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ARTHUR LEE TO JAMES WArren
PHILADELPHIA, July 27th, 1781
DEAR SIR, —I receivd your favor of the 29th of April a few days ago. The Gentleman you have fixt upon for a high office is indebted to your partiality. Certain it is, that the French have put their veto upon him which is at present absolute. That influence flows in a full stream here, and until it ebbs you must not expect to see his name in any public employment.
It was my intention to have returnd immediately into perfect privacy, but some difficulties about what I had advancd for the State of Virginia obligd me to go thither and return to settle my Accounts, which they are very slow in doing and without which I shall not demand the Salary that is due to me during the time I was Commissioner.
Congress have very injudiciously I fear, and contrary to their resolutions when there was a plot to remove me, joind Dr. F[ranklin] in commission with Mr. Adams when they know that unprincipled old man has created differences with Mr. Adams and is endeavoring to ruin his reputation. Mr. Jay, Laurens the elder and Govr. Jefferson are added. But their Instructions 1 are such as throw them at the feet of Count Vergennes in every thing but Independency. Mr. Adams can no more escape the Snares of old Franklin with the Count to assist him, that I coud. I do not say that such treatment of Mr. Adams is unwise and unworthy; only, it is as cruel as if they had stretchd him upon an iron bed of torture and left the old man at full liberty to glut himself with tormenting him.
And yet it is not easy to determine what our friend shoud [do.] If he resigns he will save himself; if he continues he may serve the Public. If he resigns he will leave the Public at the mercy of those unprincipled men; if he continues, he may be a check upon them or detect their wickedness. But whether there will ever [be] virtue enough candidly to enquire and duely to punish State crimes; I cannot determine. Now at least is not the time; but perhaps when foreign influence ceases, justice will have its course and vice its reward.
I Journals of the Continental Congress, xx. 651.
I cannot say how much I feel myself flattered by Mrs. Warren's remembrance of me. I sympathize with her and Mrs. Adams in the feelings I know they must have for their Country and their friend from the unworthy proceedings with regard to him in Congress. But as pity humiliates the object of it; I would have them convert it into a noble contempt of those persons who are the authors of this ungrateful treatment. His Country, unless lost to all principle, will do him justice.
My Enemies in Congress avail themselves as much as possible of Mr. Blodget's testimony, to establish a conclusion that I prevented the Clothing and other Stores from being brought in the Alliance. Not one of them believe this, but their wish is to impose it upon others in order to shield Dr. Franklin, his Agents and Partners, whose roguery they know was the real cause, and who seem to have determind that the refuse things they purchasd shoud never reach America to bear witness against them. But as the fact upon which they found their calumny is upon Oath and partially stated, I think it proper that the whole shewing what space the Goods occupyd, when they were taken in, and whether they did in any manner whatsoever interfere with the Stores, shoud also be upon Oath, and I beleive Congress will direct the Navy-board to examine Mr. Blodget on Oath to these points.
From the present situation of things it must be some years before the Land granted me can be settled or any profit drawn from it; therefore it woud be reasonable that it shoud be exempted from taxes for a certain number of years; otherwise the grant will be a burthen not a benefit. I shall be much obligd to you to attend to this circumstance, and have it inserted when the Grant is compleated.
Politics here, are all comprizd in a few words. We lean entirely on the French and on Mr. R. Morris. I wish they may prove neither broken reeds, nor Spears to peirce us. No late Advices from Europe.
Please to make my respects acceptable to Mrs. Warren and the
PHILADELPHIA, April 8th, 1782
DEAR SIR, - I venture so far to trespass on your goodness as to beg the favor of you to get the interest from your Treasury, due for two years upon the enclosd 629 Dolls. of the one for forty emission of your State, and transmit the money to me by the first safe opportunity. I must also trouble you with keeping the Bills themselves for me; that they may be ready to be disposd of, or to draw the interest as hereafter may appear most beneficial.
You will oblige me much, by letting me know, whether, the grant made me by your Assembly has been located, or in what state it rests.
It gave me great pleasure to hear, that you and Mrs. Warren were settled so near Boston, and at so beautiful a Seat as that of the late Govr. Hutchinson. It has not always happend in like manner, that the forfeited Seats of the wicked, have been filld with men of virtue. But in this corrupt world, it is sufficient that we have some examples of it for our consolation.
