January 29, 1789

My Dear Sir:

I thank you for your two letters of the 4th and 7th instant which arrived here during my absence at Albany, from which place I have but recently returned. I believe you may be perfectly tranquil on the subject of Mr. Adams’ election. It seems to be certain that all the Middle States will vote for him to Delaware inclusively, and probably Maryland. In the South there are no candidates thought of but Rutledge and Clinton. The latter will have the votes of Virginia, and it is possible some in South Carolina. Maryland will certainly not vote for Clinton, and New York, from our Legislature having by their contentions let slip the day, will not vote at all. For the last circumstance I am not sorry, as the most we could hope would be to balance accounts and do no harm. The Anti-federalists incline to an appointment notwithstanding, but I discourage it with the Federalists. Under these circumstances I see not how any person can come near Mr. Adams—that is, taking it for granted that he will unite the votes in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I expect that the federal votes in Virginia, if any, will be in favor of Adams.

You will probably have heard that our Legislature has passed a bill for electing representatives. The Houses continue to disagree about senators, and I fear a compromise will be impracticable. I do not, however, entirely lose hope. In this situation you will see we have much to apprehend respecting the seat of government. The Pennsylvanians are endeavoring to bring their forces early in the field—I hope our friends in the North will not be behindhand. On many accounts, indeed, it appears to be important that there be an appearance of zeal and punctuality in coming forward to set the government in motion.

I shall learn with definite pleasure that you are a representative. As to me, this will not be the case—I believe, from my own disinclination of the thing. We shall, however, I flatter myself, have a couple of Federalists.

(Source: http://oll.libertyfund.org/)

Paris, January 26, 1789

Dear Sir,

—I have deferred answering your letter on the subject of slaves because you permitted me to do it till a moment of leisure, and that moment rarely comes, and because too I could not answer you with such a degree of certainty as to merit any notice. I do not recollect the conversation at Vincennes to which you allude but can repeat still on the same ground, on which I must have done then, that as far as I can judge from the experiments which have been made to give liberty to, or rather, to abandon persons whose habits have been formed in slavery is like abandoning children. Many quakers in Virginia seated their slaves on their lands as tenants. They were distant from me, and therefore I cannot be particular in the details, because I never had very particular information. I cannot say whether they were to pay a rent in money, or a share of the produce: but I remember that the landlord was obliged to plan their crops for them, to direct all their operations during every season & according to the weather. But what is more afflicting, he was obliged to watch them daily & almost constantly to make them work, & even to whip them. A man’s moral sense must be unusually strong, if slavery does not make him a thief. He who is permitted by law to have no property of his own, can with difficulty conceive that property is founded in anything but force. These slaves chose to steal from their neighbors rather than work; they became public nuisances and in most instances were reduced to slavery again. But I will beg of you to make no use of this imperfect information (unless in common conversation). I shall go to America in the Spring & return in the fall. During my stay in Virginia I shall be in the neighborhood where many of these trials were made. I will inform myself very particularly of them, & communicate the information to you. Besides these there is an instance since I came away of a young man (Mr. Mayo) who died and gave freedom to all his slaves, about 200. This is about 4 years ago. I shall know how they have turned out. Notwithstanding the discouraging result of these experiments, I am decided on my final return to America to try this one. I shall endeavor to import as many Germans as I have grown slaves. I will settle them and my slaves, on farms of 50 acres each, intermingled, and place all on the footing of the Metayers (Medietani) of Europe. Their children shall be brought up, as others are, in habits of property and foresight, & I have no doubt but that they will be good citizens. Some of their fathers will be so: others I suppose will need government. With these, all that can be done is to oblige them to labour as the labouring poor of Europe do, and to apply to their comfortable subsistence the produce of their labour, retaining such a moderate portion of it as may be a just equivalent for the use of the lands they labour and the stocks & other necessary advances.

