A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 13

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0144

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1782-08-12

Memorandum Concerning an Invitation from the Neutral Maritime Confederacy to the United States of America

The Project in Some of the foreign Gazettes,1 of an Invitation from the neutral maritime Confederacy, to the United States of America, to acceed to the Principles of their Treaty, is founded in evident Justice, Humanity and Utility.
The Case of America is a new one. It has no Example in History, and therefore no Reasonings can be drawn from Example to decide it. All the World agrees that the United States is respectable and powerfull Enough, for an independent State. It is capable of Governing itself. It is able to defend itself. It has all the Attributes necessary to good Government. It has Wisdom, Virtue Benevolence and Power. It has Magistrates capable of their offices. It has Ministers, Generals, Ambassadors and Warriours equal to other Nations. It has a Sufficient Territory—Sufficient Numbers of People, and these rich and industrious enough. It has Conveniences natural and artificial for Commerce, Fisheries and naval Power.
It is Seated alone, by itself, at a vast Distance from all the Nations of Europe—seperated by immense Seas. No Nation in Europe can possibly govern it.
It is capable, under its own Government, of benefiting every Country and Nation of Europe.
The Continent of America is capable of Feeding cloathing and Subsisting, if the forests were cleared up an hundred Million of People, without diminishing one Inhabitant of Europe. Is the Multiplication of Men upon the Earth an Evil? Suppose it were in the Power of Europe to prevent the Growth of People in America. Would it be Wisdom or Virtue to do it? Would it not on the Contrary be Folly and Wickedness? is not the Thought Shocking?
Are the northern Powers or any of them, or any Individuals in any of them, jealous that the Southern Powers,2 by their Connections with America will become too powerful? Why then do not they form the Same Connections, and derive the Same Advantages? Why do they Suffer those to have all the Merit of assisting and even countinancing America? Why do they suffer American Gratitude to be
{ 236 }
1. JA's A Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe, [ca. 5–8 July], above, which was published in the Courier du Bas Rhin, the Gazette de Leyde, and the Gazette de la Haye. This unfinished essay is a companion piece to that memorial and the reference to “foreign Gazettes” here makes it likely that JA intended it to be published in London, probably through the agency of Edmund Jenings. There is no indication in the Adams Papers as to why JA left the piece unfinished.
2. That is, France and Spain.

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0145

Author: Bracht, Herman van
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-08-12

From Herman van Bracht

[salute] Sir

I have now the honour to hand you the Second volum of the translated constitutions of America, Inscribed to Your Excell: by the publisher Mr. F: wanner. According to your desire, every expression is avoided that could tend to give offense to any person in times to critical as these. A due tribute of applause, however, has been given, tho the persons who So well deserved it in the true Interests of both republics has been touched upon, where fore I hope the dedication will obtain your approbation.1
Permit me to ad the assurance of Mr wanners unlimited esteem the offer of a continuance of my humble Services here an to ashure you that I most respectfully am Sir Your most Obedt. Servant
[signed] Herman van Bracht
1. This is the second volume of Van Bracht's Verzameling van de Constitutien ... van Amerika (2 vols., Dordrecht, 1781–1782), which Fredrik Wanner, the printer, dedicated to JA. For the dedication, see the Descriptive List of Illustrations, Dedication of Verzameling van de Constitutien to John Adams, 1782 237No. 6, above. The first volume was dedicated to Engelbert François van Berckel. Two sets of the work are in JA's library at MB (Catalogue of JA's Library).

