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TO HENRY CHANNING. - 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 HENRY CHANNING.
Quincy, 3 November, 1820.
I have received your favor of the 26th of October, with the copy of the Connecticut constitution. This is the second copy which I have received from you, and I am afraid it is the first that has been acknowledged. For this negligence I beg your pardon, and pray you to accept my cordial thanks for both these valuable favors.
The cantilena sacerdotis will be sung as long as priesthood shall exist. I mean not by this, however, to condemn the article in our Declaration of Rights. I mean to keep my mind open to conviction upon this subject, until I shall be called upon to give a vote.1 An abolition of this law would have so great an effect in this State that it seems hazardous to touch it. However, I am not about to discuss the question at present. In Rhode Island, I am informed, public preaching is supported by three or four wealthy men in the parish, who either have, or appear to have, a regard for religion, while all others sneak away, and avoid payment of any thing. And such, I believe, would be the effect in this State almost universally; yet this I own is not a decisive argument in favor of the law. Sub judice lis est. The feelings of the people will have pomp and parade of some sort or another, in the State as well as in the Church. In the Church they have risen from the parson’s band and the communion plate up to the church of St. Peter’s and the Vatican library. In the State they have risen from oaken crowns and olive branches up to thrones, sceptres, and diadems, gold, ivory, and precious stones to the amount of millions. In Pliny’s Natural History you may see the gradual rise and progress for seven hundred years of luxury and ceremony, from iron rings upon the fingers, to the splendors of Lucullus, Antony, and Crassus.
I have great reason to rejoice in the happiness of my country, which has fully equalled, though not exceeded, the sanguine anticipation of my youth. God prosper long our glorious country, and make it a pattern to the world!
As a member to the convention, I can be but the shadow of a man. An election, however, to this situation, at my great age and feeble condition of body and mind, I esteem the purest honor of my life, and shall endeavor to do as much of my duty as my strength will permit. I presume it will not be made a question now, as it was forty years ago, whether we should have a governor, or a senate, or judges during good behavior. What questions will be moved, I cannot say; but I hope that no essential flaw will be found or made in the good old forty-two pounder, though it should be tried over again after forty years usage, by a double charge of powder and ball.
TO GEORGE ALEXANDER OTIS.
Monticello, 9 February, 1821.
I thank you for your favor of the 29th of January, and your translation of Botta. I have not yet read it, for I received it but yesterday, and reading is to me so laborious and painful an occupation, that it requires a long time. But I cannot refrain from expressing the pleasure I have received from the reasoning of Mr. Jay upon the passage in Botta, “that anterior to the Revolution there existed in the Colonies a desire of independence.” There is great ambiguity in the expression, “there existed in the Colonies a desire of independence.” It is true there always existed in the Colonies a desire of independence of Parliament in the articles of internal taxation and internal policy, and a very general, if not a universal opinion, that they were constitutionally entitled to it, and as general a determination, if possible, to maintain and defend it. But there never existed a desire of independence of the crown, or of general regulations of commerce for the equal and impartial benefit of all parts of the empire. It is true, there might be times and circumstances in which an individual, or a few individuals, might entertain and express a wish that America was independent in all respects, but these were “rari nantes in gurgite vasto.” For example, in one thousand seven hundred and fifty-six, seven, and eight, the conduct of the British generals Shirley, Braddock, Loudon, Webb, and Abercrombie was so absurd, disastrous, and destructive, that a very general opinion prevailed that the war was conducted by a mixture of ignorance, treachery, and cowardice; and some persons wished we had nothing to do with Great Britain forever. Of this number I distinctly remember I was myself one, fully believing that we were able to defend ourselves against the French and Indians, without any assistance or embarrassment from Great Britain. In 1758 and 1759, when Amherst and Wolfe changed the fortune of the war by a more able and faithful conduct of it, I again rejoiced in the name of Great Britain, and should have rejoiced in it to this day, had not the King and Parliament committed high treason and rebellion against America, as soon as they had conquered Canada and made peace with France. That there existed a general desire of independence of the crown, in any part of America before the Revolution, is as far from the truth as the zenith is from the nadir. That the encroaching disposition of Great Britain would one day attempt to enslave them by an unlimited submission to Parliament and rule them with a rod of iron, was early foreseen by many wise men in all the States; that this attempt would produce resistance on the part of America, and an awful struggle, was also foreseen, but dreaded and deprecated as the greatest calamity that could befall them. For my own part, there was not a moment during the Revolution, when I would not have given every thing I ever possessed for a restoration to the state of things before the contest began, provided we could have had any sufficient security for its continuance. I always dreaded the Revolution, as fraught with ruin to me and my family; and, indeed, it has been but little better.
I could entertain you with many little trifling anecdotes, which, though familiar and vulgar, would indicate the temper, feelings, and forebodings among the people, that I cannot write.
I see at the end of the biography of the author, that Botta has written the biography of John Adams. I never saw or heard of it before; but if he means me, it must be a curious mass, for he can certainly have no authentic information on the insignificant subject.1
[1 ] Mr. Adams had been chosen a member of the convention about to be held for the revision of the Constitution of Massachusetts. The third article is the one referred to. See vol. iv. p. 221.
[1 ] It is inserted in the large French work, entitled Biographic Universelle.