Papers of John Adams, volume 18

From Stephen Higginson

To David Ramsay

From John Adams to James Bowdoin, 1 August 1786 Adams, John Bowdoin, James
To James Bowdoin
Sir London August 1. 1786. 1

I have lately written to Congress, An Account of the Sentiments and Conduct of the Lords of the Admiralty, upon Captain Stanhopes Letters, which will no doubt be transmitted to you from 417 N. York.2 It consists in Substance in the Signification to Capt. Stanhope of the “Sensible Displeasure” of their Lordships, and in his Recall from the American Station.

In a late Visit to the Hide a Country Seat of Thomas Brand Hollis Esqr, he told me, that among a Parcell of Books he lately Sent to the University or the Accademy of Arts and Sciences he intended to have placed Prices Treatise, on Minerals, Mines and Mining,3 but it was then lent out. being Since returned, he requested me to transmit it4

The Bearer, will take the Charge of it and deliver it to your Excellency as President of the Accademy of Arts and Sciences to be presented to them, in the Name of Thomas Brand Hollis Esqr, one of their Members, and a Gentleman, with whom, as a beneficent private Character and a warm Friend of Liberty, and of America, I have the Pleasure to live upon Terms of Intimacy.5

With great Respect, and Esteem, I have the / Honour to be, Sir your most obedient and / most humble Servant

John Adams.

RC (MBA); internal address: “His Excellency James Bowdoin”; endorsed: “[…] J[ohn] Adams’ Letter with / Pryce’s Treatise on mines &c from / Mr Hollis— / Read Jany 31. 1787—” and “1 Aug 86.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 113. Some loss of text due to a tight binding.


With the exception of a 5 Aug. letter to WSS, portions of which were in JA’s and AA’s hands ( AFC , 7:307–309), this and JA’s 1 Aug. letter to David Ramsay, below, are the last extant letters by JA until he returned to London from Amsterdam in September. Then his correspondence resumed on the 11th with letters to Thomas Jefferson, below, and Bowdoin and Jonas Dryander, for both of which see note 4 to this letter.


To John Jay, 15 July, above.


William Pryce, Mineralogia Cornubiensis: A Treatise on Minerals, Mines, and Mining, London, 1778.


JA wrote again to Bowdoin in his role as president of the academy on 11 Sept. (MBA). With that letter he enclosed astronomical observations made by the royal observatory at Greenwich between 1775 and 1784, and the first portion of the Royal Society’s transactions for 1786. JA had received them as enclosures in a 9 Sept. letter, not found, from Jonas Dryander, librarian of the Royal Society, to which JA replied on 11 Sept. (LbC, APM Reel 113).


Thomas Brand Hollis (ca. 1719–1804) was an antiquarian and benefactor of Harvard, to whom the college awarded an honorary degree in 1787. He was the heir of Thomas Hollis (1720–1774), also an antiquarian and donor to Harvard, whose name he took on Hollis’ death ( DNB ). Thomas Brand Hollis dined with the Adamses at London in mid-April 1786, and between 24 and 29 July the Adamses, including AA2 and WSS, visited him at his residence, The Hyde, in Torrington, England, an outing that JA describes in considerable detail in his Diary. JA and AA visited him again on 3 Aug. on their way to the Netherlands (JA, D&A , 3:188, 196–200; AFC , 7:348; DNB ). For accounts by AA2 and AA of Hollis and The Hyde, see AFC , 7:297–300, 344–346.