Thomas Boylston Adams to John Adams
Philadelphia Augst: 16th: 1792
In my last Letter I promised to transmit the Result of the Town meetings which have been lately held in this City; the inclosed abstract will supersede the necessity of any additional remarks from me; It will be sufficient to say that the Party, which on the last meeting in which any business was transacted, had the majority, having gained all their measures prevented any further business on the last meeting by their obstinate Perseverance in opposing every Chairman who was nominated—The whole Afternoon was taken up in taking questions merely relative to the different Candidates proposed—and after many fruitless attempts a division was called for in favor of Mr. R Morris & Alderman Barcklay— the Parties were so nearly equal that no person could decide on which side of the State House Yard the majority lay. No business was done and the People dispersed not much satisfyed with the complexion of things.1 It is said that we shall have an Antifederal Ticket—but I feel inclined to doubt the assertion. There is a Committee of Correspondence chosen to collect the sense of the People relative to this subject the Majority of whom are said to be of the old Republican Party in this State.2 I find that when any important Question is agitated here— the distinctions of party are quite as familiar as they were formerly— every man knows his side of a Question by the Countenances he discovers when divisions are called for—not by it’s conformity to, or connection with any particular system to which he is partial. When men are in this situation with respect to each other, we can hardly look for unanimity.
You have seen I presume the Pieces in Fenno’s Gazette, signed an “American.” I have not been able to learn upon whom the suspicion rests with respect to the Author. There has been for a long time a very free Animadversion upon the Speculations which have flowed through the National Gazette, as also upon the Editor. It has never arrived at the height to which an “American” has raised it, but I think the Sharpest key hast not been sounded yet.3
The Secretary of the Treasury has so arranged matters, that you will be at liberty to draw for a thou[san]d Dollars when you think fit— I presume the warrant may [. . .] by Attorney— The Secretary however will probably acquaint you with [th]e most practicable method.4
The House is yet upon my hands—we have as yet two months from this day—but I find no body disposed to take it even at fifty or forty dollars Pr month— Mrs. Keppele proposes going into it herself in October.
I find myself very happily situated in a very Respectable Private family, the Connections of which are somewhat numerous but all Quakers— I consider myself peculiarly fortunate in being able to extend my acquaintance among this Society, with whom it is not an easy matter to be upon an intimate footing unless very strongly recommended,— Dr. Rush says I have made my fortune, but I can say that if I derive any benefit from the acquaintance it must in the first instance have proceeded from the Drs. friendly assistance. He tells me to say for him that he would write you according to his promise, but that there is nothing worth communicating.
With presenting my best love to the family, I remain your Son
Thomas B Adams—
I have Received Mamma’s letter of the 3d: am glad to hear of the arrival of Briesler & family—5
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Vice President of the United States / Quincy / near / Boston”; internal address: “The Vice President of the United States”; endorsed: “T. B. A. Aug 16. 1792 / Philadelphia.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. On 29 July, TBA had written to JA that he had “delayed writing several days hoping to be able to transmit the result of two meetings of the Citizens of Philadelphia for the purpose of forming a Ticket for Representatives, & Electors for President & Vice President; but nothing of importance has as yet been decided; and if I have had a true specimen of the general complexion of Philada. town meetings from those examples already afforded, I seriously believe no business of real utility will ever be transacted by them” (Adams Papers). The abstract has not been found but was possibly a piece from the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, 1 Aug. (or a reprint thereof), which summarized the events of a town meeting held on the afternoon of 31 July. According to the report, “At half after three, an attempt was made to proceed to business, and Mr. McKean and Mr. Powel both named for chairman. After a noisy contest of Yes and No, those two gentlemen declined serving on the present occasion. Other names were brought forward, and among them, Messrs. Morris and Barclay. Mr. Wilson endeavoured to decide which name commanded a majority, a division for this purpose was three times effected; but the meeting was so numerous that it was found impossible to determine which was the largest mass, or to decide the question by enumeration. A last endeavour was made by the friends to conferrees to place Mr. Morris in the chair, some confusion ensued, and the meeting was dissolved in a tumultous and unbecoming manner.” John Barclay was a Philadelphia merchant and alderman (Philadelphia Directory description begins Philadelphia Directory [title varies], issued annually with varying imprints. description ends , 1793, p. 7, 180, Evans, description begins Charles Evans and others, American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America [1639–1800], Chicago and Worcester, 1903–1959; 14 vols. description ends No. 25585).
2. The Committee of Correspondence was appointed at the 30 July town meeting “to collect information of the sense of the People in different parts of the state, respecting the characters proper to be nominated as Members of Congress, and Electors of President and Vice-President.” The committee consisted of Thomas McKean, James Hutchinson, Alexander Dallas, James Wilson, John Barclay, Hilary Baker, and Jared Ingersoll (Philadelphia Federal Gazette, 31 July).
3. In the 4 Aug. issue of the Gazette of the United States, John Fenno published an article signed “An American” that attacked Philip Freneau’s National Gazette as a means to denounce Thomas Jefferson. Freneau (1752–1832), a poet and journalist of French descent, had launched the paper in Oct. 1791 to counter Fenno’s Gazette. The “American” accurately accuses Freneau of holding a public position—clerk of foreign languages for the State Department—and Jefferson of being the political force behind the paper. The piece goes on to question Jefferson’s loyalty to the federal government, asking, “If he disapproves of the leading measures which have been adopted in the course of its administration—can he reconcile it with the principles of delicacy and propriety, to hold a place in that administration, and at the same time to be instrumental in vilifying measures which have been adopted by majorities of both branches of the legislature and sanctioned by the Chief Magistrate of the Union?” (JA, D&A description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:225; DAB description begins Allen Johnson, Dumas Malone, and others, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; repr. New York, 1955–1980; 10 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ; Jeffrey L. Pasley, “The Tyranny of Printers”: Newspaper Politics in the Early American Republic, Charlottesville, Va., 2001, p. 63–66).
4. On 16 Aug. 1792, Alexander Hamilton wrote to JA that “a warrant for 1000 dollars in your favour has issued. If any authorisation from you had been sent to your son or any one else, your signature on the warrant would have been unnecessary. But as it is, it will be indispensable. Perhaps however the Treasurer may pay in expectation of it” (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 , 12:208–209). See also JQA to TBA, 2 Sept., and JQA to AA, 19 Sept., and notes 1 and 2, both below.
5. Not found.