William Stephens Smith to John Adams
Newyork april 6th. 1789—
Mr: Bourne has this moment waited upon me and informs, that he has been honoured by the senate with the appointment of being the Bearer of their Dispatches to you, relative to your election as Vice President of the Western Empire, upon which please to accept of my affectionate congratulations and of my sincere prayers that Heaven may guide and protect you in this great Career—1 The Virtuous members of this Government are very anxious to see you here, they promise themselves great aid in their pursuits from your Council and influence, and I am sure you will not fail in being here as soon as possible, your Country expects that your motions will be rapid after you recieve the official information, and when you consider that during the interregnum, the United states loose one thousand pr. Diem, I am sure you will haste to shelter them all in your power from greater loss—
My Calculation is that if this Gentleman travels by Land this will be presented to you on saturday next but If with a fair Wind he attempts the Water Communication, it may possibly reach you before— but Calculating on the former, I take the liberty of supposing that you will finish the Governors Ceremony on monday and rest, tranquilly at Watertown the same Evening, so that agreable to Contract you will arrive here on the Monday following, in which case I will meet you 15 or 20 miles out of town and inform you of the opinions at present Circulating here—2 I think it will be of service that Mrs: Adams should accompany you, for various reasons, both public & private, which it may be as well not to commit to paper— should you not leave Braintree before Monday, will you be so good as to write me by sunday’s post informing me of your arrangements, and intentions,3 this Letter will reach me the saturday night before you, and give me some hours to arrange my movements and to meet you prepared to relieve Mrs: Adams from the hurry and Ceremony which will accompany your reception
for further particulars I refer you to the Letter from Mrs:Smith to her Mama4 and am / Dr. Sir, Yours affectionately
W: S: Smith
RC (Adams Papers).
1. While the new federal government was scheduled to begin meeting on 4 March, the Senate did not have a quorum until 6 April (the House achieved a quorum on 1 April). Accordingly, on that day, Congress counted the ballots from the first electoral college. George Washington was elected president unanimously. JA was elected vice president with 34 electoral votes (out of a total possible 69 votes); the remaining votes were split among several other candidates (First Fed. Cong. description begins Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789 – March 3, 1791, ed. Linda Grant De Pauw, Charlene Bangs Bickford, Helen E. Veit, William C. diGiacomantonio, and Kenneth R. Bowling, Baltimore, 1972–. description ends , 1:7–9; 3:7).
The Senate appointed Sylvanus Bourne to notify JA of the election results. Bourne (1761–1817), Harvard 1779, was from Boston originally; he would later serve as the American consul at Amsterdam from 1794 to 1817 and have an extensive correspondence with JQA (First Fed. Cong. description begins Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789 – March 3, 1791, ed. Linda Grant De Pauw, Charlene Bangs Bickford, Helen E. Veit, William C. diGiacomantonio, and Kenneth R. Bowling, Baltimore, 1972–. description ends , 1:9; Harvard Quinquennial Cat. description begins Harvard University, Quinquennial Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates, 1636–1930, Cambridge, 1930. description ends ; Cornelis A. van Minnen, American Diplomats in the Netherlands, 1815–50, N.Y., 1993, p. 21).
2. Bourne arrived in Boston with the news of JA’s election on Thursday, 9 April, and JA set off for New York on the following Monday, 13 April. Much fanfare marked the event: “On this happy occasion, his Excellency our worthy Governour and Commander in Chief exhibited every possible mark of attention and respect for the Vice-President of our great American Republick, by ordering a military escort of Horse to attend him through the counties of Suffolk, Middlesex and Worcester, by giving an elegant colation at his house to a numerous collection of gentlemen who assembled there to take leave of the Vice-President, and by various honourary notices, both civil and military, which the Governour most opportunely displayed, and which our patriotick countryman richly merited.” For a complete description of the festivities accompanying JA’s departure, see Massachusetts Centinel, 15 April, and Boston Independent Chronicle, 16 April.
3. JA’s reply has not been found but based on WSS to JA, 19 April (Adams Papers), it was dated 10 April.
4. Not found.