Adams Papers

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 25 January 1794

Abigail Adams to John Adams

Quincy 25 Jan’ry [1794]
Saturday Evening

My Dearest Friend

The weather from an unhealthy warmth has changed to an insufferable cold. I had little expectation of getting my Letters to night, but a market Man whom I requested to call upon our son, was faithfull to his promise, and brought me yours of the 12 and 14th.1 I also received a letter from an other hand so late as the 17th2 but not a Word of the important foreign intelligence, which so greatly agitated Congress, and created such a Paroxysm of joy throughout all Philadelphia—put Genet out of Breath, & sent his Hand Bill Gasping to Boston. I have not this days paper, neither, so that I am not able to learn what confirmation it contains of the News, and I do not very readily give credit to such big stories.

I thank you for your Pamphlets, just received.3 I have not been able to look into them, as I took my pen to write to you this evening that I might be early enough for the Mondays post. Barnevelt closed after defending Columbus and detecting Americanus in many grose falshoods, who appeard quite beat of his ground. I never discoverd any improper vanity or exultation in Barnevelt. he felt himself upon strong ground as he had some of the most approved and Ancient writers for his Authoritys and he did not chuse to be Ridiculed whedeld or falsified out of them he maintaind & supported them I think with dignity, discovering however a little too much contempt for his opponent, a little Family Pride, on the Fathers side I mean. if I may be allowd to say so I thought if Americanus was the person supposed, his Age intitled him to a respecctfull language, especially as he appeard to be Humbled and feel his inferiority in the Strength of Arguments of his opponent, and it was upon this head that I wrote my mind to Barnevelt, who instantly stood corrected, “envy will merrit as its shade persue” I remarked to our son when he mentiond to me the circumstance you allude to, that you had all your days experienced a Similar Treatment, and that he must prepare his mind to bear it fortifying it with justice with candour, with integrity and with independance, for the only safe and durable policy is that which is founded in justice and Truth.

I received the Bills and shall use them with as much oeconomy as possible. I have been to day to visit our Parent who is unwell, more so than I have known her since my return here. she took a great cold and is distrest with a cough. I do not consider her as dangerous at present, but her advanced Age leads one to be allarmd at any attack. from a principal of duty and affection I shall be solicitious to render her every possible service and attention. Pope says the Ruling passion is strong in death4 hers, has been an anxious solicitude for the welfare of her Family; and in the midst of a coughing fit, to day, she stopt, to inquire if you had heard of your Trunk.


Your Mother is not worse to day tho I cannot say she is better. I would not have renderd you uneasy by mentioning to you her illness, but at her age the candle is soon extinguishd, burnt down time. the dr says she has not much fever, and approves of all I had done for her. I could not however rest easy without his approbation and advise tho I know but little can be done for a person so far advanced. if there is any particular direction you would wish to give Should her date of Life be closed by this sickness, you will inform me. I should be desirious of complying with every request, and I shall not fail of writing to you by the next post.

I am now, and at all times and places, most Sincerely Your affectionate

A Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed by JQA: “The Vice-President of the United States / Philadelphia.”; endorsed: “Mrs A. Jan. 26. / ansd Feb. 4. 1794.”

1On 12 Jan. JA wrote to AA, “Knowing your Taste for political Speculations I Send you a couple of Pamphlets for your Amusement.” One of the pamphlets was probably John Taylor’s An Enquiry into the Principles and Tendency of Certain Public Measures, Phila., 1794, Evans, description begins Charles Evans and others, American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America [1639–1800], Chicago and Worcester, 1903–1959; 14 vols. description ends No. 27782, which discusses the Bank of the United States. JA said of the work, “There is too much foundation for some of his observations: But although he has Told some Truth he has not told the whole Truth, and he has told Something that is not Truth. One Bank of the United States, with its Branches Strictly limited in its operations would be Useful: But the State Legislatures have multiplied Banks to such a Degree that one knows not how far the Evil has already gone nor where it will Stop” (Adams Papers).

3Not found, but see note 1, above, and AA to JA, 2 Feb., below.

4Alexander Pope, Moral Essays, Epistle I, line 263.

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