Adams Family Correspondence, volume 10

John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 11 February 1795 Adams, John Adams, John Quincy
John Adams to John Quincy Adams
My dear Son Philadelphia Feb. 11. 1795

Mr Wilcocks a Son of Mr Wilcocks a respectable Lawyer of this City is bound to Hamborough and from thence intends to go to Holland where I hope you will Shew him as much Civility as you can. He will be able to tell you all the news we have.1


Congress has had the most Serene Session I ever knew. We are waiting for Mr Jays Treaty and hope it will Settle all disputes with England and quiet many Animosities in America. The Senate for the next two Years will be the most decidedly for Peace & order of any which has ever Served under the Constitution.

I am under Some concern for American Credit in Amsterdam, on Account of the political Situation of the House of the Van Staphorsts. You will embrace every Opportunity to write, through Mr Jay and Mr Pinkney or some other Person in England as well as by other direct or indirect Conveyances: for the Benefit of your Services to the Publick, and the Interests of your own Reputation will depend upon the frequency and Punctuality of your Correspondence with the Secretary of State. Your first Letter, the only one as yet received gave good Satisfaction. I have not yet recd any from you and only one from your Brother.

Your Mother Brothers and Sister with her Children including a Daughter are all well. Charles is in good Business and is, as Mr Burr Says a Steady Man of Business.

Col Humphreys and Mr Cutting arrived here this Week: but upon what Enterprizes or Adventures I know not.2

Our Insurrections and Jacobin Clubbs are all en bas, at present.

I Shall be at Quincy by the Middle of March and remain there probably till the middle of November.

Write me some Account of my old Friends and present my cordial regards to them.

Jarvis rules the House in Boston but cannot get into Congress, as yet.

I am my dear son, with as much / Esteem as Sincere and tender Affection / your Father

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “J.Q. Adams Esqr”; endorsed by TBA: “The Vice President of the U. S.— / 11 Feby 1795 Philada: / 29 April Recd / 4 May Answd.”


Likely Benjamin Chew Wilcocks (1776–1845), who was later important to developing the U.S.–China trade. He was the second son of Alexander Wilcocks (1741–1801), College of Philadelphia 1761, a respected lawyer and the recorder of Philadelphia (Charles P. Keith, The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania, Phila., 1883, p. 331–332; Jean Gordon Lee, Philadelphians and the China Trade 1784–1844, Phila., 1984, p. 44).


Diplomat David Humphreys had been charged in March 1793 with negotiating the release of American hostages in Algiers. By Nov. 1794, the Dey of Algiers appeared open to negotiations, but Humphreys felt obligated to travel to the United States to discuss settlement terms directly with the state department. He arrived in Philadelphia on 10 Feb. 1795 (Hamilton, Papers, 18:14–15; Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 17:538–540; Philadelphia Gazette, 12 Feb.).

Humphreys’ companion on the journey was Nathaniel Cutting, who had received the dual appointments of consul to the Port of 382 Le Havre de Grâce and secretary to Humphreys during the Algerian mission, in Feb. and March 1793, respectively (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series, 12:189, 190, 456; Jefferson, Papers, 25:470–471).

John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, 11 February 1795 Adams, John Adams, Thomas Boylston
John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams
My dear Thomas Philadelphia February 11. 1795

Your Letter of the 19 of October from London gave me great Joy and all your other Friends of whom you have many much Pleasure— And I was again highly delighted to hear from Mr Jay that he had Letters from your Brother at Amsterdam the 20th of Novr.

Mr Wilcocks who is kind enough to take Charge of this Letter is probably an Acquaintance of yours: You must take him with you in your Daily Walks for your health, and shew him as many Places Persons and Curiosities as you can.

Europe must be a new World to You. Entertainment, Information and Instruction may be obtained wherever you go. The civil Law and the Law of Nature and Nations are to be obtained in Holland as in some sort their natural Country. The Politicks of Europe are seen from thence as well as from any Place whatever. Arts science Litterature are to be met with in every street almost.

But the English Language and English as well as American Law must, I fear lie dormant for some time.

Inclosed are some Newspapers for your Brother and you which will shew you the News Debates &c1 But We shall have nothing very interesting here till Mr Jays Treaty Arrives. Our People are very quiescent at present and our Self created societies a little humbled. Our Six Per Cent stocks have risen to Par and will not probably again fall—2

I feel the Want of your society: but your Travels will be a great Advantage to you and that consideration composes me.— You have lost the opportunity of seeing two sisters of Miss Nelly Custis older than her; Patty who is unmarried and Betsy who is married to Mr Peters of George Town. Fine Girls I assure you. Your young Acquaintance here are all well excepting Mr Clymer, whose Death you must have heard of.—

Our Family and Friends are all well. I want you or your Brother to Purchase Cujacius for me— Keep it for your own study sometime and then send it to me, or bring it when you come. Buy the best Edition.3 Gail and Hoppius and Vinnius you may get at a moderate 383 Price sometimes and often little Compendiums of Justinian for a trifle.4

I long to have a detail of your Travels, especially in Holland. You will soon get the Language, and Spreek with the Mynheers in their own Hollandsh—

The French too will be indispensable. When you travel in that Country you will run about in the Trecht Schuits. Dont let any vain notions of Dignity lead you to despize this method of travelling, it is the most agreable least expensive, most instructive, and most wholesome mode of conveyance in that Country.

Go to an English or French Church every Sunday and become acquainted with the Clergymen.

I am my dear son with a tender / solicitude for your Welfare your affectionate / Father

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “T. B. Adams Esqr”; endorsed: “The Vice President of the United States / 11 Feby 1795 / 29 April Recd:.”


Enclosures not found.


For much of February, the value of 6 percent bonds remained at par value. A weekly snapshot of stock prices through July, when the treaty was made public, reveals little fluctuation with values dropping no lower than 19.2 and even rising above par on 20 June (Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 3 Feb. – 31 July).


Jacques Cujas was a sixteenth-century legal scholar who published several works on jurisprudence. In 1658, his collected writings were edited by Charles Annibal Fabrot and published in Paris as Jacobi Cujacii, … Opera omnia, in decem tomos distributa. This ten-volume edition is part of JA’s library at MB ( Catalogue of JA’s Library ).


Offering comment on Justinian’s Institutes were Andreas von Gail, Practicarum observationum, tam ad processum judiciarium, praesertim imperialis camerae, Cologne, 1578; Joachim Hoppe, Commentatio succincta ad Institutiones Justinianeas, Danzig, 1693; and Arnoldus Vinnius, Commentarius … institutionum imperialium, Leyden, 1642.

Among JQA’s books at MQA are three editions of Justinian’s Institutes, two of which were published in Leyden, undated and 1761, and one in Paris, 1770; and Vinnius, published in Amsterdam, 1665. At one time JQA’s library also included a copy of Hoppe, published in Frankfurt, 1728. The copies of Vinnius and Hoppe were inscribed by him on 4 Dec. 1794 (Catalog of the Books Housed in the Stone Library Adams National Historic Site, Quincy, Mass., 1994; Catalogue of JQA’s Books ).