Adams Papers

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 8 February 1794

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Philadelphia Feb. 8. 1794

My dearest Friend

I have recd yours of the 30th. Ult. and given the inclosed to son Thomas, who will do with it what he can.1

Congress have been together, more than two Months and have done nothing, and will continue Sitting two Months longer, and do little.2 I for my part am wearied to death with Ennui— Obliged to be punctual by my habits, confined to my Seat, as in a Prison to see nothing done, hear nothing Said, and to Say and do nothing. Oh that my Rocks were here within a mile or two, and my little habitation and pretty littl Wife above all. Ah I fear that some fault unknown has brought upon me such Punishments to be Seperated both when We were too young and when We are too old.

I dont believe We shall adopt Mr Madisons Motions nor build a Navy: But if We do not purchase a Peace with the Algerines We shall all deserve to become their Captives.

The Genetians had a frolic on the 6th in commemoration of the Treaty and drank Toasts enough to get merry. so cordial so loving so fraternal, so neat and elegant, so sweet and pretty! have you read them. Franklin Bryant, Reed, Hutchinson & sargeant the Heroes. fit company for Dallas Mifflin & Genet.—3 No harm done however that I hear of.— a sharp shot or two at the President.

The Havock made in our Trade I fear will distress Us— I suspect that immense sums borrowed of Banks have fallen a sacrifice in France, as well as on the seas and When the day of Payment comes, more Credits must be given or Bankruptcies ensue. Borrowing of Banks for a trading Capital, is very unmercantile. However, We shall not go to War, and nothing is to be dreaded so much as that.

I fear The English will have all the West Indies leaving a little to Spain.4 This I dont like at all. We shall see what another Campain will do in Europe. If the English assist La Vendee, which if they had been cunning or wise they would have done last Year it is thought that Brittany Normandy and Pichardy will declare for a King: But of this there can be no certainty.

I am going to dinner at Mr Daltons with Judge & Mrs Cushing who will call on you on her return and tell you the News in the South.

My Mother I hope is growing better— Remember me to her tenderly

Tenderly says Eccho yours

J. A

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Febry 8 1794.”

1On 30 Jan. AA wrote a brief note to JA primarily to enclose a letter from “Mr. Newcomb our Mason” to TBA with bills for TBA to loan. Mr. Newcomb was probably John Newcomb, for whom see vol. 8:372. The letter has not been found.

2The first session of the 3d Congress sat from 2 Dec. 1793 to 9 June 1794 (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989. description ends ).

3Two gatherings occurred in Philadelphia on 6 Feb. to commemorate the sixteenth anniversary of the Franco-American alliance, one by “officers of the second regiment with a number of other officers of militia and a large and respectable number of democratic citizens,” and the other by “the French patriotic society of friends to liberty and equality.” Among the toasts of the evening was one to “The Virtuous republicans, Franklin, Reed Bryan, Hutchinson and Sargeant—may their memories be consecrated by every citizen who is a friend to the rights of man and may their services and their virtues ever live in the bosoms of the Freemen of America.” Besides commemorating the efforts of Benjamin Franklin, the toast also memorialized Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant and Dr. James Hutchinson, both ardent supporters of the French Revolution who had died in the recent yellow fever epidemic; George Bryan (1731–1791), a Pennsylvania judge and strong proponent of states’ rights; and Joseph Reed (1741–1785), a Revolutionary War general, member of the Continental Congress, and president of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Executive Council (Philadelphia General Advertiser, 8 Feb.; 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 ).

4The Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 7, 8 Feb., reported that a large British naval force, along with some 12,000–13,000 troops, had sailed from Madeira toward Barbados on 22 Dec. 1793, ostensibly with the objective of taking Martinique from the French. The actual size of the fleet was considerably smaller (some 8,000 troops), but the information was otherwise accurate. The fleet reached Barbados by mid-Jan. 1794 and launched its attack on Martinique on 4 February. After a series of skirmishes, followed by a lengthy siege, the British took control of the island in late March (Michael Duffy, Soldiers, Sugar, and Seapower: The British Expeditions to the West Indies and the War against Revolutionary France, Oxford, 1987, p. 44, 56, 59–60, 67, 72, 87).

On 9 Feb. JA wrote another letter to AA, again reporting on British activities in the West Indies. He commented, “So! The Tables are turn’d on the French Faction! And The English Faction will exult in their Turn, in the Prospect of The West India Islands a Conquest to England: The French Navy wholly ruined: and Insurrection spreading from Province to Province. Alass I see no Cause of Joy in all these Exultations in either side. I am compelled to console my self as well as I can” (Adams Papers).

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