Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson
Grosvenor Square Novr. 24th. 1785
I hope if the Marquiss de la Fayette is returned to Paris he may be able to give us some account of Colln. Smith for whom we are not a little anxious, having no intelligence from him since the begining of September when he wrote1 that he should tarry at Berlin till the reviews were over which would be by the 20th. of that month and then should make the utmost expedition to Paris where his stay would be six days or six Hours according to the intelligence he should meet with there from Mr. Adams. Ten weeks have since elapsed and not a Line or Syllable respecting him has come to hand, in all that time we have been daily and hourly expecting his return. We should have been still more anxious, if the Spanish Minister2 had not informed us that by a Letter which he received from Colln. Miranda3 early in Septemr. he wrote him that he had some thoughts of going to Vienna. Colln. Miranda’s friends are allarmed about him and have been here to inquire if we could give any account of him. We are now daily more and more anxious because we cannot account for Coll. Smiths long absence but by sickness or some disaster, and even then we ought to have heard from him or of him. You will be so good Sir as to give us every information in your Power as soon as may be.
We suppose you have made an excursion to Fontainbleau4 by our not having heard from you for a long time. Mr. Preston found the Letters he supposed to have been taken out of his Trunk, amongst his Linnen ten days after his arrival. Your orders shall be executed to the best of my abilities.
Inclosed is a Letter which I found a few days ago respecting the Wine which you was so kind as to take.5 Mr. Adams is uncertain whether he requested you to Pay to Mr. Bonfeild on his order 319 Livres for a Cask of Wine which he procured for him and of which he never received any account untill his arrival here. If Mr. Barclay has not done it Mr. Adams would be obliged to you to pay it for him.
A Vessell arrived this week from New York and brings papers to the 16 [?] of Octr.6 They contain nothing material. A Letter from Mr. Jay informs us that no Minister was yet appointed to the Hague, but that Mr. Izard and Mr. Madison were in Nomination, that the rage for New states was very prevalent, which he apprehended would have no good affect. He wished the Ministers abroad to bear testimony against it in their Letters to Congress.7
In this Country there is a great want of many French comodities. Good sense, Good Nature, Political Wisdom and benevolence. His Christian Majesty would render essential service to His Britanick Majesty if he would permit Cargoes of this Kind to be exported into this Kingdom against the next meeting of Parliament.
The Treaty lately concluded between France and Holland and the Conduct of England with respect to America proves Her absolute deficiency in each Article.
Compliments to the Gentlemen of your Family from Sir your Humble Servant
RC in AA2’s hand (DLC: Jefferson Papers); addressed: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Esqr. Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States of America residing at Paris”; stamped: “Angleterre,” and “5 NO” endorsed: “Mrs Adams.” Dft (Adams Papers).
2. Bernardo del Campo y Pérez de la Serna.
3. In the draft, here and below, AA spells this “Mirandy.”
4. The sixteenth-century royal palace forty miles southeast of Paris, where the French court resided each fall for the hunting season. Not wanting to pay for additional lodging, Jefferson made brief visits to Fontainebleau as duty required. He was there from 26 Oct. to 1 November. Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen (from vol. 21), John Catanzariti (from vol. 24), and others, Princeton, 1950-. description ends , 8:362, 681; 9:51.
5. This letter has not been identified. In the draft after this sentence AA struck out: “It will inform you who the person is of whom we had it and the price.”
6. The draft reads “the 15 of october.” AA2’s 5’s and 6’s are quite similar.
7. AA refers to John Jay’s letter to JA of 14 Oct. (Adams Papers), printed in Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 description begins [William A. Weaver, ed.,] The Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States of America, from . . . 1783, to . . . 1789, Washington, 1837 [actually 1855]; 3 vols. description ends , 2:419–421. The proceedings of Congress do not record a nomination of James Madison to be minister to the United Netherlands in 1785, but Jacob Read of South Carolina did nominate Ralph Izard for this post on 24 Aug. (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 29:655). The “New states” being espoused by many local leaders in 1785, with the support of some congressmen, were the trans-Appalachian districts of Kentucky, then a part of Virginia, and Franklin, the western portion of North Carolina, which had not fully relinquished its claim to the region. Congress, however, did not record receiving any petitions for statehood for either district during the year. The passage in Jay’s letter concerning this movement reads: “The Rage for Separations and new States is mischevious—it will unless checked scatter our Resources and in every View enfeeble the Union. Your Testimony against such licentious anarchical Proceedings would I am persuaded have great Weight.”