John Adams Letters document,


[Philadelphia ], 29 October, 1775.

I CANNOT exclude from my mind your melancholy situation. The griefs of your father and sisters, your uncles and aunts, as well as the remoter connexions, often crowd in upon me, when my whole attention ought to be directed to other subjects. Your uncle Quincy, my friend as well as uncle, must regret the loss of a beloved sister. Doctor Tufts, my other friend, I know, bewails the loss of a friend, as well as an aunt and a sister. Mr. C ranch, the friend of my youth, as well as of my riper years, whose tender heart sympathizes with his fellow creatures in every affliction and distress, in this case, feels the loss of a friend, a fellow Christian and a mother. But, alas ! what avail these mournful reflections ? The best thing we can do, the greatest respect we can show to the memory of our departed friend, is to copy into our own lives, those virtues which, in her lifetime, rendered her the object of our esteem, love and admiration. I must confess, I ever felt a veneration for her, which seems increased by the news of her translation.

Above all things, my dear, let us inculcate these great virtues and bright excellencies upon our children.

Your mother had a clear and penetrating understanding, and a profound judgment, as well as an honest, and a friendly and a charitable heart. There is one thing, however, which you will forgive me if I hint to you. Let me ask you rather, if you are not I of my opinion ? Were not her talents and virtues too much confined to private, social and domestic life ? My opinion of the duties of religion and morality comprehends a very extensive connexion with society at large and the great interests of the public. Does not natural morality and much more Christian benevolence make it our indispensable duty to lay ourselves out to serve our fellow Creatures, to the utmost, of our power, in promoting and supporting those great political systems and general regulations, upon which the happiness of multitudes depends ? The benevolence, charity, capacity and industry which, exerted in private life, would make a family, a parish or a town happy, employed upon a larger scale, in support of the great principles of virtue and freedom of political regulations, might secure whole nations and generations from misery, want and contempt. Public virtues and political qualities therefore should be incessantly cherished in our children.

John Adams