Abigail Adams to John Adams
Quincy March 28th 1796—
my Dearest Friend
Captain Beal was in Boston on Saturday and he prevaild on the post master to let him take up the Saturday Mail by which means I got those Letters which ought to have come on thursday Letters of the 11th 12th 13 15 & 16th. the greatest comfort which I derived from them, was hearing that you were well. the prospect of sitting till June is not a very agreable one, and the cause less so.1 What ever the Jacobinical party may think, if they should be so Head Strong & Wicked as to carry their measures; they will find a ten fold clamour excited against them. I have heard it said, that those of them who belong to this state, would be torn to peices. the Warmth excited by the debates is greater here, than I believe it is in congress. even your B. who you know never was reconciled to the Treaty, Says that it should be complied with. there is not any circulation of the Debates in any paper printed in Boston, but the Chronical, and that You may be sure will hold up, but one side of the Question.2 I cannot suppose that there will be a Majority in Congress hardy enough to overturn the constitution, tho there is a party who dare what ever they think May Succeed.
My last Letter containd Some foreign intelligence which look’d like peace, but the last arrival brings us no News of the kind. all Breathe War and Hostility. the powers must be exhausted e’er long. I am no Friend to Club Law. yet I cannot but own that I have been gratified with the behaviour of our American Seamen, in repelling the Lawless insolence of British Tyranny. nor can the Britains be displeasd with a spirit and valour which proves the Legitimate descent of their opposers. the loss of so Many Seamen renders them more eager to Supply their place at any rate.3
I rejoice at the opportunity Thomas has of shewing that he is equal to the trust reposed in him. as Private Secretary he could only be a coppyest. I think we have great cause of pleasure and satisfaction in our Children. I hope You feel very proud of them; I do I assure You
The Georgia purchaser or rather the repurchasers are giving up all their Notes, and part with their Ideal gains with much composure. Serious concequences may however be experienced by some of the Hot Spurs of Gorgia from whose proximity to their Savage Neighbours, they appear to have derived a portion of their ferocity, and infidelity:
I have not yet engaged any Hand Billings has been at work for your Brother. I desired him to talk to him for me. he told me last Evening that he held himself very high & talkd quite wild about price, that he would not let himself but for a few Months at a Time. I cannot hear of any body yet. it is scarcly time of year. I expect Copeland to top himself as he has become a Teams Man he thinks. one hundred Dollors is like a Drop in the Bucket 33 for two loads Hay 25 for clover Seed 20 & 65 cents for Braintree Taxes, and 15 to Joy and his wife. Herds Grass Seed the Doctor has bought. We have Tard but do not find any Woorms or Millars yet.
those certainly get through the World best, who trouble themselves least, but a foresight prevents many evils & vexations.
as to the wall upon the Hill: Amphions harp Must be sit to a Golden cord before the Sound will compose the Walls of Pens Hill. I sent to the undertakers three weeks ago to request them to go about it, but they say they were not engaged to compleat it untill the first of June. I do not know whether the Dr is like to get the other Done.4 I think it fortunate that we are like to get the places out. I am sure I know not where we could have procured help without paying three times the value of the produce. I shall be obliged to purchase Burrel a load of English Hay for His cows. I did not bring away all from there, tho more than I wish I had. I hope his Salt & fresh will answer for the young Stock, tho he says it is not good. I am Sure we never had so much English Hay as last year, but our salt was damaged, and the creek thatch they use only for to litter the horses with. the fresh, Tons of it, will go to make manure. I cannot answer for the use of it. the cattle they Say are in much better order than last year, and so indeed they ought to be for they have not workd half so hard, and have been fed with English Hay in lieu of corn. When I talk to Copeland, he says Sir likes to have his cattle look well, and So Does Mam, but not to have to purchase Hay for such a Stock—well why should I torment You. why because when one feels fretted, it is an ease to the mind when it has cast it of.
adieu adieu. When the wheels get in Motion I shall be in a better Humour, but chopping & changing makes a bustling world. I detest still life—and had rather be jostled, than inanimate. yours for aya
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs A. March 28 / Ansd April 9. 1796.”
1. For JA’s letter to AA of 13 March, see note 4, below. On 16 March JA again wrote to AA warning that Congress would likely sit until June debating the Jay Treaty, but that he hoped the “Speeches and Writings” to explain the constitutional issues would lead to a better understanding of the Constitution (Adams Papers).
2. The Boston Independent Chronicle, 24 March, noted that it had previously given abridged versions of speeches made by several members of the House on Edward Livingston’s motion regarding the Jay Treaty. While the Chronicle stated that it selected “from both sides, such speeches, as we conceive contain the most general observations,” the editors made a point of beginning that issue “with the remarks of the celebrated Madison.” The Independent Chronicle, 28 March, included most of Democratic-Republican William Branch Giles’ speech, portions of speeches by fellow Democratic-Republicans Abraham Baldwin and John Page, and parts of speeches by Federalists Nathaniel Freeman Jr. and Samuel Lyman. The editors ended the congressional news section with a “Political Summary” in which they argued that “the question is unfairly stated, when it is pretended, that the House is invading the President’s prerogative” and that the editors “are clearly of opinion … that if the treaty is carried into effect, the House will have no power left.”
3. The Boston Federal Orrery and Independent Chronicle, both 28 March, reported the seizure of U.S. ships and the impressment of American sailors by the British Navy in the Caribbean in late 1795. Impressment was a problem throughout the 1790s, as British sailors deserted the navy for higher wages on American commercial vessels, thus leaving the British Navy constantly undermanned. This issue, however, was not addressed under the provisions of the Jay Treaty. On 18 Feb. 1796 Livingston introduced a resolution to protect American seaman; he presented a bill on 14 March, which passed the House on 28 March and was signed by George Washington on 28 May. The bill authorized port collectors to issue protection papers to American sailors and appointed two agents to reside abroad and report to the treasury secretary on the fate of impressed Americans (Cambridge Modern Hist., description begins The Cambridge Modern History, Cambridge, Eng., 1902–1911; repr. New York, 1969; 13 vols. description ends 7:238, 239; 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. 344, 786, 820; U.S. Senate, Jour., description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1789– . description ends 4th Cong., 1st sess., p. 278). For more on British spoliations of American merchant vessels during this period, see TBA to JQA, 17 April, note 5, below.
4. In his letter of 13 March JA joked that if he had the harp of Amphion, he would be able to make the rocks of Penn’s Hill “dance after me, and reel into Walls. This would be to me a very pleasant and profitable private Amusement.” He also inquired whether Cotton Tufts had begun the work of building a wall to separate the Adams properties from their neighbors in order to protect the cornfields (Adams Papers).
5. Not found.
6. Frederick Hardwick (1766–1849) was a cordwainer in Quincy. His eldest child, George Mears Hardwick, had been baptized in Aug. 1795 (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 ).