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, 12 November, 1813.
As I owe you more for your letters of October 12th and 28th than I shall be able to pay, I shall begin with the P. S. to the last. I am very sorry to say that I cannot “assist your memory in the inquiries of your letter of August 22d.”1 I really know not who was the compositor of any one of the petitions or addresses you enumerate. Nay, farther, I am certain I never did know. I was so shallow a politician, that I was not aware of the importance of those compositions. They all appeared to me, in the circumstances of the country, like children’s play at marbles or push-pin, or, rather, like misses in their teens emulating each other in their pearls, their bracelets, their diamond pins and Brussels lace.
In the Congress of 1774, there was not one member, except Patrick Henry, who appeared to me sensible of the precipice, or, rather, the pinnacle on which he stood, and had candor and courage enough to acknowledge it. America is in total ignorance, or under infinite deception, concerning that assembly. To draw the characters of them all would require a volume, and would now be considered as a caricature-print; one third tories, another whigs, and the rest mongrels. There was a little aristocracy among us, of talents and letters; Mr. Dickinson was primus inter pares, the bellwether, the leader of the aristocratical flock. Billy, alias Governor Livingston, and his son-in-law, Mr. Jay, were of this privileged order. The credit of most, if not all, those compositions was often, if not generally, given to one or the other of the choice spirits. Mr. Dickinson, however, was not on any of the original committees. He came not into Congress until October 17th; he was not appointed till the 15th by his assembly.1 Congress adjourned, October 27th, though our correct secretary has not recorded any final adjournment or dissolution. Mr. Dickinson was in Congress but ten days. The business was all prepared, arranged, and even, in a manner, finished before his arrival. R. H. Lee was the chairman of the committee for preparing “the loyal and dutiful address to his Majesty.” Johnson and Henry were acute spirits, and understood the controversy very well, though they had not the advantages of education, like Lee and John Rutledge. The subject had been near a month under discussion in Congress, and most of the materials thrown out there. It underwent another deliberation in committee, after which they made the customary compliment to their chairman, by requesting him to prepare and report a draught, which was done, and after examination, correction, amelioration, or pejoration, as usual, reported to Congress. October 3d, 4th, and 5th were taken up in debating and deliberating on matters proper to be contained in the address to his Majesty.2 October 21st, the address to the king was, after debate, recommitted, and Mr. John Dickinson added to the committee. The first draught was made, and all the essential materials put together by Lee. It might be embellished and seasoned afterwards with some of Mr. Dickinson’s piety, but I know not that it was.3 Neat and handsome as the composition is, having never had any confidence in the utility of it, I never have thought much about it since it was adopted. Indeed, I never bestowed much attention on any of those addresses, which were all but repetitions of the same things, the same facts and arguments,—dress and ornaments rather than body, soul, or substance. My thoughts and cares were nearly monopolized by the theory of our rights and wrongs, by measures for the defence of the country, and the means of governing ourselves. I was in a great error, no doubt, and am ashamed to confess it, for those things were necessary to give popularity to our cause, both at home and abroad; and, to show my stupidity in a stronger light, the reputation of any one of those compositions has been a more splendid distinction than any aristocratical star or garter in the escutcheon of every man who has enjoyed it. Very sorry I cannot give you more satisfactory information, and more so, that I cannot, at present, give more attention to your two last excellent letters.
N. B. I am almost ready to believe that John Taylor, of Carolina, or of Hazel Wood, Port Royal, Virginia, is the author of 630 pages of printed octavo upon my books, that I have received. The style answers every characteristic that you have intimated. Within a week, I have received and looked into his Arator. They must spring from the same brain, as Minerva issued from the head of Jove, or, rather, as Venus rose from the froth of the sea. There is, however, a great deal of good sense in Arator, and there is some in his Aristocracy.
[1 ] The principal inquiry was, who drew the petition to the king, in the Congress of 1774.
[1 ] Journals, vol. i. p. 30.
[2 ] Journals, vol. i. p. 22.
[3 ] It is now well known to have been the composition of Mr. Dickinson. Much light is shed upon this question by an article in the American Quarterly Review, vol. i. p. 413.