Abigail Adams to John Adams
Quincy Novbr 27 1796 Sunday Eve
my Dearest Friend
Winter has caught you on the Road I presume, for a colder Day than this we seldom have in Jan’ry1 You will want to hear how the Farming goes on. the Letters inclosed which I received last evening have put it all out of my Head, and almost put out My Eyes to read. no other than the printed Duplicate has come to Hand. I send you both yours and mine, both of which are important at this time when the plots are unfolding.2 they are a clue to all the whole System of Electionering under foreign influence which in a greater or less degree pervades every state in the union. they will afford but Sorry comfort to You whether destined to publick or Private Life. if to Private, “O! Save my Country Heaven”3 if we are to receive a President from the French Nation, what is to be our Fate?. to accept the Presidency with Such an opposition, & to know that one is rushing upon the thick bosses of the Bucklar4 requires the firmest mind and the greatest intripidity. Heaven direct all for the best
you will See by the Centinal that poor samuel has no opinion of his own. the House and Senate have however been firm.5 inclosed is a curious extract from the Washington Gazzett taken from a paper calld the new world.6
I presume the Fate of America will be decided by the time I get a Letter from You. we are told here that under the Jeffersonian ticket the voters distinguishd themselves by wearing the National cockade. can they have become so openly Dairing and bold?7 I saw Burks paper calld the Star. it ought to be termd the Chronical Rival, a Hireling wretch, in French pay I Doubt not, a whineing & canting because the French Minister has suspended his functions8 Our sons Letter is a key to the whole buisness. I have worn out my Eyes to Day in coppying it;9
The Wall progresses, and the Barn yard has not been neglected. the rails are all brought home and I am reflecting that there is no small probability that you may spend the next Summer at Home. I hope Peace Feild will not suffer a French invasion. I am not however terified. I say Gods will be Done, and hope we are not yet given up to destruction.
adieu let Me hear often from you. you know how anxious I am at the events passing before me. poor Johns pride was a little touchd that you should name cooper as a rival in Fame. where will you find a Man of his Age of his Prudence judgment discernment and abilities?10
My best my Sincerely affectionate Regards to the President and Mrs Washington if any people on earth are to be envyd they are the ones: not for what they have been in power and Authority, but for their transit.
once more adieu / ever ever yours
RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs A. Nov. 27 / 1796.” For the enclosure, see note 6, below.
1. JA departed Quincy to return to Philadelphia on 23 Nov., arriving there on 2 Dec. after having spent a day each with AA2 in Eastchester, N.Y., and CA in New York City.
3. Alexander Pope, Moral Essays, Epistle I, line 265.
5. In his brief address to the Mass. General Court on 17 Nov., Samuel Adams stated little besides the purpose of the session, which was to choose electors for the forthcoming presidential and vice presidential elections. Both houses of the General Court responded by affirming this central duty but further acknowledged George Washington’s retirement and commended the president for his years of service. The house, in perhaps a mild rebuke of the governor, offered, “We should be deficient in that gratitude which is the surest incentive and best reward of patriotic services, to withhold a public tribute of veneration and respect for the character and conduct of this distinguished friend to his Country” (Boston Columbian Centinel, 19 Nov.; Mass, Acts and Laws, 1796–1797, p. 254–255).
6. The enclosed newspaper extract, which appeared in the 5–9 Nov. issue of the Washington Gazette, offered to clarify “the minds of some persons” who “do not distinguish between John Adams, and Samuel Adams” and stated, among other things, that “John Adams was once a Republican; but it was while he was under the protection and influence of Samuel Adams.” The article’s original source was the Philadelphia New World, a shortlived Democratic-Republican newspaper published by Samuel Harrison Smith (Clarence S. Brigham, “Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820. Part XIII: Pennsylvania [Philadelphia],” Amer. Antiq. Soc., Procs., description begins American Antiquarian Society, Proceedings. description ends new ser., 32:150 [April 1922]).
7. AA may be referring to discussions related to a widely reprinted letter from Pierre Auguste Adet “to the French citizens who reside or travel in the United States” ordering them to put on the cockade, “the sacred symbol of liberty.” Furthermore, his letter continued, “The use of the French chanceries, the national protection will not be granted to any Frenchmen but those who, perfectly sensible of the dignity attached to the title of citizen, shall take a pride in wearing constantly the tri-colored cockade. The Executive Directory of the French Republic have pronounced thus” (Boston Polar Star, 17 Nov.).
8. John Daly Burk (ca. 1775–1808) was a recent emigrant from Ireland who initially settled in Boston, where in October he started the newspaper the Polar Star. On 23 Nov. the paper carried the news that the duties of the French minister to the United States had been suspended as a result of deteriorating relations between the two countries (DAB description begins Allen Johnson, Dumas Malone, and others, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; repr. New York, 1955–1980; 10 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ). See also CA to JA, 4 June, and note 3, above.
9. The copy in AA’s hand of JQA to JA, 13 Aug., has not been found but appears to have been enclosed with her letter to Elbridge Gerry of 28 Nov., also not found. Gerry’s reply of 28 Dec., for which see AA to JA, 31 Dec., and note 3, below, acknowledges the receipt of both letters (Adams Papers).