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. His correspondence during his active political career would sometimes lapse into self-pity, and he would make statements that sound like sour grapes. Adams never understood his own failing, however – he felt unappreciated, this manifested itself in rancor against those he saw as foes. 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. Except for official letters as president and some of his communications in old age (after 1820), he preferred to write his letters himself. His signature, and to a lesser degree his handwriting generally, went through stages of variation.