Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO DR. J. MORSE. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes)
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TO DR. J. MORSE. - 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 DR. J. MORSE.
Quincy, 20 November, 1815.
The pamphlet I lent you, and the letters from Governor McKean, you may retain for the time you mention. The pamphlet I would give you, if I had or could procure another. The rise and progress of that pamphlet is this. On my return from Philadelphia, in November, 1774, I found that Mr. Draper’s Massachusetts Gazette had been long pouring forth torrents of scurrility against the Whigs, and dreadful denunciations of the irresistible power of Great Britain, and her implacable vengeance against any resistance to her government over us in all cases whatsoever. Among this mass of billingsgate and terror, I soon distinguished the hand of my bosom friend, Jonathan Sewall, then Attorney-General and Judge of Admiralty for Halifax, over the signature of Massachusettensis. This gentleman had been the most intimate and familiar friend I ever had at the bar, and had been as ardent an American and as explicitly for resistance to Great Britain, in arms, as I ever had been or ever have been; but the insolvency of his uncle, the Chief Justice Sewall, to whose estate he was administrator, induced him to petition the legislature for a grant to enable him to pay the debts of his deceased uncle.
Colonel Otis, of Barnstable, and his son, the great Boston orator, statesman, and patriot, had not supported his petition with as much zeal as he wished, and his resentment of their nonchalance became bitter. Hutchinson, Trowbridge, and Bernard, soon perceived this ill humor, and immediately held out to him prospects of honor, promotion, and wealth. They created a new office for him, that of Solicitor-General, and upon the death of Mr. Gridley made him Attorney-General, and soon after procured for him from England the office of Judge of Admiralty for Halifax, with a salary of three hundred pounds sterling per annum. Such was the character of Massachusettensis.1 He had a subtle, insinuating eloquence that often gained slowly and imperceptibly upon his hearers, but none of that commanding, animating energy, that vehemence of enthusiasm, that sometimes carries all before it. Draper’s paper, I found, distressed the Whigs, and spread alarms and terrors among the people; and none of the writers half so much as Massachusettensis. I set myself about preparing some antidote against his poison, and began, I believe, in December, 1774, and continued weekly till the 19th of April, 1775, a series of papers under the signature of Novanglus, in Edes and Gill’s Boston Gazette. Coarse and rough as they are, like every thing else that has ever been published by me, who never had time to polish, correct, or transcribe any thing, they were sent to England in the Boston Gazette, I never knew by whom, picked up by Almon, the famous printer and bookseller, and printed by him in a volume of Prior Documents, which followed his Remembrancer for the year 1775, under a title which he gave them, much too pompous, of “History of the Disputes, &c.” Stockdale, who had been an apprentice of Almon, afterwards reprinted them, under Almon’s title, in the pamphlet I sent you. You may find them in the Boston Gazette, from December, 1774, to 19th April, 1775, or in Almon’s Prior Documents; but of Stockdale’s pamphlet I know of no copy in America but mine, and one that Judge Trumbull, of Hartford, has.
I thank you for the prospectus. From all I have heard or read of your sons, I believe them to have a genius for letters as well as for the fine arts, and wish them success in all their laudable pursuits; but I cannot subscribe.
The proposal of taking my bust, can only make me smile. If your son had proposed it, I would have written him a letter too ludicrous for you to read, describing the portraits and busts which have already transmitted me to posterity.
[1 ] It is almost needless to repeat, that Mr. Adams before his death had occasion to alter his opinion on the authorship of Massachusettensis. Probably Daniel Leonard wrote it. See vol. iv. p. 10, note.