Papers of John Adams, volume 18

To Thomas Jefferson

To John Jay

From John Adams to Matthew Robinson-Morris, 21 February 1786 Adams, John Robinson-Morris, Matthew
To Matthew Robinson-Morris
Sir Grosvenor Square Feb 21st. 1786.

My Friend Dr Price has kindly permitted me to read his Letter and to inclose mine with it—

before the Commencement of Hostilities in America a Pamphlet was presented to me at Boston in your Name, which I read with more pleasure than I ever received from any other. it was intituled Considerations on the Measures Carrying on &c—1 it has been a Constant sceurce of Astonishment to me that a Nation after the Publication of a Pamphlet Containing Views of their Empire so Comprehensive and Clear—and pointing out Consequences so obvious and Certain could support a Ministry in the Prosecution of a War. the Whole History of Which has been but a simple Relation of the Accomplishment of your Prophecies—

I read the Address to the Landed trading and funded Interests of England which appeard to me to be Demonstration as Clear, as the Considerations but recollecting the little Attention which was given to the latter, I trembled least the former should be equally ineffectual—2

I cannot but observe however that you have in a great measure overlookd the U— states of America and Dr Price in his Letter has not mentioned them— you may Possibly upon further reflection see Reasons to beleive that this Nation is now pursueing as Absurd a system towards America as it was when you wrote your 178 Considerations and that the Consequences may even be more fatal to your Country— Permit me to suggest to your Consideration whether it would not be wise to begin with the United states and open all the Ports of the British Empire to them in return for their opening theirs to the British! this alone would be such an Extension of the Commerce and Revenue of this Country as is not at Present Comprehended by Administration or opposition and would have greater Influence upon its Political Interest. than perhaps even you Sir are aware of—

Accept my thanks for the Entertainment you have given me and beleive me to be / with great respect / yours—

LbC in AA2’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mathew Robbinson Esqr. / Horton Hythe.— Kent.”; APM Reel 113.


Matthew Robinson-Morris, later 2d Baron Rokeby (1713–1800), politician and writer, represented Canterbury as M.P. from 1747 to 1761. He was known for his eccentric proclivities—such as taking long sea baths, making difficult hikes, and subsisting mainly on boiled beef—and kept sizable estates at Rokeby and at Monk’s Horton, near Hythe in Kent. Writing to Cotton Tufts on 11 March 1786, JA called him “an honest and Sensible Old Man of Fortune,” and through April carried on a wide-ranging correspondence with him regarding Anglo-American politics and trade ( AFC , 7:87–88; DNB ; Henry Wilson, Wonderful Characters: Comprising Memoirs and Anecdotes of the Most Remarkable Persons of Every Age and Nation, 3 vols., London, 1830–1832, 1:336–350). See also Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 1, above.

JA refers to Robinson-Morris’ Considerations on the Measures Carrying on with Respect to the British Colonies in North-America, London, 1774. No reference to Robinson-Morris’ sending the pamphlet to JA has been found, but with his 13 Jan. 1775 letter to JA, the London bookseller Edward Dilly enclosed four copies (vol. 2:211). AA replied to Dilly’s letter on 22 May 1775, JA then being at Congress, thanking him for the pamphlets and comparing the author’s views with those of JA in his Novanglus essays, copies of which AA enclosed with her letter ( AFC , 1:202–204). The title page of one of the copies sent by Dilly appears in vol. 1 of AFC , opposite p. 241.


For Robinson-Morris’ recently published Address, see JA’s 9 Feb. 1786 letter to David Ramsay, and note 2, above. And for JA’s further comments on the pamphlet, see his 2, 4, and 23 March letters to Robinson-Morris, all below.