Adams Papers

Abigail Adams to Abigail Adams Smith, 25 January 1791

Abigail Adams to Abigail Adams Smith

Philadelphia, 25 January, 1791.

My Dear Child,

You must not flatter yourself with the expectation of hearing from Colonel Smith until the February packet arrives. It is as soon as you ought to think of it. You see by the papers, that a minister is in nomination from England, and Mrs. C—— writes, will come out soon.1 Mrs. P——, from whom I received a letter, writes me by the last packet, that Mr. Friere is certainly appointed from Portugal, and that he only waits for the arrival of Count ———, his successor, in England, before he sails for America. Mrs. P—— likewise communicates the agreeable intelligence of Mr. P——’s having forsaken the bottle, and that the Countess B—— had another child, and was vastly happy, beloved by her dear Count, &c.; all in the true style of Mrs. P——.2 She desires to be kindly remembered to you and the Colonel.

Present me kindly to all my New York friends. That I was attached to that place is most true, and I shall always remember with pleasure the fifteen months passed there; but, if I had you and your family, I could be very well pleased here, for there is an agreeable society and friendliness kept up with all the principal families, who appear to live in great harmony, and we meet at all the parties nearly the same company. To-morrow the President dines with us, the Governor, the Ministers of State, and some Senators.3 Of all the ladies I have seen and conversed with here, Mrs. Powell is the best informed. She is a friendly, affable, good woman, sprightly, full of conversation. There is a Mrs. Allen, who is as well bred a woman as I have seen in any country, and has three daughters, who may be styled the three Graces.4

My best respects to your good mamma and family. Tell Mrs. C—— I hope she makes a very obedient wife.5 I am sure she will be a good one. I think I shall see you in April. Why do you say that you feel alone in the world? I used to think that I felt so too; but, when I lost my mother, and afterwards my father, that “alone” appeared to me in a much more formidable light. It was like cutting away the main pillars of a building; and, though no friend can supply the absence of a good husband, yet, whilst our parents live, we cannot feel unprotected. To them we can apply for advice and direction, sure that it will be given with affection and tenderness. We know not what we can do or bear, till called to the trial. I have passed through many painful ones, yet have enjoyed as much happiness through life as usually falls to the lot of mortals; and, when my enjoyments have been damped, curtailed, or molested, it has not been owing to vice, that great disturber of human happiness, but sometimes to folly, in myself or others, or the hand of Providence, which has seen fit to afflict me. I feel grateful for the blessings which surround me, and murmur not at those which are withheld.— But my pen runs on, and my lads, at whose table I write, wonder what mamma can find to write about.

Adieu. My love to the children. From your ever affectionate

A. Adams.

MS not found. Printed from AA, Letters, ed. CFA, 1848 description begins Letters of Mrs. Adams, the Wife of John Adams. With an Introductory Memoir by Her Grandson, Charles Francis Adams, 4th edn., rev. and enl., Boston, 1848. description ends , p. 353–355.

1The Pennsylvania Mercury reported on 22 Jan. that former New York lieutenant governor and loyalist Andrew Elliot would be named the first British minister to the United States. Elliot was proposed for the post by Henry Dundas but ultimately declined to serve and retired to Scotland (Eugene Devereux, “Andrew Elliot, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of New York,” PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. description ends , 11:149–150 [July 1887]). The letter from Susanna Clarke Copley has not been found.

2João Caballero de Almeida Mello e Castro succeeded Ciprião Ribeiro, Chevalier de Freire, as Portuguese minister to Great Britain (Repertorium description begins Ludwig Bittner and others, eds., Repertorium der diplomatischen Vertreter aller Länder seit dem Westfälischen Frieden (1648), Oldenburg, &c., 1936–1965; 3 vols. description ends , 3:317). The 2 Nov. 1790 letter from Lucy Ludwell Paradise to AA also mentioned that Paradise’s husband, John, “has perfectly broke himself of the love of the Bottle. he leads a regular life, and of Course, enjoys a perfect health.” The letter, however, does not indicate that the Paradises’ daughter, the Countess Barziza, had had a second child (Adams Papers).

3Thomas Mifflin served as governor of Pennsylvania from 1790 until 1799 (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 ).

4Elizabeth Lawrence Allen (1750–1800), daughter of John and Elizabeth Lawrence of Philadelphia and widow of James Allen. She was remarried in June 1791 to John Laurance, member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York (Charles P. Keith, The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania, Phila., 1883, p. 450–451; New York Daily Advertiser, 3 May 1800).

5That is, Belinda Clarkson, sister of WSS.

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