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to be concerned in more than one Revolution, and therefore I will never have any Thing to do with another.
But to be more to the Purpose. I sincerely hope my Friend Mr. Warren will go to Congress. I am astonished to learn that at a Time when a large Portion of the Massachusetts was at Stake and in question, and all their Fisheries there should be, but one Member attending the Great Wheel from that State.1
The Reflection, Mrs. Warren, that we are now at Peace after the Contests of one and twenty years, which you and I have been witnesses of, is sweet indeed. Those Qualities which through the Course of that Period have attracted the Attention and Confidence of the People, will now be little regarded. Content. They have answered their End, and may now be laid aside. Yet it is too soon for Mr. Warren or me to retire. Stability and Dignity must be given to the Laws, or our Labours have all been in vain and the old Hands must do this or it will not be done.
I hope to have the Pleasure of renewing old Acquaintances e'er long, and of being no stranger at the Blue Hills.
There is but one Case in which it is possible that I should stay in Europe another year, and that is that Congress should renew the Commission with which I came out to make a Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain. in that Case I should hope my Dr. Mrs. Adams would come to me. But there is not I think the least Probability of that, nor indeed do I desire it. The first and strongest Wish of my Heart is to go home to my Family. But in all Events The Mountain shall come to Mahomet or Mahomet shall go to the Mountain. My Family shall come to me or I will go to them. With the greatest Esteem and Respect, Madam, I have the Honour to be, your Frnd. and Sert.
I A paragraph has here been struck out, but in the Letter Book is left untouched. It read as follows: "I have never had an Opportunity, Madam, to see your Son since he has been in Europe, but once or twice at Amsterdam, and that before I had a House there. He has been travelling from Place to Place; and altho' I have often enquired after him, I have seldom been able to hear of him. I have heard nothing to his disadvantage, except a Shyness and Secrecy which, as it is uncommon in young Gentlemen of his Age and Education, is the more remarked, and a general Reputation which he brought with him from Boston of loving Play. But I have not been able to learn that he has indulged it improperly in Europe. But my Advice to him and every young American is and uniformly will be to stay in Europe but a little while.”
IN CONGRESS, Feby. 19th, 1783
DEAR SIR, - Since I wrote to request you to send me a Certifyd Copy of the Resolve of the Assembly for granting me 600 Acres of Land; Mr. Gorham tells me that it has expird, and he believes was renewd. Whether it has or not, I still beg that I may have a Copy of the first resolution, for it is that I want. If however it shoud have expird, you will permit me to beg your attention to having it renewd upon the best terms which your knowledge of the subject may suggest.
I cannot but hope that Peace is near, and yet it seems extraordinary that neither Congress, the french Minister, nor Genl. Carleton has any intelligence on the subject. As to the neglect with which Congress is treated, that is neither new nor undeservd; but that all other sources of official intelligence upon a matter so very interesting and important, shoud be equally dry, is astonishing.
The mode of settling the Quotas of the States, and of establishing funds for the payment of our debts are questions now before Congress. I wish we had your assistance in discussing them. The Confederation is a stumbling block to those who wish to introduce new, and I think arbitrary systems. The vanity of being wiser than others, and of being able to amend whatever is already done, enlists many under this banner, who do not mean any thing undue. But these Dispositions are often moulded to their measures by artful men, and others without intending it, are made to minister to their pernicious purposes. · ·
JOHN ADAMS TO JAMES WARREN
PARIS, March 20th, 1783
Confidential. SIR, -I was in hopes that the Peace would have put Us at ease, but it has not as yet much diminished our Anxiety. The long interval, in which we have not been able to obtain any Intelligence
from America, either by the way of Spain, France, Holland or England the unsettled State of Parties and Councils in London, where there has been no responsible Minister this fortnight at least the delay of the definitive Treaty, which it is now given out will not be signed for some time, as there is to be a Congress and a Mediation here and many other Causes, leave us in a painful state of Suspence and Solicitude.
