Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Adams, John Quincy (1767-1848) to James Bridge

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also request a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00958.09 Author/Creator: Adams, John Quincy (1767-1848) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 22 September 1793 Pagination: 3 p. : address ; 21 x 17 cm.

Summary of Content: Corrects errors made in a previous letter (GLC00958.08) regarding comments made on the case of Clark v. Newland, for which Adams requested Bridge serve as the defendant's attorney. The plaintiffs name was actually Ebenezer Clark, not Samuel Clark. Also the justice hearing the case was in New Castle, not Woolwich. Tells Bridge that the defendant, Tephamiah Newland, died on September 12, 1793, and asks what amount Bridge was owed in legal fees. Comments on the "pestilential fever" raging in Philadelphia. Mentions that Bridges father owes Adams money from the Jones v. Hall case, and adds a post script saying that since he composed the letter, the matter with Bridge's father had been settled.

Background Information: Notes: Originally after #958.08 in scrapbook.

Full Transcript: Boston Septr: 22. 1793.

My dear Friend
Sometime since I wrote you requesting you to defend an action which I expected to be entered at your next Court of Common Pleas - ...Clark vs. Newland. In that Letter I committed several mistakes; particularly the name of the plaintiff which is Ebenezer & which I wrote you was Samuel, and also with respect to the place of abode of the Justice before whom I stated the action to have been brought; I called it Woolwich, but it was in reality Newcastle. I should not have made those blunders, had I recollected that the summons served with the original writ was in my own possession - I herewith enclose it, though it is probable you will have no occasion for it. The Defendant, Newland is dead, and was so before the twelfth day of September, when the writ was returnable before the Justice. He died in a fit at Dorchester on the tenth of this month, so that the proceedings before the justice if any were had, were indisputable Error. Your power of attorney from him is of course a nullity, as is all my authority from him. But the plaintiff in that action having hold of a special attachment will perhaps choose to proceed with the action, and run the risk of Error being brought. [2] In that case, you will be so kind as to give him notice of the fact, and that he must proceed at his peril. As Amicus Curial you will if you please mention it to the Court; and if it should be necessary it will be easy to get an affidavit of the Dept Health, before the 12th: of September. There can be no doubt but that the death of the deft. in that stage was a discontinuance of the action.
Whether there will be any administration upon the poor fellow's Estate or not I know not. I have not been able to discover since his death any of his relations, and indeed a fruitless enquiry after them has been made. I have fifteen pounds lawful money in my hands which belonged to him, and which I had taken to answer the Event of this action. From that sum I shall deduct your fees in the case, and my own, and shall then advertise for his Heirs, Executors or Admin[istrato]rs to call on me for the remainder. Please to let me know what your charges will be, and I will pay them from the sum reserved - perhaps when the plf knows of the Defts. death, he will chuse to save himself the expence of any further proceedings, and will not enter the action.
We have terrible accounts from Philadelphia of a pestilential fever, which rages there with a violence beyond all precedent in the country; and we are not without our fears of having it communicated here. [3]
Be so kind as to request information of your father, whether he has obtained the money upon an Execution which I have sent him almost a twelve month since, of Jones vs. Hall. If not I wish him to return the Exon. so that I may take out an alias.
Adieu your's as heretofore. J.Q. Adams.

P.S. Since writing the above, I have had the pleasure of seeing your father, who has paid me the money due on the Execution above mentioned which renders unnecessary the last clause of my Letter.

[Address]: James Bridge Esqr.
See More

People: Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848
Bridge, James, 1765-1834
Clark, Ebenezer, fl. 1806

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: PresidentLawJudiciaryFinanceDeathDiseaseHealth and MedicalYellow Fever

Sub Era: The Early Republic

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources