Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 21 May 1819

From John Adams

Quincy May 21st 1819

Dear Sir

All the Literary Gentlemen of this part of the Country have an Ambitious Curiosity to see the Philosopher and Statesman1 of Monticello—and they all apply to me for Introductions—and if I had ever received one introduction from you, I should have less scruple of Conscience in granting their requests—in the Stile of our New-England—the Reverend Mr Greenwood the successor of Mr Thatcher and Dr Kirkland in the Church of Summer Street Boston, will deliver you this letter with my affectionate respects—

Tho I cannot write I still live and enjoy Life.—The world is dead—there is nothing to Communicate in Religion Morals, Philosophy, or Politicks—I hope your Health is perfectly restored—mine is pritty much like that of Voltaire Frankline and Samuel Adams, at my Age.—

But I am still unalterably your Friend—

J. Adams

RC (DLC); in Louisa C. Smith’s hand, signed by Adams; at foot of text: “President Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 13 June 1819 and so recorded (with TJ’s bracketed notation: “by revd mr Greenwood”) in SJL. FC (Lb in MHi: Adams Papers).

Francis William Pitt Greenwood (1797–1843), Unitarian minister, was born in Boston. In 1814 he graduated from Harvard University, after which he remained in Cambridge an additional three years to study theology. Greenwood became the pastor of Boston’s New South Church in 1818 but left about a year later due to poor health. He traveled to Europe and then spent two years in Baltimore, where he edited the Unitarian Miscellany. Beginning in 1824 he was a minister at King’s Chapel in Boston, serving as head pastor from 1835 until his death. Greenwood published frequently throughout his career (Greenwood, Sermons [1844], esp. vii–lv; Sprague, American Pulpit description begins description ends , 8:485–92; Henry Wilder Foote, Annals of King’s Chapel from the Puritan Age of New England to the Present Day [1896], esp. 2:443–53; Harvard Catalogue description begins Harvard University Quinquennial Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates, 1636–1925, 1925 description ends , 191, 924; Boston Atlas, 3 Aug. 1843).

In letters this year to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, Adams also compared his health at my age to that of other luminaries, observing on 16 Apr. 1819 “that Newton, Franklin and Saml Adams before my age were weeping, bedridden, helpless imbeciles,” and on 25 Sept. 1819 that “I am Older than Voltaire was when he died—and worn out with Cares and labours” (MHi: Lb in Adams Papers).

1RC and FC: “Statesmen.”

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; health of search
  • Adams, John; introduces F. W. P. Greenwood search
  • Adams, John; letters from search
  • Adams, John; on aging search
  • Adams, Samuel (1722–1803); mentioned search
  • aging; J. Adams on search
  • Franklin, Benjamin; J. Adams on search
  • Greenwood, Francis William Pitt; identified search
  • Greenwood, Francis William Pitt; introduced to TJ search
  • Greenwood, Francis William Pitt; visits Monticello search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction to search
  • Kirkland, John Thornton; as minister of New South Church, Boston search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Greenwood, Francis William Pitt search
  • Newton, Sir Isaac; J. Adams on search
  • Smith, Louisa Catharine (John Adams’s niece); as J. Adams’s amanuensis search
  • Thacher, Samuel Cooper; as minister of New South Church, Boston search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; friendship with J. Adams search
  • Voltaire (François Marie Arouet); mentioned search