Adams Family Correspondence, volume 8

William Stephens Smith to John Adams, 6 April 1789 Smith, William Stephens Adams, John
William Stephens Smith to John Adams
Newyork april 6th. 1789— Dear Sir—

Mr: Bourne has this moment waited upon me and informs, that he has been honoured by the senate with the appointment of being the Bearer of their Dispatches to you, relative to your election as Vice President of the Western Empire, upon which please to accept of my affectionate congratulations and of my sincere prayers that Heaven may guide and protect you in this great Career—1 The Virtuous members of this Government are very anxious to see you here, they promise themselves great aid in their pursuits from your Council and influence, and I am sure you will not fail in being here as soon as possible, your Country expects that your motions will be rapid after you recieve the official information, and when you consider that during the interregnum, the United states loose one thousand pr. Diem, I am sure you will haste to shelter them all in your power from greater loss—

My Calculation is that if this Gentleman travels by Land this will be presented to you on saturday next but If with a fair Wind he attempts the Water Communication, it may possibly reach you before— but Calculating on the former, I take the liberty of supposing that you will finish the Governors Ceremony on monday and rest, tranquilly at Watertown the same Evening, so that agreable to Contract you will arrive here on the Monday following, in which case I will meet you 15 or 20 miles out of town and inform you of the opinions at present Circulating here—2 I think it will be of service that Mrs: Adams should accompany you, for various reasons, both public & private, which it may be as well not to commit to paper— should you not leave Braintree before Monday, will you be so good as to write me by sunday's post informing me of your arrangements, and intentions,3 this Letter will reach me the saturday night before you, and give me some hours to arrange my movements and to meet you prepared to relieve Mrs: Adams from the hurry and Ceremony which will accompany your reception

for further particulars I refer you to the Letter from Mrs:Smith to her Mama4 and am / Dr. Sir, Yours affectionately

W: S: Smith

RC (Adams Papers).


While the new federal government was scheduled to begin meeting on 4 March, the Senate did not have a quorum until 6 April (the House achieved a quorum on 1 April). Accordingly, on that day, Congress counted the ballots from the first electoral college. 331George Washington was elected president unanimously. JA was elected vice president with 34 electoral votes (out of a total possible 69 votes); the remaining votes were split among several other candidates ( First Fed. Cong. , 1:7–9; 3:7).

The Senate appointed Sylvanus Bourne to notify JA of the election results. Bourne (1761–1817), Harvard 1779, was from Boston originally; he would later serve as the American consul at Amsterdam from 1794 to 1817 and have an extensive correspondence with JQA ( First Fed. Cong. , 1:9; Harvard Quinquennial Cat. ; Cornelis A. van Minnen, American Diplomats in the Netherlands, 1815–50, N.Y., 1993, p. 21).


Bourne arrived in Boston with the news of JA's election on Thursday, 9 April, and JA set off for New York on the following Monday, 13 April. Much fanfare marked the event: “On this happy occasion, his Excellency our worthy Governour and Commander in Chief exhibited every possible mark of attention and respect for the Vice-President of our great American Republick, by ordering a military escort of Horse to attend him through the counties of Suffolk, Middlesex and Worcester, by giving an elegant colation at his house to a numerous collection of gentlemen who assembled there to take leave of the Vice-President, and by various honourary notices, both civil and military, which the Governour most opportunely displayed, and which our patriotick countryman richly merited.” For a complete description of the festivities accompanying JA's departure, see Massachusetts Centinel, 15 April, and Boston Independent Chronicle, 16 April.


JA's reply has not been found but based on WSS to JA, 19 April (Adams Papers), it was dated 10 April.


Not found.

James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 12 April 1789 Lovell, James Adams, Abigail
James Lovell to Abigail Adams
April 12th. 89.

Mr. Duerr, as you pronounce it, and my Wife seem to think alike as to the Powers of an Ambassadress when placed as an Helpmate to the Ambassador. Mr D. had an Idea of an handsome Face Mrs. L thought only of the Good Sense of the Lady. If this is ambiguous, yr. best Friend can make it plain so far as relates to Duerr.1

As to Mrs. L I will show her to you in a Minute, just as She appeared the first Instant her Eyes were opened this Morning “Well Mr: Lovell I think as others do, you are too confident about your office;— you ought to go to New York;— One of your main Expectations has failed you already;— your Friend Portia is not going on to Congress.” Good Morning Ma'am, replied I, “I am sorry for that.”—a Pause—

Indeed, Portia, there was not so much Compliment in my Reply as a Stranger would guess there was. “I am sorry,” because I could say twenty Things to you which I would not dare to trouble your Husband with. I could talk to you about Insurgents, and the Tools of the Tools of Insurgents, down to the Successor of the Successor of your humble Servant late a Naval officer, for the Port of Boston. But really I should not have thought of this Subject if I had not heard it said Yesterday by one of the veriest of that Tribe “my Friends have spooken to Mr. Adams about me.” Curses on their 332Impudence! it makes no Odds to them whether Virtue or Vice is in Rule; they hope with good Grounds under the latter and they dare to ask Patronage of the former. In this Commonwealth, I have seen them have every Advantage. Vice triumphant, they have turned out of Place whom they would; and upon a Change in Government they held their Offices because the virtuous would not take the vicious Mode of turning any Man out who did his Duty let him have gotten into office how he might. By being the accidental but Kidney,— Deputy of Nat. Barber for 3 Months only, the present Naval Officer was preferred before John Rice who had served 3 years, with me faithfully scientifically & amiably. But I would only be understood here as remarking who ought not to have the Naval office of this Port. leaving it totally with my Betters to say who shall have it.2 The present Incumbent may have one advocate at Head Quarters if Mr. O should be chosen Clerk of the Senate.

“Scratch now for me and I will always scratch for you,” has been the perpetual Rule of that republican Electioneering Set, to which the Two in Question belonged— A caucasing-Town-Meeting Bulldog like Barber or one of a more sly least like his Successor, must have had many Promises of future Friendship from would-be Representatives Senators & Governors in this Town, who thought that the Road of Promises was the broad one to Preferment.

I am Madam, yours respectfully


RC (Adams Papers).


James Lovell and AA briefly revived their correspondence for three letters after a five-year hiatus. He also wrote to JA on this same date seeking an office in the new government (Adams Papers). For more on Lovell's unusual letter-writing style, and his correspondence with AA, see vol. 3:xxxiv–xxxv.


Lovell had been appointed naval officer for the port of Boston in July 1784, succeeding Nathaniel Barber, with John Rice serving as his deputy. Lovell remained in that position until 1787 when he was replaced by Barber. The state again named Lovell to the post later in 1789 (vol. 5:355, 357–358; Fleet's Pocket Almanack, 1785, p. 26; 1786, p. 20; 1787, p. 39; 1788, p.55; Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 14:45).