A word now on Mr. Paradise’s affairs: you were informed at the time, of the arrangement they had established in their affairs, to wit. reserving 400 £ a year for their subsistence, abandoning the rest of their income about 400 £ more, all their credits (one of which is 800 £ from an individual and another is 1000 £ from the state) and the cutting of a valuable wood, to their creditors. Their whole debts amounting but to 2300 £, the term of paiment cannot be long, if this arrangement can be preserved. I had hope that the journey to Italy would have fixed Mrs. Paradise with her daughter and left him free to travel or tarry where he liked best. But this journey has been a burthen instead of a relief to their affairs. In fact it is evident to me that the society of England is necessary for the happiness of Mrs. Paradise, and is perhaps the most agreeable to Mr. Paradise also. It is become an object therefore to obtain the concurrence of their creditors in the arrangements taken. The inducement to be proposed to them is Mrs. Paradise’s joining in a deed in which these dispositions shall be stipulated (which by the laws of Virginia will bind her property there) so that the creditors will be secured of their debts in the event of Mr. Paradise’s death. The inducement to Mr. & Mrs. Paradise is that their persons & property shall be free from molestation & their substance not consumed at law. We suppose that the creditors will name one trustee & Mr. Paradise another (yourself) fully & solely authorized to receive all remittances from America, to pay to them first their subsistence money & the rest to the creditors till they are fully paid. Mrs. Paradise will set out in a few days for London to set her hand to this accommodation. In the mean time they hope you will prepare the ground by negociating the settlement with the creditors. As far as I have any influence with Mr. or Mrs. Paradise I have used it & shall use it for the joint interests of their creditors & themselves. For I view it as clearly their interest to reduce themselves to as moderate an expense as possible till their debts are paid. If this can be effected before my departure in April I will not only aid it here, but have any thing done which may be necessary in Virginia when I go there, such as the recording the deed &c. This journey of Mrs. Paradise will also be an experiment whether their distresses will not be lighter when separate than while together.—I shall always be glad to hear from you. Since Mr. Adams’s departure I have need of information from that country, and should rely much on yours. It will always therefore be acceptable.

(Source: http://oll.libertyfund.org/)

Orange, January 14, 1789

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 2d instant, with the letters attending it never came to hand ’till last evening. I have good reason to believe that the delay happened between Alexanda & Fredg, rather than at or from the latter place. Mr. F. Maury pays particular attention to all letters which arrive there for me, and forwards them to Orange by opportunities which are frequent & safe. I apprehend there will be no impropriety in committing a confidential letter to that channel. As an additional precaution, I will desire him to be particularly attentive to any letter which may have your name on it.

I have heard from two only of the returns from the Electoral districts;1 the one in favor of Mr. Gilchrist—the other of General Stephens. He succeeded agst Col. Cabel by a majority of 82 votes. He owes his success to the coalition between the two parties in Spotsylva. My situation is unfavorable for intelligence from the State at large, and therefore I can say little of the prospects as to the Feby election.

I fear, from the vague accounts which circulate, that the federal candidates are likely to stand in the way of one another. This is not the case however in my district. The field is left entirely to Monroe & myself. The event of our competition will probably depend on the part to be taken by two or three descriptions of people, whose decision is not known, if not yet to be ultimately formed. I have pursued my pretensions much further than I had premeditated; having not only made great use of epistolary means, but actually visited two Counties, Culpeper & Louisa, and publicly contradicted the erroneous reports propagated agst me. It has been very industriously inculcated that I am dogmatically attached to the Constitution in every clause, syllable & letter, and therefore not a single amendment will be promoted by my vote, either from conviction or a spirit of accommodation.1 This is the report most likely to affect the election, and most difficult to be combated with success within the limited period. There are a number of others however which are auxiliaries to it.—With my respectful compliments to Mrs. Washington, & the others of your family,

I remain, Dear Sir, your most obedt & affecte. Servt.

New York, January 12, 1788

My dearest Friend

I last Wednesday received yours of Decbr. 28 and should have answerd by the post of thursday but that the mail for thursday closes on wednesday Evening and does not give time for any replie to Letters which come by that post. I wrote you from this place on Sunday last. At that time I was in hopes I should have been on my journey home before this, as we have every thing in readiness to act out the day that we can get a sufficient quantity of Snow. Col. Smith will bring me home, at all events, even tho I should finally be obliged to come in a carriage which we should be glad to avoid at this season as the Roads are bad, and the Ferries worse for crossing the stages change at the Ferries, and do not cross at this Season.

Mrs. Smith would even now venture to Providence by water rather than be dissapointed of her visit but with a young Baby and at this dangerous season of the year Her Friends all disswade her,tho I can sometimes more than half a mind to try it, the expence of taking a coach and sending for me at this uncertain period when it might be detained by Snow before it reachd halfway, would be really too great and I had rather suffer many inconveniences than you should attempt it. Half a foot of snow or less would answer very well, and we have daily reason to however look for it. We have however concluded not to bring William with us, as we imagine he will be much more troublesome than the Baby. This is the Time that I hoped to have been at Home. I know you must be Lonesome and my Boys want looking after or rather their things.

I am glad to find that Massachusetts behaves so well, in this State the Legislature and Senate are at such a varience that it is not expected that there will be any choice at all, and should that be the case, they have little hopes of keeping Congress here. You judged right with respect to the Sitting of Congress. There is not the least probability of there meeting nor is therethe least any occasion for it, on account of ushering in the New one, for when the New Senate and House some together they chuse a President to receive and count the votes from the different States, and declare the choice. This is said to be the mode pointed out by the constitution. The next post will bring us the choice of conneticut.

