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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-04-10-02-0087

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1794-04-22

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

I recd. Yesterday your kind favour of the 11th. I have not been able lately to write you so much as I wished. The President has appointed Mr Jay to go to England as Envoy Extraordinary, in hopes that Satisfaction may be obtained for the Injuries done us in the Capture of our Vessells. I have no very Sanguine hopes of his Success, but if any Man can Succeed I presume he is as likely as any. At least he will give as much Satisfaction to the American People as any Man.
Mr Adams’s Election is no surprize to me. I should indeed have wondered if he had been disgraced and should have lessened my Veneration for the sentiments of Justice and Gratitude in the Breasts of the People of Massachusetts. I wonder not at his lukewarmness at the national Government. I wonder rather that I am not as indifferent to it, as he is. He knows as well as I do, what a kind of Ennemies We are associated with.— I have no Apprehension that he will oppose or embarrass the general Government more than another.— A Governor must ex officio be good for nothing.
Mr Gills Election was not so clearly forseen by me. He however can afford to be Lieutenant Governor or Governor as well as any Man, and is for what I know as well qualified. One thing I know We have three Governors in senate neither of whom are a whit wiser or more virtuous than Mr Gill.1 The People are most afraid of knowing and designing Men, as Governors.
You conduct your Farm with great Spirit, and I wish you good Success.
Last night and to Day We have a charming Rain after a long droughth— I hope you will have rain enough for a fruitful Season.
I cannot answer your Question: but I hope the Appointment of an Envoy, will accellerate our Adjournment by Some Days.
Our Friend here is evidently disappointed. The Farm at Brooklyne will prove like that at Neponsit and like that at Cambridge.—2 These Advances to the Chair, are like the Advances of a Mistress: unless { 150 } they are attempted with great Address and Delicacy they are Apt to cool the Ardour of the Lover.
The Election of Mr Austin is no Way unexpected to me. The Mechanicks who think he has Brains, in my Opinion are not wholly mistaken. I wish he had more liberal Connections and better informed Advisers.— I wish he was a more Sincere Inquirer after Truth less under the Influence of Prejudices and less disposed to flatter the Prepossessions of others.
The House has resolved to prohibit British Manufactures next November. Whether a Bill will pass as currently as the Resolve I know not. And What will be the Fate of the Bill if it comes, in the Senate I doubt not.—3
The English have treated Us very ill: but Neutrality is so much preferable to War, that We shall bear somewhat, rather than fight. We must not bear too much however. The American People must not loose the Sentiment of their Forces, nor submit to too many and too deep humiliations. I am with / an ardent desire to see you, most / tenderly your
[signed] J. A.
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs A”; endorsed: “April 22d 1794.”
1. Three senators in the 3d Congress had previously served as governor: John Langdon of New Hampshire, Alexander Martin of North Carolina, and Moses Robinson of Vermont. Additionally, James Jackson of Georgia was elected governor in 1788 but declined the position, and William Bradford of Rhode Island served three years as deputy governor (Biog. Dir. Cong.).
2. “Our Friend” is George Cabot, who JA believed had recently purchased a home in Brookline, Mass., in order to further his political aspirations to become governor. JA is predicting that instead it will become a place of retirement, as Neponset Hill, in Milton, Mass., was for James Warren and Cambridge for Elbridge Gerry. See vol. 9:484, 485.
3. The House of Representatives continued to discuss responses to British attacks on U.S. vessels throughout April. After approving one resolution, to suspend all commercial intercourse with Britain, on 15 April (see JA to AA, 15 April, and note 2, above), the House approved another resolution on 17 April, to extend the general embargo, due to expire shortly, to 25 May. The Senate concurred in that decision the next day. Subsequently, on 25 April, the House approved a bill suspending importation of various British goods by a vote of 58 to 34. Three days later, however, the Senate defeated the bill, with JA casting the tie-breaking vote (Annals of Congress, 3d Cong., 1st sess., p. 84, 90, 598, 605, 1483).

