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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10


Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0221

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Date: 1780-12-06

To Arthur Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

Yours from Lebanon 28 Sept. is just come to hand. I wish the Mass. happy in their Governor. It would not have been otherwise, as you Suggest, had an Absent Citizen been at home. Popularity is a Witch. The Gentleman chosen has long been So, to a great degree. The Absent one could Scarcely ever be Said to be so.1
So it has ever been. Objects must be set up for popular Admiration, Confidence, and Affection, and when the Habit is formed, it is impossible to wean it, tho it may become dangerous, or even pernicious. It is So in the freest Governments, and even in the most virtuous. I hope however, in this Instance, We shall do well—and have no Reason to think otherwise. More Penetration, Knowledge, and Steadiness might have been found, perhaps. But the Meaning is good, as I believe.
I hope that effectual Measures will be taken to support Credit: but I doubt whether our Allies, will Lend us a Million. You know the Difficulty, We always had to get any Money. As to borrowing in Holland, our Credit is not worth a Guinea.
How can We expect Credit abroad when We have it not at home? It is most assuredly in the Power of the People of America, to pay in Taxes, and lend to the Publick Money for our Necessities. But nobody will lend.
I have now made Experiments in Person, and I know that Money cannot be borrowed here, altho on my first Arrival I was deceived into an opposite opinion, by People who thought by a few fair Words to get a great deal of Trade. Depend upon it the Friendship for Us in this Country goes no further, than an Inclination after our Commerce.
As to our being forced to an Accommodation, God forbid. We can gain no Accommodation but unconditional submission. No Propositions the English ever made Us had any Sincerity, or meant any Thing { 396 } more than to deceive, divide and betray Us. Malice is in all their Thoughts towards Us.
No Man or Nation in my opinion can do a more fatal Injury to America, or lead her into a more ruinous Error, than by countenancing an opinion, that England will ever give Us Terms. No sir! War We must have and that for many Years, or Slavery without Alloy. My most friendly Respects to your Brothers &c.
Adieu.
1. In this paragraph JA refers to John Hancock and himself.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0222

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, William
Date: 1780-12-06

To William Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

Yours of the 29th. Ultimo is before me. Arnold's Apostacy shews the Necessity of nipping Dishonesty in the Bud. Congress must assume a more decided Authority, and must punish Crimes, and in other Ways do Justice to the Public.
If Arnold had been sued at Common Law for the Money or Goods of the Public that he had defrauded the Public of, he would never have had another Command. Juries are the Support of Government. Committees and Courts Martial alone will never do. Such Turpitude would disgrace any Highwayman it is true, but We shall see more of it, if Juries are not appealed to.
I am curious to see, what the Behaviour of Britain will be, in Relation to the Confederated Neutral Powers. I dont know that the Eastern States are more fond of the Conquest of Canada than any other. I have heard nothing of it—indeed all wish Canada a fourteenth State, but none wish a Conquest of any Body but the English in it. This will follow of Course, when the Enemy is driven from the thirteen States. I believe France wishes for it more than any body.
The Revolt of all the English Colonies, after the Independence of the thirteen States, is most certain. The People will never bear their Government, if they can be admitted into the Confederation. And the Revolt of the British Islands too: but the States would not undertake their Protection perhaps. They would never admit them into the Confederation.
All these are but Wanderings of Imagination. As You say, our Business at present is, to drive the English out of the thirteen States; and build a Navy I say.
{ 397 }
A Navy is our only Defence—more necessary for Us than for Great Britain. By this alone can We defend a long Coast, and transport Troops from one Place to another. We need not march Armies nine hundred Miles, if We had a Navy.
Adieu.
LbC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers).
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/