Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 29 January 1819

From John Adams

Quincy January 29th 1819

Dear Sir

If I am not humble I ought to be, when I find myself under the necessity of borrowing a juvenile hand to acknowledge your kind favour of the 19th   I have read your university report throughout with great pleasure, and hearty approbation; Of Tracy’s report I have read as much as I could, the Translation appears to me an original written with all the purity, accuracy, and elegance, of its author in his maturest age if it can destroy the Parasite Institutions of our country it will merit immortal honor.

The Medici rose to the despotism of Europe, ecclesiastical, & political, by the machinery of banks, hundreds of mushrooms or Jonah’s gourds have sprung up in one night in America by the strength of the same rotten manure, how has it happened that the bank of Amsterdam has for so many years conducted all most all the commerce of Europe without making any profit to the proprietors and how has it happened that religious liberty, fiscal science, coin, & commerce, & every branch of political economy should1 have been better understood and more honestly practised in that Frog land, than any other country in the World?

Your letter shall be communicated without loss of time to Mr Shaw and consequently to Mr Channing by your friend

John Adams

RC (DLC); in an unidentified hand, signed by Adams; endorsed by TJ as received 7 Feb. 1819 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to James Madison, 16 Feb. 1820, on verso; addressed in an unidentified hand: “President Jefferson Monticello Virginia”; franked; postmarked Quincy, 29 Jan. FC (Lb in MHi: Adams Papers).

In the Bible, God causes gourds to grow overnight (Jonah 4.6–10). frog land: The Netherlands (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ).

1Preceding seven words not in FC.

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; letters from search
  • Adams, John; on banks search
  • Adams, John; on the Netherlands search
  • A Treatise on Political Economy (Destutt de Tracy) search
  • banks; J. Adams on search
  • Bible; Jonah referenced search
  • Channing, Edward Tyrell; as editor ofNorth American Review and Miscellaneous Journal search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; A Treatise on Political Economy search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Proceedings and Report of the Commissioners for the University of Virginia search
  • Medici family; as despots search
  • political economy; works on search
  • Proceedings and Report of the Commissioners for the University of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson); distributed by TJ search
  • Shaw, William Smith; conveys letters to and from TJ search
  • The Netherlands; J. Adams on search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; commissioners’ report search