John Adams letter to Abigail Adams, 13 April 1796


Philadelphia, 13 April, 1796.


I DINED on Monday at the Presidents with young La Fayette and his preceptor, tutor or friend, whatever they call him, whose name is Frestel. I asked them with Mr. Lear to breakfast with me this morning and they agreed to come ; but last evening, Mr. Lear came with a message from the President to ask my opinion whether it would be advisable for the young gentleman, in the present circumstances of his father and mother and whole family, and considering his own tender years, to accept invitations and mingle in society ? Whether it would not too much interrupt his studies ? The youth and his friend had proposed these questions to the President and asked his advice, and expressed their own opinion, that retirement would be more advisable and more desirable. I agreed in opinion with the President and his guests, and as I had been the first who had invited them, at the President's request agreed to excuse them from accepting my invitation, that they might have it to say as a general apology that they had accepted none. There is a resemblance of father and mother in the young man. He is said to be studious and discreet. I hope he will live to become as respectable, and a more fortunate man than his father. You must have known him at five or six years of age, as well as his sister Anastasia, who is now with her parents.

The majority of the House of Representatives appear to be resolute to do nothing. In fact they have done nothing, and Mr. Giles boasts that he has a majority of ten determined to do nothing concerning the treaty with England. For my own part, I see no thing better than a crisis working up, which is to determine whether the constitution is to be brought to its end this year, or last a few longer. Not the tavern at Cowes, not the tavern at Harwich or at Helvoet, not the taverns at Nantes, L Qrient, and Brest, nor the calms, storms and contrary winds of a long voyage at sea, nothing but a journey through Spain, from Ferrol to Fontarabia is more tedious than the operations of our government under this constitution.

I have received your's of April 1. You must get labor as reasonably as you can. But I almost wish we had let our homestead upon shares as well as the others. Another year I will, if I don t stay at home to take care of it.

I am, affectionately,

J. A.

John Adams

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