Adams Family Correspondence, volume 7

John Adams to Richard Cranch, 11 March 1786 JA Cranch, Richard


John Adams to Richard Cranch, 11 March 1786 Adams, John Cranch, Richard
John Adams to Richard Cranch
My dear Brother Grosvenor Square March 11. 1786

I am very much obliged to you, for your Friend Ship to my Brother Adams, and hope that his Conduct in his new office, will do no dishonour to his Appointment but he will stand in need sometimes of your Advice.1

Inclosed with this is a Book of my Friend Jefferson, which, you will entrust to none but faith full Friends. It is not yet to be published.2

We are at War with Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli. By the Laws of those Nations all Nations are at War, who have no Treaties with them. It is of vast importance to us to make Peace with them. But Congress uninformed of the sums necessary to be given, have limited us to 80,000 Dollars, which is not one quarter Part of what will be found indispensible.

The English are so happy, in our Indolence and Simplicity which yeilds up to them with so much patient good Nature the entire Markett of Italy, Portugal and Spain, which tamely throws into their Hands the Fisheries of Cod and Whales, and all our own carrying Trade and Navigation, that they have nothing to do but laugh at us. To treat with us, would be an affront to their understandings, as they think. What! give us our own carrying trade, when We are willing to give it to them? It would be an Affront to us too, not to accept of our Generosity.

But my Countrymen will not always be so lazy and so Silly. If they are they will deserve!. . . . We are so good as to fill their Coffers, give them surpluses of Revenue, Ballances of Exchange, let them build Men of War, multiply sailors—all to be poured in Vengeance upon us, ten or twelve years hence! But Mass., N.H. and R. Island have more sense. Let them persevere and convert the rest.

We must and will rival the English in the Cod and Whale Fisheries; in the carrying Trade of Italy, in the East India Trade—in the Aff-86rican Trade, and in all other Trades. Since they will consider and treat us as Rivals, Rivals we will be; and in naval Power too. Navigation Acts will make Us Rivals to some Purpose.—Twenty Years will show this Nation if it pursues its present Course, its own Nothingness, and the mighty Power of America.

But We must not be afraid of two hundred Thousand Pounds to procure Treaties with the Barbary Powers which will be worth two Millions. We must not be afraid of laying Twenty Pounds Bounty upon oil, if necessary, nor of laying round Duties upon British Articles. We must encourage Merit. The publick Mind must be generous, not mean and niggardly. Such a Disposition Stints the Growth and Damps the ardour of Genius and Enterprize. If there is meanness of soul enough, to wear fine Cloaths, keep Country seats, and ride in Carriages, upon Money borrowed of English Merchants and Manufacturers, We must be content to be poor and vain and despised. I will not say proud, one grain of Pride would scorn the Base situation.

What is become of the 300 Pieces of brass Coin, which were found in Medford? Will the Accademy, publish an Account of them? They are pronounced here not to be Phoenician but Moorish.3

What is become of the Art of making salt Water fresh? Will the Discoveror, communicate his secret to the state or to Congress? I hope he will not dishonour his Country so much as to come here, to sell his Art.4

My Love to sister and the Children, to my ever honoured Mother, to my Brother and his Family, to Uncle Quincy, Mr Wibirt and all Frids. Your affectionate Brother

John Adams

RC (privately owned, 1962); endorsed: “Lettr: from His Exy. J. Adams Esqr Mar 11th 1786.”


Peter Boylston Adams was appointed justice of the peace in 1785 (vol. 6:458–459).


In May 1785, Thomas Jefferson had 200 copies of Notes on the State of Virginia printed in Paris for private distribution. He gave a copy to JA just prior to the Adamses' departure for England (Jefferson, Papers , 8:147–148, 160).


In Oct. 1785, Royall Tyler sent JA one of the coins found in Mystic, Conn. Through JA the coin was presented to the Society of Antiquaries in London, who concluded that the writing was not Punic but closer to Arabic or Turkish. No account by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences regarding the coins has been found (vol. 6:430, 492, 493).


Cotton Tufts apprised JA in Dec. 1785 of the claims of a Mr. Allen of Martha's Vineyard to extract fresh from salt water by filtering it through sand. Allen apparently attempted to persuade the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to pay him for the secret of his system. By February the scheme—which had been hailed as “The Most Useful Discovery of this Age of Discoveries” by the Massachusetts Centinel—was revealed as a hoax. Unknown to observers, Allen wet the sand with fresh water before beginning the demonstration; the fresh water 87would filter out, and Allen would close the spout before the salt water was released (Cotton Tufts to JA, 21 Dec. 1785, Adams Papers; Massachusetts Centinel, 17 Dec. 1785; The Belknap Papers. Part III, MHS, Colls. , 6th ser., 4 [1891]:308–309).

