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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9


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Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0270

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1780-06-17

To the President of Congress, No. 85

No. 85 Duplicate

[salute] Sir

The Refugees in England are so great an obstacle to Peace, that it seems not improper for me to take Notice of them to Congress. Governor Hutchinson is dead.1 Whether the late popular Insurrections, or whether the Resolutions of Congress of the eighteenth of March respecting their Finances, by suddenly extinguishing the last Rays of his hopes, put a sudden End to his life, or whether it was owing to any other Cause, I know not. He was born to be the Cause and the Victim of popular Fury, Outrage and Conflagrations. Descended from an ancient and honorable Family; born and educated in America, professing all the zeal of the congregational Religion; affecting to honour the Characters of the first planters of the new World, and to vindicate the Character of America, and especially of New England; early initiated into public Business, industrious and indefatigable in it; beloved and esteemed by the People, elected and intrusted by them and their Representatives; his Views opened and extended by repeated Travels in Europe; minutely informed in the History of his Country; Author of an History of it, which was extensively read in Europe; engaged in extensive Correspondences in Europe as well as America; favoured by the Crown of Great Britain, and possessed of its Honors and Emoluments; possessed of all these Advantages and surrounded with all these Circumstances, he was perhaps the only man in the World, who could have brought on the Controversy between Great Britain and America in the manner and at the Time it was done, and involved the two Countries in an Enmity, which must end in their everlasting Seperation. Yet this was the Character of the Man, and these his memorable actions—an inextinguishable ambition, and avarice, that were ever seen among his other Qualities, and which grew with his Growth and Strengthened with his age and Experience, at last predominated over every other Passion of his Heart and Principle of his Mind, rendered him credulous to a childish degree of every thing that favoured his ruling passion, and blind and deaf to every thing that thwarted it, to such a degree, that his Representations, with those of his fellow Labourer Bernard, drew in the King, Ministry, Parliament and Nation, to concert Measures which will end in their Reduction and the Exaltation of America.
{ 435 }
I think I see visible Traces of his Councils, in a Number of Pamphlets, not long since published in London, and ascribed to Mr. Galloway. It is most probable, they were concerted between the Ministry and the Refugees, in general, and that Mr. Galloway was to be given out as the ostensible, as he probably was the principal Author.
The cool thoughts on the Consequences of American Independence, altho calculated to inflame an hasty, warlike Nation to pursue the Conquest of America, are sober Reasons for defending our Independence and our Alliances,2 and therefore proper for me to lay before my Countrymen.
The Pamphlet says, “it has been often asserted, that Great Britain has expended in settling and defending America, more than She will ever be able to repay, and that it will be more to the profit of this Kingdom to give her Independence, and to loose what We have expended, than to retain her a part of its Dominions.”3
To this he answers, “that the Bounties on Articles of Commerce and the Expence of the last War, ought not to be charged to America; and that the Sums expended in support of Colonial Governments have been confined to New York, the Carolinas, Georgia, Nova Scotia and East and West Florida: that New England, New Jersey, Pensylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, have not cost Great Britain a farthing. And that the whole Expence of the former is no more than one Million, seven hundred thousand Pound, and when We deduct the seven hundred thousand Pounds, extravagantly expended in building a Key at Hallifax, We can only call it one Million.”4 He concludes, “that Posterity will feel, that America was not only worth all that was spent upon her, but that a just, firm, and constitutional Subordination of the Colonies, was absolutely necessary to the Independence and Existence of Great Britain.”5 Here I think I see the Traces of Mr. Hutchinson.6
Another Argument, he says, much relied on, by the Advocates for American Independence, is, “that a Similarity of Laws, Religion, and Manners, has formed an attachment between the People of Great Britain and America, which will insure to Great Britain a preference in the Commerce of America.”7
He agrees, “that a Uniformity of Laws and Religion, united with a Subordination to the same supreme authority, in a great Measure forms and fixes the national attachment. But when the Laws and supreme authority are abolished, the manners, habits and customs, derived from them, will soon be effaced. When different Systems of { 436 } Laws and Government shall be established, other habits and manners must take place. The fact is, that the Americans have already instituted Governments as opposite to the principles upon which the British Government is established, as human Invention could possibly devise. New Laws are made, and will be made, in Conformity to and in support of their new political Systems; and of Course destructive to this national Attachment. Their new States being altogether popular, their essential Laws do already and will continue to bear a greater Resemblance to those of the Democratical Cantons of Switzerland, than to the Laws and Policy of Great Britain. Thus We find, in their first acts, the strongest of all proofs of an aversion in their Rulers to our national Policy, and a sure foundation laid to obliterate all affection and attachment to this Country among the People. How long then can We expect that their attachment, arising from a Similarity of Laws, Habits, and Manners, if any such should remain, will continue? No longer than between the United Provinces and Spain, or the Corsicans and Genoese, which was changed from the Moment of their Seperation into a Enmity, that is not worn out to this day.”8
