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JOHN ADAMS TO JAMES WARREN
PASSY, Feb. 25, 1779
DEAR SIR, Yours of the 1. Jany. was delivered me, by the Marquis de la Fayette. I wish I was as happy as you, in not being obliged to copy my Letters. Sense or Nonsense, frivolous or weighty, I must copy every Line I write, for I know not what Accusations may be brought against me, grounded on my Letters if I do not. My Letters are lyable to more Misfortunes and foul Play too than yours, and I keep no Clerk, so the original and Copy, must be done with these weak Eyes, almost blind with reading and writing; yet every Body complains of me for not writing enough, especially my Wife.
The Address you mention, produced astonishment, here and all over Europe. Yet it seems to be not discountenanced: rather Supported. You have Reason to be confident of Dr. L[ee]'s Integrity and Fidelity - no Man more faithfull, and his Character must be vindicated or no Mans will be safe. I shall not however enter into this Business. He is able to justify himself and willing. You may tell your Lady however, she was not mistaken in the Character she gave me of him.
I shall not enter particularly into the Inconveniences, which must result from such an outrageous Measure as that Address. I wish to know, who will correspond with Us or any Body connected with Us, if they are to be thus exposed. What Prince, Minister or State will confide in Us, if Negociations are thus to be laid open? Where is our Secrecy, or a Possibility of it? Is the Confederation annihilated? Is the Union lost? has Congress so little authority as to be obliged to endure this? God forbid. Yet I think the Probability is that he will succeed, get the two L[ee]'s recalld, and himself appointed to some Trust abroad, if this should be the Case what is to become of Us? at least if this done before they are asked if guilty or not guilty, before they are allowed to defend themselves which I doubt not they can do.
This Publication gave the Ministry a Lift in England, and will hoist the Loan which before labourd. The Capture of St Lucie, also which is just arrived, will give another Spur. Yet the Dis
contents in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales ought to be terrible to Administration. They can do no great Things against Us.
The only Enemy, of any great Consequence which is left to Us is our Currency. Taxation and Oeconomy, must be the Cry in America. a Depreciation and Appreciation Law must be made. The People will not Succumb to G. B. if the Bills depreciate, untill a Thousand Dollars, must be given for a Silver Shilling. They will not Succumbe to G. B. if our regular Army, was wholly disbanded. For even then the English could not make an Excursion into the Country, from under the Guns of their Men of War, without Militia Men enough turning out to knock them in the Head. The Consumption of British Soldiers and Sailors in the West Indies is like to be such that you need not fear, any great force, with you. The Tories must now act against every Light of Conscience, for they know that we cannot now succumbe to G. B. without having France and Spain upon our Backs.
What Congress] will do with the Paper I dont know, but they had better, by a Vote annihilate it all, or call it in to be burned, infinitely, and go over the same ground again ten times than that G. B. should prevail. Burn it all with my good Will. My share shall go to the Flames with the utmost cheerfulness. call it all in, in a Loan if you will, but then dont let it stand at Sterling Standard to be redeemed. This would be greater Injustice than to burn it all.
This vile Paper discourages and disheartens the Whiggs, and emboldens the Tories, more than it ought. blow it away, any way. Many have a Prejudice, that our Independance is connected with it. Convince both sides that our Independance dont depend upon that. That our Plate, our Stocks and all shall go rather than our Sovereignty depend upon it. It is worth them all and more, nay our Houses and Farms into the Bargain.
Our Remedy is so simple, that I am astonished, there should be the least Hesitation about it, in the Mind of the most ignorant and mean of the People.
Taxation alone, is amply Sufficient to carry on our Share of the War in future. I am sure that the thirteen States can raise Money
enough if they will to bear all their future Expences as they rise. if the People are so blind, blockish and stupid, as not to see it and be willing for it, it is a Pity.
But the Delirium that rages, is enough to discourage every Man of Virtue and Honour, the Foppery, the Avarice, the Ambition, the Vanity, the Rage, the Fury, is enough to induce every Man of Sense and Virtue to abandon such an execrable Race, to their own Perdition, and if they could be ruined alone it would be just. There is Cause to fear that our Countrymen and Women, after having astonished the Universe by their Wisdom and Virtue, will become a Spectacle of Contempt and Derision to the foolish and wicked, and of Grief and shame to the wise among Mankind, and all this in the Space of a few Years.
