Papers of John Adams, volume 18

To John Jay

To John Jay

From John Adams to George Chapman, 3 December 1785 Adams, John Chapman, George
To George Chapman
Sir Grosvenor Square Decr. 3. 1785.

I received in due Season your Letter of the 20. July, with a Copy of your Treatise on Education. As I was much engaged at that time, I was not able to read it, but Mrs Adams, who read it carefully through, admired it so much, that she took the first Opportunity to send it to a worthy Clergy man in America, Mr shaw of Haverhill, who is much concerned in the Education of Youth.1 There is no Subject so interesting to the United States of America, who ought to consider themselves, not merely as forming a rising Generation of Freemen but as filling up a new World capable of containing & nourishing Some hundreds of Millions of Inhabitants. As such a Trust is peculiar to them, they ought to be very carefull, that no bad Principles or degrading Habits or Institutions, be found in that Country. I have found with much Pleasure in the various Parts of 5 Europe, that the Men of Letters in general who are possessed of the best Hearts and most virtuous Principles, are anxious to assist Us in the great Work We have to do. And I hope Sir, that your sentiments on Education may contribute their share, towards the formation of a free and virtuous Race, on that side of the Atlantic. I have the Honour to be / sir your obliged &c

LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr George Chapman / Inchdrewer near Banff / N. Britain.”; APM Reel 111.


The letter from George Chapman (1723–1806) has not been found. Chapman, a Scottish schoolmaster and educational writer, was the author of A Treatise on Education, with a Sketch of the Author’s Method, Edinburgh, 1773 ( DNB ). The volume sent by Chapman may have been the third edition, to which an appendix had been added, published at London in 1784. AA indicated in her 15 Sept. 1785 letter to her sister Elizabeth Smith Shaw that she had sent the book to Shaw’s husband, Rev. John Shaw, who was then preparing JQA to enter Harvard College ( AFC , 6:362).