How it is possible for these Rulers, who are the Creatures of the People and constantly dependent upon them for their political Existence, to have the strongest aversion to the national Policy of Great Britain, and at the same Time the far greater Part of the People wish and hope for an Union with that Country, and be ready to unite in reducing the Power of those Rulers as this Author asserts, I know not. I leave him to reconcile it. If he had been candid and confessed that the attachment in American Minds in general is not very strong to the Laws and Government of England, and that they rather prefer a different form of Government, I should have agreed with him; as I certainly shall agree, that no attachment between Nations arising merely from a Similarity of Laws and Government, is ever very strong or sufficient to bind Nations together who have opposite or even different Interests.
“As to attachments, says he, arising from a Similarity of Religion, they will appear still more groundless and ridiculous. America has no predominant Religion. There is not a religious Society in Europe, which is not to be found in America. If We wish to visit the Churches of England, or the Meetings of Lutherans, Methodists, Calvinists, Presbyterians, Moravians, Menonists, Swinfielders, Dumplers, or Roman Catholicks, We shall find them all in America. What a Motley, or rather how many different and opposite attachments, will this Jumble of Religions make.”9
{ 437 }
“Should there be any remains of this kind of national attachment, We may conclude that the Lutherans, Calvinists, Menonists, Swinfielders, Dumplers and Moravians, will be attached to Germany, the Country from whence they emigrated and where their Religions are best tolerated; the Presbyterians and Puritans to Ireland; and the Roman Catholicks to France, Spain and the Pope; and the small number of their Churches of England to Great Britain.”10
“Do We not daily see Monarchies at War with Monarchies; Infidels with Infidels, Christians with Christians, Catholicks with Catholicks, and Dissenters with Dissenters? What stress, then, can be justly laid on an attachment, arising from a Similarity of Government, Laws or Religion?”11
“It has also been asserted, that America will be led from Motives of Interest, to give the preference in Trade to this Country, because We can supply her with Manufactures cheaper than She can raise them or purchase them from others.”12
“But a Commercial Alliance is already ratified, greatly injurious to the Trade of Great Britain; and should France succeed in supporting American Independence, no one can doubt but other Treaties, yet more injurious will be added: and as to the ability of America to manufacture, She possesses, or can produce, a greater Variety of raw materials, than any other Country on the Globe. When She shall have a seperate and distinct Interest of her own to pursue, her views will be enlarged, her Policy will be exerted to her own benefit; and her Interest, instead of being united with, will become not only different from, but opposite to that of Great Britain. She will readily percieve, that Manufactures, are the great foundation of Commerce, that Commerce is the great means of acquiring Wealth, and that Wealth is necessary to her own Safety. With these interesting prospects before her, it is impossible to concieve that She will not exert her Capacity to promote Manufactures and Commerce. She will see it to be clearly her Interest, not only to manufacture for herself but others. Laws will be made granting Bounties to encourage it, and duties will be laid to discourage or prohibit foreign Importations. By these Measures her Manufactures will increase, her Commerce will be extended, and feeling the benefits of them as they rise, her Industry will be exerted, until She not only shall supply her own Wants, but those of Great Britain itself, with all the Manufactures made with her own Materials. The Nature of Commerce is roving. She has been at different Periods in possession of the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Venetians. Germany and France lately enjoyed her, { 438 } and supplied Great Britain with their Manufactures. Great Britain at present folds her in its arms.”13
Surely it was never intended that any American should read this Pamphlet. It contains so many arguments and motives for perseverance in our righteous and glorious Cause. It is astonishing however, that instead of stimulating England to pursue their unjust and inglorious Enterprize, it does not convince all of the Impracticability of it, and induce them to make Peace.
I have the Honor to be with great Respect, Sir, your most obedient humble Servant.
