John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia March 15. 1796
My Dearest Friend
Your delicious Letter of the 5th. came to my hand Yesterday. Your beautiful and pathetic Reflections on the Match in our Presidential Family are such as I expected. It is to me, one of the most delightful Ideas that is treasured in my Mind, that my Children have no Brothers nor sisters of the half or quarter Blood. one such Consciousness would poison all the Happiness of my Life.— “Remembered Follies, Sting,”1 and none could pierce my heart with such corrosive & deleterious Poison as this.
I am So disgusted with this kind of Life that I am Sometimes disposed to take rash Resolutions that I never will live another Winter out of my family. Pray what is become of your new Charriot? Is it possible to afford to have it built?
Is it not vexatious? have We not plagues enough? Must our own Friends conspire to torment Us? Is Imprudence and Turbulence so entailed upon Us, that Members of the wisest Bodies must conspire with their own Ennemies? Here is a Folly complained of in the House by Baldwin. The Georgia Speculation is in a fair Way to rid the World for what I know of some of the Hairbrains— But why should wise honest & independent Men run wild.?
Jackson has had a Rencontre, and Gun has sought one. The Bostonians have been the Dupes.2
Sobrius esto. Be Sober. Be calm, Oh my heart and let your Temperance and moderation be known to all Men. But it requires a great command of ones Passions to be Serene amidst Such Indiscretions and Irregularties of wise Men when We have so much Extravagance of the Unwise and so much Malice of the wicked to contend with at the Same time.
I believe I told you that Thomas was become quite a Negotiator at the Hague, and his Brother in London. The latter however will return, I suppose to Holland upon the Return of Mr Pinckney to England.
Mr Gore and Mr short I conjecture will be appointed Commissioners to estimate depredations & Damages and perhaps J. Q. A may be named one of the two who are to be by Lot converted into a 3d.3 But all this must be Secret. I am trying your Capacity to keep secrets, you see.
RC (Adams Papers).
1. “Grief aids Disease, remember’d Folly stings, / And his last Sighs reproach the Faith of Kings” (Samuel Johnson, “The Vanity of Human Wishes: The Tenth Satire of Juvenal,” lines 119–120).
2. In January the Ga. house of representatives had appointed James Jackson to chair the committee investigating the Yazoo Act. The findings of the committee led the Georgia legislature to rescind the act on 13 Feb.; meanwhile, James Greenleaf continued to sell land to Boston investors. Jackson, who was known as the “prince of duelists,” fought at least four duels with Yazooists. On 2 March Abraham Baldwin gave a speech in the House of Representatives attacking land speculators, noting that “persons whom we have supposed worthy of our confidence and esteem” have been “publicly practising the meanest and most disgraceful arts and tricks of swindling.” James Gunn demanded to see the written proof Baldwin had against speculators, and when Baldwin refused to turn over his evidence, Gunn challenged him to a duel. They never fought, and Gunn eventually apologized for his conduct (Abernethy, The South in the New Nation, description begins Thomas P. Abernethy, The South in the New Nation, 1789–1819, [Baton Rouge, La.], 1961. description ends p. 151, 152; James F. Cook, The Governors of Georgia, 1754–2004, Macon, Ga., 2005, p. 73–74; Annals of Congress, description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States [1789–1824], Washington, D.C., 1834–1856; 42 vols. description ends 4th Cong., 1st sess., p. 402–403; George R. Lamplugh, Politics on the Periphery: Factions and Parties in Georgia, 1783–1806, Newark, Del., 1986, p. 135).