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0146

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jay, John
Date: 1782-08-13

To John Jay

[salute] Dear Sir

The public Papers announce Fitzherbert's Comission to be, to treat “With the four Powers at War with Great-Britain” But whether they mean Hyder Aly, or the Marattas,1 is uncertain.
I have obtained Intelligence of a Paper addressed lately from the Court of St. James's to the Courts of Vienna and Petersbourg, as well as that of Paris, in which are the following words, vizt.
Sa Majesté Britannique dit, “Qu'Elle ne préjuge, ni ne veut préjuger aucune question quelconque, et qu'Elle ne prétend exclure personne de la Négociation qu'on a en vue, qui pourroit s'y croire intéressé, soit qu'il soit question des Etats-Généraux, soit qu'on y veuille faire entrer les Colonies Américaines”2—You perhaps may have seen the whole. If you have, I beg a Copy.
{ 237 } { 238 }
For my own part, I am not the Minister of any “fourth State”3 at war with Great-Britain, nor of any “American Colonies.”4 And therefore I should think it out of Character for us to have any thing to say to Fitzherbert, or in the Congress at Vienna, untill more decently and consistently called to it. It is my duty to be explicit with you, and to tell you sincerely my sentiments. I think we ought not to treat at all, untill we see a Minister authorised to treat with “The United States of America” or with their Ministers. Our Country will feel the miserable consequence of a different conduct. If we are betrayed into Negociations, in or out of a Congress, before this Point is settled, if Gold and Diamonds, and every insidious Intrigue and wicked Falshood, can induce any Body to embarrass us, and betray us into Truces and bad Conditions, we may depend upon having them played off against us. We are and can be no Match for them at this Game. We shall have nothing to negociate with but Integrity, Perspicuity and Firmness.
There is but one way to Negotiate with Englishmen. That is clearly and decidedly. Their Fears only govern them. If we entertain an Idea of their Generosity, or Benevolence towards us, we are undone. They hate us, universally from the Throne to the Footstool, and would annihilate us, if in their Power, before they would treat with us in any way. We must let them Know, that we are not to be moved from our Purpose; or all is undone. The Pride and Vanity of that Nation is a Disease; it is a Delirium. It has been flattered and enflamed so long by themselves, and by others, that it perverts every Thing. The moment you depart one Iota from your Character, and the distinct Line of Sovereignty, they interpret it to spring from fear or Love of them, and to a Desire to go back.
Fox saw we were aware of this, and calculated his system accordingly. We must finally come to that Idea; and so must Great-Britain. The latter will soon come to it, if we don't flinch. If we discover the least weakness or Wavering, the Blood and Treasures of our Countrymen will suffer for it in a great Degree.
Firmness, Firmness and Patience for a few Months, will carry us triumphantly to that Point, where it is the Interest of our Allies, of Neutral Nations, nay even of our Enemies, that we should arrive: I mean a Sovereignty, universally acknowledged by all the World. Whereas the least Oscillation will in my opinion leave us to dispute with the world, and with one another, these fifty Years.

[salute] With great Respect and Regard I have the Honour to be,5 Sir your most obedient and most humble Servant

[signed] J. Adams
{ 239 }
RC in Charles Storer's hand (Windsor Castle, Royal Archives: Autographs from Correspondence of Chief Justice Jay, 1776–1794); endorsed: “13 augt Recd 18 augt. 1782.”
1. The Marattas or Mahrattas were a people of central India who were also at war with the British (vol. 11:149).
2. An indication that JA had received Francis Dana's letter of 22 July, above, in which Dana had included the passage. For the translation, see that letter, note 9.
3. On 13 Aug. the Gazette d'Amsterdam reported Fitzherbert's arrival at Paris to renew the peace proposals first put forth by Thomas Grenville and stated that he was empowered to treat with “les quatre Puissances Ennemies de L'Angleterre.”
4. Since his arrival in Europe in Dec. 1779, JA had made clear his view that it was inappropriate to refer to the American colonies as one of the parties at war with Great Britain, but see in particular a memorandum of his 7 July 1781 conversation with Joseph Mathias Gérard de Rayneval and his letter of 19 July 1781 to the Comte de Vergennes (vol. 11:405–406, 425–430).
5. Remainder of closing and signature in JA's hand.
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, 2017.