Front Page Titles (by Subject) 20 Feb. 1779: TO JAMES LOVELL. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 9 (Letters and State Papers 1799-1811)
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20 Feb. 1779: TO JAMES LOVELL. - 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 JAMES LOVELL.
Passy, 20 February, 1779.
. . . . . . . . . . .
I cannot lay aside my pen without saying, that the accusations before Congress against the Messrs. Lee and, I know not who besides, distress me beyond measure. I fear they will perpetuate altercation, without bringing any great truths to light for the benefit of the public. I have sighed, and mourned, and wept, for that intemperance of passions, which I very early discovered here, without being able to soften or to cool it in the least degree. I wish I could draw the portrait of every character here, as it appears in my eyes; but this would be imprudent, and, if it should be known, would do public mischief, full enough of which has been done already by indiscretion.
Our old incidental agent is an honest man, faithful and zealous in our cause. But there is an acrimony in his temper, there is a jealousy, there is an obstinacy, and a want of candor at times, and an affectation of secrecy, the fruit of jealousy, which renders him disagreeable often to his friends, makes him enemies, and gives them infinite advantages over him. That he has had great provocations here, I never doubted, and since the appearance of the address less than ever.1
There is another character here, exceedingly respectable in fortune, education, travel, honor, integrity, love of his country, and zeal in its cause; but Tacitus would say his passions are always strong, often violent; and he has not experience in public life.2 These two gentlemen have been very intimate, and have encouraged, no doubt, and often irritated each other. Another thing, I think that other gentleman ought not to have been here; he should have been in Italy or in America; or, being here, I really think he ought not to have interfered so much. This is simply my opinion. I may be wrong. That that gentleman thought he was doing his duty, I am clear. But of this I am persuaded, that if he had been in Italy, things would never have gone to the lengths they have.
On the other hand, most of the old connections of the Dr. and Mr. Deane were filled with prejudices against those two gentlemen. One party was striving to get the better of the other, to lower its reputation and diminish its authority.
In this chaos I found things, and have been tossed in it. On the other hand, there was a monopoly of reputation here, and an indecency in displaying it, which did great injustice to the real merit of others, that I do not wonder was resented. There was an indolence there was a dissipation, which gave just occasion of complaint, and there was a complaisance to interested adventurers. There was an intimacy with stockjobbers; there was an acquaintance with persons from England, which gave just occasion of jealousy, however innocent the intentions were. I have learned that total silence is enough to procure a character for prudence, whatever indiscretions a man may commit.
In this state of things, Congress have had the wisdom and the fortitude to do the only thing which could be done for putting matters on a better footing; but this will last a very little while, if money matters are not separated from political. Some other thing must be done; some resolution must be passed, forbidding every man, in the most positive terms, who has any connection with your minister here, from having any connection with English stocks, insurances, &c., and forbidding all correspondence with them. There is in England a practice of making insurances on political events, which has interested the whole alley in American politics, and has thrown all into distraction.
I have been wholly without information of what was passing in Congress and, indeed, in America, especially in Philadelphia. My friends, I know, have been engaged in doing the public business, not in strengthening the hands of individuals or parties here. But bushels of letters have come to adventurers here, containing information more exact in some things, and not so true in others as they ought to be.
TO SAMUEL COOPER.
Passy, 28 February, 1779.
Your letter by the Marquis de Lafayette I have received, and it contained so handsome a testimony to the merit of that gallant young nobleman, as well as so many judicious observations on other subjects, that I have ventured to permit it to be translated and published.
The complaint against the family of Lees is a very extraordinary thing indeed. I am no idolater of that family or any other; but I believe their greatest fault is having more men of merit in it than any other family; and if that family fails the American cause, or grows unpopular among their fellow-citizens, I know not what family or what person will stand the test.
There is reason, however, to be upon our guard against the power of a family of so much merit; and if the complaint had only been, that one of the family was minister at the Courts of Versailles and Madrid, another at Vienna and Berlin, I would have joined in that with all my heart. But this, to my certain knowledge, was not the fault of the family, but partly owing to accident, and partly because other gentlemen refused or declined to undertake so dangerous a voyage and so difficult a service.
If the complaint had been confined to the want of figure, dignity, and address, I should have left the discussion of such important questions to those who think so much of them, and these might have determined whether the complainers or complainees have most to boast of in this kind.
If the complaint had been confined to the subject of temper, I should not have thought it worth while to consider long, in order to determine which was the most inconvenient to the State, a little too much asperity, or a little too much good nature, a little too much acid, or a little too much oil.
But when the complaint becomes so outrageous as to throw about the world insinuations of infidelity and breach of trust against some of the most faithful and inflexible men in the community, it becomes the cause of every virtuous man, and such injured characters must be vindicated, or the State undone.
The publication of this address1 to the universe, instead of making it in writing to Congress, was a measure beyond all example dangerous and destructive. But enough of this. Good, I hope, will come out of it, and lessons will be learned from it. Lessons of moderation are so much wanted, that I, even I, am obliged to become a preacher of that great virtue; but with as little success as most other preachers.
So much for ourselves, now for our enemies. Keppel’s trial has wrought up parties to a great heat in England. Tumults and discontents are very general throughout the three kingdoms. The two Howes, with many members of opposition in both houses, seem to be arranging themselves for warm work; and impeachments are talked of and expected. Whether Palliser will have a trial, is uncertain; if he should, this will probably complete the rage and distraction. Lord North’s loan has labored a long time; it was settled the 23d, at three per cent. for perpetuity, an annuity of three and three fourths per cent. for twenty-nine years, and seven lottery tickets for every thousand pounds. The ticket is ten pounds, but always gains two or three per ticket before the drawing, and every year the war continues, the interest must be greater, and the expense greater. Almost all parties seem to say freely that the kingdom is undone; yet none of them have sense and spirit enough to propose the only means for preventing the ruin they apprehend. Their conquest of St. Lucie will only be a grave to their troops, of whom they have none to spare.
JAMES LOVELL TO JOHN ADAMS.
Philadelphia, 13 June, 1779.
I shall not look through the notes in my almanac to see whether I have written to you twenty-two or twenty-four times. I shall go upon the easier task of acknowledging all those I have had from you, namely: 6th December, 1778, received 16th February, 1779, answered the 17th. 26th September, 1778, received 4th March, 1779, answered 28th April.
