23 August 2011

For Love and Country: John and Abigail Adams and the United States of America, part 10

1784 - 1788

Your Letter of the 23d. has made me the happiest Man upon Earth. I am twenty Years younger than I was Yesterday.”
--John Adams to Abigail Adams from The Hague, July 26, 1784 (Adams Family Papers, Correspondence) in response to Abigail’s letter informing him that she had arrived in London

Abigail arrived in London on July 21st.  John Quincy met them on the 30th.  John arrived a week later.  John recorded the event in his diary briefly.  The entry for August 4, 1784 reads: “Arrived at the Adelphi Buildings and met my Wife and Daughter after a seperation of four Years and a half.  Indeed after a Seperation of ten Years, excepting a few Visits” (Adams Family Papers, Diary).  When they last met it was during a period of war and uncertainty.  Now they were together again, husband and wife with their children, without the stress and politics of home. They were shy when they met again, but the meeting was filled with the emotions of ten years. Afterwards, Abigail wrote to her sister, Mary Cranch, of the moment she and John came together again, “You know, my dear sister, that poets and painters wisely draw a veil over those scenes which surpass the pen of the one and the pencil of the other” (qtd. in McCullough 311, Smith 602).  That was all she could say. 

In August, the Adams family moved to Auteuil near Paris in France, where they would remain until May of the following year.  On May 26, 1785, John, Abigail and Abigail 2nd arrived in London.  Less than a week later, John was presented to King George III, a man who less than a decade earlier did not have John’s name on the list of those to be pardoned.  When they met, the king conveyed to John that he heard that John was not so attached to the manners of France.  John replied, “I must avow to your Majesty, I have no attachment but to my own country” (qtd. in McCullough 337).  It was for thoughts such as those that King George III wanted John Adams hanged years earlier.

The next month saw a flurry of activity for John and Abigail.  On June 23rd, both John and Abigail were presented to King George III and Queen Charlotte.  The event was long, as the king and queen walked around the room greeting each guest individually, and Abigail was nervous.  The on the second of July, John, Abigail and Abigail 2nd moved into a house on Grosvenor Square.  This was the first American legation in London.  It was a big step for the Adamses and their country. 

Abigail would be busy with visitors for the remainder of her time in London while John would be busy signing treaties with other nations.  When a foreign ambassador questioned John regarding if he was of English extraction, John replied, “I have not one drop of Blood in my Veins, but what is American.”  The ambassador responded, “Ay We have seen[. . .]proofs enough of that.”  John recorded in his diary that he was flattered and “vain enough to be pleased” with the observation of the foreign ambassador (Adams Family Papers, Diary 43).  His love and dedication to his country were never in question, even to foreign ministers.

In August, he signed a treaty of amity and commerce with Prussia.  In January 1786, he signed a treaty of peace and friendship with Morocco.  In August, John had to travel to the Netherlands to ratify the treaty with Prussia.  Not wanting to be away from John, Abigail went with him.  Upon their return, they would remain in England until May 1787, when John left Abigail to obtain yet another loan from the Dutch.  He was to return to London in June, where he would spend the next two months with Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, Mary and her attendant, Sally Hemmings, who were on their way to meet Jefferson in Paris, as he was the foreign minister there. 

As the new year dawned, the Adamses were at the end of their time in Europe.  On February 20, 1788, John had a farewell audience with King George III.  Afterwards, he visited Holland one last time for another loan.  In April, John and Abigail were on their way back to Massachusetts.  In the time John spent in Europe, he traveled over 29,000 miles by land and sea in the name of his country.  This was more than any leading American of his time.  He never once refused a journey, regardless of difficulties or preferences (McCullough 384).  After spending four years with John, Abigail began to appreciate his career and her involvement in it once again.  Over the next few years, as John would continue to be active in politics in the new nation, Abigail would still dislike the traveling and time apart, but she enjoyed the time spent with John and being involved in his career.  She would have many more years to enjoy.

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