Thomas Welsh to Abigail Adams
Boston Octobr 27th 1786
Your esteemed Favor of July 22d did not come to hand untill Capt Callahan had arrived 12 Days, for which and its Contents accept our Thanks. I shall see Dr Tufts and attend to the Directions of the Note.1
I am sorry to reflect that the Conclusions drawn in my last to you were so erroneous they were founded upon an opinion of Virtue which I am now convinced is [in?]suficiently possessed by the main Body of the People to govern their political Conduct. The Causes however of the Tumult have been laid in former Administrations.
For several Years the Militia of this Commonw[ealth] had been intirely neglected and with out Officers. The Peop[le] of the back Counties Suffered to neglect the payment of the[ir] Taxes these consequently had accumulated, and the Aversion to discharge increased in Proportion. The County Traders had obtained large Credits of the sea port Mercha[nts] and they in their Turns had obtaind Credits in Europe; prior Debts accumulated during and previous to the Warr; and add to this the Bounties promised to the Soldiers2 being all demanded at the s[ame?] Time was too much for the Virtue of these People to [. . .] and afforded a Compleat Oppertunity for a Number of bold and designing Men to inflame and mislead others less informed than themselves. The Requisitions of Congress I ought to have mentioned as it is one of the principle Bones of Contention. In short every thing that has the Appearance of Government is matter of Complaint with them.
The present Governor has been exerting himself since his Appointment to get the Militia organized but the former Appointments were such as discouraged the Attempt in part and for the want of this it is generally thought the Insurgents were able to make any Way.
The Continent feels its Infirmity for the Want of committing that Degree of Power to Congress which she wants to regulate the Concerns of the whole and I am fully convinced we shall be a Contemptable People untill it is granted but whether it will ever be I know not.
The Genl Court are sitting and examining into the Causes of the Complaints of the People but I think They will have their Hands full and after they have done they will not be satisfied I am sure.3 They ought not to be gratified but I suppose as they cry for nothing like froward Children they will be visited with a Rod. Blessed with a Constitution faulty only as it is too good they must expect no other th[a]n a m[or]e rig[orous?] Government in exchange for that [whi]ch they now dont know the Value of. I hope you will not in future be mislead by my Accounts from this Quarter. I am Sensible the Politics of the Country have got beyond my Reach. It is more easy for me to inform you of the little Events which occur in the domistic Circle. Mr Sullivan of Boston you have undoubtdly heard lost his Wife last Winter. He is now about to be married to Mrs Simpson of Portsmouth who made herself famous when the Wife of Mr Barrell of that Place in sueing for a Divorce which she obtained appearing h[erse]lf in open Court for that Purpose. She has 4 Children [and Mr] Sullivan seven a patriarchal number. Courage on both Sides, but She has a Fortune and it is said is accomplished.4 Mrs Hayleys marriage is an old affair and Mr Jeffries keeps the Keys now of Course being head of the Family.5 Mr Thos Russell is like soon to have his Family increased,6 but as I think I must have exhausted your Patience I will now tire it no longer but do myself the Honor to subscribe with Sentiments of great Respect to Mr Adams and yourself your most Humle Ser
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “His Excellency John Adams Esqr: Grovesnor Square London”; notation: “Ship letter”; stamped: “12 New Rumney”; endorsed: “dr Welch ocbr 27. 1786.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed and at a torn margin.
2. At this point Welsh struck out an entire line so thoroughly that it is illegible.
3. The General Court sat from 27 Sept. to 18 Nov. (Mass., Acts and Laws description begins Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [1780–1805], Boston, 1890–1898; 13 vols. description ends , Resolves of 1786, Sept. sess., p. 347, 422).
4. James Sullivan’s first wife, Mehitable Odiorne, died 26 January. On 31 Dec., Sullivan married Martha Langdon of Portsmouth, N.H., a sister of New Hampshire’s recent governor, John Langdon. Her first marriage, to William Barrell in 1765, had ended after just three months when she petitioned the New Hampshire legislature for divorce on the grounds that Barrell was “utterly incapable to satisfy the most virtuous and modest Feminine Inclination and is Impotent to render that due Benevolence which every married woman is warranted.” She later married Thomas Simpson, who died at sea in 1784 (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; repr. New York, 1964; 20 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends [Sullivan and Langdon]; Lawrence Shaw Mayo, John Langdon of New Hampshire, Concord, N.H., 1937, p. 23–24; Documents and Records Relating to the Province of New-Hampshire, from 1765 to 1776, ed. Nathaniel Bouton, 7 vols., Nashua, N.H., 1875, 7:93, 97–98; Joseph Foster, The Soldiers’ Memorial. Portsmouth, N.H. 1893–1923, Portsmouth, N.H., 1923, p. 46).
5. Mary Hayley married Patrick Jeffery Esq. in Boston on 13 Feb. (Boston, 30th Report, p. 413).
6. Sarah Sever and Thomas Russell had a daughter, Sarah, on 1 Dec. (“An Account of the Russell Family of Charlestown,” 1905, p. 26–27, MHi: Sullivan-Russell Papers).