Adams Papers

John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 13 December 1790

John Adams to John Quincy Adams

Philadelphia Decr 13. 1790

My Dear Son

Your Brother Charles arrived on Saturday night from New York and has dissipated some of the Gloom of the Family. Your Mother however Seems pretty well recovered from her Indisposition: and Your Brother Thomas, tho very weak is on the Recovery, as We hope. The rest of the Family is well.

In a Letter to your mamma, you intimate an Inclination to make Us a Visit.1 Nothing I assure you would be more agreable to me: and I wish you to come as Soon as you find it convenient.— Philadelphia is worth Seeing. It is a great City and has Science, Litterature, Wealth and Beauty, which deserve respect, if not Admiration. The Journey by the Stage will promote your health, relax your Attention, and improve your mind.

Your old Friend Mr Bingham is in the high road of Promotion. Member of the assembly and unanimously chosen Speaker.2 He lives in a Style of Pomp & Splendor which is almost novel in America.

A respectful, attentive and complaisant Behaviour will engage you the good Will of the World: and your extensive Knowledge will give you great Advantages, as soon as you shall have opportunities to act yourself.

It is accident commonly which furnishes the first Occasions to a young Lawyer, to Spread his Reputation. I remember, it was neither my Friends nor Patrons among the great and learned: it was Joseph Tirrel the Horse Jockey who first raised me to fame. At Plymouth Court he had a sister, who had a popular Cause depending. He advised her to engage me in it: and I had the good fortune to conduct it in such a manner that from that time forward I was engaged in all the Causes in the County.3 Some odd incident, altogether unforeseen and unexpected, will very probably bring you into some popular Cause, and Spread your Character with a thousand Trumpetts at a time. Such a Thing may not happen however in several years. meantime Patience Courage.


John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr J. Q. Adams.” Tr (Adams Papers).

1JQA to AA, 20 Nov., above.

2William Bingham was elected to the Penn. House of Representatives in 1790 and would serve as speaker in 1791 (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, 1989. description ends ).

3Early in his law career JA tried at least two cases involving the family of Joseph Tirrell (b. 1723). In 1760 he successfully represented Luke Lambert in a case against Tirrell and in the same year won the case of Tirrell v. Lawrence on behalf of a member of the Tirrell family (JA, D&A description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 1:224; Sprague, Braintree Families description begins Waldo Chamberlain Sprague, comp., Genealogies of the Families of Braintree, Mass., 1640–1850, Boston, 1983; repr. CD-ROM, Boston, 2001. description ends ; Vital Records of Abington, Massachusetts, 2 vols., Boston, 1912, 1:227).

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