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John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 9 (Letters and State Papers 1799-1811) [1854]

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John Adams, 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. 9. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2107

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About this Title:

A 10 volume collection of Adams’ most important writings, letters, and state papers, edited by his grandson. Vol. 9 contains letters and state papers from 1799 to 1811.

Copyright information:

The text is in the public domain.

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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.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
THE WORKS of JOHN ADAMS.
Edition: current; Page: [ii] Edition: current; Page: [iii]
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.
VOL. IX.
BOSTON:
LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY.
1854.
Edition: current; Page: [iv]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by Charles C. Little and James Brown, in the Clerk’s office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

riverside, cambridge:

stereotyped and printed by

h. o. houghton and company.

Edition: current; Page: [v]

CONTENTS OF VOLUME IX.

  • 1799. July 23. To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury . page 3
  • 24. T. Pickering, Secretary of State, to John Adams 3
  • 27. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . . 4
  • August 1. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 5
  • 1. T. Pickering to John Adams . . . 5
  • 3. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 7
  • 4. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 8
  • 5. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 8
  • 5. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 9
  • 6. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 10
  • 8. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 12
  • 13. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 13
  • 14. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 15
  • 16. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 15
  • 23. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 16
  • 24. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 16
  • 29. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 18
  • 29. B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy, to John Adams . . . . . . . 18
  • September 4. To B. Stoddert, (private) . . . . 19
  • 9. T. Pickering, Secretary of State, to John Adams 21
  • 9. C. Lee, Attorney-General, to T. Pickering, Secretary of State, 2 Sept. (inclosed) . . . 21
  • 11. T. Pickering, Secretary of State, to John Adams 23Edition: current; Page: [vi]
  • 13. B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy, to John Adams . . . . . . 25
  • 14. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 29
  • 16. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 29
  • 18. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 30
  • 18. O. Ellsworth to John Adams . . . 31
  • 19. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 31
  • 21. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 33
  • 21. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 33
  • 21. To the Heads of Department . . . 34
  • 22. To Chief Justice Ellsworth . . . 34
  • 23. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 35
  • 24. T. Pickering, Secretary of State, to John Adams 36
  • 26. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 37
  • October 5. O. Ellsworth to John Adams . . . 37
  • 6. C. Lee, Attorney-General, to John Adams . 38
  • 16. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 39
  • 16. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 39
  • 18. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 40
  • November 12. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 41
  • 15. To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury . 41
  • December 2. To A. J. Dallas . . . . . 42
  • 7. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 42
  • Notes on some Observations of the Secretary of the Treasury . . . . . 43
  • 24. To Tobias Lear . . . . . 44
  • 27. To Mrs. Washington . . . . . 45
  • 1800. January 13. The Heads of Department to the President . 46
  • March 10. To Henry Knox . . . . . . 46
  • 10. To Benjamin Lincoln . . . . . 46
  • 31. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 47
  • 31. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . . 48Edition: current; Page: [vii]
  • 1800. April 8. Thomas Johnson to John Adams . . . 48
  • 11. To Thomas Johnson . . . . . 49
  • 23. To the Secretary of State and Heads of Department . . . . . . 50
  • May 6. J. McHenry, Secretary of War, to John Adams . 51
  • 10. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 53
  • 12. T. Pickering, Secretary of State, to John Adams 54
  • 12. To Timothy Pickering . . . . 55
  • 15. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . . 56
  • 16. To the Attorney-General and the District-Attorney of Pennsylvania . . . 56
  • 17. To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury . 57
  • 20. To the Heads of Department . . . 57
  • 20. The Heads of Department to the President . 59
  • 21. To C. Lee, Secretary of State pro tem. . . 60
  • 22. To Alexander Hamilton . . . . 61
  • 26. To W. S. Smith . . . . . . 61
  • 26. To Benjamin Stoddert . . . . 62
  • 26. B. Stoddert to John Adams . . . . 62
  • June 20. To Alexander Hamilton . . . . 63
  • July 11. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 63
  • 23. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 64
  • 25. To S. Dexter, Secretary of War . . . 65
  • 30. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 66
  • 31. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 66
  • 31. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 67
  • August 1. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 68
  • 2. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 69
  • 3. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 70
  • 6. To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury . 71
  • 7. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 71
  • 7. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 72
  • 11. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 73Edition: current; Page: [viii]
  • 12. To John Trumbull . . . . . 74
  • 13. To S. Dexter, Secretary of War . . . 76
  • 13. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 76
  • 14. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 77
  • 26. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 78
  • 27. To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury . 78
  • 27. To Barnabas Bidwell . . . . 79
  • 30. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 80
  • September 4. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 80
  • 5. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 82
  • 9. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 82
  • 10. To John Trumbull . . . . . 83
  • 18. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 84
  • 27. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 84
  • 30. To S. Dexter, Secretary of War . . . 86
  • October 3. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 86
  • 4. To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury . 87
  • 9. To S. Dexter, Secretary of War . . . 88
  • November 8. O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury, to John Adams . . . . . . 88
  • 10. To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury . 89
  • 10. John Jay to John Adams (private) . . . 89
  • 11. O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury, to John Adams . . . . . . 90
  • 24. To John Jay . . . . . . 90
  • December 19. To John Jay . . . . . . 91
  • 1801. January 24. To George Churchman and Jacob Lindley . 92
  • 26. To Elias Boudinot . . . . . 93
  • 27. To Richard Stockton . . . . . 94
  • 31. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 95
  • 31. To S. Dexter, Secretary of War . . . 95
  • February 4. John Marshall to John Adams . . . 96Edition: current; Page: [ix]
  • 4. To John Marshall . . . . . 96
  • 4. To Joseph Ward . . . . . 96
  • 7. To Elbridge Gerry . . . . . 97
  • 10. To the Secretary of State . . . . 98
  • March 28. Oliver Wolcott to John Adams . . . 99
  • April 6. To Oliver Wolcott . . . . . 100
  • speeches to congress.
    • 1797. March 4. Inaugural Speech to both Houses of Congress . 105
    • May 16. Speech to both Houses of Congress . . 111
    • Reply to the Answer of the Senate . . 119
    • Reply to the Answer of the House of Representatives . . . . . . 120
    • November 23. Speech to both Houses of Congress . . 121
    • Reply to the Answer of the Senate . . 126
    • Reply to the Answer of the House of Representatives . . . . . . 127
    • 1798. December 8. Speech to both Houses of Congress . . 128
    • Reply to the Answer of the Senate . . 134
    • Reply to the Answer of the House of Representatives . . . . . . 135
    • 1799. December 3. Speech to both Houses of Congress . . 136
    • Reply to the Answer of the Senate . . 140
    • Reply to the Answer of the House of Representatives . . . . . . 141
    • 23. Reply to the Address of the Senate on the Death of George Washington . . . . 142
    • 1800. November 22. Speech to both Houses of Congress . . 143
    • Reply to the Answer of the Senate . . 147
    • Reply to the Answer of the House of Representatives . . . . . . 148Edition: current; Page: [x]
  • messages to congress.
    • 1797. May 31. Message to the Senate, nominating Envoys to France . . . . . . 150
    • June 12. Message to both Houses of Congress, respecting the Territory of the Natchez . . . 151
    • 23. Message to both Houses of Congress, on Affairs with Algiers . . . . . 152
    • July 3. Message to both Houses of Congress, communicating information respecting Spain . . 154
    • 1798. January 8. Message to both Houses of Congress, announcing the Ratification of an Amendment of the Constitution . . . . . . 154
    • February 5. Message to both Houses of Congress, relative to a French Privateer . . . . 155
    • March 5. Message to both Houses of Congress, transmitting Despatches from France . . . 156
    • 19. Message to both Houses of Congress, transmitting Despatches from France . . . 156
    • April 3. Message to both Houses of Congress, transmitting Despatches from France . . . . 158
    • June 21. Message to both Houses of Congress, on the state of affairs with France . . . . 158
    • July 17. Message to the Senate, transmitting a Letter from George Washington . . . . 159
    • 1799. January 8. Message to the House of Representatives, respecting certain acts of British Naval Officers . . . . . . . 159
    • Circular to the Commanders of Armed Vessels of the U. States, 29 December, 1798, (inclosed) . 160
    • 28. Message to both Houses of Congress, transmitting a French Decree, respecting neutral sailors . . . . . . 161
    • February 15. Message to the House of Representatives, respecting the suspension of a French Decree . 161
    • 18. Message to the Senate, nominating an Envoy to France . . . . . . 161Edition: current; Page: [xi]
    • 25. Message to the Senate, nominating three Envoys to France . . . . . . 162
    • December 19. Message to both Houses of Congress, announcing the Decease of George Washington . . 163
    • 1800. January 6. Message to both Houses of Congress, transmitting a Letter of Martha Washington . . 164
    • 14. Message to the House of Representatives, transmitting a Letter of John Randolph, Jr. . 165
    • 1801. 21. Message to the Senate, transmitting a Report of the Secretary of State . . . . 166
    • March 2. Message to the Senate, on the Convention with France . . . . . . 167
  • proclamations.
    • 1797. March 25. Proclamation for an extraordinary Session of Congress . . . . . . 168
    • 1798. March 23. Proclamation for a National Fast . . . 169
    • July 13. Proclamation revoking the Exequaturs of the French Consuls . . . . . 170
    • 1799. March 6. Proclamation for a National Fast . . . 172
    • 12. Proclamation concerning the Insurrection in Pennsylvania . . . . . 174
    • June 26. Proclamation, opening the Trade with certain Ports of St. Domingo . . . . 176
    • 1800. May 9. Proclamation, opening the Trade with other Ports of St. Domingo . . . . 177
    • 21. Proclamation, granting Pardon to the Pennsylvania Insurgents . . . . . 178
  • answers to addresses.
    • 1797. August 23. To the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 180
    • 1798. April To the Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens of the City of Philadelphia . . . . 182Edition: current; Page: [xii]
    • 26. To the Citizens of Philadelphia, the District of Southwark, and the Northern Liberties . 183
    • 30. To the Inhabitants of Providence, Rhode Island 184
    • May 1. To the Inhabitants of Bridgeton, in the County of Cumberland, in the State of New Jersey . 185
    • 2. To the Citizens of Baltimore, and Baltimore County, Maryland . . . . . 186
    • 7. To the Young Men of the City of Philadelphia, the district of Southwark, and the Northern Liberties, Pennsylvania . . . . 187
    • 7. To the Inhabitants and Citizens of Boston, Massachusetts . . . . . . 189
    • 8. To the Inhabitants of the County of Lancaster, Pennsylvania . . . . . . 190
    • 8. To the Inhabitants of the County of Burlington, New Jersey . . . . . . 191
    • 10. To the Inhabitants of the town of Hartford, Connecticut . . . . . . 192
    • 12. To the Inhabitants of the Borough of Harrisburgh, Pennsylvania . . . . 193
    • 22. To the Young Men of Boston, Massachusetts . 194
    • 28. To the Grand Jury for the County of Plymouth, Massachusetts . . . . . 195
    • 31. To the Soldier Citizens of New Jersey . . 196
    • June 2. To the Inhabitants of the town of Braintree, Massachusetts . . . . . 197
    • To the Young Men of the City of New York . 197
    • To the Inhabitants of Quincy, Massachusetts . 199
    • 2. To the Inhabitants of the town of Cambridge, Massachusetts . . . . . 200
    • 15. To the Legislature of Massachusetts . . 200
    • 25. To the Inhabitants of Arlington and Sandgate, Vermont . . . . . . 202
    • 29. To the Legislature of New Hampshire . . 203
    • To the Students of Dickinson College, Pennsylvania . . . . . . . 204
    • To the Students of New Jersey College . . 205Edition: current; Page: [xiii]
    • To the Governor and the Legislature of Connecticut . . . . . . 207
    • To the Cincinnati of Rhode Island . . . 208
    • July 14. To the Inhabitants of Dedham and other Towns in the County of Norfolk, Massachusetts . 209
    • To the Inhabitants of Concord, Massachusetts . 210
    • To the Students of Harvard University, in Massachusetts . . . . . . 211
    • To the Freemasons of the State of Maryland . 212
    • To the Inhabitants of Washington County, Maryland . . . . . . . 213
    • To the Inhabitants of the County of Middlesex, Virginia . . . . . . 214
    • To the Committee of the Militia of Botetourt, Virginia . . . . . . 215
    • August 11. To the Inhabitants of Cincinnati and its Vicinity 215
    • 13. To the Inhabitants of Harrison County, Virginia 216
    • To the Young Men of Richmond, Virginia . . 217
    • To the Inhabitants of Accomac County, Virginia 218
    • 31. To the Senate and Assembly of the State of New York . . . . . . . 219
    • September 7. To the Boston Marine Society, Massachusetts . 220
    • 15. To the Cincinnati of South Carolina . . 222
    • 22. To the Grand Jury of Dutchess County, New York . . . . . . . 223
    • 26. To the Grand Jury of Ulster County, New York 224
    • To the Inhabitants of the Town of Newbern, North Carolina . . . . . 225
    • 26. To the Sixth Brigade of the Third Division of North Carolina Militia . . . . 226
    • October 3. To the Grand Jurors of Hampshire County, Massachusetts . . . . . . 227
    • 5. To the Inhabitants of Machias, District of Maine 227
    • 11. To the Officers of the First Brigade, Third Division of Massachusetts Militia . . . 228Edition: current; Page: [xiv]
    • 19. To the Militia and Inhabitants of Guilford County, North Carolina . . . . 229
    • 31. To the Officers of the Third Division of Georgia Militia . . . . . . . 230
    • 1799. April 3. To the Grand Jury of Morris County in New Jersey . . . . . . . 231
    • 8. To the Citizens, Inhabitants of the Mississippi Territory . . . . . . 232
    • 1800. June 5. To the Inhabitants of the City of Washington . 233
    • 11. To the Citizens of Alexandria . . . 233
    • July 1. To the Corporation of New London, Connecticut 234
    • August 15. To the Inhabitants of the County of Edgecombe, North Carolina . . . . . 235
    • 1801. March 26. To the Senate and House of Representatives of Massachusetts . . . . . 236
  • correspondence originally published in the boston patriot.
    • Preliminary Note . . . . . 239
    • To the Printers of the Boston Patriot . . 241
    • The inadmissible Principles of the King of England’s Proclamation of October 16, 1807, considered . . . . . . 312
  • general correspondence.
    • 1770. August 9. To Catharine Macaulay . . . . 331
    • 1773. December 17. To James Warren . . . . . 333
    • 22. To James Warren . . . . . 334
    • 1774. April 9. To James Warren . . . . . . 336
    • May 14. To William Woodfall . . . . . 337
    • June 25. To James Warren . . . . . 338
    • July 23. To John Tudor . . . . . . 340Edition: current; Page: [xv]
    • 25. Joseph Hawley to John Adams . . . 342
    • September 29. To William Tudor . . . . . 346
    • December 12. To Edward Biddle . . . . . 348
    • 28. To James Burgh . . . . . . 350
    • 1775. January 3. To James Warren . . . . . 352
    • March 15. To James Warren . . . . . 354
    • June 10. To Moses Gill . . . . . . 356
    • 18. To Elbridge Gerry . . . . . 357
    • To George Washington . . . . 359
    • July 29. To Josiah Quincy . . . . . 360
    • November 5. To Elbridge Gerry . . . . . 362
    • 14. Joseph Hawley to John Adams . . . 364
    • 23. To James Otis . . . . . . 365
    • 25. To Joseph Hawley . . . . . 366
    • 25. To Mrs. Mercy Warren . . . . 368
    • 1776. January 6. To George Washington . . . . 370
    • 15. Samuel Adams to John Adams . . . 371
    • April 29. To James Otis . . . . . . 374
    • May 18. R. H. Lee to John Adams . . . . 374
    • 26. To James Sullivan . . . . . 375
    • 29. To Benjamin Hichborn . . . . . 378
    • 30. To Samuel Cooper . . . . . 381
    • June 1. To Isaac Smith . . . . . . 382
    • 2. To Henry Knox . . . . . . 384
    • 3. To Patrick Henry . . . . . 386
    • 4. To Hugh Hughes . . . . . 388
    • 4. To Richard Henry Lee . . . . . 389
    • 9. To William Cushing . . . . . 390
    • 12. To John Lowell . . . . . . 392
    • 12. To Oakes Angier . . . . . 394
    • 12. To Francis Dana . . . . . 395Edition: current; Page: [xvi]
    • 14. To Samuel Chase . . . . . 396
    • 16. To James Warren . . . . . 398
    • 21. To Zabdiel Adams . . . . . 399
    • 22. To Benjamin Kent . . . . . 401
    • 22. To Nathanael Greene . . . . . 402
    • 22. To Samuel H. Parsons . . . . . 405
    • 23. To John Sullivan . . . . . 407
    • 23. To John Winthrop . . . . . 409
    • 24. To William Tudor . . . . . 411
    • 24. To Samuel Chase . . . . . 412
    • July 1. To Archibald Bullock . . . . 414
    • 1. To Samuel Chase . . . . . 415
    • 3. To Mrs. Adams . . . . . . 417
    • 9. To Samuel Chase . . . . . 420
    • 10. To Joseph Ward . . . . . . 422
    • 18. To Jonathan Mason . . . . . 422
    • 21. To J. D. Sergeant . . . . . 424
    • 25. To the Deputy Secretary of Massachusetts . 426
    • 27. To James Warren . . . . . 427
    • August 16. To Francis Dana . . . . . 429
    • 19. To Samuel H. Parsons . . . . . 431
    • 21. To Jonathan Mason . . . . . 432
    • 25. To Joseph Hawley . . . . . 433
    • 29. To William Tudor . . . . . 436
    • September 4. To Samuel Cooper . . . . . 439
    • 8. To James Warren . . . . . 440
    • 8. To Samuel Adams . . . . . 441
    • 16. Samuel Adams to John Adams . . . 441
    • 14. To Samuel Adams . . . . . 443
    • 30. Samuel Adams to John Adams . . . 446
    • 1777. January 9. Samuel Adams to John Adams . . . 448Edition: current; Page: [xvii]
    • 3. To James Warren . . . . . 450
    • 12. To James Warren . . . . . 452
    • March 18. To James Warren . . . . . 456
    • 21. To John Avery, Junior . . . . 457
    • 22. To William Tudor . . . . . 459
    • April 8. To William Gordon . . . . . 461
    • 27. To James Warren . . . . . 462
    • 29. To James Warren . . . . . 463
    • May 6. To James Warren . . . . . 464
    • 16. Thomas Jefferson to John Adams . . . 465
    • 26. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 466
    • October 17. B. Franklin to James Lovell . . . . 468
    • December 6. To Elbridge Gerry . . . . . 469
    • 24. To James Lovell . . . . . 471
    • 1778. February 8. To Benjamin Rush . . . . . 472
    • November 27. To James Lovell . . . . . 473
    • December 15. To Mrs. Warren . . . . . 474
    • 1779. February 20. To James Lovell . . . . . 476
    • 28. To Samuel Cooper . . . . . 478
    • June 13. James Lovell to John Adams (confidential) . . 480
    • September 10. To Elbridge Gerry . . . . . 483
    • 20. To Thomas McKean . . . . . 484
    • 27. James Lovell to John Adams (confidential) . . 486
    • 28. James Lovell to John Adams (confidential) . . 489
    • 29. Elbridge Gerry to John Adams . . . 491
    • October 4. Henry Laurens to John Adams . . . 496
    • 17. To James Lovell . . . . . 499
    • 25. To James Lovell . . . . . 501
    • 25. To Henry Laurens . . . . . 503
    • November 4. To Elbridge Gerry . . . . . 505
    • 4. To Benjamin Rush . . . . . 507Edition: current; Page: [xviii]
    • 1780. September 23. To Edmund Jenings . . . . . 509
    • October 2. To Jonathan Jackson . . . . . 510
    • 1782. June 17. To James Warren . . . . . 511
    • September 6. To James Warren . . . . . 513
    • November 17. To Jonathan Jackson . . . . . 514
    • 1783. April 12. To Arthur Lee . . . . . . 517
    • November 4. Samuel Adams to John Adams . . . . 519
    • 1784. January 14. Elbridge Gerry to John Adams . . . 521
    • February 22. To A. M. Cerisier . . . . . 522
    • March 24. To Charles Spener . . . . . 523
    • August 27. To James Warren . . . . . 524
    • November 4. To Francis Dana . . . . . 526
    • December 13. To Mrs. Warren . . . . . 528
    • 1785. February 25. The Abbé de Mably to John Adams . . . 529
    • April 24. To Benjamin Waterhouse . . . . 530
    • 27. To Samuel Adams . . . . . 532
    • August 21. To John Jebb . . . . . . 532
    • September 6. To Arthur Lee . . . . . . 536
    • 10. To John Jebb . . . . . . 538
    • 25. To John Jebb . . . . . . 543
    • December 12. R. H. Lee to John Adams . . . . 544
    • 1786. February 3. To Count Sarsfield . . . . . 546
    • April 13. Samuel Adams to John Adams . . . 547
    • May 26. To Cotton Tufts . . . . . 548
    • June 2. To Cotton Tufts . . . . . 549
    • 1787. January 27. To Benjamin Hichborn . . . . 550
    • June 12. To Philip Mazzei . . . . . 552
    • September 3. R. H. Lee to John Adams . . . . 553Edition: current; Page: [xix]
    • October 3. Arthur Lee to John Adams . . . . 554
    • 1788. December 2. To Benjamin Rush . . . . . 556
    • 3. To Thomas Brand-Hollis . . . . 557
    • 1789. May 20. To Richard Price . . . . . 558
    • August 18. To Henry Marchant . . . . . 559
    • 30. To Silvanus Bourn . . . . . 561
    • September 17. To James Sullivan . . . . . 562
    • November 7. To Marston Watson . . . . . 562
    • 1790. April 19. To Richard Price . . . . . 563
    • 18. To Benjamin Rush . . . . . 565
    • June 1. To Alexander Jardine . . . . . 567
    • 1. To Thomas Brand-Hollis . . . . 568
    • 11. To Thomas Brand-Hollis . . . . 569
    • September 13. To Thomas Welsh . . . . . 571
    • 1791. January 23. To John Trumbull . . . . . 572
    • March 10. To Hannah Adams . . . . . 574
    • 1797. April 6. To Joseph Ward . . . . . 574
    • 1799. January 3. To Henry Guest . . . . . 575
    • 1800. December 3. To Dr. Ogden . . . . . . 576
    • 28. To F. A. Vanderkemp . . . . . 576
    • 30. To Elbridge Gerry . . . . . 577
    • 1801. March 11. Christopher Gadsden to John Adams . . 578
    • 23. To Samuel Dexter . . . . . 580
    • 24. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 581
    • 31. To Benjamin Stoddert . . . . 582
    • April 6. To the Marquis de Lafayette . . . 583
    • 16. To Christopher Gadsden . . . . 584Edition: current; Page: [xx]
    • 1802. January 26. To Samuel A. Otis . . . . . 585
    • November 30. To Thomas Truxtun . . . . . 586
    • December 20. To Joshua Thomas, James Thacher, and William Jackson . . . . . . 587
    • 1804. March 3. To F. A. Vanderkemp . . . . . 588
    • 1805. February 5. To F. A. Vanderkemp . . . . . 589
    • 1807. May 1. To Benjamin Rush . . . . . 591
    • 11. To William Heath . . . . . 594
    • 21. To Benjamin Rush . . . . . 596
    • 23. To Benjamin Rush . . . . . 599
    • 1808. September 3. To Benjamin Rush . . . . . 600
    • 27. To Benjamin Rush . . . . . 602
    • December 26. To J. B. Varnum . . . . . 604
    • 1809. February 16. F. A. Vanderkemp . . . . . 608
    • March 11. To Skelton Jones . . . . . 610
    • 13. To Daniel Wright and Erastus Lyman . . 613
    • April 12. To Benjamin Rush . . . . . 616
    • 20. To Joseph Lyman . . . . . 619
    • June 19. To Samuel Perley . . . . . 621
    • December 15. To F. A. Vanderkemp . . . . . 624
    • 1810. January 21. To Benjamin Rush . . . . . 626
    • 1811. January 29. To David Sewall . . . . . 627
    • February 9. To Josiah Quincy . . . . . 629
    • 18. To Josiah Quincy . . . . . 633
    • August 28. To Benjamin Rush . . . . . 635
  • APPENDIX.
    • A. Broken Hints, to be communicated to the Committee of Congress for the Massachusetts, by Joseph Hawley . 641
Edition: current; Page: [1]

OFFICIAL LETTERS, MESSAGES, AND PUBLIC PAPERS.
CONTINUED.

Edition: current; Page: [2] Edition: current; Page: [3]

PUBLIC PAPERS
CONTINUED.

John Adams
Adams, John
23 July, 1799
Quincy
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver

TO O. WOLCOTT, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Sir,

Inclosed is a letter from Mr. Thaxter, relative to the light-house on Gay Head. I shall soon send you a drawing, if not a model, of an economical improvement of these lights, of Mr. Cunnington, which appears to me, but I may be mistaken, of greater importance than the great question, who shall be the keeper of one of them.

Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy
24 July, 1799
Philadelphia
John Adams
Adams, John

T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE, TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

There is in the Aurora of this city an uninterrupted stream of slander on the American government. I inclose the paper of this morning. It is not the first time that the editor has suggested, that you had asserted the influence of the British government in affairs of our own, and insinuated that it was obtained by bribery. The general readers of the Aurora will believe both. I shall give the paper to Mr. Rawle, and, if he thinks it libellous, desire him to prosecute the editor.

I do not know a member concerned in the administration of the affairs of the United States, who would not indignantly spurn at the idea of British influence; and as to bribes, they would disdain to attempt a vindication from the charge.

The article in the paper, marked 5, of an acknowledgment in my writings, that in case of a war with Great Britain, a foreign war is not the only one to be dreaded, probably refers to my Edition: current; Page: [4] letter of 12th September, 1795, to Mr. Monroe, in which, vindicating our state of neutrality and the British treaty, and exhibiting the evils to flow from a war with Great Britain, I say that in that case “it would be happy for us if we could contemplate only a foreign war, in which all hearts and hands might be united.”

The editor of the Aurora, William Duane, pretends that he is an American citizen, saying that he was born in Vermont, but was, when a child, taken back with his parents to Ireland, where he was educated. But I understand the facts to be, that he went from America prior to our revolution, remained in the British dominions till after the peace, went to the British East Indies, where he committed or was charged with some crime, and returned to Great Britain, from whence, within three or four years past, he came to this country to stir up sedition and work other mischief. I presume, therefore, that he is really a British subject, and, as an alien, liable to be banished from the United States. He has lately set himself up to be the captain of a company of volunteers, whose distinguishing badges are a plume of cock-neck feathers and a small black cockade with a large eagle. He is doubtless a United Irishman, and the company is probably formed to oppose the authority of the government; and in case of war and invasion by the French, to join them.

I am, with great respect, &c.
Timothy Pickering.
John Adams
Adams, John
27 July, 1799
Quincy
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO J. McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

I have received your letter of the 20th, and have no objection to the plan you propose of raising a company of cavalry. “Our means!”1 I never think of our means without shuddering. All the declamations, as well as demonstrations, of Trenchard and Gordon, Bolingbroke, Barnard and Walpole, Edition: current; Page: [5] Hume, Burgh and Burke, rush upon my memory and frighten me out of my wits. The system of debts and taxes is levelling all governments in Europe. We have a career to run, to be sure, and some time to pass before we arrive at the European crisis; but we must ultimately go the same way. There is no practicable or imaginable expedient to escape it, that I can conceive.

John Adams
Adams, John
1 August, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

I have received your favor of the 24th of July, inclosing an Aurora of July 24th, imbued with rather more impudence than is common to that paper. Is there any thing evil in the regions of actuality or possibility, that the Aurora has not suggested of me? You may depend upon it, I disdain to attempt a vindication of myself against any of the lies of the Aurora, as much as any man concerned in the administration of the affairs of the United States. If Mr. Rawle does not think this paper libellous, he is not fit for his office; and if he does not prosecute it, he will not do his duty.

The matchless effrontery of this Duane merits the execution of the alien law. I am very willing to try its strength upon him.

John Adams.
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy
1 August, 1799
Philadelphia
John Adams
Adams, John

T. PICKERING TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Private.)

Sir,

The day before yesterday I received from Mr. Charles Hall, of Northumberland county, in this State, a letter concerning a publication by Thomas Cooper, an Englishman, and a connection of Dr. Priestley, addressed to the readers of the Sunbury and Northumberland Gazette, on the 29th of June.1 This Edition: current; Page: [6] address has been republished in the Aurora of July 12th, which I now inclose.

By Mr. Hall’s information, Cooper was a barrister in England, and, like Dr. Priestley, a chemist, and a warm opposition man. Dr. Priestley was at the democratic assembly on the 4th of July, at Northumberland. But what is of most consequence, and demonstrates the Doctor’s want of decency, being an alien, his discontented and turbulent spirit, that will never be quiet under the freest government on earth, is “his industry in getting Mr. Cooper’s address printed in handbills, and distributed.” “This,” Mr. Hall adds, “is a circumstance capable of the fullest proof.” Cooper has taken care to get himself admitted to citizenship. I am sorry for it; for those who are desirous of maintaining our internal tranquillity must wish them both removed from the United States.

It is near a year since you authorized the expulsion of General Collot and one Schweitzer. Colonel Mentges, who was engaged (while I was at Trenton) in getting information of Schweitzer’s names and conduct, kept me long in suspense until at length he informed me that General Serrurier was in the country in disguise. I then thought it best not to give an alarm to him by arresting the other two. But after months of suspense, while inquiry was making, I was satisfied the information concerning Serrurier was groundless. Then so many months had elapsed, and the session of Congress commenced, when other business pressed, the pursuit of these aliens was overlooked. Colonel Mentges now informs me that Schweitzer is about to embark for Hamburgh; but Collot remains, and is deemed as much as ever disposed to do all the mischief in his power. He remains a prisoner of war to the British; and it would seem desirable to compel him to place himself under their jurisdiction, where he could do no harm.

M. Letombe not only exercises those services, which, on the withdrawing of his exequatur, he requested permission to render to his fellow-citizens in this country, but assumes and uses the title of Consul-General of the French Republic, just as he did formerly. He held the purse-strings of the republic in this country, and paid the bribes ordered by the French Minister Adet; the minister being gone, he is probably vested with powers adequate to the object. With much softness of manners, he Edition: current; Page: [7] is capable of submitting to, and doing, any thing corruptly which his government should direct.

The reiterated observations, that the alien law remains a dead letter, have induced me in this manner to bring the subject under your notice; and, waiting the expression of your will, I remain, most respectfully, yours, &c.

Timothy Pickering.

P. S. A prosecution against Duane, editor of the Aurora, has been instituted, on the charge of English secret-service money distributed in the United States; and I have desired Mr. Rawle to examine his newspaper and to institute new prosecutions as often as he offends. This, I hope, will meet with your approbation.

John Adams
Adams, John
3 August, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

I have received a long letter from Mr. Gerry of the 24th of July, with papers inclosed, numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, besides another paper of extracts of letters. I inclose extracts of his letter, together with all the numbers, and his paper of extracts. These numbers and last extracts I pray you to return to me, when you have made all the uses of them you wish.

These papers, I think, will convince you as they have me, of three points.

1. That Mr. Gerry’s stay in France, after the receipt of your letter by Mr. Humphreys, and especially after the publication of the despatches, was not gratuitous, but of indispensable and unavoidable necessity under the paws of arbitrary power, and therefore that his salary ought to be allowed him according to his account.

2. That Mr. Gerry ought not to be charged with the ships’ stores, or any part of them. I am ashamed to make any remarks on this head, and shall not do it unless driven to the necessity of it. If the necessities of our country require that we should order our ambassadors to take passages in small vessels, with all the sea captains and mariners that can be collected, I think a generous provision of articles in case of sickness and putrid fevers ought not to be charged to the ambassador.

Edition: current; Page: [8]

3. That the guilders ought not to be charged at forty cents. This point, however, I may mistake. I should be obliged to you for information. I wish right may be done according to law at the time the debt was contracted. Upon the whole, it is my opinion that Mr. Gerry’s account, as stated by himself, ought to be allowed.1

I am, Sir, with all due respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
4 August, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

The inclosed protest and certificates I received last night, with the letter from Captain Ebenezer Giles, late commander of the schooner Betsey. This gentleman made me a visit some weeks ago, to complain to me in person of the horrid treatment he received from the commander of the ship Daphne, a British vessel of war. He has now sent me the papers, and expects that government will espouse his cause. I think the papers should be communicated to Mr. Liston, and sent to Mr. King.2 There is a very sour leaven of malevolence in many English and in many American minds against each other, which has given and will continue to give trouble to both governments; but by patience and perseverance I hope we shall succeed in wearing it out, and in bringing the people on both sides to treat each other like friends.

John Adams
Adams, John
5 August, 1799
Quincy
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO B. STODDERT, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.

Your two letters of the 29th, and one of the 30th July, are before me. I know not who are meant by G. and C. in Captain Edition: current; Page: [9] Perry’s letter; but I think there ought to be some inquiry into the justice of his insinuations. I fear that the officers and crew of the General Greene were too long on shore at the Havana, and there caught the infection which has obliged him to leave his station and bury so many. The news, however, of the politeness and friendship of the governor and admiral is not the less pleasing. I return you Captain Perry’s letter. Although I am very solicitous to strike some strokes in Europe for the reasons detailed in your letter proposing the expedition, yet I feel the whole force of the importance of deciding all things in the West Indies, if possible, and therefore shall consent to the alteration you propose, if you continue to think it necessary.

There is one alteration in our policy, which appears to me indispensable. Instead of sending the prisoners we take, back into Guadaloupe, there to embark again in the first privateer, we must send them all to the United States, or allow them to work and fight on board our ships. At least, if any are returned, their written parole ought to be taken, that they will not serve until exchanged. One suggestion more. I like your plan of employing all our great frigates on separate stations. I have more ideas in my head on this subject than I am willing to commit to writing. One idea more. I think we must have Bermuda sloops, Virginia pilot boats, or Marblehead schooners, or whaleboats, in one word, some very light small fast-sailing vessels, furnished with oars as well as sails, to attend our frigates, and pursue the French pirates in among their own rocks and shoals to their utter destruction. Talbot’s unwarrantable suspicion of your want of confidence in him shall never be any disadvantage to you. Indeed, I believe I ought not to have let you see that anxious expression of a brave man. I know his opinion of you to be very high as a man of talents and business.

John Adams
Adams, John
5 August, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

I have received your favor of July 30th, inclosing Mr. King’s letter of 5th June, which I return. There is not a question in Edition: current; Page: [10] mathematics or physics, not the square of the circle or the universal menstruum, which gives me less solicitude or inquietude than the negotiations with Russia and the Porte. Mr. King’s official assurances induced me to nominate the missions, and if there has been any thing hasty in the business, it was Mr. King’s haste. I know that both Russia and the Porte have as much interest in the connections proposed, as we have, and that the stiff and stately formalities about it are exactly such as France has practised upon us these twenty years. The object is to assume the air of granting favors, when they receive them, and to make the American government and people believe they are not yet independent and can do nothing of themselves. If we are retarded at all, it will be owing to the artifices of intermeddlers, and instead of having one farthing of money the less to pay, I know it will cost us more.

John Adams
Adams, John
6 August, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

I received late last evening your favor of the 31st of July, inclosing a triplicate of Mr. Murray’s letter of the 17th of May, and a copy, certified by Mr. Murray, on the 18th of May, of a letter of Charles Maurice Talleyrand, dated Paris, le 23e Floréal de l’an 7 de la République Française une et indivisible.

Sovereign to sovereign, and minister to minister, is a maxim in the cabinets of Europe, and although neither the President of the United States, nor the executive Directory, are sovereigns in their countries, the same relations exist between them and their ministers, and, therefore, the reason of the maxim is applicable to them. It is far below the dignity of the President of the United States to take any notice of Talleyrand’s impertinent regrets, and insinuations of superfluities.1 You or Mr. Murray Edition: current; Page: [11] may answer them as you please in your correspondence with one another, or with the French minister. I will say to you, however, that I consider this letter as the most authentic intelligence yet received in America of the successes of the coalition. That the design is insidious and hostile at heart, I will not say.1 Time will tell the truth. Meantime, I dread no longer their diplomatic skill. I have seen it, and felt it, and been the victim of it these twenty-one years. But the charm is dissolved. Their magic is at an end in America. Still, they shall find, as long as I am in office, candor, integrity, and, as far as there can be any confidence or safety, a pacific and friendly disposition. If the spirit of exterminating vengeance ever arises, it shall be conjured up by them, not me. In this spirit I shall pursue the negotiation, and I expect2 the coöperation of the heads of departments. Our operations and preparations by sea and land are not to be relaxed in the smallest degree. On the contrary, I wish them to be animated with fresh energy. St. Domingo and the Isle of France, and all other parts of the French dominions, are to be treated in the same manner as if no negotiation was going on. These preliminaries recollected, I pray you to lose no time in conveying to Governor Davie his commission, and to the Chief Justice and his Excellency, copies of these letters from Mr. Murray and Talleyrand, with a request that, laying aside all other employments, they make immediate preparations for embarking. Whether together or asunder, from a northern, a southern, or a middle port, I leave to them. I am willing to send Truxtun, or Barry, or Talbot, with them; consult the Secretary of the Navy and heads of department on this point. Although I have little confidence in the issue of this business, I wish to delay nothing, to omit nothing.

The principal points, indeed, all the points of the negotiation, were so minutely considered and approved by me and all the heads of department, before I left Philadelphia, that nothing remains but to put them into form and dress. This service I pray you to perform as promptly as possible. Lay your draught before the heads of department, receive their corrections, if Edition: current; Page: [12] they shall judge any to be necessary, and send them to me as soon as possible. My opinions and determinations on these subjects are so well made up, at least to my own satisfaction, that not many hours will be necessary for me to give you my ultimate sentiments concerning the matter or form of the instructions to be given to the envoys.1

I have the honor, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
8 August, 1799
Quincy
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO B. STODDERT, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.

Sir,

I received last night your favor of the 2d of this month. I am sincerely sorry for the resignation of Captain Truxtun. Although you have not explained to me his motives, I presume the decision, which gave rise to them, was founded in principles of sound policy and eternal justice, as it was made upon honor and with conscientious deliberation. If it were now to be made, it would be the same, though my son or my father were in the place of Captain Truxtun. I have no more to say. If we lose Captain Truxtun2, we shall soon regain Captain Dale. Meantime I am very desirous that Captain Decatur should take the Constellation. If, however, he prefers the merchants’ frigate, as you call her, I will not urge him from his bias. Of Captain Barron I know very little, but repose myself with great confidence upon your judgment. I now request of you that Barry and Talbot may be separated. I have reasons for this, which it is unnecessary to detail. Not from any misunderstanding or dislike between them that I know of or suspect, but it is best the great frigates should have separate stations.

Edition: current; Page: [13]
John Adams
Adams, John
13 August, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

And now, Sir, what shall I say to you on the subject of “libels and satires? Lawless things, indeed!” I have received your private letter of the 1st of this month,1 and considered the subject of it as fully as the pressure of other business of more importance would allow me time to do. Of Priestley and Cooper I will say no more at present than to relate to you two facts.

Anecdote first. Dr. Priestley’s old friend, and my old acquaintance, Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, the celebrated M. P., soon after his arrival in Boston, came up to Quincy with his lady on a visit to us, who had visited his family in London. I was absent. They dined with Mrs. Adams, and in the course of conversation Mr. Vaughan told her that Mr. Cooper was a rash man, and had led Dr. Priestley into all his errors in England, and he feared would lead him into others in America.

Anecdote the second. At the time when we were inquiring for an agent to conduct the affairs of the United States before the commissioners at Philadelphia, Mr. Cooper wrote to me a solicitation for that appointment, and Dr. Priestley wrote me a letter, strongly recommending him. Both made apologies for his reputation as a democrat, and gave intimation of a reformation. I wondered that either could think it possible that the people of the United States could be satisfied or contented to intrust interests of such magnitude to an Englishman, or any other foreigner. I wondered that either should think it compatible with my duty, to prefer a stranger to the great number of able natives, who wished for this trust. But so it was. As it has been, from the beginning, a rule not to answer letters of solicitation or recommendation for offices, I never answered either. Mr. Read was appointed, and the disappointed candidate is now, it seems, indulging his revenge. A meaner, a more artful, or a more malicious libel has not appeared. As far as it alludes to me, I despise it; but I have no doubt it is a libel against the whole government, and as such ought to be prosecuted.1 Edition: current; Page: [14] I do not think it wise to execute the alien law against poor Priestley at present. He is as weak as water, as unstable as Reuben, or the wind. His influence is not an atom in the world.

Having long possessed evidence the most satisfactory to my mind, that Collot is a pernicious and malicious intriguer, I have been always ready and willing to execute the alien law upon him. We are now about to enter on a negotiation with France, but this is no objection against expelling from this country such an alien as he is. On the contrary, it is more necessary to remove such an instrument of mischief from among our people, for his whole time will be employed in exciting corrupt divisions, whether he can succeed or not. As to Letombe, if you can prove “that he paid the bribes ordered by the French Minister, Adet,” or any thing like it, he ought to be sent away too. But perhaps it would be better to signify that it is expected that he go, than to order him out at first by proclamation. There is a respect due to public commissions, which I should wish to preserve as far as may be consistent with safety.

The alien law, I fear, will upon trial be found inadequate to the object intended, but I am willing to try it in the case of Collot.2

Edition: current; Page: [15]
John Adams
Adams, John
14 August, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Inclosed are four petitions for mercy. One from Conrad Marks, Frederick Heyney, Anthony Stahler, John Getman, Valentine Kuder, Jacob Kline, David Schaffer, and Philip Desh; another from George Schaffer, Daniel Schwarts, Henry Stahler, Christian Rhodes, and Henry Schaffer; a third from Jacob Eyerman and John Everhart; and a fourth from John Fries; all supported by numerous petitioners in their behalf.

I wish Dr. Priestley could see these petitions, and be asked to consider whether it would be a pleasant thing to have an equal number of his neighbors in Northumberland brought by his exertions and example into a situation equally humble. I pray you to communicate these petitions to the heads of department, and especially to the Attorney-General. I wish all to consider whether it is proper that any answer should be given, by me or my order, to any of them. I think it may be said that these people are brought to humble themselves “in dust and ashes before their offended country.” That repentance, however, which, in the sight of an all penetrating heaven, may be sufficiently sincere to obtain the pardon of sins, cannot always be sufficiently certain in the eyes of mortals to justify the pardon of crimes.

John Adams
Adams, John
16 August, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

I have received your favor of the 10th. Mr. Shaw discovered his omission of numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, and the paper of extracts, and sent them on the next day. I hope you received them in course. I have read the address to the independent electors of Pennsylvania, and am very curious to know where all this will end.1 The trial will bring out some whimsical Edition: current; Page: [16] things.1 At present I will say nothing. I have no apprehension for myself or the public from the consequences.

John Adams
Adams, John
23 August, 1799
Quincy
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO B. STODDERT, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.

My thoughts and feelings are exactly in unison with yours, expressed in your favor of the 17th.2 I would propose that our envoys be landed at Lisbon, and take an overland journey to Paris, through Madrid. This will give them an opportunity of gaining much information, useful to their country. In this case the frigate may take Mr. Smith and carry him to Constantinople, or the envoys may be landed at Bilbao or Bessarabia. The frigate in either case may cruise, and take up the envoys on their return at Lisbon or Bilbao, or we can send another vessel for them to any place. It will be total ruin to any of our frigates to lie in French harbors all winter. I hope our envoys will not be long in negotiation. Their instructions will be precise, and they may be as categorical as they please.

John Adams
Adams, John
24 August, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

I have received your favor of the 16th, and read the letter of Mr. B. H. Phillips, our consul at Curaçao, of 20th July, and the papers inclosed with it, which I now return. It is right to communicate these documents to Mr. Van Polanen and to Mr. Murray, and to remonstrate in clear language to the Batavian government against the partiality of the governor Edition: current; Page: [17] and council,1 and the scandalous conduct of the frigate. But still, I think we have something to do to teach our own American seamen, and especially captains, more discretion. At such a time and in such a place, the sailors ought to have had more prudence than to have gone on Sunday or any other day into dance-houses with French sailors, and the captains ought to have known that it was their duty to apply to the government of the place to suppress riots, rather than go and join in them in person, though in order to suppress them. If any legal evidence can be produced to prove that the governor and council are more or less concerned in the privateers, it would be a ground of very serious representations to their superiors.

I think it, and always thought it, unfortunate, that when the authority was given to interdict commerce with the French islands, it was not extended to others, especially Dutch. I mention these in particular, because the interested character and the humiliated condition in which they were known to be, should have suggested the necessity of the measure. The motives and reasons, however, for adding the Spaniards, Swedes, and Danes, were not much less.

If an expedition to restore the Stadtholder is undertaken in concert with the King of Prussia, it may succeed; if without him, it is more uncertain. I make no dependence on any such probable events.2 By the way, some weeks ago you gave me encouragement to expect a letter from our minister at Berlin, which you had received. In the multiplicity of business you have omitted it. I wish to see it as soon as possible. If at the future session Congress should authorize the suspension of commerce with Swedish and Danish islands as well as Dutch, I should think it worth while to send a minister to those courts. But I will not promise it shall be Mr. Smith. In my opinion, he ought to go to Constantinople.

Edition: current; Page: [18]
John Adams
Adams, John
29 August, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

I received last night your favor of the 23d. I am very glad to be informed that the instructions for the envoys will be prepared in a few days,1 and that you have written to Mr. Davie. What think you of our envoys landing at Lisbon, and the frigate that carries them taking Mr. Smith to Constantinople, or cruising on the Spanish coast or in the Mediterranean? I am not for delaying the negotiation with the Turks, or any other measure, on account of the negotiation with France. In my opinion, the charm is broken. It has been broken from the moment the invasion of England was laid aside. That project, raised and supported with infinite artifice, kept up the terror and frenzy of the world; but it is over, and can never be again excited.

I had like to have said that the alarm of the yellow fever gives me more uneasiness than any other alarm. The dispute of the commissioners under the 6th article gives me much concern.2 I shall write you in a few days on that subject. My mind is made up thus far. The treaty, as far as it depends on me, shall be executed with candor and good faith. No unworthy artifice or chicanery shall be practised on my part, no, not though the consequence should be the payment of all the demands. We must, however, do our utmost to obtain an explanation that may shelter our country from injustice.

Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin
29 August, 1799
Trenton
John Adams
Adams, John

B. STODDERT, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

The officers are now all at this place, and not badly accommodated. Will you, Sir, pardon the liberty I take, not in my official but private character, in expressing a wish that it may not be inconvenient for you to join them here, before our Edition: current; Page: [19] ministers depart for France? It may happen that a knowledge of recent events in Europe may be acquired just before the sailing of the ministers, which would make some alteration in their instructions necessary; and possibly these events might be of a nature to require the suspension for a time of the mission.

I could urge both public considerations, and those which relate more immediately to yourself, to justify the wish I have ventured to express; but I will only say, that I have the most perfect conviction that your presence here, before the departure of the ministers, would afford great satisfaction to the best disposed and best informed men in that part of the country with which I am best acquainted; and I believe, to the great mass of good men all over the United States.

I will only add that I write this letter without communication with any person; that if I err, the error is all my own. In my motives I cannot be mistaken.

I have the honor to be, &c. &c.
Ben. Stoddert.
John Adams
Adams, John
4 September, 1799
Quincy
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN STODDERT.
(Private.)

Sir,

I have received your kind letter of the 29th of August, and I thank you for the friendly sentiments expressed in it, in your private character.

You urge me to join you and the other public officers at Trenton, before our ministers depart for France, and this from considerations which relate more immediately to myself, as well as others of a public nature.

For myself, I have neither hopes nor fears. But if I could see any public necessity or utility in my presence at Trenton, I would undertake the journey, however inconvenient to myself or my family. I would not, indeed, hesitate, if it were only to give any reasonable satisfaction to the “best disposed and best informed men.” But you must be sensible that for me to spend two or three months at Trenton with unknown accommodations, cannot be very agreeable. Alone, and in private, I can put up with any thing; but in my public station, you know I cannot. The terms of accommodation with France were so minutely Edition: current; Page: [20] considered and discussed by us all, before I took leave of you at Philadelphia, that I suppose there will be no difference of sentiments among us. The draught will soon be laid before you. If any considerable difference should unexpectedly arise between the heads of department, I will come at all events. Otherwise, I see no necessity for taking a step that will give more éclat to the business than I think it deserves. I have no reason nor motive to precipitate the departure of the envoys. If any information of recent events in Europe should arrive, which, in the opinion of the heads of department, or of the envoys themselves, would render any alteration in their instructions necessary or expedient, I am perfectly willing that their departure should be suspended, until I can be informed of it, or until I can join you. I am well aware of the possibility of events which may render a suspension, for a time, of the mission, very proper.1 France has always been a pendulum. The extremest vibration to the left has always been suddenly followed by the extremest vibration to the right. I fear, however, that the extremest vibration has not yet been swung.

Upon this subject I solicit your confidential communications by every post. As I have ever considered this manœuvre of the French as the deepest and subtlest, which the genius of the Directory and their minister has ever invented for the division of our people, I am determined, if they ever succeed in it, the world shall be convinced that their success was owing either to want of capacity, or want of support, in

John Adams.

P. S. Though I have marked this letter private, you may use it at your discretion for the purposes intended.

Edition: current; Page: [21]
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy
9 September, 1799
Trenton
John Adams
Adams, John

T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE, TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I have the honor to inclose the opinions of the Attorney-General and heads of departments on the petitions of John Fries and others, insurgents in Bucks and Northampton counties in Pennsylvania, that no pardon should now be granted, nor any answer given.

I am revising the draught of instructions for the envoys to France, and making the alternations which have been agreed on. I expect to transmit them to you by to-morrow’s mail; and am, with great respect, &c.

Timothy Pickering.
Charles Lee
Lee, Charles
2 September, 1799
Alexandria
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

(Inclosed.)
C. LEE, ATTORNEY-GENERAL, TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

On the 29th of last month I had the honor to receive your letter of the 26th, inclosing the President’s of the 14th, and the several petitions for pardon in favor of John Fries and others, charged with high treason, and George Schaffer and others, convicted of misdemeanor, and Jacob Eyerman and John Everhart, charged with misdemeanor, in the late insurrection in Northampton and other counties in Pennsylvania.

The question proposed by the President affecting the liberty and property of some individuals, and the lives of others, has received my particular attention and most mature deliberation. I understand it as meaning whether any of the suppliants should be pardoned; for unless a pardon is granted in some of the cases, I am humbly of opinion no answer should be returned in any.

The power of pardoning criminals is vested in the Chief Magistrate for the public good. In deciding upon a petition for pardon, it is to be considered whether it will more conduce to the public good to deny or to grant it. To a benevolent and generous heart acts of mercy are so pleasing as often to overpower discretion, so that mercy to a few is cruelty to many.

Edition: current; Page: [22]

In the course of five years, two insurrections against the lawful authority of the United States have happened in Pennsylvania. At a great public expense they have been each quelled. The first was more alarming, and was quelled at a much greater expense, than the last. The offenders in the first experienced the presidential clemency, and not a traitor suffered the punishment of the law. The offenders in the last, charged with treason, are yet all to be tried; and in the late defence of Fries, I understand, the dangerous doctrine was avowed by his advocates, of whom the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was one, that to resist by force the execution of a general revenue law of the United States, with intent that it should never be executed in certain counties, amounted not to treason, but to a misdemeanor only.

Pennsylvania, possessing very many good, is not without a considerable number of bad citizens, some of whom are ignorant, refractory, headstrong, and wicked. From these circumstances, I think an exemplary punishment of rebellious conduct is more necessary and will be more salutary in that State than in any other, and therefore that considerations of public policy require that the most criminal of the insurgents should be left to the due and impartial course of the law.

If this be most proper in regard to those whose lives are in jeopardy, it certainly is most proper towards those who have been or shall be convicted of misdemeanors, and whose punishments do not or shall not exceed the measure of their crimes.

In the treason cases, it is uncertain who, if any, will be convicted; but after judgment it will be then in season and also in the power of the President to discriminate, and to arrest the sword of justice, in regard to those who shall appear to have the best claim to his gracious and merciful interposition.

The like opportunity will occur in relation to those who shall be hereafter convicted of misdemeanor. As to such as have been already sentenced, no special circumstances are stated which distinguish the cases, and as no sufficient cause appears for pardoning all of them, there is no ground for exempting any from the punishment which they have been ordered to suffer; and consequently all should satisfy the sentences of the law. I believe Eyerman is a German priest, who but lately came into America, and instantly entered on the function of sowing sedition, Edition: current; Page: [23] and preparing his followers for works of darkness, disobedience, and rebellion. He has not been tried, and there is no danger of his being punished beyond his deserts.

Upon the whole, it is my mature opinion that the President should not return any answer to either of the petitions, and that no pardon should be granted under present circumstances to any of the petitioners.

I am, Sir, very respectfully, &c.
Charles Lee.

Eyerman is a German priest, who has been in America about two years, and not only thus early a sower of sedition in the country where he has found an asylum, but of an infamous, immoral character. Such has been my information.

Timothy Pickering.

We entirely concur in the Attorney-General’s opinion, that none of the petitioners should now be pardoned, nor any answer given them.

Timothy Pickering.
Oliver Wolcott.
James McHenry.
Ben. Stoddert.
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy
11 September, 1799
Trenton
John Adams
Adams, John

T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE, TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Private.)

Sir,

The general alarm of the yellow fever in Philadelphia, occasioned the removal of the public offices to this place. This has caused some delay in finishing the draught of instructions for the envoys to the French republic, which I had the honor of transmitting you yesterday,1 the draught having been previously examined, altered, and amended, conformably to the opinions of the heads of department. I now inclose some papers relating to the subject, which want of time prevented my forwarding yesterday.

Edition: current; Page: [24]

Of the three leading points which were fixed before your departure from Philadelphia, we have ventured to propose a deviation in one only, that respecting the rôle d’equipage.1 For, however clear in our own minds is the right of American citizens to a full indemnification for captures and condemnations for want of that document, after much deliberation, we thought, if France would submit that and other questions to a board impartially constituted, as proposed in the draught, or in secret declarations or stipulations agree to the specific rules of adjudications therein detailed, that the people of America might think the negotiation ought not to be frustrated, as it might be, by making such a concession an ultimatum. We thought, indeed, that the captures of our vessels, because their cargoes were produced or fabricated in the British dominions, perfectly unjustifiable, and a case more unexceptionable, if made an ultimatum. But if France agrees to the rules of adjudication, or to the mode of constituting a board of commissioners, as now proposed, we conceived that the United States would be satisfied.

I propose to send a copy of the draught of instructions to Mr. Ellsworth, and to invite his observations upon them, as it is important that he should be satisfied. And if want of time should prevent a second transmission of the instructions to you, (which, however, I think will not be the case,) may I take the liberty of proposing, if your judgment should not be definitively made up on particular points, that we may, if Mr. Ellsworth should desire it, and we all concur in opinion with him, make alterations in the draught? Provided that none of the ultimata be varied, except that which prescribes the mode of organizing the board of commissioners.

On the 26th ultimo I received the inclosed private letter from Mr. Murray, dated the 18th of June. The “very portentous scene,” which, by his advices from Paris, “appeared to be opening there,” doubtless referred to what the newspapers have called “another explosion.” The dismission of Treilhard from the Directory, and the forced resignation of la Reveillère le Peaux and Merlin, which, with the other proceedings of the two councils, demonstrate that the dictatorial power of the Directory is overturned, have suggested to the heads of department some Edition: current; Page: [25] doubts of the expediency of an immediate departure of the envoys.

The men lately in power, who gave the assurances you required, relative to the mission, being ousted in a manner indicative of a revolution in the public mind, and, according to Mr. Murray’s letter, the threats, now first uttered by the military, of a king, show such instability and uncertainty in the government of France, and are ominous of such further and essential changes, probably at no great distance, as made it appear to us a duty to submit to your consideration the question of a temporary suspension of the mission to that country, where a state of things, and that final result which you long since foresaw and predicted, appear to be rapidly advancing. Such a suspension would seem to us to place the United States in a more commanding situation, and enable the President to give such a turn to the mission as the impending changes should in his opinion demand.

Or if a revival of the system of terror should first take place, which the last arrival of intelligence at New York now shows to be probable, still the question of suspending the mission seems to the heads of department to merit serious consideration. It is an undoubted fact, that the character of the late change at Paris has been purely Jacobinical. The clubs have been again opened, and the Jacobins are everywhere active to electrify the people.1

I have the honor to be, with great respect, &c.
Timothy Pickering.
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin
13 September, 1799
Trenton
John Adams
Adams, John

B. STODDERT, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I am honored with your letter of the 4th instant, and cannot but lament that the accommodations to be obtained here are very far inferior to such as would be suitable for the President Edition: current; Page: [26] of the United States. Indeed, I am afraid none could be obtained which would not be extremely inconvenient and disagreeable to both Mrs. Adams and yourself. Yet having no motive unconnected with your honor and that of the government, I hope you will pardon my freedom in adhering to my wish that you would join the officers here, before the departure of the mission to France. Or, if that should be suspended, that you would not give the order for the suspension before your arrival here. Colonel Pickering has addressed a letter to you on this subject, with the concurrence of the other departments. If you should be determined on the measure, nothing will be lost by delaying to take it for a month, for I am sure the commissioners will not sooner than that time be ready to sail; and Mr. Davie, who will leave North Carolina the 20th September, could not be stopped much short of Trenton, if you were to give orders for stopping him. On the other hand, if you should consider the measure as a questionable one, you might, a month hence, decide it, with the advantage of the lights which all the advices to be received for a month, which may be very important, might throw on the subject. Whether it be decided to suspend the mission, or otherwise, the decision may and will be important. It will be a great measure either way, and will be attended with consequences in proportion to its magnitude. All the solemnity possible should perhaps be given to the decision. General Washington, one of the most attentive men in the world to the manner of doing things, owed a great proportion of his celebrity to this circumstance. It appears to me, that the decision in question would be better supported throughout the country, if it be taken when you are surrounded by the officers of government and the ministers, even if it should be against their unanimous advice.

I will state, as briefly as I can, other reasons which influence my wishes on the subject of your coming to Trenton.

I have never entertained the opinion, prevalent with many persons, that we could not, during the present war in Europe, maintain peace with both France and England, though I believe it will be a difficult matter. There are already indications that England looks at us with a jaundiced eye, arising in part perhaps from the effort to treat with France, in part from the representations made by their commissioners and their minister, on Edition: current; Page: [27] the subject of the commission under the sixth article of the treaty. No doubt their commissioners had for a long time been prejudiced and soured, and have in some instances acted as if it was their desire to plunge the two nations into war. Our own, I believe, have been actuated by pure views, but the difference between them on almost every question has been so wide, that it is difficult to conceive that both sides could have been rational, and at the same time possess a desire to bring the business to a just conclusion. Mr. Liston, mild and reasonable as he may appear on other subjects, has not been so on this, and Mr. Rich, who is to return to England in the packet, has written a letter to our commissioners sufficiently indicative of a mind highly irritated.

We have a right to make peace with France without asking the permission of England, and we are not to submit to unreasonable and unjust constructions of the treaty for fear of her resentment. It is our inclination and our policy to yield to no injustice, and to do none. Acting on this system, if England insists on a quarrel, however we may lament the calamity, we need not fear the result, if our own people are satisfied that the government has acted in all instances right. But amicable and candid explanations are due to England and to ourselves. I should presume it would be very proper to assure her immediately, that to obtain peace with France we would sacrifice no just right of England; and that a fair and candid representation of the true grounds of difference between the commissioners should be immediately furnished to Mr. King, with assurances of the sincere desire of the government to execute justly the treaty according to its true meaning. Perhaps it might be found that some constructions of our commissioners might be yielded, and that England might be told on what fair ground we could meet her.

Colonel Pickering is certainly too much occupied with the business of his department to find time to understand this subject so well as our commissioners and the Attorney-General must do; and it has therefore appeared to me that the best course would be to call these gentlemen, at least the Attorney-General, to the seat of government, to prepare the representation, which should afterwards be pruned, by the heads of department, of every thing like acrimony, and of any argument, if any such Edition: current; Page: [28] found admittance, calculated to confute rather than to convince. Thus corrected, it might be submitted to the President. Now, it seems to me that this course could not be adopted without the direction of the President, nor, indeed, so well executed without his presence; and I think the peace of the country may depend upon taking the true ground now, and upon promptly carrying into effect the proper measures to prevent a misunderstanding, where it is so much our interest to be understood.

The great number of captures and condemnations, at Providence and Jamaica, of our vessels, has produced a sourness among the best of our merchants, which will increase. If they arise from the avarice and iniquity of the judges, without any agency on the part of government, they would cease on a representation of the injury. If they are countenanced by the government, this would probably cease, and reparation be made, if misrepresentations and prejudices are removed. At all events, it is degrading to our government to suffer them to continue, without an effort to prevent them.

On the subject of the mission to France, your character is known throughout the whole of the country; the gentlemen who fill the great offices more immediately connected with the President, however high their merit, and however respected, where known, not having before acted on the great theatre in conspicuous stations, are not enough known to inspire the same degree of confidence; and it may not be believed that the instructions to the ministers will wear exactly the same complexion, if you are at Quincy, when they are delivered, as they would have done, had you been on the spot.

As to the considerations which I meant as more immediately relating to yourself, I have been apprehensive that artful designing men might make such use of your absence from the seat of government, when things so important to restore peace with one country, and to preserve it with another, were transacting, as to make your next election less honorable than it would otherwise be.

I have thus, Sir, in a very tedious letter indulged myself in great freedoms. I have given my opinions with candor, but with great diffidence; for I am sensible that I am but a poor politician. I hope you will not think the trouble of an answer at all necessary. Whatever course you take, my inclination Edition: current; Page: [29] will prompt me to think right, and my duty to support. I will, however, observe, that if you should come to Trenton by the 10th of October, it will be in time to see the ministers, should they proceed on the mission; in one month later, it will be safe to go to Philadelphia, where I presume you would choose to be, about that time.

I have the honor to be, &c., &c.
Ben. Stoddert.
John Adams
Adams, John
14 September, 1799
Quincy
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO B. STODDERT, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.

Sir,

I received last night your favor of the 5th. The gentleman you mention is a native of Boston, and well known. I shall make no observations on his character. None of the suspicions of the Americans in France, which the gentleman of Maryland mentioned to you, will surprise the federalists in this quarter.1 But the popularity of the French has so dwindled away, that no impression can be made to any great effect in their favor. The nomination of envoys to treat has taken away so many pretexts from some, and given such opportunities for others to “back out,” as my wagoners express themselves, that the French government at least has few advocates left. Hichborn is a man of talents, but of such mysterious, enigmatical, and incomprehensible conduct, that no party seems to have much confidence in him, though he is supposed to be inveterate in opposition to federal men and measures.

John Adams
Adams, John
16 September, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

Saturday, the 14th, at night, I received, by the hand of William Smith, Esquire, your favor of the 10th. I have once read, with some care, the important State paper inclosed with it, and find little to add, little to diminish, and very little to Edition: current; Page: [30] correct.1 You do not inform me whether it has been considered by the heads of department, and received their corrections or approbation, but intimate that you should forward, by the mail of the next day, some papers respecting it. I shall wait for these, and then give them, and the excellent composition they are connected with, a more attentive perusal, and write my sentiments fully on the subject. Little time shall be lost. The revolution in the Directory, and the revival of the clubs and private societies in France, and the strong appearances of another reign of democratic fury and sanguinary anarchy approaching, seem to justify a relaxation of our zeal for the sudden and hasty departure of our envoys. If they remain in America till all apprehensions of the autumnal equinoctial gales are passed, it will be so much the more agreeable for them, and not less safe for the public. I am not sanguine enough to anticipate news of the arrival of Prince Charles or Marshal Suwarrow at Paris, or of a league with the King of Prussia, to restore monarchy to France; but I think we may expect news by the middle of October, which it may be advantageous for us to know, before the departure of our envoys.2 I would come on to Trenton before their sailing, if there were reason to suppose there would be any utility in such a sacrifice. But I presume the whole business may be as well conducted by letter and the post. If you think otherwise, you will please to let me know.

