Braintree, December 28, 1788

My dearest Friend

I have received your favours of the 3 and 13th and have opened that to our son, who has been absent from me these 3 Weeks at Newbury, where I suppose he is very well. I am as anxious as you are about your coming home. There are but two Ways, 1. If Coll. Smith can bring you and his Family with you, will be the more obliging and agreeable. 2. If he cannot, I must send your oldest son, with a Coach from Boston, to wait on you. As soon as I can receive a Letter from you, informing me, of the Necessity of it, I will Send him off. I expect him every day from Newbury Port. All has gone very well at home, and all your Friends are in health. Your sisters Family are in affliction by the Death of Gen. Palmer.

You will not expect from me, much upon Public affairs. I shall only Say that the federal or more properly national Spirit runs high and bids fair to defeat every insidious well as open Attempt of its Adversaries. This gives Us a comfortable Prospect of a good Governmant, which is all that will be necessary to our Happiness. Yet I fear that confused and ill digested Efforts at Amendments will perplex for sometime.

I am very sensible of that Affection, which has given the Name to my Grandson, but although I have twice mett the Example of it, I do not approve of the Practice of interfixing the Names of Families. I wish the child every Blessing from other Motives, besides its name.

My Love to Mr. and Mrs. Smith; the sight of them and their two sons with You, will give me high Pleasure. I am with the tenderest Affection your

John Adams


Jamaica, December 17, 1788

My Dearest Friend

It was not untill yesterday that I received your Letter and Mrs. Cranchs. Mr. McCormick came up and brought them both to my no small satisfaction, and this was the first that I had heard from Home since I left it, except by the News papers which I have engaged George Storer to forward to me. I have written to you every week since I left you, and subjected you to more postage than any Letters are worth, which I did not know untill Saturday when Mr. Jay offerd to Frank my Letters and requested me to have mine sent to him. Members of congress it seems have not that privilege but when they are upon duty. Mr Jay came out on Saturday to visit me. He had been waiting some Time for Mrs. Jay but the children were sick with the Measles and prevented her. Col Smith was gone to Town, so we had all the Talk to ourselves, and very social we were, just as if we had been acquainted Seven years. He espresst a great desire to see you, and thought you might have come on without subjecting yourself to any observations, tho he knew your Reasons were those of Delicacy. I replied to him that your wish to see him was mutual that a visit from him to you would have made you very happy, but that you was become quite a Farmer and had such a fondness for old professions that you talked of returning to the Bar again. He replied with some warmth, that if your Countrymen permitted it, they would deserve to be brought to the Bar -- that you must not think of retiring from publick Life, you had received your portion of the bitter things in politicks it was time you should have some of the sweets. I askt him where he thought the Sweets in the new government were to grow. He smiled and said that he hoped for good things under it. I asked him whether the opposition in Virginia was not likely to become troublesome, particularly when joind by this state. He said it was his opinion that they might be quieted, by the New Governments assureing them that a convention should be called to consider of amendment at a certain period. Col Smith dinned at club on Saturday. Col. Hammilton shew him a Letter from Madison in which he says we consider your Reasons inclusive the Gentleman you have named will certainly have all our votes and interest for vice president but there is interest making amongst the antifeds for Clinton both in Newyork and Virginia, and if the Electors should be of that class tis said General Washington will not have the vote of his own State for president. Col. Wadsworth says he is sure of Connecticut with respect to a vice president. I am rather at a loss to know how to sot. I find there is much inquiry made for me in Newyork. One Lady is sending to know when I am comeing to Town and an other where I shall keep and Tickets for the assembly have been sent up to me. Mr. Jay requested me to make his House my Home, but I have no maid with me and should experience many difficulties in concequence of it if I went where I should be exposed to so much company and I was previously engaged to Mrs. Atkinson, but my Trunk with all my Cloaths is not yet arrived, and I am sadly of, even here having only one gown with me, and I must be obliged to return home without even seeing Newyork should Barnard be driven off to the west Indies. If a good snow comes I shall not wait. The Ladies must stay their curiosity till my Levee Day, and if that never comes, they will they will have no further curiosity about seeing A. A. who it seems was of so much concequence or some body connected with her, that at every Inn upon the Road it was made known that I was comeing. I find the price [illegible] called a Tribute justly paid is in the N. York and Conneticut papers. I see several political maneuvers in our Boston papers particularly the Letter which places you a certain Gentleman in the chair dividing the State into two parties one for the Late and the other for the present Governor, and supposing they mean both to unite in Mr. A. An other piece dated at Braintree, which I am persuaded was never written there I dare say I shall tell you News in out of your own papers.

