Description

    An 89-year-old John Adams writes his grandson, a West Point Cadet

    John Adams Letter Signed "J. Adams" as a free frank. One page, 8.5" x 11.75", [Quincy, Massachusetts], "Last day of July & 1st August 1825," addressed on the address panel to Adams' grandson, "Cadet Thomas B. Adams/ USMA/ West Point." Above the address is written, "Quincy ms August 1st Free." The eighty-nine-year-old Adams, eleven months before his death, signed this letter below the address in a very bold, yet shaky, pen. The letter reads in full:

    "Dear Son, My hand almost refuses its cunning after a rude shock, almost paralitic and a duration of Twenty seven days, in July, the hottest ever known in this Lattitude. Your letter from Fishkill was very grateful to us and would sooner have been acknowledged but for my illness, which gave your Mother so many additional cares.

    You will probably be gratified with the Magazine, Edited by Mr S. L. Knapp, which I shall send you in lieu of Newspapers, with which you have been surfeited. We had the pleasure of a visit from Col. [Sylvanus] Thayer, when I was about as sick as I have been, and I felt quite grateful for the call, as he is not much addicted to visiting. The Col. spoke very handsomely of [you] Son, and was bold in predicting future advances in proportion to the progress of time. Nothing but a decided will was wanting to insure rapid acquisition in the most difficult branches.

    Your Uncle Joseph [Harrod, the brother of Ann Harrod] has just returned from Philadelphia, and brought us the pleasing information of an interview with you a few days ago. This was quite unexpected, as we had no intimation of his visit to the Springs. I cannot make sufficient mental effort to compose a letter of news of sentiment. You must expect such from those in better health, than Your Aff. Father." (Even though Abigail had died earlier in 1818, he still refers to her in this letter: ". . . my illness, which gave your Mother so many additional cares".)

    Thomas Boylston Adams Sr., the youngest son of John Adams, married Ann Harrod in 1805. They lived with their six children in the home of John and Abigail Adams in Quincy, where they took care of the elderly couple. Thomas Adams Jr. graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in July 1828, two years after the death of his grandfather. In 1829, President John Quincy Adams, the eldest son of John, appointed Thomas Jr., his nephew, second lieutenant of artillery. Thomas Jr. served in the Seminole War (1836-1837) and appeared to have a promising military career ahead when he died of a fever contracted while serving at Fort Dade, Florida. Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, mentioned in the letter, was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, was the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy. The "Magazine" that Adams refers to in the letter is likely the first issue of the Boston Monthly Magazine, edited and published in June 1825 by Samuel L. Knapp. In that issue, Adams was favorably mentioned several times. This letter bears minor separations at fold intersections. One word was lost along the right edge when the letter was originally unsealed. From the collection of Elizabeth Coombs Adams.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2010
    14th-15th Thursday-Friday
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