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Title: Memoir of the Life of John Quincy Adams.
Author: Quincy, Josiah, 1772-1864
Language: English
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[Illustration: Engraved by H. Wright Smith from a Painting by A. B. Durand

    I live in the Faith and Hope of the progressive advancement of
    Christian Liberty, and expect to abide by the same in death.

                                                     J. Q. Adams.]



                             THE LIFE OF

                          JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.


                        JOSIAH QUINCY, LL. D.

                  Justum et tenacem propositi virum,
                  Non civium ardor prava jubentium,
                  Non vultus instantis tyranni,
                        Mente quatit solida.


       Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by
                       PHILLIPS, SAMPSON & CO.,
            In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of
                    the District of Massachusetts.

                            Stereotyped by
                          HOBART & ROBBINS,
              New England Type and Stereotype Foundery,

                      THE PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS
                                OF THE

                              This Work,

                      PREPARED AT THEIR REQUEST,
                       RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED,
                           THEIR ASSOCIATE,

                                           JOSIAH QUINCY.

BOSTON, _June 1, 1858_.

                           PREFATORY NOTE.

The ensuing Memoir comprises the most important events in the life of
a statesman second to none of his contemporaries in laborious and
faithful devotion to the service of his country.

The light attempted to be thrown on his course has been derived from
personal acquaintance, from his public works, and from authentic
unpublished materials.

The chief endeavor has been to render him the expositor of his own
motives, principles, and character, without fear or favor,--in the
spirit neither of criticism or eulogy.

                                                   JOSIAH QUINCY.

BOSTON, _June 1, 1858_.


                              CHAPTER I.

THE UNITED STATES,                                                  1

                              CHAPTER II.


                              CHAPTER III.

GREAT BRITAIN.--LEAVES RUSSIA,                                     44

                              CHAPTER IV.

SECRETARY OF STATE.--LEAVES ENGLAND,                               59

                              CHAPTER V.

UNION,                                                             77

                              CHAPTER VI.

THE UNITED STATES,                                                120

                              CHAPTER VII.


                              CHAPTER VIII.


                              CHAPTER IX.

ON JAMES SMITHSON'S BEQUEST,                                      219

                              CHAPTER X.

ORGANIZES THE OUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,                            268

                              CHAPTER XI.


                              CHAPTER XII.

MEXICO,                                                           328

                              CHAPTER XIII.


                              CHAPTER XIV.

MEMORY,                                                           409



                          JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.

                             CHAPTER I.


John Quincy Adams, son of John and Abigail Adams, was born on the 11th
of July, 1767, in the North Parish of Braintree, Massachusetts--since
incorporated as the town of Quincy. The lives and characters of his
parents, intimately associated with the history of the American
Revolution, have been already ably and faithfully illustrated.[1]

      [1] See "Letters of Mrs. Adams, with an Introductory Memoir,"
      and "The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United
      States, with a Life of the Author," by their grandson, Charles
      Francis Adams.

The origin of his name was thus stated by himself: "My great-grandfather,
John Quincy,[2] was dying when I was baptized, and his daughter, my
grandmother, requested I might receive his name. This fact, recorded
by my father at the time, is not without a moral to my heart, and has
connected with that portion of my name a charm of mingled sensibility
and devotion. It was filial tenderness that gave the name--it was the
name of one passing from earth to immortality. These have been,
through life, perpetual admonitions to do nothing unworthy of it."

      [2] John Quincy represented the town of Braintree in the
      colonial legislature forty years, and long held the office of

At Braintree his mother watched over his childhood. At the village
school he learned the rudiments of the English language. In after life
he often playfully boasted that the dame who taught him to spell
flattered him into learning his letters by telling him he would prove a
scholar. The notes and habits of the birds and wild animals of the
vicinity early excited his attention, and led him to look on nature
with a lover's eye, creating an attachment to the home of his
childhood, which time strengthened. Many years afterwards, when
residing in Europe, he wrote: "Penn's Hill and Braintree North Common
Rocks never looked and never felt to me like any other hill or any
other rocks; because every rock and every pebble upon them associates
itself with the first consciousness of my existence. If there is a
Bostonian who ever sailed from his own harbor for distant lands, or
returned to it from them, without feelings, at the sight of the Blue
Hills, which he is unable to express, his heart is differently
constituted from mine."

These local attachments were indissolubly associated with the events
of the American Revolution, and with the patriotic principles
instilled by his mother. Standing with her on the summit of Penn's
Hill, he heard the cannon booming from the battle of Bunker's Hill,
and saw the smoke and flames of burning Charlestown. During the siege
of Boston he often climbed the same eminence alone, to watch the
shells and rockets thrown by the American army.

With a mind prematurely developed and cultivated by the influence of
the characters of his parents and the stirring events of that period,
he embarked, at the age of eleven years, in February, 1778, from the
shore of his native town, with his father, in a small boat, which
conveyed them to a ship in Nantasket Roads, bound for Europe. John
Adams had been associated in a commission with Benjamin Franklin and
Arthur Lee, as plenipotentiary to the Court of France. After residing
in Paris until June, 1779, he returned to America, accompanied by his
son. Being immediately appointed, by Congress, minister plenipotentiary
to negotiate a treaty of peace and commerce with Great Britain, they
both returned together to France in November, taking passage in a
French frigate. On this his second voyage to Europe, young Adams began
a diary, which, with few intermissions, he continued through life.
While in Paris he resumed the study of the ancient and modern
languages, which had been interrupted by his return to America.

In July, 1780, John Adams having been appointed ambassador to the
Netherlands, his son was removed from the schools of Paris to those of
Amsterdam, and subsequently to the University of Leyden. There he
pursued his studies until July, 1781, when, in his fourteenth year, he
was selected by Francis Dana, minister plenipotentiary from the United
States to the Russian court, as his private secretary, and accompanied
him through Germany to St. Petersburg. Having satisfactorily discharged
his official duties, and pursued his Latin, German, and French studies,
with a general course of English history, until September, 1782, he
left St. Petersburg for Stockholm, where he passed the winter. In the
ensuing spring, after travelling through the interior of Sweden, and
visiting Copenhagen and Hamburg, he joined his father at the Hague,
and accompanied him to Paris. They travelled leisurely, forming an
acquaintance with eminent men on their route, and examining architectural
remains, the paintings of the great Flemish masters, and all the
treasures of the fine arts, in the countries through which they passed.
In Paris, young Adams was present at the signing of the treaty of peace
in 1783, and was admitted into the society of Franklin, Jefferson, Jay,
Barclay, Hartley, the Abbé Mably, and many other eminent statesmen and
literary men. After passing a few months in England, with his father,
he returned to Paris, and resumed his studies, which he continued until
May, 1785, when he embarked for the United States. This return to his
own country caused a mental struggle, in which his judgment controlled
his inclination. His father had just been appointed minister at the
Court of Great Britain, and, as one of his family, it would have been
to him a high gratification to reside in England. His feelings and
views on the occasion he thus expressed:

"I have been seven years travelling in Europe, seeing the world, and in
its society. If I return to the United States, I must be subject, one
or two years, to the rules of a college, pass three more in the tedious
study of the law, before I can hope to bring myself into professional
notice. The prospect is discouraging. If I accompany my father to
London, my satisfaction would possibly be greater than by returning to
the United States; but I shall loiter away my precious time, and not
go home until I am forced to it. My father has been all his lifetime
occupied by the interests of the public. His own fortune has suffered.
His children must provide for themselves. I am determined to get my own
living, and to be dependent upon no one. With a tolerable share of
common sense, I hope, in America, to be independent and free. Rather
than live otherwise, I would wish to die before my time."

