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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 7


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Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0053

Author: Izard, Ralph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-09-25

To Ralph Izard

[salute] Sir

I have received with much Pleasure, your Favour of Yesterdays Date. No Appology was necessary, for the delay of So few days, to an• { 73 } swer a Letter the Contents of which did not, from any public Consideration, require haste. My most fervent Wishes, mingle themselves with yours, that the happy Time may soon arrive, when We may enjoy the Blessings of Peace uninterrupted by disputes, with any Power whatever: But alas! my <private opinion is> Apprehensions are very Strong, that We are yet <a great Way> at a distance from So great a Felicity.
You will readily, acknowledge the Impropriety of my entering into the Question concerning the Duty of the Commissioners here, to have made the Communications of the Treaty, which you mention: But of this you may be assured that I shall at all Times, hold myself obliged to you for the Communication of your sentiments, upon any public affair.
I am therefor sorry that in your Letter you have confined yourself to that Part of the Treaty, upon which I particularly requested your Sentiments. And I now take the Liberty to request your Sentiments upon every Part of the Treaty, which you conceive liable to doubtfull Construction, or capable of producing Discontent or Dispute. For I have the honnour to be fully of your Opinion that it is of very great Importance to be upon our guard and avoid every Cause of Controversy with France as much as possible.1 She is, and will be2 in Spight of the obstacles of Language, of Customs, Religion and Government, our natural Ally against G. B. as long as she shall continue our Ennemy, and that will be at least as long as she shall hold a foot of Ground in America, however she may disguise it, and whatever Peace or Truce she may make.
You have mortified me much by mentioning a Conversation at Mr. Bertins, which if you understood me perfectly and remember it right had either too much of Phylosophy or of Rhodomontade, for a Politician, especially for a Representative of the United States of America, and more especially still for a Citizen of the Massachusetts Bay.
Your sentiments of the Fishery as a source of Wealth of Commerce and naval Power are perfectly just, and therefore this Object will and ought to be attented to with <the Utmost> Precision and cherished with <the most anxious> Care.
Nevertheless Agriculture is the most essential Interest of America, and even of the Massachusetts Bay, and it is very possible to injure both, by diverting too much of the Thoughts and Labour of the People, from the Cultivation of the Earth, to Adventures upon the Sea. And this in the opinion of some Persons has been a fault in the Massachusetts Bay. Experience had taught Us, in the Course of this War, that the Fishery was not so essential to our Welfare as it was once { 74 } thought. Necessity has taught Us to dig in the Ground instead of fishing in the sea for our Bread, and We have found that the Resource did not fail Us. The Fishery was a source of Luxury and Vanity that did Us much Injury: yet this was the Fault of the Management, not of the Fishery. One Part of our Fish went to the West India Islands for Rum and Molasses to distill into Rum, which injured our Health and our Morals—the other Part went to Spain and Portugal for Gold and Silver the whole of which, almost went to London, Sometimes for valuable Articles of Cloathing, but too often for Lace and Ribbons.
If therefore the Cessation of the Fishery for twenty years to come was to introduce the Culture of Flax and Wool, which it certainly would do as far as would be necessary for the Purposes of Decency and Comfort, if a Loss of Wealth should be the Consequence of it, the Acquisition of Morals and of Wisdom would perhaps make Us gainers in the End.
These are vain Speculations I know. The Taste for Rum and Ribbons will continue, and there is no Means, for the New England People to obtain them So convenient as the Fishery, and therefore the first opportunity will be eagerly embraced to revive it.
As a Nursery of Seamen and a source of naval Power it has been and3 is an object of serious Importance, and perhaps indispensably necessary to the Accomplishment and the Preservation of our Independance. I shall therefore always think it my Duty, to defend and secure4 our Right to it, with all Industry and Zeal, and shall ever be obliged to you for your Advice and Co operation. Pardon the Length of this Letter, and believe me, with much <respect> Esteem your Friend and servant.
LbC (Adams Papers); directed to Izard at “Hotel Thoulouse, Rue Jardinier Faubourg St. Germain.”
1. In drafting this letter JA ended the paragraph at this point and then, leaving a small space, began the next, but in reviewing the draft he apparently decided to add the sentence that immediately follows. Because of the limited space available, however, the final 21 words, beginning with “shall hold a foot of ground,” were written at the bottom of the page and marked for insertion.
2. The preceding three words were interlined for insertion here.
3. The preceding three words were interlined for insertion here.
4. The preceding two words were interlined for insertion here.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0054

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: MacCreery, William
Date: 1778-09-25

To William MacCreery

[salute] Sir

Yours from Bordeaux of the 17th I have received—and congratulate you on your agreable Accounts from America. My Accounts altho not { 75 } quite so late as yours, are from unquestionable Authority and to the same Effect.
The Letter you mention as intercepted and published in a London Paper, has every fretfull angry Symptom of Disappointment in visionary schemes of Gain. If every Man in the service of the United States, from President Laurens down to the youngest Clerk in the secretarys office1 from General Washington down to the lowest officer in his Army, from Dr. Franklin down to the <least considerable> lowest servant in his Family are not liable to be called to Account by Congress, when they think proper, and especially if they have received and expended sums of Money belonging to the Public, what is to become of the United States. The Mines of Potosi2 would soon be exhausted.
There is not in the science of Government an Aphorism more essential than this That every Man should be called to an Account for public Money entrusted to him. And persons will be obliged to account with more or less3 Strictness, in exact Proportion as the Commonwealth is well or ill regulated.
This Letter has given me no Uneasiness at all. It will do no harm. A Cask of new Wine, must have its Fermentation and a little Skimmed Milk poured into it is excellent to make the Liquor perfectly fine.
There is a Thrust at me in this Letter that dont surprize me at all, because (as I never knew a Man displaced from a Trust, but his friends were some of them angry with his successor,) I did not4 expect to escape so common a Calamity. But the two A's were 500 miles off at the time when the Deed was done, and certainly had no hand in it. For my own Part I had as many thoughts of a Voyage to the Moon as to France, when I received the News of my Commission, and the Prospect of an horrid Winters Voyage, through I knew not how many British Men of War, <had so> not knowing how I should be received if I should against Probability be so lucky as to arrive in France had so few Charms in my Eyes that I had less Inclination to come than I have now to return, if Congress should order it.
If I brought my Brothers over with me, and was about introducing them into extensive Connections in Trade, as this would both be lawfull and laudible I suppose they would be as much disappointed and think themselves and me as much injured if Congress should recall me. But I should not be of their opinion. <So much for a very frivolous Business, yours &c.>
If I had been strongly against Mr. Deane, I should certainly avow it, and make no secret of it at all. I have never been used to disguise my sentiments of Men, whom I have been against, in public Life, and I certainly should not begin, with Mr. Deane, <he certainly> who is not { 76 } and never was a Man of Importance enough, to make me deviate from a Rule that I have observed all my Life, vizt when obliged to be a Mans Ennemy to be openly and generously so.
So much concerning a very frivolous affair, from your most obedient
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “not sent.”
1. The preceding twelve words were interlined for insertion here.
2. A Bolivian town noted for the silver mines in its vicinity.
3. The preceding two words were interlined for insertion here.
4. This word was interlined for insertion here.