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ADAMS, John (signed) - MAYHEW, Jonathan.

A Discourse, Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers;

with some reflections on the resistance made to King Charles I. and on the anniversary of his death; In which the Mysterious Doctrine of that Prince's Saintship and Martyrdom is unriddled: The substance of which, was delivered in a Sermon preached in the West Meeting House, in Boston, on the Lord's Day after the 30th of January, 1749-50. Published at the request of the hearers... Boston: printed and sold by D. Fowle, 1750.

Boston: re-printed by Hall & Goss, 1818 Stock Code: 146765
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A Bostonian harbinger of the American Revolution, presented by John Adams

Presentation copy of a reprinted sermon in which Adams took personal interest, distributing a small number of copies on 16 November 1818, all inscribed in the same manner by a clerical hand to which Adams added his signature. This copy is presented to Mrs E. Cruft and signed by him. The recipient was Elizabeth Storer Smith (17891859), a cousin of Adams's wife married to Edward Cruft, a prominent Boston merchant.

Three other presentation copies have been seen in commerce in the past half-century: to Mary Sophia Quincy, Eliza Susan Quincy, and to "Mrs H. Smith" - not his daughter, as suggested by one vendor, but the author and political commentator Margaret Bayard Smith, who was married to Samuel Harrison Smith. It is notable that all recipients were women. This copy comes directly from the estate of descendants of Elizabeth Cruft.

Originally published in Boston on the centenary of Charles I's execution by the outspoken and popular minister of the Congregationalist West Church in Boston, Mayhew's Discourse held that any view of Charles as martyr was misguided and that regicide was justified if the monarch infringed upon the essential liberties of his citizens. Mayhew argued that Charles Stuart had already "unkinged himself," had already "forfeited his title to the allegiance of the people" before his head was cut off.

Adams, who served as second President of the United States (1797-1801) and was a keen historiographer of the early years of the Republic, put great weight on Mayhew's sermon as a harbinger of revolutionary resistance in New England, recalling that Mayhew's Discourse had been "read by everybody; celebrated by friends and abused by enemies" (letter to Hezekiah Niles). Anyone who wished to understand the "principles and feelings which produced the Revolution" ought to read Mayhew's sermon, he told another correspondent in 1818.

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Octavo pamphlet, pp. 48, side-stitched as issued, unbound.


Evenly toned, a few spots, a superb copy in original state.


The Works of John Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston 1850-61, 10:288 (letter to Hezekiah Niles, 4 Feb. 1818) and 10:301 (to William Tudor, 15 Apr. 1818).


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