Richard Cranch to John Adams
Braintree Feb: 1st. 1792.
Hond. and dear Brother
I have lately received a Letter from my worthy Friend and Nephew Mr. William Bond of Portland, informing me that he wishes, thro’ my intervention, to offer his Service to Congress as an assistant in the Mint of the United States which he supposes will be soon established. I have reason to think that very few Persons can be found at present in the United States who are so well acquainted with the Art of cutting and engraving the Dyes, or of working in Gold and Silver as he is. He was a chief Workman, while he resided in London, in making a most magnificent Service of Plate for the Empress of Russia, and has had all the advantages which that City affords for making himself a compleat Master in that Branch of Business. He particularly excells in the Art of Engraving. His moral Character is unimpeached, and his Circumstances in life are very respectable. I have enclosed a Copy of that part of his Letter to me which respects the subject of the Mint, together with some specimens of his Engraving of Dyes. If you should think him deserving the Notice of Congress in the Line in which he offers himself, you would oblige me much in using your Influence in making him known to that Department where the Business of establishing the Mint is to be conducted. A Line from you on the subject, after you have made such Enquiery as your Goodness will prompt you to make, will be very obliging to me.1 The affair of incorporating the North Precinct of Braintree together with the Farms and Squantum, into a seperate Town, is now before the Genl Court. I have been very closely engaged in the Matter for three Weeks past, as Agent for the Petitioners. We have had all the force of Mr. Hitchborn against us, but he has not yet succeeded. The Report of the joint Committee who came to view the Premisses, was in our favour, that we should be set off as a distinct Town together with the Farms and Squantum, but not to include Knights Neck. This Report was accepted in Senate, and leave given to bring in a Bill for that purpose, and was concurred by the House. A Bill was brought in accordingly (drawn by your Son) which passed the Senate, and was sent down to the House last Friday. I came home the next Day (being very unwell) and have not yet heard of its fate in the House, but I think it will pass. The Senate have named the Town Quincy.
Please to give my most affectionate Regards to Sister Adams, and let her know that my Gratitude to her is more than I can express, for her assistance to me in my late dangerous situation, when on the verge of Death; and for all the concern of a Sister and Friend that she has since had for my Recovery.— “Blessed are the Mercifull for they shall obtain Mercy”.
Your aged and dear Mother, and your Brother and Family are well. Uncle Quincy is as well as usual. Mrs. Norton is so well as to get down stairs again, and her little Boys are finely. The other Branches of our Friends are in usual Health as far as I have heard.
I hope this will meet you and your Family under agreeable Circumstances; and that every Blessing may attend you is the Wish of your obliged and affectionate Brother
My dear Mrs. Cranch and Lucy send their Love to you all.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To / the Vice President / of the / United States. / Philadelphia.”; endorsed: “ansd. 28. March 1792”; docketed: “A Letter from / Richard Cranch / Feb 1792.”
1. For William Bond of Falmouth (now Portland), Maine, Cranch’s nephew by marriage, see vol. 7:176. He was probably one of the 400 craftsmen employed by silversmiths George Heming and William Chawner in 1775 to produce two complete dinner services and dessert sets for Catherine the Great— likely the largest single commission received in England from a foreign client in the eighteenth century (Hugh Honour, Goldsmiths & Silversmiths, N.Y., 1971, p. 206).
Bond’s engravings are apparently no longer extant, but a copy of his letter of 3 Dec. 1791 to Richard Cranch in Cranch’s hand is in the Adams Papers. In that letter, Bond notes that he has heard of the possible establishment of a U.S. mint and believes that his twenty years of metal-working experience, “some of the time in large Manufactorys in London,” would be of use in the new office. “I have thoughts,” he continues, “of offering my Services to the United States in the Line I have mentioned above, either to work at, or conduct the working part of the Gold and Silver; or to repair, or, if tho’t able to do it sufficiently well, to cut such Dies as may be wanted, or as many of them as I can, or in any Line of the Department in which I could be usefull.”
JA’s reply to Cranch’s request has not been found, but on 12 April 1792, Cranch again wrote to JA thanking him for a letter of 28 March and noting Bond’s willingness to “accept of a subordinate Employment in the Mint Department, as his Business in Navigation is not so profitable now as it has been for some years past. . . . If when the Officers of the Mint are nominated you could introduce Mr. Bond as a Candidate, I think you would thereby promote the publick Good in that Department, and at the same time oblige a capeable, honest and worthy Man” (Adams Papers).
The establishment of a U.S. mint had been under discussion ever since the Constitution granted Congress exclusive authority to coin money. Congress formally established the mint in Philadelphia in April; David Rittenhouse was appointed its first director (Jesse P. Watson, The Bureau of the Mint: Its History, Activities and Organization, Baltimore, 1926, p. 3–7, 17).