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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 9


Docno: ADMS-04-09-02-0131

Author: Smith, William Stephens
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1791-10-21

William Stephens Smith to John Adams

[salute] Dear Sir.

The information I gave you relative to Mr. Hammonds official Character at the moment of your departure for Philadelphia, you will probably have confirmed previous to the receipt of this—1
The various important stations I have filled and the particular agency I had in producing this conciliatory advance of the British Court to the Government of The United States, Justifies to my mind the offer I propose making, of myself as a Candidate for the appointment at the Court of St. James's, in addition to this Mr. Hammonds Communications to me from Lord Grenville are so strongly marked with respect and Confidence, that I should not think, I did Justice to my Country, my family or myself should I omit presenting { 233 } myself to The President at this period— particularly as the British Cabinet have pointedly instructed Mr. Hammond to pursue steadily the line, I marked out in my communications with Lord Grenville the last winter, as details in the Letter I addressed to the President on the 6th. of June last, viz. to enter into a full discussion & fulfillment of the unsettled points of the last Treaty, as a primary essential—to establish such Commercial regulations as the Interests of the two Country's require, and to leave all other points to their own operation, aided by the friendship & good understanding which the preceeding arrangements may produce,—
In addition to this mark of the esteem and Confidence of the Cabinet of England, Mr. Hammond is charged by his Court to take some proper opportunity and communicate to The President, not as if they were disposed to take the lead of his Judgement, in a Case like this, but that they conceived it a Compliment due from them to me, to assure the President, that on the appointment of a Gentleman to reside at the Court of London, no one would be more acceptable than myself or more likely to be agreable to the King and Cabinet of England— This Communication Mr. Hammond informed me he thought it his duty to make as early as possible
As I cannot reconcile it, to my feelings and the respect I entertain for you Sir, to attempt so important an object thro’ any other medium, and relying on your friendship and disposition to promote my interest & the Honour of our connected families, I beg the favour of your presenting the enclosed letter to the President, and of supporting it by such observations as your better Judgement may dictate I am further induced to pursue the object thro’ this Channel as the pursuit coincides with the letter, You once did me the Honor to address to The President on similar subjects, to aid you in this business, I will mention, that previous to the removal of Congress from New York, The President required of Mr. Jefferson a list of those Gentlemen whom he would recommend to his Consideration for foriegn Diplomatic appointment Mr. Jefferson told me in that case he had put my name amongst the first on the list— some time after Mr. Hamilton was called on to submit a few names to the President as persons proper to be employed to negociate the late loan— on that paper which contained 3 names, I was the second, but Mr. Jeffersons influence introduced Mr. Short tho’ not mentioned by Mr. Hamilton & carried his point.2
However notwithstanding all this, should I not prove successful { 234 } the knowledge of the failure, will be confined to my friends and for myself I shall not be at a loss to decide on the principles of it or find any difficulty in digesting the disappointment—
I am with great respect & regard / Your most Obedt. / Humble Servt.
[signed] W: S: Smith
RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); internal address: “To / The Vice President / of The United States—”; docketed: “Wm S Smith / Oct 21st 1791”; notation on enclosure: “Copy of the Letter / addressed to The President.” For the enclosure, see note 2, below.
1. George Hammond (1763–1853) arrived in New York aboard the packet Grantham on 18 Oct. and apparently met with WSS before proceeding to Philadelphia, where he arrived two days later. Appointed British minister plenipotentiary to the United States, Hammond had been instructed not to assume that rank until the appointment of an American counterpart to Britain. In the meantime, he was authorized to act only as consul general. Hammond presented his credentials as minister on 11 Nov., just two days after George Washington finalized his choice for the London post, Thomas Pinckney. Hammond, whom JA had known as David Hartley's secretary during the 1783 peace negotiations, served as minister to the United States until 1795 (New York Daily Gazette, 18 Oct.; Washington, Papers, Presidential Series, 8:483; Jefferson, Papers, 18:280, 22:262).
2. WSS enclosed not only the RC of his 21 Oct. 1791 letter to Washington, which JA forwarded along, but also a copy for JA, which is retained in the Adams Papers. Believing that his 9 April interview with British home secretary Lord Grenville had helped to secure the appointment of a British minister to the United States, WSS wrote to the president to claim credit and to offer himself as a candidate for U.S. minister to Britain. He did not receive the appointment. Chagrined at this second rebuff— Washington had dismissed his 6 June report on the interview—WSS on 7 Feb. 1792 resigned the office of supervisor of revenue for the district of New York in favor of “such private pursuits as may guard my own feelings from further unpleasant exercise” (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series, 9:104–105, 562–563).

Docno: ADMS-04-09-02-0132

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Thomas Boylston
Date: 1791-10-28

