thumbnail of Prospect of a union; Tea, that bainful weed
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Prospect. Of a union. Eastern educational radio network. THE UNION. Of the American Revolutionary period and a series of readings from the letters of the second president of the United States Abigail.
Part two. That painful week. In 1764 the newly married Adam set up housekeeping in a small farmhouse in bring tree given to them by the senior Mrs. Adams. Abigail did not allow housekeeping. She had only one servant or the birth of two children Abigail in 1765 and John Quincy in 1767 to submerge her in domesticity. But she retained her concern for political affairs. She hoped that her cousin Isaac Smith would satisfy her curiosity about the wider world and described for her his travels to England and the continent. Had nature formed me of the other sex. I should certainly have been a rover. But the natural tenderness and delicacy of our constitutions added to the many dangers we are subject to from your sex renders it almost impossible for a single lady to travel without injury to her character. And those who have a protector and a
husband have generally speaking obstacles sufficient to prevent their roving and instead of the sitting other countries are obliged to content themselves with seeing but a very small part of their own. 70 to snatch you for a few moments from all the hurry and tumult of London. And in imagination place you by me that I may ask you ten thousand questions. And bear with me sir. It is the only recompense you can make for the loss of your company. February 21st 1771. Madam. Your kindness to me in a former absence requires some acknowledgement in this. I write to you therefore with a view of repaying an obligation not of giving you any entertainment. After a short though not a very comfortable passage over the Atlantic I landed at Dover a town remarkable for nothing except extortion except the castle which was originally founded by Julius Caesar and completed about 400 years since. It is situated on a summit extremely difficult of
ascent and commands a widely extensive view one may see from it on a clear day the coast of France. From Dover we went to Canterbury a considerable city which has a cathedral of eleven hundred years standing an amazing pile of Gothic architecture. But as I went into the city in the evening and left it again before like I was obliged to lose sight of this antique and curious object. From Canterbury I rode through a most delightful country beautifully Varia gated with hills and dales and very different from our own at this inclement season of the year. The ground was everywhere covered with the flocks ranging the Medes and the soil preparing under the cultivation of industry for the produce of another year. The vast bodies of chalk in Flintstone with which the ground is naturally interspersed are very surprising. Such is the extent of this metropolis that though I have been here for several weeks I have not seen about one half of it. The principal objects of curiosity which I have visited the tower the Cathedral of St. Paul the Bank of England the theatres and the opera.
I need not tell you that St. Paul's is an edifice of vast magnificence. Probably more so than any other of the Sacred Order in the world. It is calculated to inspire one on the entrance with sentiments of all arc and veneration. But it is rather a mere display of pomp and the grand Your than of any real service to the interest of religion. The opera is an Italian entertainment entirely given in that language and too many are captivated with the charms of vocal music is capable of affording an exquisite entertainment. You have heard perhaps of the female coterie I conceived to be some whimsical or rather merely ideal institution before I came here but find it a real and strong instance of the impetuosity of the better sort of people in the pursuit of pleasure and dissipation. It is a club the leaders of which other fair sex calculated for the very genteel purposes of gaming and extravagance gallantry and intrigue. The French language is here made an early and essential part of education. I dined the other day
with a gentleman and had no sooner sat at the table than I heard the gentleman and lady with their two little misses chattering in a dialect to which I was not greatly accustomed but found upon a little attention that Miss Mary Ann and her sister neither of them I suppose eight years old were already very well qualified to converse mode to Paris. You will please to give my most affectionate regards to your sister Betsey to whom I shall write as soon as I have it in my power. And to every friend either in Weymouth or Boston and to favor me with your pistol or in friendship whenever you have leisure and opportunity I am my DMA says a very affectionately yours. I Smith. John Adams also corresponded from his law office in Boston with Isaac in 1771 his letter suggests that he was less worried about the injustices of British policy then about the stupidity and cupidity of some Boston merchants who were eager to take advantage of a temporary amelioration of the taxes than imports to the colonies. These taxes has not yielded as
much revenue as had been expected and were needed to pay for the English War gets. Partly because the resistance of the taxes had been so stiff. Boston for one had imposed an embargo against all imports from England. The British government reconsidered and altered the tax on tea was removed. Despite the orders placed on the now tax free goods by some merchants. The concessions did not mollify the general public. Instead a mob dumped their weed of slavery as ever Gail Adams called it into the Boston Harbor. There was some risk at this time too that England would face not only colonial foment but a European war. France had for some time sought to Alaa herself with Spain in such a venture. And felt that when the Spanish expelled the British from their garrison at Port Egmont in the Falkland Islands that they had last found a suitably inflammable incident. John Adams learned the outcome of these animosities from Isaac Smith.