In this spirit the tempting prospects in Europe were abandoned, and he
returned to the United States, to submit to the rules, and to join,
with a submissive temper, the comparatively uninteresting associations,
of college life. After reviewing his studies under an instructor, he
entered, in March, 1786, the junior class of Harvard University.
Diligence and punctual fulfilment of every prescribed duty, the
advantages he had previously enjoyed, and his exemplary compliance with
the rules of the seminary, secured to him a high standing in his class,
which none were disposed to controvert. Here his active and thoughtful
mind was prepared for those scenes in future life in which he could not
but feel he was destined to take part. Entering into all the literary
and social circles of the college, he became popular among his
classmates. By the government his conduct and attainments were duly
appreciated, which they manifested by bestowing upon him the second
honor of his class at commencement; a high distinction, considering the
short period he had been a member of the university. The oration he
delivered when he graduated, in 1787, on the Importance of Public Faith
to the Well-Being of a Community, was printed and published; a rare
proof of general interest in a college exercise, which the adaptation
of the subject to the times, and the talent it evinced, justified.

After leaving the university, Mr. Adams passed three years in Newburyport
as a student at law under the guidance of Theophilus Parsons, afterwards
chief justice of Massachusetts. He was admitted to the bar in 1790, and
immediately opened an office in Boston. The ranks of his profession were
crowded, the emoluments were small, and his competitors able. His
letters feelingly express his anxiety to relieve his parents from
contributing to his support. In November, 1843, in an address to the bar
of Cincinnati, Mr. Adams thus described the progress and termination of
his practice as a lawyer--

    "I have been a member of your profession upwards of half a century.
    In the early period of my life, having a father abroad, it was my
    fortune to travel in foreign countries; still, under the impression
    which I first received from my mother, that in this country every
    man should have some trade, that trade which, by the advice of my
    parents and my own inclination, I chose, was the profession of the
    Law. After having completed an education in which, perhaps, more
    than any other citizen of that time I had advantages, and which of
    course brought with it the incumbent duty of manifesting by my life
    that those extraordinary advantages of education, secured to me by
    my father, had not been worthlessly bestowed,--on coming into life
    after such great advantages, and having the duty of selecting a
    profession, I chose that of the Bar. I closed my education as a
    lawyer with one of the most eminent jurists of the age,--Theophilus
    Parsons, of Newburyport, at that time a practising lawyer, but
    subsequently chief justice of the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
    Under his instruction and advice I closed my education, and
    commenced what I can hardly call the practice of the law in the
    city of Boston.

    "At that time, though I cannot say I was friendless, yet my
    circumstances were not independent. My father was then in a
    situation of great responsibility and notoriety in the government
    of the United States. But he had been long absent from his own
    country, and still continued absent from that part of it to which
    he belonged, and of which I was a native. I went, therefore, as a
    volunteer, an adventurer, to Boston, as possibly many of you whom I
    now see before me may consider yourselves as having come to
    Cincinnati. I was without support of any kind. I may say I was a
    stranger in that city, although almost a native of that spot. I say
    I can hardly call it practice, because for the space of one year
    from that time it would be difficult for me to name any practice
    which I had to do. For two years, indeed, I can recall nothing in
    which I was engaged that may be termed practice, though during the
    second year there were some symptoms that by persevering patience
    practice might come in time. The third year I continued this
    patience and perseverance, and, having little to do, occupied my
    time as well as I could in the study of those laws and institutions
    which I have since been called to administer. At the end of the
    third year I had obtained something which might be called practice.

    "The fourth year I found it swelling to such an extent that I felt
    no longer any concern as to my future destiny as a member of that
    profession. But in the midst of the fourth year, by the will of the
    first President of the United States, with which the Senate was
    pleased to concur, I was selected for a station, not, perhaps, of
    more usefulness, but of greater consequence in the estimation of
    mankind, and sent from home on a mission to foreign parts.

    "From that time, the fourth year after my admission to the bar of my
    native state, and the first year of my admission to the bar of the
    Supreme Court of the United States, I was deprived of the exercise
    of any further industry or labor at the bar by this distinction; a
    distinction for which a previous education at the bar, if not an
    indispensable qualification, was at least a most useful

      [3] See _Niles' Weekly Register_, New Series, vol. xv., pp. 218,

While waiting for professional employment, he was instinctively drawn
into political discussions. Thomas Paine had just then published his
"Rights of Man," for which Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State,
took upon himself to be sponsor, by publishing a letter expressing his
extreme pleasure "that it is to be reprinted here, and that something is
at length to be publicly said against the _political heresies_ which
have sprung up among us. I have no doubt our citizens will rally a
second time round the standard of _Common Sense_."

Notwithstanding the weight of Jefferson's character, and the strength of
his recommendation, in June, 1791, young Adams entered the lists against
Paine and his pamphlet, which was in truth an encomium on the National
Assembly of France, and a commentary on the rights of man, inferring
questionable deductions from unquestionable principles. In a series of
essays, signed Publicola, published in the _Columbian Centinel_, he
states and controverts successively the fundamental doctrines of Paine's
work; denies that "whatever a whole nation chooses to do it has a right
to do," and maintains, in opposition, that "nations, no less than
individuals, are subject to the eternal and immutable laws of justice
and morality;" declaring that Paine's doctrine annihilated the security
of every man for his inalienable rights, and would lead in practice to a
hideous despotism, concealed under the parti-colored garments of
democracy. The truth of the views in these essays was soon made manifest
by the destruction of the French constitution, so lauded by Paine and
Jefferson, the succeeding anarchy, the murder of the French monarch, and
the establishment of a military despotism.

In April, 1793, Great Britain declared war against France, then in the
most violent frenzy of her revolution. In this war, the feelings of the
people of the United States were far from being neutral. The seeds of
friendship for the one, and of enmity towards the other belligerent,
which the Revolutionary War had plentifully scattered through the whole
country, began everywhere to vegetate. Private cupidity openly advocated
privateering upon the commerce of Great Britain, in aid of which
commissions were issued under the authority of France. To counteract the
apparent tendency of these popular passions, Mr. Adams published, also
in the _Centinel_, a series of essays, signed Marcellus, exposing the
lawlessness, injustice, and criminality, of such interference in favor
of one of the belligerents. "For if," he wrote, "as the poet, with more
than poetical truth, has said, 'war is murder,' the plunder of private
property, the pillage of all the regular rewards of honest industry and
laudable enterprise, upon the mere pretence of a national contest, in
the eye of justice can appear in no other light than highway robbery.
If, however, some apology for the practice is to be derived from the
incontrollable law of necessity, or from the imperious law of war,
certainly there can be no possible excuse for those who incur the guilt
without being able to plead the palliation; for those who violate the
rights of nations in order to obtain a license for rapine manifestly
show that patriotism is but the cloak for such enterprises; that the
true objects are plunder and pillage; and that to those engaged in them
it was only the lash of the executioner which kept them in the
observance of their civil and political duties."

After developing the folly and madness of such conduct in a nation whose
commerce was expanded over the globe, and which was "destitute of even
the defensive apparatus of war," and showing that it would lead to
general bankruptcy, and endanger even the existence of the nation, he
maintained that "impartial and unequivocal neutrality was the imperious
duty of the United States." Their pretended obligation to take part in
the war resulting from "the guarantee of the possessions of France in
America," he denied, on the ground that either circumstances had wholly
dissolved those obligations, or they were suspended and made
impracticable by the acts of the French government.

The ability displayed in these essays attracted the attention of
Washington and his cabinet, and the coïncidence of these views with
their own was immediately manifested by the proclamation of neutrality.
Their thoughts were again, soon after, attracted to the author, by a
third series of essays, published in November, 1793, in the _Columbian
Centinel_, under the signature of Columbus, in which he entered the
lists in defence of the constituted authorities of the United States,
exposing and reprobating the language and conduct of Genet, the minister
from the French republic, whose repeated insults upon the first
magistrate of the American Union, and upon the national government, had
been as public and as shameless as they had been unprecedented. For,
after Washington, supported by the highest judicial authority of the
country, had, as President of the United States, denied publicly Genet's
authority to establish consular courts within them, and to issue letters
of marque and reprisal to their citizens, against the enemies of France,
he had the insolence to appeal from the President, and to deny his power
to revoke the exequatur of a French consul, who, by a process issued
from his own court, rescued, with an armed force, a vessel out of the
custody of justice.

In these essays Genet is denounced as a dangerous enemy; his appeal "as
an insolent outrage to _the man_ who was deservedly the object of the
grateful affection of the whole people of America;" "as a rude attempt
of a beardless foreign stripling, whose commission from a friendly power
was his only title to respect, not supported by a shadow of right on his
part, and not less hostile to the constitution than to the government."

The violence of the times, and the existence of a powerful party in the
United States ready to support the French minister in his hostility to
the national government, are also illustrated by the following facts:
"That an American jury had been compelled by the clamor of a collected
multitude to acquit a prisoner without the unanimity required by law;"
"by the circulation of caricatures representing President Washington and
a judge of the Supreme Court with a guillotine suspended over their
heads;" "by posting upon the mast of a French vessel of war, in the
harbor of Boston, the names of twenty citizens, all of them inoffensive,
and some of them personally respectable, as objects of detestation to
the crew;" "by the threatening, by an anonymous assassin, to visit with
inevitable death a member of the Legislature of New York, for
expressing, with the freedom of an American citizen, his opinion of the
proceedings of the French minister;" and "by the formation of a
lengthened chain of democratic societies, assuming to themselves, under
the semblance of a warmer zeal for the cause of liberty, to control the
operations of the government, and to dictate laws to the country."

The talent and knowledge of diplomatic relations, thus displayed,
powerfully impressed the administration, and the nomination of Mr. Adams
as minister from the United States resident at the Netherlands, by
Washington and his cabinet, was confirmed unanimously by the Senate, in
June, 1794. At the request of the Secretary of State, he immediately
repaired to Philadelphia. His commission was delivered to him on the
11th of July, the day he entered his twenty-eighth year. He embarked in
September from Boston, and in October arrived in London, where Messrs.
Jay and Pinckney were then negotiating a treaty between Great Britain
and the United States, who immediately admitted him to their
deliberations. Concerning this treaty, which occasioned, soon after,
such unexampled fury of opposition in the United States, Mr. Adams, at
the time, thus expressed his opinion: "The treaty is far from being
satisfactory to either Mr. Jay or Mr. Pinckney. It is far below the
standard which would be advantageous to the country. It is probable,
however, the negotiators will consent to it, as it is, in their opinion,
preferable to a war. The satisfaction proposed to be made to the United
States for the recent depredations on their commerce, the principal
object of Jay's mission, is provided for in as ample a manner as we
could expect. The delivery of the posts is protracted to a more distant
day than is desirable. But, I think, the compensation made for the
present and future detention of them will be a sufficient equivalent.
The commerce with their West India islands, partially opened to us, will
be of great importance, and indemnifies for the deprivation of the
fur-trade since the treaty of peace, as well as for the negroes carried
away contrary to the engagements of the treaty, at least as far as it
respects the nation. As to the satisfaction we are to make, I think it
is no more than is in justice due from us. The article which provides
against the future confiscation of debts, and of property in the funds,
is useful, because it is honest. If its operation should turn out more
advantageous to them, it will be more honorable for us; and I never can
object to entering formally into an obligation to do that which, upon
every virtuous principle, ought to be done without it. As a treaty of
commerce it will be indeed of little use to us, and we shall never
obtain anything more favorable so long as the principles of the
navigation act are obstinately adhered to by Great Britain. This system
is so much a favorite with the nation that no minister would dare to
depart from it. Indeed, I have no idea we shall ever obtain, by compact,
a better footing for our commerce with this country than that on which
it now stands; and therefore the shortness of time, limited for the
operation of this part of the compact, is, I think, beneficial to us."

After remaining fifteen days in London, Mr. Adams sailed, on the 30th of
October, for Holland, landed at Hellevoetsluis, and proceeded without
delay to the Hague.

His reception as the representative of the United States had scarcely
been acknowledged by the President of the States General, before Holland
was taken possession of by the French, under Pichegru. The Stadtholder
fled, the tree of liberty was planted, and the French national flag
displayed before the Stadthouse. The people were kept quiet by seventy
thousand French soldiers. The Stadtholder, the nobility, and the
regencies of the cities, were all abolished, a provincial municipality
appointed, and the country received as an ally of France, under the name
of the Batavian Republic; the streets being filled with tri-colored
cockades, and resounding with the Carmagnole, or the Marseilles Hymn.
Mr. Adams was visited by the representatives of the French people, and
recognized as the minister of a nation free like themselves, with whom
the most fraternal relations should be maintained. In response, he
assured them of the attachment of his fellow-citizens for the French
people, who felt grateful for the obligations they were under to the
French nation, and closed with demanding safety and protection for all
American persons and property in the country.

Popular societies in Holland were among the most efficient means of the
success of the revolution, as they had been in France. Mr. Adams, being
solicited to join one of them, declined, considering it improper in a
stranger to take part personally in the politics of the country. "It
was," he wrote, "unnecessary for me to look out for motives to justify
my refusal. I have an aversion to political popular societies in
general. To destroy an established power, they are undoubtedly an
efficacious instrument, but in their nature they are fit for nothing
else. The reign of Robespierre has shown what use they make of power
when they obtain it."

The station of Mr. Adams at the Hague gave him opportunities to acquaint
himself with parties and persons, their motives and principles, of which
he availed himself with characteristic industry.

In October, 1795, he was directed by the Secretary of State to repair to
England, and arriving there in November ensuing, he found he was
appointed to exchange ratifications of Mr. Jay's treaty with the British
government. This mission was far from pleasant to him. In effect it was
merely ministerial, and so far as it might result in negotiation, he did
not anticipate any good. "I am convinced," he wrote, "that Mr. Jay did
everything that was to be done; that he did so much affords me a proof
of the wisdom with which he conducted the business, that grows stronger
the more I see. But circumstances will do more than any negotiation. The
pride of Britain itself must bend to the course of events. The rigor of
her system already begins to relax, and one year of war to her and peace
to us will be more favorable to our interests, and to the final
establishment of our principles, than could possibly be effected by
twenty years of negotiation or war."

While in England, the duties of his appointment brought him into
frequent intercourse with Lord Grenville and other leading British
statesmen of the period. After the objects of his mission had been
acceptably fulfilled, he received authority from his government to
return to his station, at the Hague, in May, 1796. His time was there
devoted to official duties, to the claims of general society, to an
extensive correspondence, the study of works on diplomacy, the English
and Latin classics, and the Dutch and Italian languages.

In August, 1796, he received from the Secretary of State an appointment
as minister plenipotentiary to the Court of Portugal, with directions
not to quit the Hague until he received further instructions. These did
not reach him until the arrival of Mr. Murray, his successor, in July,
1797, when he took his departure for England. Truthfulness to himself,
not less than to the public, characterized Mr. Adams. Every day had its
assigned object, which every hour successively, as far as possible,
fulfilled. Daily he called himself to account for what he had done or
omitted. At the close of every month and year he submitted himself to
retrospection concerning fulfilled or neglected duties, judging himself
by a severe standard.

On arriving in London, he found his appointment to the Court of Portugal
superseded by another to the Court of Berlin, with directions not to
proceed on the mission until he had received the necessary instructions.
While waiting for these, an engagement he had formed during a former
visit to England was fulfilled, by his marriage, on the 26th of July,
1797, with Louisa Catharine Johnson, the daughter of Joshua Johnson,
American consul at London; a lady highly qualified to support and to
ornament the various elevated stations he was destined to fill. Mr.
Adams was reluctant to accept the appointment to Berlin, as it had been
made by his father, who had succeeded Washington as President of the
United States. "I have submitted to take it," he immediately wrote to
his mother, "notwithstanding my former declaration to you and my father,
made a short time ago. I have broken a resolution I had deliberately
formed, and that I still think right; but I never acted more
reluctantly. The tenure by which I am for the future to hold an office
of such a nature will take from me the satisfaction I have enjoyed,
hitherto, in considering myself a public servant." To his father he
wrote: "I cannot, and ought not, to discuss with you _the propriety_ of
the measure. I have undertaken the duty, and will discharge it to the
best of my ability, and will complain no further. But I most earnestly
entreat that whenever there shall be deemed no further occasion for a
minister at Berlin I may be recalled, and that no nomination of me to
any other public office whatever may ever again proceed from the present
chief magistrate." His continuance in a diplomatic career had been
repeatedly urged by President Washington. In August, 1795, he wrote to
John Adams, then Vice-President: "Your son must not think of retiring
from the walk he is now in (minister from the United States to Holland).
His prospects, if he pursues it, are fair; and I shall be much mistaken
if, in as short a time as can well be expected, he is not found at the
head of the diplomatic corps, let the government be administered by
whomsoever the people may choose." In a letter dated 20th February,
1797, addressed to Mr. Adams, just before his entrance on the
Presidency, Washington again wrote: "I have a strong hope that you will
not withhold merited promotion to Mr. John Quincy Adams because he is
your son. For, without intending to compliment the father or the mother,
or to censure any others, I give it as my decided opinion that Mr. Adams
is the most valuable public character we have abroad, and that he will
prove himself to be the ablest of all our diplomatic corps. If he was
now to be brought into that line, or into any other public walk, I would
not, on the principles which have regulated my own conduct, disapprove
the caution hinted at in the letter. But he is already entered; the
public, more and more, as he is known, are appreciating his talents and
worth; and his country would sustain a loss if these are checked by over
delicacy on your part."[4]

      [4] Sparks' Life and Writings of Washington, XI., p. 56, and p.

This letter, communicated to Mr. Adams by his mother, induced him
reluctantly to acquiesce in this appointment. In reply, he wrote: "I
know with what delight your truly maternal heart has received every
testimonial of Washington's favorable voice. It is among the most
precious gratifications of my life to reflect upon the pleasure which my
conduct has given to my parents. The terms, indeed, in which such a
character as Washington has repeatedly expressed himself concerning me,
have left me nothing to wish, if they did not alarm me by their very
strength. How much, my dear mother, is required of me, to support and
justify such a judgment as that which you have copied into your letter!"

Mr. and Mrs. Adams embarked from Gravesend, and landed at Hamburg on the
26th of October, and reached Berlin early in November. He was received,
with gratifying expressions of regard for the United States, by Count
Finkenstein, the prime minister; but, owing to the king's illness, an
audience could not be granted. After his death Mr. Adams was admitted to
presentation and audience by his successor. New credentials, which were
required, did not arrive until July, 1798, when Mr. Adams was fully

The absence of the king from Berlin prevented the renewal of the treaty,
which was not commenced until the ensuing autumn, nor completed, in
consequence of incidental delays, until the 11th of July, 1799, when it
was signed by all the king's ministers and Mr. Adams, and was afterwards
unanimously approved by the Senate of the United States. The object of
his mission being fulfilled, Mr. Adams immediately wrote to his father
that he should, at any time, acquiesce in his recall. While waiting for
the decision of his government, he travelled, with his family, in Saxony
and Bohemia, and, in the ensuing summer, into Silesia. His observations
during this tour were embodied in letters to his brother, Thomas B.
Adams, and were published, without his authority, in Philadelphia, and
subsequently in England. The work contains interesting sketches of
Silesian life and manners, and important accounts of manufactures,
mines, and localities; concluding with elaborate historical,
geographical, and statistical statements of the province.

The following passages are characteristic, and indicate the general
spirit of the work. "Count Finkenstein resides in this vicinity. He was
formerly president of the judicial tribunal at Custrin, but was
dismissed by Frederic II., on the occasion of the miller Arnold's famous
lawsuit; an instance in which the great king, from mere love of justice,
committed the greatest injustice that ever cast a shade upon his
character. His anxiety, upon that occasion, to prove to the world that
in his courts of justice the beggar should be upon the same footing as
the prince, made him forget that in substantial justice the maxim ought
to bear alike on both sides, and that the prince should obtain his right
as much as the beggar. Count Finkenstein and several other judges of the
court at Custrin, together with the High Chancellor Fürst, were all
dismissed from their places, for doing their duty, and persisting in it,
contrary to the will of the king, who, substituting his ideas of natural
equity in place of the prescriptions of positive law, treated them with
the utmost severity, for conduct which ought to have received his
fullest approbation."

"Dr. Johnson, in his Life of Watts, has bestowed a just and exalted
encomium upon him for not disdaining to descend from the pride of genius
and the dignity of science to write for the wants and the capacities of
children. 'Every man acquainted,' says he, 'with the common principles
of human action, will look with veneration on the writer who is at one
time combating Locke, and at another making _a catechism_ for children
in their fourth year.' But how much greater still is the tribute of
admiration, irresistibly drawn from us, when we behold an absolute
monarch, the greatest general of his age, eminent as a writer in the
highest departments of literature, descending, in a manner, to teach the
alphabet to the children of his kingdom; bestowing his care, his
persevering assiduity, his influence and his power, in diffusing plain
and useful knowledge among his subjects, in opening to their minds the
first and most important page of the book of science, in filling the
whole atmosphere they breathed with that intellectual fragrance which
had before been imprisoned in the vials of learning, or enclosed within
the gardens of wealth! Immortal Frederic! when seated on the throne of
Prussia, with kneeling millions at thy feet, thou wert only a king; on
the fields of Lutzen, of Torndoff, of Rosbach, of so many other scenes
of human blood and anguish, thou wert only a hero; even in thy rare and
glorious converse with the muses and with science thou wert only a
philosopher, a historian, a poet; but in this generous ardor, this
active, enlightened zeal for the education of thy people, thou wert
_truly great_--the father of thy country--the benefactor of mankind!"

In 1801, Mr. Adams received from his government permission to return
home. After taking leave with the customary formalities, he left Berlin,
sailed from Hamburg, and on the 4th of September, 1801, arrived in the
United States. During his residence in Berlin his time was devoted to
official labor and intellectual improvement; yet his letters show that
he was seldom, if ever, self-satisfied, being filled with aspirations
after something higher and better than he could accomplish. His
translations, at this period, embraced many satires of Juvenal, and
Wieland's Oberon from the original, into English verse; the last he
intended for the press, had it not been superseded by the version of
Sotheby. He also translated from the German a treatise, by Gentz, on the
origin and principles of the American Revolution, which he finished and
transmitted to the United States for publication, eulogizing it "as one
of the clearest accounts that exist of the rise and progress of the
American Revolution, in so small a compass; rescuing it from the
disgraceful imputation of its having proceeded from the same principles,
and of its being conducted in the same spirit, as that of France. This
error has nowhere been more frequently repeated, nowhere been of more
pernicious tendency, than in America itself."

The last years of Mr. Adams' residence at the Court of Berlin were
painfully affected by the bitter party animadversions which assailed his
father's administration, and which did not fail to bring within the
sphere of their asperities the missions he had himself held in Europe.
These feelings became intense on the publication of Alexander Hamilton's
letter "On the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, President of
the United States." This letter, with the divisions in the cabinet at
Washington, occasioned by the political friends of Hamilton, excited in
the breast of Mr. Adams a spirit, which, from affection for his father,
and a sense of the injustice done to him, could not be otherwise than
indignant. Though concealed, it was not the less understood. He regarded
Mr. Hamilton's letter as the efficient cause of his father's loss of
power, and attributed its influence to its being circulated at the eve
of the presidential election, and to its adaptation to awaken prejudices
and excite party jealousies; although it contained nothing that could
justly shake confidence in a statesman of long-tried experience and
fidelity. He pronounced that letter as not only a full vindication, but
the best eulogium on his father's administration.

                             CHAPTER II.


Under the circumstances stated in the preceding chapter, Mr. Adams
returned to the United States in no disposition to coälesce with either
division of the Federal party. He regarded it as fortunate for himself
that events, in producing which he had no agency, had placed him in a
position free from any constructive pledges to a party which in its
original form no longer existed, and at liberty to shape his future
course according to his own independent views of private interest and
public duty. Resuming his residence in Boston, and his place at the bar
of Massachusetts, under circumstances far from being pleasant or
encouraging, after eight years' employment in foreign official stations,
he had old studies to revise, and new statutes and recent decisions to
explore. To the broad field of diplomacy had succeeded the intricate and
narrow windings of special pleading and local laws. His juniors were in
the field; by the failure of European bankers his property had been
diminished; he had a family to support; yet, neither dispirited nor
complaining, he reëntered his profession, and, devoting his leisure
hours to literature and science, apparently abandoned the political
arena, without manifesting a design or desire to return to it. But he
was not destined to remain long in private life. At this period the
Federalists had lost the control of national affairs, but they retained
their superiority in Massachusetts. Their union as a party was not
sustained by the same identity of feeling and view by which, in earlier
periods, it had been characterized. It was cemented rather by antipathy
to the prevailing power than by any hope of regaining it. A division,
more real than apparent, separated the friends of the elder Adams from
those who, uniting with Hamilton, had condemned his policy in the
presidency. The former were probably larger in number; the latter had
the advantage in talent, activity, and influence. Both soon united in
placing Mr. Adams in the Senate of the state, without any solicitation
or intimation of political coïncidence from him. In this election the
opponents of his father's policy were acquiescent rather than content.
They knew the independence and self-relying spirit of Mr. Adams, his
restiveness in the trammels of party, his disposition to lead rather
than follow; and yielded silently to a result which they could not
prevent. The spirit which they anticipated was soon made evident.

At the annual organization of the state government it had been usual to
choose the members of the Governor's Council from his political friends.
Mr. Adams at once proposed to place in it one or more of his political
opponents. This measure, which he maintained was wise and prudent, was
regarded, according to the usual charity of party spirit, as designed to
gain favor with the Democracy, and was immediately rejected. In other
instances his disposition to think and act independently of the Federal
party was manifested, and was of course not acceptable to its leaders.

In November he was urged to accept a nomination as a member of the House
of Representatives in Congress. This he refused, saying that "he would
not stand in the way of Mr. Quincy,"[1] who had been the candidate at
the preceding election. This objection was immediately removed, by an
assurance of the previous determination of the latter to decline, and of
the satisfaction with which he regarded the nomination of Mr. Adams. The
result was unsuccessful. Out of _thirty-seven hundred votes_, William
Eustis was elected by a majority of _fifty-nine_. The newspapers
assigned as the cause that the day of the election was rainy. Mr. Adams
surmised that it was owing to the indifference to his success of the
leaders of the old Federal party, and remarked on the occasion, "This is
among the thousand proofs how large a portion of Federalism is a mere
fair-weather principle, too weak to overcome a shower of rain. It shows
the degree of dependence that can be placed on such friends. As a party
their adversaries are more sure and more earnest."

      [1] The writer of this Memoir.

In an oration, delivered in May of this year, before the Massachusetts
Charitable Fire Society, Mr. Adams paid a just and feeling tribute to
the memory of George Richards Minot, then recently deceased, in which
the character of that historian, the purity of his life, moral worth,
and intellectual endowments, are celebrated with great fulness and
truth. In December he delivered, at Plymouth, an address commemorative
of the Pilgrim Fathers.

During the remainder of the civil year Mr. Adams had more than once
indicated his independence of party, and his settled purpose of thinking
and acting on all subjects for himself. When, therefore, in February,
1803, a vacancy in the Senate of the United States occurred, the
nomination of Mr. Adams was opposed by that of Timothy Pickering, who
was deemed by his friends better entitled to the office, from age and
long familiarity with public affairs. To their extreme disappointment,
however, after three ballotings, without success, in the House of
Representatives, Mr. Adams was chosen, and his election was unanimously
confirmed by the Senate. In March following, another vacancy in the
Senate of the United States having occurred, Mr. Pickering was elected.
Thus, by a singular course of events, two statesmen were placed as
colleagues in the Senate of the United States, from Massachusetts,
between whom, from antecedent circumstances and known want of sympathy
in political opinion, cordial coöperation could scarcely be anticipated.
Apparent harmony of principles and views was, however, manifested. Mr.
Adams well understood the delicacy of his position, arising from the
ill-concealed jealousy of the Federalists, on the one hand, and the open
dislike of the Democracy, on the other. He considered himself placed
between two batteries, neither of which regarded him as one of their
soldiers. He early adopted two principles, as rules of his political
conduct, from which he never deviated,--to seek or solicit no public
office, and, to whatever station he might be called by his country, to
use no instrument for success or advancement but efficient public

In October, 1803, Mr. Adams removed his family to Washington, and took
his seat in the Senate of the United States. On the 26th of that month
he took ground in opposition to the administration upon the bill
enabling the President to take possession of Louisiana, and on which he
voted in coïncidence with his Federal colleagues. His objection was to
the second section, which provided "_that all the military, civil and
judicial powers_, exercised by the officers of the existing government
of Louisiana, shall be vested in _such person and persons_, and shall be
_exercised in such manner, as the President of the United States shall
direct_." The transfer of such a power to the President of the United
States, Mr. Adams deemed and maintained, was unconstitutional; and he
called upon the supporters of the bill to point out the article,
section, or paragraph, of the constitution, which authorized Congress to
confer it on the President. He regarded the constitution of the United
States to be one of limited powers; and he declared that he could not
reconcile it to his judgment that the authority exercised in this
section was within the legitimate powers conferred by the constitution.
Many years afterwards, when his vote on this occasion was made a subject
of party censure and obloquy, in addition to the preceding reasons Mr.
Adams gave to the public the following solemn convictions which
influenced his course:

    "The people of the United States had not--much less had the people
    of Louisiana--given to the Congress of the United States the power
    to form this union; and, until the consent of both people could be
    obtained, every act of legislation by the Congress of the United
    States over the people of Louisiana, distinct from that of taking
    possession of the territory, was, in my view, unconstitutional, and
    an act of usurped authority. My opinion, therefore, was that the
    sense of the people, both of the United States and Louisiana, should
    be immediately taken: of the first, by an amendment of the
    constitution, to be proposed and acted upon in the regular form; and
    of the last, by taking the votes of the people of Louisiana
    immediately after possession of the territory should be taken by the
    United States under the treaty. I had no doubt that the consent of
    both people would be obtained with as much ease and little more loss
    of time than it actually took Congress to prepare an act for the
    government of the territory; and I thought this course of
    proceeding, while it would terminate in the same result as the
    immediate exercise of ungranted transcendental powers by Congress,
    would serve as a landmark of correct principles for future
    times,--as a memorial of homage to the fundamental principles of
    civil society, to the primitive sovereignty of the people, and the
    unalienable rights of man."

On the 3d of the ensuing November he manifested his independent spirit
by voting in favor of the appropriation of eleven millions of dollars
for carrying into effect the treaty for the purchase of Louisiana, in
opposition to the other senators of the Federal party;--a vote which,
many years afterwards, in consequence of comments of party, he took the
opportunity publicly to explain. The critical nature of the course to
which he foresaw he was destined was thus expressed by himself: "I have
had already occasion to experience, what I had before reason to expect,
the danger of adhering to my own principles. The country is so totally
given up to the spirit of party, that not to follow the one or the other
is an unexpiable offence. The worst of these has the popular current in
its favor, and uses its triumph with all the unprincipled fury of
faction; while the other is waiting, with all the impatience of revenge,
for the time when its turn may come to oppress and punish by the popular
favor. But my choice is made. If I cannot hope to give satisfaction to
my country, I am at least determined to have the approbation of my own

On the 10th of January, 1804, Mr. Adams introduced two resolutions for
the consideration of the Senate: the one declaring that "the people of
the United States have never, in any manner, delegated to this Senate
the power of giving its legislative concurrence to any act imposing
taxes upon the inhabitants of Louisiana without their consent;" the
other, "that, by concurring in any act of legislation for imposing taxes
upon the inhabitants of Louisiana, without their consent, this Senate
would assume a power unwarranted by the constitution, and dangerous to
the liberties of the people of the United States." After a debate of
three hours, both resolutions were rejected, as he anticipated; only
three senators--Tracy, of Connecticut, Olcott, of New Hampshire, and
White, of Delaware--voting with him in favor of the first, and
twenty-two voting in the negative; Mr. Pickering, his colleague, asking
to be excused from voting, and Mr. Hillhouse, the remaining Federalist
in the Senate, absenting himself, obviously to avoid voting: after which
the last was unanimously rejected. Concerning his course on this
occasion Mr. Adams wrote: "I have no doubt of incurring much censure and
obloquy for this measure. I hope I shall be prepared for and able to
bear it, from the consciousness of my sincerity and of my duty."

Mr. Adams alone spoke against the bill for the temporary government of
Louisiana, which passed on the ensuing 18th of February; and only four
senators--Messrs. Hillhouse, Olcott, Plummer, and Stone--voted with him
in the negative; Mr. Pickering absenting himself from the question.

In August, 1805, the corporation of Harvard College elected Mr. Adams
Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory on the Boylston foundation. After
modifications of the statutes, which he suggested, were adopted, he
accepted, and immediately entered upon a course of preparatory studies,
reviving his knowledge of the Greek, and making researches among
English, Latin, and French writers, relative to the objects of his
professorship. In the ensuing December, as a member of the Ninth
Congress, he took an active part in the debates and measures of the

In January, 1806, he was appointed on a committee, of which Mr. Smith,
of Maryland, was chairman, on that part of the President's message
"relative to the spoliations of our commerce on the high seas, and the
new principles assumed by the British courts of admiralty, as a pretext
for the condemnation of our vessels in their prize courts." The debates
in that committee resulted in two resolutions, both offered by Mr.
Adams, adopted, reported, and finally passed by the Senate, with some
modifications; Mr. Pickering, Mr. Hillhouse, and Mr. Tracy, the three
Federalists in the Senate, voting for them.

British aggressions and British policy towards neutrals were, in the
judgment of Mr. Adams, to be resisted at every hazard. His opinions on
these subjects had been formed from opportunities which no other
American statesman had equally enjoyed. In 1783 he had been present at
the signature of the treaty of peace, and had imbibed the opinions and
feelings then entertained by the American ministers. In 1795 he had been
engaged in negotiations with British statesmen, particularly with Lord
Grenville. Their views in respect of American commercial rights he
considered selfish and insolent; resistance to them as an emanation from
the spirit of patriotism, to which others gave the name of "prejudice,"
or "antipathy." Of these opinions and feelings he made no concealment;
and to them may be traced the course of policy which, shortly after,
separated him from the Federal party, and subjected him temporarily to
their reproaches and censures.

In June, 1806, Mr. Adams was inaugurated Professor of Oratory in Harvard
University, and during the ensuing two years delivered a course of
lectures on Rhetoric and Oratory, which have been published in two
octavo volumes, and constitute an enduring monument of fidelity,
laborious research, and eloquent illustration of the objects and duties
of his academic station. While engaged in these labors, an event
occurred which intensely excited his feelings as a man and a statesman.

