Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 16 March 1777 JA JQA


John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 16 March 1777 Adams, John Adams, John Quincy
John Adams to John Quincy Adams
My dear Son Philadelphia March 16. 1777

There is an observation, which I wish you to make very early in Life because it may be usefull to you, when you grow up. It is this, that a Taste for Literature and a Turn for Business, united in the same Person, never fails to make a great Man. A Taste for Literature, includes the Love of Science and the fine Arts. A Turn for Business, comprehends Industry and Application as well as a faculty of conversing with Men, and managing Affairs.

I hope you will keep these two Objects in View all your Lifetime. As you will not have Property to enable you to pursue your Learning alone, you must apply yourself to Business to procure you the Means of subsistance. But you will find Learning of the utmost Importance to 178you in Business, as well as the most ingenious and elegant Entertainment, of your Life.

You must acquire the Art of mixing Study with Business and even with your Pleasures and Diversions.—Omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit utile dulci.—There is a Bone for you to pick. Ask Mr. Thaxter, after giving my Love to him, to help you Parse this latin Line. Take it Word by Word, and be able when I come home to give me the Construction of the Line, and the Parsing of every Word in it.—I am your affectionate Father.

LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “J.Q.A.”

John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, 16 March 1777 JA Adams, Thomas Boylston


John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, 16 March 1777 Adams, John Adams, Thomas Boylston
John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams
Tommy Philadelphia March 16. 1777

I believe I must make a Phisician of you. There seems to be a Propriety in your studying Physick, because your Great Great Grandfather after whom you was named, was of that Profession.1 Would it not please you to study Nature, in all her wonderfull Operations, and to relieve your Fellow Creatures under the severest Pains, and Distresses to which human Nature is liable. Is not this better than to be destroying Mankind by Thousands. If you are of this Opinion, you will change your Title from General to Doctor. It requires the Character of rugged and tough, to go through the hardships of riding and walking Night and Day to visit the sick, as well as to take Care of an Army.—I am your affectionate Father.

LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “T.B.A.” Tr, in the hand of LCA and probably from the now missing RC, is in Lb/JA/26, a collection of transcripts of JA's letters made for JQA in 1829 when he was at work on his father's papers.


Thomas Boylston (1644?–1696?), JA's mother's grandfather, “a Surgeon and Apothecary who came from London in 1656” and settled in what is now Brookline, Mass. (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:256; see Adams Genealogy).

John Adams to Abigail Adams 2d, 17 March 1777 JA AA2


John Adams to Abigail Adams 2d, 17 March 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
John Adams to Abigail Adams 2d
My dear Daughter Philadelphia March 17. 1777

I hope by this Time, you can write an handsome Hand; but I wish you would, now and then, send a Specimen of it, to Philadelphia to your Pappa, that he may have the Pleasure of observing the Pro-179ficiency you make, not only in your Hand Writing, but in your turn of Thinking, and in your Faculty of expressing your Thoughts.

You have discovered, in your Childhood, a remarkable Modesty, Discretion, and Reserve; I hope these great and amiable Virtues will rather improve, in your riper Years. You are now I think, far advanced in your twelfth Year—a Time when the Understanding generally opens, and the Youth begin to look abroad into that World among whom they are to live.—To be good, and to do good, is all We have to do.

I have seen, in the Progress of my last Journey, a remarkable Institution for the Education of young Ladies, at the Town of Bethlehem, in the Commonwealth of Pensilvania. About one hundred and twenty of them live together under the same Roof; they sleep all together, in the same Garrett every night. I saw one hundred and Twenty Beds, in two long Rows, in the same Room, with a Ventilator about the Middle of the Ceiling, to make a brisk Circulation of the Air, in order to purify it of those gross Vapours, with which the Perspiration of so many Persons would other wise fill it. The Beds and Bed Cloaths were all of them of excellent Quality, and extreamly neat.—How should you like to live in such a Nunnery? I wish you had an opportunity to see and learn the curious Needle Work, and other manufactures, in Flax, Cotton, Silk, silver and Gold which are carried on there. But I would not wish you to live there. The young Misses keep themselves too warm with dutch Stoves, and they take too little Exercise and fresh Air to be healthy.—Remember me, with the tenderest Affection to your Mamma and your Brothers. I am with inexpressible Affection, your Father.

LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “Miss Nabby.” RC not found, but a normalized text of it was printed in AA2, Jour. and Corr. , 2:5–6.