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Collection Reference Number GLC00424
From Archive Folder Documents Relating to 1807 
Title John Adams to Benjamin Rush concerning George Washington, France and scientific societies
Date 11 November 1807
Author Adams, John (1735-1826)  
Recipient Rush, Benjamin  
Document Type Correspondence
Content Description Addressed to "My dear Phylosopher [sic] and Friend," this letter discusses George Washington, France and scientific societies. Adams dwells ironically at great length upon those "talents" which brought about Washington's "elevation above his Fellows." The ten talents include a "handsome Face" and "tall Stature", coming from Virginia ("Virginian Geese are all Swans"), the "Gift of Silence," self-control, and his ability to hide his temper. His letter concludes that he ought never have agreed to the appointment of Washington Commander of the Army (during the Quasi-War) with Hamilton, and he argues that had Washington lived, he would have been elected president and appointed Hamilton commander in chief of the Army. "Washington ought either to have never gone out of Public Life, or he ought never to have come in again."
Subjects Election  President  France  Science and Technology  Politics  Government and Civics  Military History  Quasi-war  
People Adams, John (1735-1826)  Washington, George (1732-1799)  
Place written Quincy, Massachusetts
Theme The Presidency; Foreign Affairs; Science, Technology, Invention; Government & Politics
Sub-collection The Gilder Lehrman Collection, 1493-1859
Additional Information Notes: Partly published in John A. Schutz and Douglass Adair, Eds., The Spur of Fame (San Marino, 1966), 97-99. Adams and Rush both disliked the adulation that Washington received from the Federalists and the American public (Spur, 102-3, n.1). Adams responds to Rush's comment that Washington (the "gentleman") "was self-taught in all the arts which gave him his immense elevation above all his fellow citizens" (Spur, 95). "Le véritable royauté est la beauté" means "The true royalty is beauty." Adams adapts a line from Pope Paul IV, ca. 1560, "If the good people wish to be deceived, let them be deceived" (Spur 97 n.43). During the Quasi-War in 1798, Adams appointed Washington commander of army. Washington insisted that Hamilton be made his second in command and jump ahead of other soldiers in the Army (Spur 98-99 n.46). Hamilton and other federalists like Jonathan Trumbull and James McHenry had unsuccessfully tried to convince Washington to serve a third term prior to his death in 1799.
Copyright The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Module Settlement, Commerce, Revolution and Reform: 1493-1859
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