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    John Adams Autograph Letter Signed to Elbridge Gerry. Signed "John Adams." Two pages of a bifolium, 7.5" x 9", Braintree [Massachusetts]; October 25, 1779. A letter to Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814), who at the time was a member of the Continental Congress representing Massachusetts. When Adams wrote this letter, he had been informed that Congress appointed him minister plenipotentiary to negotiate an end to the Revolutionary War if Great Britain would agree to peace talks. He was to soon depart for France to assume his duties. He had returned to Massachusetts the previous August from France, where he served as one of the commissioners, along with Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee, seeking an alliance with that country against Great Britain, and was participating in the Massachusetts constitutional convention, which produced a constitution, of which Adams was the primary author.

    "Dear Sir

    Yours of the 4. is before me. Mr. Dana, I think will accept. I have no personal Objection to either of the Gentlemen you mention. You know more of the political Character of one of them, than I do. With the other I never had any personal Misunderstanding. He has Abilities and he has had his Merit. But he has been in the Center of Disputes so much, that you must have learned perhaps more of his public Conduct than I have done, certainly enough to determine your Judgment. Mr. D [Silas Deane (1738-1789)] and the Dr [Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)] are much attached to him; Mr. L. [Arthur Lee (20 December 1740 - 12 December 1792)] and Mr. [possibly Ralph Izard (1741/1742-1804)] , much against him. He has formerly written some Things well on the American Question. In France he wrote one good Thing. But he has had Connections in Change Alley, which in my Opinion ought to be renounced forever by him, if he is appointed to any Place, because I have no Imagination that any Thing can be concealed from Ld North [Lord North (1732-1792), Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1770 to 1782.], that is written to any one in Change Alley. I mention nothing of Religion nor Morals, for in these Respects, I suppose Objections are no stronger, than against others, whom it would be Blasphemy to Attack [Adams' snide reference to Franklin]. I mention these Things in Confidence.

    Pray let me know, what is become of my Accounts and Vouchers; and whether there are any Objections to, or Speculations about them.

    John Adams"

    In this letter to Gerry, Adams refers to his friend Francis Dana (1743-1811), a lawyer and politician from Massachusetts, who served as Adams' secretary during his first commission in France, stating that he would accept the post as secretary of the peace legation, which he did. The other two individuals Adams mentions are Sir James Jay (1732-1815), an American physician and politician, who was the brother of John Jay (1745-1829), one of the signers of the Treaty of Paris in 1783 that ended the American Revolution and the first chief justice of the U.S.; and Edward Bancroft (1745-1821), a physician and chemist from Massachusetts who became a double agent, spying for both the United States and Great Britain while serving as secretary to the American Commission in Paris during the American Revolution. Adams devotes most of the letter to Bancroft, who, he claims, is well thought of by Silas Dean and Benjamin Franklin, but disliked by Arthur Lee and another individual who is unidentified. Adams mentions the "one good Thing" that Bancroft wrote in France, which he referred to elsewhere as appearing in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique (Adams, Diary and Autobiography, 1961, 4:73). He also denounces Bancroft's ties to "Change Alley," which was the center of 18th century London's stock firms. In his autobiography, Adams wrote that Bancroft "was a meddler in Stocks as Reviews, and frequently went into the Alley, and into the deepest and darkest retirements and recesses of the Brokers and Jobbers, Jews as well as Christians, and found Amusement as well perhaps profit by listening to all the News and Anecdotes true or false that were whispered or more boldly pronounced." (Adams, Diary and Autobiography, ibid). Adams, of course, knew nothing of Bancroft's spying activities at the time.

    An interesting letter in which Adams, preparing to depart for France to negotiate peace with Great Britain, discusses the controversial reputation of Edward Bancroft, who assisted Franklin and Deane as a secretary while in Paris.

    Condition: Gently toned, with flattened folds. Docketed on the verso of blank integral. With a pencil annotation by a previous collector/dealer in pencil. A strip of cello tape has been affixed to verso of integral page resulting in staining, with some showthrough of said stain on the preceding blank page.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2019
    26th Saturday
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