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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 11


Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0141

Author: Adams, Charles
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1796-04-24

Charles Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] My dear Brother

Your kind letters of Decr 30th from London and of Novr 4th from Helvoetsluys have been both received. that of the latest date reached me about six weeks before the other. I am balancing in my mind whether or not to draw bills they are now four pr Cent below par but objects of speculation are also low. six pr Cents at seventeen shillings and the rest of the funds in proportion. All kinds of property has been sacrificed for money. such has been and still is the want of money that three four and five pr Cent a month has been given. some crashing among our Speculators of course. You do not mention the receipt of my letter in which I gave you a particular account of the employment of your money. It is secured by a bond and mortgage on a very good lot in this City worth at least double the sum. It is also by These instruments stipulated that the principal shall be paid at any time giving to the Mortgagor a notice of sixty days.1
We are as you will find by the newspapers I send you, in a very critical situation. There is at present a considerable majority in the house of Representatives who appear determined to refuse to make appropriations for carrying into effect the treaty with Great Britain. I have some hopes however that some Members will come over Petitions are flowing in from all parts of the continent signed by most of the people of property urging them to make the appropriations. Our Merchants are exceedingly anxious any disturbance would be fatal to the stoughtest of them. They have at this moment more property afloat than they ever had at any former period. The British are exceedingly insolent at present but it is better to suffer evils which are partial than to hazard a war with them in our situation. If the house of Representatives should refuse their aid the next proposition I suppose will be sequestration embargoes and a system of mutual plunder.
Your letter of December 30th giving me a detail of the situation of European politics has been read with so many marks of approbation by several gentlemen to whom I have shown it and I have been so often requested to publish it that I could not deny it especially as I { 266 } { 267 } think at the present moment it will do much good2 Indeed my dear Brother I do not flatter you when I say The United States have never had a Minister abroad whose letters but especially whose official Letters have given more satisfaction than yours the mouths of all who have an opportunity of seeing them are opened in your praise. How would it rejoice my heart if so much virtue and genius and talent was not doomed to vegitate in a foreign <office> soil. To remove an American of eight and twenty years from his Country to pine on a pittance to be in a measure forgotten by his fellow citizens to deprive him of that domestic happiness for which at that time of life we so ardently sigh is a cruelty for which the honor of the appointment in my mind can scarcely compensate. These are my feelings they are feelings drawn forth by a contrast of our situations Settled with a wife whom I ardently love whose every endeavor is for my happiness able by my profession to support her with a cheering prospect of putting something by in my youth for the wintry blasts of age how can I but recollect that you are far distant without the bosom of your Country unconnected with the woman you most admire suported on a bare maintenance. Forgive me if I exhibit a wish too ardent for your return. Our father’s fortunes have been sacrificed to his Country’s call.
The interesting congratulations upon my marriage contained in your letter of Novr 4 drew tears from us both The approbation of so kind and so good a brother was a charm to the hearts we cannot express. May we ever prove worthy of such tender affection.
Our father has a most tedious session he cannot quit his post. In such a time as this he gives up his private concerns for the public weal It is impossible for me to tell you at present whether the President will decline serving again When I was in Philadelphia last February he had determined to retire you will see by the handbill enclosed that the idea is kept up.3 Yet I doubt. If the Country had been in a state of peace and likely to maintain it he would but at present I am doubtful He will not leave the helm while the vessel is in danger at least his former conduct warrants this opinion. Should he decline there is no doubt The Vice President will be his successor
There is an event still more immediately the consequence of a refusal on the part of the house of Representatives to comply with the treaty a Separation of the States How in the name of God can the States of Massachusetts New Hampshire Rhodeissland Connecticut N York N Jersey Delaware Pennsylvania consent to bear the burthen of another war with England to furnish men and money as { 268 } they did the last because the southern Nabobs will not pay their debts? I have no longer any doubts in this case We must separate and the negroeholders become our tributaries4 So let it be if they will not hear reason they may be cursed with Doctor Slops curses on Obediah.5 I look upon these prospects with an eye composed and whether the crisis arrives sooner or later you will loose nothing by being a Minister Resident— Our State of New York has undergone a wonderful Mytemsychosis6 Overflowing with her adopted sons the Yankees she now presents two to one of federal representatives. Her real interest is now represented.—
Mrs Adams joins me in the profession of esteem with which I am your affectionate brother
[signed] Charles Adams
1. Not found.
2. With the exception of the opening two paragraphs, JQA’s 30 Dec. 1795 letter to CA, above, was republished in full in several American newspapers, including the New York American Minerva, 26 April 1796; New York Herald, 27 April; Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 29 April; Newburyport Impartial Herald, 7 May; Charleston, S.C., City Gazette and Daily Advertiser, 16 May; and Portland, Maine, Eastern Herald, 23 May.
3. Not found.
4. On 18 April the Connecticut Courant printed an article on the Jay Treaty stating that southern congressmen opposed to the treaty wanted to “destroy the government of the United States” and lead the nation into war with Great Britain. “Before the Northern states will submit to be driven into a war, from which they have nothing to gain, but every thing to lose, they will call State Conventions, cause a division in the Union, and establish a government for themselves which shall not admit of Negro representatives.” The fight in the House of Representatives over the Jay Treaty was part of a larger sectional conflict in the early republic. Many southerners viewed the treaty as a Federalist plot to increase manufacturing interests in the United States at the expense of agrarian interests. This sectionalism played out in the vote over the treaty; the majority of representatives supporting the treaty were from New England and the Middle Atlantic states, and the majority who opposed it were from southern states (Elizabeth R. Varon, Disunion! The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789–1859, Chapel Hill, N.C., 2008, p. 33; James Roger Sharp, American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis, New Haven, Conn., 1993, p. 133).
5. A reference to Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, vol. 3, ch. 7, where “Dr. Slop was stamping, and cursing and damning at Obadiah at a most dreadful rate.”
6. CA likely meant metempsychosis, the transmigration of the soul, or the passage of the soul from one body to another (OED).

