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JQA Diary, volume 31 4 June 1819
JQA Neal Millikan Adams-Onis Treaty Dueling Florida Annexation Foreign Relations Religion South American Wars of Independence

4. IV: A man by the name of Jenkins, a writing master, who said he originally came from Dorchester, but belonged now to New-York came this morning with a printed sheet of texts of Scripture, prayers, verses and pious admonitions against duelling, which he had the project of having reprinted— He had also a printed certificate signed by all the Clergymen of this place, and some others recommending this device as exceedingly useful. He came to obtain my approbation and signature to the same certificate— I declined signing it, and told him I made it a general rule not to give certificates of recommendation, for any thing which if useful must carry its recommendation with itself. He then entered into a long argument to convince me that it was the duty of men whom Providence had placed in high situations, to patronize and recommend poor and ingenious persons, who for want of countenance in the world, were often robbed of their most useful inventions, as to his knowledge a Mr Smith had been, and was consequently starving with a large family of children, and as indeed he himself had been, of his system of handwriting— I gave him, I thought very temperately my reasons for declining generally to give certificates of recommendation, and he went away— My wife who was present thought I had treated him harshly and no doubt he thought so still more himself— I thought the man’s anti-duelling printed sheet of bible texts and prayers, a devise worse than useless—liable to the derision of Scoffers, and utterly inadequate ever to prevent a single duel— To have recommended it, would with my opinions have been to countenance an 125imposition upon the public— I felt it an impertinence in a man a total stranger to me, to come and ask my certificate of recommendation to such mummery, and still more to open upon me a lecture of half an hour upon the duty of a man in high office to patronize and recommend poor and ingenious persons like him. I bore all this with composure—answered his allegations upon the duty of Patronage; and said nothing passionate, or personally offensive to him: but my wife says that I looked all the ill temper that I suppressed in words— The result is that I am a man of reserved, cold austere and forbidding manners; my political adversaries say a gloomy misanthropist, and my personal enemies, an unsocial savage— With a knowledge of the actual defect in my character, I have not the pliability to reform it— At the Office came Mr Baptis Irvine, and gave me some further particulars from Venezuela— He is a fanatic to the South-American cause, and sees every thing through the medium of his prejudices— Such a person is always a bad observer— He, and Worthington and Rodney and Brackenridge, all stand looking in extatic gaze at South-America; foretelling liberty, to South-America, as the Jews foretell the Messiah— Graham and Poinsett have not only seen more clearly, but in secret Reports, which they are afraid of having published, have told the Government much of the naked truth— Bland alone, though he went out perhaps as great an enthusiast as any of the rest, saw the whole truth, and did not shrink from telling it out. His report contained more solid information, and more deep and comprehensive reflection than all the rest, put together; but he is now attacked for it— Irvine was desirous of going to Annapolis to see and converse with Commodore Perry, to whom I gave him accordingly a Letter— As from various symptoms I perceive that the late Treaty with Spain, will probably not be ratified at Madrid, and as the refusal will produce a reacting explosion here, I this day selected all the papers of the negotiation relating to the subject, and directed copies of them to be made to have them ready for the meeting of Congress. Mr Poletica, and Mr Lomonossoff called here, after dinner, but we were going out and did not receive them— With Mrs Adams, I attended a tea and Evening party at Mr Weightman’s. Had some Conversation with Mr Hyde de Neuville, who says the Spanish Government will not and cannot delay the Ratification of the Treaty on account of the grants. That he has proofs not only that Onis intended and understood that the three great Grants were null and void; but that the Spanish Government knew that such was the intention and understanding. But these proofs he said he could only communicate to his own Government— He admitted however that Onis had been disingenuous, and had spoken indiscreetly upon these points, after the questions arose; but he thought it was only for the sake of giving his Court the opportunity of making a merit of waving any objection to the ratification.— The weather is at full summer heat.