Adams Papers

From John Adams to Benjamin Rush, 17 May 1789

New York May 17th 1789

Dear Sir—

Your favor of March 19th deserves a particular consideration and answer which I have not til now been able from a multitude of avocations some frivolous, others indispensable, <been> others of more Consequence, to give it—the Influence which you Suppose I may have as President of the Senate will be found to be very little if any at all—You say the Eastern States must not be suspected: But you know as well as I that they have been suspected these fifteen years, and in order not to be suspected, or at least not pretended to be suspected either they or some other States must not exist unless those other States send different Members to Congress from some that they have always sent—The Place will make but little odds—In Georgia, in Maryland, in Pennsylvania, in New York suspicion real or feigned would be the same—I cannot see that a Union of Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, in fixing the seat of Govt at one place more than another, would increase or diminish their Influence in any future distribution of the great offices of State, nor do I think that this Circumstance ought to have any weight in Elections or Appointments. 3. I see no symptoms of a corrupt influence here, more than I always saw at Philadelphia, and the Inhabitants of this City appear as decidedly federal as those of any other Place. 4. The foreign minister here will have very little influence in determining the Place, in all other respects their Influence will be the same in Philadelphia as in New York—5. I own however that I love Philadelphia quite as well as New York—and the noble Libraries there would be a strong temptation to me. 6. I think the danger in this Article is very probable, and a Federal Town to the southward of Chesapeak Bay would be terrible to the health of many Gentlemen—but what think you of the Federal Town at Trenton? 7. I doubt whether Conducting members of Congress to inspect the Treasury Books is dishonourable but I cannot see however that the Treasury Books shoud determine where Congress is to sit. 8. I wish I knew the Names of the Gentlemen, the leading Characters who were unfriendly to my Election, not to make me unfriendly to them, but the Contrary as far as their Views are for the public Good, as far as they are contrary to that Good—I should oppose them Friends or Enemies—I know very well that I have many friends in Philadelphia many and more Friends than in New York: but all this ought not to influence me in giving votes for public measures—But to come to the point, I am situated in the Government in a manner that will make it necessary for me to be neutral in such a Contest I shall never be a zealous Advocate for sitting in NewYork because I am not convinced that it is more for the public Advantage than to sit elsewhere—Let me now if you please remember your letter of April 22d. My Situation at the head of the Senate where I was placed by the people at large, not as the members by their Legislatures—instead of giving me an Influence as you suppose will prevent me from having any. Mr Wilson I have long known, esteemed, and respected: but if I had a vote, I could not promise to give it to him to be Chief Justice. All things Considered that have ever come to my knowledge I feel myself inclined to wish, because I am fully convinc’d, that Services Hazards, Abilities and Popularity, all properly weighed the Ballance is in favour of Mr Jay—one of the Judges I wish Mr Wilson to be—and the difference is not great between the first and the other Judges—You say I had not a firmer friend in the late Election—but I must protest against this mode of reasoning—I am not obliged to vote for a man because he voted for me— had my office been ever so lucrative or ever so important. But ask your own heart is not my Election to this office in the scurvy Manner it was done, a curse rather than a blessing? Is there Gratitude? Is there Justice? Is there common Sense in this business? Is it not an indelible stain on our Country, Countrymen & Constitution? I assure you I think it so—and nothing but an apprehension of great mischief, and the final failure of the Govt, from my refusal and assigning my reasons for it prevented my spurning it. Now my Friend we stand fair. never again must I hear a selfish Motive urged to me to induce my vote or Influence in Public affairs. I never served the Public one moment in my Life but to the loss and injury of myself & Children and I suffer as much by it at this Moment as ever I am with great / Esteem Dr Sir yr friend & Sevt.

John Adams

MHi: Adams Family Papers, Letterbooks.

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