Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THOMAS McKEAN. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO THOMAS McKEAN. - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO THOMAS McKEAN.
Quincy, 6 July, 1815
Your friendly letter of the 1st of this memorable month, bearing in the handwriting, the sentiments, and the arrangement, every mark of undecayed vigor of mind and body, while it delights me in every other point of view, mortifies me by a comparison with my own quivering infirmities, which make it painful and difficult for me to write.
The history of mankind, as far as we can trace it, is full of wonders, and the greatest wonder of all is, the total destruction of all the monuments and memorials by which we could have formed a correct and impartial judgment of characters and events. The present question before the human race, that great democratical tribunal, is whether the jus divinum is in men or in magistrates; in human nature or in instituted offices; in human understanding or in holy oil; in good sense and sound morality, or in crowns, sceptres, crosses, and Episcopal and Presbyterian ordination. When and where shall we date the commencement of these struggles? I fear it must be from the death of Abel. But, to leap over all former ages and nations, shall we begin with Constantine and the council of Nice? With Clovis? With the Crusades? With the wars of the Hussites? With Luther? With Charles V., Louis XIV.? Shall we recollect the Waldenses, the powder plot, the Irish massacre, St. Bartholomew’s day, Robespierre, or Equality, the Duke of Orleans, or his predecessor, the Regent of France, and his Mississippi bubble? Shall we come down to Napoleon and the grand council at Vienna? These are all.
“Bubbles on the sea of matter borne.”
The question is still before the democratical tribunal of the human race. Is the Court as yet sufficiently enlightened to give a verdict and judgment, and according to law? Will the verdict be in favor of Zinzendorf, or Swedenborg, or Whitefield, or Wesley, or Hopkins, or Priestley, or Voltaire? Philosophy and religion will still mix with politics, and both, like matter, are infinitely indivisible. As the mariners say, “I can yet see no blue sky.” Your parallel between John and J. Q. is amusing enough. Whether it will continue a step or two farther, is a question before the democratical tribunal, and there I leave it. But I have a presentiment, that if it should be protracted for a leap or two, it will end in a perfect resemblance of disgrace, contempt, or neglect.
Mr. Madison’s administration has proved great points long disputed in Europe and America.
1. He has proved, that an administration under our present Constitution can declare war.
2. That it can make peace.
3. That money or no money, government or no government, Great Britain can never conquer this country or any considerable part of it.
4. That our officers and men by land are equal to any from Spain and Portugal.
5. That our trans-Alleghanian States, in patriotism, bravery, enterprise, and perseverance, are at least equal to any in the Union.
6. That our navy is equal, cæteris paribus, to any that ever floated.
In a few minutes I shall be elevated to your honorable rank of an octogenarian.