Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 21 December 1786: "PARIS.... My friends write me that they will send my little daughter to me by a Vessel which sails in May for England. I have taken the liberty to tell them that you will be so good as to take her under your wing till I can have notice to send for her, which I shall do express in the moment of my knowing she is arrived. She is about 8. years old, and will be in the care of her nurse, a black woman, to whom she is confided with safety. I knew your goodness too well to scruple the giving this direction before I had asked your permission..."
Abigail Smith Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 26 June 1787: "LONDON.... I have to congratulate you upon the safe arrival of your Little Daughter, whom I have only a few moments ago received. She is in fine Health and a Lovely little Girl I am sure from her countanance, but at present every thing is strange to her, and she was very loth to try New Friends for old.
"She was so much attachd to the Captain and he to her, that it was with no small regret that I seperated her from him, but I dare say I shall reconcile her in a day or two. I tell her that I did not see her sister cry once. She replies that her sister was older and ought to do better, besides she had her pappa with her. I shew her your picture. She says she cannot know it, how should she when she should not know you. A few hours acquaintance and we shall be quite Friends I dare say. I hope we may expect the pleasure of an other visit from you now I have so strong an inducement to tempt you. If you could bring Miss Jefferson with you, it would reconcile her little Sister to the thoughts of taking a journey.
"It would be proper that some person should be accustomed to her. The old Nurse whom you expected to have attended her, was sick and unable to come. She has a Girl about 15 or 16 with her, the Sister of the Servant you have with you. As I presume you have but just returnd from your late excursion, you will not put yourself to any inconvenience or Hurry in comeing or sending for her. You may rely upon every attention towards her and every care in my power. I have just endeavourd to amuse her by telling her that I would carry her to Sadlers Wells. After describing the amusement to her with an honest simplicity, I had rather says she see captain Ramsey one moment, than all the fun in the World.
"I have only time before the post goes, to present my compliments to Mr. Short. Mr. Adams and Mrs. Smith desire to be rememberd to you. Captain Ramsey has brought a Number of Letters. As they may be of importance to you to receive them we have forwarded them by the post. Miss Polly sends her duty to you and Love to her Sister and says she will try to be good and not cry. So she has wiped her eyes and layd down to sleep."
To Thomas Jefferson from Abigail Adams, 27 June 1787: "LONDON... I had the Honour of addressing you yesterday and informing you of the safe arrival of your daughter. She was but just come when I sent of my letter by the post, and the poor little Girl was very unhappy being wholy left to strangers. This however lasted only a few Hours, and Miss is as contented to day as she was misirable yesterday. She is indeed a fine child. I have taken her out to day and purchased her a few articles which she could not well do without and I hope they will meet your approbation.
"The Girl who is with her is quite a child, and Captain Ramsey is of opinion will be of so little Service that he had better carry her back with him. But of this you will be a judge. She seems fond of the child and appears good naturd.
"I sent by yesterdays post a Number of Letters which Captain Ramsey brought with him not knowing of any private hand, but Mr. Trumble has just calld to let me know that a Gentleman sets off for paris tomorrow morning. I have deliverd him two Letters this afternoon received, and requested him to wait that I might inform you how successfull a rival I have been to Captain Ramsey, and you will find it I imagine as difficult to seperate Miss Polly from me as I did to get her from the Captain. She stands by me while I write and asks if I write every day to her pappa? But as I have never had so interesting a subject to him to write upon […] I hope he will excuse the hasty scrips for the [scanty?] intelligence they contain..."
Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 6 July 1787: "LONDON.... If I had thought you would so soon have sent for your dear little Girl, I should have been tempted to have kept her arrival here, from you a secret. I am really loth to part with her, and she last evening upon Petit’s arrival, was thrown into all her former distresses, and bursting into Tears, told me it would be as hard to leave me as it was her Aunt Epps.
"She has been so often deceived that she will not quit me a moment least she should be carried away. Nor can I scarcly prevail upon her to see Petit. Tho she says she does not remember you, yet she has been taught to consider you with affection and fondness, and depended upon your comeing for her. She told me this morning, that as she had left all her Friends in virginia to come over the ocean to see you, she did think you would have taken the pains to have come here for her, and not have sent a man whom she cannot understand. I express her own words.