Mrs. Smith desires me to present her duty to you. She is very weak yet, but otherways well. Mr. Jay upon seeing william cry'd out well here is grandpappa ever again. He is a fine red checked chubby Boy, as good tempered as I ever saw a child. Mrs. Cranch says you are very Solitary and that she cannot get you to see her. They tell me here that the Great Folks in Newyork are never solitary. If the wife is absent why they supply her place. Now rather than my Husband should do so I would stick to him, cleave I believe is the proper word all the days of my Life. I hope the Lads are all well and that Esther takes good care of them and of their things. Mrs. Smith says I am in better Spirits since I got my Letters. I believe it is true. I know I was near home sick before. I think of a thousand things which I ought to be doing, and here I am near 300 miles distant. My Duty to your good Mother. I hope she has recovered from her Fall and is able to visit you sometimes. Pray write me all about the Family and cover your Letters to Mr. Jay. Adieu most affectionately yours

A Adams

December 13, 1788

My Dear Friend

I hope every post to hear from you but every post has hitherto dissapointed me. A Month is a long time to be absent from Home without learning any thing from you. You have often left me and always was very punctual in writing to me. This is but the Second time I have left you and the first that I have been so long without hearing from you. I have written three times before but have very little to entertain you with politicks are confined much to New york the papers of which give us but little information and winter leaves us very little Scope for Farming or Husbandry. Col. Smith has a fine poultry yard consisting of Turkeys Geese fowls ducks in abundance a pair of very good Horses and two cows two pointers and two water dogs the Island abounds with game and quails partridges ducks and plovers &c.

Having tarried till Mrs. Smith has got well and about House I am anxious to return Home again. I think I could be more usefull there than here. I should have liked to have spent one week in N. York but shall not tarry a day for that purpose after an opportunity offers for my return. I beg you would write me by the post. Mrs. Smith desires me to present her duty to you and Love to all her friends.

Most affectionately yours
A A.


Philadelphia, December 10, 1788

Your book, as I prophesied, sells nowhere but in Virginia. A very few copies only have been called for either in New York or in this city. The language in which it is written will account for it. In order to attract notice, I translated the panegyric in the French Mercure, and had it made part of the advertisement. I did not translate the comment on the Federal Constitution, as you wished, because I could not spare the time, as well as because I did not approve the tendency of it. Some of your remarks prove that Horace’s “C┼ôlum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt” does not hold without exception. In Europe, the abuses of power continually before your eyes have given a bias to your political reflections which you did not feel in equal degree when you left America, and which you would feel less of if you had remained in America. Philosophers on the old continent, in their zeal against tyranny, would rush into anarchy; as the horrors of superstition drive them into Atheism. Here, perhaps, the inconveniences of relaxed government have reconciled too many to the opposite extreme. If your plan of a single Legislature, as in Pennsylvania, &c., were adopted, I sincerely believe that it would prove the most deadly blow ever given to Republicanism. Were I an enemy to that form, I would preach the very doctrines which are preached by the enemies to the government proposed for the United States. Many of our best citizens are disgusted with the injustice, instability, and folly, which characterize the American Administrations. The number has for some time been rapidly increasing. Were the evils to be much longer protracted, the disgust would seize citizens of every description.

It is of infinite importance to the cause of liberty to ascertain the degree of it which will consist with the purposes of society. An error on one side may be as fatal as on the other. Hitherto, the error in the United States has lain in the excess.

