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accordingly declared them null and void. But the French government would not consent to give any indemnities to the American merchants, for those spolia. tions of their property, unless the United States would revive and restore the treaty of alliance, with its burthensome guarantee. To get rid of this, the claims of the merchants were abandoned.
Such were the fruits of the glorious naval war of 1798, and of the inglorious peace by which it was terminated. Yet, Mr. Adams fondly expects, that for these acts in his administration, laurels will crown his monument, and flourish in immortal green. “If ever," says he, “ If ever an historian should arise, fit for the investigation, this transaction must be transmitted to posterity as the most glorious period of American
history, as the most disinterested, prudent and suc“ cessful conduct in my whole life. For I was obliged “ to give peace and unexampled prosperity to my
country for eight years—and if it is not for a longer “ duration, it is not my fault-against the advice, en6 treaties and intrigues of all my ministers, and all the " leading Federalists in both houses of Congress.”
This rodomontade of Mr. Adams is perfectly in character. It is akin to another fond conceit of his, which we find in his 28th letter (July 27, 1809) published in the Boston Patriot—the last paragraph: “I shall con
tinue,” says he, “ to send you extracts of letters, by ** which the rise, progress and conclusion of our con“ nexion with Holland may be in some degree under “ stood; a connexion that accelerated the peace, more “than the capture of Cornwallis and his army." Who can forbear to smile at the folly as well as the vanity of this assumption ? Cornwallis surrendered on the 18th of October, 1781. On the 27th of February, 1782, a resolution was carried, in the House of Commons, against the whole force of the administration, declaring it to be inexpedient any longer to prosecute offensive war against America. And, to put an end to all further hesitation on the part of the crown, the House of Commons, on the fourth of March, resolved. * that the house will consider as enemies to his majes“ ty and the country, all those who should advise or " attempt a further prosecution of offensive war on the " continent of America." These votes were soon followed by a change of administration, and by instructions to the commanding officers of his Britannic majesty's forces in America, which conformed to them.*
In the summer following, a British minister was sent to Paris to negotiate a treaty of peace with the Commissioners of the United States. The important preliminary step had been insisted on and obtained by Mr. Jay-that the United States were to be treated with as already independent. He gave notice of this to Mr. Adams, who was in Holland, and who arrived in Paris some time after the middle of October. On the 30th of November, 1782, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Adams and Mr. Jay signed the preliminary treaty of peace with Great-Britain, which constituted, in fact, the definitive treaty.
Now the connexion (by which I presume Mr. Adams means the treaty) with Holland, negotiated by him, was not concluded until the 8th of October, 1782; almost a year after the capture of Cornwallis, and when the Dutch government knew the
negotiations for peace between the United States and Great-Britain had been for some time going on at Paris. Hence it is past all doubt, that the resolutions of the House of Commons, the consequent change in the British ministry, and the negotiations begun at Paris, decisively influenced their High Mightinesses to conclude the commercial treaty with Mr. Adams. This inference appears inevitable, if we take a view of the deplorable state of Holland, after England had made war upon her, and cut up her eommerce by extensive captures. I will take Mr. Adams's own description, in one of his letters to Congress—the epitome of similar information spread over other letters. In that of the 4th of August, 1781, he says, “ I should scarcely be credited, if I were to de "scribe the present state of this country. Therë is
* Marshall's Life of Washington, vol. IV, p. 567.
more animosity agaińst one another, than against the
common enemy. They can agree upon nothing ; “ neither upon war nor peace; neither upon acknow
ledging the independence of America nor upon deo nying it.” Again, in the same letter, he says, “In
short, this nation has no confidence left in its own wisdom, courage, virtue or power. It has no esteem, nor passion, por desire, for either. It loves and seeks 6 wealth, and that alone.***
One word more on Mr. Adams's mission of February 1799, to make peace with the French Republic.
