Front Page Titles (by Subject) 11 Mar. 1801: CHRISTOPHER GADSDEN TO JOHN ADAMS. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 9 (Letters and State Papers 1799-1811)
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11 Mar. 1801: CHRISTOPHER GADSDEN TO JOHN ADAMS. - 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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CHRISTOPHER GADSDEN TO JOHN ADAMS.
Charleston, 11 March, 1801.
For five or six years past, at least, very rarely have I been seen from home, (or wished to be,) excepting at church or funerals; but my duty to my country and to our old standbys, though now in my seventy-eighth, compelled me in our late election to take up my feeble pen again, at least to show my good will and inclination; and though many able hands were not wanting, yet sorry am I to say, all our efforts failed.
Many well-earned honors have the United States conferred on you. Had they added one more, a second invitation to the Presidency, it would have been not only what your long, faithful, important, and useful services might have reasonably expected, as a public acknowledgment and concurrence with all the world in your able and successful discharge of your first appointment, and of all your many other important trusts, but also what, in my humble opinion, sound policy seemed to dictate. God grant that the recollection of your ungrateful treatment may not deter truly firm, virtuous men from venturing their names to be held up to the public on such elections! I am not without my suspicions, that foreign meddlers must have had this deep political slyness in view.
Many of our new-comers cajoled and imposed upon by emissaries from without, and egged on by a numerous or rather innumerable tribe of young law-followers amongst ourselves, especially in the circuits, have brought on a strange renversement in our State. Our old-standers and independent men of long well-tried patriotism, sound understanding, and good property, have now in general very little influence in our public matters. Our too easy admittance of strangers has entangled us in this evil, and when or where it will end, God only knows!
But here, my dear Sir, I must confess my own credulity and shortsightedness, who was amongst the most zealous in that over-hasty and not sufficiently guarded step, which we now have great reason to lament as big with innumerable mischiefs. Our worthy deceased friend John Rutledge, looking farther, was for giving them every reasonable protection and encouragement, but for admitting only their sons born amongst us into such complete citizenship as to vote either at State or Congress elections; and when unsuccessful in this point, was then for extending the time to ten years at least. Had even this been carried, it would have given new-comers full time to look so deliberately about them, as greatly to have deterred and hindered all designing tamperers and deceivers in most of their infernal views and mischievous suggestions; and much better, in all probability, would this have been for the peace, safety, and lasting political security of both.
You must have heard of and admired the open, honorable behavior of General Pinckney in our State election; that he would listen to no proposals of composition whatever, but persisted, from first to last, to stand or fall with you. I know you cannot want any consolation in this matter beyond your own breast. The firm, well-grounded complacency there, is, I am sure, amply sufficient to dispense with any thing exterior.
Long have I been led to think our planet a mere bedlam, and the uncommonly extravagant ravings of our own times, especially for a few years past, and still in the highest rant, have greatly increased and confirmed that opinion. Look round our whirling globe, my friend, where you will, east, west, north, or south, where is the spot in which are not many thousands of these mad lunatics? But not a few strong symptoms seem now loudly to proclaim that this terrible, catching epidemic cannot be far from its crisis; and when arrived there, our all knowing, unerring Physician, always mercifully producing good from evil, and setting to rights the mad, destructive freaks of mortals, will, it is to be hoped, in the present forlorn distresses interfere, and give such a favorable turn to the crisis, as to make this bedlam-commitment end in the cure of all its miserable captives. More and more happy, I bless God, do I every day feel myself to find that my passage over this life’s Atlantic is almost gained, having been in soundings for some time, not far from my wished-for port, waiting only for a favorable breeze from our kind Savior to waft me to that pleasing and expected land for which I cheerfully and humbly hope.
Since our country will have it so, that Mr. Jefferson may discharge his four years’ duty with as much faithfulness and steadiness as you have done, and as much to the public benefit; that in so doing he may have the constitutional assistance and countenance of every citizen of the Union; and that his public actions may be judged of with candor and generosity, without any captious hole-picking; and above all, that every tendency to our reharmonizing and keeping so may be cordially embraced and zealously forwarded by all ranks, and happily effected, is the constant, sincere, and heartfelt prayer of him who is with great respect and affection, dear Sir,
Your most obedient, &c.,
TO SAMUEL DEXTER.
