Archive for the ‘Adams, John Quincy’ Category

“if as usual your Stomack abounds with acid”

ABIGAIL ADAMS wrote to her son John Quincy Adams on the day she believed he was graduating from Harvard. Her letter, of course, is full of advice. She includes her recipe to counter an acid stomach—no Tums back then—and notes that she has sent him fabric for a waistcoat and some “very tasty buttons.”

London july 18 1787my Dear Son
I give you joy of the day, as I presume it is commencment with you at Cambridge, and as it is about 4 oclock in the afternoon, I imagine you have past through your performance, I hope with approbation of the hearers, and reputation to yourself, pray favour me with a sight of it by the next opportunity and now I Suppose you will be deliberating with yourself what is next to be done? . . . you proposed, should we return next Spring, perhaps you might chuse to persue your Studies with your Father, that we shall return then if our Lives are Spaired I have no doubt, but till that time you would not chuse to be Idle your Aunt mentiond that you had thoughts of going to mr Dana your pappa would leave you intirly to your own choice, & to mr Dana he can have no objection, and I do not wonder that you should give him the preference on many accounts. it is a very agreeable family if you could get to Board in it. I have a sincere Friendship for Mrs Dana. be sure you give my Love to her; & tell her I hope to Spend many more Sociable Evenings with her, when I return to America. . . .

your Aunt Cranch wrote me that you had been unwell, and I heard from others that you had lost your Flesh. the latter I should not regreet, if ill Health and too close application did not occasion it. I have so frequently admonished you that I would not tire you by a repetition. light food is necessary for a student. if as usual your Stomack abounds with acid, Lime water mixd with milk, which takes away the dissagreeable taste you would find the best antidote, one pound of stone Lime, upon which pour a Gallon of Boiling water Let it stand till clear then pour it of & bottle it, take it twice a day, a large tea cup full mixd with milk—now you need not laugh, for if your food sours, it is impossible it should digest, & from thence arise your complaints. . . .

I have sent you by Captain Barnard Cloth for a coat, it is a fashionable coulour, & the buttons very tasty. you will find a waistcoat pattern with it, and I have given to mrs Wentworth a Boston woman who is a passenger Sattin for a pr of Breeches, which she will leave at uncle Smiths for you; she has been a good deal in the family with me, and I have every reason to believe her a trust worthy woman you have not acknowledg the receipt of your shirts, or told me if they fitted you.

Mr Hollis was in Town to day . . . and dined with us. he has left in my care the works of Dr Jebb*, to be sent to Harvard college. I will Send you a Set as soon as I can get them bound. he was one of the choise ones of the Earth.—I shall direct them to be left at uncle Smiths—

our Good Friends the Dutch are in a dissagreeable situation, as you will see by the publick papers. England and France are arming at all points, what will be the result, time only can devellope. . . .

adieu most affectionately yours—
Abigail Adamsinclosed you find a Louis d’or

*John Disney, The Works, Theological, Medical, Political, and Miscellaneous, of John Jebb: With Memoirs of the Life of the Author, London, 1787.

Source: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016.

posted August 29th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Adams, John Quincy,Clothes,Education,Harvard,Health,Illness

“the mighty Day is over”

Mary Smith Cranch reported to ABIGAIL ADAMS details of the commencement exercises at Harvard, during which John Quincy Adams and Billy Cranch received their degrees, and the entertainment that followed. Every candidate for a degree had to give a commencement oration. The title of John Quincy’s was “The Importance and Necessity of Publick Faith to the Well-Being of a Community.” Although he was much praised, JQ was miffed when the newspaper the Massachusetts Sentinel declared the oration of classmate Nathaniel Freeman superior to his. The party afterwards was quite a do. “We din’d above a hundred People & treated with cake & wine above four hundred”!!!

Boston July 21d 1778 [1787]My Dear Sister
The Day—the mighty Day is over, & our Sons have perform’d their Parts—& receiv’d the Honour of the college in a manner which will do them credit while they Live—never did you see two Happier Faces than theirs when they return’d from meeting—I do not believe they will ever feel so happy again—If to excell where all did well—can give pleasure your Son must feel a peculiar one. He has a faculty of throughing expresson into his countinance beyond any person I ever met with—I was not in the meeting house, but I am told that he excell’d in his manner every one who ever Spoke in it—The performences of the Day are said by every one to have been the best composition, & the best spoken of any since the universitys were created—

Every thing was conducted in our Chambers with the greatest order & regularity— Mr Beals who lives on our place at Weymouth had the whole care of delivering out drink & we had uncle Smiths Primus—& a Black Servant of cousin Willm. Smiths & our Pheby [Abdee, a former slave of the Smith family] to attend the Tables—she was exceeding useful to me after dinner in washing up the Dishes & clearing the Tables we had two chambers one for the Tables & the other for our company to Sit in. We made no Tea but had cake & wine carried about in stead of it which sav’d us a great deal of trouble

We din’d above a hundred People & treated with cake & wine above four hundred I am very certain we were honour’d after Dinner with the company of His excellency the Governer & L—— Govr. & a number of the Senate—The Resident Professor & Tutors, who all came to congratulate us—In short I had enough to do to set & receive the congratulations of our Friends & acquaintance I most sincerly wish’d you with me to have taken your share—We were not only congratulated that we had a son & Nephew who had done themselves such Honour, that day but that they had sustain’d such amiable good characters during their residence at college—I had as much small Talk to do as their Majestys upon a presentation day—but they never felt half as much pleasure your sons all felt like my own & I presented them as my adopted ones till your return & proud enough I am of them. . . .