John Adams
Adams, John
18 September, 1799
Quincy
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO J. McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

I have ruminated so long upon the case of Andrew Anderson, that I am under some apprehension that my feelings have grown too strong, and produced a result that will not appear to you perfectly right. I consider Cox and his associates Edition: current; Page: [31] as very artful men, and, being probably considered as men of great consequence in that country, they had the influence to seduce a poor soldier to a crime, for which they probably deserve to be punished, as well as he. In announcing the pardon inclosed, you may order what solemnities you think fit. He may receive his pardon at the gallows, where it may be announced that it will be the last time such a crime will be pardoned.1

Oliver Ellsworth
Ellsworth, Oliver
18 September, 1799
Hartford
John Adams
Adams, John

OLIVER ELLSWORTH TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

If the present convulsion in France, and the symptoms of a greater change at hand, should induce you, as many seem to expect, to postpone for a short time the mission to that country, I wish for the earliest notice of it. The Circuit Court in this State and Vermont fell through last spring from the indisposition of Judge Chase, and must now fall through again from the indisposition of Judge Cushing, unless I attend them. I am beginning the court here, and should proceed on to Vermont, if I was sure of not being called on in the mean time to embark. It is, Sir, my duty to obey, not advise, and I have only to hope that you will not disapprove of the method I take to learn the speediest intimation of yours.2

I have the honor to be, &c.
Oliver Ellsworth.
John Adams
Adams, John
19 September, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

On the 17th, at night, I had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 11th, and have given it that attention which the great importance of its contents deserves.3 On the subject of the rôle d’équipage, I feel a strong reluctance to any relaxation Edition: current; Page: [32] of the peremptory demand we agreed on before I left Philadelphia, and General Marshall’s observations are very just, yet it may be wiser to leave it to the discretion of the envoys, under the limitations suggested, and I shall acquiesce in the opinion of the heads of department. I am glad you have sent a copy to the chief justice. I had several long conversations with him last winter, on the whole subject. He appears to me to agree most perfectly in sentiment with me upon every point of our policy towards France and England, and this policy was founded only in perfect purity of moral sentiment, natural equity, and Christian faith towards both nations. I am, therefore, under no hesitation in the propriety of sending the draught to him, nor in consenting that, if want of time should prevent a second transmission of the instructions to me, the heads of department, in concert with him, may make alterations in the draught, within the limitations you propose. Indeed, Mr. Ellsworth is so great a master of business, and his colleagues are so intelligent, that I should not be afraid to allow them a greater latitude of discretion, if it were not unfair to lay upon them alone the burden and the dangerous responsibility that may accompany this business.

That portentous scenes are opened in France, is past a doubt. The directors, who sent us the assurances, are, for what we know, all removed. The new ones we know nothing of. Barras, we have no reason to believe very friendly to us. Sièyes, we have reason to fear, is unfriendly. The “threats by the military, of a king,” which Mr. Murray mentions, are to me no solid indications of a restoration. That every comet, which has appeared, will return, I have no doubt; but the period of its revolution is very difficult to calculate. The system of terror will revive, if the terrorists can find means to revive it. These means imply money to pay, clothe, feed, and arm soldiers, on one hand, and timidity and dejection enough in their domestic enemies to submit to their exactions and cruelties. These are all problems to us, to all Europe, and, probably, to the French themselves.

There is one observation which appears to me of great importance. The reign of terror has ever appeared the most disposed to accommodate with us. This is humiliating enough, but it is not our fault. It is not very clear to me what our Edition: current; Page: [33] inferences ought to be from this fact. Neither the royalists, nor the aristocrats, nor the priesthood, have ever discovered the least complaisance for us. It is an awful question to me what chance we should have, if our ambassadors should have to treat at a Congress for a general pacification. Should we not have more to fear from the secret jealousy of every power, than even from that of France and Spain? With great anxiety upon this whole subject, and with much respect for you, I remain

John Adams.

P. S. I return Mr. Murray’s letter, and I will soon write more directly concerning the draught.

John Adams
Adams, John
21 September, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sometime between the 10th and 15th of October I shall join you at Trenton, and will suspend till that time the ultimate determination concerning the instructions. I pray you to write to the Attorney-General to meet us. We must be all together, to determine all the principles of our negotiations with France and England.

I have been obliged to sail for Europe in the middle of winter once, and on the 17th of November at another time. Any day between the 20th and 30th of October is as good a time to embark for Europe, as any part of the year. If our envoys are delayed so long at least, it will be no misfortune.

John Adams
Adams, John
21 September, 1799
Quincy
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO B. STODDERT, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.

Sir,

I have read over and over again your letter of the 13th. I regret extremely another blunder of the post-office, by which it has been sent to the southward and returned to me only last night. You needed not to have apologized for its length; there is not a word in it to spare. You may not write me any more letters, which are to reach Quincy or Boston, after the 29th of September. I will be at Trenton by the 10th, 12th, or at latest Edition: current; Page: [34] the 15th of October, if no fatal accident prevents. Mrs. Adams, although she is determined to risk her life by one more journey to Philadelphia, will not come with me. She will come after me, so that I shall want no extraordinary accommodations. I can and will put up, with my private secretary and two domestics only, at the first tavern or first private house I can find. I shall desire the attendance of the Attorney-General and the American commissioners as soon as possible, at Trenton, after the 12th or 15th of October.

I have only one favor to beg, and that is that a certain election may be wholly laid out of this question and all others. I know the people of America so well, and the light in which I stand in their eyes, that no alternative will ever be left to me, but to be a President of three votes or no President at all, and the difference, in my estimation, is not worth three farthings.1

With a strong attachment to you, I am, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
21 September, 1799
Quincy

TO THE HEADS OF DEPARTMENT.

I pray you to write me no letters to reach Quincy or Boston after the 29th. On next Monday, sen’night, I shall set out for Trenton, and reach it at latest by the 15th of October. I also request that you would write to the Attorney-General and the American commissioners to meet us all at Trenton at as early a day, after the 15th, as you shall judge proper. I also desire that all this may be kept as secret as possible, that my journey may meet as little interruption as possible. I shall come alone. Mrs. Adams will follow me soon enough to go with me to Philadelphia.

John Adams
Adams, John
22 September, 1799
Quincy
Oliver Ellsworth
Ellsworth, Oliver

TO CHIEF JUSTICE ELLSWORTH.

Dear Sir,

I received last night your favor of the 18th. Judge Cushing called here yesterday in his way to Vermont. Edition: current; Page: [35] This, however, may not perhaps make any alteration in your views. The convulsions in France, the change of the Directory, and the prognostics of greater change, will certainly induce me to postpone for a longer or shorter time the mission to Paris. I wish you to pursue your office of Chief Justice of the United States without interruption, till you are requested to embark. You will receive from the Secretary of State letters which will occupy your leisure hours. I should be happy to have your own opinion upon all points. We may have further information from Europe. If your departure for Europe should be postponed to the 20th of October, or even to the 1st of November, as safe and as short a passage may be expected as at any other season of the year. This is all I can say at present.1

With great and sincere esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
23 September, 1799
Quincy
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

I return you Mr. Murray’s letters of May 28th, June 13th and 22d, and July 13th and 15th, and the parts of newspapers inclosed with them. The private letter you sent me from Mr. Murray, some time ago, contained much such a review of the pamphlet of Boulay de la Meurthe. I have been anxious to see it, but it is not yet arrived. A parallel between the English republic and the French must be a curious thing. I have long thought that the present generation in France, England, Ireland, and America, had never read Lord Clarendon. I am afraid Mr. Murray has not. If he had, he would be less sanguine about so early a restoration in France.2

For my own part, I have more anxiety about the English than Edition: current; Page: [36] the French. Chance, or, if you will, Providence, has added to two Scotchmen a Godwinian descendant of a French refugee, and justice, I fear, will not be heard.1 I own, I doubt whether we had not better meet the result in all its deformities. I am determined, so far as depends upon me, to execute the treaty in its full extent. If it costs us four millions sterling, when it ought not to cost us one, I had rather pay it than depart from good faith or lie under the suspicion of it. If the judgment of Messrs. McDonald, Rich, and Guillemard, finally prevails, British equity will never be forgotten in America. The court have us in their power. If we believe Britons less hungry for plunder than Frenchmen, we shall be deceived.

I shall be with you between the 10th and 15th of October.

Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy
24 September, 1799
Trenton
John Adams
Adams, John

T. PICKERING TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

The subject of the proposed mission to France is so important, that, whether it proceed or be suspended, your decision will certainly be the result of your mature consideration. But as the idea has occurred to you of coming to Trenton, and you have intimated that you would do it, if judged best, I have consulted my colleagues, and they concur with me in opinion that it will be an eligible step. Governor Davie will probably be here the first week in October, and Judge Ellsworth will doubtless be ready to meet him; or if you should conclude to come on, the judge would certainly be gratified in waiting to accompany you.

Governor Davie, having relinquished his government and made arrangements for the voyage to Europe, will probably be better satisfied, after making the long journey from North Carolina, to return home again, if the further suspension of the mission take place, after a personal interview with you and his colleague; and your final determination relative to the mission will doubtless give more general satisfaction to the community at large, when accompanied with these solemnities.

If, however, the news expected from Europe should be of a Edition: current; Page: [37] nature, not only to strengthen your reasons for the temporary suspension which you have already deemed expedient; but if new facts should be decisive of the course proper to be pursued, the trouble of your journey may be saved.

These observations are most respectfully submitted to your consideration1 by

Sir, your most obedient servant,
Timothy Pickering.
John Adams
Adams, John
26 September, 1799
Quincy
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO B. STODDERT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.

I return you Mr. Read’s letter, and the note inclosed in your favor of the 19th.2

From a long intimacy with Mr. Izard, and a knowledge of his worth, and from some acquaintance with his son, I assure you that nothing of the kind could give me more pleasure than the appointment of Ralph Izard, the son of Ralph Izard of South Carolina, to be a midshipman in the navy. I wish it had been my fortune to have had a son or grandson of a suitable age to be appointed to a similar office in the same day. I shall take you by the hand not long after the 10th of October, I hope.

John Adams.
Oliver Ellsworth
Ellsworth, Oliver
5 October, 1799
Windsor
John Adams
Adams, John

O. ELLSWORTH TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

Since you passed on, I have concluded to meet Governor Davie at Trenton, which he probably will expect, and which, besides putting it in our power to pay you our joint respects, and to receive as fully any communication of your views as you may wish to make, may enable me to accompany him eastward, should you continue inclined to such suspension of our mission, as, under present aspect, universal opinion, I believe, and certainly my own, would justify.

It is a matter of some regret, Sir, that I did not consult you Edition: current; Page: [38] on the propriety of this visit;1 but if I err, experience has taught me that you can excuse.

I have the honor, &c.
Oliver Ellsworth.
Charles Lee
Lee, Charles
6 October, 1799
Winchester
John Adams
Adams, John

C. LEE, ATTORNEY-GENERAL, TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

Hoping it will not be deemed improper in me to give my opinion, before it is asked, relative to the suspension of the mission to France, I will take the liberty of expressing it. I have reflected on the subject a good deal, and I cannot perceive any sufficient reasons for the suspension.2 Such a measure would exceedingly disappoint the general expectation of America, and, exciting the jealousy and suspicion of many concerning your sincerity in making the nomination, would afford your enemies an opportunity of indulging their evil dispositions. If the envoys proceed, as I think they ought, it does not appear to me that any inconvenience will be felt by the United States, even if they should find a monarch on the throne of France, which I by no means expect will very soon happen.3

I am, Sir, with perfect respect, &c.
Charles Lee.
Edition: current; Page: [39]
John Adams
Adams, John
16 October, 1799
Trenton
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

I request you to order fair copies of the instructions, as corrected last evening, to be prepared and delivered to Judge Ellsworth and Governor Davie, with another for Mr. Murray, without loss of time, and to write a letter to those gentlemen, as envoys extraordinary to the French republic, expressing, with the affectionate respects of the President, his desire that they would take their passage for France on board the frigate the United States, Captain Barry, now lying at Rhode Island, by the 1st of November, or sooner, if consistent with their conveniences. Captain Barry will have orders to land them in any port of France which they may prefer, and to touch at any other ports which they may desire. The President’s best wishes for their health and happiness, as well as for an honorable termination of their mission, will attend them. As their visit to France is at one of the most critical, important, and interesting moments that ever have occurred, it cannot fail to be highly entertaining and instructive to them, and useful to their country, whether it terminates in peace and reconciliation, or not. The President sincerely prays God to have them in his holy keeping.1

I am, Sir, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
16 October, 1799
Trenton
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO B. STODDERT, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.

I request you to transmit immediate orders to Captain Barry to receive on board his frigate and convey to France, and such port of France as they shall desire, our envoys to the French republic, with directions to touch at any other ports which they may point out, and to sail by the 1st of November, or sooner, Edition: current; Page: [40] if consistent with their convenience. I need say nothing of the respect to be paid, or the honors to be done, to these great characters. Captain Barry is to await their return to the United States.

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
18 October, 1799
Trenton
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.
(Private.)

As the session of Congress draws nigh, I pray you to favor me with your sentiments concerning the communications necessary to be made to Congress of the state of the nation, and particularly a concise narration of the proceedings with St. Domingo and the Isle of France. It may be doubtful, however, whether any thing need be said on the last. A very succinct account of the invitation of the French Directory to our envoys, of the subsequent change, and the short pause made on this side the water in consequence of it, may be proper; and very explicit declarations that no relaxation will take place in any executive part of government in consequence of the mission, till we know its result, either in preparations for defence by sea and land, or in the employment of the means already provided by the legislature. In short, whatever is thought proper to be mentioned to Congress from the full consideration of the state of the nation, in all its relations, will be received from the Secretary of State with great pleasure by his faithful, humble servant.

John Adams.

N. B. Perhaps I ought to have mentioned particularly the unfortunate interpretation of the boards of commissioners, the observations to be made on them, and the sentiments proper to be expressed in consequence of them, and the miserable rebellion in Pennsylvania, which must be stated, I suppose, with the means of its suppression.1

Edition: current; Page: [41]
John Adams
Adams, John
12 November, 1799
Philadelphia
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

I think it will be expedient to lay before Congress, on the second day of the session, all the papers which relate to the embassy to France, that they may be printed together, and the public enabled to judge from correct and authentic documents. To this end I request you to order copies to be made of your letter to Mr. Murray and his answer, of his letter to Talleyrand, and his answer, which should be copied in French, and accompanied with a translation into English.

The proclamations, that respecting the insurrection in Pennsylvania, and that respecting St. Domingo, should also be laid before Congress, together with copies of any other papers relative to both transactions, which you may judge necessary or proper, and I pray you to have them prepared accordingly.

The organization of the government of the Mississippi territory, and the demarcation of the line, should perhaps be mentioned to Congress, and I pray you to furnish me a sketch of the facts as they appear from the intelligence in your office.

John Adams
Adams, John
15 November, 1799
Philadelphia
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver

TO O. WOLCOTT, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Sir,

By some accident or other, the original papers concerning the conspiracy against the laws and the beginning of the late insurrection in Pennsylvania, were never laid before me. I believe they were transmitted to you by the judge and the marshal. How far it will be necessary to communicate the facts in detail to Congress, you will be so good as to consider; and I should be obliged to you for your sentiments concerning all things to be inserted in the speech, as soon as may be convenient, because the time draws so near that something must be soon brought to a conclusion. I wish for your opinions on all points,1 but particularly on the rebellion, and the St. Domingo business.

Edition: current; Page: [42]
John Adams
Adams, John
2 December, 1799
Philadelphia
A. J. Dallas
Dallas, A. J.

TO A. J. DALLAS.

I return you my hearty thanks for the obliging present of your reports, in three very handsome volumes, which I received on Saturday. I prize them highly, not only in the light in which you present them, but on account of their intrinsic merit and worth to a profession, which after a divorce of more than a quarter of a century I still hold in affection and veneration.

Candor obliges me to say that I have made a singular observation relative to this work. Although, in the times which have passed since its first publication, the spirit of party has been disposed to call in question the integrity of every man and every action, I have never heard an insinuation against the fidelity of these reports. As the year books, and the reporters who have followed, have fixed the laws of England upon such permanent principles of equity and humanity, I hope these volumes will be the beginning of a series which will prove still more beneficial to mankind.1

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
7 December, 1799
Philadelphia
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

The Attorney-General has left with me, and I now send to you, a project of an explanatory article or treaty, and a project of a letter to Mr. King, desiring an ultimatum. There is no business before the government, at this time, of more importance than this, and I pray you to turn your attention to it, and prepare a draught of a letter to Mr. King, to be considered, if possible, on Monday evening at six o’clock, at my chamber, when I ask the favor of your company, with all the heads of department.2

Edition: current; Page: [43]

Notes

Of the President on some observations made to him by the Secretary of the Treasury upon the measures proper to be taken for obtaining an explanation of the 6th article of the treaty with Britain.1

Page 2, line 18th. A special commission is proposed. The President understood it to be the unanimous opinion of the heads of department, that no special commission would be necessary. A nomination to the Senate will be necessary to a special commission. The full powers possessed by Mr. King are supposed to be sufficient.

Page 3. The concession proposed in this page, the President fears, and indeed believes, is too well founded. But the facts should be well considered, and be capable of being made certain, before such an admission is made by the President’s orders.

Page 13. Although neither nation has been brought to admit that they were chargeable with the first infraction, yet no American can forget the carrying off the negroes.

Page 17. It may not be very material, but the acknowledgment of independence, at the treaty of peace, may fairly imply more than is contended for in the second paragraph of this page, against the authority, validity, and effect of the acts and declarations of the British during the war.

Page 19. I cannot see any distinction in favor of officers, civil, or military, or naval. They are no more bound by obligations of allegiance than any other subjects. I cannot agree to the sentiment at the bottom of this page.

Page 20. I cannot agree that the obligations of allegiance and patriotism are or can be ever inconsistent or irreconcilable. Nor can I admit a supposition which seems to be here implied, Edition: current; Page: [44] namely, that the revolution or American war, as it was called, had for its object the division of an empire. This will require so long an investigation, and so many distinctions and restrictions, that the whole of this must be expunged.

Page 21. We can never consistently admit that the acts and declarations of Britain were of any legal value at all, not even within the sphere of their influence.

Page 21, section 5th. The President has no control over the opinions of judges. They are as independent as he is. Their judgments in courts must be executed. The President, however, is very much dissatisfied with this passage, and fears that wrong will be done in consequence of it. But he sees no possibility of avoiding it.

Page 23. It is too liberal on the part of the United States to admit that acts of confiscation, passed during the war, shall be considered as having been annulled, in respect to debts, by the treaty of peace. The President is, however, embarrassed by the opinion of the judges, and will not differ from the heads of department upon this point, but would rather, if it is possible, that the point should be left to the board to be appointed, than that a formal acknowledgment should be made by government.

Page 32. The President doubts the expediency of the declaration at the close of the page. It is, or may be thought an ostentation of candor without end, effect, or utility. Perhaps a total silence on this head is sufficient after what has been said in the speech to Congress upon this subject.

John Adams
Adams, John
24 December, 1799
Philadelphia
Tobias Lear
Lear, Tobias

TO TOBIAS LEAR.

Sir,

I received in due season your letter of the 15th of this month, and immediately communicated it to both houses of Congress in a message. The melancholy event announced in it had been before communicated to the legislature, but upon less authentic and regular evidence. The American people are sincere mourners under the loss of their friend and benefactor. For General Washington, it is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Edition: current; Page: [45]

I pray you, Sir, to present my regards to Madam Washington and all the amiable and worthy family, and assure them of my sincere sympathy with them under this great affliction.

I feel also for yourself, as you have lost in General Washington a friend not to be replaced.1

With much esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
27 December, 1799
Philadelphia
Mrs. Washington
Mrs. Washington

TO MRS. WASHINGTON.

Madam,

In conformity with the desire of Congress, I do myself the honor to inclose by Mr. William Smith Shaw, my secretary, a copy of their resolutions passed the 24th instant, occasioned by the decease of your late consort, General George Washington, assuring you of the profound respect Congress will ever bear to your person and character, and of their condolence on this afflicting dispensation of Providence. In pursuance of the same desire, I entreat your assent to the interment of the remains of the General under the marble monument to be erected in the capital, at the city of Washington, to commemorate the great events of his military and political life.

Renewing to you, Madam, my expressions of condolence on this melancholy occasion, and assuring you of the profound respect which I personally entertain for your person and character,

I remain, with great esteem, Madam, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [46]
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver
James McHenry
McHenry, James
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin
13 January, 1800
Philadelphia

TO THE PRESIDENT.

We have by the President’s direction considered Mr. Randolph’s letter,1 and we are of opinion that the public interest requires that the contemptuous language therein adopted requires a public censure.

If such addresses to the Chief Magistrate remain unnoticed, we are apprehensive that a precedent will be established, which must necessarily destroy the ancient, respectable, and urbane usages of this country.

Timothy Pickering.
Oliver Wolcott.
James McHenry.
Ben. Stoddert.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 March, 1800
Philadelphia
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX.

Dear Sir,

I have received the favor of your letter of the 27th of last month, and feel myself much interested in the subject of it. Mr. Stoddert had before shown me your letter to him, and to your son, and I had consented to the idea suggested in them. The navy, however, is a scene of momentous responsibility to me; and if a ship should be lost by any man for whom I shall have made myself thus exclusively answerable, you know what candid constructions will be put upon your old friend and humble servant,

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 March, 1800
Philadelphia
Benjamin Lincoln
Lincoln, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN LINCOLN.

My dear Friend,

I have this morning received your favor of the 3d, and rejoice in the recovery of your usual health, and pray that it may continue many years.

Edition: current; Page: [47]

When I came into office, it was my determination to make as few removals as possible—not one from personal motives, not one from party considerations. This resolution I have invariably observed. Conviction of infidelity to a trust cannot be resisted, and gross misconduct in office ought not to be overlooked. The representations to me of the daily language of several officers at Portsmouth, were so evincive of aversion, if not hostility, to the national Constitution and government, that I could not avoid making some changes. Mr. Whipple is represented as very artful in imputing individual misfortunes to measures of administration, and his whole influence to have been employed against the government, and Mr. Whipple must take a more decided part before he can get over the prejudices against him. I never regarded his conduct about the address; but his apology for it is a most miserable excuse. If the officers of government will not support it, who will? I have no ill will to Mr. Whipple, and no prejudice against him, but I still think his removal was right.

With great sincerity, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
31 March, 1800
Philadelphia
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO B. STODDERT, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.

The President of the United States requests the Secretary of the Navy to employ some of his clerks in preparing a catalogue of books for the use of his office. It ought to consist of all the best writings in Dutch, Spanish, French, and especially in English, upon the theory and practice of naval architecture, navigation, gunnery, hydraulics, hydrostatics, and all branches of mathematics subservient to the profession of the sea. The lives of all the admirals, English, French, Dutch, or any other nation, who have distinguished themselves by the boldness and success of their navigation, or their gallantry and skill in naval combats. If there are no funds which can be legally applied by the Secretary to the purchase of such a library, application ought to be made to Congress for assistance.

The President of the United States requests the Secretary of the Navy to take immediate measures for carrying into execution Edition: current; Page: [48] the resolution of Congress of the 29th, for presenting to Captain Thomas Truxtun a gold medal, emblematical of the late action between the United States frigate Constellation, of thirty-eight guns, and the French ship of war La Vengeance, of fifty-four, in testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of his gallantry and good conduct in the above engagement, wherein an example was exhibited by the captain, officers, sailors, and mariners, honorable to the American name, and instructive to its rising navy.

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
31 March, 1800
Philadelphia
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO J. McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.

The President of the United States requests the Secretary of War to send him, without delay, a list of the officers of the army, who were appointed during the last recess of the Senate of the United States, that the President may be enabled to make their nominations, as the Constitution requires.

The President of the United States requests of the Secretary of War immediate information, whether the commissions have been sent to all the officers of the army or not, and if not, how many remain to be sent.

Thomas Johnson
Johnson, Thomas
8 April, 1800
Georgetown
John Adams
Adams, John

THOMAS JOHNSON TO JOHN ADAMS.

I shall make no excuse, my dear Sir, for writing to you with frankness. You may judge, from the resolution I have taken up of entering again the field of political contention, if I have credit enough to be carried there, that I am strongly impressed with the idea that we are at an awful crisis.

If our bark was gliding under a pleasant breeze, and the crew ready and disposed to join their efforts for a happy navigation, your age and services would entitle you to quit the tiller and take repose, which I dare say you would willingly do. But former services, in my opinion, lay you under new obligations, which cannot consistently be dispensed with, nor honorable means neglected which may continue you in a situation to be Edition: current; Page: [49] eminently useful. There is a great deal yet to be done to prevent our becoming a mere satellite of a mighty power.

Persuaded that your being in the city this summer, and as much as you well can, will strengthen and probably extend the favorable sentiment entertained of you, I entreat you at least to visit us. I feel something of selfishness in this request. A personal interview with you would be highly gratifying to me. The men of ’74 are grown scarce. How much, then, ought such a rarity to be valued, when recommended by intrinsic worth!

I am, &c.
Thomas Johnson.
John Adams
Adams, John
11 April, 1800
Philadelphia
Thomas Johnson
Johnson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JOHNSON.

Dear Sir,

I received this morning your favor of the 8th from Georgetown, with all the pleasure that we usually receive from seeing the face of an old friend, long esteemed, respected, and beloved. I envy you, however, that vivacity of youth with which you write, and even that firm and steady hand, which appears in every character.

For my own part, I see no immediate prospect of an awful crisis more terrifying than I have constantly beheld for forty years. From the year 1760 to this moment has appeared one uniform state of doubt, uncertainty, and danger, to me.

Repose is desirable enough for me, but I have been so long a stranger to it, that I know not whether I should not find it a mortal enemy.

I know of nothing that would give me more pleasure than to meet you; but whether it will be possible for me to be in the city before November, I know not. If any services I can render will be useful, I neither want a disposition to render, nor, I hope, resolution to suffer under them. I am weary, and so are all men at my age, whether in public or private life. I agree perfectly with you, that a great deal is yet to be done to prevent our becoming a mere satellite to a mighty power. But I will candidly confess to you, I sometimes doubt which is that mighty power. I think there is danger from two. Nothing could give me more joy than your resolution to come again upon the stage, because I know your noble nature so well that Edition: current; Page: [50] it is impossible you should be the dupe of either. It will always give me pleasure to hear of your welfare, as I am, with great and sincere esteem, ancient and modern, your friend, &c.

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
23 April, 1800
Philadelphia

TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, AND HEADS OF DEPARTMENT.

Gentlemen,

The President of the United States proposes to the heads of department a subject, which, although at first view it may appear of inconsiderable moment, will upon more mature reflection be found to be of some difficulty, but of great importance to the honor, dignity, and consistency of the government.

In every government of Europe, I believe, there is a gazette in the service of the government, and a printer appointed, acknowledged, and avowed by it—in every regular government, at least. The Gazette of France, before the revolution, answered the same purpose with the London Gazette in England. Mr. Strahan is appointed the King’s printer by patent, and is the editor of the London Gazette. This Gazette is said by lawyers and judges to be primâ facie evidence in courts of justice, of matters of State and of public acts of the government. As it is published by the authority of the crown, it is the usual way of notifying such acts to the public, and therefore is entitled to credit in respect to such matters. It is a high misdemeanor to publish any thing as from royal authority which is not so. The Gazette is evidence of the King’s proclamations; even the articles of war, printed by the King’s printer, are good evidence of those articles. Addresses of the subjects, in bodies or otherwise, to the King, and his answers, are considered as matters of State when published in the Gazette, and are proved by it, primâ facie, in the King’s courts in Westminster Hall. The Gazette is said to be an authoritative means of proving all acts relating to the King and the State. Justice Buller asserts, that every thing which relates to the King, as King of Great Britain, &c., is in its nature public, and that a gazette which contains any thing done by his Majesty in his character of King, or which has passed through his Majesty’s hands, is admissible evidence in a court of law to prove such thing. Without running a parallel between Edition: current; Page: [51] the President of the United States and the King of England, it is certain that the honor, dignity, and consistency of government is of as much importance to the people in one case as the other. The President must issue proclamations, articles of war, articles of the navy, and must make appointments in the army, navy, revenue, and other branches of public service; and these ought all to be announced by authority in some acknowledged gazette. The laws ought to be published in the same. It is certain that a President’s printer must be restrained from publishing libels, and all paragraphs offensive to individuals, public bodies, or foreign nations; but need not be forbid advertisements. The gazette need not appear more than once or twice a week. Many other considerations will occur to the minds of the secretaries. The President requests their opinion,

1. Whether a printer can be appointed by the President, either with or without the advice and consent of the Senate?

2. Whether a printer can be obtained, without salary or fees, for the profit which might be made by such a gazette?

3. Where shall we find such a printer?

It is certain that the present desultory manner of publishing the laws, acts of the President, and proceedings of the Executive departments, is infinitely disgraceful to the government and nation, and in all events must be altered.1

James McHenry
McHenry, James
6 May, 1800
John Adams
Adams, John

J. McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR, TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I have the honor to request that I may be permitted to resign the office of secretary of the department of war, and Edition: current; Page: [52] that my resignation be accepted, to take place on the first day of June next.

Explanations may be desired of some parts of the business of the war department, while under my direction, which I shall be very ready to give, and can more conveniently do so by continuing in an official situation until the period mentioned. I shall esteem myself particularly favored by your inquiries relative to any subject connected with my official duties, because I shall then have an opportunity to lay before you full information of what I have done or directed, together with the reasons and motives, known best to myself, which induced particular measures.

Having discharged the duties of Secretary of War for upwards of four years with fidelity, unremitting assiduity, and to the utmost of my abilities, I leave behind me all the records of the department, exhibiting the principles and manner of my official conduct, together with not a few difficulties I have had to encounter. To these written documents I cheerfully refer my reputation as an officer and a man.1

I have the honor to be, &c.
James McHenry.
Edition: current; Page: [53]
John Adams
Adams, John
10 May, 1800
Philadelphia
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

As I perceive a necessity of introducing a change in the administration of the office of State, I think it proper to make this communication of it to the present Secretary of State, that he may have an opportunity of resigning, if he chooses. I should wish the day on which his resignation is to take place, to be named by himself. I wish for an answer to this letter, Edition: current; Page: [54] on or before Monday morning, because the nomination of a successor must be sent to the Senate as soon as they sit.

With esteem, I am, Sir, your most obedient and humble servant,

John Adams.
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy
12 May, 1800
Philadelphia
John Adams
Adams, John

T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE, TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, dated last Saturday, stating that, “as you perceive a necessity of introducing a change in the administration of the office of State, you think it proper to make this communication of it to the present Secretary of State, that he may have an opportunity of resigning, if he chooses;” and that “you would wish the day on which his resignation is to take place to be named by himself.”

Several matters of importance in the office, in which my agency will be useful, will require my diligent attention until about the close of the present quarter. I had, indeed, contemplated a continuance in office until the 4th of March next; when, if Mr. Jefferson were elected President, (an event which, in your conversation with me last week, you considered as certain,) I expected to go out, of course. An apprehension of that event first led me to determine not to remove my family this year to the city of Washington; because to establish them there would oblige me to incur an extraordinary expense which I had not the means of defraying; whereas, by separating myself from my family, and living there eight or nine months with strict economy, I hoped to save enough to meet that expense, should the occasion occur. Or, if I then went out of office, that saving Edition: current; Page: [55] would enable me to subsist my family a few months longer, and perhaps aid me in transporting them into the woods, where I had land, though all wild and unproductive, and where, like my first ancestor in New England, I expected to commence a settlement on bare creation. I am happy that I now have this resource, and that those most dear to me have fortitude enough to look at the scene without dismay, and even without regret. Nevertheless, after deliberately reflecting on the overture you have been pleased to make to me, I do not feel it to be my duty to resign.

I have the honor to be, &c.
Timothy Pickering.
John Adams
Adams, John
12 May, 1800
Philadelphia
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING.

Sir,

Divers causes and considerations, essential to the administration of the government, in my judgment, requiring a change in the department of State, you are hereby discharged from any further service as Secretary of State.1

John Adams,
President of the United States.
Edition: current; Page: [56]
John Adams
Adams, John
15 May, 1800
Philadelphia
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO J. McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

I request you to transmit copies of the law for reducing the twelve regiments, which passed yesterday, to Major-Generals Hamilton and Pinckney, and also to the commandants of brigades, with orders to the major-generals to make immediate arrangements for reducing those regiments on the fourteenth day of June.

I pray you, also, in concert with the Secretary of the Treasury, to make seasonable preparation for punctual compliance with the other provision of the law, by advancing the three months’ pay to the officers and men.

John Adams
Adams, John
16 May, 1800
Philadelphia

TO THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL, AND THE DISTRICT-ATTORNEY OF PENNSYLVANIA.

I transmit you a copy of the resolution of the Senate of the United States, passed in Congress on the 14th of this month, by which I am requested to instruct the proper law officers to commence and carry on a prosecution against William Duane, editor of a newspaper called the Aurora, for certain false, defamatory, scandalous, and malicious publications in the said newspaper of the 19th of February last past, tending to defame the Senate of the United States, and to bring them into contempt and disrepute, and to excite against them the hatred of the good people of the United States. In compliance with this request, I now instruct you, gentlemen, to commence and carry on the prosecution accordingly.

With great esteem, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [57]
John Adams
Adams, John
17 May, 1800
Philadelphia
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver

TO O. WOLCOTT, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Sir,

I thank you for your report of the 16th of this month, and for your early attention to the important subject of the loan. I have subscribed, and send you herewith, an authorization to borrow to the amount of the law; but if the public exigencies can be satisfied with a part of it, your own public spirit of economy will induce you to confine yourself to such part.

The rate of interest is a subject of great anxiety to me. When I recollect that I borrowed for this country near a million sterling, at a rate of interest at from four and a half to six per cent., or thereabout, more than fifteen years ago, when this nation had not two thirds of its present population, when it had a very feeble government, no revenue, no taxes, by barely pledging the faith of the people, which faith has been most punctually and religiously kept, I cannot but suspect that some advantage is taken of this government by demanding exorbitant interest. As Great Britain, with her immense burdens, after so long and wasting a war, is able to borrow at a more moderate interest, I entertain a hope that we may at last abate somewhat of a former interest.

As I know your zeal for the interest of your country to be equal to my own, I have entire confidence in your exertions, that we may take up as little as possible of the sum, and at as low an interest as can be obtained.

John Adams
Adams, John
20 May, 1800
Philadelphia

TO THE HEADS OF DEPARTMENT.

1. Among the three criminals under sentence of death, is there any discrimination in the essential circumstances of their cases, which would justify a determination to pardon or reprieve one or two, and execute the other?

2. Is the execution of one or more so indispensably demanded by public justice and by the security of the public peace, that mercy cannot be extended to all three, or any two, or one?

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3. Will the national Constitution acquire more confidence in the minds of the American people by the execution than by the pardon of one or more of the offenders?

4. Is it clear beyond all reasonable doubt that the crime of which they stand convicted, amounts to a levying of war against the United States, or, in other words, to treason?

5. Is there any evidence of a secret correspondence or combination with other anti-federalists of any denomination in other States in the Union, or in other parts of this State, to rise in force against the execution of the law for taxing houses, &c., or for opposing the commissioners in general in the execution of their offices?

6. Quo animo was this insurrection? Was it a design of general resistance to all law, or any particular law? Or was it particular to the place and persons?

7. Was it any thing more than a riot, high-handed, aggravated, daring, and dangerous indeed, for the purpose of a rescue? This is a high crime, but can it strictly amount to treason?

8. Is there not great danger in establishing such a construction of treason, as may be applied to every sudden, ignorant, inconsiderate heat, among a part of the people, wrought up by political disputes, and personal or party animosities?

9. Will not a career of capital executions for treason, once opened, without actual bloodshed or hostility against any military force of government, inflict a deep wound in the minds of the people, inflame their animosities, and make them more desperate in sudden heats, and thoughtless riots in elections, and on other occasions where political disputes run high, and introduce a more sanguinary disposition among them?

10. Is not the tranquillity in the western counties, since the insurrection there, and the subsequent submission to law, a precedent in favor of clemency?

11. Is there any probability that a capital execution will have any tendency to change the political sentiments of the people?

12. Will not clemency have a greater tendency to correct their errors?

13. Are not the fines and imprisonments, imposed and suffered, a sufficient discouragement, for the present, of such crimes?

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [59]

May not the long imprisonment of Fries, the two solemn, awful trials, his acknowledgment of the justice of his sentence, his professions of deep repentance, and promises of obedience, be accepted, and turned more to the advantage of government and the public peace, than his execution?

Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver
Charles Lee
Lee, Charles
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin
20 May, 1800
Philadelphia

THE HEADS OF DEPARTMENT TO THE PRESIDENT.

Having considered the questions proposed by the President for our consideration, we respectfully submit the following opinions.

That the intent of the insurgents in Pennsylvania, in 1798, was to prevent the execution of the law, directing the valuation of houses and lands, and the enumeration of slaves, in the particular district of country where they resided. That we know of no combination in other States, and presume that no combination, pervading the whole State of Pennsylvania, was actually formed. We believe, however, that if the government had not adopted prompt measures, the spirit of insurrection would have rapidly extended.

We are of opinion that the crime committed by Fries, Heyney, and Getman, amounted to treason, and that no danger can arise to the community from the precedents already established by the judges upon this subject. We cannot form a certain judgment of the effect upon public opinion, of suffering the law to have its course, but we think it must be beneficial, by inspiring the well disposed with confidence in the government, and the malevolent and factious with terror.

The Attorney-General and the Secretary of the Navy, however, believe that the execution of one will be enough to show the power of the laws to punish, and may be enough for example, the great end of punishment, and that Fries deserves most to suffer; because, though all are guilty, and all have forfeited their lives to the justice of their country, he was the most distinguished in the commission of the crime. The Secretary of the Treasury perceives no good ground for any distinction in the three cases, and he believes that a discrimination, instead of being viewed as an act of mercy, would too much resemble Edition: current; Page: [60] a sentence against an unfortunate individual. He also believes that the mercy of government has been sufficiently manifested by the proceedings of the Attorney of the United States, and that the cause of humanity will be most effectually promoted by impressing an opinion that those who are brought to trial, and convicted of treason, will not be pardoned.

Charles Lee,
Oliver Wolcott.
Ben. Stoddert.

The Attorney-General and Secretary of the Navy beg leave to add, as their opinion, that it will be more just and more wise that all should suffer the sentence of the law, than that all should be pardoned.

Ben. Stoddert.
Charles Lee.
John Adams
Adams, John
21 May, 1800
Philadelphia
Charles Lee
Lee, Charles

TO C. LEE, SECRETARY OF STATE, PRO TEM.

Sir,

I received yesterday the opinion of yourself, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of the Navy, on the case of the prisoners under sentence of death for treason, formed, as I doubt not, under the full exercise of integrity and humanity. Nevertheless, as I differ in opinion, I must take on myself alone the responsibility of one more appeal to the humane and generous natures of the American people.

I pray you, therefore, to prepare for my signature, this morning, a pardon for each of the criminals, John Fries, Frederic Heyney, and John Getman.1

I pray you, also, to prepare the form of a proclamation of a general pardon of all treasons, and conspiracies to commit treasons, heretofore committed in the three offending counties, Edition: current; Page: [61] in opposition to the law laying taxes on houses, &c., that tranquillity may be restored to the minds of those people, if possible.

I have one request more; that you would consult the judge, and the late and present attorneys of this district, concerning the circumstances of guilt and punishment of those now under sentence for fines and imprisonment, and report to me a list of the names of such, if there are any, as may be proper objects of the clemency of government.

With great esteem, I am, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
22 May, 1800
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

Inclosed is a copy of a letter received this morning from Colonel Smith. I am at present at a loss to judge of it. Will you be so kind, without favor or affection, as to give me your candid opinion of it? Whether his request can be granted, in the whole or in part, without injustice to other officers; and whether it is consistent with the military ideas. I pray your answer as soon as possible.1

I am, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
26 May, 1800
Philadelphia
W. S. Smith
Smith, W. S.

TO W. S. SMITH.

Dear Sir,

Upon the receipt of your letter of the 21st, I sent a copy of it to General Hamilton, and the original to Mr. McHenry, and asked their candid opinion of it, without favor or affection. From General Hamilton I have as yet received no answer. From Mr. McHenry I have the inclosed, which is, I believe, a very honest answer; and, although I am not of his opinion in all points, I think there is enough in it to convince Edition: current; Page: [62] you that it would be highly improper in me, and therefore impossible, to adopt your project.1

I am, with affection to Mrs. Smith and Miss Caroline, sincerely yours,

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
26 May, 1800
Philadelphia
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN STODDERT.

Sir,

I hereby request you on the 1st of June, or whenever Mr. McHenry shall leave the war office, to take upon you the charge of that office, and I hereby invest you with full power and authority to exercise all the functions of secretary of the department of war, and charge you with all the duties and obligations attached by law to that officer, until a successor regularly appointed and commissioned shall appear to relieve you.

I am, &c.
John Adams.
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin
26 May, 1800
Philadelphia
John Adams
Adams, John

B. STODDERT TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I have the honor of your direction of this day’s date, for me to take upon myself the charge of the war office, and to exercise all the functions of secretary of the department of war, from the first day of June, or from the time Mr. McHenry shall leave the office, until a successor regularly appointed and commissioned shall appear to relieve me; which I shall attend to with great cheerfulness, but under the hope that I may be soon relieved from the duties enjoined me.

I have the honor to be &c., &c.
Ben. Stoddert.
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John Adams
Adams, John
20 June, 1800
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

Sir,

The itinerant life I have led1 has prevented me from acknowledging the receipt of your favor of May 24th till this time. Your sentiments are very satisfactory to me, and will be duly attended to. I anticipate criticism in every thing which relates to Colonel Smith; but criticism, now criticized so long, I regard no more than “Great George’s birth-day song.” Colonel Smith served through the war with high applause of his superiors. He has served, abroad in the diplomatic corps, at home as marshal and supervisor, and now as commandant of a brigade. These are services of his own, not mine. His claims are his own. I see no reason or justice in excluding him from all service, while his comrades are all ambassadors or generals, merely because he married my daughter.2 I am, &c.

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
11 July, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

I received only last night your favor of the 30th June. There is no part of the administration of our government which has given me so much discontent as the negotiation in the Mediterranean, our ill success in which I attribute to the diffidence of the agents and ministers employed in them, in soliciting aid from the English and the French and the Prussians. M. D’Engestrom has too much reason to reproach us, Edition: current; Page: [64] or to commiserate us, for paying the triple of the sums given by Sweden and Denmark. As, however, the promises of the United States, although made to their hurt, ought to be fulfilled with good faith, I know not how far we can accede to the proposition of uniting with Sweden and Denmark, or appointing, in concert with them and others, convoys for their and our trade. Convoys for our own trade I suppose we may appoint at any time, and in any seas, to protect our commerce, according to our treaties and the law of nations. If, indeed, the Barbary powers, or any of them, should break their treaties with us, and recommence hostilities on our trade, we may then be at liberty to make any reasonable arrangement with Sweden or Denmark. You will be at no loss to instruct Mr. Adams to give a polite and respectful answer to Mr. D’Engestrom, according to these principles, if you approve them.1

John Adams
Adams, John
23 July, 1800
Quincy
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO B. STODDERT, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.

Dear Sir,

I received this morning your favor of the 12th, and thank you for the summary of the stations and destinations of the navy. At the same time I received your other letter of the same date, and have read all its inclosures, which I return with this. Nothing affects me so much as to see complaints against officers who have distinguished themselves by their vigilance, activity, and bravery in the service, as Maley has done; but the complaints must not be rejected without inquiry. I leave this business to your wisdom, as well as the other complaints against other officers.

The transgression of the British captain in opening the letters of Dr. Stevens to Captain Talbot, can be redressed only by a representation to the court of St. James, where so many circumstances of justification, or excuse, or palliation will occur, that I doubt whether it is expedient to take any trouble about it. If you think otherwise, you may furnish the Secretary of State with copies, and he may instruct Mr. King to acquaint the Edition: current; Page: [65] ministry with them. It is not worth while to make any vehement representation about it.1

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
25 July, 1800
Quincy
Samuel Dexter
Dexter, Samuel

TO S. DEXTER, SECRETARY OF WAR.

I received last night, and read with great pleasure, your letter of the 16th of July. I am very much pleased with your plan for executing the existing laws for the instruction of the artillerists and engineers. I am very ready to appoint the whole number of cadets provided for by law, namely, two for each company, or sixty-four in all, as soon as proper candidates present themselves; and the whole of the four teachers and two engineers, if you are prepared to recommend suitable persons. It is my desire that you take the earliest measures for providing all the necessary books, instruments, and apparatus, authorized by law, for the use and benefit of the artillerists and engineers. I think with you that it will be prudent to begin by appointing two teachers and an engineer, and I pray you to make inquiry for proper characters, and to take measures to induce young men to enter the service as cadets, collect them together, and form a regular school, and cause the battalions to be instructed in rotation at some regular stations. You may assure the cadets, that, in future, officers will be taken from the most deserving of their members, if any should be found fit for an appointment.

I agree with the Secretary of the Navy, that it would be highly useful to the navy, that midshipmen be admitted into the school by courtesy. Yet there ought to be a school on board every frigate. Thirty persons have been taught navigation, and other sciences connected with the naval service, on board the Boston during her first cruise.

I wish you may easily find teachers. What think you of Captain Barron for one? Every one speaks well of Mr. Bureau de Pusy. But I have an invincible aversion to the appointment Edition: current; Page: [66] of foreigners, if it can be avoided. It mortifies the honest pride of our officers, and damps their ardor and ambition. I had rather appoint the teachers, and form the schools, and take time to consider of an engineer.1

John Adams
Adams, John
30 July, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

I have received your favor of the 21st, and have read the respectable recommendations inclosed, in favor of Mr. Lloyd Beal and Mr. Bent Bowlings to be marshal of Maryland. I return all these letters to you in this. With the advantages of Mr. Thomas Chase, in the opportunity to consult his father and Mr. Martin, I still think that his appointment is as likely to benefit the public as that of any of the respectable candidates would be. Your knowledge of persons, characters, and circumstances, are so much better than mine, and my confidence in your judgment and impartiality so entire, that I pray you, if Mr. Chase should not appear the most eligible candidate to you, that you would give the commission to him whom you may prefer.

John Adams
Adams, John
31 July, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

In the night of the 29th, your favor of the 21st was left at my house. Mr. King’s letters shall be soon considered. At present I shall confine myself to the despatch from our envoys in France. The impression made upon me by these communications is the same with that which they appear by your letter to have made on you. There are not sufficient grounds on which to form any decisive opinion of the result of the mission. But there are reasons to conjecture that the French government may be inclined to explore all the resources of their diplomatic skill, to protract the negotiation. The campaign in Europe may have some weight, but the progress of the election in America Edition: current; Page: [67] may have much more. There is reason to believe that the communications between the friends of France in Europe and America are more frequent and constant, as well as more secret, than ours; and there is no reason to doubt that the French government is flattered with full assurances of a change at the next election, which will be more favorable to their views. McNeil, it appears, was arrived at Havre the latter part of May. Our envoys will probably insist on definitive and categorical answers, and come home, according to their instructions, either with or without a treaty. On this supposition, we need say no more upon this subject.

Another supposition is, however, possible, and, in order to guard against that, I shall propose to your consideration, and that of the heads of department, the propriety of writing to our envoys, by the way of Holland, and England or Hamburg, or any other more expeditious and certain conveyance. The question is, what we shall write. There are but two points, which appear to me to deserve a further attention, and indeed their present instructions are sufficient upon these heads. I always expected that our envoys would be hard pressed to revive the old treaty, to save its anteriority, as they say they shall be. I cannot see, however, that we can relax the instruction on that head. Perhaps it may be necessary to repeat and confirm it. The other point relates to a discontinuance of our naval protection of our commerce, and to opening our commerce with France. But we have no official or other authentic information that the French have done any thing to justify or excuse us in the smallest relaxation. And, indeed, nothing they can do, short of a treaty, would justify me in taking one step. I therefore think that our envoys may be instructed to be as explicit as decency and delicacy will admit, in rejecting all propositions of the kind.

I return you all the papers relative to this subject.

John Adams
Adams, John
31 July, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Last night the consul of Spain, Mr. Stoughton, came out to Quincy upon the important errand of delivering to me in my Edition: current; Page: [68] own hand, according to his own account of his orders, the inclosed letter, demanding of the government a fulfilment of the 5th article of our treaty with Spain.1 Although I see no sufficient reason in this case for deviating from the ordinary course of business, I shall take no exception to this proceeding on that account, but I desire you to communicate this letter to the Secretary at War, and concert with him the proper measures to be taken. Orders, I think, should be sent to Mr. Hawkins and to General Wilkinson, to employ every means in their power to preserve the good faith according to the stipulation in this 5th article of the treaty with Spain. And I also desire you would write a civil and respectful answer to this letter of the Chevalier, still the minister of the King of Spain, assuring him of the sincere friendship of the government, for the Spanish government and nation, and of our determination to fulfil with perfect good faith the stipulations in the treaty, and informing him that orders have been given, or shall be immediately given, to the officers of the United States, civil or military, to take all the measures in their power for that purpose.

John Adams
Adams, John
1 August, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

I have twice read the despatch of Mr. King, No. 67, inclosed in your favor of the 21st of July. I am glad to see that Lord Grenville expressed his opinion, that the new board ought to proceed in a different manner from their predecessors, by deciding cases singly, one after another, instead of attempting to decide by general resolves and in classes.

The idea of paying a gross sum to the British government in lieu of, and in satisfaction for, the claims of the British creditors, seems to me to merit attention and mature deliberation. There will be great difficulties attending it, no doubt. How can we form an estimate that will satisfy the American government and the British government? How shall the claims of British creditors be extinguished or barred from recovery in our courts Edition: current; Page: [69] of law? Shall the claim of the creditor be transferred to our government, and how? or shall it be a total extinguishment of debt and credit between the parties? How will the British government apportion the sum among the British creditors? This, however, is their affair. You ask an important question, whether such an arrangement can afford just cause of discontent to France. But I think it must be answered in the negative. Our citizens are in debt to British subjects. We surely have a right to pay our honest debts in the manner least inconvenient to ourselves, and no foreign power has any thing to do with it. I think I should not hesitate on this account. The difficulty of agreeing upon a sum is the greatest; but I am inclined to think this may be overcome. If nothing of this kind can be agreed on, and the British government refuse all explanations, I think that good faith will oblige us to try another board; and I have so little objection to the modes of appointing a new board, suggested to Mr. King by our government or by the British government, that I am content to leave it to Mr. King to do the best he can. I shall keep the copy of Mr. King’s despatch, No. 67, presuming that you have the original.

John Adams
Adams, John
2 August, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

Last night I received your favor of the 24th of July. The letter to Mr. Adams, dated the 24th of July, I have read, and as I see no reason to desire any alteration in it, I shall give it to General Lincoln, the collector at Boston, to be by him sent to Hamburg or Amsterdam by the first good opportunity.1 The duplicate and triplicate you may send by such opportunities as may be presented to you. Mr. King’s despatches, Nos. 71 and 72, I have read, and, if you think proper, you may authorize Mr. King, if he thinks it proper, to communicate to the court, in any manner he thinks most decent, the Edition: current; Page: [70] congratulations of his government, and, if he pleases, of the President, on the King’s fortunate escape from the attempt of an assassin.

The mighty bubble, it seems, is burst, of a projected combination of all the north of Europe against France. This mighty design, which was held up in terror before my eyes to intimidate me from sending envoys to France, is evaporated in smoke. Indeed, I never could hear it urged against the mission to France without laughter.

The jewels for Tunis are a more serious object. When I read over all the despatches from the Barbary States, I remember your predecessor consulted me concerning these jewels. His opinion was, that it was best to make the present, rather than to hazard a rupture. After the expenditure of such great sums, I thought with him that it would be imprudent to hazard an interruption of the peace on account of these jewels, and I presume he wrote to Mr. Eaton or Mr. Smith accordingly. I am still of the same opinion.

I see no objection against requesting Mr. Smith, and all the consuls in the Barbary States, to keep Mr. King informed of the general state of affairs. It will be of service to the public that our minister at London should know as much information as possible concerning our affairs in those countries. I return Mr. King’s despatches, 71 and 72.

John Adams
Adams, John
3 August, 1800
Quincy
Benjamin Stoddert
Stoddert, Benjamin

TO B. STODDERT, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.

Dear Sir,

I know not whether the inclosed letter from Lady Catherine Duer has not excited too much tenderness in my feelings, but I cannot refrain from inclosing it to you, and recommending it to your serious consideration. If it is possible, without material injury to the discipline of the navy, to accept of the resignation of this unhappy youth, I pray you to do it. I had almost said that this letter, at first reading, excited as much of a temporary indignation against the captain, for suffering these dinners at St. Kitts, as it has of a permanent pity for an unfortunate family. Captain Little has returned without Edition: current; Page: [71] the loss of a man by sickness, and with a ship in perfect health, only by keeping always at sea.

John Adams
Adams, John
6 August, 1800
Quincy
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver

TO O. WOLCOTT, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Dear Sir,

In answer to your letter of the 26th of July, I have to inform you that although you omitted to inclose to me the letter from John Cowper, Esquire, as you intended, yet as there are no candidates for the office, that I know of, that ought to excite any hesitation, I am well satisfied that you should apply to the Secretary of State for commissions for Mr. Claude Thompson, to be collector of the customs, for the district of Brunswick in Georgia, and inspector of the revenue for said port, provided you are satisfied with Mr. Cowper’s recommendation.

To show you the passions that are continually excited by the appointments and dismissions we are so often obliged to make, I inclose a letter I received last night from Mr. Jabez Bowen at Augusta. Such are the reproaches to which the most upright actions of our lives are liable!1

John Adams
Adams, John
7 August, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

I have just received your favor of July 29th. The merit of Judge Chase, of which I have been a witness at times for six and twenty years, are very great in my estimation, and if his sons are as well qualified as others, it is quite consistent with my principles to consider the sacrifices and services of a father Edition: current; Page: [72] in weighing the pretensions of a son. The old gentleman will not last very long, and it can hardly be called accumulating offices in a family to appoint the son of a judge of the United States marshal of a particular State. However, I have so much deference for the opinion of Mr. Stoddert, especially in an appointment in his own State, that I will wave my own inclination in favor of his judgment, and consent to the appointment of Major David Hopkins.

John Adams
Adams, John
7 August, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

I inclose to you a letter from Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut, a petition for a pardon from Isaac Williams, in prison at Hartford, for privateering under French colors. His petition is seconded by a number of very respectable people. I inclose many other papers relative to the subject, put into my hands yesterday by a young gentleman from Norwich, his nephew. The man’s generosity to American prisoners, his refusal to act, and resigning his command, when he was ordered to capture American vessels, his present poverty and great distress, are arguments in favor of a pardon, and I own I feel somewhat inclined to grant it. But I will not venture on that measure without your advice and that of your colleagues. I pray you to take the opinions of the heads of department upon these papers, and if they advise to a pardon, you may send me one.1

With high esteem, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [73]
John Adams
Adams, John
11 August, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

On Saturday I received your favor of the 26th ultimo. The German letter proposing to introduce into this country a company of schoolmasters, painters, poets, &c., all of them disciples of Mr. Thomas Paine, will require no answer. I had rather countenance the introduction of Ariel and Caliban, with a troop of spirits the most mischievous from fairy land. The direction to deliver the Sandwich1 to the Spanish minister, on the requisition of the King of Spain, as the case is stated, no doubt accurately, in your letter, I believe was right; and it was better to do it promptly, than to wait for my particular orders in a case so plain. Respecting Bowles, I wrote you on the 31st of July, that I thought General Wilkinson and Mr. Hawkins should be written to. I now add that I think the governors of Georgia, Tennessee, and the Mississippi territory should be written to, to employ all the means in their power to preserve the good faith of the United States, according to the fifth article of the treaty with Spain. How far it will be proper to order General Wilkinson to coöperate with the Spanish government or military forces, it will be proper for the heads of department to consider. I can see no objection against ordering them to join in an expedition against Bowles, wherever he may be, in concert with the Spanish forces, at their request. The only danger would arise from misunderstandings and disagreements between the officers or men. In my letter of the 31st ultimo I also requested you to give a civil answer to the Chevalier, assuring him of our sincere friendship for the Spanish government and nation, and of our resolution to fulfil the treaty with good faith. This letter I hope you received.

On the 1st of August I wrote you on the subject of a sum in gross to be paid, instead of going through all the chicanery, which may be practicable under the treaty.2 I most perfectly agree with you and the heads of department, that the proposition merits serious attention. My only objection to it is one that cannot be seriously mentioned. I am afraid that, as soon Edition: current; Page: [74] as this point of dispute is removed, such is their habitual delight in wrangling with us, they will invent some other. Some pretext or other of venting their spleen and ill humor against us they will always find. This, however, cannot be gravely urged as a reason against settling this quarrel. I am willing you should write to Mr. King instructions on this head. Take the opinions, however, of the heads of department on the letter, before you send it. If they are unanimous with you for going as far as a million, in the latitude to be given to Mr. King in the negotiation, I will agree to it.1

John Adams
Adams, John
12 August, 1800
Quincy
John Trumbull
Trumbull, John

TO JOHN TRUMBULL.

Dear Sir,

A letter from my old friend Trumbull is always so cheering a cordial to my spirits, that I could almost rejoice in the cause which produced yours of the 6th. The gentleman you allude to did, it is true, make me a visit at New Haven. It was not unexpected, for it was not the first or second mark of attention that I have received from him, at the same place. On this occasion his deportment was polite, and his conversation easy, sensible, and agreeable. I understood from him, what I well knew before and always expected, that there had been some uneasiness and some severe criticisms in Connecticut on account of the late removal of the late Secretary of State; but he mentioned no names, nor alluded to persons or places. No such insinuations concerning Hartford, as you have heard, escaped his lips.2 I had for many years had it in contemplation to take the road of the sea coast, and I believe that for Edition: current; Page: [75] many years I have never stopped at New Haven, without making some inquiries concerning the roads and inns. The gentleman in question had just returned from New London, and assured me the road was good, the accommodations at the public houses not bad, and the passage of the ferry neither dangerous nor inconvenient to any but the ferrymen. He added, that he had heard people at several places on that route observe, that I had never seen it, that they wished to see me that way, and that the distance to my own house in Quincy was ten or twelve miles less, than the other. An economy of a dozen miles to an old man, who was already weary with a journey of six or seven hundred miles, was an object of attention, and that way I took. I never entertained nor conceived a suspicion, that I should not meet the same cordial reception at Hartford as usual. There was some conversation concerning constitutions and administration, rather free, but very cool and decent, without any personal or party allusions, which gave me an opinion of the correctness of his judgment, which I had not before. But as these were private conversations, I do not think it necessary, if it could be justifiable, to mention them. Who is it says, in the Old Testament, I will go out and be a lying spirit among them?2

With affectionate esteem, dear Sir, your much pained friend,

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [76]
John Adams
Adams, John
13 August, 1800
Quincy
Samuel Dexter
Dexter, Samuel

TO S. DEXTER, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Dear Sir,

Last night I received your favor of the 4th, and have read the inclosures, all which I return to you. I will not object to the appointment of Mr. Foncin as one of the three. But I shall not appoint him first as long as Barron lives. If you can find another American mathematician better than Barron, it is well; if not, we will appoint him first teacher. I am well satisfied with the recommendation of Colonel David Vance and willing to appoint him, but I wish you to ask the opinion of Mr. Wolcott. In all business which involves expense, I love to consult the Secretary of the Treasury. My opinion is clear in favor of one commissioner rather than three,1 and Vance will be enough. I need say nothing about Bloody Fellow,2 Mr. McHenry,3 or Mr. Sevier, if we have but one. Would it be worth while to write to Presidents Willard, Dwight, Smith, Ewing, &c., to inquire after young mathematicians?

I am, Sir, with cordial esteem,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 August, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

In answer to yours of the 2d, I have agreed to the appointment of Major David Hopkins to be marshal of Maryland, according to the advice of Mr. Stoddert, although it was a great disappointment and mortification to me to lose the only opportunity I shall ever have of testifying to the world the high opinion I have of the merits of a great magistrate by the Edition: current; Page: [77] appointment of his son to an office for which he is fully qualified and accomplished.1

I agree with you that a letter should be written to the government of Guadaloupe, remonstrating against the treatment of Daniel Tripe and another sailor, and holding up the idea of retaliation. I agree, too, that complaints should be made through Mr. Humphreys to the Spanish court, of the violation of their treaty in the case of Gregory and Pickard of Boston. I return Mr. Sitgreaves’s letter received in yours of August 2d.

John Adams
Adams, John
14 August, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

I received but last night your favor of the 4th. I have read the papers inclosed. 1. The letter from Mr. Robert Waln. 2. The letter from Gid. Hill Wells. 3. The representation of three masters of vessels, Thomas Choate, Robert Forrest, and Knowles Adams, relative to the consulate of Madeira. If there is a necessity of removing Mr. John Marsden Pintard, a native American and an old consul, why should we appoint a foreigner in his stead? Among the number of applications for consulates, cannot we find an American capable and worthy of the trust? Mr. Lamar is a partner in a respectable house, but it is said to be an English, or rather a Scotch house. Why should we take the bread out of the mouths of our own children and give it to strangers? We do so much of this in the army, navy, and especially in the consulships abroad, that it frequently gives me great anxiety. If, however, you know of no American fit for it, who would be glad of it, I shall consent to your giving the commission to Mr. Lamar, for it seems to me, from these last representations, there is a necessity of removing Mr. Pintard.

Edition: current; Page: [78]
John Adams
Adams, John
26 August, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

I received last night your letter of the 16th. I am well satisfied with all its contents. The only thing which requires any observation from me, is the proposed instruction to Mr. King. As far as I am able to form a conjecture, five millions of dollars are more than sufficient, provided the British creditors are left at liberty to prosecute in our courts, and recover all the debts which are now recoverable. I agree, however, with the heads of department, that it is better to engage to pay by instalments, or otherwise, as may be agreed, the whole sum, than be puzzled and teased with a new board and two or three years of incessant wrangles. I should be for instructing Mr. King to obtain the lowest sum possible, but to go as far as five millions rather than fail. I wish Mr. King may be furnished with as many reasons as can be thought of for reducing the sum. I pray you to prepare a letter to Mr. King as soon as possible; and as we are all so well agreed in all the principles, I do not think it necessary to transmit it to me. Lay it before the heads of department, and if they approve of it, I certainly shall not disapprove it, and you may send it, if opportunity occurs, without further advice from me. Whether it will be advisable to stipulate for a transfer to the United States of such claims as the British government shall think fit to discharge in consequence of this arrangement, I wish you to consider. I believe it will occasion more trouble, and expense too, than profit.

John Adams
Adams, John
27 August, 1800
Quincy
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver

TO O. WOLCOTT, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Dear Sir,

Inclosed is a letter from Mr. John C. Jones, of Boston, recommending Captain Joseph Coffin Boyd, to fill the place of Colonel Lunt. Also a letter from Richard Hunnewell, requesting the office for himself. Thus you see we have an ample choice of candidates. Fosdick, Titcomb, Mayo, Boyd, and Hunnewell, all well qualified, and recommended by very respectable men. The last, however, appears to me to have Edition: current; Page: [79] the best pretensions, though supported by no recommendations. These he might easily obtain, but I think it unnecessary. This gentleman resigned the office of a sheriff of a county, worth fifteen hundred dollars a year, for the sake of an appointment in the late army worth three hundred dollars less. He was lieutenant-colonel commandant of the fifteenth regiment, in the late brigade at Oxford. The public seems to be under some obligation to these gentlemen, who were so suddenly turned adrift. Hunnewell, though very young, was an officer in the army last war, and from his manners, appearance, education, and accomplishments, as well as from the circumstances before mentioned, I think we cannot do better than to appoint him. If you are of the same opinion, you may send him a commission; but if you are aware of any objection or of any reason for preferring any other candidate, I pray you to let me know it, before any appointment is made.