The Revocation of the Commission to make a Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain,1 without issuing another, appears in Experience to be one of the most unfortunate measures, which Congress ever adopted. My Lord Shelburne and his Colleagues had been convinced by various Arguments, that it was the Interest and best Policy of the British Nation to cultivate the Friendship of America, and to allow her the amplest advantages in Trade; and the Voice of the Nation was falling in with this Principle: so that if there had been a Commission in being we should have had a provisional Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain, signed at the same time with the provisional Articles of Peace. But now there is great danger, that a new Ministry will come in, tainted with Passions, Prejudices and Principles as unfriendly to Us, as they are contracted in their Nature. If any portion of foreign Influence contributed to the Revocation in question, the same will undoubtedly be employed in England; for it insinuates itself every where to embroil Affairs there, and to prevent if possible a friendly Disposition towards Us from prevailing. Can We blame this Influence? We ought only to blame ourselves for giving way to it. It is not founded in our Interests, nor in any Interests that We are under any Obligations to favor. We are under no Ties of Honor, Conscience or good Faith, nor of Policy, Gratitude or Politeness, to sacrifice any profits which We can obtain in Trade with Great Britain, merely to promote the Trade of France. It is of the last Importance to Us in a political Light, that our Commerce should be impartial in future, and be drawn to no Country by any other Attraction than the best Bargains. The Price and Quality of Goods should be our only Criterion. Let the Rivalry of our Trade
I Journals of the Continental Congress, xx. 746. See Adams to Livingston, February 5, 1783, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence (Wharton), vi. 242.
be free and unrestrained. Let Nations contend which shall furnish Us the best Goods at the cheapest Rate, and Detur digniori.
This is the only principle, which can warrant Us from too close an Attachment to one Scale in the Ballance of Europe, which will excite Jealousies in the other. Gentlemen can never be too often requested to recollect the Debates in Congress in the Years 1775 and 1776, when the Treaty with France was first in Contemplation. The Nature of those Connections, which ought to be formed between America and Europe, will never be better understood than they were at that time. It was then said, there is a Ballance of Power in Europe. Nature has formed it. Practice and Habit have confirmed it, and it must forever exist. It may be disturbed for a time, by the accidental Removal of a Weight from one Scale to the other; but there will be a continual Effort to restore the Equilibrium. The Powers of Europe now think Great Britain too powerful. They will see her Power diminished with pleasure. But they cannot see Us throw ourselves headlong into the Scale of Bourbon without Jealousy and Terror. We must therefore give no exclusive priviledges in Trade to the House of Bourbon. If We give exclusive priviledges in Trade, or form perpetual Alliances offensive and defensive with the Powers in one Scale, We infallibly make Enemies of those in the other, and some of these at least will declare War in favor of Great Britain. Congress adopted these Principles and this System in its purity, and by their Wisdom have succeeded most perfectly in preventing every Power in the World from taking Part against them. I hope I shall not give offence, if I humbly request Congress to take a review of the original Report of the Committee, which I think I remember very well as it is in my handwriting, and of the Alterations made in it, after debating it paragraph by paragraph in Congress.1 Compare the Plan of a Treaty, which was sent over by Dr. Franklin, with the Treaty as it was signed and remark in how many particulars the distresses of our Affairs have compelled Us to depart from the purity of our first Principle. It is most certain We have now no Motive to depart farther from it. One principal Duty of our Ministers abroad should have been to keep the several Courts informed that this I Journals of the Continental Congress, v. 576.
was our System, which would have greatly facilitated and accelerated the progress of our Cause in Europe. But the Instructions, with which those Ministers have been bound, and the artful Obstructions thrown in their way, have rendered them much less useful than they might have been.
I am very sorry to say, but my Duty obliges me to say, that in my poor Opinion our foreign Affairs have been very ill conducted.
Had I been permitted, on my Arrival in Paris in 1780, to open a Negociation with the British Ministry, if it had only been so far as to communicate to them, and if they had neglected to take Notice, to the Nation, Copies of my Commission to make Peace and a Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain - Had Mr. Dana been permitted to communicate his Commission to the Ministers of the several Courts to which he is destined — Had Mr. Jay, Mr. Dana and myself been encouraged and countenanced as We ought to have been, instead of being opposed, obstructed, neglected and slighted, as We have been in our several Departments, many thousands of Lives would have been saved, many Millions of Money, and the War would have come to a Conclusion much sooner, upon Terms quite as advantageous to America, more equitable to Holland, and more glorious for France. I must and do most solemnly deliver it as my Opinion, that French Policy has obstructed the progress of our Cause in Europe, more than British. It is high time that We should be upon our Guard, and not mistake Evil for Good.
Mr. Marbois 1 has not been alone in his Idea, "that the independent Party will always stand in great Want of our Support," nor in his Endeavors to keep the independent Party always in want of such Support.
Every Step, which our Negociations advanced in Europe, diminished this "Want of Support." It was a Crime in me to wish to do something in Holland to render Us less dependent on France, as it was in Mr. Samuel Adams to toast, "May the United States ever maintain their Right to the Fisheries."
But I venture to say, the Authors of this shackling and clipping System, this enfeebling and impoverishing Plan, have been very I François Barbé-Marbois (1745-1837).