Three months ago Mr. G.1 communicated to us that Spain was mediating, and that we ought to take speedy, decisive measures for peace. London Gazettes told us the first part; and it appears strange that neither Dr. F., Mr. L., nor you have hinted this matter to us lately, if you did not avow it authoritatively. We have some wise men here, who are sure they could fish out all the court secrets. In the various attempts to pull down A. L. to make way for some one to go from hence “who knows all the present circumstances of America, and therefore could negotiate properly,” your want of ability to give us information such as we wish for, or fancy can be had, is said to spring from the suspicions of the French Court respecting one of you; and something like an attempt to dictate to us a choice has been seen here. An extract of a letter from the Count de V. has been quoted, “Je crains Monsieur A. L. et ses entours,” and we are tempted to think that therefore the communication before-mentioned came through Mr. G. But this is different from what was once the conduct; for Mr. Deane tells us that he was directed to tell Dr. F. what he did not choose to tell Mr. Lee, or, as he wishes to have it believed, which he was forbidden to tell him. I am persuaded1 Dr. F. would not readily disgust the French Court in such a point. If there is any seriousness in the business, I suppose the Court stood upon the punctilio of not having the compliment of a minister plenipotentiary returned at that time. Mr. Lee’s enemies have produced nothing but innuendoes to procure his removal, while they dare not deny his integrity and abilities in our service. Mr. D. says, the Lees are not fit for transactions with a “gallant” nation. But doubtless those men who want his place would be very gallant indeed on certain points in negotiation. The eastern States are charged with wanting what they have no right to, and what is of “no interest to the southern States.” Plenty are these local sentiments lately; and R. H. Lee with H. Laurens are squinted at as two monsters on the other side of Susquehannah, who pursue points in which the southern States have no interest. Would France or England reason that way on the fishery? I expect, however, that we shall coalesce in a few days upon what may be ultimata ready for some future day of pacification, when Britain shall be restored to her senses. She is quite wild and foolish yet, in my opinion.
You will be scarcely able by our motley journals to understand what we are about. Why did I vote for your name to be inserted, April 20th, page 10? A majority against me had before resolved that the names should be added; that Dr. Franklin’s should be inserted; but did not proceed by yeas and nays, therefore I was entrapped. Not having my nay appear on Dr. Franklin, could I say nay to Deane, the causa malorum? And as it was not mutual suspicions, &c., I could not exclude you, who was suspected and stigmatized in the report of the committee, though more to the disgrace of Mr. Izard than yourself, if there was any disgrace in the circumstance of his imagining that your connection with the “eaters and distillers of molasses”1 had warped your judgment against the interest of other parts of the continent. Mr. Izard has good testimony to his many estimable qualities, but his best friends say he is irascible even when he has not a fit of the gout, as he unfortunately had when he was writing of Dr. Franklin, and probably, too, when he made his strictures upon your opinion of the 11th and 12th articles.2
Every appearance is that you will not be passed over without honorable notice, when the report receives its finishing discussion. My own settled opinion of you leads me the more readily to think there is no plot concealed under the professions in your favor, which have fallen from men lately, whose general conduct is of a kind to make me cry,
Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.3
. . . . . . . . . . .
I firmly believe that your friend Lincoln has got complete success over the southern enemy. He will receive permission to return hither just in the hours of glory, so that he may attend to his wound, which was greatly irritated by his expedition to Carolina. This night is the fourteenth since we first had the news of his victory, via New Providence. Confirmation is come from several quarters, but still we have not an express.1 Tucker has sent in a twenty-four gun ship this afternoon, which did not fire a shot at him before striking. It is at the capes with the Confederacy, one of the finest frigates in any service, as is said by voyagers.
I wish you every happiness, being, &c.
TO ELBRIDGE GERRY.
Braintree, 10 September, 1779.
I received by last post your obliging letter of 24th of August. The sight of your handwriting gave me more pleasure than you are aware. I would send you copies of my letters to you, if they were not out of date at this time.
I thank you for your compliment on my letter to Congress.2 It is a long dull story; but I think several things appear from it that are of great importance. It appears that the general arrangement of interests and designs in Europe is more favorable for us than even the most sanguine of us could have expected; that we have no reason to fear that England will be able to form one alliance against us; that, if she should, that one will be the House of Austria, notwithstanding there is an excellent Austrian princess on the throne of France, in which case Prussia and Russia, too, would join France and us; that the King of Prussia and Holland should be cultivated; and, what perhaps is of as much importance as all the rest, it appears from it that France has already derived the most solid and essential advantages from our separation from Great Britain and alliance with her; that she will continue to derive still greater benefits, and therefore that we may rely upon her friendship, without sacrificing any essential right or interest from a servile complaisance to her, much less to the low intrigues of a few hucksters.
I have done your message to Portia; she desires me to tell you, that there is great encouragement to undertake embassies to Europe, and she is very happy to hear of so certain a sign of grace, as your impatience to join our sacred order.1
Your resolution, that no person shall be appointed to any office within twelve months of his being a member of Congress, may be too much. I should rather prefer a resolution never to appoint any man abroad that they do not personally know. Yet I think that resolutions so universal had better be avoided in either case.
You have several very great men, by all relation, who have joined Congress since I left it. No doubt, they are thought superior to others who have gone before them. If they are, both in abilities and virtues, I wish them success. I have a great desire to see the journals at, before, and after my appointment to go to France, and all the journals. I should be greatly obliged to you for them. I should also be very happy to be informed by what majority I was chosen, and who was for and against, and who else in nomination. I never heard a word on this subject. Do not again forget to write to your old and sincere friend.
Thank you for voting me clear of suspicions, &c., dishonorable to the States.2 I have a bone to pick with Adams and Lovell for their votes on that occasion.
TO THOMAS MCKEAN.
Braintree, 20 September, 1779.
It is a long time since I had the pleasure to see you; but my esteem is not at all diminished. None of us have any thing to boast of in these times, in respect to the happiness of life. You have been in disagreeable scenes, I doubt not; mine have been much worse than I expected.
I never heard of any jealousy, or envy, or malevolence among our commissioners at Paris until my arrival at Bordeaux. Judge of my surprise, grief, and mortification, then, when I heard at Bordeaux, and found on my arrival at Paris, the heat and fury to which it had arisen. Both sides most earnestly besieged me, in order to get me to join their party; but I saw the only part a man of honor and confidence could take in my situation, was to join neither. Accordingly, I invariably and firmly refused to have any thing to do with their disputes, before my arrival, or after, any further than they should unavoidably intermix with the public questions, in which my office obliged me to give an opinion; and then, to give it impartially for the public good. I accordingly lived not only in peace, but in apparent friendship with both sides. If there was any animosity in either against me personally, it was very artfully concealed from me, and certainly never had any just cause. Since my arrival here, I am informed that I have been honored with a little of the ill humor of both sides, and I beg your assistance in Congress, that I may be informed of the particulars as I have requested. Congress have done the only thing that could dissolve the charm; that is, left one alone.
An opposition in parliament, in a house of assembly, in a council, in Congress, is highly useful and necessary to balance individuals, and bodies, and interests one against another, and bring the truth to light, and justice to prevail. But an opposition in a foreign embassy, in the circumstances of this country and of Europe, is ruin. There can be no secrecy, no confidence, when such an opposition takes place, much less where there are such infernal quarrels as were between my colleagues.
