Adams Papers

Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams, 12 June 1799

Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams

Quincy June 12th 1799

my dear son

It was with inexpresible pleasure that I yesterday read a Letter to your Father from you dated the 1[8]th of Feb’ry. this is the first line which has reachd us from you; Since the return of your Brother; I have not any from you of a later date than sep’br. by the last No. 7 or Eight of your Letters must be missing. one public Letter of december, was received from you, by the Secretary of state; he writes your Father that he has not had any since. the severity of the Winter will in some measure account for the difficulty of intercourse—1 You can easily imagine how solicitious I am to hear of your Health, and that of my much esteemed daughter, whose repeated misfortunes makes me anxiously concernd for her.

I have not written to you so frequently as formerly for two reasons; I knew your Brothers information would be more correct, and his intelligence better communicated than mine, and other, and more powerfull reason with me, has been oweing to my low state of Health, which has made writing hurtfull and burdensome to me. my constitution sufferd so severe a shock the last summer, that I have never recoverd it, and at my Age, have little reason to expect it— I am so well as to be able to attend to the necessary affairs of my Family, but all large and mixt societys I am obliged to avoid—or I should have this day accompanied your Father to the funeral of our much regreeted Govr Sumner. Whilst I am writing I hear the constant discharge of minut Guns, the Military tribute whilst honour, affection and gratitude flow from the hearts of his fellow citiziens. the inclosed papers will shew you that no Man could be more beloved nor his death more Sincerely lamented;2

Beloved honourd and Respected, in the meridian of his Reputation, and midst of his usefullness, he is by a short and painfull disease, which from the first attack, was pronounced by his Physicians, Mortal. he is taken from his Country Family and Friends, just as the suffrages of 24 thousand of his fellow citizens had again called him to the Chief Majestray of the state. He was a firm undaunted steady, uniform Patriot. all Hearts acknowledge his worth, every tongue laments his death.

our National affairs prosper our Navy is rising most rapidly, and our Commerce is amply protected, our Revenue abundantly productive, in spight of all the Gallic wickedness plunder and Robbery— National honour and Respectability is increasing. the spirit of Jacobinism is sinking. Virgina & N york have shewn by their late Elections that, those who have heretofore Represented them have not deserved their confidence. they have made very great changes—and I hope the Government will be benifited by a more respectable union of counsel’s—

The News from abroad, as it respects the Great Nation affords us much satisfaction. we cannot but rejoice when we see any check to the progress of that desolating Jigantic power which has proved the Besom of destruction to every Nation, whether cloathed in the Hostile Garb of an Enemy, or the specious Mantle of Friendship.

Your Brother Thomas left Quincy in April, with a resolution of setling in Philadelphia where he has taken lodgings and an office. I hope he will not be driven away by the yellow fever, nor fall a sacrifice to it. I have many anxieties upon account of his Health; I question whether it will ever permit him, to practise at the Bar—

Your Brother Charles—is, what shall I say that will not pain us both? Would to God that I might kill the fatted calf, and put upon him the Robe of rejoicing.3 he has formed some good resolutions, could he keep them how would it rejoice us all, but the Heart, the principles must co-opperate. How [“]sharper than a serpent tooth”— it is to have a Graceless child, may you my dear son never experience4

Blessed be God, I have those in whom I can rejoice. may their Lives and usefullness be continued

I congratulate you upon the safe arrival of your Books from Lisbon. we shall get them to Quincy next week, where every necessary attention shall be paid to them. they shall be opend aired and repacked, and safely lodgd untill you call for them, which I hope will not be a very distant day—

our Friends here are all well, but one breach has been made, since I last wrote you, our venerable Aunt Thaxter at the Age of 80 dyed a month since

A son of Dr Warrens will be the bearer of this Letter to mr King who I hope will convey it safe to you from your ever affectionate5

Mother A A—

I have this moment received a Letter from Thomas at Philadelphia, in which he says he has got one from you dated Jan’ry6 I opend a Letter in your Hand Writing which comes by way of salem addrest to the President, but how was I mortified to find the inclosure for George Town—and not a line for me; I shall directly forward it—7 Thomas says mr & mrs Johnson were well, and accompanied him upon a visit to mount Vernon, where he was cordially & heartily welcomed,—that he has twice written you since he has been upon the excursion—

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “My Mother 12th. June. 1799 / 3 August recd: at Töpliz / 21. Septr: Ansd:.”

1That is, JQA’s letter of 10 Feb. to JA (MHi:Smith-Carter Family Papers), in which he reported on diplomatic and military affairs in Europe, including the deterioration of relations between Austria and France, Prussian neutrality, and Thomas Grenville’s mission to Berlin. The letter was probably enclosed in Timothy Pickering’s second 4 June letter to JA (Adams Papers), in which the secretary of state reported receiving no letter from JQA to him. In his reply to Pickering of 2 July (1st letter, LbC, APM Reel 119), JA explained that according to JQA’s 10 Feb. letter, “N. 58,” the “seven precedeing letters have miscaried or at least not arrived.” These were dated 3, 31 Jan., 17, 25 Feb., 15 April, 18 May, and 25 Sept. 1798 (all Adams Papers). At least two of the letters—those of 31 Jan. and 17 Feb.—however, had been received; see AA to TBA, 1 May, and note 9, and to Mary Smith Cranch, 26 May, and note 2, both above. JQA’s dispatches to Pickering dated 24 and 31 Dec. discussed his attempts to order muskets on behalf of Rufus King and relayed news of his ongoing negotiations for the renewal of the Prussian-American Treaty. He also commented on Swedish-American relations and discussed his salary (both LbC’s, APM Reel 132).

2For Gov. Increase Sumner’s 12 June 1799 funeral, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 7, above. The enclosures have not been found, although lengthy obituaries were printed in the Boston Independent Chronicle, 6–10 June, and the Massachusetts Mercury, 11 June, the latter of which also carried the 8 June resolves of the Mass. General Court, including one instructing members to “wear a badge of mourning crape upon the Left arm, during the present session of the Legislature” (Mass., Acts and Laws description begins Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [1780–1805], Boston, 1890–1898; 13 vols. description ends , 1798–1799, p. 513).

3Luke, 15:11–32.

4Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 1, scene iv, line 310.

5John Collins Warren (1778–1856), Harvard 1797, was the eldest son of Dr. John Warren, for whom see JA, Papers description begins Papers of John Adams, ed. Robert J. Taylor, Gregg L. Lint, and others, Cambridge, 1977–. description ends , 3:357. On 17 June the younger Warren departed Boston for London, aboard the ship Minerva, Capt. Stephen D. Turner, to continue his education at Guy’s Hospital, London. Warren returned to Boston in 1802 and became a surgeon (ANB; Boston Russell’s Gazette, 20 June 1799).

6See TBA to AA, 9 June, and note 3, above.

7Not found.

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