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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

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.
LbC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0223

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sayre, Stephen
Date: 1780-12-06

To Stephen Sayre

[salute] Sir

I received the Letter, which you did me the Honour to write me on the 21 of October,1 but a few days ago.
I am much obliged to you, for the Information it contains; altho I have neither Instructions, nor Powers by which I can improve it, in any other Way than in Speculation.
I am, however, extreamly pleased with the Idea of opening a Trade between Russia and North America. It may be done, intermediately, by the Way of the French or Dutch Islands: but I cannot but wish to See a direct Commerce between the two Countries. There was formerly Such a Trade, and I know Some Familys in Boston who have made handsome Fortunes by it, Sufficient to shew that the Trade was profitable.2
America will be one of the best Customers in the World for Leather, Copper, Linnen, Flax, Hemp, Sail Cloth, Druggs, Lintseed Oil, Feathers, Musk, Rhubard, &c., which if she had a free Trade she could pay for either in Produce or cash, and therefore I am certain, that whenever it shall be permitted there will be a very extensive Commerce in these Articles with Russia. I should be obliged to you Sir, if you would inform me, what American Articles, would find a Markett in Russia.3
There is at present Such a Demand, in America, especially in Philadelphia and Boston, for Hemp and Duck &c. that they cannot be sent to any Markett upon Earth that will give one <half>, quarter Part so much for them.
Pray what should hinder your ships from going directly to Boston or Philadelphia?
The Neutral Powers, Surely have a Right to navigate to America and to trade with the Inhabitants. Have they not?
How long will all the Nations of the Earth, bear with the Unreasonable Pretensions of England?
{ 398 }
I presume We shall Soon hear, important News, however from St. Petersbourg. The Neutral Confederation, I hope will bring our Ennemies to Reason, for Surely so many great Nations are not to be trifled with. I have the Honour to be
1. Nov., N.S. (above).
2. Boston families that prospered in Russian-American commerce were those of Nicholas and Thomas Boylston, first cousins of JA's mother. The two brothers sent off their first ships in 1763 and 1765, respectively (Norman E. Saul, “The Beginnings of American-Russian Trade, 1763–1766,” WMQ, 3d ser., 26:596–600 [Oct. 1969]).
3. Sayre replied on 30 Dec., O.S., with a long letter (Adams Papers). There, in addition to answering the questions posed here and elsewhere in this letter, he expressed his regret that JA lacked the power to assist him, particularly since Benjamin Franklin refused to do so. He indicated Catherine II's determination to maintain a strict neutrality, noted the British ambassador's intrigues against him, and commented on the prospects for a Russian trade with the United States.
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.