Papers of John Adams, volume 18

To the Comte de Sarsfield

From John Jay

From John Adams to John Woddrop, 3 February 1786 Adams, John Woddrop, John
To John Woddrop
Sir. Grosvr. square Feby. 3. 1786

I have received the Letter you did me the honor to write to me on the 27th. of January—and several others before that some of which contained Letters for America, which I sent with my first dispatches.1

I have not answered any of those Letters because they related to a subject with which I have nothing to do. I am not come to this Country Sir—to solicit emigrations to the United states of America, nor to offer any Kind of Encouragement to such as wish to go—

All the World knows that my Country is open to strangers— But she offers no rewards or assistance— Those who love liberty, Innocence And Industry, are sure of an easy, comfortable Life, but they must go there to obtain it at their own Cost & Risque.


As to your Letters which may arrive from America, I shall never see them, & if I should I must be excused from opening them, as I have no concern in them whatever—

It is by no means my business to carry on or convey the Correspondences of Gentlemen at a distance who are total strangers to me, and therefore I pray that this intercourse may cease

I am

J. A—

LbC in WSS’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr. John Woddrop / Glascow”; APM Reel 113.


Glasgow merchant John Woddrop, formerly of Nansemond County, Va., wrote to JA on 21 June, 22 July, 15 Aug., and 25 Aug. 1785, 27 Jan. and 3 April 1786, and finally on 12 April 1787 (all Adams Papers). Claiming an affiliation with George Washington, the Lee brothers, and other influential Virginia families, Woddrop inquired about prospects for American immigration and trade. Woddrop also wrote to Henry Laurens and Benjamin Franklin for guidance, offering his services as a leather tanner, army soldier, or school-master (Laurens, Papers , 16:220–221).

Initially, JA forwarded Woddrop’s various enclosures to Virginia correspondents but took no further action. Similar requests flooded JA’s office, for, as AA wrote to JQA on 6 Sept. 1785: “If your Pappa had attended to the Letters he has received, and would have given any encouragement, he might have settled whole States, but he has always refused to do any thing upon the Subject. There is scarcly a day passes without applications” ( AFC , 6:343–344).