Ink signature, “J. Adams,” on an off-white 1.25 x .5 slip. Signature is affixed to a 4 x 2 slip, dated February 28, 1823, in another hand. Framed with an engraved portrait to an overall size of 10.75 x 14.5. In very good condition, with mild toning and show-through from writing on reverse. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.
Category Archives: John Adams
Prominent and crisp ink signature as president, “John Adams,” on an off-white 8.5 x 3.5 slip clipped from a document. Boldly countersigned at the bottom by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering. In fine condition, with light circular seal toning to right side and mild mirrored ink from folding. A fantastic Adams example—the largest we have ever seen. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.
Free franked address panel, addressed in another hand to “Mr. Justus B. Smith, Hamilton County of Madison, New York,” signed to the left of the address, “J. Adams,” and franked in his hand in the upper right corner “Free.” Also along the top is written “Quincy, Ms. August 6th.” Triple suede matted and framed with an engraved portrait of Adams to an overall size of 22.5 x 15. A central vertical fold, a couple areas of minor paper loss near bottom, and scattered light toning and soiling, a bit lightly affecting Adams’s first initial, otherwise very good condition. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.
War-dated ALS, one page both sides, 7.75 x 9.75, April 24, 1813. Letter to Secretary of the Navy William Jones. In full: “As it ever has been, and forever ought to be, a general Rule of The Presidents and Heads of Departments not to answer Letters soliciting or recommending Appointments to Office: the Exception to the general Rule by your kind Letter of the 13th of this month, lays me under a particular obligation. The Reason you assign is perfectly satisfactory to me: and I rejoice in it, as it proves the good sense and generous Feelings of our American young Men, which have animated such Numbers, to sollicit the Post of danger. Commodore Rodgers has accepted young Marston as a volunteer, and he is now on Board the President below the Castle, ready I presume for Sea as soon as Winds and Circumstances will permit.
Far be from me, any Pride or Vanity, in the recollection of any share I have taken in the Institution of Our American Navy: I am ashamed when I look back and recollect how little I have done said or written in favour of this Essential Arm for the defence of our Country. I know it to be the astonishment of every Man of Sense in Europe that we have neglected it so long. In my opinion a compleat History of our military Marine ought to be written, from the Law of Congress in October 1775 and the Law of Massachusetts in November 1775 to the present hour. Congress could not appropriate Money, to a purpose more beneficial to the Interest, the Safety, the Independence the Honour Power and Glory of their Country, if they should devote to a Man of Letters, who would undertake the Work, four times as large a sum as the Duchess of Marlborough bequeathes for the Biography of her Husband. I rejoice in the appointment to the Head of the naval Department, of a Gentleman who is represented to me, to be so well qualified and so well disposed to promote the Service.” Three vertical folds, small bit of toning at bottom from tape to a repaired old tear, some scattered light toning, and a small repaired hole to blank top left, otherwise fine condition.
Adams’ modesty in this letter is striking in that, for good reason, he has often been called the ‘Father of the American Navy.’ At the outset of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress hoped that a small naval force could help offset the uncontested exercise of British sea power. The founding legislation, championed by Adams, was passed in October of 1775 and before the year was out, Congress authorized the construction of a small fleet, again thanks to Adams’s lobbying. As president, Adams went on to strengthen the American fleet during the Quasi-War with France, establish a Department of the Navy, and push through an act authorizing a peacetime naval force.
The “compleat History of our military Marine” that Adams promotes here came to fruition with the publication of Thomas Clark’s Naval History in 1813 and Adams worked closely with publisher Mathew Carey to help improve the second edition of the massive work. In this letter, Adams refers to John Marston, who in his previous position as messenger is said to have brought Adams news of the 1812 victory of the USS Constitution over the HMS Guerriere. Marston was duly appointed to “the Post of danger” and assigned to the USS President, commanded by John Rodgers. Marston went on to have a notable naval career, eventually reaching the rank of rear admiral. This remarkable letter advocates for a history of the US Navy but is certainly now in itself of import to American naval history.
Partly-printed DS as president, one page, 12 x 8.5, May 15, 1799. President Adams appoints Benjamin Conant of Massachusetts “a Midshipman in the Navy of the United States.” Signed at the conclusion by Adams and countersigned by Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Stoddert. Intersecting folds, scattered toning and soiling, mild creasing and wrinkling, and several edge chips, otherwise very good condition. Conant would serve in the Navy until he was discharged under the Peace Establishment Act on April 30, 1801. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.