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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0117-0023

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Calkoen, Hendrik
Date: 1780-10-27

22. To Hendrik Calkoen

Letter 22. <23. 24>

[salute] Sir

Questions 22. and 23. General Monk repaired the Kings Government in England. Might not one American General or another, be able, by discontent or Corruption, to do the Same? Would the Army follow his orders on Such an Occasion? Could one or more Politicians, thro Intrigues undertake the Same, with any hopes of Success, Should even the Army assist him in Such a Case?

I have before observed that no Politicians, or General Officers in America, have any Such Influence.1 Neither the People, nor the soldiers would follow them. It was not attachment to Men but to a Cause, which first produced and has supported the Revolution. It was not attachment to officers but to Liberty which made the Soldiers inlist. Politicians in America can only intrigue with the People. Those are So numerous and so Scattered, that no statesman has any great Influence, but in his own Small Circle. In Courts Sometimes, gaining two or three Individuals may produce a Revolution: No Revolution in America can be accomplished without gaining the Majority of the People, and this, not all the Wealth of Great Britain is able to do, at the Expence of their Liberties.

Question 24. The Revolution must have made a great Change in affairs, So that many People, tho at present free of the Enemies Incursions, have lost their daily subsistance. Are the occupations, which come instead of their old ones, been Sufficient to supply their Wants?

All the Difficulties which were ever apprehended, of this Sort, are long Since past. In 1774, Some were apprehensive, that the Fishermen, Sailors, and shipwrights would be idle. But Some went into the { 248 } Army, Some into the Navy, and Some went to Agriculture. And if there had been twice as many, they would all have found Employment. The Building of Frigates and Privateers has employed all the Carpenters—Manufactures besides have been set up of Cannon, Arms, Powder, Salt Peter, Salt—Flax and Wool have been raised in greater Quantities and coarse Manufactures of Cloth and Linen been increased. In short the greatest Difficulty is that there are not hands enough. Agriculture alone in that Country would find Employment enough for Millions, and Privateering for thousands more than there are.
I have the Honour to be
[signed] John Adams
1. See Letter No. 6 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0117-0024

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Calkoen, Hendrik
Date: 1780-10-27

23. To Hendrik Calkoen

Letter 2<5>3. <26>

[salute] Sir

Question 25. Do they who have lost their Possessions and Fortunes by the War, endure it patiently as Compatriots, So that nothing can be feared from them?

Loosing Fortunes in America, has not such dreadful Consequences to Individuals or Families, as it has in Europe. The Reason is obvious because the means of Subsistance are easier to be obtained, So that nobody suffer for Want. As far as I am acquainted with the Sufferers, they have born their Losses both of Property and Relations with great Fortitude and so far from producing in their Minds a desire of submission they have only served to irritate them, to convince them more fully of the precarious and deplorable Situation they should be in under the Government of the English and to make them more eager to resist it.

Question 26. How has it gone, with the Cultivation of the Land, before the Troubles at their Commencement and at present? What Change has taken Place?

{ 249 }
Agriculture ever was and will be the dominant Interest in America. Nevertheless before this War, perhaps, she run more into Commerce than was for her Interest. She depended too much perhaps upon Importations for her Cloathing, Utensiles &c. and indulged in too many Luxuries. When the Prospect opened in 1775 of an Interruption of her Commerce she applied her self more to Agriculture, and Many Places that depended upon the Lumber Trade the Fishery &c., for the Importation of even their Bread have turned their Labour and Attention to raising Corn Wool Flax and Cattle, and have lived better and advanced in Wealth and Independance faster than ever they did. For Example, the Towns in the Neighbourhood of the Sea in the Massachusetts Bay, used to depend upon the Fishery and Commerce, to import them their Wheat and Flour from Philadelphia, Maryland and Virginia and Rice from South Carolina and Georgia. The Communication being interrupted by Sea, Since the War, they have planted their own Corn.
The Eastern Parts of the Massachusetts Bay, before the War depended, on the Commerce of Lumber for the West India Market, and of Masts, Yards and Bowsprits for the Royal Navy of Great Britain, to procure them Cloaths, Meat and Strong Liquors. Since the War, they have cultivated their Lands raised their own Corn, Wool, Flax, and planted the Apple Tree instead drinking rum. In consequence of which they are more temperate, wealthy and independant than ever.
North Carolina depended upon the Commerce of Pitch, Tar and Turpentine and Tobacco, for the Importation of many Things. Since the War, they have turned their Labour, to raise more of the Things which they wanted.
Maryland, Virginia and N. Carolina, depended upon the Trade of Tobacco to import coarse Cloaths for their Negroes. Since the War they have raised less Tobacco and1 more Wheat, Wool and Cotton, and made the coarse Cloaths themselves.
So that upon the whole the Lessening of Commerce, and the Increase of Agriculture, has rendered America more independant than she ever was.
I have the Honour to be &c.
[signed] John Adams
Dft (Adams Papers); notation: “Letter 23.”
1. The preceding three words were interlined.
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, 2018.