To Sarah Savage Thatcher

    New York City        9 June 1789

    My dear

    Since you tell me that every post day Phillips goes to the Falls to get his mamma’s Letters, I cannot omit sending a folded paper, tho it can hardly be called a Letter; because I can easily concieve the little fellow feels a pride at carrying home a Letter to his mamma—And will be prompted more readily to obey his mamma’s directions when he finds that he is not sent in vain—If he discovers that what he is sent for, & carries, to his mamma, is of such consequence as to afford her pleasure, he will feel his own importance & be more attentive to whatever he undertakes—

    I approve of your puting Phillips to do as much as his strength and discretion will allow him to execute—yet it adds much to my anxiety—a thousand fears arise in my mind, that I was a stranger to so long as I supposed Phillips was constantly under the inspection of his mamma or some of the family—The dangers he will be exposed to in going to the Falls, or even the nearest neighbours, are many—but this consideration attends them, that the earlier and more frequently, he is put to take care of himself the sooner will he be able to guarde, & protect himself from the usual accidents to which children are exposed—

    The dangers children are most liable to, are those of Rivers, horses, wells and carriages in the way—against these I know your Love will caution him; and yet leave him sufficiently at his own disposal to acquire the necssary necessary habits of prudence and forethought—I have know[n] persons children to suffer by their parents or Guardians taking upon themselves the whole & immediate direction of their actions motions & very thoughts—this ought to be more studiously avoided than the other extreeme—

    Another inconvenience to children from their runing about at large when they are very young is their aptitude to fight, & quarrell with their play mates—and this is too often encouraged by grown people who know, & ought to act better—It is often the case that children are set to fighting, & every motive, adapted to their age & passions, made use of to animate them to the cruel combat—The ill consequences from this conduct are innumerable—And it has ever been your & my object to instill different dispositions from these in the minds of our dear Children—And I had rather Phillips should kiss a negro or the devil, than fight with an Angel or a prince—

    I am your most affectionate husband

    * * *

    ALS, TFP