With great esteem.
John Adams
Adams, John
27 August, 1800
Quincy
Barnabas Bidwell
Bidwell, Barnabas

TO BARNABAS BIDWELL.

Sir,

I have received your favor of the 16th, and thank you for the information it contains.1 A very little reflection, I think, must convince a gentleman of your information, that it would be altogether improper for me to enter into any conversation or correspondence relative to the changes in administration. If a President of the United States has not authority enough to change his own secretaries, he is no longer fit for his office. If he must enter into a controversy in pamphlets and newspapers, in vindication of his measures, he would have employment enough for his whole life, and must neglect the duties and business of his station. Let those who have renounced, all of a sudden, that system of neutrality for which they contended for ten years, justify themselves, if they can.

I am, Sir, very respectfully,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [80]
John Adams
Adams, John
30 August, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

I received last night your favor of the 23d. My ideas are perfectly conformable to yours in your instructions to Mr. King, as you state them to me. The explanatory articles, if attainable, are preferable to any other mode. The next most eligible is the substitution of a sum in gross, that sum to be as small as can be agreed to, or will be agreed to, by the British government; but to agree to five millions of dollars, rather than fail of explanations and substitution both, and be compelled to agree to a new board, and all their delays and altercations.

The proposed letters to the governors of Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi, will, I presume, be unnecessary.1 Mr. King’s letter of the 5th of July is a melancholy picture of Britain. Alas! how different from that held up to view in this country, twelve months ago, to frighten me from sending to France! However, Mr. King is somewhat of a croaker at times. He is apt to be depressed by what he thinks a train of unfortunate events. There is enough, however, of likeness in his drawing to give great spirits and a high tone to the French. It will be our destiny, for what I know, republicans as we are, to fight the French republic alone. I cannot account for the long delay of our envoys. We cannot depart from our honor, nor violate our faith, to please the heroic consul.2

John Adams
Adams, John
4 September, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

I have received your favor of August 25th. I am much of your opinion, that we ought not to be surprised, if we see our envoys in the course of a few weeks or days, without a treaty. Nor should I be surprised, if they should be loaded with professions and protestations of love, to serve as a substitute for a treaty. The state of things will be so critical, Edition: current; Page: [81] that the government ought to be prepared to take a decided part. Questions of consequence will arise, and, among others, whether the President ought not at the opening of the session to recommend to Congress an immediate and general declaration of war against the French republic. Congress has already, in my judgment, as well as in the opinion of the judges at Philadelphia, declared war within the meaning of the Constitution against that republic, under certain restrictions and limitations. If war in any degree is to be continued, it is a serious question whether it will not be better to take off all the restrictions and limitations. We have had wonderful proofs that the public mind cannot be held in a state of suspense. The public opinion, it seems, must be always a decided one, whether in the right or not. We shall be tortured with a perpetual conflict of parties, and new and strange ones will continually rise up, until we have either peace or war. The question proposed by you is of great magnitude. I pretend not to have determined either, in my own mind; but I wish the heads of department to turn their thoughts to the subject, and view it in all its lights.1

The despatches from the Isle of France are unexpected. Four or five parties have in succession had the predominance in that island, and the old governor has gone along with each in its turn. We ought to be cautious on that business. I should prefer Mr. Lamar, so strongly recommended, to any Spaniard or Madeira man. If you can find a sound native American, well qualified, appoint him; if not, I will agree to Mr. Lamar. I will return the papers by a future opportunity.

Edition: current; Page: [82]
John Adams
Adams, John
5 September, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE

Dear Sir,

I hope, as you do, that the resistance to the execution of the judgment of the courts of the United States in Kentucky, as represented by Judge Harry Innes, exists no longer. I return you all the papers.

Mountflorence’s information was, that our envoys “were ready to depart for Havre de Grace, where they intended to embark for the Hague.” This was, probably, given out by the French to conceal something from the public. What that something was, you may conjecture as well as I. They would not be anxious to conceal settlement to mutual satisfaction.1

I agree with you that very serious, though friendly remonstrances ought to be made to Spain. I can even go as far as you, and demand compensation for every American vessel condemned by the French consular courts in the dominions of Spain. I return all the papers relative to this subject.

John Adams
Adams, John
9 September, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

Mr. Stevens’s letter, inclosed in yours of the 30th, seems to require a proclamation to open the trade between the United States and the ports of St. Domingo, which were lately in the possession of Rigaud, and I am ready to agree to it whenever you and the heads of department shall be satisfied.

Mr. Mitchell, of Charleston, promises great things, and he may be able to perform them, for any thing I know. But I have no intimation that Mr. Boudinot will resign, and I can promise no office beforehand. It has been the constant usage, now twelve years, for the President to answer no letters of solicitation or recommendation for office. I know of no coins of gold better executed than our eagles, nor of silver than our dollars. The motto of the Hôtel de Valentinois, in which I lived at Passy, was, “se sta bene, non si muove.” “If you stand Edition: current; Page: [83] well, stand still.” The epitaph, “stava ben, ma por stare meglio, sto qui,” “I was well, but by taking too much physic to be better, lo here I lie,” is a good admonition. I will not be answerable for the correctness of my Italian, but you see I have an idle morning, or I should not write you this common-place. I return you Mr. Humphreys’s letter, and inclose that of Mr. John H. Mitchell, and that of Mr. Stevens.

With sincere regard, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 September, 1800
Quincy
John Trumbull
Trumbull, John

TO JOHN TRUMBULL.

Dear Sir,

I thank you for your favor of the 4th. Porcupine’s gazette, and Fenno’s gazette, from the moment of the mission to France, aided, countenanced, and encouraged by soi-disant Federalists in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, have done more to shuffle the cards into the hands of the jacobin leaders, than all the acts of administration, and all the policy of opposition, from the commencement of the government. After the house of representatives had unequivocally and unanimously applauded that measure, as they did in their address in answer to the speech at the opening of the last session of Congress, it is arrogance, presumption, and inconsistency, without a parallel, in any to say, as they continue to do, in the newspapers, that the Federalists disapprove it. The jacobins infer from this disapprobation designs in such Federalists, which they are not prepared to avow. These Federalists may yet have their fill at fighting. They may see our envoys without peace; and if they do, what has been lost? Certainly nothing, unless it be the influence of some of the Federalists by their own imprudent and disorganizing opposition and clamor. Much time has been gained. If the election of a Federal President is lost by it, they who performed the exploit will be the greatest losers. They must take the consequences. They will attempt to throw the blame of it upon me, but they will not succeed. They have recorded their own intemperance and indiscretion in characters too legible and too public. For myself, age, infirmities, family misfortunes, have conspired with the unreasonable conduct of Edition: current; Page: [84] jacobins and insolent Federalists, to make me too indifferent to whatever can happen.

I am, as ever, your affectionate friend.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
18 September, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

I received last night, and have read this morning, the copy of your letter to Mr. King, inclosed in your favor of the 9th. I know not how the subject could have been better digested.1

An idea has occurred to me, which I wish you would consider. Ought not something to be said to Mr. King about the other board? That, I mean, in London.2 We understand it, no doubt, all along, that those commissioners are to proceed, and their awards are to be paid. But should not something be expressed concerning it, in this new arrangement, whether by explanations or a composition for a gross sum? Can it be stipulated that the gross sum, if that should be accepted, should be paid, in whole or in part, to American claimants before the board in London, in satisfaction of awards in their favor? These, perhaps, would loan the money to government, and receive certificates on interest, as the merchants have for ships. I only hint the thing for consideration; am not much satisfied with it.

John Adams
Adams, John
27 September, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

I received yesterday the inclosed letter, sent up from Boston, with several others, and large packets which appear to be only newspapers. This is a duplicate of No. 244, from Mr. Humphreys at Madrid, dated 29th July and August 1st. Talleyrand’s reply to the French minister says: “In the present state of the negotiation between the United States and France, you may inform Mr. Humphreys that he shall not long have occasion to complain of any more robberies (brigandages) committed Edition: current; Page: [85] under the name of privateering.” This sentiment favors your idea in your letter of the 17th, that “the present French government is much inclined to correct, at least in part, the follies of the past.”1 Inclosed is a private letter to me from Mr. King of 28th July, which may reflect some light upon the disposition of the French government about that time. They might be courting or flattering the northern powers into an armed neutrality. The envoys, when they come, will, I hope, be able to clear away all doubts, and show us plainly both our duty and our interest. I return you the three parchments signed as commissions for Clark, Vanderburg, and Griffin, to be judges in the Indiana territory. I wish you a pleasant tour to Richmond, but I pray you to give such orders that, if despatches should arrive from our envoys, they may be kept as secret as the grave till the Senate meets. On Monday, the 13th October, I shall set off from this place. Letters should not be sent to me, to reach this place or Boston after that day. I pray you to turn your reflections to the subject of communications to be made to Congress by the President, at the opening of the session, and give me your sentiments as soon as possible in writing. The Constitution requires that he should give both information and counsel.

I am, Sir, with a sincere attachment,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [86]
John Adams
Adams, John
30 September, 1800
Quincy
Samuel Dexter
Dexter, Samuel

TO S. DEXTER, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Dear Sir,

The letter of Mr. King to me of August the 11th, with Bell’s Weekly Messenger of August 10th, I inclose to you, because General Marshall, I suppose, will be absent. I pray you to communicate it to the other gentlemen. If the negotiation is terminated upon the stated points, the object is, no doubt, our United States election; but time will show they are directed by superficial advisers. Instead of operating in favor of their man, it will work against him. It is very probable they will send a minister or ministers here, and it behoves us to consider how we shall receive him. There can be no question in America, or at least with the executive authority of government, whether we shall preserve our treaty with Britain with good faith. It is impossible we should violate it, because impossibile est quod jure impossibile. I send you a letter also from Mr. Gore of August 8th, and a triplicate from Mr. King of 28th of July. I will thank you to return me these letters.

John Adams
Adams, John
3 October, 1800
Quincy
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

I have received last night your letter of 24th September. I return you Mr. Adams’s letter of 28th of June. The question, whether neutral ships shall protect enemies’ property, is indeed important. It is of so much importance, that if the principle of free ships, free goods, were once really established and honestly observed, it would put an end forever to all maritime war, and render all military navies useless. However desirable this may be to humanity, how much soever philosophy may approve it and Christianity desire it, I am clearly convinced it will never take place. The dominant power on the ocean will forever trample on it. The French would despise it more than any nation in the world, if they had the maritime superiority of power, and the Russians next to them. We must treat the subject with great attention, and, if all other nations will agree to it, we will. But while one holds out, we Edition: current; Page: [87] shall be the dupes, if we agree to it. Sweden and Denmark, Russia and Prussia, might form a rope of sand, but no dependance can be placed on such a maritime coalition. We must, however, treat the subject with great respect. If you have received a certificate that the ratifications of the treaty with Prussia are exchanged, should not a proclamation issue, as usual, to publish it? I have read with some care, and great pleasure, your letter to Mr. King of 20th September. I think it very proper that such a letter should be sent, and I am so fully satisfied with the representations and reasonings in it, that I shall give it to General Lincoln, the collector of Boston, to be sent by the first opportunity to London.1

John Adams
Adams, John
4 October, 1800
Quincy
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver

TO O. WOLCOTT, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Dear Sir,

Inclosed is a letter from Mr. Daniel Bedinger, with a certificate in his favor from Governor Wood. I suppose this letter comes too late; but that, if it had arrived earlier, it would have made no alteration in your judgment or mine. Neither Mr. Parker nor any other person ever had authority from me to say, that any man’s political creed would be an insuperable bar to promotion. No such rule has ever been adopted. Political principles and discretion will always be considered, with all other qualifications, and well weighed, in all appointments. But no such monopolizing, and contracted, and illiberal system, as that alleged to have been expressed by Mr. Parker, was ever adopted by me.

Washington appointed a multitude of democrats and jacobins of the deepest die. I have been more cautious in this respect; but there is danger of proscribing, under imputations of democracy, some of the ablest, most influential, and best characters in the Union.

Inclosed is a letter from William Cobb, requesting to be collector at Portland. I send you these letters, that they may be filed in your office, with others relative to the same subject.

Edition: current; Page: [88]
John Adams
Adams, John
9 October, 1800
Quincy
Samuel Dexter
Dexter, Samuel

TO S. DEXTER, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Dear Sir,

I have read the inclosed tedious proceedings, but cannot reconcile myself to the severity of the sentences. One of the officers certainly ought to be dismissed, and compelled to do justice to the men. But the circumstances of degradation and infamy might work upon the compassion of his neighbors powerfully enough to make him a great man in the militia or some State government. The other, perhaps, ought to be dismissed only, but of this I am not decided. Let them rest till I see you, which will not be long after, nor much before, Mrs. Dexter will make you healthy and happy.

I am, with great regard,
John Adams.
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver
8 November, 1800
Washington
John Adams
Adams, John

O. WOLCOTT, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I have, after due reflection, considered it a duty which I owe to myself and family, to retire from the office of Secretary of the Treasury; and accordingly I take the liberty to request that the President would be pleased to accept my resignation, to take effect, if agreeable to him, only at the close of the present year.1

In thus suggesting my wishes, I am influenced by a desire of affording to the President suitable time to designate my successor, and also of reserving to myself an opportunity to Edition: current; Page: [89] transfer the business of the department without injury to the public service.

I have the honor to be, &c.
Oliver Wolcott.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 November, 1800
Washington
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver

TO OLIVER WOLCOTT, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Dear Sir,

I have received your letter of the 8th of this month, and am sorry to find that you judge it necessary to retire from office. Although I shall part with your services as Secretary of the Treasury with reluctance and regret, I am nevertheless sensible that you are the best and the only judge of the expediency of your resignation.

If you persist in your resolution, your own time shall be mine. I should wish to know whether, by the close of the present year, you mean the last of December, or the fourth of March. If the first, it is so near at hand that no time is to be lost in considering of a successor.

I am, &c.
John Adams.
John Jay
Jay, John
10 November, 1800
Albany
John Adams
Adams, John

JOHN JAY TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Private.)

Dear Sir,

Still pressed by public business, occasioned by the late session, I take up my pen to write you a few lines before the mail closes. It very unexpectedly happened that the anti-federal party succeeded in the last election at the city of New York, and acquired a decided majority in the Assembly. Well knowing their views and temper, it was not advisable that the speech should contain any matter respecting national officers or measures, which would afford them an opportunity of indulging their propensity to do injustice to both in their answer.

But the next morning after the delivery of the speech, and before they proceeded to the appointment of the electors, I sent them a message (and it is not usual to return any answers to such messages,) in which I expressed sentiments which leave Edition: current; Page: [90] no room for your political enemies to draw improper inferences from the reserve observable in the speech. The respect due to myself, as well as to you, forbade me to remain silent on a subject and on an occasion so highly interesting; and I flatter myself it will be agreeable to you to perceive from these circumstances, and to be assured, that I still remain, and will remain, dear Sir, your sincere and faithful friend,

John Jay.

Just on closing this letter, a newspaper, which I inclose, came in. It contains a copy of the Message.

Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver
11 November, 1800
Washington
John Adams
Adams, John

O. WOLCOTT, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I have the honor to acknowledge with thanks the President’s obliging letter of yesterday. The time contemplated by myself for retiring from office is the last day of December next. It will, however, be necessary for me to remain here several weeks after my resignation takes place, whenever that event may happen, for the purpose of completing the business which will have been by me previously commenced. Notwithstanding my resignation will take place, agreeable to the President’s permission, on the last day of December, any services, which I can afterwards render, while here, will be at the disposal of my successor or the government.

I have the honor, &c.
Oliver Wolcott.
John Adams
Adams, John
24 November, 1800
Washington
John Jay
Jay, John

TO JOHN JAY.

Dear Sir,

I received last week your friendly private letter of the 10th. The assurance of the continuance of your friendship was unnecessary for me, because I have never had a doubt of it. But others invent and report as they please. They have preserved hitherto, however, more delicacy towards the friendship between you and me than any other.

The last mission to France, and the consequent dismission of Edition: current; Page: [91] the twelve regiments, although an essential branch of my system of policy, has been to those who have been intriguing and laboring for an army of fifty thousand men, an unpardonable fault. If by their folly they have thrown themselves on their backs, and jacobins should walk over their bellies, as military gentlemen express promotions over their heads, whom should they blame but themselves?

Among the very few truths, in a late pamphlet,1 there is one which I shall ever acknowledge with pleasure, namely, that the principal merit of the negotiation for peace was Mr. Jay’s. I wish you would permit our Historical Society to print the papers you drew up on that occasion. I often say, that, when my confidence in Mr. Jay shall cease, I must give up the cause of confidence, and renounce it with all men.

With great truth and regard, I am now, and ever shall be, your friend and servant,

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
19 December, 1800
Washington
John Jay
Jay, John

TO JOHN JAY.

Dear Sir,

Mr. Ellsworth, afflicted with the gravel and the gout, and intending to pass the winter in the south of France, after a few weeks in England, has resigned his office of Chief Justice, and I have nominated you to your old station. This is as independent of the inconstancy of the people, as it is of the will of a President. In the future administration of our country, the firmest security we can have against the effects of visionary schemes or fluctuating theories, will be in a solid judiciary; and nothing will cheer the hopes of the best men so much as your acceptance of this appointment. You have now a great opportunity to render a most signal service to your country. I therefore pray you most earnestly to consider of it seriously, and accept it. You may very properly resign the short remainder of your gubernatorial period, and Mr. Van Rensselaer may discharge the duties. I had no permission from you to take this step, but it appeared to me that Providence had thrown in my way an opportunity, not only of marking to the public the spot where, in my opinion, the greatest mass of Edition: current; Page: [92] worth remained collected in one individual, but of furnishing my country with the best security its inhabitants afforded against the increasing dissolution of morals.

With unabated friendship, and the highest esteem and respect, I am, &c.

John Adams.

P. S. Your commission will soon follow this letter.1

John Adams
Adams, John
24 January, 1801
Washington
George Churchman
Churchman, George
Jacob Lindley
Lindley, Jacob

TO GEORGE CHURCHMAN AND JACOB LINDLEY.

Friends,

I have received your letter of the 17th of the first month, and thank you for communicating the letter to me of our friend Warner Mifflin. I have read both with pleasure, because I believe they proceeded from a sense of duty and a principle of benevolence.

Although I have never sought popularity by any animated speeches or inflammatory publications against the slavery of the blacks, my opinion against it has always been known, and my practice has been so conformable to my sentiments that I have always employed freemen, both as domestics and laborers, and never in my life did I own a slave. The abolition of slavery must be gradual, and accomplished with much caution and circumspection. Violent means and measures would produce greater violations of justice and humanity than the continuance of the practice. Neither Mr. Mifflin nor yourselves, I presume, would be willing to venture on exertions which would probably excite insurrections among the blacks to rise against their masters, and imbue their hands in innocent blood.

There are many other evils in our country which are growing (whereas the practice of slavery is fast diminishing), and threaten to bring punishment on our land more immediately than the oppression of the blacks. That sacred regard to truth in which Edition: current; Page: [93] you and I were educated, and which is certainly taught and enjoined from on high, seems to be vanishing from among us. A general relaxation of education and government, a general debauchery as well as dissipation, produced by pestilential philosophical principles of Epicurus, infinitely more than by shows and theatrical entertainments; these are, in my opinion, more serious and threatening evils than even the slavery of the blacks, hateful as that is. I might even add that I have been informed that the condition of the common sort of white people in some of the Southern States, particularly Virginia, is more oppressed, degraded, and miserable, than that of the negroes. These vices and these miseries deserve the serious and compassionate consideration of friends, as well as the slave trade and the degraded state of the blacks. I wish you success in your benevolent endeavors to relieve the distresses of our fellow creatures, and shall always be ready to coöperate with you as far as my means and opportunities can reasonably be expected to extend.

I am, with great respect and esteem, your friend,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
26 January, 1801
Washington
Elias Boudinot
Boudinot, Elias

TO ELIAS BOUDINOT.

Dear Sir,

I have, this morning, received your favor of the 20th. The anxiety of the gentlemen of the law in New Jersey to have the present President of the United States appointed Chief Justice, after the 3d of March, is very flattering to me.1 Although neither pride, nor vanity, nor indolence, would prevent me from accepting any situation, in which I could be useful, I know of none for which I am fit. The office of Chief Justice is too important for any man to hold of sixty-five years of age, who has wholly neglected the study of the law for six and twenty Edition: current; Page: [94] years. I have already, by the nomination of a gentleman in the full vigor of middle age, in the full habits of business, and whose reading in the science is fresh in his head, to this office, put it wholly out of my power, and, indeed, it never was in my hopes or wishes.

The remainder of my days will probably be spent in the labors of agriculture, and the amusements of literature, in both of which I have always taken more delight than in any public office, of whatever rank. Far removed from all intrigues, and out of the reach of all the great and little passions that agitate the world, although I take no resolutions, nor make any promises, I hope to enjoy more tranquillity than has ever before been my lot. Mrs. A. returns her thanks for the friendly politeness of Mrs. Boudinot and Mrs. Bradford. The other parts of your letter will be duly weighed and considered in their season.

John Adams
Adams, John
27 January, 1801
Washington
Richard Stockton
Stockton, Richard

TO RICHARD STOCKTON.

Dear Sir,

I am much obliged by your favor of the 17th. If the judiciary bill should pass, as I hope and believe it will, I should be very glad of your advice relative to appointments in other States as well as your own.

The talents and literary qualifications of Mr. William Griffith, of Burlington, have been familiar to me for some time. Your account of his character in other respects is very satisfactory. I doubt, however, of his being literally at the head of his profession at the bar, while Mr. Richard Stockton is there, and am not clear that his pretensions to the circuit bench are the first. I wish to know, in confidence, your sentiments. You may have reasons for resigning to another your own pretensions, but before any nomination is made, I should be very glad to know, whether you would accept it. It is very probable to me that your prospects in your own State and at large may be better for yourself, and more for the benefit of the public, but as I am not certainly informed, I shall be somewhat embarrassed. I may have been too indifferent to the smiles of some men, and to the Edition: current; Page: [95] frowns of others,1 but neither will influence my judgment, I hope, in determining nominations of judges, characters at all times sacred in my estimation.

With great esteem, I remain, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
31 January, 1801
Washington
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO J. MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF STATE.

I request you would cause to be prepared letters for me to sign, to the King of Prussia, recalling Mr. John Quincy Adams, as minister plenipotentiary from his court. You may express the thanks of the President to his Majesty for the obliging reception and kind treatment this minister has met with at his court, and may throw the letter into the form of leave to return to the United States. You will look into the forms, in your office, of former instances of recall. I wish you to make out one letter to go by the way of Hamburg, another by Holland, a third by France, a fourth through Mr. King in England, a fifth, if you please, by the way of Bremen or Stettin, or any other channel most likely to convey it soon. It is my opinion this minister ought to be recalled from Prussia. Justice would require that he should be sent to France or England, if he should be continued in Europe. The mission to St. James’s is perfectly well filled by Mr. King; that to France is no doubt destined for some other character. Besides, it is my opinion that it is my duty to call him home.

John Adams
Adams, John
31 January, 1801
Washington
Samuel Dexter
Dexter, Samuel

TO S. DEXTER, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Dear Sir,

I hereby authorize and request you to execute the office of Secretary of State so far as to affix the seal of the United States to the inclosed commission to the present Secretary Edition: current; Page: [96] of State, John Marshall, of Virginia, to be Chief Justice of the United States, and to certify in your own name on the commission as executing the office of the Secretary of State pro hâc vice.

John Adams.
John Marshall
Marshall, John
4 February, 1801
John Adams
Adams, John

JOHN MARSHALL TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I pray you to accept my grateful acknowledgments for the honor conferred on me in appointing me Chief Justice of the United States. This additional and flattering mark of your good opinion has made an impression on my mind which time will not efface.

I shall enter immediately on the duties of the office, and hope never to give you occasion to regret having made this appointment.

With the most respectful attachment, &c.
J. Marshall.
John Adams
Adams, John
4 February, 1801
Washington
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO JOHN MARSHALL.

Dear Sir,

I have this moment received your letter of this morning, and am happy in your acceptance of the office of Chief Justice. The circumstances of the times, however, render it necessary that I should request and authorize you, as I do by this letter, to continue to discharge all the duties of Secretary of State until ulterior arrangements can be made.

With great esteem, I am, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
4 February, 1801
Washington
Joseph Ward
Ward, Joseph

TO JOSEPH WARD.

Dear Sir,

I have received and read with much pleasure your kind and friendly letter of January 22d. As I have all my Edition: current; Page: [97] lifetime expected such events as these which have lately occurred, I was not surprised when they happened. They ought to be lessons and solemn warnings to all thinking men. Clouds black and gloomy hang over this country, threatening a fierce tempest arising merely from party conflicts, at a time when the internal and external prosperity of it, and the national prospects in every other respect, are the most pleasing and promising that we ever beheld. I pray Heaven to dissipate the storm. Depressions of spirits, such as wound the nice organs of health, I have not perceived and do not apprehend, but I have some reason to expect that my constitution will have another trial when I come to exchange a routine of domestic life, without much exercise, for a life of long journeys and distant voyages, in one or other of which I have been monthly or at least yearly engaged for two and forty years. When such long continued and violent exercise, such frequent agitations of the body, are succeeded by stillness, it may shake an old frame. Rapid motion ought not to be succeeded by sudden rest. But, at any rate, I have not many years before me, and those few are not very enchanting in prospect. Till death, an honest man and candid friend will ever be dear to my heart, and Colonel Ward, as one of that character, may ever be sure of the good-will and kind remembrance of

John Adams.

P. S. Ward, I wish you would write a dissertation upon parties in this country.

John Adams
Adams, John
7 February, 1801
Washington
Elbridge Gerry
Gerry, Elbridge

TO ELBRIDGE GERRY.

Dear Sir,

I lament with you the arbitrary application of party nicknames and unpopular appellations, and although with you I heartily wish, yet I cannot say I hope, that the wickedness of the wicked will come to an end. On the contrary, it appears to me that, unlike the rising light which shineth more and more to the perfect day, the darkness will thicken till it may be felt. In the multitude of applications for consulates, it is impossible for me to say what Mr. Lee’s success may be. Edition: current; Page: [98] The imputation of jacobinism, which I believe to be groundless, will have no weight with me. It may, however, with the Senate.

I have no inclination to inquire whether I should have been evaded, if the electors in South Carolina had been federal, or not. I can easily credit such a conjecture. Yet I believe the Pinckneys are honorable men, and would not have promoted or connived at the design. The original plan, which was determined in a caucus, proposed, I suppose, by Hamilton, and promoted by Goodhue and his patrons and puppets, was the fundamental error. Messrs. Pinckney had no just pretensions to such an elevation any more than Mr. Burr, except that their characters are fairer, more independent, and respectable.

I know no more danger of a political convulsion, if a President, pro tempore, of the Senate, or a Secretary of State, or Speaker of the House, should be made President by Congress, than if Mr. Jefferson or Mr. Burr is declared such. The President would be as legal in one case as in either of the others, in my opinion, and the people as well satisfied. This, however, must be followed by another election, and Mr. Jefferson would be chosen; I should, in that case, decline the election. We shall be tossed, at any rate, in the tempestuous sea of liberty for years to come, and where the bark can land but in a political convulsion, I cannot see. I wish the good ship to her desired harbor.

With usual esteem and regard, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 February, 1801
Washington

TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

Inclosed is a Newburyport Herald, in which is quoted “a letter from John Adams, dated Amsterdam, 15th December, 1780, to Thomas Cushing, Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts.” This letter has been, for some years past, reprinted and quoted in many American pamphlets and newspapers as genuine, and imposes on many people by supposing and imputing to me sentiments inconsistent with the whole tenor of my life and all the feelings of my nature.1 I remember Edition: current; Page: [99] to have read the letter in English newspapers soon after it was published, at a time when the same English papers teemed with forged letters, long, tedious, flat, and dull, in the name of Dr. Franklin, the most concise, sprightly, and entertaining writer of his time. The Doctor declared them all to be forgeries, which he was not under a necessity of doing, because every reader of common sense and taste knew them to be such from their style and nonsense. The letter in my name, I also declare to be a forgery. I never wrote a letter in the least degree resembling it to Lieutenant-Governor Cushing, nor to any other person. This declaration I pray you to file in your office, and you have my consent to publish it, if you think fit.

I am, Sir, &c.
John Adams.
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver
28 March, 1801
Middletown
John Adams
Adams, John

OLIVER WOLCOTT TO JOHN ADAMS.

I embrace the earliest opportunity which I have been able to improve, since your arrival at Quincy, to express my most sincere acknowledgments for the distinguished proof, which I have received, of your confidence, in being appointed a judge of the second circuit of the United States.

My friends have communicated to me the circumstances which attended the appointment; by which I hear, with the highest satisfaction, that I owe the honorable station in which I have been placed, to your favorable opinion, and in no degree to their solicitation. Believing that gratitude to benefactors is among the most amiable, and ought to be among the most indissoluble, of social obligations, I shall, without reserve, cherish the emotions which are inspired by a sense of duty and honor on this occasion.1

I am, &c.
Oliver Wolcott.
Edition: current; Page: [100]
John Adams
Adams, John
6 April, 1801
Quincy
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver

TO OLIVER WOLCOTT.

Sir,

I have received your favor of the 28th of March, and I read it with much pleasure. The information you have received from your friends, concerning the circumstances of your nomination to be a judge of the second circuit of the United States, is very correct.

I have never allowed myself to speak much of the gratitude due from the public to individuals for past services, but I have always wished that more should be said of justice. Justice is due from the public to itself, and justice is also due to individuals. When the public discards or neglects talents and integrity, united with meritorious past services, it commits iniquity against itself, by depriving itself of the benefit of future services; and it does wrong to the individual, by depriving him of the reward, which long and faithful services have merited. Twenty years of able and faithful services on the part of Mr. Wolcott, remunerated only by a simple subsistence, it appeared to me, constituted a claim upon the public, which ought to be attended to. As it was of importance that no appointment should be made that would be refused, I took measures to ascertain from your friends the probability of your acceptance, and then made the nomination, happy to have so fair an opportunity to place you beyond the reach of will and pleasure. I wish you much pleasure, and more honor, in your law studies and pursuits, and I doubt not you will contribute your full share to make justice run down our streets as a stream. My family joins in friendly regards to you and yours. With much esteem, I have the honor to be, Sir,1 &c.

John Adams.
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SPEECHES AND MESSAGES TO CONGRESS, PROCLAMATIONS, and ADDRESSES.

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SPEECHES TO CONGRESS.

INAUGURAL SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS,

When it was first perceived, in early times, that no middle course for America remained between unlimited submission to a foreign legislature and a total independence of its claims, men of reflection were less apprehensive of danger from the formidable power of fleets and armies they must determine to resist, than from those contests and dissensions, which would certainly arise, concerning the forms of government to be instituted, over the whole, and over the parts of this extensive country. Relying, however, on the purity of their intentions, the justice of their cause, and the integrity and intelligence of the people, under an overruling Providence, which had so signally protected this country from the first, the representatives of this nation, then consisting of little more than half its present numbers, not only broke to pieces the chains which were forging, and the rod of iron that was lifted up, but frankly cut asunder the ties which had bound them, and launched into an ocean of uncertainty.

The zeal and ardor of the people during the revolutionary war, supplying the place of government, commanded a degree of order, sufficient at least for the temporary preservation of society. The confederation, which was early felt to be necessary, was prepared from the models of the Batavian and Helvetic confederacies, the only examples which remain, with any detail and precision, in history, and certainly the only ones which the people at large had ever considered. But, reflecting on the striking difference in so many particulars between this country Edition: current; Page: [106] and those where a courier may go from the seat of government to the frontier in a single day, it was then certainly foreseen by some, who assisted in Congress at the formation of it, that it could not be durable.

Negligence of its regulations, inattention to its recommendations, if not disobedience to its authority, not only in individuals but in States, soon appeared, with their melancholy consequences; universal languor, jealousies, rivalries of States; decline of navigation and commerce; discouragement of necessary manufactures; universal fall in the value of lands and their produce; contempt of public and private faith; loss of consideration and credit with foreign nations; and, at length, in discontents, animosities, combinations, partial conventions, and insurrection; threatening some great national calamity.

In this dangerous crisis the people of America were not abandoned by their usual good sense, presence of mind, resolution, or integrity. Measures were pursued to concert a plan to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty. The public disquisitions, discussions, and deliberations, issued in the present happy constitution of government.

Employed in the service of my country abroad, during the whole course of these transactions, I first saw the Constitution of the United States in a foreign country. Irritated by no literary altercation, animated by no public debate, heated by no party animosity, I read it with great satisfaction, as a result of good heads, prompted by good hearts; as an experiment better adapted to the genius, character, situation, and relations of this nation and country, than any which had ever been proposed or suggested. In its general principles and great outlines, it was conformable to such a system of government as I had ever most esteemed, and in some States, my own native State in particular, had contributed to establish. Claiming a right of suffrage in common with my fellow-citizens, in the adoption or rejection of a constitution, which was to rule me and my posterity as well as them and theirs, I did not hesitate to express my approbation of it on all occasions, in public and in private. It was not then nor has been since any objection to it, in my mind, that the Executive and Senate were not more permanent. Nor Edition: current; Page: [107] have I entertained a thought of promoting any alteration in it, but such as the people themselves, in the course of their experience, should see and feel to be necessary or expedient, and by their representatives in Congress and the State legislatures, according to the Constitution itself, adopt and ordain.

Returning to the bosom of my country, after a painful separation from it for ten years, I had the honor to be elected to a station under the new order of things, and I have repeatedly laid myself under the most serious obligations to support the Constitution. The operation of it has equalled the most sanguine expectations of its friends; and, from an habitual attention to it, satisfaction in its administration, and delight in its effect upon the peace, order, prosperity, and happiness of the nation, I have acquired an habitual attachment to it, and veneration for it.

What other form of government, indeed, can so well deserve our esteem and love?

There may be little solidity in an ancient idea, that congregations of men into cities and nations, are the most pleasing objects in the sight of superior intelligences; but this is very certain, that, to a benevolent human mind, there can be no spectacle presented by any nation, more pleasing, more noble, majestic, or august, than an assembly like that which has so often been seen in this and the other chamber of Congress; of a government, in which the executive authority, as well as that of all the branches of the legislature, are exercised by citizens selected at regular periods by their neighbors, to make and execute laws for the general good. Can any thing essential, any thing more than mere ornament and decoration, be added to this by robes or diamonds? Can authority be more amiable or respectable, when it descends from accidents or institutions established in remote antiquity, than when it springs fresh from the hearts and judgments of an honest and enlightened people? For it is the people only that are represented; it is their power and majesty that is reflected, and only for their good, in every legitimate government, under whatever form it may appear. The existence of such a government as ours, for any length of time, is a full proof of a general dissemination of knowledge and virtue throughout the whole body of the people. And what object of consideration, more pleasing than this, can be presented Edition: current; Page: [108] to the human mind? If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable, it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence.

In the midst of these pleasing ideas, we should be unfaithful to ourselves, if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties, if any thing partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. If an election is to be determined by a majority of a single vote, and that can be procured by a party, through artifice or corruption, the government may be the choice of a party, for its own ends, not of the nation, for the national good. If that solitary suffrage can be obtained by foreign nations, by flattery or menaces; by fraud or violence; by terror, intrigue, or venality; the government may not be the choice of the American people, but of foreign nations. It may be foreign nations who govern us, and not we, the people, who govern ourselves. And candid men will acknowledge, that, in such cases, choice would have little advantage to boast of over lot or chance.

Such is the amiable and interesting system of government (and such are some of the abuses to which it may be exposed), which the people of America have exhibited, to the admiration and anxiety of the wise and virtuous of all nations, for eight years; under the administration of a citizen, who, by a long course of great actions regulated by prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude, conducting a people, inspired with the same virtues, and animated with the same ardent patriotism and love of liberty, to independence and peace, to increasing wealth and unexampled prosperity, has merited the gratitude of his fellow-citizens, commanded the highest praises of foreign nations, and secured immortal glory with posterity.

In that retirement which is his voluntary choice, may he long live to enjoy the delicious recollection of his services, the gratitude of mankind, the happy fruits of them to himself and the world, which are daily increasing, and that splendid prospect of the future fortunes of his country, which is opening from year to year! His name may be still a rampart, and the knowledge that he lives, a bulwark against all open or secret enemies of his country’s peace.

This example has been recommended to the imitation of his Edition: current; Page: [109] successors, by both Houses of Congress, and by the voice of the legislatures and the people throughout the nation.

On this subject it might become me better to be silent, or to speak with diffidence; but, as something may be expected, the occasion, I hope, will be admitted as an apology, if I venture to say, that, if a preference upon principle of a free republican government, formed upon long and serious reflection, after a diligent and impartial inquiry after truth; if an attachment to the Constitution of the United States, and a conscientious determination to support it, until it shall be altered by the judgments and the wishes of the people, expressed in the mode prescribed in it; if a respectful attention to the constitutions of the individual States, and a constant caution and delicacy towards the State governments; if an equal and impartial regard to the rights, interests, honor, and happiness of all the States in the Union, without preference or regard to a northern or southern, eastern or western position, their various political opinions on essential points, or their personal attachments; if a love of virtuous men of all parties and denominations; if a love of science and letters, and a wish to patronize every rational effort to encourage schools, colleges, universities, academies, and every institution for propagating knowledge, virtue, and religion among all classes of the people, not only for their benign influence on the happiness of life in all its stages and classes and of society in all its forms, but as the only means of preserving our constitution from its natural enemies, the spirit of sophistry, the spirit of party, the spirit of intrigue, profligacy, and corruption, and the pestilence of foreign influence, which is the angel of destruction to elective governments; if a love of equal laws, of justice and humanity, in the interior administration; if an inclination to improve agriculture, commerce, and manufactures for necessity, convenience, and defence; if a spirit of equity and humanity towards the aboriginal nations of America, and a disposition to meliorate their condition by inclining them to be more friendly to us, and our citizens to be more friendly to them; if an inflexible determination to maintain peace and inviolable faith with all nations, and that system of neutrality and impartiality among the belligerent powers of Europe, which has been adopted by the government, and so solemnly sanctioned by both Houses of Congress, and applauded by the Edition: current; Page: [110] legislatures of the States and the public opinion, until it shall be otherwise ordained by Congress; if a personal esteem for the French nation, formed in a residence of seven years chiefly among them, and a sincere desire to preserve the friendship which has been so much for the honor and interest of both nations; if, while the conscious honor and integrity of the people of America, and the internal sentiment of their own power and energies must be preserved, an earnest endeavor to investigate every just cause, and remove every colorable pretence of complaint; if an intention to pursue, by amicable negotiation, a reparation for the injuries that have been committed on the commerce of our fellow-citizens by whatever nation, and (if success cannot be obtained) to lay the facts before the legislature, that they may consider what further measures the honor and interest of the government and its constituents demand; if a resolution to do justice, as far as may depend upon me, at all times, and to all nations, and maintain peace, friendship, and benevolence with all the world; if an unshaken confidence in the honor, spirit, and resources of the American people, on which I have so often hazarded my all, and never been deceived; if elevated ideas of the high destinies of this country, and of my own duties towards it, founded on a knowledge of the moral principles and intellectual improvements of the people, deeply engraven on my mind in early life, and not obscured, but exalted by experience and age; and with humble reverence I feel it my duty to add, if a veneration for the religion of a people, who profess and call themselves Christians, and a fixed resolution to consider a decent respect for Christianity among the best recommendations for the public service;—can enable me in any degree to comply with your wishes, it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this sagacious injunction of the two Houses shall not be without effect.

With this great example before me, with the sense and spirit, the faith and honor, the duty and interest of the same American people, pledged to support the Constitution of the United States, I entertain no doubt of its continuance in all its energy; and my mind is prepared without hesitation, to lay myself under the most solemn obligations to support it to the utmost of my power.

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And may that Being, who is supreme over all, the patron of order, the fountain of justice, and the protector, in all ages of the world, of virtuous liberty, continue his blessing upon this nation and its government, and give it all possible success and duration, consistent with the ends of his providence!

John Adams.

SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS,

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

The personal inconveniences to the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, in leaving their families and private affairs at this season of the year, are so obvious, that I the more regret the extraordinary occasion which has rendered the convention of Congress indispensable.

It would have afforded me the highest satisfaction to have been able to congratulate you on a restoration of peace to the nations of Europe, whose animosities have endangered our tranquillity; but we have still abundant cause of gratitude to the Supreme Dispenser of national blessings for general health and promising seasons; for domestic and social happiness; for the rapid progress and ample acquisitions of industry through extensive territories; for civil, political, and religious liberty. While other States are desolated with foreign war or convulsed with intestine divisions, the United States present the pleasing prospect of a nation governed by mild and equal laws, generally satisfied with the possession of their rights; neither envying the advantages nor fearing the power of other nations; solicitous only for the maintenance of order and justice and the preservation of liberty, increasing daily in their attachment to a system of government, in proportion to their experience of its utility; yielding a ready and general obedience to laws flowing from the reason, and resting on the only solid foundation, the affections of the people.

It is with extreme regret that I shall be obliged to turn your thoughts to other circumstances, which admonish us that some of these felicities may not be lasting; but if the tide of our Edition: current; Page: [112] prosperity is full, and a reflux commencing, a vigilant circumspection becomes us, that we may meet our reverses with fortitude, and extricate ourselves from their consequences with all the skill we possess, and all the efforts in our power.

In giving to Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommending to their consideration such measures as appear to me to be necessary or expedient, according to my constitutional duty, the causes and the objects of the present extraordinary session will be explained.

After the President of the United States received information that the French government had expressed serious discontents at some proceedings of the government of these States, said to affect the interests of France, he thought it expedient to send to that country a new minister, fully instructed to enter on such amicable discussions, and to give such candid explanations, as might happily remove the discontents and suspicions of the French government, and vindicate the conduct of the United States. For this purpose he selected from among his fellow-citizens a character, whose integrity, talents, experience, and services, had placed him in the rank of the most esteemed and respected in the nation. The direct object of his mission was expressed in his letter of credence to the French republic; being “to maintain that good understanding, which, from the commencement of the alliance, had subsisted between the two nations; and to efface unfavorable impressions, banish suspicions, and restore that cordiality which was at once the evidence and the pledge of a friendly union;” and his instructions were to the same effect, “faithfully to represent the disposition of the government and the people of the United States (their disposition being one) to remove jealousies, and obviate complaints, by showing that they were groundless; to restore that mutual confidence which had been so unfortunately and injuriously impaired; and to explain the relative interests of both countries, and the real sentiments of his own.”

A minister thus specially commissioned, it was expected, would have proved the instrument of restoring mutual confidence between the two republics. The first step of the French government corresponded with that expectation.

A few days before his arrival at Paris, the French minister of foreign relations informed the American minister then resident Edition: current; Page: [113] at Paris, of the formalities to be observed by himself in taking leave, and by his successor preparatory to his reception. These formalities they observed, and, on the 9th of December, presented officially to the minister of foreign relations, the one, a copy of his letters of recall, the other, a copy of his letters of credence. These were laid before the executive directory. Two days afterwards, the minister of foreign relations informed the recalled American minister, that the executive directory had determined not to receive another minister plenipotentiary from the United States until after the redress of grievances demanded of the American government, and which the French republic had a right to expect from it. The American minister immediately endeavored to ascertain whether, by refusing to receive him, it was intended that he should retire from the territories of the French republic; and verbal answers were given that such was the intention of the directory. For his own justification he desired a written answer, but obtained none until towards the last of January, when, receiving notice, in writing, to quit the territories of the republic, he proceeded to Amsterdam, where he proposed to wait for instructions from his government. During his residence at Paris, cards of hospitality were refused him, and he was threatened with being subjected to the jurisdiction of the minister of police; but with becoming firmness he insisted on the protection of the law of nations, due to him as the known minister of a foreign power. You will derive further information from his despatches, which will be laid before you.

As it is often necessary that nations should treat for the mutual advantage of their affairs, and especially to accommodate and terminate differences, and as they can treat only by ministers, the right of embassy is well known and established by the law and usage of nations. The refusal on the part of France to receive our minister, is then the denial of a right; but the refusal to receive him until we have acceded to their demands without discussion and without investigation, is to treat us neither as allies, nor as friends, nor as a sovereign State.

With this conduct of the French government, it will be proper to take into view the public audience given to the late minister of the United States on his taking leave of the executive directory. Edition: current; Page: [114] The speech of the President discloses sentiments more alarming than the refusal of a minister, because more dangerous to our independence and union, and at the same time studiously marked with indignities towards the government of the United States. It evinces a disposition to separate the people of the United States from the government; to persuade them that they have different affections, principles, and interests, from those of their fellow-citizens, whom they themselves have chosen to manage their common concerns; and thus to produce divisions fatal to our peace. Such attempts ought to be repelled with a decision which shall convince France and the world that we are not a degraded people, humiliated under a colonial spirit of fear and sense of inferiority, fitted to be the miserable instruments of foreign influence, and regardless of national honor, character, and interest.

I should have been happy to have thrown a veil over these transactions, if it had been possible to conceal them; but they have passed on the great theatre of the world, in the face of all Europe and America, and with such circumstances of publicity and solemnity that they cannot be disguised, and will not soon be forgotten. They have inflicted a wound in the American breast. It is my sincere desire, however, that it may be healed. It is my desire, and in this I presume I concur with you and with our constituents, to preserve peace and friendship with all nations; and believing that neither the honor nor the interest of the United States absolutely forbids the repetition of advances for securing these desirable objects with France, I shall institute a fresh attempt at negotiation, and shall not fail to promote and accelerate an accommodation on terms compatible with the rights, duties, interests, and honor of the nation. If we have committed errors, and these can be demonstrated, we shall be willing to correct them. If we have done injuries, we shall be willing, on conviction, to redress them; and equal measures of justice we have a right to expect from France and every other nation.

The diplomatic intercourse between the United States and France being at present suspended, the government has no means of obtaining official information from that country; nevertheless there is reason to believe that the executive directory passed a decree, on the 2d of March last, contravening, in Edition: current; Page: [115] part, the treaty of amity and commerce of one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, injurious to our lawful commerce, and endangering the lives of our citizens. A copy of this decree will be laid before you.

While we are endeavoring to adjust all our differences with France by amicable negotiation, the progress of the war in Europe, the depredations on our commerce, the personal injuries to our citizens, and the general complexion of affairs, render it my indispensable duty to recommend to your consideration effectual measures of defence.

The commerce of the United States has become an interesting object of attention, whether we consider it in relation to the wealth and finances, or the strength and resources of the nation. With a sea-coast of near two thousand miles in extent, opening a wide field for fisheries, navigation, and commerce, a great portion of our citizens naturally apply their industry and enterprise to these objects. Any serious and permanent injury to commerce would not fail to produce the most embarrassing disorders. To prevent it from being undermined and destroyed, it is essential that it receive an adequate protection.

The naval establishment must occur to every man who considers the injuries committed on our commerce, the insults offered to our citizens, and the description of the vessels by which these abuses have been practised. As the sufferings of our mercantile and seafaring citizens cannot be ascribed to the omission of duties demandable, considering the neutral situation of our country, they are to be attributed to the hope of impunity, arising from a supposed inability on our part to afford protection. To resist the consequences of such impressions on the minds of foreign nations, and to guard against the degradation and servility which they must finally stamp on the American character, is an important duty of government.

A naval power, next to the militia, is the natural defence of the United States. The experience of the last war would be sufficient to show, that a moderate naval force, such as would be easily within the present abilities of the Union, would have been sufficient to have baffled many formidable transportations of troops from one State to another, which were then practised. Our sea-coasts, from their great extent, are more easily annoyed, and more easily defended, by a naval force, than any other. Edition: current; Page: [116] With all the materials our country abounds; in skill our naval architects and navigators are equal to any; and commanders and seamen will not be wanting.

But although the establishment of a permanent system of naval defence appears to be requisite, I am sensible it cannot be formed so speedily and extensively as the present crisis demands. Hitherto I have thought proper to prevent the sailing of armed vessels, except on voyages to the East Indies, where general usage and the danger from pirates appeared to render the permission proper; yet the restriction has originated solely from a wish to prevent collusions with the powers at war, contravening the act of Congress, of June, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four; and not from any doubt entertained by me of the policy and propriety of permitting our vessels to employ means of defence, while engaged in a lawful foreign commerce. It remains for Congress to prescribe such regulations as will enable our seafaring citizens to defend themselves against violations of the law of nations; and at the same time restrain them from committing acts of hostility against the powers at war. In addition to this voluntary provision for defence, by individual citizens, it appears to me necessary to equip the frigates, and provide other vessels of inferior force to take under convoy such merchant vessels as shall remain unarmed.

The greater part of the cruisers, whose depredations have been most injurious, have been built, and some of them partially equipped, in the United States. Although an effectual remedy may be attended with difficulty, yet I have thought it my duty to present the subject generally to your consideration. If a mode can be devised by the wisdom of Congress to prevent the resources of the United States from being converted into the means of annoying our trade, a great evil will be prevented. With the same view I think it proper to mention that some of our citizens, resident abroad, have fitted out privateers, and others have voluntarily taken the command, or entered on board of them, and committed spoliations on the commerce of the United States. Such unnatural and iniquitous practices can be restrained only by severe punishments.

But besides a protection of our commerce on the seas, I think it highly necessary to protect it at home, where it is collected Edition: current; Page: [117] in our most important ports. The distance of the United States from Europe, and the well known promptitude, ardor, and courage of the people in defence of their country, happily diminish the probability of invasion. Nevertheless, to guard against sudden and predatory incursions, the situation of some of our principal seaports demands your consideration; and as our country is vulnerable in other interests besides those of its commerce, you will seriously deliberate whether the means of general defence ought not to be increased by an addition to the regular artillery and cavalry, and by arrangements for forming a provisional army.

With the same view, and as a measure which, even in a time of universal peace, ought not to be neglected, I recommend to your consideration a revision of the laws for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, to render that natural and safe defence of the country efficacious.

Although it is very true that we ought not to involve ourselves in the political system of Europe, but to keep ourselves always distinct and separate from it, if we can, yet, to effect this separation, early, punctual, and continual information of the current chain of events, and of the political projects in contemplation, is no less necessary than if we were directly concerned in them. It is necessary, in order to the discovery of the efforts made to draw us into the vortex, in season to make preparations against them. However we may consider ourselves, the maritime and commercial powers of the world will consider the United States of America as forming a weight in that balance of power in Europe, which never can be forgotten or neglected. It would not only be against our interest, but it would be doing wrong to one half of Europe at least, if we should voluntarily throw ourselves into either scale. It is a natural policy for a nation that studies to be neutral, to consult with other nations engaged in the same studies and pursuits; at the same time that measures ought to be pursued with this view, our treaties with Prussia and Sweden, one of which is expired, and the other near expiring, might be renewed.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

It is particularly your province to consider the state of the public finances, and to adopt such measures, respecting them, Edition: current; Page: [118] as exigencies shall be found to require. The preservation of public credit, the regular extinguishment of the public debt, and a provision of funds to defray any extraordinary expenses, will of course call for your serious attention. Although the imposition of new burdens cannot be in itself agreeable, yet there is no ground to doubt that the American people will expect from you such measures, as their actual engagements, their present security, and future interests demand.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

The present situation, of our country imposes an obligation on all the departments of government to adopt an explicit and decided conduct. In my situation, an exposition of the principles by which my administration will be governed, ought not to be omitted.

It is impossible to conceal from ourselves or the world, what has been before observed, that endeavors have been employed to foster and establish a division between the government and people of the United States. To investigate the causes which have encouraged this attempt, is not necessary; but to repel, by decided and united counsels, insinuations so derogatory to the honor, and aggressions so dangerous to the constitution, union, and even independence of the nation, is an indispensable duty.

It must not be permitted to be doubted, whether the people of the United States will support the government established by their voluntary consent, and appointed by their free choice; or whether, by surrendering themselves to the direction of foreign and domestic factions, in opposition to their own government, they will forfeit the honorable station they have hitherto maintained.

For myself, having never been indifferent to what concerned the interests of my country, devoted the best part of my life to obtain and support its independence, and constantly witnessed the patriotism, fidelity, and perseverance of my fellow-citizens, on the most trying occasions, it is not for me to hesitate or abandon a cause in which my heart has been so long engaged.

Convinced that the conduct of the government has been just and impartial to foreign nations, that those internal regulations Edition: current; Page: [119] which have been established by law for the preversation of peace, are in their nature proper, and that they have been fairly executed, nothing will ever be done by me to impair the national engagements, to innovate upon principles which have been so deliberately and uprightly established, or to surrender in any manner the rights of the government. To enable me to maintain this declaration, I rely, under God, with entire confidence, on the firm and enlightened support of the national legislature, and upon the virtue and patriotism of my fellow-citizens.1

John Adams.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE SENATE.

Mr. Vice-President,
and Gentlemen of the Senate,

It would be an affectation in me to dissemble the pleasure I feel on receiving this kind address.

My long experience of the wisdom, fortitude, and patriotism of the Senate of the United States enhances in my estimation the value of those obliging expressions of your approbation of my conduct, which are a generous reward for the past, and an affecting encouragement to constancy and perseverance in future.

Our sentiments appear to be so entirely in unison, that I cannot but believe them to be the rational result of the understandings and the natural feelings of the hearts of Americans in general, on contemplating the present state of the nation.

While such principles and affections prevail, they will form an indissoluble bond of union, and a sure pledge that our country has no essential injury to apprehend from any portentous appearances abroad. In a humble reliance on Divine Providence, Edition: current; Page: [120] we may rest assured that, while we reiterate with sincerity our endeavors to accommodate all our differences with France, the independence of our country cannot be diminished, its dignity degraded, or its glory tarnished, by any nation or combination of nations, whether friends or enemies.

John Adams.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

Mr. Speaker,
and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

I receive with great satisfaction your candid approbation of the convention of Congress, and thank you for your assurances that the interesting subjects recommended to your consideration shall receive the attention, which their importance demands, and your coöperation may be expected in those measures which may appear necessary for our security or peace.

The declarations of the representatives of this nation, of their satisfaction at my promotion to the first office in the government, and of their confidence in my sincere endeavors to discharge the various duties of it with advantage to our common country, have excited my most grateful sensibility.

I pray you, gentlemen, to believe, and to communicate such assurance to our constituents, that no event, which I can foresee to be attainable by any exertions in the discharge of my duties, can afford me so much cordial satisfaction as to conduct a negotiation with the French republic, to a removal of prejudices, a correction of errors, a dissipation of umbrages, an accommodation of all differences, and a restoration of harmony and affection, to the mutual satisfaction of both nations. And whenever the legitimate organs of intercourse shall be restored, and the real sentiments of the two governments can be candidly communicated to each other, although strongly impressed with the necessity of collecting ourselves into a manly posture of defence, I nevertheless entertain an encouraging confidence, that a mutual spirit of conciliation, a disposition to compensate injuries, and accommodate each other in all our relations and connections, will produce an agreement to a treaty, consistent with the engagements, rights, duties, and honor of both nations.

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [121]

SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS,

Gentlemen of the Senate,
and of the House of Representatives,

I was for some time apprehensive that it would be necessary, on account of the contagious sickness which afflicted the city of Philadelphia, to convene the national legislature at some other place. This measure it was desirable to avoid, because it would occasion much public inconvenience, and a considerable public expense, and add to the calamities of the inhabitants of this city, whose sufferings must have excited the sympathy of all their fellow-citizens. Therefore, after taking measures to ascertain the state and decline of the sickness, I postponed my determination, having hopes, now happily realized, that, without hazard to the lives or health of the members, Congress might assemble at this place, where it was next by law to meet. I submit, however, to your consideration, whether a power to postpone the meeting of Congress, without passing the time fixed by the Constitution upon such occasions, would not be a useful amendment to the law of 1794.

Although I cannot yet congratulate you on the reëstablishment of peace in Europe, and the restoration of security to the persons and properties of our citizens from injustice and violence at sea, we have nevertheless abundant cause of gratitude to the source of benevolence and influence, for interior tranquillity and personal security, for propitious seasons, prosperous agriculture, productive fisheries, and general improvements; and, above all, for a rational spirit of civil and religious liberty, and a calm but steady determination to support our sovereignty, as well as our moral and religious principles, against all open and secret attacks.

Our envoys extraordinary to the French republic embarked, one in July, the other early in August, to join their colleague in Holland. I have received intelligence of the arrival of both of them in Holland, from whence they all proceeded on their journey to Paris, within a few days of the 19th of September. Whatever may be the result of this mission, I trust that nothing will have been omitted on my part to conduct the negotiation Edition: current; Page: [122] to a successful conclusion, on such equitable terms as may be compatible with the safety, honor, and interests of the United States. Nothing, in the mean time, will contribute so much to the preservation of peace, and the attainment of justice, as a manifestation of that energy and unanimity, of which, on many former occasions, the people of the United States have given such memorable proofs, and the exertion of those resources for national defence, which a beneficent Providence has kindly placed within their power.

It may be confidently asserted, that nothing has occurred since the adjournment of Congress, which renders inexpedient those precautionary measures recommended by me to the consideration of the two houses, at the opening of your late extraordinary session. If that system was then prudent, it is more so now, as increasing depredations strengthen the reasons for its adoption.

Indeed, whatever may be the issue of the negotiation with France, and whether the war in Europe is or is not to continue, I hold it most certain that perfect tranquillity and order will not soon be obtained. The state of society has so long been disturbed, the sense of moral and religious obligations so much weakened, public faith and national honor have been so impaired, respect to treaties has been so diminished, and the law of nations has lost so much of its force, while pride, ambition, avarice, and violence, have been so long unrestrained, there remains no reasonable ground on which to raise an expectation, that a commerce, without protection or defence, will not be plundered.

The commerce of the United States is essential, if not to their existence, at least to their comfort, their growth, prosperity, and happiness. The genius, character, and habits of the people are highly commercial. Their cities have been formed and exist upon commerce. Our agriculture, fisheries, arts, and manufactures are connected with and depend upon it. In short, commerce has made this country what it is; and it cannot be destroyed or neglected without involving the people in poverty and distress. Great numbers are directly and solely supported by navigation. The faith of society is pledged for the preservation of the rights of commercial and seafaring, no less than of the other citizens. Under this view of our affairs, Edition: current; Page: [123] I should hold myself guilty of a neglect of duty, if I forbore to recommend that we should make every exertion to protect our commerce, and to place our country in a suitable posture of defence, as the only sure means of preserving both.

I have entertained an expectation that it would have been in my power, at the opening of this session, to have communicated to you the agreeable information of the due execution of our treaty with his Catholic Majesty, respecting the withdrawing of his troops from our territory, and the demarkation of the line of limits; but by the latest authentic intelligence, Spanish garrisons were still continued within our country, and the running of the boundary line had not been commenced. These circumstances are the more to be regretted, as they cannot fail to affect the Indians in a manner injurious to the United States. Still, however, indulging the hope that the answers which have been given will remove the objections offered by the Spanish officers to the immediate execution of the treaty, I have judged it proper that we should continue in readiness to receive the posts, and to run the line of limits. Further information on this subject will be communicated in the course of the session.

In connection with this unpleasant state of things on our western frontier, it is proper for me to mention the attempts of foreign agents, to alienate the affections of the Indian nations, and to excite them to actual hostilities against the United States. Great activity has been exerted by these persons, who have insinuated themselves among the Indian tribes residing within the territory of the United States, to influence them to transfer their affections and force to a foreign nation, to form them into a confederacy, and prepare them for war against the United States.

Although measures have been taken to counteract these infractions of our rights, to prevent Indian hostilities, and to preserve entire their attachment to the United States, it is my duty to observe that, to give a better effect to these measures, and to obviate the consequences of a repetition of such practices, a law providing adequate punishment for such offences may be necessary.

The commissioners appointed under the fifth article of the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, between the United Edition: current; Page: [124] States and Great Britain, to ascertain the river which was truly intended under the name of the river St. Croix mentioned in the treaty of peace, met at Passamaquoddy Bay in October, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-six, and viewed the mouths of the rivers in question, and the adjacent shores and islands; and being of opinion that actual surveys of both rivers to their sources were necessary, gave to the agents of the two nations instructions for that purpose, and adjourned to meet at Boston in August. They met; but the surveys requiring more time than had been supposed, and not being then completed, the commissioners again adjourned to meet at Providence, in the State of Rhode Island, in June next, when we may expect a final examination and decision.

The commissioners appointed in pursuance of the sixth article of the treaty, met at Philadelphia in May last to examine the claims of British subjects for debts contracted before the peace, and still remaining due to them from citizens or inhabitants of the United States. Various causes have hitherto prevented any determinations; but the business is now resumed, and doubtless will be prosecuted without interruption.

Several decisions on the claims of citizens of the United States, for losses and damages sustained by reason of irregular and illegal captures or condemnations of their vessels or other property, have been made by the commissioners in London, conformable to the seventh article of the treaty. The sums awarded by the commissioners have been paid by the British government. A considerable number of other claims, where costs and damages, and not captured property, were the only objects in question, have been decided by arbitration, and the sums awarded to the citizens of the United States have also been paid.

The commissioners appointed agreeably to the twenty-first article of our treaty with Spain, met at Philadelphia in the summer past, to examine and decide on the claims of our citizens for losses they have sustained in consequence of their vessels and cargoes having been taken by the subjects of his Catholic Majesty, during the late war between Spain and France. Their sittings have been interrupted, but are now resumed.

The United States being obligated to make compensation Edition: current; Page: [125] for the losses and damages sustained by British subjects, upon the award of the commissioners acting under the sixth article of the treaty with Great Britain, and for the losses and damages sustained by British subjects, by reason of the capture of their vessels and merchandise, taken within the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, and brought into their ports, or taken by vessels originally armed in ports of the United States, upon the awards of the commissioners acting under the seventh article of the same treaty, it is necessary that provision be made for fulfilling these obligations.

The numerous captures of American vessels by the cruisers of the French republic, and of some by those of Spain, have occasioned considerable expenses in making and supporting the claims of our citizens before their tribunals. The sums required for this purpose have, in divers instances, been disbursed by the consuls of the United States. By means of the same captures, great numbers of our seamen have been thrown ashore in foreign countries, destitute of all means of subsistence; and the sick, in particular, have been exposed to grievous sufferings. The consuls have in these cases also advanced moneys for their relief. For these advances they reasonably expect reimbursements from the United States.

The consular act, relative to seamen, requires revision and amendment. The provisions for their support in foreign countries, and for their return, are found to be inadequate and ineffectual. Another provision seems necessary to be added to the consular act. Some foreign vessels have been discovered sailing under the flag of the United States, and with forged papers. It seldom happens that the consuls can detect this deception, because they have no authority to demand an inspection of the registers and sea letters.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

It is my duty to recommend to your serious consideration those objects which, by the Constitution, are placed particularly within your sphere,—the national debt and taxes.

Since the decay of the feudal system, by which the public defence was provided for chiefly at the expense of individuals, the system of loans has been introduced. And as no nation can raise within the year, by taxes, sufficient sums for its Edition: current; Page: [126] defence and military operations in time of war, the sums loaned, and debts contracted, have necessarily become the subject of what have been called funding systems. The consequences arising from the continual accumulation of public debts in other countries ought to admonish us to be careful to prevent their growth in our own. The national defence must be provided for, as well as the support of government; but both should be accomplished as much as possible by immediate taxes, and as little as possible by loans. The estimates for the service of the ensuing year will, by my direction, be laid before you.

Gentlemen of the Senate,
and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

We are met together at a most interesting period. The situations of the principal powers of Europe are singular and portentous. Connected with some by treaties, and with all by commerce, no important event there can be indifferent to us. Such circumstances call with peculiar importunity not less for a disposition to unite in all those measures on which the honor, safety, and prosperity of our country depend, than for all the exertions of wisdom and firmness.

In all such measures you may rely on my zealous and hearty concurrence.1

John Adams.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE SENATE.

Gentlemen of the Senate,

I thank you for this address. When, after the most laborious investigation and serious reflection, without partial considerations or personal motives, measures have been adopted or recommended, I can receive no higher testimony of their rectitude than the approbation of an assembly so independent, patriotic, and enlightened, as the Senate of the United States.