Dupl in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 145–152); endorsed: “No. 85 Letter from honble. J Adams Paris June 17. 1780 Read Novr. 27. Gov Hutchinson's Character with Remarks on a Refugee Pamphlet.” LbC (Adams Papers); notations: “Recd. Nov. 25. Duplicate.”; by Thaxter: “No 85.” The signed, original copy of this letter has not been found, but it was to be carried by John Paul Jones (to the president of Congress, 17 June, No. 86, descriptive note, below). The unsigned duplicate was carried by Alexander Gillon (to the president of Congress, 29 June, No. 88, descriptive note, below).
1. Thomas Hutchinson died suddenly of a seizure on Saturday, 3 June, as he was stepping into his carriage (London Courant, 5 June). JA may have learned of the event from the London Courant or another of the newspapers enclosed with Thomas Digges' letter of 8 June (above). His mention of it here, and his failure to do so in his letter of 16 June, to the president of Congress, No. 84 (above), suggests that he read the news late on the 16th, or on the 17th. JA also informed AA of Hutchinson's death in a letter of 17 June ( Adams Family Correspondence , 3:366–368). Beginning with this sentence, the remainder of this paragraph, together with the two paragraphs that immediately follow (see note 2) and the next to last paragraph of the letter, were printed in Boston's Independent Chronicle of 4 Jan. 1781. This occurred through the efforts of AA , to whom James Lovell sent either an extract or the full text of the letter. The inclusion of the comments on Cool Thoughts suggests that Lovell sent the full text ( Adams Family Correspondence , 4:22, 23, 58, 59). JA included his sketch of Hutchinson in “Letters from a Distinguished American,” [ante 14–22 July], No. VII (below).
2. As printed in the Independent Chronicle, the remainder of this sentence does not appear.
3. This passage is an almost verbatim rendering from Cool Thoughts, p. 39–40. In the pamphlet, the passages “that Great Britain . . . to repay” and “that it will be more . . . its dominions” are in quotation marks, but Galloway's source has not been determined. This letter deals with, and all quoted passages are taken from, the second section of Cool Thoughts: “On the Expence of Great Britain in the Settlement and Defence of the American Colonies” (p. 39–55).
4. Same, p. 40–41. While this is not an exact rendering of Galloway's text, the meaning has been retained.
5. Same, p. 45–46.
6. This and the preceding three paragraphs, including portions of the passages quoted from the pamphlet, form the basis for JA 's commentary in “Letters from a Distinguished American,” [ante 14–22 July], No. VII (below).
7. Cool Thoughts, p. 46–47. With the exception of “he says,” this entire paragraph is taken from the pamphlet, although with some reordering of words that does not affect the meaning. The source of the passage beginning “that a Similarity,” which in the pamphlet is in quotation marks, has not been determined. This paragraph serves as the basis for JA 's entire commentary in “Letters from a Distinguished American,” [ante 14–22 July], No. VIII (below).
8. Cool Thoughts, p. 47–49. Although much of this paragraph is taken verbatim from the pamphlet, JA did condense and rewrite some portions, particularly in the first half of the { 439 } | view paragraph, but without altering Galloway's meaning.
9. This and the preceding two paragraphs, including portions of the passages quoted from the pamphlet, form the basis for JA 's commentary in “Letters from a Distinguished American,” [ante 14–22 July], No. IX (below).
10. In Cool Thoughts (p. 49–50), this and the preceding quotation appear in somewhat different form, in a single paragraph. There the two passages are linked by the following: “It is a truth, rather to be lamented than exposed, that dislike and aversion are more commonly found between religions, than any other societies. Difference in opinion respecting a single article of faith, has been often a sufficient ground of persecution. From which we may conclude, . . .” Galloway's discussion of religion reflects his Pennsylvania experience, leading JA , in discussing the passage in “Letters from a Distinguished American,” [ante 14–22 July], No. IX (below), to adapt the list of denominations to more generally apply to the American states. Note also Galloway's use of “Menonists” for Mennonites, “Swinfielders” for Schwenkfelders, and “Dumplers” for Dunkers (or Dunkards), forms that JA retained.
11. Cool Thoughts, p. 50.
12. Same, p. 50–51. The opening quotation marks have been supplied, and the passage beginning “that America” and continuing to the end of the sentence was enclosed in quotation marks in the pamphlet, but Galloway's source for this statement has not been identified. In the pamphlet, this and the following quotation form part of a single paragraph. In copying the passages into this letter, JA omitted the following connective text: “If America should not enter into any commercial alliances with other nations, if there should be no subsisting cause of enmity between us at the time of our separation; and if she could not manufacture for herself, it must be allowed that her interest would lead her to take from Great Britain those particular articles with which we can supply her cheaper than other countries. But it is not probable that one of these circumstances will occur; on the contrary, it is more than probable that all of them will concur in preventing a trade between us.”
13. Same, p. 51–53. In the pamphlet this passage begins “A Commercial Alliance.” This is a very close rendering of the text in the pamphlet, except for some condensation in the last third of the paragraph that does not alter Galloway's meaning. This and the preceding paragraph form the basis for JA 's commentary in “Letters from a Distinguished American,” [ante 14–22 July], No. X (below).