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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10


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Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0081

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Luzac, Jean
Date: 1780-09-15

To Jean Luzac

[salute] Sir

I have just now received yours of the 14. and I wish I had Time to write you a Sheet or two upon the Subject of it.
I am very glad to find that you will undertake to be the Editor and I beg the favour of you to place Such a Preface as you like and to correct the Language, wherever it has Occasion.1 I hope to see it public as soon as possible.
I have met often in Europe with the Same Species of Reasoners that you describe; but I find they are not numerous. Among Men of Reflection, the sentiment is generally, different, and that no Power in Europe has any Thing to fear from America.2 The Principal Interest of America for many Centuries to come, will be Landed, and her chief Occupation, Agriculture. Manufactures and Commerce will be but Secondary Objects, and always Subservient to the other. America will be the Country to produce raw Materials for Manufactures, but Europe will be the Country of Manufactures, and the Commerce of America can never increase, but in a certain Proportion to the Growth of its Agriculture, untill its whole Territory of Land is filled up with Inhabitants, which will not be in Some hundreds of Years.
Russia and the northern Powers are too well informed to fear that America will interfere with them, in the Articles of their Commerce. America will demand of them in Hemp, Duck, Cordage, Sailcloth, Linens and other Articles, much more than they will ever interfere { 153 } with them in the Trade of Tar, Iron and Timber. In fact, the Atlantic is so long and difficult a Navigation, that the Americans will never be able to afford to carry to the European Markett, great Quantities of these Articles. They have other Productions of greater Profit in a Smaller Compass in Such numbers and Variety, that they never can interfere with the northern Powers.3 As to Iron We shall import it in Bars from Sweeden, as We ever did. We used to import Sweedish Iron from England.
But Supposing We should interfere. Should We interfere less, under the Government of England than under our own Government?4
I have not the original Memoire to the Sovereigns of Europe but I can get it from London.
The Question to your Antagonists should be, Can Europe prevent the Independance of America? If United, perhaps they might, but can they be united? If Europe cannot prevent; or rather if any particular nation of Europe, cannot prevent the Independance of America, then, the Sooner her Independance is acknowledged the better: the less likely she will be to become warlike, enterprizing and ambitious. The Truth is however, that America can never unite in any War but a defensive one.
I have been much obliged to you for your favourable Representation of the News from America, and of our affairs in general, and am with great respect and Esteem, sir your most obt. sert.
1. For a summary of Luzac's preface to Pensées sur la révolution de l'Amérique-Unie (p. iii–xxii), see his letter of 14 Sept., note 2 (above).
2. Luzac translated and expanded the remainder of this paragraph and used it in his preface to rebut the claim that an independent United States would immediately become a serious commercial and manufacturing rival of Europe (p. xvi–xvii).
3. Luzac translated and inserted this and the preceding sentence virtually verbatim into his preface (p. xix).
4. The sentiments expressed by JA in this sentence and the second paragraph below, formed the substance of the concluding sentence of the closing paragraph of Luzac's preface (p. xx–xxii). Luzac, however, was not as blunt there as JA is here.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0082

Author: Digges, Thomas
Author: Church, William Singleton
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-09-15