Edition: current; Page: [127]

Nothing has afforded me more entire satisfaction than the coincidence of your judgment with mine, in the opinion of the essential importance of our commerce, and the absolute necessity of a maritime defence. What is it that has drawn to Europe the superfluous riches of the three other quarters of the globe, but a marine? What is it that has drained the wealth of Europe itself into the coffers of two or three of its principal commercial powers, but a marine?

The world has furnished no example of a flourishing commerce, without a maritime protection; and a moderate knowledge of man and his history will convince any one that no such prodigy ever can arise. A mercantile marine and a military marine must grow up together; one cannot long exist without the other.

John Adams.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

I receive this address from the House of Representatives of the United States with peculiar pleasure.

Your approbation of the meeting of Congress in this city, and of those other measures of the executive authority of government communicated in my address to both Houses at the opening of the session, afford me great satisfaction, as the strongest desire of my heart is to give satisfaction to the people and their representatives by a faithful discharge of my duty.

The confidence you express in the sincerity of my endeavors, and in the unanimity of the people, does me much honor and gives me great joy.

I rejoice in that harmony which appears in the sentiments of all the branches of the government, on the importance of our commerce, and our obligations to defend it, as well as on all the other subjects recommended to your consideration; and sincerely congratulate you and our fellow-citizens at large on this appearance, so auspicious to the honor, interest, and happiness of the nation.

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [128]

SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS,1

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

While, with reverence and resignation, we contemplate the dispensations of Divine Providence, in the alarming and destructive pestilence with which several of our cities and towns have been visited, there is cause for gratitude and mutual congratulations that the malady has disappeared, and that we are again permitted to assemble in safety at the seat of government, for the discharge of our important duties. But when we reflect that this fatal disorder has within a few years made repeated ravages in some of our principal seaports, and with increased malignancy, and when we consider the magnitude of the evils arising from the interruption of public and private business, whereby the national interests are deeply affected, I think it my duty to invite the legislature of the Union to examine the expediency of establishing suitable regulations in aid of the health laws of the respective States; for these being formed on the idea that contagious sickness may be communicated through the channels of commerce, there seems to be a necessity that Congress, who alone can regulate trade, should frame a system, which, while it may tend to preserve the general health, may be compatible with the interests of commerce and the safety of the revenue.

While we think on this calamity, and sympathize with the immediate sufferers, we have abundant reason to present to the Supreme Being our annual oblations of gratitude for a liberal participation in the ordinary blessings of his providence. To Edition: current; Page: [129] the usual subjects of gratitude, I cannot omit to add one, of the first importance to our well-being and safety—I mean that spirit which has arisen in our country against the menaces and aggressions of a foreign nation. A manly sense of national honor, dignity, and independence, has appeared, which, if encouraged and invigorated by every branch of the government, will enable us to view undismayed the enterprises of any foreign power, and become the sure foundation of national prosperity and glory.

The course of the transactions in relation to the United States and France, which have come to my knowledge during your recess, will be made the subject of a future communication. That communication will confirm the ultimate failure of the measures which have been taken by the government of the United States, towards an amicable adjustment of differences with that power. You will at the same time perceive that the French government appears solicitous to impress the opinion, that it is averse to a rupture with this country, and that it has in a qualified manner declared itself willing to receive a minister from the United States for the purpose of restoring a good understanding. It is unfortunate for professions of this kind, that they should be expressed in terms which may countenance the inadmissible pretension of a right to prescribe the qualifications which a minister from the United States should possess; and that while France is asserting the existence of a disposition on her part to conciliate with sincerity the differences which have arisen, the sincerity of a like disposition on the part of the United States, of which so many demonstrative proofs have been given, should even be indirectly questioned. It is also worthy of observation that the decree of the directory, alleged to be intended to restrain the depredations of French cruisers on our commerce, has not given and cannot give any relief; it enjoins them to conform to all the laws of France relative to cruising and prizes, while these laws are themselves the sources of the depredations of which we have so long, so justly, and so fruitlessly complained.

The law of France, enacted in January last, which subjects to capture and condemnation neutral vessels and their cargoes, if any portion of the latter are of British fabric or produce, although the entire property belong to neutrals, instead of being Edition: current; Page: [130] rescinded, has lately received a confirmation by the failure of a proposition for its repeal. While this law, which is an unequivocal act of war on the commerce of the nations it attacks, continues in force, those nations can see in the French government only a power regardless of their essential rights, of their independence, and sovereignty; and if they possess the means, they can reconcile nothing with their interest and honor but a firm resistance.

Hitherto, therefore, nothing is discoverable in the conduct of France which ought to change or relax our measures of defence. On the contrary, to extend and invigorate them is our true policy. We have no reason to regret that these measures have been thus far adopted and pursued; and in proportion as we enlarge our view of the portentous and incalculable situation of Europe, we shall discover new and cogent motives for the full development of our energies and resources.

But, in demonstrating by our conduct that we do not fear war in the necessary protection of our rights and honor, we shall give no room to infer that we abandon the desire of peace. An efficient preparation for war can alone ensure peace. It is peace that we have uniformly and perseveringly cultivated; and harmony between us and France may be restored at her option. But to send another minister without more determinate assurances that he would be received, would be an act of humiliation to which the United States ought not to submit. It must, therefore, be left to France, if she is indeed desirous of accommodation, to take the requisite steps.

The United States will steadily observe the maxims by which they have hitherto been governed. They will respect the sacred rights of embassy. And with a sincere disposition on the part of France to desist from hostility, to make reparation for the injuries heretofore inflicted on our commerce, and to do justice in future, there will be no obstacle to the restoration of a friendly intercourse. In making to you this declaration, I give a pledge to France and to the world, that the executive authority of this country still adheres to the humane and pacific policy, which has invariably governed its proceedings, in conformity with the wishes of the other branches of the government, and of the people of the United States. But considering the late manifestations of her policy towards foreign nations, I deem Edition: current; Page: [131] it a duty deliberately and solemnly to declare my opinion, that whether we negotiate with her or not, vigorous preparations for war will be alike indispensable. These alone will give to us an equal treaty, and insure its observance.1

Among the measures of preparation which appear expedient, I take the liberty to recall your attention to the naval establishment. The beneficial effects of the small naval armament provided under the acts of the last session, are known and acknowledged. Perhaps no country ever experienced more sudden and remarkable advantages from any measure of policy than we have derived from the arming for our maritime protection and defence. We ought, without loss of time, to lay the foundation for an increase of our navy, to a size sufficient to guard our coast and protect our trade. Such a naval force as it is doubtless in the power of the United States to create and maintain, would also afford to them the best means of general defence, by facilitating the safe transportation of troops and stores to every part of our extensive coast. To accomplish this important object, a prudent foresight requires that systematical measures be adopted for procuring at all times the requisite Edition: current; Page: [132] timber and other supplies. In what manner this shall be done I leave to your consideration.

I will now advert, gentlemen, to some matters of less moment, but proper to be communicated to the national legislature.

After the Spanish garrison had evacuated the posts they occupied at the Natchez and Walnut Hills, the commissioner of the United States commenced his observations to ascertain the point near the Mississippi, which terminated the northernmost part of the thirty-first degree of north latitude. From thence he proceeded to run the boundary line between the United States and Spain. He was afterwards joined by the Spanish commissioner, when the work of the former was confirmed, and they proceeded together to the demarkation of the line. Recent information renders it probable that the southern Indians, either instigated to oppose the demarkation, or jealous of the consequences of suffering white people to run a line over lands to which the Indian title had not been extinguished, have ere this time stopped the progress of the commissioners. And considering the mischiefs which may result from continuing the demarkation, in opposition to the will of the Indian tribes, the great expense attending it, and that the boundaries, which the commissioners have actually established, probably extend at least as far as the Indian title has been extinguished, it will perhaps become expedient and necessary to suspend further proceedings by recalling our commissioner.

The commissioners appointed in pursuance of the fifth article of the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, between the United States and his Britannic Majesty, to determine what river was truly intended under the name of the river St. Croix mentioned in the treaty of peace, and forming a part of the boundary therein described, have finally decided that question. On the 25th of October they made their declaration that a river called Schoodiac, which falls into Passamaquoddy Bay, at its north-western quarter, was the true St. Croix intended in the treaty of peace, as far as its great fork, where one of its streams comes from the westward and the other from the northward, and that the latter stream is the continuation of the St. Croix to its source. This decision, it is understood, will preclude all contention among individual claimants, as it seems that the Schoodiac and its northern branch, bound the grants of lands which have been Edition: current; Page: [133] made by the respective adjoining governments. A subordinate question, however, it has been suggested, still remains to be determined. Between the mouth of the St. Croix, as now settled, and what is usually called the Bay of Fundy, lie a number of valuable islands. The commissioners have not continued the boundary line through any channel of these islands, and unless the Bay of Passamaquoddy be a part of the Bay of Fundy, this further adjustment of boundary will be necessary. But it is apprehended that this will not be a matter of any difficulty.

Such progress has been made in the examination and decision of cases of captures and condemnations of American vessels, which were the subject of the seventh article of the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, between the United States and Great Britain, that it is supposed the commissioners will be able to bring their business to a conclusion in August of the ensuing year.

The commissioners, acting under the twenty-first article of the treaty between the United States and Spain, have adjusted most of the claims of our citizens for losses sustained in consesequence of their vessels and cargoes having been taken by the subjects of his Catholic Majesty, during the late war between France and Spain.

Various circumstances have concurred to delay the execution of the law for augmenting the military establishment. Among these the desire of obtaining the fullest information to direct the best selection of officers. As this object will now be speedily accomplished, it is expected that the raising and organizing of the troops will proceed without obstacle and with effect.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

I have directed an estimate of the appropriations which will be necessary for the service of the ensuing year to be laid before you, accompanied with a view of the public receipts and expenditures to a recent period. It will afford you satisfaction to infer the great extent and solidity of the public resources, from the prosperous state of the finances, notwithstanding the unexampled embarrassments which have attended commerce. When you reflect on the conspicuous examples of patriotism and liberality which have been exhibited by our mercantile Edition: current; Page: [134] fellow-citizens, and how great a proportion of the public resources depends on their enterprise, you will naturally consider, whether their convenience cannot be promoted and reconciled with the security of the revenue by a revision of the system by which the collection is at present regulated.

During your recess, measures have been steadily pursued for effecting the valuations and returns directed by the act of the last session, preliminary to the assessment and collection of a direct tax. No other delays or obstacles have been experienced, except such as were expected to arise from the great extent of our country and the magnitude and novelty of the operation; and enough has been accomplished to assure a fulfilment of the views of the legislature.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

I cannot close this address without once more adverting to our political situation, and inclucating the essential importance of uniting in the maintenance of our dearest interests. And I trust that by the temper and wisdom of your proceedings, and by a harmony of measures, we shall secure to our country that weight and respect to which it is so justly entitled.1

John Adams.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE SENATE.

Gentlemen of the Senate of the United States,

I thank you for this address, so conformable to the spirit of our Constitution, and the established character of the Senate of the United States, for wisdom, honor, and virtue.

I have seen no real evidence of any change of system or disposition in the French republic towards the United States. Although the officious interference of individuals, without public character or authority, is not entitled to any credit, yet it deserves to be considered, whether that temerity and impertinence Edition: current; Page: [135] of individuals affecting to interfere in public affairs between France and the United States, whether by their secret correspondence or otherwise, and intended to impose upon the people and separate them from their government, ought not to be inquired into and corrected.

I thank you, gentlemen, for your assurances that you will bestow that consideration on the several objects pointed out in my communication, which they respectively merit.

If I have participated in that understanding, sincerity, and constancy, which have been displayed by my fellow-citizens and countrymen, in the most trying times, and critical situations, and fulfilled my duties to them, I am happy. The testimony of the Senate of the United States, in my favor, is an high and honorable reward, which receives, as it merits, my grateful acknowledgments. My zealous coöperation in measures necessary to secure us justice and consideration may be always depended on.

John Adams.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

Mr. Speaker, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

My sincere acknowledgments are due to the House of Representatives of the United States for this excellent address, so consonant to the character of representatives of a great and free people. The judgment and feelings of a nation, I believe, were never more truly expressed by their representatives, than those of our constituents by your decided declaration, that, with our means of defence, our interest and honor command us to repel a predatory warfare against the unquestionable rights of neutral commerce; that it becomes the United States to be as determined in resistance as they have been patient in suffering and condescending in negotiation; that while those who direct the affairs of France persist in the enforcement of decrees so hostile to our essential rights, their conduct forbids us to confide in any of their professions of amity; that an adequate naval force must be considered as an important object of Edition: current; Page: [136] national policy; and that whether negotiations with France are resumed or not, vigorous preparations for war will be alike indispensable.

The generous disdain you so coolly and deliberately express of a reliance on foreign protection, wanting no foreign guaranty of our liberties, resolving to maintain our national independence against every attempt to despoil us of this inestimable treasure, will meet the full approbation of every sound understanding, and exulting applauses from the heart of every faithful American.

I thank you, gentlemen, for your candid approbation of my sentiments on the subject of negotiation, and for the declaration of your opinion, that the policy of extending and invigorating our measures of defence, and the adoption, with prudent foresight, of such systematical measures as may be expedient for calling forth the energies of our country wherever the national exigencies may require, whether on the ocean, or on our own territory, will demand your sedulous attention.

At the same time I take the liberty to assure you, it shall be my vigilant endeavor that no illusory professions shall seduce me into any abandonment of the rights which belong to the United States as a free and independent nation.

John Adams.

SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS,

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

It is with peculiar satisfaction that I meet the sixth Congress of the United States of America. Coming from all parts of the Union, at this critical and interesting period, the members must be fully possessed of the sentiments and wishes of our constituents.

The flattering prospects of abundance, from the labors of the people by land and by sea; the prosperity of our extended Edition: current; Page: [137] commerce, notwithstanding interruptions occasioned by the belligerent state of a great part of the world; the return of health, industry, and trade, to those cities which have lately been afflicted with disease; and the various and inestimable advantages, civil and religious, which, secured under our happy frame of government, are continued to us unimpaired, demand of the whole American people sincere thanks to a benevolent Deity for the merciful dispensations of his providence.

But, while these numerous blessings are recollected, it is a painful duty to advert to the ungrateful return which has been made for them by some of the people in certain counties of Pennsylvania, where, seduced by the arts and misrepresentations of designing men, they have openly resisted the law directing the valuation of houses and lands. Such defiance was given to the civil authority as rendered hopeless all further attempts by judicial process to enforce the execution of the law; and it became necessary to direct a military force to be employed, consisting of some companies of regular troops, volunteers, and militia, by whose zeal and activity, in coöperation with the judicial power, order and submission were restored, and many of the offenders arrested. Of these, some have been convicted of misdemeanors, and others, charged with various crimes, remain to be tried.

To give due effect to the civil administration of government, and to insure a just execution of the laws, a revision and amendment of the judiciary system is indispensably necessary. In this extensive country it cannot but happen that numerous questions respecting the interpretation of the laws, and the rights and duties of officers and citizens, must arise. On the one hand, the laws should be executed; on the other, individuals should be guarded from oppression. Neither of these objects is sufficiently assured under the present organization of the judicial department. I therefore earnestly recommend the subject to your serious consideration.

Persevering in the pacific and humane policy, which had been invariably professed and sincerely pursued by the executive authority of the United States, when indications were made, on the part of the French republic, of a disposition to accommodate the existing differences between the two countries, I felt it to be my duty to prepare for meeting their advances by Edition: current; Page: [138] a nomination of ministers upon certain conditions, which the honor of our country dictated, and which its moderation had given it a right to prescribe. The assurances which were required of the French government, previous to the departure of our envoys, have been given through their minister of foreign relations; and I have directed them to proceed on their mission to Paris. They have full power to conclude a treaty, subject to the constitutional advice and consent of the Senate. The characters of these gentlemen are sure pledges to their country that nothing incompatible with its honor or interest, nothing inconsistent with our obligations of good faith or friendship to any other nation, will be stipulated.

It appearing probable, from the information I received, that our commercial intercourse with some ports in the island of St. Domingo might safely be renewed, I took such steps as seemed to me expedient to ascertain that point. The result being satisfactory, I then, in conformity with the act of Congress on the subject, directed the restraints and prohibitions of that intercourse to be discontinued, on terms which were made known by proclamation. Since the renewal of this intercourse, our citizens trading to those ports, with their property, have been duly respected, and privateering from those ports has ceased.

In examining the claims of British subjects by the commissioners at Philadelphia, acting under the sixth article of the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation with Great Britain, a difference of opinion, on points deemed essential in the interpretation of that article, has arisen between the commissioners appointed by the United States, and the other members of that board; from which the former have thought it their duty to withdraw. It is sincerely to be regretted, that the execution of an article produced by a mutual spirit of amity and justice, should have been thus unavoidably interrupted. It is, however, confidently expected that the same spirit of amity and the same sense of justice, in which it originated, will lead to satisfactory explanations. In consequence of the obstacles to the progress of the commission in Philadelphia, his Britannic Majesty has directed the commissioners appointed by him under the seventh article of the treaty, relating to British captures of American vessels, to withdraw from the board sitting in London; but Edition: current; Page: [139] with the express declaration of his determination to fulfil with punctuality and good faith the engagements which his majesty has contracted by his treaty with the United States; and that they will be instructed to resume their functions, whenever the obstacles, which impede the progress of the commission at Philadelphia, shall be removed. It being in like manner my sincere determination, so far as the same depends on me, that, with equal punctuality and good faith, the engagements contracted by the United States, in their treaties with his Britannic majesty, shall be fulfilled, I shall immediately instruct our minister at London to endeavor to obtain the explanations necessary to a just performance of those engagements on the part of the United States. With such dispositions on both sides, I cannot entertain a doubt that all difficulties will soon be removed, and that the two boards will then proceed, and bring the business committed to them, respectively, to a satisfactory conclusion.

The act of Congress, relative to the seat of the government of the United States, requiring that on the first Monday of December next, it should be transferred from Philadelphia to the district chosen for its permanent seat, it is proper for me to inform you, that the commissioners appointed to provide suitable buildings for the accommodation of Congress, and of the President, and of the public offices of the government, have made a report of the state of the buildings designed for those purposes in the city of Washington; from which they conclude that the removal of the seat of government to that place, at the time required, will be practicable, and the accommodation satisfactory. Their report will be laid before you.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

I shall direct the estimates of the appropriations necessary for the service of the ensuing year, together with an account of the revenue and expenditure, to be laid before you. During a period, in which a great portion of the civilized world has been involved in a war unusually calamitous and destructive, it was not to be expected that the United States could be exempted from extraordinary burdens. Although the period is not arrived when the measures adopted to secure our country against foreign attacks can be renounced, yet it is alike necessary for the honor of the government and the satisfaction of the community, Edition: current; Page: [140] that an exact economy should be maintained. I invite you, gentlemen, to investigate the different branches of the public expenditure. The examination will lead to beneficial retrenchments, or produce a conviction of the wisdom of the measures to which the expenditure relates.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

At a period like the present, when momentous changes are occurring, and every hour is preparing new and great events in the political world, when a spirit of war is prevalent in almost every nation, with whose affairs the interests of the United States have any connection, unsafe and precarious would be our situation, were we to neglect the means of maintaining our just rights. The result of the mission to France is uncertain; but however it may terminate, a steady perseverance in a system of national defence, commensurate with our resources and the situation of our country, is an obvious dictate of wisdom. For, remotely as we are placed from the belligerent nations, and desirous as we are, by doing justice to all, to avoid offence to any, nothing short of the power of repelling aggressions will secure to our country a rational prospect of escaping the calamities of war or national degradation. As to myself, it is my anxious desire so to execute the trust reposed in me, as to render the people of the United States prosperous and happy. I rely, with entire confidence, on your coöperation in objects equally your care; and that our mutual labors will serve to increase and confirm union among our fellow-citizens, and an unshaken attachment to our government.

John Adams.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE SENATE.

Gentlemen of the Senate,

I thank you for this address. I wish you all possible success and satisfaction in your deliberations on the means which have a tendency to promote and extend our national interests and happiness; and I assure you that in all your measures directed Edition: current; Page: [141] to those great objects, you may at all times rely with the highest confidence on my cordial coöperation.

The praise of the Senate, so judiciously conferred on the promptitude and zeal of the troops called to suppress the insurrection, as it falls from so high authority, must make a deep impression, both as a terror to the disobedient, and an encouragement of such as do well.

John Adams.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

This very respectful address from the representatives of the people of the United States, at their first assembly after a fresh election, under the strong impression of the public opinion and national sense at this interesting and singular crisis of our public affairs, has excited my sensibility, and receives my sincere and grateful acknowledgments.1

As long as we can maintain with harmony and affection the honor of our country, consistently with its peace, externally and internally, while that is attainable, or in war, when that becomes necessary, assert its real independence and sovereignty, and support the constitutional energies and dignity of its government, we may be perfectly sure, under the smiles of Divine Providence, that we shall effectually promote and extend our national interest and happiness.

The applause of the Senate and House of Representatives so justly bestowed upon the volunteers and militia for their zealous and active coöperation with the judicial power, which has restored order and submission to the laws, as it comes with peculiar weight and propriety from the legislature, cannot fail to have an extensive and permanent effect for the support of Edition: current; Page: [142] government upon all those ingenuous minds who receive delight from the approving and animating voice of their country.

John Adams.

REPLY TO THE ADDRESS OF THE SENATE, ON THE DEATH OF GEORGE WASHINGTON.

Gentlemen of the Senate,

I receive, with the most respectful and affectionate sentiments, in this impressive address, the obliging expressions of your regard for the loss our country has sustained in the death of her most esteemed, beloved, and admired citizen.

In the multitude of my thoughts and recollections on this melancholy event, you will permit me only to say, that I have seen him in the days of adversity, in some of the scenes of his deepest distress and most trying perplexities; I have also attended him in his highest elevation, and most prosperous felicity, with uniform admiration of his wisdom, moderation, and constancy.

Among all our original associates in that memorable league of the continent in 1774, which first expressed the sovereign will of a free nation in America, he was the only one remaining in the general government.

Although, with a constitution more enfeebled than his at an age when he thought it necessary to prepare for retirement, I feel myself alone, bereaved of my last brother, yet I derive a strong consolation from the unanimous disposition which appears, in all ages and classes, to mingle their sorrows with mine on this common calamity to the world.

The life of our Washington cannot suffer by a comparison with those of other countries who have been most celebrated and exalted by fame. The attributes and decorations of royalty could have only served to eclipse the majesty of those virtues which made him, from being a modest citizen, a more resplendent luminary. Misfortune, had he lived, could hereafter have sullied his glory only with those superficial minds, who, believing that characters and actions are marked by success alone, Edition: current; Page: [143] rarely deserve to enjoy it. Malice could never blast his honor, and envy made him a singular exception to her universal rule. For himself, he had lived enough to life and to glory. For his fellow-citizens, if their prayers could have been answered, he would have been immortal. For me, his departure is at a most unfortunate moment. Trusting, however, in the wise and righteous dominion of Providence over the passions of men, and the results of their counsels and actions, as well as over their lives, nothing remains for me but humble resignation.

His example is now complete, and it will teach wisdom and virtue to magistrates, citizens, and men, not only in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our history shall be read. If a Trajan found a Pliny, a Marcus Aurelius can never want biographers, eulogists, or historians.

John Adams.

SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS,

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

Immediately after the adjournment of Congress at their last session in Philadelphia, I gave directions, in compliance with the laws, for the removal of the public offices, records, and property. These directions have been executed, and the public officers have since resided, and conducted the ordinary business of the government, in this place.

I congratulate the people of the United States on the assembling of Congress at the permanent seat of their government; and I congratulate you, gentlemen, on the prospect of a residence not to be changed. Although there is cause to apprehend that accommodations are not now so complete as might be wished, yet there is great reason to believe that this inconvenience will cease with the present session.

It would be unbecoming the representatives of this nation to assemble, for the first time, in this solemn temple, without looking up to the Supreme Ruler of the universe, and imploring his blessing.

Edition: current; Page: [144]

May this territory be the residence of virtue and happiness! In this city may that piety and virtue, that wisdom and magnanimity, that constancy and self-government, which adorned the great character whose name it bears, be forever held in veneration! Here, and throughout our country, may simple manners, pure morals, and true religion, flourish forever!

It is with you, gentlemen, to consider whether the local powers over the district of Columbia, vested by the Constitution in the Congress of the United States, shall be immediately exercised. If, in your opinion, this important trust ought now to be executed, you cannot fail, while performing it, to take into view the future probable situation of the territory for the happiness of which you are about to provide. You will consider it as the capital of a great nation, advancing, with unexampled rapidity, in arts, in commerce, in wealth, and in population; and possessing within itself those energies and resources, which, if not thrown away or lamentably misdirected, secure to it a long course of prosperity and self-government.

In compliance with a law of the last session of Congress, the officers and soldiers of the temporary army have been discharged. It affords real pleasure to recollect the honorable testimony they gave of the patriotic motives which brought them into the service of their country by the readiness and regularity with which they returned to the station of private citizens.

It is in every point of view of such primary importance to carry the laws into prompt and faithful execution, and to render that part of the administration of justice which the Constitution and laws devolve on the federal courts, as convenient to the people as may consist with their present circumstances, that I cannot omit once more to recommend to your serious consideration the judiciary system of the United States. No subject is more interesting than this to the public happiness, and to none can those improvements which may have been suggested by experience, be more beneficially applied.

A treaty of amity and commerce with the King of Prussia has been concluded and ratified. The ratifications have been exchanged, and I have directed the treaty to be promulgated by proclamation.

The difficulties, which suspended the execution of the sixth article of our treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation with Edition: current; Page: [145] Great Britain, have not yet been removed. The negotiation on this subject is still depending. As it must be for the interest and honor of both nations to adjust this difference with good faith, I indulge confidently the expectation that the sincere endeavors of the government of the United States to bring it to an amicable termination, will not be disappointed.

The envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary from the United States to France, were received by the first Consul with the respect due to their character; and three persons, with equal powers, were appointed to treat with them. Although at the date of the last official intelligence the negotiation had not terminated, yet it is to be hoped that our efforts to effect an accommodation will at length meet with a success proportioned to the sincerity with which they have been so often repeated.

While our best endeavors for the preservation of harmony with all nations will continue to be used, the experience of the world and our own experience admonish us of the insecurity of trusting too confidently to their success. We cannot, without committing a dangerous imprudence, abandon those measures of self-protection, which are adapted to our situation, and to which, notwithstanding our pacific policy, the violence and injustice of others may again compel us to resort. While our vast extent of sea-coast, the commercial and agricultural habits of our people, the great capital they will continue to trust on the ocean, suggest the system of defence which will be most beneficial to ourselves, our distance from Europe, and our resources for maritime strength, will enable us to employ it with effect. Seasonable and systematic arrangements, so far as our resources will justify, for a navy adapted to defensive war, and which may in case of necessity be quickly brought into use, seem to be as much recommended by a wise and true economy as by a just regard for our future tranquillity, for the safety of our shores, and for the protection of our property committed to the ocean.

The present navy of the United States, called suddenly into existence by a great national exigency, has raised us in our own esteem; and by the protection afforded to our commerce, has effected to the extent of our expectations the objects for which it was created.

In connection with a navy ought to be contemplated the Edition: current; Page: [146] fortification of some of our principal seaports and harbors. A variety of considerations, which will readily suggest themselves, urge an attention to this measure of precaution. To give security to our principal ports, considerable sums have already been expended, but the works remain incomplete. It is for Congress to determine whether additional appropriations shall be made, in order to render competent to the intended purposes the fortifications which have been commenced.

The manufacture of arms within the United States still invites the attention of the national legislature. At a considerable expense to the public this manufactory has been brought to such a state of maturity as, with continued encouragement, will supersede the necessity of future importations from foreign countries.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

I shall direct the estimates of the appropriations necessary for the ensuing year, together with an account of the public revenue and expenditure to a late period, to be laid before you.

I observe with much satisfaction that the product of the revenue during the present year has been more considerable than during any former equal period. This result affords conclusive evidence of the great resources of this country, and of the wisdom and efficiency of the measures which have been adopted by Congress for the protection of commerce and preservation of public credit.

Gentlemen of the Senate,
and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

As one of the grand community of nations, our attention is irresistibly drawn to the important scenes which surround us. If they have exhibited an uncommon portion of calamity, it is the province of humanity to deplore, and of wisdom to avoid, the causes which may have produced it. If, turning our eyes homeward, we find reason to rejoice at the prospect which presents itself; if we perceive the interior of our country prosperous, free, and happy; if all enjoy in safety, under the protection of laws emanating only from the general will, the fruits of their own labor, we ought to fortify and cling to those institutions which have been the source of much real felicity, Edition: current; Page: [147] and resist with unabating perseverance the progress of those dangerous innovations which may diminish their influence.

To your patriotism, gentlemen, has been confided the honorable duty of guarding the public interests; and while the past is to your country a sure pledge that it will be faithfully discharged, permit me to assure you that your labors to promote the general happiness will receive from me the most zealous coöperation.

John Adams.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE SENATE.

Mr. President, and
Gentlemen of the Senate,

For this excellent address, so respectful to the memory of my illustrious predecessor, which I receive from the Senate of the United States at this time and in this place, with peculiar satisfaction, I pray you to accept of my unfeigned acknowledgments. With you I ardently hope that permanence and stability will be communicated as well to the government itself, as to its beautiful and commodious seat. With you I deplore the death of that hero and sage who bore so honorable and efficient a part in the establishment of both. Great, indeed, would have been my gratification, if his sum of earthly happiness had been completed by seeing the government thus peaceably convened at this place, himself at its head. But while we submit to the decisions of heaven, whose counsels are inscrutable to us, we cannot but hope that the members of Congress, the officers of government, and all who inhabit the city or the country, will retain his virtues in lively recollection, and make his patriotism, morals, and piety, models for imitation.

I thank you, gentlemen, for your assurance that the several subjects for legislative consideration, recommended in my communication to both houses, shall receive from the Senate a deliberate and candid attention.

With you, gentlemen, I sincerely deprecate all spirit of innovation, which may weaken the sacred bond that connects the different parts of this nation and government; and with you I trust, that, under the protection of Divine Providence, the wisdom and virtue of our citizens will deliver our national compact Edition: current; Page: [148] unimpaired to a free, prosperous, happy, and grateful posterity. To this end it is my fervent prayer, that, in this city, the fountains of wisdom may be always open, and the streams of eloquence forever flow. Here may the youth of this extensive country forever look up without disappointment, not only to the monuments and memorials of the dead, but to the examples of the living, in the members of Congress and officers of government, for finished models of all those virtues, graces, talents, and accomplishments, which constitute the dignity of human nature, and lay the only foundation for the prosperity or duration of empires.

John Adams.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

Mr. Speaker, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

Compelled by the habits of a long life as well as by all the principles of society and government which I could ever understand and believe, to consider the great body of the people as the source of all legitimate authority, no less than of all efficient power, it is impossible for me to receive this address from the immediate representatives of the American people, at this time and in this place, without emotions which it would be improper to express, if any language could convey them.

May the spirit which animated the great founder of this city, descend to future generations; and may the wisdom, magnanimity, and steadiness, which marked the events of his public life, be imitated in all succeeding ages!

I thank you, gentlemen, for your assurance that the judiciary system shall receive your deliberate attention.

With you, gentlemen, I sincerely hope, that the final result of the negotiations now pending with France, may prove as fortunate to our country as they have been commenced with sincerity, and prosecuted with deliberation and caution. With you I cordially agree, that so long as predatory war is carried on against our commerce, we should sacrifice the interests and disappoint the expectations of our constituents, should we for a moment relax that system of maritime defence, which has Edition: current; Page: [149] resulted in such beneficial effects. With you I confidently believe, that few persons can be found within the United States, who do not admit that a navy, well organized, must constitute the natural and efficient defence of this country against all foreign hostility.

Those who recollect the distress and danger to this country in former periods from the want of arms, must exult in the assurance from their representatives, that we shall soon rival foreign countries, not only in the number, but in the quality of arms, completed from our own manufactories.

With you, gentlemen, I fully agree that the great increase of revenue is a proof that the measures of maritime defence were founded in wisdom. This policy has raised us in the esteem of foreign nations. That national spirit and those latent energies which had not been and are not yet fully known to any, were not entirely forgotten by those who have lived long enough to see in former times their operation and some of their effects. Our fellow-citizens were undoubtedly prepared to meet every event which national honor or national security could render necessary. These it is to be hoped are secured at the cheapest and easiest rate. If not, they will be secured at more expense.

I thank you, gentlemen, for your assurance that the various subjects recommended to your consideration shall receive your deliberate attention. No further evidence is wanting to convince me of the zeal and sincerity with which the House of Representatives regard the public good.

I pray you, gentlemen, to accept of my best wishes for your health and happiness.

John Adams.
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MESSAGES TO CONGRESS.

MESSAGE TO THE SENATE;
NOMINATING ENVOYS TO FRANCE.

Gentlemen of the Senate,

I nominate General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, of South Carolina, Francis Dana, Chief Justice of the State of Massachusetts, and General John Marshall, of Virginia, to be jointly and severally envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary to the French republic.

After mature deliberation on the critical situation of our relations with France, which have long engaged my serious attention, I have determined on these nominations of persons to negotiate with the French republic, to dissipate umbrages, to remove prejudices, to rectify errors, and adjust all differences by a treaty between the two powers.

It is, in the present critical and singular circumstances, of great importance to engage the confidence of the great portions of the Union, in the characters employed, and the measures which may be adopted. I have therefore thought it expedient to nominate persons of talents and integrity, long known and intrusted in the three great divisions of the Union; and, at the same time, to provide against the cases of death, absence, indisposition, or other impediment, to invest any one or more of them with full powers.

John Adams.
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MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS;
RESPECTING THE TERRITORY OF THE NATCHEZ.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

I have received information from the commissioner appointed on the part of the United States, pursuant to the third article of our treaty with Spain, that the running and marking of the boundary line between the colonies of East and West Florida and the territory of the United States, have been delayed by the officers of his Catholic Majesty; and that they have declared their intention to maintain his jurisdiction, and to suspend the withdrawing of his troops from the military posts they occupy within the territory of the United States, until the two governments shall, by negotiation, have settled the meaning of the second article respecting the withdrawing of the troops, garrisons, or settlements of either party in the territory of the other; that is, whether, when the Spanish garrisons withdraw, they are to leave the works standing, or to demolish them; and until, by an additional article to the treaty, the real property of the inhabitants shall be secured; and likewise, until the Spanish officers are sure the Indians will be pacific. The two first questions, if to be determined by negotiation, might be made subjects of discussion for years; and as no limitation of time can be prescribed to the other, or certainty in the opinion of the Spanish officers that the Indians will be pacific, it will be impossible to suffer it to remain an obstacle to the fulfilment of the treaty on the part of Spain.

To remove the first difficulty, I have determined to leave it to the discretion of the officers of his Catholic Majesty, when they withdraw his troops from the forts within the territory of the United States, either to leave the works standing, or to demolish them; and, to remove the second, I shall cause an assurance to be published, and to be particularly communicated to the minister of his Catholic Majesty, and to the Governor of Louisiana, that the settlers or occupants of the lands in question shall not be disturbed in their possessions by the troops of the Edition: current; Page: [152] United States; but, on the contrary, that they shall be protected in all their lawful claims; and, to prevent or remove every doubt on this point, it merits the consideration of Congress, whether it will not be expedient immediately to pass a law, giving positive assurances to those inhabitants, who, by fair and regular grants, or by occupancy, have obtained legal titles or equitable claims to lands in that country, prior to the final ratification of the treaty between the United States and Spain, on the twenty-fifth of April, 1796.

This country is rendered peculiarly valuable by its inhabitants, who are represented to amount to nearly four thousand, generally well affected, and much attached to the United States, and zealous for the establishment of a government under their authority.

I therefore recommend to your consideration the expediency of erecting a government in the district of the Natchez, similar to that established for the territory north-west of the river Ohio, but with certain modifications relative to titles or claims of land, whether of individuals or companies, or to claims of jurisdiction of any individual State.

John Adams.

MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS;
ON AFFAIRS WITH ALGIERS.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

The Dey of Algiers has manifested a predilection for American built vessels, and, in consequence, has desired that two vessels might be constructed and equipped, as cruisers, according to the choice and taste of Captain O’Brien. The cost of two such vessels, built with live oak and cedar, and coppered, with guns and all other equipments complete, is estimated at forty-five thousand dollars. The expense of navigating them to Algiers may, perhaps, be compensated by the freight of the stores with which they may be loaded on account of our stipulations by treaty with the Dey.

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A compliance with the Dey’s request appears to me to be of serious importance. He will repay the whole expense of building and equipping the two vessels; and as he has advanced the price of our peace with Tripoli, and become pledged for that of Tunis, the United States seem to be under peculiar obligations to provide this accommodation; and I trust that Congress will authorize the advance of money necessary for that purpose.

It also appears to be of importance to place at Algiers a person as consul, in whose integrity and ability much confidence may be placed, to whom a considerable latitude of discretion should be allowed for the interest of the United States in relation to their commerce. That country is so remote as to render it impracticable for the consul to ask and receive instructions in sudden emergencies. He may sometimes find it necessary to make instant engagements for money, or its equivalent, to prevent greater expenses or more serious evils. We can hardly hope to escape occasions of discontent proceeding from the regency, or arising from the misconduct or even the misfortunes of our commercial vessels navigating in the Mediterranean sea; and unless the causes of discontent are speedily removed, the resentment of the regency may be exerted with precipitation on our defenceless citizens and their property, and thus occasion a tenfold expense to the United States. For these reasons it appears to me to be expedient to vest the consul at Algiers with a degree of discretionary power, which can be requisite in no other situation. And to encourage a person deserving the public confidence to accept so expensive and responsible a situation, it appears indispensable to allow him a handsome salary. I should confer on such a consul a superintending power over the consulates for the States of Tunis and Tripoli, especially in respect to pecuniary engagements, which should not be made without his approbation.

While the present salary of two thousand dollars a year appears adequate to the consulates of Tunis and Tripoli, twice that sum probably will be requisite for Algiers.

John Adams.
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MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS;
COMMUNICATING INFORMATION RESPECTING SPAIN.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

The whole of the intelligence which has for some time past been received from abroad, the correspondences between this government and the ministers of the belligerent powers residing here, and the advices from the officers of the United States, civil and military, upon the frontiers, all conspire to show in a very strong light the critical situation of our country. That Congress might be enabled to form a more perfect judgment of it, and of the measures necessary to be taken, I have directed the proper officers to prepare such collections of extracts from the public correspondences as might afford the clearest information. The reports made to me from the Secretary of State and the Secretary at War, with the collection of documents from each of them, are now communicated to both houses of Congress. I have desired that the message, reports, and documents, may be considered as confidential, merely that the members of both houses of Congress may be apprised of their contents before they should be made public. As soon as the houses shall have heard them, I shall submit to their discretion the publication of the whole or any such parts of them as they shall judge necessary or expedient for the public good.

John Adams.

MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS;
ANNOUNCING THE RATIFICATION OF AN AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

I have now an opportunity to transmit to Congress a report of the Secretary of State, with a copy of an act of the legislature Edition: current; Page: [155] of the State of Kentucky, consenting to the ratification of the amendment of the Constitution of the United States, proposed by Congress in their resolution of the second day of December, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three, relative to the suability of States. This amendment having been adopted by three fourths of the several States, may now be declared to be a part of the Constitution of the United States.

John Adams.

MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS;
RELATIVE TO A FRENCH PRIVATEER.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

I have received a letter from his Excellency Charles Pinckney, Esquire, Governor of the State of South Carolina, dated on the twenty-second of October, 1797, inclosing a number of depositions of witnesses to several captures and outrages committed within and near the limits of the United States by a French privateer belonging to Cape François or Monte Christo, called the Vertitude or Fortitude, and commanded by a person of the name of Jordon or Jourdain, and particularly upon an English merchant ship, named the Oracabissa, which he first plundered, and then burned with the rest of her cargo of great value, within the territory of the United States, in the harbor of Charleston, on the seventeenth day of October last, copies of which letter and depositions, and also of several other depositions relative to the same subject, received from the collector of Charleston, are herewith communicated.

Whenever the channels of diplomatical communication between the United States and France shall be opened, I shall demand satisfaction for the insult and reparation for the injury.

I have transmitted these papers to Congress, not so much for the purpose of communicating an account of so daring a violation of the territory of the United States, as to show the propriety and necessity of enabling the executive authority of government to take measures for protecting the citizens of the United States, and such foreigners as have a right to enjoy their Edition: current; Page: [156] peace and the protection of their laws within their limits, in that as well as some other harbors, which are equally exposed.

John Adams.

MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS;
TRANSMITTING DESPATCHES FROM FRANCE.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

The first despatches from our envoys extraordinary, since their arrival at Paris, were received at the Secretary of State’s office, at a late hour the last evening. They are all in a character, which will require some days to be deciphered, except the last, which is dated the eighth of January, 1798. The contents of this letter are of so much importance to be immediately made known to Congress and to the public, especially to the mercantile part of our fellow-citizens, that I have thought it my duty to communicate them to both Houses, without loss of time.

John Adams.

MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS;
TRANSMITTING DESPATCHES FROM FRANCE.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

The despatches from the envoys extraordinary of the United States to the French republic, which were mentioned in my message to both houses of Congress of the fifth instant, have been examined and maturely considered.

While I feel a satisfaction in informing you that their exertions for the adjustment of the differences between the two nations have been sincere and unremitted, it is incumbent on me to declare, that I perceive no ground of expectation that the objects of their mission can be accomplished on terms compatible with the safety, honor, or the essential interests of the nation.

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This result cannot with justice be attributed to any want of moderation on the part of this government, or to any indisposition to forego secondary interests for the preservation of peace. Knowing it to be my duty and believing it to be your wish, as well as that of the great body of the people, to avoid, by all reasonable concessions, any participation in the contentions of Europe, the powers vested in our envoys were commensurate with a liberal and pacific policy, and that high confidence which might justly be reposed in the abilities, patriotism, and integrity of the characters to whom the negotiation was committed. After a careful review of the whole subject, with the aid of all the information I have received, I can discern nothing, which could have insured or contributed to success, that has been omitted on my part, and nothing further which can be attempted, consistently with maxims for which our country has contended at every hazard, and which constitute the basis of our national sovereignty.

Under these circumstances I cannot forbear to reiterate the recommendations which have been formerly made, and to exhort you to adopt, with promptitude, decision, and unanimity, such measures as the ample resources of the country afford, for the protection of our seafaring and commercial citizens, for the defence of any exposed portions of our territory, for replenishing our arsenals, establishing founderies and military manufactories, and to provide such efficient revenue as will be necessary to defray extraordinary expenses, and supply the deficiencies which may be occasioned by depredations on our commerce.

The present state of things is so essentially different from that in which instructions were given to collectors to restrain vessels of the United States from sailing in an armed condition, that the principle on which those orders were issued, has ceased to exist. I therefore deem it proper to inform Congress, that I no longer conceive myself justifiable in continuing them, unless in particular cases, where there may be reasonable ground of suspicion that such vessels are intended to be employed contrary to law.

In all your proceedings, it will be important to manifest a zeal, vigor, and concert, in defence of the national rights, proportioned to the danger with which they are threatened.

John Adams.
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MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS;
TRANSMITTING DESPATCHES FROM FRANCE.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

In compliance with the request of the House of Representatives, expressed in their resolution of the second of this month, I transmit to both houses those instructions to and despatches from the envoys extraordinary to the French republic, which were mentioned in my message of the nineteenth of March last, omitting only some names and a few expressions descriptive of the persons.

I request that they may be considered in confidence, until the members of Congress are fully possessed of their contents, and shall have had opportunity to deliberate on the consequences of their publication; after which time, I submit them to your wisdom.

John Adams.

MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS;
ON THE STATE OF AFFAIRS WITH FRANCE.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

While I congratulate you on the arrival of General Marshall, one of our late envoys extraordinary to the French republic, at a place of safety, where he is justly held in honor, I think it my duty to communicate to you a letter received by him from Mr. Gerry, the only one of the three who has not received his congé. This letter, together with another from the minister of foreign relations to him, of the third of April, and his answer of the fourth, will show the situation in which he remains, his intentions, and prospects.

I presume that before this time he has received fresh instructions Edition: current; Page: [159] (a copy of which accompanies this message) to consent to no loans; and therefore the negotiation may be considered at an end.

I will never send another minister to France, without assurances that he will be received, respected, and honored as the representative of a great, free, powerful, and independent nation.

John Adams.

MESSAGE TO THE SENATE;
TRANSMITTING A LETTER FROM GEORGE WASHINGTON.

Gentlemen of the Senate,

Believing that the letter received this morning from Genera Washington will give high satisfaction to the Senate, I transmit them a copy of it, and congratulate them and the public on this great event, the General’s acceptance of his appointment as Lieutenant-General and Commander-in-chief of the army.

John Adams.

MESSAGE TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES;
RESPECTING CERTAIN ACTS OF BRITISH NAVAL OFFICERS.

In compliance with your desire, expressed in your resolution of the 2d of this month, I lay before you an extract of a letter from George C. Morton, acting consul of the United States at the Havana, dated the 18th of November, 1798, to the Secretary of State, with a copy of a letter from him to L. Trezevant and William Timmons, Esquires, with their answer. Although your request extends no further than such information as has been received, yet it may be a satisfaction to you to know, that as soon as this intelligence was communicated to me, circular orders were given by my direction to all the commanders of our vessels of war, a copy of which is also herewith transmitted. I Edition: current; Page: [160] also directed this intelligence and these orders to be communicated to his Britannic Majesty’s envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the United States, and to our minister plenipotentiary to the court of Great Britain, with instructions to him to make the proper representation to that government upon this subject.

It is but justice to say, that this is the first instance of misbehavior of any of the British officers towards our vessels of war, that has come to my knowledge. According to all the representations that I have seen, the flag of the United States, and their officers and men, have been treated by the civil and military authority of the British nation, in Nova Scotia, the West India islands, and on the ocean, with uniform civility politeness, and friendship. I have no doubt that this first in stance of misconduct will be readily corrected.

John Adams.

CIRCULAR,
To the Commanders of Armed Vessels in the Service of the United States, given at the Navy Department, December 29th, 1798.

Sir,

It is the positive command of the President that on no pretence whatever you permit the public vessel of war under your command to be detained or searched, nor any of the officers or men belonging to her to be taken from her, by the ships or vessels of any foreign nation, so long as you are in a capacity to repel such outrage on the honor of the American flag. If force should be exerted to compel your submission, you are to resist that force to the utmost of your power, and when overpowered by superior force, you are to strike your flag, and thus yield your vessel as well as your men; but never your men without your vessel.

You will remember, however, that your demeanor be respectful and friendly to the vessels and people of all nations in amity with the United States; and that you avoid as carefully the commission of, as the submission to, insult or injury.

I have the honor to be, &c.
Ben. Stoddert.
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MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS;
TRANSMITTING A FRENCH DECREE RESPECTING NEUTRAL SAILORS.

An edict of the executive directory of the French republic of the 29th of October, 1798, inclosed in a letter from our minister plenipotentiary in London, of the 16th of November, is of so much importance, that it cannot be too soon communicated to you and the public.

John Adams.

MESSAGE TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES;
RESPECTING THE SUSPENSION OF A FRENCH DECREE

In pursuance of the request in your resolve of yesterday, I lay before you such information as I have received, touching a suspension of the arrêt of the French republic communicated to your house by my message of the 28th of January last. But if the execution of that arrêt be suspended, or even if it were repealed, it should be remembered that the arrêt of the executive directory of the 2d of March, 1797, remains in force, the third article of which subjects, explicitly and exclusively, American seamen to be treated as pirates, if found on board ships of the enemies of France.

John Adams.

MESSAGE TO THE SENATE;
NOMINATING AN ENVOY TO FRANCE.

Gentlemen of the Senate,

I transmit to you a document, which seems to be intended to be a compliance with a condition mentioned at the conclusion of my message to Congress of the twenty-first of June last.

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Always disposed and ready to embrace every plausible appearance of probability of preserving or restoring tranquillity, I nominate William Vans Murray, our minister resident at the Hague, to be minister plenipotentiary of the United States to the French republic.

If the Senate shall advise and consent to his appointment, effectual care shall be taken in his instructions that he shall not go to France without direct and unequivocal assurances from the French government, signified by their minister of foreign relations, that he shall be received in character, shall enjoy the privileges attached to his character by the law of nations, and that a minister of equal rank, title, and powers, shall be appointed to treat with him, to discuss and conclude all controversies between the two republics by a new treaty.

John Adams.

MESSAGE TO THE SENATE;
NOMINATING THREE ENVOYS TO FRANCE.

Gentlemen of the Senate,

The proposition of a fresh negotiation with France, in consequence of advances made by the French government, has excited so general an attention and so much conversation, as to have given occasion to many manifestations of the public opinion; from which it appears to me that a new modification of the embassy will give more general satisfaction to the legislature and to the nation, and perhaps better answer the purposes we have in view.

It is upon this supposition and with this expectation that I now nominate

Oliver Ellsworth, Esquire, Chief Justice of the United States;

Patrick Henry, Esquire, late Governor of Virginia; and

William Vans Murray, Esquire, our minister resident at the Hague; to be envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary to the French republic, with full powers to discuss and settle, by a treaty, all controversies between the United States and France.

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It is not intended that the two former of these gentlemen shall embark for Europe, until they shall have received, from the Executive Directory, assurances, signified by their secretary of foreign relations, that they shall be received in character, that they shall enjoy all the prerogatives attached to that character by the law of nations, and that a minister or ministers, of equal powers, shall be appointed and commissioned to treat with them.

John Adams.

MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS;
ANNOUNCING THE DECEASE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

The letter herewith transmitted will inform you that it has pleased Divine Providence to remove from this life our excellent fellow-citizen, George Washington, by the purity of his character and a long series of services to his country, rendered illustrious through the world. It remains for an affectionate and grateful people, in whose hearts he can never die, to pay suitable honors to his memory.

John Adams.
Tobias Lear
Lear, Tobias
15 December, 1799
Mount Vernon
Sir,

It is with inexpressible grief that I have to announce to you the death of the great and good General Washington. He died last evening, between ten and eleven o’clock, after a short illness of about twenty hours. His disorder was an inflammatory sore throat, which proceeded from a cold, of which he made but little complaint on Friday. On Saturday morning, about three o’clock, he became ill. Doctor Craik attended him in the morning, and Doctor Dick, of Alexandria, and Doctor Brown, of Port Tobacco, were soon after called in. Every medical assistance was offered, but without the desired effect. His last scene corresponded with the whole tenor of his life; not a groan, nor a complaint escaped him in extreme distress. Edition: current; Page: [164] With perfect resignation, and in full possession of his reason, he closed his well-spent life.

I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, Sir, your most obedient and very humble servant.

Tobias Lear.

MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS;
TRANSMITTING A LETTER OF MARTHA WASHINGTON.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

In compliance with the request in one of the resolutions of Congress, of the 21st of December last, I transmitted a copy of those resolutions by my Secretary, Mr. Shaw, to Mrs. Washington, assuring her of the profound respect Congress will ever bear to her person and character, of their condolence in the late afflicting dispensation of Providence, and entreating her assent to the interment of the remains of General George Washington, in the manner expressed in the first resolution. As the sentiments of that virtuous lady, not less beloved by this nation than she is at present greatly afflicted, can never be so well expressed as in her own words, I transmit to Congress her original letter.

It would be an attempt of too much delicacy to make any comments upon it; but there can be no doubt that the nation at large, as well as all the branches of the government, will be highly gratified by any arrangement which may diminish the sacrifice she makes of her individual feelings.

John Adams.
Martha Washington
Washington, Martha
31 December, 1799
Mount Vernon
Sir,

While I feel with keenest anguish the late dispensation of Divine Providence, I cannot be insensible to the mournful tributes of respect and veneration, which are paid to the memory of my dear deceased husband; and as his best services and most anxious wishes were always devoted to the welfare Edition: current; Page: [165] and happiness of his country, to know that they were truly appreciated and gratefully remembered, affords no inconsiderable consolation.

Taught by that great example which I have so long had before me, never to oppose my private wishes to the public will, I must consent to the request made by Congress, which you have had the goodness to transmit to me; and in doing this I need not, I cannot say what a sacrifice of individual feeling I make to a sense of public duty.

With grateful acknowledgments and unfeigned thanks for the personal respect and evidences of condolence expressed by Congress and yourself, I remain very respectfully, Sir, your most obedient, humble servant,

Martha Washington.
John Adams
Adams, John
14 January, 1800
John Randolph
Randolph, John

MESSAGE TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES;
TRANSMITTING A LETTER OF JOHN RANDOLPH, JR.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

As the inclosed letter from a member of your House, received by me in the night of Saturday, the 11th instant, relates to the privileges of the House, which, in my opinion, ought to be inquired into in the House itself, if any where, I have thought proper to submit the whole letter and its tendencies to your consideration, without any other comments on its matter or style. But as no gross impropriety of conduct, on the part of persons holding commissions in the army or navy of the United States, ought to pass without due animadversion, I have directed the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy to investigate the conduct complained of, and to report to me, without delay, such a statement of facts as will enable me to decide on the course which duty and justice shall appear to prescribe.

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [166]
John Adams
Adams, John
21 January, 1801

MESSAGE TO THE SENATE;
TRANSMITTING A REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE.

Gentlemen of the Senate,

In compliance with your request, signified in your resolution of the twentieth day of this month, I transmit you a report, made to me by the Secretary of State on the same day, a letter of our late envoys to him of the 4th of October last, an extract of a letter from our minister plenipotentiary in London to him, of the 22d of November last, and an extract of another letter from the minister to the secretary of the 31st of October last.

The reasoning in the letter of our late envoys to France is so fully supported by the writers on the law of nations, particularly by Vattel, as well as by his great masters, Grotius and Pufendorf, that nothing is left to be desired to settle the point, that if there be a collision between two treaties, made with two different powers, the more ancient has the advantage; for no engagement contrary to it can be entered into in the treaty afterwards made; and if this last be found, in any case, incompatible with the more ancient one, its execution is considered as impossible, because the person promising had not the power of acting contrary to his antecedent engagement. Although our right is very clear to negotiate treaties according to our own ideas of right and justice, honor and good faith, yet it must always be a satisfaction to know that the judgment of other nations, with whom we have connection, coincides with ours, and that we have no reason to apprehend that any disagreeable questions and discussions are likely to arise. The letters from Mr. King will, therefore, be read by the Senate with particular satisfaction.

The inconveniences to public officers, and the mischiefs to the public, arising from the publication of the despatches of ministers abroad, are so numerous and so obvious, that I request of the Senate that these papers, especially the letters from Mr. King, be considered in close confidence.

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [167]
John Adams
Adams, John
2 March, 1801

MESSAGE TO THE SENATE;
ON THE CONVENTION WITH FRANCE.

Gentlemen of the Senate,

I have considered the advice and consent of the Senate to the ratification of the convention with France, under certain conditions. Although it would have been more conformable to my own judgment and inclination to have agreed to that instrument unconditionally, yet, as in this point I found I had the misfortune to differ in opinion from so high a constitutional authority as the Senate, I judged it more consistent with the honor and interest of the United States to ratify it under the conditions prescribed, than not at all. I accordingly nominated Mr. Bayard, minister plenipotentiary to the French republic, that he might proceed without delay to Paris to negotiate the exchange of ratifications; but as that gentleman has declined his appointment for reasons equally applicable to every other person suitable for the service, I shall take no further measures relative to this business, and leave the convention with all the documents in the office of State, that my successor may proceed with them according to his wisdom.

John Adams.
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PROCLAMATIONS.

PROCLAMATION1
FOR AN EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF CONGRESS.

Whereas the Constitution of the United States of America provides that the President may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both houses of Congress; and whereas an extraordinary occasion exists for convening Congress, and divers great and weighty matters claim their consideration, I have therefore thought it necessary to convene, and I do by these presents convene the Congress of the United States of America, at the city of Philadelphia, in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on Monday, the fifteenth day of May next, hereby requiring the senators and representatives in the Congress of the United States of America, and every of them, that, laying aside all other matters and cares, they then and there meet and assemble in Congress, in order to consult and determine on such measures as in their wisdom shall be deemed meet for the safety and welfare of the said United States.

In testimony whereof, &c.
John Adams.
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PROCLAMATION
FOR A NATIONAL FAST.

As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and blessing of Almighty God; and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty, which the people owe to him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety, without which social happiness cannot exist, nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed; and as this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty and of danger, when existing or threatening calamities, the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity, are a loud call to repentance and reformation; and as the United States of America are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation, by the unfriendly disposition, conduct, and demands of a foreign power, evinced by repeated refusals to receive our messengers of reconciliation and peace, by depredations on our commerce, and the infliction of injuries on very many of our fellow-citizens, while engaged in their lawful business on the seas;—under these considerations, it has appeared to me that the duty of imploring the mercy and benediction of Heaven on our country, demands at this time a special attention from its inhabitants.

I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next, be observed throughout the United States, as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer; that the citizens of these States, abstaining on that day from their customary worldly occupations, offer their devout addresses to the Father of mercies, agreeably to those forms or methods which they have severally adopted as the most suitable and becoming; that all religious congregations do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation; beseeching him at the same time, of his infinite grace, through the Redeemer of the world, freely to remit all our offences, and to incline us, Edition: current; Page: [170] by his Holy Spirit, to that sincere repentance and reformation which may afford us reason to hope for his inestimable favor and heavenly benediction; that it be made the subject of particular and earnest supplication, that our country may be protected from all the dangers which threaten it, that our civil and religious privileges may be preserved inviolate, and perpetuated to the latest generations, that our public councils and magistrates may be especially enlightened and directed at this critical period, that the American people may be united in those bonds of amity and mutual confidence, and inspired with that vigor and fortitude by which they have in times past been so highly distinguished, and by which they have obtained such invaluable advantages, that the health of the inhabitants of our land may be preserved, and their agriculture, commerce, fisheries, arts, and manufactures, be blessed and prospered, that the principles of genuine piety and sound morality may influence the minds and govern the lives of every description of our citizens, and that the blessings of peace, freedom, and pure religion, may be speedily extended to all the nations of the earth.

And finally I recommend, that on the said day, the duties of humiliation and prayer be accompanied by fervent thanksgiving to the bestower of every good gift, not only for having hitherto protected and preserved the people of these United States in the independent enjoyment of their religious and civil freedom, but also for having prospered them in a wonderful progress of population, and for conferring on them many and great favors conducive to the happiness and prosperity of a nation.

Given, &c.
John Adams.

PROCLAMATION
REVOKING THE EXEQUATURS OF THE FRENCH CONSULS.

The citizen Joseph Philippe Letombe having heretofore produced to the President of the United States his commission as consul-general of the French republic, within the United States of America, and another commission as consul of the Edition: current; Page: [171] French republic at Philadelphia; and, in like manner, the citizen Rosier having produced his commission as vice-consul of the French republic at New York; and the citizen Arcambal having produced his commission as vice-consul of the French republic at Newport; and citizen Theodore Charles Mozard having produced his commission as consul of the French republic within the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island; and the President of the United States having thereupon granted an exequatur to each of the French citizens above named, recognizing them in their respective consular offices above mentioned, and declaring them respectively free to exercise and enjoy such functions, powers, and privileges as are allowed to a consul-general, consuls, and vice-consuls of the French republic, by their treaties, conventions, and laws in that case made and provided;—and the Congress of the United States, by their act, passed the seventh day of July, 1798, having declared, “That the United States are of right freed and exonerated from the stipulations of the treaties, and of the consular convention heretofore concluded between the United States and France; and that the same shall not henceforth be regarded as legally obligatory on the government or citizens of the United States,” and by a former act, passed the 13th day of May, 1798, the Congress of the United States having “suspended the commercial intercourse between the United States and France, and the dependencies thereof,” which commercial intercourse was the direct and chief object of the consular establishment;

And whereas actual hostilities have long been practised on the commerce of the United States by the cruisers of the French republic under the orders of its government, which orders that government refuses to revoke or relax; and hence it has become improper any longer to allow the consul-general, consuls, and vice-consuls of the French republic, above named, or any of its consular persons or agents heretofore admitted in these United States, any longer to exercise their consular functions;—these are therefore to declare, that I do no longer recognize the said citizen Letombe as consul-general, or consul, nor the said citizens Rosier and Arcambal as vice-consuls, nor the said citizen Mozard as consul of the French republic, in any part of these United States, nor permit them or any other consular Edition: current; Page: [172] persons or agents of the French republic, heretofore admitted in the United States, to exercise their functions as such; and I do hereby wholly revoke the exequaturs heretofore given to them respectively, and do declare them absolutely null and void, from this day forward.

In testimony whereof, &c.
John Adams.

PROCLAMATION
FOR A NATIONAL FAST.

As no truth is more clearly taught in the volume of inspiration, nor any more fully demonstrated by the experience of all ages, than that a deep sense and a due acknowledgment of the governing providence of a Supreme Being, and of the accountableness of men to Him as the searcher of hearts and righteous distributor of rewards and punishments, are conducive equally to the happiness and rectitude of individuals, and to the well-being of communities; as it is, also, most reasonable in itself, that men who are made capable of social acts and relations, who owe their improvements to the social state, and who derive their enjoyments from it, should, as a society, make their acknowledgments of dependence and obligation to Him, who hath endowed them with these capacities, and elevated them in the scale of existence by these distinctions; as it is, likewise, a plain dictate of duty, and a strong sentiment of nature, that in circumstances of great urgency and seasons of imminent danger, earnest and particular supplications should be made to Him who is able to defend or to destroy; as, moreover, the most precious interests of the people of the United States are still held in jeopardy by the hostile designs and insidious acts of a foreign nation, as well as by the dissemination among them of those principles, subversive of the foundations of all religious, moral, and social obligations, that have produced incalculable mischief and misery in other countries; and as, in fine, the observance of special seasons for public religious solemnities, Edition: current; Page: [173] is happily calculated to avert the evils which we ought to deprecate, and to excite to the performance of the duties which we ought to discharge, by calling and fixing the attention of the people at large to the momentous truths already recited, by affording opportunity to teach and inculcate them, by animating devotion, and giving to it the character of a national act:

For these reasons I have thought proper to recommend, and I do hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the twenty-fifth day of April next, be observed, throughout the United States of America, as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens, on that day, abstain as far as may be from their secular occupations, devote the time to the sacred duties of religion, in public and in private; that they call to mind our numerous offences against the most high God, confess them before him with the sincerest penitence, implore his pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that, through the grace of his Holy Spirit, we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to his righteous requisitions in time to come; that he would interpose to arrest the progress of that impiety and licentiousness in principle and practice, so offensive to himself and so ruinous to mankind; that he would make us deeply sensible, that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but that sin is the reproach of any people”; that he would turn us from our transgressions, and turn his displeasure from us; that he would withhold us from unreasonable discontent, from disunion, faction, sedition, and insurrection; that he would preserve our country from the desolating sword; that he would save our cities and towns from a repetition of those awful pestilential visitations under which they have lately suffered so severely, and that the health of our inhabitants, generally, may be precious in his sight; that he would favor us with fruitful seasons, and so bless the labors of the husbandman as that there may be food in abundance for man and beast; that he would prosper our commerce, manufactures, and fisheries, and give success to the people in all their lawful industry and enterprise; that he would smile on our colleges, academies, schools, and seminaries of learning, and make them nurseries of sound science, morals, and religion; that he would bless all magistrates from the highest to the lowest, give them the true spirit of their station, Edition: current; Page: [174] make them a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well; that he would preside over the councils of the nation at this critical period, enlighten them to a just discernment of the public interest, and save them from mistake, division, and discord; that he would make succeed our preparations for defence, and bless our armaments by land and by sea; that he would put an end to the effusion of human blood and the accumulation of human misery among the contending nations of the earth, by disposing them to justice, to equity, to benevolence, and to peace; and that he would extend the blessings of knowledge, of true liberty, and of pure and undefiled religion, throughout the world.