It would be better to employ a single man of sense, even although he should be as selfish and interested as is possible, consistent with fealty to his country, than three honest men, even of greater abilities, any two of whom should be at open variance with each other. It would be better to employ a single stockjobber or a single monopolizer. It is better still, no doubt, to employ one man of virtue and ability.
I presume Congress intend to appoint a secretary to the commission, and to appoint consuls for the management of commercial and maritime matters. It is highly necessary. Franklin is a wit and a humorist, I know. He may be a philosopher, for what I know. But he is not a sufficient statesman for all the business he is in. He knows too little of American affairs, of the politics of Europe, and takes too little pains to inform himself of either, to be sufficient for all these things, to be ambassador, secretary, admiral, consular agent, &c. Yet such is his name, on both sides the water, that it is best, perhaps, that he should be left there; but a secretary and consuls should be appointed to do the business, or it will not be done; or, if done, it will be by people who insinuate themselves into his confidence, without either such heads or hearts as Congress should trust. He is too old, too infirm, too indolent and dissipated, to be sufficient for the discharge of all the important duties of ambassador, board of war, board of treasury, commissary of prisoners, &c., &c., &c., as he is at present, in that department, besides an immense correspondence and acquaintance, each of which would be enough for the whole time of the most active man in the vigor of youth.
I write plainly, but confidentially. I write to you, because I believe you have not been heated with any of the personal disputes between or concerning the commissioners.
JAMES LOVELL TO JOHN ADAMS.
Philadelphia, Monday, 27 September, 1779.
Not knowing, my dear Sir, how certain things now in agitation may this day be terminated here, I choose to state at this time some proceedings, two days old, that I may not be thought to give them a gloss in the style of an after-prophet turned historian or painter. For a groundwork I refer you to the report of the committee of thirteen, with its consequent yeas and nays, which is certainly now in your hands in print;1 and also to what you must have somehow or other come to the knowledge of, respecting a long struggle about cod and haddock;1 and further, to your own reading and judgment concerning the parliamentary propriety of appointing a man to carry into effect, by all the powers of skilful negotiation, a measure to which he has been opposed tooth and nail in the whole preparatory progress of it. Nor can I omit to call to your mind what I already must have written either to you or the lovely Portia, that the lentor of proceedings here should account for the appearances of injustice done you by an assembly, nine tenths of which profess, and probably have, an esteem for you.
Two things are to be transacted with Britain, a major and consequent minor, as soon as her madness and folly begin to subside. But only one agent is to manage them. The commissions are drawn, and instructions also. The blanks are to be filled. Dr. Franklin was nominated, out of order. This led one man to suggest that he should find himself obliged, when such a nomination should again be attempted, and done in order, to follow it with the nomination of Dr. Lee, as a much more suitable character, which he would endeavor to make plain by various testimonies in his possession, part known and part yet unknown to the Assembly. A question was then moved by a gentleman in that company, named Matthews, and seconded by one named Lovell,2 that no member, while there acting, or for nine months after, should be elected to a place, for which he, or another for him, received any salary, &c. By yeas and nays the nine months’ part3 was lost; and the other part, by the previous question. J. Adams was nominated by Mr. Laurens, and J. Jay by Mer. Smith. Adjourned to meet on the next day (Sunday) at 10 o’clock. Met. Balloted, five for J. A., four for J. J., three could not agree. On a second trial, six for J. A., four for J. J., one could not agree. The mover of the motion above, not being likely to consent with his colleague to carry it into effect, the balloting was postponed.
It had been frequently pressed on the members to order some resolves now on the table, and but very lately passed, respecting points on which the temper of Spain towards us greatly depends, to be forwarded to the commissioner at that court, as answers to the questions which he hinted to us in six days after the treaties with France, again on the 2d of April, again plainly and urgently for our answer on August 27th, again more urgently on October 19th, again on December 5th, &c., &c. A cut-and-dried commission, such as must pass hereafter, was produced, moved for, and seconded, out of order. A motion was then made and seconded for choosing a minister plenipotentiary to do exactly what a commissioner is now fully authorized to do; as much so, exactly, as were the three at the Court of France. The pretence for this was the accepted second paragraph of a report (vide April 15th), that ministers plenipotentiary were only necessary at Versailles and Madrid; the spirit and intent of which paragraph lay in the word only, and not in a technical use of ministers, as settled by France and us on the arrival of Mr. Gerard. Some good and not young men, on this question, saw not the trap under the chaff. Who could deny that we have assented to additional parade and expense in a minister above a commissioner? Who could deny that two persons would be in pay, for a time, at once, to do the same business? Who could deny that A. Lee’s complete vindications were on the table of Congress? This last matter and all characterizing was said to be untimely, as much as in a question about creating a Quartermaster-General, when we had a Quartermaster. For that A. Lee stood as fair for nomination to the new commission as any man else, and then we should be allowed full liberty to speak to character. A majority can thus kill, but it requires seven to make alive. But seven thus killed. For Mr. Laurens, though he spoke against the question, voted for it, and then nominated A. Lee. This act of his, in such a desperate case, does not make up for depriving a much injured man of the advantage of showing that he was artfully knocked down by six upon a presumption that seven could not be found to assist in recovering him from the violence of the blow. Mr. J. Adams was also nominated for Spain by Mr. Paca, Mr. J. Jay by Mr. Mercer of Virginia.
This accommodation scheme had been proposed in whispers early in the morning, to provide places for the two nominated the day before. One to have a post of the highest honor, and the other to take the post of a man murdered on purpose to make room. Are not these doings a complete appendix to the report of the committee of thirteen, and the proceedings thereon months ago? Look at the names! Here I must join in an old exclamation of F. L. L., when he had seen a whole day wasted, “What d—d dirty work is this of politics!”
I will now state the votes, remarking that, being Sunday, Mr. McKean was able to attend; but your sworn friend, the farmer,1 will alone finish it. New York is represented by Mr. Jay and Mr. Lewis, not by one. New Jersey by Mr. Fell and Mr. Houston, Connecticut by Mr. Huntington or Mr. Root.
Vote for a minister for Spain.
JAMES LOVELL TO JOHN ADAMS.
Philadelphia, 28 September, 1779.
Yesterday, in whispers, the proposal was made to send J. A. to Spain, the balloting for that business being first called for. But Connecticut and Pennsylvania discovered a total abhorrence of the consequences in the second ballot; therefore the plan was dropped, and the ballots were;
No vote, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Carolina.
For the two other commissions, J. A. the only nomination. All the States, but one for Dr. Franklin. If this was not the piddler,1 it might be the oddity of Virginia.
Prior to the choice for Spain, I produced your two first letters as appertaining to the only one point which had ever appeared incontestable against A. Lee. “Je crains M. Lee et ses entours.”2 For the minister, disavowing on February 13th his having adopted prejudices such as were attempted to be inspired in America, and proving his disavowal by an appeal to his conduct to you “ensemble et séparément,” shows either that he meant only avec ses entours, or that he felt convinced he had been drawn into unjust doubts, and intended to show double confidence in future.
