Letters of John and Abigail Adams
While the Second Continental Congress deliberated in Philadelphia on the colonial crisis, Massachusetts delegate
John Adams maintained a correspondence with his wife, Abigail, who remained at home. A leader in the
independence movement, Adams exchanged news, ideas, and concerns with his wife. The following selections from
the Adams’s correspondence illustrates the determination tempered by anxiety that accompanied the fateful
passage of the Declaration of Independence.
John Adams to Abigail Adams
[Philadelphia,] February 18, 1776
My dearest Friend
I sent you from New York a Pamphlet intitled Common Sense, written in Vindication of Doctrines which there is
Reason to expect that the further Encroachments of Tyranny and Depredations of Oppression, will soon make the
common Faith: unless the cunning Ministry, by proposing Negociations and Terms of Reconciliation, should divert
the present Current from its Channell.
Reconciliation if practicable and Peace if attainable, you very well know would be as agreable to my Inclinations
and as advantageous to my Interest, as to any Man’s. But I see no Prospect, no Probability, no Possibility. And I
cannot but despise the Understanding, which sincerely expects an honourable Peace, for its Credulity, and detest
the hypocritical Heart, which pretends to expect it, when in Truth it does not. The News Papers here are full of free
Speculations, the Tendency of which you will easily discover. The Writers reason from Topicks which have been
long in Contemplation, and fully understood by the People at large in New England, but have been attended to in the
southern Colonies only by Gentlemen of free Spirits and liberal Minds, who are very few. I shall endeavour to
inclose to you as many of the Papers and Pamphlets as I can, as long as I stay here.
The Events of War are uncertain: We cannot insure Success, but We can deserve it.
Write me as often as you can — tell me all the News.
Abigail Adams to John Adams
[Braintree, Mass.,] Saturday Evening March 2 
. . . I heartily wish every Tory was Extirpated [from] America, they are continually by secret means undermineing
and injuring our cause.
I am charmed with the Sentiments of Common Sense; and wonder how an honest Heart, one who wishes the
welfare of their country, and the happiness of posterity can hesitate one moment at adopting them; I want to know
how those Sentiments are received in Congress? I dare say their would be no difficulty in procuring a vote and
instructions from all the Assemblies in New England for independancy. I most sincerely wish that now in the Lucky
Minuet it might be done.
I have been kept in a continual state of anxiety and expectation ever since you left me. It has been said to morrow
and to morrow for this month, but when the dreadfull to morrow will be I know not — but hark! the House this instant
shakes with the roar of Cannon. — I have been to the door and find tis a...