Description

    John Adams on Government: "'the word Republic as it is used may signify -- any thing -- everything or nothing'"

    John Adams (1735-1826) President, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, extremely fine content Letter Signed "John Adams", two pages, 7.8" x 9.75", Quincy, April 30, 1819, a rich and detailed letter on the nature of republics, his own writings, and mentioning Thomas Jefferson. He writes, to an unknown correspondent:

    "Of republicks [sic] the varieties are infinite, or at least as numerous, as the tunes and changes that can be rung upon a complete sett [sic] of Bells. -- Of all the Varitety's [sic], a Democracy is the most rational - the most ancient - and the most fundamental - and essential of all others. -- In some writing of other of mine I happened -- current... to drop the phrase --'the word Republic as it is used may signify - any thing -- everything or nothing' -- From this escape I have been pelted for twenty or thirty years - with as many stones, as even were throw'n at St Steven - when St Paul held the clothes of the Stoners - but the aphorism is literal, strict, solemn truth - to speak technically, or scientifically, if you will - There are Monarchial Aristocratical and Democratical Republicks - the Government of Britain -- and that of Poland - are as strict by republicks - as that of Rhode Island or Connecticut under their old Charter-- If mankind have a right to the voice of experience - they ought to furnish that experience with Pen, ink and paper to write it and as amannensis [?] to Copy it- I should have been extremely obliged to you if you had favoured me with Mr Jefferson[']s sentiments upon the Subject -- as I see you have an inquiring mind -- I sincerely wish you much pleasure Profit, and success in your investigations[.] I have had some pleasure in them - but no Profit - and very little, if any success. ---" Adams then responds to a question about his 1787 pamphlet A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America: In some of your Letters you say that my defence [sic] - has become rare- this is strange Mr Dilly Published an Edition of it in London... addition of it, was published in Boston -- another in New - York - another in Philadelphia -- before the Adoption of the present Constitution of the National Government - and before one line of the Federalist was printed - since that Mr Cobbet, Alias Porcupine printed a large Edition of the whole Work in Philadelphia - and Mr Stockdale of Picca-dilly has published another large Edition in London - it has been Translated into the French and German Languages - and what has become of all these Copies "

    A truly wonderful letter by one of the most important architects of the American Revolution. Adams' wrote A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America while serving as United States Minister to the Court of St. James. The wide-ranging work, was in most part, an expansion of his arguments on the needs for checks and balances in government that he expressed in his 1776 pamphlet Thoughts on Government. The work, stressing the power of the executive in an effort to thwart aristocracy was, ironically, interpreted by many as monarchial. Abagail Admas wrote to their son, John Quincy about the book: "I tell him they will think in America that he is setting up a king." Adams himself predicted that the work would make him unpopular. But, he conceded to his friend James A. Warren in 1787: "Popularity was never my mistress, nor was I ever, or shall I ever be a popular man." It was at this point too that the political differences between Adams and his old comrade Thomas Jefferson came to the fore. Their relationship deteriorated from that point forward and the two communicated little for many years. At the prompting of Dr. Benjamin Rush, the two began communicating again in 1809 and continued a lively correspondence for the balance of their days. They both died on July 4, 1826. This missive is of tremendous significance; a very special offering. From the Henry E. Luhrs Collection. Accompanied by LOA from PSA/DNA.




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    Auction Dates
    February, 2006
    20th-21st Monday-Tuesday
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