The Adams-Jefferson Letters

The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams

Edited by Lester J. Cappon

688 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4230-0
    Published: September 1988
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8078-1807-7
    Published: September 1988
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-3892-1
    Published: December 2012
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8674-3
    Published: December 2012

Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press

Buy this Book

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit

Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press

An intellectual dialogue of the highest plane achieved in America, the correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson spanned half a century and embraced government, philosophy, religion, quotidiana, and family griefs and joys. First meeting as delegates to the Continental Congress in 1775, they initiated correspondence in 1777, negotiated jointly as ministers in Europe in the 1780s, and served the early Republic--each, ultimately, in its highest office. At Jefferson's defeat of Adams for the presidency in 1800, they became estranged, and the correspondence lapses from 1801 to 1812, then is renewed until the death of both in 1826, fifty years to the day after the Declaration of Independence.

Lester J. Cappon's edition, first published in 1959 in two volumes, provides the complete correspondence between these two men and includes the correspondence between Abigail Adams and Jefferson. Many of these letters have been published in no other modern edition, nor does any other edition devote itself exclusively to the exchange between Jefferson and the Adamses. Introduction, headnotes, and footnotes inform the reader without interrupting the speakers. This reissue of The Adams-Jefferson Letters in a one-volume unabridged edition brings to a broader audience one of the monuments of American scholarship and, to quote C. Vann Woodward, 'a major treasure of national literature.'

About the Author

The late Lester J. Cappon was director of the Institute of Early American History and Culture and editor-in-chief of the Atlas of Early American History: The Revolutionary Era, 1760-1790.
For more information about Lester J. Cappon, visit the Author Page.


"American history offers no parallel to the friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, spanning the first half century of the Republic. . . . The publication, in full and integrated form, of the remarkable correspondence between these two eminent men is a notable event."—Dumas Malone, New York Times Book Review

"[This] is a correspondence that covers all topics; that embraces most of two lifetimes; that never fails of learning, wit, grace, and charm; and that reveals both of these statesmen and philosophers at their most felicitous." —Henry Steele Commager

"A major treasure of national literature."—C. Vann Woodward, Key Reporter