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Boston, 14 April, 1854.

HoN. JosLAH QUINCY, LL. D. : —

DEAR SIR, - At a meeting of the Massachusetts Historical Society, held yesterday, your communication of the 10th instant, addressed to the President and members, was presented by the Rev. George E. Ellis, chairman of the Publishing Committee, and the undersigned were appointed a committee to inform you of the views and votes of the Society in relation to the request which it contained.

We need not assure you that the Society had earnestly desired to have in their Collections a memoir of their late distinguished associate, John Quincy Adams, from your own pen. It was to have formed the leading article in the forthcoming volume.

The Society cannot fail to appreciate, however, the difficulty which you have so forcibly suggested, of compressing the details of a long and eventful life within the limits assigned to this class of papers in our Historical Collections. Nor have they felt at liberty, under all circumstances, to decline acceding to your request to be released from an obligation to themselves, which might interfere with a free and full performance of the labor of love which you have undertaken.

In signifying to you this release, they have desired us to express the grateful sense which is entertained by the Society of the very liberal offer which your communication contains, and also to assure you of the interest which the members of the Society will take, in common with all their fellow-citizens, in the completion of the proposed biography of so distinguished a son of Massachusetts.

We have the honor to be, dear Sir, very respectfully

and truly, yours,

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4TH s. – vol. II. 26





The character and condition of a community like ours are adapted most happily to develop and occupy every talent. At the same time they render useful, and hence conducive ultimately to the general welfare, the diversified positions of life. And the gentleman of leisure, if he have but the desire to be useful, can find a field wide enough for the full exercise of all his benevolence. Nay, on such the burden is likely to be heavy, in proportion as ability is apparent, and the disposition to employ it is not wanting. As a result, it has been made an object of founding and maintaining our Society, not only to notice scientific and literary productions, and preserve them; but also to keep in view the elements of a nation's prosperity, and to cherish and record those statistical exhibitions of them which are calculated to interest as well the man of business, the patriotic politician, the lover of his species and of their well-being, as the meditative and accomplished scholar.

Lieutenant-Governor WINTHROP was a gentleman of a class, if so it may be termed, qualified to attract and gratify the moral observer. A beautiful harmony and propriety of character and deportment distinguished him most favorably, drawing toward him the respect, esteem, and, in the latter periods of life, even the veneration of those who enjoyed the honor and pleasure of associating with him. No airs of the parvenu, no disproportionate eagerness of hobbyism, no overbearing positiveness and obstinacy of opinion, and no exclusive feelings, obtruded

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themselves on such intercourse. But extending his liberal
views over a large and variegated field of individual and
social responsibilities, thoroughly known to him by per-
sonal observation and experience as well as abstract
study, he displayed habitually the result of a cultivated
understanding combined with the best feelings of the
Contemplative and active life had both been opened be-
fore him, and in good measure tried. For, descended of
one of the first of the New England families, – if not in-
deed the very first, — and which had been distinguished not
in the first generation only, but subsequently also, he en-
joyed the advantage of the best education the country
afforded; although he adopted the profession of a mer-
chant, and was in that character long and successfully oc-
And here it may be noted, that a liberal education is
by no means to be considered as lost, which too many
seem disposed to think, because he who obtains it does
not engage in one of “the three learned professions.”
There are, indeed, those who are not anxious to obtain it
for their sons, although it could be afforded them with
ease. But would they reflect on the start it gives to the
mental powers, – on the pleasure it communicates, the en-
largement of the sphere of vision it produces,—rendering it
easy, comparatively, to turn the attention, in after life, as
circumstances may invite or require, to the various objects
of human research and interest, and giving to the indi-
vidual a taste for occupying liberally the leisure hours or
moments which occur in the busiest life, and especially
in its declining period, – such an opinion might well be
... It is not intended here to attempt a history of the fam-
ily of WINTHRop. In addition to the fact, that, already,
accounts have been given to the public in various vol-
umes, and are familiar to almost every American reader,
the limits assigned to the present article will not permit
it. But it is necessary to say, that the immediate ancestry
of our lamented President were inhabitants of the Con-
necticut territory. There his father was born, and there
his great-great-grandfather, the eldest and much beloved

son of the venerated Governor of Massachusetts, acquired an extensive landed property, formed settlements, expended his labor and much of his fortune, and bequeathed to his posterity a noble inheritance. He is as justly regarded the founder of Saybrook, of the city of New London, and of Groton, as Governor of the State.

