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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 2

Docno: ADMS-06-02-02-0025

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tudor, John
Date: 1774-07-23

To John Tudor

[salute] Dr. Sir1

You will be Surprised I believe, to receive a Letter from me, upon a Matter which I have so little Right to intermeddle with, as the Subject of this. I am Sensible it is a Subject of very great Delicacy: but as it is of equal Importance, to your own Happiness and that of your only Son, I hope and believe you will receive it, as it is really meant, as an Expression of my Friendship both to yourself and him, without any other View or Motive Whatsoever.
Your Son has never Said a Word to me, but from what I have accidentally heard from others, I have Reason to believe that he is worried and uneasy in his Mind. This Discontent is in danger of producing very disagreable Effects, as it must interrupt his Happiness, and as it may and probably will, if not removed injure his Health, and by discouraging his Mind and depressing his Spirits, disincline him to, or disqualify him, for his Studies and Business.
I believe, Sir, you are not so sensible as I am, of the Difficulty of a young Gentlemans getting into much Business in the Practice of the Law. It must, in the best of Times, and for the most promising Genius's be a work of Time.
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The present Situation of public affairs is Such as has rendered this Difficulty tenfold greater than ever.
The Grant from the Crown of Salaries to the Judges, the Proceedings of the two Houses of Assembly in Relation to it, and the general Discontent, throughout all the Counties of the Province, among Jurors and others, concerning it had well nigh ruined the Business of all the Lawyers in the Government before the News of the three late Acts of Parliament arrived. These Acts, have put an End to all Business of the Law in Boston. The Port Act of itself has done much towards this, but the other two Acts, have Spread through the Province Such an Apprehension that there will be no Business for Courts for Some Time to come, that our Business is at present in a manner at an End.
In this State of Things, I am Sure, it is impossible, that your Sons [Business?] should be Adequate to his necessary Expences, however frugal he may [be] I have heard that he complains, that it is not.
His Expences for the Rent of his office, for his Board, and Washing, must [amount] to a considerable Sum annually, without accounting a Farthing for other transient Charges which a young Gentleman, of the most sober and virtuous Character can no more avoid, than he can those for his Bed and Board. So that it is absolutely impossible, but he must run behind hand and be obliged to run in Debt for Necessaries, unless he either is assisted by his Father, or leaves the Town of Boston, and betakes himself to some distant Place in the Country, where if his Business should not be more his Expences may be vastly less.
I am well aware of the Follies and Vices So fashionable among many of the young Gentlemen of our Age and Country, and if your Son was infected with them, I would never have become, an Advocate for him, without his Knowledge as I now am, with his Father. I should think the more he was restraind the better.
But I know him to have a clear Head and an honest faithfull Heart. He is virtuous, Sober, Steady, industrious, and constant to his Office. He is as frugal as he can be, in his Rank and Class of Life, without being mean.
It is your peculiar Felicity, to have a Son whose Behaviour and Character are thus deserving.
Now there can be nothing in this Life So exquisitely painfull, to Such a Mind, So humiliating, So mortifying, as to be distrusted by his Father—as to be obliged to borrow of Strangers or to run in Debt and lie at Mercy.
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A Small Donation of Real or Personal Estate, made to him now would probably be of more Service to him, than ten times that Sum ten years hence. It would give him a small Income that he could depend upon—it would give him Weight and Reputation in the World, and would Assist him greatly in getting into Business.
I am under real Concern, lest the Anxiety he now Struggles with should prove fatal to him. I have written this without his Knowledge, and I dont propose ever to acquaint him with it. If you please you may burn this, only I must intreat that you believe it to flow only from real Concern for a young Gentn. whom I greatly esteem.

[salute] I am your Friend and humble servant,

[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi:Tudor Papers); addressed: “to John Tudor Esqr Cambridge”; endorsed: “from John Adams to John Tudor Esq July 23d 1774.”
1. John Tudor (1709–1795) was generally called Deacon John because of his position in the New Brick Church in Boston. Apparently he was in the marine insurance business and occasionally got involved in politics (John Tudor, Deacon Tudor's Diary, ed. William Tudor, Boston, 1896).

