John Adams Writes to Richard Rush, Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury and Soon to be Attorney General - “To push the War with Vigour, till We have a Peace, neither disgraceful to the Nation or the Government...” Important & Historic War of 1812 Period Content!
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JOHN ADAMS (1735 - July 4, 1826). 2nd President of the United States (1797–1801), American Founding Father, Lawyer, Statesman, Diplomat and Leading Champion of American Independence in 1776, Defended the British Soldiers involved in the “Boston Massacre,” a Leading Federalist.
January 26, 1814-Dated War of 1812 Period, Important Autograph Letter Signed “John Adams”, 1 page, 9.75” x 8”, Quincy (MA), Choice Very Fine. Adams personally writes to Richard Rush (1780-1859), the son of Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush. This very personal and intellectual Letter is regarding his “Hawkish” position on the successful conclusion to the War of 1812 and Richard Rush’s ideas on the American Legal System, just days prior to his being Appointed as Attorney General of the United States. Adams opens his Letter with the wonderfully penned line; “If I may judge others by myself,...”.
From his position as Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury, Richard Rush functioned as one of President Madison's closest friends and confidential advisors throughout the War of 1812. He was one of the War “Hawk” who advocated War with Britain. In 1814 Madison offered Rush the choice of Secretary of the Treasury or Attorney General of the United States, of which positions Rush chose the latter. With his appointment as Attorney General, Rush became the youngest person to ever serve as the United States Attorney General. At this same time, the Attorney Generalship was only a part-time position, and so Rush also maintained his private law practice while he was in this office.
Richard Rush was the 8th United States Attorney General under President James Madison, in office from February 10, 1814 to November 12, 1817. He edited a codification of United States laws during this time. Later, he became the United States Secretary of the Treasury under John Quincy Adams, as well as John Quincy Adams' Presidential Campaign Running Mate when he ran for re-election on the National Republican ticket in 1828. Rush also served as United States Minister to England and France at various times.
Here, John Adams first comments upon a legal treatise written by George Hay (1765-1830). Hay was an American Jurist, who is best remembered as U.S. Attorney for the District of Virginia, in which capacity he conducted the prosecution of Aaron Burr for Treason. In the second paragraph, John Adams, is discussing “Universal Law,” and refers to Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), the British Jurist, whose history of the doctrines of English Law were very influential on jurisprudence in the United States. This Letter is in excellent quality, penned completely in John Adams’ hand, upon clean period wove paper. The text is easily readable in rich brown, well written and clear. There are expected faint mailing folds, only one slight ink smear, attesting to its originality. Overall, it is of superior quality, one sided and perfect for display. This Letter is of important historical content. It reads, in full;
“Quincy -- Jan 26. 1814 ---
Dear Sir --- If I may judge of others by myself, Mr. (George) Hay had no cause of apprehension that he should be tedious: for when I had read the first page I could not lay aside the book til I had read the last. I know not when I have seen a discussion of any legal or political question pusued with so dispassionate a temper; or written with more perspicuity, accuracy of luminous arrangement. The author is Master of his Subject and all the Learning neccessary to support his Position.
What can (Sir William) Blacstone mean by universal Law? Are the cannon Law and the feudal Law, universal Laws? Are the Pope or his eldest Son the Emperor universal Legislators? Is any Law universal, but the law of our natures, written on our hearts, and obligatory on all Men from their beginning and through all their dispersions? The Doctrine of Universal and perpetual, inherent and inalienable Allegiance has no other foundation, than in a degrading Superstition and an unrelenting Despotism.
To push the War with Vigour, till We have a Peace, neither disgraceful to the Nation or the Government is the Sincere hope and ardent Wish of my heart: Your assurance therefore of a determined Spirit in all Branches of the Government, is delightful to me.
Our northern gentry are foaming to Stop the Wheels: but all will end in securing their State Elections. --- I am &c (Signed) -- John Adams”. Richard Rush served as Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury (1811), Attorney General (1814-17_, Secretary of State (1817), and Minister to Great Britain (1817-25). Later he served as Secretary of the Treasury (1825-28) and Minister to France (1847-49).