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Adams, John Quincy (1767-1848) To: Oliver Fiske

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC07974 Author/Creator: Adams, John Quincy (1767-1848) Place Written: Newbury - Port Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 1788/01/31 Pagination: 4 p. + addr. 23.1 cm x 18.4 cm

Summary of Content: Supporting ratification of the Constitution: "any further opposition to it at present would be productive of much greater evils." (written as a young law student)

Full Transcript: Newbury-Port Jany: 31st: 1788.
Dear Fiske.
On the morning, ensuing the day, which closed the scene of our academical drama, I had mounted my horse and was going out of the ...college yard, leaving with an heavy heart, the abodes of friendships and of the Muses, when one of those [inserted: few] Classmates whose friendships had tended to render that moment peculiarly affecting, took me by the hand, and while his last farewell [sic] increased the poignancy of my feelings, the promise of a friendly epistolary correspondence, in some measure temper'd the keenness of my sensations, and supported my depressed spirits. - Who this person was I am sure it will not be necessary for me to tell you; for I know your feelings at that time, were so similar to mine, that the impression made by that circumstance, cannot yet be obliterated from your mind.
Yet, pleasing as the idea of a frequent communication by writing was, it has not yet been put into execution. On my part I have [strikeout] neglected writing in hopes that a Letter from you would furnish me with a subject for reply, and perhaps the same idea, has been the means of silencing your pen; [struck: and] if that be the case I hope this Letter will put a period to the inattention with which we are both chargeable, and that the interest which I trust we mutually feel for the welfare of each other, may not be merely an useless sentiment of the [2] heart but effectual principle of action.
My situation is agreeable. Mr. Parsons is just the instructor that my wishes could have formed in every branch of Science, he is a profiscient, and his law learning is astonishing. He is very fond of communicating his knowledge, and is able to give satisfactory answers to any questions a student can propose. I have three fellow students in the office. Townsend, Amory and Thompson. with Townsend I am very intimate. he is a young fellow of very good abilities: rather eccentric in his manners and conversation; but his singularity is to me very agreeable; he is friendly, generous and good natured. possessed of a very good fund of information; and uncommonly sensible, though perhaps rather too fond of disputation: but as I am quite as faulty in that respect as he, it very seldom happens that we differ. - Amory, you know, at[text loss] by reputation. His natural talents are extraordinary, and his improvements much greater than expected, from the dissipated life which he has been used to lead. His disposition is as amiable as that of his cousin, our Classmate, and as a companion I know nobody more agreeable. - They will both be sworn in at the court of common pleas, in about six weeks from this, and will then immediately leave the Town. I shall regret their absence exceedingly; particularly that of Townsend, from whom I am almost inseparable. Thompson you well know. Delicacy of sentiment, solidity of judgement, and openness of disposition, are some of the characteristics which endear him to me: soon after I came here he engaged to keep one of the Town schools for a year; and it employs so much of his time, that I [3] have not enjoyed so much of his company as I should have wished; but the more I am acquainted with him, the stronger my friendship grows, and I anticipate many of the happiest moments I shall pass in this Town, as being derived from my acquaintance with him. - Out of the office my intimacy with young fellows is very contracted. I need but to mention the name of Mr. Little, to express the satisfaction I have in being an inhabitant of the same town with him. He is staying with Dr: Swett, as he himself has informed you, and I do not doubt but he will be as respectable in the profession, as he was as a scholar at College. we frequently see each other in the same sociable, unceremonious manner in which we formerly visited at our respective chambers; and in our conversations, we frequently recur to those scenes, which are still fresh in our minds, and some of which, time itself will not efface from our recollection. - Putnam too, is in town, studying Law with Mr. Bradbury and we are quite friendly and sociable. - He is quite a favorite among the ladies here, and it is shrewdly hinted about that his heart is in jeopardy. He is however very attentive to his studies, and for the time that he has been in town has read more law than I have. - indeed this proves nothing in his favor, for I have become an idle fellow. - "Much study says the wise man, is a weariness to the flesh," and I am really of that opinion; my nerves for two or three months past have been somewhat disordered, and my mind has been totally incapable of much application.
The federal constitution it seems is at length with infinite pains and difficulty adopted in this Commonwealth. you, I presume are a staunch [4] federalist, and as such will rejoyce at this measure: it will perhaps surprize you that from the first appearance of this System, I have been a strong antifederalist; though upon very different principles than those of your Worcester insurgents; and however dangerous the tendency of the plan may be, I am convinced, that any further opposition to it at present would be [struck: attes] productive of much greater evils - The convention of New Hampshire are now sitting at Exeter, and the appearance is similar to that at the commencement of the session in this state, both sides have their hopes and their fears; but I think it probable the final effect will be favourable to the Constitution.
Your Sincere friend, and humble servant,
J.Q. Adams.
Feby: 17th. 1788.

[address leaf]
Mr: Oliver Fiske
Brookfield.

[docket]
J.Q. Adams Feb: 17th. 1788 -
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People: Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848
Fiske, Oliver, 1762-1837

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: PresidentGovernment and CivicsUS ConstitutionRatification

Sub Era: Creating a New Government

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