Adams Papers

John Adams to Charles Adams, 19 February 1792

John Adams to Charles Adams

Philadelphia Feb. 19. 1792

Dear Charles

I wish you to take of Berry and Rogers as handsome a set of my Defence as you can find and packet them up handsomely and address them to The Reverend Joseph Priestley D. D. London, and send them by your Brother and Sister Smith. That Philosopher has made them so many Compliments in conversation as well as one in print; and as his sett was probably destroyed by the Rioters at Birmingham, I presume such a present will not be unacceptable to him.1

By a Letter from John,2 I find that Ambition and Adventure, are as active at Boston as you represent them to be at New York. The Gales I hope will be gentle and only waft the Vessell forward on her Voyage. The Storms I hope I shall either not live to see, or be on shore under my own Peartree, when they come on to blow.

Your Sisters Voyage will oblige you to look out for Lodgings. Let Us know what are your Prospects.

I am my dear Charles your / affectionate

John Adams

RC (MHi:Seymour Coll.); internal address: “Charles Adams.”

1On 14 July 1791, a mob attacked the Birmingham home of Rev. Joseph Priestley, destroying all of his books and papers. The rioters mistakenly believed that Priestley had helped to organize a pro-French dinner marking the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille. The attack on Priestley was widely covered in the U.S. press; see, for instance, Boston Columbian Centinel, 21, 24 September. JA sent him a set of the three-volume Defence of the Const. description begins John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, London, 1787–1788; repr. New York, 1971; 3 vols. description ends , which CA obtained from New York printers and booksellers Edward Berry and John Rogers. JA wrote to Priestley on 19 Feb. 1792, “I take an opportunity by part of my family bound to London, to remind you of a person who once had an opportunity of knowing you personally, and to express my sympathy with you under your sufferings in the cause of Liberty. Inquisitions and Despotisms are not alone in persecuting Philosophers. The people themselves we see, are capable of persecuting a Priestly, as an other people formerly persecuted a Socrates. . . . I am emboldened to hope that you will not be displeased to receive an other Coppy of my Defence, especially as that which was presented you formerly has probably had the honor to share the fate of your Library” (DNB description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, New York and London, 1885–1901; repr. Oxford, 1959–1960; 21 vols. plus supplements. description ends ; LbC, APM Reel 115).

2JQA to JA, 4 Feb., for which see JA to JQA, 15 Feb., note 1, above.

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