Front Page Titles (by Subject) 24 Jan. 1801: TO GEORGE CHURCHMAN AND JACOB LINDLEY. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 9 (Letters and State Papers 1799-1811)
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24 Jan. 1801: TO GEORGE CHURCHMAN AND JACOB LINDLEY. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 9 (Letters and State Papers 1799-1811) 
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 9.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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TO GEORGE CHURCHMAN AND JACOB LINDLEY.
Washington, 24 January, 1801.
I have received your letter of the 17th of the first month, and thank you for communicating the letter to me of our friend Warner Mifflin. I have read both with pleasure, because I believe they proceeded from a sense of duty and a principle of benevolence.
Although I have never sought popularity by any animated speeches or inflammatory publications against the slavery of the blacks, my opinion against it has always been known, and my practice has been so conformable to my sentiments that I have always employed freemen, both as domestics and laborers, and never in my life did I own a slave. The abolition of slavery must be gradual, and accomplished with much caution and circumspection. Violent means and measures would produce greater violations of justice and humanity than the continuance of the practice. Neither Mr. Mifflin nor yourselves, I presume, would be willing to venture on exertions which would probably excite insurrections among the blacks to rise against their masters, and imbue their hands in innocent blood.
There are many other evils in our country which are growing (whereas the practice of slavery is fast diminishing), and threaten to bring punishment on our land more immediately than the oppression of the blacks. That sacred regard to truth in which you and I were educated, and which is certainly taught and enjoined from on high, seems to be vanishing from among us. A general relaxation of education and government, a general debauchery as well as dissipation, produced by pestilential philosophical principles of Epicurus, infinitely more than by shows and theatrical entertainments; these are, in my opinion, more serious and threatening evils than even the slavery of the blacks, hateful as that is. I might even add that I have been informed that the condition of the common sort of white people in some of the Southern States, particularly Virginia, is more oppressed, degraded, and miserable, than that of the negroes. These vices and these miseries deserve the serious and compassionate consideration of friends, as well as the slave trade and the degraded state of the blacks. I wish you success in your benevolent endeavors to relieve the distresses of our fellow creatures, and shall always be ready to coöperate with you as far as my means and opportunities can reasonably be expected to extend.
I am, with great respect and esteem, your friend,
TO ELIAS BOUDINOT.
Washington, 26 January, 1801.
I have, this morning, received your favor of the 20th. The anxiety of the gentlemen of the law in New Jersey to have the present President of the United States appointed Chief Justice, after the 3d of March, is very flattering to me.1 Although neither pride, nor vanity, nor indolence, would prevent me from accepting any situation, in which I could be useful, I know of none for which I am fit. The office of Chief Justice is too important for any man to hold of sixty-five years of age, who has wholly neglected the study of the law for six and twenty years. I have already, by the nomination of a gentleman in the full vigor of middle age, in the full habits of business, and whose reading in the science is fresh in his head, to this office, put it wholly out of my power, and, indeed, it never was in my hopes or wishes.
The remainder of my days will probably be spent in the labors of agriculture, and the amusements of literature, in both of which I have always taken more delight than in any public office, of whatever rank. Far removed from all intrigues, and out of the reach of all the great and little passions that agitate the world, although I take no resolutions, nor make any promises, I hope to enjoy more tranquillity than has ever before been my lot. Mrs. A. returns her thanks for the friendly politeness of Mrs. Boudinot and Mrs. Bradford. The other parts of your letter will be duly weighed and considered in their season.
TO RICHARD STOCKTON.
Washington, 27 January, 1801.
I am much obliged by your favor of the 17th. If the judiciary bill should pass, as I hope and believe it will, I should be very glad of your advice relative to appointments in other States as well as your own.
The talents and literary qualifications of Mr. William Griffith, of Burlington, have been familiar to me for some time. Your account of his character in other respects is very satisfactory. I doubt, however, of his being literally at the head of his profession at the bar, while Mr. Richard Stockton is there, and am not clear that his pretensions to the circuit bench are the first. I wish to know, in confidence, your sentiments. You may have reasons for resigning to another your own pretensions, but before any nomination is made, I should be very glad to know, whether you would accept it. It is very probable to me that your prospects in your own State and at large may be better for yourself, and more for the benefit of the public, but as I am not certainly informed, I shall be somewhat embarrassed. I may have been too indifferent to the smiles of some men, and to the frowns of others,1 but neither will influence my judgment, I hope, in determining nominations of judges, characters at all times sacred in my estimation.
With great esteem, I remain, &c.
TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Washington, 31 January, 1801.