This mission was instituted in the midst of our naval successes, and of the increasing spirit of the people. But for this, the system of administration which had been established under Washington, and until then continued under Adams, would have remained. The true character of the French government had been developed, and generally understood and consequently was generally detested. Our proper weapon of war, our navy, would have been strengthened by an adequate increase ; our commerce would have revived and flourished. On the change of the French revolutionary government, by which its powers were placed in the hands of Bonaparte, the spirit, vigour and ability which the United States had displayed, and would have continued to display, would have secured to them the respect of that extraordinary man, and saved them from renewed insults, and their commerce from the more extended and aggravated depredations under the Imperial Ruler, than had been experienced from the despotic Directory. The United States would not have been told by Bonaparte's minister, that those who administered their government were “ men without “ just political views, without honour, without ener
gy”—an insult unexampled, and, what is worse, an INSULT UNRESENTED. Had that first system of the federal government continued to operate, we should have had no indefinite embargo, prostrating our commerce, in
* Letter LXIII, dated Feb. 8, 1810, in the Boston Patriot.
| Letter of Feb. 14, 1810, from the French minister, the duke de Cadore, to General Armstrong. Madison was then Presidente
subserviency to France; nor its sequel, the non-intercourse laws, in their effects and consequences alike destructive; nor, finally, a three years' war with GreatBritain ; a war which cost the United States more than a hundred millions of dollars, and the lives of probably thirty thousand of our citizens, without obtaining any one of the objects for which it was professed to be declared.
Dr. Johnson has observed, that “ there is nothing “ more dreadful to an author than neglect; compared “ with which, reproach, hatred, and opposition, are "names of happiness.” Mr. Adams felt himself to be in this unfortunate situation. He began to publish his long letters in the Boston Patriot on the 10th of April 1809; and in two months he had advanced to his eighteenth letter-the subject, his unadvised mission to France. But it seems no notice was taken of them, by friend or foe. “A most profound silence," says he, " is observed relative to my scribbles. I say not a " word about them to anyone; and nobody says a 66 word to me.
The newspapers are still as midnight.“ But, unwilling to think this silence resulted from general indifference to his letters (though doubtless that was the fact) he fancied that “ sulphureous combusti“bles were preparing under ground, and the electrical “ fire collecting in the clouds,” to burst upon him all at once, to destroy him : but, consoling himself with the expectation that he might escape unhurt from the thunder and lightning, and the eruption of the volcano, he determines that “ his pen shall go as long as his
fingers can hold it.”* Some of his well-wishers, perceiving that in his own bosom the lightning and the fiery lava were preparing, may regret that they ever found vent, satisfied that in the end the explosion and eruption will not injure those he meant to destroy, and that the great sufferer will be himself. They may see verified his own assertion, that “records themselves” [his letters were designed for records] " are often liars ;" and his prediction fulfilled, that “he should not be believed." The statements and evidences, which I have
* Letter XXXVIII, June 7, 1809, to Cunningham.
exhibited, must convince every impartial reader, that his records are not entitled to belief.
Mr. Adams often complains that the federalists are his enemies ; sometimes limiting the charge to their leaders. If this were true, what was the cause? The federalists wished to retain their ascendency, for their own sake and their country's; and every body of men, every association, will have a leader or leaders. Mr Adams was once their chief. And what produced an alienation? Their principles and system of government remained unchanged. To the conduct of their chief, then, must their alienation be ascribed. And how was it possible for men of intelligent and inde pendent minds to persevere in their confidence, and continue their attachment, where they saw, constantly displayed, boundless vanity, disgusting egotism, repul
sive self-sufficiency, and an ambition so inordinate as · to be capable of sacrificing principles, system and consistency, to personal gratification ?
Was Mr. Jay ever reproached by any federalist, that deserved the name ? With eminent abilities, with as pure integrity, and true zeal to serve his country, as any citizen ever displayed, he was driven from power by the enemies of federalism. But the profound respect, which his public conduct had produced, has suffered no diminution. Still revered, admired and loved, his name, without a stain to lessen its lustre, will descend to posterity with distinguished brightness.
This gentleman makes so prominent a figure in Mr. Adams's letters, in relation both to himself and to me, I must unavoidably consume a good deal of ink and paper in exhibiting his conduct and character. I re