Adams Papers

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 24 January 1790

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch

Richmond Hill Janry 24 1789 [1790]

my dear sister

I embrace this opportunity By my Brother to write you a few lines tho it is only to tell you what you would have learnt from him, Namely that we are all well. he is come in persuit of Betsy Crosby. how well the child might have been provided for if the dr had lived, I cannot pretend to say, but two thirds of her property is already consumed, every minutia being charged to her as the account will shew, however this is no concern of mine.1 I am not without hopes my dear [Sis]ter of comeing to Braintree and spending several months [wit]h you during the next recess of congress.2 how long they [wil]l set this Session I cannot pretend to say, but rather think they will rise early in the Spring.3 I think it would be a plasure to me to have a small Family, and be able when I returnd to visit my Friends a little more than I have done. I never rode so little as I have done Since I resided here there are no pleasent rides no, variety of Scenes round Newyork, unless you cross ferrys over to long Island or to the Jerseys. I have however enjoyd a greater share of Health than I have for some years past & been less afflicted with the Complaint which used to allarm as well as distress me

How is my Neice mrs Norten? give my Love to her & tell her I hope to find her with a fine Girl in her Arms when I return to Braintree. tell Lucy she is quite as usefull as if she was married. I want to see her much as well as the rest of my dear Fiends, to many of them I owe Letters, but I really hate to touch a pen. I am ashamed to Say how laizy I am grown in that respect

I could give an account of visiting and receiving visits, but in that there is so little variety that one Letter only might contain the whole History. for Instance on Monday Evenings Mrs Adams Receives company, that is her Rooms are lighted, & put in order Servants &c Gentlemen and Ladies, as many as inclination curiosity or Fashion tempts come out to make their Bow & curtzy take coffe & Tea chat an half hour, or longer, and then return to Town again on twesday the same Ceremony is performd at Lady Temples on wednesday at mrs Knoxs on Thursdays at mrs Jays and on Fryday at mrs Washingtons, So that if any person has so little to employ themselves in as to want an amusement, five Evenings in a week, they may find it at one or other of these places. to Mrs Washingtons I usually go as often as once a fortnight, and to the others occasionally.

So I learn that my Young Friend Nancy is seariously thinking of becomeing the Madam of a Parish be sure to tell her, that I like it much as it will be so fine a half way House to call at when I go & come From N york to Braintree, but laying Selfish considerations aside I hope she is like to be setled to the mind of herself & Family.4

my best Regards to mrs Quincy and all other Friends.

Brother says You wrote to me by mrs Cushing. she is not yet arrived—5 adieu yours most tenderly

A Adams

RC (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters); addressed by CA: “Mrs Mary Cranch / Braintree.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.

1Elizabeth Anne Crosby’s father, the minister Joseph Crosby Jr., had died in May 1783 with few assets. His brother, Dr. Ebenezer Crosby, professor at Columbia College, acted as Betsy’s guardian until his death in July 1788, at which time six-year-old Betsy went to live with Peter Boylston Adams, who had been married to Joseph and Ebenezer’s late sister Mary. Betsy would eventually marry their son, Boylston Adams, in 1802. Although Betsy was named in Ebenezer Crosby’s will, she did not receive her inheritance until 1807 when his youngest son turned 21 (vol. 5:187–188; 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 , 18:53–54, 19:forthcoming).

2Although AA was unable to return to Massachusetts during the summer of 1790, she did visit Braintree in the summer of 1791 and lived there permanently from 1792 to 1797. Throughout JA’s presidency, she returned to Quincy every summer.

3The session of Congress, which lasted longer than AA anticipated, adjourned on 12 Aug. 1790 (First Fed. Cong. description begins Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789 – March 3, 1791, ed. Linda Grant De Pauw, Charlene Bangs Bickford, Helen E. Veit, William C. diGiacomantonio, and Kenneth R. Bowling, Baltimore, 1972–. description ends , 3:568).

4For Nancy Quincy’s marriage to Rev. Asa Packard, see vol. 8:448.

5Hannah Phillips Cushing (1754–1834), originally of Middletown, Conn., was the wife of U.S. Supreme Court justice William Cushing (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 , entry on William Cushing).

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