Adams Papers

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 7 December 1796

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Philadelphia Decr 7. 1796

My Dearest Friend

I have recd your Letter of the cold Sunday on which I wrote you one from Stratford. In N. York Charles gave me the original Letter, the Duplicate of which you transmitted me.1 I communicated it to the P. with five preceeding Numbers. After reading them The P. was pleased to say that “Mr Adams’s Intelligence was very good, and his Penetration and foresight very great. At least Things appeared to him in Europe exactly as they did to himself here.” He communicated to me T. Paines impudent Letter.

This is the very Day the which.— I laugh at myself twenty times a Day, for my feelings, and meditations & Speculations in which I find myself engaged. Vanity Suffers. cold feelings of Unpopularity. Humble reflections. Mortifications—Humiliation.— Plans of future Life. Economy. retrenching of Expences. Farming. Return to the Bar. drawing Writs, arguing Causes. taking Clerks. Humiliations of my Country under foreign Bribes. Measures to counteract them. All this miserable Nonsense will come & go like evil into the Thoughts of Gods or Men, approved or unapproved.

Cousin Smith is Said to have written Phocian and Murray the Pieces from Maryland.2 The Election is a Lott at this hour and if my Reason were to dictate I should wish to be left out. A. P. with half the Continent upon his Back besides all France & England old Tories and all Jacobins to carry will have a devilish Load. He will be very apt to Stagger & stumble

If the Southern states are as unanimous as the Northern are supposed to be I shall be left out. But it is Said there will be 3 in Virginia & one in N. Carolina against Jefferson. In Pensilvania the Rebells in the West and the corupt Mob of Philadelphia aided by frightened Quakers gave a Majority of from 20 to 100, against the great Agricultural Counties of Lancaster York & Cuberland.

It really Seems to me as if I wished to be left out. Let me See! do I know my own heart? I am not Sure. However all that I seem to dread, is a foolish, mortifying, humiliating, uncomfortable Residence here, for two tedious months after I shall be known to be Shimmed, as my Wallmen Speak.

I can pronounce Thomas Jefferson to be chosen P. of U. S. with firmness & a good grace. that I dont fear.— But here alone abed, by my fireside nobody to Speak to, poreing upon my Disgrace and future Prospects—this is Ugly. The 16 of Feb. will soon come and then I take my Leave, forever. Then for Frugality and Independence.— Poverty and Patriotism. Love and a Carrot bed.3

Duty to My Mother & Love to all

J. A

The Federalists are all very confident however of a small Majority. I say and believe that small Majority worse than none. & wish there could have been a large Majority any other Way.

dont show this stuff.

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs A”; endorsed: “December 7th 1796.”

1See AA to JA, 27 Nov., and note 2, above.

2Phocion, attributed to William Loughton Smith, appeared in 25 numbers over 26 issues of the Philadelphia Gazette of the United States between 14 Oct. and 24 November. Intended to refute another newspaper’s claim that Thomas Jefferson was best suited to be president, Phocion offered a point-by-point examination of the philosophical and political “pretensions of Thomas Jefferson” as represented in his written works (14 Oct.) and found “that the reputation he has acquired, has not been bottomed on solid merit; that his abilities have been more directed to the acquirement of literary fame, than to the substantial good of his country; that his philosophical opinions have been wavering and capricious, often warped by the most frivolous circumstances; that in his political conduct he has been timid, inconsistent and unsteady, favouring measures of a factious and disorganising tendency; always leaning to those which would establish his popularity, however destructive of our peace and tranquility … that his abhorrence of one foreign nation, and enthusiastic devotion to another, have extinguished in him every germ of real national character; and, in short, that his elevation to the Presidency, must eventuate either in the debasement of the American name, by a whimsical, inconsistent and feeble administration, or in the prostration of the United States at the feet of France, the subversion of our excellent constitution, and the consequent destruction of our present prosperity” (24 Nov.). The Phocion pieces were also published in pamphlet form as The Pretensions of Thomas Jefferson to the Presidency Examined; And the Charges against John Adams Refuted, 2 vols., [Phila.], 1796, 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 Nos. 31212, 31213.

A “Short Vindication of Mr. Adams’s ‘Defence of American Constitutions’” was published by Union of “Eastern-Shore, Maryland,” and appeared in the Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 5 Nov., and also in vol. 2 of the Phocion pamphlet (p. 39–42). Attributed to William Vans Murray, the article opened, “There never was perhaps a literary work so much talked of, and so little known” in the southern states, and it exhorted men to “read the work” before condemning it and to consider the attacks on JA as “a continuation of that hostile spirit to the government, which has always distinguished the southern faction, & more particularly the state of Virginia.”

3JA wrote both the phrase “Thomas Jefferson to be chosen” and the final sentence of this paragraph in significantly larger script.

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