About Collecting John Adams Autographs
A scholar second only to Jefferson and his son John Quincy, John Adams’ correspondence had classical allusions and his letters were replete with history and philosophy. Adams felt unappreciated, this manifested itself in rancor against those he saw as foes. And yet his letters evinced brilliance and captured great moments, such as the descriptions of negotiations that ended the Revolutionary War or his debates on the American system of government. After he and Jefferson had left office, Adams entered a period of reflection, contentment and satisfaction. His correspondence for the rest of his life lost its bitter edge and became nothing short of a pleasure to read.
A typical letter would express interesting sentiments, like pleasure at seeing great, new institutions arising in the country he helped found. It is extraordinary how few Adams letters are mundane and how many have surprising touches of insight and a wonderful cadence. His signature, and to a lesser degree his handwriting generally, went through stages of variation. Letter signed at the end of his life are shaky and reflective of his deteriorating physical health, even as his mind remained sharp.