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, 30 March, 1815.
I need not say any thing about our constitutions, or the difficulties that have been experienced to reconcile the people to them, or the dangerous diversities of opinion, in the construction of them, or the dissatisfaction with them, the uneasiness under them, or the perpetual projects to alter and amend them.
Since we began the career of constitutions, the wisest, most learned, and scientific heads in France, Holland, Geneva, Switzerland, Spain, and Sicily, have been busily employed in devising constitutions for their several nations. And brilliant compositions they have produced, adorned with noble sentiments in morals, wise maxims in politics, if not sound doctrines in religion and salutary precepts in private life. But has there been one that has satisfied the people? One that has been observed and obeyed, even for one year or one month? The truth is, there is not one people of Europe that knows or cares any thing about constitutions. There is not one nation in Europe that understands or is capable of understanding any constitution whatever. Panem et aquam, et vinum et circenses are all that they understand or hope or wish for. If there is a colorable exception, it is England. On this subject, I scarcely dare to write, speak or think. Once loose the spirit of democratical revolution, and the three kingdoms will rival France in anarchy, as triumphantly as they have in policy, commerce, naval and military power. These, Sir, were the results of ten years’ careful, attentive, anxious, and (if without vanity I may use the word) philosophical observation in France, Spain, Holland, Austrian Netherlands, and England. What could I think of revolutions and constitutions in South America? A people more ignorant, more bigoted, more superstitious, more implicitly credulous in the sanctity of royalty, more blindly devoted to their priests, in more awful terror of the Inquisition, than any people in Europe, even in Spain, Portugal, or the Austrian Netherlands, and infinitely more than in Rome itself, the immediate residence of the head of the holy church.
I did not say, as my old friend Lord St. Vincent did, though I thought as much. You cannot understand this without an anecdote of General Moreau, who related, that Fulton carried from Mr. Pitt to Lord St. Vincent a recommendation to his lordship to try the experiment of Fulton’s projects, to blow up ships by machinery under water. The only answer that the old lord-admiral gave to Fulton, was, “Pitt is a damned fool, and I will have nothing to do with your project.” The story, which I had from our Commodore Rogers, who, I understood, heard it from Moreau’s own mouth, was embellished with many beautiful circumstances, infinitely more worthy to be transmitted to posterity than the letters of that mixture of Napoleon, Petrarch, and Werter, Lord Nelson.
But I have not yet stated all my reflections upon this subject. Had Mr. Pitt thought of the consequences of opening a navigable canal across the isthmus to the South Sea? Who was to have the jurisdiction and dominion of that canal? What would be the effect of an independent, free government in South America? Could common sense in South America not think of a navy? No country has greater advantages for commerce and naval power. What would soon happen in Hindostan and in China, if a communication of commerce, navigation, and naval power was opened between South America and the East Indies? What is to become of the East India Company and the British possessions? Where is this ignorant, thoughtless boy leading his king and country? I am apprehensive you will think me as mad now as I then thought Pitt and Miranda. But my reading and observations on men and nations were then fresher in my head than they are now; and I assure you, I am not conscious of having insinuated a thought to you in this correspondence, that did not pass through my mind upon reading and considering those despatches from Mr. King and Miranda.
Should I have any thing to do in the business? No! If both houses of Congress, and Washington and Hamilton, should all agree in an address to me, advising and requesting me to engage in such a Quixotic attack of a windmill, I never would put my hand to it. I would resign my office, retire to Braintree, follow my plough, and leave the nation to follow its own wisdom or folly.
It was impossible not to perceive a profound and artful plot hatching in England, France, Spain, South and North America, to draw me into a decided instead of a quasi war with France, Spain, Holland, and all the enemies of England, and a perpetual alliance, offensive and defensive, with Great Britain; or in other words, to entangle us forever in all the wars of Europe. This plot I was determined to resist and defeat, if I could; and accordingly I embraced the first overtures from France to make peace with her upon terms honorable and advantageous to the United States. This was completely effected. In my letters in the Boston Patriot before referred to, from April 10th, 1809, to June 10th, 1809, you will see the history of the rise and progress of the negotiations with France, which led to that happy conclusion.1 On the subject of that happy conclusion, I have a few words hereafter to say. Meantime, what shall I do with these letters and the subject of them? I have no inclination to publish them. They will remain in my letterbook, to enable my children to apologize for my memory. You are at liberty to quote them hardily whenever and wherever you please. You may show them, or print them, if you will. And I will give an account of all the reason that is in me to any gentleman, who in his proper name shall ask me any questions about them. If they were all printed in a pamphlet, I should admire to read an Edinburgh or Quarterly review of it. If I could see Mr. Bristed, I would ask him to print them as an appendix to the second edition of his Hints. Shall I send the documents to our Historical Society? to our Antiquarian Society? or to the Historical Society of New York, where, I believe, they would be more welcome? or shall I still keep them locked in my desk?
[1 ] Vol. ix. pp. 241-310, of the present work.