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, 29 March, 1815.
In my last, I promised you the result of all my deliberations on this great subject. It was this, “What shall I do with these papers?” The answer was, “Lock them up in my desk, and there let them be.” I did accordingly lock them up, and there they lay till I had forgotten them; and there they would have remained to this hour, if the Edinburgh reviewers first, and Bristed after them, had not implicated Mr. King and me in their ignorant and nonsensical speculations and censures.
Pickering, without consulting me, had sent a letter to Knox, and another to Hamilton. I presumed both were from Miranda. I believed Knox to have too sound and sober a judgment to be seduced into any folly by Miranda. I never thought it worth while to ask him a question about the letter or the subject. Very probably Madam Knox can produce the original letter. What Miranda had written to Hamilton, I neither knew nor cared. Hamilton’s answer, however, has been intercepted somewhere among Miranda’s papers, and published to the world in some magazine or review that I have seen, but do not now possess. He says, “We have an army of twelve thousand men”1 —(by the way, more than half exaggeration)—“He must refer to the government;” and concludes with, “You know my sentiments.” This, you see, was sagacious policy enough, and would have given me no alarm, if I had seen the letter in its time. But I knew nothing of it, and thought nothing about it. My imagination was amused with very different pictures. Seven thousand men and two thousand horses, crowded into transports in the Gulf stream, bound to South America, two thirds of them, within a fortnight after their landing, dead with the rot, the jail fever, the yellow fever, or the plague, and their fathers and mothers, wives and children, brothers and sisters, weeping and wailing their losses, and cursing John Adams as a traitor to his country, and a bribed slave to Great Britain,—a Deane, an Arnold, a devil!
After all, Mr. Lloyd, I must go a step further, and with frankness and candor acknowledge a truth, a principle, an opinion, and a system, in which I have great doubts whether you will concur with me. For full forty years, three points have been settled in my mind after mature deliberation.
1. That neutrality in the wars of Europe is our truest policy; and to preserve this, alliances ought to be avoided as much and as long as possible.
But, if we should be driven to the necessity of an alliance,
2. Then France is our natural ally; and,
3. That Great Britain is the last power, to which we should, in any, the last extremity, resort for any alliance, political or military.
These three propositions appear to me as clear, as obvious, and as demonstrable as any political principles whatever, and almost as any proposition in Euclid.
Miranda’s plot, Mr. Pitt’s plot, and Mr. Hamilton’s plot (if, indeed, he had any hand in it), was in direct opposition to my system, and wholly subversive of it. On the one hand, I was determined not to submit to the insolence and injuries of the French government; on the other, to enter into no alliance with Great Britain, nor any kind of connection that might embarrass us in making peace with France, whenever her government should come to her senses and show a disposition to do us justice.
Very fortunately for me and for this nation, the French Directory had a lucid interval, and gave me a fair opportunity to institute that mission to France, que vous fletrissez, that mission to France which you describe as the “great shade in my Presidential escutcheon,” and which I wish to inscribe on my gravestone; and which, if we had escutcheons in this country, I would contrive to introduce into mine. I would rather have it there than seventeen quarters of marquises and dukes, princes, kings, or emperors. I would not exchange it for the name of Bowdoin or Baudoin, the most splendid name that I have read in history, far superior to Bourbons or Guelphs. Sic transit gloria. Far greater than Medicis or Napoleons; almost equal to those of Hercules and Mahomet.
On April 10th. 1809, I commenced in the Boston Patriot a series of letters in vindication of my missions to France. These letters were imprudently published in pamphlets. If you have ever seen one of them, you must remember that ninety-five pages of it are devoted to a vindication of my missions to France. If you have never seen it, I pray you to look it up; and, if you cannot find it. I will send it to you. I had done with it forever, as I thought. I wished never to see it or hear of it again. But a grandson of mine, not yet fourteen years of age, has picked them up and bound them in a volume. I have borrowed it of him, and if you cannot find it elsewhere, I will lend it to you, upon condition that you will return it to me, for I know of no other copy. After that publication, I did not expect to see a slur cast upon my missions to France by any man of intelligence and honor.
Will you linger and loiter with me a little in this place? Did Mr. Pitt and Mr. Miranda believe me to be a lover of revolutions, deeply smitten with their charms, ready and eager to seize upon any and every opportunity to involve myself and my country in any revolutionary enterprise? I had been plunged head and ears in the American revolution from 1761 to 1798 (for it had been all revolution during the whole period). Did Mr. Pitt and Mr. Miranda think that I had trod upon feathers, and slept upon beds of roses, during those thirty-seven years? I had been an eye-witness of two revolutions in Holland: one from aristocracy to a mongrel mixture of half aristocracy and half democracy, the other back again to aristocracy and the splendid restoration of the Stadtholder. Did Mr. Pitt and Mr. Miranda think that I was so delighted with these electric shocks, these eruptions of volcanoes, these tremblemens de terre, as to be ambitious of the character of a chemist, who could produce artificial ones in South America? I had been an ear-witness of some of the first whispers of a revolution in France in 1783, 1784, and 1785, and had given all possible attention to its rise and progress, and I can truly say, that it had given me as much anxiety as our American revolution had ever done. Could Mr. Pitt and Mr. Miranda believe me so fascinated, charmed, enchanted, with what had happened in France, as to be desirous of engaging myself and my country in most hazardous and expensive and bloody experiments to excite similar horrors in South America?
The last twenty-five years of the last century, and the first fifteen years of this, may be called the age of revolutions and constitutions. We began the dance, and have produced eighteen or twenty models of constitutions, the excellences and defects of which you probably know better than I do. They are, no doubt, the best for us that we could contrive and agree to adopt.
[1 ] The words are, “We are raising an army of about twelve thousand men” Hamilton’s Works, vol. vi. p. 348.