To Ebenezer Thayer Jr.
Boston. April 25. 1774
I have been so much absent upon the Circuits, since the melancholy news of your sons death that I have had no opportunity to take any notice of it till this minute.1 This must be a most afflicting dispensation to you and to your family. I sincerely condole with you and them under this unhappy loss. Your son was a young gentleman of a most amiable character, wherever he was known. His modesty and ingenuity, his prudence and discretion, his friendly temper and obliging Manners and his industry and careful attention to business, as well as his capacity for it had greatly endeared him to me and had made me conceive hopes of his becoming an eminently worthy and useful man. But alas! he is lost to his family and friends, as well as to his country and the world.
It is our duty however to acquiesce under every event of this kind, as it is incident to the State in which we are placed and is directed by an invisible and inscrutable order, which we have the utmost reason to believe to be infinitely wise, just and good. This is not only our indispensable duty, but the consideration of it is an inexpressible privilege and consolation. That you and your family may be supported by it, under all your grief and affliction upon this occasion is the real wish and hope of your friend and humble servant
(Signed) John Adams
Tr (Lb/JA/26, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 114); in CFA’s hand; addressed: “To Ebeneser Thayer Esqr. Braintree.”
1. Col. Ebenezer Thayer Jr. (1721–1794), Braintree’s representative in the General Court, was the father of JA’s former law clerk Elisha Thayer (1748–1774). News of Elisha’s death in Barbados the preceding January appeared in the Massachusetts Gazette description begins Massachusetts Gazette: and the Boston Weekly News-Letter. description ends , 21 April (Bezaleel Thayer, Memorial of the Thayer Name . . . , Oswego, N.Y., 1874, p. 211–212; 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 , 16:539). For JA’s description of his relationship with Col. Thayer and of the circumstances of Elisha’s clerkship, see Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:10.