Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, [ca. 3–5] July 1813

From John Adams

Quincy [ca. 3–5] July 1813

Dear Sir

Correspondences! The Letters of Bernard and Hutchinson, and Oliver and Paxton &c were detected and exposed before The Revolution. There are I doubt not, thousands of Letters, now in being, but Still concealed, from1 their Party to their Friends, which will, one day See the light. I have wondered for more than thirty years that So few have appeared: and have constantly expected that a Tory History of the Rise and progress of the Revolution would appear. And wished it. I would give more for it than for Marshall, Gordon Ramsay and all the rest. Private Letters of all Parties will be found analogous to the Newspapers Pamphlets2 and Historians of the Times. Gordon’s and Marshall’s Histories were written to make money: and fashioned and finished; to sell high in the London Market. I Should expect to find more Truth in a History written by Hutchinson, Oliver or Sewell. And I doubt not, Such Histories will one day appear. Marshall’s is a Mausolœum, 100 feet Square at the base, and 200 feet high. It will be as durable, as the monuments of the Washington benevolent Societies. your Character in History may be easily foreseen. your Administration, will be quoted by Philosophers, as a model, of profound Wisdom; by Politicians, as weak, Superficial and Short Sighted. Mine, like Popes Woman will have no Character at all. The impious Idolatry to Washington, destroyed all Character. His Legacy of Ministers, was not the worst part of the Tradgedy. Though by his own express confession to me, and by Pickerings confession to the World, in his Letters to Sullivan: two of them, at least were fastened upon him by Necessity, because he could get no other. The Truth is, Hamiltons Influence over him was So well known, that no Man fit for the Office of State or War would accept either. He was driven to the Necessity, of appointing Such as would accept. And this necessity was, in my opinion the real Cause, of his retirement from Office. for you may depend upon it, that retirement was not voluntary.

My Friend! you and I have passed our Lives, in Serious Times. I know not whether We have ever Seen any moments more Serious than the present. The Northern States are now retaliating, upon the Southern States, their conduct from 1797 to 1800. It is a mortification to me, to See how Servile Mimicks they are. Their Newspapers, Pamphlets, hand Bills, and their Legislative Proceedings, are copied from the Examples Sett them, especially by Virginia and Kentucky. I know not which Party has the most unblushing Front, the most lying Tongue, or the most impudent and insolent not to Say the most Seditious and rebellious Pen.

If you desire explanations on any of the Points in this Letter you Shall have them. This Correspondence I hope will be concealed as long as Hutchinsons and Olivers. But I Should have no personal objection to the Publication of it in the national Intelligencer. I am, and Shall be for Life

your Friend

John Adams

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 198:35349); partially dated; at foot of text: “President Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of July 1813 received 14 July 1813 and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in MHi: Adams Papers); partially dated; situated between letters of 5 and 3 July 1813.

Of woman, Alexander Pope wrote that “Nothing so true as what you once let fall, Most Women have no Characters at all” (Of the Characters of Women: An Epistle to a Lady [London, 1735]). In a letter to James sullivan dated 22 Apr. 1808, Timothy Pickering recalled that late in 1794 George Washington had appointed him secretary of war after the resignation of Henry Knox, and that in 1795, following the resignation of Edmund Randolph, “he tendered to me the office of Secretary of State. At the same time he frankly told me the names of several gentlemen whom he had invited to accept, but who had declined the office” (Interesting Correspondence between His Excellency Governour Sullivan and Col. Pickering [Boston, 1808], 30).

1Superfluous opening parenthesis in front of this word editorially omitted.

2RC: “Pamphets.” FC: “pamphlets.”

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; letters from search
  • Adams, John; on historians of the American Revolution search
  • Adams, John; on publication of correspondence search
  • Adams, John; on sedition in northern states search
  • Adams, John; on TJ’s administration search
  • American Revolution; books on search
  • Bernard, Sir Francis; correspondence of published search
  • books; on American Revolution search
  • Gordon, William; History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United States of America search
  • Hamilton, Alexander (1757–1804); influence over G. Washington search
  • History of the American Revolution (D. Ramsay) search
  • History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United States of America (W. Gordon) search
  • Hutchinson, Thomas; correspondence of published search
  • Hutchinson, Thomas; mentioned search
  • Knox, Henry search
  • Life of George Washington (J. Marshall); mentioned search
  • Marshall, John; Life of George Washington search
  • National Intelligencer (Washington newspaper); mentioned search
  • Oliver, Andrew; correspondence of published search
  • Oliver, Andrew; mentioned search
  • Paxton, Charles; correspondence of published search
  • Pickering, Timothy; on G. Washington’s cabinet selections search
  • Pope, Alexander; on women search
  • Ramsay, David; History of the American Revolution search
  • Randolph, Edmund; attorney general search
  • Sewall, Jonathan search
  • Sullivan, James; correspondence with T. Pickering search
  • War of1812; opposition to search
  • Washington, George; A. Hamilton’s influence over search
  • Washington, George; difficulty filling cabinet posts search
  • Washington, George; object of idolatry search
  • Washington, George; retirement from presidency search