All the States except North Carolina and Rhode Island have ratified the proposed Constitution. Seven of them have appointed their Senators, of whom those of Virginia, R. H. Lee and Col. Grayson, alone are among the opponents of the system. The appointments of Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia will pretty certainly be of the same stamp with the majority. The House of Representatives is yet to be chosen everywhere except in Pennsylvania. From the partial returns received, the election will wear a federal aspect, unless the event in one or two particular counties should contradict every calculation. If the eight members from this State be on the side of the Constitution, it will in a manner secure the majority in that branch of the Congress also. The object of the Anti-Federalists is to bring about another general Convention, which would either agree on nothing, as would be agreeable to some, and throw everything into confusion, or expunge from the Constitution parts which are held by its friends to be essential to it. The latter party are willing to gratify their opponents with every supplemental provision for general rights, but insist that this can be better done in the mode provided for amendments.

I remain, with great sincerity, your friend and servant.


Philadelphia, December 8, 1788

Dear Sir,

This will be handed to you by Mr. Gouverneur Morris who will embark in a few days for Havre, from whence he will proceed immediately to Paris. He is already well known to you by character; and as far as there may be a defect of personal acquaintance I beg leave to supply it by this introduction.

My two last were of Ocr. 8 & 17th. They furnished a state of our affairs as they then stood. I shall here add the particulars of most consequence, which have since taken place; remembering however that many details will be most conveniently gathered from the conversation of Mr. Morris who is thoroughly possessed of American transactions.

Notwithstanding the formidable opposition made to the New federal Government, first in order to prevent its adoption, and since in order to place its administration in the hands of disaffected men, there is now both a certainty of its peaceable commencement in March next, and a flattering prospect that it will be administered by men who will give it a fair trial. General Washington will certainly be called to the Executive department. Mr. Adams, who is pledged to support him, will probably be the vice president. The enemies to the Government, at the head & the most inveterate, of whom, is Mr. Henry are laying a train for the election of Governor Clinton, but it cannot succeed unless the federal votes be more dispersed than can well happen. Of the seven States which have appointed their Senators, Virginia alone will have anti-federal members in that branch. Those of N. Hampshire are President Langdon & Judge Bartlett—of Massachusetts Mr. Strong and Mr. Dalton—of Connecticut Docr Johnson and Mr. Elseworth—of N. Jersey Mr. Patterson and Mr. Elmer—of Penna Mr. R. Morris and Mr. McClay—of Delaware Mr. Geo. Reed and Mr. Bassett—of Virgina Mr. R. H. Lee and Col. Grayson. Here is already a majority of the ratifying States on the side of the Constitution. And it is not doubted that it will be reinforced by the appointments of Maryland, S. Carolina and Georgia. As one branch of the Legislature of N. York is attached to the Constitution, it is not improbable that one of the Senators from that State also will be added to the majority. In the House of Representatives the proportion of anti federal members will of course be greater, but cannot if present appearances are to be trusted, amount to a majority, or even a very formidable minority. The election for this branch has taken place as yet no where except in Penna., and here the returns are not yet come in from all the Counties. It is certain however that seven out of the eight, and probable that the whole eight representatives will bear the federal stamp. Even in Virginia where the enemies to the Government form ⅔ of the legislature it is computed that more than half the number of Representatives, who will be elected by the people, formed into districts for the purpose, will be of the same stamp. By some, it is computed that 7 out of the 10 allotted to that State will be opposed to the politics of the present Legislature.