I request you would cause to be prepared letters for me to sign, to the King of Prussia, recalling Mr. John Quincy Adams, as minister plenipotentiary from his court. You may express the thanks of the President to his Majesty for the obliging reception and kind treatment this minister has met with at his court, and may throw the letter into the form of leave to return to the United States. You will look into the forms, in your office, of former instances of recall. I wish you to make out one letter to go by the way of Hamburg, another by Holland, a third by France, a fourth through Mr. King in England, a fifth, if you please, by the way of Bremen or Stettin, or any other channel most likely to convey it soon. It is my opinion this minister ought to be recalled from Prussia. Justice would require that he should be sent to France or England, if he should be continued in Europe. The mission to St. James’s is perfectly well filled by Mr. King; that to France is no doubt destined for some other character. Besides, it is my opinion that it is my duty to call him home.
TO S. DEXTER, SECRETARY OF WAR.
Washington, 31 January, 1801.
I hereby authorize and request you to execute the office of Secretary of State so far as to affix the seal of the United States to the inclosed commission to the present Secretary of State, John Marshall, of Virginia, to be Chief Justice of the United States, and to certify in your own name on the commission as executing the office of the Secretary of State pro hâc vice.
JOHN MARSHALL TO JOHN ADAMS.
4 February, 1801.
I pray you to accept my grateful acknowledgments for the honor conferred on me in appointing me Chief Justice of the United States. This additional and flattering mark of your good opinion has made an impression on my mind which time will not efface.
I shall enter immediately on the duties of the office, and hope never to give you occasion to regret having made this appointment.
With the most respectful attachment, &c.
TO JOHN MARSHALL.
Washington, 4 February, 1801.
I have this moment received your letter of this morning, and am happy in your acceptance of the office of Chief Justice. The circumstances of the times, however, render it necessary that I should request and authorize you, as I do by this letter, to continue to discharge all the duties of Secretary of State until ulterior arrangements can be made.
With great esteem, I am, &c.
TO JOSEPH WARD.
Washington, 4 February, 1801.
I have received and read with much pleasure your kind and friendly letter of January 22d. As I have all my lifetime expected such events as these which have lately occurred, I was not surprised when they happened. They ought to be lessons and solemn warnings to all thinking men. Clouds black and gloomy hang over this country, threatening a fierce tempest arising merely from party conflicts, at a time when the internal and external prosperity of it, and the national prospects in every other respect, are the most pleasing and promising that we ever beheld. I pray Heaven to dissipate the storm. Depressions of spirits, such as wound the nice organs of health, I have not perceived and do not apprehend, but I have some reason to expect that my constitution will have another trial when I come to exchange a routine of domestic life, without much exercise, for a life of long journeys and distant voyages, in one or other of which I have been monthly or at least yearly engaged for two and forty years. When such long continued and violent exercise, such frequent agitations of the body, are succeeded by stillness, it may shake an old frame. Rapid motion ought not to be succeeded by sudden rest. But, at any rate, I have not many years before me, and those few are not very enchanting in prospect. Till death, an honest man and candid friend will ever be dear to my heart, and Colonel Ward, as one of that character, may ever be sure of the good-will and kind remembrance of
P. S. Ward, I wish you would write a dissertation upon parties in this country.
TO ELBRIDGE GERRY.
Washington, 7 February, 1801.
I lament with you the arbitrary application of party nicknames and unpopular appellations, and although with you I heartily wish, yet I cannot say I hope, that the wickedness of the wicked will come to an end. On the contrary, it appears to me that, unlike the rising light which shineth more and more to the perfect day, the darkness will thicken till it may be felt. In the multitude of applications for consulates, it is impossible for me to say what Mr. Lee’s success may be. The imputation of jacobinism, which I believe to be groundless, will have no weight with me. It may, however, with the Senate.
I have no inclination to inquire whether I should have been evaded, if the electors in South Carolina had been federal, or not. I can easily credit such a conjecture. Yet I believe the Pinckneys are honorable men, and would not have promoted or connived at the design. The original plan, which was determined in a caucus, proposed, I suppose, by Hamilton, and promoted by Goodhue and his patrons and puppets, was the fundamental error. Messrs. Pinckney had no just pretensions to such an elevation any more than Mr. Burr, except that their characters are fairer, more independent, and respectable.
I know no more danger of a political convulsion, if a President, pro tempore, of the Senate, or a Secretary of State, or Speaker of the House, should be made President by Congress, than if Mr. Jefferson or Mr. Burr is declared such. The President would be as legal in one case as in either of the others, in my opinion, and the people as well satisfied. This, however, must be followed by another election, and Mr. Jefferson would be chosen; I should, in that case, decline the election. We shall be tossed, at any rate, in the tempestuous sea of liberty for years to come, and where the bark can land but in a political convulsion, I cannot see. I wish the good ship to her desired harbor.
With usual esteem and regard, &c.
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE.
Washington, 10 February, 1801.
