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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0012

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, Thomas Boylston
Date: 1795-09-17

Abigail Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams

[salute] my Dear Thomas

This very Day twelve month You lost sight of your native Land. Your Native Land is not I trust the less Dear to you, tho the account I must give you of some of its inhabitants will not tend to heighten your National Pride or vanity. A real American will remain Such { 28 } under all circumstances, and in all Countries, but an Anglo American or a Frenchified American, is an unnatural Character, and they do our Country incredible Mischief.
The late Treaty between Great Britain and the United states, has excited all the Malovelence and awakened all the animosity of the Democratick Societies throughout the United States. tis Death to their hopes. it blast all their projected schemes of War. the sparks which lay smotherd during the negotiation of the Treaty, now burst forth with renewed vigor. the rekindled Flames are blown by the four winds of Heaven from one capital to an other, from Portsmouth in N hampshire to savannah in Georgia. Falshood and Faction have as usual united their forces, and poor mr Jay has sufferd a smithfield Martrydom, in most of the Capitals.1 Boys and the Rabble are the only Actors in these Scenes, but the fowl Stock from which they originate may be traced beyond the American shore.
The Presidents answer to the Town of Boston, appeard to stop the conflagration & to allay the turbelent passions of the people. Such was the universal confidence in his wisdom and integrity, but foreign influence, and private ambition, reard again their Heads and leveld their shafts at the Head and Heart of the President himself— possessing no political abilities, and despiseing and contemning the Voice of the people, their Aim is to render the President Suspected and to injure his Character and weaken the confidence of the people in him, but in this I trust they are deceived like Mount Atlas.2 the Billows will burst at his feet, Whilst firm unshaken and steady he persues one steady course of impartial Justice and Equity, permitting neither French or British insolence to insult our Country. where the Responsibility lies with him, this will appear by the late revocation of the British consuls Exequator at Rhode Island for transmitting an insolent and threatning Letter from the Captain of a British frigate to the Governour of that State.3
The News papers of from all parts of the states abound with publications upon the Treaty. Some able Writers have appeard in Defence. Camillus takes it up upon the Broadest basis—goes more particularly into its Merrits, and learnedly defends it. his vindication will Swell to a volm. his 13 Number has appeard and he has advanced only to the 4 or 5 article of the Treaty.— col Hamilton is the reputed Author. I will send this with some other pamphlets directly to England, where I prisume you will be when this reaches you—
it will be more agreable to you to pass the winter in England than { 29 } in Holland I presume. Your Brother is directed there I am inform’d, and tho he must learn how illiberally the Treaty has been handled in America, he will not shrink from the Duty assignd him, tho he shares the abuse in common with the wiseest & best statesmen of our country.
I inclose to you the first part of the Echo. I did not observe a curtius, untill I had cut it off, so I send it, tho mutilated. Mr King is said to be the writer the Second part of the Echo I inclosed in a Letter to your Brother a week ago.4 I do not venture upon whole News papers because I cannot get a direct conveyance. the Eclogue has netled the Parties, and been the occasion of some Riots in Boston, such as breaking the windows where the Editor of the paper lives. Jarvis’s hopefull Heir assaulted Paine on Sunday & beat him. Paine is blamed for not breaking his Bones, but Paine can write better than fight. Honestus […] Austin was obliged to come out in his own Chronical & declare publickly that he was an Enemy to Mobs, as they injured the cause of Liberty, and disturbed the peace of society.5
I ought to enumerate to you, and acknowledge the recept of your several Letters, that of 19 April I received at N York,6 and had the satisfaction of communicating it to several Friends, amongst whom was the late Secretary of the Treasury, who returnd it with many flattering compliments, upon the correct stile and Elegant composition, as well as the Judicious remarks and observations, at the same time plumeing himself upon his own penetration, having as he Said always predicted, that the young Gentleman was possessd of Genius and talents. these observation could not fail to gratify the fond heart of an affectionate Mother, who was conscious, that the letter, and writer meritted all that was bestowed. let it be a stimulous to you my Dear Thomas to improve and cultivate those talents, which will become more and more valuable, matured by Time judgment and experience, and which promise to your country future usefullness.
The next Letter was May 17 and containd your observations upon the fine Arts.7 as you View them oftner, you will find your taste for them increase
I always derive a pleasure at this Distance of Time from the recollection of many of the Paintings which I saw when abroad. Claud Laureigns Sun rising & sitting, allways delighted me, as well as the paintings of snyers fruit and Game.8 I found the wise Mans { 30 } observations true, that the Eye was not satisfied by Seeing,9 and as shakespear said upon an other occasion

