Abigail Adams to John Adams
Janry 15 1784
My dearest Friend
I write you again by this vessel altho it seem’s as if there was a Spell to detain her; she has letters of various dates from me as you will find, some of which I hoped had reachd you, but the vessels by which they were sent, met with bad weather and were dismasted obliged to return into port.1 This letter will not be able to boast of any other merit than that of being last dated, for I can tell you no News unless what has lately taken place in the natural world, occasiond by a very sudden thaw upon a Quantity of snow; which produced such a freshet as carried away all our Bridges, mills, and in some places houses; filld our cellars with water and distresst us for several days. The Bridge known by the Name of the Iron Works Bridge in this Town was amongst the number, and for several days people were obliged to pass it in Boats. The Ship Rosamond Capt. Love, bound to England is the one by which I have written you largely—belonging to Guild and company.2 I am studying an arrangement of my affairs and getting into some method to be able if necessary to leave them in the spring. Mr. G[err]y writes that the Situation at Anapolis is pleasing, the New members are Men of abilities and appear right in politicks, that a committe of congress was appointed to take up foreign affairs upon a Broad and liberal basis. Who they are he does not mention, but he appears pleased with the present prospect.3
I beg you to continue to write me by every opportunity. Our Friends are all well, remember me to our son who will find Letters to him by this conveyance.4 Samll. Cooper Johonet is just arrived, but not untill after the death of his Grandpappa.5 Adieu. Yours ever yours
RC (Adams Papers); addressed by Royall Tyler: “His Excellcy John Adams L:L:D: Minister Plenippy. From the United States To the United Provinces residing at the Hague”; endorsed: “Portia 15 Jan. 1784.”
1. See AA to JA, 7 Dec. 1783, addition dated 13 Dec., above. The letters sent by AA in this January vessel thus included those to JA of 20 Nov., 7, 15, and 27 Dec. 1783, and 3 Jan., and perhaps that of 11 Nov. 1783, all above; and her 20 Nov. and 26 Dec. 1783 letters to JQA, also above.
2. This was the ship that brought all the letters mentioned in note 1, as well as Royall Tyler’s letter of 13 Jan., above, which was enclosed in Richard Cranch’s letter of 20 Jan., below, to England. John Thaxter’s letter to JA of 19 Jan. (Adams Papers), probably also went on this ship. Cranch fixes the ship’s departure at 20 January.
3. Elbridge Gerry’s letter to AA has not been found. The only committee appointed to consider foreign affairs about this time was on Gerry’s motion of 24 Dec. 1783; it was directed to make a list of the papers of the late secretary for foreign affairs, R. R. Livingston, which were then in the office of the secretary of Congress, and to have the documents made available for the inspection of the members of Congress. The committee’s members, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Osgood, and Arthur Lee, were certain not to accept passively the guidance of France in the conduct of American foreign relations; Gerry could feel confident that they would prefer the independence of JA to what they saw as the excessively pro-French attitude of Livingston.
The committee’s only resolution, however, which it intended to offer on 29 Dec. 1783, merely recommended that a “deputy Secretary for foreign affairs should be appointed at some early day” (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 26:49–50). There was no quorum in Congress on 29 Dec., and the issue of appointing a new foreign secretary was not resolved until May 1784, when John Jay was elected, on Gerry’s motion. Since Livingston’s resignation in June 1783, the papers of the foreign secretary had been under the care of the secretary of Congress, kept in locked and sealed cases. The documents received since that date had remained largely unexamined (same, 26:49–50, 104–105, 354–355).
5. Samuel Cooper Johonnot, grandson of Rev. Samuel Cooper and the same age as JQA, had sailed to Europe with JA and JQA in Nov. 1779, and studied with JQA at Passy from Feb. to July 1780. When JQA returned to Paris from Holland in Aug. 1783, he learned that Johonnot, who had gone to Geneva to study, had recently returned to Paris and then gone to Nantes to board a ship for America (JQA, Diary description begins Diary of John Quincy Adams, ed. David Grayson Allen, Robert J. Taylor, and others, Cambridge, 1981-. description ends , 1:2, and note 2, 181).