2089
2089

PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK COLLECTOR

John Adams
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("JOHN ADAMS") TO ELBRIDGE GERRY, EXPRESSING HIS FRUSTRATIONS IN REPRESENTING AMERICA'S INTERESTS
Estimate
80,000120,000
JUMP TO LOT
2089

PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK COLLECTOR

John Adams
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("JOHN ADAMS") TO ELBRIDGE GERRY, EXPRESSING HIS FRUSTRATIONS IN REPRESENTING AMERICA'S INTERESTS
Estimate
80,000120,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Manuscript and Printed Americana

|
New York

John Adams
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("JOHN ADAMS") TO ELBRIDGE GERRY, EXPRESSING HIS FRUSTRATIONS IN REPRESENTING AMERICA'S INTERESTS
4 pages (12 3/4 x 7 7/8 in.; 324 x 201 mm) on a bifolium (watermarked C Taylor | seated Liberty), Grosvenor Square, London, 24 May 1786, reception docket in margin of final page; separated at central fold, light discoloration at a few fold creases. 
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Provenance

Christie's New York, 3 December 2007, lot 95 (Property of a Private Collector)

Catalogue Note

"A more disagreable Situation than mine no Man ever held in Life and whoever succeeds me, will not find it more pleasant." Adams vents to one of his closest political allies, Elbridge Gerry, a fellow signer of the Declaration of Independence from Massachusetts, about his inability to succeed with the British ministry because the states are not strong enough to support their own credit and regulate their own trade. In a foreshadowing of his celebrated 1787 attack on the Articles of Confederation, Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, which was prompted by Shay's Rebellion the preceding year, Adams here analyses the weaknesses of the American financial system under the Articles.

"The issue of all my 'Negotiations['] respecting the Interest of British Debts, during the War, and respecting every Thing else, is just nothing at all.—I have done all in my Power to do to no purpose, and I tell you freely, that the British Ministry will do nothing about this or any Thing else until the States Shall Support their Credit, and regulate their own trade, in a manner that shall shew them that it is not left to British Merchants and Politicians to manage as they please. Nor then in my opinion will they ever intermeddle, or agree to relinquish the Interest. It will finally be left to every Debtor to make the best agreement he can with his Creditor, or to dispute it at Law, and avoid the Payment of the Interest by the Verdict of a Jury. If the juries give it against our Merchants, they will never find any other Remedy. As to any Clamour that may be raised by my concealed competitors, it will do them no good nor me any harm, if they want my Place, and Congress give it them it will be with my hearty consent, without any Clamour at all. A more disagreable Situation than mine no Man ever held in Life and whoever succeeds me, will not find it more pleasant.

Adams next turns to his critics in Congress, confidently offering to step aside if anyone cares to replace him: "If any one thinks he can do better in mercy, let him put up, and if anybody thinks of any other who can do more let him vote for him in the name of freedom. Old as I am, I had rather draw Writs and Pleas in abatement than do suffer what is now my Lot. Making brick without Straw, which has been my Employment ever since I have been in Europe, and is more so now than ever, was never reckoned an easy, or pleasant Task, from the Days of the Israelites in Egypt to this moment. Untill I came to England I was as little apprised as you of the Extent of this evil of Interest. It was too carefully concealed, by American Debtors, until it was past a Remedy. The time is long since perfectly past, for doing any Thing in the Country, and another opportunity will never arrive, until after a long and arduous Struggle."

The letter takes a lighter turn, with Adams teasing Gerry and their mutual friend Rufus King for "marrying the two finest Girls in New York"—wealthy women who have put their husbands "in a way to make federal Ideas, grow, and may they prosper untill Congress shall have the Power and the Will, to form a System, which shall bring this Country to think." But Adams's darker humor returns, and he ends the letter by railing against the futility of his efforts and stating again with his closing phrase that he is "quite prepared to be recalled": "You may depend upon it every Man who expects any Thing from my Negotiations will be disappointed. I am not an Idler. My whole Time is employed to the utmost of my Strength and Capacity, and to no more purpose, than if I were at Horse Races or State Plays, and this will assuredly continue to be the Case, until the Trade and Revennue of the Country shall be made to feel the Effect of the Conduct of Congress and the States in regulating their Trade.

Fine Manuscript and Printed Americana

|
New York