“increase of Appetite grew from what it fed on”10

I have almost come to the End of my paper without, assureing you of the Health of our Friends, and of their desire to be kindly rememberd to you
your affectionate Mother
[signed] A. Adams
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs: Adams / 17 September 1795 / 16 December Recd: / 29 June Ansd.”
1. Various Democratic-Republican societies strongly opposed the Jay Treaty and organized protests against it, including burning copies of the treaty, effigies of John Jay, or both. In Savannah, Ga., effigies of John Jay and Sen. James Gunn were ritually carted through town, hanged, then burned. Another gathering of some 300 residents of Portsmouth, N.H., in September involved a parade and bonfire with the burning of effigies of Jay and the British secretary of state for foreign affairs, William Wyndham Grenville, Baron Grenville. Not all of the societies, however, objected so strongly; those in back-country areas were hopeful the treaty would finally allow for the restoration of western posts and the opening of trade with Canada (Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, N.Y., 2005, p. 67–68; New York Argus, 8 Aug.; Todd Estes, The Jay Treaty Debate, Public Opinion, and the Evolution of Early American Political Culture, Amherst, Mass., 2006, p. 76–77).
2. In Greek mythology the Titan Atlas was responsible for holding up the world. Hercules agreed to take on that role if Atlas would help Hercules with one of his labors, and Atlas agreed. But after completing the task, Atlas refused to take back the burden; Hercules then tricked Atlas into doing so (Oxford Classical Dicy.).
3. On 2 Aug. the British vice consul at Rhode Island, Thomas William Moore, forwarded to Gov. Arthur Fenner of Rhode Island a letter to Moore dated 31 July from Capt. Rodham Home, of the British ship Africa. Home demanded the return of all captured British sailors in the United States and that he and his men be permitted to land and restock. He further indicated that if any “officer or people whom I may send upon these just and lawful occasions; receive from any one individual … any affront or insult, I will immediately come in with his Majesty’s ship under my command, and protect my own people.” Fenner took offense at the “indeceny” of Home’s letter, which he considered an “unprovoked and unprecedented insult to the State,” and referred the matter to George Washington. In response, on 5 Sept. Washington revoked Moore’s exequatur (Boston Courier, 22 Aug., 5, 16 Sept.).
4. The enclosure has not been found but was the first and second page of the Boston Federal Orrery, 20 Aug., which contained part 5 of Curtius on the front page and the first half of the Connecticut Wits’ “Echo” No. 18 on the second page, with the first column of Curtius overlapping the first column of the poem. For AA’s earlier comment to JQA on the “Echo,” see her letter of 15 Sept., and note 9, above.
5. Thomas Paine, editor of the Boston Federal Orrery, published on 10 Sept. a piece entitled “The Lyars: A Political Eclogue— Altered to the Meridian of Boston.” The poem purports a meeting between Edmond Genet, Dr. Charles Jarvis, and Benjamin Austin Jr., with each bragging as to who more successfully lies. Jarvis claims, “Loud from my tongue, how eloquently bold; / The bare-fac’d lye in full town-meeting told! / Which, void of meaning, meets no counter force, / And, thrice repeated, is believ’d of course,” while Austin says, “Blest powers of falsehood, at whose shrine I bend, / Still is Honestus your colleague and friend; / A private slanderer still, a public scout, / In power a tyrant, and a rebelout!
The poem sufficiently offended Samuel Jarvis, brother of Charles, that he physically assaulted Paine (Joseph T. Buckingham, Specimens of Newspaper Literature: With Personal Memoirs, Anecdotes, and Reminiscences, 2 vols., { 31 } Boston, 1850, 2:238–239). Likewise, Austin responded with an open letter in the Boston Independent Chronicle, 14 Sept., claiming that the article “is so peculiarly abusive, that it demands an explicit reply.” Austin continued, “The scurrility of the whole performance is such, that the author must be considered as the most abandoned wretch in society,” and he demanded that the author identify himself. He also noted, “My political principles are founded on the basis of the Constitution. These I ever mean to support; mobs and riots are detestable, as they injure the cause of liberty, and destroy the personal happiness of the community.”
6. Not found.
7. Not found.
8. Claude Lorrain (1604?–1682) was a French artist best known for his landscape paintings. He particularly favored scenes juxtaposing early morning and early evening. Frans Snyders (1579–1657), a Flemish painter, specialized in still lifes, frequently including fruit and game birds, sometimes contrasted against living animals (Oxford Art Online).
9. Ecclesiastes, 1:8.
10. Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, scene ii, lines 144–145.

