Thomas Jefferson Papers
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John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 18 July 1818

From John Adams

Quincy July 18. 1818

Dear Sir

Will you accept a curious Piece of New England Antiquities. It was a tolerable Catechism1 for The Education of2 a Boy of 14 Years of age, who was destined in the future Course of his Life to dabble in so many Revolutions in America, in Holland and in France.

This Doctor Mayhew had two Sisters established in Families in this Village which he often visited and where I often Saw him, He was intimate with my Parson Bryant and often exchanged with him, which gave me an Opportunity often to hear him in the Pulpit. This discourse was printed, a Year before I entered Harvard Colledge and I read it, till the Substance of it, was incorporated into my Nature and indelibly engraved on my Memory.

It made a greater Sensation in New England than Mr Henrys Philippick against the Parsons did in Virginia. It made a Noise in Great Britain where it was reprinted and procured the Author a Diploma of Doctor in Divinity.

That your Health and voracious Appetite for reading may long continue is the Wish of your Old Friend and

humble Servant

John Adams

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “President Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 30 July 1818 and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in MHi: Adams Papers). Enclosure: Jonathan Mayhew, A Discourse concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers: With some Reflections on the Resistance made to King Charles I. And on the Anniversary of his Death: In which the mysterious Doctrine of that Prince’s Saintship and Martyrdom is unriddled (Boston, 1750; Poor, Jefferson’s Library, 9 [no. 532]).

Patrick Henry’s 1 Dec. 1763 philippick during the Parsons’ Cause controversy is discussed in Richard R. Beeman, Patrick Henry: A Biography (1974), 13–22; see also William Wirt to TJ, 27 July 1814, and note. The enclosed work by the Boston clergyman Jonathan Mayhew defending popular resistance to unjust political authority was reprinted in Richard Barron, ed., Pillars of Priestcraft and Orthodoxy Shaken (London, 1752), 2:259–335. Mayhew received a diploma of doctor in divinity from King’s College (later part of the University of Aberdeen) in 1749 (Peter John Anderson, ed., Officers and Graduates of University & King’s College Aberdeen, MVD–MDCCCLX [1893], 100).

1RC: “Chatechism.” FC: “Catechism.”

2Preceding three words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; letters from search
  • Adams, John; reflects on his life search
  • Adams, John; sends works to TJ search
  • A Discourse concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers (J. Mayhew) search
  • Barron, Richard; editsPillars of Priestcraft and Orthodoxy Shaken search
  • Bryant, Lemuel; and J. Adams search
  • Harvard University; J. Adams as student at search
  • Henry, Patrick (1736–99); and Parsons’ Cause search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • King’s College (later part of the University of Aberdeen) search
  • Mayhew, Jonathan; A Discourse concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers search
  • Mayhew, Jonathan; education of search
  • Parsons’ Cause; P. Henry and trial of search
  • Pillars of Priestcraft and Orthodoxy Shaken (ed. R. Barron) search
  • schools and colleges; Harvard University search
  • schools and colleges; King’s College (later part of the University of Aberdeen) search