Since my arrival in Town I have received every mark of politeness and attention from this people which I could have desired. Sir John and Lady Temple were among the first to visit me. I have been to Mount Montier to a Ball given by him; and to the Assembly. I have dinned at one place and supped at an other. Sat at table (for suppers I discard),untill I am fully satisfied with dissipating. we have however kept very good Hours, as Mr. Jay is like to have an addition to her Family she is obliged to be circumspect. My own Health is much better this winter than it has been for several years. I attribute it much to my Journey. I want to know how you bear the cold. Last Evening we had a light fall of snow just sufficient to cover the ground but it will all run to day. The clouds are however gathering for more. I hope I shall not have occasion to write again before I see you. My Love to the children and to Brother and Sister Cranch with whom I sympathize under their late affliction. I would write to Sister but hope soon to see her, be so good as to tell John Brisler that he must keep some of the pears untill we come.

Mr. and Mrs. Jay desire their affectionate Regards to you. He is as plain as a Quaker, and as mild as New Milk. Out under all this, an abundance of Rogury in his Eye's. I need to say to you who so well know him, that he possesses an excellent Heart. Mrs. Jay has all the vivacity of a French woman blended with the modesty of an American Lady.

Adieu visiters call upon me. I have received and returnd more than forty visits already.

Yours affectionately
Abigail Adams

(Source: http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/)

Paris, January 12, 1789

Dear Sir,

—My last to you was of the 18th of Nov. since which I have received yours of Sep. 21 and Oct. 8. with the pamphlet on the Mohicon language, for which receive my thanks. I endeavor to collect all the vocabularies I can of the American Indians, as of those of Asia, persuaded that if they ever had a common parentage it will appear in their languages. I was pleased to see the vote of Congress, of Sep. 16, on the subject of the Mississippi, as I had before seen with great uneasiness the pursuits of other principles which I could never reconcile to my own ideas of probity or wisdom, and from which, and my knolege of the character of our Western settlers, I saw that the loss of that country was a necessary consequence. I wish this return to true policy may be in time to prevent evil. There has been little foundation for the reports and fears relative to the M. de la Fayette. He has from the beginning taken openly part with those who demand a constitution: and there was a moment that we apprehended the Bastile: but they venture on nothing more than to take from him a temporary service on which he had been ordered: and this more to save appearances for their own authority than anything else; for at the very time they pretended that they had put him into disgrace, they were constantly conferring & communicating with him. Since this he has stood on safe ground, and is viewed as among the foremost of the patriots. Everybody here is trying their hand at forming declarations of rights. As something of that kind is going on with you also, I send you two specimens from hence. The one is by our friend of whom I have just spoken. You will see that it contains the essential principle of ours accommodated as much as could be to the actual state of things here. The other is from a very sensible man, a pure theorist, of the sect called the œconomists, of which Turgot was considered as the head. The former is adapted to the existing abuses; the latter goes to those possible as well as to those existing. With respect to Doctr. Spence, supposed to have been taken by the Algerines, I think the report extremely [im]probable. O’bryan, one of our captives there, has constantly written to me, and given me information on every subject he thought interesting. He could not have failed to know if such a capture had been made, tho’ before his time, nor to inform me of it. I am under perpetual anxiety for our captives there. The money indeed is not yet ready at Amsterdam; but when it shall be, there are no orders from the board of Treasury to the bankers to furnish what may be necessary for the redemption of the captives: and it is so long since Congress approved the loan, that the orders of the Treasury for the application of the money would have come if they had intended to send any. I wrote to them early on the subject & pointedly. I mentioned it to Mr. Jay also merely that he might suggest it to them. The paiments to the foreign officers will await the same formality. I thank you for your attention to the case of Mrs. Burke.—We have no news of Dr. Franklin since July last when he was very ill. Tho’ the silence of our letters on that subject is a proof that he is well, yet there is an anxiety here among his friends. We have lately had three books published which are of great merit in different lines. The one is in 7. vols, 8.vo, by an Abbé Barthelemy, wherein he has collected every subject of Grecian literature, after a labour of 30. years. It is called Les voyages d’Anacharsis. I have taken a copy for you, because the whole impression was likely to be run off at once. The second is a work on government by the Marquis de Condorcet, 2. v. 8vo. I shall secure you a copy. The 3.d are the works of the K. of Prussia, in 16. vols, 8vo. These were a little garbled at Berlin, before printed. The government lais its hands on all which come here, and change some leaves. There is a genuine edition published at Basle, where even the garblings of Berlin are reestablished. I doubt the possibility of getting a copy, so vigilant is the government as to this work. I shall obtain you one if it be possible. As I write all the public news to Mr. Jay, I will not repeat it to you. I have just received the Flora Caroliniana of Walter; a very learned and good work.

(Source: http://oll.libertyfund.org/)

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