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farm, after all the labors and expences are paid, is of more value, in the support of a family, than would be the interest of the money, arising from the capital the farm would fetch. So on the other hand, we some times see lands, from their local situation, and the number of purchasers, sell for a sum, the common interest of which, will far exceed in value, the neat income of the Land. The real value of an estate, taken for the apportionment of taxes, should be estimated by its produce, not by the sum, which the possessor may have given for it; for, from the produce, are the taxes to be paid, they should therefore be proportioned thereby.
It is from the want of this system, in the Massachusetts, that all the lands in the first settled part of the State, and near the Sea, pay a much greater tax than lands do which have been more lately settled, though their produce is equal.
Was the value of lands, always determined by the value of their produce, we should be freed from a repetition of the evils, we have experienced in our State, from the want of this attention, and should have no apprehensions, of an unequal apportionment, of the debt of the United States, made on the letter of the confederation letter I say because, I think if the spirit was attended to, we should have a return of what I before called, the real value of the States; But this we may not expect, the located lands and Buildings, will be estimated, at what they will sell for, an apportionment, on such an estimate, will saddle the Northern States, with an unequal proportion, of the public debts. Because lands, in an old and well settled country, will sell for more money, than lands, which will yield an equal produce, will sell for, in a new one, this we are taught by every day experience.
Though, I think the w[hole] number of inhabitants, should come into consideration, yet as that cannot be obtained, I think fewer evils will be experienced, by adopting the proposed System, than will be suffered, should it be rejected.
Thus my dear Sir, I have in as few words as possible, given you my ideas, on a subject, interesting in its nature, and on the speedy settlement of which, much depends.
I have the honor to be, Dear Sir, with great esteem your obedient humble Servant, B. LINCOLN
JOHN ADAMS TO JAMES WARREN
PARIS, April 9, 1783
DEAR SIR, I hope this will find you in Congress, supporting your Country and her Friends, where you ought to have been many years past. For want of a few more hands of your Stamp at the great Wheel, we poor Creatures are trembling here under a fearful looking for of Judgment and fiery Indignation from Philadelphia.
It is utterly inconceivable how Congress can have been deceived into such Instructions as they gave us, which without all Controversy would have ruined our Country, if they had been obeyed. Those Instructions put some of our essential Interests into the Power of the worst Enemy of those Interests.
Great Britain is in a State that is undefinable - Unable for many Weeks to form any Administration at all. the King is now reported to have made a Combination so whimsical that it cannot be expected to last, if it can operate at all. It must be divided in Sentiment upon every material Question. The Distress for Grain, the Poverty of the Treasury, the Weakness of public Credit, the Weight of Taxes, the general Discontents and Animosities, and the Danger, if not the Certainty of a publick Bankruptcy, at least in part, threaten that devoted Country with Calamities of which no Man can foresee the End.
You are threatened with an Inondation of Emigrants from all Parts of Europe. But there will not be such an Appearance as is talked of. It is not so easy for Men to change Countries. If you were to listen to the Conversation in private Circles, or in Coffee Houses, or to the Paragraphs in the Gazettes, you would think that all Europe was about to empty itself into America; but after all the Number of Emigrants will be small.
I am in Expectation every hour of recieving your Acceptance of my Resignation, and indeed I stand in need of it. The Scenes of Gloom, Danger and Perplexity I have gone thro', by Sea and Land, and the Shocks of various Climates, have affected my Health to a great degree, and, what is worse, my Spirits. Firm as some People have been complaisant enough to suppose my Temper is, I assure
you it has been shaken to its foundations, and more by the fluctuating Councils of Philadelphia, than by anything else. When a Man sees entrusted to him the most essential Interests of his Country, sees that they depend essentially upon him, and that he must defend them against the Malice of Enemies, the Finesse of Allies, the Treachery of a Colleague, and sees that he is not to be supported even by his Employers, you may well imagine a Man does not sleep on a Bed of Roses. It is enough to poison the Life of a Man in its most secret Sources.
The Fever, which I had at Amsterdam, which held me for five days hiccoughing and senseless over the Grave, exhausted me in such a Manner that I never have been able to recover from it entirely. I have rode and walked and exercised incessantly now for a Year and three Quarters, and have lived in all Respects with great Caution, but all does not do. I have Weaknesses of Mind and Body, to which I have been all my Life before a Stranger. But I am not yet however so weak as to stay in Europe with a Wound upon my Honour, and if I had the Health of Hercules, I would go home, Leave or no Leave, the Moment another Person is appointed to Great Britain. No fooling in such a March. I will not be horse jockeyed. At least, if I am, De Vergennes and Franklin shall not be the Jockies.