And I do, also, recommend that, with these acts of humiliation, penitence, and prayer, fervent thanksgiving to the author of all good be united, for the countless favors which he is still continuing to the people of the United States, and which render their condition as a nation eminently happy, when compared with the lot of others.

Given, &c.
John Adams.

PROCLAMATION
CONCERNING THE INSURRECTION IN PENNSYLVANIA.

Whereas, combinations to defeat the execution of the law for the valuation of lands and dwelling-houses within the United States, have existed in the counties of Northampton, Montgomery, and Bucks, in the State of Pennsylvania, and have proceeded in a manner subversive of the just authority of the government, by misrepresentations to render the laws odious, by deterring the officers of the United States to forbear the execution of their functions, and by openly threatening their lives: And whereas, the endeavors of the well-affected citizens, as well as of the executive officers, to conciliate a compliance with those laws, have failed of success, and certain persons in the county of Northampton, aforesaid, have been hardy enough to perpetrate certain acts, which, I am advised, amount to Edition: current; Page: [175] treason, being overt acts of levying war against the United States, the said persons, exceeding one hundred in number, and, armed and arrayed in a warlike manner, having, on the seventh day of the present month of March, proceeded to the house of Abraham Lovering, in the town of Bethlehem, and there compelled William Nicholas, Marshal of the United States, and for the district of Pennsylvania, to desist from the execution of certain legal processes in his hands to be executed, and having compelled him to discharge and set at liberty certain persons whom he had arrested by virtue of a criminal process, duly issued for offences against the United States, and having impeded and prevented the commissioners and assessors, in conformity with the laws aforesaid, in the county of Northampton aforesaid, by threats of personal injury, from executing the said laws, avowing as the motive of these illegal and treasonable proceedings an intention to prevent, by force of arms, the execution of the said laws, and to withstand by open violence the lawful authority of the government of the United States. And whereas, by the Constitution and laws of the United States, I am authorized, whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed, or the execution thereof obstructed, in any State, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings or by powers vested in the marshal, to call forth military force to suppress such combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed; and I have accordingly determined so to do, under the solemn conviction that the essential interests of the United States demand it. Wherefore I, John Adams, President of the United States, do hereby command all persons being insurgents as aforesaid, and all others whom it may concern, on or before Monday next, being the eighteenth day of this present month, to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes. And I do, moreover, warn all persons whomsoever, against aiding, abetting, or comforting the perpetrators of the aforesaid treasonable acts, and I do require all officers and others, good and faithful citizens, according to their respective duties and the laws of the land, to exert their utmost endeavors to prevent and suppress such dangerous and unlawful proceedings.

In testimony whereof, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [176]

PROCLAMATION,
OPENING THE TRADE WITH CERTAIN PORTS OF ST. DOMINGO.

Whereas, by an act of the Congress of the United States, passed the 9th day of February last, entitled “An act further to suspend the commercial intercourse between the United States and France, and the dependencies thereof,” it is provided, that at any time after the passing of this act, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, if he shall deem it expedient and consistent with the interest of the United States, by his order, to remit and discontinue for the time being the restraints and prohibitions by the said act imposed, either with respect to the French republic, or to any island, port, or place, belonging to the said republic, with which a commercial intercourse may safely be renewed; and also to revoke such order, whenever in his opinion the interest of the United States shall require; and he is authorized to make proclamation thereof accordingly;

And whereas the arrangements which have been made at St. Domingo for the safety of the commerce of the United States, and for the admission of American vessels into certain ports of that island, do, in my opinion render it expedient and for the interest of the United States to renew a commercial intercourse with such ports;

Therefore I, John Adams, President of the United States, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the above recited act, do hereby remit and discontinue the restraints and prohibitions therein contained, within the limits and under the regulations here following, to wit:

1. It shall be lawful for vessels which have departed or may depart from the United States, to enter the ports of Cape François and Port Republicain, formerly called Port-au-Prince, in the said island of St. Domingo, on and after the first day of August next.1

2. No vessel shall be cleared for any other port in St. Domingo than Cape François and Port Republicain.

Edition: current; Page: [177]

3. It shall be lawful for vessels which shall enter the said ports of Cape François and Port Republicain, after the thirty-first day of July next, to depart from thence to any port in said island between Monte Christi on the north and Petit Goave on the west; provided it be done with the consent of the government of St. Domingo, and pursuant to certificates or passports expressing such consent, signed by the consul-general of the United States, or consul residing at the port of departure.

4. All vessels sailing in contravention of these regulations will be out of the protection of the United States, and be moreover liable to capture, seizure, and confiscation.

Given under, &c.
John Adams.

PROCLAMATION,
OPENING THE TRADE WITH OTHER PORTS OF ST. DOMINGO.

Whereas, by an act of Congress of the United States, passed the 27th day of February last, entitled “An act further to suspend the commercial intercourse between the United States and France and the dependencies thereof,” it is enacted, That, any time after the passing of the said act, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, by his order, to remit and discontinue for the time being, whenever he shall deem it expedient and for the interest of the United States, all or any of the restraints and prohibitions imposed by the said act, in respect to the territories of the French republic, or to any island, port, or place, belonging to the said republic, with which, in his opinion, a commercial intercourse may be safely renewed; and to make proclamation thereof accordingly; and it is also thereby further enacted, That the whole of the island of Hispaniola shall, for the purposes of the said act, be considered as a dependence of the French republic. And whereas the circumstances of certain ports and places of the said island not comprised in the proclamation of the 26th day of June, 1799, are such that I deem it expedient, and for the interest of the United States, to remit and discontinue the restraints and prohibitions imposed by the Edition: current; Page: [178] said act, in respect to those ports and places, in order that a commercial intercourse with the same may be renewed;—

Therefore I, John Adams, President of the United States, by virtue of the powers vested in me as aforesaid, do hereby remit and discontinue the restraints and prohibitions imposed by the act aforesaid, in respect to all the ports and places in the said island of Hispaniola, from Monte Christi on the north, round by the eastern end thereof, as far as the port of Jacmel, on the south, inclusively. And it shall henceforth be lawful for vessels of the United States to enter and trade at any of the said ports and places, provided it be done with the consent of the government of St. Domingo. And for this purpose it is hereby required that such vessels first enter the port of Cape François or Port Republicain, in the said island, and there obtain the passports of the said government, which shall also be signed by the consulgeneral or consul of the United States residing at Cape François or Port Republicain, permitting such vessel to go thence to the other ports and places of the said island herein before mentioned and described. Of all which the collectors of the customs and all other officers and citizens of the United States are to take due notice, and govern themselves.

In testimony, &c.
John Adams.

PROCLAMATION,
GRANTING PARDON TO THE PENNSYLVANIA INSURGENTS.

Whereas, the late wicked and treasonable insurrection against the just authority of the United States, of sundry persons in the counties of Northampton, Montgomery, and Bucks, in the State of Pennsylvania, in the year 1799, having been speedily suppressed, without any of the calamities usually attending rebellion; whereupon peace, order, and submission to the laws of the United States were restored in the aforesaid counties, and the ignorant, misguided, and misinformed in the counties, have returned to a proper sense of their duty; whereby it is become unnecessary for the public good that any future prosecutions Edition: current; Page: [179] should be commenced or carried on against any person or persons, by reason of their being concerned in the said insurrection:—wherefore be it known, that I, John Adams, President of the United States of America, have granted, and by these presents do grant, a full, free, and absolute pardon, to all and every person or persons concerned in the said insurrection, excepting as hereinafter excepted, of all treasons, misprisions of treason, felonies, misdemeanors, and other crimes by them respectively done or committed against the United States, in either of the said counties, before the twelfth day of March in the year 1799; excepting and excluding therefrom every person who now standeth indicted or convicted of any treason, misprision of treason, or other offence against the United States; whereby remedying and releasing unto all persons, except as before excepted, all pains and penalties incurred or supposed to be incurred for or on account of the premises.

Given, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [180]

ADDRESSES.

The number of addresses made to the President during the excitement occasioned by the apprehension of a war with France, was very great. They now fill a large box, many of them having long rolls of signatures attached. A portion of them, with the answers, were collected and published at Boston in a volume dedicated to the French Directory, in 1798. Of course, it is not possible to embrace in this work more than those answers which, for some particular reason, appear deserving to be included. In some of these cases it has not been possible to find the exact date of their composition.

TO THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES.

Gentlemen,

Meeting with you at a regular period established by law, I expected nothing more than those habitual expressions of your friendship, which I have constantly received as one of your associates, upon all such occasions.1 This elegant address, therefore, as it was not foreseen, is the more acceptable. Coming from gentlemen whose fame for science and literature, as well as for every civil and political virtue, is not confined to a single State, nor to one quarter of the world, it does me great honor. Your congratulations on my election to the office of first magistrate, in a nation where the rights of men are respected and truly supported, deserve my best thanks.

The commands of the public have obliged me to reside in foreign countries and distant States for almost the whole period of the existence of our academy; but no part of my time has ever been spent with more real satisfaction to myself than the Edition: current; Page: [181] few hours, which the course of events has permitted me to pass in your society.

Your exertions at home and extensive correspondences abroad are every day adding to the knowledge of our country, and its improvement in useful arts; and I have only to regret that indispensable avocations have prevented me from assisting in your labors and endeavoring to share in the glory of your success.

The unanimity with which the members of this academy, as well as of the university at Cambridge, and the whole body of the clergy of this commonwealth, (all so happily connected together,) are attached to the union of our American States, their constitutions of government, and the federal administration, is the happiest omen of the future peace, liberty, safety, and prosperity of our country. The rising generation of Americans, the most promising and perhaps the most important youth which the human species can boast, educated in such principles and under such examples, cannot fail to answer the high expectations which the world has formed of their future wisdom, virtues, and energies.

To succeed in the administration of the government of the United States, after a citizen, whose great talents, indefatigable exertions, and disinterested patriotism had carried the gratitude of his country and the applause of the world to the highest pitch, was indeed an arduous enterprise. It was not without much diffidence, and many anxious apprehensions that I engaged in the service. But it has been with inexpressible gratitude and pleasure that I have everywhere found, in my fellow-citizens, an almost universal disposition to alleviate the burden as much as possible, by the cheerful and generous support of their affectionate countenance and cordial approbation. Nothing of the kind has more tenderly touched me, than the explicit sanction you have been pleased to express of the measures I have hitherto adopted.

Permit me, gentlemen, to join in your fervent prayers, that the incomprehensible Source of light and of power may direct us all, and crown with success all our efforts to promote the welfare of our country and the happiness of mankind.

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [182]

TO THE MAYOR, ALDERMEN, AND CITIZENS OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA.

Gentlemen,

Never, as I can recollect, were any class of my fellow-citizens more welcome to me, on any occasion, than the mayor, aldermen, and citizens of the city of Philadelphia upon this.

At a time, when all the old republics of Europe are crumbling into dust, and others forming, whose destinies are dubious; when the monarchies of the old world are some of them fallen, and others trembling to their foundations; when our own infant republic has scarcely had time to cement its strength or decide its own practicable form; when these agitations of the human species have affected our people and produced a spirit of party, which scruples not to go all lengths of profligacy, falsehood, and malignity, in defaming our government; your approbation and confidence are to me a great consolation. Under your immediate observation and inspection, the principal operations of the government are directed, and to you, both characters and conduct must be intimately known.

I am but one of the American people, and my fate and fortune must be decided with theirs. As far as the forces of nature may remain to me, I will not be wanting in my duties to them, nor will I harbor a suspicion that they will fail to afford me all necessary aid and support.

While, with the greatest pleasure, I reciprocate your congratulations on the prospect of unanimity that now presents itself to the hopes of every American, and on that spirit of patriotism and independence that is rising into active exertion, in opposition to seduction, domination, and rapine, I offer a sincere prayer that the citizens of Philadelphia may persevere in the virtuous course and maintain the honorable character of their ancestors, and be protected from every calamity, physical, moral, and political.

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [183]

TO THE CITIZENS OF PHILADELPHIA, THE DISTRICT OF SOUTHWARK, AND THE NORTHERN LIBERTIES.

Gentlemen,

Many of the nations of the earth, disgusted with their present governments, seem determined to dissolve them, without knowing what other forms to substitute in their places. And ignorance, with all the cruel intolerance of the most bloody superstitions that ever have existed, is imposing its absurd dogmas by the sword, without the smallest attention to that emulation universal in the human heart, which is a great spring of generous action, when wisely regulated, but the never-failing source of anarchy and tyranny, when uncontrolled by the Constitution of the State. As the United States are a part of the society of mankind, and are closely connected with several nations now struggling in arms, the present period is indeed pregnant with events of the highest importance to their happiness and safety.

In such a state of things your implicit approbation of the general system, and the particular measures of the government, your generous feelings of resentment at the wrongs and offences committed against it, and at the menaces of others still more intolerable, your candid acknowledgment of the blessings you enjoy under its free and equal Constitution, your determination at every hazard to maintain your freedom and independence, and to support the measures which may be thought necessary to support the Constitution, freedom, and independence of the United States, do you great honor as patriots and citizens; and your communication of these spirited sentiments to me deserves my best thanks.

John Adams
Edition: current; Page: [184]

TO THE INHABITANTS OF PROVIDENCE, R. I.

Gentlemen,

The respectful address from the inhabitants of Providence, who have been my friends and neighbors from my youth, was by no means necessary to convince me of their affectionate attachment.

Imagination can scarcely conceive a stronger contrast than has lately been disclosed between the views of France and those of the United States. I will not distinguish between the views of the government and those of the nations; if in France they are different, the nation, whose right it is, will soon show they are so; if in America they are the same, this fact also will be shown by the nation in a short time in a strong light. I cannot, however, see in this contrast a sufficient cause of disquieting apprehensions of hostilities from that republic. Hostilities have already come thick upon us by surprise from that quarter. If others are coming, we shall be better prepared to meet and repel them.

When we were the first to acknowledge the legitimate origin of the French republic, we discovered at least as much zeal, sincerity, and honesty of heart, as we did of knowledge of the subject, or foresight of its consequences. The ill success of those proofs which the United States have given of their sincere desire to preserve an impartial neutrality, and of their repeated negotiations for redress of wrongs, have demonstrated that other means must be resorted to in order to obtain it.

I agree entirely with you in acquitting in general those of our citizens who have too much attached themselves to European politics, of any treacherous defection from the cause of their country. The French revolution was a spectacle so novel, and the cause was so complicated, that I have ever acknowledged myself incompetent to judge of it, as it concerned the happiness of France, or operated on that of mankind. My countrymen in general were, I believe, as ill qualified as myself to decide; the French nation alone had the right and the capacity, and to them it should have been resigned. We should have suspended Edition: current; Page: [185] our judgments, and been as neutral and impartial between the parties in France as between the nations of Europe.

The honor of our nation is now universally seen to be at stake, and its independence in question, and all America appears to declare, with one heart and one voice, a manly determination to vindicate both.

The legislature, by the late publication of instructions and despatches, have appealed to the world; and if the iron hand of power has not locked up the presses of Europe in such a manner that the facts cannot be communicated to mankind, the impartial sense and the voice of human nature must be in our favor. If perseverance in injustice should necessitate the last appeal, whatever causes we may have to humble ourselves before the supreme tribunal, we have none for any other sentiment than the pride of virtue and honest indignation against the late conduct of France towards us.

I thank you, gentlemen, for your personal civilities to me, and return your kind wishes for my happiness.

Your noble declaration of your readiness, with your lives and fortunes, to support the dignity and independence of the United States, will receive the applause of your country, and of all who have the sentiments and feelings of men.

John Adams.

TO THE INHABITANTS OF BRIDGETON, IN THE COUNTY OF CUMBERLAND, IN THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY.

Gentlemen,

To you, who disapprove of addresses of compliment in general, and of the interposition of constituents in the ordinary course of national affairs, my thanks are more particularly due for the part you have taken at this extraordinary crisis.

In preparing the project of a treaty to be proposed by Congress to France, in the year 1776, fully apprised of the importance of neutrality, I prescribed to myself as a rule to admit nothing which could compromise the United States in any Edition: current; Page: [186] future wars of Europe. In the negotiations of peace in 1782, I saw stronger reasons than ever before in favor of that maxim.

The wise and prudent measures adopted by my predecessor, to preserve and support a fair and impartial neutrality with the belligerent powers of Europe, coinciding with my own opinions and principles, more ancient than the birth of the United States, could not but be heartily approved and supported by me during his whole administration, and steadily pursued until this time. It was, however, no part of the system of my predecessor, nor is it any article of my creed, that neutrality should be purchased with bribes, by the sacrifice of our sovereignty and the abandonment of our independence, by the surrender of our moral character, by tarnishing our honor, by violations of public faith, or by any means humiliating to our own national pride, or disgraceful in the eyes of the world; nor will I be the instrument of procuring it on such terms.

I thank you, gentlemen, for your candid approbation and your noble assurances of support.

John Adams.

TO THE CITIZENS OF BALTIMORE AND BALTIMORE COUNTY, MARYLAND.

Gentlemen,

I thank you for communicating to me this respectful address.

The sense you entertain of the conduct of a foreign nation, in threatening with destruction the freedom and independence of the United States, and representing the citizens of America as a divided people, is such as patriotism naturally and necessarily inspires. The fate of every republic in Europe, however, from Poland to Geneva, has given too much cause for such thoughts and projects in our enemies, and such apprehensions in our friends and ourselves.

Republics are always divided in opinion, concerning forms of governments, and plans and details of administration. These divisions are generally harmless, often salutary, and seldom very hurtful, except when foreign nations interfere, and by their Edition: current; Page: [187] arts and agents excite and ferment them into parties and factions. Such interference and influence must be resisted and exterminated, or it will end in America, as it did anciently in Greece, and in our own time in Europe, in our total destruction as a republican government and independent power.

The liberal applause you bestow on the measures pursued by the government for the adjustment of differences and restoration of harmony, your resolutions of resistance in preference to submission to any foreign power, your confidence in the government, your recommendation of measures of defence of the country and protection of its commerce, and your generous resolution to submit to the expenses and temporary inconveniences which may be necessary to preserve the sovereignty and freedom of the United States, are received with much respect.

John Adams.

TO THE YOUNG MEN OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, THE DISTRICT OF SOUTHWARK, AND THE NORTHERN LIBERTIES, PENNSYLVANIA.

Gentlemen,

Nothing of the kind could be more welcome to me than this address from the ingenuous youth of Philadelphia, in their virtuous anxiety to preserve the honor and independence of their country.

For a long course of years, my amiable young friends, before the birth of the oldest of you, I was called to act with your fathers in concerting measures the most disagreeable and dangerous, not from a desire of innovation, not from discontent with the government under which we were born and bred, but to preserve the honor of our country, and vindicate the immemorial liberties of our ancestors. In pursuit of these measures, it became, not an object of predilection and choice, but of indispensable necessity to assert our independence, which, with many difficulties and much suffering, was at length secured. I have long flattered myself that I might be gathered to the ashes of Edition: current; Page: [188] my fathers, leaving unimpaired and unassailed the liberties so dearly purchased; and that I should never be summoned a second time to act in such scenes of anxiety, perplexity, and danger, as war of any kind always exhibits. If my good fortune should not correspond with my earnest wishes, and I should be obliged to act with you, as with your ancestors, in defence of the honor and independence of our country, I sincerely wish that none of you may ever have your constancy of mind and strength of body put to so severe a trial, as to be compelled again in your advanced age to the contemplation and near prospect of any war of offence or defence.

It would neither be consistent with my character, nor yours, on this occasion, to read lessons to gentlemen of your education, conduct, and character; if, however, I might be indulged the privilege of a father, I should with the tenderest affection recommend to your serious and constant consideration, that science and morals are the great pillars on which this country has been raised to its present population, opulence, and prosperity, and that these alone can advance, support, and preserve it.

Without wishing to damp the ardor of curiosity, or influence the freedom of inquiry, I will hazard a prediction, that, after the most industrious and impartial researches, the longest liver of you all will find no principles, institutions, or systems of education more fit, in general, to be transmitted to your posterity, than those you have received from your ancestors.

No prospect or spectacle could excite a stronger sensibility in my bosom than this, which now presents itself before me. I wish you all the pure joys, the sanguine hopes, and bright prospects, which are decent at your age, and that your lives may be long, honorable, and prosperous, in the constant practice of benevolence to men and reverence to the Divinity, in a country persevering in liberty, and increasing in virtue, power, and glory.

The sentiments of this address, everywhere expressed in language as chaste and modest as it is elegant and masterly, which would do honor to the youth of any country, have raised a monument to your fame more durable than brass and marble. The youth of all America must exult in this early sample, at the seat of government, of their talents, genius, and virtues.

America and the world will look to our youth as one of our firmest bulwarks. The generous claim which you now present, Edition: current; Page: [189] of sharing in the difficulty, danger, and glory of our defence, is to me and to your country a sure and pleasing pledge, that your birth-rights will never be ignobly bartered or surrendered; but that you will in your turn transmit to future generations the fair inheritance obtained by the unconquerable spirit of your fathers.

John Adams.

TO THE INHABITANTS AND CITIZENS OF BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS.

Gentlemen,

I thank you for the declaration of your approbation of the measures adopted by me, relative to our foreign relations, to conciliate the French republic and to accommodate all existing difference upon terms compatible with the safety, the interest, and the dignity of the United States.

Your high and elevated opinion of, and confidence in, the virtue, wisdom, and patriotism of the national government, and fixed resolution to support, at the risk of your lives and fortunes, such measures as may be determined to be necessary to promote and secure the honor and happiness of the United States, do you honor, and are perfectly in character.

It must, however, be a very unnatural and peculiar state of things to make it necessary or proper in you, or any other American in your behalf, to declare to the world, what the world ought to have known and acknowledged without hesitation, that you are not humiliated under a colonial sense of fear, that you are not a divided people in any point which involves the honor, safety, and essential rights of your country, that you know your rights, and are determined to support them.

John Adams.
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TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE COUNTY OF LANCASTER, PENNSYLVANIA.

Gentlemen,

This respectful and affectionate address from the wealthy, industrious, and independent proprietors of the county of Lancaster, is as honorable as it is agreeable to me, and is returned with my hearty thanks.

The attention you have given to a demand of a preliminary submission, acknowledging the commission of offence, requires an observation on my part. The Constitution of the United States makes it my duty to communicate to Congress from time to time information of the state of the Union, and to recommend to their consideration measures which appear to me necessary or expedient. While in discharge of this duty, I submit, with entire resignation, to the responsibility established in the Constitution, I hold myself accountable to no crowned head or Executive Directory, or other foreign power on earth, for the communications which my duty obliges me to make; yet to you, my fellow-citizens, I will freely say, that in the case alluded to, the honor done, the publicity and solemnity given to the audience of leave to a disgraced minister, recalled in displeasure for misconduct, was a studied insult to the government of my country.

The observations made by me were mild and moderate in a degree far beyond what the provocation would have justified; and if the American people or their government could have borne it without resentment, offered as it was in the face of all all the world, they must have been fit to be the tributary dupes they have since been so coolly invited to become.

As I know not where a better choice of envoys could have been made, I thank you for your approbation of their appointment and applause of their conduct.

In return for your prayers for my health and fortitude, I offer mine for the citizens of Lancaster in particular and the United States in general.

John Adams.
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TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE COUNTY OF BURLINGTON, NEW JERSEY.

Gentlemen,

There is nothing in the conduct of our enemies more remarkable than their total contempt of the people, while they pretend to do all for the people; and of all real republican governments, while they screen themselves under some of their names and forms. While they are erecting military despotisms, under the delusive names of representative democracies, they are demolishing the Pope by the most machiavelian maxim of one of his predecessors, “If the good people will be deceived, let him be deceived.”

The American people are unquestionably the best qualified of any great nation in the world, by their character, habits, and all other circumstances, for a real republican government; yet the American people are represented as in opposition, in enmity, and on the point of hostility against the government of their own institution and the administration of their own choice. If this were true, what would be the consequence? Nothing more nor less than that they are ripe for a military despotism, under the domination of a foreign power. It is to me no wonder that American blood boils at these ideas.

Your ardent attachment to the Constitution and government of the United States, and complete confidence in all its departments; your firm resolution, at every hazard, to maintain, support, and defend with your lives and fortunes every measure, which by your lawful representatives may be deemed necessary to protect the rights, liberty, and independence of the United States of America, will do you honor with all the world and with all posterity.

John Adams.
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TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE TOWN OF HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT.

Gentlemen,

Although the sentiments and conduct of the people of Connecticut, as expressed upon all occasions by themselves at home, and their representatives in both houses of Congress, have been so unanimous and uniform in support of the government as to render their interposition at this crisis unnecessary, yet this address from the citizens of Hartford is not the less agreeable to me, or deserving my gratitude.

I have never considered the issue of our late endeavors to negotiate with the French republic as a subject either of congratulation or despondency; as, on the one hand, I should be happy in the friendship of France upon honorable conditions, under any government she may choose to assume; so, on the other, I see no cause of despondency under a continuance of her enmity, if such is her determined disposition. Providence may indeed intend us a favor above our wishes and a blessing beyond our foresight in the extinction of an influence which might soon have become more fatal than war.

If the designs of foreign hostility and the views of domestic treachery are now fully disclosed; if the moderation, dignity, and wisdom of government have awed into silence the clamors of faction, and palsied the thousand tongues of calumny; if the spirit of independent freemen is again awakened, and its force is combined, I agree with you that it will be irresistible.

I hesitate not to express a confidence equal to yours in the collected firmness and wisdom which the Southern States have ever displayed on the approach of danger; nor can I doubt that they will join with all their fellow-citizens, with equal spirit, to crush every attempt at disorganization, disunion, and anarchy. The vast extent of their settlements, and greater distance from the centre of intelligence, may require more time to mature their judgment, and expose them to more deceptions by misrepresentation; but in the end, their sensations, reflections, and decisions, are purely American.

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Your confidence in the legislature and administration has been perfectly well known from the commencement of the government, and has ever done it honor.

John Adams.

TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE BOROUGH OF HARRISBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA.

Gentlemen,

Your address has been presented to me by Mr. Hartley, Mr. Sitgreaves, and Mr. Hanna, three of your representatives in Congress.

I know not which to admire most, the conciseness, the energy, the elegance, or profound wisdom of this excellent address.

Ideas of reformation and schemes for meliorating the condition of humanity should not be discouraged, when proposed with reason and pursued with moderation; but the rage for innovation, which destroys every thing because it is established, and introduces absurdities the most monstrous, merely because they are new, was never carried to such a pitch of madness in any age of the world as in this latter end of the boasted eighteenth century, and never produced effects so horrible upon suffering humanity.

Among all the appearances portentous of evil, there is none more incomprehensible than the professions of republicanism among those who place not a sense of justice, morality, or piety, among the ornaments of their nature and the blessings of society. As nothing is more certain and demonstrable than that free republicanism cannot exist without these ornaments and blessings, the tendency of the times is rapid towards a restoration of the petty military despotisms of the feudal anarchy, and by their means a return to the savage state of barbarons life.

How can the press prevent this, when all the presses of a nation, and indeed of many nations at once, are subject to an imprimatur, by a veto upon pain of conflagration, banishment, or confiscation?

That America may have the glory of arresting this torrent of Edition: current; Page: [194] error, vice, and imposture, is my fervent wish; and if sentiments as great as those from Harrisburgh, should be found universally to prevail, as I doubt not they will, my hopes will be as sanguine as my wishes.

John Adams.

TO THE YOUNG MEN OF BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS.

Gentlemen,

It is impossible for you to enter your own Faneuil Hall, or to throw your eyes on the variegated mountains and elegant islands around you, without recollecting the principles and actions of your fathers, and feeling what is due to their example. One of their first principles was to unite in themselves the character of citizens and soldiers, and especially to preserve the latter always subordinate to the former.

With much solicitude for your welfare and that of your posterity, I take the freedom to say that this country never appeared to me to be in greater danger than at this moment, from within or without, never more urgently excited to assume the functions of soldiers.

The state of the world is such, the situation of all the nations of Europe with which we have relation is so critical, that vicissitudes must be expected, from whose deleterious influences nothing but arms and energy can protect us. To arms, then, my young friends,—to arms, especially by sea, to be used as the laws shall direct, let us resort. For safety against dangers, which we now see and feel, cannot be averted by truth, reason, or justice.

Nothing in the earlier part of my public life animated me more than the countenances of the children and youth of the town of Boston; and nothing at this hour gives me so much pleasure as the masculine temper and talents displayed by the youth of America in every part of it.

I ought not to forget the worst enemy we have, that obloquy, which, you have observed, is the worst enemy to virtue and the best friend to vice; it strives to destroy all distinction between Edition: current; Page: [195] right and wrong; it leads to divisions, sedition, civil war, and military despotism. I need say no more.

John Adams.

TO THE GRAND JURY FOR THE COUNTY OF PLYMOUTH, MASSACHUSETTS.

Gentlemen,

I thank you for your address, which has been transmitted to me according to your request by the Chief Justice of the State.

Difficult as it is to believe that a nation, struggling or pretending to struggle for liberty and independence, should attempt to invade or impair those blessings, where they are quietly and fully enjoyed; yet thus it is that the United States of America are not the only example of it.

While occupied in your peaceful employments, you have seen the fruits of your industry plundered by professed friends, your tranquillity has been disturbed by incessant appeals to the passions and prejudices of the people by designing men, and by audacious attempts to separate the people from the government; and there is not a village in the United States, perhaps, which cannot testify to similar abuses.

Liberty, independence, national honor, social order, and public safety, appear to you to be in danger; your acknowledgments to me, therefore, are the more obliging and encouraging.

Your prayers for my preservation, and your pledge that in any arduous issue to which the arts or arms of successful violence may compel us, you will, as becomes faithful citizens of this happy country, come forward as one man, in defence of all that is dear to us, are to me as affecting, as to the public they ought to be satisfactory sentiments—the more affecting to me, as they come from the most ancient settlement in the northern part of the continent, held in peculiar veneration by me at all times.

John Adams.
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TO THE SOLDIER CITIZENS OF NEW JERSEY.

Gentlemen,

Among all the numerous addresses which have been presented to me in the present critical situation of our nation, there has been none which has done me more honor, none animated with a more glowing love of our country, or expressive of sentiments more determined and magnanimous. The submission you avow to the civil authority, an indispensable principle in the character of warriors in a free government, at the same moment when you make a solemn proffer of your lives and fortunes in the service of your country, is highly honorable to your dispositions as citizens and soldiers, and proves you perfectly qualified for the duties of both characters.

Officers and soldiers of New Jersey have as little occasion as they have disposition to boast. Their country has long boasted of their ardent zeal in the cause of freedom, and their invincible intrepidity in the day of battle.

Your voice of confidence and satisfaction, of firmness and determination to support the laws and Constitution of the United States, has a charm in it irresistible to the feelings of every American bosom; but when, in the presence of the God of armies and in firm reliance on his protection, you solemnly pledge your lives and fortunes, and your sacred honor, you have recorded words which ought to be indelibly imprinted on the memory of every American youth. With these sentiments in the hearts and this language in the mouths of Americans in general, the greatest nation may menace at its pleasure, and the degraded and the deluded characters may tremble, lest they should be condemned to the severest punishment an American can suffer—that of being conveyed in safety within the lines of an invading enemy.

John Adams.
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TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE TOWN OF BRAINTREE, MASSACHUSETTS.

Gentlemen,

This kind address from the inhabitants of a division of the ancient and venerable town of Braintree, which has always been my home, is very obliging to me.

The tongues and pens of slander, instruments with which our enemies expect to subdue our country, I flatter myself have never made impressions on you, my ancient townsmen, to whom I have been so familiarly known from my infancy. A signal interposition of Providence has for once detected frauds and calumnies, which, from the inexecution of the laws and the indifference of the people were too long permitted to prevail.1

I am happy to see that your minds are deeply impressed with the danger of the present situation of our country, and that your resolutions to assert and defend your rights, are as judicious and determined as I have always known them to be upon former occasions.

I wish you every prosperity and felicity which you can wisely wish for yourselves.

John Adams.

TO THE YOUNG MEN OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK.

Gentlemen,

I received this becoming, amiable, and judicious address from the young men of the city of New York with great pleasure.

The situation in which nature has placed your State, its Edition: current; Page: [198] numerous advantages, and its population so rapidly increasing, render it of great importance to the union of the nation, that its youth should be possessed of good principles and faithful dispositions. The specimen you have given in this address could not be more satisfactory.

I assure you, my young friends, that the satisfaction with my conduct, which has been expressed by the rising generation, has been one of the highest gratifications I ever received, because, if I have not been deceived in my own motives, I can sincerely say, that their happiness and that of their posterity, more than my own or that of my contemporaries, has been the object of the studies and labors of my life.

Your attachment to France was in common with Americans in general. The enthusiasm for liberty, which contributed to excite it, was in sympathy with great part of the people of Europe. The causes which produced that great event, were so extensive through the European world, and so long established, that it must appear a vast scheme of Providence, progressing to its end, incomprehensible to the views, designs, hopes, and fears of individuals or nations, kings or princes, philosophers or statesmen. It would be weak to ascribe the glory of it, or impute the blame to any individual or any nation; it would be equally absurd for any individual or nation to pretend to wisdom or power equal to the mighty task of arresting its progress or diverting its course. May the human race in general and the French nation in particular derive ultimately from it an amelioration of their condition, in the extension of liberty, civil and religious, in increased virtue, wisdom, and humanity! For myself, however, I confess, I see not how, nor when, nor where. In the mean time, these incomprehensible speculations ought not to influence our conduct in any degree. It is our duty to judge, by the standard of truth, integrity, and conscience, of what is right and wrong, to contend for our own rights, and to fight for our own altars and firesides, as much as at any former period of our lives. In your own beautiful and pathetic language, the same enthusiasm ought now to unite us more closely in the defence of our country, and inspire us with a spirit of resistance against the efforts of that republic to destroy our independence. If my enthusiasm is not more extravagant than yours has ever been, our independence will be one essential Edition: current; Page: [199] instrument for reclaiming the fermented world, and bringing good out of the mass of evil.

The respect you acknowledge to your parents, is one of the best of symptoms. The ties of father, son, and brother, the sacred bands of marriage, without which those connections would be no longer dear and venerable, call on you and all your youth to beware of contaminating your country with the foul abominations of the French revolution.

John Adams.

TO THE INHABITANTS OF QUINCY, MASSACHUSETTS.

Gentlemen,

Next to the approbation of a good conscience, there is nothing, perhaps, which gives us more pleasure than the praise of those we love most, and who know us the most intimately.

I could not receive your address—in which I read with pleasure inexpressible the names of clergy and laity, officers and soldiers, magistrates and citizens of every denomination, among whom were the most aged, whose countenances I had respected, my school-fellows and the companions of my childhood, whom I had loved from the cradle,—without the liveliest emotions of gratitude and affection.

With you, my kind neighbors, I have ever lived in habits of freedom, friendship, and familiarity. We have always agreed very well in principles and opinions, and well knowing your love of your country and ardor in its defence, your explicit declaration upon this occasion, though unexpected, is no surprise to me. Accept of the best wishes of a sincere and faithful friend for a continuance of harmony among you, and for the prosperity of all your interests.

John Adams.
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TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE TOWN OF CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS.

Gentlemen,

I thank you for this address, subscribed by so large a number of respectable names, and for the expression of your satisfaction in my administration.

Difficulties were the inheritance to which I was born, and a double portion has been allotted to me. I have hitherto found in my integrity an impenetrable shield, and I trust it will continue to preserve me.

I pity the towns, which, under the guidance of rash or designing men, assembled without the necessary information, and passed resolutions which have exposed them to censure.

I receive and return with pleasure your congratulations on the present appearances of national union, and thank you for your assurances of support.

John Adams.

TO THE LEGISLATURE OF MASSACHUSETTS.

Gentlemen,

An affectionate and respectful address from your two honorable houses has been presented to me, according to your request, by your senators and representatives in Congress.

The anxiety, the ancient and constant habit of the people of Massachusetts and their legislature, to take an early and decided part in whatever relates to the safety and welfare of their country, as well as their ardor, activity, valor, and ability in its defence by sea and land, are well known, and ought to be acknowledged by all the world.

The first forty years of my life were passed in my native Massachusetts, in a course of education and professional career, which led me to a very general acquaintance in every part of Edition: current; Page: [201] that State. If, with your opportunities and pressing motives for observation and experience, you can pronounce my services successful, and administration virtuous, and the people of fifteen other States could concur with you in that opinion, my reward would be complete, and my most ardent wishes gratified.

If the object of France, in her revolution, ever was liberty, it was a liberty very ill defined and never understood. She now aims at dominion such as never has before prevailed in Europe. If with the principles, maxims, and systems of her present leaders she is to become the model and arbiter of nations, the liberties of the world will be in danger. Nevertheless, the citizens of Massachusetts, who were first to defend, will be among the last to resign the rights of our national sovereignty.

You have great reason to expect in this all-important conflict the ready and zealous coöperation of the free and enlightened people of America, and with humble confidence to rely on the God of our fathers for protection and success.

With you I fully agree, that a people, by whom the blessings of civil and religious liberty are enjoyed and duly appreciated, will never surrender them but with their lives. The patriotism and the energies of your constituents, united with those of the people of the other States, are a sure pledge that the charter of your civil and religious liberties, sealed by the blood of Americans, will never be violated by the sacrilegious hand of foreign power.

The solemn pledge of yourselves, to support every measure which the government of the United States at this momentous period may see fit to adopt to protect the commerce and preserve the independence of our country, must afford an important encouragement to the national government, and contribute greatly to the union of the people throughout all the States.

John Adams.
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TO THE INHABITANTS OF ARLINGTON AND SANDGATE, VERMONT.

Gentlemen,

I thank you for this address, which has been presented to me by Mr. Chipman, one of your senators in Congress.

Sentiments like yours, which have been entertained for years, it would be at this time inexcusable not to express. If you have long seen foreign influence prevailing and endangering the peace and independence of our country, so have I. If you have long seen, with painful sensations, the exertions of dangerous and restless men, misleading the understandings of our wellmeaning citizens, and prompting them to such measures as would sink the glory of our country and prostrate her liberties at the feet of France, so also have I.

I have seen in the conduct of the French nation, for the last twelve years, a repetition of their character displayed under Louis the fourteenth, and little more, excepting the extravagances, which have been intermixed with it, of the wildest philosophy which was ever professed in this world, since the building of Babel, and the fables of the giants, who, by piling mountains on mountains, invaded the skies. If the spell is broken, let human nature exult and rejoice. The veil may be removed from the eyes of many, but I fear, not of all. The snare is not yet entirely broken, and we are not yet escaped.

If you have no attachments or exclusive friendship for any foreign nation, you possess the genuine character of true Americans.

The pledge of yourselves and dearest enjoyments, to support the measures of government, shows that your ideas are adequate to the national dignity, and that you are worthy to enjoy its independence and sovereignty.

Your prayers for my life and usefulness are too affecting to me to be enlarged upon.

John Adams.
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TO THE LEGISLATURE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.

Gentlemen,

My most respectful and affectionate thanks are due to your two honorable houses for an address, transmitted to me by your excellent governor, and presented to me by your representatives in Congress.

The American nation appears to me, as it does to you, on the point of being drawn into the vortex of European war. Your entire satisfaction in the administration of the federal government, and in the perseverance which has marked its endeavors to adjust our disputes with France, is very precious to me. Distressing and alarming as the political situation of this country is, I am conscious that no measures, on my part, have been wanting, that could have honorably rendered it otherwise. The indignities which have been so repeatedly offered to our ambassadors, the greatest of which is the last unexampled insult, in choosing out one of the three, and discarding the other two, the wrongs and injuries to our commerce by French depredations, the legal declaration, in effect, of hostilities against all our commerce, and the apparent disposition of the government of France, seem to render further negotiation not only nugatory, but disgraceful and ruinous. You may tax the French government with ingratitude with much more justice than yourselves.

The increasing union among the people and their legislatures is as encouraging as it is agreeable. The precept, “divide and conquer,” was never exemplified in the eyes of mankind in so striking and remarkable a manner as of late in Europe. Every old republic has fallen before it. If America has not spirit and sense enough to learn wisdom from the examples of so many republican catastrophes passing in review before her eyes, she deserves to suffer, and most certainly will fall. I am happy to assure you that, as far as my information extends, the opposition to the federal government in all the other States, as well as in New Hampshire, is too small to merit the name of division. It is a difference of sentiment on public measures, not an alienation of affection to their country.

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The war-worn soldiers and the brave and hardy sons of New Hampshire, second to none in skill, enterprize, or courage in war, will never surrender the independence, or consent to the dishonor of their country.

I return my warmest wishes for your health and happiness.

John Adams.

TO THE STUDENTS OF DICKINSON COLLEGE, PENNSYLVANIA.

Gentlemen,

I have received from the hand of one of your senators in Congress, Mr. Bingham, your public and explicit declaration of your sentiments and resolutions at this important crisis, in an excellent address.

Although it ought not to be supposed that young gentlemen of your standing should be deeply versed in political disquisitions, because your time has been occupied in the pursuit of the elements of science and literature in general, yet the feelings of nature are a sure guide in circumstances like the present. I need not, however, make this apology for you. Few addresses, if any, have appeared more correct in principle, better arranged and digested, more decent and moderate, better reasoned and supported, or more full, explicit, and determined.

Since the date of your address, a fresh instance of the present spirit of a nation, or its government, whom you have been taught to call your friends, has been made public. Two of your envoys have been ordered out of the republic. Why? Answer this for yourselves, my young friends. A third has been permitted or compelled to remain. Why? To treat of loans, as preliminary to an audience, as the French government understands it; to wait for further orders, as your envoy conceives. Has any sovereign of Europe ever dictated to your country the person she should send as ambassador? Did the monarchy of France, or any other country, ever assume such a dictatorial power over the sovereignty of your country? Is the republic of the United States of America a fief of the republic of France? It is a question, whether even an equitable treaty, under such circumstances of indecency, insolence, and tyranny, ought ever to be Edition: current; Page: [205] ratified by an independent nation. There is, however, no probability of any treaty, to bring this question to a decision.

If there are any who still plead the cause of France, and attempt to paralyse the efforts of your government, I agree with you, they ought to be esteemed our greatest enemies. I hope that none of you, but such as feel a natural genius and disposition to martial exercise and exertions, will ever be called from the pleasing walks of science to repel any attack upon your rights, liberties, and independence.

When you look up to me with confidence as the patron of science, liberty, and religion, you melt my heart. These are the choicest blessings of humanity; they have an inseparable union. Without their joint influence no society can be great, flourishing, or happy.

While I ardently pray that the American republic may always rise superior to her enemies, and transmit the purest principles of liberty to the latest ages, I beseech Heaven to bestow its choicest blessings on the governors and students of your college, and all other seminaries of learning in America.

John Adams.

TO THE STUDENTS OF NEW JERSEY COLLEGE.

Gentlemen,

I thank you for your well-judged and well-penned address, which has been presented to me by one of your senators in Congress, from New Jersey, Mr. Stockton.

To a high-spirited youth, possessed of that self-respect and self-esteem which is inseparable from conscious innocence and rectitude; whose bodies are not enervated by irregularities of life; whose minds are not weakened by dissipation or habits of luxury; whose natural sentiments are improved and fortified by classical studies; the aggressions of a foreign power must be disgusting and odious. On these facts alone I could answer for the youth of Nassau, that they will glory in defending the independence of their fathers.

The honor of your country you cannot estimate too highly. Reputation is of as much importance to nations, in proportion, as to individuals. Honor is a higher interest than reputation. Edition: current; Page: [206] The man or the nation without attachment to reputation or honor, is undone. What is animal life, or national existence, without either?

The regret with which you view the encroachments of foreign nations, the impatience with which you contemplate their lawless depredations, are perfectly natural, and do honor to your characters.

If regrets would avert the necessity of military operations, it would be well to indulge them; but if the entire prosperity of a State depends upon the discipline of its armies, a maxim much respected by your fathers, you may hereafter be convinced that the cause of your country and of mankind may be promoted by means, which, from love to your country and a fear to set at defiance the laws of nature, you now see cause to regret.

The flame of enthusiasm which you in common with your fathers caught at the French revolution, could have been enkindled only by the innocence of your hearts and the purity of your intentions. Let me, however, my amiable and accomplished young friends, entreat you to study the history of that revolution, the history of France during the periods of the League and the Fronde, and the history of England from 1640 to 1660. In these studies you may perhaps find a solution of your disappointment in your hopes that the spirit which created, would conduct the revolution. You may find that the good intended by fair characters from the beginning, was defeated by Borgias and Catilines; that these fair characters themselves were inexperienced in freedom, and had very little reading in the science of government; that they were altogether inadequate to the cause they embraced, and the enterprise in which they embarked. You may find that the moral principles, sanctified and sanctioned by religion, are the only bond of union, the only ground of confidence of the people in one another, of the people in the government, and the government in the people. Avarice, ambition, and pleasure, can never be the foundations of reformations or revolutions for the better. These passions have dictated the aim at universal domination, trampled on the rights of neutrality, despised the faith of solemn compacts, insulted ambassadors, and rejected offers of friendship.

It is to me a flattering idea that you place any of your hopes of political security in me; mine are placed in your fathers Edition: current; Page: [207] and you, and my advice to both is to place your confidence, under the favor of Heaven, in yourselves.

Your approbation of the conduct of government, and confidence in its authorities, are very acceptable. If the choice of the people will not defend their rights, who will? To me there appears no means of averting the storm; and, in my opinion, we must all be ready to dedicate ourselves to fatigues and dangers.

John Adams.

TO THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE OF CONNECTICUT.

Gentlemen,

An address so affectionate and respectful carries with it a dignity and authority, which is the more honorable to me as it comes from a legislature, which, although not in the habit of interfering in the administration of the general government, has exhibited a uniform affection for the national Constitution, and an undeviating respect to the laws and constituted authorities.

There can never be a time when it will be more necessary for the nation to express the sentiments by which it is animated, than when it is deeply injured by lawless aggressions, and insulted by imperious claims of a foreign power, professing to confide in our disunion, and boasting of the means of severing the affections of our citizens from the government of their choice.

Your approbation of the conduct and measures of government, and assurances of a firm and hearty support, are of great and high importance, and demand my most respectful and grateful acknowledgments.

With you I cherish our independence, revere the names, the virtues, and the sufferings of our ancestors, and admire the resolution, that the inestimable gift of civil and religious freedom shall never be impaired in our hands, and that no sacrifice of blood or treasure shall be esteemed too dear to transmit the precious inheritance to posterity.

I return my most fervent wishes for your personal happiness, Edition: current; Page: [208] and the peace and the honor of the nation, committing all, with all their interests, to the God of our fathers.

John Adams.

TO THE CINCINNATI OF RHODE ISLAND.

Gentlemen,

I thank you for your respectful remembrance of me on the birth-day of our United States. The clear conviction you acknowledge of the firm, patriotic, and enlightened policy pursued by the chief magistrate of the United States, after a review of the progress of his administration, will encourage his heart and strengthen his hands. Our country, supported by a great and respectable majority of its inhabitants, will not only be protected from a degrading submission to national insults, but be placed, I trust, on that point of elevation, where, by her courage and virtues, she is entitled to stand. The best “diplomatic skill” is honesty, and whenever the nation we complain of shall have recourse to that, she may depend upon an opportunity to boast of the success of her address—till then, she will employ her finesse in vain. On the day you resolved to live and die free, and declared yourselves ready to rally round the standard of your country, headed by that illustrious chief, who, at a time that proved the patriot and the hero, led you to victory—I was employed in the best of measures in my power to obtain a gratification of your wishes, which I am not without hopes may prove successful. In a country like ours, every sacrifice ought to be considered as nothing, when put in competition with the rights of a free and sovereign nation; and I trust that, by the blessing of Heaven, and the valor of our citizens, under their ancient and glorious leader, you will be able to transmit your fairest inheritance to posterity.

John Adams.
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TO THE INHABITANTS OF DEDHAM AND OTHER TOWNS IN THE COUNTY OF NORFOLK, MASSACHUSETTS.

Gentlemen,

I thank you for a friendly address, presented to me by your representative in Congress, Mr. Otis.

No faithful and intelligent American could pass the 4th of July this year, without strong sensations and deep reflections, excited by the perfidy, insolence, and hostilities of France. The ideas of never-ending repose in America were as visionary as the projects of universal and perpetual peace, which some ingenious and benevolent writers have amused themselves in composing.

We have too much intercourse with ambitious, enterprising, and warlike nations, and our commerce is of too much importance in their conflicts, to leave us a hope of remaining always neutral. Although our government has exhausted all the resources of its policy in endeavors to avoid engaging in the present uproar, neither the faith, justice, or gratitude of France would suffer it to succeed.

I know very well that political misinformation has been peculiarly active in the scene which you and I inhabit, and that too many have believed that France, though crushed under the iron hand of a military despotism, enjoyed liberty; that the inordinate ambition of her rulers for dominion was infused by a generous zeal to set oppressed nations free; that these nations were emancipated by being subdued, and though they lost their independence, they were gainers by some unknown equivalent gratuitously conferred by their conquerors.

If impostures so gross have had too much success, America is of all the people of the world the most excusable, for many particular reasons, for their credulity. The people of a great portion of Europe have been more fatally deceived; even the people of England, with all their national antipathies and under all the energies of their government, have been equally misinformed, and appear to be now more affected with remorse. The sobriety and steadiness of the American character will not suffer Edition: current; Page: [210] more discredit than other nations, and we have certainly apologies to make, peculiar to ourselves.

That all Americans by birth, except perhaps a very few abandoned characters, have always preserved a superior affection for their own country, I am very confident; that we have thought too well of France, and France too meanly of us, I have been an eye and ear witness for twenty years. These errors on both sides must be corrected. She will soon learn that we will bear no yoke, that we will pay no tribute.

For delaying counsels, the Constitution has not made me responsible; but while I am entrusted with my present powers, and bound by my present obligations, you shall see no more delusive negotiations. The safe keeping of American independence is in the energy of its spirit and resources. In my opinion, as well as yours, there is no alternative between war and submission to the executive of France. If your fathers had not felt sentiments like these, they would have been “hewers of wood” to one foreign nation; and if you did not feel them, your posterity would be “drawers of water” to another.

John Adams.

TO THE INHABITANTS OF CONCORD, MASSACHUSETTS.

Gentlemen,

I thank you for this address. Your encomium on the executive authority of the national government, is in a degree highly flattering.

As I have ever wished to avoid, as far as prudence and necessity would permit, every concealment from my fellow-citizens of my real sentiments in matters of importance, I will venture to ask you whether it is consistent with the peace we have made, the friendship we have stipulated, or even with civility, to express a marked resentment to a foreign power who is at war with another, whose ill will we experience every day, and who will, very probably, in a few weeks be acknowledged an enemy in the sense of the law of nations. A power, too, which invariably acknowledged us to be a nation for fifteen years; a power that has never had the insolence to reject Edition: current; Page: [211] your ambassadors; a power that at present convoys your trade and their own at the same time. Immortal hatred, inextinguishable animosity, is neither philosophy, true religion, nor good policy. Our ancient maxim was, “Enemies in war, in peace friends.”

If Concord drank the first blood of martyred freemen, Concord should be the first to forget the injury, when it is no longer useful to remember it. Some of you, as well as myself, remember the war of 1755 as well as that of 1775. War always has its horrors, and civil wars the worst.

If the contest you allude to was dubious, it was from extrinsic causes; it was from partial, enthusiastic, and habitual attachment to a foreign country—not from any question of a party of strength. It is highly useful to reflect—fifty thousand men upon paper, and thirty thousand men in fact, was the highest number Britain ever had in arms in this country—compute the tonnage of ships necessary and actually employed to transport these troops across the Atlantic. What were thirty thousand men to the United States of America in 1775? What would sixty thousand be now in 1798?

Let not fond attachments, enthusiastic devotion to another power, paralyze the nerves of our citizens a second time, and all the ships in Europe that can be spared, officered, and manned, will not be sufficient to bring to this country an army capable of any long contest.

Your compliments to me are far beyond my merits. Your confidence in the government, and determination to support it, are greatly to your honor.

John Adams.

TO THE STUDENTS OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY, IN MASSACHUSETTS.

Gentlemen,

The companions, studies, and amusements of my youth, under the auspices of our alma mater, whom I shall ever hold in the highest veneration and affection, came fresh to my remembrance on receiving your address.1

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The maxims of life and the elements of literature, which have ever been inculcated in that ancient seat of education, could produce no other sentiments, in a juncture like this, than such as you have condensed into a form so concise, with so much accuracy, perspicuity, and beauty.

Removed from the scenes of intemperate pleasures, occupied with books, which impress the purest principles, and directed by governors, tutors, and professors, famous for science as well as eminent in wisdom, the studious youth of this country, in all our universities, could not fail to be animated with the intrepid spirit of their ancestors. Very few examples of degenerate characters are ever seen issuing from any of those seminaries. It is impossible that young gentlemen of your habits can look forward with pleasure to a long career of life, in a degraded country, in society with disgraced associates. Your first care should be to preserve the stage from reproach, and your companions in the drama from dishonor.

But if it were possible to suppose you indifferent to shame, what security can you have for the property you may acquire, or for the life of vegetation you must lead? What is to be the situation of the future divine, lawyer, or physician? the merchant or navigator? the cultivator or proprietor?

Your youthful blood has boiled, and it ought to boil. You need not, however, be discouraged. If your cause should require defence in arms, your country will have armies and navies in which you may secure your own honor, and advance the power, prosperity, and glory of your contemporaries and posterity.

John Adams.

TO THE FREEMASONS OF THE STATE OF MARYLAND.

Gentlemen,

I thank you for this generous and noble address.

The zeal you display to vindicate your society from the imputations and suspicions of being “inimical to regular government and divine religion,” is greatly to your honor. It has been an opinion of many considerate men, as long as I can remember, that your society might, in some time or other, be made an Edition: current; Page: [213] instrument of danger and disorder to the world. Its ancient existence and universal prevalence are good proofs that it has not heretofore been applied to mischievous purposes; and in this country I presume that no one has attempted to employ it for purposes foreign from its original institution. But in an age and in countries where morality is, by such numbers, considered as mere convenience, and religion a lie, you are better judges than I am, whether ill uses have been or may be made of Masonry.

Your appeal to my own breast, and your declaration that I shall there find your sentiments, I consider as a high compliment; and feel a pride in perceiving and declaring that the opinions, principles, and feelings expressed are conformable to my own. With you I fear that no hope remains but in preparation for the worst that may ensue.

Persevere, gentlemen, in revering the Constitution which secures your liberties, in loving your country, in practising the social as well as the moral duties, in presenting your lives, with those of your fellow-citizens, a barrier to defend your independence, and may the architect all-powerful surround you with walls impregnable, and receive you, finally (your country happy, prosperous, and glorious), to mansions eternal in the Heavens!

With heart-felt satisfaction, I reciprocate your most sincere congratulations on an occasion the most interesting to Americans. No light or trivial cause would have given you the opportunity of beholding your Washington again relinquishing the tranquil scenes in delicious shades. To complete the character of French philosophy and French policy, at the end of the eighteenth century, it seemed to be necessary to combat this patriot and hero.

John Adams.

TO THE INHABITANTS OF WASHINGTON COUNTY, MARYLAND.

Gentlemen,

Your address has been presented to me by your representative in Congress, Mr. Baer.

When you say that the government of France is congenial Edition: current; Page: [214] to your own, I pray you, gentlemen, to reconsider the subject. The Constitution, the administration, the laws, and their interpretation in France, are as essentially different from ours as the ancient monarchy. If we may believe travellers returned from that country, or their own committees, the pomp and magnificence, the profusion of expense, the proud usurpation, the domineering inequality at present in that country, as well as the prostitution of morals and depravation of manners, exceed all that ever was seen under the old monarchy, and form the most perfect contrast to your own in all those respects. I shall meet with sincerity any honorable overtures of that nation, but I shall make no more overtures.

John Adams.

TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE COUNTY OF MIDDLESEX, VIRGINIA.

Gentlemen,

I thank you for this address, presented to me by your representative in Congress, Mr. New.

The principle of neutrality has indeed been maintained on the part of the United States with inviolable faith, notwithstanding every embarrassment and provocation, both of injury and insult, until we have been forced out of it by an actual war made upon us, though not manfully declared.

For reasons that are obvious to all the world, you may easily imagine, that every manifestation of candor towards me from any part of Virginia must be peculiarly agreeable. The handsome expressions of your approbation deserve my thanks. Every thing has been done short of a resignation of our independence. A resignation of our independence! I blush to write the words; there would be as much sense in speaking of a resignation of the independence of France, or Germany, or Russia. We are a nation as much established as any of them, and as able to maintain our sovereignty, absolute and unlimited by sea and land, as any of them.

It is too much to expect that all party divisions will be done away as long as there are rival States and rival individuals; all Edition: current; Page: [215] we can reasonably hope is, and this we may confidently expect, that no State or individual, to gratify its ambition, will enlist under foreign banners.

John Adams.

TO THE COMMITTEE COMPOSED OF A DEPUTATION FROM EACH MILITIA COMPANY OF THE FORTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT, IN THE COUNTY OF BOTETOURT, VIRGINIA.

Gentlemen,

A copy of your unanimous resolutions together with an address, signed by your chairman, has been presented to me by one of your representatives in Congress, Mr. Evans.

The confidence of the people of Virginia, or any such respectable portion of them, is peculiarly agreeable to me, as it evinces a tendency to a restoration of that harmony and union, which I well remember to have once existed, and which was so auspicious to the American cause, but which has been apparently interrupted since the commencement of the federal government.

It is scarcely possible that I should ever read a sentence more delightful to my heart than those words, “We admire the consistency of your character, and are pleased to see the same firmness, integrity, and patriotism, at the present day, so eminently displayed in the great crisis of the American revolution.”

John Adams.

TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE TOWN OF CINCINNATI AND ITS VICINITY, IN THE NORTH-WESTERN TERRITORY.

Gentlemen,

I have received and read with much pleasure your unanimous address of the 29th of June. I agree with you that, in the ordinary course of affairs, interpositions of popular meetings, to overawe those to whom the management of public affairs are confided, will seldom be warranted by discretion, or found compatible Edition: current; Page: [216] with the good order of society; but, at a period like this, there is no method more infallible to determine the question, whether the people are or are not united. Upon no occasion in the history of America has this mode of discovering and ascertaining the public opinion been so universally resorted to. And it may be asserted with confidence, that at no period of the existence of the United States have evidences of the unanimity of the people been given, so decided as on the present question with France.

The people of this country, the most remote from the seat of government and centre of information, as well as those in its neighborhood, have at length discovered that they are Americans, and feelingly alive to the injuries committed against their country, and to the indignities offered to their government. Upon ourselves only we ought to depend for safety and defence. This maxim, however, by no means forbids us to avail ourselves of the advantages of prudent and well guarded concert with others exposed to common dangers. Animated with sentiments like yours, our country is able to defend itself against any enemies that may rise up against it.

Nothing can be more flattering to me than your assurances of confidence in this perilous hour; and nothing could mortify me so much as that you should ever have reason to believe that your confidence has been misplaced. In return for your prayers for my personal happiness, I sincerely offer mine for the prosperity of the north-western territory, in common with all the United States.

John Adams.

TO THE INHABITANTS OF HARRISON COUNTY, VIRGINIA.

Gentlemen,

I have received with great pleasure your address from your committee. The attachment you profess to our government, calculated as it is to insure liberty and happiness to its citizens, is commendable. Your declaration, in plain and undisguised language, that the measures which have been taken to promote Edition: current; Page: [217] a good understanding, peace, and harmony between this country and France, are becoming my character and deserving your confidence, is a great encouragement to me. With you I see with infinite satisfaction, that the alarming prospect of a war, which is seen to be just and necessary, has silenced all essential differences of opinions, and that a union of sentiment appears to prevail very generally throughout our land. I believe, however, that the distinction of aristocrat and democrat, however odious and pernicious it may be rendered by political artifice at particular conjunctures, will never be done away, as long as some men are taller and others shorter, some wiser and others sillier, some more virtuous and others more vicious, some richer and others poorer. The distinction is grounded on unalterable nature, and human wisdom can do no more than reconcile the parties by equitable establishments and equal laws, securing, as far as possible, to every one his own. The distinction was intended by nature for the order of society, and the benefit of mankind. The parties ought to be like the sexes, mutually beneficial to each other. And woe will be to that country, which supinely suffers malicious demagogues to excite jealousies, foment prejudices, and stimulate animosities between them!

I adore with you the genius and principles of that religion, which teaches, as much as possible, to live peaceably with all men; yet, it is impossible to be at peace with injustice and cruelty, with fraud and violence, with despotism, anarchy, and impiety. A purchased peace could continue no longer than you continue to pay; and the field of battle at once, is infinitely preferable to a course of perpetual and unlimited contribution.

Deeply affected with your prayers for the continuance of my life, I can only say, that my age and infirmities scarcely allow me a hope of being the happy instrument of conducting you through the impending storm.

John Adams.

TO THE YOUNG MEN OF RICHMOND, VIRGINIA.

Gentlemen,

An address so respectful to me, so faithful to the nation, and Edition: current; Page: [218] true to its government, from so honorable a portion of the young men of Richmond, cannot fail to be very acceptable to me.

You will not take offence, I hope, at my freedom, however, if I say, that if you had been taught to cherish in your hearts an esteem and friendship for France, it would have been enough; more than these, toward any foreign power, had better be reserved.

It might have been as well for us in America, whose distance is so great, and whose knowledge of France and her government was so imperfect, to have suspended our veneration for the mighty effort which overturned royalty, until we should have seen all degrading despotism at an end in the country, and something more consistent with virtue, equality, liberty, and humanity, substituted in its place. Hitherto the progress has been from bad to worse.

The conduct of the French government towards us is of a piece with their behaviour to their own citizens and a great part of Europe. Your sensibility to their insults and injuries to your country, is very becoming, and your resolution to resist them do you honor.

A fresh insult is now offered to all America, and especially to her government, in the arbitrary dismission of two of their envoys, with scornful intimations of capricious prejudices against them. But I am weary of enumerating insults and injuries.

John Adams.

TO THE INHABITANTS OF ACCOMAC COUNTY, VIRGINIA.

Gentlemen,

I pray you to accept my thanks for your unanimous address, replete with sentiments truly American.

Your conviction, that your government has manifested a most earnest and sincere desire to preserve peace with all nations, particularly with the French republic; your declaration that, upon a candid review of the conduct of your government, you can discover nothing which ought to have given umbrage to that republic, or which can in any wise justify her numerous aggressions on the persons and properties of our citizens, in Edition: current; Page: [219] direct violation of the law of nations, and in contravention of her existing treaties with us—ought to give entire satisfaction to the government.

Your concern and regret, that those efforts to maintain harmony have proved abortive, are natural and common to you and me and all our fellow-citizens, but can be of no use; instead of dwelling on our regrets, we must explore our resources. Although we may view war as particularly injurious to the interests of our country, Providence may intend it for our good, and we must submit. That it is a less evil than national dishonor, no man of sense and spirit will deny.

I have no hope that the French republic will soon return to a sense of justice.

Your promise to coöperate in whatever measures government may deem conducive to the interests, and consistent with the honor of the nation, and your pledge of your lives and fortunes, and all you hold dear, upon the success of the issue, are in the true spirit of men, of freemen, of Americans, and genuine republicans.

John Adams.

TO THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.

Gentlemen,

I have received your unanimous address. If an address of so much dignity and authority could have received any addition from the channel of conveyance, you have chosen that which is nearest to my heart, in his Excellency John Jay, Esquire, the governor of the State of New York, of whose purity, patriotism, fortitude, independence, and profound wisdom, I have been a witness for a long course of years. The position in the Union of the great and growing State of New York, its incalculable advantages in agriculture as well as commerce, render this unanimous act of the two houses of its legislature one of the most important events of the present year.

With the most sincere respect and cordial satisfaction, gentlemen, I congratulate you on the decided appearance in America Edition: current; Page: [220] of a solid, national character. From the Mississippi to the St. Croix, unquestionable proofs have been given of national feelings, national principles, and a national system. This is all that was wanting to establish the power of the American people, and insure the respect and justice of other nations.

For all that is personal to myself, I pray you to accept my best thanks. I never have had, and I never shall have, any claims on the gratitude of my country. If I have done my duty to them, and they are convinced of it, this is all I have desired or shall desire.