The detection of Mr. Deane, seems not to have drawn any punishment nor even odium on those who countenancd and profited by his wickedness. Among these Dr. Franklin and Mr. R. Morris, are the most conspicuous. The latter was obligd to acknowledge in the News-papers that he was in partnership with Mr. D[eane] but pretended he thought him a man of honor. The Doctor by Letters of the strongest recommendation endeavord to deceive Congress into a renewal of their confidence in him, with a new and important appointment. There are Letters in town from Mr. Searle, late member of Congress, declaring that he has been repeatedly scandalizd by hearing Mr. Deane utter the abuse against America and France, which is containd in his intercepted Letters, at Dr. F[ranklin]'s table, without any reprehension from the Doctor. Under all there suspicions, Dr. Franklin is appointed one of the Commissioners to negociate a peace, because France wills it; and Congress are complaisant enough to say they trust in his zeal and integrity. God forgive them!
I In Milton.
The Fishery, I am afraid, is the object and will be the sacrifice of this appointment. This question will come on in Congress, and I think your ablest members shoud be here. But Instructions from Congress will avail little, if a corrupt Commissioner is entrusted with them, who certainly never meaning to return to this Country, will feel himself very easy about our reproaches, while he is enjoying in France the reward of his Treachery. I know from what passd at the Treaties we concluded, that to monopolize the Fishery is the object of France, and I am most sure that Dr. Franklin will be the instrument of effecting it.
The Members from your State, and from Connecticut, seem desirous of admitting Vermont into the Confederation; but it appears very doubtful, whether this can be done agreable to the Confederation or consistent with true policy. The small States, upon this precedent, may dismember the great ones; or as they have an equal voice in proportioning the Quotas, may combine together to burthen the larger States with the whole expence. To acknowlege their independence without giving them a voice in Congress woud answer I conceive every purpose of attaching them to our cause, without hazarding our union by admitting them a Member of the confederation... 1
DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 1st ult. reachd me safely. I am very much obligd to you for your attention to me both as to the Paper money and the Grant. It is not a little unfortunate that the person so fit for the business shoud have been visited with so greivous a disorder, for which I am very sorry as well on his account as my own. It is probable that times of more safety in those parts will soon happen, for I think the Enemy can hardly continue the war long, and all parties seem disposd to peace.
I A letter from John Adams to James Warren, June 17, 1782, is in Writings of John Adams, IX. 511.
I wish it were in my power to give you any comfort as to the spirit that generally prevails in this Country. It seems as if patriotism was an unnatural feeling, and therefore short-livd; while prostitution and servility, were so congenial with human nature, that they revive and flourish with wonderful rapidity.
By the absolute order of France, Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jay were joind in commission with Mr. Adams for negociating a Peace. At this very time Congress had the fullest evidence and conviction that Dr. Franklin was both a dishonest and incapable man. Mr. Laurens and Mr. Jefferson were added, but the first was a prisoner, and the latter woud not go. Mr. Jay has with a very becoming spirit desird to be left out of a Commission, which is accompanied with Instructions to obey ultimately the opinion of the french Ministers. This he states, as in his apprehension, so humiliating to the Commissioners, so disgraceful and injurious to America that he cannot submit to it. I have movd in vain for a reconsideration of the Instructions. The yoke is riveted upon us, and the Man who I am sure sold us in the negociation with France, is the sole adjunct with Mr. Adams, in a negociation on which every thing that is dear and honorable to us depend. He, good man, felt no qualms at such a commission, no sense of dishonor or injury to his Country. On the contrary he expressd the utmost alacrity in accepting it, and I believe most cordially; since it puts him in the way of receiving money, which is the God of his Idolatry.
The French, therefore, are to make a peace for us; we have presumd only to desire Independance; but whether it shall be on secure and honorable terms, whether by the stipulations annexd to it we shall participate in the Fishery, in the navigation of the Missisippi, [or] in the western territory, whether conditions trenching nearer, and more shamefully on our rights will accompany the naked and nugatory assertion of Independance, is in the sovereign arbitration of the french Court. To judge what is for our own interest, to instruct our Plenipotentiaries, for them to think and act for us, are treason against the Alliance, by which we were acknowledgd independent and sovereign. In short, the most servile display of the most servile principles, is what alone must