Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    "The Determination, whatever it may be, will cause disappointment and chagrin"

    John Adams Autographed Letter Signed as President. One page with partial integral sheet, 8.2" x 9.5". Philadelphia; April 21, 1800. A letter to the Reverend Dr. Morse concerning deliberations on a "great subject" involving the Adams Administration.

    I am much obliged by your favour of the 5th and for your Introduction of Aaron Putnam, Esq., with whose Person and Conversation I have been much pleased.

    The Preparations for a discussion on the great subject, are so advanced that I hope it will not be postponed much longer. But there are so many great objects involved in the question and so many considerations great and small to be attended to that I shall find it as difficult a subject as any that has come before me. The Determination, whatever it may be, will cause disappointment and chagrin, perhaps censure and clamor enough. But what measure of the Government does not? With great regard

    John Adams

    This letter is probably addressed to Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826), a noted clergyman, teacher, and geographer. Heritage recently sold at auction a letter from Aaron Putnam (referred to by Adams in this letter) to Morse, dated April 24, 1800, three days after this letter, in which he spoke of his recent dinner with President and Mrs. Adams. Morse was an ardent Federalist like President Adams, and believed that anti-Federalists were being radicalized by French revolutionaries. The "great subject" Adams mentions may relate to a decision concerning possible war with France. The quasi war with France, begun in 1798, ended in 1800 with the Convention of 1800, signed on September 30 of that year.
    An interesting letter showing Adams making a tough decision knowing that it will cause an uproar among some Americans.

    Condition: Slight mat burn from previous framing. Only a one and a half inch strip of the integral sheet remains, the rest has been replaced with later paper. A part of the docket in Morse's hand remains: "President Adams / April 21, 1800 / Ansd May 23. 1800". An additional line of writing in an unknown hand appears beneath the docket: "respecting a difficult..." A cryptic note in a different hand appears on page two: "question - [2y Charleston Navy Yard?]". Three separations along folds have been reinforced with paper. Together with an engraving of Adams.

    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
    October, 2016
    19th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 818

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $200,000 (minimum $19), plus 20% of any amount between $200,000 and $2,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,000,000 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
    Consign to the 2018 December 9 Civil War, Militaria, Arms & Armor - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    You reach a customer base that is in many ways completely unknown to the major auction houses, and your marketing to this base is as professional as one could hope for. As I continue to wind down my holdings.
    Michael Z.,
    Hawthorne, NY
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 June 10 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    2018 June 10 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $615,551