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0142

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Charles
Date: 1796-04-24

John Adams to Charles Adams

[salute] My Son

I have yours of the 22d.1 Mr Van Persyn I shall be glad to see whenever it Suits his convenience to come to Philadelphia.
I can Say little of favourable Symptoms. The Waggon is fast in the Mire, up to the Axletree and unable to move forwards or backwards. Whether the People will draw us out or not, and Whether { 269 } We shall advance or retreat I know not. The Passengers are unable to help themselves. The Cattle drawing up Hill are so exactly matched to the Load and those drawing down, that the Wheels stand still.— We are too suddenly and hastily proving what the World will reluctantly be convinced of, that Man kind in their most innocent Character and under the best Circumstances are unqualified to govern themselves.
There is throughout the World a popular Envy a vulgar malignity against all who are Superiour to them in Talents Virtues, Birth, Education, Wealth or any Thing else. To this Class of People <Thirty> Twenty Nine Reps. from V. and N. C. nine or ten of whom represent nothing but black Property are addressing themselves.2 They are joined by Renegadoes from Geneva, England, Ireland, by Debtors Antifederalists and French Tools—All together are able to clogg the Wheels of Government. Numbers in N. York as well as Philadelphia & Boston will be against Weight, and Reps will always regard Number more than Weight.
I thank you for your kind Invitation to your house. I shall make your House my Home when I come to N. York, but when that will be I am unable to Say. I fear not before June—and then I shall Stay but a night. My Affairs are Suffering at Quincy so much that I must be with them as soon as possible.
Let me know as soon as you can how your Elections go and whether Mr Burr is chosen into your Senate.3
I am my Dear sir your Affectionate / Father
[signed] John Adams4
RC (MHi:Seymour Coll.); internal address: “Charles Adams Esqr.”
1. Not found.
2. In early 1796 northern state legislatures and newspapers regularly emphasized the disproportionate voice of the southern states in the House of Representatives due to the three-fifths compromise. On 11 Feb. the Penn. senate responded to Virginia’s proposed constitutional amendments, stating that if there was “a Convention to alter the Constitution of the United States,” one of the amendments proposed should “establish the National Legislature on the true principles of representation, by enabling free men, as well as freeholders to vote; and, by apportioning the Representatives among the several States, according to the number of those free men” (Philadelphia Gazette, 13 Feb.). The Boston Columbian Centinel, 9 March, published its own response to the Virginia resolutions: “The Hint given by the Senate of Pennsylvania, to that of Virginia, on the subject of representation, was pointed and proper. In the southern States five slaves, who cannot vote themselves, are considered equal to three northern freemen!” On 18 April the Philadelphia Gazette reprinted an article from a New York newspaper, stating that a House vote against the Jay Treaty would lead to a division of the union and noting that the southern states were not currently satisfied even with “a fourth more representatives than they are justly entitled to.” According to the article, if the treaty was not executed, “the northern States will rid themselves of a weight that hangs like a millstone about the neck of our prosperity.” On 22 April the Philadelphia Gazette printed a southern response, arguing that New York “has actually in Congress at { 270 } this very hour a negro representative; for her white population would have entitled her to only nine representatives; whereas, by the addition of 21,324 slaves, she has ten!”
3. The spring 1796 New York state elections brought many Federalists into the state assembly, which in turn elected Gen. Philip Schuyler to the U.S. Senate in place of the Democratic-Republican Aaron Burr. In April 1797 Burr won a seat in the N.Y. assembly, where he served for one term (John S. Jenkins, History of Political Parties in the State of New York, Auburn, N.Y., 1846, p. 58, 61, 63; Biog. Dir. Cong.).
4. On this same date, CA wrote to JA discussing a petition and counter-petition from New York on the Jay Treaty that were presented to the House of Representatives (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, 2018.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/