Docno: ADMS-04-10-02-0088

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1794-04-23

John Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] Dear Sir

If the combined Powers are exhausted by their Exertions The French must be no less distressed by theirs, and each Party thinks it is contending for Existence.— My Calculation is that the other { 151 } Powers in Combination will hold out as long as England although Spain and Prussia may Slacken their Exertions: and that England will continue the War till the Three Per Cents Consolidated fall to fifty five or perhaps a little lower. This Campaign and next Winters Budget may reduce them from 68 where they now are to 60 and the Campain of 1795 and the Budget of 1796 will bring them down to 52 or 53— Then they must make Peace or become Bankrupt.—1 If America next Winter Should be forced into the War, the Stocks will fall more rapidly.
I congratulate the People of the Massachusetts upon the Discovery that they are not base and ungrateful enough to disgrace, in his last moments the Man to whom they are under the greatest Obligations. What a Tryumph it would have been to Despots through the World, to have Seen Sam. Adams forsaken by the People.!
I approve of your caution in political matters. These are times when Such Circumspection is as much a Duty as an Interest.
The Mediocrity of Fortune that you profess or affect ought not to content you.— You come into Life with Advantages which will disgrace you, if your success is médiocre.— And if you do not rise to the head not only of your Profession but of your Country it will be owing to your own Laziness Slovenliness and Obstinacy.
Is there Such a Book in Boston as Précis du Droit des Gens moderne De L’Europe, fondé Sur les Traités et L’Usage. Auquel on a joint la Liste des principaux Traités conclus depuis 1748 jusqu’à present avec l’indication des Ouovages ou ils Se trouvent.
Par Mr. Martens Professeur ordinaire en droit de la nature et des gens, et Assesseur de la Faculté des Droits en L’Universite de Gottinque. in two Vol. 12mo. It is somewhat like De Mablys Droit Publique de L’Europe fonde sur les Traites.
This Professor Martens, to be sure, has had three of King George’s sons, three British Princes under his Care, and his Work is dedicated to them Erneste Auguste, Auguste Frederic and Adolphe Frederic.2
This Creature of their own, who to flatter them might make what Law of Nations he pleased, they quote as Authority to justify their orders of June 1793 for capturing all Provisions bound to France. Have I adopted a Style too much like that of Genet concerning Grotius & Vatell:3 if I have I ask Pardon of Mr Professor Martens and recommend his Book as a valuable Manuel. It is worth your writing to Holland for.
{ 152 }
I have no Faith in the Doctrine that England has a right to consider all France as blocked up and in a state of seige.— It is a very pernicious System and America ought to set her face against it.
The other Doctrine too that they have a Right to capture our Vessells which have Produce of french Islands bound to Europe, is as arbitrary as the former.
and the third that they have a right to consider all the West India Islands as in a State of Seige is as bad as the other two.
I wish We had a Minister to The Empress of Russia and the other Northern Powers— If Russia connives at this maritime Tyranny she will hereafter repent of it.
The Armed Neutrality ought to be revived.
The French and English I see are confiscating Debts, and so are the Spaniards attaching shares in the Bank of st Charles. I wish you would enquire and ascertain these facts with their Dates. Pitt calls it Robbery and our Tracey calls it an Outrage on common Honesty— But Yet Pitt scruples not to commit Robbery in Retaliation for Robbery.4
certain Americans will not forget to quote his Example and Authority. Adieu
[signed] J. A.
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “J. Q. A.”; endorsed: “My Father / April 23. 1794.” and “My Father. 23. April 1794.” Tr (Adams Papers).
1. JA’s predictions were surprisingly accurate. The rates for 3 percent consolidated annuities fluctuated between 1794 and 1796 but began a steady decline that brought them down to 56 by Sept. 1796 and as low as 48 in May 1797. In other words, the cost to the British government of borrowing money to finance the war with France was steadily increasing and might eventually bankrupt the country (John Sinclair, The History of the Public Revenue of the British Empire, 3 vols., London, 1803–1804, 2:appendix 44–45).
2. G. F. de Martens, Précis du droit des gens moderne de l’Europe, fondé sur les traités et l’usage, 2 vols., Göttingen, 1789; Gabriel Bonnot, Abbé de Mably, Le droit public de l’Europe, 2 vols., The Hague, 1746. Copies of both are in JQA’s library at MQA.
Georg Friedrich de Martens (1756–1821) was a German legal expert and professor at Göttingen; he likely tutored the three British princes when they studied there in the late 1780s (Cambridge Modern Hist., 9:587; DNB).
3. In his 27 Oct. 1793 letter to Thomas Jefferson, for which see vol. 9:451, Edmond Genet described Hugo Grotius, Samuel Pufendorf, and Emmerich de Vattel as “hired jurisprudists” who produced “worm eaten writings” (New York Columbian Gazetteer, 31 Oct.). See also AA to JA, 10 May 1794, and note 3, below.
4. In the British House of Commons on 1 Feb., William Pitt reported that the French National Convention had promulgated a decree demanding that all French citizens “deliver to the Commissioners, as soon as possible, an account of the exact state of your property in merchandizes, bills of exchange or credit, in foreign countries; and you are required within two days to lodge the said bills of exchange in the public Treasury, which, after it shall have received the amount, will remit you the value in assignats, at par.” This measure, designed to raise funds for the French government, led Pitt to comment “that it was a complicated measure of oppression, of fraud, of necessity, and of robbery; and evidently demonstrated the miserable shifts to which the persons at { 153 } present exercising power in France were driven, for the purpose of providing supplies for the war.” Nonetheless, Pitt also announced that he would shortly be introducing a bill to prevent payment of any of these debts (European Magazine, 25:226–227 [March 1794]).
Uriah Tracy (1755–1807), a Connecticut lawyer, served as a Federalist in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1793 to 1796 and the Senate from 1796 until his death (Biog. Dir. Cong.).
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.