Adams Family Correspondence, volume 4

Abigail Adams to John Adams

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams

232 John Adams to Abigail Adams, 21 October 1781 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 21 October 1781 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Amsterdam Oct. 21. 1781

I have not yet seen the Work from whence the inclosed Extracts were made. A set is on the Road, a Present from the Friend of Man, to me. Meantime a Friend at a Distance who has a Set has sent me these Extracts.1 They are worth printing in the Gazette, not to gratify the Vanity of an Individual so much as for the noble Testimony of a Character so much respected as that of Mr. Hollis in favour of our Schools and System of Education. I think too his sentiments that an Agent should stay but 3 years applicable to Congress Ministers, according to which Rule, my time is out.

I have great Occasion for a few of the New England shillings. Pray send me, half a dozen if you can procure them by different Occasions.2

With never ceasing affection, yours.

RC (Adams Papers). For the enclosure see note 1.


The “Extracts” (of which JA enclosed a copy in his own hand, now in MHi:Cranch Papers, under date of 1781) were originally furnished by Edmund Jenings in his letter to JA from Brussels, 17 Sept. (Adams Papers). Jenings' letter devoted three of its six folio pages to two quotations from [Francis Blackburne,] Memoirs of Thomas Hollis, Esq., London, 1780, a work in two large and elegant quarto volumes containing numerous engravings. (On JA and Hollis see index to JA's Diary and Autobiography .) The first quoted passage from the Memoirs, 1:400–401, relates to the publication and authorship and extols the substance of JA's anonymous essays, originally published in the Boston Gazette in 1765 and reprinted in London by Hollis in 1768 under the title Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law. It concludes with the text of a brief letter Hollis addressed to the Empress Catherine of Russia in 1768, transmitting a passage from the Dissertation in praise of the New England plan of education at public expense. The second passage from the Memoirs, 1:416–417, quoted in Jenings' letter is from a letter written by Hollis to the Boston clergyman Andrew Eliot Sr., 10 May 1769, and deals chiefly with the qualifications of a colonial agent, mentioning JA as a person well qualified.

After some difficulties, JA obtained a set of Hollis' Memoirs; see JA to Jenings, 9 Oct., 28 Dec. (both in Adams Papers). Volume 2 of this set survives among JA's books in MB ( Catalogue of JA's Library , p. 28).


In his letter to JA of 17 Sept., cited in note 1, Jenings had mentioned that Thomas Brand Hollis, heir of Thomas Hollis (see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:188), desired a specimen of early Massachusetts coinage. It was JA's intent to send one to supply this want. He repeated his request in his (2d) letter to AA of 4 Jan. 1782, below.