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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0185

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1784-05-28

John Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] My dear John

At Amsterdam I received your Letter of the 18 and to day that of the 20th.
Write me, when you Ship the Books for Rotterdam, and by what Captain what Vessell and to whom addressed.1
Your principal Attention Should be to Parliament, and the Bar at present. Your Stay will be short and you will not probably have another Opportunity of being much in London, for upon your Return I shall keep you very close to Business and your Studies.
Mention to me all the Americans you fall in Company with.
Mr. Jay and Family are embarked at Dover, on board of Captain Cooper for N. York, according to my Information. Let me know, when Mr. Laurens Mr. Gorham &c. Sail and when Mr. Hartley returns from Paris. And continue to give me the News from America, which is always pleasant to hear, but dont put me to an Expence again of five { 334 } Guilders for the Postage of a List which is not to me, worth five doits.2 Dont think of Postage however, when you have any Thing of Consequence to Send, or any Thing, altho it be of mere Amusement to write.
I had a delightful Tour to Amsterdam, in the Yacht of the City with the Deputies and their Ladies, last Saturday, and returned last night, after finishing, much to my Satisfaction the Business I went on,3 and taking the Amusement of the French Comedy and an Excursion to Sardam.4 I shall get your Books Cloaths &c. and mine from Paris sooner than those which you are to send by Rotterdam as I expect, so that We Shall be all collected with all that belongs to Us when you return, ready to embark alltogether for Boston as soon as We shall be ordered or judge it expedient. I dont intend to go, however under a Year, at least, unless some necessity for it should occur which I dont at present foresee. In short I begin to take Pleasure in this Country, and to find the Way of preserving my Health. As I Said to you here. Be discreet.—Slow to Speak, and Swift to hear.—Make no Ennemies, and as many Friends as you can honestly.
Buy me the History of English Poetry, by Watson5 I think it is, the great Man who was shewn Us at Oxford, and Send it with the rest, or by a private Hand.
Our Ladies have a fine Season, and may they soon arrive. They will not stay long in England I hope. They and you will find the Hague in all its Glory. It is now a beautifull charming Country.
Do you remember a Miss Pynchon who lived with Mrs. Green in Boston? She is now Mrs. Platt in Amsterdam.6 I thought I met one of my family. Dont let any body see my Scroles. My Breakfasts dont relish, for want of a little Plutarch, with the Coffee.
Give me your Character of the Oratory of the great Speakers in the House, &c. If you dont judge with the Infallibility of Longinus and Quintilian, at present, if you begin to judge now you will be Skillful in time.
[signed] your Papa
RC (Adams Papers). docketed: “My Father. 28. May 1784”; and in CFA's hand: “Mr. Adams. May 28. 1784.” This letter is written in an unusually expansive hand. Perhaps this reflected JA's mood which, in expectation of AA's arrival, with improving health, and following the successful completion of so much financial work in Amsterdam, was more confident than it had been in years.
1. See JQA to JA, 25 May, and note 4, above.
2. Perhaps a reference to JQA's list of recently elected New York and South Carolina congressmen (JQA to JA, 20 May, above), taken from the kind of source that JA could easily acquire, a newspaper. JA's remark here suggests that JQA may have enclosed or sent separately the newspaper itself, thereby increasing the postage.
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3. JA left The Hague sometime after 20 May for Amsterdam, and returned on the 27th. His primary business was to collect over five hundred large denomination bills, worth nearly half a million florins, from Messrs. Fizeaux, Grand & Co., and deliver them to his Amsterdam bankers, the Willinks. JA directed the Willinks to send the bills to Thomas Barclay in Paris. He also instructed Barclay to send his personal belongings from Paris to Amsterdam by the same express that brought the bills to Paris. He added that Barclay “need not mention at present that I have sent for my Effects.” JA hoped to spend the rest of his European stay at The Hague, away from Benjamin Franklin, but he did not care to advertise this intention (JA to Barclay, 20 May [LbC, Adams Papers], 24 May [PHC; LbC, Adams Papers], and 28 May [LbC, Adams Papers]; the quotation is from his letter of 20 May).
4. Or Saardam, a commonly used name for Zaandam, a large town about five miles northwest of Amsterdam. Among its attractions for tourists, then and now, is a small building called the Hut of Peter the Great, after the Russian monarch's brief stay there, while working in a Zaandam shipyard in 1697, during his tour of western Europe in 1697–1698.
5. Thomas Warton, The History of English Poetry from the Close of the Eleventh to the Commencement of the Eighteenth Century, 3 vols., London, 1775–1781 (Catalogue of JA's Library).
6. Perhaps Abigail Pynchon, daughter of George Pynchon and Abigail Pease of Springfield, Mass., who married Jeremiah Platt of New Haven, Conn., in June 1780 (NEHGR, 38:47 [Jan. 1884]). JQA visited a Jeremiah Platt in New Haven in Aug. 1785 (Diary, 1:306).

