Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams
Quincy Novbr 29th 1795
my Dear son
The last Letter which has come to hand from you, was dated 27 July, now four Month.1 I begin to grow impatient to hear from you. I have lately sent my Letters by Way of England, where it is confidently said you are, and from whence I expect, to hear from you
I wrote to you not long since by a private Hand a mr Wilder from N Hampshire. by him I sent you some of Websters papers containing col Hamiltons Defence of the Treaty, under the Signature of Camillus.2 By mr Stone, a Gentleman introduced by mr Jeffries, who is going to return to England in captain Scott. I send you the remaining Numbers.3 Your Father Sits out tomorrow Morning for Philadelphia. The Galleries in the Senate Chamber have been finished and the senate is no longer to be a secreet conclave, as it has been stiled.4 Whether the publick will be benifitted by the alteration, Time must determine. The Virtuous Ten, as they have been call’d will not I presume be gainers, unless they adopt the wisdom of solomon, and hold their Tongues. It is very certain that all the Eloquence, and most of the abilities, are monopolizd by the majority. Burr, excepted, they are all, Mediocer, save in Bacons left handed Wisdom.5 Burr, has address, insinuation and intrigue, sufficient for a pupil of Machiavilel
It is thought the senate will have Some difficult discussions before them. there Judas may not pass uncensured, and the Chief Justice may possibly receive a Negative. the Appointment was extrodonary. some person ask’d General Knox how the P——t came to make such an appointment left of God, replied Knox. for the first Time, the circumstances which took place after ward, were not foreseen by the P—— and I must suppose that he was ignorant of the present Character of the Man. I am sure the P—— never adopted the sentiment, of a Southern Writer, who in aiming to defend his Character, asserted that a Mans Moral Character, had no connextion with his political Character. a Judge like the Wife of Ceasar, ought not to be suspected.6
The ex Secretary of state, is writing a long defence of his resignation. there are many reports in circulation.— Something all agree must be wrong. What? is not yet disclosed to the publick. When Congress meet, the Truth will be disclosed
The Jacobins have excerted every nerve to allarm & terrify the people into measures disgracefull to the Country and dishonorable to them Selves. in some of the large Towns and cities they have so far succeeded as to get partial resolves, and censures past upon the Treaty, and upon the Senate whilst the flood gates of scurility and abuse have been opend by hireling writers, upon the President and mr Jay, exhibiting a mortifying picture of the Depravity of the Humane Heart, & of the prevalence of the most Malignent passions, which like the ostracism of the Athenians, is sufficient to undo a state, by preventing those who most excell in wisdom and virtue, from undertaking the Arduous and important offices of Government, and rendering all those who Serve the publick, desirious of retireing to the private walks of Life, when they find their own wisdom and virtue, turned into weapons of offence, and that it is almost as safe, to be infamous as renouned. these observations will occur to every one who read the attacks upon one of the Fairest Characters, which ever gave Fame to a Nation—
our Friends here are all well, except Mrs Tufts who lies Dangerously Sick and deprived of her senses.
Your Minister, mr Clark spent a Day with us, not long since. he askd to read some of your Letters and exprest himself much informd by them. he promised to write to you. mr Hall a Brother Lawyer took Letters to you and is gone on to N York where he will embark.7
Heaven preserve You my dear so[n and] make you usefull to your Country and to Mankind, i[s the] / prayer of your ever affe[ctionate] / Mother
Louissa desires to be rememberd to you. send her some little token of Remembrance in a Book. she is a good Girl and exceedingly usefull to me.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed by Louisa Catharine Smith: “John Quincy Adams. / Minister from the United States of. / America. / Holland or England.”; endorsed: “Mrs: A. Adams. / 29. Novr: 1795. Quincy. / 1. Feby: 1796. recd: London. / Ansd:.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. Of 30 July, above. JQA’s letter to JA of that period was dated 27 July (Adams Papers).
2. Letter not found.
3. Not found.
4. For the decision to open gallery space in the Senate, see vol. 10:82–83. The new gallery, built during the congressional recess, offered space for roughly fifty visitors to the Senate chamber (Roger W. Moss, Historic Landmarks of Philadelphia, Phila., 2008, p. 35).
6. John Rutledge had asked George Washington for the position of chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court upon John Jay’s resignation earlier in the year. Washington complied, notifying Rutledge at the beginning of July, but shortly thereafter Rutledge participated in a public meeting in Charleston, S.C., opposing the Jay Treaty. Pro-treaty senators, irritated by this behavior, refused to confirm Rutledge’s appointment in December (ANB description begins John A. Garraty, Mark C. Carnes, and Paul Betz, eds., American National Biography, New York, 1999–2002; 24 vols. plus supplement; rev. edn., www.anb.org. description ends ). The Boston Columbian Centinel, 2 Sept., published a piece by “A South Carolinean” entitled “Judge Rutledge, Vindicated.” In this item, the author comments on Rutledge’s financial difficulties and failure to pay certain debts, “His private moral character has nothing to do with his official uprightness.”
7. For Boston lawyer Joseph Hall, see LCA, D&A, description begins Diary and Autobiographical Writings of Louisa Catherine Adams, ed. Judith S. Graham and others, Cambridge, 2013; 2 vols. description ends 1:47. Hall reached London by 1 Feb. 1796 and remained there until the summer of 1798 (D/JQA/24, APM Reel 27; Joseph Hall to JQA, 30 June 1798, Adams Papers). Among the letters he carried were AA2 to JQA, 26 Oct. , above; JA to JQA, 12 Dec., below; and JA to TBA, 13 Dec., private owner, 1961.
8. On this same date JA wrote a joint letter to JQA and TBA to save time as JA was busy making preparations to leave for Philadelphia the next day. JA wrote that he expected a “Stormy Session” of Congress, though he also presumed that the Jay Treaty would ultimately be accepted and funded. He praised their “sentiments and Conduct,” which JA felt “have been so perfectly comformable to my best Judgment and all my Wishes that I have only to say that I hope you will persevere in the Principles you have adopted and the system you have pursued” (Adams Papers).