Adams Papers

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 4 April 1798

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch

April 4 1798

dear sister

The eastern post will go out this morning and I take my pen to thank you for your Letters of the 20 & 26th of March.1 we had received intelligence of the wisdom of Roxbury & Milton, their petitions having reachd their Representitives in Congress. the reply to them may be found in the dispatches of our Envoys yesterday communicated to congress. The publick exegiency of our Country, and the real in Some, and the Pretended unbelief of others, produced a torpor, and an indicision which call’d for Conviction & proof as strong as holy writ, that all, and more than was exprest, in the Presidents last message, was necessary to be done to put our Country on its gaurd, and to inspire them with a determined resolution to preserve their Rights their freedom and independance all of which are attack’d by the most base profligate and abandoned Culprits which were ever permitted to scourge the Nations of the Earth; the Algerines lose all their venality & tyrranny when Compared to them.

The Proofs of this will now be lade before the publick, as soon as they can be printed2 out of fears for the safety of our Envoy’s they would not have yet been published, if the House of Reps’ had not calld for them. Gallitan, the sly the artfull the insidious Gallitan knew better than to join in the call. Giles was heard to say, to his Friends in the House—you are doing wrong to call for those dispatches. they will injure us— These Men knew that the President would not have exprest himself in such strong terms in his message, if he had not possesst convincing Evidence, and tho they lie to the publick, they believed all that was asserted in his Message, “that all hopes of accommodation was at an End.[]3 I have never seen the Dispatches, but I have learnt from the Members who yesterday visited me, what I had before suspected, that Tallyrand & the Directory would have been bought. the wretches even stipulated a certain sum to be paid them for the Presidents, saying in his speech at the opening of the summer session “that we ought to shew France that we were not a degraded People” they wanted to prove him deficient in knowledge, a false man by making us tributary to them and that by the consent of the very ministers he had Sent to negotiate with them but I will not mutilate further, what I have only learnt by incorrect details.4 as soon as the dispatches are publishd I will send them to You— The Jacobins in senate & House were struck dumb, and opend not their mouths, not having their cue, not having received their lessons from those emissaries which Tallyrand made no secret of telling our Envoys are Spread all over our Country; and from whence they drew their information. I believe S   n is not too scrupelous to take a fee. we are ensnared. we shall be destroyd unless the snare is broken, and that speedily. thus you see Town meetings can judge!

I was much shockd yesterday at reading in the Paper the Death of Mrs Quincy I had only heard by way of Mrs otis the day before, that she was unwell. what was her complaint? it must have been sudden I think, or you would have mentiond it. the Glory of the family is departed. mrs Quincy was in all respects the first Character in it. I mourn with all her Friends most sincerely, for by them her loss must be deplored. Mrs Gill is an other of my Friends & connections whose loss I lament. she was however at an age when we could not expect her much longer continuence, yet I feel these ligaments giving way one after an other. I feel their loss to society and the warning voice to myself—“this Lifes a dream an empty show.”5

How is your Weather? last week we had three or four days when we were obliged to sit with our windows open and for these three days past we have had a voilent east storm of wind and Rain we had sallid, and the Trees in our yard are budding & would have Blossomd in a few Days— the Roads had got tolerably good so that I just began to ride out of Town but this great rain will spoil them again.

If we have many troubles we have also many blessings amongst which & not the least I consider Health. both the President & I have enjoyd our Health better this Winter & spring than usual, but the constant care application and anxiety will wear out the firmest constitution.

I received cousin Betsys Letter and shall write to her soon—6

Your truly affectionate / Sister

Abigail Adams

I send you a pamphlet just publishd, said to be written by a mr Hopkinson a young Lawyer, whose father was a judge & Author of the battle of the Kegs.7

RC (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters).

1No letter from Cranch to AA of 20 March has been found. In a letter of 26 March, Cranch commented on the town meetings at Milton and Roxbury, reported news of William Cranch in Washington, D.C., and asked AA for a copy of Allan Ramsay’s The Gentle Shepherd (Adams Papers).

2For the publication of the dispatches, see AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 7 April, and note 1, below.

3AA does not appear to be quoting from JA’s message of 19 March but rather from comments made by John Nicholas during the House debate on the request that JA communicate the commissioners’ dispatches (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 , 5th Cong., 2d sess., p. 1368).

4“This conduct of the French Government … evinces a disposition to separate the people of the United States from the Government. … Such attempts ought to be repelled with a decision, which shall convince France and the world, that we are not a degraded people.” The French had noted this passage in particular, from JA’s message to Congress of 16 May 1797, as one for which they required an explanation and reparation (Amer. State Papers, Foreign Relations description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–1861; 38 vols. description ends , 2:159, 160). For a full summary of JA’s speech, see AA to Cranch, 16 May, and note 2, above.

5Isaac Watts, The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, Psalm XVII, Long Metre, line 13.

6Not found.

7Joseph Hopkinson’s What Is Our Situation? And What Our Prospects?, Phila., 1798, 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, Mass., 1903–1959; 14 vols. description ends No. 33904, outlines the many ways “the peace and safety of this country are assailed by two enemies mutually encouraged and enflaming each other. The French, who are invited to their hostility by an assurance that our Government is divided from the people … and an INTERNAL FACTION, who finding themselves supported, by the aggression and countenance of the French, aim at nothing short of universal uproar and plunder— These then are our foes— Let us understand them to be so, and no longer contend in the dark; no longer feel ourselves wasting away, and see our property and rights wrested from our hands, without knowing against whom we should repel the outrage, or to what point to direct our defence” (p. 8). The pamphlet also urges Americans to ensure that “every exertion be vigorously and solely bent to the public weal, the preservation of our country” (p. 40). Hopkinson, for whom see LCA, D&A description begins Diary and Autobiographical Writings of Louisa Catherine Adams, ed. Judith S. Graham and others, Cambridge, 2013; 2 vols. description ends , 1:224, was the son of Francis Hopkinson (1737–1791), the Revolutionary-era statesman and author, who numbered among his many works “The Battle of the Kegs” (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 ).

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