Adams Papers

To John Adams from Jonathan Sewall, 15 February 1764

From Jonathan Sewall

Boston 15th. Feby. 1764

Dear Brother John

You may remember we had some Confab. together about having the Small Pox in Concert. I intend next week (Thursday) to be inoculated by Doctr. Joseph Gardner at Point Shirley,1 and I expect to have Brother Thacher’s Company;2 —now if we could make a Triumvirate, I am perswaded it would be for our mutual Support, Com­fort and Edification—but if Brother Thacher should not have Courage enough, yet it would be a singular pleasure to me if you and I could be pockey Companions. I want three Weeks close Conversation with you, which will be about the Time we shall have, as I suppose. I can have a warm convenient Room, and a fine Woman to look after us, (Mrs. Bennet,) and Doctor Gardner will be in the House with us, till we are safe thro’. John I beg you would accompany me, and pray let me know your Resolution imediately, by a Letter unless you can come to Town which you may do with the utmost Safety. If you are not down before the Court, let me know as soon as possible whether I shall secure you a Birth with me. If you can come to Town imediately upon the Rect. of this, it would be best, as we can conjointly settle preliminaries with the Doctr. &c. I think it much best to take it soon, and the Doctor is of this Opinion likewise. Brother, I feel a longing Desire to have you with me, and once more intreat and Command you not to let want of Courage, or any other Cause prevent your Complying with this Request from your Brother and Friend3


RC (Adams Papers); addressed in Jonathan Sewall’s hand: “To John Adams Esqr. in Braintree”; docketed in an unidentified hand: “J Sewell 1764 Feby 15th did not go—but went to Boston and had it the same year.”

1Gardner (1727–1788) was a prominent Boston physician and patriot, one of the fourteen founders of the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1781. He with three others had intended to establish a smallpox hospital on Point Shirley in Chelsea (now Winthrop) (Walter L. Burrage, A History of the Massachusetts Medical Society, privately printed, 1923, p. 25).

2Oxenbridge Thacher Jr. (1719–1765), prominent and popular Boston attorney, who served with James Otis Jr. on the writs of assistance case in 1761. JA thought highly of his character, as did many in Boston, but less so of his intellectual powers. A political enemy of Thomas Hutchinson and a vigorous opponent of the Sugar Act, he was rated by JA as second only to Otis in importance in the early Revolutionary movement (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates description begins John Langdon Sibley and Clifford K. Shipton, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873– . description ends , 10:322–328; JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 1:passim).

3No written reply to Sewall’s invitation has been found. JA was inoculated for smallpox by Dr. Nathaniel Perkins and left a detailed record of his experience (Adams Family Correspondence description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1963– . description ends , 1:16–17, 22–23, 23–24, 24–25, 28–29, 29–30, 32–35, 36, 39–40 ). The relative scarcity of Series III documents for 1764 is accounted for partly by JA’s inoculation and his marriage to Abigail in October 1764, although he continued to be very active in legal work.

Index Entries