London. February 21st 1771. Dear Sir. I have very little of a political or of any other kind of entertainment to give you. If I cannot emit a few lines however small an expression they may be serve my esteem and regard for you. The apprehensions of the war the delay of Comus the distress of individuals and the liberal expensive public treasure have at length ended in this. After a negotiation of four months that the object in dispute Port Egmont shall be restored to the crown. With this proviso however to remain a bone of contention for the future the Parliament as was natural have given their sanction to the convention. But it is not expected that this measure will tend to prolong the public public tranquillity for any considerable space of time. Nothing. It is said prevented the Spaniards from coming to an open rupture but the great diversion of the French king to war. Indeed the present state of his kingdom gives him very good reason to be indisposed to foreign hostility.
He has lately ventured on an exploit that may probably involve him in a very considerable dilemma. The exile of his prime minister and of the whole or at least of most of the members of the parliament of Paris. America is not to become an object of parliamentary attention during the present session. I find that the mercantile part of Boston has lost sight of principle as well as of resolution. The large orders which I send here for t perplex the mind of every friend to our interest or reputation and give credit to the high reflections which had before been made. On our Political falshood and hypocrisy. You will please in the intervals of business to indulge me with your pistol every friendship every occurrence of Boston will be interesting to me in my absence. I am ideas your very humble servant Smith Jr.. Boston April 11 1771. My dear sir. Three days since I received your obliging favor of February 21st for which I thank you. The account you give me of the late negotiations with Spain the
expensive preparations for war and the ridiculous germination of both is not at all surprising to us. In America we think it of a piece with the other measures of administration especially those relative to us a ministry base enough to establish a tyranny in any province or department of His Majesty's dominions may be well expected to be mean dastardly and obsequious to a foreign power. I really don't know whether to rejoice or to move on. That America is not to become an object of parliamentary attention during the session you mention. The considerate people here seem to be more afraid. I'm sure they have more reason to fear ministerial moderation than severity at present provided that moderation is to leave us where we are and not to repeal the unrighteous laws. The large orders which have been sent for tea and many other measures which have been adopted within the last year have diminished my own opinion of my countrymen exceedingly and therefore I cannot wonder that they perplex the mind of every friend to our interest or
reputation in London. As to the occurrences of Boston Mr. Smith I have nothing to write at present but this. Your friends are all well excepting myself and I hope very soon to be better for I have removed my family into the country to my old habitation at Braintree and have determined to shake off a little of that load of public and private care which has for some time oppressed me. If I had not I should soon have shaken off this mortal body. You will greatly oblige me by continuing your favors in the epistolary way. Your friend and servant John Adams. London September 3rd 1771. Dear Sir. I have just returned from an agreeable excursion in the course of which I had the pleasure of receiving your favor of April last. With that of Mrs. Adams for each of which I beg leave to return my thanks. I am sorry to find that you have deserted Boston. You plead as an excuse or the load of public and private care which oppressed you. But you would have
pleased me better if instead of changing the residence of your family you had only shifted your own for a while. I trust sir that you would both repair the health of your body and ease the burden of your mind by using the red X ation of a voyage to Europe more effectually than by breathing the air of Braintree in preference to that of Boston. About three months past. I have spent in a visit to the adjacent continent and was five weeks in Paris the capital of a kingdom calculated by nature for one of the finest in the world. But by the joint influence of ambition avarice and superstition rendered the object of commiseration to a liberal mind. The public affairs of friends are infinitely more embarrassed than those of England. The former boasts of having a greater variety of resources at command than the latter. Poverty however covers the face both of the public and of individuals. The wretched state of its finances at present is a great security to our tranquillity. A prime minister exiled another substituted in his room the object of public odium parliaments one after the other dissolved and banished and the