No well-informed inhabitant, indeed, of either Massachusetts or Connecticut can pronounce the name of WINTHROP with indifference. “It is,” says Lord Bacon, “a reverend thing to see an ancient castle or building not in decay, or to see a fair timber tree sound and perfect; how much more to behold an ancient family which hath stood against the waves and weathers of time!”

Soon after the almost total destruction of the Pequot tribe, in 1637, JOHN WINTHROP the younger, eldest of the thirteen children of his honored and excellent father, procured a grant of Fisher's Island.

of Fisher's Island. The secure possession of this gem of the Sound” was in time guaranteed to him and his heirs by the respective governments of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. The patent of the Colony last named, in language recalling the feudal tenures of Europe, declares it to be “ an entire enfranchised township, manor, and place of itself, in no wise subordinate or belonging unto or dependent upon, any riding, township, place, or jurisdiction whatever. 6 His house on that island, observes the accomplished historian of New London, “ was the first English residence in the Pequot . country”; and she adds, with reference to the city itself, “He brought out the first company of settlers, laid out the plan of the new town, organized the municipal government, conciliated the neighboring Indians, and determined the bounds of the plantation.” *

This gentleman, having married Martha, daughter of Thomas Fones, Esq., of London, February 8, 1631, had come to New England the same year. He had received every advantage of early and elaborate instruction afforded by the Universities of Cambridge and Dublin, at the latter of which he appears to have passed three years; and this was aided by extensive travel on the Continent, even

* History of New London, by Miss F. M. Caulkins, p. 39.

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as far as Turkey, and free and full correspondence with
men of science and literature, at home and abroad. His
fine natural powers were thus highly cultivated; and,
with an inquisitive, observing mind, he was eminently
prepared to investigate a new country, and to avail him-
self and his associates of all its productions. Hence we
find him engaged in the new settlement of Agawam, or
Ipswich, soon after his arrival,” and there he resided
until the death of his wife, May 14, 1634, encountering
the necessary hardships and privations of such an under-
taking with heroic courage as well as fortitude. The
intercourse of paternal and filial regard between his vener-
ated father and himself, apparent in the letters appended
to the Hon. Dr. Savage's edition of the Governor's His-
tory, and in its admirable notes, is truly affecting, breath-
ing as it does the genuine spirit of the Gospel.
In 1643, Mr. Winthrop returned from one of his fre-
quent voyages to England with pecuniary means and men
to commence iron-works, both a furnace and forge. It
was done at Lynn, and appears also to have been done at
Braintree. But he had previously been intrusted, for a
year at least, with the enterprise of a settlement at Say-
brook. This was in 1635, f for after the death of his
wife, who left no children, he had spent some time in
England, and married Elizabeth, daughter of Edward
Read, Esq., of Wickford in Essex, whose widow appears

to have married the celebrated Hugh Peter. He re

turned to this country in October. The activity of mind
and body, the force of resolution, the enlargedness of
View, and the success which attended his enterprises, all
attract our regards, and exhibit him as an admirable
leader in a colony.
The grant from Massachusetts, grounded on a claim of
conquest, which was obtained by him in 1644, to settle
“a plantation ” in the Pequot country, was, during the
next year, carried into execution; and on the 6th of May,
1646, New London is considered as founded. In the
autumn of that year he removed his family thither; yet

*See Felt's History of Ipswich, at large. f See Savage's Winthrop, I, 170, and Trumbull's Connecticut, quoted there. Also History of New London, p. 40.

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