Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    John Adams. A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America... Vol. III. London: Printed for C. Dilly ... and John Stockdale, 1788. First edition of the final volume in John Adams's defense of the nascent American system of checks and balances, from Adams's personal collection, donated by him to Dickinson Library at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1823. Dickinson Library notations, including note of provenance, in manuscript ink on front pastedown: "A Present from / John Adams, Esq / Late President of / the United States."

    Octavo (8.25 x 5 inches; 210 x 127 mm.). [2, title leaf], 528, [36, index] pages. Contemporary tree calf; spine ruled and tooled in gilt, gilt-lettered red morocco label; board edges tooled in gilt; plain endpapers and flyleaves. Front joint starting at both ends; rear joint only just starting on the lower end; board edges worn; backstrip dulled and rubbed. Front hinge cracked, front free endpaper and flyleaf detached and laid in; rear hinge starting, rear free endpaper and flyleaf nearly detached. Occasional light foxing throughout, upper corner of Bb5 creased. Very good. ESTC N521 (three volumes).

    Mentioned in a letter by Adams, dated January 14, 1823, in response to a letter from the Dickinson committee requesting books for a newly established library, in full: "Gentlemen, I am honored with your letter of the 9th January, 1823. It would give me great pleasure to send you any books for the use of your Classical School, but I have already given my Library to a Classical School in Quincy excepting a very few which are a necessity of Life to me. I send you the second and third volumes of my Defence, of the volume I have but one copy. Of the Discourses on Davila I have but one Copy, which I call the fourth volume of my Defense [sic]. How these four volumes will be considered by Posterity, I know not. They were written with great sincerity and great anxiety unpolished as they are, that must remain for I can never correct or revise them. With my sincere wishes for the increase of your library, and the prosperity of your Society, and with a duplicate of the second and third volumes--I have the honor to be very respectfully your most obedient humble servant [signed] John Adams."

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2017
    8th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 632

    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 on Mar 8, 2017 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    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 2021 December 12 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction .

    Learn about consigning with us

    This was my first time dealing with an auction house, and I am 100% completely impressed with Heritage. There is not an aspect of this process that I have a critique for.
    Darryl S.,
    Stuart, FL
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search