2095
2095
John Adams
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("JOHN ADAMS") AS VICE PRESIDENT, TO BENJAMIN RUSH, ARGUING FOR A STRONG EXECUTIVE POWER WITH ONE OF THE GREATEST AND MOST SUCCINCT COMMENTS ON HUMAN NATURE AN GOVERNMENT
Estimate
70,000100,000
JUMP TO LOT
2095
John Adams
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("JOHN ADAMS") AS VICE PRESIDENT, TO BENJAMIN RUSH, ARGUING FOR A STRONG EXECUTIVE POWER WITH ONE OF THE GREATEST AND MOST SUCCINCT COMMENTS ON HUMAN NATURE AN GOVERNMENT
Estimate
70,000100,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Manuscript and Printed Americana

|
New York

John Adams
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("JOHN ADAMS") AS VICE PRESIDENT, TO BENJAMIN RUSH, ARGUING FOR A STRONG EXECUTIVE POWER WITH ONE OF THE GREATEST AND MOST SUCCINCT COMMENTS ON HUMAN NATURE AN GOVERNMENT
Three pages (9 x 7 1/2 in.; 229 x 190 mm), Richmond Hill, Mass., February 1790, docketed on verso of last leaf; 1/2 inch split at central fold. Matted, glazed, and framed. Not examined out of frame. 
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Provenance

Sotheby's New York, 21 June 2007, lot 5 (undesignated consignor)

Catalogue Note

“‘I love my friend as well as you | ‘But why should he obstruct my view?’ contains a Truth, which has laid the foundation for every Despotism and every Absolute Monarchy on Earth… Emulation almost the only Principle of Activity, (except Hunger and Lust) is the cause of all the wars Seditions and Parties in the world …”

An important and revealing Adams letter to his personal physician and fellow signer of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush. The Vice President begins his letter by discussing the proposed constitution of Pennsylvania, suggesting that an “Independent Executive”—with exclusive access to State secrets—should be elevated above public opinion: 

"I have no Pretentions to the Merit of your manly and successful opposition to the Constitution of Pensilvania; but I am very willing to be responsible for any Consequences of its Rejection." He goes on to say that he has "never despised public opinion deliberately," but does not believe it should affect government policies, which "should be guided and aided, as well as informed by those who are in possession of all the secrets of the State. in no nation that ever existed, were all the Facts known to the whole Body or even a Majority of the People, which were essential to the formation of a right Judgement of public affairs ... how many times, both at home and abroad have our affairs been in situations, that none but madmen would have thought proper to be published in detail to the People."

Adams, who became Washington’s Vice President in the election of 1789, here discusses Rush’s “manly and successful opposition to the Constitution of Pensilvania.” At this time, Rush was a part of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania, which sought a new state constitution. The 1776 state constitution was characterized by a dominant, unicameral legislature, but Rush and his fellow Pennsylvania Republicans were intent on forming a bicameral legislature, with a stronger executive, and an independent judicial branch. This was to be modelled on the Massachusetts constitution, drafted by John Adams. In 1790, Pennsylvania did, in fact, adopted a new constitution following a Republican electoral victory.

In the present letter Adams also goes on to comment on his family life: "The charming Picture you give me of your Domestic Felicity, delights my inmost soul: but revives in me a lively regret for the ten years of my life that I lost: when I left my Children to grow up without a Father." In the postscript, Adams writes, "I forbid you, on pain of what shall fall there-on from giving me a Title in your letters. I scorn, disdain, despise, (take word you will) all Titles."

Fine Manuscript and Printed Americana

|
New York