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ADAMS, ABIGAIL, First Lady. Autograph letter signed ("Aunt A Adams") AS FIRST LADY, to a niece, Lucy [Cranch] Greenleaf, Philadelphia, 18 December 1799. 1 page, 4to, 252 x 205mm. (10 x 8 in.), integral address leaf in Abigail Adams's hand, two clean tears, discreetly silked (not affecting text), address leaf a trifle browned, otherwise fine.

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ADAMS, ABIGAIL, First Lady. Autograph letter signed ("Aunt A Adams") AS FIRST LADY, to a niece, Lucy [Cranch] Greenleaf, Philadelphia, 18 December 1799. 1 page, 4to, 252 x 205mm. (10 x 8 in.), integral address leaf in Abigail Adams's hand, two clean tears, discreetly silked (not affecting text), address leaf a trifle browned, otherwise fine.

THE FIRST LADY REACTS TO THE DEATH OF GEORGE WASHINGTON: "HIS NAME, FAME & CHARACTER WILL LIVE"

On the same day the momentous news of Washington's death reached Philadelphia, First Lady Adams writes to her niece: "We have all been thrown into Distress by the sudden Stroke, which has deprived us of one of the Best and fairest Characters which has blest the world; but he had done his Masters work, and he recall'd him Home. Such men are Messengers from God for good. His Name fame & Character will live, whilst time and Nature lasts. The papers will give the detail, with the communications of the president [John Adams] to congress. There is a very sincere mourning for this illusterous [sic] man throughout this city, and it will pervade the United States, when the melancholy Event is known..." George Washington died on 14 December 1799 after catching a chill while riding in the rain at Mount Vernon. Once this news reached Philadelphia, Congress promptly adjourned. Across the nation, funeral processions and eulogies were organized, President Adams ordered the Army to wear black sleevebands for six months, while Abigail herself reportedly wore full mourning attire for several months. The remainder of her letter rather incongruously concerns ladies' fashion, particularly the design and proper way to wear a certain cap, which, she reports, "is quite the mode here..." See additional details on the public and private reactions to the death of Washington in Carroll and Ashworth, George Washington, 7:648-651, and Page Smith, John Adams, 2:1021-1023.
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