"I expostulated with her upon the long journey you had been, and the difficulty you had to come and upon the care kindness and attention of Petit, whom I so well knew. But she cannot yet hear me. She is a child of the quickest sensibility, and the maturest understanding, that I have ever met with for her years.
"She had been 5 weeks at sea, and with men only, so that on the first day of her arrival, she was as rough as a little sailor, and then she been decoyed from the ship, which made her very angry, and no one having any Authority over her; I was apprehensive I should meet with some trouble. But where there are such materials to work upon as I have found in her, there is no danger. She listend to my admonitions, and attended to my advice and in two days, was restored to the amiable lovely Child which her Aunt had formed her. In short she is the favorite of every creature in the House, and I cannot but feel Sir, how many pleasures you must lose by committing her to a convent.
"Yet situated as you are, you cannot keep her with you. The Girl she has with her, wants more care than the child, and is wholy incapable of looking properly after her, without some superiour to direct her.
"As both Miss Jefferson and the maid had cloaths only proper for the sea, I have purchased and made up for them, such things as I should have done had they been my own, to the amount of Eleven or 12 Guineys. The particulars I will send by Petit.
"Captain Ramsey has said that he would accompany your daughter to Paris provided she would not go without him, but this would be putting you to an expence that may perhaps be avoided by Petits staying a few days longer. The greatest difficulty in familiarizing her to him, is on account of the language. I have not the Heart to force her into a Carriage against her will and send her from me almost in a Frenzy; as I know will be the case, unless I can reconcile her to the thoughts of going and I have given her my word that Petit shall stay untill I can hear again from you.
"Books are her delight, and I have furnished her out a little library, and she reads to me by the hour with great distinctness, and comments on what she reads with much propriety."
Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 16 July 1787: "If as the poet says, expectation makes the blessing sweet, your last Letter was peculiarly so, as you conjectured I was not a little anxious that neither Captain Barnard or Davis brought me a line. I was apprehensive that Something was the matter some imminent danger threatning some Friend, of which my Friends chose not to inform me untill thir fate was decided.
"I sent on board the Ship, the Solitary Box of meal was searchd throughout. What not one line, from my dear sister Cranch, she who has never before faild me, can it be possible, uncle Smith did not as usual say in his Letter that all Friends were well. Dr Tufts for the first time omitted mentioning my children, that might be because they thought that they had written, thus was my mind agitated untill Captain Scotts arrival who brought me your kind Letter of May the 20th, but none from either of my Neices or Children those dear Lads do not write so often as I wish them to, because they have nothing more to say than that they are well, not considering how important that intelligence is to an affectionate parent.
"mr J Cranch wrote me soon after Barnards arrival and sent me an extract of a Letter from miss B Palmer with a particular account of the performances in April at Cambridge, in which your son & mine bore a part. These Young Gentlemen are much indebted to her for her partiality, and the very flattering manner in which she describes them. I hope they will continue to deserve the esteem of all good judges and do honour to themselves and their Country.
"the account you give me of the Health of JQA, is no more than I expected to hear. I warnd him frequently before he left me, and have been writing him ever since. I hope he will take warning before it is too late. it gives me great satisfaction to learn that he has past through the university with so much reputation, and that his fellow Students are attached to him. I have never once regreeted the resolution he took of quitting Europe, and placing himself upon the Theatre of his own Country, where if his Life is spaired, I presume he will neither be an Idle or a useless Spectator.
"Heaven grant that he may not have more distressing scenes before him, and a Gloomier stage to tread than those on which his Father has acted for 12 years past, but the curtain rises before him, and instead of peace waving her olive branch, or Liberty seated in a triumphal car or commerce Agriculture and plenty pouring forth their Stores, Sedition hisses Treason roars, Rebellion Nashes his Teeth. Mercy Suspends the justly merited blow, but justice Striks the Guilty victim. here may the Scene close and brighter prospects open before us in future. I hope the political machine will move with more safety and security this year than the last, and that the New Head may be endowed with wisdom sufficient to direct it.
