2
2
Adams, Abigail, as First Lady
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 10,625 USD
JUMP TO LOT
2
Adams, Abigail, as First Lady
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 10,625 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

|
New York

Adams, Abigail, as First Lady
Autograph letter signed ("A. Adams"), 1 1/2 pages (9 5/8 x 7 ¾ in.; 246 x 197 mm), Quincy, 18 October 1800, to Dr. Benjamin Rush, defending her husband and lashing out at the partisan attacks on him during the Presidential campaign; scattered spotting, minor fold separations, small but closed seal tear. Tan cloth folding-case, green morocco spine.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Catalogue Note

"The prostration of truth and justice has been the cause in all ages, of producing tyranny ..."  Replying to a letter from Rush in which he reported a scurrilous attack made upon him in Philadelphia by Tench Coxe, Mrs. Adams remarks "To be wounded in the House of our Friend's is a calamity of the most poignant nature, and the president has had during the present summer an uncommon share of virulence leveld at him, from those who have been firm supporters of Washingtons administration, whose voices and pens were employed in holding him, and his measures in the highest estimation, these same gentlemen have become the most inveterate opposers of the president and for no other reason, than because he chose to act and think for himself, contrary to their opinion, and those with whom they are in strict, and close alliance."

She is alluding to the bitter reaction of Hamilton and the Federalists to John Adams's decision to make another attempt at ending America's "Quasi-War" with France; it led them to choose Charles Cotesworth Pinckney as an alternative Federalist candidate for the Presidency. "The embassy to France has been the source of all their enmity. The newspapers in this state, particularly the Centinal ... has become the vehicle of the party denominated the Essex junto, it would be a Herculian labour to trace all the falsehoods which been made, and propagated for the purpose of bringing into the Government a Man who as they express themselves 'will take Counsel' in other words one whom they can manage ... " John and Abigail had branded Alexander Hamilton and his followers the Essex Junto, as many of the conspirators were born in Essex County, Massachusetts. These included Fisher Ames, George Cabot, Benjamin Goodhue, Stephen Higginson, John Lowell, and Timothy Pickering (Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 617). Abigail was not alone in her suspicion that Hamilton was fronting Pinckney as a puppet president. On 17 July 1800, John Rutledge Jr. of South Carolina bluntly wrote Hamilton: "You are endeavoring to give success to Gen[era]l P[inckney]'s election because he will administer the government under your direction" (PAH 25:30).

"The president says he has three times already been tried by his Countrymen upon the charge of attachment to monarchy," continues Abigail,  "... to the world he has published his opinions, if in his writings they find truths which they can not relish, as Dean Swift said of the Maxims of Rouchfoucault [La Rochefoucauld] in him they argue no corrupted mind, 'the fault is in mankind.'" While many of his peers—Jefferson and Madison included—warmly praised his Defence of the Constitutions (1787), factions sprung up claiming Adams was all for monarchy (Cotton Tufts to Abigail Adams, 20 September 1787; AFC 8:164–165). In Virginia, the Reverend James Madison (a cousin of Madison's) perceived that Adams, under the influence of a foreign court (as former Minister to Great Britain) was scheming to overturn the American government to an English prince (McCullough, John Adams, p. 379).  And later, as Vice-President, his unfortunate suggestion of a formal title with which to address the President, reaffirmed his detractors' every suspicion of his monarchistic leanings.

Mrs. Adams inveighs against the rancorous partisan attacks on her husband during the 1800 Presidential canvass: "If there can be any measures calculated to excite a wish in the breasts of our Countrymen for a permanent executive Majestrate, it must arise from the corruption of morals introduced by frequent Elections, from the indecent calumny which sports with the purest Characters; and strives to level them with the meanest; which filches from the most meritorious, that which is dearer than life their good name—that previous ointment which they have stored up to embalm their memory. the prostration of truth and justice has been the cause in all ages, of producing tyranny, more than ambition, and our Country, will in some future day, smart under the same Lash ..."

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

|
New York