ADAMS, JOHN QUINCY.
ON THE BOYLSTON PRIZE AND HARVARD POLITICS.
Autograph Letter Signed ("John Quincy Adams") as Secretary of State, 3 pp recto and verso, 4to (conjoined leaves), Washington, May 24, 1819 to Ward Nicholas Boylston, slight separation at fold intersections, still fine condition.
Fine and lengthy letter written to his father's close friend and cousin, offering suggestions to Boylston on awarding the Boylston Prize and discussing candidates for a Harvard professorship. Adams graduated from Harvard and was himself a Professor of rhetoric there. In part: "I have observed with pleasure and gratitude your persevering efforts of beneficence to the University of Cambridge, and had heard of the Institution of your Prizes for Elocution, which cannot but be attended with good effects. Its operation by experience, may perhaps suggest some rules for the distribution of the Prizes, which, if you should conclude to make the Institution permanent, you may think it advisable to prescribe. ... From the experience which I have had of the defects most common among the young orators, I think it should be prescribed as an inflexible rule that no prompting should be allowed; and that whatever merit any of the speakers might display; no prize should be given in any case where a failure of memory should be perceptible." And on the professorship: "The corporation of Harvard University, though including some of the best men in the world, is and for many years has been more of a Caucus Club than of a Literary and Scientific Society--bigoted to religious liberality and illiberal in political principle--When they have a place to fill, their question is not, who is fit for the place, but who is to be provided for? and their whole range of candidates is a Parson, or a Partizan, or both."