The whole members, even Jay, praise “my perseverance;” but he says, in “friendship to Arthur.” Time will show whether it has not been to prevent Congress from an act of injustice, and to maintain the sacredness of the approbation or disapprobation of our united supremacy; which is what the servant of republics should look up to, rather than to salaries and perquisites, which the levity of monarchies makes their servants catch while they can, without striving to deserve them.
I am freed from a load; for I have long practised upon David’s rule. Away with sackcloth and ashes, when evitables become inevitable. J. J. desires me to be as true to him “only while he continues to do honestly.” That I most assuredly will, and to every name that the public choice shall fall on. But I cannot forget the past so far as not to think that if Silas Deane is not stone blind, he may now see from what source he got his fund of advice towards measures apparently his own.
Carmichael, Houston, and Mr. Jay’s brother, Livingston, are talked of as secretaries to the embassies. Gerry tells me Dana may be induced to go with you.
And now, my very dear Sir, as to the main point. America ought not to pardon you, if you put its peace to the hazard of a second ballot. As an individual, I swear I never will. And as to Portia, if I can by my utmost industry find out that only one tear, or even a sigh, comes from her, I will burn all her past letters, much as I now regard them. I will allow her a little regret, if she will not let it amount to a sigh, while she considers with me that you cannot be here to manage the Vermont cause. You must give all possible information to Massachusetts government through some able man or committee, before you go from thence or hence.
I have tired all my pens yesterday and to-day, in conversing with those I love southward and eastward.
Heaven protect you.
ELBRIDGE GERRY TO JOHN ADAMS.
Philadelphia, 29 September, 1779.
My dear Mr. Adams,—
It is with the greatest pleasure that I inform you of the late arrangement of our foreign affairs, in which you are appointed to negotiate the treaties with Great Britain, and our friend, Mr. Dana, to be your secretary. Mr. Jay is to negotiate with Spain, Mr. Carmichael to be his secretary, and Colonel John Laurens, son of the late President Laurens, to be secretary to Dr. Franklin.
I shall not be able at this time to give you a history of the proceedings of Congress relative to their foreign affairs. The embarrassments, difficulties, and delays attending this business, in consequence of the disputes between the late commissioners, have exceeded every thing of the kind which I have before met with. So far have some of their friends in Congress been influenced by attachments and prejudice, as to render it impossible to preserve their friendship and confidence, and, at the same time, to act with becoming freedom and independence.
I flatter myself that you will not hesitate a moment at accepting the highest office of honor and trust under the United States, when elected thereto by the voice of eleven States. Indeed, it may be called unanimous, as there was only a single vote for Dr. Franklin, who was not in nomination, and it is said to have been put in by Delaware, at that time represented by your old friend, Mr. D.1 Great exertions were made to send you to Spain, and Mr. Jay on the other embassy; but the opposition of your friends produced from the gentlemen in favor of Mr. Jay, a proposal of accommodation, in consequence whereof he was appointed by eight States. The appointment of Mr. Dana is, in my humble opinion, of the next importance; and should he accept it, he may stand candidate for the next vacancy in Europe.
It is almost time to acknowledge the receipt of your esteemed favor of the 27th November, 1778, and of the 10th and 11th instant. The first is of so early a date, as not to require an answer, and a prudent use shall be made of the last. Agreeably to your request in the other, I transmit by the bearer the journals of Congress to the present time, as far as they are printed. Those for 1778 are now in the press. With respect to the circumstances of your first appointment, it was in consequence of a nomination, which I intended to make after having endeavored to discover your sentiments on the subject. I remember you were more reserved than I thought you ought to have been; and two of your colleagues then in Yorktown, to whom I proposed the matter, objected to it as not being agreeable to you. When the nomination was made, if I rightly remember, the one that remained in Congress after you left it, expressed his doubts on the occasion;2 but being determined to try the experiment, I informed the House that I had communicated to you my design of nomination, and that, although you were very silent on the affair, I was fully persuaded you would not decline the duty. This fixed the matter in the minds of your friends. Mr. R. Livingston was nominated by New York, and by recurring to the printed journals you will find the voters in your favor distinguished by dots, vol. iii. p. 547.3
It is some time since this transaction happened, and I may be mistaken in some points, but I further recollect that in conferring with you, I mentioned my former intention of nominating you in the fall of the year 1776, and that Mr. R. H. Lee told me you had informed him that you would not accept the appointment, if made, which last circumstance not being remembered by you, was an additional argument in my mind for pushing your election at Yorktown.
I conceived myself bound by every principle of honor, integrity, and policy, to “vote you clear of suspicions, &c., dishonorable to the State.” When the question was proposed for inserting your name in that resolution, I opposed it as unjust, and the inclosed copy of the futile charge against you, and evidence to support it, will, I think, warrant my conduct. If unjust, then surely it was impolitic, as your future usefulness would have been destroyed, for a time at least. I conceived it so, and was therefore bound in honor not to sport with your character. I mean not, however, to throw reflection on the conduct of gentlemen of a different opinion.1 They probably had a different view of the subject, and may be highly commendable for a measure which it would have been criminal in me to have adopted.
While I am on this subject, give me leave to observe that your letter to Congress, desiring a copy of the charges against you, was yesterday read, on which I moved the House to comply with your request; but it was objected to from several quarters, as an improper measure, since the House had almost unanimously, by your late appointment, rejected the charge, and had in the first instance cleared you of the animosities subsisting among the other commissioners. It was also said, that the admission of weight in the charge was dishonorable to the House, which, in that case, would have been in duty bound to postpone your appointment until you were acquitted of the charge. The objections were agreeable to my mind, and I withdrew the motion, at the same time informing the House that I should furnish you with the papers requested.
Upon the whole, I am of opinion, that, in the esteem of Congress, your character is as high as any gentleman’s in America; that as much is obtained in the arrangement and determinations of our foreign affairs as could be expected; that if matters had been driven further, we should have been more deeply involved in animosities and dissensions, and have put a total stop to our foreign negotiations; that in consequence thereof we must, on the return of Monsieur Gerard, have sunk in the esteem of our ally, of the Court of Spain, and of all Europe; that Dr. Franklin ought to be recalled; that, however some late measures may not be equal to our wishes, it becomes our indispensable duty to support them with vigor, and to listen no more to insinuations without evidence to support them; that an able, upright, firm friend to America is greatly injured in Dr. Lee, as well by the impolicy of some of his friends,* as by the undeserved reproach of his enemies; but that, his usefulness being destroyed, had it been practicable to have continued him in office, he could not have served with satisfaction to himself or advantage to the public. I have been well informed, that hints have been thrown out here, relative to my votes for recalling Dr. Lee, which I do not relish. I have, however, suppressed my feelings, because it is extremely injurious to the public interest to have their servants involved in disputes with each other. I shall return prepared to justify my conduct in every point, and should any attempts be made to misrepresent it, I shall be under the necessity of showing that it has been ever directed in Congress by disinterested public motives; that it has been always free from views of extending my personal interest or influence, or of supporting private attachments; and I think I can answer for the policy of the measures which I have adopted.