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0186

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-06-01

John Quincy Adams to John Adams

[salute] Hond. Sir

Yesterday I received your favour by Dr. Parker, and was very glad to find you pleased with your situation, tho' I was myself in pretty low Spirits. I have been continually endeavouring to get acquainted with some person who would introduce me into the House of Commons, and have not as yet succeeded; on the other hand, Callihan is arrived; has had a delightful passage, but in lieu of our ladies, has only brought some letters which you will receive by Mr. Bingham1 who leaves this Place, next Friday. So that I have not been able as yet to put in execution the two principal Reasons, for which you sent me here. It gives me real pain, to find that I am so unsuccessful an Ambassador. Still I hope to do something. I shall however wait for your orders to determine upon what I have to do. The Letter unsealed, in the Packet Mr. B[ingham] will deliver you is from Mr. Higginson to Mr. Jackson—or rather, extracts from such a Letter.2 Mr. Jackson desired me to Copy those extracts, as he supposed they would be interesting to you. The seal upon the Packet, is that of the Quincy arms,3 and is a good impression, tho the middle part is not quite plain. Mr. Jackson thinks these details are ne[cessary?].
The Cincinnati seem to be very much disliked, [on the?] other side the Atlantic; several States have shown [their?] disapprobation of them and it is supposed the order w[ill] soon be entirely annihilated.
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The House of Representatives of our State have taken some Resolutions upon the Subject, which are I think quite noble. But perhaps you have seen them.4
Mr. Jay is at Dover, or has sailed from thence within these few days, Mr. Laurens went down to see him last Saturday, and I believe, returned yesterday tho' I have not seen him, since then. He intends sailing himself within a fortnight for Boston. Mr. Chace,5 and Mr. Gorham are both here still.

[salute] With Respects to Mr. Dumas and family, Your dutiful Son.

[signed] J. Q. Adams
The enclosed letters were brought by Mr. W. Warren, who came with Captn. Callihan; the cover of the large one, you will find torn; I intended to open it supposing there might be letters in it for me; but before I had opened it I was told the hand writing and the seal were Mr. Daltons:7 I therefore left it as it was, and hope you will receive it so.

[salute] Your dutiful Son.

[signed] J. Q. Adams
RC (Adams Papers). addressed: “à Son Excellence Monsieur J. Adams Ministre Plenipotentiaire Des Etats Unis de l'Amerique Hollande à La Haye”; endorsed: “John 1. June 1784.” Some damage to the text where the seal was removed.
1. These letters included AA to JA, 12 April, above, carried on Capt. Callihan's ship by Winslow Warren (see the postscript). Warren also carried AA to JQA, 25 April, above. William Bingham, a wealthy banker and land speculator from Philadelphia, had served as American agent in Martinique, and had corresponded with the American commissioners in 1778. In 1784–1785, he and his wife, Ann Willing Bingham, became well acquainted with the Adamses while traveling in Europe. See JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:149; JA, Papers, 6:37; DAB.
2. The extracts in JQA's hand are dated April and 4 May 1784, and are under those dates in the Adams Papers. The extracts for April, printed in part in Amer. Hist. Assoc., Annual Report for 1896, 1:713–719, speculate on the effect on trade if Britain were to repeal its Navigation Acts. In this letter Higginson also asserted that if Franklin alone were to represent the United States, without the restraining influence of JA and John Jay, or any other person, France would quickly determine the character of Anglo-American commercial relations. The May letter deals at some length with French influence in Congress and its harmful effects. Jackson referred to these extracts in a 7 June letter to JA (Adams Papers). Stephen Higginson and Jonathan Jackson, both former congressmen from Massachusetts, were business partners (Benjamin W. Labaree, Patriots and Partisans: The Merchants of Newburyport, 1764–1815, Cambridge, 1962, p. 62).
3. Presumably the arms of Roger de Quincy, second earl of Winchester (1195–1264), from whom the American Quincys believed they were descended. Roger's father, Saer de Quincy, first earl of Winchester, was one of the twenty-five barons chosen to compel King John's observance of Magna Carta. In 1787, while traveling through the south of England, AA became greatly interested in the tradition that she was descended from the thirteenth-century Quincys. And in 1831, JQA incorporated the Quincy coat of arms in an elaborate book-plate that drew together ar• { 337 } morial devices from several of the families from which he was descended (DNB; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:204; Henry Adams, “The Seals and Book-Plates of the Adams Family, 1783–1905,” in Catalogue of JQA's Books, p. 135–148, esp. 144, and illustrations opposite p. 142, 146 [Quincy arms in the lower left quadrant of the shield]).
4. All that the journals of the House and Senate record is the naming of a joint committee to consider how “to prevent the ill consequences of any combinations . . . to promote undue distinctions among the citizens of this free State and tending to establish an hereditary nobility.” Soon thereafter, a new joint committee was created to inquire into details and report back (Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass. A. 1b, Reel No. 11, Unit 1, p. 389, 16 Feb.; p. 420, 26 Feb.). But a condemnation of the Cincinnati attributed to the legislature was published (see John Thaxter to JA, 19 Jan., Adams Papers).
5. The State of Maryland had sent Samuel Chase, a former congressman and a friend of JA's from 1774, to England to try to recover the state's stock in the Bank of England, which two loyalists had carried off with them (DAB).
6. The following note is written on a separate sheet.
7. Tristram Dalton to JA, 6 April (Adams Papers).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/