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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 11


Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0128

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Thomas Boylston
Date: 1796-04-07

John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams

[salute] My dear Son

It is a long time Since I have recd a Letter from you and it is too long Since I have written to you.
I have read your Dispatches as Chargé d’affaires at the Hague with much Satisfaction: But I find the Secretary of the Treasury is anxious to hear from You on the subject of Affairs in Holland which have more immediate Relation to his Office.
The House of Representatives of U.S. are engaged in Disputes about their Powers and Authorities which have already consumed { 244 } much time: but I hope they will now come to a Conclusion and resolve to do what depends upon them to carry the Treaty into Execution.
You have not lately given to me or your Mother any Intimation of your designs: whether you intend to remain in Europe or to return to America. Your Prospects in Europe are unknown to me: and while I should be very happy in your Company here I would not advise you to any Course against your Interest. if you see any Advantage in remaining where you are another that is a third year, greater than any to be expected from returning home I would not interfere in your Pursuits. Perhaps something may turn up in Europe or America in the Course of a few Months to make your Path more easy to see It is possible your Brother may be removed to some other situation, and in that Case you will of Course either be placed in his stead at the Hague or remain there as Charge Des Affairs or return home.
There may be some Changes in America which may make it proper for me to advise you before the End of another year to return home.
In America there are Opportunities opening constantly which a young Lawyer may take Advantage of provided he is attentive and industrious as I doubt not you are and would be.
Pray has “The Defence” ever been translated into Dutch or German? if it has send me a Copy—1 I wish too you would send me one Copy of The French Translation of it.—
The Dutch are trying over again after the French the Experiment of a Government of a single assembly. Nedham as great a Changling as he was, and as great a Villain, has had more honour done to his weak system than Sir Thomas More, Mr Harrington or even Plato.—2 It has cost many hundreds of thousands of Lives to cure France of their Idolatry to it. And I am afraid my good Friends the Dutch will have reason too to repent of it. Oh Franklin! Thy Rods will not in a thousand Years save half the Number of Lives that has been destroyed already in France by their inconsiderate Admiration of thy Attachment to Marchmont Nedhams Legislation.
The Rascall Nedham leading Franklin Turgot Condorcet and Rochefoucault by the Nose, and the French Nation blindly following them and the Dutch Nation bringing up the Rear is to be so astonishing a Picture, that no Miracle could have made me believe it, if I had not lived to see it.
our Family and Friends are all well. Adieu my Dear son— Go on in { 245 } the Ways of well doing and may the Blessing of Heaven follow you— so prays your / affectionate Father
[signed] John Adams
RC (DLC:Adams Family Papers); internal address: “Thomas B. Adams”; endorsed: “My Father The V. P. U. S. / 7 April 1796 / 21 June Recd / 24 Do Ansd:—”
1. No German or Dutch translation of JA’s Defence of the Const. has been found.
2. JA is contrasting the ideas espoused by Marchamont Nedham (Needham) in works such as A True State of the Case of the Commonwealth, London, 1654, which advocated a unicameral legislature, with the political systems proposed in Thomas More’s Utopia, James Harrington’s Oceana, and Plato’s Republic.JA derived many of his principal ideas on government from Harrington’s work, which proposed a government based on three orders: a senate that proposed laws, the citizens who voted on the laws, and the magistracy who executed the laws (DNB; Haraszti, Prophets, p. 34–35; JA, Papers, 4:78).

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0129

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1796-04-09

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dearest Friend

The H. of R. have not yet determined— The Question is to be calld up on Monday— But the opposition who now call themselves the virtuous Majority, will endeavour Still to postpone it.
It is now avowed by Mr Bond, the British Chargé D’affaires that the Surrender of the Posts is suspended upon the determination of the H. of R. and who could expect it would be otherwise?1
I have read “The Ministers” dispatches from London. The King could not help discovering his old ill humour. The Mad Ideot will never recover. Blunderer by Nature, Accidents are all against him. Every Measure of his Reign has been wrong. It seems they dont like Pinkney— They think he is no Friend to that Country and too much of a French Jacobin. They wanted to work up some Idea or other of introducing another in his Place: but our young Politician Saw into them too deeply to be duped— At his last Visit to Court the K. passed him without Speaking to him, which you know will be remarked by Courtiers of all Nations. I am glad of it: for I would not have my son go so far as Mr Jay and affirm the friendly Disposition of that Country to this. I know better. I know their Jealousy Envy Hatred and Revenge covered under pretended Contempt.2
I am so fatigued and disgusted with the Insipidity of this dull Life that I am half a Mind to vow that if W. dont Resign I will. The Old Hero looks very grave of late.
However there is a high Probability that I am upon my last Year of public Life, for if there should not be a Choice by the People I will not suffer a Vote to be given for me in the H. of R. I will never Serve in that high and Responsible situation without Some { 246 } foundation of People to stand on. If I should be chosen V. P. only by a Plurality I will refuse. in short there are so many probable Cases in which I am determined to retire that the Probability of it is upon the whole very strong. indeed I feel myself to be a fool to serve here at all.
I am glad you can cast off the fret upon your Mind— You recd Some Post Note soon after the date of yours of 28 of March which enabled you to face your Creditors and gave you more Courage I hope.
The Walls in Curtis’s Pasture must be built, or Burrells Corn will not be safe—
Cleopatra ought not to be fed too high— she should have no Grain—only Hay.
I am
[signed] J A.3
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs A”; endorsed: “April 9th 1796.”
1. On 25 March Lord Grenville informed Phineas Bond that the Treaty of Greenville, for which see JQA to CA, 30 Dec. 1795, and note 4, above, contradicted free trade provisions of the Jay Treaty. Bond delivered a memorial to the U.S. government stating that Great Britain would not evacuate its posts in the Northwest Territory until it was agreed that no subsequent treaties would impede free intercourse and commerce as established under the Jay Treaty. On 4 May 1796 Bond and Timothy Pickering signed an explanatory article to be included in the Jay Treaty. George Washington submitted the article to the Senate on 5 May, and it was approved by a vote of 19 to 5 on 9 May. On 1 June George Beckwith, adjutant-general of Upper and Lower Canada, sent a general order for commanders to evacuate the northwestern posts; by 11 Aug. all British posts in the Northwest had been presented to American forces (Joanne Loewe Neel, Phineas Bond: A Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1786–1812, Phila., 1968, p. 139–140; Amer. State Papers, Foreign Relations, 1:551–553; Miller, Treaties, 2:346–348; U.S. Senate, Exec. Jour., 4th Cong., 1st sess., p. 207; Robert S. Allen, His Majesty’s Indian Allies: British Indian Policy in the Defence of Canada, 1774–1815, Toronto, 1992, p. 84).
2. The dispatches to Pickering in which JQA described his time in London were dated 14, 15, 27 Nov. 1795; 5, 15, 19, 22 Dec.; and 1, 20 Jan. 1796. There JQA described his audience with George III and Britain’s negative view of Thomas Pinckney, whom the English believed to be too pro-French, preferring to deal with JQA instead. JQA wrote that the British government and press consistently (and incorrectly) referred to him as the minister plenipotentiary to the Court of St. James. After he refused to acknowledge the new title, he noted his subsequent snub by the king at a levee (LbC’s, APM Reel 130; MHi:Pickering Papers, 20:96–97, 118–119).
3. JA had also written to AA on 7 April discussing the House of Representatives’ debate on the Jay Treaty, giving AA agricultural advice, and forwarding two letters from JQA, possibly those of 1 and 7 Jan. (all 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, 2017.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/