ADAMS, JOHN, President. Autograph letter signed in full to "John [i.e., Jean] Luzac, Professor of Grecian Literature in the University of Leyden," Quincy, Mass., 2 October 1793. 1 1/2 pages, 4to, integral address leaf with panel in Adams's hand, careful repairs to seal holes, second leaf neatly inlaid.
AMERICAN NEUTRALITY: "THIS COUNTRY IS TOO HAPPY IN THE ENJOYMENT OF THAT LIBERTY WHICH COST THEM SO DEAR TO RISQUE IT, BY MEDLING IN FOREIGN WARS"
Adams provides an effusive letter of introduction for Tobias Lear, and concludes with a striking vow that America will maintain its neutrality in Europe's present conflicts. "The bearer of this letter is Mr. [Tobias] Lear the late Secretary to President Washington a Gentleman universally esteemes and beloved wherever he is known. I beg Leave to introduce him to your Acquaintance and Friendship. This country is too happy in the enjoyment of that Liberty which cost them so dear[,] to risque it, by medling in foreign Wars : and too gratefull to those who assisted it, to join in any Crusade against them. I shall remember with Pleasure, the time I have formerly passed in your Society, and wish it were in my Power to be a better Correspondent. With sincere Esteem I am and shall be your Friend and humble Servant...."
Tobias Lear's twenty-three-year-old wife, Mary, died suddenly in May (pallbearers at her funeral included Hamilton, Jefferson and John Knox, plus three Supreme Court justices). Since 1786, Lear had been private secretary to Washington, residing with the Washington family. "This versatile young man of extraordinary ability had won Washington's affection as well as his confidence, and had been regarded as a member of the family" (D.S. Freeman, George Washington, vii:95). To assauge his grief, he resigned as Secretary and planned an extended stay in Europe, soliciting letters of recommendation from many influential friends. In October, staying in Boston, he obtained the present letter from the Vice-President, who had known Luzac during his own tenure in the Netherlands as U.S. Minister, during the Revolutionary War. Adams feels impelled to reassure Luzac that America will not be drawn into the war which had already involved America's former allies, France and the Netherlands, and to assure him that America will not forget those allies for their support in achieving its independence. President Washington and Secretary of State Jefferson had drawn up a the Neutrality Proclamation in April; the executive rules for its enforcement were legislated in the Neutrality Act, enacted in June 1794, which carefully defined American policy toward the belligerants.
Jean Luzac (1746-1807) a distinguished lawyer, philologist and journalist, edited the Gazette in Leyden. "Il correspondait...avec les personnages les plue disntingués. L'Emperor Léopold, le roi de Pologne Stanislaus Poniatowski, des hommes d'état, tels que Hertzberg, et Dohn, les fondateurs de la liberté américaine, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, le comblèrent des marques de bienveillance les plue flatteuses..." (Biographie universelle, 1820, 25:497).