The Stats

July 9, 1813 – July 16, 1813

John Adams to Thomas Jefferson: “Never mind it, my dear Sir, if I write four Letters to your one; your one is worth more than my four.”

I doubt anyone, except maybe TJ, believed that statement. But how about the numbers? Did JA get that right? Let’s look at the stats.

Letters from JA to TJ: 189
Letters from TJ to JA: 140

Out of 329 letters between the two, JA gets the edge, 57% to TJ’s 43%. That doesn’t count the letters between TJ and Abigail Adams:

Letters from AA to TJ: 27
Letters from TJ to AA: 24

About even. If you add up them all up, you’ve got 380 Adams-Jefferson letters. The Adams duo wrote 216 to TJ’s 164, leaving the percentages exactly the same.

I’m going to assume that JA did not have his lifetime correspondence in mind when writing that sentence to TJ. The two are about 18 months into their renewed letter-writing. They’ve gotten a lot of old grudges and missstatements and smoldering resentments out of the way, and the conversation is veering into religious territory. (Politics and religion. These guys just don’t let up, do they?) It’s these past 18 months JA probably has in mind, so how does his ratio compare if you add up the letters from January 1, 1812, when they began writing again, to July 15th, 1813, when JA offers his gracious analysis?

JA: 22 letters
TJ: 8 letters

About 3:1. Close, JA


3 thoughts on “The Stats

  1. I thought of about 4.5 things to write, but 87% of those weren’t worth writing and I’ve lost the remainder.

    Oh, no, I remembered after all: it is a wonderful legacy that these handwritten letters between all three are left for us to ponder and learn from.

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