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was pursued. The General Assembly of the Massachusetts soon resolved to build, equip, and arm, a number of Vessels suitable for the purpose, to cruise and capture any British Ships that might be found, on or near their Coasts. They granted Letters of Marque and Reprisal to several Adventurers, and appoint Courts of Admiralty for the Tryal and condemnation of any captures within those Limits. By these means, the seasonable capture, in the beginning of this Enterprise, of a British Ship, laden with Ordnance, and an assorted cargo of warlike stores, sufficiently supplied the exegencies of the Army and dissipated the fears of those, who had suffered the most painful Apprehensions for the safety of their Country.
These Naval Preparations may perhaps be said, not to have been merely of a defensive nature, the Line yet avowedly observed by the Americans, But they had advanced too far to recede. Sophistical distinctions of Words or names were laid aside. It is a Fact of which every one is sensible that successful Opposition to arbitrary sway, places a civic crown, on the head of the Hero that resists; when contingences that defeat, confer an hempen cord, instead of a wreath of laurel. The Success and Catastrophe of the infant Navy of America, will be shewn in the succeeding Pages.
I should have expected that this ingenious Lady would have at least inserted your Law, which is certainly one of the most important Documents in the History of the World, in her Appendix to this volume. But no; the above Paragraph is all she says upon an Event so extreamly important to the Salvation of her Country at that time and at this. Had that Law been conceived or drawn by her Brother, her Father, or her Husband, Her Reader would have been favoured with a more ample detail and a more elegant panegyrick. But I presume this was written after She had conceived the horror of a Navy, which appears in other Parts of her History; and after she had acquired the habit of concording with my Enemies, in condemning me and my zeal to promote a Navy in 1798.
In page 247 are recorded the Proceedings of Congress towards a Naval Establishment, in a still more summary manner.
Many Gentlemen, sanguine in Opinion, that an American Navy was no Utopian project, but that her Marine might rapidly rise to a respectable height; engaged with an energy that seldom fails of carrying into execution any Attempt the human mind, on principles of reason is capable of forming. They accordingly built, on the large rivers from Portsmouth to Pensylvania, a Number of Vessels, Row Gallies, and Frigates, from four to forty Guns; fitted manned, and compleatly equipped them for Sea in the Course of a few Months. All encouragement was given both to public and private Adventurers, who engaged in the Sea
Service; Success was equal to expectation; many very valuable Prizes, and a vast number of Provision Vessels, from England, Ireland and Nova Scotia were captured, and by this means, the Americans were soon supplied, not only with the Necessaries for War, but with the conveniences and the Luxuries of Life.
Is this not strange, that one of the boldest, most dangerous and most important Measures and Epochas in the History of the New World The Commencement of an independent National Establishment of a new maritime and Naval military Power should be thus carelessly and confusedly hurried over? Had the Historian never read the Law of Massachusetts? Nor the Journal of Congress? One would think that this momentous Business was all performed by a few rash Individuals and private Adventurers.
History is not the Province of the Ladies. These three Volumes nevertheless contain many Facts, worthy of Preservation. Little Passions and Prejudices, want of Information, false Information, want of Experience, erroneous Judgment, and frequent Partiality, are among the Faults. Other Historians shall soon be examined, by your faithful Friend,
JOHN ADAMS TO ELBRIDGE GERRY
QUINCY, April 26, 1813
DEAR SIR, Although Governor Gage's Prediction to General Jo. Warren has not yet been fully accomplished in this Country; yet as his observation was suggested by History, it will be found too just, some time or other. Selfishness has disappointed The Hopes of Patriotism and Philanthropy in all Ages, not only in England at the Period of her Commonwealth.
Edes's Watertown Gazette shall be carefully returned to you or Mr. Austin if he requires it.
Had your Motion in Congress been adopted, and a Man of Sense and Letters appointed in each State to collect Memorials of the Rise Progress and Termination of the Revolution: We should now Possess a Monument of more inestimable Value than all the Histories and Orations that have been written. The Few,
if they are not more selfish than the Many, are more cunning; and all the Ages of the World, have not produced such glaring proofs of it, as the History of this Country for the last thirty years. I look back with Astonishment at the Height and Depth, the Length and Breadth of this Stupendous Fabrick of Artifice. If I had suspicions of the Depravity of our Politicians, I had no Idea of their Genius. That Mr. Jay, the President of Congress when your motion was made, admired it, is no Surprize to His head could conceive and his heart feel the importance
me. of it.
