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, 12 March, 1815.
I am infinitely obliged to you for your letter of March 8th. From 1758 to 1775, I practised at the bar, and, suffering under ill health, I rode the circuits of the province more than any other lawyer in the States, and this more for exercise and the recovery of my health than for any profit I made by these excursions; for I could have made more in my office at home. I practised considerably in the county of Essex, and became somewhat intimately acquainted with King, Hooper, and Colonel Lee, of Marblehead, and my uncle, Isaac Smith, of Boston, the three greatest employers of fishermen and greatest exporters of fish in the county of Essex. I also attended the courts in the counties of Plymouth and Barnstable, made one tour of a fortnight, to Martha’s Vineyard, and, in short, became much acquainted with merchants, sea-captains, and even sailors employed in the fisheries of whale, cod, salmon, seals, and mackerel, in Nantucket, the Vineyard, and Cape Cod. I had argued many causes, both in Essex and on the Cape, in which the fisheries of all descriptions were explained. I saw the value of them to New England. When the conferences opened at Paris, in 1782, I thought myself tolerably well informed on the subject of the fisheries, and accordingly represented to my colleagues and the British agents our right to them, our constant possession of them, our proximity to them, our discovery and defence of them, and, above all, their essential importance to us in every branch of our commerce with Europe, the West Indies, the southern States, &c. In short, they were our only staple commodity. These representations, however, made not all the impression I desired. I was thought to be too zealous, sanguine, and ardent. Even my own colleagues seemed to think I greatly exaggerated the value and importance of all the fisheries, especially those on the coasts of Labrador, in the gulf of St. Lawrence, &c., &c. The Comte de Vergennes, too, appeared more eager to cheat us out of them even than the English. And the Comte had more influence with one of my colleagues than I had. And both of them thought peace, and the acknowledgment of our independence, much more essential than the fisheries. Determined never to consent to peace, nor to set my hand to any treaty without an explicit acknowledgment of our right to them all, and hearing of the arrival in Holland of some of our Nantucket sea-captains, Coffins, Folgers, and Rotches, I wrote to them, stating all the questions relative to the subject, and received very prompt and obliging answers, containing ample details, not only of the course and practice of all the fisheries, but of their great value and indispensable necessity to New England, and especially to Massachusetts. These letters I communicated immediately to my colleagues, as well as to our opponents, but I never could obtain from either of the former his consent to make the fisheries a sine qua non, an ultimatum, nor from the latter the least appearance of relaxation, till the last moment, when Mr. Laurens, who joined us for the first time on the last evening of the conferences, united with me in the explicit and decided declaration, that we never would sign the treaty, without the article securing to us the fisheries. There were but four of us, Adams, Franklin, Jay, and Laurens (Jefferson never dared to cross the Atlantic before the peace); two against two could make no treaty. Peace was indispensable for Great Britain; France, Spain, Holland, armed neutrality, desolation of commerce, manufactures, and consequently agriculture, revenue, scarcity of seamen, &c., &c., all conspired to produce despair in England and exultation in France and Spain; Lord George Gordon’s rebellion, too. In such a moment, Oswald, Whitefoord, Fitzherbert, and, I believe, Strachy too, after long and tedious deliberation among themselves, in a separate apartment, came to us, and announced their consent to the article relative to the fisheries, which was the only article which had not been settled long before.1
Upon such terms did we live with Great Britain then, and upon such terms do we live with her now; and upon such terms shall we live, till we have a naval power capable of protecting her as well as ourselves. I wish I could amalgamate oil and water; I wish I could reconcile the interests, passions, prejudices, and even the caprices of Britons and Americans. But I have despaired of it more than sixty years, and despair of it still. Ratio ultima Rerum-publicarum must ultimately decide.
Wounds, deadly wounds have been inflicted on both sides. Contempt and disgrace never can be forgotten by human nature, and hardly, very hardly forgiven by the sincerest and devoutest Christianity.
Your letter has suggested every thing on both sides of the great question. It shall not be lost to your country, nor to yourself. Posterity, at least, will give you credit. This is cold comfort, I know by experience; but you will have neighbor’s fare.
[1 ] See the full account of this, written at the time, in the Diary. Vol. iii. pp. 333-335. The only difference among the American commissioners seems to have been upon making the admission of the right a sine qua non in the treaty.