Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch
N. york july 4th 1790
my dear sister
A Memorable day in our calender a Church beloning to the dutch congregation is this day to be opened and an oration deliverd. this Church was the scene of misiry & horrour, the Prison where our poor Countrymen were confined, crowded & starved during the War, & which the British afterwards destroyed. it has lately been rebuilt and this day is the first time that they have met in it.1 they have done us the favour of setting apart a pew for us. the Clergyman is dr Lynn one of the Chapling to congress and I think a better preacher than most that I have heard to day; an oration is [to] be deliverd by dr Levingstone the other Minister belonging to this Church,2 but as to an orater, the oratary of a Clergyman here consists in foaming loud speaking Working themselves up in such an enthusiam as to cry, but which has no other effect upon me than to raise my pitty. o when when shall I hear the Candour & liberal good sense of a Price again, animated with true piety without enthusiasm, Devotion without grimace and Religion upon a Rational System.
My Worthy Friend Mrs Rogers is returning to Boston. she has engaged to convey this to you with a Magizine which has for a Frontispeice a view of this House, but the great Beauty could not be taken upon so small a scale which is the Noble Hudson, as far distant from the House as the bottom of the Boston Mall is from the Governours House3 if you see mrs Rogers, as it is probable you will at commencment, she will tell you how delightfull this spot is, and how I regreet the thoughts of quitting it. I shall miss her more than half N york besides. we are very well, but impatient to hear from you and Family. I wish Congress would so far compleat their buisness as not to have an other Session till the Spring. I really think I would then come home and pass the winter with you. mr Adams wants some exercise ever since the 4th of Jan’ry he has not mist one hour from attendance at Congress. he goes from Home at ten and seldom gets back till four, and 5 hours constant sitting in a day for six months together, (for He can not leave his Chair) is pretty tight service. reading long Bill, hearing debates, and not always those the most consonant to his mind and opinions putting questions, Stating them, constant attention to them that in putting questions they may not be misled, is no easy task what ever Grumblers may think, but Grumblers there always was & always will be—
adieu my dear sister Remember me affectionatly to all Friends yours
RC (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters); addressed by CA: “Mrs Mary Cranch / Braintree”; notation by CA: “Hon by Mrs / Rogers.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. The Dutch Reformed Church known as Middle Dutch Church, located on Nassau Street between Cedar and Liberty Streets, opened in 1729. Occupied by the British during the Revolution, the sanctuary was used as a prison and its pews burned for fuel. The church was subsequently repaired and reopened for worship on 4 July 1790 (Jonathan Greenleaf, A History of the Churches, of All Denominations, in the City of New York, N.Y., 1846, p. 12–13).
2. Rev. John Henry Livingston (1746–1825) of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Yale 1762, studied theology in Holland from 1766 to 1770, earning a doctor of theology before being called as minister to the Dutch Reformed Church in New York City. Preaching in outlying churches during the British occupation, Livingston returned to the city in 1783 and served the church until 1810, when he became president of Queen’s College, now Rutgers University. Livingston’s oration focused on a verse in Exodus: “In all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee” (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 ; New York Daily Gazette, 6 July).
3. For this image of Richmond Hill, which appeared in the New York Magazine, June 1790, p. 317, see vol. 8:xv–xvi, 352.