The strong claims which your State holds in the national defence and protection, will have every attention that depends on me.

I thank you for the expression of the satisfaction you derive from the fresh instance of great and disinterested patriotism, which my illustrious predecessor has manifested. May he long continue to be, as he ever has been, the instrument of great good, and the example of great virtue to his fellow-citizens! The last act of his political life, in accepting his appointment, will be recorded in history as one of the most brilliant examples of public virtue that ever was exhibited among mankind.

John Adams.

TO THE BOSTON MARINE SOCIETY, MASSACHUSETTS.

Gentlemen,

I thank you for this respectful address. The existence of the independence of any nation cannot be more grossly attacked, the sovereign rights of a country cannot be more offensively violated, than by a refusal to receive ambassadors sent as ministers of explanation and concord; especially if such refusal is accompanied with public and notorious circumstances of deliberate indignity, insult, and contempt. Indiscriminate despoliations on our commerce, grounded on the contemptuous opinion that we are a divided, defenceless, and mercenary people, are not so egregious and aggravated a provocation offered to the Edition: current; Page: [221] face of a whole nation as the former. I rejoice that you indignantly feel that you dare to resent; and that you hope to vindicate the injured and insulted character of our common country. When friendship becomes insult, or is permitted only on terms dictated and imposed, it becomes an intolerable yoke, and it is time to shake it off. Better at once to become generous enemies, than maintain a delusive and precarious connection with such insidious friends.

Whatever pretexts the French people, or a French prince of the blood with his train, or a combination of families of the first quality with officers of the army, had, for their efforts for the annihilation of the monarchy, we certainly, far from being under any obligation, had no right or excuse to interfere for their assistance. If, by the collateral props of the monarchy, you mean the nobility and the clergy, what has followed the annihilation of them? All their revenues have been seized and appropriated by another prop of the old monarchy, the army; and the nation is become, as all other nations of Europe are becoming, if French principles and systems prevail, a congregation of soldiers and serfs. The French revolution has ever been incomprehensible to me. The substance of all that I can understand of it is, that one of the pillars of the ancient monarchy, that is the army, has fallen upon the other two, the nobility and the clergy, and broken them both down. The building has fallen, of course, and this pillar is now the whole edifice. The military serpent has swallowed that of Aaron, and all the rest. If the example should be followed through Europe, when the officers of the armies begin to quarrel with one another, five hundred years more of Barons’ wars may succeed. If the French, therefore, will become the enemies of all mankind, by forcing all nations to follow their example, in the subversion of all the political, religious, and social institutions, which time, experience, and freedom have sanctioned, they ought to be opposed by every country that has any pretensions to principle, spirit, or patriotism.

Floating batteries and wooden walls have been my favorite system of warfare and defence for this country for three and twenty years. I have had very little success in making proselytes. At the present moment, however, Americans in general, cultivators as well as merchants and mariners, begin to look to Edition: current; Page: [222] that source of security and protection; and your assistance will have great influence and effect in extending the opinion in theory, and in introducing and establishing the practice.

Your kind wishes for my life and health demand my most respectful and affectionate gratitude, and the return of my sincere prayers for the health and happiness of the Marine Society at Boston, as well as for the security and prosperity of the military and commercial marine of the United States, in which yours is included.

John Adams.

TO THE CINCINNATI OF SOUTH CAROLINA.

Gentlemen,

With great respect and esteem I receive your unanimous address, agreed on at a meeting expressly called for that purpose on the 22d of August. That men who cheerfully arranged themselves in the front rank to oppose the most formidable attack that was ever made on their country; that men who have experienced the delightful reflection of having contributed to the establishment of the liberties and independence of their country, and have enjoyed the sweetest of rewards in the grateful affection of their fellow-citizens; that such men should even be lukewarm when the object of their fondest attachment is in jeopardy, is incredible. I rejoice in your approbation of the conduct adopted and pursued with France. Conciliation has been pursued with more patience and perseverance than can be perfectly reconciled with our national reputation. At least, if we can reconcile it with our national character and independence, it must be by peculiar circumstances that we can excuse it in the opinion of an impartial world—if indeed, at this day, there is an impartial world. Posterity, who may be impartial enough to pass an equitable judgment, will allow that the form of our government, our late connections and relations, and the present state of all nations, furnish an apology well grounded on equity and humanity.

The French, and too many Americans have miscalculated. Edition: current; Page: [223] They have betrayed to the whole world their ignorance of the American character. As to the French, I know of no government ancient or modern that ever betrayed so universal and decided a contempt of the people of all nations, as the present rulers of France. They have manifested a settled opinion that the people have neither sense nor integrity in any country, and they have acted accordingly.

When you weighed tribute and dependence against war, you might have added immorality and irreligion to the former scale. What shall we think of those who can weigh tribute, dependence, immorality, irreligion, against pounds, livres, or florins? When the Cincinnati of South Carolina pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, I believe no man will doubt their integrity.

John Adams.

TO THE GRAND JURY OF THE COUNTY OF DUTCHESS, NEW YORK.

Gentlemen,

I have received and read with great pleasure your address of the 1st of September, which, in this kind of writing, with a few explanations, may be considered as a model of sense and spirit, as well as of taste and eloquence.

Is there any mode imaginable in which contempt of the understanding and feelings of a nation can be expressed with so much aggravation, as by affecting to treat the government of their choice as an usurpation?

If in some instances marks of disaffection have appeared in your State, it is indeed exceedingly to be regretted. If this has been owing to the influx of foreigners, of discontented characters, it ought to be a warning. If we glory in making our country an asylum for virtue in distress and for innocent industry, it behoves us to beware, that under this pretext it is not made a receptacle of malevolence and turbulence, for the outcasts of the universe.

The conduct of France must not disgrace the cause of free governments. With the tears and the blood of millions, she Edition: current; Page: [224] has demonstrated that a free government must be organized and adjusted with a strict attention to the nature of man, and the interests and passions of the various classes of which society is composed; but she has not made any rational apology for the advocates of despotic government. Society cannot exist without laws, and those laws must be executed. In nations that are populous, opulent, and powerful, the concurrent interests of great bodies of men operate very forcibly on their passions, break down the barriers of modesty, decency, and morality, and can be restrained only by force; but there are methods of combining the public force in such a manner as to restrain the most formidable combinations of interests, passions, imagination, and prejudice, without recourse to despotic government. To these methods it is to be hoped the nations of Europe will have recourse, rather than to surrender all to military dictators or hereditary despots.

John Adams.

TO THE GRAND JURY OF THE COUNTY OF ULSTER, NEW YORK.

Gentlemen,

I have received with great pleasure your address of the 14th of this month, and I know not whether any that has been published contains more important matter or juster sentiments. It must be great perverseness and depravity in any, who can represent the late acts of government, and the necessary measures of self-defence taken by Congress, as a coalition with Great Britain. It may be useful, however, to analyze our ideas upon this subject. If by a coalition with Great Britain be meant a return as colonies under the government of that country, I declare I know of no individual in America who would consent to it, nor do I believe that Great Britain would receive us in that character. Sure I am it would be in her the blindest policy she ever conceived, for she has already the most incontestable proof that she cannot govern us. If by a coalition be meant a perpetual alliance, offensive and defensive, can it be Edition: current; Page: [225] supposed that two thirds of the Senate of the United States would advise or consent to it without necessity? Besides, is any one certain that Britain would agree to it, if we should propose it? I believe Americans in general have already seen enough of perpetual alliances. Nevertheless, if France has made or shall make herself our enemy, and has forced or shall force upon us a war in our own defence, can we avoid being useful to Britain while we are defending ourselves? Can Britain avoid being useful to us while defending herself or annoying her enemy? Would it not be a want of wisdom in both to avoid any opportunity of aiding each other?

Your civilities to me are very obliging, and deserve my best thanks.

John Adams.

TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE TOWN OF NEWBERN, NORTH CAROLINA.

Gentlemen,

An address so cordial and respectful as this from the citizens of Newbern, and your warm approbation of my conduct since I have filled the office of chief magistrate of the United States, I ought to hold in the highest estimation.

I was indeed called to it at a crisis fraught with difficulty and danger, when neither skill in the management of affairs, more improved than any I could pretend to, nor the purest integrity of intention, could secure an entire exemption from involuntary error, much less from censure.

There have been for many years strong indications that nothing would satisfy the rulers of the French, but our taking with them an active part in the war against all their enemies, and exhausting the last resources of our property to support them, not only in the pursuit of their chimerical ideas of liberty, but of universal empire. This we were not only under no obligation to do, but had reason to believe would have ruined the laws, constitution, and the morals of our country, as well as our credit and property.

An ardent enthusiasm, indeed, deluded for a long time too many of our worthy citizens.

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The honor of your testimony to the integrity of my endeavors in so difficult a conjuncture, is very precious to my heart.

As the hostile views and nefarious designs of the French republic are now too notorious to be denied or extenuated, I believe with you, that the love of our common country will produce a cordial unanimity of sentiment.

This patriotic and spirited address is a clear indication of such desirable union, and will have a powerful tendency to encourage, strengthen, and promote it.

John Adams.

TO THE OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS OF THE SIXTH BRIGADE OF THE THIRD DIVISION OF NORTH CAROLINA MILITIA.

Gentlemen,

An address from seven thousand two hundred and ninety-four men, a number sufficient to compose a respectable army, giving assurance of their approbation of public measures, and their determination as men and soldiers to support them with their lives, must be a pleasing appearance to every lover of his country. There is no part of the union from which such sentiments could be received with more cordial satisfaction than from the virtuous cultivators and independent planters of the populous and powerful State of North Carolina. It is happy for us, and it will be fortunate for the cause of free government, that America can still unite in the most heartfelt satisfaction, at seeing the military reins placed in the hands of the present Commander-in-chief. Your prayers for my life, health, and prosperity demand my best thanks, and a return of mine for yours with the same sincerity of heart.

John Adams.
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TO THE GRAND JURORS OF THE COUNTY OF HAMPSHIRE, MASSACHUSETTS.

Gentlemen,

I have received with much pleasure your address of the 28th of September from Northampton.

The manifestations of your respect, approbation, and confidence are very flattering to me, and your determination to support the Constitution and laws of your country is honorable to yourselves. If a new order of things has commenced, it behoves us to be cautious, that it may not be for the worse. If the abuse of Christianity can be annihilated or diminished, and a more equitable enjoyment of the right of conscience introduced, it will be well; but this will not be accomplished by the abolition of Christianity and the introduction of Grecian mythology, or the worship of modern heroes or heroines, by erecting statues of idolatry to reason or virtue, to beauty or to taste. It is a serious problem to resolve, whether all the abuses of Christianity, even in the darkest ages, when the Pope deposed princes and laid nations under his interdict, were ever so bloody and cruel, ever bore down the independence of the human mind with such terror and intolerance, or taught doctrines which required such implicit credulity to believe, as the present reign of pretended philosophy in France.

John Adams.

TO THE INHABITANTS OF MACHIAS, DISTRICT OF MAINE.

Gentlemen,

I have received and considered your elegant address of the 10th August. Although you reside in a remote part of the United States, it is very manifest you have not been inattentive or indifferent spectators of the dangerous encroachments of a Edition: current; Page: [228] foreign nation. You are of opinion that no connection with the present governors of that nation or their agents, ought to be sought or desired. Your country, I presume, will not meanly sue for peace, or engage in war from motives of ambition, vanity, or revenge. I presume further, that she will never again suffer her ambassadors to remain in France many days or hours unacknowledged, without an audience of the sovereign, unprotected and unprivileged, nor to enter into conferences or conversations with any agents or emissaries, who have not a regular commission of equal rank with their own, and who shall not have shown their original commission and exchanged official copies with them. While extraordinary circumstances are our apology for the past deviation from established rules, founded in unquestionable reason and propriety, the odious consequences of it will be an everlasting admonition to avoid the like for the future. At present we have only to prepare for action.

John Adams.

TO THE OFFICERS OF THE FIRST BRIGADE OF THE THIRD DIVISION OF THE MILITIA OF MASSACHUSETTS.

Gentlemen,

I have received from Major-General Hull and Brigadier-General Walker your unanimous address from Lexington, animated with a martial spirit, and expressed with a military dignity becoming your character and the memorable plains on which it was adopted.

While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays Edition: current; Page: [229] in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world; because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

An address from the officers commanding two thousand eight hundred men, consisting of such substantial citizens as are able and willing at their own expense completely to arm and clothe themselves in handsome uniforms, does honor to that division of the militia which has done so much honor to its country.

Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken and so solemnly repeated on that venerable spot, is an ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government.

John Adams.

TO THE OFFICERS OF THE GUILFORD REGIMENT OF MILITIA, AND THE INHABITANTS OF GUILFORD COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA.

Gentlemen,

The unanimous address adopted by you, has been transmitted, as you directed, by Major John Hamilton to Mr. Steele, and by Mr. Steele to me.

Addresses like yours, so friendly to me and so animated with public spirit, can never stand in need of any apology. It is, on the contrary, very true, that the affectionate addresses of my fellow-citizens have flowed in upon me, from various parts of the Union, in such numbers, that it has been utterly impossible for me to preserve any regularity in my answers, without neglecting the indispensable daily duties of my office. This, and a long continued and very dangerous sickness in my family, most Edition: current; Page: [230] seriously alarming to me, will, I hope, be accepted by you, and by all others whose favors have not been duly noticed, as an apology for a seeming neglect, which has been a very great mortification to me. There is no language within my command, sufficient to express the satisfaction I have felt at the abundant proofs of harmony and unanimity among the people, especially in the southern States, and in none more remarkably than in North Carolina.

Your patriotic address, adopted on the ground where a memorable battle was fought by freemen, on the 15th of March, 1781, in defence of their liberties and independence, is peculiarly forcible and affecting.

John Adams.

TO THE OFFICERS OF THE THIRD DIVISION OF GEORGIA MILITIA.

Gentlemen,

An address so full of attachment to the Constitution, confidence in the government, and respect and affection to me, adopted by so large a portion of the militia, and subscribed by so long a list of respectable officers, demands my most respectful and affectionate acknowledgments.

The honest zeal of our countrymen for a cause which they thought connected with liberty and humanity, might lead some of them to intemperate irregularities, which a sound discretion and strict policy could not justify; and these might lead the French government and their agents into some of the unwarrantable measures they have hazarded. Wisdom will teach us a lesson from this experience, to be more upon our guard in future, more slow to speak, and more swift to hear. It should even teach us to be cautious, that we may not be hurried into a contrary extreme.

The acceptance of General Washington has commanded the admiration of all men of principle. A soul so social and public as his could not live tranquil in retirement in a country bleeding around him. Those who were most delighted with the thought Edition: current; Page: [231] of his undisturbed happiness in retreat, after a life of anxiety, cannot but approve of his resolution to take the field again with his fellow-citizens, and close his long glories in active life, in case his country should be invaded.

I am happy if my answer to the young men of Augusta has your approbation, and receive and return with gratitude your kind wishes for my health and happiness.

John Adams.

TO THE GRAND JURY OF MORRIS COUNTY, IN NEW JERSEY.

Gentlemen,

Your obliging address at the Circuit Court of the State, in the March term of this year, has been transmitted to me by Elisha Boudinot, Esquire, one of the Justices of your Supreme Court, according to your request.

The indignation you express at the combinations to resist the operation of the laws, is evincive of the dispositions of good citizens, and does you much honor. That infatuation which alone can excite citizens to rise in arms against taxes laid in consideration of the necessities of the State, and with great deliberation, by their representatives, and which induces an obvious necessity of raising more taxes, in order to defray the expense of suppressing their own presumptuous folly, is indeed surprising. That the laws must be obeyed in a government of laws, is an all important lesson. For what can be more destructive of liberty and property than government without law, whether in one, few, or many? Insurrection itself is government assumed, and without law, though partial and temporary, and without right.

While the door is not closed by any foreign compact, or by obvious principles of policy or justice, it will always by me be held open, from a sense of my duty, for an accommodation of differences with any and all nations, however “powerful, insidious, or dangerous” they may be supposed to be, unless I could see a probable prospect of rendering them less so by our Edition: current; Page: [232] interference. “Dangers to the peace, rights, and liberties of mankind,” arising from their corruptions and divisions, are too numerous to be controlled by us, who from our situation have of all nations the least colorable pretensions to assume the balance and the rod. If we are forced into the scale, it will be against our inclination and judgment; and however light we may be thought to be, we will weigh as heavy as we can.

The end of even war is peace. Your approbation gives me pleasure. Whenever we have enemies, it will be their own fault; and they will be under no necessity of continuing enemies longer than they choose. In the present crisis, however, we ought to continue, with unabated ardor, all our preparations and operations of defence.

John Adams.

TO THE CITIZENS, INHABITANTS OF THE MISSISSIPPI TERRITORY.

Gentlemen,

With much pleasure I have received, through your able and faithful Governor, your obliging address of the 5th of January.

As your situation on a frontier of the United States, near a nation under whose government many of you have lived, and with whose inhabitants you are well acquainted, qualifies you in a particular manner to maintain a benevolent, pacific, and friendly conduct towards your neighbors, and entitles you to a return of a similar behavior from them; it is to be hoped and expected that the peace and friendship between the two nations will be by these means preserved and promoted, and that the emissaries of no other nation that may be hostile, will be able to destroy or diminish your mutual esteem and regard.

The sentiments of attachment to the Constitution which you avow, are such as become the best Americans, and will secure you the confidence of government, and the esteem and affection of your fellow-citizens throughout the Union.

John Adams.
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TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE CITY OF WASHINGTON.

Fellow-Citizens,

I receive with pleasure, in this address, your friendly welcome to the city, and particularly this place. I congratulate you on the blessings which Providence has been pleased to bestow in a particular manner on this situation, and especially on its destination to be the permanent seat of government. May the future councils of this august temple be forever governed by truth and liberty, friendship, virtue, and faith, which, as they are themselves the chief good and principal blessings of human nature, can never fail to insure the union, safety, prosperity, and glory of America!

John Adams.

TO THE CITIZENS OF ALEXANDRIA.

Gentlemen,

I receive from the citizens of Alexandria this kind salutation on my first visit to Virginia with much pleasure. In the earlier part of my life, I felt, at some times, an inexpressible grief, and at others, an unutterable indignation, at the injustice and indignities which I thought wantonly heaped on my innocent, virtuous, peaceable, and unoffending country. And perceiving that the American people, from New Hampshire to Georgia, felt and thought in the same manner, I determined, refusing all favors and renouncing all personal obligations to the aggressors, to run every hazard with my countrymen, at their invitation, by sea and land, in opposition and resistance, well knowing that if we should be unfortunate, all the pains and all the disgrace which injustice and cruelty could inflict, would be the destination of me and mine. Providence smiled on our well-meant endeavours, and perhaps in no particular more remarkably than in giving us your incomparable Washington for the leader of our armies. Our country has since enjoyed an enviable tranquillity Edition: current; Page: [234] and uncommon prosperity. We are grown a great people. This city, and many others which I have seen since I left Philadelphia, exhibit very striking proofs of our increase, on which I congratulate you. May no error or misfortune throw a veil over the bright prospect before us!

John Adams.

TO THE CORPORATION OF NEW LONDON, CONNECTICUT.

Gentlemen,

I receive with sincere satisfaction this testimony of esteem from the corporation of this respectable city of New London.

The part I took in our important and glorious revolution was the effect of a sense of duty; of the natural feelings of a man for his native country and the native country of his ancestors for several generations; of all the principles, moral, civil, political, and religious, in which I had been educated; and if it had been even more injurious than it has been, or ever so destructive to my private affairs, or ruinous to my family, I should never repent it. I did but concur with my fathers, friends, fellow-citizens, and countrymen, in their sensations and reflections, and lay no claim to more than a common share with them in the result.

It would be devoutly and eternally to be deplored, if this most glorious achievement, or the principal characters engaged in it, should ever fall into disgrace in the eyes of Americans.

In return for your kind wishes, gentlemen, I wish you every blessing.

John Adams.
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TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE COUNTY OF EDGECOMBE, NORTH CAROLINA.

Gentlemen,

I received last night, and have read with serious concern, mingled with lively sentiments of gratitude, your animated address. As, from the nature of our government, the choice of the first magistrate will generally fall on men advanced in years, we ought to be prepared to expect frequent changes of persons, from accidents, infirmities, and death, if not from election; but it is to be presumed that the good sense and integrity of the people, which the Constitution supposes, will indicate characters and principles, that may continue the spirit of an administration which has been found salutary and satisfactory to the nation, when persons must be changed. I cannot give up the hope that to be active in fault finding, and clamorous against wise laws and just measures of government, is not to be most popular. When popularity becomes so corrupt, if it cannot be corrected, all is lost.

For forty years my mind has been so entirely occupied and engrossed with public cares, that I have not been able to give much attention to any thing else. Whatever advantages this country may have derived from my feeble efforts, I wish they had been much greater, and less disputable. If any disadvantages have resulted from them, I hope they will be pardoned, as the effect of involuntary error—for I will be bold to say, no man ever served his country with purer intentions, or from more disinterested motives.

You may rely upon this, that, as, on the one hand, I never shall love war, or seek it for the pleasure, profit, or honor of it, so, on the other, I shall never consent to avoid it, but upon honorable terms.

Very far am I from thinking your determination desperate, to risk your lives and fortunes in support of your constitutional rights and privileges. I perceive no disposition in the American people to go to war with each other; and no foreign hostilities Edition: current; Page: [236] that can be apprehended in a just and necessary cause, have any terrors for you or me.

Your fervent prayer for the long continuance of my days, shall be accompanied by mine, for the much longer continuance of your laws, liberties, prosperity, and felicity.

John Adams.

TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF MASSACHUSETTS.

The very respectful, affectionate, and obliging address, which has been presented to me by the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, by your order, has awakened all my sensibility, and demands my most grateful acknowledgments.

As the various testimonials of the approbation and affection of my fellow-citizens of Massachusetts, which have been indulged to me from my earliest youth, have ever been esteemed the choicest blessings of my life, so this final applause of the legislature, so generously given after the close of the last scene of the last act of my political drama, is more precious than any which preceded it. There is now no greater felicity remaining for me to hope or desire, than to pass the remainder of my days in repose, in an undisturbed participation of the common privileges of our fellow-citizens under your protection.

The satisfaction you have found in the administration of the general government from its commencement, is highly agreeable to me; and I sincerely hope that the twelve years to come will not be less prosperous or happy for our country.

With the utmost sincerity, I reciprocate your devout supplications, for the happiness of yourselves, your families, constituents, and posterity.

John Adams.
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CORRESPONDENCE.

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CORRESPONDENCE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOSTON PATRIOT.

PRELIMINARY NOTE.

The antipathy secretly entertained by Alexander Hamilton to John Adams, dating its origin so far back as the first years of the revolutionary war, intermitted but once, and ending in three successive attempts to undermine his position as a candidate for the chief official posts of the country, only the last of which proved effective, is now rendered apparent even by the incomplete publication that has been lately made of Hamilton’s papers. It was not, however, until the death of General Washington, that the avowed disinclination of Mr. Adams further to pursue the war policy with France, and to intrust to that gentleman the chief command of the army, led to an open declaration of enmity. The pamphlet then composed by him, entitled, “The public conduct and character of John Adams, Esquire, President of the United States,” was unquestionably intended to destroy Mr. Adams’s chance of reëlection, at all hazards, although it was found necessary to apologize for the act to the great body of the federal party, whom it was sure simultaneously to destroy, by giving it the shape of a secret effort to turn the scale in the House of Representatives in favor of Mr. C. C. Pinckney, likewise a federalist, over Mr. Adams, which two gentlemen were to be brought there upon an electoral majority exactly equal. Any other construction than this impeaches Mr. Hamilton’s political sagacity and foresight too much to be admissible. It is scarcely to be imagined that such a document, once put into a printer’s hands, could fail to escape the lynx eyes of the hostile politicians of New York, headed by a man so acute as Aaron Burr. In addition, it may be shown that Mr. Hamilton had taken the trouble personally to reconnoitre beforehand the ground in New England, whereby he became convinced that the scheme of an equal vote for Mr. Pinckney was not likely to succeed, and that immediately upon his return he avowed publication as a part of his design.1 That he did not persevere in this, was owing to the suggestions of his political friends rather than to his own inclination.

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As it was, the pamphlet appeared surreptitiously, whilst Mr. Adams was President, and when he could take no notice of it without materially compromising the dignity of his position. But after his term expired in March, 1801, it seems that he addressed himself to the labor of a reply, and prepared the materials which he designed to use. The reason why he did not perfect his design, is nowhere explained. Possibly it might have grown out of the condition of things consequent upon Mr. Jefferson’s accession to the Presidency, which furnished little chance for a favorable hearing in any quarter. Perhaps it may have been owing to the fall of Mr. Hamilton. A large portion of the federal party, which he had represented, was giving in its adhesion to Mr. Jefferson, whilst the rest was dwindling down to a fragment in the northern and eastern States, exclusively under the guidance of those individuals with whom he had come to a rupture, in sentiment if not in action, during his own administration. The new policy these persons were pursuing was one with which he could as little sympathize as with the old one. Yet he preserved total silence until attacks were revived upon him, and upon his son John Quincy Adams, on account of opinions expressed upon later questions. It happened that in 1809, an extract from the Baltimore Federal Republican, met his eye, in which, among other things, the old charges were repeated against him for instituting the mission of 1799 to France, the gravest article in the pamphlet of Mr. Hamilton; and this led to an extended publication of documents and reasonings in the columns of the Boston Patriot, touching a large part of his public career, but a portion of which is to be found collected in the volume, entitled “Correspondence of the late President Adams,” published in Boston the same year.

For reasons already given, it has been deemed unadvisable to reprint these materials as they appear in the Patriot. Two separate extracts, complete in themselves, are now given. The first is confined to Mr. Adams’s defence of himself against Mr. Hamilton’s attack. This step is made necessary by the republication of that pamphlet in the works of that gentleman. It is proper to state that, although written in 1809, the substantial facts were drawn from the fragments prepared in 1801. This is to be kept in mind, the more because Mr. Gibbs, in his late work, has endeavored to do, what none of the persons alluded to ever attempted in their lifetime,—dispute the accuracy of the narrative, as if composed merely from the impaired recollection of a later period.

It is true that, in a few particulars, incidental additions are made, which show haste in the preparation of the later production, as well as inattention to the exact order of the details; but these errors will not be found to affect the force of the facts, or of the argument, in any essential point. Whatever they are, it is believed they are all mentioned and corrected in the notes. Such portions of the materials prepared in 1801, as are deemed useful to compare with the text, are also appended, together with references to any passages elsewhere in this work, and in other works, that appear to furnish light upon this obscure and disputed portion of American history. An endeavor has been made to strip the consideration of the questions involved of all the acrimony that originally attached to them, and to confine the comments as much as possible to a simple elucidation of the facts.

The second extract embraces an examination of a question of a different nature, and connected with a later period of American politics.

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TO THE PRINTERS OF THE BOSTON PATRIOT.

LETTER I.

I was glad to see in your paper of the 7th of this month the extract from the Baltimore Federal Republican, for many reasons, which may be explained in due time. One or two may be stated now.

1. I was pleased with the candid acknowledgment, that “Mr. Adams never was a favorite with the leading men of the federal party.” The words leading men will require some explanation, and some limitations and restrictions which may hereafter appear. But, in general, this is a truth which I have known for twenty years, though it has never been publicly avowed, to my knowledge, till now.

2. I am happy to see, what I consider as an acknowledgment, that my unpardonable sin against the federal party, or rather against those leading men, was the peace with France in 1800—an event which has given this country eight years of its most splendid prosperity. The writer mentions the mission to France in 1799, as a measure which brought odium and ridicule on my administration. If you will allow me a little room in your Patriot, I may hereafter produce proofs to the satisfaction of the public, that this measure was neither odious nor ridiculous. At this time I will only send you a communication from General Washington, by which it will appear that the subject was not seen by that great ornament of his country in the same light in which this writer sees it.1

. . . . . . . . . .

The letter from Mr. Barlow, inclosed in General Washington’s, is in these words.2

. . . . . . . . . .

Neither Mr. Barlow’s letter nor General Washington’s opinion would have influenced me to nominate a minister, if I had not received abundant assurances to the same effect from regular Edition: current; Page: [242] diplomatic sources.1 I, however, considered General Washington’s question, whether Mr. Barlow’s was written with a very good or a very bad design; and as, with all my jealousy, I had not sagacity enough to discover the smallest room for suspicion of any ill design, I frankly concluded that it was written with a very good one.

From General Washington’s letter it appears, 1st. That it was his opinion that the restoration of peace upon just, honorable, and dignified terms was the ardent desire of all the friends of this rising empire. 2d. That he thought negotiation might be brought on upon open, fair, and honorable ground. 3d. That he was so desirous of peace, that he was willing to enter into correspondence with Mr. Barlow, a private gentleman, without any visible credentials or public character, or responsibility to either government, in order to bring on a public negotiation. General Washington, therefore, could not consider the negotiation odious.

II.

The institution of an embassy to France, in 1799, was made upon principle, and in conformity to a system of foreign affairs, formed upon long deliberation, established in my mind, and amply opened, explained, and supported in Congress,—that is, a system of eternal neutrality, if possible, in all the wars of Europe,—at least eighteen years before President Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality, in 1794. For the truth of the antiquity of this system, I appeal to Judge Chase, who made the first motion in Congress for entering into foreign relations. This motion was made in concert with me, and was seconded by me. If I am incorrect in any circumstance, that gentleman can set me right. And here I feel a pride in acknowledging that perhaps no two members of Congress were at that time upon more intimate terms. We flickered, disputed, and wrangled in public and private, but always with a species of good humor that never was suffered to diminish the confidence, esteem, or affection of either in the other. I have long wished for a fair opportunity of transmitting to posterity my humble testimony Edition: current; Page: [243] to the virtues and talents of that able and upright magistrate and statesman.

Our system was, to form treaties of commerce with France, Spain, Holland, and all the other nations of Europe, even with England herself, upon a footing of entire equality; but by no means to form any political or military connections with any power in Europe, or engage in any hostilities against any, unless driven to them by necessity to support our independence and honor, or our just and necessary interests. In what manner and by whose means this plan has ever been abandoned in any degree, I could detail from step to step, but it would require a volume, and is not necessary here. It has never been forgotten by me; but the rectitude and wisdom of it has been confirmed by every year’s and day’s experience from 1776 to 1799, and indeed to 1809.

This introduction will be called pompous, no doubt, and it will be thought an astonishing instance of the bathos to descend from Judge Chase to Mr. Logan; but my plan requires it.

With this system clear in my head, and deeply impressed upon my heart, it was with the utmost reluctance that I found myself under a necessity, in 1798, of having recourse to hostilities against France. But the conduct of that government had been so unjust, arbitrary, and insolent, as to become intolerable. I therefore animated this nation to war, determined, however, to listen to every proposal, and embrace the first opportunity to restore peace, whenever it could be done consistently with the honor and interest of the country. In this spirit I gave all due attention and consideration to General Washington’s and Mr. Barlow’s letters; nor was I wholly inattentive to a multitude of other circumstances, some of which shall be mentioned.

Perhaps at no period of our connection with France has there ever been such a flood of private letters from that country to this as in the winter of 1798 and 1799. The contents of many of them were directly or indirectly communicated to me. They were all in a similar strain with that of Mr. Barlow, that the French government had changed their ground, and were sincerely disposed to negotiation and accommodation. I will instance only two. Mr. Codman, of Boston, wrote largely and explicitly to his friends to the same purpose; and his worthy brother, the late Mr. John Codman, of Boston, not only communicated to Edition: current; Page: [244] me the substance of his brother’s letters, but thanked me, in warm terms, for opening a negotiation; and added, that every true friend of this country, who was not poisoned with party spirit, would thank me for it and support me in it. Mr. Nathaniel Cutting, a consul in France under President Washington’s appointment, and a sensible man, wrote almost as largely as Mr. Barlow, and to the same effect.

I shall conclude this letter with another anecdote. Mr. Logan, of Philadelphia, a gentleman of fortune and education, and certainly not destitute of abilities, who had for several years been a member of the legislature of Pennsylvania, and has since been a senator of the United States, though I knew he had been one of the old constitutional party in that State, and a zealous disciple of that democratical school, which has propagated many errors in America, and, perhaps, many tragical catastrophes in Europe, went to France, either with the pretext or the real design of improving his knowledge in agriculture, and seeing the practice of it in that country. I had no reason to believe him a corrupt character, or deficient in memory or veracity. After his return he called upon me, and in a polite and respectful manner informed me that he had been honored with conversations with Talleyrand, who had been well acquainted with me, and repeatedly entertained at my house, and now visited me at his request to express to me the desire of the Directory as well as his own, to accommodate all disputes with America, and to forget all that was past; to request me to send a minister from America, or to give credentials to some one already in Europe, to treat; and to assure me that my minister should be received, and all disputes accommodated, in a manner that would be satisfactory to me and my country. I knew the magical words, Democrat and Jacobin, were enough to destroy the credibility of any witness with some people. But not so with me. I saw marks of candor and sincerity in this relation, that convinced me of its truth.

But the testimonies of Mr. Codman, Mr. Cutting, Mr. Barlow, and Mr. Logan, and all other private communications, though they might convince my own mind, would have had no influence to dispose me to nominate a minister, if I had not received authentic, regular, official, diplomatic assurances, which may be sent you in another letter.

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III.

From Mr. Murray, the American minister at the Hague, who had been appointed by President Washington, I received assurances from the French government similar to those in Mr. Barlow’s letter and so many others. They were conveyed from the French Directory to Mr. Pichon, secretary of the legation and chargé des affaires of the French republic near the Batavian republic, in the absence of the French ambassador, by him officially communicated to Mr. Murray, and by him to the Executive of the United States. The communication was in these words.1

. . . . . . . . . .

This letter was transmitted by Mr. Murray to the American government, and I own I am not acquainted with any words, either in the French or English language, which could have expressed in a more solemn, a more explicit, or a more decided manner, assurances of all that I had demanded as conditions of negotiation. How could I get rid of it with honor, or even without infamy? If ever there was a regular diplomatic communication, this was one. The diplomatic organs were all perfect and complete. Mr. Pichon was well known at Philadelphia, where he had resided some years in a public employment in the family of the French ambassador, as a respectable man and a man of letters. He was now secretary of legation, held a commission from his sovereign as much as a minister plenipotentiary; and every secretary of legation in the absence of his principal minister, is, of course, chargé des affaires; and the acts of a chargé des affaires are as official, as legal, and authentic, as those of an ambassador extraordinary.

In what other manner could Mr. Talleyrand have transmitted the assurances demanded? He had communicated them to Mr. Gerry, but was desirous of sending them by another way, that he might increase the chances of their arrival. At war with England, he could not send them to Mr. King. If he had sent them to Madrid, to Colonel Humphreys, there was no probability of their arriving in America so soon as through Holland. Edition: current; Page: [246] If he had sent them to Berlin, to Mr. Adams, the course would have been still more circuitous, and the probability much greater of long delay and uncertain arrival. If he had sent them to Mr. Smith, at Lisbon, there would have been the same difficulties. Of all the diplomatic organs, therefore, in Europe, he chose the best, the shortest, the safest, and the most certain.

Mr. Gerry’s letter to the Secretary of State, dated Nantasket Road, October the 1st, 1798, confirmed these assurances beyond all doubt, in my mind, and his conversations with me at my own house, in Quincy, if any thing further had been wanting, would have corroborated the whole. As I have not a copy of that gentleman’s letter, if he should chance to read this paper, I ask the favor of him to publish copies of his letter and of Mr. Talleyrand’s letters to him, and, if he pleases, to repeat the assurances he gave me in conversation.1 This gentleman’s merit in this transaction was very great. It has been treated like all his other sacrifices, services, and sufferings in the cause of his country.

If, with all this information, I had refused to institute a negotiation, or had not persevered in it after it was instituted, I should have been degraded in my own estimation as a man of honor; I should have disgraced the nation I represented, in their own opinion and in the judgment of all Europe.

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IV.

When I had received that authentic act of the sovereign authority of France, a copy of which is inserted in my last letter to you, communicated by their Secretary of State, through their secretary of legation and chargé des affaires, and our minister at the Hague, fully complying with all my requisitions, upon mature deliberation I determined to nominate a minister to France. Some of the communications from France had been accompanied with intimations concerning the characters proper to be employed, which I thought exceptionable, and that they might be made a pretext for again rejecting a minister. I considered, moreover, that France was an undulating ocean in a violent storm; party had exterminated party, and constitution had succeeded constitution, as billow rolls and roars, froths and foams after billow in the Gulf Stream. I knew that in the nature of things an executive authority in five persons could not last long in France or anywhere else; and we were already informed that the Directory was divided into parties, three against two, and that the majority in the legislative assembly adhered to the two, and the minority to the three. A revolution then was to be expected, and the new government might not feel themselves bound by the assurances given by their predecessors. To avoid the possibility of these inconveniences, I provided as cautiously and effectually against them as I could, in my message to the Senate, which never has been published. If this message had been made public, with its contents—the public despatch from France—I have confidence enough in the candor of the nation to believe that it would have obviated many a silly and many a malicious criticism. It was in these words.1

. . . . . . . . . .

In this manner effectual provision was made against any and every possible insidious use of the insinuations concerning characters proper to be employed, and who would be likely to succeed. In this manner, also, provision was made against the possible, and indeed highly probable and fully expected revolution, in the French government. Mr. Murray was not to advance Edition: current; Page: [248] a step towards Paris from the Hague, until after he should have received from the French government, whatever it might be, a repetition of assurances, officially communicated, that he in person should be received.

When this message was received in the Senate, it was postponed, as the greatest part of the executive business usually was, for consideration.1 A great clamor was raised among the members of the House of Representatives, and out of doors, and an abundance of squibs, scoffs, and sarcasms, in what were then called the federal newspapers, particularly Cobbett’s Porcupine and John Ward Fenno’s United States Gazette. And by whom were these written? As I was informed, by Macdonald, the Scottish British commissioner for adjusting the claims of British creditors, and by William Smith, the British agent for claimants before that board of commissioners, of whom Macdonald was one. There were other writers besides these; but I will not condescend to name any others at present. It was given out that John Ward Fenno was the writer of the most important of them, and he was represented as a masterly writer, possessed of a most eloquent pen. But the pen was not his.

This was not all. Something much more serious to me soon took place. A committee of the Senate called upon me, whether appointed on record or whether by private concert, I know not. I was distressed, because I thought the procedure unconstitutional. However, I was determined that not one disrespectful word should escape me concerning the Senate or any member of it, and to that resolution I carefully adhered; and in relating the conference with those honorable gentlemen, which shall appear in my next letter, the same decorum shall be observed.

V.

The gentlemen of the Senate informed me, that they came to confer with me on the subject of the nomination of Mr. Murray to France; that there was a considerable dissatisfaction with it, and they desired to know for what reasons I had preferred Edition: current; Page: [249] Mr. Murray to so many others abroad and at home. My answer to the gentlemen was, that I thought Mr. Murray a gentleman of talents, address, and literature, as well as of great worth and honor, every way well qualified for the service, and fully adequate to all that I should require of him, which would be a strict compliance with his instructions, which I should take care to provide for him, on all points, in terms that he could not misunderstand. That my motives for nominating him in preference to others, were simply because the invitation from the French government had been transmitted through him, and because he was so near to Paris that he might be there in three or four days, and because his appointment would cause a very trifling additional expense.

They then inquired, why I had not nominated Mr. King. I answered that, if Mr. King had been in Holland, I certainly should not have thought of any other character. But he was our ambassador in England, then at war with France, and it would be considered by France as an insult to send them an ambassador, who, as soon as he had accomplished his business, was to return to England and carry with him all the information he might have collected in Paris. That the French government would suspect me of a design to send them a spy for the Court of St. James. That I presumed Mr. King at that time would not be pleased to be removed from England to France for perpetuity or permanence. Besides, that the difficulty of communication between England and France would necessarily occasion an indefinite delay in procuring the necessary passports, and that much depended upon the promptitude and despatch with which the negotiation should be conducted.

The gentlemen asked, why I had not nominated our minister plenipotentiary at Berlin. Neither the remarks with which they accompanied this question, nor the reasons which I gave them in answer, need to be detailed to the public.

I added, “Gentlemen, I maturely considered all these things before I nominated Mr. Murray; and I considered another gentleman, whom you have not mentioned, Mr. Humphreys, at Madrid; but the same objections of distance and delay account in his case as well as that of Mr. Adams.” The gentlemen all agreed that there would have been no advantage in nominating him, more than Mr. Murray.

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The gentlemen then inquired, why I had not nominated a commission of three or five, in preference to a single gentleman. The answer was, that I had had a long experience of ten years in this kind of business, had often acted in commissions with various other gentlemen, and I had three times been commissioned alone; that I had found in general that business could be better done by one than by many, in much less time and with much less perplexity; that the business to be done by Mr. Murray would be nothing more than obedience to his instructions, and that would be performed as well by one as by three; that the delay must be great in sending gentlemen from America, and the expense greatly augmented; that very much depended upon the celerity of the enterprise.

The gentlemen thought that a commission would be more satisfactory to the Senate and to the public. I said, although this was not perfectly consonant to my own opinion, I could in such a case easily give up my own to the public; and if they advised it, I would send another message, and nominate a commission of three; but Mr. Murray would be one, for after having brought his name before the public, I never would disgrace him by leaving him out. The gentlemen acquiesced, and one of them, whom I took to be their chairman, was pleased to say, “after this very enlightened explanation of the whole business, I am perfectly satisfied.”1 The others appeared to acquiesce, and took their leave. The next morning I sent another message, which shall appear in my next letter.

V.

The message mentioned in my last letter was in these words.2

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To these nominations the Senate advised and consented, and commissions were prepared. My friend, Mr. Henry, declined on account of his age, and Governor Davie, of North Carolina, was appointed in his place. During all this transaction, no motion was made in the Senate to pass a resolution that a mission to France was inexpedient. With the despatches from Talleyrand before his eyes, I believe no member of the Senate would have been willing to record his name in favor of such a resolution, among the yeas and nays. The deputation of senators made no remonstrances to me against the mission, or the diplomatic communications on which it was founded, but only against the missionary, Mr. Murray.1

I sent an invitation to the heads of departments to assemble in my chamber, to consult upon the instructions to be given to our envoys. They all met me accordingly, and, in several long evenings,2 entered into a very serious and deliberate discussion of every article that was to be demanded and insisted on in the proposed treaty. They were all unanimously agreed upon to my entire satisfaction, and reduced to writing. I committed them to the Secretary of State to be reduced into proper form, to have a fair copy made and transmitted to me for revision, correction, or signature, as there might be occasion.

The yellow fever was expected, and we were all obliged to fly for our lives: myself and all my family to Quincy, and the heads of departments, with the public offices, to Trenton.3

I had repeatedly endeavored to impress upon the mind of the Secretary of State the necessity of transmitting to me as soon as possible his draught of the instructions, that they might be finished and signed, and every thing prepared for the departure of the envoys. I waited with much concern, expecting from day to day to receive the instructions; but no instructions Edition: current; Page: [252] appeared. At length, instead of them I received a letter signed by all five of the heads of departments, earnestly entreating me to suspend the mission!1

I was astonished at this unexpected, this obstinate and persevering opposition to a measure that appeared so clearly to me to be so essential to the peace and prosperity of the nation, and the honor of the government, at home and abroad. I was not a little surprised at the unanimity of the heads of departments, for two of them had always appeared moderate and candid in relation to this mission. My instantaneous determination was to go to Trenton, meet the gentlemen face to face, to confer with them coolly on the subject, and convince them, or be convinced by them, if I could. On my way, I called upon Chief Justice Ellsworth, at his seat in Windsor, and had a conversation of perhaps two hours2 with him. He was perfectly candid. Whatever should be the determination, he was ready at an hour’s warning to comply. If it was thought best to embark immediately, he was ready. If it was judged more expedient to postpone it for a little time, though that might subject him to a winter voyage, that danger had no weight with him. If it was concluded to defer it till the spring, he was willing to wait. In this disposition I took leave of him. He gave me no intimation that he had any thought of a journey to Trenton.3 I lodged at Hartford, not yet purified of the yellow fever, and there I caught something very like it, or at least almost as bad, a most violent cold, attended with a constant fever, which rendered me for six weeks more fit for a chamber and bed of sickness than for uncomfortable journeys, or much labor of the head or hands. However, I would not consent to be retarded on my journey, Edition: current; Page: [253] and reacned Trenton, where Mr. Hamilton had arrived a few hours before me. Governor Davie had been there some time. Ill as I was, I sent for the heads of departments. Four of them were there. The Attorney-General was gone to Virginia. Many days1 were employed in conferences with them, sometimes at my own apartments, and sometimes at their offices.

The inhabitants of Trenton had been wrought up to a pitch of political enthusiasm that surprised me. The universal opinion appeared to be, that the first arrivals from Europe would bring the glorious news that Louis the XVIII. was restored to the throne of France, and reigning triumphantly at Versailles. Suwarrow, at the head of his victorious Russian army, was to have marched from Italy to Paris on one side, and Prince Charles, at the head of an Austrian army, was to have marched from Germany to Paris on the other, and detachments from both armies were to march down to Havre to receive the king, who was to be brought over by a British fleet and escorted with flying colors to Versailles. I could scarcely believe my own senses, when I heard such reveries. Yet the heads of departments appeared to believe them, and urge them as decisive arguments for suspending the embarkation of our envoys till the spring. In vain did I urge the immense distances the two imperial armies had to march, the great number of towns and cities in the route of both, in positions chosen with great skill, fortified with exquisite art, defended by vast trains of heavy ordnance, garrisoned by numerous troops of soldiers perfectly disciplined, and animated with all the obstinacy and ardor of the revolutionary spirit. In vain did I allege the military maxim, which would certainly govern both Prince Charles and Suwarrow, that is, never to leave a fortified city in the rear of your army, in possession of your enemy; that the siege of one town would consume the whole season; that neither the Russians nor Austrians were, probably, provided with the mortars and heavy cannon necessary for sieges. Nothing would do—Louis XVIII. must be upon the throne of France. “Well, suppose he is, what harm will there be in embarking our envoys? They will congratulate his Majesty, and if his Majesty cannot receive them under their credentials to the French republic, he Edition: current; Page: [254] will be glad to see them in his kingdom, and assure them of his royal protection till they can write home for fresh commissions, and such shall be ready for them at a minute’s warning.” In vain did I urge the entire change of property in France, and the necessity the present possessors were under to defend themselves at every sacrifice and every risk. Mr. Ellsworth had arrived in two or three days after me. I invited him and Governor Davie to dine with me alone, that we might converse with entire freedom. At table, Mr. Ellsworth expressed an opinion somewhat similar to that of the heads of departments and the public opinion at Trenton. “Is it possible, Chief Justice,” said I, “that you can seriously believe that the Bourbons are, or will be soon, restored to the throne of France?” “Why,” said Mr. Ellsworth, smiling, “it looks a good deal so.” “I should not be afraid to stake my life upon it, that they will not be restored in seven years, if they ever are,” was my reply. And then I entered into a long detail of my reasons for this opinion. They would be too tedious to enumerate here, and time has superseded the necessity of them.

The result of the conversation was, that Mr. Davie was decidedly for embarking immediately, as he always had been from his first arrival, and Mr. Ellsworth declared himself satisfied, and willing to embark as soon as I pleased.1

Mr. Hamilton, who had been some time in town, and had visited me several times, came at last to remonstrate against the mission to France. I received him with great civility, as I always had done from my first knowledge of him. I was fortunately in a very happy temper, and very good humor. He went over the whole ground of the victories of Suwarrow and Prince Charles, and the inflexible determination of the two imperial courts, in concert with Great Britain, to restore the house of Bourbon to their kingdom. That there was no doubt the enterprise was already accomplished, or at least would be, before the end of the campaign. That Mr. Pitt was determined to restore the Bourbons. That the confidence of the nation in Edition: current; Page: [255] Mr. Pitt was unbounded. That the nation was never so united and determined to support Mr. Pitt and his resolution to restore the monarchy of France. His eloquence and vehemence wrought the little man up to a degree of heat and effervescence like that which General Knox used to describe of his conduct in the battle of Monmouth, and which General Lee used to call his paroxysms of bravery, but which he said would never be of any service to his country. I answered him in general, as I had answered the heads of departments and Judge Ellsworth, but to no purpose. He repeated over and over again the unalterable resolution of Mr. Pitt and the two imperial courts, the invincible heroism of Suwarrow and Prince Charles, and the unbounded confidence of the British empire in Mr. Pitt, with such agitation and violent action that I really pitied him, instead of being displeased. I only added, that I differed with him in opinion on every point; and that instead of restoring the Bourbons, it would not be long before England would make peace. I treated him throughout with great mildness and civility; but, after he took leave, I could not help reflecting in my own mind on the total ignorance he had betrayed of every thing in Europe, in France, England, and elsewhere. Instead of that unbounded confidence in Mr. Pitt, I knew that the nation had been long working up almost to a ripeness for rebellion against Mr. Pitt, for continuing the war. Accordingly, it was not long before Mr. Pitt was obliged to resign, peace at Amiens was made, and Napoleon acknowledged. Mr. Hamilton, in his most famous pamphlet, has hinted at this conversation, and squinted at my simplicity for expecting peace.

Under the whole, I directed the instructions to be prepared, the heads of departments were assembled, and the instructions deliberately considered, paragraph by paragraph, and unanimously approved by me and by them. Indeed, there had never been any difference of opinion among us on any article of the instructions.1

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The instructions were presented to the envoys, and they were requested to embark in the United States frigate as soon as possible. For some cause or other in the state of the ship, they landed in Spain, and went by land from Corunna to Paris, on the same route which Mr. Dana and I had travelled twenty years before, that is, in 1780. Before their arrival, a revolution had occurred, and the consular government succeeded the Directory.

Had Mr. Murray’s nomination been approved, he would probably have finished the business long before, and obtained compensation for all spoliations.

In my next letter you will have the evidence of the compliance of the French government with the conditions and requisitions in my message to the Senate, nominating Mr. Murray and others, ministers and envoys to France.

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VII.

On the 6th of March, a letter was written by the Secretary of State by my order, in the following words, to Mr. Murray:

Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy
6 March, 1799
Philadelphia

No. 22.

Sir,

“I inclose a commission constituting you, in conjunction with the Chief Justice Ellsworth and Patrick Henry, Esq., of Virginia, envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary to the French republic. By the President’s direction, I inclose for your information copies of his messages to the Senate, of the 18th and 25th of March” (it should have been the 18th and 25th of February), “by the latter of which you will see the motives inducing the nomination of a commission for the purpose of negotiating with France, instead of resting the business wholly with you. This will, doubtless, be agreeable, by relieving you from the weight of a sole responsibility in an affair of such magnitude.

It is the President’s desire, that you, by letter to the French minister of foreign relations, inform him, “that Oliver Ellsworth, Chief Justice of the United States, Patrick Henry, late Governor of Virginia, and yourself, are appointed envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary of the United States to the French republic, with full powers to discuss and settle by a treaty all controversies between the United States and France.” But, “that the two former will not embark for Europe until they shall have received from the Executive Directory direct and unequivocal assurances, signified by their secretary of foreign relations, that the envoys shall be received in character, to an audience of the Directory, and that they shall enjoy all the prerogatives attached to that character by the law of nations, and that a minister or ministers of equal powers shall be appointed and commissioned to treat with them.”

The answer you shall receive to your letter, you will be pleased to transmit to this office.

You will also be pleased to understand it to be the President’s opinion, that no more indirect and inofficial communications, written or verbal, should be held with any persons whatever, agents on behalf of France, on the subjects of difference between the United States and the French republic. If the French Edition: current; Page: [258] government really desire a settlement of the existing differences, it must take the course pointed out, unless the Executive Directory should prefer sending a minister plenipotentiary to the United States.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, Sir, your obedient servant.”

Timothy Pickering.

Mr. Murray obeyed these instructions by a letter in these words:—

William Vans Murray
Vans Murray, William
5 May, 1799
The Hague
Charles Maurice Talleyrand
Talleyrand, Charles Maurice

W. V. MURRAY TO C. M. TALLEYRAND.

Citizen Minister,

It is with the greatest pleasure that I hasten to fulfil the instructions, which I have just had the honor to receive from the government of the United States of America, by informing you that the President has appointed Oliver Ellsworth, Chief Justice of the United States, Patrick Henry, late Governor of Virginia, and William Vans Murray, minister resident of the United States at the Hague, to be envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary of the United States to the French republic, with full powers to discuss and settle by a treaty all controversies between the United States and France; but that the two former, Mr. Ellsworth and Mr. Henry, will not embark for Europe until they shall have received from the Executive Directory direct and unequivocal assurances, signified by their minister of foreign relations, that the envoys shall be received in character to an audience of the Directory, and that they shall enjoy all the prerogatives attached to that character by the law of nations, and that a minister or ministers of equal powers shall be appointed and commissioned to treat with them.

I request you, Citizen Minister, to lay this subject before your government, and as the distance is so great and the obstacles so numerous in an Atlantic voyage, that you will favor me, as speedily as possible, with the answer which is to lead to such happy and important consequences.

Accept, Citizen Minister, the assurances of my perfect high esteem.

W. V. Murray.
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When Mr. Murray received the answer of the French minister, he inclosed it, with the following letter from himself, to the Secretary of State:—

William Vans Murray
Vans Murray, William
7 May, 1799
The Hague

No. 75.

Dear Sir,

On the 4th instant, late in the evening, I had the honor to receive your No. 22, containing the commission of envoys.

On the 5th, I addressed, precisely agreeably to your instructions, as I conceived, the inclosed letter to Mr. Talleyrand, the minister of exterior relations. You will perceive, Sir, that I did not think myself at liberty to go, not only not out of the commas, but beyond them. In one word alone I deviated, in the word minister, instead of Secretary of foreign relations. No direct nor indirect and inofficial communications, written or verbal, will be held by me with the French agents on American affairs.

I accept the appointment which it has pleased the President to clothe me with, under a grateful sense of the high honor conferred upon me, so unexpectedly, by this mark of his confidence. I may be allowed to say, that though I was deeply sensible of the honor conferred by the first nomination, and shall always, I hope, retain a most grateful recollection of it, yet, Sir, the new modification of that nomination gave me great pleasure, always conceiving, as I thought I did, that any negotiation with France would be full of anxieties and political perils to the envoys that should be employed by our government. I had no wishes to be engaged in it, and no expectation that I should be. To have a share in it, was by me unsought. You will excuse this declaration, because I was instrumental in certain preliminary steps relative to the advances of France, which produced the basis of the appointment.

I sent the original of the inclosed to Mr. Talleyrand by post; another, a copy, to Major Mountflorence, to be handed to him; a third to a Mr. Griffith for Major M. in case the other failed, to be opened by Mr. G., if Major M. should have been out of Paris, and directed Mr. G. to follow the instructions which he would find in the letter to Major M., which were, to deliver the inclosed to Mr. Talleyrand, and take his letter in answer for me, and send it to me.

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As soon as I have the answer of the Directory, I shall have the honor of transmitting copies to you, Sir, by different ways.

I am, with the greatest respect and sincere esteem, dear Sir, faithfully your most obedient servant.

W. V. Murray.
Charles Maurice Talleyrand
Talleyrand, Charles Maurice
12 May, 1799
Paris
William Vans Murray
Vans Murray, William

THE MINISTER OF EXTERIOR RELATIONS TO W. VANS MURRAY.
(Translation.)

I augur too well, Sir, from the eagerness you display in fulfilling the instructions of your government, not to hasten to answer the letter I receive from you, dated the 16th of this month.

The Executive Directory being informed of the nomination of Mr. Oliver Ellsworth, of Mr. Patrick Henry, and of yourself, as envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary of the United States to the French republic, to discuss and terminate all differences which subsist between the two countries, sees with pleasure that its perseverance in pacific sentiments has kept open the way to an approaching reconciliation. It has a long time ago manifested its intentions with respect to this subject. Be pleased to transmit to your colleagues and accept yourself the frank and explicit assurance that it will receive the envoys of the United States in the official character with which they are invested, that they shall enjoy all the prerogatives which are attached to them by the law of nations, and that one or more ministers shall be authorized to treat with them.

It was certainly unnecessary to suffer so many months to elapse for the mere confirmation of what I have already declared to Mr. Gerry, and which, after his departure, I caused to be declared to you at the Hague. I sincerely regret that your two colleagues await this answer at such a distance. As to you, Sir, whom it will reach in a few days, and who understand so well the value of time, when the restoration of harmony between two republics, whom every thing invites to friendship, is in question, be assured that as soon as you can take in hand the object Edition: current; Page: [261] of your mission, I shall have the honor immediately to send you passports.

Accept, Sir, the assurances of my very sincere consideration.

Ch. Mau. Talleyrand.

The foregoing documents were not published till they were communicated to Congress, with my message of December 5th, 1799. The messages to the Senate, nominating the minister and the envoys, were never published till now, as I remember. I may be, however, mistaken. These papers were not published till the mischief was done that they might have prevented, and innumerable prejudices and errors propagated all over the nation.

I have omitted two facts, which ought to have been inserted in a former letter:

1. One is, that one of the heads of departments1 at Trenton was more diffident than the rest. He said he was far from being sanguine. He had signed the letter to me, urging a post-ponement of the mission, because he did not like to be singular; but he wished me to decide the question according to my own judgment and sentiments. He also showed me a letter from the Attorney-General in Virginia,2 saying that the people expected that the envoys should proceed, and would be disappointed if they did not.

2. Another fact is, that I transiently asked one of the heads of departments, whether Ellsworth and Hamilton came all the way from Windsor and Newark to Trenton, to convince me that I ought to suspend the mission.

VIII.

At first I intended to encumber your paper with no documents but such as were absolutely necessary for my own vindication. But as the peace with France in 1800, was not only an event of great importance in itself, but produced demonstrations of the prejudices, passions, views, designs, and systems of parties, more, perhaps, than any other, I hope you will allow Edition: current; Page: [262] me room for such other papers as may serve to throw light upon this subject. At present it may not be very interesting; but the cause of truth and justice may hereafter be promoted by having the facts and evidences laid together in a series. The future policy of the nation will not be injured by it.

Besides the communications already published from the sovereign of the French nation, through their minister of foreign relations, their diplomatic organ at the Hague, and our minister there, another was communicated through the same channels in these words:—

Charles Maurice Talleyrand
Talleyrand, Charles Maurice
28 August, 1798
Paris
M. Pichon
Pichon, M.

C. M. TALLEYRAND TO M. PICHON.

(Translation.)

I see with pleasure, citizen, that the intercourse of society has procured you some political conversations with Mr. Murray. I entertain an esteem for that minister. Like all the men at the head of the affairs of the United States, he has received the impressions which the British cabinet has known how to give against us. He thinks the measures of his government just, and supports them; but he possesses reason, understanding, and a true attachment to his country. He is neither French nor English; he is ingenuously an American. I am not at all surprised that he has appeared to you to wish sincerely for the reconciliation of the two republics. I will, therefore, cheerfully answer the questions you put to me on different points, which appeared to you not to be well established in his mind. I do not see between France and the United States any clashing of interest, any cause of jealousy. The Americans wish to be fishermen, sailors, manufacturers, and especially husbandmen. In all these points of view their success is more at the expense of England than us. Why should we be uneasy about them? They aspire to the consolidation of their national existence, and it is to our purpose that they should succeed. In fact, we should have decided upon very superficial views, to sustain their independence, if the matter was to separate them from England merely to leave them finally insulated among themselves, on an extensive sea-coast, weak, rivalling, and impoverished by each other, and torn by foreign intrigues. We Edition: current; Page: [263] know that Great Britain would soon have put together, piece by piece, those scattered shreds, and we should have done nothing useful for ourselves, if so miserable a chance of it were not daily rendered more remote.

What, therefore, is the cause of the misunderstanding which, if France did not manifest herself more wise, would henceforth induce a violent rupture between the two republics? Neither incompatible interests nor projects of aggrandizement divide them. After all, distrust alone has done the whole. The government of the United States has thought that France wanted to revolutionize it. France has thought that the government of the United States wanted to throw itself into the arms of England. It does not require much skill to divine which is the cabinet interested in the two events producing each other, and which invisibly puts in motion all the expedients calculated to make them take effect. Let us open our eyes on both sides. I am disposed to admit that the conduct of the government of the United States may be explained by other causes than those heretofore presumed. But let it on its part understand that the French government, wounded as it may be, is too wise to entertain the views of disturbance, which the other supposes. It concerns a republic, founded on the system of representation, to support and not to weaken similar establishments. The stability of this system abroad is a necessary example at home. France, in fine, has a double motive as a nation and as a republic, not to expose to any hazard the present existence of the United States. Therefore it never thought of making war against them, nor exciting civil commotions among them; and every contrary supposition is an insult to common sense.

These fundamental principles being established, it is natural to ask by what fatality a good understanding was not long since restored. It was because irritation being mingled with distrust neither party yielded to real conciliatory inclinations. In the United States it was supposed that the French government was temporizing, in order to strike the blow with greater certainty, whence resulted a crowd of measures more and more aggravating. In France it was supposed that the government of the United States wished only the appearances of a negotiation, whence resulted a certain demand for pledges of good faith.

Let us substitute calmness for passion, confidence for suspicions, Edition: current; Page: [264] and we shall soon agree. I used my endeavors to enter upon a negotiation in this spirit with Mr. Gerry. My correspondence with him until the day of his departure is a curious monument of advances on my part, and of evasions on his. It is wrong to think that I confined myself to vague protestations. Among that series of official letters, which will doubtless be published at Philadelphia, I select one of the 30th Prairial, wherein you will see that I make very positive propositions, without any mixture of preliminary conditions. This letter was followed by three notes upon the articles to be discussed, and I intended to complete the others in this manner, if Mr. Gerry had not refused to answer thereto.

When it became necessary to abandon the idea of treating with that envoy, who thought it important only to know how a negotiation might thereafter be resumed, I gave him the most solemn assurances concerning the reception that a new plenipotentiary would receive. It was far from my thoughts to insinuate that the President should send one from the United States, instead of investing with his powers some one who was in Europe; far less that the envoy should land directly in France, instead of announcing it in a neighboring country. I wished merely to say, that the Executive Directory was so decided for a reconciliation, that all tampering would be superfluous; that an act of confidence in it would excite its own. I should be very badly understood, if there should be found in my expressions a restriction on the nature of the choice which the President might make. I wished to encourage Mr. Gerry, by testimonies of regard that his good intentions merited. Although I could not dissemble that he wanted decision at a moment when he might have easily adjusted every thing, it does not thence follow that I designated him. I will even avow that I think him too irresolute to be fit to hasten the conclusion of an affair of this kind. The advantages that I prized in him are common to all Americans, who have not manifested a predilection for England. Can it be believed that a man who should profess a hatred or contempt of the French republic, or should manifest himself the advocate of royalty, can inspire the Directory with a favorable opinion of the dispositions of the government of the United States? I should have disguised the truth, if I had left this matter ambiguous. It is not wounding Edition: current; Page: [265] the independence of that government, to point out to a sincere friend of peace the shoals he ought to avoid.

As to the mediation of the Batavian republic and of Spain, I do not know that there is any serious question about it, and it appears to me absolutely useless. The United States might hesitate, in the present state of things, to refer themselves to their impartiality; and, besides, I see no subject which may not be arranged directly.

I know that the distance which separates France and the United States opens a vast field for incidents, and there have been but too many of them. But the Executive Directory is unshaken in the conduct which may best obviate them. The excess even of provocations has deadened their effect. The government of the United States surrounds itself with precautions against an imaginary attack. To stretch the hand to deluded friends, is what one republic owes to another, and I cannot doubt that the dignity of that attitude will convince the President of our pacific dispositions.