princes of the blood won only accepted thrown into disgrace. If an instance of illegal violence adopted against a single member of the British parliament could raise such a clamor here what with proceedings of such a nature occasion a rod hung over the heads of the people in that kingdom though it cannot suppress them as it is sufficient to prevent them from carrying their complaints into action. To some sensible one nation as the French It must be a most mortifying circumstance that the revolutions of their government are often dependent on the van monarch. This is notorious in the late change of their administration. The history of the present Soltani of their court is curious. It seems that she is the natural daughter of a monk and was a domestic in a family in Paris a particular nobleman is struck with her beauty as he had either already formed of such a connection or was afraid of degrading his dignity too far he persuades his brother to marry her. In course of time to serve the political purposes of a family she is recommended to the King who
is particularly fond of bestowing his caresses on a married lady to make herself appear in the more respectable like a court. She claims an affinity with an ancient family of Ireland the present possessor of whose title Lord Barrymore a nobleman equally distinguished for his conjugal fidelity in London as Madame la Comtesse de Berry before her on spotted virtue in Paris is so very condescending as to own the relation and she is now treated with as much respect as if she owed her connection with the monarch to birth instead of fortune. I had not an opportunity though I spent a day at the Palace of Versailles of admiring the charms of this celebrated lady. All of the public buildings the churches the libraries the paintings the amusements and the manners of Paris. I should be able to inform you more fully when I enjoy the pleasure of seeing you again which I am willing to indulge the hope of doing. By the middle of November. In the meantime I am with all the sincerity imaginable You are very affectionate and humble servant
Isaac Smith Jr.. P.s.. I am sorry to find that anything new should happen to renew the want of mutual confidence between the different branches of our legislature. I need not inform you sir to whom you are indebted for every new source of dispute. It is not about Hillsborough it is Governor Bennett who has been the dispenser of instructions with regard to America at least with regard to the affairs of Massachusetts for the past year. It may be some satisfaction to you to know that Sir Francis is retiring to a distance from the capital and proposes to fix his future residence in his native country of Lincoln. They tell strange stories here this week of the fire at Portsmouth. But whatever is said about it will probably evaporate in smoke. And ardent desire of visiting the universities of Oxford and Cambridge the former at least detains me here. And if I should not be able to dispatch these with other objects I have in view very soon I shall write to you as occasion offers and hope I shall receive repeated instances of your regard in the same way. My dear sir.
I. Am very glad to hear that government has removed the Lincoln chair could wish him much farther removed from the capacity of doing mischief. The instructions to Mr. Hutchinson such as give us no prospect of peace and harmony here. Nothing but resentment and disaffection can proceed from such measures one of them the disallowance of the grants to our agents seems very cruel indeed. The language of it is that the people shall have no possible way of conveying their complaints or sentiments to the Royal ear in times of oppression from a ministry or a governor. We shall have no man to present a petition or complaint to the throne. But one whom the governor or minister shall approve and we may depend upon it that none but a tool of both one fitted to defeat as far as shall lie in his power. The very petition he shall be directed to present will ever be approved. We know not how Britons on that side of the Atlantic may think of such have their treatment of Americans. But if the throats of one million of good subjects may be gagged we can conceive of no
reason why the throats of eight millions may not and it does not require a surgeon to foresee that a modification of a finger if neglected will soon spread itself to the heart and the lungs. It gives me my friend extreme concern to perceive the tendency of these unkind measures. I see that my country many Americans have not the fortitude the magnanimity to resist these encroachments. Now in the beginning of them to a decisive effect. I see that there is not a wisdom justice and moderation in the mother country to desist voluntarily from such attempts to make inroads upon us. And therefore a trimming jealous invidious system of conduct will be held by both until a period shall arrive that an entire alienation of affection and a total opposition of interests shall take place and war and desolation shall close the melancholy prospect. Out of such desolations glory and power and wonders may arise to carry on the designs of Providence.
