Papers of John Adams, volume 18

519 To John Adams from John Brown Cutting, 13 December 1786 Cutting, John Brown Adams, John
From John Brown Cutting
My Dear Sir Inner Temple. 13 Decr 1786

A croud of thanks to You for the pleasure and instruction I have received from your defence of the american constitutions. I have as yet read it but three times, because I wish to forget it a little before I read it a fourth; but I find that impossible: I shall therefore only wait till you give us the augmentation promised. Let me intreat You for the sake of mankind in general and the united states in particular not to defer it long. I pant impatiently to peruse it entire.1

I beg my best compliments to Mrs Adams and am much obliged for the intelligence contained in the judicious letter of Judge Cranch;2 she will pardon my detention of it and a newspaper, which on being interrupted in reading, I pocketed, last sunday, without ceremony.

The bussiness of Mr Atlee’s estate I mean immediately to undertake.3 For which purpose, agreably to the direction of Mr Chief Justice McKean, (who in his letter to me says, “his Excellency John Adams Esquire will advance any money, for searches in offices, copies of wills and deeds, travelling and all other expences about this enquiry”). I am to request a draught on your banker for five and twenty guineas, by the bearer, who is trusty and faithful.

I have the honor to be with much esteem & respect / Your obliged and most obedient servt:

John Brown Cutting

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency John Adams Esquire.”


Cutting was among the first to record his reaction to the first volume of JA’s Defence. What makes his comments all the more interesting is that he was reading a manuscript copy, since the printed volumes were not available until mid-Jan. 1787 (to Richard Cranch, 15 Jan., below). Cutting’s reference is also important because it gives an indication as to when JA finished the first volume, but see Volume 1 of John Adams’ A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, [ca. 15 Jan.], Editorial Note, below. Cutting, in a letter probably written in Aug. 1787, indicated that he then was reading either a manuscript copy or the galley sheets of volume 2 of the Defence, published in Sept. 1787. There he returned JA “his warmest acknowledgments for the entertainment and invaluable instruction” that he had received (Adams Papers, filmed at [Jan. 1787?]).


Since Cutting made his apology to AA, he likely meant Cranch’s 5 July 1786 letter to AA with which were enclosed newspapers recounting the opening of the Charlestown Bridge ( AFC , 7:242–244).


For Cutting’s efforts on behalf of the estate of William Atlee, see Thomas McKean’s 1 July letter, and notes 2 and 3, above.