John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia May 17. 1794
My dearest Friend
The long continuance of the session, and the uncommon heat and drought of the Weather have made this, to me an unpleasant Spring. And to increase my Mortification, I have this Week received no Letter from you. I have not for Several months before, failed to receive a delicious Letter worth a dozen of mine, once a Week.
Well! Boston comes on! Mr Morton is now to be its Leader! How changed in Reputation Since 1788.!1
I wonder not at the Choice of Well-born Winthrop. He might I Suppose have been chosen at any time. His Father was one of my best Friends. and The Son was a good son of Liberty. I know of nothing to his Disadvantage.2
The Fœderalists committed an egregious Blunder, in a very unwarrantable and indecent Attempt, I had almost Said upon the freedom of Elections, at their previous Meeting for the Choice of Governor. The Opposite Party to be sure practice Arts nearly as unwarrantable, in secret, and by send agents with printed Votes— But this is no Justification unless upon Catos Principle In corruptâ civitate Corruptio est licita. i.e. In a corrupt City corruption is lawful!3
Elections are going the Usual Way in our devoted Country. Oh! that I had done with them.— We shall realize the raving in the Tempest, which Charles quoted to me in his last Letter.
“In the Commonwealth We shall by contraries
execute all Things: for no kind of Trafic
shall We admit; no name of Magistrate;
Letters will not be known, wealth, Poverty
and Use of service none; contract, Succession
bowen bound of Land, tilth, Vineyard none;
No Use of Metal, corn or wine or oil;
No Occupation, all Men idle all
And Women too; but innocent and pure;
All Things in common nature should produce
Without sweat or endeavour; Treason Felony
Sword Pike, knife, Gun, or need of any Engine
Would I not have; But nature should bring forth
of its own kind, all foizon, all Abundance
to feed my innocent People.”4
This is Lubberland indeed— Le Pays de Cocain, I believe the French call it.—5 but it is terra incognita.— I am afraid We shall have too many of its qualities without its innocence.
I have no hope of Congress rising, before the last of May— Never in my Life did I long to see you more— I am most ardently / your
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs A”; endorsed: “May 17th 1794.”
1. Perez Morton, along with John Winthrop Jr. (see note 2, below), was elected as one of Boston’s representatives to the Mass. General Court. They replaced John Coffin Jones and Jonathan Mason. Several years before, Morton had been involved in a scandal in which he impregnated his wife’s sister, Frances Theodora Apthorp, who subsequently committed suicide in Aug. 1788. Morton was ultimately cleared of any responsibility for Apthorp’s death in a report drafted in part by JA (Mass., Acts and Laws, description begins Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [1780–1805], Boston, 1890–1898; 13 vols. description ends 1794–1795, p. 142; Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, description begins John Langdon Sibley, Clifford K. Shipton, Conrad Edick Wright, Edward W. Hanson, and others, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873– . description ends 17:557–558).
2. John Winthrop Jr. (1747–1800), son of JA’s close friend and professor John Winthrop Sr., was Boston’s other new representative. Winthrop Jr., a Boston merchant, had previously served on the General Court from 1787 to 1790 (Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, description begins John Langdon Sibley, Clifford K. Shipton, Conrad Edick Wright, Edward W. Hanson, and others, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873– . description ends 16:294–295; vol. 4:352; Mass., Acts and Laws, description begins Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [1780–1805], Boston, 1890–1898; 13 vols. description ends 1794–1795, p. 142).
3. Possibly a paraphrase of a line from Sallust’s description of a debate between Caesar and Cato the Younger in his Bellum Catilinae, ch. 53, line 5, an edition of which is in JA’s library at MB. JA made the same citation in the margin of his copy of The Miscellaneous Works of the Late Reverend and Learned Conyers Middleton, D.D., 4 vols., London, 1752, 1:47, also at MB (Catalogue of JA’s Library description begins Catalogue of the John Adams Library in the Public Library of the City of Boston, Boston, 1917. description ends ).
4. Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act II, scene i, lines 147–156, 159–164. CA included the same quotation in his letter to JA of 14 May 1794 (Adams Papers).
5. Both “Lubberland” and pays de Cocagne refer to a land of plenty.