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Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigai

[Illustration: Painted by Blythe Engraved by O. Pelton

From a Portrait taken at the age of 21]

FAMILIAR LETTERS OF JOHN ADAMS AND HIS WIFE ABIGAIL ADAMS, DURING THE REVOLUTION.

WITH A

MEMOIR OF MRS. ADAMS.

BY CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

NEW YORK: PUBLISHED BY HURD AND HOUGHTON. CAMBRIDGE: THE RIVERSIDE PRESS. 1876.

Copyright, 1875, BY CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

RIVERSIDE, CAMBRIDGE: STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY H. O. HOUGHTON AND COMPANY.

PREFACE.

Thirty-five years ago a collection of letters written during the period of the Revolution and later, by John Adams and his wife, Abigail Adams, came into my hands. They interested me so much that I thought they might possibly interest others also, especially the growing generations not familiar with the history of the persons and events connected with the great struggle. The result was an experiment in publication, first, of a selection from the letters of Mrs. Adams addressed to her husband; and, at a later moment, of a selection from his replies. The first series proved so acceptable to the public that it ran through four large editions in eight years. The second, though slower of sale, has likewise been long since exhausted. Applications have been made to me from time to time for information where copies of either might be had, to which I could give no satisfactory answer. I purchased one copy, whilst residing in London several years ago, which I found by chance advertised in a sale catalogue of old books in that city. I know not now where I could get another.

Reflecting on these circumstances, in connection with the approaching celebration of the Centenary year of the national existence, it occurred to me that a reproduction of some portion of the papers, with such additions as could be made from letters not then included, might not prove unacceptable now. To that end I have ventured to embrace, in a single volume, so much of the correspondence that took place between these persons as was written during the period of the Revolutionary struggle, and terminating with the signature of the preliminary articles of the great Treaty which insured pacification and independence to the people of the United States.

The chief alteration made in the mode of publication will be perceived at once. Instead of printing the letters of the respective parties in separate volumes, it has now been deemed more judicious to collect them together and arrange them in the precise order of their respective dates, to the end that the references to events or sentiments constantly made on the one side or the other may be more readily gathered and understood. This will show more distinctly the true shape of familiar letters which properly belongs to them. It is not likely that either correspondent, in writing them, ever dreamed that they might ultimately be shown to the world, and perhaps transmitted to the latest posterity. May I be permitted to add an humble opinion that it is this feature in them which constitutes their chief attraction?

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.


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