Prince Town New Jersey Aug. 28th 1774
I received your kind Letter, at New York, and it is not easy for you to imagine the Pleasure It has given me. I have not found a single Opportunity to write since I left Boston, excepting by the Post and I dont choose to write by that Conveyance, for fear of foul Play. But as We are now within forty two Miles of Philadelphia, I hope there to find some private Hand by which I can convey this….
Tomorrow We reach the Theatre of Action. God Almighty grant us Wisdom and Virtue sufficient for the high Trust that is developed upon Us. The Spirit of the People wherever we have been seems to be very favourable. They universally consider our Cause as their own, and express the firmest Resolution, to abide the Determination of the Congress.
… Remember my tender Love to my little Nabby [their daughter]. Tell her she must write me a Letter and inclose it in the next you send. I am charmed with your Amusement with our little Johnny [their eldest son]. Tell him I am glad to hear he is so good a Boy as to read to his Mamma, for her Entertainment, and to keep himself out of the Company of rude Children. Tell him I hope to hear a good Account of his Accidence and Nomenclature, when I return. Kiss my little Charley and Tommy [their younger sons] for me….
Your Account of the Rain refreshed me. I hope our Husbandry is prudently and industriously managed. Frugality must be our Support. Our Expences, in this Journey, will be very great – our only Reward will be the consolatory Reflection that We toil, spend our Time, and tempt Dangers for the public Good – happy indeed, if we do any good!
The Education of our Children is never out of my Mind. Train them to Virtue, habituate them to industry, activity, and Spirit. Make them consider every Vice, as shamefull and unmanly: fire them with Ambition to be usefull – make them disdain to be destitute of any usefull, or ornamental Knowledge or Accomplishment. Fix their Ambition upon great and solid Objects, and their Contempt upon little, frivolous, and useless ones. It is Time, my dear, for you to begin to teach them French. Every Decency, Grace, and Honesty should be inculcated upon them…
I am, with the tenderest Affection and Concern, your wandering
Quoted in The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, ed. by L.H. Butterfield, et. al., Northeastern University Press, 2003.