It is not that I am ambitious of the Honour of a Commission to St. James's, or that I fondly expect a happy Life there. I could be happier I believe at The Hague. But my Enemies, because they are Enemies or Despisers of the Interests of my Country, shall never have such a Triumph over me. I should think myself forever unworthy of the Confidence of Congress, or of any other Body possessed of Sense or Spirit, if I did. In Truth I sigh for Repose. My Family has become an indispensible Necessary of Life to me. I am no longer a Boy, nor a young Man, and there is no Employment however honorable, no Course of Life however brilliant, has such a Lustre in my Imagination as absolutely a private Life. My Farm and my Family glitter before my Eyes every Day and Night.
You may well imagine that I shall not be beloved in London. I have been, as you know, too old and atrocious an Offender not
to have Millions of Enemies there. You know, too, that I have acted too daring and decided a Part in France and Holland, as well as in America, not to have numerous Enemies and powerful ones too in all those Countries. The Peace does not open to me in public Life Prospects of Glory and Triumph and Power and Wealth, that can flatter or excite Ambition or Avarice in me.
I knew very well for many Years before I engaged in publick, that if I ever should engage, whatever Dangers I might brave, whatever Losses I might suffer, and whatever Successes I might have, Rewards and Fortunes were never made for me nor mine; that the utmost I could ever expect would be a comfortable or even a tolerable old Age. For this I would gladly now compound. At home I might enjoy it. Abroad I certainly cannot. Decide my Fate, therefore, as soon as possible, if it is not yet decided; which I wish and hope, and let me embrace you at Philadelphia or at Milton. With great Affection and Esteem your Friend.
Paris, 15th April, 1783. Delivered to Mr. George Mason of Virginia.
JOHN ADAMS TO JAMES WARREN
PARIS, April 12, 1783
DEAR SIR, What would I have given to have been your Doorkeeper for a few days while you had under Deliberation the Dispatches We sent by Barney,1 that I might have listened with my Ear at the Key hole and overheard your Debates. I fancy some Members will be of opinion, that they have committed a Mistake in committing the Lamb so unreservedly to the Custody of the Wolf. If Congress are not betrayed by the Want of Intelligence or by Misinformation into any unseasonable votes, all will be very well. I should not wish to see, any other vote than a simple Ratification of the provisional Treaty of the 30. of Nov. 1782. Yet the Departure of Barney was, by various means partly accidental and partly designed so long delayed, even to the 17 of January, and the English and the French might have sent the
I The preliminary articles of peace. Barney commanded the Washington. The papers did not reach Congress until March 12.
News in their own Way and in their own Colours so much sooner, tho We know not that they did, that you might be led to form opinions upon partial Evidence. You may well suppose, We are anxious to know. Not a Word from any Part of America, directly or indirectly which gives cause to suppose that you have recd. the News even of the Treaty of the 30. of Nov. Nor that you have recd. the Dutch Treaty, four Copies of which I put on board four different Vessells at Amsterdam in October.1 We cannot account for the failure of Arrivals in Spain, France, Holland, so absolutely without supposing an Embargo.
The Treaty with Sweeden is made, Denmark has ordered our Flag to be respected like that of Republicks of the first order.3 Portugal has done the same. The Emperor has an Inclination to treat with Us but The House of Austria never makes the first Advances. Mr. Dana has announced himself to the Chancellor Osterman and recd. for answer that the Way was clear.
Mr. Fox the new Minister declares his good dispositions and his Determination to finish with the Utmost Liberality. Mr. Hartly it is said is to finish with Us, and the Duke of Manchester with the other Powers.
Your Son is said by some to have gone to Italy and by others to have embarked for America from Marseilles where he has wisely been to lay the foundation of Trade and Fortune.
Our young Men may lawfully make their Fortunes. We their Fathers have been employed in preparing the Way. I dont know what to do with my Boys, however. Affectionately yours,
JOHN ADAMS TO JAMES WARREN
PARIS, April 13th, 1783 DEAR SIR, — I have in some late Letters opened to You in Confidence the Dangers, which our most important Interests have 1 Adams' letter transmitting the treaties was dated October 8, 1782, and reached Congress January 21, 1783. Two days later the treaty with the Netherlands was ratified. 2 Concluded April 3, 1783. 3 See Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence (Wharton), vi. 261, 372.
4 Ib., 480, 538.
5 Jean, comte d'Ostermann (1724-1811).