“very fond of Mrs. Jay”

As you may have gathered, I have been reading the Journal that Nabby Adams kept in 1785 when she was abroad with her parents, John and Abigail Adams. As two colleagues and I edited the book Selected Letters of John Jay and Sarah Livingston Jay I was interested in the reference to Sarah Jay made by the Marquis de Lafayette’s wife whom Nabby visited in Paris. I have always thought that Sarah Jay was a very special person and that the correspondence between Sarah and her husband comes in a close second to that of Abigail and John Adams. Sarah was in Paris in 1782-1784 with two children while her husband John helped draw up the Treaty of Paris that concluded the American Revolution. Nabby wrote:

Speaking of Mrs. Jay, on whom every person who knew her when here bestows many encomiums. Madame de la Fayette said, she was well acquainted with, and very fond of Mrs. Jay; she added, Mrs. Jay and she thought alike; it was Mrs. Jay’s sentiment, that pleasure might be found abroad—but happiness could only be found at home—in the society of one’s family and friends. She told my papa that Mrs. Jay did not like the French ladies—neither do I, said she. From the account she had heard of the American ladies, she believed she should be pleased with them—and should the Marquis ever again visit America, she would accompany him.

The quoted passage can be found on pages 49-50 of Nabby’s Journal ONLINE. The illustration is of Sarah Livingston Jay from the print collection of the New York Public Library.

posted September 8th, 2014 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Americans Abroad, Smith, Abigail "Nabby" Adams


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