Quincy, Josiah
Autograph Letter Signed, Quincy, Massachusetts, May 18, 1854 to Rev. Alvan Lamson, Dedham, Massachusetts

12mo, 2 pages, with original mailing envelope, in good, clean, legible condition.

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Quincy writes:


       “Dear Sir,

           I am greatly obliged by receiving a copy of your discourse conveying your impressions of men and things abroad. I had previously read it in the monthly religious magazine with great pleasure. Your impressions were so naturally delineated and your remarks so faithful and just, your reflections on the moral debasement of the  many and the oppressive tyranny of the few, on the hopelessness from revolution, on the blasting influence of the Catholic priesthood, on social progress and its tendency to produce skepticism and indifference are at once so striking and alarming, inviting the mind to deep thoughts concerning the probable influences of that Religion, relative as it is beginning to be, on the future destinies of our Republic – that I know not when I have read anything more satisfactory and appropriate.

          Without any spirit of compliment I regard the publication happy and useful and I thank you for it as a citizen and particularly for the attention of making me a possessor of a copy of it from your own hand.”


           With a copy of the above referenced publication, (although not Quincy’s own copy): Lamson, Alvan, D.D., Impressions of Men and Things Abroad: A sermon Preached at Dedham, Sept. 11, 1831, After an Absence of Some Months in Europe (Boston: 1854) original wrappers, 20 pp., with pencil ownership signature of H. O. Hildreth, founder of the Dedham Historical Society and local historian, on front wrapper.


       In his sermon, Lamson describes his visit to France, Germany, and particularly Italy, where he found “moral debasement”, the “extinction of liberty” and the “prostration of intellect”, mostly oweing to the “decrepit” Catholic Church. He had returned to the United States with intense feelings of American chauvinism, but he does not, like Quincy, relate his European observations to political affairs in America.


Descended from a family of Boston Brahmins, himself a former Congressman, Mayor of Boston (as was his son and grandson) and President of Harvard from 1829 to 1845, Quincy makes clear his sympathies for the anti-Catholic Know Nothing movement which was at its height the year he wrote this letter, in a shaky hand, at the age of 82.