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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0017

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tufts, Cotton
Date: 1780-12-09

John Adams to Cotton Tufts

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Favour of July 25th was received in Paris in my Absence, and I have never had opportunity, to acknowledge it, till now.
You are now I hope happy, both in the Constitution and Administration of Government. It cannot be long before We shall see the Lists.
I am obliged to you for the Journal of the Weather, but cannot admit your Excuse for not writing me Politicks. Every one says you will have publick Affairs from others. So I get them from none.
The Institution of an Accademy of Arts and Sciences, does you much honour in Europe, and it will after a little Time be incouraged, many Ways. But dont set your Hearts upon Benefactions from abroad. It is a shame that We should beg for Benefactions. There have been but two Hollis's—there will perhaps be no more.1
Indeed America will never derive any good from Europe of any Kind. I wish We were wise enough to depend upon ourselves for every Thing, and upon them for nothing. Ours is the richest and most independent Country under Heaven, and We are continually looking up to Europe for Help! Our Riches and Independance grow annually out of the Ground.
The English are hiring ships here to carry Troops and Provisions to America—they have hired about a Dozen and there are Orders to hire as many as they can.
The Dutch are waiting for the English stocks to fall below Sixty { 30 } and then every body will put their Money into them. These Gudgeons are deceived. The English Emmissaries give out that there will be Peace, and the credulous Dutch believe it, and they think that after a Peace the English stocks will rise, as they did after 1763. So they hope to get 15 or 20 Per Cent clear Profit. But there is not the least Probability of Peace: nor will the English stocks rise after it, when it comes.
The Dutch have acceeded to the neutral Confederation, but this I suspect, will be brutum Fulmen.
I inclose you a Pamphlet or two2 and am, with affectionate Respects to the Family &c.
LbC (Adams Papers). The “Pamphlet or two” enclosed in missing RC have not been found, but one has been identified; see note 2.
1. Thomas Hollis and his adopted heir, Thomas Brand Hollis, were British “republicans” who had been generous benefactors of Harvard College and other American institutions of learning. See DAB under Thomas Hollis, and references to both men in JA, Diary and Autobiography .
2. Undoubtedly one of these was a literary effort that had cost JA much time and trouble during the preceding months. Entitled Pensées sur la révolution de l'Amérique-unie, extraites de l'ouvrage anglois, intitulé Mémoire, adressé aux souverains de l'Europe, sur l'état présent des affaires de l'ancien & du nouveau-monde, Amsterdam [&c.], n.d. (Sabin 64829), it had a long and complex history which can be given in only summary form here. It was a translation of what JA called an “Abridgment,” from his own hand, of an influential pamphlet by Thomas Pownall, A Memorial Most Humbly Addressed to the Sovereigns of Europe ..., London, 1780 (Sabin 64826). JA had prepared his version of this tract in the spring of 1780 and furnished a copy to Congress in the form of a letter to Pres. Samuel Huntington, 19 April (PCC, No. 84, I; LbC , Adams Papers). What appears to be JA 's draft or working copy, a holograph MS in nineteen folio pages much corrected in his own and another hand (probably Edmund Jenings'), is in the Adams Papers under the assigned date of 5 Sept. 1780; it bears the title “A Translation of the 'Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe,' into common Sense and intelligible English.” This or another English text was made available in June or early July 1780 to a Parisian named Addenet for translation into French. The translation followed JA to Amsterdam and was sent by him on 5 Sept. to the Leyden scholar-journalist Jean Luzac, who wrote a lengthy and valuable preface and caused the whole to be published anonymously under the title Pensées, &c. (as given above in this note). Copies reached JA in mid-November, and he at once began to circulate them diligently. Early in 1781, as a result of efforts by Edmund Jenings, JA 's friend in Brussels (on whom see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:355–356 and passim), the London publisher John Stockdale brought out an English edition under the by now sufficiently confusing title A Translation of the Memorial ... into Common Sense and Intelligible English (Sabin 35987). No subsequent edition has ever been issued, since CFA did not include it in JA's Works , and Wharton unaccountably omitted from the Diplomatic Correspondence JA 's letter to Huntington of 19 April 1780 embodying JA 's revision of Pownall's observations. This is the more regrettable because Pownall, who posited that the Americans had already won their independence, broke new ground in setting forth the future political and commercial relations between the Americas and Europe. JA 's redaction is significant both for what it includes and what it omits.
{ 31 }
The foregoing summary is based on extensive correspondence during 1780 and early 1781 between JA and Addenet, Jenings, Luzac, and J. D. van der Capellen surviving in the Adams Papers.

