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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 6


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Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0248

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1778-07-26

To James Warren

[salute] My dear Sir

Yours of [7] June by Captain Barnes fortunately reached me, Yesterday. I was much Surprised, you may well imagine at its Contents. But I Suppose, the Cause of their not electing you to the Council, must have been your Engagements in the Navy Board.
I am unhappy to learn by the Newspapers, that our Constitution is likely to occasion much Altercation in the State, but notwithstanding all our Dissentions, there is a Mass of Prudence, and Integrity among our People, that will finally conduct them into the right Way.
I wish now that I had accepted of your polite offer of your son. It is however I presume for his Interest, because, he may pursue Business there to much better Profit. If Mr. Austin should leave me, I should have occasion for a Clerk, which would afford a { 321 } young Gentleman, a decent subsistence and no more. The Frigates, the Merchandise, the Negociations and the vast Correspondence, we have, render a Clerk, indispensably necessary for each of the Commissioners, and for some of them more than one. <If your Son will accept of so humble an Employment,>.
Mr. Hancock Mr. Adams, and my respectable successor Dr. Holten, are gone to Congress, but you dont mention Mr. Paine.1 Where is he? Earning Twenty thousand dollars a year at the Bar? If he is I wish him Joy, and hope in Time to arrive at some Post of the same Honour and Profit. Dana I suppose is earning Thirty thousands. Upon my Word I think these Gentry ought to through their rich Profits into Hotchpotch with a poor Brother at Passi.
Where is the Spirit and the Genius of America? To suffer the feeble Remnants of <your> our Ennemis, in Philadelphia and Rhode Island, to come out with such Insolence, and burn Houses and Vessells, without Retaliation, is intollerable.
Will it ever do to think of Peace, while G. Britain has Canada, Nova Scotia and the Floridas, or any of them? Such a Peace will be but short. We shall have perpetual Wars with Britain while she has a foot of Ground in America. But if the belligerant Powers should be exhausted, so as to think of Peace, leaving Canada in the Hands of Britain, which I hope they will not, the Boundaries of Canada, must be ascertained, and of the Floridas too.
I believe I can tell you a Piece of News. The Cabinet at London, have determined to send to their Commissioners in America Instructions to offer you Independance, provided you will make Peace with them Seperate from France, and make a Commercial Treaty with them, by which they may retain something like their late Monopoly.
They certainly think that Americans are not Men of Honour. They believe them capable of violating their first Treaty, their first solemn sacred Faith, within a few Moments of its unanimous Ratification. Is it because they have seen, or heard any Thing like this Perfidy in Americans, or is it because they feel themselves capable of such Conduct and infer from thence that all other Men, are equally so?
Is there a Man in America, who would not run all hazards, who would not suffer the last Extremity rather than stain the first Page of our History with so foul a Breach of Faith? Is there { 322 } who would confess and prove to the World that America has no Honour, no Conscience, no faith, no Pride, for the sake of avoiding the Evils of War?
But where and how did the King and Council obtain Authority to make Such an offer? They have no such Power. Parliament alone can do it.
But they mean no such Thing. They mean only to seduce soldiers to Desertion. They mean only to draw in Congress or some public Body to break their Faith with France and to do some Act which shall forfeit the Confidence of all Mankind, and then they think they can manage America. Their object in this Piece of Policy as in all their others towards America, appears to me to be to seduce, to deceive, and to divide. They must however <at length> be brought to mingle some sincerity with their Policy, before they will succeed. I am as ever, yours
1. Robert Treat Paine, attorney general of Massachusetts, did not attend the congress during 1778, while Francis Dana, mentioned later in the paragraph, served for a few days in January and from at least 24 March until 11 Aug. (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 3:liv).

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0249

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Laurens, Henry
Date: 1778-07-27

To Henry Laurens

I thank you, my dear sir for your kind Congratulations,1 on the favourable Appearances in our American Concerns, and for so politely particularising one of the most inconsiderable of them, my Safe Arrival in France, which was after a very inconvenient Passage of forty five days.
Your Letter to Mr. Izzard, I had the Pleasure to send to him immediately, in Paris, where he resides, the Court of Tuscany being so connected with that of Vienna, as to discourage hitherto his Departure for Italy. He did me the Honour of a Visit Yesterday, when We had much sweet Communion as the Phrase is upon American affairs.
Your other Letter to your Daughter in Law, I have forwarded by a safe Opportunity. You may depend upon my conveying your Letters to any of your Friends by the best Opportunities and with Dispatch. The more of your Commands you send me the more Pleasure you will give me.
War is not declared. That is no Manifesto has been published. But each Nation is daily manufacturing Materials for the others { 323 } Manifesto, by open Hostilities. In short, sir, the two Nations have been at War, Since the Recal of the Ambassadors. The King of France, has given orders to all his ships to attack the English, and has given vast Encouragement to Privateers.
The K. of G. B. and his Council have determined to Send Instructions to their Commissioners in America to offer Us Independency, provided We will make Peace with them, Seperate from France.2 This appears to me to be the last Effort to seduce, deceive, and divide. They know that every Man of Honour in America must receive this Proposition with Indignation. An immaculate Virgin would scarcely feel more Grief, more shame, more Horror, from an attempt made upon her chastity, by an old Debauchee, in a public Assembly. But they think they can get the Men of no Honour, to join them by such a Proposal, and they think that the Men of Honour are not a Majority. What has America done, to give Occasion to that King and Council to think So unworthily of her?
The Proposition is in other Words this—“America, you have fought me untill I despair of beating you—you have made an Alliance with the first Power of Europe, which is a great Honour to your Country and a great stability to your Cause. So great, that it has excited my highest Resentment, and has determined me to go to War with France. Do you break your Faith with that Power, and forfeit her Confidence, as well as that of all the rest of Mankind forever, and join me to beat her, or stand by neutre and see me do it, and for all this I will acknowledge your Independency, because I think in that Case you cannot maintain it, but will be an easy Pray to me Afterwards, who am determind to break my faith with you, as I wish you to do yours with France.”
My dear Countrymen I hope will not be allured upon the Rocks by the syron song of Peace. They are now playing, a sure Game. They have run all Hazards, but now they hazard nothing.
I know your <Avocations are> Application is incessant, and your Moments precious, and therefore that I ask a great favour in requesting your Correspondence, but the Interest of the Public as well as private Friendship induce me to do it. I am with great Esteem your Frd & sert.
1. Laurens to JA , 19 May (above).
2. Compare the treatment of the reported offer in this personal letter with that in the letter of 23 July from Benjamin Franklin and JA to Laurens in his role as president of the congress (above).