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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0134

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cranch, Richard
Date: 1783-09-10

John Adams to Richard Cranch

[salute] My dear Brother

I have received with very great Pleasure, your favours of June 26 and July 18. If my Townsmen of Marblehead, Salem, Cape Anne, Plymouth &c. are pleased with the Peace, I am very glad:2 But We have yet to Secure, if We can, the Right to carry Some of their Fish to market. This and other Things is like to detain me longer here than I expected. I do not regret this, on Account of what you Say is meditated,3 because I have not the qualifications necessary to give Satisfaction in Such a Station, which no Man can obtain with[out]4 divisions or hold without Reproach in these turbulent Times. A great deal of dangerous and disagreable Service, it is true has fallen to my Lot, and it has been done with as much Success as could be expected and I am content.
I regret the Articles concerning the Tories, even for their sakes as well as ours. I thought and Still think it would have been better to have Said nothing about them. But What was done, was insisted on and could not be avoided.
The Treaty must Speak for itself. I do not Think myself qualified for a Commentator, nor should I think myself at Liberty to comment if I knew how. From the Treaty itself, the Stipulations may be easily distinguished from the Recommendations. The former should be Sacred and the latter coolly considered, at least. It will never do to quote me in Explanation of the Treaty: Your ministers have Said, and will Say in their Letters to Congress as much as they think proper upon the subject, and such Parts as Congress think fit to communi• { 240 } cate you will have from them. All I can Say is I wish the real Sense and Spirit of the Treaty may be complied with, and would recommend to all a dispassionate Consideration of it. If there are any Serious Things among Men such a Treaty is one of them.
I am much obliged to you for your particular Account of my Friends and particularly of the Death of my Aged Uncle5 for whom I had a great Regard, and am much affected with his kind Remembrance of me in his last Days. When I shall be released and see you I know not. We must finish off, in Europe, if Such is the Will of Congress, which may take Us a Year, and may be done sooner, or may require longer time. I should hope to finish all in a Year. I have written to my dear Partner to come to me, this Fall if she can, but have Small hopes that my Letters will reach her soon enough and I would not have her Think of a Winter Passage. It is a cruel Punishment to me to live without her, but I should choose this for 6 months longer rather than expose her health, to a turbulent Winter Passage without me. My kind Regards to sister and the Children and all our Friends.

[salute] With great Affection, your Friend and Brother

[signed] John Adams
RC (Tioga Point Museum, Athens, Penna.:Tidd Coll.); endorsed: “Letter from His Excellency J. Adams Esqr. Paris Sepr. 10th. 1783.” LbC in JQA's hand (Adams Papers). This is the first JA letter transcribed by JQA into JA's letterbook (see JA to AA, 7 Sept., note 8, above).
1. JA probably began to write the date of one of Cranch's letters to him, 26 June, above.
2. Responding to Cranch's letter of 26 June, above, JA is clearly pleased by the reaction of Massachusetts' fishermen to the rights gained under the Anglo-American peace treaty, but is also concerned over the need for commercial treaties to insure that American ships could carry the fish to market.
3. That JA should be chosen governor of Massachusetts; see Cranch to JA, 26 June, above.
4. This word, mutilated on the worn right margin, is completed from the LbC.
5. Rev. Joseph Adams.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0135

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tufts, Cotton
Date: 1783-09-10

John Adams to Cotton Tufts

[salute] Dear sir

I thank you for your Favours of [June] 26 and July 51 and for your obliging Congratulations, on the Peace. The Articles respecting Refugees had [better] have been [omitted], but [we could not] have Peace without them and the Peace as it is, is better than none. The[se] Articles must be [explained] by a Consideration of the [words] of them and the whole Treaty, [and] I do not consider myself at Liberty to Say any Thing about their Meaning any more than if I had [drawn] a Will, I could explain the [Intention] of the Testator. { 241 } Give it as generous a Construction as you can, and call in Christian Charity as well as public Faith and human Policy to your [Aid].
I am more anxious about the Settlement of the Question between Congress and the States. The Public Debts must be paid, Yet you must take Care who raises the Money. At this distance, not hearing the Arguments I am not competent to decide for myself. But who shall govern foreign Commerce? Who shall preserve an Uniformity of Duties and Prohibitions? Can We preserve our Union without Such Uniformity? Can We defend our Sea Coast? Can We preserve the Respect of foreign Nations? But there is so much Sense among you and you have Such Resources that you will soon get over these difficulties, I hope.2
I was lately in hopes of joining and assisting in the discussion of these Matters, but Congress have sent me a new Business or a Revival of an old one,3 which will detain me this Winter at least. Pray Advise Mrs. Adams, whether to come to me or not. I have written to her to come, but it will be so late, before she receives the Letters, and Things are so unsettled in Congress respecting foreign affairs, that I am full of Doubt and Fears, whether it would not be more prudent to postpone it untill next Spring. If Things should not be arranged by my Masters so [that] I come home [then], I must insist on her coming to me, if it is even to live at the Hague. My John is a cordial to me, and if I had my two Nabbys I should be as happy as any Lord with my two Boys at Mr. Shaws and my little Farm under your Eye.

[salute] My affectionate and dutifull Respects to Father Smith, Your Lady and son.

[signed] John Adams
RC (NPV); docketed: “Letter fm. Hon John Adams dated Sept. 10 at Paris.” LbC in JQA's hand (Adams Papers). Extensive bleeding of the ink has obscured several words in the RC; they have been supplied from the LbC.
1. Both Adams Papers.
2. This paragraph, like the one preceding it, is in response to Tufts' letter of 26 June (Adams Papers). As JA well understands here, the manner in which Congress raised money to pay off its debts would determine whether the United States would develop a strong central government or remain a collection of sovereign states. Those who favored the first course wanted Congress to have the power to levy taxes and to appoint and control its own tax collectors. Their opponents preferred either to divide the national debt among the states or to have the states collect the money and turn it over to Congress as payment of their share of the cost of government. In April Congress offered the states a number of proposals, packaged as one, that would give Congress power to levy duties on foreign imports for twenty-five years in order to pay the interest and principal of the national debt, and to levy an additional tax of $1,500,000 annually, apportioned among the states, also for twenty-five years; that would have all states cede their western land claims in accordance with the congressional resolu• { 242 } tions of 1780; and that would offer the states an amendment to the Articles of Confederation changing the proportion of assessments on the states from one based on land values to one based on population, with three-fifths of the slaves being counted. Aside from their dislike of the different effects that duties and taxes would have in different regions, opponents of the package of proposals feared that the new duties and taxes would create too powerful a central government, one dangerous to liberty. JCC, 24:170–174, 223–224, 256–262; Jensen, The New Nation, p. 400, 407–419.
3. Negotiating a commercial treaty with Great Britain.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/