To Edmé Jacques Genet
I have this Moment your[s of the 28. I] thank You, Sir, for your kind Invitation to my [three Sons,] to come some time in the Spring, and spend a day [at Ver]sailles, which will be very agreeable to them, and [to me.]
I am happy to find that the [Report of] the Committee has your Approbation; and shall [be very g]lad to see it translated and printed as it is. [Every] Attempt of this kind may be worth preserving, and [will be a] Gratification at least to Posterity to see the gradual [Pro]gress of Society, and the slow March of the human Un[der]standing in the Science of Government.
On the Moment of the Receipt of your Letter I have written to Congress, requesting their Aid in procuring the Constitutions of Georgia and of North Carolina.1 That of the Massachusetts is at present accord[ing] to their late2 Charter: that of New Hampshire is the same.3 As soon as the Massachusetts shall have established a [new one, New Hampshire will follow their Example, and I shall undoubtedly have Copies of them as soon as they can cross the sea, and] I will send them without [Loss of time to you.]
Rhode Island and Connecticut ha[ve made no Alte]rations in their Governments, but proceed [according to] their Charters, which You already have.
The Convention of the Massachusetts[, had receive]d the Report of the Committee which I sen[t you and] had considered and agreed to the Declaration of [Rights wi]th very little Alteration, before I took my Lea[ve of them.] They then adjourned to the first of January. [I was ver]y happy to observe the Temperance, Wisdom and [Firm]ness of this Assembly, and hope they will accomplis[h their] great Work with Success. I assure You, it was [mo]re comfortable building Constitutions of Governmen[t at] Cambridge, than sailing in a leaky Ship, or4 climb[ing] over the Mountains, or lodging in the Chimneyless [and] Windowless Taverns of Galicia, Leon, Castile or [ev]en Biscay and Guipuscoa. Yet I shall look back with equal pleasure upon both, if they contribute [to lay the Foundations of a free and prosperous People.]
[I am with sincere Affection yours]
[John Adams] 5
RC in John Thaxter’s hand (Justin G. Turner, Los Angeles, 1958). LbC (Adams Papers). Fire damage to the recipient’s copy has resulted in the loss of a substantial number of words, which have been supplied from the Letterbook copy.
1. In his letter to the president of the congress of this date (calendared, below), JA wrote: “there is so great a Curiosity throughout all Europe to see our new Constitutions; and those already published in the Languages of Europe have done Us so much Honor, that I thought I should be excuseable, in making a direct Request to Congress for their Assistance in procuring those, which Mr. Genet still desires.”
2. In the Letterbook copy, a draft, JA deleted “old” in favor of “late.”
3. JA was in error; New Hampshire was governed under its unusually concise constitution of 5 Jan. 1776. In 1784 New Hampshire inaugurated a much more elaborate constitution based on the Massachusetts model (Thorpe, ed., Federal and State Constitutions description begins Francis N. Thorpe, ed., The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America, Washington, 1909; 7 vols. description ends , 4:2451–2470).
4. In the Letterbook copy JA interlined “sailing in a leaky ship or.”
5. The signature is supplied. Although it has been lost from the recipient’s copy and does not appear on the Letterbook copy, there can be little doubt that JA signed the letter.