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 #: GLC06016 Author/Creator: Adams, John (1735-1826) Place Written: Braintree, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 4 November 1779 Pagination: 3 p. ; 22.7 x 18.4 cm.

A high-resolution version of this object is available for registered users. LOG IN

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06016 Author/Creator: Adams, John (1735-1826) Place Written: Braintree, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 4 November 1779 Pagination: 3 p. ; 22.7 x 18.4 cm.

Summary of Content: Adams believes that there should be an article in the Declaration of Rights securing free speech, impartiality and independence at the bar because everyone deserves a fair trial. He also discusses his recent appointment and that of Mr. Dana.

Background Information:

Full Transcript:
Braintree Novr 4. 1779
My dear Sir
Your favours of Octr. 12 and 19 are before me. I should not have left the first Seven days unanswered, if it had not been for my ...new Trade of a Constitution monger. I inclose a Pamphlet as my apology. It is only a Report of a Committee, and will be greatly altered no doubt. If the Comtie had boldly made the Legislature consist of three Branches, I should have been better pleased But I cannot enlarge upon this Subject.
I am pained in my inmost soul, at the unhappy affair, at Coll Wilsons. - I think there ought to be an Article in the Declaration of Rights of every State, Securing Freedom of Speech, Impartiality, and Independence at the Bar. There is nothing on which the Rights of every Member of Society more depend. - there is no Man So bad, but he ought to have a fair Tryal, and an equal Chance to attain the ablest Council, or the Advocate of his Choice, to See that he has fair Play, and the Benefit of Truth and Law.
Dont be dismayed, you will yet find Liberty a charming Substance. - I wish I had Leonidas, cant you send it, after me?
Thank you, for your Congratulations, on my new and most honourable appointment. - If it is possible, for Mortals to honour Mortals, [2] I am honoured, [text loss] with an Honour, however, that makes me, tremble. Pray, help me, by corresponding constantly with me, and Sending me, all the Pamphlets, Journals, News &c to a little success, as well as honour.
Your Congratulations on the Count D'Estaings operations; are conceived in Terms flattering enough. I will please myself, with the Thought, until the contrary appears that I had Some Share in bringing him here. If he only liberates Georgia and Rhode Island, which Seems to be already done, it is a great success. Altho I go to make Peace, yet if the old Lady, Britania will not Suffer me to do that, I will do all I can in Character, to Sustain the War, and direct it in a Sure Course. I must be prudent, in this, however, which, I fear is not enough. my Characteristick, but I flatter myself, I am rather growing in this Grace, in this Spirit, I think, that altho, We have had Provocations enough to excite the warmest Passions against Great Britain, yet it is our duty to Silence all Resentments in our deliberations about Peace, and attend only to our Interests, and our Engagement with our allies.
Nothing ever gives me So much Pleasure, as to hear of Harmony in Congress. Upon this depends our Union, Strength, Prosperity and Glory. if the late appointment give Satisfaction I am happy, and if the Liberties and Independence of our Country, are not Safe in m Hands, you may Sware it is for Want of Brains, not of Heart. The appointment of Mr Dana, could not be [illegible]. He will go, and I shall be happy. You have given me Pain by your Account of the Complaint against the Director. I am sorry, very sorry!
What will you Say; if I should turn your Thoughts, from Politicks to Philosophy? What do you think of Dr Franklins Theory of Colds. He is first in the opinion that we never take Cold, from the cold air. - and wants the Experiment of Sanctorious tried over again. Suppose you should make a Statical Chair. [3] and try, whether Perspiration is most copious in a warm bed, or Stark naked, in the open Air. I assure you, these Branches of Physicks, come within the Circle of the Sciences of the Statesman, for an unlucky Cold (which I have been much subject to all my days) may stop him, in his Career, and dash all his schemes; and it is a poor Excuse to say, he foresaw and provided against my Event, but his own sickness.
My Partner, whose tender Health and numerous Family, will not permit her, to make me, as happy, as Mr Jay, joins with me, in the kindest Compliments to you & Mrs Rush.
Adieu
John Adams

Dr Rush

[docket]
Novr. 4 1779
See More

People: Adams, John, 1735-1826
Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813
Dana, Francis, 1743-1811

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: PresidentContinental CongressRevolutionary WarDeclaration of IndependenceGovernment and CivicsBill of RightsCivil RightsLawCongressVice President

Sub Era: The War for Independence

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources