John Adams Letters document,


Philadelphia, 16 April, 1796.


THE Doctor may have the steers if he wishes to have them.

The people of the United States are about to be stirred up in every quarter of the union. The House of Representatives are determined to go all lengths. The merchants of this city have had the most numerous meeting that has been known for a long time, and unanimously voted to petition, that the faith, the honor, and the interest of the nation may be preserved. They have appointed committees to correspond with the merchants in all the seaports. I expect that the citizens will also be called together in the state house yard and it is said that the gentlemen will turn out, but the event will be doubtful. The state parties will all be agitated, and party spirit will be carried to the highest pitch. It must be a national determination, and if the nation solemnly determines upon war and confusion, they ought not to charge it to the government. These critical situations are familiar to me, and I always feel calmest in the midst of them. A few outlandish men in the House have taken the lead, and Madison, Giles and Baldwin are humble fol lowers. If the voice of the nation should be finally and decidedly in favor of the treaty, there will be a mortified party, so bitter, rancorous and desperate, fomented by foreign influence, in opposition, that the government will be very much embarrassed, and the public service very uncomfortable.

When I take a walk out of town and see the young clover beautifully starting, I long to see my own. Pray how fares it ?

I have always thought it injudicious to make any attempt against the governor, knowing as I do, the habitual attachment to him, as well as the difficulty of uniting people in another. The countenance he gives to a very profligate party, is very pernicious to the public, but he is stimulated to it in part by the opposition to him, and he would not do less out of office. The constitution of our government is calculated to create, excite and support perpetual parties in the States, mixing and crossing alternately with parties in the federal government. It will be a perpetual confusion of parties. I fear we do not deserve all the blessings we have within our reach, and that our country must be deformed with divisions, contests, dissensions and civil wars as well as others.

As the people of Rome scrambled for power against the senate ; as the people of Athens scram bled for more power than was reserved for them by the laws of Solon ; as the people of Carthage scram bled for power against their senate ; as the people of England scrambled for power against the king and lords, and set up Oliver; as the people of France scrambled for power against every majority and set up Robespierre ; so the House of Representatives of the United States will scramble for power against the President and Senate. And the frequency of popular elections will corrupt all before them. May God of his infinite mercy grant that some remedy may be found before it be too late, in the good sense of this people.

Mr. C. desires me " to present his most profound respects, not daring to send by a husband, any more affectionate regards."

I will venture to present you with my most affectionate regards, my earnest wishes and longing de sires to see you.

J. A.

John Adams