Quincy, 23 March, 1801.
I left Washington on the 4th, and arrived at Quincy on the 18th, having trotted the bogs five hundred miles. I found about a hundred loads of sea-weed in my barnyard, and, recollecting Horace’s
“Et genus et virtus, nisi cum re, vilior alga est,”
I thought I had made a good exchange, if Ulysses is an orthodox authority in this case, which I do not believe, of honors and virtues for manure. I have more reason than Ulysses to inquire of Tiresias, or some other prophet,
I shall not, however, most certainly take the measures recommended by Tiresias. The fifth and sixth satires of the second book of Horace have much good matter applicable to me. If you will read them, it will save me the trouble of writing, and you of reading much which I might commit to paper concerning myself.
All is still as night in this region. My respects to the President, and compliments to Messrs. Madison, Lincoln, Dearborn, and love to Mr. Stoddert. Pray Mrs. Dexter to accept the kind regards of my family, and you will do me a favor by letting me hear of your welfare.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Quincy, 24 March, 1801.
I have received your favor of March 8th, with the letter inclosed, for which I thank you.1 Inclosed is a letter to one of your domestics, Joseph Dougherty.
Had you read the papers inclosed, they might have given you a moment of melancholy, or, at least, of sympathy with a mourning father. They related wholly to the funeral of a son, who was once the delight of my eyes, and a darling of my heart, cut off in the flower of his days, amidst very flattering prospects, by causes which have been the greatest grief of my heart, and the deepest affliction of my life. It is not possible that any thing of the kind should happen to you, and I sincerely wish you may never experience any thing in any degree resembling it.
This part of the Union is in a state of perfect tranquillity, and I see nothing to obscure your prospect of a quiet and prosperous administration, which I heartily wish you.
With great respect, &c.
TO BENJAMIN STODDERT.
Quincy, 31 March, 1801.
On the evening of the 18th, a few minutes after my arrival at this place, commenced a violent equinoctial gale of wind, accompanied with a flood of rain, from the north-east, which has continued, with very short intervals, to this day, and confined me to my house. This is so old fashioned a storm, that I begin to hope that nature is returning to her old good-nature and good-humor, and is substituting fermentations in the elements for revolutions in the moral, intellectual, and political world. I can give you no information of the politics of this State, having had little opportunity to converse with any of the knowing ones.
We know nothing with any certainty of the acts of our Executive at Washington; who are to go out, and who to come in; whether the Virginia system is to be a copy of that of Pennsylvania, or whether it will be original. Appointments of Mr. Dallas and Mr. Dawson are announced, and as these characters are not held in great veneration here, they are not much admired. We federalists are much in the situation of the party of Bolingbroke and Harley, after the treaty of Utrecht, completely and totally routed and defeated. We are not yet attainted by act of Congress, and, I hope, shall not fly out into rebellion. No party, that ever existed, knew itself so little, or so vainly overrated its own influence and popularity, as ours. None ever understood so ill the causes of its own power, or so wantonly destroyed them. If we had been blessed with common sense, we should not have been overthrown by Philip Freneau, Duane, Callender, Cooper, and Lyon, or their great patron and protector. A group of foreign liars, encouraged by a few ambitious native gentlemen, have discomfited the education, the talents, the virtues, and the property of the country. The reason is, we have no Americans in America. The federalists have been no more Americans than the anties.
Your time is too precious to be wasted in idle correspondences; but, if you have a moment to spare, you will oblige me by giving me news of your welfare. My family present their high regards to yours. I have not seen any of the attacks upon you, nor any of your defence. Indeed, I have no great anxiety or curiosity to know the productions of malevolence. I am, and ever shall be, I believe, world without end, your friend, &c.
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
Quincy, 6 April, 1801.
I have received from Mr. Pichon your favor of the 10th of January, and, while I feel my obligations to you for your kind remembrance of me, I very heartily rejoice with you in your return to your native country. The new superintendent of the commercial relations between France and the United States, will, I presume, be very well received here, and the better by most men for the part he acted in Holland, in promoting the late negotiation.
