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, 5 April, 1815.
The halcyon days of New England prosperity were the first six years of Mr. Jefferson’s administration. Was this felicity owing to the wisdom, the virtue, or the energy of Mr. Jefferson? Or was it the natural, necessary, and unavoidable effect of the universal peace and tranquillity abroad and at home, and with universal nature, civilized and savage, entailed upon him by his predecessor, in spite of friends and enemies?
Had Mr. Hamilton and his host, for he was “commander-in-chief,” been good citizens, submitted to the legitimate constituted authorities, relaxed their rigid, bigoted monopolies and exclusions, suffered the executive to be independent and moderate the fury of parties, the federal administration might and would have been triumphant, might have had a navy, might have maintained their neutrality. But, alas! Hamilton would not endure it. “Othello’s occupation was gone,” and jealousy and Moorish revenge again stabbed and murdered Desdemona. And Deacon Phillips has called a noble block of buildings “Hamilton place,” in lasting honor of Othello! Such is the honor, the dignity, the virtue, the piety, the religion, the morality, the patriotism, the philanthropy, of the head-quarters of principles, sometimes good and sometimes bad!
Such was the fall of the house that Jack built. Such the overthrow of the lofty palace, the sublime and beautiful building that he then thought, and still thinks, he had erected and finished, though he all along knew he was building on the sand; he could only lament, as he did, that he could not find a rock. He was sometimes vain and foolish enough to please himself with visions of studies and labors to promote the felicity of the nation, by encouraging agriculture, commerce, certain manufactures, national defence, safety and security by fortifications and wooden walls, by arts and sciences, by systems of education, and by canals and roads; but he soon saw that such delights were forbidden to him, and he submitted to the decree. He thought he had answered the end of his creation, as far as he could see any use of his existence upon earth, and was content it should come to an end, physically or politically, if it was the pleasure of the Supreme Ruler.
But I cannot relieve you yet. You must read a little more curious history. There is extant a volume in print, Boston, 1810, published by Edward Oliver, 70 State street, “The history of Don Francisco de Miranda’s Attempt to effect a Revolution in South America,” with a very apt motto from Shakspeare, “Thoughts tending to ambition, they do plot unlikely wonders.” If ever more unlikely wonders were plotted in this world than those plotted by Pitt, Miranda, and King, I have never read them in history or romance. There is not an Arabian tale more extravagant. This volume deserves your perusal, and so do the writings of Nimrod Hughes and Christopher Macpherson, quite as much as those of Paine, Callender, and Hamilton, for without them you never can know the character of your country and its government. I shall leave this volume to your perusal, and proceed to something which has harrowed up my soul and all its feelings. I neither know, nor suspect, nor have ever heard of a conjecture, who the author of this history is. I know not whether I had heard a rumor, retired as I was, of the arrival of Miranda in America, when I received a letter from Dr. Rush, informing me that General Miranda had been in Philadelphia, had visited him, dined with him, and given him an account of the politics of all the courts of Europe, as familiarly as if he had been in the inside of all the kings and princes. Miranda was then upon his return from Washington, where he had conversed with Jefferson and Madison, and Rush assured me that Miranda had assured him that we should have no war with Spain. I thought little more of the matter. I considered Miranda as a vagrant, a vagabond, a Quixotic adventurer, and cared no more about him than about Abraham Brown or Parson Austin.
How can I proceed in the narration? The next news I heard was that Miranda had sailed a fortnight or three weeks before, with a military and naval armament to set South America free; and that my grandson, W. S. Smith, had been taken from college, when senior sophister, on the point of taking his degree, and sent with Miranda to liberate South America. What do you think were my sensations and reflections? I shudder to this moment at the recollection of them. I saw the ruin of my only daughter, and her good-hearted, enthusiastic husband, and had no other hope or wish or prayer than that the ship, with my grandson in it, might be sunk in a storm in the Gulf stream, where I had myself been for three days in momentary danger and expectation of perishing in 1778, eight-and-twenty years before!
I had never the most distant intimation or suspicion of this expedition, till I heard it had been at sea for weeks. I can truly say, that information that the ship had gone to the bottom would at the same moment have been an alleviation of my grief. I gave up my grandson as lost forever. But what could I think of his father? Was he more mad than Pitt or King?
In course of time, news came that my grandson was in prison at Caraccas, with many of his companions, waiting for trial and execution. Yrujo, who had known me in Europe and America, came forward with an offer to interpose for a pardon for my grandson. I took no notice of it. No! My blood should flow upon a Spanish scaffold, before I would meanly ask or accept a distinction in favor of my grandson. No! He should share the fate of his colleagues, comrades, and fellow-prisoners. Colonel Smith answered Yrujo in a style that atoned in some measure for his previous imprudence, in a language consistent with his professed principle, however erroneous, in the whole enterprise; in short, in the tone of the elder Brutus, when he sacrificed his sons for conspiring with Tarqum.
When Mr. Bristed, in his “Broad Hints,” announced John Adams as the defeater of Mr. Pitt’s and Mr. King’s projects for separating South America from Spain, I printed in the Patriot a short apology for my conduct, and some of the documents I have sent you. In consequence of that publication, I soon received the letter and paper, which I will now inclose to you with the request that you will return them to me. The letter is dated “Baltimore, June 7th, 1810,” and signed “B. Irvine, Edit. Whig.” The object of the letter was, as it professed to be, “to obtain farther information on the subject of Miranda’s project, and the designs of the British ministry, or rather the reason why the valuable information communicated by me to the public relative to that project was so long withheld, to the injury of Mr. Jefferson’s character, and to the danger of the commonwealth.” Inclosed with this letter was the newspaper called the Whig, of June 7th, 1810, in the second column of the second page of which you will find a paragraph, headed “An explanation wanted,” in which I am called to an account, somewhat rudely and impertinently, and by implication, at least, charged or suspected of aiming to waft my son into place, and restore myself to favor.
I have never answered this letter, nor acknowledged its receipt, nor taken any notice of it or its Whig. Who was this Mr. Irvine? Who his honest inquirers? What authority had they to catechize me? Did they think that I had courted the mission of my son to Russia? I had infinitely rather he had remained at home in his private station. I could have told them, that a general suspicion ran through the continent, which indeed prevails to this day, that he was sent away as a dangerous rival, too near the throne. What favor had I to restore myself to? What have I to restore myself to? What favor have I ever asked of government or people? Never once since I came out of my mother’s womb. Miranda’s expedition from New York was infinitely better known to Jefferson and Madison than to me. I never had the least intimation or suspicion of it, till he had been three weeks at sea.
I will also inclose an estimate in Spanish, sent me by Miranda, of the Spanish dominions in South America, with a translation in English, made by a Spanish gentleman, a governor of Chili, who said the estimate was very low. All those regions, however, were to become republican under our confederation!