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Tea drinking habits of New Englanders in the 1770’s

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John Adams added the following postscript to a letter written to his wife Abigail on 6 July 1774.

I believe I forgot to tell you one Anecdote:  When I first came to this House it was late in the Afternoon, and I had ridden 35 miles at least.  “Madam” said I to Mrs. Huston, “is it lawfull for a weary Traveller to refresh himself with a Dish of Tea provided it has been honestly smuggled, or paid no Duties?”

“No sir, said she, we have renounced all Tea in this Place.  I cant make Tea, but I’le make you Coffee.”  Accordingly I have drank Coffee every Afternoon since, and have borne it very well.  Tea must be universally renounced.  I must be weaned, and the sooner, the better.

(Note: The Boston Tea Party took place 16 December 1773.)


Written by uncudh

March 23, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Posted in history

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Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson

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John Adams and Thomas Jefferson became close friends during the revolutionary period.  However, they became estranged by the end of John Adams’ presidency.  They had increasingly been at odds politically during the presidency of Adams (Jefferson was his vice-president) and after Jefferson defeated Adams in the election of 1800 they broke off all relations (Adams did not even show up to Jefferson’s inauguration).

John’s wife Abigail had also been good friends with Thomas Jefferson and in 1804 she reached out to Jefferson on the occaision of the death of Jefferson’s daughter, writing him the following letter of condolence:

Quincy, 20 May, 1804.


Had you been no other than the private inhabitant of Monticello, I should, ere this time, have addressed you with that sympathy which a recent event has awakened in my bosom ; but reasons of various kinds withheld my pen, until the powerful feelings of my heart burst through the restraint, and called upon me to shed the tear of sorrow over the departed remains of your beloved and deserving daughter. An event which I most sincerely mourn. The attachment which I formed for her, when you committed her to my care upon her arrival in a foreign land, under circumstances peculiarly interesting, has remained with me to this hour ; and the account of her death, which I read in a late paper, recalled to my recollection the tender scene of her separation from me, when with the strongest sensibility, she clung around my neck and wet my bosom with her tears, saying, ” Oh ! now I have learned to love you, why will they take me from you.”

It has been some time since I conceived that any event in this life could call forth feelings of mutual sympathy. But I know how closely entwined around a parent’s heart are those cords which bind the parental to the filial bosom ; and when snapped asunder, how agonising the pangs. I have tasted of the bitter cup and bow with reverence and submission before the great Dispenser of it, without whose permission and overruling Providence, not a sparrow falls to the ground. That you may derive comfort and consolation in this day of your sorrow and affliction from that only source calculated to heal the wounded heart, a firm belief in the being, perfections and attributes of God, is the sincere and ardent wish of her, who once took pleasure in subscribing herself your friend

Abigail Adams.

Unfortunately, the resumption of communication between Abigail and Jefferson brought up all the old disputes again and Abigail decided to break off contact once more, writing on 25 October 1804:

I will not any further intrude upon your time ; but close this correspondence by my wishes that you may be directed to that path which may terminate in the prosperity and happiness of the people over whom you are placed, by administering the government with justice and impartiality. And be assured, Sir, no one will more rejoice in your success than

Abigail Adams.

The following postscript was appended to Abigail’s letter in the handwriting of John Adams:

Quincy, 19 November, 1804.

The whole of this correspondence was begun and conducted without my knowledge or suspicion. Last evening and this morning, at the desire of Mrs. Adams, I read the whole. I have no remarks to make upon it, at this time and in this place.

J. Adams.

Brutal!  Of course, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson famously reconciled and resumed their written correspondence in 1812, which lasted until their deaths on the same day, 4 July 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Written by uncudh

March 10, 2009 at 7:31 pm