But I restrained perhaps a visionary enthusiastic. Then. You and I shall be saints in heaven I hope before the times we dream of. But our grandsons may perhaps think this canon ical prophecy. What a pity it is that the seeds of such divisions and jealousies should be sown only to gratify their ravenous cravings of a very few Ravens cormorants and vultures. But. I am writing politics to you who detest them. If you see my old friend Mr. John Boylston please to make my most respectful compliments to him. John Adams. Boston December 5th 1773. My dear Mrs. Warren. The tea that Bane full read is arrived. Great and I hope effectual opposition has been made to the landing offered. To the public papers I must refer you for particulars. You were there find that the proceedings of our citizens have been united spirited and firm. The flame is
kindled and lightening a catches from soul to soul. Great to be the devastation if not timely quenched or delayed by some more lenient measures. Although the mind is shocked at the thought of shedding human blood more especially the blood of our countryman. And a civil war as of all wars the most dreadful. Such is the present spirit that prevails that if once they are made desperate many very many of our heroes will spend their lives in the cause. But the speech of Cato in their mouths What a pity it is that we can die but once to save our country. Tender plants must bend but when a government has grown to strength like some old old graph with its armed bark. It yields not to the tug but only nods and turns to sullen state. Such is the present situation of affairs that I tremble when I think what may be the dire consequences. And in this town must the scene of action lay.
My heart beats at every whistle I hear. And I dare not openly express half my fears. Eternal reproach and ignominy be the portion of all those who have been instrumental in bringing these fears upon me. There was a report prevail that tomorrow there will be an attempt to land a suite of slavery. I will then write further. Till then my worthy friend. A do you. The Boston Tea Party. Rekindle the antagonism is between Britain and our colonies that have been somewhat dormant since the repeal of the towns and duties in sixteen sixty seven. It became increasingly difficult for an American to stand apart and refused to choose up sides for Whig or Tory. Ministers were not exempt. Indeed John Adams letters contained enunciations of Parsons who lead their congregations astray with their Tory opinions. Isaac Smith as a minister and tutor at Harvard College came to share these opinions much to the distress of his relatives one of
whom Mary Cranch Avigail Adams sister in writing to Isaac could have repeated her brother in law's remark made four years earlier. But I am writing politics to you who detest them. Boston October 15 1774. Dear cousin. Orthodoxy in politics is full as necessary a qualification for settling a minister at the present day as orthodoxy in divinity was formerly. And though you should preach like an angel if the people suppose you are unfriendly to the country and constitution and a defender of the unjust cruel and arbitrary measures that have been taken by the ministry against us you will be like to do very little good. I hope you do not deserve it. But this is the opinion that many in this and the neighboring towns have of you and the very people who were 12 months ago heard your with admiration
and talked of you with applause. Well now leave the meetinghouse when you entered it to preach. This my cousin has been the case. I have been told by several into meeting houses in this town within these six weeks. I have said everything I could in your defense but can't remove the prejudice. I fear you have been imprudent. You have no doubt her right to enjoy your own opinion. But I query whether your duty calls you to divulge your sentiments circumstanced as you are. While the spirit of the people run so high you cannot imagine what trouble these stories have given me. I cannot bear to think that my cousin's amiable disposition and great abilities should be faced by arbitrary principles. I had rather think that he understands divinity better than politics. The management of our public affairs is in very good hands and all that is required of you is your
prayers and extort Taisha for a general Reformation. It is not my province to enter into politics but sure I am that it is not your duty to do or say anything that show tend to destroy your usefulness. You will not only hurt yourself but you will injure your father in his business for it will be said and I know it has been said. If the son is a Tory The father is so to be sure. You will grieve your mother beyond description. And if I know you I think you would not willingly wound such tender parents. My high esteem and great regard for you must be my excuse for the freedom I have taken with you in this letter. For you may be assured my dear cousin that no one more sincerely wishes your usefulness in this world and your happiness in the next. Then Your affectionate friend. Mary cried.
