John Adams to William Stephens Smith
Philadelphia January 18th: 1797—
I Received yesterday your kind Letter of the 13th and Return you and yours the Compliments of the Season and Thanks of your Congratulations on the Probability of a Cartain Election1 the felicities or infelicities of what Events however are Hidden from our Vew by that impenetrable Veil which Covers Futurity the Prospect at Present is not very bright a Country Impotent at Sea tho Powerful at Land indignantly Sees itself Injured with Circumstances of Contempt and Insolence by more Then one foreign Nation and will hardly be Persuaded to bleive That it is not more or less the fault of thair Government Tho that Should be administered with all the zeal Diligence Fidelity and Skill that its administraters Profess if I am in, I Cannot retreat and indeed I would not if I Could for I May as will mount a breach as another and if it falls to my Lot it will not be my fault and I will rely on the Spirit and Resources of my Country—and the Blesing of Providence I have alredey as Good a Coach as I wish and as I must have a Chareat I have ingaged a Good one here in Case I Should want it I want two Pair of Bay Horses and have written to Mr Abraham Hunt of Trinton and mr Drake of Brunswick Mr Hunt whose answer I have Received Cannot at Present Supply me from mr Drake I have no answer2 if you Hear of one or more Pairs I Should be Glad you would inform me of them and thair Prices
I am not able to Say that Little Suzen is the Greatest beauty I Ever See But I know I have two Charming Little Grand Daughters both of wich appear beautiful in my Eyes they are both “fine Crosses” your kind wishes for my Success and Prosperity are Very Obliging and are Returned by mine for yours the Socratic3 Philosophy, the Roman Empire the Christian Religion all great things Have begun by being Despised our Nation began in Contempt and altho it Punished that offence in one Nation it is not yet Sufficiently Respected
I hope we Shall not have to make another Nation Repent of her insolence at So great an Expence of Blood Treasure Labour— I am Sir affectionate yours
LbC in Samuel Bayard Malcom’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Col. Smith.”; APM Reel 117. This is the first letter in Lb/JA/29 and the first transcribed by Samuel Bayard Malcom, who began serving as JA’s private secretary in mid-February. Beginning at that time, he copied JA’s public letters from this one forward. For Malcom, see AA to JA, 30 Jan., note 6, below.
1. Not found.
2. No correspondence has been found between JA and Abraham Hunt (1740–1821), a prominent merchant of Trenton, N.J., who had facilitated horse purchases for George Washington. JA’s original letter to James Drake, not found, was sent by mistake to Quincy, where AA forwarded it to the post office. In a 23 Feb. letter to Drake, JA offered Drake $600 for a pair of horses and then enclosed payment in a letter of 18 April. Drake was likely the proprietor of the Indian Queen Tavern in New Brunswick, N.J. (Washington, Papers, Presidential Series, description begins The Papers of George Washington: Presidential Series, ed. W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Jack D. Warren, Mark A. Mastromarino, Robert F. Haggard, Christine S. Patrick, John C. Pinheiro, and others, Charlottesville, Va., 1987– . description ends 3:245, 12:280; AA to JA, 30 Jan., below; Parke-Bernet Galleries, Sale No. 40, 11 May 1938, item 40; LbC, APM Reel 117; William H. Benedict, “Early Taverns in New Brunswick,” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, new series, 3:138–139 ).
3. This word is in JA’s hand.