Adams Papers

James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 19 December 1780

James Lovell to Abigail Adams

Decr. 19th 1780

As you are entitled to a Wife’s Portion of Mr. A’s Honors and Satisfactions I inclose for your Reading some Papers to be afterwards forwarded to Holland.1 I do not intend to have any of my future Letters to Mr. A. thrown overboard unless they are specially so directed on the Cover. I chalenge any body to tell the Contents truly. The Letters of Mr. Luzerne are never sunk.—I am told the Enemy have another Mail of ours or yours, this prevents my giving you such Explanations of my private Letter to Mr. A as I at first intended. I will only say that he has most ably and with becoming Dignity supported our Plan of March 18. without much piquing any great Minister. If you had not bantered me so more than once about my generally-enigmatic manner, and appeared so averse to cyphers I would have long ago enabled you to tell Mr. A some Things which you have most probably omitted, as well as to satisfy your Eve on the present Occasion. I will a little enlarge by Mr. Penny in a few days and send you a Key to use upon such Occasions as you may have from Mr. A or to him.—I am told Letters from Holland have been thrown from Vessels now arrived at Boston when only chased. Those losses at least might be avoided.

It is positively said to be a Post from hence Novr. 21 that has been robbed. In that Case I suppose you have lost a Letter from Mr. Adams covered by a few Lines from me.2 We did on the 20th receive a Packet from Mr. A. and I see by my Almanack that on the 20th. and 21st. I wrote to many.

20th. Clarke & Nightingale, Isaac Smith, Mrs. L[ovell], Jemmy Jnr., Jos. Tho[ma]s, Doctr. Holten, Mr. Gerry.

21. Mrs. L[ovell], Doctr. Whitwell, Mrs. Adams, Govr. Hancock, Mr. S. Gridley.

I hope I gave the Letter for you to the Gentleman who must have carried those for Clarke & Nightingale and Mr. Smith but I really cannot recollect. I forwarded another to you on the 30th.3

The long Letter in the Advertizer is one of Mr. A’s among the many that do him great honor. But I really think the Essence would have been the printing of it in a London Paper at the Time it was written.4

I am my dear Madam yours respectfully,


RC (Adams Papers). For the enclosures see notes 1 and 4.

1Presumably these included the following, all in Adams Papers: (1) a “public” letter to JA from Lovell, “for the Committee of foreign Affairs,” 12 Dec., covering (2) Congress’ resolution of the same date (printed in JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 18: 1147), acknowledging JA’s letter of 26 June, and expressing “the Satisfaction which Congress receives from his Industrious Attentions to the Interest and honor of these United States, abroad, especially in the Transactions communicated to them by that Letter,” which related to JA’s correspondence with Vergennes on Congress’ currency measures (see note 5 on Thaxter to JA, 7 Aug., vol. 3, above), and (3) a “private” letter from Lovell to JA, 14 Dec., which is partly in cipher and which among other things tells how this commendatory resolution came to be passed; also, possibly, (4) Samuel Huntington to JA, 18 Dec., expressing his pleasure and satisfaction in the dispatches received from JA during the past year and announcing that a secretary for foreign affairs is soon to be designated to conduct business with American representatives abroad (Adams Papers; JA, 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 , 7:343).

2No letter from Lovell to AA of 21 Nov. 1780 has been found, and the letter from JA, to whomever addressed, has not been identified.

3Lovell to AA, 30 Nov., in Adams Papers but omitted here; it commends JA for the “very masterly and independent manner” in which he defended Congress’ financial policy “against the Sentiments of the Ct. de Vergennes.”

“The long Letter” from JA was that of 2 June to Huntington commenting on Germain’s speech of 5 May in Parliament (PCC, No. 84, II, 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 , 3:752–758; LbC, Adams Papers, printed in JA, 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 , 7:180–186). According to Edmund Jenings, it had already been published in the London General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer; see Jenings to JA, 9 July, JA, Papers of John Adams, 9:504, 506. It appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet, 19 Dec., and AA arranged to have it reprinted in the Boston papers; see her letter to Nathaniel Willis?, ante 4 Jan. 1781, below.

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