J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, June 02, 2017

The French Lady Who Discomfited John Adams

As I related yesterday, in April 1778 a French lady disconcerted John Adams by asking him how Adam and Eve knew how to have sex.

When he recorded that experience decades later, Adams identified his questioner simply as “One of the most elegant Ladies at Table, young and handsome,…married to a Gentleman in the Company.”

But evidently he told his wife Abigail the same story when he went home to Braintree for a few months the following year. Because on 13 Nov 1780 Abigail wrote back to him:
I recollect your story to Madam Le Texel upon the Nature and power of Attraction and think it much more probable to unite Souls than Bodies.
The Adams papers don’t mention any couple named “Le Texel.” But the editors of those papers note that at Bordeaux Adams spent a lot of time with Pierre Texier or Le Texier, a merchant with Amsterdam connections. Indeed, on 3 Apr 1778 Adams and Texier had a long discussion about America’s prospects as a nation.

This genealogy site says that Texier’s wife at that time was the former Suzanne François. They had married in Holland in 1767 and had had at least four children when Mr. Adams came through Bordeaux. So the woman who disconcerted John Adams with her question was Mme. Suzanne Texier.

Incidentally, the only surviving child of Pierre Texier’s first marriage, daughter Jeanne, married in 1785 at age twenty to an American named Jonathan Jones. Jones’s mother was a Mifflin from Philadelphia, where he had been born in 1748. Settling in Bordeaux, he wrote letters to Thomas Jefferson when he was the American minister to France and was still a respected merchant in 1811.

[The picture above shows the Grosse Cloche at Bordeaux; the belfry was built in the fifteenth century, but the bell was cast in 1775, just a few years before Adams and Jones arrived in the city.]

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