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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10


Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0227

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cooper, Samuel
Date: 1780-12-09

To Samuel Cooper

[salute] Dear Sir

I wrote to you and Coll. Johonnot a few days ago,1 but have Since found a Letter, from you of 25 July which I am afraid is not acknowledged.
The promised Reinforcement is not yet Sailed from France and when it will be ready I know not. I hope they will Send more ships. But you will hear more from France. I left it the 27 of July and know not when I shall return.
I Sincerely wish myself, at home. Peace will not be made these twenty Years, in my deliberate opinion. And to what Purpose I should Stay here I know not. In America I could do some good, if I could get there without going after Mr. Laurens.
Our unthinking Countrymen, never from the Beginning appeared to me to be Sufficiently sensible of the Difficulty and Danger of the Work they were about. They seem now to think, that they have { 401 } nothing to do but call upon Nations of Europe to their Aid. Many think that they have only to propose Peace, and there will be Peace. Only ask for Accommodation, and they shall have it.
Depend upon it, <neither Peace nor> Accommodation <are> is not at the Disposal of America, on any other Terms whatsoever than unconditional Submission to G. Britain, and a War with France and Spain, and how little soever France and Spain are disposed to assist Us, We should find them a very different Ennemy from what they were the last War. Their marines, and Finances are as much more formidable as those of Great Britain are less.
I know not the Reason, but our Countrymen never appeared to me to have considered Seriously what it was to commit Hostilities against Great Britain. They seem to think the English still their Friends. But they will find themselves the Dupes of their own good Nature and unsuspicious Temper. There is not in England one half the Malice and Rancour against Frenchmen and Spaniards that there is against Americans. The King and Ministry have found means and had the Art to inspire even the Populace with a Hatred of Us, as bitter as that of the common Soldiers who are employed to butcher Us in America.
The Mob themselves would pull the Ministry to Pieces, if they were to make Peace with Us. If We do not in Time find out G.B. to be our Ennemy and, that we must renounce all Ideas of Connection, Correspondance and Intercourse with her, I shall be mistaken.
The Dutch Politicians, after the two Invasions of their Republick by Louis the 14 and Louis the 15.—published little Books containing short and Simple narrations, adapted to the Capacities of the common People of the Devastations, Cruelties and Brutalities of the french Armies, committed in the Republick, intermixed with little Prints representing many of the most detestible of those Scaenes. The Books were intituled French Tyranny, and they were read by every body, and they contributed to excite an universal Hatred and Horror of that nation which runs through every Vein to this day.2 The English Ministry are representing Americans, in Prints and Caracatures, in a light equally odious to the People of England. Yet the Gentlemen in America seem to be afraid, to represent the British Conduct towards them, lest it should alienate the Affections of the People. If there is ever any affection again between Americans and Britains it will be miraculous indeed.
Our officers too are continually expressing their Admiration of British Officers, Troops, Navy, Discipline &c., as if they thought the Way to make their soldiers fight was to represent the Ennemy as { 402 } terrible. It will not be at all wonderfull, if Militia fly, and continental Troops too as long as this is the Case.
Pray put our Countrymen into a more able Way, of managing the best Cause and working with the best materials. If between 3 and 4 millions of People, inhabiting such a Country as ours, and in a manner out of Debt, cannot defend themselves, against between five and six millions 3000 miles off, and 200,000,000, in debt, it will be the most shamefull Discovery that ever was made.
Most affectionately & respectfully yours
1. The letter to Cooper was of 6 Dec. (above); for that of 7 Dec. to Gabriel Johonnot (LbC, Adams Papers), see JA's letter to Samuel Cooper Johonnot of 24 Oct., note 1 (above).
2. Louis XIV invaded the Netherlands in 1672, Louis XV did so in 1747. JA may be referring to a pamphlet entitled De Fransche Tyrannie . . ., Amsterdam, 1674. No later printing has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0228

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Capellen tot den Pol, Joan Derk, Baron van der
Date: 1780-12-09

To Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Pol

[salute] Sir

I have received the Letter, which you did me the Honour to write me, on the 28. Ultimo. The Pamphlet, which I took the Liberty to Send you, may possibly excite in Some Minds a Curiosity, to read the original Memoire,1 and turn the attention of many to a Subject that deserves a Serious Consideration. It is very probable that Mr. Pounal, meant to allarm, this Republick and perhaps other nations, by Several Things which he has inserted in his Work: for he is by no means a Friend of America. The Truths he tells in her favour, dont come from a willing Witness.
These little Allarms, and Jealousies of Merchants or of Nations are not much to be regarded. The American Question, one of the greatest which was ever decided among Men, will be determined by the Cabinets of Europe, according to great national Interests. But let these decide as they will, America will be independent. It is not in the Power of Europe to prevent it. Little mercantile Apprehensions, and less Family Competitions and Alliances among Princes, may light Up a general War in Europe. It is possible that a Jealousy of the House of Bourbon, may inkindle a War of several Powers against those Nations who follow the several Branches of that Family. But this would promote rather than retard American Importance. American Independance is no longer a Question with one Man of Sense in the World, who understands any Thing of the Subject.
{ 403 }
That Merchant must be a very <shallow> superficial Thinker indeed who dreads the Rivalry of America, independant, in the Fisheries, in Freight, and in the Coasting Trade, and yet, would not be afraid of it, connected with Great Britain. The Possibility of Americas interfeering, with any Nation in any of those Things will certainly be retarded by her Independance.
I believe with you that the Credit of America, was never lower in the Low Countries than at this Hour: but I am unfortunate enough to differ, from Your Opinion concerning the Causes of it. The Tales of Gates and Arnold, and the French and Spanish Fleets &c. are ostensible Reasons. The true one is, the apparent Obstinacy and Fury of England, manifested several Ways particularly in the Treatment of Mr. Laurence and the Rage at the Discovery of his Papers. These have intimidated every Body. Every one dreads the Resentment of the <Stadthouderian and the> English Party, <which are the Same,> and no one dares Stand forth in opposition to it. So be it—Let them go on, lending their Money and hiring their Ships to England to enable her to murder People of whom neither the Lender nor the Borrower are worthy. Time will Shew them, how much Wisdom there is in their unfeeling Sacrifice of every Sentiment and every Principle upon the Altar of Mammon. The Less America has to do with such People the better it will be for her.
As to Authentic Informations, Sir. No Information from America would alter Sentiments, which are formed upon Motives, which lie altogether in Europe. No Information from America, could alter the Constitution of this Republick; give the stadtholder less decisive Influence in it, or destroy the Relations between the Families of Hanover and Orange. I should not think it therefore, Wise, nor honest in me to deceive America with any kind of Hopes of Assistance in any Way from this Republick.
There are a few very few Individuals, among the foremost of whom, You, sir will ever be rememberd who would wish from generous Motives to do us Service, but they are So overborn by the opposite Party that they never will be able to do much, excepting in a Case, in which We should have no need of their Assitance. I have the Honour to be, with great Esteem, Sir your most obt &c.
1. Thomas Pownall's Memorial, upon which JA's pamphlet, Pensées, was based.
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/