To the Editor of the National Intelligencer January 1, 1803

To the Editor of the National Intelligencer January 1, 1803

FEDERAL CITY,

SIR

Toward the latter end of last December I received a letter from a venerable patriot, Samuel Adams, dated Boston, November thirtieth. It came by a private hand, which I suppose was the cause of the delay. I wrote Mr. Adams an answer, dated January first, and that I might be certain of his receiving it, and also that I might know of that reception, I desired a friend of mine at Washington to put it under cover to some friend of his at Boston, and desire him to present it to Mr. Adams.

The letter was accordingly put under cover while I was present, and given to one of the clerks of the post-office to seal and put in the mail. The clerk put it in his pocket-book, and either forgot to put it into the mail, or supposed he had done so among other letters. The post-master-general, on learning this mistake, informed me of it last Saturday, and as the cover was then out of date, the letter was put under a new cover, with the same request, and forwarded by the post.

I felt concern at this accident, lest Mr. Adams should conclude I was unmindful of his attention to me; and therefore, lest any further accident should prevent or delay his receiving it, as well as to relieve myself from that concern, I give the letter an opportunity of reaching him by the newspapers.

I am the more induced to do this, because some manuscript copies have been taken of both letters, and therefore there is a possibility of imperfect copies getting into print; and besides this, if some of the Federalist printers (for I hope they are not all base alike) could get hold of a copy, they would make no scruple of altering it and publishing it as mine. I therefore send you the original letter of Mr. Adams, and my own copy of the answer.

THOMAS PAINE.

Samuel Adams's letter to Paine was dated Boston, November 30, 1802, and went:

"Sir: I have frequently with pleasure reflected on your services to my native and your adopted country. Your 'Common Sense' and your 'Crisis' unquestionably awakened the public mind, and led the people loudly to call for a declaration of our national independence. I therefore esteemed you as a warm friend to the liberty and lasting welfare of the human race. But when I heard that you had turned your mind to a defense of infidelity, I felt myselt much astonished and more grieved that you had attempted a measure so injurious to the feelings and so repugnant to the true interest of so great a part of the citizens of the United States.

"The people of New England, if you will allow me to use a Scripture phrase, are fast returning to their first love. Will you excite among them the spirit of angry controversy at a time when they are hastening to unity and peace? I am told that some of our newspapers have announced your intention to publish an additional pamphlet upon the principles of your 'Age of Reason.'

"Do you think that your pen or the pen of any other man can unchristianize the mass of our citizens, or have you hopes of converting a few of them to assist you in so bad a cause? We ought to think ourselves happy in the enjoyment of opinion without the danger of persecution by civil or ecclesiastical law.

"Our friend, the President of the United States, has been calumniated for his liberal sentiments, by men who have attributed that liberality to a latent design to promote the cause of infidelity. This and all other slanders have been made without a shadow of proof. Neither religion nor liberty can long subsist in the tumult of altercation, and amidst the noise and violence of faction.

"Felix qui cautus.

"Adieu.

"Samuel Adams."

-Editor.