John Adams to Cotton Tufts, 11 March 1786 JA Tufts, Cotton


John Adams to Cotton Tufts, 11 March 1786 Adams, John Tufts, Cotton
John Adams to Cotton Tufts
Dear Sir Grosvenor Square March 11. 1786

Your kind Favours of Nov 12.1 and 24. and Decr 21 are before me. I Sympathize with you, under the Loss of your amiable Mrs Tufts, who was Innocence and Charity itself and Innocence and Charity can never put off the Flesh but for an happier state.

It gives me great Satisfaction to be informed that my Sons Behaviour is approved, by you. As they must labour for their Lives, I hope they will acquire early habits of Application to study, which is an excellent Preservative against the Dissipation which is so fatal to Youth, as well as a foundation for Usefulness in more advanced Years.

I hope to Send the Books you desire by this Vessell. I have employed a Book seller to look for them, upon the best Terms, and hope he will find them in Season.2

I received from Dr Holyoke, the President of the Medical Society, a polite and obliging Letter, inclosing a Vote of Thanks from the society, very honourable to me: but as the subject did not seem to require any further Attention on my Part, I never answered it. I know nothing of the Answer to the Royal society at Paris. The original Vote of the society, copy of which I transmitted is somewhere among my Papers: but I have so often removed that my Papers are packed up in Trunks, and I know not how to come at it, at present.3

The Sentiments in yours of Decr 21.4 have great Weight, and from all that appears, in this Country, your Maxims will have full opportunity to come into Fashion: for there is no Disposition to a Treaty, and certainly never will be as long as our states will Suffer this Kingdom to monopolize the Navigation of both Countries. They now think us simple enough to let them be carriers for us as well as themselves, and they love us so well as to take Pleasure in obliging us in this Way.

My Correspondent Mathew Robinson Esqr, Author of a Pamphlet in 1774 intituled Considerations on the Measures carrying on &c has published lately the inclosed Address which contains the first honest View of the State of this Nation that has appeared since the Peace. This is an honest and Sensible Old Man of Fortune, and 88formerly Member of Parliament.5 The Minister upon reading the Pamphlet said “if John Adams had given the author five hundred Pounds for writing it, he could not have laid out his Money to more Advantage.” But that “if the state were true, it was a d——d wicked thing to publish it.”

Alass poor John Adams has no Money to lay out, in hiring Englishmen to save themselves from Destruction, and if he had any it would be his Duty to give it to the Algerines, first. My Love to Mr Quincy, Your son and all Friends

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Adams Letter of March. 11. 1786 Recd May. 22. 1786.”


Not found.


Tufts' request has not been found.


Edward Augustus Holyoke wrote to JA on 6 Nov. 1783 (Adams Papers) to thank him for arranging a correspondence between the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Société Royale de Médecine at Paris (see JA to AA, 9 June 1783 , vol. 5:168–170). In his letter of 24 Nov. 1785 (Adams Papers), Tufts desired to know whether Holyoke's letters to JA and to the Société Royale had arrived.

JA acknowledged Holyoke's letter in April and enclosed the original letters from the officers of the Société Royale and its vote acknowledging its Massachusetts counterpart (JA to Holyoke, 3 April 1786, MSaE: Holyoke Family Coll.).


Tufts argues in his letter that Great Britain's continuing refusal to establish a commercial treaty with the United States might actually benefit American trade and commerce. Earlier widespread availability of British credit “has ever discouraged every Attempt to Independance in Trade and the Establishment of our Manufacturies. The Restrictions of Great Britain and the Refusal of further Credit are however happily calculated to remove these Difficulties: And can We but continue a few years in a State of Exclusion from her Commerce, Our Debts will be paid and our Independance of Mind established” (Cotton Tufts to JA, 21 Dec. 1785, Adams Papers).


JA opened a correspondence with Matthew Robinson-Morris, later 2d baron Rokeby, in February, through the offices of Dr. Price. Robinson-Morris authored several pamphlets sympathetic to America in the 1770s, including Considerations on the Measures Carrying on with Respect to the British Colonies in North America, London, 1774, for which see 1:xvi, 202–203. His recent publication was An Address to the Landed, Trading and Funded Interest of England on the Present State of Public Affairs, London, 1786 (published as The Dangerous Situation of England in the 2d edn.). See JA to Robinson-Morris, 21 Feb. (LbC, Adams Papers).

Robinson-Morris represented Canterbury in the House of Commons from 1747 to 1761 (Namier and Brooke, House of Commons , 3:367).