Cambridge. October 20th. 1774. Orthodoxy in politics is I am sensible. Fall is necessary a qualification for the ministry at this day as ever was orthodoxy in divinity. If I am reputed and heretic in either I cannot help it. It is my misfortune. It may be my fault. I hate enthusiasm and bigotry in whatever form they appear. But I am willing to submit to censure. The greatest friends of their country and of mankind that ever lived have frequently met with the same hard fate. I am not indifferent to the good opinion of those around me but I cannot in complaisance to others even to those for whose understanding I have a much higher veneration than for my own. I cannot give up the independence of my own mind. You fear I have been imprudent. I do not mean entirely to deny the charge. It is very possible this may have been the case with me in
particular instances but not so much so perhaps as you imagine. Into what times are we fallen when the least degree of moderation the least inclination to peace and order the remotest apprehension for the public welfare and security is accounted a crime or what sort of cause is that which dreads the smallest Inquisition. Our cause you tell me is in very good hands. I do not at all dispute it. But is it not also in bad ones. Has not the conduct of a few bad men already done infinite mischief to our cause. Have not bad men wantonly brought us to a state of the greatest extremity and hazard. And may not the violence and temerity of such men precipitate us into measures which the united efforts of the good cannot prevent. Whatever others may think or say. Let me entreat of you my dear Mrs. Cranch not to conceive of me as in the least wanting in affection for my country. Heaven knows the continual anxiety I feel for its welfare. Nor do I merit the charge of
being unfriendly to its constitution. It is true I have not exclaimed so loudly against the cruelty the injustice the arbitrary nature of the late Acts of Parliament as others have done. My age my particular profession in life my connection with this seminary of learning the seat of liberal inquiry would have forbidden me to do so. Had I even looked upon them in a more odious light than the people of the province in general. No one however wishes less to see them established. At the same time I must freely own that I had rather calmly acquiesced in these and an hundred other acts proceeding from a British legislature though we did not even do this then be subject to the capricious unlimited despotism of a few of my own countrymen. Or behold the soil which gave me birth made a scene of mutual carnage and desolation. I had intended to have said more but as your friendly admonition appears to me to be founded on some misinformation
I had rather conversed with you on the subject. I thank you for every favorable sentiment you have been pleased to entertain of me and wish I was in any measure worthy of the esteem you have so kindly expressed. I am yours Mrs Cranch with the warmest regard I Smith. Your. Prospect of a union is produced and written by Elizabeth Spiro what WFC are the four college radio station of Amherst Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges on the University of
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
Prospect of a union
Tea, that bainful weed
Producing Organization
WFCR (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-4m91d399).
Episode Description
This program presents dramatic readings from the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams.
Series Description
A first-hand account of the founding of the United States, described through the correspondence of John and Abigail Adams.
Media type
Narrator: Kaufman, Marjorie
Producing Organization: WFCR (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)
Writer: Spiro, Elizabeth
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-6-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:13
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Prospect of a union; Tea, that bainful weed,” 1967-12-18, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 4, 2023,
MLA: “Prospect of a union; Tea, that bainful weed.” 1967-12-18. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 4, 2023. <>.
APA: Prospect of a union; Tea, that bainful weed. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from