Philosophical reflections on the past and the future. Adams writes warmly to an old family friend to whom he had been recently reconciled, Mercy Otis Warren. "I am very much obliged to you for your Civilities to my Wife, my son, Coll Smith and my grandaughters. My girls have long expressed an earnest desire to see Madam Warren, and have been highly gratified by their visit and very grateful for the kind hospitality, the social Enjoyments and instructive conversations they experienced."
Throughout the Revolutionary period, historian, poet, and dramatist Mercy Otis Warren actively corresponded on political matters with numerous leaders including Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and especially John Adams. The latter became her literary mentor in those early years of unrest. In 1805, she culminated her literary career with The History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution. The book's sharp criticism of John Adams—that his passions and prejudices often debilitated his judgment and that he had demonstrated a distinct leaning toward monarchy during his sojourn in England—led to a heated correspondence and a breach in their friendship in 1807. After nearly five years Elbridge Gerry managed to effect a reconciliation between Mercy and Abigail and John. It was Mrs. Adams who sent word 15 September 1813 to Mercy that Nabby had died of breast cancer exactly a month earlier. John's opening salutation most likely refers to condolences Mercy sent the family and suggests that Nabby's death prompted an invitation to visit with her. The Adamses reciprocated by welcoming one of Mercy's newlywed granddaughters to their home. "I was delighted with her manners and accomplishments, and found her visit much too short. May every blessing attend her and all your Family in whose prosperity I take a constant Interest."
Adams then turns to Thomas McKean's comments on Mrs. Warren's late brother, the brilliant but erratic James Otis, Jr. at the 1765 Stamp Act Congress. "Governor M.Keans notice of your Brother I thought worth preserving in your family. the oddity of the Dialogue and the particular moment of its composition were the circumstances that made it rather an Object of Curiosity than Use. I think however the Traits of character are correct." In a letter from McKean to Adams dated 20 August 1813, McKean reminisces about the Stamp Act Congress that convened in New York on 7 October and took a vote to elect a president of that body: " In the Congress of 1765, there were several conspicuous characters. Mr. James Otis appeared to be the boldest and best speaker. I voted for him as our President, but Brigadier Ruggles succeeded by one vote, owing to the number of the committee from New York, as we voted individually" (CFA, The Works of John Adams, X:60–62).
Mention of her brother leads Adams to further reflections on the rest of her family of ardent patriots: "I know not madam what your Father [James Otis, Sr. ], your husband [James Warren] or your Brother would think of these times." Adams, however is reluctant to conjecture about what the future might hold for America. "A mighty Effort of nature is in Operation, that no Understanding below that Providence which superintends and directs it, can comprehend. an entire seperation, in Government at least between America and Europe seems to be commencing: but what will be its course, when and how it will terminate; and what influence it will have upon Asia and Affrica, no living Man, I believe will pretend to forsee."
Nevertheless, Adams believes that he, Mercy, and their fellow patriots had long since laid the necessary groundwork for the political sanguinity of America, but whose fate no longer lies in their hands due to their advanced age. " We have acted our parts. The curtain will soon be drawn upon Us. We must leave the future to that Providence which has protected the past. This Sentiment of duty and Interest I doubt not, Madam will be approved by you; as I hope it is realized with gratitude, and entire confidence and Submission by your old Friend and respectful humble Servant." Mercy Warren died the following year at the age of 86, but Adams would live to see Providence safeguard the separation of America and Europe. The Treaty of Ghent concluded the War of 1812 with no loss of territory to either side. The Monroe Doctrine (1823) enunciated the principles set down by Adams's son John Quincy (then Secretary of State), that "the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers."
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