John Adams Letters document,


Philadelphia, 19 December, 1793.


MRS. OTIS arrived, with her little rossignol, in good health and spirits, the night before last, and brought me your favor of 7th December. Why am I not so fortunate as to be able to receive my best friend and to spend my days with her, whose society is the principal delight of my life ? If I could make twelve thousand dollars at a bargain, and several of such bargains in a year : but silence. So it is ordained, and we must not complain.

If a suitable season should occur for ploughing, our men may plough ; if not, they may leave it till spring, I like your plan very well to stock one place with young cattle, and to apply to Shaw, if Humphreys and Porter decline to take care of the dairy in the other. I am pleased with Dr. Tufts's plan.

Citizen Genet made me a visit yesterday while I was in Senate, and left his card. I shall leave mine at his hotel tomorrow, as several of the senators have already hastened to return their visits. But we shall be in an awkward situation with this minister. I write you little concerning public affairs, because you will have every thing in print. How a government can go on, publishing all their negotiations with foreign nations I know not. To me it appears as dangerous and pernicious as it is novel ; but, upon this occasion it could not, perhaps, have been avoided. You know where, I think, was the error in the first concoction. But such errors are unavoidable when the people in crowds out of doors undertake to receive ambassadors, and to dictate to their supreme executive.

I know not how it is, but in proportion as danger threatens I grow calm. I am very apprehensive that a desperate anti-federal party will provoke all Europe by their insolence. But my country has, in its wisdom, contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived : and as I can do neither good nor evil, I must be borne away by others and meet the common fate.

The President has considered the conduct of Genet very nearly in the same light with Columbus, and has given him a bolt of thunder. We shall see how this is supported by the two houses. There are who gnash their teeth with rage which they dare not own as yet. We shall soon see whether we have any government or not in this country. If the President has made any mistake at all, it is by too much partiality for the French republicans and in not preserving a neutrality between the parties in France as well as among the belligerent powers ; but although he stands at present as high in the admiration and confidence of the people as ever he did, I expect he will find many bitter and desperate enemies arise in con sequence of his just judgment against Genet. Be sides that a party spirit will convert white into black , and right into wrong, we have, I fear, very corrupt individuals in this country, independent of the common spirit of party. The common movements of ambition every day disclose to me views and hopes and designs that are very diverting, but these I will not commit to paper. They make sometimes a very pretty farce for amusement after the great tragedy or comedy is over. What I write to you must be in sacred confidence and strict discretion.

Mrs. Washington prays me every time I see her to remember her to you very affectionately. I am, as ever, your

J. A.

John Adams