The questions which divide the public at present relate 1. to the extent of the amendments that ought to be made to the Constitution. 2. to the mode in which they ought to be made. The friends of the Constitution, some from an approbation of particular amendments, others from a spirit of conciliation, are generally agreed that the System should be revised. But they wish the revisal to be carried no farther than to supply additional guards for liberty, without abridging the sum of power transferred from the States to the general Government or altering previous to trial, the particular structure of the latter and are fixed in opposition to the risk of another Convention whilst the purpose can be as well answered, by the other mode provided for introducing amendments. Those who have opposed the Constitution, are on the other hand, zealous for a second Convention, and for a revisal which may either not be restrained at all, or extend at least as far as alterations have been proposed by any State. Some of this class, are no doubt, friends to an effective Government, and even to the substance of the particular Government in question. It is equally certain that there are others who urge a second Convention with the insidious hope, of throwing all things into Confusion, and of subverting the fabric just established, if not the Union itself. If the first Congress embrace the policy which circumstances mark out, they will not fail to propose of themselves, every desirable safeguard for popular rights; and by thus separating the well meaning from the designing opponents fix on the latter their true character, and give to the Government its due popularity and stability.

Moustier proves a most unlucky appointment. He is unsocial proud and niggardly and betrays a sort of fastidiousness towards this country. . . . At Boston he imprudently suffered etiquette to prevent even an interview with governor Handcock. The inhabitants, taking part with the governor, neither visited nor invited the count. They were then less apprehensive of a misinterpretation of the neglect as the most cordial intercourse had just preceeded between the town and the French squadron. Both the count and the Marchioness are particularly unpopular among their countrymen here. Such of them as are not under restraint make very free remarks and are anxious for a new diplomatic arrangement. It is but right to add to these particulars, that there is reason to believe that unlucky impressions were made on the count at his first probably by de la Forest the consul a cunning disciple I take it of marbois’ politics and by something in his communication with Jay which he considered as the effect of coldness and sourness toward France.

I am a stranger to the errand on which G. morris goes to Europe. It relates I presume to the affairs of R. Morris, which are still much deranged.

I have received and paid the draught in favor of Docr. Ramsay. I had before paid the order in favor of Mr. Thompson, immediately on the receipt of your letter. About 220 dollars of the balance due on the last state of our account were left in Virginia for the use of your Nephews. There are a few lesser sums which stand on my side of the account which I shall take credit for, when you can find leisure to forward another statement of your friendly advances for me.

I shall leave this place in a day or two for Virga, where my friends who wish me to co-operate in putting our political machine into activity as a member of the House of Representatives, press me to attend. They made me a candidate for the Senate, for which I had not allotted my pretensions. The attempt was defeated by Mr. Henry, who is omnipotent in the present Legislature and who added to the expedients common on such occasions a public philippic agst my federal principles. He has taken equal pains in forming the Counties into districts for the election of Reps. to associate with Orange such as are most devoted to his politics, and most likely to be swayed by the prejudices excited agst. me. From the best information I have of the prevailing temper of the District, I conclude that my going to Virga. will answer no other purpose than to satisfy the Opinions and entreaties of my friends. The trip is in itself very disagreeable both on account of its electioneering appearance, and the sacrifice of the winter for which I had assigned a task which the intermission of Congressional business would have made convenient at New York.

With the sincerest affection & the highest esteem I am Dear Sir,

The letter herewith inclosed for Mr Gordon is from Mr Cyrus Griffin. The other from Mr. Mccarty an American Citizen settled in France, but at present here on business. He appears to be a very worthy man & I have promised to recommend his letter to your care, as a certain channel of conveyance


Paris, December 4, 1788


—Your favor of Aug. 31. came to hand yesterday; and a confidential conveiance offering, by the way of London, I avail myself of it to acknolege the receipt.

