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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 7


Docno: ADMS-04-07-02-0072

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-05-26

John Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] My dear son

Give me leave to congratulate you on your Admission into the Seat of the Muses, our dear Alma Mater, where I hope you will find a Pleasure and Improvements equal to your Expectations. You are now among Magistrates and Ministers, Legislators and Heroes, Ambassadors and Generals, I mean among Persons who will live to Act in all these Characters. If you pursue your Studies and preserve your Health you will have as good a Chance as most of them, and I hope you will take Care to do nothing now which you will in any future Period have reason to recollect with shame or Pain.
I dont expect you to Spend much of your time in Writing to me: Yet a short Letter, now and then will be indispensable, to let me know how you do, what you want and how you like. If your Brother Thomas is fitted, I hope he will enter, this Summer: because, he will have an Advantage in being one Year with you. My love to Charles. I hope he loves his Book. I have great dependence on you to advise your younger Brothers, and assist them in their Studies. You talk french I hope, with Charles, and give him a taste for french Poetry: not however to the neglect of Greek and Roman, nor yet of English. Your Letters to your Sister have been very entertaining to Us, and I hope you will continue them, as much as you can without neglecting Things of more Consequence. My Respects to the President, Professors and Tutors, if any of them should enquire after me. You are breathing now in the Atmosphere of Science and Litterature, the floating Particles of which will mix with your whole Mass of Blood and Juices. Every Visit you make to the Chamber or study of a schollar, you learn something.
Inform yourself of the Books possessed by private Schollars and { 206 } of the Studies they pursue. This you will find a valuable source of Knowledge. But I must Subscribe myself, your affectionate Father
[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mr John Quincy Adams Student at the University of Cambridge near Boston”; endorsed: “Mr: Adams. May 26. 1786.” and “My Father 26. May 1786.”

Docno: ADMS-04-07-02-0073

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tufts, Cotton
Date: 1786-05-26

John Adams to Cotton Tufts

[salute] My dear Friend

There is a Subject So closely connected, with the Business of my Mission to this Court, that I can no longer be Silent upon it, with Honour. The most insuperable Bar, to all their Negotiations here, has been laid by those States which have made Laws against the Treaty. The Massachusetts is one of them. The Law for Suspending Execution for British Debts, however coloured or disguised, I make no Scruple to say to You is a direct Breach of the Treaty.1 Did my ever dear honoured and beloved Massachusetts, mean to break her public faith? I cannot believe it of her. Let her then repeal the Law without delay.
I cannot conceive the Reason, why the senate did not concur with the House, in repealing the Laws excluding the Tories. Why should a Silly Warfare be kept up at so great an Expence against those Wretches?
It is our Persecution alone, that makes their Enmity powerful and important. Are We afraid they will be popular and persuade our People to come under the British Yoke again? We have one infallible Security against that, I assure you. This Government and this Nation would Spurn Us, if We were to offer them, the Sovereignty of Us. The Reason is plain, they know it would be the certain and final Ruin of the Nation to accept it, because We could throw them again into a War, not only against Us, but France Spain and Holland, and emancipate ourselves again whenever We should please.
Are the Merchants afraid, the Tories will get their Commerce? What is this to the Country? Their Capitals will assist Us in Paying our Debts and in opening a Trade every Way. Are our Politicians afraid of their Places? In Freedoms Name let our Countrymen have their own Choice, and if they please to choose Jonathan Sewal2 for their Ambassador at st James's, I will return to Pens Hill with Pleasure.
{ 207 }
I long to see my Countrymen Acting as if they felt their own great Souls, with Dignity Generosity and Spirit, not as if they were guided by little Prejudices and Passions, and partial private Interests.
On the one hand I would repeal every Law that has the least Appearance of clashing with the Treaty of Peace, on the other I would prohibit or burthen with Duties, every Importation from Britain, and would demand in a Tone that would not be resisted, the punctual fullfillment of every Iota of the Treaty on the Part of Britain. Nay I would carry it so far, that if the Posts were not immediately evacuated I would not go and Attack them but declare War directly and march one Army to Quebec and another to Nova Scotia.
This is decisive Language you will say. True. But no great Thing was every done in this World but by decisive Understandings and Tempers, unless by Accident.
Our Countrymen have too long trifled with public and private Faith, public and private Credit, and I will venture to say that nothing but Remorse and Disgrace, Poverty and Misery will be their Portion untill these are held sacred.

[salute] I am my dear Friend ever yours

[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “recd. July 10th Capt. Bigelow.”
1. The “Resolve Directing the Common Law Courts to Suspend Rendering Judgment for Interest on Actions brought by Real British Subjects, or Absentees, to Third Wednesday of the Next Session,” which violated Art. 4 of the Anglo-Amer. peace treaty, passed on 10 Nov. 1784. It was renewed on 7 Feb. 1785 (Mass., Acts and Laws, Resolves of 1784, Oct. sess., ch. 77; Jan. sess., ch. 38; Miller, Treaties, 2:98).
2. Jonathan Sewall, Harvard, 1748, former attorney general of Massachusetts, and one of JA's closest friends until the Revolution drove them apart. During the 1760s the two men debated the merits of James Otis Jr. and Govs. Bernard and Hutchinson in the Boston newspapers. (For JA's contributions, see Papers, 1:58–94 , 174–211.) Sewall and his family left Boston in 1775 and were living in Bristol (Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 12:306–325). For JA's parting with Sewall in 1774 and reunion in 1787, see vol. 1:135–137, note 5.
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/