Papers of John Adams, volume 10

To James Warren, 9 December 1780 JA Warren, James To James Warren, 9 December 1780 Adams, John Warren, James
To James Warren
My dear Friend Amsterdam Decr. 9. 1780

Your Favours of July 11. and 19. are before me. They were received at Paris in my Absence and it is not long Since I received them. I have led Such a wandering Life that I have not had Time to answer them, till now.

We expect every day, to receive the Lists of the new Administration, the Speech at opening the first General Court &c.—a high regale they will be.

I am of your Mind concerning the Flaggs to England and the Importations from thence. Poor Trumbull and Tyler as well as Mr. Laurens, will convince our Countrymen I hope. Great Britain, has become litterally, in the Language of old Authors concerning Atilla “The Scourge of God and the Plague of Mankind.” She must be abandoned and renounced forever. There has been too much weak Communication with them which must be cutt off.

I can tell you little News from this Country. The Designs of France and Spain, you will learn from others. You cannot have them from me because I know them not. The Design of the Dutch is to keep Peace if possible. No Resentments of Injuries, or Insults—No Regard to national Honour or Dignity, will turn them out of their pacific Course. They will lend Money and hire Transports to the English, and sell Goods to America and naval stores to France and Spain. In short, get Money out of all Nations but go to War with none. They will not lend Us any Money, nor do any thing, to favour Us, but get Money out of Us, lest England should declare War against them for aiding, abetting, and comforting Rebellion, against Treaties which the English have long Since declared void, but the Dutch still hold Sacred, as their Honour and their Religion.

Such a Nation of Idolaters at the Shrine of Mammon never existed I believe before. The English are as great Idolaters, but they have more Gods than one.

The Republick, however, has acceeded to the armed Neutrality, and We expect in the Course of five or Six Weeks to know, the Principles and the system of it, how many nations have joined in it, and what We may expect from it. The Principle, that free ships shall make free Goods, will assist Us in procuring present Supplies, and will be more usefull to America hereafter, When she as I hope will be neutral, altho other Nations may be at War, than to any nation of Europe. 405But I dont expect that any sensible Advantage will result, from it to Us, very Soon. The Prince of orange, and the States General will proceed So slowly, not to say will affect So many Delays, that it will be Some Years before any great Thing will result from it.

My eloquent Friend, the Abby Raynal, whose History you mention is publishing a new Edition of that Work in which he has inserted the compleat History of our Revolution.1 He Says he has mentioned my Name, as one of the Characters, without which the Revolution would not have been accomplished. At the Same Time he Says he has cast Some Blame upon me. I told him I was then sure, at least of such an Immortality, as he wanted who burnt the Temple, but I have promised to attack him if he has abused me. He wont let me see it. Perhaps he may alter it, and erase my Name. I told him he ought to, if he had ascribed a fifth Part of the Work to me, as he Says he has, because an 1000 part of it, is not my due. 2 it is exactly 1/3,000,000th. that belongs to me. Be it as it may Suum cui que Decus Posteritas rependit.3 I wish I were at home that I might do something worthy of History; here I can do nothing. The beauteous olive Branch will never decorate my Brows. I must Spend my Life, in the Pride, Pomp, and Circumstance of glorious War, without sharing any of its Laurels.

My most profound Respects to Mrs. Warren—I dread her History more than that of the Abby.4 I want to know in what Colours She will draw Brother Lee. He little knew what Eyes were upon him.

Most affectionately yours5

LbC (Adams Papers).


A revised edition of the Abbé Raynal's Histoire philosophique et politique des établissemens, et du commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes (5 vols., Geneva, 1780), included a new section on the American Revolution (4:376–459). At London, in 1781, the new section was published as Révolution de l'Amérique; and in 1781 was published in translation as The Revolution of America. Through 1792 at least twentyone printings of Raynal's work appeared in England or on the Continent in French, English, Dutch, and German. 1782 also saw four American printings of the translation (T. R. Adams, American Controversy , 2:776–782; Evans, Nos. 17684, 17685, 17686, 17687).

A Dutch translation published at Amsterdam in 1781 as Staatsomwenteling van Amerika is, together with a copy of the 1780 edition of the Histoire, in JA's library ( Catalogue of JA's Library ). In fact, while Raynal dealt with the American Revolution up to 1780, he made no specific mention of JA's activities.