The two governments ought above all to be attentive to indirect attempts to alienate them still more. Their prudence will secure this object, and I shall cite but one example of it. You have told Mr. Murray the truth respecting Dr. Logan. But I perceive that on all hands it is attempted to produce a belief in America that we are negotiating with him. On the 7th of this month a very insidious paragraph was inserted in the “Bien Informé.” It is therein intimated, that, guided by the citizen Thomas Paine, Dr. Logan has made application to the Executive Directory in the character of secret agent. The Doctor has complained of it bitterly to me. He has no need of justifying himself concerning a matter, the falsity of which I know better than anybody; but he assured me that having once met Thomas Paine, at the house of a third person, he found him so prejudiced against the United States, and so opinionative with respect to an influence he neither possesses among them nor us, that he abstained from conversing any more with him. Moreover, to cut short all misunderstanding, I engaged Dr. Logan to postpone till another time the experiments he proposes to make on agriculture, and to return home. As to Mr. Hichborn, of Massachusetts, I was even ignorant till now that he was in Europe. A single word will suffice for the rest.

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We want nothing but justice on the part of the United States. We ask it, we offer it to their government. It may depend upon the candor of the Executive Directory.

You will not doubt, citizen, that I approve of the communication which your zeal has caused you to seek with Mr. Murray, since I enable you to resume it with official elucidations, &c., &c., &c.

Ch. Mau. Talleyrand.

This and all the other communications from the French minister, heretofore published in my letter to you, were produced by my message to Congress of the 21st of June, 1798, which was in these words:1

. . . . . .

IX.

Mr. Hamilton, in his famous pamphlet, says, “the conduct pursued bore sufficiently the marks of courage and elevation to raise the national character to an exalted height throughout Europe.

“Much is it to be deplored that we should have been precipitated from this proud eminence without necessity, without temptation.”

It is the habitual practice of our parties to affirm or deny, as they find it to their purpose, the honor or the disgrace that is produced in Europe by our measures. But neither party know any thing about the matter. The truth is, that our affairs are much less spoken or thought of in Europe than we imagine. In all parts of Europe, but especially in France and England, they are constantly misrepresented and misunderstood; most of all in England. I will venture to say, that Mr. Hamilton wrote entirely at random, and without a glimmering of genuine information, when he mentioned both the exaltation and precipitation of our national character. To appeal to the courtiers or cabinet, or to the diplomatic corps in Europe, would be idle, because none of them will ever read Hamilton’s pamphlet or Edition: current; Page: [267] these papers; but I would not hesitate to submit the whole subject to any of them. I shall take another course. Chief Justice Ellsworth is no more. I can no longer appeal to him. If I could, I would say no more than the truth, but it would be more than I shall now say; and I aver that his representation to me was the direct reverse of Hamilton’s dogmatical assertions. Governor Davie still lives, and to him I appeal with confidence. He declared to me that, to judge of the conduct of the American government, both in their naval and other preparations for war, and in their political and diplomatic negotiations upon that occasion, a man must go to Europe, where it was considered as the greatest demonstration of genius, firmness, and wisdom. If I represent the governor’s expressions in stronger terms than those he used, I request him to correct them.

In England, I know the Anti-Jacobin journal abused us, and so did Macdonald, Cobbett, Smith, and every Briton in Europe and America, who wished us at war with France and in alliance with England. But even in England all the sober part of the nation applauded us, and that to such a degree, that it soon became a popular cry, “We must imitate the United States of America, change our ministers, and make peace.” Accordingly, they did soon change their ministers, and make peace at Amiens.

Mr. Liston, whose character I respect, had run through a long course of diplomatic experience in various courts and countries in Europe, from a secretary of legation and chargé des affaires to the grade of minister plenipotentiary, and thence to that of ambassador at Constantinople, was probably a better judge than Mr. Hamilton, who had no experience at all in any diplomatic station, and who, I dare to say, had read very little on the subject of diplomatic functions, and still less of the history of embassies, or of the printed despatches of ambassadors. Mr. Liston, if anybody, knew what would procure honor to a nation or government, and what disgrace, what was triumph, and what humiliation.

Now I affirm, that the first time Mr. Liston saw me, after he had been informed of the communications of the French Directory through Talleyrand, Mr. Pichon, and Mr. Murray, he said to me these words: “To what humiliations will not these Frenchmen stoop to appease you? I am very sorry for it; I own, Edition: current; Page: [268] I did hope they would have gone to war with you.” I smiled, but made no answer. I wanted no proof of the sincerity of this declaration. I doubted not the sincerity of his wish more than I did that of Mr. Canning and his associates in the Anti-Jacobin, who, upon receiving the news of Mr. Murray’s nomination, proclaimed that jacobinism was triumphant and carrying all before it in America. They could not, or would not, distinguish between jacobinism and neutrality. Every thing with them was jacobinism, except a war with France and an alliance with Great Britain. They all panted for a war between the United States and France as sincerely, though not so ardently, as Alexander Hamilton.

There were not wanting insinuations and instigations to me to confer with Mr. Liston on the subject of an alliance with Great Britain. And Mr. Liston himself repeatedly suggested to me, in very modest and delicate terms, however, his readiness to enter into any explanations on that head. I always waved it with as easy a politeness as I could. But my system was determined, and had been so for more than twenty years; that is, to enter into no alliance with any power in Europe. In case of war with England, I would not enter into any alliance with France. In case of war with France, I would not form any alliance with England. We want no alliance; we are equal to all our own necessary wars.

  • Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis,
  • Tempus eget.

We might aid and be aided by a power at war with our enemy, and might concert operations from time to time; but I would make no engagement that should tie up our hands from making peace whenever we pleased. Had the war with France continued, I might have been drawn by the force of public opinion, or the influence of the legislature, into an alliance with England; but it would have been against my own judgment and inclination.

Let me conclude this letter with an anecdote. Dr. Franklin told me, that before his return to America from England, in 1775, he was in company, I believe at Lord Spencer’s, with a number of English noblemen, when the conversation turned upon fables, those of Æsop, La Fontaine, Gay, Moore, &c., &c. Some one of the company observed that he thought the subject Edition: current; Page: [269] was exhausted. He did not believe that any man could now find an animal, beast, bird, or fish, that he could work into a new fable with any success; and the whole company appeared to applaud the idea, except Franklin, who was silent. The gentleman insisted on his opinion. He said, with submission to their lordships, he believed the subject was inexhaustible, and that many new and instructive fables might be made out of such materials. Can you think of any one at present? If your lordship will furnish me a pen, ink, and paper, I believe I can furnish your lordship with one in a few minutes. The paper was brought, and he sat down and wrote:—

“Once upon a time, an eagle scaling round a farmer’s barn, and espying a hare, darted down upon him like a sunbeam, seized him in his claws, and remounted with him in the air. He soon found that he had a creature of more courage and strength than a hare, for which, notwithstanding the keenness of his eyesight, he had mistaken a cat. The snarling and scrambling of the prey was very inconvenient, and, what was worse, she had disengaged herself from his talons, grasped his body with her four limbs, so as to stop his breath, and seized fast hold of his throat with her teeth. Pray, said the eagle, let go your hold, and I will release you. Very fine, said the cat, I have no fancy to fall from this height and be crushed to death. You have taken me up, and you shall stoop and let me down. The eagle thought it necessary to stoop accordingly.”

The moral was so applicable to England and America, that the fable was allowed to be original, and highly applauded.

Let Hamilton say what he will, the French Directory found it convenient to stoop and set us down on our honest ground of neutrality and impartiality, as the English eagle did formerly, and now does a second time.

X.

Another of my crimes, according to my great accuser, was nominating Mr. Murray without previous consultation with any of my ministers. To this charge I shall say but little at present.

In England, the first magistrate is responsible for nothing, Edition: current; Page: [270] his ministers for every thing. Here, according to the practice, if not the Constitution, the ministers are responsible for nothing, the President for every thing. He is made to answer before the people, not only for every thing done by his ministers, but even for all the acts of the legislature. Witness the alien and sedition laws. In all great and essential measures he is bound by his honor and his conscience, by his oath to the Constitution, as well as his responsibility to the public opinion of the nation, to act his own mature and unbiased judgment, though unfortunately, it may be in direct contradiction to the advice of all his ministers. This was my situation in more than one instance. It had been so in the nomination of Mr. Gerry; it was afterwards so in the pardon of Fries; two measures that I recollect with infinite satisfaction, and which will console me in my last hour.

In the case now in question I perfectly knew the sentiments of all my ministers. I knew every argument they could allege, and moreover, I knew the secret motives that governed them better than they did themselves. I knew them then and I know them now, believe it or disbelieve it who will, at the present time; hereafter, the world will be convinced of it.

I knew that if I called the heads of departments together and asked their advice, three of them would very laconically protest against the measure. The other two would be loath to dissent from their brethren, and would more modestly and mildly concur with them. The consequence would be, that the whole would be instantaneously communicated to A, B, C, D, E, F, &c., in the Senate, and G, H, I, &c., in the House of Representatives; the public and the presses would have it at once, and a clamor raised and a prejudice propagated against the measure, that would probably excite the Senate to put their negative on the whole plan. If I had called the heads of department together, and asked their advice, I knew from past experience1 Edition: current; Page: [271] that their answers would have been flat negatives. If I had asked their reasons, they would be such arguments as Hamilton has recorded; for he, it seems, was their recording secretary.

1. The etiquette which required, according to them, that France should send a minister to us.

2. That a negotiation with France would give offence to Great Britain and to Russia, and probably involve us in a war with these powers.

I had twenty times answered these arguments by saying, that there was no such etiquette. It was true that in ancient and more barbarous times, when nations had been inflamed by long wars, and the people wrought up to a degree of fury on both sides, so as to excite apprehensions that ambassadors would be insulted or massacred by the populace, or even imprisoned, as in Turkey, sovereigns had insisted that ambassadors should be exchanged, and that one should be held as a hostage for the other. It had even been insisted that a French ambassador should embark at Calais at the same hour that an English ambassador embarked at Dover. But these times were passed. Nations sent ambassadors now as they pleased. Franklin and his associates had been sent to France; Mr. Jay had been sent to Spain; I had been sent to Holland; Mr. Izard had been commissioned to Tuscany; Mr. W. Lee to Vienna and Berlin, without any stipulation for sending ministers in return. We had a minister in London three years, without any minister from England in return. We have had a minister at Berlin, without any from Prussia.

As to the offence that would be taken by Great Britain, I asked, shall we propose any thing to France, or agree to any thing inconsistent with our treaties and pledged faith with England? Certainly not. What right has England, then, to be offended? Have we not as clear a right to make peace as she has? We are at war with France, at least in part. If Britain should make peace with France, what right have we Edition: current; Page: [272] to complain, provided she stipulates nothing inconsistent with her treaty with us?

As to Russia, what has she to do with us, or we with her? I had confidence enough in the assurances given, firmly to believe that our envoys would be received and respected. Candidates enough were ready to run the risk, and Hamilton himself would have been very proud to have been one of them, if he had not been Commander-in-chief of the army.

I will acknowledge, that when the terror of the power and anger of Great Britain have been held up to me in a manner that appears to me to be base and servile, I sometimes was provoked to say, that in a just cause, when the essential character and interests of the United States should be wronged by Great Britain, I should hold her power in total contempt. It may be said, for it has been said, that this was imprudent, and that I was fretted. Let it be said by whom it will, I now repeat the same sentiment after the coolest reflection of ten years.

On the other hand, by making the nomination on my own authority, I believed that the heads of departments would have some discretion; and although I knew that the British faction would excite a clamor, and that some of the senators, representatives, and heads of departments would make no exertions to discountenance it, if they did not secretly or openly encourage it, yet I was so perfectly convinced of the national sense, and that the Senate felt it so strongly, that they would not dare to negative it, even if the majority had disliked it, which I very well knew they did not. I thought a clamor after the fact would be much less dangerous than a clamor before it. And so it proved in experience. A clamor there was, as I always knew there would be, and Alexander Hamilton had a principal underhand in exciting it.

It is well known that there are continued interviews between the members of the Senate and the members of the House, and the heads of departments. Eternal solicitations for nominations to office are made in this manner. There is not an executive measure, that members of Congress are not almost constantly employed in pumping from the heads of departments. There is not a legislative measure, that the heads of departments do not intermeddle in. It really deserves consideration, whether it would not be better that heads of departments should be members Edition: current; Page: [273] of the legislature. There they would be confronted in all things. Now, all is secrecy and darkness. Washington, I know, was nearly as much vexed and tortured by these things as I was, and resigned his office to get rid of them. And so would I have done with great joy, if I could have been sure of a successor whose sentiments were as conformable to mine, as he knew mine were to his.

XI.

Mr. Hamilton, in his pamphlet, speaking of Talleyrand’s despatches, says, “overtures so circuitous and informal, through a person who was not the regular organ of the French government for making them, to a person who was not the regular organ of the American government for receiving them, &c., were a very inadequate basis for the institution of a new mission.”

Here, again, Mr. Hamilton’s total ignorance or oblivion of the practice of our own government, as well as the constant usage of other nations in diplomatic proceedings, appears in all its lustre. In 1784, the Congress of the United States, the then sovereign of our country, issued fifteen commissions, as I remember. If I mistake the number, Colonel Humphreys can correct me, for he was the secretary of legation to them all, and possesses, as I suppose, the original parchments, to John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, to form commercial treaties with all the commercial powers of Europe and the Barbary States. Our instructions were to communicate these credentials to the ambassadors of these powers at Versailles, not to go to those courts. And we did communicate them in this informal and circuitous manner, and received very civil answers. We were not told, “If Congress wishes any connections with us, commercial or political, let them send ambassadors directly to our courts. It is inconsistent with our dignity to receive or pay any attention to such indirect, circuitous, and informal overtures.”

These indirect and circuitous communications, as Hamilton calls them, are of established usage and daily practice all over the world. Instances of them without number might be quoted; I shall only recite two or three.

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The Baron de Thulemeier, ambassador from Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, whose name and character Mr. Hamilton affects to admire, wrote me a letter when I was minister plenipotentiary in Holland, informing me that he had received the commands of the king, his master, to make me a visit, and communicate something to me as minister from the United States of America, and desired to know at what hour I would receive him.1 I wrote him in answer, that I would have the honor of receiving him at twelve o’clock of the next day, or, if he wished an earlier interview, I would call on him at his hotel, at any hour he should be pleased to indicate. To this I received no answer, but at the hour I had mentioned his Excellency appeared at my house in the habiliments, and with the equipage of his ministerial character. He said that the king, his master, had ordered him to visit me and ask my opinion of a connection and treaty between Prussia and the United States of America. What a figure should I have made, if I had said, “This is all circuitous and informal; your master, if he wishes a connection, commercial or political, with America, must send an ambassador to Philadelphia, and propose it to Congress”! Yet Mr. Hamilton’s doctrine and reasoning would have required this. The king, however, would have expected more sense of propriety, more knowledge of the intercourse of nations, and a more rational answer, from a deputy of one of our savage tribes, or one of the migratory hordes of Africa or Tartary. My answer was, “Be pleased, Sir, to present my most profound respects to his Majesty, and inform him, that though I have no commission or instructions to enter into official conferences upon the subject, I am very sensible of the high honor done me by this communication, and have no hesitation in expressing my private opinion, that such a connection between the United States and his Majesty’s dominions would be highly honorable and advantageous, and I have no doubt Congress would be unanimous in the same sentiments.” That without loss of time I would transmit to them an account of this conversation, and had no doubt they would authorize a minister to treat with his Majesty’s minister. The Baron then said, he was farther directed to ask my opinion of a proper basis of a treaty. I answered, our treaty lately concluded with Holland would, in my opinion, be such a basis.

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Congress, when they received this information from me, did not say, “This is all informal and indirect, from obscure and unauthorized agents. The King of Prussia must send us an ambassador.” Yet I sent them no official act of the king; no official letter under hand and seal from his prime minister, as Mr. Murray did to me. All was mere parol evidence, mere verbal conversation. Yet Congress immediately sent a commission to Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson, to treat with the king’s minister. The king sent a commission to his minister; and a treaty was negotiated, concluded, and ratified, which now remains among the archives and printed documents of our country, not at all to her disgrace.

The king had previously ordered his ambassador to express to me his entire satisfaction with the interview between his ambassador and me; that he had maturely examined our treaty with Holland, and approved it as a basis of negotiation with him.

Another instance. Mr. Weems, a young gentleman of liberal education, from Virginia or Maryland, went to England in hopes of obtaining holy orders in the church. He wrote a letter to me, as American minister in Holland, though he had never seen me, and indeed has never seen me since, bitterly complaining not only of the stern refusal, but even of the rough treatment he had received from the English bishops, and even from the great Hurd.1 He desired to know, if he could receive ordination from the bishops in Holland. There were no bishops in Holland; but there were Protestant bishops in Denmark. At the first meeting of the ambassadors, I asked M. de Saint Saphorin, the ambassador from Denmark, whether an American candidate for the ministry could receive from the bishops in his country Episcopal ordination; and whether any oaths, subscriptions, or professions of faith would be required; and whether the articles of the Church of England were sufficiently conformable to the faith of Denmark. “Mon Dieu! Je n’en sais rien”—“My God!” said Saint Saphorin, “I know nothing of the matter; but if you desire it, I will soon inform myself.” I thanked him, and should be much obliged to him. In a shorter time than I could imagine, he came to inform me that he had written our conversation to the prime minister of his court, who had laid it Edition: current; Page: [276] before the king, who had taken it into consideration in his council, and had ordered it to be laid before the convocation, who had unanimously determined that any American candidate of proper qualifications and good moral character should at any time receive ordination from any bishop in Denmark, without taking any oath or professing any other faith, but merely subscribing the articles of the Church of England. He even went so far as to say that the king, if we desired it, would appoint a bishop in one of his islands in the West Indies, to accommodate American candidates. I wrote this to Mr. Weems, and it soon procured him a more polite reception from the English clergy. Indeed, it laid the first foundation not only of Mr. Weems’s ordination, but of the whole system of Episcopacy in the United States.

I also wrote a history of it to Congress, who, instead of reprimanding me, ordered me to transmit their thanks to the King of Denmark, which I did afterwards, through another indirect and informal channel, that of his ambassador at the court of London.

It seems that neither St. Saphorin, nor his prime minister, nor the king, their master, nor his council, nor the whole convocation of bishops, nor our American Congress, were such profound adepts in the law of nations and the diplomatic intercourse of sovereigns, as Mr. Hamilton. None of them discovered that it was inconsistent with their dignity to take notice of any thing less formal and direct than immediate communications from a resident ambassador.

Let me add another example. At the instigation of the Count de Vergennes, the Swedish ambassador at Versailles had written to his court to know whether it would be agreeable to them to form a treaty with the United States. Receiving an answer in the affirmative, he suggested this to Dr. Franklin, who, upon this simple verbal insinuation, wrote an account of it to Congress, who immediately sent him a commission. The King of Sweden sent a commission to his ambassador at Versailles. The treaty was concluded at Paris, and afterwards ratified by both powers. Yet no ambassador from Sweden to the United States has ever appeared, and no minister from the United States has ever gone to Sweden, to this day.

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XII.

In the pamphlet it is said, that “the great alteration in public opinion had put it completely in the power of our executive to control the machinations of any future public agent of France.” Therefore Philadelphia was a safer scene of negotiation than Paris.

Mr. Hamilton’s erroneous conceptions of the public opinion may be excused by the considerations that he was not a native of the United States; that he was born and bred in the West Indies till he went to Scotland for education, where he spent his time in a seminary of learning till seventeen years of age, after which no man ever perfectly acquired a national character; then entered a college at New York, from whence he issued into the army as an aid-de-camp. In these situations he could scarcely acquire the opinions, feelings, or principles of the American people. His error may be excused by the further consideration, that his time was chiefly spent in his pleasures, in his electioneering visits, conferences, and correspondences, in propagating prejudices against every man whom he thought his superior in the public estimation, and in composing ambitious reports upon finance, while the real business of the treasury was done by Duer, by Wolcott, and even, for some time and in part, by Tench Coxe.

His observation, that “France will never be without secret agents,” is true, and it is equally true that England will always have secret agents and emissaries too. That her “partisans among our own citizens can much better promote her cause than any agents she can send,” is also true; but it is at least equally true of the partisans of Great Britain. We have seen, in the foregoing papers, glaring and atrocious instances of the exertions of her public agents, secret emissaries, and partisans, among our citizens. But none have yet been mentioned that bear any comparison, in point of guilt and arrogance, with those of all kinds that have been exhibited within the last two or three years.

My worthy fellow-citizens! Our form of government, inestimable as it is, exposes us, more than any other, to the insidious intrigues and pestilent influence of foreign nations. Nothing but our inflexible neutrality can preserve us. The public negotiations Edition: current; Page: [278] and secret intrigues of the English and the French have been employed for centuries in every court and country of Europe. Look back to the history of Spain, Holland, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Prussia, Italy, and Turkey, for the last hundred years. How many revolutions have been caused! How many emperors and kings have fallen victims to the alternate triumphs of parties, excited by Englishmen or Frenchmen! And can we expect to escape the vigilant attention of politicians so experienced, so keen-sighted, and so rich? If we convince them that our attachment to neutrality is unchangeable, they will let us alone; but as long as a hope remains, in either power, of seducing us to engage in war on his side and against his enemy, we shall be torn and convulsed by their manœuvres.

Never was there a grosser mistake of public opinion than that of Mr. Hamilton. The great alteration in public opinion had not then, nor has it yet, taken place. The French republic still existed. The French people were still considered as struggling for liberty, amidst all their internal revolutions, their conflicts of parties, and their bloody wars against the coalitions of European powers. Monarchy, empire, had not been suggested. Bonaparte had appeared only as a soldier; had acted on the public stage in no civil or political employment. A sense of gratitude for services rendered us in our revolution, by far more sincere and ardent than reason or justice could warrant, still remained on the minds, not only of our republicans, but of great numbers of our soundest federalists. Did Mr. Hamilton recollect the state of our presses; recollect the names and popular eloquence of the editors of the opposition papers; that scoffing, scorning wit, and that caustic malignity of soul, which appeared so remarkably in all the writings of Thomas Paine and Callender, which to the disgrace of human nature never fails to command attention and applause; the members of the Senate and House who were decided against the administration, their continual intercourse and communications with French emissaries; the hideous clamor against the alien law and sedition law, both considered as levelled entirely against the French and their friends; and the surrender, according to the British treaty, of the Irish murderer Nash, imposed upon the public for Jonathan Robins? Did he recollect the insurrection Edition: current; Page: [279] in Pennsylvania, the universal and perpetual inflammatory publications against the land tax, stamp tax, coach tax, excise law, and eight per cent. loan? Did he never see nor hear of the circular letters of members of Congress from the middle and southern States? Did he know nothing of the biting sarcasms, the burning rage against himself and his own army? Did he know nothing of a kind of journal that was published, of every irregular act of any officer or soldier, of every military punishment that was inflicted, under the appellation of the Cannibal’s Progress? Did he see nothing of the French cockades, ostentatiously exhibited against the American cockades?

Had a French minister been seen here with his suite, he would have been instantly informed of every source and symptom of discontent. Almost every Frenchman upon the continent, and they were then numerous in all the States, would have been employed in criminating the American Government, in applauding the condescension of the French Directory, and the friendly, conciliating disposition of the French nation. Nothing could have been kept secret. The popular clamor for peace on any terms would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to resist. The multitude in Philadelphia, as it was, were almost as ripe to pull me out of my house as they had been to dethrone Washington in the time of Genet. Even the night of the fastday, the streets were crowded with multitudinous assemblies of the people, especially that before my door, and kept in order only, as many people thought, by a military patrol, ordered, I believe, by the Governor of Pennsylvania.

In these circumstances it was my opinion, and it is so still, it was infinitely better to conduct the negotiation at Paris than in Philadelphia. But if this was and is an error, it was certainly not of such consequence as Hamilton thought fit to represent it. If it was an error, I humbly conceive it would have better become Mr. Hamilton to have been silent than to endeavor to make it unpopular, since the step was taken and irrevocable when he wrote.

But the real truth is, he was in hopes, as well as Mr. Liston, that the French government would neither send a minister here nor receive one there—in short, that they would have gone to war with us. If we had waited for a minister here, much time would have been lost. Our little naval force under Talbot, Edition: current; Page: [280] Truxtun, Decatur, Little, &c., was doing wonders in protecting our commerce, and in fighting and capturing French ships of war. Some of our citizens were not wanting in irritating expressions of exultation and triumph, particularly in parading a French national ship that had been captured by Decatur, up the Delaware, in sight of all the citizens of Philadelphia, with the French national colors reversed under our American flag. Hamilton hoped that such provocations would produce an irreconcilable breach and a declaration of war. He was disappointed, and lost the command of his army. Hinc illæ lacrimæ!

There were other circumstances of more serious and solid importance, indicative of public opinion, which Mr. Hamilton, if he had been a vigilant and sagacious statesman, could not have overlooked. The venerable patriarchs, Pendleton and Wythe, of Virginia, openly declaimed for peace; the former came out in print with his name, protesting against a war with our sister republic of France. General Heath came out with an address to the public in Massachusetts, declaring that every man he met was decidedly for peace. When the election was coming on, the legislature of Massachusetts dare not trust the people, either at large or in districts, to choose electors, but assumed that office to themselves. In New York, the great interest and vast bodies of the people, who are supposed to follow or direct the two great families of Clintons and Livingstons, aided by all the address and dexterity of Aaron Burr, was decidedly for peace with France. In Pennsylvania, Governor M’Kean, with his majority of thirty thousand votes, or in other words, at the head of the two vast bodies of Germans and Irish, reënforced by great numbers of English Presbyterians, Quakers and Anabaptists, were decidedly against a war with France.

After enumerating all these symptoms of the popular bias, it would be frivolous to enlarge upon the conversations, of which I was informed, at taverns and insurance offices, threatening violence to the President by pulling him out of his chair; upon the French cockades that were everywhere paraded before my eyes, in opposition to the black cockade; or upon the declarations and oaths, which I know were made by no small numbers, that if we went to war with France, and the French should come here, they would join them against the federalists and the Edition: current; Page: [281] English. These things I recollect with grief, because they do no honor to our country; but I must say they disgrace it no more than many more solemn actions and declarations of the opposite party, against France and in favor of England, have done within the last twelve months.

In these circumstances, it was the height of folly to say, as Hamilton says, that it would have been safer to negotiate at Philadelphia than at Paris. As to our ambassadors’ being overawed in Paris, by any finesse of politicians, or triumphs of the French arms, we must take care to send men who are equal to such trials. The French have not, as yet, gained any great and unjust advantages of us by all their policy. Our envoys were precisely instructed. Every article was prescribed that was to be insisted on as an ultimatum. In a treaty they could not depart from a punctilio. A convention they might make, as they did, at their own risk. But the President and Senate were under no obligation to ratify it. Had it betrayed a single point of essential honor or interest, I would have sent it back, as Mr. Jefferson did the treaty with England, without laying it before the Senate. If I had been doubtful, the Senate would have decided.

Where, then, was the danger of this negotiation? Nowhere but in the disturbed imagination of Alexander Hamilton. To me only it was dangerous. To me, as a public man, it was fatal, and that only because Alexander Hamilton was pleased to wield it as a poisoned weapon with the express purpose of destroying. Though I owe him no thanks for this, I most heartily rejoice in it, because it has given me eight years, incomparably the happiest of my life, whereas, had I been chosen President again, I am certain I could not have lived another year. It was utterly impossible that I could have lived through one year more of such labors and cares as were studiously and maliciously accumulated upon me by the French faction and the British faction, the former aided by the republicans, and the latter by Alexander Hamilton and his satellites.

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XIII.

Mr. Hamilton, in his pamphlet, speaks of the anterior mission of Messrs. Pinckney, Marshall, and Gerry, and says, “it was resolved to make another and a more solemn experiment in the form of a commission of three.”

When I first read this sentence, I am not certain whether it excited most of astonishment, indignation, contempt, or ridicule. By whom was this measure resolved? By President Washington? Certainly not. If it had been, he would have nominated the ministers. By the President elect, Mr. Adams? Certainly not. He had not been consulted. His resolutions were not known. By whom, then, was this important resolution taken? By Mr. Hamilton and his privy counsellors. And what had Mr. Hamilton and his privy counsellors to do with the business? And who were his privy counsellors?1

Page 22, he says, “the expediency of the step was suggested to Mr. Adams, through a federal channel, a considerable time before he determined to take it. He hesitated whether it could be done, after the rejection of General Pinckney, without national debasement. The doubt was an honorable one.” I disclaim and renounce all the honor of this doubt. I never entertained such a doubt for a moment. I might ask the opinion of twenty persons (for I, too, “consulted much”), in order to discover whether there was any doubt in the public mind, or any party who were averse to such a measure, or had any doubt about it. But I never had any hesitation myself. This passage, like all the rest of this pamphlet, shows that it was written from his mere imagination, from confused rumors, or downright false information.

It is true, “the expediency of the step was suggested to Mr. Adams,” before he took the step, and before he had time to take it, but long after he had determined to take it. The mystery may be revealed. I have no motive, whatever others may have, to conceal or dissemble it.

The morning after my inauguration,2 Mr. Fisher Ames made Edition: current; Page: [283] me a visit to take leave. His period in Congress had expired, and the delicacy of his health, the despondency of his disposition, and despair of a reëlection from the increase of the opposite party in his district, had induced him to decline to stand a candidate. I was no longer to have the assistance of his counsel and eloquence, though Mr. Hamilton continued to enjoy both till his death. Mr. Ames was no doubt one of Mr. Hamilton’s privy council, when he resolved to send a new commission of three. Mr. Ames, with much gravity and solemnity, advised me to institute a new mission to France. Our affairs with that republic were in an unpleasant and dangerous situation, and the people, in a long recess of Congress, must have some object on which to fix their contemplation and their hopes. And he recommended Mr. George Cabot, for the northern States, to be one of the three, if a commission was to be sent, or alone, if but one was to go.

I answered Mr. Ames, that the subject had almost engrossed my attention for a long time. That I should take every thing into serious consideration, and determine nothing suddenly; that I should make deliberate inquiries concerning characters, and maturely consider the qualities and qualifications of candidates, before any thing was finally determined. Mr. Ames departed for Massachusetts.1

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I had rolled all these things in my own mind long before. The French nation and their government were in a very umbrageous and inflammable disposition. Much delicacy and deliberation were necessary in the choice of characters. Most of the prominent characters in America were as well known at Paris as they were at Philadelphia. I had sometimes thought of sending Mr. Madison and Mr. Hamilton, to join Mr. Pinckney, in a new commission. I had thought of Mr. Ames himself, as well as Mr. Cabot, Judge Dana, Mr. Gerry, and many others in the northern, middle, and southern States. I thought much of Mr. Jefferson, but had great doubt whether the Constitution would allow me to send the Vice-President abroad. The nation at large had assigned him a station, which I doubted whether he had a right to abandon, or I a right to invite him to relinquish, though but for a time.

I had great doubts about reappointing Mr. Pinckney. He might have been so affected with the horrors he had seen or heard in France, as to have uttered some expressions, which, reported by spies to the ruling powers, might have excited prejudices against him, which would insure his second rejection, and that of his colleagues too. But as I knew of no such accusation, I could not bear the thought of abandoning him. I had not time to communicate all these reflections to Mr. Ames, and, moreover, I had business of more importance to do. I had long wished to avail myself and the public of the fine talents and amiable qualities and manners of Mr. Madison. Soon after Mr. Ames left me, I sought and obtained an interview with Mr. Jefferson. With this gentleman I had lived on terms of intimate Edition: current; Page: [285] friendship for five-and-twenty years, had acted with him in dangerous times and arduous conflicts, and always found him assiduous, laborious, and as far as I could judge, upright and faithful. Though by this time I differed from him in opinion by the whole horizon concerning the practicability and success of the French revolution, and some other points, I had no reason to think that he differed materially from me with regard to our national Constitution. I did not think that the rumbling noise of party calumny ought to discourage me from consulting men whom I knew to be attached to the interest of the nation, and whose experience, genius, learning, and travels had eminently qualified them to give advice. I asked Mr. Jefferson what he thought of another trip to Paris, and whether he thought the Constitution and the people would be willing to spare him for a short time. “Are you determined to send to France?” “Yes.” “That is right,” said Mr. Jefferson; “but without considering whether the Constitution will allow it or not, I am so sick of residing in Europe, that I believe I shall never go there again.” I replied, “I own I have strong doubts whether it would be legal to appoint you; but I believe no man could do the business so well. What do you think of sending Mr. Madison? Do you think he would accept of an appointment?” “I do not know,” said Mr. Jefferson. “Washington wanted to appoint him some time ago, and kept the place open for him a long time; but he never could get him to say that he would go.” Other characters were considered, and other conversation ensued. We parted as good friends as we had always lived; but we consulted very little together afterwards. Party violence soon rendered it impracticable, or at least useless, and this party violence was excited by Hamilton more than any other man.1

I will not take leave of Mr. Jefferson in this place, without declaring my opinion that the accusations against him of blind devotion to France, of hostility to England, of hatred to commerce, of partiality and duplicity in his late negotiations with the belligerent powers, are without foundation.

From Mr. Jefferson I went to one of the heads of departments,2 whom Mr. Washington had appointed, and I had no Edition: current; Page: [286] thoughts of removing. Indeed, I had then no objection to any of the secretaries. I asked him what he thought of sending Mr. Madison to France, with or without others. “Is it determined to send to France at all?” “Determined! Nothing is determined till it is executed,” smiling. “But why not? I thought it deserved consideration.” “So it does.” “But suppose it determined, what do you think of sending Mr. Madison?” “Is it determined to send Mr. Madison?” “No; but it deserves consideration.” “Sending Mr. Madison will make dire work among the passions of our parties in Congress, and out of doors, through the States!” “Are we forever to be overawed and directed by party passions?” All this conversation on my part was with the most perfect civility, good humor, and indeed familiarity; but I found it excited a profound gloom and solemn countenance in my companion, which after some time broke out in, “Mr. President, we are willing to resign.” Nothing could have been more unexpected to me than this observation; nothing was farther from my thoughts than to give any pain or uneasiness. I had said nothing that could possibly displease, except pronouncing the name of Madison. I restrained my surprise, however, and only said, I hope nobody will resign; I am satisfied with all the public officers.

Upon further inquiries of the other heads of departments and of other persons, I found that party passions had so deep and extensive roots, that I seriously doubted whether the Senate would not negative Mr. Madison, if I should name him. Rather than to expose him to a negative, or a doubtful contest in the Senate, I concluded to omit him. If I had nominated Madison, I should have nominated Hamilton with him.1 The former, I knew, was much esteemed in France; the latter was rather an object of jealousy. But I thought the French would tolerate one for the sake of the other. And I thought, too, that the manners of the one would soon wear off the prejudices against him, and probably make him a greater favorite than the other. But having given up Madison, I ought to give up Hamilton too. Whom then should I name? I mentioned Mr. Dana and Edition: current; Page: [287] Mr. Gerry to the heads of departments, and to many leading men in both houses. They all preferred Mr. Dana. But it was evident enough to me that neither Dana nor Gerry was their man. Dana was appointed, but refused. I then called the heads of departments together, and proposed Mr. Gerry. All the five1 voices unanimously were against him. Such inveterate prejudice shocked me. I said nothing, but was determined I would not be the slave of it. I knew the man infinitely better than all of them. He was nominated and approved, and finally saved the peace of the nation; for he alone discovered and furnished the evidence that X. Y. and Z. were employed by Talleyrand; and he alone brought home the direct, formal, and official assurances upon which the subsequent commission proceeded, and peace was made.

I considered Mr. Ames’s candidate, Mr. Cabot,2 as deliberately as any of the others, and with as favorable and friendly a disposition towards him as any other without exception. But I knew his character and connections were as well known in France, particularly by Talleyrand, as Mr. Gerry’s were; and that there were great objections against the former, and none at all against the latter. It would be therefore inexcusable in me to hazard the success of the mission merely to gratify the passions of a party in America, especially as I knew Mr. Gerry, to say the least, to be full as well qualified by his studies, his experience, and every quality, for the service, as the other.

I afterwards nominated Mr. Cabot to be Secretary of the Navy, a station as useful, as important, and as honorable, as the other, and for which he was eminently qualified. But this he refused.

No man had a greater share in propagating and diffusing these prejudices against Mr. Gerry than Hamilton. Whether he had formerly conceived jealousies against him as a rival candidate for the secretaryship of the treasury; (for Mr. Gerry was a financier, and had been employed for years on the committee on the treasury in the old Congress, and a most indefatigable Edition: current; Page: [288] member too; that committee had laid the foundation for the present system of the treasury, and had organized it almost as well, though they had not the assistance of clerks and other conveniences as at present; any man who will look into the journals of the old Congress, may see the organization and the daily labors and reports of that committee, and may form some judgment of the talents and services of Mr. Gerry in that department; I knew that the officers of the treasury, in Hamilton’s time, dreaded to see him rise in the House upon any question of finance, because they said he was a man of so much influence that they always feared he would discover some error or carry some point against them); or whether he feared that Mr. Gerry would be President of the United States before him, I know not.1 He was not alone, however. His friends among the heads of departments, and their correspondents in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, sympathized with him very cordially in his hatred of Gerry, and of every other man who had labored and suffered early in the revolution.

This preference of Mr. Gerry to Mr. Cabot was my first mortal offence against my sovereign heads of departments and their disciples in all the States. It never was or has been forgiven me by those who call themselves, or are called by others, “the leading men” among the federalists.

Mr. Hamilton says, “After the rejection of Mr. Pinckney by the government of France, immediately after the instalment of Mr. Adams as President,2 and long before the measure was taken, I urged a member of Congress, then high in the confidence of the President, to propose to him the immediate appointment of three commissioners, of whom Mr. Jefferson or Mr. Madison to be one, to make another attempt to negotiate.”

I will relate all that I can recollect relative to this subject. Mr. Tracy, of Connecticut, who indeed was always in my confidence, came to me, I believe, at the opening of the special session of Congress, which I called soon after my inauguration, Edition: current; Page: [289] and produced a long, elaborate letter from Mr. Hamilton, containing a whole system of instruction for the conduct of the President, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. I read it very deliberately, and really thought the man was in a delirium. It appeared to me a very extraordinary instance of volunteer empiricism thus to prescribe for a President, Senate, and House of Representatives, all desperately sick and in a state of deplorable debility, without being called. And when I maturely considered the contents of the letter, my surprise was increased. I despised and detested the letter too much to take a copy of it, which I now regret. This letter is still in being, and I doubt not many copies of it are extant. I most earnestly request any gentleman who possesses one, to publish it. That letter, though it had no influence with me, had so much with both houses of Congress as to lay the foundation of the overthrow of the federal party, and of the revolution that followed four years afterwards. I will endeavor to recollect as much of the contents of it as I can, and if I am incorrect in any point, those who possess the letter can, by the publication of it, easily set all right.

It began by a dissertation on the extraordinarily critical situation of the United States.

It recommended a new mission to France of three commissioners, Mr. Jefferson or Mr. Madison to be one.

It recommended the raising an army of fifty thousand men, ten thousand of them to be cavalry; an army of great importance in so extensive a country, vulnerable at so many points on the frontiers, and so accessible in so many places by sea.

It recommended an alien and sedition law.

It recommended an invigoration of the treasury, by seizing on all the taxable articles not yet taxed by the government. And lastly,

It recommended a national Fast, not only on account of the intrinsic propriety of it, but because we should be very unskilful if we neglected to avail ourselves of the religious feelings of the people in a crisis so difficult and dangerous.

There might be more, but these are all that I now recollect.

Mr. Hamilton’s imagination was always haunted by that Edition: current; Page: [290] hideous monster or phantom, so often called a crisis, and which so often produces imprudent measures.1

How it happened that Mr. Hamilton’s contemplations coincided so exactly with mine, as to think of Mr. Jefferson or Mr. Madison for envoy to France, it may be more difficult to explain. But let it be considered that this letter was written long after my conversation with Mr. Jefferson, concerning himself and Mr. Madison, which was the morning after my inauguration;2 that I had communicated that conversation to one or more of the heads of departments the same morning. It is probable, therefore, that Mr. Hamilton received hints from some of his correspondents that I had thought of Madison and Hamilton, and that he was not displeased with the idea.3 I asked one of the heads of departments, how he could account for Hamilton’s recommending Jefferson or Madison. “Why,” said the gentleman, “I suppose Hamilton is weary of his practice as an attorney, at New York, and is willing to enter into some other employment.” Mr. Hamilton, however, might thank those who had been his warmest friends for his disappointment; for, had it not been for their opposition to Madison, I should have appointed him and Hamilton.

The army of fifty thousand men, ten thousand of them to be horse, appeared to me to be one of the wildest extravagances of a knight-errant. It proved to me that Mr. Hamilton knew no more of the sentiments and feelings of the people of America, than he did of those of the inhabitants of one of the planets. Such an army without an enemy to combat, would have raised a rebellion in every State in the Union. The very idea of the expense of it would have turned President, Senate, and House out of doors. I adopted none of these chimeras into my speech, and only recommended the raising of a few regiments of artillery to garrison the fortifications of the most exposed places. Yet such was the influence of Mr. Hamilton in Congress, that, without any recommendation from the President, they passed a bill to raise an army, not a large one, indeed, but enough to overturn the then Federal government.

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Nor did I adopt his idea of an alien or sedition law. I recommended no such thing in my speech. Congress, however, adopted both these measures. I knew there was need enough of both, and therefore I consented to them. But as they were then considered as war measures, and intended altogether against the advocates of the French and peace with France, I was apprehensive that a hurricane of clamor would be raised against them, as in truth there was, even more fierce and violent than I had anticipated.

Seizing on all the taxable articles not yet taxed, to support an army of fifty thousand men, at a time when so many tax laws, already enacted, were unexecuted in so many States, and when insurrections and rebellions had already been excited in Pennsylvania, on account of taxes, appeared to me altogether desperate, altogether delirious.1

I wanted no admonition from Mr. Hamilton to institute a national fast. I had determined on this measure long enough before Mr. Hamilton’s letter was written. And here let me say, with great sincerity, that I think there is nothing upon this earth more sublime and affecting than the idea of a great nation all on their knees at once before their God, acknowledging their faults and imploring his blessing and protection, when the prospect before them threatens great danger and calamity. It can scarcely fail to have a favorable effect on their morals in general, or to inspire them with warlike virtues in particular. When most, if not all of the religious sects in the nation, hold such fasts among themselves, I never could see the force of the objections against making them, on great and extraordinary occasions, national; unless it be the jealousy of the separate States, lest the general government should become too national. Those however, who differ from me in opinion on this point, have as good a right to their judgment as I have to mine, and I shall submit mine to the general will.

In fine, Mr. Hamilton, in the passage I have been commenting upon, in this letter, has let out facts which, if he had possessed a grain of common sense, he would have wished should be forever concealed. I should never have revealed or explained them, if he and his partisans had not compelled me.

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XIV.

In page 26, is a strain of flimsy rant, as silly as it is indecent. “The supplement to the declaration was a blamable excess. It waved the point of honor, which after two rejections of our ministers required that the next mission should proceed from France.”

Where did he find this point of honor? If any such point had existed, it had its full force against the second mission; and its principal force consisted in the formal declaration of the Directory, that it “never would receive another minister plenipotentiary without apologies for the President’s speeches and answers to addresses.” If we had a right to wave this point of honor in one instance, we had in two, especially as one member of the second mission was the same man who had been rejected in the first. But after the explicit retraction of the declaration that they would not receive a minister without apologies, the point of honor was completely done away. To give them an opportunity of retracting that declaration, I declared, in my message to Congress, that I would not send another minister to France till this declaration was retracted by assurances that he should be received in character. They embraced the opportunity cordially, when they might have avoided the humiliation by sending a minister here. And whatever Hamilton’s opinion might be, I knew that they might have negotiated more to their advantage here than in Paris. Hamilton’s fingers had not the tact, or tactility, if you like the word better, of the public pulse.

He argues the probability that France would have sent a minister here, from the fact that she did afterwards “stifle her resentment, and invite the renewal of negotiation.” I know not whether this is an example of Mr. Hamilton’s “analysis of investigation” or not. It is an argument a posteriori. It is reasoning upward or backward.

These invitations were not known nor made, when I pledged myself, by implication at least, to send a minister, when such invitations should be made. When they were made, I considered my own honor and the honor of the government committed. And I have not a doubt that Hamilton thought so too; and that one of his principal vexations was, that neither himself nor his privy counsellors could have influence enough Edition: current; Page: [293] with me to persuade or intimidate me to disgrace myself in the eyes of the people of America and the world by violating my parole.

This he might think would assist him in his caucuses at New York and Philadelphia, where the honor, not only of every member, but of every State and every elector, was to be pledged, to give an equal vote for Pinckney and Adams, that the choice of President should be left to the House of Representatives, whose members, on the day of election, or the day before, were to be furnished with this pamphlet, spick and span, to make sure of the sacrifice of Adams. But more of this hereafter.

In the mean time, what reasons had we to expect that the French government would send a minister here? Such an idea had been whispered in private conversation, perhaps, by Dr. Logan and some others; but we had not a color of official information to that effect, that I remember. What motives had the French to send a minister? They had committed depredations upon our commerce, to the amount, it has been said, of twenty millions of dollars. Would the Directory have been animated with any great zeal to send an ambassador to offer us compensation for these spoliations, at a time when they were driven to their wit’s end to find revenues and resources to carry on the war in Europe, and break the confederations against them?

We had declared the treaty of alliance, and all treaties between France and the United States, null and void. Do we suppose the French government would have been in haste to send an ambassador to offer us a solemn revocation, by treaty, of all former treaties? What urgent motive could the French have to be in haste to send a minister? They could not be apprehensive that we should send an army to Europe to conquer France, or assist her enemies. We had no naval power sufficient to combat their navy in Europe, which was then far from being reduced as it has been since. They had no commerce or mercantile navigation, upon which our little navy or privateers could have made reprisals.

There is but one motive that I can imagine should have stimulated them very much, and that is, the apprehension that we might enter into an alliance offensive and defensive with Great Britain. This they might have considered as a serious affair Edition: current; Page: [294] to them in a course of time, though they might not fear any very immediate harm from it. But I doubt not the French had information from a thousand emissaries, and Talleyrand knew from personal observation in various parts of America, and Hamilton must have known, if he had any feeling of the popular pulse, that a vast majority of the people of America dreaded an alliance with Great Britain more than they did a war with France. It would have taken a long time, it would have required a long and bloody war with France, and a violent exasperation of the public mind, to have reconciled the people to any such measure. No, Hamilton and his associates could not have seriously believed that the French would soon send a minister here. If they had not, or if they had delayed it, Hamilton would have continued at the head of his army. Continual provocations and irritations would have taken place between the two nations, till one or the other would have declared war. In the mean time, it was my opinion then, and has been ever since, that the two parties in the United States would have broken out into a civil war; a majority of all the States to the southward of Hudson River, united with nearly half New England, would have raised an army under Aaron Burr; a majority of New England might have raised another under Hamilton. Burr would have beaten Hamilton to pieces, and what would have followed next, let the prophets foretell. But such would have been the result of Hamilton’s “enterprises of great pith and moment.” I say this would probably have been the course and result of things, had a majority of New England continued to be attached to Hamilton, his men and measures. But I am far from believing this. On the contrary, had not our envoys proceeded, had not the people expected a peace with France from that negotiation, New England herself, at the elections of 1800, would have turned out Hamilton’s whole party, and united with the southern and middle States in bringing in men who might have made peace on much less advantageous terms.

And now, let the world judge who “consulted much,” who “pondered much,” who “resolved slowly,” and who “resolved surely.”

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XV.

Mr. Hamilton acknowledges, that “the President had pledged himself in his speech” (he should have said in his message) “to send a minister, if satisfactory assurances of a proper reception were given.” Notwithstanding this, Mr. Hamilton, and all his confidential friends, exerted their utmost art and most strenuous endeavors to prevail on the President to violate this pledge. What can any man think of the disposition of these men towards the personal or official character of the President, but that they were secretly, if not avowedly, his most determined and most venomous enemies? When the measure had been solemnly, irrevocably determined, and could not be recalled nor delayed without indelible dishonor, I own I was astonished, I was grieved, I was afflicted, to see such artificial schemes employed, such delays studied, such embarrassments thrown in the way, by men who were, or at least ought to have been, my bosom friends.

This was a point of honor indeed; not such a stupid, fantastical point of honor as that which Mr. Hamilton maintains with so much fanaticism and so much folly; but a point of honor in which my moral character was involved as well as the public faith of the nation. Hamilton’s point of honor was such as one of those Irish duellists, who love fighting better than feasting, might have made a pretext for sending a challenge; and however conformable it might be to Hamilton’s manner of thinking, it was altogether inconsistent with the moral, religious, and political character of the people of America. It was such a point of honor as a Machiavelian or a Jesuit might have made a pretext for a war. It was such a point of honor as a Roman senate, in the most corrupt days of that republic, might have made a pretext for involving the nation in a foreign war, when patrician monopolies of land, and patrician usury at twelve per cent. a month, had excited the plebeian debtors to the crisis of a civil war. But the American people were not Roman plebeians. They were not to be deceived by such thin disguises.

Surely, those who have lately censured Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison, for insisting on knowing the satisfaction which was to be given for the outrage on the Chesapeake, before they Edition: current; Page: [296] revoked a certain proclamation, can never blame me for not insisting on a point that was no point of honor at all.

Mr. Hamilton says, “When the President pledged himself in his speech” (he should have said his message) “to send a minister, if satisfactory assurances of a proper reception were given, he must have been understood to mean such as were direct and official, not such as were both informal and destitute of a competent sanction.

The words “direct and indirect,” “official and inofficial,” “formal and informal,” “competent sanction,” &c., appear to have seized this gentleman’s mind, and to have rolled and tumbled in it till they had produced an entire confusion of his understanding.

He here supposes that I did not understand my own message, and patriotically undertakes to expound it both for me and the public. According to his metaphysics, I meant, by assurances of a proper reception, assurances direct and official, not such as were informal. Let me ask, what more formal or official assurances could have been given than Talleyrand’s letters? What more formal, official, or direct, than Mr. Gerry’s letters? If I understand Mr. Hamilton, he must have meant to say that my message demanded an ambassador to be sent directly from the Directory to me, for the express purpose of assuring me that they would receive a minister plenipotentiary from me. This, instead of being my meaning, was directly the reverse of it. From first to last I had refused to be taken in this snare. I had always refused to demand that a minister should be sent here first, though I had declared explicitly enough in my speech, that a French minister, if sent, should be received. I had always insisted that both the doors of negotiation should be held open. And as I have already said, I now repeat, that I preferred to send a minister rather than to receive one; not only for the reasons explained in a former letter, but because I thought the amende honorable ought to be made at Paris, where the offence was given; where it would be known and observed by all Europe; whereas, if it had been made at Philadelphia, little notice would have been taken of it by any part of the world.

I am somewhat disappointed in not finding in this pamphlet the word “obscure” applied to Mr. Pichon, because the newspapers in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, written by Mr. Edition: current; Page: [297] Hamilton’s coadjutors and fellow-laborers in the same field of scandal, had profusely scattered their dull sarcasms on the obscurity of the agent or agents at the Hague. Mr. Pichon obscure! A secretary of legation and chargé des affaires obscure, especially in the absence of his ambassador! The office of secretary of legation is an object of ambition and desire to many of the first scientific and literary characters in Europe. The place is worth about a thousand guineas a year, and affords a fine opportunity and great advantages for travel, and is commonly a sure road to promotion. These secretaries are almost always men of science, letters, and business. They are often more relied upon than the ambassadors themselves for the substantial part of business. Ambassadors are often chosen for their birth, rank, title, riches, beauty, elegance of manners, or good humor. They are intended to do honor to their sovereigns by their appearance and representation. Secretaries of legation are selected for their science, learning, talents, industry, and habits of business. I doubt not Mr. Locke or Sir Isaac Newton in their younger days would have thought themselves fortunate to have been offered such a place. Would these have been called obscure? Was Matthew Prior or David Hume obscure? Yet both of them were secretaries of legation!

Such reflections as these, which were thrown upon Mr. Pichon, might impose upon a people who knew no better than the writers, but must have been despised by every man who knew any thing of the world.

Had Talleyrand sent his letters to General Washington to be communicated to me, had he sent them directly to my Secretary of State, had he sent them to the Spanish minister to be by him communicated to the Secretary of State, or to the Dutch minister for the same purpose, I do not say that I would have nominated a minister in consequence of them; nor will I say that I would not. There is no need to determine this question, because, in fact, the utmost rigor of diplomatic etiquette was observed. But I will say, that my message demanded nothing but evidence to convince my own mind and give satisfaction to the Senate and the public, that a minister would be received. And if such evidence had arrived to me in any manner that would leave no doubt in the public mind, I would not have sacrificed the national neutrality to any diplomatic trammels or shackles whatever.

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XVI.

In page 26, Mr. Hamilton says, that the mission “could hardly fail to injure our interests with other countries.”

This is another of those phantoms which he had conjured up to terrify minds and nerves as weak as his own. It was a commonplace theme of discourse, which, no doubt, the British faction very efficaciously assisted him in propagating. I know it made impression on some, from whose lips I too often heard it, and from whom I expected more sense and firmness. It appeared to me so mean, servile, and timorous, that I own I did not always hear it with patience.

Which were those other countries? They could not be Spain, Holland, or any countries in the north or south of Europe which were in alliance with France or under her obedience. They could be only England, Russia, and Sweden, for we had nothing to do with any but maritime powers. And what interest of ours could be injured with any of these powers? Would any of these powers make war upon us, and sacrifice the benefits they received from our commerce, because we made peace with France, asserted and maintained our impartial neutrality, and stipulated nothing inconsistent with their rights, honor, or dignity? If such chimerical fears as these were to govern our conduct, it was idle to talk of our independence. We might as well petition the king and parliament of Great Britain to take us again under their gracious protection.

In page 36, he says, I “might secretly and confidentially have nominated one or more of our ministers actually abroad for the purpose of treating with France; with eventual instructions predicated upon appearances of approaching peace.”

Mr. Hamilton had entirely forgot the Constitution of the United States. All nominations must be made to the Senate, and if the President requests, and the Senate enjoins secrecy, secrecy will not be kept. Stephens Thompson Mason was then a member of the Senate; and if he had not been, there were twenty other means of communicating the thing to the public. Had secrecy been requested and enjoined when Mr. Murray was nominated, every man whose emulation was mortified would have had the secret in three hours. But had the secret been kept, Mr. Murray must have gone to Paris with his Edition: current; Page: [299] full powers, or must have communicated them to Mr. Pichon; the French government must have appointed a minister to treat with him; their full powers must have been exchanged; neither the French government nor their ministers would have kept it secret. And why all this cunning? That we might not give umbrage to England. This very motive, if there had been any thing in it, would have induced the French to proclaim it to all Europe. In truth, such a sneaking idea never entered my brain, and if it had, I would have spurned it as unworthy a moment’s consideration. Besides, this would have been the very indirect, circuitous mode that Mr. Hamilton so deeply deplores.

In page 37, another instance is given of my jealousy and suspicious disposition. The most open, unsuspicious man alive is accused of excessive suspicion!

I transiently asked one of the heads of departments, whether Ellsworth and Hamilton had come all the way from Windsor and New York to persuade me to countermand the mission. How came Mr. Hamilton to be informed of this?1

I know of no motive of Mr. Ellsworth’s journey. However, I have already acknowledged that Mr. Ellsworth’s conduct was perfectly proper.2 He urged no influence or argument for counteracting or postponing the mission.

Unsuspicious as I was, I could not resist the evidence of my senses. Hamilton, unasked, had volunteered his influence with all the arguments his genius could furnish, all the eloquence he possessed, and all the vehemence of action his feeble frame could exert. He had only betrayed his want of information, and his ardent zeal to induce me to break my word and violate the faith of the government. I know of no business he had at Trenton. Indeed I knew, that in strict propriety he had no right to come to Trenton at all without my leave. He was stationed at Newark, in the command of his division of the army, where he ought to have been employed in accommodating, disciplining, and teaching tactics to his troops, if he had Edition: current; Page: [300] been capable of it. He wisely left these things to another officer, who understood them better, but whom he hated for that very reason.

I have no more to say upon this great subject. Indeed, I am weary of exposing puerilities that would disgrace the awkwardest boy at college.

XVII.

Mr. Hamilton says, my “conduct in the office of President was a heterogeneous compound of right and wrong, of wisdom and error.” As at that time, in my opinion, his principal rule of right and wrong, of wisdom and error, was his own ambition and indelicate pleasures, I despise his censure, and should consider his approbation as a satire on my administration.

“The outset,” he says, “was distinguished by a speech which his friends lamented as temporizing. It had the air of a lure for the favor of his opponents at the expense of his sincerity.” Until I read this, I never heard one objection to that speech; and I have never heard another since, except in a letter from a lady, who said she did not like it, because there was but one period in it, and that period was too long. I fully agreed to that lady’s opinion, and now thank her for her criticism. Since that time I have never heard nor read, except in Wood’s History, any objection or criticism.

That address was dictated by the same spirit which produced my conference the next day with Mr. Jefferson, in which I proposed to him the idea of sending him to France, and the more serious thought of nominating Mr. Madison. It sprung from a very serious apprehension of danger to our country, and a sense of injustice to individuals, from that arbitrary and exclusive principle of faction which confines all employments and promotions to its own favorites. There is a distinction founded in truth and nature, between party and faction. The former is founded in principle and system, concerning the public good; the latter in private interest and passions. An honest party man will never exclude talents and virtues, and qualities eminently useful to the public, merely on account of a difference in Edition: current; Page: [301] opinion. A factious man will exclude every man alike, saint or sinner, who will not be a blind, passive tool. If I had been allowed to follow my own ideas, Hamilton and Burr, in my opinion, with submission to Divine Providence, would have been alive at this hour; General Muhlenberg, of Pennsylvania, would have been a Brigadier, under Hamilton, in the army, as long as it lasted; and the great body of Germans in Pennsylvania, instead of being disgraced with imputations of rebellion, would have been good friends of government. I have not room to develop all this at present.

But I soon found myself shackled. The heads of departments were exclusive patriots. I could not name a man who was not devoted to Hamilton, without kindling a fire.1 The Senate was now decidedly federal. During President Washington’s whole administration of eight years, his authority in the Senate was extremely weak. The Senate was equally divided in all great constitutional questions, and in all great questions of foreign relations; and such as were the most sharply contested were brought to my decision as Vice-President. When I was elected, the States had been pleased to make an entire change in the Senate. Two thirds of that honorable body were now decidedly federal. And prosperity had its usual effect on federal minds. It made them confident and presumptuous. I soon found that if I had not the previous consent of the heads of departments, and the approbation of Mr. Hamilton, I run the utmost risk of a dead negative in the Senate. One such negative, at least, I had, after a very formal and a very uncivil remonstrance of one of their large, unconstitutional committees in secret.

I have great reason to believe, that Mr. Jefferson came into office with the same spirit that I did, that is, with a sincere desire of conciliating parties, as far as he possibly could, consistently Edition: current; Page: [302] with his principles. But he soon found, as I did, that the Senate had a decided majority of republicans, five or six to one, a much greater majority than there was in my time of federalists, which was never more than two to one.

In the House of Representatives, in Mr. Washington’s time, the majority of federalists was very small. In my time, it was somewhat larger, but still small. In Mr. Jefferson’s time, the majority of republicans was immense, two or three, or four, to one. Consciousness of this strength had the same effect upon republicans as it had upon the federalists in my time. It made them confident, exclusive, and presumptuous. Mr. Jefferson found it impossible, as I did, to follow his own inclination on many occasions.

It may be thought presumption in me to impute errors to the nation; but, as I have never concealed from the people any truth which it was important to them to know, nor any opinion of my own, which was material in public affairs, I hope to be excused if I suggest, that the general sentiment in most parts of the continent, that all the danger to liberty arises from the executive power, and that the President’s office cannot be too much restrained, is an error.

Corruption in almost all free governments has begun and been first introduced in the legislature. When any portion of executive power has been lodged in popular or aristocratical assemblies, it has seldom, if ever, failed to introduce intrigue. The executive powers lodged in the Senate are the most dangerous to the Constitution, and to liberty, of all the powers in it.1 The people, then, ought to consider the President’s office as the indispensable guardian of their rights. I have ever, therefore, been of opinion, that the electors of President ought to be chosen by the people at large. The people cannot be too careful in the choice of their Presidents; but when they have chosen them, they ought to expect that they will act their own independent judgments, and not be wheedled nor intimidated by factious combinations of senators, representatives, heads of departments, or military officers.

The exclusive principle which has been adopted and too openly avowed by both our great divisions, when the pendulum Edition: current; Page: [303] has swung to their side, is a principle of faction, and not of honest party. It is intolerance! It is despotism! It destroys the freedom of the press! the freedom of elections! the freedom of debate! the freedom of deliberation! the freedom of private judgment! And as long as the Senate shall be determined to negative all but their own party, the President can have no will or judgment of his own. I most earnestly entreat all parties to reconsider their resolutions on this subject.

XVIII.

In page 29, Mr. Hamilton says, “When an ordinary man dreams himself to be a Frederick,” &c.

To this I shall make but a short answer. When a Miss of the street shall print a pamphlet in London, and call the Queen of England an ordinary woman who dreams herself a Catharine of Russia, no Englishman will have the less esteem for his queen for that impudent libel.

There is something in the 24th page of a graver complexion. It is said, that “the session which ensued the promulgation of the despatches of our commissioners was about to commence.” This was the session of 1798. “Mr. Adams arrived at Philadelphia. The tone of his mind seemed to have been raised.”

Let me ask a candid public, how did Mr. Hamilton know any thing of the tone of Mr. Adams’s mind, either before or at that conference? To make the comparison, he must have known the state of Mr. Adams’s mind at both these periods. He had never conversed with Mr. Adams before, nor was he present at that conference. Who was the musician that took the pitch of Mr. Adams’s mind, at the two moments here compared together? And what was the musical instrument, or whose exquisite ear was it, that ascertained so nicely the vibrations of the air, and Mr. Adams’s sensibility to them? Had Mr. Hamilton a spy in the cabinet, who transmitted to him, from day to day, the confidential communications between the President and heads of department? If there existed such a spy, why might he not communicate these conferences to Mr. Liston, or the Marquis Yrujo, as well as to Mr. Hamilton? He had as clear a right. I believe that all the privy counsellors of the Edition: current; Page: [304] world but our own are under an oath of secrecy; and ours ought to be. But as they are not, their own honor and sense of propriety ought, with them, to be obligations as sacred as an oath.1

The truth is, I had arrived at Philadelphia from a long journey, which had been delayed longer than I intended, very much fatigued; and as no time was to be lost, I sent for the heads of departments to consult, in the evening, upon the points to be inserted in the speech to Congress, who were soon to meet.

My intention was, in the language of the lawyers, merely to break the questions, or meet the points necessary for us to consider; not intending to express any opinion of my own, or to request any opinion of theirs upon any point; but merely to take the questions into their consideration, and give me their advice upon all of them at a future meeting.

I observed that I found, by various sources of information, and particularly by some of the newspapers in Boston and New York, that there was a party who expected an unqualified recommendation of a declaration of war against France.

These paragraphs, I was well satisfied, were written by gentlemen who were in the confidence and correspondence of Hamilton, and one of the heads of departments at least, though I gave them no intimation of this.

I said to the gentlemen, that I supposed it would be expected of us, that we should consider this question, and be able to give our reasons for the determination, whatever it might be.

The conduct of the gentlemen upon this question was such as I wished it to be upon all the others. No one of them gave an opinion either for or against a declaration of war. There was something, however, in the total silence and reserve of all of them, and in the countenances of some, that appeared to me to be the effect of disappointment. It seemed to me, that they expected I should have proposed a declaration of war, and only asked their advice to sanction it. However, not a word was said.

That there was a disappointment, however, in Hamilton and his friends, is apparent enough from this consideration, that Edition: current; Page: [305] when it was known that a declaration of war was not to be recommended in the President’s speech, a caucus was called of members of Congress, to see if they could not get a vote for a declaration of war, without any recommendation from the President, as they had voted the alien and sedition law, and the army.1 What passed in that caucus, and how much zeal there was in some, and who they were, Judge Sewall can tell better than I. All that I shall say is, that Mr. Hamilton’s friends could not carry the vote.2

My second proposition to the heads of departments was to consider, in case we should determine against a declaration of war, what was the state of our relations with France, and whether any further attempt at negotiation should be made.

