Abigail Adams to John Adams
December 24 Quincy 1794
my Dearest Friend
I received your kind favour of the 5th 7th 8th & 10th. what you mention with respect to the sale of the Farms in the Neighbourhood, may be true for ought I know. Mr Black is really in earnest to dispose of his. a Gentleman was up last week to look at it, but thought the price too high. as to the other, I am sure he is not happy here. he has not sufficient Farm to occupy his time here, and as soon as he has compleated all his Buildings he will be still more misirable. he has no resource within himself 4 or 5 sons to Educate, or put into Buisness. it would not be surprizing to me if he should sell provided a purchaser appeard.1 commerce flourishes so surprizingly, not with standing the “depredations of unreasonable despoilers—” that I presume these Gentlemen are solicitious to put their property to a better use, than delving in the Earth, merely to get a daily sustanance. I should however be sorry to have them leave the Neighbourhood, as they are good Neighbours.
You inquire after mr Wibird. he vegetates, without courage, without Spirit, without resolution. he visits his old Friends some times, but has not been out to meeting once. mr Briggs continues to preach.2 by his means I have had the pleasure of hearing mr Harris & mr Ware. in short we shall be so nice soon, that we shall be willing that mr Wibird may go & sleep with his Ancestors. I went to see uncle Quincy the other day he was as well as usual— our Clergy many of them attackd the self created clubbs in their Thanksgiving Sermons, before the President & senate, denounced them. Mr Ware of Hingham, mr Gardner of Boston, and mr osgood of Medford— whose sermon was printed. I have been so much pleasd with the perusal of it, that I have sent to purchase a couple, and in the mean time have taken Brother Cranchs to forward to you. Mr Ames has not spoken with more force or Energy, than mr osgood has preach’d against these Anarchist’s. mr osgood has taken particular notice of the Govenours Proclamation for Thanksgiving, and given him a well merritted repremand, for his total neglect of the National Government, and asscribed it I believe to the true source.3
Mr Cranch desires me to thank you for your kind attention to his Son. I hope some arrival will soon bring us good News from ours— we see so little way before us—that I think it best to submit all futurity into the hands of the great Disposer of events, who has directed us not to be anxious over much “to enjoy is to obey”4 I will therefore with gratitude reflect upon the large portion of comfort and happiness which has fallen to my lot, without repineing at that which is denyd me.
Eames is arrived. tomorrow I shall send for my flower & Seed
I am obliged to make use of the credit left me. I did not know that an Appropriation was necessary till March, and I had engaged to discharge some accounts to my Tennants to the sea weed carters Black smiths &c the middle of the Month—so that for a week past I have been affraid to hear a rap at the door least it should be a dun.
Remember me to Mrs Washington most affectionatly. I respect & Love that good Lady you have never said a word about Frèire & his Lady. I presume you have exchangd visits.5
I have been reading Mores 2d volm Journal, and what surprizes me is, that when Robertspears Character was so justly appreaciated & his views suspected, that he was able to gain such an assendency, & to rule so despotically for two years after the death of the King—6 a Man who appeard so unpopular as he was in the convention—it must have been oweing to the assendency of the Jacobines & the Mountain.
The spirit of Faction has received a wound, happy would it be for America if it was a Fatal one. The Presidents frown, the Senates supporting him and, the spirit of the people in marching against the insurgents all has conspired to Stiffle the Flame, even the Chronical can barely find fuel
adieu I am with the tenderest affection / ever Yours—
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs A. Decr 24. 22. / Ansd. 30. 1794.”
1. Capt. Benjamin Beale, JA’s neighbor, had six living sons: Benjamin (1768–1826), Richard Copeland (1773–1807), Robert (1778–1803), Joseph (1780–1800), George Washington (1782–1851), and Thomas Smythe (1787–1815) (Sprague, Braintree Families description begins Waldo Chamberlain Sprague, comp., Genealogies of the Families of Braintree, Mass., 1640–1850, Boston, 1983; repr. CD-ROM, Boston, 2001. description ends ).
2. Probably Rev. Ephraim Briggs (1736–1799), Harvard 1764, who was the longtime Congregational minister at Halifax, Mass. (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 16:30–31).
3. On 15 Oct. Samuel Adams issued a proclamation naming 20 Nov. the annual day of thanksgiving in Massachusetts (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. 27280). In David Osgood’s thanksgiving sermon, he reviewed the proclamation section by section. While Osgood generally agreed with the items Adams cited as worthy of thanksgiving—good health, prosperous agriculture and fisheries, successful commerce, and “the inestimable blessing of the Gospel, and our Religious, as well as Civil Rights and Liberties”—Osgood took issue with Adams’ failure to make specific reference to the federal government. Osgood commented, “This omission is strange and singular, beyond any thing of the kind that I recollect to have seen since the first union of the states in the memorable year 1775. It has, to say the least, a strong appearance of disconnection with the general government, and an air of separate sovereignty and independence, as though we enjoyed not our civil rights in union with the other states under one common Head” (p. 16).
4. Alexander Pope, “The Universal Prayer,” line 20.
5. Ciprão Ribeiro, Chevalier de Freire, arrived in Philadelphia in Oct. 1794 as Portugal’s minister resident to the United States. He was presented to George Washington and Edmund Randolph on 30 Oct., while his wife, Agnes Frances Lockyer, was introduced to Martha Washington on the 31st. The Freires had married in London in 1791, and the Adamses had known them during their own time in England (Philadelphia Gazette, 13 Oct. 1794; Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 1 Nov.; The Register Book of Marriages Belonging to the Parish of St. George, Hanover Square, ed. John H. Chapman, 4 vols., London, 1886–1897, 2:62; vol. 8:367, 368).
6. John Moore, A Journal during a Residence in France, from the Beginning of August, to the Middle of December, 1792, 2 vols., London, 1793.