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Johns Hopkins University collection on John Quincy Adams

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-0218

Scope and Contents

This artificial collection consists of two holographic letters, one of John Quincy Adams and one of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and a holographic toast, "Ebony and Topaz", by John Quincy Adams.

In a letter to Charles Carroll of Carrollton, dated March 17, 1827, John Quincy Adams writes that he has appointed Mr. Samuel Chase Jr., son of Samuel Chase, to the position of judge of the Orphans Court, District of Columbia. The vacancy occurred because of the death of Judge Richard Bland Lee. The appointment was granted at the request of Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Adams notes that he is gratified to alleviate "the distress which has befallen the children of an ardent patriot" by an "immediate compliance with your recommendation."

In a letter dated March 19, 1827, Charles Carroll of Carrollton responds to Adams and expresses gratitude for the "charitable exercise of your authority" to the children of one of his colleagues and "signer of independence."

The "Ebony and Topaz" toast is in the handwriting of John Quincy Adams. The toast is a satirical acknowledgement of a heraldic addition awarded posthumously to the coat of arms of the family of Major General Robert Ross, commander of British troops during the War of 1812. Ross led the brigades who marched on Washington by way of Bladensburg and set fire to the nation's capital. British troops then landed at North Point, Maryland on September 12, 1814 in an attempt to attack Baltimore. Major General Ross was mortally wounded in the advance towards Baltimore. A royal warrant, dated August 25, 1815 ordained that his widow and descendants would henceforth be called Ross of Bladensburg.

Sometime after 1815, John Quincy Adams apparently wrote a lengthy toast deriding the award to Ross. The toast was based on an ancient fable of ebony and topaz which represented the spirits of good and evil. The toast suggested that when a spirit of evil invades America and a foreign monarch honors the invading commander, the spirit of good will provide a Republican militia man to confer those honors with a bullet to the commander's heart.

A note, most likely in the handwriting of George Dobbin, included with the manuscript described the toast as receiving both censure and praise. The note also stated that the toast was first published in the Baltimore American which was edited by Peter Hoffman Cruse. It is unknown when the toast was published.


  • Creation: 1827


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information.

This collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts in 1767. He was the son of John Adams, second president of the United States. John Quincy Adams was elected to the United States Senate in 1803. He was minister to St. Petersburg, 1809-1811 and one of the negotiators of peace after the War of 1812. Adams was appointed secretary of state during the administration of James Monroe, 1817-1825. Adams was elected sixth president of the United States in 1825 and served for one term. He was elected to the House of Representatives from Massachusetts, 1831-1848. John Quincy Adams died in 1848.


0.167 Cubic Feet (3 items)

Language of Materials



John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1848) was an American statesman who served as a diplomat, United States Senator, member of the House of Representatives, and was the sixth President of the United States from 1825 to 1829. This artificial collection consists of two holographic letters, one of John Quincy Adams and one of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and a holographic toast, "Ebony and Topaz", by John Quincy Adams.

Custodial History

This collection was formerly part of MS.0034.


The "Ebony and Topaz" toast which forms part of this collection was a gift of George W. Dobbin. The provenance of the 2 letters is unknown. Inside the letter of John Quincy Adams is written the name, McTavish, which is the married name of Charles Carroll's granddaughter.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Joan Grattan in May 1989.

A legacy index has been adapted from a previous version of this guide:

Carroll, Charles, 1737-1832--Archives. P. 1,2; Chase, Samuel, 1741-1811 P. 1; Chase, Samuel, Jr. P. 1; Cruse, Peter Hoffman P. 2; Lee, Richard Bland. P. 1; North Point, Battle of, 1814. P. 2; Ross, Robert General P. 2;
Johns Hopkins University collection on John Quincy Adams
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA