ADAMS, ABIGAIL, First Lady. Autograph letter signed ("Abigail Adams") as First Lady, to Moses Black, Philadelphia, 12 April 1798. 1 page, 4to, 250 x 200 mm. (9¾ x 8 in.), integral address leaf with seal holes.
ABIGAIL ON HER HUSBAND'S HANDLING OF THE "X, Y, Z AFFAIR"
A fine letter defending her husband's actions in the diplomatic crisis with France: "I herewith send you the dispatches [not present] from The Envoys to the French republick...The publick will judge upon them, with respect to the Intentions, there has not a person yet, been hardy enough to say, that they are not as liberal as their utmost wishes. Nothing more can have been conceded, consistant with the honor of the Nation, and the Independance of our Country. The publishing [of] them, is like to produce here, a most desirable effect, that of union and harmony, I sincerely wish it may become general, that if we are necessitated to take up Arms in self defence, it may be as one people, having one common interest at stake..."
Adams had sent Charles Pinckney, John Marshall and Elbridge Gerry to Paris to resolve differences between the two nations (relations had deteriorated badly under Washington's pro-British administration). But when the diplomats arrived in Paris, unofficial French representatives demanded a $250,000 payment be made to French foreign minister Talleyrand, and insisted the President apologize for criticisms of French policy. When it was reported, the American public expressed outrage, Congress banned trade with France and Adams called for a declaration of war. At first the President declined to release the diplomatic dispatches, but later issued them substituting the letters "X," "Y' and "Z" for the names of the French agents.