Adams Papers

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 8 August 1790

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch

Newyork 8 August 1790

my dear sister

I have the pleasure to inform you that last Night mrs Smith got to Bed with an other fine Boy. We could have all wisht it had been a Girl, but rest satisfied with the sex as it a very fine large handsome Boy and both mother and child are well. She spent the day with me on fryday, and I urged her as I had Several times before, to accept a Room here, and lie in here, as the house in which she is is Small and Hot. she told me she would come out, and the next day intended [to ge]t her things ready for the purpose, but found herself so un [wel]l on Saturday, yesterday that she could not effect it. I have been very un well myself for a fortnight, so that she did not let me know she was ill, untill I had the agreeable intelligence of her being safe abed. I shall get her here as soon as possible I have both the children with me. I have not heard a word from you since commencment, and I expect all my intelligence from you. Congress rise on twesday I wish and long to come to Braintree, but fear I shall not effect it. how does mrs Norten stand the Hot weather? your Grandson grows a fine Boy I dare say I should be quite charmd to see him & my dear cousin Lucy when is she to be married to that said Gentleman? pray give my Love to her and tell her she need not have been so sly about it.1 I had a few lines from Thomas just before he set out for Haverhill2 I expect him on here daily, and think he had best send his things Round by Barnard. I have nothing new to entertain you with unless it is my Neighbours the Creeck Savages who visit us daily. they are lodgd at an Inn at a little distance from us. they are very fond of visiting us as we entertain them kindly, and they behave with much civility. yesterday they signd the Treaty, and last Night they had a great Bond fire dancing round it like so many spirits hooping, singing, yelling, and expressing their pleasure and Satisfaction in the true Savage Stile. these are the first savages I ever saw. mico maco, one of their kings dinned here yesterday and after dinner he confered a Name upon me the meaning of which I do not know, Mammea he took me by the Hand, bowd his Head and bent his knee, calling me Mammea, Mammea. they are very fine looking Men placid contanances & fine shape. mr Trumble says, they are many of them perfect Models. MacGillvery, dresses in our own fashion speaks English like a Native, & I should never suspect him to be of that Nation, as he is not very dark he is grave and solid, intelligent and much of a Gentleman, but in very bad Health.3 they return in a few days.

adieu my dear sister Remember me affectionatly to all Friends I see miss Nancy Quincy is married, I wish her much happiness


A Adams

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

1In her letter of 4 Oct., Cranch seemed puzzled by AA’s comment about her niece’s imminent marriage: “What did you mean about Lucys going to be married there never was the least probability of it— She is a good Girl & I hope Will have a good husband Sometime or other but I Should not know What to do Without her at present” (Adams Papers). Lucy Cranch would not marry until 1795.

2Not found.

3On 21 July 1790, Creek chief Alexander McGillivray and a delegation of approximately thirty other Creek leaders and warriors arrived in New York City to negotiate a permanent treaty with the U.S. government. McGillivray (b. ca. 1759), the son of a Scottish trader and a woman of French and Creek ancestry, was classically educated in Charleston and Savannah prior to the Revolution. When his father, a loyalist, abandoned the colonies for Scotland, McGillivray rejoined the Creeks and eventually became the chief spokesman for the Indian tribes of the South. In frequent negotiation with the governments of Spain, Georgia, and the United States, McGillivray remained a shrewd and powerful advocate for the Creek people until his death in 1793.

The visit took place at the invitation of George Washington and Henry Knox, who sought to assert executive control over Indian policy by designating each tribe as a sovereign nation with whom the United States must negotiate at the federal level. Of immediate concern was recent action by the Georgia legislature to sell large tracts of Creek land to private companies, raising the prospect of an expensive Indian war on the southern frontier.

The Creek leaders were received with great fanfare as they traveled to the nation’s capital. Upon arriving in New York, they were greeted by the St. Tammany Society and paraded through the city past Federal Hall. One newspaper reported, “Col. McGillivray was dressed in a suit of plain scarlet; and the other Chiefs and Warriors in their national habits. They appear to be men of the first distinction, and their behaviour indicated strong marks of their approbation of the reception which they met with in this city.” The members of the delegation stopped at the homes of Washington and Gov. George Clinton before dining at the City Tavern, where they would lodge during their stay.

Following several weeks of negotiations and ceremony, an agreement that became known as the Treaty of New York was approved by the Senate on 7 Aug. 1790. According to the treaty, the United States displaced Spain as the Creeks’ main ally and, in return, promised to protect a large area of Creek land from encroachment by white settlers. During a formal signing ceremony on 13 Aug., the treaty was read aloud before a large audience. According to one report, “The President then signed the treaty—after which he presented a string of beads as a token of perpetual peace; and a paper of tobacco to smoke in remembrance of it; Mr. McGillivray rose, made a short reply to the President, and received the tokens. This was succeeded by the shake of peace, every one of the Creeks passing this friendly salute with the President; a song of peace performed by the Creeks concluded this highly interesting, solemn and dignified transaction.” The Creeks left New York shortly afterwards on 19 August. Within two years, the treaty had been rendered meaningless; the U.S. government was unable to halt white settlement in Creek territory, and McGillivray signed a new agreement with Spain in July 1792 (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, 22 July 1790; New York Gazette of the United States, 14, 21 Aug.; Joseph J. Ellis, American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic, N.Y., 2007, p. 135, 149–154, 156–159).

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