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0018

Author: Waterhouse, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-13

Benjamin Waterhouse to John Adams

[salute] Respected Sir

It so happened that I could not see the persons of whom I wished to enquire concerning the Schools, mode of education &c. untill yesterday, otherwise I should have written before.—The Gentlemen from whom I have my information have each of them a young person under their care about the age of your eldest, and are well acquainted with every thing appertaining to education in this City, from conversing with them I am able to inform you that besides the publick-school which is a good one, there are private masters in the latin and greek, who at the same time they teach these languages, teach the greek and roman History. With boys who are far advanced in greek they read and explain Euripides, Sophocles and others. The same person will if required repeat any of the Law-lectures to the pupil, and that indeed is what they are principally employed for, by those whose wives are to be Mevrouws.— There is a teacher of this kind in Leyden who is both an elegant schollar and a gentleman, such a one asks 20 ducats a year. There are besides two Professors of the greek languague, the one gives lectures on the new Testament, his hearers are generally students of Theology, the other on Euripides, Sophocles and such like, and are attended by young Gentlemen whose pursuits are similar to what I imagine your sons to be. To reap advantage from these classes it is necessary they should understand the latin pretty well because the explanations of the greek passages are given in that languague.
In regard to living I am persuaded they can live here for much less than at Amsterdam. Three furnished rooms would probably cost 20 guilders a month. We find our own tea, sugar, wine, light and fire, and give one ducat a week for dinner, it is always the same price whether we go to the public-house, or have it brought from thence to our own rooms, and it makes no difference with the people where we live, who never refuse to prepare our tables for us. In respect to their being Americans or Sons of Mr. Adams they will never meet with any thing disagreeable on that head, where any profit is like to accrue little do the Dutchmen care for their political, or even religious principles—Turk, Jew, or Christian make no difference with { 32 } them. I beleive we may say of them as they said of themselves at Japan when the Japonese enquired if they were christians—they answered, they were Dutchmen. If the Gentlemen should come, I can insure them an agreeable Society and a genteel circle of acquaintance. If they should not, I hope at least they will come and pay us a visit, and I think I need not add how ready I should be to render them any service in my power.

[salute] With my compliments to Comdr. Gillon and Mr Searl I remain with much respect your friend & Countryman,