I see so much Corruption, wherever I cast my Eyes. I see the virtuous few struggling against it, with so little success, that a Retreat infinitely less Splendid than that of Pythagoras, at the Head of a little school to teach a few Children the Elements of Knowledge would be a kind of Heaven to me. I have the Honour to be reduced to a private Citizen and if I could remain there without an eternal Clamour, no Consideration in the World should induce me ever again to rise out of it. But you know the Noise, the Lyes, the Slanders, the stupid Groans and Lamentations, that would be raised at such a Resolution.
However let them groan and hiss and curse as they will, I will never be again with my own Consent the sport of wise Men nor Fools.
JAMES WARREN TO SAMUEL ADAMS 1
BOSTON, Feby. 28th, 1779
MY DEAR SIR, - I have received yours of the 11th Instant. Your Apprehensions are so far just that the honest and virtuous friends to their Country do not Indeed unite their Councils and Efforts; but it rather proceeds from Inattention and a MultiI From the Samuel Adams Papers in the New York Public Library.
plicity of Business and other pursuits than from a want of Esteem and the prevalence of Jealousies among them. I have a great Opinion of Mr. Dana's Political Principles and Conduct, but from the Constant Attention he gives to the Executive and General Courts I never have an Opportunity to see him. I have not once met him in three months and Consequently have never yet been able to ask the Question you authorised me to do. any Intercourse with him is rendered more difficult by his always returning Home when he is not prevented by Urgent Business. I am sensible the Torrent you mention should be Stemmed, and of the fatal Consequences of the Manners you mention, as well as of the Policy of some People here; but we are a rope of Sand without any Cement. some of us are too much Engaged and others too Inattentive to get any thing done. the Little Leisure I have is Imployed in my small Efforts, for which in some Companies I get the Character of an old Fashioned Fellow, and in others of a strong Party Man. I fear you have a hard Task where you are. I hope it will not prey on your Spirits or Injure your Health. I am fully persuaded of the Existence of such a Combination as you mention in Doctr. Cooper. We have Instances of it here with regard to you, and my other Friends at Congress. last Winter the Art was to hold you up as an Enemy to General Washington; now it is to prejudice the People against the Lees, and to propagate that you are a Friend to them, and at Last the matter has been Carried so far as to obtain a Vote in the House for a Committee to Consider the Propriety of recalling three of their Delegates and sending three now here. tho' this would not only be Affrontive to you, but also an Implicit Censure on the Measures you have adopted, yet every Art has been practised to Effect it and among others the Measure for preparing materials for a Fleet on the Lakes at Saratoga, and an Expedition into Canada that way is Absurdly given as a reason. while no Body can doubt that you are all against it. but I believe it will not Succeed. the Court is to rise Tomorrow.
And now I must say a little to you about the Navy Board and Confess to you that I am Extreemly surprised at your last Letter from the Marine Committee. have they no kind of Confidence in the Members of the Navy Board here, and do they wish to hold
them up to the Officers of the Navy in a Contemptible Light. if not why are not your Orders directed to them, to be given to the Commanders, and in most Cases at least some discretion of theirs to be used, instead of that of the Captains. I own I am Mortifyed and will not long submit to it. You should have [some one] at this Board you can place Confidence in. if we are not such, you should displace us and appoint others. it is Impossible you can Judge 300 Miles of. if the Conduct of the Raleigh had been left to us she would probably have been saved, and She and the Dean would have Effected the Service you wished for, and made a Cruise. and yet you have Committed in my Humble Opinion a greater Error in ordering the Queen of France on the Coast of Virginia alone, and to be followed by the Ranger and then the Confederacy. the Ranger will sail with her, but in my Opinion they will both be lost. I am Confident no Merchant would Insure them for eighty per ct. one frigate will take them both. if they should Escape being taken by the Enemy they will get Nothing and then there will be an, End of your Maning your Ships here. I think we had formed a Grand Plan, if you had permitted us to Execute it. but I will not have the Reputation of the present one. it shall be known whose Orders they sail under.
Your Committee has never given their disapprobation to our takeing the Commission Charged Mr. Holker for Business done. for the French Fleet, which I Construe as an Approbation and shall, as I think we justly may and ought to do, take them, as he has paid them to us. Am I right. Adeu. Your Friend
Yesterday we had the agreable Account of the Arrival of a Spanish Frigate at Philadelphia and that an Alliance is formed with Spain; that she has brought a large Sum of Hard Money, upon which Gold and Silver and Goods had fallen at a Great rate. I wish half of it may prove true.