Perhaps you may think this deviating from delicacy; but, conscious of the rectitude of my intentions, I cannot bear the breath of reflection. I voted for the recall of all the commissioners included in the resolution of the 20th of April last, as an indispensable obligation arising from the resolution itself, and also, as a preliminary measure for fully inquiring into the conduct of those gentlemen, that the character of each may be fairly known and represented to the public. The States divided on Dr. Lee, and he was continued in office, contrary, in my opinion, to every principle of government, where a majority is to rule. This happened by the mode in which the question was put, “shall he be recalled,” instead of “shall he be continued.” In the latter case, a division would have lost the question, and he would have been recalled, which the States, who were against him, being apprised of, conceived the matter, as it stood, both unreasonable and unfair. After Congress had finished their instructions relative to negotiations, a question arose, who should execute them. Reference being then made to a resolution of the 15th of April last, “that ministers plenipotentiary for these States are only necessary for the present, at the Courts of Versailles and Madrid,” a motion was made, that “a minister plenipotentiary, in lieu of a commissioner, be appointed to negotiate a treaty of alliance, and unity, and commerce, between the United States of America and his Catholic Majesty,” and the question was carried as follows: six ayes, one no, and four divided. Massachusetts was amongst the latter; Mr. Holten and myself, ayes; Mr. Lovell and Mr. Partridge, no. I thought it necessary to agree to this proposition, as it was consonant to the resolution of the 15th of April; as it would give the States a fair opportunity of electing their ministers, and thereby of correcting the error mentioned; as a decision of the question in the negative would have postponed a negotiation with Spain, and for some reasons before mentioned, and others with which I shall not trouble you. To convince you of the necessity of this last measure, I need only inform you, that, before the resolution was proposed, Congress endeavored to appoint a minister to negotiate the peace, and failed in the attempt, there being six States for yourself, five for Mr. Jay, and one divided. Those who were for Mr. Jay then declared they would never alter their votes, unless they had a fair opportunity of electing a minister for Spain, and accommodating matters to the sense of a majority of the States, which was prevented by the failure of a vote of the States when divided.
One word with respect to your instructions. Pray give me your opinion on the boundaries of the Massachusetts Bay, and if any thing is amiss, Mr. Samuel Adams, if he thinks it expedient, may inform the State thereof, that they may give directions for having it rectified in Congress.
Cannot you attend to the settlement of the Vermont affair on the 1st of February next, agreeably to certain resolutions sent to Massachusetts, which, by her delegates, has claimed a right to the jurisdiction of those lands?
I should not have troubled you with such a volume of small politics, did I not conceive it impracticable to weary the patience of a great politician. My best respects to Portia; her irony is, by sovereign power, turned into fact. I wish that our friend, General Warren, may peruse this letter, and no other person at present, as it may otherwise be the cause of my commencing disputes which I wish to avoid. Brother Dana may correct my information relative to your first election. Adieu, my dear friend, with assurance of sincerity in your very humble servant,
Is not caution necessary in sending letters or papers, which on certain occasions ought not to be communicated? It sometimes happens that one friend is nearly sacrificed to support another. I was on a committee which reported three thousand pounds sterling per year for each of the ministers, and one thousand pounds sterling per annum for each of their secretaries, the salary to begin and end as prescribed by a former resolution, relative to the commissioners; but I expect a reduction of the first sum will be made by some of our patriots. I am in favor of £2500 for the first, and of half that sum for the secretaries.
HENRY LAURENS TO JOHN ADAMS.
Philadelphia, 4 October, 1779.
The receipt and perusal of your favor of the 10th ultimo afforded me a very high satisfaction. The answer with which you honored my letter of May, 1778, has not yet reached me.
From the earliest intelligence of your return to America, I felt a strong disposition to wait on you with a line or two of sincere congratulation on your happy return to your family and American friends; but there were certain irresistible pull-backs to the intended operation. I am not addicted to commonplace ceremony, and I perceived it extremely difficult to compose a palatable address of blended gratulation and condolence to an exauctorated fellow-citizen, who had deserved well of his country, and who, at the same time, stood in the most awkward situation that an honest, susceptible mind can be reduced to. Sent, without his own desire, and probably inconsistently with his interest and inclination, on an embassy beyond the Atlantic, kept unemployed, and in the course of a few months virtually dismissed, without censure or applause, and without the least intimation when or in what manner he was to return and report his proceedings; from these and other considerations I found myself constrained to wait future events. These, though a little clumsily brought forth, have happened as I wished; and now, my dear Sir, I not only congratulate you on a safe return, but I have another opportunity of rejoicing with my countrymen on the judicious choice which Congress have made in their late election of a minister plenipotentiary to treat—in due time, be it understood—with his Britannic Majesty on peace and commerce. The determination of Congress in this instance will be grateful to the people of these States, and may expiate the queernesses of some of the queerest fellows that ever were invested with rays of sovereignty. Let me entreat you, Sir, for my country’s sake, to accept the appointment without hesitation or retrospection; you know “whereof we are made.” Wisdom and patriotism forbid exceptions on account of past circumstances. I speak in pure truth and sincerity, and will not risk offence by uttering a word respecting your fitness, or peculiar or exclusive fitness for the important office; but I will venture to add, it is necessary you should accept and stand ready to execute it. Your determination to do so will make the true friends of American independence happy, and will abate their apprehensions from incompetency or negligence in other quarters. Not that I believe you will be directly the object of negotiation; the pride of our haughty enemy will lead him to manœuvre by mediation, and my ideas teach me to suppose you are for some time to remain behind the curtain; but the moment cannot be far distant, according to present appearances, when you will step on the stage, and act a part productive of substantial good to your country, of honorable fame to yourself and to your posterity. My prayers and good wishes for your success will be accompanied by the utmost exertions of my feeble powers to insure it.
I pay no regard to the slanders of stockjobbers, monopolists, nor any of the various tribes and classes of the enemies of our peace. It gives me some satisfaction, however, to know that better men think well of me; but I draw an infinitely more solid consolation from this knowledge, that I have uniformly striven to persevere faithfully and disinterestedly in the service of my country. This well-founded assurance will in every event, however untoward, calm the mind, and secure that peace, which neither the great nor the little world can give or rob me of. I have now no hope of embracing you corporeally on this or the other continent to which you are going; but as a good citizen, and fellow-laborer in the common cause, my heart will embrace you at whatever distance we may be from each other. Be this as it shall happen, should we be permitted to come within reach, I tell you plainly, and I know you will not be displeased, I shall prefer shaking hands in the old American style.
Should I be detained in Congress the ensuing winter, I mean to ask leave in the spring to visit Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as one of the last of my terrestrial peregrinations. That journey finished, I hope the times will give me leave to withdraw and learn to die, a science I most devoutly wish to enter upon with a sedulousness which the present day prohibits.