[signed] Benjn. Waterhouse1
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To the Honbe. John Adams Esqr. Amsterdam; endorsed: “Dr. Waterhouse Decr. 16 ansd.” (no answer has been found), to which CFA later added “1780.”
1. Benjamin Waterhouse (1754–1846). This is the first known letter in a correspondence between Waterhouse and successive generations of Adamses which continued with no real intermissions for sixty years and documents a relationship, at all times warm and sometimes peculiarly intimate, between this gifted, eccentric, and controversial physician and the two Adamses who became Presidents of the United States.
Benjamin Waterhouse, born at Newport, R.I., had been apprenticed to a physician there, and then sailed to England from Newport in March 1775 in what is said to have been “the last ship to have left the blockaded port of Boston” (Trent, “London Years,” as cited below). His object was to obtain a truly professional medical education and training, and he succeeded in doing so by spending some seven years in Edinburgh, London, and Leyden, three of the chief centers of medical science in Europe.
Of great benefit to him during most of these years were the active patronage and advice of Dr. John Fothergill, a prominent London physician and philanthropist, who was first cousin to Waterhouse's Yorkshire-born mother; see Waterhouse to JA , 26 Dec. 1780, below. At Fothergill's suggestion, Waterhouse enrolled as a student with the medical faculty at Leyden in the fall of 1778, adding to his name in the matriculation register the words “Liberae Reipublicae Americanae Federatae Civis.” This gesture may have demonstrated that there was no tincture of toryism in Waterhouse's makeup, but since the Dutch had not yet recognized the new United States of America it caused some “uneasiness” among the authorities of the University (Anonymous “Sketch” in Polyanthos, as cited below; JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot , p. 572). Waterhouse took his medical degree in April 1780 with a dissertation De sympathia partium corporis humani, Leyden, 1780, spent the summer again in Fothergill's London home, and returned to attend lectures in history and the law of nations at Leyden, where JA found him extremely helpful in the critical matter of his sons' education. He was, JA later wrote, “though a sprightly genius, very studious and inquisitive, as well as sociable. ... As to his morals, I could hear of no reproach or suspicion; as to his politics, though he came from England, he came under the guardianship and pupilage of Dr. Fothergill, who was as good a friend to America, as any Englishman could be.... I did not, therefore, hesitate to consider him, in some respects, as one of my family” ( Corr. in the Boston Patriot , p. 572). Later letters in the present volume show the progress of Waterhouse's friendship with the Adamses. His observation at close range of JA 's campaign in the spring of 1781 to win Dutch recognition of American independence filled him with an admiration for JA that increased with the years. “I shall never forget some of his paroxysms of patriotic rage,” Waterhouse later { 33 } wrote of JA 's negotiations with the French minister at The Hague, who, under Vergennes' orders, tried to block JA 's efforts (Waterhouse to Levi Woodbury, 20 Feb. 1835, DLC: Woodbury Papers, vol. 16. This letter contains a number of details not elsewhere available; among other things it corrects JA 's account of his first meeting with Waterhouse, which actually took place “at the table of Dr. Franklin in Paris,” and furnishes a vivid description of JA 's composition and delivery of his Memorial to the States General of 19 April 1781).
When, in the summer of 1781, JA determined to send CA home, CA sailed with Capt. Alexander Gillon in the South Carolina from the Texel. A fellow passenger was Waterhouse, who, unlike CA , continued with Gillon to Havana and in consequence did not reach home until June 1782. In the following year he was appointed first professor of the theory and practice of physic in the Harvard Medical School, then just being organized; before long, he established himself and his (first) wife, the former Elizabeth Oliver, whom he married in 1788, in “a small but handsome seat with ten acres of land, on the Cambridge common, about 200 paces in front of the colleges” (Waterhouse to Dr. James Tilton, 24 March 1815, MHS, Procs. , 54 [1920–1921]: 163). The house still stands at 7 Waterhouse Street facing the Common on the northwest; see Hannah Winthrop Chapter, National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, An Historic Guide to Cambridge, Cambridge, 1907, p. 142 and facing illustration. When JA sent JQA home from Paris to prepare for admission to Harvard College, he placed him as “your old Acquaintance” under Waterhouse's special care, writing him a remarkable letter detailing JQA 's studies to this point ( JA to Waterhouse, 23 April 1785, MHi:Adams-Waterhouse Corr.; printed in Ford, ed., Statesman and Friend , p. 5–8); and in 1806 JQA lived in the conveniently located Waterhouse home when he gave his first Boylston lectures on rhetoric and oratory at Harvard.
