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TO THOMAS JEFFERSON. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes) 
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. 10.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Quincy, 30 June, 1813.
Before I proceed to the order of the day, which is “the terrorism of a former day,” I beg leave to correct an idea that some readers may infer from an expression in one of your letters. No sentiment or expression in any of my answers to addresses was obtruded or insinuated by any person about me. Every one of them was written with my own hand. I alone am responsible for all the mistakes and errors in them. To have called council to deliberate on such a mass of—would have taken all the time, and the business of the State have been suspended. It is true, I was sufficiently plagued by P’s and T’s, and S’s. These, however, were puppets danced upon the wires of two jugglers behind the scene; and these jugglers were Hamilton and Washington. How you stare at the name of Washington! But to return, for the present, to “the sensations excited in free yet firm minds by the terrorism of the day.” You say, “none can conceive them who did not witness them, and they were felt by one party only.”1
Upon this subject I despair of making myself understood by posterity, by the present age, and even by you. To collect and arrange the documents illustrative of it, would require as many lives as a cat. You never felt the terrorism of Shays’s rebellion in Massachusetts. I believe you never felt the terrorism of Mr. Gallatin’s insurrection in Pennsylvania. You certainly never realized the terrorism of Fries’s most outrageous riot and rescue, as I call it,—treason, rebellion, as the world and great judges and two juries pronounced it. You certainly never felt the terrorism excited by Genet, in 1793, when ten thousand people in the streets of Philadelphia, day after day, threatened to drag Washington out of his house, and effect a revolution in the government, or compel it to declare war in favor of the French revolution and against England. The coolest and the firmest minds, even among the Quakers in Philadelphia, have given their opinions to me, that nothing but the yellow fever, which removed Dr. Hutchinson and Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant from this world, could have saved the United States from a fatal revolution of government. I have no doubt you were fast asleep, in philosophical tranquillity, when ten thousand people, and, perhaps, many more, were parading the streets of Philadelphia on the evening of my Fast Day; when even Governor Mifflin himself thought it his duty to order a patrol of horse and foot to preserve the peace; when Market street was as full as men could stand by one another, and, even before my door; when some of my domestics, in frenzy, determined to sacrifice their lives in my defence; when all were ready to make a desperate sally among the multitude, and others were, with difficulty and danger, dragged back by the rest; when I, myself, judged it prudent and necessary to order chests of arms from the war-office to be brought through by-lanes and back-doors, determined to defend my house at the expense of my life and the lives of the few, very few domestics and friends within it. What think you of terrorism, Mr. Jefferson? I shall investigate the causes, the motives, the incentives to these terrorisms. Shall I remind you of Philip Freneau, of Lloyd, of Ned Church, of Peter Markoe, of Andrew Brown, of Duane, of Callender, of Tom Paine, of Greenleaf, of Cheetham, of Jennison at New York, of Benjamin Austin at Boston? But, above all, shall I request you to collect the circular letters from members of Congress, in the middle and southern States, to their constituents? I would give all I am worth for a complete collection of those letters. Please to recollect Edward Livingston’s motions and speeches, and those of his associates, in the case of Jonathan Robbins.
The real terrors of both parties have always been, and now are, the fear that they shall lose the elections, and, consequently, the loaves and fishes, and that their antagonists will get them. Both parties have excited artificial terrorism, and, if I were summoned as a witness to say, upon oath, which party had excited1 the most terror, and which had really felt the most, I could not give a more sincere answer than in the vulgar style, “put them in a bag and shake them, and then see which will come out first.”
Where is the terrorism now, my friend? There is now more real terrorism in New England than there ever was in Virginia, the terror of a civil war à la Vendée, a division of the States, &c., &c., &c. How shall we conjure down this damnable rivalry between Virginia and Massachusetts? Virginia had recourse to Pennsylvania and New York. Massachusetts has now recourse to New York. They have almost got New Jersey and Maryland, and they are aiming at Pennsylvania. And all this in the midst of a war with England, when all Europe is in flames!
I will give you a hint or two more on the subject of terrorism. When John Randolph, in the House, and Stephens Thompson Mason, in the Senate, were treating me with the utmost contempt; when Ned Livingston was threatening me with impeachment for the murder of Jonathan Robbins, the native of Danvers in Connecticut; when I had certain information that the daily language in the insurance office in Boston was, even from the mouth of Charles Jarvis, “We must go to Philadelphia and drag that John Adams from his chair,” I thank God that terror never seized on my mind. But I have had more excitements to it, from 1761 to this day, than any other man. Name the other, if you can. I have been disgraced and degraded, and I have a right to complain. But, as I have always expected it, I have always submitted to it, perhaps with too much tameness.
The amount of all the speeches of John Randolph, in the House, for two or three years, is that himself and myself are the only two honest and consistent men in the United States; himself eternally in opposition to government, and myself as constantly in favor of it. He is now in correspondence with his friend Quincy. What will come of it, let Virginia and Massachusetts judge. In my next, you may find something upon correspondences, whig and tory, federal and democratic, Virginian and Novanglian, English and French, Jacobin and despotic. Meantime, &c.
[1 ] See the whole letter of Mr. Jefferson in Mr. Randolph’s collection, vol. iv. p. 193.
[1 ] One or two words not legible in the copy.