Adams Papers

From John Adams to the President of the Congress, 20 October 1779

To the President of the Congress

Braintree Octr. 20 1779


Mr. Schweighauser of Nantes, who is a Native of Switzerland, observing me, as I was, one Day at his House, looking with some Attention, upon a Stamp, of the heroic Deed of William Tell,1 asked me to take a few of them to America, as a Present from him, which I agreed to do, with Pleasure. He, accordingly Sent, on Board the Frigate a Box, containing as he told me, one Stamp for each of the thirteen states neatly framed and glazed, which he desired me to present to Congress as a Small token of his Respect. The Box, has never been opened, but I hope the Pictures are safe; and with Permission of Congress I will deliver it to the Navy Board, in Boston, to be by them transmitted to the Delegates from the several states, or to their order. I have the Honour to be with great Respect, sir your most obedient servant

John Adams

RC (PCC, No. 84, I, 101–104); docketed: “Letter from J. Adams Esqr. Dated Braintree Octr. 20th. 1779 read Nov. 1. Picture of Tell from Mr. Schweighauser.” The JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends (15:1231) indicates that a letter of this date was read on 1 Nov., but the letter described there is JA’s letter of the 21st (below), which according to its docketing was also read on 1 November.

1The 18th century produced a number of copper engravings of Tell shooting the apple off his son’s head. The editors have been unable to establish which engraving JA may have seen and helped bring to the United States.

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