Commodore Gillon’s ill success in France may possibly abate a little of his fervor for accomplishing every thing by the force of his own powers. His expenses being fruitless, will make no inconsiderable deduction from our Carolina finances, and I am sorry to hear that when he returns to Charleston, he will be asked unpleasant questions respecting his general conduct, and Don Juan de Miralles complains heavily of one of his transactions at Havana. These are things of no immediate concern to you, nor would it be instructive to say, it is difficult to judge of men from appearances.
I wish I had time to speak of the awful state of our national debt and credit: the field is too wide for the compass of a letter; but believe me, Sir, while we are decorating our fabric, we are censurably careless of the foundation. Censure, if ever it comes, will not light wholly on those whom the pious Duffield calls “the great council of these States.” Each State, at too late a day, will find cause to apply blame to itself. We are at this moment on the brink of a precipice, and what I have long dreaded and often intimated to my friends, seems to be breaking forth—a convulsion among the people. Yesterday produced a bloody scene in the streets of this city;1 the particulars you will probably learn from other friends; and from circumstances which have come to my knowledge this morning, there are grounds for apprehending much more confusion. The enemy has been industriously sapping our fort, and we, gazing and frolicking; peradventure we, meaning every State, may improve the present alarm to good purpose; but what shall we do by and by, and not far distant, for quieting a hungry and naked army? Shall we call forth a grand convention in aid of the great council? This may become absolutely necessary.
I will presume on your kindness and friendship to trouble you by the next post with a packet for my friends in Europe, and no further in the mean time, but to subscribe with great truth, dear Sir, your faithful, obliged, and affectionate friend and servant,
TO JAMES LOVELL.
Braintree, 17 October, 1779.
And what, my dear sir, shall I say to your favors of the 27th and 28th of September, which came by the last post? The unanimity of my election surprises me, as much as the delicacy, importance, and danger of the trust distress me. The appointment of Mr. Dana to be Secretary pleases me more than my own to be minister, commissioner, negotiator, call it what you will. I have communicated to him your letters in confidence, and all other material intelligence I had, and hope he will not decline; but you know the peculiarities of his situation, and if he should refuse, I hope you will not force your name out of nomination again. I did not suppose that such characters would be willing to go as secretaries, because I did not know your plan, otherwise I should not have mentioned Mr. Jenings to Mr. Gerry for one to Dr. Franklin. Your mastery of the language, and your indefatigability, would make you infinitely useful in any of these departments.
I rejoice that you produced my letter to the Count de Vergennes and his answer, before the choice, because it contained a testimony in favor of Mr. Lee, which was his due.1 I am very much affected at his recall, because I know his merit, and, therefore, I am glad I was not placed in his stead; for suspicions would have arisen, and reflections would have been cast upon me, as having favored his removal in order to make room, which I certainly did not. I am infinitely obliged to you for these letters, and for that received the post before last; but I really tremble for your health. Let me entreat you, for the sake of our country, to take care of it. If I was to apply myself, as you do, I should soon go to study politics in another sphere. Yet I am so selfish as to beg the continuance of your favors to me, and I pledge myself to you, I will not be in debt any more than may be made by the intrinsic difference in the value of the letters, which will be unavoidable.
Thank you for the extract from Mr. Izard’s letter. I am not a little surprised at its contents. It was written, I see, to his friend, and I suppose intended in confidence. I am fully persuaded he did not intend that the whole should have been laid before Congress.2 I utterly deny that I ever used to him any such language as the indecent paragraph that closes what he says about me. Indeed, that is manifestly his own inference, and in his own words, from what he says he had heard me say, and he draws the same from what Dr. Franklin and Mr. Deanc had said upon the same subject. I further deny that I ever threatened him with the displeasure of Congress, for writing his opinion concerning these articles to Congress, or for suggesting them to the commissioners. But to enter into all the conversations that have passed between Mr. Izard and me respecting those articles, and many other points, in order to give a full and fair representation of those conversations, would fill a small volume. Yet, there never was any angry or rude conversation between him and me, that I can recollect. I lived with him on good terms, visited him and he me, dined with his family, and his family with me, and I ever told him, and repeated it often, that I should be always obliged to him for his advice, opinions, and sentiments upon any American subject, and that I should always give it its due weight, although I did not think myself bound to follow it any further than it seemed to me to be just. As Congress have declined giving me the charges against me by their authority, and have, upon the whole, acquitted me with so much splendor, it would look like a littleness of soul in me to make myself anxious, or give them any further trouble about it. And as I have in general so good an opinion of Mr. Izard’s attachment to his country, and of his honor, I shall not think myself bound to take any further notice of this fruit of his inexperience in public life, this peevish ebullition of the rashness of his temper. I have written a few other observations to Mr. Gerry on the same subject. You and he will compare these with them for your private satisfaction, but be sure that they are not exposed where they will do harm to the public, to Mr. Izard, or me, unnecessarily.
If I should go abroad, cannot you lend me twenty or thirty complete sets of the journals? They are much wanted in Europe. A set of them is a genteel present, and perhaps would do me and the public more service than you are aware of. If Congress, or some committee, would order it, I should be very glad.
TO JAMES LOVELL.
Braintree, 25 October, 1779.
Mr. Joshua Johnson is a merchant, settled with his lady and family at Nantes. I was honored with many of his civilities in that city, and with a good deal of his conversation. He is a sensible, genteel man, has a good character, and, I believe, is as well qualified for the service you mention as any American now in Europe. His affections, sentiments, and acquaintances are supposed to be on a particular side; but I believe his conduct has been prudent and unexceptionable.
The French frigate would be as agreeable a conveyance for me as I wish. I should be very sorry to delay her. I do not expect to have much direct negotiation for some time; but I do expect a great deal of indirect, round-about, and very ridiculous manœuvring. If I go at all, I had rather go without delay, because I hate a state of suspense, and in my present situation I can engage in no other business, public or private. I was running fast into my old profession; but this will put a total stop to it, for, being uncertain when I shall go, I cannot undertake any man’s business and give him my word to go through with it.
If Dana should not go, you will find that Bancroft will be set up; but I think you would certainly carry it, and you may depend upon it, no man would make me happier. Dana, however, will accept. He spent yesterday with me, and I am persuaded he will go.
