A Lengthy Poem to a Young Female Admirer

Signed by John Quincy Adams

Item: 12493
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ADAMS, JOHN QUINCY. (1767-1848). Sixth president of the United States. AMsS. (“John Quincy Adams”). 2pp. 4to. Washington, D.C., August 7, 1841. A poem dedicated to Ellen Bruce of Maryland.

“To Miss Ellen Bruce / Oh! Wherefore, Lady, was my lot / Cast, from thy own, so far? / Why, by kind fortune, live we not / Beneath one blessed star? / For, had thy thread of life, and mine / But side by side been spun; / My heart had panted to entwine / The tissue into one.

And why should Time conspire with space / To sever us in twain? / And wherefore have I run my race / And cannot start again? / Thy thread, how long! How short is mine! / Mine spent – thine scarce begun: / Alas! We never can entwine / The tissue into one!

But, take my blessing on thy name: / The blessing of a sire. / Not from a Lover’s furnace flame – / Tis from a holier fire. / A thread unseen beside of thine / By fairy forms is spun – / And holy hands shall soon entwine / The tissues into one.”

John Quincy Adams

At 35, after earning his law degree and serving in several diplomatic positions, Adams was elected to the U.S. Senate. He later served as President Monroe’s secretary of state and helped shape the Monroe doctrine, which declared the Americas closed to European colonization. Adams’ 1824 presidential victory made him the first son of a president to also serve as one. During his term Adams promoted the arts and humanities as well as the idea of a national transportation network. Unfortunately his efforts were stymied by political factionalism and his 1828 presidential bid failed. However, rather than settling into quiet retirement, Adams served in the House of Representatives where he became a strong voice against slavery and a defender of the constitution. Despite declining health, Adams remained firmly in office and active in his personal life.

Adams enjoyed writing poetry for young ladies. In fact, he recorded in his diary that Ellen and Sally Bruce, through their Congressman’s intervention, had asked for his autograph to which he responded with two poems that he composed in his spare time. The poem to Bruce was published in the Southern Literary Messenger in October 1841 and in the Quincy Patriot in November 1841. “After the young Bruces acknowledged the poems with thanks, Adams wrote his House of Representatives colleague: ‘I cannot hold [the verses] altogether worthless if they succeed in giving a moment of pleasure to those ladies and to you… Should any of the effusions of my mind in poetical numbers ever be thought worthy of collection and publication in one volume, the names of the two ladies shall certainly be given at full length [when first published Adams had only used their initials], to serve as the best passport to them for the acceptance of readers of a future age,’” (Encyclopedia of American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, ed. Haralson). Although, Adams hoped his poems one day might be collected and published, he “never deluded himself that he was a great or even a good poet, but he had a passion for poetry, and he could not stop writing,” (ibid.).

Clearly written in dark ink; lightly folded with five unobtrusive marks along the left edge suggesting where it had previously been bound into an album. In lovely condition and off the market for more than forty years. Brief verses by Adams are not uncommon, but full-length poems to his female admirers are.

A Lengthy Poem to a Young Female Admirer

Signed by John Quincy Adams

$5000 • item #12493

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