John Adams letter to Abigail Adams, 14 December 1794


Philadelphia, 14 December, 1794.


ALTHOUGH the -weather is the most beautiful I ever knew in December, the time seems longer to me than ever any time did in America. The business of Congress this session is dulness, flatness, and insipidity itself.

I have been much engaged in reading the trials of Muir, Margarot, Watt, Downie, and Walker. Mr. Walker, of Manchester, appears to have been very ill used by the church party ; but he was honorably acquitted. The others, I suppose, could not be held guiltless according to the laws of Scotland and England. The severity, however, of their sentences may excite rather than suppress discontent and mu tiny. Self-created societies must be circumspect. It is very easy for them to trangress the boundaries of law, and as soon as they do, they become unlawful assemblies, seditious societies, mischievous conventions, pernicious associations, dangerous and destructive combinations, and as many such hard appellations as you choose to give them. I take it for granted that political clubs must and ought to be lawful in every free country. I belonged to several in my youth, and I wish I could belong to one now. It would save me from ennui of an evening, which now torments me as bad as the blue devils would if I had them, which, by the way, I never had, and so can t say by experience. Low spirits and blue devils are not the same.

I think I will read Svvedenborg's works. I dare say they are as entertaining as the Pilgrim's Progress, or Robinson Crusoe, or the Seven Champions. Any thing that shows a strong and strange imagination, and is neither melancholy nor stark mad, is amusing. I fear the atheistical and theistical philosophers, lately turned politicians, will drive the common people into receptacles of visionaries, enluminees, illuminees, &c., &c., &c., for the common people will undoubtedly insist upon the risk of being damned rather than give up the hope of being saved in a future state. The people will have a life to come and so will I.

I fear you will think me a little crazy, so I conclude. I send you a history of Geneva.


John Adams

Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife. Edited by His Grandson, Charles Francis Adams, Volume II, 1841