"there are Some good Spokes in the Wheels, tho the Master workmen have been unskilfull in discarding some of the best, and chusing others not sufficiently Seasond, but the crooked & cross graind will soon break to peices, tho this may do much mischief in the midst of a jouney, and shatter the vehicle, yet an other year may repair the Damages, but to quit Allegory, or you will think I have been reading Johnny Bunyan.
"The conduct of a certain Gentleman is rather curious. I really think him an honest Man, but ambition is a very wild passion, and there are some Characters that never can be pleasd unless they have the intire direction of all publick affairs, and when they are unemployd, they are continually blaming those in office, and accusing them of Ignorance or incapacity, and Spreading allarms that the Country is ruined and undone, but put them into office, and it is more than probable they will persue the same conduct, which they had before condemned, but no Man is fit to be trusted who is not diffident of himself Such is the frailty of humane Nature, & so great a flatterer is Self Love, that it presents false appearences, & deceives it votaries.
"The comedy writer has been drawing his own Character and an other Gentlemans I fancy. strange Man, would he act as well as he can write, he might have been an ornament to Society, but what signifies a Head, without a Heart, what is knowledge but an extensive power to do evil, without principal to direct and govern it? “unstable as water, thou shalt not excell” I have often quoted to him. I look upon him as a lost Man. I pity his folly, and am sorry he is making himself so conspicuous.
"I think Sir John Temple was the writer of the Letter from Newyork giving an account of the Play, Birds of a Feather—
"The House at Braintree which you mention I would not fail of having, & am sorry the dr did not bargan for it without waiting to hear from us. We have written him twice upon the subject, as to building we shall never be able to do that, if the dr should purchase it. I wish you would look it over and let us know what repairs are necessary. I shall not be able to write much by Captain Barnard, as we are prepairing for a long jouney. I have been so very unwell through the Spring and winter that the dr Says a journey and change of air is absolutly necessary for me our intention is to visit Devenshire & to go as far as plimouth which is about 200 & 30 miles. as we take the Baby and a Nursery maid, Esther a footman & coachman we shall make a large calvacade and be absent a month or 5 weeks.
"Col Smith we do not expect back till September. we hear from him by every post.
"I am distrest for Sister Shaw & her children the disorder is of the most infectious Nature, and a House, linen, & every thing & person requires as much cleansing as with the Small pox, of which I fear people are not sufficently aware. When Mr Copley about a year & half ago lost two fine children with it, the doctors advised to these precautions, & gave large doses of the bark to the attendance. I think Sister Shaw would have done well to have sent both her children out of Haverhill. I pray Heaven preserve them— I did not get a line from her by either of the vessels.
"I have had with me for a fortnight a little daughter of mr Jeffersons, who arrived here with a young Negro Girl her Servant from Virginia. mr Jefferson wrote me some months ago that he expected them & desired me to receive them. I did so and was amply repaid for my trouble a finer child of her age I never saw, so mature an understanding, so womanly a behaviour and so much sensibility united is rarely to be met with. I grew so fond of her, & she was so attached to me, that when mr Jefferson sent for her, they were obliged to force the little creature away.
"She is but 8 years old. She would Set some times and discribe to me the parting with her Aunt who brought her up, the obligations she was under to her & the Love she had for her little cousins, till the Tears would stream down her cheeks, and now I had been her Friend and she loved me, her pappa would break her Heart by making her go again. she clung round me so that I could not help sheding a tear at parting with her. she was the favorite of every one in the House.
"I regreet that Such fine spirits must be spent in the walls of a convent. She is a beautifull Girl too.
"My little Boy grows finely and is as playfull as a Lamb, is the Healthest child I ever saw, and pretty enough. his Mamma I think looks the better for being a Nurse. he is very content with being twice a day supplied by her, feeds the rest, and never misses being twice a day carried out to walk in the air when it is fair weather You see what a mere Grandmama I am that can fill up half a page in writing of the child.
"this I presume is commencment week. I dare say the young folks feel anxious. I dont know whether I should venture to be a hearer if I was in America I should have as many pertubations as the Speakers. I hope they will acquit themselves with honour. mr Adams desires me to tell cousin Cranch that any of his Books are at his service I believe we must send some of these Young Men to settle at Vermont. can they get their Bread in Massachussets? but the World is all before them, may providence be their Guide.
