Adams Papers

Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams, 13 April 1798

Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams

Philadelphia April 13th 1798

my dear son

mr Thorntons stay has been protracted much beyond the time I expected, and it gives me an other opportunity of adding to what I have already written, and of sending you the Printed coppy of the instructions given to our Envoys. the liberality of them has extorted acknowledgments from the minority, that they were eaquel to their most sanguine wishes, and satisfied many who had been imposed upon that the President has been Sincere in his desires for Peace, and an amicable adjustment of our differences with the French Republic1

the publishing the dispatches & instructions, tho a measure which could not have been warranted, but by the peculiar situation of our Country, has been the severest Death wound the Jacobins have ever received. it has laid open to the People base and corrupt designs of the French Directory, and given them to know their real Friends, and protectors from their pretended ones. the real Jacobins are for the Present struck dumb.

Abash’d the devil stood, and saw virtue

in her own shape, how Lovely?

there is much more union and harmony in Congress, and they are proceeding to the defence of the Country with a degree of Spirit which has not before appeard. I hope in my next Letter to be more particular, to prove to you the great alteration in the sentiments of the people in this city. the French have divested themselves of the National Cockade, and scarcly one is to be seen— no native American is willing to be sold indignation succeeds to affection, and the weaning will be compleat, if we must have recourse to Arms. but we have a dreary prospect before us I hope however that the virtuous spirit of the Fathers will descend to their Son’s and that the present generation will not tamely yeald those Rights for which the former shed their Blood.

By the packet col Pickering received the duplicate of your Letter of December the 6th.2 mr King writes that he had put on Board a vessel bound to N york from Liverpool Letters from you— this vessel I presume waits a convoy I pray she may arrive safe. I most ardently long for Letters from you. I have comfort in those which the secretary receives, for in the duplicate is both your Brothers and Your Hand writing by which I presume you are both well.

I cannot form any judgement when congress will rise. I hope before the very Hot weather

Your Father is well and sustains the cares and fatigues of his station to admiration.

My Love to Thomas and to mrs Adams. I never receive any intelligence from you, or of you without communicating it to her Family.

not a word from our Envoys Since Janry 10th why, why, do we not hear that they have left Paris, shaking the dirt from their feet.3

Mr Pinckney is here as member of Congress. his plain affable Manners are agreable to every one. he is Esteemed and beloved. he is quite the Gentleman

The spainard was married this week to miss sally mcKean.4

But I must close or the post will go with mr Thornton.

I am my dear son / your ever affectionate

A Adams5

RC (Adams Papers). Tr (Adams Papers).

1The Philadelphia Gazette, 13 April, printed the resolutions of a meeting held the previous evening at Dunwoody’s Tavern, where Philadelphia residents from the Southwark and Northern Liberties districts unanimously declared that “the measures pursued by the President … to establish a permanent good understanding between the two nations as the same are specified in the Instructions to the Envoys Extraordinary, have been wise, just, liberal and sincere, and entitle him to the grateful acknowledgments of his country.” The newspaper further remarked that although the meeting had been “composed of gentlemen whose political sentiments have hitherto been diametrically opposite, the greatest harmony and unanimity imaginable prevailed on every motion.” The memorial was among a number presented in the House of Representatives on 26 April (U.S. House, Jour. description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1789–. description ends , 5th Cong., 2d sess., p. 274).

2For AA’s summary of JQA’s letter to Timothy Pickering, 6 Dec. 1797 (LbC, APM Reel 132), see her letter to Mary Smith Cranch, 13 April 1798, below.

3Passports were not issued to the envoys until 13 April, and then only to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and John Marshall, both of whom left Paris in mid-April. In a letter to JA of 15 April (Adams Papers), JQA reported his assumption that the envoys were “doubtless before this upon their return home,” although he intimated that Elbridge Gerry would remain in France: “The system of dividing to conquer is pursued as usual by the Directory and amidst all the proofs of malevolence, of perfidy, and of over-bearing insolence which their whole conduct towards the United States exhibits, they have at length intimated a disposition to negotiate with one of the three Commissioners, whose dispositions they consider as more entitled than those of the others to their confidence.— That one, is your particular friend and acquaintance.” Gerry remained in France until August (Albert Hall Bowman, The Struggle for Neutrality: Franco-American Diplomacy During the Federalist Era, Knoxville, Tenn., 1974, p. 324–325, 349–350).

4Sarah (Sally) Maria Theresa McKean (1777–1841), daughter of Thomas and Sarah Armitage McKean, married Carlos Martínez de Irujo in Philadelphia on 10 April 1798 (Cornelius McKean, McKean Genealogies from the Early Settlement of McKeans or McKeens in America to the Present Time, 1902, Des Moines, Iowa, 1902, p. 118, 122, 123).

5AA had previously written to JQA on 8 April, enclosing a copy of the envoys’ dispatches and informing him of the deaths of Dr. John Clarke and Abigail Phillips Quincy (Adams Papers).

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