From Thomas Digges

[salute] Dr. sir

We are all so very busy in Election bustles that hardly anything political is talked of. The Ministry seem to be going on swimingly in getting in Creatures of their own so that their majority in the next will be more decided than in the last Parliament. The Poll has ended { 154 } for the City and the members are Hayley, Kirkman, Bull, and Newnham. The last tho a Torey beat Sawbridge by 79 Votes. Rodney and Fox will get Westminster, and Burke and Cruger will be thrown out by two toreys in Bristol.2 Whispers are going about from the high flighers of the Court Party, that the new Parliament will early go upon accomodation if not declaration of Independence to America, this is either put forth to serve Election purposes, or to help up the Stocks; for I do not think the ministers are yet grown wise enough to adopt such a politic measure. If misfortunes and the appearance of gloomy accounts arriving from all quarters, save that of the East, would be a means of bringing them to their sences, one would think they had enough of these.
The various accounts from Ama. by the Cartel to Bristol which I lately wrote you about,3 and by two or three Vessels lately taken, (part of a fleet of 11 Sail which left Chesapeak bay about the 1st of Augt. bound to Amsterdm.) have alterd the minds of the people wonderfully lately, and they now begin again to think that the affairs of Engd. in America are in a deplorable way. I find there are several passengers in this fleet but luckily none of them in the ships that are taken, so that I have reason to think that by this time some of them have got to Amsterm. The names recited to me are all from Maryland vizt.—Mr. Ridout of Annapolis, Mr. Cheston a Merchant of ditto and a Mr. Dorsey from Elk Ridge. I hope they will be able to give you satisfactory accounts of the State of things in the West.
The Boyne Man of War is arrived in a very shattered Condition at Plymouth, She with the Preston was convoy to the Leeward Island 1st of Augt. Fleet about 80 Sail in all. On the 3d Instant the fleet was dispersd by a violent Storm which lasted 3 days and it is feard many of the ships are lost as none came in with their Convoy or are since arrivd—three of this fleet arrivd some days ago but they lost the Convoy nine days before this storm happend. The West India accounts do not place the situation, supplys and health of Rodneys fleet as in an enviable situation. Altho the late Gazette mentions nothing of ten of his ships being sent down to rienforce the Jamaica Squadron It is lookd upon here that they did go. We have yet no authentic news of Greaves's arrival out or any late accounts from N York—The People here rather laugh at a Seige of N York, and still persist Hallifax or Quebec is the object of the combind force of France and America. If Ternays object is to block up Sandy Hook it is an hundred to one if the Whole N York fleet which saild About 5 weeks ago does not fall into His hands; at any rate that fleet is in much risque and may { 155 } probably produce a third great blow to the underwriters at Loyds—the late losses among these Gentry will effectually prevent their 1781 Subscription of millions to the Minister for carrying on the War.
The Cartel Ship to Bristol is yet detaind for want of getting the necessary protection for men to conduct Her to Bilboa. The Exchange of an equal number of American Prisoners is peremptorily refusd. It is astonishing to her that they know no better in Boston than to expect an Exchange here—Mr. Dunkins and Mr. Mitchells Vessels had both been refusd as Cartels in December last. One of the Ships found its way back to Boston long ago, and Mitchell himself was in Boston four of five days before this Vessel saild the 21st July. The former two Vessels brought 90 Prisoners and this 11 so that upwards of an hundred men are lost to Us, and so will thousands be if the United States allow their prisoners thus to come away. To my great greif the capture of these two American Vessels mentiond before will add near 80 more Prisoners to our list already amounting to 280 or 290. I have made a push to get a part of these sent over gratis in Temples Cartel to France to stand in Account, but it was to no effect; These people seem determin'd to do nothing in good nature or what has a tendency to Conciliation. Their audacity and impudence in publick offices seem to encrease with their impotence.
I am Dr sir Yr Ob sert.
[signed] W.S.C
1. This letter is largely a digest of reports from London newspapers of 15 Sept., and the days immediately preceding. During this period most of the news concerned the general election then in progress.
2. The general election of 1780 resulted from the North ministry's dissolution of Parliament on 1 Sept., and its expectation that popular enthusiasm over Clinton's victory at Charleston and reaction to the Gordon Riots offered an opportunity to increase its parliamentary majority. While this would have little effect on the conduct of the war, since the ministry already enjoyed a substantial majority on that issue, it would prevent a recurrence of the opposition victories in the spring of 1780 in the wake of Edmund Burke's introduction of his economic reform bill. Contrary to the ministry's expectations, however, the election turned out badly and its majority was reduced. This was largely due to poor organization and a failure to appreciate the extent to which economic reform and local issues had taken hold with the electorate.
Digges clearly believed that the ministry was succeeding in its effort to build a more substantial majority. But the election results, which he supplied from newspaper reports, reflect the successes of the opposition rather than the ministry. George Hayley, John Kirkman, Frederick Bull, and Nathaniel Newenham were elected to Parliament from the City of London. But Newenham, if not as radical as John Sawbridge, was opposed to the war and consistently voted against the ministry. Moreover, Sawbridge, although defeated in the general election, was named to replace John Kirkman, who died shortly before the polls closed on 15 Sept., at a by-election in November. Edmund Burke withdrew his name prior to the election in Bristol, but was returned to Parliament in December from Malton, Yorkshire, while Henry Cruger regained his seat in the general election of 1784. The election of Adm. Sir George Rodney and Charles James Fox by substantial margins from Westminster had less to do with any action by the ministry or the opposition than { 156 } to their own popularity with the electorate (Namier and Brooke, House of Commons ; London Courant, 15, 16, and 18 September).
3. For the cartel ships from Boston to Bristol, mentioned here and in the third paragraph below, see Digges' letters of 8 June, note 6, and 25 and 29 Aug; and James Warren's letter of 19 July, note 2 (all above).