Adams Papers

To John Adams from Sylvanus Bourne, 28 January 1789

Boston Jany. 28th. 1789


Pardon the liberty I take, and permit me to call to your Excellency’s recollection, a Person who at the time the Committee of Convention for framing this State’s Constitution were sitting in this town, requested to be taken into your Offices, as a Student of law, and had your promise to be received if the services of your country should not call you abroad; but which proving to be the case in a short time after—my views were thereby frustrated tho in connection with some other unfavorable occurrences of the moment, turned my Attention into a different Character & commerce became the object of my future pursuits; and tho the peculiar embarrassments which have attended trade in the northern States, since the peace have taken up my connections in business I have not failed by reading & observation to make myself in some degree acquainted with the general principles of Commerce and more especially those which apply to the situation & interests of my own Country, cherishing the fond idea that I might have a present opportunity, of rendering service herein—and cannot but view with heartfelt pleasure that agreeable prospects which the establishment of a system adequate to every purpose of govt. affords America, of soon being able, to retreive her lost Credit & respectability with foreign powers and her peace & happiness at home—As the want of due commercial regulations gave the first rise to our present system—such regulations I humbly conceive will form the first Objects of its Administration; as being intimately connected with the Revenue & on the principle of Obviating the injurious effects which have arisen to us, from the rigid navigation Acts, of those Nations with whom we have been commercially connected: for however despicable they may have viewed us in our late unhinged situation, they will have reason I presume, materially to change their sentiments when they find us in the operation of that govt which gives us the capacity of combating them with their own weapons by approving similar restrictions on our part.—and it is not to be doubted that America under an efficient, Commercial System & with her internal resources brought into Action—will have her future connection solicited by those very nations, who now pretend to hold her in Contempt, & on terms of National reciprocity.

Fraught with these sentiments & in possession of an heart devoted to the service of my Country—I have in Contemplation to adopt the favourable [lines] which will present under the operation of the new Govt. to solicit a consulship or some commercial errand abroad; presuming that the establishment of Persons as the guardians of our Interests in foreign ports will be esteemed necessary upon the plan of regulating our future Commerce & to obtain accurate information of the relative importance of their trade with us to the accomplishment of my wishes I need the assistance of able friends—I have conversed with my Uncle Bowdoin, Mr Lowell & several others on the subject who promise me their recommendation & friendship but shall esteem yours of decided importance to me hoping to find your Excellency at the head of the federal Council, where your exalted reputation will not fail to give all possible weight to your Advice & recommendations—a conviction of the importance of your friendship to me, whether you are in or out of the Govt prompts to this early application and I feel confident from a knowledge of your Excellencys Character that it must be a pleasingsacrifice to the goodness of your Heart—whenever in your power to promote the views of a young person whosebasest motives is Ambition & whose greatest Pride would be to serve his Country.—

I have the honour to be in sentiments of the greatest respect & Esteem / Your Excellencys / Most Obedt. Servt.

Silvanus Bourn

NB I shall do my self the honour to wait on your Excellency in a few days—

MHi: Adams Papers.

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