Instead of the silence and reserve with which my first question was received, Mr. Hamilton shall relate what was said.

Mr. Hamilton says, “It was suggested to him (Mr. Adams) that it might be expedient to insert in the speech a sentiment of this import; that, after the repeatedly rejected advances of this country, its dignity required that it should be left with France in future to make the first overture; that if, desirous of reconciliation, she should evince the disposition by sending a minister to this government, he would be received with the respect due to his character, and treated with in the frankness of a sincere desire of accommodation. The suggestion was received in a manner both indignant and intemperate.”

I demand again, how did Mr. Hamilton obtain this information? Had he a spy in the cabinet? If he had, I own I had Edition: current; Page: [306] rather that all the courts in Europe should have had spies there; for they could have done no harm by any true information they could have obtained there; whereas Hamilton has been able to do a great deal of mischief by the pretended information he has published.1

It is very true, that I thought this proposition intended to close the avenues to peace, and to ensure a war with France; for I did believe that some of the heads of departments were confident, in their own minds, that France would not send a minister here.

From the intimate intercourse between Hamilton and some of the heads of departments, which is demonstrated to the world and to posterity by this pamphlet, I now appeal to every candid and impartial man, whether there is not reason to suspect and to believe, whether there is not a presumption, a violent presumption, that Hamilton himself had furnished this machine to his correspondent in the cabinet,2 for the very purpose of ensnaring me, at unawares, of ensuring a war with France, and enabling him to mount his hobby-horse, the command of an army of fifty thousand, ten thousand of them to be horse.

Hamilton says, “the suggestion was received in a manner both indignant and intemperate.” This is false. It is true, it was urged with so much obstinacy, perseverance, and indecency, not to say intemperance, that at last I declared I would not adopt it, in clear and strong terms.3

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Mr. Hamilton says, “Mr. Adams declared, as a sentiment he had adopted on mature reflection, that if France should send a minister here to-morrow, he would order him back the day after.”

Here I ask again, where, how, and from whom did he get this information. Was it from his spy in the cabinet? Or was it the fabrication of his own “sublimated, eccentric,”1 and intemperate imagination? In either case, it is an entire misrepresentation.

I said that, when in my retirement at Quincy, the idea of the French government sending a minister here had sometimes occurred to me, my first thoughts were, that I would send him back the next day after his arrival, as a retaliation for their sending ours back; and because the affront offered to us had been at Paris, publicly, in the face of all Europe, the atonement ought to be upon the same theatre; and because, as the French government had publicly and officially declared that they would Edition: current; Page: [308] receive no minister plenipotentiary from the United States until the President had made apologies for his speeches and answers to addresses, they ought to be made to retract and take back that rash declaration on the same spot where it had been made. They might send a minister here consistently with that offensive declaration. This was my first thought; but upon mature reflection I saw that this would not be justifiable; for to retaliate one breach of principle by another breach of principle, was neither the morality nor the policy that had been taught me by my father and my tutors. Our principle was, that the right of embassy was sacred. I would therefore sacredly respect it, if they sent a minister here. But I would not foreclose myself from sending a minister to France, if I saw an opening for it consistent with our honor; in short, that I would leave both doors and all doors wide open for a negotiation. All this refutation came from myself, not from the heads of departments.

All that he says in this place and in the beginning of the next page, of my wavering, is false. My mind never underwent any revolution or alteration at all, after I left Quincy. I inserted no declaration in my speech, that I would not send a minister to France, nor any declaration that, if France would give assurances of receiving a minister from this country, I would send one. Nothing like that declaration was ever made, except in my message to Congress, of the 21st of June, 1798, in these words: “I will never send another minister to France, without assurances that he will be received, respected, and honored, as the representative of a great, free, powerful, and independent nation.” This declaration finally effected the peace.1

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Both the doors of negotiation were left open. The French might send a minister here without conditions; we might send one to France upon condition of a certainty that he would be received in character.

What conduct did the French government hold in consequence of this declaration? They retracted their solemn and official declaration, that they would receive no minister plenipotentiary, in future, from the United States, without apologies from the President for his speeches and answers to addresses. They withdrew, and expressly disavowed, all claims of loans and douceurs, which had been held up in a very high tone. They even gave encouragement, I might say they promised, to make provision for an equitable compensation for spoliations. They promised to receive our ministers, and they did receive them, and made peace with them,—a peace that completely accomplished a predominant wish of my heart for five-and-twenty years before, which was to place our relations with France and with Great Britain upon a footing of equality and impartiality, that we might be able to preserve, in future, an everlasting neutrality in all the wars of Europe.

I see now with great pleasure, that England professes to acknowledge and adopt this our principle of impartiality, and I hope that France will soon adopt it too. The two powers ought to see, that it is the only principle we can adopt with safety to ourselves or justice to them. If this is an error, it is an error in which I have been invariably and unchangeably fixed for five-and-thirty years, in the whole course of which I have never seen reason to suspect it to be an error, and I now despair of ever discovering any such reasons.

Nevertheless, Mr. Hamilton calls the declaration that accomplished all this “a pernicious declaration!”

Pernicious it was to his views of ambition and domination. It extinguished his hopes of being at the head of a victorious Edition: current; Page: [310] army of fifty thousand men, without which, he used to say, he had no idea of having a head upon his shoulders for four years longer.

Thus it is, when self-sufficient ignorance impertinently obtrudes itself into offices and departments, in which it has no right, nor color, nor pretence to interfere.

Thus it is, when ambition undertakes to sacrifice all characters, and the peace of nations, to its own private interest.

I have now finished all I had to say on the negotiations and peace with France in 1800.

In the mean time, when I look back on the opposition and embarrassments I had to overcome, from the faction of British subjects, from that large body of Americans who revere the English and abhor the French, from some of the heads of departments, from so many gentlemen in Senate, and so many more in the House of Representatives, and from the insidious and dark intrigues as well as open remonstrances of Mr. Hamilton, I am astonished at the event.

In some of my jocular moments I have compared myself to an animal I have seen take hold of the end of a cord with his teeth, and be drawn slowly up by pullies, through a storm of squibs, crackers, and rockets, flashing and blazing round him every moment; and though the scorching flames made him groan, and mourn, and roar, he would not let go his hold till he had reached the ceiling of a lofty theatre, where he hung some time, still suffering a flight of rockets, and at last descended through another storm of burning powder, and never let go till his four feet were safely landed on the floor.

In some of my social hours I have quoted Virgil:

  • Fata obstant, placidasque viri Deus obstruit aures.
  • Ac velut, annoso validam cum robore quercum
  • Alpini Boreæ nunc hinc nunc flatibus illinc
  • Eruere inter se certant; it stridor; et alte
  • Consternunt terram concusso stipite frondes;
  • Ipsa hæret scopulis; et quantum vertice ad auras
  • Ætherias, tantum radice in Tartara tendit;
  • Haud secus assiduis hinc atque hinc vocibus heros
  • Tunditur, et magno persentit pectore curas.
  • Mens immota manet; lacrimæ volvuntur inanes.
  • Lib. 4. 440.
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  • His hardened heart nor prayers nor threatenings move;
  • Fate and the Gods had stopp’d his ears . . . .
  • As when the winds their airy quarrel try,
  • Justling from every quarter of the sky;
  • This way and that the mountain oak they bend,
  • His boughs they shatter, and his branches rend;
  • With leaves and falling mast they spread the ground.
  • The hollow vallies to the echo sound;
  • Unmov’d, the sturdy plant their fury mocks,
  • Or shaken, clings more closely to the rocks;
  • Far as he shoots his towering head on high,
  • So deep in earth his deep foundations lie;
  • No less a storm the Trojan hero bears;
  • Thick messages and loud complaints he hears,
  • And bandied words still beating on his ears.
  • Sighs, groans, and tears, proclaim his inward pains,
  • But the firm purpose of his heart remains.
  • Dryden, B. 4. 636.

But this is all levity. There have been sober hours, not a few; and I know not that there has been one in which I have not adored that providence of Almighty God, which alone could have carried me safely through, to a successful issue, this transaction, and so many others equally difficult, and infinitely more dangerous to my life, if not to my reputation.

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THE INADMISSIBLE PRINCIPLES OF THE KING OF ENGLAND’S PROCLAMATION OF OCTOBER 16, 1807, CONSIDERED.

This letter, in the date of its publication in the Boston Patriot, precedes those which have gone before. It was subsequently published in a pamphlet with the above title. It is placed in this order, because it is connected with the history of later events.

The difficulties with Great Britain, which led to the adoption of the act of embargo, of 1808, by the Congress of the United States, incidentally opened a new subject of difference between Mr. Pickering and Mr. Adams. Mr. Pickering was then a senator of the United States from Massachusetts, and in that capacity published, in the form of a letter addressed to Governor Sullivan, an appeal to the people of the State against that measure. In the course of it he alluded to the proclamation of the King of England, which constituted one great cause of difficulty, in the terms which are quoted, and which form the text of the following paper. The letter of the 26th of December, alluded to at the commencement, was addressed to J. B. Varnum, then a member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts. It may be found in the general correspondence.

In my letter of the 26th of December, it was remarked that the proclamation for pressing seamen from our merchant ships had not been sufficiently reprobated. Some of the reasons Edition: current; Page: [313] for that opinion will be found in the following commentaries, which were written for private amusement, within a few days after the appearance in public of this

TEXT.

The proclamation of the King of Great Britain, requiring the return of his subjects, the seamen especially, from foreign countries, to aid in this hour of peculiar danger, in defence of their own . . . .

But it being an acknowledged principle, that every nation has a right to the service of its subjects in time of war, that proclamation could not furnish the slightest ground for an embargo.

This partial description has a tendency to deceive many, and no doubt has deceived thousands. It is concealing the asp in a basket of figs. The dangerous, alarming, and fatal part of the proclamation is kept carefully out of sight.

Proclamations of one kind are of immemorial usage; but the present one is the first of the kind. Proclamations of the first kind, issued usually in the beginning of a war, are in effect but simple invitations to subjects, who happen to be abroad, to return home. To deny the right of the king to issue them, would be as unreasonable as to deny his right to send a card of invitation to one of his subjects to dine with him on St. George’s day; but in neither case is the subject bound by law to accept the invitation. As it is natural to every human mind to sympathize with its native country when in distress or danger, it is well known that considerable numbers of British commonly return home from various foreign countries, in consequence of these invitations by proclamation. The British ambassadors, consuls, agents, governors, and other officers give the proclamations a general circulation, stimulate the people to return, and contrive many means to encourage and facilitate their passages. All this is very well. All this is within the rules of modesty, decency, law, and justice. No reasonable man will object to it. But none of these proclamations, till this last, ever asserted a right to take British subjects, by force, from the ships of foreign nations, any more than from the cities and provinces of foreign nations. On the other hand, it is equally clear, that British subjects in foreign countries are under no indispensable obligation of religion, morality, law, or policy, to return, in compliance Edition: current; Page: [314] with such proclamations. No penalty is annexed by English laws to any neglect; no, nor to any direct or formal disobedience. Hundreds, in fact, do neglect and disobey the proclamations, to one who complies with them. Thousands who have formed establishments and settled families, or become naturalized, or made contracts, or enlisted on board merchant ships, or even ships of war, in foreign countries, pay no regard to these orders or invitations of their former sovereign. Indeed, all who have become naturalized in foreign countries, or entered into contracts of any kind, public or private, with governments or merchants, farmers or manufacturers, have no right to return until they have fulfilled their covenants and obligations. The President of the United States has as legal authority to issue similar proclamations, and they would be as much respected by American citizens all over the globe. But every American would say his compliance was voluntary, and none, whose engagements abroad were incompatible with compliance, would obey.

But “it is an acknowledged principle, that every nation has a right to the service of its subjects in time of war.” By whom is this principle acknowledged? By no man, I believe, in the unlimited sense in which it is here asserted. With certain qualifications and restrictions it may be admitted. Within the realm and in his own dominions the king has a right to the service of his subjects, at sea and on land, by voluntary enlistments, and to send them abroad on foreign voyages, expeditions, and enterprises; but it would be difficult to prove the right of any executive authority of a free people to compel free subjects into service by conscriptions or impressments, like galley-slaves, at the point of the bayonet, or before the mouths of field artillery. Extreme cases and imperious necessity, it is said, have no laws; but such extremities and necessity must be very obvious to the whole nation, or freemen will not comply. Impressments of seamen from British merchantmen, in port or at sea, are no better than the conscriptions of soldiers by Napoleon, or Louis XIV. who set him the example.

So much for that part of the proclamation, which the text produces to public view. Now for the other part, which it has artfully concealed. The king not only commands his subjects to return, but he commands the officers of his navy to search the Edition: current; Page: [315] merchant ships of neutrals (meaning Americans, for it is not applicable to any others, nor intended to be applied to any others,) and impress all British seamen they find on board, without regard to any allegations of naturalization; without regard to any certificates of citizenship; without regard to any contracts, covenants, or connections they have formed with captains or owners; and without regard to any marriages, families, or children they may have in America. And in what principle or law is this founded? Is there any law of God to support it? Is there any law of nature to justify it? Is there any law of England to authorize it? Certainly not. The laws of England have no binding force on board American ships, more than the laws of China or Japan. The laws of the United States alone, of which the law of nations is a part, have dominion over our merchant ships. In what law, then, is it grounded? In the law of nations? It is a counterfeit foisted into that law, by this arbitrary, fraudulent proclamation, for the first time. Such a title, as Impressment of Seamen, was never found in any code of laws, since the first canoe was launched into the sea; not even in that of England. Whoever claims a right, must produce a law to support it. But this proclamation attempts to transfer a pretended right of impressing seamen from their own ships, which, in truth, is only an enormous abuse, to the impressment of seamen from foreign nations, foreign ships, and foreign subjects. The horror of this gross attempt, this affront to our understandings as well as feelings, this contempt of our natural and national resentment of injuries, as well as of our sympathies with fellow-citizens and fellow-creatures, suffering the vilest oppression under inhumanity and cruelty, could never have appeared in the world, had not the spirits of Lord Bute and Lord George Germaine risen again at St. James’s.

It is in vain for the Britons to say, these men are the king’s subjects. How are they the king’s subjects? By British laws. And what are the British laws to us, on the high seas? No more than the laws of Otaheite. We Americans must say, they are our fellow-citizens by our laws. They have sworn allegiance to the United States. We have admitted them to all the rights and privileges of American citizens, and by this admission have contracted with them to support and defend them in the enjoyment of all such rights. Our laws acknowledge no Edition: current; Page: [316] divine right of kings greater than those of subjects, nor any indefeasible duty of subjects, more than that of kings, to obedience. These remnants of feudal tyranny and ecclesiastical superstition have been long since exploded in America. The king claims them, to make them slaves. The President of the United States claims them, as it is his duty to do, by his office and his oath, not to enslave them, but to protect them and preserve them free. Our laws are as good as British laws. Our citizens have as good a right to protection as British subjects, and our government is as much bound to afford it.

What is impressment of seamen? It is no better than what the civilians call plagiat, a crime punishable with death by all civilized nations, as one of the most audacious and punishable offences against society. It was so considered among the Hebrews. “He that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.” Exodus xxi. 16. “If a man be found stealing any of his brethren, then that thief shall die.” Deuteronomy xxiv. 7. The laws of Athens, like those of the Hebrews, condemned the plagiary or man-stealer to death; and the laws of Rome pronounced the same judgment against the same outrage. But to descend from the Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans to the British; what is the impressment of seamen in England, by their own laws, in their own ports, from their own ships within the four seas, or anywhere on the high seas? It is said to be an usage. So were ship-money, loans, and benevolences in the reign of Charles the First; and arguments were used by his courtiers to prove their legality, as plausible and conclusive as any that have been produced by Judge Foster in favor of impressment. It is at best but an abuse, subsisting only by toleration and connivance, like the practice in Holland of kidnapping men for settlers or servants in Batavia. It is in direct contradiction and violation of every principle of English liberty. It is a direct violation of Magna Charta, and the fifty-five confirmations of it in parliament, and a bold defiance of all the ecclesiastical execrations against the violators of it. It is in direct violation of all their other statutes, bills, and petitions of right, as well as the Habeas Corpus Act. It deprives free subjects of their liberty, property, and often of their lives, without Edition: current; Page: [317] alleging or pretending any accusation against them of any crime or fault. It deprives them of the trial by jury, and subjects them to scourges and death by martial law and the judgments of courts-martial. It is a kind of civil war made upon innocent, unoffending subjects. It is said that in a general impressment, like that of Admiral Keppell, it cost the nation, in cutters, luggers, press-gangs, and it might have been added, Nanny-houses and rendezvous of debauchery and corruption, a hundred pounds for every man they obtained. The practice is not avowed or acknowledged by the nation. No parliament ever dared to legitimate or sanction it. No court of law ever dared to give a judgment in favor of it. No judge or lawyer that ever I heard of, till Foster, ever ventured to give a private opinion to encourage it.

Thurlow, when he was Chancellor, hazarded a saying to a committee of the city of London, that the practice of impressment of seamen was legal; but the committee answered him respectfully, but firmly, though in the presence of the king in council—“We acknowledge the high authority of your lordship’s opinion, but we must declare that we are of a very different opinion;” and their answer appeared to be applauded by the nation. Press-gangs are continually opposed and resisted at sea by the sailors, whenever they have the means or the least hope of escaping. Navy officers and men are sometimes killed, and there is no inquisition for their blood. As little noise as possible is made about it. It is known to be justifiable homicide to take the life of an assailant in the necessary defence of a man’s liberty. There is not a jury in England who would find a verdict of murder or manslaughter against any sailor, on land or at sea, who should kill any one of a press-gang in the necessary defence of his liberty from impressment. Press-gangs on shore are often resisted by the people, fired on, some of them wounded and sometimes killed. Yet no inquisition is made for this. The practice is held in abhorrence by the men-of-war’s-men themselves. The boatswain of the Rose frigate, after the acquittal of the four Irish sailors, who were prosecuted in a special court of admiralty at Boston, for killing a gallant and amiable officer, Lieutenant Panton, said, “This is a kind of work in which I have been almost constantly engaged for twenty years, i. e., in fighting with honest sailors, to deprive Edition: current; Page: [318] them of their liberty. I always suspected that I ought to be hanged for it, but now I know it.”

Since I have alluded to this case, it may not be amiss to recollect some other circumstances of it. A press-gang from the Rose, commanded by Lieutenant Panton, with a midshipman and a number of ordinary seamen, visited and searched a merchant-ship from Marblehead, belonging to Mr. Hooper, at sea. The lieutenant inquired if any English, Irish, or Scotchmen were on board. Not satisfied with the answer he received, he prepared to search the ship from stem to stern. At last he found four Irishmen retired and concealed in the forepeak. With swords and pistols he immediately laid siege to the inclosure, and summoned the men to surrender. Corbet, who had the cool intrepidity of a Nelson, reasoned, remonstrated, and laid down the law with the precision of a Mansfield. “I know who you are. You are the lieutenant of a man-of-war, come with a press-gang to deprive me of my liberty. You have no right to impress me. I have retreated from you as far as I can. I can go no father. I and my companions are determined to stand upon our defence. Stand off.” The sailors within and without employed their usual language to each other, and a midshipman, in the confusion, fired a pistol into the forepeak, and broke an arm of one of the four. Corbet, who stood at the entrance, was engaged in a contest of menaces and defiances with the lieutenant. He repeated what he had before said, and marking a line with a harpoon in the salt, with which the ship was loaded, said, “You are determined to deprive me of my liberty, and I am determined to defend it. If you step over that line, I shall consider it as a proof that you are determined to impress me, and by the eternal God of Heaven, you are a dead man.” “Aye, my lad,” said the lieutenant, “I have seen many a brave fellow before now.” Taking his snuff-box out of his pocket, and taking a pinch of snuff, he very deliberately stepped over the line, and attempted to seize Corbet. The latter, drawing back his arm, and driving his harpoon with all his force, cut off the carotid artery and jugular vein, and laid the lieutenant dead at his feet. The Rose sent a reënforcement to the press-gang. They broke down the bulk-head, and seized the four Irishmen, and brought them to trial for piracy and murder. The court consisted of Edition: current; Page: [319] Governor Bernard, Governor Wentworth, Chief Justice Hutchinson, Judge Auchmuty, Commodore Hood himself, who then commanded all the ships of war on the station, now a peer of the British empire, and twelve or fifteen others, counsellors of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. After the trial, the President, Governor Bernard, pronounced the judgment of the court, that the act of the prisoners was justifiable homicide, and in this opinion the whole court was unanimous.1 The sailor who was wounded in the arm, brought an action against the midshipman, and Commodore Hood himself interposed and made compensation to the sailor, to his satisfaction, after which the action was withdrawn. Such was the impressment of seamen, as it stood, by law, before our revolution. The author of my text, then, carries his courtly complaisance to the English government, farther than the Governors Bernard and Hutchinson, and even than Lord Hood carried it, when we were a part of the British empire. He thinks, that, as every nation has a right to the service of its subjects, in time of war, the proclamation of the King of Great Britain, commanding his naval officers to practise such impressments on board, not the vessels of his own subjects, but of the United States, a foreign nation, could not furnish the slightest ground for an embargo! It is not necessary for me to say, that any thing could furnish a sufficient ground for an embargo, for any long time; this, I leave to the responsibility of our President, senators, and representatives in Congress. But, I say, with confidence, that it furnished a sufficient ground for a declaration of war. Not the murder of Pierce, nor all the murders on board the Chesapeake, nor all the other injuries and insults we have received from foreign nations, atrocious as they have been, can be of such dangerous, lasting, and pernicious consequence to this country, as this proclamation, if we have servility enough to submit to it.

What would the author of my text have advised? Would he counsel the President to stipulate, in a treaty with Great Britain, that his navy officers should forever hereafter have a right to visit and search all American merchant-ships, and impress from them all English, Scotch, and Irish seamen? Will he be so Edition: current; Page: [320] good as to explain the distinction between ships of war and merchant-ships? Are not merchant-ships under the jurisdiction and entitled to the protection of the laws of their country upon the high seas as much as ships of war? Is not a merchant-ship as much the territory of the United States as a ship of war? Would the author of my text advise the President and Congress to acquiesce, in silence, under this proclamation, and permit it to be executed forever hereafter? Would not such a tame and silent acquiescence as effectually yield the point, and establish the practice, if not the law, as an express stipulation in a solemn treaty? If the United States had as powerful a navy as Great Britain, and Great Britain as feeble a force at sea as ours, would he advise the President either to concede the principle by treaty, or acquiesce in it in silence? Does the circumstance of great power or great weakness make any alteration in the principle or the right? Should the captain or crew of an American merchant-man resist a British press-gang on the high seas, and, in defence of their liberty, kill the commander and all under him, and then make their escape, and after returning to Salem be prosecuted, would the writer of my text, as a judge or a juror, give his judgment for finding them guilty of murder or piracy?

Although the embargo was made the watchword in our late elections, the votes, in our greatest nurseries of seamen, for example, in Salem, in Marblehead, in Barnstable, Sandwich, and other places on Cape Cod, in Nantucket, and the Vineyard, and other places, seemed to show, that our seamen preferred to be embargoed rather than go to sea to be impressed.

No doubt it will be said, that we have nothing to do with the question in England concerning the legality or illegality of impressments. This, as long as they confine the law and the practice to their own territory, to their own ships, and their own seamen, is readily acknowledged. We shall leave them to justify their own usage, whether it is a mere abuse or a legitimate custom, to their own consciences, to their own sense of equity, humanity, or policy. But when they arrogate a right, and presume in fact, to transfer their usurpation to foreign nations, or rather to Americans, whom they presume to distinguish from all other foreign nations, it becomes the interest, the right, and the indispensable duty of our government to inquire into the nefarious nature of it in England, in order to expose the Edition: current; Page: [321] greater turpitude of it when transferred to us, as well as to oppose and resist it to the utmost of their power; and it is equally the duty of the people to support their government in such opposition to the last extremity.

Permit me now to inquire, what will be the effects of an established law and practice of British impressments of seamen from American ships, upon the commerce, the navigation, and the peace of the United States, and, above all, upon the hearts and minds of our seamen.

In considering those innumerable dangers, from winds and seas, rocks and shoals, to which all ships are exposed in their voyages, the owner and master must sit down together in order to determine the number of seamen necessary for the voyage. They must calculate the chances of impressment, and engage a supernumerary list of sailors, that they may be able to spare as many as the British lieutenant shall please to take, and have enough left to secure the safety of the ship and cargo, and above all, the lives of the master and crew. They know not how many British ships of war they may meet, nor how many sailors the conscience of each lieutenant may allow him to impress. For the lieutenant is to be judge, jury, sheriff, and gaoler, to every seaman in American vessels. He is to try many important questions of law and of fact; whether the sailor is a native of America; whether he has been lawfully naturalized in America; whether he is an Englishman, Scotchman, or Irishman; whether he emigrated to America before the revolution or since. Indeed, no evidence is to be admitted of any naturalization by our laws, in any of the States since the revolution, if before. In truth, the doctrine of the inherent and indefeasible duty of allegiance is asserted so peremptorily in the proclamation, that the lieutenant may think it his duty to impress every man who was born in the British dominions. It may be the opinion of this learned judge, that the connection between the king and subject is so sacred and divine, that allegiance cannot be dissolved by any treaty the king has made, or even by any act of parliament. And this pious sentiment may subject us all to impressment at once. This, however, en passant.

The lieutenant is to order the captain of the merchant-man to lay before him a list of his crew; he is then to command the crew to be ordered, or summoned, or mustered, to pass in review Edition: current; Page: [322] before him. A tribunal ought to be erected. The lieutenant is to be the judge, possessed of greater authority than the Chief Justice of any of our States, or even than the Chief Justice of the United States. The midshipman is to be clerk, and the boatswain, sheriff or marshal. And who are these lieutenants? Commonly very young gentlemen, the younger sons of wealthy families, who have procured their commissions to give them an honorable living, instead of putting them apprentices to trade, merchandise, law, physic, or divinity. Their education, their experience, their manners, their principles, are so well known, that I shall say nothing of them. Lord Keppel said, that he knew the maxim of British seamen to be, “to do no right and receive no wrong.” The principles of the officers I believe to be somewhat better; but in this they all seem to agree, officers and men, and their present ministry seem to be of the same opinion, that the world was made for the British nation, and that all nature and nations were created for the dignity and omnipotence of the British navy.

It is impossible to figure to ourselves, in imagination, this solemn tribunal and venerable judge, without smiling, till the humiliation of our country comes into our thoughts, and interrupts the sense of ridicule, by the tears of grief or vengeance.

  • “High on a splendid seat, which far outshone
  • Henley’s gilt tub, or Flecnoe’s Irish throne”—

the lieutenant examines the countenance, the gait and air of every seaman. Like the sage of old, commands him to speak “that he may know him.” He pronounces his accent and dialect to be that of the Scotch, Irish, West Country, Yorkshire, Welsh, Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, or Sark. Many native Americans are the descendants of emigrants from all these countries, and retain a tincture of the language and pronunciation of their fathers and grandfathers. These will be decided to be the king’s subjects. Many will be found to be emigrants or the descendants of emigrants from Germany, Holland, Sweden, France, Spain, Portugal, or Italy. These will be adjudged by the lieutenant not to be native Americans. They will be thought to have no friends in America who will care enough for them to make much noise, and these will be impressed. If there should be any natives or sons of natives of any of the West India Islands, or of any part of the East Indies, Edition: current; Page: [323] where the king is said to have thirty millions of subjects, these must all be impressed, for conquest confers the indelible character of subjects as well as birth. But if neither English, Scotch, Irish, Welsh, Italian, German, Dutchman, Spaniard, Portuguese, East or West India man is found, the reverend lieutenant will think, if he is prudent enough not to say, Jura negat sibi lata, nihil non arrogat armis. “Our ship is so weakly manned, that we cannot fight an enemy; we cannot even navigate her in safety in bad weather. Procul a Jove, procul a fulmine. I will take as many native Americans as I please. It will be long before I can be called to account; and at last, I can say that I saved the king’s ship, and perhaps beat a Frenchman, by the aid of this meritorious impressment, and I am sure of friends who will not only bring me off, but obtain a promotion for me even for this patriotic action.” How many American ships and cargoes will be sunk in the sea, or driven on shore, wrecked and lost; how many masters and remaining sailors will be buried in the oceans for want of the assistance of the men thus kidnapped and stolen, no human foresight can calculate. It is, however, easy to predict that the number must be very great. These considerations, it seems, have no weight in the estimation of the British ministry. Their hearts are not taught to feel another’s woe. But all these things the captain and owner of an American merchant-ship must take into consideration, and make the subjects of calculation before they can venture to sea. In short, there should be a corporation erected in every State for the express purpose of insuring against impressment of seamen. In a course of time and experience the chances might be calculated, so that the insurers and insured might at a great expense be secure. But the poor sailors can never be safe.

The law must be settled, or remain unsettled. If such impressments are determined to be legal, either by treaty or by acquiescence in the King’s Proclamation, it will establish in the minds of British seamen a pride of superiority and a spirit of domination, and in the minds of American seamen a consciousness of inferiority and a servile spirit of submission, that ages will not eradicate. If the question is allowed to remain undetermined, American seamen will fight in defence of their liberty whenever they see the smallest prospect of escaping, and sometimes Edition: current; Page: [324] when there is none. They will kill and be killed. Some will be punished for their resistance on board the British men of war; and some may be carried to a British port and there be prosecuted for piracy and murder. This, however, will seldom or ever be done; for I still believe there is sense and justice enough in the British nation and their juries to acquit any seaman, American or British, who should kill a press-gang in defence of his liberty; but if he should escape and return to America, and be here prosecuted, I will not believe there is a judge or juror on the continent so ignorant of the law, so dead to every sense of justice, so abandoned by every feeling of humanity, as to find him guilty of any crime, if it were proved that he had killed a dozen press-gangs in defence of his freedom. We shall have a continual warfare at sea, like that lately at Canton. Our Secretary of State’s office will be filled with representations and complaints. Our nation will be held in a constant state of irritation and fermentation, and our government always distressed between their anxiety to relieve their fellow-citizens, and their inability to serve them.

A republican, who asserts the duty of jealousy, ought to suspect that this proclamation was dictated by a spirit as hostile and malicious as it was insidious, for the determined purpose of depressing the character of our seamen. Take from a sailor his pride and his courage, and he becomes a poor animal indeed; broken-hearted, dejected, depressed even below the standard of other men of his own level in society. A habit of fear will be established in his mind. At the sight of a British man-of-war a panic will seize him; his spirits will sink, and if it be only a cutter or a lugger, he will think of nothing but flight and escape. What but the haughty spirit of their seamen, which has been encouraged and supported for ages by the nation, has given the British navy its superiority over the navies of other nations? “Who shall dare to set bounds to the commerce and naval power of Great Britain?” is the magnificent language of defiance in parliament, and it vibrates and echoes through every heart in the nation. Every British sailor is made to believe himself the master and commander of the world. If the right of impressment is conceded by us, in theory or practice, our seamen’s hearts will be broken, and every British seaman will say to every American seaman, as the six nations of Indians Edition: current; Page: [325] said to the southern tribes, whom they had conquered, “We have put petticoats on you.” In such a case many would have too much reason to say, let us no longer rejoice for independence, or think of a navy or free commerce, no longer hope for any rank in the world, but bow our necks again to the yoke of Great Britain.

If the spirit of a man should remain in our sailors, they will sometimes resist. Should a British cutter demand to search an American merchant-ship of five hundred tons burthen, armed as they sometimes are, and have a right to be—the commander of the cutter calls for a muster of the men, in order to impress such as be, in his wisdom, shall judge to be British subjects. Is it credible that the captain and crew of the merchant-man will submit to such usage? No, he will sink the boat, and the cutter too, rather than to be so insulted, and every American must applaud him for his spirit.

Is this right of impressment to be all on one side, or is it to be reciprocal? British modesty may say, “It is an exclusive privilege which we claim, assert, and will maintain, because it is necessary to support our dominion of the seas, which is necessary to preserve the balance of power in Europe against France, and to prevent the French emperor from sending fifty thousand men to conquer the United States of America.” All this will not convince American seamen. They will answer, “We think a balance of power on the ocean as necessary as on the continent of Europe. We thank you for your civility in kindly giving us hopes that you will defend us from the French army of fifty thousand men; but we are very willing to take our defence upon ourselves. If you have a right to impress seamen from our ships, we have an equal right to impress from yours.” Should one of our gun-boats meet a British East India man, armed with fifty guns—the gun-boat demands a search for American seamen, calls for the muster-roll, commands the men to pass in review before him. Would the East India captain submit? No. He would sooner throw overboard the pressgang and run down the gun-boat. Such will be the perpetual altercations between Britons and Americans at sea, and lay an immovable foundation of eternal hatred between the two nations. The king’s proclamation will be found as impolitic a step as ever the court of St. James has taken.

Edition: current; Page: [326]

It is said in the context, “the British ships of war, agreeably to a right claimed and exercised for ages—a right claimed and exercised during the whole of the administrations of Washington, of Adams, and of Jefferson,—continue to take some of the British seamen found on board our merchant vessels, and with them a small number of ours, from the impossibility of always distinguishing Englishmen from the citizens of the United States.” We have before seen what sort of a right to impress men from their own ships has been claimed, in what manner it has been exercised, and in what light it has been considered by the English nation. It amounts to a right of getting their officers lawfully killed. But surely, no right was ever before claimed to impress men from foreign ships. If such a pretended right was ever exercised, or, in other words, if such a crime was ever committed, I presume it would be no better proof of a legal right than a robbery, burglary, or murder, committed on shore, would prove that such actions are innocent and lawful. To argue from single facts, or a few instances, to a general law, is a sophistry too common with political writers, and is sometimes imputable to compilers of the laws of nations; but none of them ever went to such extravagance as this. No claim or pretension of any right to search foreign vessels for seamen ever existed before our revolution, and no exercise of such a right ever prevailed since, except such as resembles the exercise of the right of committing robbery, burglary, and murder in some of our cities. No “ages” have passed since our revolution. The right was never asserted or claimed till the late proclamation of the king appeared, and that proclamation will make an epoch of disgrace and disaster to one nation or the other, perhaps to both.

From the peace of 1783 to the commencement of our government, under the present national Constitution, whenever any American seamen were impressed they were immediately demanded in the name of the old Congress, and immediately discharged without ever pretending to such right of impressment. During the administration of Washington, whenever information was received of any impressment, immediate orders were sent to demand the men, and the men were promised to be liberated. Washington sent Captain Talbot to the West Indies as an agent to demand seamen impressed on board Edition: current; Page: [327] British men-of-war. Talbot demanded them of the British commanders, captains, and admirals, and was refused. He went then on shore, and demanded and obtained of the Chief Justice of the island writs of Habeas Corpus, by virtue of which the impressed seamen were brought from the king’s ships, and set at liberty by law, the commanders not daring to disobey the king’s writ. During the administration of Adams, the Secretary of State’s office can show what demands were made, and the success of them. The remonstrances that were made in consequence of positive instructions, and the memorials presented at court by our minister, were conceived in terms as strong as the English language could furnish, without violating that respect and decorum which ought always to be preserved between nations and governments, even in declarations of war. The practice was asserted to be not only incompatible with every principle of justice and every feeling of humanity, but wholly irreconcilable with all thoughts of a continuance of peace and friendship between the two nations. The effect of the memorial was an immediate order to the commanders of the navy to liberate the demanded men. I shall say nothing of Mr. Jefferson’s administration, because the negotiations already made public sufficiently show, that he has not been behind either of his predecessors in his zeal for the liberty of American seamen. During all this time, excuses and apologies were made, and necessity was sometimes hinted; but no serious pretension of right was advanced. No. The first formal claim was the king’s proclamation. With what propriety, then, can this be called “a right, claimed and exercised for ages, and during the whole of the administrations of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson”?

Is there any reason why another proclamation should not soon appear, commanding all the officers of the army in Canada and Nova Scotia to go over the line, and take by force all the king’s subjects they can find in our villages? The right would stand upon the same principles; but there is this difference, it would not be executed with so little danger.

A few words more on the subject of pressing. In strictness we have nothing to do with the question, whether impressments of seamen in England are legal or illegal. Whatever iniquity or inhumanity that government may inflict on their own subjects, Edition: current; Page: [328] we have no authority to call them to an account for it. But when they extend that power to us, a foreign nation, it is natural for us, and it is our duty as well as interest, to consider what it is among themselves.

The most remarkable case in which this subject has been touched in Westminster Hall, is in Cowper’s Reports, page 512, Rex vs. John Tubbs. The report of the case is very long, and I shall only observe, that the question of the legality of the power of impressment was not before the court. The question was, whether the Lord Mayor had a right to exempt thirty or forty watermen for his barges. Lord Mansfield sufficiently expresses his alarm, and his apprehension of the consequences of starting a question relative to the subject, in the following words: “I am very sorry that either of the respectable parties before the court, the city of London on the one hand, or the lords commissioners of the admiralty on the other, have been prevailed upon to agitate this question,” &c.

“I was in hopes the court would have had an opportunity of investigating this point to the bottom, instead of being urged to discuss it so instantaneously,” &c. “I own I wished for a more deliberate consideration upon this subject; but being prevented of that, I am bound to say what my present sentiments are. The power of pressing is founded upon immemorial usage, allowed for ages. If it be so founded, and allowed for ages, it can have no ground to stand upon, nor can it be vindicated or justified by any reason, but the safety of the State; and the practice is deduced from that trite maxim of the constitutional law of England, that private mischief had better be submitted to than public detriment and inconvenience should ensue. To be sure, there are instances where private men must give way to the public good; in every case of pressing, every man must be very sorry for the act and for the necessity which gives rise to it. It ought, therefore, to be exercised with the greatest moderation and only upon the most cogent necessity, and though it be a legal power, it may, like many others, be abused in the exercise of it.”

The case is too long to transcribe; but it is worth reading. My remarks upon it shall be short.

1. Lord Mansfield most manifestly dreaded the question, probably on account of the innumerable difficulties attending it, as well as the national uproar it would most certainly excite.

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2. His lordship carefully avoided the use of the word right. He knew the sense, force, and power of the word too well to profane that sacred expression by applying it to a practice so loose and undefined, so irregular and capricious, so repugnant to the inherent, hereditary, unalienable and indefeasible birthrights of British subjects.

3. He calls it a practice and a power, but he does not even venture to call it a prerogative of the crown.

4. He does not even affirm that there exists such an immemorial usage allowed for ages. He says, “if it be so founded and allowed for ages.” The existence of such an immemorial usage, allowed for ages, was probably one of the principal points he wished to investigate.

5. He does not affirm that such a custom, usage, power, or practice could be pleaded or given in evidence against Magna Charta. If his lordship had been allowed time to investigate the subject to the bottom, he perhaps would not have found evidence of any such immemorial usage allowed for ages. He certainly would not have found it allowed by any national act or legal authority; and, without one or the other, how can it be said to have been allowed? Allowed by whom? By those who committed the trespass, and no others. His lordship, moreover, might have found, that no custom, usage, power, or practice could be alleged, pleaded, or given in evidence in any court of justice against Magna Charta.

6. All the judges allow that exemptions, badges, and protections against impressment, have been given by Peers, Commons, Lord Mayors, Lords and officers of the Admiralty, and, as I understand Lord Mansfield, by officers of the navy. Now, what a loose, undefined, arbitrary power is this, to be legally established as an immemorial usage allowed for ages!

7. I wonder not that his lordship dreaded the discussion of it, and an investigation of it to the bottom, for he must have foreseen the endless difficulties of ascertaining, defining, and limiting the usages which were immemorial, and distinguishing them from such as were modern, temporary, usurped, and not allowed.

8. The counsel for the city had before observed, that the legality of pressing, if founded at all, could only be supported by immemorial usage, there being clearly no statute in force investing the crown with any such authority.

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9. The infinite difficulty of determining who were seamen and who were not, must be obvious, and all agree that the power is confined to seamen and them only.

Christian, in his edition of Blackstone, vol. i. p. 419, says, in a note, “The legality of pressing is so fully established, that it will not now admit of a doubt in any court of justice;” and in proof of this he quotes Lord Mansfield’s opinion in the case of the King against Tubbs, in the words I have transcribed. Whereas I think that, taking all Lord Mansfield says together, he makes the subject as doubtful as ever, and encumbered with innumerable and insuperable difficulties.

Upon the whole, all I conclude from the conduct of the modern judges and lawyers in England is, that their pride in the navy has got the better of their sense of law and justice, and that court and county lawyers, as well as administration and opposition, have been gradually endeavoring to unite for the last thirty or forty years, in sacrificing the principles of justice and law to reasons of state, by countenancing this branch of arbitrary power. But let them keep their arbitrary powers at home, not practise them upon us, our ships, or seamen.

John Adams.
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GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE.

The large share of this work occupied by the official papers, necessarily contracts the limits that are assigned to the private letters. From the voluminous collection of these, written in the course of more than half a century, a rigid selection is now made. Probably not a single leading actor of the revolutionary period has left nearly so many as Mr. Adams. Even if the publication of all were deemed advisable, it could hardly be done within reasonable compass. In the present publication, the bounds of which were clearly defined at the outset, the aim has been to comprise within the space that remains all that seem for any reason to present the strongest claims to admission. Of course, much has been rejected. Especially is it matter of regret that room could not be found for the familiar letters as well of Mr. Adams as of his wife, a small portion of which were collected and published by the Editor in another shape some years ago. A number of letters addressed to Mr. Adams by distinguished men, which had been prepared, are likewise excluded, for the same reason. These materials, however, are not lost. They await a later period, when they may be presented in a shape not less durable than the present, to illustrate the heroic age of the United American States.

John Adams
Adams, John
9 August, 1770
Catharine Macaulay
Macaulay, Catharine

TO CATHARINE MACAULAY.1

Madam,

I received from Mr. Gill an intimation that a letter from me would not be disagreeable to you; and I have been emboldened, by that means, to run the venture of giving you this trouble. I have read, with much admiration, Mrs. Macaulay’s History of England, &c. It is formed upon the plan which I have ever wished to see adopted by historians. It Edition: current; Page: [332] is calculated to strip off the gilding and false lustre from worthless princes and nobles, and to bestow the reward of virtue, praise, upon the generous and worthy only. No charms of eloquence can atone for the want of this exact historical morality; and I must be allowed to say, I have never seen a history in which it is more religiously regarded. It was from this history, as well as from the concurrent testimony of all who have come to this country from England, that I had formed the highest opinion of the author as one of the brightest ornaments, not only of her sex, but of her age and country. I could not, therefore, but esteem the information given me by Mr. Gill, as one of the most agreeable and fortunate occurrences of my life.

Indeed, it was rather a mortification to me to find that a few fugitive speculations in a newspaper had excited your curiosity to inquire after me. The production, which some person in England, I know not who, has been pleased to entitle “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law,” was written at Braintree, about eleven miles from Boston, in the year 1765;—written at random, weekly, without any preconceived plan, printed in the newspapers without correction, and so little noticed or regarded here, that the author never thought it worth his while to give it either a title or a signature. And, indeed, the editor in London might with more propriety have called it “The—what d’ye call it,” or, as the Critical Reviewers did, “a flimsy, lively rhapsody,” than by the title he has given it. But it seems it happened to hit the taste of some one, who has given it a longer duration than a few weeks, by printing it in conjunction with the letters of the House of Representatives of this province, and by ascribing it to a very venerable, learned name. I am very sorry that Mr. Gridley’s name was affixed to it for many reasons. The mistakes, inaccuracies, and want of arrangement in it are utterly unworthy of Mr. Gridley’s great and deserved character for learning, and the general spirit and sentiments of it are by no means reconcilable to his known opinions and principles in politics. It was, indeed, written by your present correspondent, who then had formed designs which he never has and never will attempt to execute. Oppressed and borne down, as he is, by the infirmities of ill health, and the calls of a numerous, growing family, whose only hopes are in his continual application to the drudgeries of his profession, Edition: current; Page: [333] it is almost impossible for him to pursue any inquiries or to enjoy any pleasures of the literary kind.1

However, he has been informed that you have in contemplation a history of the present reign, or some other history in which the affairs of America are to have a share. If this is true, it would give him infinite pleasure; and, whether it is so or not, if he can by any means in his power, by letters or other ways, contribute any thing to your assistance in any of your inquiries, or to your amusement, he will always esteem himself very happy in attempting it.

Pray excuse the trouble of this letter, and believe me, with great esteem and admiration, &c.

John Adams
Adams, John
17 December, 1773
Boston
James Warren
Warren, James

TO JAMES WARREN.

The die is cast. The people have passed the river and cut away the bridge. Last night three cargoes of tea were emptied into the harbor. This is the grandest event which has ever yet happened since the controversy with Britain opened. The sublimity of it charms me!2

For my part, I cannot express my own sentiments of it better than in the words of Colonel D. to me, last evening. Balch should repeat them. “The worst that can happen, I think,” said he, “in consequence of it, will be that the province must pay for it. Now, I think the province may pay for it, if it is drowned, as easily as if it is drunk; and I think it is a matter of indifference whether it is drunk or drowned. The province must pay for it in either case. But there is this difference; I believe it will take them ten years to get the province to pay for it; if so, we shall save ten years’ interest of the money, whereas, if it is drunk, it must be paid for immediately.” Thus he.—However, he agreed with me, that the province would never pay for it; and also in this, that the final ruin of our constitution Edition: current; Page: [334] of government, and of all American liberties, would be the certain consequence of suffering it to be landed.

Governor Hutchinson and his family and friends will never have done with their good services to Great Britain and the colonies. But for him, this tea might have been saved to the East India Company. Whereas this loss, if the rest of the colonies should follow our example, will, in the opinion of many persons, bankrupt the company. However, I dare say, the governor and consignees and custom-house officers in the other colonies will have more wisdom than ours have had, and take effectual care that their tea shall be sent back to England untouched; if not, it will as surely be destroyed there as it has been here.

Threats, phantoms, bugbears, by the million, will be invented and propagated among the people upon this occasion. Individuals will be threatened with suits and prosecutions. Armies and navies will be talked of. Military executions, charters annulled, treason trials in England, and all that. But these terms are all but imaginations. Yet, if they should become realities, they had better be suffered than the great principle of parliamentary taxation be given up.

The town of Boston never was more still and calm of a Saturday night than it was last night. All things were conducted with great order, decency, and perfect submission to government. No doubt we all thought the administration in better hands than it had been.

John Adams
Adams, John
22 December, 1773
Boston
James Warren
Warren, James

TO JAMES WARREN.

Yesterday the Governor called a council at Cambridge. Eight members met at Brattle’s. This, no doubt, was concerted last Saturday, at Neponset hill, where Brattle and Russel dined, by way of caucus, I suppose.1 Sewall dined with their honors yesterday. But behold, what a falling off was there! The Governor, who last Friday was fully persuaded and told the Edition: current; Page: [335] council that some late proceedings were high treason, and promised them the attendance of the attorney-general to prove it them out of law books,1 now, such is his alacrity in sinking, was rather of opinion they were burglary. I suppose he meant what we call New England burglary, that is, breaking open a shop or ship, &c., which is punished with branding, &c.

But the council thought it would look rather awkward to issue a proclamation against the whole community, and therefore contented themselves with ordering Mr. Attorney to prosecute such as he should know or be informed of. They have advised a prorogation of the General Court for a fortnight. It is whispered that the Sachem has it in contemplation to go home soon, and perhaps the prorogation is to give him time to get away. Few think he will meet the House again.

The spirit of liberty is very high in the country, and universal. Worcester is aroused. Last week a monument to liberty was erected there in the heart of the town, within a few yards of Colonel Chandler’s door. A gentleman of as good sense and character as any in that county, told me this day, that nothing which has been ever done, is more universally approved, applauded, and admired than these last efforts. He says, that whole towns in that county were on tiptoe to come down.

Make my compliments to Mrs. Warren, and tell her that I want a poetical genius to describe a late frolic among the seanymphs and goddesses. There being a scarcity of nectar and ambrosia among the celestials of the sea, Neptune has determined to substitute Hyson and Congo, and, for some of the inferior divinities, Bohea. Amphitrite, one of his wives, viz. the land, and Salaria, another of his wives, the sea, went to pulling caps upon the occasion, but Salaria prevailed. The Sirens should be introduced somehow, I cannot tell how, and Proteus, a son of Neptune, who could sometimes flow like water, and sometimes burn like fire, bark like a dog, howl like a wolf, whine like an ape, cry like a crocodile, or roar like a lion. But, for want of this same poetical genius, I can do nothing. I wish to see a late glorious event celebrated by a certain poetical pen which has no equal that I know of in this country.

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We are anxious for the safety of the cargo1 at Provincetown. Are there no Vineyard, Marshpee, Mattapoiset Indians, do you think, who will take the care of it, and protect it from violence? I mean from the hands of tyrants and oppressors, who want to do violence with it to the laws and constitution, to the present age, and to posterity.

I hope you have had a happy anniversary festival. May a double portion of the genius and spirit of our forefathers rest upon us and our posterity!

John Adams
Adams, John
9 April, 1774
Boston
James Warren
Warren, James

TO JAMES WARREN.

Dear Sir,

It is a great mortification to me to be obliged to deny myself the pleasure of a visit to my friends at Plymouth next week; but so fate has ordained it. I am a little apprehensive, too, for the State, upon this occasion, for it has heretofore received no small advantage from our sage deliberations at your fireside.

I hope Mrs. Warren is in fine health and spirits; and that I have not incurred her displeasure by making so free with the skirmish of the sea-deities, one of the most incontestable evidences of real genius which has yet been exhibited. For to take the clumsy, indigested conception of another, and work it into so elegant and classical a composition, requires genius equal to that which wrought another most beautiful poem out of the little incident of a gentleman’s clipping a lock of a lady’s hair with a pair of scissors. May a double portion of her genius, as well as virtues, descend to her posterity, which, united to the patriotism, &c., &c., &c., of &c., &c., &c., will make But I am almost in the strains of Hazelrod.2

The tories were never, since I was born, in such a state of humiliation as at this moment. Wherever I go, in the several counties, I perceive it more and more. They are now in Edition: current; Page: [337] absolute despair of obtaining a triumph without shedding an abundance of blood; and they are afraid of the consequences of this. Not that their humanity starts at it at all. The complaisance, the air of modesty and kindness to the Whigs, the show of moderation, the pains to be thought friends to liberty, and all that, is amazing. I admire the Jesuits! The science is so exquisite, and there are such immense advantages in it, that it is (if it were not for the deviltry of it) most ardently to be wished. To see them bowing, smiling, cringing, and seeming cordially friendly, to persons whom they openly avowed their malice against two years ago, and whom they would gladly butcher now, is provoking, yet diverting.

News we have none. Still! silent as midnight! The first vessels may bring us tidings which will erect the crests of the tories again, and depress the spirits of the whigs. For my own part, I am of the same opinion that I have been for many years, that there is not spirit enough on either side to bring the question to a complete decision, and that we shall oscillate like a pendulum, and fluctuate like the ocean, for many years to come, and never obtain a complete redress of American grievances, nor submit to an absolute establishment of parliamentary authority, but be trimming between both, as we have been for ten years past, for more years to come than you and I shall live. Our children may see revolutions, and be concerned and active in effecting them, of which we can form no conception.

John Adams
Adams, John
14 May, 1774
Boston
William Woodfall
Woodfall, William

TO WILLIAM WOODFALL.

I had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 12th of March yesterday, for which I thank you. Your plan of a newspaper to profess itself a general channel of American intelligence, is happily calculated, I think, to serve the interest both of the British and the American public.1

If it should be in my power at any time to communicate to Edition: current; Page: [338] you any material intelligence, I shall be glad of the opportunity; but I have very little connection with public affairs, and I hope to have less.

Indeed, the treatment we receive from our mother country, as we have always fondly called her, begins to discourage persons here from making any applications to her, upon any occasion or for any purpose. Intelligence, evidence, petitions, are sent continually, and have been sent for ten years, to no purpose. We begin almost to wish that Europe could forget that America was ever discovered, and America could forget that Europe ever existed.

The unexampled blockade of Boston is received here with a spirit of martyrdom. It will produce effects such as were not foreseen by the minister of State who projected it, or by the abandoned men in America, who suggested the project to him.

Nero wished that the inhabitants of Rome had but one neck, that he might have the pleasure of cutting it off with his own hand at one blow. This, as it would have speedily terminated their misery, was humanity in comparison of the minister’s project of turning famine into a populous city to devour its devoted inhabitants by slow torments and lingering degrees.

P. S. The commerce of this town of itself has been an essential link in a vast chain, which has made New England what it is, the southern provinces what they are, the West India islands what they are, and the African trade what that is, to say no more. The world will very soon see with horror, that this chain is broken by one blow.

John Adams
Adams, John
25 June, 1774
Ipswich
James Warren
Warren, James

TO JAMES WARREN.

I am very sorry I had not the pleasure of seeing you after your return from Salem, as I wanted a great deal of conversation with you on several subjects.

The principal topic, however, was the enterprise to Philadelphia. I view the assembly, that is to be there, as I do the court of Areopagus, the council of the Amphictyons, a conclave, Edition: current; Page: [339] a sanhedrim, a divan, I know not what. I suppose you sent me there to school. I thank you for thinking me an apt scholar, or capable of learning. For my own part, I am at a loss, totally at a loss, what to do when we get there; but I hope to be there taught.

It is to be a school of political prophets, I suppose, a nursery of American Statesmen. May it thrive and prosper and flourish, and from this fountain may there issue streams, which shall gladden all the cities and towns in North America, forever! I am for making it annual, and for sending an entire new set every year, that all the principal geniuses may go to the university in rotation, that we may have politicians in plenty. Our great complaint is the scarcity of men fit to govern such mighty interests as are clashing in the present contest. A scarcity indeed! For who is sufficient for these things? Our policy must be to improve every opportunity and means for forming our people, and preparing leaders for them in the grand march of politics. We must make our children travel. You and I have too many cares and occupations, and therefore we must recommend it to Mrs. Warren, and her friend Mrs. Adams, to teach our sons the divine science of the politics; and to be frank, I suspect they understand it better than we do.

There is one ugly reflection. Brutus and Cassius were conquered and slain. Hampden died in the field, Sidney on the scaffold, Harrington in jail, &c. This is cold comfort. Politics are an ordeal path among red hot ploughshares. Who, then would be a politician for the pleasure of running about barefoot among them? Yet somebody must. And I think those whose characters, circumstances, educations, &c., call them, ought to follow.

Yet I do not think that one or a few men are under any moral obligation to sacrifice for themselves and families all the pleasures, profits, and prospects of life, while others for whose benefit this is to be done lie idle, enjoying all the sweets of society, accumulating wealth in abundance, and laying foundations for opulent and powerful families for many generations. No. I think the arduous duties of the times ought to be discharged in rotation, and I never will engage more in politics but upon this system.

I must entreat the favor of your sentiments and Mrs. Warren’s Edition: current; Page: [340] what is proper, practicable, expedient, wise, just, good, necessary to be done at Philadelphia. Pray let me have them in a letter before I go.1

John Adams
Adams, John
23 July, 1774
Braintree
John Tudor
Tudor, John

TO JOHN TUDOR.

You will be surprised, I believe, to receive a letter from me, upon a matter which I have so little right to intermeddle with as the subject of this. I am sensible it is a subject of very great delicacy; but as it is of equal importance to your own happiness and that of your only son, I hope and believe you will receive it, as it is really meant, as an expression of my friendship both to yourself and him, without any other view or motive whatever.2

Your son has never said a word to me, but, from what I have accidentally heard from others, I have reason to believe that he is worried and uneasy in his mind. This discontent is in danger of producing very disagreeable effects, as it must interrupt his happiness, and as it may, and probably will, if not removed, injure his health, and, by discouraging his mind and depressing his spirits, disincline him to, or disqualify him for, his studies and business.

I believe, Sir, you are not so sensible as I am of the difficulty of a young gentleman’s getting into much business in the practice of the law. It must, in the best of times and for the most promising genius, be a work of time. The present situation of public affairs is such as has rendered this difficulty tenfold greater than ever. The grant from the crown of salaries to the judges, the proceedings of the two houses of assembly in relation to it, and the general discontent throughout all the counties of the Edition: current; Page: [341] province, among jurors and others, concerning it, had well nigh ruined the business of all the lawyers in the government, before the news of the three late acts of parliament arrived. These acts had put an end to all the business of the law in Boston. The port act of itself has done much towards this, but the other two acts have spread throughout the province such an apprehension, that there will be no business for courts for some time to come, that our business is at present in a manner at an end.

In this state of things I am sure it is impossible that your son’s income should be adequate to his necessary expenses, however frugal he may be, and I have heard that he complains that it is not.

The expenses for the rent of his office, for his board and washing, must come to a considerable sum annually, without accounting a farthing for other transient charges, which a young gentleman of the most sober and virtuous character can no more avoid than he can those for his bed and board. So that it is absolutely impossible but that he must run behind hand and be obliged to run in debt for necessaries, unless either he is assisted by his father, or leaves the town of Boston and betakes himself to some distant place in the country, where, if his business should not be more, his expenses would be vastly less.

I am well aware of the follies and vices so fashionable among many of the young gentlemen of our age and country, and, if your son was infected with them, I would never have become an advocate for him, without his knowledge, as I now am, with his father. I should think, the more he was restrained the better. But I know him to have a clear head and an honest, faithful heart. He is virtuous, sober, steady, industrious, and constant to his office. He is as frugal as he can be in his rank and class of life, without being mean.

It is your peculiar felicity to have a son whose behavior and character are thus deserving.

Now there can be nothing in this life so exquisitely painful to such a mind, so humiliating, so mortifying, as to be distrusted by his father, as to be obliged to borrow of strangers, or to run in debt and lie at mercy.

A small donation of real or personal estate, made to him now, would probably be of more service to him than ten times that sum ten years hence. It would give him a small income Edition: current; Page: [342] that he could depend upon; it would give him weight and reputation in the world; it would assist him greatly in getting into business.

I am under concern lest the anxiety he now struggles with should prove fatal to him. I have written this without his knowledge, and I do not propose ever to acquaint him with it. If you please you may burn this; only I must entreat you to believe it to flow only from real concern for a young gentleman whom I greatly esteem.

Joseph Hawley
Hawley, Joseph
25 July, 1774
Northampton
John Adams
Adams, John

JOSEPH HAWLEY1 TO JOHN ADAMS.

I never received nor heard of your letter of the 27th of June last, written at Ipswich, until the 23d instant. Immediately on the receipt of it, I set myself to consider of an answer to it.

What I first remark is, your great distrust of your abilities for the service assigned you. Hereon I say that I imagine I have some knowledge of your abilities, and I assure you, Sir, I gave my vote for you most heartily, and I have not yet repented of it. My opinion is, that our committee, taken together, is the best we could have taken in the province. I should be extremely sorry that any one of them should fail of going. The absence of any one of them will destroy that happy balance or equilibrium which they will form together. I acknowledge that the service is most important, and I do not know who is fully equal to it. The importance of the business ought not to beget despondency in any one, but to excite to the greatest circumspection, the most attentive and mature consideration, and calmest deliberation. Courage and fortitude must be maintained. If we give way to despondency, it will soon be all over with us. Rashness must be avoided. The end or effect of every measure proposed, must be thoroughly contemplated before it be adopted. It must be well looked to that the measure be feasible and practicable. If we make attempts, and fail in them, Lord Edition: current; Page: [343] North will call them impudent and futile, and the tories will triumph.

It appears to me, Sir, that the Congress ought first to settle with absolute precision, the object or objects to be pursued; as whether the end of all shall be the repeal of the tea duty only, or of that and the molasses act, or these and opening the port of Boston, or these and also the restoration of the charter of the Massachusetts Bay (for it is easy to demonstrate that the late act for regulation, &c., in its effect, annuls the whole charter, so far as the charter granted any privileges). When the objects or ends to be pursued are clearly and certainly settled, the means or measures to be used to obtain and effect those ends can be better judged of. Most certainly the objects must be definitely agreed on, and settled by Congress, first or last.

As to means and measures, I am not fully settled or determined in my own mind. It may not be prudent fully to explain myself in writing upon that head. The letter may miscarry.

You are pleased to say that extremities and ruptures it is our policy to avoid. I agree it, if any other means will answer our ends, or if it is plain that they would not. But let me say, Sir, that with me it is settled as a maxim and first truth, that the people or State who will not or cannot defend their liberties and rights, will not have any for any long time. They will be slaves. Some other State will find it out, and will subjugate them.

You say, Sir, that measures to check and interrupt the torrent of luxury, are most agreeable to your sentiments. Pray, Sir, did any thing ever do it, but necessity?

The institution of annual Congresses, you suppose, will brighten the chain, and would make excellent statesmen and politicians. I agree it. But pray, Sir, do not you imagine that such an institution would breed extremities and ruptures? It appears to me most clear that the institution, if formed, must be discontinued, or we must defend it with ruptures.

I suggested above that my letter might miscarry; and we do not know, when we write, to what hands our letters may come. I should therefore be extremely glad to see some, or all of the committee, as they pass through this country. If there were any hopes of obtaining the favor, I would beg them all to come through Northampton. It would not be more than twenty Edition: current; Page: [344] miles farther, and as good a road. But I imagine they will all pass through Springfield. And the favor I earnestly ask of you, Sir, is, that you would be pleased to inform by a letter by our post, what day you expect to be at Springfield, and I will endeavor to see the committee then, although I should wait there two or three days for it. Pray, Sir, do not fail of sending me this intelligence. You will probably receive this letter on Saturday this week, by Mr. Wilde, our post. He keeps Sabbath at Boston. He commonly comes out on Monday, about eleven o’clock. You may find him, or if you leave a letter for him, to take either at Messrs. Edes & Gill’s office, or at Messrs. Fleets, in the forenoon, it will probably come safe to me next week on Wednesday. I will prevail with him, if I can, to call on you to take a line from you for me. Information of the time you intend to be at Springfield, I am very anxious to obtain. Pray, Sir, oblige me with it.

But as it is possible that I may miss of seeing the committee, or any of them, which will indeed be to me a very great disappointment, I ask leave to make myself free enough to suggest the following, which, if you judge proper, I consent you should communicate to your brethren. You cannot, Sir, but be fully apprised, that a good issue of the Congress depends a good deal on the harmony, good understanding, and I had almost said brotherly love, of its members; and every thing tending to beget and improve such mutual affection, and indeed to cement the body, ought to be practised; and every thing in the least tending to create disgust or strangeness, coldness, or so much as indifference, carefully avoided. Now there is an opinion which does in some degree obtain in the other colonies, that the Massachusetts gentlemen, and especially of the town of Boston, do affect to dictate and take the lead in continental measures; that we are apt, from an inward vanity and self-conceit, to assume big and haughty airs. Whether this opinion has any foundation in fact, I am not certain. Our own tories propagate it, if they did not at first suggest it. Now I pray that every thing in the conduct and behaviour of our gentlemen, which might tend to beget or strengthen such an opinion, might be most carefully avoided. It is highly probable, in my opinion, that you will meet gentlemen from several of the other colonies, fully equal to yourselves or any of you, in their knowledge Edition: current; Page: [345] of Great Britain, the colonies, law, history, government, commerce, &c. I know some of the gentlemen of Connecticut are very sensible, ingenious, solid men. Who will go from New York, I have not heard, but I know there are very able men there; and by what we from time to time see in the public papers, and what our assembly and committees have received from the assemblies and committees of the more southern colonies, we must be satisfied that they have men of as much sense and literature as any we can or ever could boast of. But enough of this sort, and I ask pardon that I have said so much of it.

Another thing I beg leave just to hint;—that it is very likely that you may meet divers gentlemen in Congress, who are of Dutch, or Scotch, or Irish extract. Many more there are in those southern colonies of those descents, than in these New England colonies, and many of them very worthy, learned men. Quære, therefore, whether prudence would not direct that every thing should be very cautiously avoided which could give any the least umbrage, disgust, or affront to any of such pedigree. For as of every nation and blood, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him, so they ought to be of us. Small things may have important effects in such a business. That which disparages our family ancestors or nation, is apt to stick by us, if cast up in comparison, and their blood you will find as warm as ours.

One thing I want that the southern gentlemen should be deeply impressed with; that is,