Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 13 November 1818

To John Adams

Monticello Nov. 13. 18.

The public papers, my dear friend, announce the fatal event of which your letter of Oct. 20. had given me ominous foreboding. tried myself, in the school of affliction, by the loss of every form of connection which can rive the human heart, I know well, and feel what you have lost, what you have suffered, are suffering, and have yet to endure. the same trials have taught me that, for ills so immeasurable, time and silence are the only medecines.1 I will not therefore, by useless condolances, open afresh the sluices of your grief nor, altho’ mingling sincerely my tears with yours, will I say a word more,2 where words are vain, but that it is of some comfort to us both that the term is not very distant at which we are to deposit, in the same cerement, our sorrows and suffering bodies, and to ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved & lost and whom we shall still love and never lose again. God bless you and support you under your heavy affliction.

Th: Jefferson

RC (MHi: Adams Papers); addressed: “President Adams Quincy Massachusets”; franked; postmarked Charlottesville, 17 Nov.; endorsed by Adams as answered 8 Dec. 1818. FC (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand. Tr (MHi: Adams Papers); mimicking TJ’s hand, but probably in that of William S. Shaw; endorsed by John Quincy Adams, with his additional initialed notation: “This Letter, and one of 30 Augt 1791—from the same to the same—received from Mr Felt—Admr of W. S. Shaw 19 Augt 1826”; with Tr of address cover, lacking frank and postmark.

On 8 Nov. 1818 the Richmond Enquirer announced the fatal event of the death in Quincy of Adams’s wife, Abigail Adams.

1FC: “medecine.”

2Word interlined in FC.

Index Entries

  • Adams, Abigail Smith (John Adams’s wife); death of search
  • Adams, John; and death of A. S. Adams search
  • Adams, John; letters to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of condolence search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; grief search