Papers of John Adams, volume 16

From Edmund Jenings

From the Baron von Thulemeier

Isaac Smith Sr. to John Adams, 13 March 1784 Smith, Isaac, Sr. Adams, John
From Isaac Smith Sr.
Sr: Boston March the 13th: 1784

The ship Dutche’s of Kingston in which Mr Dana came in is now bound to Lisbon, from whence this will be forwarded, as probably itt may reach you allmost as soon as any Other way—1

Mrs. Adams was with us lately who with the family are well Colo. Quincy departed this life last week— Our G. C. are seting & have been for sometime past— a few days since came on the salaries for the Officers of the Colledge, & was upon the Carpet three days & finally itt was referd to next Sesions which suppose will be a new One. they could not even get a Vote for £105,2 & as to the judges who are a most worthy sett, have not half enough. we have this Year the most Odd sett of mortals not indoubd. with the least generous publick-spirit only just to serve their Own purposes— suppose Govr: Hancock will be in anotha Year. Genl Lyncoln has been thought of sometime ago but being att the head of the Cesenantie order itt being so much dislikt he will not have any chance even iff he should 89 have a mind for itt, which I dont know that he has.3 about Ten days since the definitive Treaty was Celebrated here— In this weeks Town meeting the Commite’s of Correspondance & Inspection was Unanimously dropt—4 there is a bank about to be establisht here much upon the footing of the Phila. which is supposd to be of a general Utillity & the subscription is now full sufficient to the Opening—5

We have had a most disagreeable winter of storms & cold weather & still continues— I wish some of the Dutch gentrey would get into a notian of building Vessells here & should like to build half a dozd for them— There is no good Vessell bound to London, indeed we have nothing to load a Vessell with. Capt Callahan is about geting One to go next month as he lost his Vessell this Winter which Billey went in which I Ownd part & was a sufferer.6

Should Callahan get a good Vessell should Advise Mrs. Adams to go with him7

Your friends are in general well, though we had many Young people dyd, by a Scarlet fever which carries them of in a few days—

I am with Respect sr. Yr h Servant

Isaac Smith

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “John Adams Esqr.”


This vessel is the Kingston, Duchess of Kingston, or Empress of Russia, as it was variously referred to, which brought Francis Dana to Boston on 13 Dec. 1783. AA’s letters to JA and JQA of 15 March 1784 also went by this vessel (vol. 15:307; AFC , 5:307–311).


Apparently the Mass. General Court had provided only part of the year’s salary for Harvard’s faculty in 1783, and thus by March 1784 it was in arrears. Nevertheless, on 11 March compensation for the “Governors of the University at Cambrige” was put off until the next session. The issue was taken up again on 28 May, and the Mass. house of representatives resolved on 17 June “that there be granted to the Rev. Joseph Willard, President of said university, £105.13s.4d. which together with former grants, was in full of his salary to the first day of January 1784.” Professors Samuel Williams and Edward Wigglesworth were also granted their salaries for the previous year (Mass., Acts and Laws , 1782–1783, p. 727; 1784–1785, p. 216–217; Records of the States: Mass., House Journal, A.1b, Reel 11, Unit 1, 4:454; Unit 2, 5:15, 56).


Benjamin Lincoln was elected president of the Massachusetts chapter in June. He did not run for governor (Myers, Liberty without Anarchy , p. 38, 39).


At the 8 March Boston town meeting the question was posed “whether it be the sense of the Town to choose a Committee of Correspondence Inspection and Safety the present Year,” and it “Passed in the Negative” (Boston, 31st Report , p. 2, 4). The committee’s passing had particular significance for JA because it dated back to 2 Nov. 1772 when Samuel Adams moved for its establishment in response to rumors that Massachusetts judges were to receive royal salaries. JA played a significant role in that controversy, writing eight essays “On the Independence of the Judges” between 11 Jan. and 22 Feb. 1773, for which see vol. 1:252–309. For JA’s comments on the significance and effect of his cousin’s creation, see vol. 8:356, 357, 365–366, 370; 9:16, 44, 45–46.


The Massachusetts Bank, of which Smith was one of the stockholders, was incorporated by the General Court on 7 Feb. 1784. James Bowdoin was elected its president in March ( AFC , 5:289).


This was the Peace and Plenty, on which Smith’s son William had sailed for England in mid-1783. On 2 Jan. 1784, while returning to America, the vessel went aground off 90 Cape Cod near the town of Truro. John Callahan’s new vessel was the Gloucester Packet (vol. 15:446; AFC , 5:204; 6:35).


Callahan sailed in April before AA completed her preparations for departure. AA went to Boston on 24 May and obtained passage on the Active, Capt. Nathaniel Byfield Lyde, sailing for London with AA2 on 20 June ( AFC , 5:317, 318, 330, 350).