On the 22d of June, 1807, during the recess of Congress, an attack by
the British ship Leopard upon the American frigate Chesapeake, by which
several of her crew were killed, and four of them taken away, created
surprise and indignation throughout the Union. From the previous state
of his opinions, no one partook more strongly of these feelings than Mr.
Adams. He immediately urged his political friends to call a town-meeting
in Faneuil Hall on the subject; but the measure was utterly discouraged
by the leaders of the Federal party. Soon, however, a meeting of the
inhabitants of Boston and the neighboring towns was called at the
Statehouse to consider that outrage. The meeting was not numerous, and
consisted almost entirely of the friends of the administration. Mr.
Gerry was chosen chairman, and Mr. Adams, who had attended it, was
appointed on the committee to prepare appropriate resolutions. These,
when reported and modified according to suggestions made by Mr. Adams,
were unanimously adopted. When it was intimated to him that his course
was regarded as symptomatic of party apostasy, he replied that his sense
of duty should never yield to the pleasure of party.

Soon after, in consequence of letters from a committee of correspondence
at Norfolk, a town-meeting was called at Faneuil Hall, at which
resolutions were passed, reported by a committee of which Mr. Adams was
chairman. Mr. Otis offered a resolution calling on government for the
protection of a naval force; but, Mr. Adams objecting, it was withdrawn.

On the 27th of October, 1807, Mr. Jefferson called a special meeting of
Congress, chiefly on account of the affair of the Chesapeake. On this
subject the discrepancy of the opinions and views of Mr. Adams with
those of the leaders of the Federal party were so openly manifested,
that his separation from it was generally anticipated. He had now been a
member of the Senate during four sessions, but had not been permitted to
exercise any decided influence on the subjects of debate. Many of his
propositions had failed under circumstances which indicated a
disposition to discourage him from such attempts. Some, which on his
motion had been negatived, had been subsequently easily carried, when
moved by members of the administration party. In respect of the general
policy of the country, he had been uniformly in a small and decreasing
minority. His opinion and votes, however, had been oftener in unison
with the administration than with their opponents; and he had met with
quite as much opposition from his party friends as from their
adversaries. At this crisis, however, he took the lead, and, immediately
on the delivery of the President's message, offered to the Senate two
resolutions. 1st. "That so much of the President's message as related to
the recent outrages committed by British armed vessels within the
jurisdiction and in the waters of the United States, and to the
legislative provisions which may be expedient as resulting from them, be
referred to a select committee, with leave to report by bill or
otherwise." 2d. "That so much of the said message as relates to the
formation of the seamen of the United States into a special militia, for
the purpose of occasional defence of the harbors against sudden attacks,
be referred to a special committee, with leave to report by bill or

Both these resolutions were adopted, and on the first Mr. Adams was
appointed chairman. Soon after, in the course of the same session, Mr.
Adams took the incipient step on several important subjects, and was
appointed chairman of the committee to whom they were intrusted in each
of them; thus manifesting that he intended no longer to take a
subordinate part in the proceedings of the Senate, and that a
disposition to disappoint him was no longer a feeling entertained by a
majority of that body.

On the 24th of November, Mr. Adams reported a bill on the British
outrages, and, on a motion to strike out of it a section providing that
"no British armed vessel shall be admitted to enter the harbors and
waters under the jurisdiction of the United States, except when forced
in by distress, by the dangers of the sea, or when charged with public
dispatches, or coming as a public packet." Mr. Adams, with twenty-five
others, voted in the negative. Messrs. Goodrich, Pickering, and
Hillhouse, the only three Federal senators, alone voted in the
affirmative. On the final passage of the bill, Mr. Adams voted with the
majority, in the affirmative, and the three Federal senators in the

On the 18th of December, 1807, Mr. Jefferson sent a message to Congress
recommending an embargo. A bill in conformity having been immediately
reported, a motion was made, in the Senate, that the rule which required
three different readings on three different days should be suspended for
three days. Violent debates ensued. On the vote to suspend, Mr. Adams
voted in the affirmative. His colleague and every other Federalist voted
in the negative.

On the final passage of the bill laying the embargo, and on the subject
of British aggressions, Mr. Adams again repeatedly separated from his
colleagues and the other members of the Federal party, and voted in
coïncidence with the administration.

Newspaper asperities and severities in debate ensued, which he
supported, as he averred, in the consciousness that the course of the
administration was the only safe one for his country, and in the belief
that it would be justified by events, and receive the sanction of future
times. His course had been, however, opposite to that of the other
Federal members in both houses of Congress. On a subject so momentous to
the commercial states, his colleague, Mr. Pickering, thought proper to
justify to the people of Massachusetts the course and motives of the
Federal party, and on the 16th of February, 1808, addressed a letter to
James Sullivan, Governor of that commonwealth, stating what papers "had
been submitted to Congress by the President in justification of the
embargo," and endeavored to show, by facts and reasonings, that the
measure had been passed "without sufficient motive or legitimate object;
that the avowed dangers were imaginary and assumed; and that the real
motives for it were contained in those French dispatches which had been
confidentially submitted to Congress, and withdrawn by Mr. Jefferson, in
which the French emperor had declared that he will have no neutrals;"
that the embargo was "a substitute--a mild compliance with this harsh
demand;" that he (Mr. Pickering) had reason to believe that the
President contemplated its continuance until the French emperor repealed
his decrees. He concluded by asserting that an embargo was not necessary
to the safety of our seamen, our vessels, or our merchandise, and was
calculated to mislead the public mind to the public ruin.

This letter, though intended for the Legislature of Massachusetts, was
not communicated to it, the political path of Governor Sullivan not
being coïncident with that of Colonel Pickering. But it was soon
published by a friend of the writer. In a letter to Harrison G. Otis, on
the 31st of March, 1808, Mr. Adams published a reply, stating that Mr.
Pickering, in enumerating the _pretences_ (for he thinks there were no
causes) for the embargo, totally omitted the British orders in council,
which, although not made the subject of special communication by the
President, had been published in the _National Intelligencer_ antecedent
to the embargo, the sweeping tendency of whose effects formed, to his
understanding, a powerful motive, and together with the papers a
decisive one, for assenting to the embargo; a measure which he regarded
as "the only shelter from the tempest, the last refuge of our violated
peace." He adds: "The most serious effect of Mr. Pickering's letter is
its tendency to reconcile the commercial states to the servitude of
British protection, and war with all the rest of Europe." Regarding it
as a proposition to strike the standard of the nation, he proceeded to
investigate the claims of Great Britain in respect of impressment, and
to her denying neutrals the right of any commerce with her enemies and
their colonies, which was not allowed in time of peace. This result of
the rule of 1756, he asserted, was "in itself and its consequences one
of the deadliest poisons in which it was possible for Great Britain to
tinge the weapons of her hostility." The decrees of France and Spain, by
which every neutral vessel which submitted to English search was
declared "_denationalized_," and became English property, though cruel
in execution, and too foolish and absurd to be refuted, were but the
reasoning of British jurists, and the simple application to the
circumstances and powers of France of the rule of the war of 1756. Mr.
Adams then proceeded to state and reason upon other aggressions of Great
Britain on our commerce, and asserted that "between unqualified
submission and offensive resistance against the war declared against
American commerce by the concurring decrees of all the belligerent
powers, the embargo had been adopted; and having the double tendency of
promoting peace and preparing for war, in its operation is the great
advantage which more than outweighs all its evils."

