Adams Papers

To John Adams from James Lovell, 30 November 1782

From James Lovell

Novr. 30th.— [1782]

Dear Sir

I have not to this day Information that you comprehend the Cypher wch. I have very often used in my Letters.1 You certainly can recollect the Name of that Family2 where you and I spent our last Evening with your Lady before we sat out on our Journey hither. Make regular Alphabets in Number equal to the first Sixth part of that Family Name, beginning and regularlarly placing your Alphabets according to the Letters and the Arrangement of them in that Sixth. Then look alternately into those Alphabets, & opposite to my Figure. You will find your proper Elements for spelling.

most affectionately Yours

James Lovell

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Lovel Nov. 30. / 1782.”

1For the Lovell Cipher and Lovell’s most complete explanation of it, see vol. 11:381–383. JA had last written to Lovell on 25 Feb. 1782, while Lovell’s last extant letter to JA is of 26 Dec. 1781, and that too was an attempt to explain the cipher (vol. 12:165, 266–270). What sparked this new effort to resolve JA’s continuing difficulties with the cipher, most notably his failure to decipher completely the [June 1781] instructions to the American Commissioners, is unknown (vol. 11:374–377).


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