Adams Papers
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Thomas Boylston Adams to John Adams, 18 April 1799

Thomas Boylston Adams to John Adams

New York 18th: April 1799.

My dear Sir.

I arrived here safely yesterday forenoon, after an agreeable, though rather tardy passage from New-Port, which place we left on Sunday noon.1

During my stay at Newport, I visited fort Wolcott, being acquainted with Lieutt Ross of Pennsylvania who is stationed there. Major Toussard had the politeness to accompany me, and I was much pleased with the appearance of discipline & military decorum observed by the small Garrison at the Fort, a great majority of whom are native Americans.2

I also became acquainted with the Captain of the Genl. Green Friggate, (Perry) and went on board the vessel with him. I am no judge of naval architecture, but according to the Report of those who profess to be, this vessel will do as much honor to our growing navy as any preceding specimens have done. She was built by a Mr: Tallman, whose reputation must have been known to you of old. The Captain is anxious to be out, but finds great difficulty in procuring seamen. He has opened a Rendezvous in several towns already, but thinks he shall yet be obliged to go to Boston for his seamen. I was pleased with the manners and general appearance of this Gentleman, and he seems to have great activity well seasoned with zeal for the service of his Country.3

I have it under contemplation to make a visit to Maryland on business which has been proposed to me since I left Quincy. I have not yet positively engaged to go, but think it probable I may. If on my arrival at Philadelphia I should find no obstacle to defeat the journey, I shall set out for Anapolis by the 6th: of May, where I may be detained a few days and then I shall pass some little time at George town & the City. If in my tour, I can make any enquiries for your satisfaction, other than such as I should naturally make for my own, I will thank you to suggest them.4

My Brother & his family are well and desire to be remembered to you & my Mother— Charles hinted casually, yesterday, that he had written to you in answer to a letter he received, proposing to him a command in the navy, & that he had consented to a nomination.5

I beg to be kindly remembered to my Mother and the family and remain with much respect & attachment / your Son

Thomas B Adams

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “The President.”

1TBA left Quincy for Philadelphia on 8 April, going first to Boston where he caught the stage to Providence, R.I., on 10 April. He traveled by water to Newport, R.I., and then to New York City, where he visited CA and SSA. He also visited AA2 and WSS in Eastchester, N.Y., which prompted him to reflect: “Somehow or other it so happens that I never pass an happy hour in Col: S——s house & never expect to. There is as much difference & incongruity between my temper & manner of thinking & his, as there is between vinegar & oil— My dear Sister’s destiny might have been happier.” TBA left New York on 23 April and arrived in Philadelphia the following day (TBA, Diary, 1798–1799, 8–24 April).

2George Thompson Ross (1773–1816), of Lancaster Co., Penn., was a lieutenant in the Corps of Artillerists and Engineers. From its position on Goat Island, Fort Wolcott protected the Narragansett Bay entrance to Newport’s harbor. The fort was probably being evaluated by Maj. Anne Louis de Tousard (1749–1817), a Parisian military engineer and inspector who had recently been appointed by James McHenry and Alexander Hamilton to appraise naval fortifications in Newport, Boston, Marblehead, Mass., and Portland, Maine (Interim Appointment: W. C. C. Claiborne Letter Book, 1804–1805, ed. Jared William Bradley, Baton Rouge, La., 2002, p. 447–448; Washington, Papers, Presidential Series description begins The Papers of George Washington: Presidential Series, ed. W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Jack D. Warren, Mark A. Mastromarino, Robert F. Haggard, Christine S. Patrick, John C. Pinheiro, David R. Hoth, and others, Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends , 13:334; ANB description begins John A. Garraty, Mark C. Carnes, and Paul Betz, eds., American National Biography, New York, 1999–2002; 24 vols. plus supplement; rev. edn., description ends ; Hamilton, Papers description begins The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold C. Syrett, Jacob E. Cooke, and others, New York, 1961–1987; 27 vols. description ends , 22:378–379, 528–529).

3The General Greene, Capt. Christopher Raymond Perry (1761–1818), was among the naval frigates authorized in April 1798, for which see vol. 12:523. It was built in Warren, R.I., by Benjamin Tallman (1743–1836), a shipwright and Revolutionary War veteran. The frigate sailed in June 1799 with a crew from Rhode Island that included Perry’s son, Oliver Hazard Perry, who served as midshipman (Charles J. Dutton, Oliver Hazard Perry, N.Y., 1935, p. 4, 13–14, 17; Rhode-Island Republican, 3 June 1818; Dict. Amer. Fighting Ships description begins U.S. Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Washington, D.C., 1959–1981; 8 vols. description ends , 3:43; William F. Reed, The Descendants of Thomas Durfee of Portsmouth, R.I. , 2 vols., Washington, D.C., 1902–1905, 1:32–34).

4For TBA’s southern tour, see his 17 May 1799 letter to AA, and note 5, below.

5No correspondence between CA and JA regarding a naval appointment has been found, and CA did not receive such a nomination.

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