Entry  About  Search  Log In  help (navigation)
printable version

Abigail Adams to Elbridge Gerry

28 Dec. 1796

Dear Sir of Decbr 28

Your obliging favour I received by the Hand of dr Welch. I thank you Sir for your congratulations which receive their value from the Sincerity with which I believe them fraught, and that is a Stamp I cannot place upon all that I receive, To a reflecting mind the \elevated/ Station encompassd as it is with Dangers and difficulties looks in my estimations like a Slipery precipice Surrounded With Rocks Shoals and quick Sands. No Man can have Such a concurrence of fortunate circumstances united in him as the president of the United States had to combine all Hearts in his favour & to receive twice the unanimous Suffrages of all America, if he with a full tide of favour has tasted the bitter cup of calumny & abuse what must a Successor expect who has near half the Country opposed to his Election. all the Friends of the Rival Candidates mortified at their defeat

You Sir have been too long conversant in publick Life and full well know how to estimate "the pangs and Heart acks" to which it is subject not personally to mix commissiration with your congratulations, at my Time of Life, the desire or wish to Shine in publick Life is wholy extinguishd, the Retirement to (Peace Feild, the Name which mr A. has given his Farm) is much more eligible to me particularly as my Health has Severely Sufferd by my residence at Philadelphia, personally I Shall consider myself as the Small dust of the balance when compard to the Interest of a Nation, to promote to preserve peace, to support order and continue to the Country that System of Government under which they have become prosperous and happy. the sacrifice of an individual Life ought not to be taken into consideration

I fully agree with you in Sentiment as it respects the Election of mr Jefferson I have long known him, and entertain for him a personal Friendship, and tho I cannot assent to his System of politicks, I do not believe him culpable in the manner he has been represented. placed at the Head of the Senate, I presume he would conduct with wisdom and prudence, and the Jarring parties become harmonized the union Strengthend & cemented more firmly than if the mr Pinckney Should be Elected whose pretentions as a publick Man certainly will not balance those of mr Jeffersons The Gentleman you alluded to as an active Agent in the Elections, has no doubt his views and designs. there are Some Characters more Supple than others, more easily wrought upon, more accommodating, more complying, Such a person might be considerd as less as the ostensible Engine, which a Master Hand could wake, To what other motive can be asscribed the Machivilean policy of placeing at the Head of the Government. a Gentleman not heard of beyond the State which gave him Birth untill sent upon a publick embassy, and certainly not \particularly/ distinguishd by any Series of Services to his Country,

I feel Sir writing to a confidential Friend and when addressing you, an apology for the freedom of communication is unnecessary, The Arts and Manoevers which have been practised during the period of this Election opens to us a gloomy prospect in future and fully proves to us that their is no Special Providience for Americans and that their natures are the Same with others, as it has become fashionable to quote a work much talkd of, but little read, I will transcribe a passage from it as it appears applicable to the occasion

"There is a natural and unchangeable inconvenience in all popular Elections, there are always competitions and the candidates have often merits nearly equal, the virtuous & independant Electors are often divided, this naturally causes too much attention to the most proffligate & unprincipled, who will Sell or give away their votes, for other considerations than wisdom & virtue So that he who has the deepest purse, or the fewest Scruples about useing it, will generally prevail

RC (MHi: Adams Papers).
This early access document should not be cited in formal research.
Please report any errors or problems you notice in documents.