Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts
London March 10th 1787
your Letters by Captain Callihan did not come to hand untill the 7th ult. and I embrace the earliest opportunity of writing you.1 in yours you mention the account forwarded by you last fall, which was duly received, and I thought it had been acknowledged; I sometimes leave these matters in hopes mr Adams will notice them, but he is too much engaged in publick affairs, to attend at all, to his private buisness, by which means he is often a sufferer I believe History will scarcly find an instance of a person who have held the distinguishd offices that he has been employd in for ten years past, borrowed and transmitted such sums of money as he has, & received so little advantage from it, if he had received only one single pr cent, he would have been in possession of an handsome fortune,—but thus it is.— by captain Cushing I transmitted you the acct which I mentiond to you. it is hard to pay money here at a loss of a years interest, as well as the advance upon Bills for those who think no more of it. records & papers are not to be searched & procured here for any trifling sum; you will find by captain Barnard an accompt & Rect to the amount of 35 guineys advanced to mr Cutting on account of mr McKean chief Justice of the state of Deleware. this money is also advanced to search records at his request, & promise to pay the Bill upon sight, I hope you meet with no further trouble than the distance of negotiating it.2 there are fifty six guineys which I look upon wholy lost, which under various pretences & promises of immediate payment, upon the arrival of a mr Noyes, have been lent to col Norten, but really and in truth Swindled out of us. I was very loth he should have it, particularly the last but mr Adams believed him, till to his cost, he found himself deceived. he has made every American tributary to him, been once in Newgate, from whence he was relieved by their subscriptions, and is now shufling about living no one knows how. he has quite left our House mr A having dealt very freely with him, & represented the disgrace he was bringing upon his state & Country.3 has he any property in America? I fear not, and that we shall lose the whole.
mr Elworthys Bill will be answerd immediatly, but mr Adams wishes you in future to make an even sum when you draw either for one or two hundred guineys, as that is our usual method of taking from the Banker, and do not let us be in debt, rather keep a sum before hand in your Hands— I am sorry for the Luck of our House, but suppose it is oweing to the Times— the paper of America will be redeemed I have no doubt, but one must wait for interest, & run risks, but at all events it will fetch what is given for it. I hope the affairs of our Country will wear a more favourable aspect. many of the difficulties you experience must arise from want of publick confidence. could that be restored, your paper would rise in value. I wonder land should sell so dear when specie is so scarce. by the New York packet we learn the dispersion of the insurgents. I wish there may be an end of the troubles—but has our government exerted itself with that vigor and dignity which it ought to have done? why has it addrest when it ought to have commanded. why has it submitted to insults which it ought to have punished. Honestus is realy become a partizan for government. he first kindled & fomented the storm, & to his publications may be in a great measure attributed, the very resistance against the courts of justice which has now risen to a Rebellion—4
But I quit a subject so unpleasent to assure you of my best and warmest Regard and / the affection with which / I am dear sir your / Neice
RC (NjMoHP); addressed by WSS: “The / Honourable / Cotton Tufts Esquire / Boston”; endorsed: “Mrs: Adams Lett of / March 10. 1787— rcd April 27—” and “recd. the 27 April.”
2. Thomas McKean (1734–1817) held multiple political positions and appointments throughout his life, some simultaneously in two states, notably in Delaware as a member of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1783 and Pennsylvania as chief justice from 1777 to 1799. He never, however, served as chief justice of Delaware. Dr. John Brown Cutting, who had recently arrived in London to study law at the Inner Temple, was advanced money by JA for probate searches and traveling expenses necessary to recover the estate of William Atlee, father of William Augustus Atlee, senior justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and McKean’s friend (DAB description begins Allen Johnson, Dumas Malone, and others, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; repr. New York, 1955–1980; 10 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ; vol. 7:122, note 8; Thomas McKean to JA, 1 July 1786, John Brown Cutting to JA, 13 Dec., and Thomas McKean to JA, 30 April 1787, all Adams Papers).
3. Col. Beriah Norton of Martha’s Vineyard was in London on behalf of the Vineyard’s residents attempting to reclaim their property losses from the war. After several unsuccessful years, the residents accused Norton of lavish spending and dereliction of duty. He wrote to JA in Nov. 1786 asking for a meeting to defend himself against claims of misconduct. Dr. Nathaniel Noyes, an apothecary from Boston, had previously accompanied Norton to visit the Adamses in July 1785, although their relationship is unclear. Noyes, too, was trying to recover property losses, but he appeared to be working on his own behalf (Charles Edward Banks, The History of Martha’s Vineyard, 3 vols., Boston, 1911–1925; Samuel Adams to JA, 17 April 1784, Adams Papers; JA to Samuel Adams, 25 June, NN:George Bancroft Coll.; Beriah Norton to JA, 27 Nov. [1786?], Adams Papers; vol. 6:207, 7:9; Sibley’s Harvard Graduates description begins John Langdon Sibley, Clifford K. Shipton, Conrad Edick Wright, Edward W. Hanson, and others, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873–. description ends , 15:439–442).
4. AA blamed Honestus’ (Benjamin Austin Jr.) 1786 publication Observations on the Pernicious Practice of the Law, taken from a series of articles in the Boston Independent Chronicle, for Shays’ Rebellion. He was elected to the state senate from Suffolk County in 1787 and again from 1789 to 1794 (DAB description begins Allen Johnson, Dumas Malone, and others, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; repr. New York, 1955–1980; 10 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ; vol. 7:168, 170).