Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 65,000 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

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00424 Author/Creator: Adams, John (1735-1826) Place Written: Quincy, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 11 November 1807 Pagination: 1

Summary of Content: Addressed to "My dear Phylosopher [sic] and Friend," this letter discusses George Washington, France and scientific societies. Adams dwells ironically at great length upon those "talents" which brought about Washington's "elevation above his Fellows." The ten talents include a "handsome Face" and "tall Stature", coming from Virginia ("Virginian Geese are all Swans"), the "Gift of Silence," self-control, and his ability to hide his temper. His letter concludes that he ought never have agreed to the appointment of Washington Commander of the Army (during the Quasi-War) with Hamilton, and he argues that had Washington lived, he would have been elected president and appointed Hamilton commander in chief of the Army. "Washington ought either to have never gone out of Public Life, or he ought never to have come in again."

People: Adams, John, 1735-1826.
Washington, George, 1732-1799.

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Keywords/Subjects: Election, President France, Science and Technology, Politics, Government and Civics, Military History, Quasi-war

Sub Era: The Age of Jefferson & Madison