Adams Family Correspondence, volume 11

Charles Adams to Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams

20 John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 25 August 1795 Adams, John Adams, John Quincy
John Adams to John Quincy Adams
My dear Son Quincy August 25. 1795

I have recd your Letters in Succession to N. 9. I think inclusive but they are in So much request in this Country that I can never keep them long enough to make regular Answers to them. The Last appeared to me of Such Consequence that I Sent it to The President to whom I have communicated all of them I believe or all but the first, from London. I have Reason to think that your whole Correspondence public and private has been as much esteemed as that of any former American Minister, and more admired for a brilliancy of Style, and a freedom Independence and bolness of Sentiment, as well as a Sagacity equal to any Conjuncture of national Events.1 Go on my worthy son in your glorious Career and may the Blessing of God crown you with success.

our hasty Countrymen in The Seaports, have been Sett agoing by a treacherous Publication of The Treaty and have made work to themselves for severe Repentance. It is a grief to me to See some of our oldest Members of Congress carried away by this Gust of Wind but I had seen so much before that this does not surprize me. I have no doubt the Treaty will become The Law and be carried into Execution. Your last Letter appears to have entered perfectly into the Spirit of this Business. it has happened in America as you anticipated and from the Causes which you Saw, or suspected.2

The Newspapers have been full of Defences & Vindications of the Treaty and Refutations of the objections to it. A Fœderalist a Curtius and a Camillus have been most read and applauded.3 They have turned the Tide of popular sentiment in favour of Mr Jay the senate and the Treaty. Poor Jay has gone through as fiery an ordeal As I did, when I was Suspected of a blasphemous Doubt of Tom Paines Infallibility, in Consequence of Publicolas Eloquence and Jeffersons Rashness.4 The People repent of these Faults but they are the Sin that too easily besetts them.

I can say little of myself that will give you Pleasure. The Treaty hurt me more than any one, for the Journey & a Dissentery were too much for me. at present I am better but not capable of much Exertion. My Farm has this Year Shone— The Season has been rainy equal to any former Example and the Beauty and Production of the Country in Proportion.

What shall I say to you my son concerning yourself? I would not 21 advise you to return to America, under three Years nor to stay in Europe longer unless promoted to an higher Rank and at another Court. I want your society as well as that of my other Children, but I must submit to your and their Arrangements in Life. I wish you to come home and be married after two Years. But you must return with the Spirit of a Stoick—a determind Spirit to bear any neglect, any Affront from your Countrymen without resentment. to go obstinately to the Bar, in all our Courts and attend patiently in your office for Business—and what is infinitely worse very likely see an ignorant but chattering Coxcomb preferred before you, not only by the indiscriminating Multitude but by the wise & learned, for these are at least as often wrong as the Mob.

our Friends are all well, though a Scarlet fever prevails in many Places in this Town. I am my Dear son your / affectionate father

John Adams5

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “J.Q. Adams American / Minister at The Hague.”; endorsed by TBA: “Vice President of the U, S / 25 August 1795 / 27 Oct Recd:”; and by JQA: “28. Recd: at Helvoet. / 31. Answered.” Tr (Adams Papers).


On 10 Aug. JA wrote to George Washington from Quincy enclosing JQA’s letters of 12 Feb., 1 April, 4, 22 May (nos. 6–9, respectively, all Adams Papers). JA noted that the letters “contain Information of so much Importance that, although they are written in great confidential Freedom from a Son to a Father, I think it my Duty to transmit them to you” (National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg:International Exchange Section). For Washington’s response to JA of 20 Aug., see AA to JQA, 15 Sept., and note 3, below.


JQA speculated in his 22 May letter to JA, “If these conjectures have as much foundation as I apprehend, the whole french influence in America, will exert itself with more than usual activity to prevent the Ratification of the Treaty, and to produce at all Events a War between the United States and Great Britain: not assuredly from regard to our interest, which they respect as much as they do that of their friends and Allies the Hollanders, but because they are sensible of how much importance our Commerce is to Great Britain, and suppose, that the loss of it, would make that Nation outrageous for Peace, and compel the Minister to make it upon the terms they are disposed to dictate.” He believed that the appointment of Edmond Genet as French minister to the United States had been made to discourage American neutrality, as had the later replacement of Jean Antoine Joseph Fauchet with Pierre Auguste Adet in the same position (Adams Papers).


The Federalist appeared in seven parts in eight issues of the Boston Columbian Centinel, 22, 25, 29 July, 1, 8, 12, 15, 26 August. Subtitled “The OBJECTIONS to the TREATY refuted,” the series specifically responds to attacks on the treaty made by the Boston town meeting, for which see vol. 10:474 and AA to JQA, 15 Sept., below.

Curtius, attributed to Rufus King, was published in the New York American Minerva, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 29, 30 July, 1, 4 Aug., in eleven sections, describing itself as a “Vindication of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, with G. Britain.” Answering primarily attacks on the treaty raised in another newspaper article, Curtius offers a detailed legal analysis of the treaty, especially as it relates to other treaties, trade laws, and the law of nations.

By far the longest response to opponents of the Jay Treaty was Camillus’ “Defence,” generally believed to be written by Alexander Hamilton or possibly by Hamilton in collaboration with Rufus King; see JA to AA, 31 Jan. 1796, below. The first 21 numbers and the first half of a 22d appeared in the New York Journal, 22 July – 7 Nov. 1795. Because of its length and the Journal’s unwillingness to 22 continue to take up so much space on it (see New York Journal, 7 Nov.), the author shifted publication to the American Minerva for the second half of No. 22 and an additional 15 sections, which appeared between 9 Nov. 1795 and 2 Jan. 1796. The first 22 parts also appeared in book form as A Defence of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, N.Y., 1795, Evans, No. 28795. Camillus analyzes the treaty in considerable depth, arguing “that it makes no improper concessions to Great-Britain, no sacrifices on the part of the United States,” “that interests of primary importance to our general welfare, are promoted by it,” and “that the too probable result of a refusal to ratify is war” (New York Journal, 22 July 1795).


For Publicola, the series of essays by JQA mistakenly attributed to JA, see vol. 9:291. Thomas Jefferson’s “Rashness” refers to a letter Jefferson wrote to a Philadelphia printer in support of the publication of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man. In the note, which was subsequently published in various editions of Paine’s work, Jefferson commented that he was pleased “that something is at length to be publickly said against the political heresies which have sprung up among us.” Although JA is not mentioned by name, this comment was widely viewed as an attack on JA’s Discourses on Davila (Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 3d edn., Boston, 1791, p. 4, Evans, No. 23661; vol. 9:263–264).


On 31 Aug. JQA wrote a letter to JA primarily reviewing the situation in France, including the implementation of the new constitution, debates over varying political structures, and party divisions there. JQA also commented on attitudes toward the Jay Treaty in France, the progress of the Anglo-French war, and the general circumstances in the Netherlands (Adams Papers).