Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Adams, John (1735-1826) to Benjamin Rush

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00496.001 Author/Creator: Adams, John (1735-1826) Place Written: Quincy, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 21 November 1811 Pagination: 2 p. : free frank ; 25 x 20 cm.

Summary of Content: Depression, Iroquois warrior, death.

Background Information:

Full Transcript: John Adams
Quincy November 21. 1811
Dr. Sir
On this our Thanksgiving day, among innumerable other Blessings, I have to (struck:thank) express my Gratitude for your favour of Nov. 11. I do ...not believe that Boethius's consolations of Philosophy, which however I have never read, would do me more good.
I hasten to answer your Questions, that your friendly Sympathies may be no longer afflicted or allarmed. Indeed I almost repent of the Simple Tale I told you of our Sorrows. It Seems ungenerous and malevolent to afflict others with our Misfortunes.
My Son's Wound is entirely healed. (struck:illegible) I walk as usual a few miles a day. My (struck: illegible)
I was once present when a Portrait of one of the Chiefs of the Six Nations was shown to him. It had been taken Slyly by Stealth when he was not aware of the Painters design. He knew himself and was much displeased. I asked him his Reason? He Said he was a Warriour, and liable to be killed on any day. And he wished that nothing might remain of him to remind his Friends of him and give them pain for his loss. [2] Is this a natural Sentiment,? or a Savage Refinement of Friend Ship and Benevolence? Or was it affectation and Indian Hypocrisy?
I look with delight on the Pictures of my departed Friends and wish I had many more of them, than are now to be procured.
I am not melancholly nor gloomy, but as much disposed to badinage as ever, as an instance of it, you may expect to receive Letters from me, till the 30th of Octr. next if I live so long[.] written in the genuine Spirit of Seventy Six. Witness my hand
John Adams
Dr. Rush
[docket] Free
J. Adams [vertical] Dr. Benjamin Rush
J. Adams.
Philadelphia
See More

People: Adams, John, 1735-1826
Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: American Indian HistoryMental HealthDeathPresidentPhilosophyClassical World and Ancient CivilizationHolidays and CelebrationsChildren and FamilyHealth and MedicalArt, Music, Theater, and FilmRevolutionary War

Sub Era: The Age of Jefferson & Madison

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources