Papers of John Adams, volume 14

From William Gordon, 10 May 1783 Gordon, William Adams, John
From William Gordon
My Dear Sir Jamaica Plain May 10. 1783.

From what Dr Holten writes me in his of the 16th ult I suspect You will be upon your passage home:1 however there is a chance of the contrary, therefore venture sending by the present conveyance from Providence to London. You are to have other letters from Braintree &c &c by the same channel; & yet this possibly may be first recd, for which reason I mention your family & friends being well; ere I tell you that your obliging favour of Decr 12th came duly to hand: & I congratulate You most heartily, not only on an extraordinary good peace, but on the part you have acted in obtaining it.2 I have seen yours to Tom Cod of Marblehead, & to Hutchinson's successor at Milton. Last monday sennight I dined at the aged Colo within about 2 ½ of your seat, where I saw & heard the contents of a ms story.3 We drank tea at the quondam Watchmakers, & spent the night where You have spent many a happy one: & I trust will do it again. For desert was admitted to the perusal of Extracts.4 It was against the directions of the supreme authority to carry the ms out 473of the house or to copy from it: but I stored my head with as much as my brains would carry. I was fully of the opinion that your joint advice to my Countryman was the best that could be given; & of this assured a Precious Dr in a late epistle to him. I wrote largely & fully to You the last Decr & committed it to the care of young Gray.5 We want You here, & yet I wish to have You at Westminster. I know not where you can be of most service. We are in poor situations: & need abler heads & quicker hands. Would be plainer, & fill my paper, but am jealous that all will be consigned to the fire, agreeable to my directions to Mr De Neufville in case You should be on your way to America.

With most affectionate regards I remain your sincere Friend / & very humble servant

William Gordon

My brother Dr the great bell of Boston has a letter from the Marquis Le Fayette with & by which he amuses his company & opens in hyperbolical commendations of the French,6 I am better pleased with mine from the Washington in Politics.7

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Dr William Gordon / May. 10. 1783.”


In his 16 April letter to Gordon, Samuel Holten indicated that JA would likely return in June, although his resignation had not yet been approved. Holten prefaced that news with the comment that “I don't know any one man, that I think, this Country is under greater obligations to than our worthy friend Mr. J. Adams” (Smith, Letters of Delegates , 20:192–193).


JA's letter of 12 Dec. 1782 has not been found, but to judge by Gordon's comments it was likely similar to JA's 14 Dec. letter to Elbridge Gerry and 15 Dec. letters to Isaac Smith Sr. and James Warren, all above, and Richard Cranch ( AFC , 5:47–48). In the next sentence Gordon indicates that he had seen those to Gerry (here “Tom Cod”) of Marblehead and Warren, the 1781 purchaser of Thomas Hutchinson's home in Milton (same, 4:78).


Presumably the dinner was at Col. Josiah Quincy's home and, if so, Gordon is likely referring to the gathering described by AA in her letter of 28 April to Charles Storer at which Storer's letters to Col. Quincy and his father, Ebenezer Storer, were read (same, 5:145–146, 148).


Gordon drank tea with the Cranches—Richard Cranch was a watchmaker—and then stayed overnight at the Adams home. In her 28 April letter to Charles Storer, AA wrote in closing that she had “to wait upon Dr. Gorden and Lady who are just come to spend the Night with me.” The “Extracts” almost certainly were from the version of JA's “Peace Journal” that AA received with his letter of 28 Dec. 1782 and upon which she comments at some length in her letter to JA of 28 April (same, 5:60, 141–145, 147), but see also note 7.


Gordon probably means his letter of 30 Nov. 1782 that JA answered on 15 April 1783, both above. It may have gone on the same vessel that carried AA's letter of 23 Dec. 1782, on which, she mentions, an otherwise unidentified “Mr. Gray” was going as a passenger (same, 5:54).


Gordon presumably refers to a letter from Lafayette to Rev. Samuel Cooper, but it has not been found.


Another indication that Gordon had likely read or heard portions of JA's “Peace Journal.” JA's Diary entry for 10 Nov. records a comment by an unidentified Frenchman that JA was “le Washington de la Negotiation” (JA, D&A , 3:50).