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    John Quincy Adams reports that a bill had passed "to protect the commerce and Seamen of the United States against the Barbary powers"

    John Quincy Adams Autograph Letter with Free Frank Signature ("John Quincy Adams / S[enator].U.S.") One page, 7.75" x 12.5", [Washington, D.C.], March 26, 1804 "5. P.M.," addressed on verso by Adams to his brother "Thomas B. Adams Esqr / Quincy. / Massachusetts." On watermarked laid paper. Expert infill restoration at left and right edges, where opened at wax seal, affecting two or three words. Encapsulated for preservation. The notation "S.U.S." following Adams' signature is rarely seen. With no salutation, closing, or signature, Adams pens, in full:

    "The close of a Session of Congress is a good emblem of Anarchy - The two Houses, barely able to form a quorum, legislate with a rapidity which exceeds very for that of any sweepstake race in the horse-racing regions - The Senate at 4 this afternoon, adjourned to meet at 5. and some of the members are now in waiting untill a quorum can be formed.

    "A bill has pass'd both houses, further to protect the commerce and Seamen of the United States against the Barbary powers - Such is its title - But it is likewise an Act to raise about 800,000 dollars a year by an additional tax upon trade - I am apprehensive it will be severely felt, though the object of redeeming our fellow-citizens in captivity, and of chastising the barbarians is in the highest degree laudable - I voted against the bill, because I [did] not approve the means proposed to obtain a very valuable . . . [illegible] A great number of other bills have this day pass'd, of which few members know any thing at all. - the Senate have asked by a resolution this day of the House of Representatives to sit one day longer; but to this they will probably not accede.

    "6 P.M. The House have agreed to sit to-morrow [by a vote of 49-44]; and I must close my letter for the mail, - I hope to write you again to-morrow. We are going on full speed in our business."

    The next day, both houses adjourned until November 5, 1804. On March 26, Adams recorded in his diary, "This was the day fixed upon, by the joint Resolution for Closing the Session; but from the great accumulation of business, the Resolution was this day rescinded, by a joint vote, and the houses are to be adjourned to morrow a great variety of bills were passed, among the rest one for raising an additional tax of about 800,000 dollars to be called and applied as a Mediterranean fund - It is by adding 2½ per Cent to the whole list of ad valorem duties - Various attempts were made to alter and amend this Act, altogether without success. It pass'd at last 21 yeas 5 nays. In the House of Representatives it pass'd unanimously. At 4 o'clock the Senate adjourned untill 5 - and not having time to go home, I accepted an invitation from Mr. Pickering, and went and dined at his lodgings with him - Met again at 5 and sat untill 9 in the evening. Got through the greatest part of the business; but left a little for to morrow - Adjourned to 10 in the morning. In executive business Mr Wright and Dr Logan called for Mr Bradley's Report of 24 Feby against the Philadelphia lawyers and Ed:d Livingston - They wanted to take off the injunction of Secrecy, and not act upon the report - some objection however was made, and the matter was adjourned until to' morrow."

    The bill "to protect the Commerce and Seamen of the United States, against the Barbary powers" passed both houses and was signed into law by President Thomas Jefferson. As Adams stated in his diary, but not in this letter to his brother Thomas, the bill passed the Senate 20-5 (Adams had the vote 21-5) and unanimously passed the House (98-0). He told his brother in this letter that he voted against the bill but did not tell him that he was one of only five men in the entire Congress to vote nay. The act provided "for the purpose of defraying the expenses of equipping, officering, manning, and employing such of the armed vessels of the United States . . . for protecting the commerce and seamen thereof; and for carrying on warlike operations against the regency of Tripoli, or any other of the Barbary Powers, which may commit hostilities against the United States, and for the purpose also of defraying any other expenses incidental to the intercourse with the Barbary Powers." In August and September 1804, the U.S. Navy bombarded Tripoli. In April 1805, U.S. Marines helped capture the Tripolitan city of Derna. This was the first time in history that the United States flag was raised in victory on foreign soil. This event is memorialized in the opening lines of the Marine Corps hymn, "to the shores of Tripoli." On June 4, 1805, the United States and Tripoli signed a Treaty of Peace and Amity ending the First Barbary War.

    This letter comes from the collection of Elizabeth Coombs Adams (1808-1903), the granddaughter of John Adams (the daughter of John Adams' youngest son, Thomas). Ms. Adams, who lived her entire life in Quincy, Massachusetts, was a collector of historical documents. She had a special interest in preserving the Adams' family history in documents, which she did until her death at the age of ninety-five. She never married, and at the time of her death her papers were given to her cousin Caroline Harrod Bartlett. Ms. Adams' papers have been passed down through multiple generations of the Bartlett family and are being offered here at auction for the first time. (See lots 34092 and 34164 for other documents from her collection.) Included with this lot are two letters written by Elizabeth Coombs Adams to a relative referring to Senator Adams' letter. In one of her letters, she writes that her uncle's 1804 letter is valuable because it is free franked by the senator: "I find one nice letter from our uncle J Q Adams when he was senator in Washt 1804 - so you will see his Frank on it, which makes it valuable." From the collection of Elizabeth Coombs Adams.


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