University Archives


John Adams 2 Superb Signatures on Nice Document, About 25 Words in His Hand

2pp, measuring 8.25" x 13", Suffolk Co., Massachusetts, dated August 13, 1773. Signed twice on verso as "John Adams", with approximately 25 words inscribed in his hand. The front of the document is a command issued by King George III to the sheriff of Suffolk, summoning Briggs Hallowell (Benjamin and Robert Hallowell) to the Court of Common Pleas at Boston to answer to a plea of debt by William Reave of Bristol. The debt due is £2,000, which Reeve states has not been paid despite numerous requests. Signed at the bottom by Ezekiel Goldthwaite as Clerk.

On verso, Adams has written and signed the following statement: "and the said Briggs, Benja and Robert, come and defend and referring Liberty of pleading anew at the Supreme Court, say they never promised. John Adams." Addition docketing beneath this statement claims that the Hallowell's claim is "bad & insufficient in law…" Adams then signs his name to the counter-statement "and the sd Briggs, Benja & Robert say their plea is good." The document has flattened folds, with a few small holes at the cross folds and separations starting at the edges. Toning throughout, with darker toning and soiling at the folds. Boldly signed by Adams. Minor staining from the red wax seals.

John Adams (1735-1826) was a 38 year old lawyer at the time. Three years prior, Adams had served as the defense attorney for the British soldiers accused of murder during the Boston Massacre. Adams was among the more conservative of the Founding Fathers and believed that remaining a colony of Great Britain was preferable to insurrection and violence.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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