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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 2


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Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0155

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Thaxter, John
Date: 1777-04-08

John Adams to John Thaxter

[salute] Dear Sir

Your kind Favour of March 22. reached me Yesterday. I am much obliged to you for your Account of the Proceedings of the Superiour Court, and wish you to continue to give me a regular Account of their Progress. The Order, and Happiness of the State and even its Safety, depend much upon that Court, and I long to learn that they are fully employed in the Distribution of Justice, both in the civil and criminal Branches.
The Restraint you mention you may wholly lay aside, and write to me with the Utmost Freedom and without Reserve. . . .1 I should be happy, to answer any of your Letters and Enquiries as well as I can at this Distance, and with all my Avocations.
There is one Subject, which I would wish you to turn your Thoughts to, for your Amusement, as soon as possible. It is likely to be the most momentous political Subject of any. It is the Subject of Money. You will find in Mr. Locks Works a Treatise concerning Coins,2 and in Postlethwait, another of Sir Isaac Newton under the Terms, Coin, Money, &c.3
It is a Subject of very curious and ingenious Speculation, and of the last Importance at all Times to Society, but especially at this Time, when a Quantity of Paper more than is necessary for a Medium of Trade, introduces so many Distresses into the Community, and so much Embarrasses our public Councils and Arms.
In the Writings of those great Men you will see the Principles of Commerce and the Nature of Money. And after understanding it perfectly as a Philosopher and a Statesman, I hope you will soon have many honest Opportunities of handling a great deal of it as a Lawyer. I am, sir, with much Esteem your Friend,
[signed] John Adams
1. Suspension points in MS .
2. In JA 's own set of The Works of John Locke, Esq., 4th edn., 3 vols., London, 1740 (in MB, vol. 1 missing), are three papers on money and coining, at vol. 2:1–59, 60–66, 67–106.
3. The work to which JA refers was Malachy Postlethwayt's great compendium entitled The Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce, first published in 2 vols., London, 1751–1755, and reissued repeatedly. One would suppose from the present reference that there was a copy of Postlethwayt in JA 's library at this time, but the edition among his books in the Boston Public Library is the fourth, 2 vols., folio, London, 1774, which has on the front flyleaf of the first volume “The United States of America” in JA 's hand, strongly suggesting that he acquired it during one of his diplomatic missions and charged it to the United States; see his Diary and Autobiography , 2:343. In the Catalogue of JA 's Library { 206 } the book is somewhat perversely entered under the name of the original compiler, Jacques Savary, whose work Postlethwayt translated and greatly enlarged. Under the term “Coin” Postlethwayt prints two contributions by Sir Isaac Newton.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0156

Author: Smith, Isaac Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1777-04-10

Isaac Smith Sr. to John Adams

[salute] Mr. Adams

Yours by post I have received, and with what Armes is Arrived this way, hope will be a full supply, and wish there were an equal Number to make Use of them. Although Our Number is not compleated, yet by what we can learn, we have as many or more than any of the goverments and are marching forward dayly.
The story of the burning the Arsenal att Plymouth wish was more Authenticated, As we have a prize ship here which Arrived sometime since, that left Falmouth the 6 Jany. which knows nothing of itt, tho itt seems there were some damage tho not as has been reported.1
I received a packet directed to me and the Other Gentlemen from the Honble. board of the Marine department, and wish I had been excused in the Matter, but as itt seems to be A Matter of Importance, and haveing two Gentlemen which are better Capacitated, than my self, we shall go on the business immediately, but believe will be a Considerable troublesome Affair.
I wish we were better Able to coape with the enemy att sea, for they have the Advantage of us greatly for they seem to take almost every thing. They have got Bermudas as a place of rendezvous, by which they have all the Advantage possible. I had a Master come by the way of N.York last week, haveing been taken in a brig of mine with 300 hhd. Molasses, [powder?], small Arms and sundry Other Articles, by which shall be a large sufferer.
Bro. Smith and Cousin Betsey is here. Mrs. Adams and family are well—and are in haste Yr. H. S.,
[signed] Isaac Smith
PS. The loss of the Cabot is an Unhappy Affair.2
1. This report doubtless arose from the exploits of James Aitken, the mad incendiary better known as John the Painter, who made repeated but largely abortive attempts during the winter of 1776–1777 to burn the royal dockyards and shipping at Portsmouth, Plymouth, and Bristol, England. See William Bell Clark's engaging and definitive account, “John the Painter,” PMHB , 63:1–23 (Jan. 1939).
2. The Continental brig Cabot, Capt. Joseph Olney, was pursued, beached, and captured in Nova Scotia waters, March 1777 (William J. Morgan, Captains to the Northward . . ., Barre, Mass., 1959, p. 83–85).
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