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The Story of John and Abigail Adams in Europe

University of Chicago Press, matched in this by Professor Richard Hamm, chair of my department, who has been generous with other very practical aid. University administrators have always granted me vital sabbatical semes- ters, for which I am always grateful. Patty Smith of the Adams National Historic Site was generous and prompt in supplying the reproduction of Nabby Adams’s portrait. Elaine Grubin, reference librarian at the Massachusetts Historical Soci- ety, was very helpful. Lori Saba typed all the manuscript through its many versions, along with the side

Smith, son of JQA’s sister Abigail (Nabby) Adams Smith, in St. Petersburg. Aug. 14: Nabby dies of complications from breast cancer in Quincy. 1814 Jan. 14: James Madison nominates JQA, James Bayard, Henry Clay, Albert Gallatin, and Jonathan Russell to negotiate a peace treaty with Great Britain. April 20: Napoleon exiled to Elba. 365Chronology June 24: JQA arrives in Ghent, Belgium, to negotiate peace with Great Britain. Aug. 24: British troops invade Washington and burn the White House, Capitol, and other public buildings. Dec. 24: Treaty of Ghent is signed

social customs. T h e Binghams, Adamses, Jefferson, and Major William Jackson (who was President Washington's secretary from 1789 to 1791 and married Anne Bing- ham's sister Elizabeth Willing in 1795) all visited France in the 1780s. Some Americans clearly derived more from this European educa- tion than did others. The Adamses, for example, were suspicious of the opulent display, and lack of "modesty and delicacy" in women such as FranMin's friend Madame Helvetius, whose salon welcomed the many Americans visiting Paris.33 Likewise, Nabby Adams suspected that

Nabby Adams Smith carried on sophisticated correspondence in which they both discussed in great Conclusion [ 255 ] detail the pivotal political issues of the day, from local, to national, and even to international affairs, including Jefferson’s infamous Embargo Act, party strife in the United States, and Napoleon’s machinations in Europe— all interwoven with family news.2 In late eighteenth- century and early nineteenth- century America, society and politics were closely intertwined. As a result, social and cer- emonial rituals and rules played a basic and

to take part in the clothing ceremony (or vêture), in which she would take the white veil. There is no detailed record of Esther’s vêture in particular, but Abigail (Nabby) Adams Jr., the daughter of John and Abi- gail Adams, recorded her impressions of a clothing ceremony she attended in Paris in 1784 at the age of nineteen. Although Adams witnessed the profession of two Augustinian nuns more than seventy years after Esther’s vêture, her lively observations confirm several of the elements of the cere- mony that awaited Esther in Québec. Adams reported

“submitting” comes from a poem in which alexander Pope, rather than demanding female servility, instead commends his subject, in the couplet before the one abigail quotes, for acting with moderation (she “n’er answers till her husband cools”) in order to establish restrained leadership (when she “rules him, never shows she rules”).18 nabby adams, John and abigail’s eldest daughter, described her father acting in the same way in 1785 when they reunited in England after years without sustained contact. Expecting a “severe” man, she discovered that “he . . . left me to

present: “Let us with gratitude bless our preserver that we have yet so many blessings left to us.”142 Compounding the sadness, in October, Abigail’s beloved sister Mary Cranch was seriously ill with tuberculosis, and Mary’s hus- band, Richard, who had generously shared books with Abigail when they were young, was gravely sick after suffering a stroke. Most distressing was the news from Nabby Adams Smith that she suspected she had a serious breast ailment. But propelled by hope that it was a benign condition, Nabby delayed medical consultation despite increasing

307 N O T E S abbreviations AA Abigail Adams AA2 Abigail “NabbyAdams AFC Adams Family Correspondence ASPFR American State Papers, Foreign Relations (Washington, D.C.: Gales and Seaton, 1832– 1859) ASPMA American State Papers, Military Affairs CA Charles Adams CFA Charles Francis Adams JA John Adams JQA John Quincy Adams JQA, John Quincy Adams, Writings of John Quincy Adams, ed. Writings Worthington C. Ford, 7 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1913– 1917) LCA Louisa Catherine Adams LNET John Quincy Adams, Life in a New En gland Town MHS Massachusetts Historical

; and economy, 33; end of, 39; and families, 48; and fertility, 55; gynecological experimentation on enslaved women, 56, 57; and labor, 43, 45, 48; and medical profession, 50; and morality, 45; and physicians, 55– 57; and Puritans, 12– 14; and reproductive control, 55– 56, 59– 60; and rape, 16; and resistance, 35; romanticized, 42; sexual vulnerability of enslaved women, 71; in southern colonies, 15and violence, 57. See also abolitionism slave trade, 33, 35, 55– 56 Smedley, Agnes, Daughter of the Earth, 151– 152 Smith, Nabby Adams, 49 Smith- Lever Act of