Your Allusion to the Controversy with Governor Hutchinson has touch'd me to the quick. I want the Journal of the General Court, which contains his Speeches and the Answers his Replications and your Rejoinders. These were printed alltogether in a Pamphlet. But I cannot find that Pamphlet nor hear of it. Governor Adams once showed it to me, and Judge Paine mentioned it to me, a year or two ago: but I dared not say a word to him about it, much less to ask the Loan of it.
You, my Friend, have been hurt by your Country: so have I. We have sacrificed our Lives our Families our Popularity, our Reputations our Pleasures our Comforts to the Publick: while the Politicians have accumulated Fortunes, Palaces in the City and Villas in the Country. It is in my opinion our duty to brave the Imputation of Vanity and Egotism by recording Facts that no other human Beings know. Our Country will be benefited by it, some time or other. There are a few Anecdotes which I wish to reduce to writing, particularly the Impeachment of the Judges and the Controversy with General Brattle.
You talk to me at seventy-seven Years of Age of Writing History. If I was only thirty, I would not undertake an History of the Revolution in less than twenty years. A few Facts I wish to put upon Paper: and an Awful Warning to do it soon has been given me by the Sudden Death of our Friend Rush. Livingstone and Clymer had preceeded him in the same Year; the same Spring.1 How few remain. Three in Massachusetts I believe are a
1 Benjamin Rush died April 19, 1813; Robert R. Livingston, February 26; and George Clymer, January 23.
Majority of the Surviving Signers of a Declaration which has had too much Credit in the World, and the Expence of the most of its Signers.1
As a Man of Science, Letters, Taste, Sense, Phylosophy, Patriotism, Religion, Morality, Merit, Usefulness, taken alltogether Rush has not left his equal in America, nor that I know in the World. In him is taken away, and in a manner most sudden and totally unexpected a main Prop of my Life. "Why should I grieve when grieving I must bear?"
I can conceive no reason why Governor Plumer may not be furnished with every Scratch of a Pen relative to the X, Y, and Z Embassy. I know not where to look for any one Paper relative to it.
It would give me great Pleasure to see Commodore Williams.2 His List of Prizes would be very acceptable. I wish he would write his own Life. With high Esteem and strong Affection,
ABIGAIL ADAMS TO MERCY WARREN
QUINCY, June 20, 1813
Such is the warlike state of Nations and their various destinies, that we cannot calculate what is to be the end of these things, who are to be the conquerors, or why they thus destroy each other, but thus it has been from Age to Age, and will continue so, as long as time endures.
Whether Bonaparte is again to become the conqueror, time must decide.
The conduct of our own State Government cannot surely meet the approbation of any real American. I should much rather chuse, that the Name of my Family should be blotted from the page of History, than appear upon Record as the proposer of
1 Samuel Adams died in 1803, leaving John Adams, Robert Treat Paine and Elbridge Gerry the surviving Signers from Massachusetts. Paine and Gerry died in 1814.
2 John Foster Williams (1743-1814), but he does not appear to have held the rank of commodore.
such a Resolution as past the Senate in their late Session.1 I do not view this war, as waged for conquest, or ambition, but for our injured Rights, for our freedom, and the security of our Independence, and therefore shall rejoice when any Naval victory, or military success attend upon our Arms, which may give us any hope or prospect of Peace, which always ought to be the object aimed at, and I sincerely believe is so by our Government. most sincerely do I wish that war could have been avoided.
I inclose to you for your perusal several Letters from my son,2 they will perhaps give you a better Idea of the contending powers than I am able to. you will be so good as to return them when read.
I am dear Madam with sentiments of Love veneration and esteem, your Friend,
ABIGAIL ADAMS TO MERCY WARREN
QUINCY, July 11th, 1813
MY DEAR MADAM, - I received your obliging favour with the Letters inclosed, and was gratified that the sentiments which they containd met your cordial approbation, and excited congenial feelings in the Bosoms of your sons if I may judge from the marks which distinguish them.
I have indeed great cause for pleasure and satisfaction, in the ability, integrity, and fidelity with which my son has devoted himself to his Country, and if in the hand of providence he may be instrumental in restoring peace to it, it will enhance every other pleasure and compensate me for the loss I sustain in his company and society, which would be most dear to both his Father and Mother, who know that they have but a short space of time left to enjoy it.
Read, my dear Madam, the inclosed Letter, which altho written
I The Remonstrance against the war adopted by the General Court June 15, 1813. It is printed in the Columbian Centinel, June 23, 1813. 2 John Quincy Adams.