Letter of Josiah Quincy to Phineas Fish

Dear Sir,

I feel it my duty to acknowledge your two favours, the one, without date but probably of the 5th and the other of the 7th of December,1 and to assure you that the inquiries made had no reference to any specific charges made against you; still less had they any connexion with complaints made to the Governor of the Commonwealth,2 of which I know nothing of, at least nothing distinctly; and less than all from any disposition to countenance Apes3 in any of his projects. This man had about ten minutes interview with me in one of the insurance offices in Boston, but he was never before the Corporation,4 and I do not know that any member of that body knows of that interview.

I shall not conceal from you that those inquiries arose wholly from my suggestions arising from very serious doubts I entertained whether the application of the funds in our hands was in conformity with the will of the donor. The subject had never before been brought before my mind until after objections made by others, as well as Apes.5 I thought it was my first duty to hear your statement. The investigation will be pursued, hereafter, as opportunity permits. [ illegible ] object of this letter is to assure you that it has originated in no other motive than a desire to instruct myself concerning my official duties, so it will be pursued by me, without prejudices theological, local, or personal against you, and independent of the “influence” of any individual, or individuals, be they high or humble.

What course will be pursued, I cannot now pretend to anticipate. Probably nothing will be done soon, certainly nothing suddenly. And so far as it depends upon me no change shall be made without an investigation as thorough as the nature of the relations of the subject requires.

Very respectfully, your humble servant,

Josiah Quincy                                       
Cambridge, December 20, 1833


Received, Phineas Fish


Josiah Quincy's Letter to Phineas Fish, December 20, 1833                                            

  • 1. See Letter of Phineas Fish to Josiah Quincy, 1833.12.05.00, 1833.12.07.00.
  • 2. Benjamin Lincoln
  • 3. William Apes
  • 4. The Harvard Corporation
  • 5. In his Indian Nullification, Apes indicates that a petition to the Harvard Corporation in May of 1833 "set forth the general dissatisfaction of the tribe" with their missionary, Phineas Fish, as well as the disposition of the Williams Fund. In response to the petition, Apes said that Quincy promised to look into the matter, but by the fall of that year, "we have seen no Mr. Quincy. We have heard that he was requested by several gentlemen to come and investigate our affairs, but we suppose he thinks that the poor Marshpee cannot have been wronged." O'Connell, On Our Own Ground, 175-177.