This is not the place to try even to summarize Waterhouse's long and versatile career as a physician, popularizer of natural history studies, promoter of vaccination for smallpox, health crusader, polemicist, journalist, and, during his later years, inveterate beggar of government appointments. It is enough to say, for one thing, as Dr. Trent has very well said, that, although Waterhouse returned from Europe “without doubt one of the best educated men in America,” America itself was at the time “not ready for so ambitious a young physician” and promoter of scientific causes. “[H]is experiences abroad,” in the company of leaders in medicine, science, and politics, “incapacitated him, in a sense, for the life he had to live at home” as a physician practicing in a provincial town. (See Trent's two articles cited below; also the two studies by Blake, also cited below, which reach similar conclusions from additional evidence, especially in relation to Waterhouse's campaign introducing Jennerian vaccination to the United States, a campaign that was successful but marred by Waterhouse's pervasive egotism and his hankering for “excessive personal pecuniary profit.”) Irked by the humdrum of ordinary practice and meeting repeated disappointments in what he considered purely philanthropic projects, he grew embittered and quarrelsome. These traits did not, however, impair his powers as a letter-writer. On the contrary, his habit of telling his troubles in circumstantial detail, mixed with engaging reminiscences, sarcastic wit, and the unfailing inquisitiveness JA had observed in him as a student at Leyden—all these enlivened his correspondence with JA and JQA to the end, and in turn evoked some of their best letters in reply. “[A]s you are among the most pleasant of my Correspondents,” JQA wrote Waterhouse as late as 1833, “as well as among the choicest of my friends, I cannot leave home without ... craving the continuance of your kind communications during the ensuing Winter” (21 Oct. 1833, MHi:Adams-Waterhouse Corr.). The truth was—and this is the second telling point to be put on record here—that both of the Adamses shared a fellow feeling with Waterhouse not simply because of their early intimacy with him but because they believed he was to some ex• { 34 } tent the victim of the same forces in Federalist New England with which the Adamses were increasingly embattled after 1800, “the Junto-men” (as Waterhouse denominated them) who, at least in the eyes of these correspondents, dominated business and politics in Boston and academic affairs at Harvard. Over three hundred letters exchanged by Waterhouse with JA and JQA are known to survive, but this is by no means all that once existed, for Waterhouse's widow (the former Louisa Lee, his second wife, whom he had married in 1819) requested the return of his letters after his death, and her request was complied with, though fortunately only in part. (See correspondence of Mrs. Waterhouse with JQA and CFA in 1847–1848, in the Adams Papers.) It would appear that Mrs. Waterhouse destroyed most if not all of the letters then returned but preserved a substantial number of JA 's and JQA 's letters to her husband, now comprising the Adams-Waterhouse Correspondence in the MHS. Of these materials Worthington C. Ford edited a portion, chiefly JA 's letters, with a few of Waterhouse's replies from the Adams Papers, in the pleasant volume he entitled Statesman and Friend (1927); and Donald M. Goodfellow printed one complete letter from JQA and extracts from others in his article, “Your Old Friend, J. Q. Adams,” NEQ , 21:217–231 (June 1948).
On Waterhouse's career and his relations with the Adams family, see—besides the Ford and Goodfellow collections just mentioned, the specific letters cited above, and Waterhouse's published writings, often autobiographical in character —the following: Anonymous, “Sketch of the Life of Benjamin Waterhouse, M.D.,” The Polyanthos, 2:74–86 (May 1806); John B. Blake, Benjamin Waterhouse and the Introduction of Vaccination: A Reappraisal, Phila., 1957; John B. Blake, “Benjamin Waterhouse, Harvard's First Professor of Physic,” Jour. of Medical Education, 33 (1958), unpaged offprint; Robert H. Halsey, How the President, Thomas Jefferson, and Doctor Benjamin Waterhouse Established Vaccination as a Public Health Procedure (N.Y. Acad. of Medicine, Hist, of Medicine Ser., No. 5), N.Y., 1936; William Coolidge Lane, “Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse and Harvard University,” Cambridge Hist. Soc., Pubns., 4 (1909): 5–22; William Roscoe Thayer, ed., “Extracts from the Journal [1836–1844] of Benjamin Waterhouse,” same, p. 22–37; Josiah C. Trent, “Benjamin Waterhouse (1754–1846),” Jour. of the Hist, of Medicine, 1 (1946): 357–364; Josiah C. Trent, “The London Years of Benjamin Waterhouse,” same, p. 25–40; Henry R. Viets, article on Waterhouse in DAB .
It is certain that Waterhouse kept a journal while in Europe, for references in later letters and writings allude to or imply the existence of such a journal, and a letter from JA , 10 Jan. 1810, cautions Waterhouse: “The Extracts from your Journal I should think, those Parts I mean which relate to [James] Searle and another [Major William Jackson?], I should advise to be reserved from the Publick for the present” (MHi: Adams-Waterhouse Corr., printed in Ford, ed., Statesman and Friend ). This suggests that Waterhouse was preparing his early journal, at least that part relating to his voyage home with CA and Gillon in 1781–1782, for publication at this time, but perhaps thanks to JA 's advice his European journal seems never to have been published, and recent efforts to locate the original have been unsuccessful. It would doubtless shed desired light on the Adamses sojourn in the Netherlands if it could be found.