Docno: ADMS-06-02-02-0026

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tudor, William
Date: 1774-07-24

To William Tudor

[salute] Dr. Sir

In this Retreat I promise myself, much Pleasure from the Letters of my Friends in Boston,: and from none more than from yours. I rely upon it, you will not miss any convenient opportunity, of communicating any Thing of Importance that turns up,—even the Tittle Tattle of the Town, and the Anecdotes of private Social Life, will be acceptable.
Your Interest and Advancement in Life, is an Object which I have much at Heart. The Times are very discouraging at present, but never fear. They will be better. They cant be much worse.
I have Several Pieces of Advice to give you, and Proposals to make to you which I Shall communicate, as opportunity serves. One is that you procure yourself another office. The Situation you are now in, is not a good one. I should advise you by all Means, to look out and enquire, and provide yourself, as soon as you can with an Office in King Street,1—in some of the most public Places round the Exchange. You may depend upon it These are the best Places in the Town. The best Spot in Queen Street is not to be compared to them. I have Experience enough of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Situation. And you may depend upon it, that no Gentleman old or { 114 } young can be constant to an office, in any of those Places without Business if he is qualified to do it, as you unquestionably are. A Lawyer is Seen in one of these situations, every Hour in the Day by Multitudes who come from all Parts of the Province, the Continent the World, as well as the Town, and he grows to be considered as a capital Man insensibly. It is my clear opinion, you had better give double Rent there than in any other Place in Town.
Another Thing let me Advise you, to omit no Opportunity of Speaking. Dont concern yourself a farthing whether your Cause is to be obtained or lost. Take care that you do Justice to it—and then let Justice be done it by the Court and Jury in their Departments also. The Loss of your Cause will not hurt your Reputation. Speaking in Public will certainly Serve it. It is necessary that you prepare yourself beforehand, for arguing your Causes, at your first Beginnings. Make a Brief of Minutes in every Case—and if you Set down and commit to writing every Word of an Argument you design to Use it will not be amiss. The Faculty of arguing Causes extempore is not natural to any Body. It is acquired by Use, and Time and Habit.
I intended before I came out of Town to have given you an Invitation to take a Seat in my Pew at Dr. Coopers Meeting House.2 You had better go there than to hear Pemberton.3 You will be seen by more People, and those of more Weight and Consequence, and this will be of no Disservice to you. Besides you will certainly be entertained more according to your Taste, and your Soul will be edifyed full as well. My Pew is ever at your service, and I Should really be obliged to you, if you would fill my Place in it.
It is of Some Importance in Boston to belong to a Fine Clubb and to choose and get admitted to a good one. I will talk with you further upon this Head when I see you.
It is also of Consequence in Town to belong to some other Clubb. Clubbs in Boston are the Nurseries, of Statesmen Lawyers, Physicians, &c &c &c—and the Influence of them is not attended to by many, but it is very great.4
I want to take You into the Political Inquisition and examine your Principles in Government and your System of Politicks. You are like to enjoy a fair Inheritance in your Country, and are qualified to serve it—if your sentiments are like mine you cannot be an inactive Spectator of the Indignities she Suffers, without feeling and Resentment, but of this more hereafter. Keep this secret to yourself.
[signed] John Adams
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RC (MHi:Tudor Papers); addressed: “To William Tudor Boston”; endorsed: “July 24th 1774.”
1. Now State Street.
2. Rev. Samuel Cooper, pastor of the Brattle Street Church.
3. Rev. Ebenezer Pemberton (1704–1777), pastor of the New Brick Church (Sprague, Annals Amer. Pulpit, 1:336–337).
4. For all JA's emphasis on club membership, there is remarkably little in his writings about his own activity in clubs. We know he belonged for a time to Sodalitas, a study club for lawyers, and he was a member of the Sons of Liberty. An entry in his diary for 23 Dec. 1765 mentions his going to the Monday Night Club, a political club in which Samuel Adams and Otis were active, but he was not a member (Diary and Autobiography, 1:270; John C. Miller, Sam Adams, Boston, 1936, p. 37).
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, 2018.