From The Free Press to you and yours, a warm and blessed Thanksgiving.
The letter below is dated November 29, 1798, from Abigail Adams to her husband John Adams on Thanksgiving Day.
John Adams was in Philadelphia and was unable to make it to Boston with his wife and family.
Long separations kept Abigail from her husband while he served the country they loved, as a delegate to the Continental Congress, envoy abroad, and elected officer under the Constitution.
Her letters–pungent, witty, and vivid, spelled just as she spoke–detail her life in times of revolution. They tell the story of the woman who stayed at home to struggle with wartime shortages and inflation; to run the farm with a minimum of help; to teach four children when formal education was interrupted.
Most of all, they tell of her loneliness without her “dearest Friend.” The “one single expression,” she said, “dwelt upon my mind and played about my Heart….”
My dearest Friend,
This is our Thanksgiving day. When I look back upon the year past, I perceive many, very many causes for thanksgiving, both of a public and private nature. I hope my heart is not ungrateful, tho sad; it is usually a day of festivity when the social family circle meet together tho separated the rest of the year.
No husband dignifies my board, no children add gladness to it, no smiling grandchildren eyes to sparkle for the plum pudding or feast upon the mind Eye. Solitary and alone I behold the day after a sleepless night, without a joyous feeling. Am I ungrateful?
I hope not. Brother Cranch’s illness prevented him and my sister from joining me, and Boylston Adams’s sickness confining him to his house debarred me from inviting your brother and family. I had but one resource and that was to invite Mr. and Mrs. Porter to dine with me: and the two families to unite in the kitchen with Pheby the only surviving parent I have, and thus we shared in the bounties of providence.
I was not well enough to venture to meeting and by that means lost an excellent discourse delivered by Mr. Whitman upon the numerous causes of thankfulness and gratitude which we all have to the great giver of every perfect gift; nor was the late glorious victory gained by Admiral Nelson over the French omitted by him, as in its consequences of great importance in checking the mad arrogance of that devouring Nation.
And here let me congratulate you upon the event, as now made certain. I hope it will prove of great advantage to us, as well as to all the powers whom France has abused, debased, and insulted.
I cannot speak of them in the style of Gov. Henry. Tho I like his Speech and believe he made it without the aid of Laudanum, the address from thence I like. Make a good answer to it.
I presume you reached Philadelphia on Saturday. I wrote to you twice to New York to the care of Charles and twice I have written to your address to Philadelphia. I hope you received the letters.
I am as ever your, truly affectionate A Adams
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