Adams Papers

Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts, 14 June 1797

Abigail Adams to Cotton Tufts

Philadelphia June 14th 1797

Dear sir

I have felt every day as if I was conscience smit for neglecting to write to you. I have been some encumberd with cares and ceremonies which tho not very pleasent, the custom of the World, and the state of society have made them necessary in publick Life. the sitting of congress has added to my cares, at a season of the Year when I should very gladly have dispenced with so much company as we are now obliged to entertain. I however bear the heat better than I apprehended I could, and my Health was mended by my journey after I had recruited from the fatigue of it, which was so great from the bad Roads through the Jersies, that I thought I should feel no temptation to make a second journey this season. But the close application to buisness for Nine Months together which has fallen upon the President, requires Some relaxation, and his Health Suffers for want of it. I see it in a languor, and in a lassitude which every day succeeds the hours of Buisness. I do not tell him how much of it is visible, but I shall make no objection to accompany him on a journey as soon as congress rise, which I hope will be by the beginning of july, and his Farm at Quincy is you his Hobby Horse. I think we shall come on there & spend a Month or two from July untill october if circumstances will permit. I could wish you sir if possible to accomplish it, to have the Chamber over the office finishd as I know not what I shall do for lodging room for Men servants. I must leave it to you to judge whether the wood house could be done as we proposed, so that mr Porter and Family might be accomodated, but as our stay at furthest will be of short duration this season, I shall be willing to do what I can by way of accommodation, tho I fear some inconvenience from the mixture of Domesticks.1 we shall have four men servants with us— the President has proposed Boarding them at Marshs,2 but I think the expence of that would exceed the cost attending finishing that Room if it could be done in so short a time, and there would arise perhaps some other difficulties from a measure of that kind but I must leave that to your judgment, and the proposal to remain between ourselves without notice to any one but the Chamber I know will be the work of only ten Day or a fortnight. Stables we must have an other year and if the Frame could be got at the same time that the Boards are procured it would be best. capt Beals stables I think would answer for a model.3 he talkd of having the post longer a greater convenienc, but you can judge of that. we have a Brass Harness at Quincy a leading harness, which I should be glad to get conveyd to mr Frothingham to pack with the Carriage which he is going to send by water to us immediatly.

I believe I must not scarcly touch upon politicks in this Letter, but the late news from all quarters is sufficient to put us on our Gaurd, and to lead us to be in a state of preparation for defence. The Seperate peace of the Emperor, the Mutiny on Board the British Fleet are events which in their concequences may essentially affect us.4 the Devouring Rapacity of the Galick Nation increases with their power and ability of gratification.

our senate are firm and strong. our House too equally divided. our state is wanting to itself to send such a Tony Lumkin, such a dead weight, such a narrow soul, sordid minded creature as V——m to represent so wise so patriotick, and in general so judicious a state as Massachusetts—5

But I quit the subject, and present my kind regards to mrs Tufts & to miss Warner6 from Dear / Sir your truly affectionate / Neice

Abigail Adams

RC (NHi:American Historical Manuscripts Coll.—Adams, Abigail); endorsed: “Mrs. Adams June 19 1797 / recd. the 22—”; notation: “3 / x.”

1The “outhouse” directly behind the Adamses’ residence was a 54-foot-long structure divided in three sections—wash house, woodshed, and office. The wash house, situated on the west end of the structure, remained relatively unchanged until its demolition in 1869. Alterations to the remaining structure were completed in two phases. By mid-July 1797 two upper chambers were completed to house servants. A more extensive addition to the woodshed and office was begun in April 1798 and largely completed by June; for the best description of this addition, see Tufts to AA, 31 March 1798, below (Helen Skeen, “Documentary Narrative of Buildings Shown on Historic Base Map of the Adams National Historic Site,” unpublished report prepared for the National Park Service, Adams National Historic Park, 1965, appendix III; Tufts to AA, 27 July 1797; Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 22 June 1798, both Adams Papers).

2That is, the tavern run by Jonathan Marsh (vol. 9:335).

3JA also wrote to Tufts on this date similarly asking that boards and shingles be procured for a stable. Construction, however, was deferred until the summer of 1799, when a new barn and stable were erected at Peacefield (private owner, 1971; AA to TBA, 15 June 1799, Adams Papers).

4The Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 12, 14 June 1797, reported “A SERIOUS MUTINY” within the British Channel Fleet. It was the first of two significant mutinies within the British Navy. In February sailors at Spithead (near Portsmouth, England) had petitioned the admiralty for better wages and provisions. Their demands went unanswered, and in mid-April they refused the order to weigh anchor, even as a French invasion threatened. Resolution was swift; the government met most of the sailors’ requests, including a pardon from the king, and the majority of the fleet was again at sea by the end of the month. In contrast, the mutiny in May of seamen anchored at Nore (at the mouth of the Thames River) carried a more extensive lists of demands, including the removal of unpopular officers, the disbursement of prize money, and revisions to the Articles of War. It also ended more violently when the admiralty denied the sailors’ demands and executed approximately a dozen of the mutineers. Reports of this second mutiny would reach the United States in late July; see, for example, the Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 22 July (Ann Veronica Coats and Philip MacDougall, eds., The Naval Mutinies of 1797: Unity and Perseverance, Woodbridge, Eng., 2011, p. 1–2).

5Tony Lumpkin is an “idle but cunning” character in Oliver Goldsmith’s 1773 play She Stoops to Conquer (Dinah Birch, ed., The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 7th edn., Oxford, 2009, p. 914).

6Susanna (Sukey) Warner (1778–1798) was the daughter of Elias Elwell Warner and Hannah Gould and the niece of Tufts’ second wife, Susanna Warner Tufts. Her father had died in 1781, and Sukey was at this time living with her aunt and uncle (Andrew Oliver and James Bishop Peabody, eds., “The Records of Trinity Church, Boston, 1728–1830,” Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns. description begins Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Publications. description ends , 56:52 [1982]; John J. Babson, History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Including the Town of Rockport, Gloucester, Mass., 1860, p. 259; Cotton Tufts to JA, 2 May 1798, Adams Papers).

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