University Archives


Two ALSs by Henry Adams Mentioning Contemporaries Discussed in his Pulitzer Prize-Winning Autobiography "The Education of Henry Adams"

Two autograph letters signed by Henry Adams (1838-1918), the writer and Adams Family descendant, as "Henry Adams." (Henry Adams was the great-grandson of 2nd U.S. President John Adams, the grandson of 6th U.S. President John Quincy Adams, and the son of Charles Francis Adams, Sr., who served as Envoy to the United Kingdom.) Both letters were written at the Adams's ancestral home in Quincy, Massachusetts and date from the autumn of 1888. The letter recipient, Abram S. Hewitt, as well as three figures mentioned in the letters--Sir Robert Cunliffe, John Hay, and Clarence King--can all be found in Adams's posthumously published memoir "The Education of Henry Adams," which won the Pulitzer Prize in the Biography and Autobiography category in 1919.

These four British and American contemporaries appearing in "The Education of Henry Adams" include:

- Abram S. Hewitt (1822-1903), the industrialist and educational philanthropist serving his last months as Mayor of New York City in the fall of 1888.

- Sir Robert Cunliffe (1839-1905), the British Liberal politician who served in the House of Commons between 1872-1874 and 1880-1885.

- John Hay (1838-1905), once the personal secretary of Abraham Lincoln, who would eventually serve as U.S. Secretary of State during the McKinley and Roosevelt administrations.

- Clarence King (1842-1901), the geologist celebrated for his exploration of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and for his term as first director of the United States Geological Survey between 1879-1881.

The lot is comprised of:

1. A 4pp autograph letter signed by Adams as "Henry Adams" at the bottom of the fourth page. Written in Quincy on September 23, 1888. On bifold stationery. Docketed on the last page and numbered in green colored pencil. Unevenly sun-toned on the first page. Expected paper folds, else very good. 4.5" x 7."

Adams wrote Hewitt in part: "One of my oldest and favorite English friends, Sir Robert Cunliffe, is to arrive in New York, October 5, and will be for a time in the hands of Clarence King and John Hay…He has been an M.P. and is interested in political matters. I know no one who can give him more instruction than you can…I shall not be in New York, or I would offer to bring him myself to call on you, or even take the greater liberty of asking to pass a day with you at Ringwood…"

2. A 3pp autograph letter signed by Adams as "Henry Adams" along a vertical orientation on the left edge of the second page. Written in Quincy on October 1, 1888. On bifold stationery. Docketed and numbered on the last page. Expected paper folds and a few extra wrinkles. Isolated stains on the blank last page, else near fine. 4.5" x 7."

Adams followed up with Hewitt in part: "Many thanks for your kind letter…Hay returns to Cleveland, I think, on the 9th. Cunliffe will doubtless go out to Tuxedo with King, and, if he is there, or with you, I might take my life in my hand, and ask leave to join you for a day, if you permit hermits and recluses, who never read newspaper and never vote, to trespass on your estate…"

The two locations mentioned in these letters, "Ringwood" and "Tuxedo," almost certainly refer to Ringwood Manor in Ringwood, New Jersey, now part of a designated National Historic Landmark District; and Tuxedo Park, New York, located roughly nine miles north of the Cooper-Hewitt estate across the New York border.

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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