Adams Family Correspondence, volume 1

John Adams to Isaac Smith Jr., 1771 JA Smith, Isaac Jr. John Adams to Isaac Smith Jr., 1771 Adams, John Smith, Isaac Jr.
John Adams to Isaac Smith Jr.
1771 1

P.S. There is another Gentleman whose History and Character I want to know more of, than I do at present, I mean Dr. Arthur Lee.2 These Things however in Confidence. If you should stay in London this Winter, and have not been introduced to him and Dr. Franklin, and 82have a Desire to be acquainted with those Gentlemen or Either of them, I believe I could procure you Letters to them from Gentlemen here, whose Recommendations they would probably respect.

Am very glad to hear that Governor Bernard has removed to Lincolnshire. Could wish him much farther removed from the Capacity of doing Mischief. The Instructions to Mr. Hutchinson are such as give us no Prospect of Peace and Harmony here.3 Nothing but Resentment and Disaffection can proceed from such Measures. One of them, the Dissallowance of the Grants to our Agents, seems very cruel indeed. The Language of it is, that the People shall have no possible Way of conveying their Complaints or sentiments to the Royal Ear. In Times of oppression, from a Ministry or a Governor, We can have no Man to present a Petition, or Complaint to the Throne, but one, whom the Governor or Minister shall approve. And We may depend, upon it, that none but a Tool of both, one fitted to defeat as far as shall lie in his Power the very Petition that he shall be directed to present, will ever be approved. We know not how Britons, on that side of the Atlantic, may think of such severe Treatment of Americans, but if the Throats of one Million, of good subjects may be gagged, We can conceive of no Reason why the Throats of Eight Millions may not—and, it does not require a surgeon to foresee that a Mortification of a Finger if neglected will soon spread itself, to the Heart and the Lungs.

It gives me, my Friend extream Concern to perceive the Tendency of these unkind Measures. I see that my Countrymen the Americans have not the Virtue, the Fortitude, the Magnanimity, to resist these Encroachments, now in the Beginning of them, to a decisive Effect. I see that there is not Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation in the Mother Country, to desist voluntarily from such Attempts to make inroads upon Us—and therefore a trimming, jealous, invidious system of Conduct will be held by both, untill the Period shall arrive that an entire Allienation of Affection and a total Opposition of Interests shall take Place, And War and Desolation shall close the melancholly Prospect. Out of such Desolations, Glory and Power, and Wonders may arise, to carry on the Designs of Providence.

But I restrain, perhaps a visionary, enthusiastic Pen. You and I shall be saints in Heaven I hope before the Times, We dream of. But our Grandsons may perhaps think this cannonical Prophecy.

What a Pity it is, that the seeds of such Divisions and Jealousies should be sown, only to gratify the Ravenous Cravings of a very few Ravens, Cormorants and Vultures.


But I am writing Politicks to you, who detest them.

If you see my old Friend Mr. John Boylstone, please to make my most respectfull Compliments to him.4

Postscript only (Adams Papers), unsigned, undated, and without direction, of what is quite evidently an autograph letter, or RC, not found, rather than a draft. See note 1.


From the reference to Francis Bernard's moving to Lincolnshire, the present fragment appears clearly to be part of a reply to Smith's letter to JA, 3 Sept. 1771, above. It is possible and in fact very likely that JA omitted the postscript merely by accident when he sent Smith the (now missing) letter to which it was meant to be appended.


Arthur Lee (1740–1792), M.D. Edinburgh 1764, one of the four Lee brothers of Virginia with whom JA during his career in the Continental Congress and in Europe was to become closely associated ( DAB ; JA, Diary and Autobiography , passim).


See Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:247–248.


John Boylston (1709–1795), Boston merchant and first cousin of JA's mother; later a loyalist resident at Bath, England, where he was hospitable to JA in 1783. See Adams Genealogy.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, May 1772 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, May 1772 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My Dr. Plymouth May Saturday 17721

I take an opportunity by Mr. Kent, to let you know that I am at Plymouth, and pretty well. Shall not go for Barnstable untill Monday.

There are now signs of a gathering Storm, so I shall make my self easy here for the Sabbath. I wish myself at Braintree. This wandering, itinerating Life grows more and more disagreable to me. I want to see my Wife and Children every Day, I want to see my Grass and Blossoms and Corn, &c. every Day. I want to see my Workmen, nay I almost want to go and see the Bosse Calfs's as often as Charles2 does. But above all except the Wife and Children I want to see my Books.

None of these Amusements are to be had. The Company we have is not agreable to me. In Coll. Warren and his Lady3 I find Friends, Mr. Angier4 is very good, but farther than these, I have very little Pleasure in Conversation. Dont expect me, before Saturday.—Perhaps Mrs. Hutchinson may call upon you, in her Return to Boston, the later End of next Week or beginning of the Week after.

Pray let the People take Care of the Caterpillars. Let them go over and over, all the Trees, till there is not the appearance of a nest, or Worm left.

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “For Mrs. Adams Braintree Pr. favr. of Mr Kent.”

84 1.

Probably written on 23 May. The Superior Court session at Plymouth had begun on the 19th; that at Barnstable was to begin on the 26th.


Charles, second son and fourth child of JA and AA, had been born on 29 May 1770. See Adams Genealogy.


James and Mercy (Otis) Warren of Plymouth, for many years the warm friends and intimate correspondents of the Adamses. See DAB under both Warrens; also the letter immediately below, and Warren-Adams Letters , passim.


Oakes Angier (1745–1786), Harvard 1764, of West Bridgewater, one of the earliest regular practitioners of law in Plymouth co. According to Nahum Mitchell, History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater, Boston, 1840, p. 106, Angier had “read law with the elder President Adams,” and AA speaks of him to JA as “Your former pupil” (3 June 1776, below). Angier was admitted attorney in Plymouth Superior Court, May 1771, and barrister at Boston, Aug. 1773 (Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Books 94, 98). JA mentions him several times in a friendly way in his Diary. In his relatively few years of practice Angier amassed a large fortune, and the circumstances of the death and the terms of the will of this lawyer “indefatigable in his Proffession, possessed of great Qualities, and great Faults,” are discussed at length in a letter from Elizabeth (Smith) Shaw to her sister AA, 1–3 Nov. 1786 (Adams Papers), printed later in the present work.