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The Ladies of Boston Stage a Coffee Party

This week’s puzzle, like last week’s is taken from one of the many letters from Abigail Adams to John Adams.  It was written on July 31, 1777.  In it she recounts how a miserly bachelor gets his comeuppance from the ladies of the town.

Scott Johnson
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31 July.

I have nothing new to entertain you with, unless it is an account of a new set of mobility, which has lately taken the lead in Boston.  You must know that there is a great scarcity of sugar and coffee, articles which the female part of the state is very loth to give up, especially whilst they consider the scarcity occasioned by the merchants having secreted a large quantity.  There had been much rout and noise in the town for several weeks.  Some stores had been opened by a number of people, and the coffee and sugar carried into the market, and dealt out by pounds.  It was rumored that an eminent, wealthy, stingy merchant (who is a bachelor) had a hogshead of coffee in his store, which he refused to sell to the committee under six shillings per pound.  A number of females, some say a hundred, some say more, assembled with a cart and trucks, marched down to the warehouse, and demanded the keys, which he refused to deliver. Upon which, one of them seized him by his neck, and tossed him into the cart.  Upon his finding no quarter, he delivered the keys, when they tipped up the cart and discharged him ; then opened the warehouse, hoisted out the coffee themselves, put it into the truck, and drove off.

It was reported, that he had personal chastisement among them; but this, I believe, was not true.  A large concourse of men stood amazed, silent spectators of the whole transaction.

Adieu. Your good mother is just come; she desires to be remembered to you; so do my father and sister, who have just left me, and so does she, whose greatest happiness consists in being tenderly beloved by her absent friend, and who subscribes herself ever his PORTIA.


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