"I send my dear sisters each a tea urn, which must prove comfortable in a hot summers day I have orderd them put up in a Box together and addrest to uncle Smith. the Heater, & the Iron which you put it in with, is to be packed in the Box by the Side of them. whilst your water is boiling, you heat the Iron & put it in to the little tin inclosure always minding that the water is first put in. this keeps it hot as long as you want to use it.—
"how are English Goods now? cheeper I suppose than I can buy them here, and India much lower, in the article of Spice could you credit it if I was to tell you that I give 2 pound Eleaven Shillings sterling pr pound for Nutmegs—and other Spice in proportion yet tis really so— I cannot write my Neices now, but hope my journey will furnish materials—my Love to them.
"who owns Germantown now, is mr Palmers family in any way of Buisness? how is miss payne, & where is she?— Mrs Parkers arrival will be an acquisitions to our American acquaintance. she appears an agreeable woman we have a General Stuart & Lady here Philadelphians, lately from Ireland. I knew him when I first came here. he went to Ireland and has been there with her two years, they spend the winter here.
"Mrs Gardner has never visited me untill yesterday, tho she has been here a Year concequently I have never Seen her, for it is an invariable rule with me to receive the first visit.
"I have formed a very agreeable acquaintance with a Sir George Stanton & Lady. I know not a warmer American. he cultivats their acquaintance, and is a very sensible learned Man. Lady Staunton is an amiable woman and we visit upon very social and Friendly terms. I must however add that Sir George is an Irishman by birth & I have invariably found in every Irish Gentleman, a Friend to America. it is an old observation that mutual Sufferings begets Friendships.
"Lady Effingham is just returnd to Town after an absence of a 12 Month. her Ladyship drank tea with me on Sunday, & I Supd & spent the Evening with her the week after. She has traveld much in Russia Sweeden Denmark Holland France Ireland, and has a most Sprightly lively fancy: joind to a volubility of Tongue which united with good sense & a knowledge of the World renders her a pleasing companion, but She like all the rest of the English Ladies, with whom I have any acquaintance is destitute of that Softness & those feminine graces which appear so lovely in the females of America. I attribute this in a great measure to their constant intercourse at publick places. I will see how they are in the Country.
"I have been gratified however in finding that all Foreigners who have any acquaintance with American Ladies give the preference to them, but john Bull thinks nothing equal to himself and his Country; you would be Surprizd to see & hear the uncivil things Said against France, and all its productions I have never found so much illiberality in any Nation as this, but there are many Worthy & amiable Characters here whom I shall ever respect, and for whose Sakes this Country is preserved from total Ruin & destruction.
"but I am running on at a Strange rate. adieu my dear sister, remember me to my Worthy Mother Brothers & all my Nephews Neices & Neighbours, and believe me at all times your affectionate / Sister....
PS having sent you a Lamp I now Send you something to Light it with the directions are with it. I have given these into the care of a mrs Wentworth who came here last Spring in persuit of an estate which I have no doubt belongs to her, but for want of Money She cannot come at it. She is a virtuous well behaved deserving woman. she has been I believe as much as a month at different times in my family, and can tell you more about us than perhaps 20 Letters. Dr Bulfinch recommended her to us, when she came. I tried to get her some employ but could not succeed, and she is now obliged to return much poorer than when she came, and without any prospect of Success. when you go to Town, if you send for her to uncle Smiths, She will come and see you as I have desired her.— Inclosed you find a Louis d’or."
John Adams to Charles Adams, 2 January 1794: "PHILADELPHIA.... The Letter you mention was written in a careless haste intended for no Eye but yours and I fear not fit for any but a partial one— but if you think it will do any good, you may give an Extract, without any name or hint that can turn the Attention to me. if you do, cutt it out of the Paper and inclose it to me, for I have forgotten almost all about it and have no Copy.
"have all the five Numbers of Columbus been printed in the N. York Papers? I have not seen any one.
