Papers of John Adams, volume 2

From Mary Nicolson, 26 May 1774 Nicolson, Mary JA From Mary Nicolson, 26 May 1774 Nicolson, Mary Adams, John
From Mary Nicolson
Boston, Thursday 1/2 past 12– May 26, 1774 Dear Sir

I have this moment been enformd that You and a Number of Worthy Gentlemen, have been Honorably negatived, by Our new Governer.1 I most sincerely give you Joy of it, for “when impious men bear sway, the Post of Honor is a private Station.”2 I could have wish'd you had, at this critical Season, been one of the Honble. Council, but your Abilities, can nevertheless be of service to your Country. May they ever be exersized in its interest! This will procure you a more lasting Glory than all the Titles in the gift of any Tool of Tyranny. I am Sir, after my tenderest wishes for your Ladys restoration to confermd health, Your Affectionate Friend and Humle. Servt.,


RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “John Adams Esqr Present”; docketed in a later hand.

97 98 1.

For JA's wry comments on his exclusion from the Council by the last two royal governors, see Diary and Autobiography , 3:325.


The sentiment is adapted from Joseph Addison, Cato, Act IV, scene iv: “When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway.”


Mary Nicolson (1739–1775?) was part of the Adams-Smith-Cranch circle (Boston Record Commissioners, 24th Report , p. 237). For references to her as “Arpasia” in the JA–AA courtship correspondence, see Adams Family Correspondence , 1:26–27, 29–30, 42. By the late 1760's, she was earning her living as a seamstress in Boston, where her friendship with the Adamses continued. (See her bill for sewing to Isaac Smith, 19 Aug. 1769, MHi:Smith-Carter Papers.) Her brother Capt. Thomas Nicolson (1748–1798) served as a courier for the Adamses and the Warrens in 1776 ( Adams Family Correspondence , 2:119).