I will inform A. L. by the first opportunity. He cannot be delayed.1 He not only had power to borrow money, but has, I believe, considerable sums in his hands from Spain. Spain has sent him from time to time large sums, and she will continue to supply Mr. Jay, so that he will have no trouble. I shall be in a different predicament. You are mistaken about the English. There is no money to be got there; small sums may be borrowed in France or in Amsterdam. So that I wish to be furnished with full powers to borrow. But I beg one favor more, and that is for an order to draw, in case of necessity and in case other resources fail, on Dr. Franklin or on the banker of the United States, for a sum not exceeding my salary yearly, and also for a resolution of Congress, or a letter from the commercial committee, requesting the continental agents in Europe and America to furnish me aids and supplies of cash, &c., and to the captains of all American frigates to afford me a passage out or home upon demand, so as not to interfere with other orders they may have, however, or prevent their cruising, I to pay for my passage to Congress, or be accountable for it. Mr. Dana should have the same resolution of Congress, and letter from the commercial and marine committee, one from each for each of us, and perhaps the same to Mr. Jay and Mr. Carmichael. I hope I shall find the funds provided for me sufficient; but if I should not, I may be in the utmost distress, and bring upon myself and you disgrace. Franklin will supply me, and so will any agent in France, if they have a resolution of Congress, or even a letter from the commercial committee.
I do not know what indecencies you mean in my commission. I have looked it up, and have it before me. It is on a large sheet of paper, written very well, all in the handwriting of our much respected secretary, signed by President Laurens, sealed with his seal, and attested by the secretary. It is not upon vellum, nor parchment, it is true, and the paper is not the best, but I believe as good as any we had at that time. Upon the whole, I think it a very decent, respectable, and honorable commission. It was treated with great respect at Versailles, and I see no reason to object to it. Pray let me know what the question is about it.1
TO HENRY LAURENS.
Braintree, 25 October, 1779.
My dear Sir,—
Your favor of the 4th of this month gave me great pleasure; but I am afraid that you and some others of my friends felt more for me in the awkward situation you mention than I did for myself, though I cannot say that I was wholly insensible. I could not help laughing a little, at the figure I cut, to be sure. I could compare it to nothing but Shakspeare’s idea of Ariel, wedged by the waist in the middle of a rifted oak, for I was sufficiently sensible that it was owing to an unhappy division in Congress, and pains enough were taken to inform me, that one side were for sending me to Spain and the other to Holland, so that I was flattered to find that neither side had any decisive objection against trusting me, and that the apparent question was only where. But I assure you, that all my sprawling, wriggling, and brandishing my legs and arms in the air, like Ariel, never gave me half the pain, that the picture of Congress excited at that time in my imagination. When I saw a certain appeal to the people, that no animadversion was made on it, that you resigned, &c., Congress appeared to me to resemble a picture in the gallery of the Count de Vergennes, and I trembled for the union and safety of the States. The picture is of a coach, with four horses running down a steep mountain and rushing on to the middle of a very high bridge over a very large river. The foundations of the bridge give way, and the carriage, the horses, the timbers, stones, and all, in a chaos are falling through the air down to the water. The horror of the horses, the coachman, the footmen, the gentlemen and ladies in the carriage, are strongly painted in their countenances and gestures, as well as the sympathy and terror in those of persons at a distance in boats upon the river, and many others on the shore on each side of the river.
That I was sent without the least solicitation of mine, directly or indirectly, is certainly true; and I had such formidable ideas of the sea and of British men-of-war, such diffidence in my own qualifications to do service in that way, and such uncertainty of the reception I should meet, that I had little inclination to adventure. That I went against my interest is most undoubtedly so, for I never yet served the public without losing by it. I was not, however, as you suppose, kept unemployed. I had business enough to do, as I could easily convince you. There is a great field of business there, and I could easily show you that I did my share of it. There is so much to do, and so much difficulty to do it well, that I am rejoiced to find a gentleman of such abilities, principles, and activity, as Colonel Laurens undoubtedly is, without a compliment, appointed to assist in it.1 I most sincerely hope for his friendship, and an entire harmony with him, for which reason I should be very happy in his company in the passage, or in an interview with him as soon as possible in Europe. He will be in a delicate situation, but not so much so as I was; and plain sense, honest intentions, and common civility will, I think, be sufficient to secure him, and do much good.
Your kind compliments on my safe return and most honorable reëlection are very obliging. I have received no commission, nor instructions, nor any particular information of the plan; but from the advice and information from you and several other of my friends at Philadelphia and here, I shall make no hesitation to say, that, notwithstanding the delicacy and danger of this commission, I suppose I shall accept it without delay and trust events to Heaven, as I have been long used to do. It is a pain to me to be deprived of the pleasure of shaking hands with you at the foot of Penn’s hill, eleven miles from Boston, where lives a lady however, who desires me to present her best respects, and ask the favor of a visit when you come to Boston, that she may have an opportunity of seeing a gentleman whose unshaken constancy does so much honor and such essential service to his country.
The convulsions at Philadelphia are very affecting and alarming, but not entirely unexpected to me. The state of parties and the nature of their government have a long time given me disagreeable apprehensions. But I hope they will find some remedy. Methods will be found to feed the army, but I know of none to clothe it without convoys to trade, which Congress, I think, will do well to undertake, and persuade France and Spain to undertake, as soon as possible. Your packets for your friends in Europe will give me pleasure, and shall be forwarded with care and despatch.
TO ELBRIDGE GERRY.
Braintree, 4 November, 1779.
Yours of October 12th has been seven days by me. Am happy to learn my accounts and vouchers arrived safe by Mr. Lowell. I know not how the Board will explain the three months after notice of recall, as applied to me. If they were to allow three months after my arrival, it would be no more than just. Mr. Dana, I presume, will accept, and sail with me in a few days.
I am clear for three branches in the legislature, and the committee have reported as much, though awkwardly expressed. I have considered this question in every light in which my understanding is capable of placing it, and my opinion is decided in favor of three branches; and being very unexpectedly called upon to give my advice to my countrymen concerning a form of government, I could not answer it to myself, to them, or posterity, if I concealed or disguised my real sentiments.1 They have been received with candor, but perhaps will not be adopted. In such a State as this, however, I am persuaded we never shall have any stability, dignity, decision, or liberty without it. We have so many men of wealth, of ambitious spirits, of intrigue, of luxury and corruption, that incessant factions will disturb our peace without it, and, indeed, there is too much reason to fear, with it. The executive, which ought to be the reservoir of wisdom, as the legislative is of liberty, without this weapon of defence,2 will be run down like a hare before the hunters. But I have not time to enlarge.
I am more solicitous about the means of procuring the salary you mention than the sum of it. I can make it do, if I can get it. But I wish I had power to borrow money, and also power to draw upon Dr. Franklin, or the American banker, in case of necessity. I should get it in that way. Mr. Jay will have no difficulty, for Spain will undoubtedly furnish him, as they did Mr. Lee, who, I believe, but am not certain, has some Spanish money remaining in his hands. I know not how much, and may be mistaken in supposing he has any.
You think my appointment ought not to be divulged; but it was public in Boston and in every body’s mouth upon ’Change, before I heard a lisp of it. If it is generally approved, I am happy. Happy and blessed indeed shall I be, if I can accomplish my errand, and give general satisfaction in the end!
