Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    John Quincy Adams Autograph Letter Signed. One page with blank integral; 7.8" x 9.75". "Washington 20 January 1818." A letter to Horatio Bigelow and Orville L. Holley, editors of the American Monthly Magazine and Critical Review in New York thanking them for issues of their magazine and reminiscing about his time at Harvard. In part: "Among the most pleasing reflections of my life is the relation which I bore for sometime to the students at Harvard University as one of their instructors; and it recurs with peculiar gratification to my mind, whenever the literary accomplishments of any of those who were my pupils, come to flatter me with the thought that my advice may have contributed to form their tasted and to excite their virtuous ambition. The richness of the fruit gives a charm to the remembrance of the care bestowed upon the blossom..."

    While serving as a U.S. Senator for Massachusetts, Adams accepted the Boylston Professorship of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard in 1805, a position he retained until 1809, when he was sent to Russia to represent the United States. Bigelow graduated from Harvard in 1809 and Holley in 1813; Adams' tone and language suggests at least one of them had been a student of his during his tenure.

    Adams reverts to his role as a teacher in the closing of the letter: "Allow me by way of supplement to my Professor's functions, to ask you, by what authority you use the word 'to conduct' as a verb neutral? 'he has conducted with gross brutality' - N. 6 of Vol. I p. 422. Review of Lord Byron's Lament of Tasso. Will either the deviation of this word, or English usage, or Mr. Pickering's American Dictionary warrant the use of it in this sense, without the relative pronoun?" Signed in full, "John Quincy Adams."

    Condition: Gently and evenly toned, with flattened mail folds and bold ink. Light soiling on verso of integral blank, where a small mounting remnant appears at top. A piece of string is threaded and tied along the left margin at top, with a matching tiny hole and tear at bottom.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2018
    18th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 373

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $19), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 14 days left to consign to the 2019 March 30 - 31 Americana & Political - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    The pre and post sales experience was wonderful and flawless. Heritage has the best in-house operation I have ever seen and their people are not only professional but fun to work with, especially Steve C.

    As for Heritage's online system… Yes the interface is more complex than what we are used to with SAN but what is behind that interface is amazing for sellers and buyers alike. It is real time and for a real serious auction buyer there is nothing better in the auction industry, bar none.
    Ron Cipolla,
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 January 15 "Say it Loud" The John Silverstein Collection of African American Social History - Dallas
    2019 January 15 "Say it Loud" The John Silverstein Collection of African American Social History - Dallas
    REALIZED SO FAR $292,119