Adams Papers
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John Adams to Charles Adams, 28 October 1798

John Adams to Charles Adams

Quincy Oct 28th 1798

Dear Charles

I received last night your favor of the 19th The letters from Mr Desdoity & Mr R B Forbes I shall inclose to the Secretary of State, the first to be determined according to law and usage and the last to be considered in its season.1

The scene of which you have been witness in the city must have been very solemn. I never could bear a city life in the summer, in the best seasons. Such an one as you have lived through would have finished me. I could not advise you to repeat another time so hazardous an experriment.

I am suspicious that the great intercourse with the West Indies has had a share in producing this calamity in so many of our cities. Relaxations of police & accumulations of putrefaction with the increase of population may account for much but I guess not all. Have not large quantities of cottons and other things been imported which are capable of conveying this plague. We are all well but your Mother, who we hope is better, but still very feeble. Yours I rejoice to hear are all well.

I am Your affectionate

J. Adams

LbC in William Smith Shaw’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Charles Adams Esqr”; APM Reel 119.

1Neither CA’s letter to JA of 19 Oct. nor the letters enclosed therein have been found. John B. Desdoity (ca. 1760–1811), a New York merchant who had emigrated from France in 1793, sought permission to designate the brig Fox, Capt. Benjamin Ward, as a parlementaire, or vessel permitted to carry goods while engaged in official business. JA forwarded Desdoity’s letter to Timothy Pickering on 28 Oct. 1798, and on 9 Nov. Pickering declined the request. In December the Fox was commissioned a privateer and in Jan. 1799 sailed to the West Indies.

The second letter enclosed by CA appears to have been a patronage request from Ralph Bennet Forbes (1773–1824), a New York merchant in business with his brother, John Murray Forbes. John M. Forbes would be nominated by JA on 18 Feb. 1801 as U.S. commercial agent at Le Havre, but although the Senate confirmed the appointment on 24 Feb., the commission was not issued by President Thomas Jefferson. However, after a written endorsement from Ralph B. Forbes on 20 March, Jefferson appointed John to succeed Joseph Pitcairn as U.S. consul at Hamburg in Feb. 1802 (New York Commercial Advertiser, 2 Feb. 1811; Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 26:591, 33:411–413; JA to Pickering, 28 Oct. 1798, LbC, APM Reel 119; Pickering to Desdoity, 9 Nov., MHi:Pickering Papers; DNA:RG 36, Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Bonds for Letters of Marque Which Were Used in the Settlement of French Spoliation Claims, 1798–1801; Baltimore Telegraphe and Daily Advertiser, 28 Jan. 1799; DAB description begins Allen Johnson, Dumas Malone, and others, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; repr. New York, 1955–1980; 10 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends , entry on John Murray Forbes).

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