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    John Quincy Adams Autograph Letter Signed "J.Q. Adams." One page with integral blank, 8" x 10", Washington, April 5, 1839. Responding to two lectures sent to the former president by Dr. Thomas Sewall, the seemingly dower Adams humorously writes, in part: "I have read with great satisfaction your two Lectures upon the Science of Phrenology, which I have never been able to prevail upon myself to think of as a serious speculation - I have classed it with Alchemy, with judicial Astrology, with Augury - and as Cicero says that he wonders how two Roman Augurs could ever look each other in the face without laughing, I have felt something of the same surprize [sic] that two learned phrenologists can meet without like temptation."

    He continues in a more serious tone saying, "I thank you for furnishing me with argument to meet the Doctors, who pack up the five senses in thirty-five parcels of the brain I am glad that your Lectures have been so successful, and hope they will be yet more so in recalling the sober sense of the Material philosophers of our age to the dignity of an imperishable mind." The right edge of the letter is heavily chipped with some loss of text. Scattered spots of foxing are seen throughout. The text and Adams signature remain very bold.

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    Thomas Sewall (1786-1845) was a founding member of the medical faculty at Columbian College where he taught anatomy. In 1819, Sewall was charged with multiple counts of grave robbing and body snatching (two of the eight bodies were his former patients). Being found guilty, he was forced to leave the state of Massachusetts. He settled in Washington and became professor of anatomy at the National Medical College prior to his position at Columbian College. During the Columbian graduation of 1827 he provided the commencement speech. Ironically, the topic was on good moral conduct in the practice of medicine.

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    Auction Dates
    October, 2014
    8th-9th Wednesday-Thursday
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