“I live” also “with my family in a rural, solitary place of retirement,” after an uninterrupted toil of six-and-twenty years in the service of the public. Like you, also, “I preserve the love, the doctrines, and the independence of true liberty.” It is a lamentable truth, that mankind has always been ill treated by government, and a most unfortunate circumstance, which renders the evil totally desperate, is, that they are never so ill used as when they take the government into their own hands. The doctrines of sans-culotteism are productive of more plagues than those of Sir Robert Filmer, while they last.
I am glad you are on good terms with your principal deliverer from Olmutz, who did honor to his own head and heart by his wise and generous conduct upon that occasion. How extraordinary that character! Is it not unique? As it has been my fortune to conduct a negotiation with him, I may, without offence, wish him a greater glory than ever yet fell to the lot of any conqueror before him, that of giving peace to Europe, and liberty and good government to France.
Your country by adoption has grown and prospered since you saw it. You would scarcely know it, if you should make it a visit. It would be a great pleasure to the farmer of Stony field to take you by the hand in his little chaumière.
Mrs. Adams, who is all the family I have, joins me in respectful attachment to you and your lady and family. With great regard, &c.
TO CHRISTOPHER GADSDEN.
Quincy, 16 April, 1801.
I have received your favor of the 11th of March, and, with a pleasure far exceeding all my powers of expression, perceive that your friendly sentiments for me are as kind and indulgent as they were six-and-twenty years ago. I read with the same satisfaction your publication last fall, and with a tenderness which was almost too much for my sensibility. While Wythe and Pendleton, and McKean, and Clinton, and Gates, and Osgood, and many others I could name, were arrayed in political hostility against their old friend, Gadsden was almost the only stanch old companion, who was faithful found. What is the reason that so many of our “old standbys” are infected with Jacobinism? The principles of this infernal tribe were surely no part of our ancient political creed.
“Foreign meddlers,” as you properly denominate them, have a strange, a mysterious influence in this country. Is there no pride in American bosoms? Can their hearts endure that Callender, Duane, Cooper, and Lyon, should be the most influential men in the country, all foreigners and all degraded characters? It is astonishing to me that the “tribes of law-followers” should adopt principles subversive of all law, should unite with the ignorant and illiberal against men of understanding and property. The plan of our worthy friend, John Rutledge, relative to the admission of strangers to the privileges of citizens, as you explain it, was certainly prudent. Americans will find that their own experience will coincide with the experience of all other nations, and foreigners must be received with caution, or they will destroy all confidence in government.
I have been well informed of the frank, candid, and honorable conduct of General Pinckney at your State election, which was conformable to the whole tenor of his conduct through life, as far as it has come to my knowledge.
The only consolation I shall want will be that of employment. Ennui, when it rains on a man in large drops, is worse than one of our north-east storms; but the labors of agriculture and amusement of letters will shelter me. My greatest grief is that I cannot return to the bar. There I should forget in a moment that I was ever a member of Congress, a foreign minister, or President of the United States. But I cannot speak.
I concur with you so fully in sentiment, that I very much doubt whether in any period of the world so much ever happened in a dozen years to mortify the vanity of human nature, and to render existence odious to man. I know of no philosophy or religion but yours, which can reconcile man to life. I should envy you the felicity of your prospect, if I had not the same in substance in my own view. I am approaching sixty-five, and what are ten or eleven years after that age? I shall arrive soon after you, and it is my sincere, devout wish, that we may be better acquainted, and never separated, in our new country.
To Mr. Jefferson’s administration I wish prosperity and felicity; but the commencement of it is too strongly infected with the spirit of party, to give much encouragement to men who are merely national.
Accept, my dear Sir, a repetition of assurances of a warm affection, a sincere friendship, and a high esteem.
[1 ]“Th. Jefferson presents his respects to Mr. Adams, and incloses him a letter which came to his hands last night. On reading what is written within the cover, he concluded it to be a private letter, and without opening a single paper within it, he folded it up, and now has the honor to inclose it to Mr. Adams, with the homage of his high consideration and respect.” Washington, 8 March, 1801.