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TO WILLIAM CRANCH. - 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 WILLIAM CRANCH.
Quincy, 3 March, 1815.
Our fisheries have not been abandoned. They cannot be abandoned. They shall not be abandoned. We hold them by no grant, gift, bargain, sale, or last will and testament, nor by hereditary descent from Great Britain. We hold them in truth, not as kings and priests claim their rights and power, by hypocrisy and craft, but from God and our own swords.
1. The author of nature and common father of mankind has made his ocean free and common to all his human children. We have, therefore, as clear a moral and divine right to the fisheries, at least as the English, Scotch, Irish, or any other people.
2. We have all the rights and liberties of Englishmen in the fisheries, in as full and ample a manner as we had before the revolution; we have never forfeited, surrendered, alienated, or lost any one punctilio of those rights or liberties. On the contrary, we compelled the British nation to acknowledge them, in the most solemn manner, before God and the world, in the treaty of peace of 1783.
3. We have a stronger, clearer, and more perfect right than the Britons or any other nation of Europe, or on the globe, for they were all indebted to us and our ancestors for all these fisheries. We discovered them. We explored them. We discovered and settled the countries round about them, at our own expense, labor, risk, and industry, without assistance from Britain. We have possessed, occupied, exercised, and practised them from the beginning. We have done more towards exploring the best fishing grounds and stations, and all the bays, harbors, inlets, creeks, rivers, shores, and coasts, where fish of all sorts were to be found, and discovered, by experiments, the best means and methods of curing, preserving, drying, and perfecting the commodity, as well as extending and improving the commerce in it, than all the Britons and all the rest of Europe.
4. If conquest can confer any right, our right is at least equal and common with Englishmen in any part of the world. Indeed, it is incomparably superior, for we conquered all the countries round about the fisheries. We conquered Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and dispossessed the French, both hostile and neutral. We did more, in proportion, towards the conquest of Canada than any other portion of the British empire, and could, and would, and should have done the whole at an easier expense to ourselves, both of men and money, if the British government would have permitted that union of the colonies, which we projected, planned, earnestly desired, and humbly petitioned in 1754. In short, we have done more, in proportion, than any other part of the British empire towards protecting and defending all these fisheries against the French. For all these reasons, if there is a people under heaven who could advance a color of a pretension to any exclusive privileges, or any rights of one nation more than another in the fisheries, that people are the inhabitants of the United States of America, and especially of New England. But we set up no such partial claims. We demand only those equal rights and privileges that we have always held, possessed, and enjoyed. These we assert, and these we will have. They are of more importance to us than to any other nation. It would be illnatured in the English to deprive us of them, if they had the power, which they have not. There is room enough, and fish enough, for both nations.
As you are famous for indefatigable research, I wish you would ransack all the books and all the rules for the construction of treaties, and concerning the dissolution and renovation of treaties, to show that the article in the treaty of 1783 is still in force. I say, as it is an acknowledgment only of an antecedent right, it is of eternal obligation.