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0013

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1795-09-19

John Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] My Dear son

I, Yesterday recd your favour of June 27. No. 10.1 It is in common with all the Numbers which preceded it, full of accurate Information, profound Sagacity and nice discernment. I sent four of your preceeding Numbers to the President, who wrote me on the 20th of August that “they contain a great deal of Interesting matter and No. 9 discloses much important Information and political foresight. Mr J. Adams your son must not think of retiring from the Walk he is in— his Prospects if he continues in it are fair: and I shall be much mistaken, if, in as short a Period as can well be expected, he is not found at the head of the Diplomatic Corps let the Government be administered by whomsoever the People may chuse.” I hope however that they will let you come home in two or three Years to look you up a Wife. Charles in this respect has got a head of you.
Your Maxim of Neutrality between Factions is exactly just and the more indispensible as your Country is neutral— if U. S. were a Party to the War her friends must be your friends and her Ennemies your Ennemies. But at present We are friends to all Nations and all Parties in Europe.
Syeyes I find is not so much esteemed as Boissy D’Anglas; But I can Say nothing of any of those Gentlemen—they are all Strangers to me. There is not a Man left in the Government of France whose Name I ever heard when I was in that Country.
I thank you for that exquisite Piece of political Clock Work, the Dutch Plan of a Convention.— If those Patriots can keep the People with them, they will do something memorable: but it must ever be remembered that the Mob is a Part of the People, and I begin to { 32 } fear the most influential Part. The Mob has established every Monarchy upon Earth— The Mob has ultimately over thrown every free Republick. The Doctrine of universal suffrage is so manifest a Courtship to the Mob as to need no Comment.—2 But it never can Succeed, for any length of time.— These good Creatures never look forward for two days. The Mob must ever be in the Power of Government—Government never in the Power of the Mob.— Property is universally & eternally irreconcileable with Universal Suffrage. It is one of the Sweetest Consolations of my Life that I had the Constancy to resist this Doctrine through every stage of our Revolution. A Letter of mine has been printed written in 1776—and printed within two or three years past in Youngs Magazine at Philadelphia. This Letter I prize above a statue or a Monument—merely as Evidence of my opinion at that time and of my Courage to avow it, when many of my Co Patriots and more of the Courters of Popularity were very much inclined to admit all Nature to an equal Vote. If all are admitted to a Vote, the Question instantly arises between Men of Property and Men of No Property and as the latter are always the most numerous, three to one at least, the Vote is always carried by them against the others. A Man of Property is instantly in the Case of the Lamb in the Custody of the Wolf.—3
It is humanity to those People themselves to exclude them from a Vote, for they never have it and Use it but to their own Disgrace, Remorse and Destruction.
The Politicks of this Country I shall leave. The last hope of a Party seems now in a desperate Attack upon the President. But a successful Attack upon that Man would be a Demonstration that Elective Executives are impracticable.
If I have heard a true Whisper, you have a Part to Act concerning the Treaty.4 Be of good Courage and of good Cheer— It will not hurt you finally, though it may raise a present Clamour. Publicola knows what a popular Clamour is.
I am my dear son, with best Wishes and / constant Prayers for your Wisdom Virtue / and Prosperity, your affectionate Father
[signed] John Adams5
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “J. Q. Adams / American Minister at the / Hague”; endorsed: “My Father / 19. Septr: 1795. / December—recd: London. / 29. do: Ansd:.” Tr (Adams Papers).
1. For a summary of JQA’s letter to JA of 27 June (Adams Papers), see vol. 10:453–454.
2. In the English translation of the Dutch plan that JQA provided to JA, for which see TBA to JA, 13 July, and note 8, above, it states, “The Voters are, all citizens that have { 33 } attained the age of twenty years, and during the year preceding the time of voting have had their permanent residence in this Republic” (M/JQA/46.15, APM Reel 241).
3. Several letters by JA were printed in the Universal Asylum, and Columbian Magazine, published in Philadelphia by William Young, March—May 1792. The one JA describes here was originally sent to James Sullivan on 26 May 1776 and reprinted in the Universal Asylum, April 1792, p. 219–221, as “Copy of an Original Letter from Mr. John Adams, to a Gentleman in Massachusetts.” In the letter JA argues that expanding suffrage to include men who own no property would lead to a general breakdown in the social fabric: “Depend upon it, sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation, as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters. There will be no end of it—new claims will arise—women will demand a vote—lads from twelve to twentyone will think their rights not enough attended to,—and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other in all acts of states. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level.” For a modern reprinting of the letter, see JA, Papers, 4:208–213.
4. On 25 Aug. 1795 acting secretary of state Timothy Pickering sent JQA instructions to proceed to London by 20 Oct. to exchange the ratifications of the Jay Treaty because the U.S. minister to Britain, Thomas Pinckney, was in Spain. Pickering further noted that if JQA could not reach England by that time, William Allen Deas, U.S. chargé d’affaires in London, would handle the task. Although JQA did not receive the letter until 19 Oct. he nonetheless proceeded to Britain, presumably on the expectation of participating in further negotiations with the British government. He reached London on 11 Nov. by which time Deas had completed the exchange. Once on the scene, JQA took up the work begun by Deas of negotiating with Lord Grenville over continuing British impressments of American sailors, the immediate evacuation of the western posts, and neutral rights, especially as they related to a possible conflict between British Orders in Council and the newly approved treaty on the subject of contraband, notably foodstuffs shipped to France. JQA failed to win any concessions from the British, and his diplomatic work on this topic was effectively ended by Pinckney’s return to England in mid-Jan. 1796. JQA remained in London, however, sightseeing, visiting friends, sitting for a portrait by John Singleton Copley, and courting LCA, for which see JQA to AA, 28 Feb., and note 3, below. Instructions permitting him to return to the Netherlands finally arrived on 26 April, and he began his trip from London to The Hague on 28 May (Bemis, JQA, 1:68–79; DNB; D/JQA/24, APM Reel 27).
5. On this same date JA wrote to TBA, thanking him for his letter of 13 July 1795, above, and offering further comments on the situation in France. JA reiterated the importance of three independent branches for the French government and expressed his hope that his Discourses on Davila might be published as a single volume to complement the Defence of the Const. (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.