Thomas Jefferson Papers

Resumption of Correspondence with John Adams, followed by John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 1 January 1812

John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

Quincy January 1st 1812.

Dear Sir

As you are a Friend to American Manufactures under proper restrictions, especially Manufactures of the domestic kind, I take the Liberty of Sending you by the Post a Packett containing two Pieces of Homespun lately produced in this quarter by One who was honoured in his youth with Some of your Attention and much of your kindness.

All of my Family whom you formerly knew are well. My Daughter Smith is here and has Successfully gone through a perilous and painful Operation, which detains her here this Winter, from her Husband and her Family at Chenango: where one of the most gallant and Skilful Officers of our Revolution is probably destined to Spend the rest of his days, not in the Field of Glory, but in the hard Labours of Husbandry.

I wish you Sir many happy New years and that you may enter the next and many Succeeding years with as animating Prospects for the Public as those at present before us. I am Sir with a long and Sincere Esteem your Friend and


John Adams

RC (DLC); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr late President of The United States Montecello Virginia”; franked; postmarked Quincy, 6 Jan.; endorsed by TJ as received 14 Jan. 1812 and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in MHi: Adams Papers). Tr (DLC); in TJ’s hand; conjoined with Tr of TJ to Adams, 21 Jan. 1812. Enclosed in TJ to Benjamin Rush, 21 Jan. 1812, and Richard Rush to TJ, 27 June 1813.

John Adams (1735–1826), president of the United States, 1797–1801, was born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts, graduated from Harvard College in 1755, and taught school briefly before his admission to the bar in 1758. He married Abigail Smith in 1764. Adams first achieved prominence by drafting resolves and writing a series of newspaper essays opposing the Stamp Act in 1765. Three years later he moved his family to Boston, where he became a representative in the General Court. That body elected Adams to both the First and Second Continental Congresses, where he distinguished himself as an advocate of American nationhood and served with TJ on the committee that prepared the Declaration of Independence. In 1778 he traveled to France to help negotiate a treaty of alliance. Adams returned to Massachusetts the following year and took the lead in writing a constitution for the state before traveling back to France to continue negotiations. After concluding peace with England, he became the first American minister to the Court of Saint James in London. Returning to the United States in 1788, Adams was a vocal supporter of the new federal constitution and served as the first vice president of the United States, 1789–97. He succeeded George Washington as president in the latter year, but his administration was plagued by difficult relations with France and divisive struggles within the Federalist party that contributed to his defeat for reelection by TJ, his vice president (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Sibley’s Harvard Graduates description begins John L. Sibley and others, eds., Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 1873– , 18 vols. description ends , 13:513–20; Lyman H. Butterfield and others, eds., Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, 4 vols. [1961]; Butterfield, Richard Alan Ryerson, C. James Taylor, and others, eds., Adams Family Correspondence [1963– ]; Robert J. Taylor, Ryerson, C. James Taylor, and others, eds., Papers of John Adams [1977– ]; David McCullough, John Adams [2001]).

The pieces of homespun were John Quincy Adams’s Lectures on Rhetoric and Oratory, Delivered to the Classes of Senior and Junior Sophisters in Harvard University, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass., 1810; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 4659). Their arrival after Adams’s covering letter initially caused TJ to take the playful reference to homespun at face value (TJ to Adams, 21, 23 Jan. 1812). Adams’s daughter Abigail Adams smith had recently undergone surgery for breast cancer. Her husband was Revolutionary War veteran William Stephens Smith (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; McCullough, John Adams, 601–2).

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; identified search
  • Adams, John; letters from search
  • Adams, John; sends works of J. Q. Adams search
  • Adams, John Quincy; Lectures on Rhetoric and Oratory search
  • Lectures on Rhetoric and Oratory (Adams) search
  • Smith, Abigail Adams (John Adams’s daughter; William Stephens Smith’s wife); health of search
  • Smith, William Stephens; as farmer search
  • Smith, William Stephens; military talents of search