Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JAMES LLOYD. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes)
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TO JAMES LLOYD. - 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 JAMES LLOYD.
Quincy, 6 February, 1815.
In my first letter I requested the favor of you to recollect and consider the positive and relative state of this nation, at the time when my “missions to France” were instituted. I now request you to look over the list of senators and representatives in Congress at that time, and then tell me whether you think that the war party had influence enough in this nation to carry on a long war with France. If you should be at a loss concerning the influence of any individual of either party in either house, I promise you I will decompose the character of that individual as a chemist analyzes a mushroom. And then you shall judge for yourself whether the war party had power to maintain a war against France or not.
I affirm that they had not; and nothing but that ignorance of the nation, of which you and I are so sensible, could ever have deluded them into such a confidence in their own power, and such a vain conceit of their own importance, as they then exhibited.
I think, Sir, that in the fair field of controversy, I have a right to request of you a frank and candid declaration of your opinion, whether that party had or had not power to support a war with France for any considerable time, and for what length of time.
But supposing, for argument’s sake, what I peremptorily deny, that they could have continued war and maintained their superiority at the then approaching election; supposing, the strongest case that can be imagined, that the President of 1801 had been as absolute as Louis XIV., or Napoleon, able to command by conscriptions the whole population of the United States, for what end or object should the war have been continued? Cui bono? What profit? What loss? Losses enough. Taxes enough. If three or five millions could not be borrowed under an interest of eight per cent., you may easily conjecture how soon we should have seen as glorious a bankruptcy as we now feel. The French had no commerce to enrich our privateers, though they had privateers to enrich themselves upon our commerce. They had no territories accessible to our land forces, to tempt us with prospects of conquests. Were our hopes of aggrandizement in South America or in St. Domingo?
Let me repeat to you once more, Sir, the faction was dizzy. Their brains turned round. They knew not, they saw not the precipice on which they stood.
In my last I observed, that all the old supporters of the Constitution and of Washington’s administration, had foreseen the evil and hid themselves. I forbore to mention one of more importance than any of the rest, indeed of almost as much weight as all the rest. I mean Mr. Jay. That gentleman had as much influence in the preparatory measures, in digesting the Constitution, and in obtaining its adoption, as any man in the nation. His known familiarity with Madison and Hamilton, his connection with them in writing the Federalist, and his then connection with all the members of the old Congress, had given to those writings more consideration than both the other writers could have given them. But Mr. Jay, wearied with labors and disgusted by injuries, had retired and refused all further concern in the government.
To despatch all in a few words, a civil war was expected. The party committed suicide; they killed themselves and the national President (not their President) at one shot, and then, as foolishly as maliciously, indicted me for the murder. My own “missions to France,” which you call the “great shade in my Presidential escutcheon,” I esteem the most splendid diamond in my crown; or, if any one thinks this expression too monarchical. I will say the most brilliant feather in my cap. To such an extent do we differ in opinion. I have always known that my missions to France were my error, heresy, and great offence in the judgment, prejudices, predilections, and passions of a small party in every State; but no gentleman in the fifteen years past has ever publicly assailed those missions till your letter to Mr. Randolph. A few years ago, a scurrilous scribbler in Baltimore, as I suppose, one of those vagabonds, fugitives from a halter, a pillory or a bailiff, in Great Britain or Ireland, threw out his billingsgate upon me and my missions to France. I published what I thought a vindication of my missions to France. Mr. Pickering accused me, as I remember, of writing a hundred pages in justification of them. Those hundred pages I am afraid you have never read. If you had, I am confident you would not at this day have assailed my administration on that quarter. I have a right to ask you candidly, whether you have read it or not. If you have, I shall wonder at your censure of my “missions”; if you have not, I shall wonder less.
Mr. Randolph, in his letter to you, says: “The artillery of the press has long been the instrument of our subjugation.” Such a confession I never expected to see from such a penitent. And which were the presses that formed the fortresses? And who were the engineers that directed this artillery? Mr. Randolph’s own dear friends, Ned Church, Philip Freneau, Peter Markoe, Andrew Brown, James Duane, Greenleaf, Dennison, Cheetham, Tom Paine, Stephens Thompson Mason, Callender, Wood, the classical author, who wrote the history of the administration of John Adams, in two large octavo volumes, and last, not least, Benjamin Austin and his Old South, not to mention his own dear Cooper, Matthew Lyon, Parson Ogden, Parson Austin, or Christopher Macpherson. I believe, Sir, you understand little of this fatras, but you must understand it all, and much more which may be hereafter explained, before you can judge “avec connaissance de cause,” of the merit and demerit of my “missions to France.”
We differ so widely upon this important point, that I feel an ardent zeal to make a proselyte of you to my faith, and I do not despair of it.