I have seen, with infinite pleasure, our new constitution accepted by 11. states, not rejected by the 12th. and that the 13th. happens to be a state of the least importance. It is true, that the minorities in most of the accepting states have been very respectable, so much so as to render it prudent, were it not otherwise reasonable, to make some sacrifice to them. I am in hopes that the annexation of the bill of rights to the constitution will alone draw over so great a proportion of the minorities, as to leave little danger in the opposition of the residue; and that this annexation may be made by Congress and the assemblies, without calling a convention which might endanger the most valuable parts of the system. Calculation has convinced me that circumstances may arise, and probably will arise, wherein all the resources of taxation will be necessary for the safety of the state. For tho’ I am decidedly of opinion we should take no part in European quarrels, but cultivate peace and commerce with all, yet who can avoid seeing the source of war, in the tyranny of those nations who deprive us of the natural right of trading with our neighbors? The products of the U. S. will soon exceed the European demand; what is to be done with the surplus, when there shall be one? It will be employed, without question, to open by force a market for itself with those placed on the same continent with us, and who wish nothing better. Other causes too are obvious, which may involve us in war; and war requires every resource of taxation & credit. The power of making war often prevents it, and in our case would give efficacy to our desire of peace. If the new government wears the front which I hope it will, I see no impossibility in the availing ourselves of the wars of others to open the other parts of America to our commerce, as the price of our neutrality. * * *

Your communications to the Count de Moustier, whatever they may have been, cannot have done injury to my endeavors here to open the W. Indies to us. On this head the ministers are invincibly mute, tho’ I have often tried to draw them into the subject. I have therefore found it necessary to let it lie till war or other circumstance may force it on. Whenever they are in war with England, they must open the islands to us, and perhaps during that war they may see some price which might make them agree to keep them always open. In the meantime I have laid my shoulder to the opening the markets of this country to our produce, and rendering it’s transportation a nursery for our seamen. A maritime force is the only one by which we can act on Europe. Our navigation law (if it be wise to have any) should be the reverse of that of England. Instead of confining importations to home-bottoms or those of the producing nations, I think we should confine exportations to home bottoms or to those of nations having treaties with us. Our exportations are heavy, and would nourish a great force of our own, or be a tempting price to the nation to whom we should offer a participation of it in exchange for free access to all their possessions. This is an object to which our government alone is adequate in the gross, but I have ventured to pursue it, here, so far as the consumption of productions by this country extends. Thus in our arrangements relative to tobacco, none can be received here but in French or American bottoms. This is emploiment for nearly 2000 seamen, and puts nearly that number of British out of employ. By the Arret of Dec. 1787, it was provided that our whale oils should not be received here but in French or American bottoms, and by later regulations all oils but those of France and America are excluded. This will put 100 English whale vessels immediately out of employ, and 150. ere long; and call so many of French & American into service. We have had 6000 seamen formerly in this business, the whole of whom we have been likely to lose. The consumption of rice is growing fast in this country, and that of Carolina gaining ground on every other kind. I am of opinion the whole of the Carolina rice can be consumed here. It’s transportation employs 2500 sailors, almost all of them English at present; the rice being deposited at Cowes & brought from thence here. It would be dangerous to confine this transportation to French & American bottoms the ensuing year, because they will be much engrossed by the transportation of wheat & flour hither, and the crop of rice might lie on hand for want of vessels; but I see no objections to the extensions of our principle to this article also, beginning with the year 1790. However, before there is a necessity of deciding on this I hope to be able to consult our new government in person, as I have asked of Congress a leave of absence for 6. months, that is to say from April to November next. It is necessary for me to pay a short visit to my native country, first to reconduct my family thither, and place them in the hands of their friends, & secondly to place my private affairs under certain arrangements. When I left my own house, I expected to be absent but 5 months, & I have been led by events to an absence of 5 years. I shall hope therefore for the pleasure of personal conferences with your Excellency on the subject of this letter and others interesting to our country, of getting my own ideas set to rights by a communication of yours, and of taking again the tone of sentiment of my own country which we lose in some degree after a certain absence. You know doubtless of the death of the Marquise de Chastellux. The Marquis de La Fayette is out of favor with the court, but high in favor with the nation. I once feared for his personal liberty, but I hope he is on safe ground at present. On the subject of the whale fishery I inclose you some observations I drew up for the ministry here, in order to obtain a correction of their Arret of Sepr last, whereby they had involved our oils with the English in a general exclusion from their ports. They will accordingly correct this, so that our oils will participate with theirs in the monopoly of their markets. There are several things incidentally introduced which do not seem pertinent to the general question. They were rendered necessary by particular circumstances the explanation of which would add to a letter already too long. I will trespass no further then than to assure you of the sentiments of sincere attachment and respect with which I have the honor to be your Excellency’s most obedt. humble servant.