Let me beseech you, by every feeling of friendship as well as patriotism, to continue your favors, and transmit me the journals, newspapers, pamphlets, as well as your advice, from time to time. My importance in that country will depend much upon the intelligence that shall be sent me by my friends, more than you can imagine. If you intend I shall do you any good, keep me constantly informed of every thing; the numbers and destinations of the army, the state of finance, the temper of the people, military operations; the state and the prospects of the harvests, the prices of goods, the price of bills of exchange, the rate between silver and paper. Nothing can come amiss. The growth or decline of the navy, the spirit and success of privateers, the number of prizes, the number, position, exertions, and designs of the enemy.
Your election comes on this month, and it is sure. I wish i was as sure of getting safe to France.
God bless you!
TO BENJAMIN RUSH.
Braintree, 4 November, 1779.
Your favors of October 12th and 19th are before me. I should not have left the first unanswered seven days, if it had not been for my new trade of a Constitution monger. I inclose a pamphlet as my apology. It is only a report of a committee, and will be greatly altered, no doubt. If the committee had boldly made the legislature consist of three branches, I should have been better pleased. But I cannot enlarge upon this subject.
I am pained in my inmost soul at the unhappy affair at Colonel Wilson’s house. I think there ought to be an article in the declaration of rights of every State, securing freedom of speech, impartiality, and independence at the bar. There is nothing on which the rights of every member of society more depend. There is no man so bad but he ought to have a fair trial, and an equal chance to obtain the ablest counsel, or the advocate of his choice, to see that he has fair play, and the benefit of truth and law.
Do not be discouraged, you will yet find liberty a charming substance. I wish I had Leonidas.1 Cannot you send it after me? Thank you for your congratulations on my new and most honorable appointment; honorable indeed, if it is possible for mortals to honor mortals. I am honored with an honor, however, that makes me tremble. Pray help me, by corresponding constantly with me, and sending me all the pamphlets, journals, news, &c., to a little success as well as honor.
Your congratulations on the Count d’Estaing’s operations are conceived in terms flattering enough. I will please myself with the thought that I had some share in bringing him here. If he only liberates Georgia and Rhode Island, which is already done, it is a great success; but I promise you, although I go to make peace, yet, if the old lady Britannia will not let me do that, I will do all I can in character to sustain the war, and direct it in a sure course. I must be prudent in this, however, which I fear is not enough my characteristic; but I flatter myself I am rather growing in this grace. And in this spirit I think, that although we have had provocations enough to excite the warmest passions against Great Britain, yet it is both our duty to silence all resentments in our deliberations about peace, and attend only to our interests and our engagements with our allies.
Nothing ever gives me so much pleasure as to hear of harmony in Congress. Upon this depend our union, strength, prosperity, and glory. If the late appointments give satisfaction, I am happy, and if the liberties and independence of our country are not safe in my hands, you may swear it is for want of brains and not of heart. The appointment of Mr. Dana could not be mended. He will go, and I shall be happy. You have given me pain by your account of the complaints against the director.1 I am sorry, very sorry!
What will you say, if I should turn your thoughts from politics to philosophy? What do you think of Dr. Franklin’s theory of colds? He is fixed in the opinion that we never take cold from the cold air, and wants the experiments of Sanctorius tried over again. Suppose you should make a statical chair, and try whether perspiration is most copious in a warm bed, or stark naked in the open air. I assure you, these branches of physics come within the circle of the sciences of the statesman; for an unlucky cold, which I have been much subject to all my days, may stop him in his career, and dash all his schemes; and it is a poor excuse to say he foresaw and provided against every event but his own sickness.
My partner, whose tender health and numerous family will not permit her to make me as happy as Mr. Jay, joins with me in the kindest compliments to you and Mrs. Rush. Adieu!
[1 ]Arthur Lee. The Address referred to is Silas Deane’s.
[2 ]Ralph Izard.
[1 ]Silas Deane’s. See vol. iii. p. 191.
[1 ]Gérard, the French minister.
[1 ]In what purports to be a duplicate of this letter, Mr. Lovell makes many variations. The following occurs here:
[1 ]See vol. iii. p. 48, note.
[2 ]The version of the duplicate is more to the point. Mr. L. says:
[3 ]The 4th article, reported by the committee of thirteen, upon which the question arose, is in the following words:
[1 ]Confirmation never came.
[2 ]Vol. vii. pp. 99-110.
[1 ]Mr. Gerry was yet unmarried.
[2 ]Vol. vii. p. 3, note.
[1 ]See the Journal of Congress for 1779, pp. 29, 149, 150, 157-167, 179, 246-251.
[1 ]Secret Journals, vol. ii. pp. 130-145, 149-167, 173-189, 201-210. An abstract of these proceedings is to be found in the valuable report lately made for the Treasury Department, by Mr. Sabine, on the American fisheries, pp. 149-151.
[2 ]According to the secret journal, Mr. Gerry seconded this motion.
[3 ]This was presented in the shape of an amendment to the original motion.
[1 ]John Dickinson.
[2 ]These ballots are not given in the journal.
[1 ]Dickinson. The allusion is to Mr. Adams’s intercepted letter, vol. ii. p. 411, note.
[2 ]See page 481.
[2 ]James Lovell.
[3 ]Mr. Folsom, representing New Hampshire; Messrs. Gerry, Lovell, and Dana, for Massachusetts; Mr. Ellery, for Rhode Island; Messrs. Dyer, Law, and Williams, for Connecticut; Messrs. Morris, Roberdeau, and Clingan, for Pennsylvania; Messrs. R. H. and F. L. Lee and Harvie, three of four from Virginia. Mr. Laurens’s name is marked, but at the foot of the page is the following:
[1 ]S. Adams and James Lovell voted in favor of the motion, for reasons heretofore explained. See page 482 of this volume, and the note.
[* ]I am informed, and I think from the best authority, that a resignation of Mr. Lee’s, conceived in terms that would do honor to any man on earth, has been in the hands of a friend of his in Congress, and suppressed two months, by which means he has been prevented from avoiding a supersedure. Note by Mr. Gerry.
[1 ]This alludes to the “Fort Wilson riot,” a full account of which is given in Reed’s Life of Reed, vol. ii. pp. 149-152, and in the Appendix.
[1 ]See vol. vii. pp. 79, 80.
[2 ]See the Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, vol. ii. p. 434.
[1 ]Mr. Lovell had written thus:—
[1 ]Mr. Lovell’s style is always enigmatical, and indicative of his eccentric mind. The following is the passage alluded to:—
[1 ]Colonel John Laurens had been made Secretary to the minister plenipotentiary in France.
[1 ]This allusion is to the speech made soon after the opening of the convention of Massachusetts, by Mr. Adams, and spoken of by Dr. Gordon and Judge Dawes, but no trace of which is preserved. See vol. iv. p. 216, note.
[2 ]A negative upon the laws. See vol. iv. p. 231, note.
[1 ]An article signed with this name, written by Dr. Rush, and published in Dunlap’s paper at Philadelphia.
[1 ]Of the Hospitals. The allusion is to Dr. Shippen, and to the difficulties that took place between him and Dr. Morgan.