"I have Seen and detested the Libel on the President and observed the Proceedings in Consequence of it. Between you and me, if Virtues descend not by Inheritance, the Printer in Question is a Proof that an ill temper sometimes does. I am sorry however for I feel a regard for the Race who have good Qualities tho obscured by a little ill Nature.
"Mr Jefferson resigned his Office at the End of the Year and Yesterday was nominated and this day appointed Mr Randolph in his Stead. Mr Jefferson is going to Montecello to Spend his Days in Retirement, in Rural Amusements and Philosophical Meditations— Untill the President dies or resigns, when I suppose he is to be invited from his Conversations with Egeria in the Groves, to take the Reins of the State, and conduct it forty Years in Piety and Peace. Amen.
"He goes out with a blaze of Glory about his head, at least in Southern Eyes for his astonishing Negotiations with Hammond Genet and Viar. I cannot Say however that I am pleased with his Resignation. He might have worn off his sharp Points and become a wiser Minister than he has been sometimes. His Abilities are good—his Pen is very good—and for what I know the other Ministers might be the better for being watched by him. They will however be watched by other Centinels in sufficient Numbers. I dont dislike a Precedent of Resignation, for I sometimes feel as if it would one day be my own Case and I should be glad to have an Example to quote.
"The Reasonings of Columbus, I am informed have carried Conviction to multitudes whose opinions were very different for Want of Information. It is indeed a luminous Production. The Writer had better mind his office, there are quantum meruits there. but none in Politicks, for an independent Man.
"My Regards where due.
"Fennos Paper is now a daily Advertising Paper, and whether it will be better than others I dont yet see. You have all in your N. York Papers that appears here and more. Not one Printer in this City has had the sense, Taste or Spirit to reprint a Line of Columbus; an habetude unpardonable.
"You must be very discreet with my Letters— I shall write to you in Confidence Things not fit to be seen by others, as not sufficiently guarded & reserved."
John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 3 January 1793: "PHILADELPHIA....The Public Papers will inform you that Mr Jefferson has resigned and that Mr Randolph is appointed Secretary of State. The Attorney General is not yet nominated. Mr Lewis Mr Lawrence Mr Benson Mr Gore, Mr Potts &c have been mentioned in Conversation.
"The Motives to Mr Jeffersons Resignation are not assigned, and are left open to the Conjectures of a Speculating World. I also am a Speculator in the Principles and Motives of Mens Actions and may guess as well as others
- Mr Jefferson has an habit as well as a disposition to expensive Living, and as his Salary was not Adequate to his Luxury, he could not Subdue his Pride and Vanity as I have done, and proportion his Style of Life to his Revenue.
- Mr Jefferson is in debt as I have heard to an amount of Seven thousand Pounds before the War, so that I Suppose he cannot afford to Spend his private income in the Public service.
- Mr Jefferson has been obliged to lower his Note in Politicks. Pains Principles when adopted by Genet, were not found so convenient for a Secretary of State.
- He could not rule the Roast in the Ministry. He was often in a Minority.
- Ambition is the Subtlest Beast of the Intellectual and Moral Field. It is wonderfully adroit in concealing itself from its owner, I had almost said from itself. Jefferson thinks he shall by this step get a Reputation of an humble, modest, meek Man, wholly without ambition or Vanity. He may even have deceived himself into this Belief. But if a Prospect opens, The World will see and he will feel, that he is as ambitious as Oliver Cromwell though no soldier.
- At other Moments he may meditate the gratification of his Ambition; Numa was called from the Forrests to be King of Rome. And if Jefferson, after the Death or Resignation of the President should be summoned from the familiar Society of Egeria, to govern the Country forty Years in Peace and Piety, So be it.
- The Tide of popular sentiment in Virginia runs not so rapidly in favour of Jacobinical feelings as it did— though the Party were a Majority and carried every Member at the last Election, there are Symptoms of increasing foederalism in Virginia. a Wise Man like Jefferson foreseeth the Evil and hideth himself—
"But after all I am not very anxious what were his Motives.— Tho his Desertion may be a Loss to Us, of some Talents I am not sorry for it on the whole, because his soul is poisoned with Ambition and his Temper imbittered against the Constitution and Administration as I think.
"all this is confidential."