Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THOMAS McKEAN. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes)
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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, 31 August, 1813.
Your friendly letter of the 20th, with the authentic account of the proceedings of the Congress held at New York, ad 1765, on the subject of the American stamp act, though they found me in the deepest affliction for the loss of my daughter, were very acceptable, and deserve my thanks.
There was a prior Congress held at Albany in 1754 or 1755, in which Franklin, Hutchinson, Wells, and Brattle, with others, assisted. Where is any account of that to be found?
Can you account for the apathy, the antipathy of this nation to their own history? Is there not a repugnance to the thought of looking back? While thousands of frivolous novels are read with eagerness and got by heart, the history of our own native country is not only neglected, but despised and abhorred.
You may conjecture my suspicions from what follows. Were I a man of fortune, I would offer a gold medal to the man who should produce the most instances of the friendship of Great Britain toward this country from 1600 to 1813.
I have had knowledge enough of the Marquis de Casa Yrujo and his lady, your lovely daughter, and notwithstanding all political flickerings, to esteem them both, and wish them all the felicity that you can desire for them. They live, as you and I have lived, in times of confusion and uncertainty more distressing than the ordinary lot of humanity.
In times like those in which you and I have lived, we are not masters, we can scarcely be said to be fathers, of our own families. I have three children born in Quincy, one in Boston. I have one grandson born in London, another on Long Island, another in Berlin, several in Quincy, several in New York, several in Boston, one born and died in St. Petersburg. Is this a desirable history of a family? I trow not.
I will not tell you what I would prefer. You would think me a dunce or an hypocrite.
Your history of Otis and Ruggles is familiar to me. I knew them both. Ruggles was my cousin; Otis, my friend and one of my patrons. I could not have drawn the character of either with more precision than you have done. Both high-minded men, exalted souls, acting in scenes they could not comprehend, and acting parts, whose effects and consequences will last longer than their names will be remembered.
You say that at the time of the Congress, in 1765, “The great mass of the people were zealous in the cause of America.” “The great mass of the people” is an expression that deserves analysis. New York and Pennsylvania were so nearly divided, if their propensity was not against us, that if New England on one side and Virginia on the other had not kept them in awe, they would have joined the British. Marshall, in his life of Washington, tells us, that the southern States were nearly equally divided. Look into the Journals of Congress, and you will see how seditious, how near rebellion were several counties of New York, and how much trouble we had to compose them. The last contest, in the town of Boston, in 1775, between whig and tory, was decided by five against two. Upon the whole, if we allow two thirds of the people to have been with us in the revolution, is not the allowance ample? Are not two thirds of the nation now with the administration? Divided we ever have been, and ever must be. Two thirds always had and will have more difficulty to struggle with the one third than with all our foreign enemies.
A letter from you will always console your old friend.