The remainder of this sentence was written at the bottom of the Letterbook page and marked for insertion at this point.


Posterity pays to every man the honor that is due him.


In 1809, when this letter was published in the Boston Patriot, JA followed this sentence with a bracketed comment: “Prophetic, to be sure” (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot , p. 300–301). JA is referring to Mercy Otis Warren's critical commentary on his political and diplomatic activities during the Revolution in her History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution. Interspersed with Biographical, Political and Moral Observations, 3 vols., Boston, 1805. The History 406sparked a vigorous written response from JA (see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:lxx–lxxi).


JA apparently did not write again to James Warren until 17 June 1782 (MB).

To Mercy Otis Warren, 9 December 1780 JA Warren, Mercy Otis To Mercy Otis Warren, 9 December 1780 Adams, John Warren, Mercy Otis
To Mercy Otis Warren
Madam Amsterdam Decr. 9. 1780

It is not long Since I received your Favour of the 24 of July—and a wandering unsettled Life, have prevented me hitherto from answering it. Be assured Madam that my Friends are not so good Correspondents as you think them. You may almost always take it for granted that I am uninformed, and that every Piece of Information from home will be agreable and Usefull to me.

I wish Success to the Act for cutting off, forever, all Communication with England. We shall never have any but such as will be pernicious to Us. That unfortunate Nation grows every day, more and more inimical to Us, and to themselves. They have been great and wise, but their Day is past. They will persecute Us, as they did our Fathers. And the worst Engine they have to play against Us, are the Remainders of a Prejudice in their favour.

The Letter, Madam, which you sent me, by your Son, I Suppose is in the Sea. His Capture, is no longer unknown to you. Where he is, I know not. I hope, in America, exchanged.1 It would have given me great Pleasure, to have contributed Some what to his Entertainment in Europe. It is not however a Country where I should wish the Sons of my Friends, any more than my own to reside long. There are Snares enough for Youth every where: but they are fewer in America than here. And American youth discover, in Europe, I think a greater Propensity to Folly, and Vice, than the Natives.

I grow every day, more and more wearied and disgusted with Europe, and more and more impatient to return forever, to that Country, where alone I ever was or shall be happy. Perhaps however, I may not be so fortunate in crossing the Ocean the fourth time. Perhaps a long Imprisonment, or a Fate more disagreable Still may be before me. Whatever it may be I shall meet it, with Fortitude, and comfort myself with the Reflection that no Man ever suffered in a nobler Cause.

There are in my Power means enough, for the Pursuits of Pleasure and of Knowledge: but I have not the Inclination to make that Advantage of them, which I should have done in earlier Life, before my Soul was bowed down with Care.


I have Seen in the Course of the last Year, a Variety of Kingdoms, Empires, and Republicks, and as great a Variety of Religions, and had a fine Opportunity of remarking the Effects of them upon human Nature, and indeed upon the very Face of the Earth. And the Result of all has been a Stronger Attachment, to the Religion and Government of my native Country than ever. I wish every American Youth could have born me Company. He would not need afterwards to Swear upon the high altar, Enmity to Britain, nor Friendship to America. It Seems to me impossible that even Arnold should have been a Traitor, if he had ever made the Journey from Ferrol to Amsterdam.2

How much should We deplore, that Spirit of Dissipation, Vanity, and Knavery, which infects so many Americans and threatens to ruin our Manners and Liberties in Imitation of the old World.

This, to be sure Madam, is preaching: but it is preaching to a Lady, who knows it to be sound doctrine, and therefore will not despise the sermon because it contains nothing new. I have the Honour to be, with the greatest Esteem and Respect, Madam your most obliged and obedt sert.3

LbC (Adams Papers).


For reports of Winslow Warren in London, see Thomas Digges' letters of 17 Nov., note 1; and 22 Nov., note 6 (both above); but see also Mercy Otis Warren's letter of 28 Dec., note 2 (below).


This sentence was interlined.


JA apparently did not write again to Mercy Otis Warren until 29 Jan. 1783 ( Warren-Adams Letters , 2:188–189).