John Adams to Cotton Tufts
Philadelphia July 20. 1776. Saturday
Yours of July 5th. never reached me, till this Morning. I greatly regret its delay. But that it might answer its End, without further Loss of Time, I waited on my Friend Dr. Rush, an eminent Phisician of this City, and a worthy Friend of mine, who with a Politeness and Benevolence, becoming his Character, promised to furnish me with his Sentiments, concerning Inocculation, so that I may forward them to you by the next Post, and I have obtained his Leave for you to publish them, in Print, if you please. He practices with great Success. Several of our Members, have been under his Hands and come out, almost without an Alteration of Countenance.1
You say you got leave to lodge yours in Mrs. Adams’s Letter. But no Letter from her accompanied it, which has distressed me much, both because I was very impatient for a Letter from her, and because it creates a Jealousy of some unfair Practice in the Post Office. . . .2 I observe however upon the back of your Letter the Words “to be left at the Post office” in her Hand Writing, which makes it not improbable that she might send it without a Line from herself.
It is a long Time, since I heard from her or indeed any Thing concerning her only that she was determined to have the Distemper, with all my Children. How do you think I feel? supposing that my Wife and Children are all sick of the small Pox, myself unable to see them, or hear from them. And all this in Addition to several other Cares, public and private, which alone would be rather troublesome?
However, I will not be dejected. Hope springs eternal in my Breast, and keeps me up, above all Difficulties, hitherto.
I am, sincerely Yours.
LbC (Adams Papers).
1. JA had first met Benjamin Rush (1746–1813), College of New Jersey 1760, M.D., Edinburgh 1768, in Aug. 1774, Rush being one of the party of Philadelphia gentlemen who rode out to Frankford to welcome the Massachusetts delegation to the first Continental Congress. JA characterized Rush in his Diary in 1775 as “an elegant, ingenious Body, [a] Sprightly, pretty fellow” and at first had some doubts about his substance. But they were soon warm friends. Rush served the Adamses as family physician in the 1790’s, and despite their marked political differences the liking and respect of the two men for each other never diminished. During JA’s years of political retirement they conducted an active and distinguished correspondence, their letters to each other being among the longest and best that either one of them ever wrote. It was Rush who, after long and pertinacious effort, brought about the reconciliation between ex-Presidents Adams and Jefferson in 1812, with remarkable results. See JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:115, 182; Benjamin Rush, Letters description begins Letters of Benjamin Rush, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Princeton, 1951; 2 vols. description ends , 1:153–154 and passim; L. H. Butterfield, “The Dream of Benjamin Rush,” Yale Review, 40:297–319 (Winter 1951).
Rush had learned the new or “Suttonian” method of inoculation in England during the 1760’s and later published a tract on the subject that went through several editions (Letters description begins Letters of Benjamin Rush, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Princeton, 1951; 2 vols. description ends , 1:66–67). See, further, AA to JA, 21–22 July, 1 Aug.; JA to AA, 23 July; Tufts to JA, 6 Aug.; all below.
2. Suspension points in MS.