curious.3

We have no News from America since Christmas, and very little since We sailed from Boston.

According to present Appearances the Field of Action the next Campaign will be the West India Islands.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs: John Adams Braintree near Boston Favd. by the Marquis de la Fayette. To be sunk in case of Capture.”

1George Washington Lafayette was born on 24 Dec. 1779 and after an early military career was active in politics most of the rest of his life. He accompanied his father on his tour of the United States, 1824–1825, and died in 1849. See Gottschalk, Lafayette description begins Louis Gottschalk, Lafayette, Chicago, 1935–1950; 4 vols. Vol. 1: Lafayette Comes to America; vol. 2: Lafayette Joins the American Army, vol. 3: Lafayette and the Close of the American Revolution; vol. 4: Lafayette between the American and the French Revolution (1783–1789). description ends , 3:57–58; Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale description begins J. C. F. Hoefer, ed., Nouvelle biographie générale depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’à nos jours, Paris, 1852–1866; 46 vols. description ends . An announcement of G. W. Lafayette’s birth, on the day it occurred, is in the Adams Papers and is reproduced as an illustration in this volume.


“An act of parliament, made in Ireland (10 Hen. VII. c. 22, A.D. 1495); so called because Sir Edward Poynings was lieutenant there when it was made, whereby all general statutes before then made in England were declared of force in Ireland, which, before that time, they were not” (Black, Law Dictionary description begins Henry Campbell Black, A Law Dictionary Containing Definitions of the Terms and Phrases of American and English Jurisprudence Ancient and Modern, 2d edn., St. Paul, Minn., 1910. description ends ).

3The “News” in this paragraph was almost entirely the product of wishful thinking in Paris. Sympathy on the part of Irish patriots for the American cause and rumored threats of invasion by France, as well, of course, as the Irish people’s numerous and long-standing grievances against the British government, had driven Ireland into a state of serious unrest. A vigorous movement for Irish parliamentary independence was in progress, but it failed, and no insurrections of the kind hoped for by the French and Americans took place. See W. E. H. Lecky, A of England in the Eighteenth Century, 8 vols., N.Y., 1878–1890, 4:520–551.

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