Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1822: TO RICHARD PETERS. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes)
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1822: TO RICHARD PETERS. - 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 RICHARD PETERS.
Quincy, 31 March, 1822.
If you have brought upon yourself the garrulity of old age, you must blame yourself for it. Theophrastus at ninety, as some say, and at one hundred and fifteen, as others, in his last moments is recorded to have said, it was hard to go out of the world, when he had just learned to live in it. I am so far from his temper and his philosophy, that I think myself so well drilled and disciplined a soldier as to be willing to obey the word of command whenever it shall come, and in general or particular orders. Nevertheless, your letter has excited feelings somewhat like his. I agree with you in your recollection of the suffering, the sacrifices, the dangers, distresses, and the disinterested character of the principal actors in the Revolution, but I have lately plunged into a new sea of reading. The collections of our Massachusetts Historical Society have lately attracted my attention, and though I am too blind to read them, I have put in requisition sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, grandsons and granddaughters, or occasional friends, to perform the office of reader. In this way, I have heard read Hubbard’s History of New England, Johnson’s Wonder-Working Providence, Morton’s Memorial, the original writings of Winslow, Bradford, Gookin, Eliot, and twenty others, the most ancient memorials of emigrations to America. All the superstition, fanaticism, quaintness, cant, barbarous poetry, and uncouthness of style have not prevented this reading exciting in me as ardent an interest as I ever felt in reading Homer or Virgil, Milton, Pope, or Shakspeare.
Silence, then, ye revolutionary heroes, patriots, and sages! Never boast of your superiority for services or sufferings or sacrifices! Our Hancocks and Washingtons never exceeded in disinterestedness dozens of emigrants to America two hundred years ago. In short, the whole history of America for two hundred years appears to me to exhibit a uniform, general tenor of character for intelligence, integrity, patience, fortitude, and public spirit. One generation has little pretension for boasting over another.
I will add one other extraordinary. I have heard read the proceedings of the New York convention. They have been as entertaining to me as a romance. The gentlemen have sagaciously and profoundly searched their own and one another’s hearts, and very frankly, candidly, and penitentially confessed their sins to one another, like good Christians. A great number of enlightened men have distinguished themselves by their information and by their eloquence. The new constitution is an improvement, upon the whole, upon the old, though a tendency to the extreme of democracy is apparent in that State, as in all the others in the Union.
If I have wearied your patience, I shall endeavor to be shorter for the future. I am, Sir, and will be, your friend, forever.
TO WILLIAM THOMAS.
Quincy, 10 August, 1822.
The grounds and principles on which the third article of the treaty of 1783 was contended for on our part, and finally yielded on the part of the British, were these.
1. That the Americans, and the adventurers to America, were the first discoverers and the first practisers of the fisheries.
2. That New England, and especially Massachusetts, had done more in defence of them than all the rest of the British empire. That the various projected expeditions to Canada, in which they were defeated by British negligence, the conquest of Louisburg, in 1745, and the subsequent conquest of Nova Scotia, in which New England had expended more blood and treasure than all the rest of the British empire, were principally effected with a special view to the security and protection of the fisheries.
3. That the inhabitants of the United States had as clear a right to every branch of those fisheries, and to cure fish on land, as the inhabitants of Canada or Nova Scotia; that the citizens of Boston, New York, or Philadelphia had as clear a right to those fisheries, as the citizens of London, Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow, or Dublin.
4. That third article was demanded as an ultimatum, and it was declared that no treaty of peace should ever be made without it; and when the British ministers found that peace could not be made without that article, they consented; for Britain wanted peace, if possible, more than we did.
5. We asked no pardon, we requested no grant, and would accept none. We demanded it as a right, and we demanded an explicit acknowledgment of that as an indispensable condition of peace; and the word right was in the article as agreed to by the British ministers, but they afterwards requested that the word liberty might be substituted instead of right. They said it amounted to the same thing, for liberty was right and privilege was right; but the word right might be more unpleasing to the people of England than liberty; and we did not think it necessary to contend for a word. To detail the conferences and conversations which took place for six weeks on this subject, would require volumes, if they could now be remembered. Mr. Jay is the only person now living, who was officially concerned in that negotiation, and I am not afraid to appeal to his memory for the truth of these facts. Lord St. Helens, then Mr. Fitzherbert, though not officially concerned in the negotiation, was instructed by the British minister to assist at our conferences, and he was freely and candidly admitted by us. I dare appeal to his lordship’s memory for the truth of these facts. There is another excellent character still living, Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, of Kennebec, who was then a confidential friend of Lord Shelburne, and an intimate friend of the British negotiators, and I dare appeal to his recollection of the representations made to him of the conferences concerning the fisheries, by Mr. Oswald, Mr. Fitzherbert, and Mr. Whitefoord.
6. We considered that treaty as a division of the empire. Our independence, our rights to territory and to the fisheries, as practised before the Revolution, were no more a grant from Britain to us, than the treaty was a grant from us of Canada, Nova Scotia, England, Scotland, and Ireland to the Britons. The treaty was nothing more than mutual acknowledgment of antecedent rights.
If there is any other question that you wish me to answer, I shall be happy to do it, so long as my strength may last. I had omitted what follows.
7. We urged upon the British ministers that it was the interest of England herself that we should hold fast forever all the rights contained in that article, because all the profits we made by those fisheries went regularly to Great Britain in gold and silver, to purchase and pay for their manufactures; that if it were in her power, which it was not, to exclude us from or abridge these rights, they would be the dupes of their weak policy.
8. That if we should consent to an exclusion, the stipulation would not be regarded; our bold and hardy seamen would trespass; they must keep a standing naval force on the coast to prevent them; our people would fight and complain, and this would be speedily and infallibly the source of another war between the two nations.