Adams Papers

Abigail Adams to William Cranch, 12 July 1798

Abigail Adams to William Cranch

Philadelphia July 12th [1798]

Dear sir

It was with much anxiety and concern that I learnt from mrs Johnson the outrageous attack which was made upon you by mr duncanson, and the dissagreable circumstance of your being Badly wounded. I hope however from What I yesterday heard that the concequences of the wound will not prove so bad as was apprehended. mr Greenleaf call’d yesterday to inquire what intelligence I had received. he spoke like a friend and felt like a Brother I related to him the circumstances as detaild by the pen of mrs Johnson who was exceeding iritated & hurt at the event. I wisht however to See some person from whom I could lean the state of Parties and Character of the persons— I applied to mr Stodard who conversed very fully with me and satisfied me, that to steer between them requires great skill and management. No person would wish an other to Speak in higher terms of approbation and praise of the Honour integrity impartiality & concilitary disposition of an other than mr stodard did of my Nephew and mr stodard if I justly estimate him possesses all those qualities him Self. it was very ungentlemanly and Rascally to attack a Man merely for his being Professionally engaged in the service of his attagonist the Law must decide upon the Equity of the dispute between the Parties—

I cannot say but that I felt hurt that Mr Dalton should tender himself as Bondsman— a respectable one he is and is therefore I trust the more honorable security for the good behaviour of Duncanson of whose Party to whom I hear he has attachd himself I know you too well to suppose you can harbour any lasting Enimity and I trust you will as you have done stear as clear as possible of all Paty animosity and bitteness, in all cases consistant with what You owe to yourself, strive to heal animosities and soften Passions, to do good even to those who despightly use you and Percecute you. I do not mean by this that the Law ought not to have its full course and that as a Man unjuctly injured, you ought to have justice done you.

I hope this will be Mrs Cranch—study also. where a city is divided against itself, it must come to mine and it is to be regreeted that at the commencment of Private interest should So embroil Friends and Neighbours. I lament that mrs Johnson should be fixt down in the very focuse & Hot bed of dissention. I believe no part of America is so circumstanced, having lived in a Country where one neighbour does not trouble an other, nor even know them, it must be the more unpleasent to her— I would advise all my friends to hear see & as far as possible to be silent

Whilst I am writing a Letter is brought me from mrs Johnson, with the pleasing intelligence of your recovery so far as to think of sitting out upon a jouney—1 I hope you will not be too soon; Some accounts have reachd this city of the affair. all of them criminate duncanson— tho some say that he is really injured by mr L—— & R——

I received a Letter from your mother this morning the family were well. I dared not in my last Letters hint the affair to her—2 I shall now give her an account of it—

My Love to mrs Cranch tell her I hope Louissa will meet with as kind a friend in Berlin as a reward for the interest her amiable mother takes in Mrs Cranchs and your situation— I presume mrs Cranch will find a Mother & sisters in your absence. I hope the Washington Family will be gratified with the cordiality which subsists & has never known an interruption between the Late & Present President. I assure you that the invitation will be cordially accepted, and a great relief it will be to the President What can be the occasion of Thorntons animosity to the President. he never injured or offended him— he is the only one of the three who are not personally known—3

Dft (Adams Papers); notation by CFA: “Copy. W. Cranch.”

1Not found.

2Likely Mary Smith Cranch to AA, [7 July], above. AA had written to her on 9 and 12 July. In her 9 July letter, AA reported the capture of the French privateer Le Croyable and the reluctance of Congress to declare war. She also relayed Benjamin Rush’s comments on Betsy Quincy Shaw’s illness (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters). For the 12 July letter, see AA to Cranch, 13 July, note 4, below.

3William Thornton (1759–1828), University of Aberdeen M.D. 1784, was born on Tortola and became a self-trained architect. In April 1793, George Washington selected Thornton’s design for the U.S. Capitol, applauding its “Grandeur, Simplicity and Beauty of the exterior—the propriety with which the apartments are distributed—and the economy in the mass of the whole structure.” Between 1794 and 1804, Thornton served on the Board of Commissioners, and in the 1796 presidential election he supported Thomas Jefferson. In June 1798 Thornton “lamented the war-speeches of our President” and questioned the Federalist emphasis on French depredations over those of the British, causing Tristram Dalton to claim that Thornton was part of a French faction in the district trying to divide the country. According to Dalton, Thornton possessed “a philosophical hatred to Kings, without Distinction—for a violent attachment to the French—and an open uniform opposition to the Measures of our Administration” (vol. 12:460–461; ANB description begins John A. Garraty, Mark C. Carnes, and Paul Betz, eds., American National Biography, New York, 1999–2002; 24 vols. plus supplement; rev. edn., description ends ; Papers of William Thornton, ed. C. M. Harris and Daniel Preston, Charlottesville, Va., 1995, p. li, 238–242, 465; Washington, Papers, Presidential Series description begins The Papers of George Washington: Presidential Series, ed. W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Jack D. Warren, Mark A. Mastromarino, Robert F. Haggard, Christine S. Patrick, John C. Pinheiro, David R. Hoth, and others, Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends , 12:71–72; Dalton to Bailey Bartlett, 21 June, Adams Papers).

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