Rebecca Leppington to Abigail Adams
Boston March 20th 1790—
Encouraged Madam, by your condescention in answering a letter I not long since took the liberty to write you,1 And relying on your candour to pardon my forwardness, I again take up the pen tho’ not without fear that you will deem me an intruder on your time & patience; In your answer to the letter I have reference to, you gave me all the information I cou’d desire, & I felt myself honor’d that you noticed me as one who formerly thought herself happy in being ranked among the number of your humble friends. Without any further preface Madam, give me leave to forward another letter accompanied by one from the Gentleman with whom I have lived for Several years, to the Vice-President, soliciting his recommendation (as many others have done) for some place of trust whereby he might be usfull to the Publick & himself; I beleive few Gentlemen wou’d more faithfully discharge any obligations, You will think me partial, I acknowledge that in the four years acquaintance that I have had, I have reason to esteem him, as well for his private Character, as his universal Benevolence; And I beleive there are not many who solicit for a place under Goverment, if fidelity & honesty are requisits, who have a better claim, His own letter to the Vice-President will suggest the motives by which he is actuated, it is therefore unnessary, & might be thought impertinent in me to repeat them; You doubtless will be at a loss to account for my addressing you on this subject I am full in the beleif that many Ladies have been as instrumental in promoting both Publick & private good as the Gentlemen— And as I know from the personal acquaintance that I have with yo. Madam, you are a well-wisher to all the deserving; I thought it wou’d not be amiss to ask your interest in a matter that through a multiplicity of business might be overlook’d— Your penetration, before you have read thus far, will discover that I feel particularly interested, Some future day perhaps may prove your conjectures are not groundless— You well know my fondness for little folks & once upon some occasion said, that had you a young family to bring up you shou’d like that I shou’d have the care of them while in that State, this I esteemed a much greater compliment than I deserved, the same Compliments however have been paid me by the person who has had an opportuinity of making observations and let it Suffice for me to say that the little family I now have the c[harge] of, are too dear to me easily to part from2 But le[st I] trespass on your patience, I will close my [. . .] and after all proper respect for a Lady in your exalted Station subscribe myself / Madam / your very humble Servant
my sister desires her respectfull Complts. & equally regrets that she has never had an opportuinty of seeing Mrs Adams since her return from abroad.3 My love to Louisa, the young Ladies wou’d esteem it a favor to receive a line from her—
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs Abigail Adams / Lady of the Vice President / New-york”; endorsed: “Mrs Leppington / 20 March 1790.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. The letter from Leppington to AA has not been found but presumably inquired into Martha Washington’s need for a female attendant and expressed Leppington’s hope to be considered for the post. In her reply of 20 Sept. 1789 (Adams Papers), AA explained that Washington had several granddaughters as well as a niece who could fill the role of attendant as required. AA added that if Washington was “to express a wish for a young Lady as a companion, She would have more Soliciters for the place, than the President could possibly have had, for any office in his Gift.”
2. John Hurd (b. 1727), Harvard 1747, was a former New Hampshire land speculator and Boston insurance broker who would marry Leppington, longtime caregiver for his children, later that spring. In his letter to JA of 17 March 1790 (Adams Papers), Hurd expressed his desire for a position in the federal government, noting his many years of public service and the financial and personal sacrifices he had made during the Revolution. Although JA thought highly of Hurd, he explained in his reply that he was unable to influence executive appointments. Hurd ultimately failed to receive a federal position, serving in local offices until his death in 1809 (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 , 12:164–171; Rebecca Leppington Hurd to AA, 29 June 1790, Adams Papers; JA to Hurd, 5 April, LbC, APM Reel 115).
Hurd had five children from two previous marriages—two with his first wife, Elizabeth Foster (d. 1779) of Boston, and three with his second wife, Mary Russell Foster (d. 1786). Leppington cared for these latter three: twins Katharine and Elizabeth (b. 1784), and John Russell (b. 1785) (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 , 12:164, 170–171; Boston Gazette, 16 Jan. 1786).
3. For Betsey Leppington, see vol. 3:319.