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TO THOMAS McKEAN. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes) 
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 10.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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TO THOMAS McKEAN.
Quincy, 21 June, 1812.
I have received your kind letter of the 13th of this month with emotions like those of two old friends after a separation of many years, such as we may suppose Ulysses to have felt on meeting one of his ancient associates (not one of the suitors) on his return to Ithaca.
Your name among the members of Congress in New York, in October, 1765, is, and has long been a singular distinction. I wish you would commit to writing your observations on the characters who composed that assembly, and the objects of your meeting. Otis and Ruggles are peculiarly interesting to me, and every thing that passed on that important occasion is and will be more and more demanded (and it is to be feared, in vain) by our posterity.
Of the Congress, in September, 1774, there remains Governor Johnson, of Maryland, Governor McKean, of Pennsylvania, Governor Jay, of New York, Judge Paine, of Massachusetts, and John Adams, not forgetting our venerable Charles Thomson, Secretary.
You had an opportunity that was denied me in 1778, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1782. I was in Europe from 1778 to 1788. There was a great change in Congress soon after 1778. The Massachusetts men were chosen of a very different stamp from Hancock, Sam Adams, and Gerry. Higginson, Gorham, King, Jackson, and Lowell were a batch of loaves of a very different flour from their predecessors. I would now give any thing for your knowledge of their oratory, dialectics, and principles and opinions. This nation now groans, and future ages, I fear, will have reason to rue the hunting of that day. After the peace, New York and Pennsylvania followed the example of Massachusetts, and brought in lukewarmness instead of zeal, not to say toryism in the place of whiggism.
I acknowledge that the most unaccountable phenomenon I ever beheld, in the seventy-seven years, almost, that I have lived, was to see men of the most extensive knowledge and deepest reflection entertain for a moment an opinion that a democratical republic could be erected in a nation of five-and-twenty millions of people, four-and-twenty millions and five hundred thousand of whom could neither read nor write.
My sentiments and feelings are in symphony with yours in another particular. The last eleven years of my life have been the most comfortable of the seventy-seven. I have never enjoyed so much in any equal period. Mr. Jefferson, I find, is equally happy. I have had opportunity, however, to know that the illustrious Washington was not, and that to his uneasiness in retirement great changes in the politics of this country were to be attributed, perhaps for the better, possibly for the worse. God knows. I am as cheerful as ever I was; and my health is as good, excepting a quiveration of the hands, which disables me from writing in the bold and steady character of your letter, which I rejoice to see. Excuse the word quiveration, which, though I borrowed it from an Irish boy, I think an improvement in our language worthy a place in Webster’s dictionary. Though my sight is good, my eyes are too weak for all the labor I require of them; but as this is a defect of more than fifty years standing, there are no hopes of relief. The trepidation of the hands arising from a delicacy, or, if you will, a morbid irritability of nerves, has shown itself at times for more than half a century, but has increased for four or five years past, so as to extinguish all hopes that it will ever be less.
The danger of our government is, that the General will be a man of more popularity than the President, and the army possess more power than Congress. The people should be apprised of this, and guard themselves against it. Nothing is more essential than to hold the civil authority decidedly superior to the military power.
Wishing you life as long as you desire it, and every blessing in it, I remain, &c.