My Love to mr. Adams—as to you my sister I know not how to bid you adieu—may God preserve you & bring you once more safe to my arms—This is the constant Petition of your affectionate Sister
M Cranch

The letter appears in Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016. Some information was taken from Woody Holton Abigail Adams (New York: Free Press, 2009), 245. The engraving of Harvard in 1767 is by Paul Revere.

posted August 25th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Adams, John Quincy,Cranch, Mary,Education,Harvard

“my Nephew walks about . . . crying “oh Lord! oh Lord”

MARY SMITH CRANCH wrote to her sister ABIGAIL ADAMS in England about preparations for the graduation from Harvard of John Quincy Adams and her son Billy Cranch. A huge celebration after the commencement exercises on July 17 is planned. Lots and lots of food! Such a shame that the Cranchs don’t have enough money to send Billy with JQA to study law.

Braintree July 16th 1778 [1787]My dear sister will I am sure excuse me if I send her now but a short Letter—when she is inform’d that there is but one day between this & commencment & that I have but just hear’d that capt. Folger will sail this week

It is true we are doing but little but it makes us more work than Ten such entertainments at home. every thing is dress’d here, & to be cut cold at cambridge except Green Peas. we are allamoding Two rounds of Beef, Boiling four Hams of Bacon & six Tongues. They smell finely I assure you. this will be all our meat—cider Punch wine & Porter our drink: we have had our Tables & seats made here, nothing but Boards plain’d, making them hear will save us five or six-dollars we have Milk Bisket & plumb Cake to be eat with our Tea. Betsy Smith from Haverhill has been here some time. She & Lucy are gone to day mr JQ.A. & Billy also. tomorrow mr Cranch & I go. . . . Cousin JQA has lost . . . much Flesh . . . but he looks much better than he did in the spring he is going a journey to Haverhill after commencment. . . .

I fear you do not use exercise enough any more than your eldest son— He will take a journey after the Bustle of commencment is over to Falmouth & then sit down to the study of the Law will mr Parsons. There will be a hard parting on Billys side at least. He wishes to study with his cousin but we cannot pay his Board & the demands of a Teacher also at least for a year or two the expence of the last year has been very great & yet Billy has been as prudent as a child could be, but I hope we shall get through it without injuring any one & that it will not be lost upon him. He has behav’d well & pass’d thro college without a censure Tomorrow he will compleat his eighteenth year—There is no time of Life exemted from temtations, but I have thought that there was none more critical for a Gentleman than from eithteen to twenty two. Passion is then the strongest & is too apt to prove an over match for Reason. . . .

Let us teach our children humility—& not to think more highly of themselves than they ought. Let us teach them that no rank of their ancestors be if ever so high will secure them the approbation esteem & respect of the world without the strictest attention to the rules of honour morality, & Religion

our sons look a little anxous as the Day approaches—I wish it was over. Billy is too busy assisting us too think much but my Nephew walks about with his hands hung down crying “oh Lord! oh Lord—I hope it will rain hard that all their white wigs may be wet who would not let us have a private commencment—” be compos’d said I, perform your Parts well & you will find that the Honour you will gain & the pleasure you will give your Freinds will over ballance all the anxietys you have experienc’d—

adieu for the present I must go & pack to send another cart tomorrow one is gone to day.

The letter is from Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016.

posted August 22nd, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Adams, John Quincy,Cranch, Mary,Harvard

“past through the university with so much reputation”

Eartlier in 1787, before ABIGAIL ADAMS and John had set out on their tour of the West Country of England, Abigail wrote her sister Mary Cranch (July 16) complaining that John Quincy Adams and Mary’s son Billy, both due to graduate from Harvard, had not been writing regularly. No surprise to any mother, Abigail was worried about John Quincy’s health. She also expresses her concern over the political climate in the United States.

[T]he 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 journey, 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.

Abigail ends by noting that she is sending tea urns to each of her sisters with instructions for their use and commenting on the high prices of goods in England.

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—

Read about the Harvard commencement in the next posts.

The letter can be found at Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016. The portrait of JQA at age 29 is by John Singleton Copley; it is at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

posted August 18th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Adams, John Quincy,Cranch, Mary,Education,Harvard

“Letters written in the domestic intercourse of families”

Breaking my own guidelines for this blog, which usually consists of the writings of women from the years 1765 to 1799, today’s post includes some lines written by John Quincy Adams after reading some of his sister Nabby’s correspondence in 1841. (She died in of breast cancer in 1813.) I do think he expresses well how family correspondence conveys the spirit of the writers and the times in which they lived.

Letters written in the domestic intercourse of families are necessarily much diversified as to the subjects upon which they are written, as to the circumstances to which they relate, to the incidents which they record, and to the state of mind, of health, and of temper with which they are composed. Strangers or even members of the family of the writer, who after a lapse of years, read several of them in immediate succession, can scarcely enter into the spirit with which they are animated, but by reading a few of them at once and by alternately laying by and taking [them] up again.

Paul C. Nagel The Adams Women: Abigail and Louisa Adams, Their Sisters and Daughters (Oxford University Press: New York, 1987), p 300. The engraving of John Quincy Adams is from the 1869 $500 series of U.S. currency.

posted October 20th, 2014 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, John Quincy,Health,Letter-writing,Smith, Abigail "Nabby" Adams

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