Papers of John Adams, volume 17

To Tristram Dalton

To James Sullivan

50 To Samuel Mather, 26 April 1785 Adams, John Mather, Samuel
To Samuel Mather
Sir Auteuil April 26. 1785.

I received with Pleasure your valuable Legacy, and your Letter by Mr: Temple.1 I am obliged to you for these Attentions to me, and should have acknowledged them sooner if the public Service had not so constantly employed me.

Your Son, and his Lady, with Mrs: Hay, were so kind, as to call and dine with us at Auteuil last Fall. They are now at Beaugency, at some distance from Paris, but in good Health.2

I had hopes of returning home, and of the Pleasure of seeing again my friends in Boston; but Congress are sending me to England, & what I am to meet with there or how long to stay I know not.3 I have however a great Comfort in knowing that if I can do no good there I shall soon go home.

My Son John Quincy Adams will have the Honour to deliver you this, and let me ask the favour of you to shew him your Library, as it has an excellent Effect upon young Minds to look into the Libraries of such great characters as the Line of Dr: Mathers.

With great Respect, &c

LbC in JQA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Revd: Dr: Mather.”; APM Reel 107.


This is Mather’s letter of 13 Nov. 1783, with which the son of Cotton Mather and longtime Boston minister enclosed his Dying Legacy of an Aged Minister of the Everlasting Gospel, Boston, 1783, Evans, No. 18032 (vol. 15:362–363).


Samuel Mather Jr., his wife, Margarette Gerrish Mather, and their traveling companion Katherine Farnham Hay, wife of Capt. John Hay, were at Beaugency, approximately one hundred miles southwest of Paris. The younger Mather was a loyalist and former chief clerk of the Boston customs office who fled to England upon the British evacuation of Boston, but he later returned to America (JQA, Diary , 1:210–211). On 7 May 1785 the younger Mather wrote to JA (Adams Papers), enclosing a packet for his father that JQA was to carry on his return to America. But when JQA reached New York he learned that the elder Mather had died on 27 June and lamented to AA2 that “I have a Letter from your Pappa to him, and a small packet from his Son. I don’t know who I shall give them to” ( AFC , 6:226, 230).


This is JA’s first reference to his 24 Feb. appointment as minister to Great Britain. He almost certainly learned of it from Elbridge Gerry’s 25 Feb. letter to Thomas Jefferson that Jefferson received on 26 April (Jefferson, Papers , 7:652; 8:142). JA’s failure to mention the appointment in any of his other letters of this date likely indicates that he received the news just as he was finishing his correspondence for the day, since the letter to Mather is the final LbC entered on the 26th. Moreover, in his letter to Richard Cranch of 27 April, JA indicated that “last evening” Jefferson had called on him and showed him a letter from Gerry “in which it is said that Mr. Adams is appointed to London” ( AFC , 6:109). AA noted the arrival of the news in her 26 April letter to Cotton Tufts, declaring that “this is an event tho not unexpected from the late Letters which have been received, yet an event which will load with cares and anxieties the Head and Heart of my Friend, subject him I suppose to many 51censures, and no small share of ill nature” ( AFC , 6:106). JQA recorded the event in his Diary entry for 26 April, writing that “I believe he will promote the Interests of the United States, as much as any man: but I fear his Duty will induce him to make exertions which may be detrimental to his Health: I wish however it may be otherwise. Were I now to go with him, probably my immediate Satisfaction, might be greater than it will be in returning to America” (JQA, Diary , 1:256).