P. S. The observations inclosed, tho’ printed, have been put into confidential hands only.


Jamaica, December 3, 1788

My Dearest Friend

This day three weeks I left Home, Since which I have not heard a word from thence. I wrote you from Hartford and once from this place since my arrival. I cannot give you any account either of New York or Jamaica as I got into the first at Seven in the Evening and left it at Nine the next Morning, and in this place my only excursion has been in the garden. The weather has been bad cloudy and rainy ever since I came untill within these two Days, and now it is very cold and Blustering. When I think of the distance I am from Home, the Idea of winter and Snow has double terms for me. I think every Seperation more painfull as I increase in Years. I hope you have found in the Learned and venerable Company you proposed keeping, an ample Compensation for my absence. I imagine however if these cold Nights last a little vital Heat must be wanting. I would recommend to you the Green Baize Gown, and if that will not answer, You recollect the Bear Skin. I hope you will gaurd with all possible precaution against the Riggors of winter, I wish to hear how Mr. John Q A stands this cold. I hope he rest well, and duly excercises. I learn nothing further in politicks for except when Col. Smith goes to Town which is but Seldom, we hear no News and see nobody but the Family. Mrs. Smith remains very well for the Time and young Master grows, but he and William should change Names, as William bears not the least likeness to His Father or Family, and the Young one is very like, for myself I am tolerably a little Homeish. however, the more so perhaps through the fear of not being able to reach it, just when I wish. If our out of Door Family Should increase in my absence, I hope proper attention will be paid to the preservation of the Young family. If it Should be numerous it will be rather expensive, and I would offer to Your consideration whether two of the young Females had not better be put in a condition for disposal, viz. fatted. The Beaf I Suppose is by this time in the cellar, I wish you would mention to Brisler and to Esther, a constant attention to every thing about House to Gaurd against the incroachment of Rats and mice, the cider Should be drawn off, and my Pears and Apples picked over and repack'd. If I Should not reach Home by Christmass, would it not be best to purchase a pork for winter, and to Secure a few legs of pork to Bacon? I wish amongst other things You would frequently caution them about the fires a Nights. I should be loth to trust any one in this Matter but Brisler.

Pray write me by the next post and tell me how You all do.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith present their duty. Pray do not forget to present mine to our vanerable parent little William says Grandpa ha. I should certainly bring him home if it was not winter and such a distance.

Love to Mrs. Cranch and my Neices.

Yours most tenderly
A Adams

My Trunk has not yet arrived, so that I could not go abroad if I would. Barnard was to Sail the Sunday after I left Town.


Braintree, December 2, 1788

My dearest Friend

Before this time I hope you have the Happiness to See your Daughter out of all Danger and your Son in Law and your two grand children in perfect health. I have no Letter from you, Since that you wrote at Hartford, and I cannot find fault because this is the first I have written to you. We are all very well, and go on very well. Charles came home and Thomas went to Haverhill, last Week.

We are all in a Surry with Politicks. Mr. Dalton and Mr. Strong are Senators and Mr. Lowell will be Representative for the District of Suffolk, as is generally Supposed. Mr. Varnum, Mr. Partridge Coll. Leonard, Mr. Grout Mr. Sedgwick or Mr. Lyman Mr. Jackson or Mr. Dane or Mr. Goodhue, Mr. Thatcher or Col. Sewall, are named for other Districts.

My Love to our Children and Respects and Regards wherever you please.

Dont be uneasy, on account of your Family here, nor in haste to come home before a good Opportunity presents.

I dont enter into any political Details. My Mind has ballanced all Circumstances, and all are reducible to two Articles Vanity and comfort. I have the Whip-BowAlternative in my own Power. If they mortify my Vanity they give me Comfort. They cannot deprive me of Comfort without gratifying my Vanity. I am my dearest Friend yours forever

John Adams


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