Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THOMAS JEFFERSON. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes)
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TO THOMAS JEFFERSON. - 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 JEFFERSON.
Quincy, 10 June, 1813.
In your letter to Dr. Priestley, of March 21st, 1801, you ask, “What an effort of bigotry in politics and religion have we gone through! The barbarians really flattered themselves they should be able to bring back the times of vandalism, when ignorance put every thing into the hands of power and priestcraft. All advances in science were proscribed as innovations. They pretended to praise and encourage education, but it was to be the education of our ancestors; we were to look backward, not forward, for improvement, the President himself declaring, in one of his answers to addresses, that we were never to expect to go beyond them in real science.” I shall stop here. Other parts of this letter may hereafter be considered, if I can keep the book long enough; but only four copies have arrived in Boston, and they have spread terror; as yet, however, in secret.2
“The President himself declaring that we were never to expect to go beyond them in real science.” This sentence shall be the theme of my present letter. I would ask what President is meant. I remember no such sentiment in any of Washington’s answers to addresses. I myself must have been meant. Now, I have no recollection of any such sentiment ever issuing from my pen or my tongue, or of any such thought in my heart for at least sixty years of my past life. I should be obliged to you for the words of any answer of mine that you have thus misunderstood.
A man of seventy-seven or seventy-eight cannot commonly be expected to recollect promptly every passage of his past life, or every trifle he has written. Much less can it be expected of me to recollect every expression of every answer to an address, when, for six months together, I was compelled to answer addresses of all sorts, from all quarters of the Union. My private secretary has declared that he has copied fifteen answers from me in one morning. The greatest affliction, distress, confusion of my administration arose from the necessity of receiving and answering these addresses. Richard Cromwell’s trunk did not contain so many of the lives and fortunes of the English nation as mine of those in the United States. For the honor of my country I wish these addresses and answers were annihilated. For my own character and reputation, I wish every word of every address and every answer were published.
The sentiment that you have attributed to me in your letter to Dr. Priestley, I totally disclaim, and demand, in the French sense of the word, of you the proof. It is totally incongruous to every principle of my mind and every sentiment of my heart for three score years at least.
You may expect many more expostulations from one who has loved and esteemed you for eight-and-thirty years.
When this letter was ready to go, your favor of May 27th came to hand.1 I can only thank you for it at present.
[2 ] This letter had just appeared at this time in the appendix to Belsham’s Memoirs of Theophilus Lindsey. It is included in Mr. Randolph’s edition of Jefferson’s Writings, vol. iii. p. 461.
[1 ] Published by Randolph, vol. iv. p. 191.