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Adams, John (1735-1826) to Benjamin Rush

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03890 Author/Creator: Adams, John (1735-1826) Place Written: Quincy, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 29 March 1813 Pagination: 1 p. : address : docket : free frank ; 24.9 x 19.6 cm.

Summary of Content: Adams, in retirement, to Rush, who was to die three weeks later. Forwarding a packet of eight papers on the revolution, including a letter from Vice President Elbridge Gerry and a letter of Benjamin Austin's to Gerry. These letters are not included here. Says he may show them to Carey (probably Philadelphia publisher Matthew Carey) if they help him with his plan. Mentions the incident around the Island of St. John's (Prince Edward Island) during the Quebec campaign in 1775 when Captains Selman and Broughton overstepped their orders and captured private property as well as prominent citizens. Upon their arrival in Cambridge, Massachusetts, General Washington released the prisoners and returned the private property. But Adams' opinion of the incident, which reflects his early and ardent desire for independence from Britain, was positive. Says "I thought as Captain Selman did ... But I was a wild enthusiast, the worst of men, and the most dangerous. So said the Quakers and Proprietarians of Pensilvania." Also calls 1775 and 1776 the years of a "Quasi War" with Britain. Said the Americans were only at war with the Ministry, army, and navy, not the king, nation or parliament. Asks for letters in packet to be returned to him.

Full Transcript: Quincy March 29, 1813
My Friend
Inclosed is a Packet. two Papers marked A. B. four Numbered 1. 2. 3. 4. A letter from The Vice President and one from Mr Austin to him, 8 Documents in ...the whole. considering your Engagement it hurts me to trouble you with the Reading of these Papers; but you will be so amused with them, that you would have reprehended me, if I had suppressed them. If any of them fall within Mr Careys Plan, he is welcome to use them: but in all Events I insist on having all these Papers returned to me. Selman shall not be [inserted: un]known to Posterity. Nor shall it be unknown, with what metaphisical and mathematical Precision Congress, Massachusetts, and Washington, conducted our Quasi War with Great Britain in 1775 & 1776. The war was against the Ministry, against the Army, against the Navy against their Stores; but not against the King, the nation the Parliament, not against British Subjects nor private Property. I thought as Captain Seld did. All appeared to me to be Duplicity, Hypocrisy, Childrens Play. But I was a wild enthusiast, the worst of Men, and the most dangerous. So said the Quakers and Proprietarians of Pensilvania, and so thought the Tories in all the States and in G. Britain. Poor Selman and Broughton were stripped of their Prey. The Governor, the Judge were released and all the Public and private Property. Who can blame them for their Chagrin? Or Congress or Washington for disappointing them? But it seems the Public lost two of the best Naval Officers by it. Pray return these Papers to me, whether Mr Carey will or will not make any use of any Part of them.
yours, yours yours
John Adams
Dr Rush
[address leaf]
Dr Benjamin Rush
J. Adams
Mr Adams
See More

People: Adams, John, 1735-1826
Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813
Gerry, Elbridge, 1744-1814

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: PresidentRevolutionary WarVice PresidentJournalismMilitary HistoryCanadaPrisoner of WarQuakersReligionQuasi-warGovernment and Civics

Sub Era: The Age of Jefferson & Madison

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