Lot 3: Adams, John. Letter signed ("John Adams") as President
November 15, 2012
Calabasas Hills, CA, USALive Auction
Adams, John. Letter signed ("John Adams") as President, 1 page (7 ¾ x 8 in.; 196 x 203 mm.), "Philadelphia, PA," 19 May 1796, written to "the Inhabitants of the town of Hamilton in the State of Massachusetts". Minor foxing with uneven bottom margin.
During the spring of 1798, as war with France seems inevitable, President John Adams thanks the townspeople of Hamilton, Massachusetts for their unwavering support of his administration.
Adams writes in full: "Gentlemen: This affectionate address from the Inhabitants of Hamilton; their opinion of the patriotism and virtue of the supreme Executive authority of the union, from the beginning of the Government, the decided approbation, of the measures taken, during my administration, their zeal to convince the world, that we are not a divided people; their offer of their property, and lives, to support the hard earned Liberty of their Country; and their confidence, under Heaven, that we shall be able to withstand, the most powerful efforts, and machinations of foreign or domestic enemies, are as honorable to their public spirit, as their earnest prayers for me, are affecting to my feelings, and deserving of my gratitude. John Adams 2nd President of the U. S."
Originally a section of Ipswich known as "The Hamlet," Hamilton was incorporated on June 21, 1793. The town was named for then Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton - whose tragic death at the hand of Aaron Burr was still another six years away at the time of this letter. Here, President Adams, under increasing pressure both at home and abroad to stop French atrocities towards American merchant ships on the high seas, thanks the townsmen of Hamilton for their support of his administration during this difficult time. In fact, just nine days after the date of this letter, Congress authorized Adams to order commanders of American naval warships to seize any French armed ships interfering with American commercial shipping. Congress also authorized Adams to raise a 10,000 man volunteer army, and passed legislation (on June 13th) suspending commerce with France and its dependencies. The fledgling U.S. seemed to be on an irreversible course towards war with France, its former ally! Through diplomacy and his endorsement of the controversial Alien and Sedition Acts, Adams skillfully averted war with France, but at a cost to both the Federalist party and his own administration: the Federalists were not returned to power in the election of 1800, and Adams was not elected to a second term as President.