John Quincy Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams

[salute] My dear Brother

I received your favour of the 17th: instt: from New-York, and am happy to hear you had got well so far on your journey.1 I hope you will be equally punctual on your arrival at Philadelphia.
I must request your attention to the memorandum, which I left with you last Spring; and that you would not forget to send my segars before the navigation closes for the Season. the numbers of the Gazette of the U.S. which I want are 99 and 101. of the 2d: Vol: and 6 & 18 of the 3d:
Nothing material has occurred since you left us. I was at Braintree a few days ago. Mr: Cranch is, we hope out of danger, but will have a very tedious time with his leg. I fear he will be confined through the whole winter.
Our Court of Common Pleas sat last week. I argued one cause to { 235 } a jury; that of Nightengale, and obtained a verdict for him.2 I found my confidence in myself growing much stronger, and acquitted myself more to my satisfaction than I had ever done before.— Since that time I have had another opportunity to take a practical lesson of public speaking. The Committee of the General Court, who are to report upon the petition of the North Parish in Braintree for incorporation, sat at Milton last Wednesday to hear the parties. I was employed with W. Cranch and B. Beale by the parish Committee to support the petition. We were all of a standing; but as I was the oldest in years, it fell to my lot to close the argument, and to answer, the objections from Dorchester and from the other parishes in Braintree. Mr: Hichborn was a Committee man from Dorchester, and Mr: Robbins was employed as Counsel for the other parishes.3 The debate lasted about four hours. I was nearly one in my argument, and like Dogberry in the play “found it in my heart to bestow all my tediousness upon their honours.”4 You may well imagine I was not equal to the task, especially as I had not had even twenty four hours time for preparation, or for obtaining the necessary information relative to the facts. I was not at all satisfied with my performance, but believe I did not lose any ground, with the audience. These opportunities have both afforded me some consolation, as they have tended to convince me that I may, with the help of experience acquire at least a decent capacity for forensic contention. This has for these fifteen months past, been one of the greatest sources of my anxiety and apprehension. The present stagnation of professional business, must be temporary, but an utter disqualification for public speaking would have been perpetual, and would have cut the cable from the sheet anchor of my hopes.— You have often been witness to my fears on this head, and it is for that reason that I am thus minute in detailing the circumstances, which suspend at least their operation, and tend to give me some encouragement.— I expect to argue one cause more at the next session of our Court of Common Pleas in January, and if so, I shall again inform you, whether my diffidence continues to decline, and my hopes to assume consistency.
In the mean time business is as dull as ever. If I have very little to do, I find myself in very respectable company. Yet I cannot easily suppress the sigh when the reflection recurs that I still subsist upon paternal bounty.— If I cannot acquire my own subsistence, I will at least endeavour to deserve it, and in the long winter before us I intend to pursue, with as much ardour as if my prospect of reward { 236 } was much greater than it is, the studies connected with my profession and with science in general.
Your friends in this town are well. Quincy told me he intended soon to write you.— Callender gallant as ever.— I saw Miss Breck last evening, at the assembly; she enquired particularly after Louisa.5
Write as often as you can. Love to all the family, and believe me to be ever affectionately, your brother.
[signed] J. Q. Adams.
October 29th:
I have just received your's of the 23d. instt: and am happy to hear you arrived agreeably at Philadelphia.6 I shall take care of the enclosed Letters, and have nothing further to communicate.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mr: Thomas B. Adams. / Philadelphia.”; endorsed: “28th Oct: 1791.”
1. Not found.
2. See JQA to William Cranch, 17 Aug., and note 3, above.
3. In Jan. 1791, 129 men from Braintree's north precinct, or parish, along with 21 others from the middle precinct and adjoining parts of Dorchester and Milton, petitioned the Mass. General Court for incorporation as a new town. The senate took up the matter on the 28th, and an order was issued inviting the town of Braintree to comment at a hearing before the General Court scheduled for 16 February. Nine days before the hearing, the Braintree town meeting, dominated by men from the middle and south precincts who rejected any division of the town, voted to send six agents to oppose the petition and authorized them to hire an attorney at town expense to assist them. The town meeting at the same time directed Ebenezer Thayer Jr., Braintree's representative in the legislature, to use his influence there against the petition. What happened at the General Court hearing is not known, but the senate subsequently appointed a committee to consider the petition. In preparation for a hearing before that committee—the 26 Oct. hearing in Milton at which JQA spoke—the Braintree town meeting on 27 Sept. chose four agents to attend and oppose the petition. What occurred at the committee hearing is also not known, but the committee afterward returned a report in favor of the petition, which the senate accepted. On 21 Jan. 1792, the two houses of the legislature voted to allow the petitioners to bring in a bill to put their petition into effect. On 22 Feb., the bill passed, and a day later, Gov. John Hancock approved it, incorporating the town of Quincy (CFA, History of Braintree, Massachusetts (1639–1708), the North Precinct of Braintree (1708–1792), and the Town of Quincy (1792–1889), Cambridge, 1891, p. 269–270; Braintree Town Records, p. 601, 611; Pattee, Old Braintree, p. 58–62; Boston Argus, 27 Jan. 1792; Mass., Acts and Laws, 1790–1791, p. 319–320).
4. A paraphrase of Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing, Act III, scene v, lines 22–25, where Dogberry, having been accused by Leonato of being tedious, mistakes the gibe for a compliment and graciously replies, “but truly, for mine own part, if I were as tedious as a king, I could find in my heart to bestow it all of your worship.”
5. Josiah Quincy III and John Callender (1772–1833) were Harvard classmates of TBA studying law in Boston with William Tudor and Christopher Gore, respectively. Both young men would be admitted to practice before the Suffolk County Court of Common Pleas in 1793. Callender would go on to serve as clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court from 1815 until his death (Harvard Quinquennial Cat., p. 203; William T. Davis, Bench and Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2 vols., Boston, 1895, 1:113, 265, 285; Catalogue of Records and Files in the Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for the County of Suffolk, Boston, 1897, p. 145; Amherst, { 237 } N.H., Farmer's Cabinet, 29 Nov. 1833).
Hannah Breck (1772–1846), daughter of Samuel and Hannah Andrews Breck, would marry JQA's Harvard classmate James Lloyd Jr. in 1809 (Samuel Breck, Genealogy of the Breck Family Descended from Edward of Dorchester and His Brothers in America, Omaha, 1889, p. 40–41, 208–209; Harvard Quinquennial Cat., p. 201).
6. Not found.
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.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/