Inclosed is a Newburyport Herald, in which is quoted “a letter from John Adams, dated Amsterdam, 15th December, 1780, to Thomas Cushing, Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts.” This letter has been, for some years past, reprinted and quoted in many American pamphlets and newspapers as genuine, and imposes on many people by supposing and imputing to me sentiments inconsistent with the whole tenor of my life and all the feelings of my nature.1 I remember to have read the letter in English newspapers soon after it was published, at a time when the same English papers teemed with forged letters, long, tedious, flat, and dull, in the name of Dr. Franklin, the most concise, sprightly, and entertaining writer of his time. The Doctor declared them all to be forgeries, which he was not under a necessity of doing, because every reader of common sense and taste knew them to be such from their style and nonsense. The letter in my name, I also declare to be a forgery. I never wrote a letter in the least degree resembling it to Lieutenant-Governor Cushing, nor to any other person. This declaration I pray you to file in your office, and you have my consent to publish it, if you think fit.
I am, Sir, &c.
OLIVER WOLCOTT TO JOHN ADAMS.
Middletown, 28 March, 1801.
I embrace the earliest opportunity which I have been able to improve, since your arrival at Quincy, to express my most sincere acknowledgments for the distinguished proof, which I have received, of your confidence, in being appointed a judge of the second circuit of the United States.
My friends have communicated to me the circumstances which attended the appointment; by which I hear, with the highest satisfaction, that I owe the honorable station in which I have been placed, to your favorable opinion, and in no degree to their solicitation. Believing that gratitude to benefactors is among the most amiable, and ought to be among the most indissoluble, of social obligations, I shall, without reserve, cherish the emotions which are inspired by a sense of duty and honor on this occasion.1
I am, &c.
TO OLIVER WOLCOTT.
Quincy, 6 April, 1801.
I have received your favor of the 28th of March, and I read it with much pleasure. The information you have received from your friends, concerning the circumstances of your nomination to be a judge of the second circuit of the United States, is very correct.
I have never allowed myself to speak much of the gratitude due from the public to individuals for past services, but I have always wished that more should be said of justice. Justice is due from the public to itself, and justice is also due to individuals. When the public discards or neglects talents and integrity, united with meritorious past services, it commits iniquity against itself, by depriving itself of the benefit of future services; and it does wrong to the individual, by depriving him of the reward, which long and faithful services have merited. Twenty years of able and faithful services on the part of Mr. Wolcott, remunerated only by a simple subsistence, it appeared to me, constituted a claim upon the public, which ought to be attended to. As it was of importance that no appointment should be made that would be refused, I took measures to ascertain from your friends the probability of your acceptance, and then made the nomination, happy to have so fair an opportunity to place you beyond the reach of will and pleasure. I wish you much pleasure, and more honor, in your law studies and pursuits, and I doubt not you will contribute your full share to make justice run down our streets as a stream. My family joins in friendly regards to you and yours. With much esteem, I have the honor to be, Sir,1 &c.
[1 ]This singular idea is suggested by Mr. Boudinot in the following manner;—
[1 ]This is an allusion to Mr. Stockton’s letter, who said, speaking of “those who under one name or another have perpetually opposed this government and calumniated its administration;”—
[1 ]This letter has been, very lately, quoted as genuine.
[1 ]It is stated in Mr. Gibbs’s work, that this “appointment had been made with a full knowledge of Mr. Wolcott’s political views, which were, indeed, no secret to any one.” Mr. Adams certainly had no suspicion of the spirit betrayed in the letter to Fisher Ames, of the 10th August, 1800. Mr. Wolcott shows conscientious struggles to obtain from his friends the right publicly to declare his opposition; but this they denied him, and therefore he never exercised it. Gibbs’s Memoirs, &c., vol. ii. pp. 400, 431, 496.
[1 ]Mr. Adams was charged by his enemies, and among others by Mr. Wolcott, with being unreasonably jealous and suspicious. To the day of his death he never suspected that the individual to whom he addressed this letter, overflowing with kindness, was the person who had secretly furnished the confidential information, obtained as a cabinet officer and adviser of the President, upon which Mr. Hamilton rested his attack upon his reputation, and had revised, corrected, amended, and approved all of that paper, whilst in manuscript. The evidence of this has now been voluntarily placed before the public by his own grandson, and by the son of Mr. Hamilton. See his letter to Mr. Hamilton, 3d September, 1800, in Gibbs’s Memoirs of the Federal Administrations, vol. ii. pp. 416-418, and that of 2d October, 1800, in Hamilton’s Works, vol. vi. pp. 471-475. After a perusal of these letters, the conclusions lately drawn by a perfectly impartial witness, may be deemed not entirely unworthy of consideration. Referring to Mr. Gibbs’s own statement, this writer says,—