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, 27 March, 1815.
Let me put a case like a lawyer. Suppose Samuel Adams, John Dickinson, Patrick Henry, and Christopher Gadsden, had been enterprising and romantic enough in 1773 to go to France, and propose to the Duc de Choiseul a triple alliance between the crowns of France and Spain and the United, or to be United, States of North America. What would the duke have said? “Gentlemen, show me your full powers! Whom do you represent?” “Oh!” say the American patriots, “the people are uneasy, ardent to throw off the yoke of Great Britain. A few ships of the line and a few thousand men from France and Spain will unite all North America; they will instantly rise, renounce Great Britain, become independent, and enter into an eternal alliance, offensive and defensive, with France and Spain.” What would the duke have said? “Gentlemen, this is a deep, dangerous, and difficult subject. It interests the whole globe. I myself pretend not to fathom the depth of it. But you show me no authority. You have no powers; you represent nobody. You appear to us only in the light of rebels and traitors to your lawful sovereign. Return, then, home to your country with as little éclat and publicity as possible, and think yourselves very fortunate, if I do not denounce you all at St. James’s as traitors and rebels to your king.” That this supposition is no exaggeration, would appear from the history of the reception of Franklin, Deane, and Lee, by the Comte de Vergennes, in 1776, and till the 6th February, 1778; an epoch of great importance in the history of mankind, of which my dearly-beloved citizens of the United States are as ignorant as they are of the Sanscrit Shasta, its origin and progress. Before Franklin, Deane, and Lee appeared in France, the royal governments in America were all annihilated, Congress was sovereign and supreme, de facto and de jure, and those ambassadors had authentic records to show for every step of the progress, from 1761 to 1778. What had Miranda and two obscure, unknown, unheard of Jesuits to show? Nothing, absolutely nothing but their ipsi dixerunt. But, although they show no commission, no delegation, no deputation from any original power, any physical force, any animal strength, much less from any regular assemblies of people, any legitimate authority of any kind, what is the probability of their pretensions? The people of South America are the most ignorant, the most bigoted, the most superstitious of all the Roman Catholics in Christendom. They believe salvation to be confined to themselves and the Spaniards in Europe. They can scarcely allow it to the Pope and his Italians, certainly not to the French; and as to England, English America, and all other Protestant nations, nothing could be expected or hoped for any of them, but a fearful looking for of eternal and unquenchable flames of fire and brimstone. No Catholics on earth were so abjectly devoted to their priests, as blindly superstitious as themselves, and these priests had the powers and apparatus of the Inquisition to seize every suspected person and suppress every rising motion. Was it probable, was it possible, that such a plan as Miranda’s, of a free government, and a confederation of free governments, should be introduced and established among such a people, over that vast continent, or any part of it? It appeared to me more extravagant than the schemes of Condorcet and Brissot to establish a democracy in France, schemes which had always appeared to me as absurd as similar plans would be to establish democracies among the birds, beasts, and fishes. What should I think of Mr. King? My disposition was very good to make a plausible apology for him. He might think it, and, indeed, it might be his duty to transmit this information to me. I could not, however, avoid remarking a little enthusiastic leaning in favor of the sublime project, and more symptoms of credulity than became a cautious and wary statesman. I did not, however, reflect with any severity upon Mr. King. Had Miranda’s powers been unexceptionable, his associates known, and Mr. Pitt made an official proposal of such a triple alliance, could I for one moment have deliberated on the question, whether I should accept it or not? Certainly not. Britain had not then displayed all her omnipotence in the Nile, at Copenhagen, or Trafalgar. France, Spain, Holland, Denmark, and Russia, had naval forces, some of them dangerous and powerful. These would require all the naval and military forces of Britain to defend her own island and watch the hostile fleets of her enemies, which were all the maritime powers of Europe. But had Mr. Pitt, in complaisance to the great Miranda, sent ten ships of the line to South America, who would have had the advantage? Most certainly the South Americans would have been in favor of Spain and France. And as certainly the North Americans, too, even though Adams, Washington, Hamilton, and Pickering had been ever so strenuous and enthusiastic advocates and partisans and allies of the great Miranda.
If I looked at home, I was to send four or six thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry to South America. And for what? To make of Miranda a king Theodore or a Pascal Paoli. Where could I get six thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry? We had them not; and in my opinion we could not obtain them. I had before had sufficient experience of the difficulty of recruiting regular soldiers in the United States. Where should we find transports? What would be the interest of money? Had we not had rebellions enough against taxes? And were we not threatened with more and greater, and even with division, disunion, dismemberment, a dissolution of the constitution, and a total anarchy? Miranda’s project is as visionary, though far less innocent, than that of his countryman Gonzalez, of an excursion to the moon in a car drawn by geese trained and disciplined for the purpose. Such were my reflections. In my next you shall know the insignificant result of all these meditations, from, &c.