Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Adams & Rhodes, 18 August 1802

From Adams & Rhoades

Chronicle Office
Boston August 18 1802


The inclosed Copies of a Correspondence, are most respectfully submitted by

Your most obedient & very humble Servants

Adams & Rhoades

RC (DLC: Rare Book and Special Collections Division); at foot of text: “The President of the United States.” Enclosure: see below.

Abijah Adams (1754–1816) of Boston, worked for his younger brother Thomas Adams as clerk and bookkeeper for the Boston Independent Chronicle, the chief organ of Jeffersonian support in New England. In 1799 both brothers were charged with seditious libel although Thomas died before his own case came to trial. Abijah was convicted and served 30 days in jail prior to assuming control in 1800 as senior editor of the semiweekly newspaper with Ebenezer Rhoades (Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, Worcester, Mass., 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 1:307–8, 2:1367, 1472; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ).

COPIES OF A CORRESPONDENCE:Adams & Rhoades enclosed a pamphlet recently printed for them entitled Four Letters: Being an Interesting Correspondence between Those Eminently Distinguished Characters, John Adams, Late President of the United States; and Samuel Adams, Late Governor of Massachusetts. On the Important Subject of Government (Boston, 1802; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends No. 3287). The letters, written in 1790, included two by John Adams of 12 Sep. and 18 Oct. and the responses by Samuel Adams of 4 Oct. and 20 Nov. (The last of these is dated 25 Nov. 1790 in Harry Alonzo Cushing, ed., The Writings of Samuel Adams, 4 vols. [New York, 1904–08], 4:344). Evidence indicates that TJ had access to the communications before their publication in pamphlet form, with Dr. Charles Jarvis transmitting them to him in 1801 or early 1802. TJ’s undated endorsement of Meriwether Lewis’s transcription of the correspondence reads: “Letters between John Adams and Samuel Adams. the originals were communicated by S. Adams to Doctr. Jarvis of Boston, who copied them & communicated the copy to Th:J. from which this copy is taken” (Trs in DLC; in Lewis’s hand). On 24 Apr. 1801, Samuel Adams introduced Jarvis to TJ, noting that the doctor, “a man of much information,” was among his “small circle of intimate friends.” Adams “heartily” wished that “an epistolary correspondence” would develop between Jarvis and TJ (Vol. 32:348, 349n; Vol. 33:638–9).

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