Adams Papers

To John Adams from Mercy Otis Warren, 8 May 1789

Plymouth May 8th. 1789


Presuming on the confidential and unremitting friendship that has long subsided between us,--grounded on the close connexion commenced with Mr Warren in the early part of your life,—I again address you, without waiting an answer to my last. According to you usual punctuality, I doubt not that will be done, as soon as the peculiar engagements which have lately occupied your attention, (the etiquette of the entire public and the consequent ceremonies) are a little over.

I do not mean to flatter the most virtuous or the most elevated character, but I must tell you, Sir, I have always had so high of an opinion of a friendship founded on the purest principles, strengthened by mutual confidence, and exertion in every patriotic measure, and increased by a thousand circumstances of fiery trial in the arduous struggle for the Liberties of America, that I could never imagine a diminution on the one side, or a failure of friendship on the other, could take place between yourself and Mr Warren.

You Sir, have, successfully surmounted all impediments:--you have reached the acma of applause, and are placed in a situation to do eminent service to your Country, to establish your own family, and to assist most essentially your friends without injury to yourself, your family, or your country.

General Warren has been unfotunately the butt of party malice, headed by a man* I know you justly and heartily despise. By his machinations, aided by others of like description, and for obvious reasons, they have destroyed the public influence of a gentleman who has an equal claim from his country with any one,--that is if attachment and integrity, industry and probity, can justify that claim.

You have heard his character most injuriously traduced; but Mr Adams is the last man in the United States, who I should suppose would listen to the misrepresentation or be impressed by the calumnies of open or disguised enemies, to the prejudice of an old and tried friend. A friend whose zeal or whose principles you never could suspect, though you have known his undisguided sentiments much better than any man among the various combinations, who have stuck at no falsehood to prostrate his political character. Perhaps no other person has for many years possessed so great a share of his confidence as yourself. Is it possible that you could have listened to tales too ridiculous for refutation?

The vindictive spirit of his enemies, not sufficiently gratified by their too successful efforts against the father, have endeavoured to wound in a still more tender part, by leveling their envenomed shaft at the reputation of a son. Was it proper to call your attention at this time to private objects. I could give you a curious detail of facts relative to his affairs;—yet, I could scarce believe it possible that your Excellency should give as a reason for declining to support his interest, a fear of injuring your own popularity.

None of my family are soliciting at Court.—if they were, would it not have been your duty to have supported the interest of the children of your friend? Mr Adams could have nothing to alledge against them, but scurrilities, which he must have received from persons to whom he should have given no credit. If he was frequently in company with such persons—it must be presumed it was on account of their fortune and accidental rank which gave them the honour. Your penetration should have led you to discover at least three causes of rancorous enmity in these people against Mr W W——, viz. a difference in political opinion—an unhappy but necessary quarrel with a wealthy, flagitious villain,—and his failure in his mercantile pursuits.

I am not governed by maternal predilections, but I cannot suppose you could for a moment believe that my son joined in the rebellion against a government which his family were so instrumental in establishing.

You will be sensible on a short recollection whence these reflections have arisen. I would yet Sir, consider a late conversation (as repeated to me) in the most favourable light.

This is a very free letter, but where I have been used to write and converse with the simplicity of truth, and the unreserved confidential esteem, neither rank, nor station, nor time will check the disposition to “throw open the volume of the soul:”—more especially where candour has formerly beheld its contents with the most favourable eye. I shall only lock myself up in reserve towards him, when I am fully convinced there is no stability in human frienships, by Mr Adams’s defection from such friend as I know he has possessed from early life in General Warrne.

What I have mentioned above is from a sense of justice, it is my duty;—it is justice I should exercise towards any person, however unconnected, was I equally assured of their merits—and their maltreatment.

You will Sir, excuse my detaining you thus long—you know the sensibility of my too feeling heart has been awakened ton many trying occasions. Nor may this be a subject totally uninteresting to yourself so fluctuating is the popular voice—and so replete with vicissitude are all human affairs, that those whose commanding good fortune now augers no change for the worse, may contemplate in some solemn hour, the injustice, ingratitude, and abuse, experienced by themselves, which has been felt before by their friends.

I am respected Sir, your sincere well wisher—

M Warren

* Governor Hancock

MHi: Mercy Otis Warren Papers.

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