A course thus independent, and in harmony with the policy of the
administration, caused Mr. Adams to become obnoxious to suspicions
inevitably incident to every man who, in critical periods, amid party
struggles, changes his political relations. Of the dissatisfaction of
the Legislature of Massachusetts Mr. Adams received an immediate proof.
His senatorial term would expire on the 3d of March, 1809. To indicate
their disapprobation of his course, they anticipated the time of
electing a senator of the United States, which, according to usage,
would have been in the legislative session of that year. James Lloyd
was chosen senator from Massachusetts by a vote of two hundred and
forty-eight over two hundred and thirteen for Mr. Adams, in the House
of Representatives, and of twenty-one over seventeen, in the Senate.
On the same day anti-embargo resolutions were passed in both branches
by like majorities.

The next day Mr. Adams addressed a letter to that Legislature, in which
he stated that it had been his endeavor, deeming it his duty, to support
the administration of the general government in all necessary measures
to preserve the persons and property of our citizens from depredation,
and to vindicate the rights essential to the independence of our
country; that certain resolutions having passed the Legislature,
expressing disapprobation of measures to which, under these motives,
he had given assent, and which he considered as enjoining upon the
representatives of the state in Congress a _sort_ of opposition to the
national administration in which, consistently with his principles, he
could not concur, he, therefore, to give the Legislature an opportunity
to place in the Senate of the United States a member whose views might
be more coincident with those they entertained, resigned his seat in
that body. James Lloyd was immediately chosen by the Legislature to
take the seat thus vacated.

In the midst of these political agitations Mr. Adams was constantly
employed in writing and delivering lectures, as Professor of Rhetoric,
and in pursuing his studies of the Greek language and the science of
astronomy. During the ensuing summer, the neglect or withdrawal of some
former friends, and the open asperities of others, were often trying to
his feelings. Rumors were circulated of promises made or of expectations
held out to him by the administration; and, although he unequivocally
denied their truth, belief in them was in accordance with the party
passions of the moment, and was diligently inculcated on the popular
mind by pamphlets and newspapers. Also in the summer and winter of 1808
he had to support an oppressive weight of obloquy, from which he had no
relief, as he asserted, but an unshaken confidence that his course had
been coïncident with the true interests of his country, and would
finally be approved by it.

In the winter of 1809 he attended the Supreme Court of the United States
at Washington, and while there first received from Mr. Madison, two days
after his inauguration as President of the United States, an intimation
of his intention to offer him the appointment of minister plenipotentiary
to St. Petersburg. When this nomination and the concurrence of the Senate
became public, it was seized and commented upon as unquestionable
evidence of the motives which had occasioned the change in his political
course, and was made the subject of severe animadversions in all the
forms in which indignant partisans are accustomed to express censure and
reproach. This appointment his political adversaries announced as at once
a proof and the reward of his apostasy. Such insinuations were felt by
Mr. Adams as an insupportable wrong. For seven years he had previously
represented his country at foreign courts, in stations to which he had
been first appointed by Washington himself; who had declared that he must
not think of retiring from the diplomatic line, and pronounced him the
ablest, and destined ultimately to become the head, of the diplomatic
corps.[2] Under these circumstances he felt that even party spirit itself
might have spared towards him this reproach, and have recognized higher
motives than seeking and receiving reward for party services. Actuated by
this sense of wrong, while preparing for his departure on the mission to
Russia, he issued from the press a series of strictures, at once severe
and vindictive, on the policy of the Federal leaders, in the form of a
review of the writings of Fisher Ames; which were regarded by the public,
and probably intended by himself, as an evidence of irreconcilable
abandonment of the party to which he had formerly belonged, and a
permanent adhesion to that of the national administration.

      [2] See pages 18 and 19.

                             CHAPTER III.


After resigning his professorship at Harvard University, Mr. Adams
embarked from Boston, with Mrs. Adams and his youngest son, on the 5th
of August, 1809, in a merchant ship, bound to St. Petersburg. During a
boisterous and tedious voyage his classical and diplomatic studies
were pursued with characteristic assiduity. The English were then at
war with Denmark; and, as they entered the Baltic, a British cruiser
sent an officer to examine their papers. The same day they were
boarded by a Danish officer, who ordered the ship to Christiansand.
The captain thought it prudent to refuse, and to seek shelter from an
equinoctial gale in the harbor of Flecknoe. The papers of the ship and
Mr. Adams' commission were examined, and he afterwards went up to
Christiansand, where he found thirty-eight American vessels, which had
been brought in by privateers between the months of May and August,
and were detained for adjudication. Sixteen had been condemned, and
had appealed to the higher tribunals of the country. The Americans
thus detained presented a memorial to Mr. Adams, to be forwarded to
the President of the United States. The sight of so many of his
countrymen in distress was extremely painful, and he determined to
make an effort for their relief, without waiting for express authority
from his government.

On resuming their voyage, their course was again impeded by a British
squadron. An officer was sent on board by Captain Dundas, of the
Stately, a sixty-four gun ship, to examine their papers. He compared
the personal appearance of each of the seamen with his protection,
threatening to take a native of Charlestown because his person did not
correspond with the description, and finally ordered the ship to
return through the Cattegat.

Mr. Adams immediately went on board the Stately, showed his
commission, and remonstrated with Captain Dundas, who referred him to
Admiral Bertie, the commander of the squadron, who was in his
stateroom on the quarter-deck. After a protracted opposition, the
admiral acknowledged the usage of nations, and, as an ambassador,
permitted him to pursue his voyage by the usual course through the
sound. From these and similar difficulties, Mr. Adams did not land at
St. Petersburg until the 23d of October.

The Chancellor of the empire, Count Romanzoff, received Mr. Adams in
courtly state, and requested a copy of his credential letter, with an
assurance of the pleasure his appointment had given him personally.
His presentation was postponed, from the temporary indisposition of
the emperor; but he was immediately invited, by Count Romanzoff, to a
diplomatic dinner, in a style of the highest splendor. Among the
company was the French ambassador, M. de Caulaincourt, Duke de
Vicence, the foreign ministers then at the Russian Court, and many of
the nobility. In the mansion of the Chancellor Mr. Adams had dined in
1781, as secretary of Mr. Dana, in the same splendid style, with the
Marquis de Verac, at that time French minister at the Russian Court.
His mind was more impressed with the recollection of the magnificence
he had then witnessed on the same spot, and with reflections on the
mutability of human fortune, than with the gorgeous scene around him.

The Emperor Alexander received Mr. Adams alone, in his cabinet, and
expressed his pleasure at seeing him at St. Petersburg. Mr. Adams, on
presenting his credentials, said that the President of the United
States had desired him to express the hope that his mission would be
considered as a proof of respect for the person and character of his
majesty, as an acknowledgment of the many testimonies of good-will he
had already given to the United States, and of a desire to strengthen
commercial relations between them and his provinces. The emperor
replied, that, in everything depending on him, he should be happy to
contribute to the increase of their friendly relations; that it was
his wish to establish a just system of maritime rights, and that he
should adhere invariably to those he had declared. He then entered
into a confidential exposition of the obstacles then existing to a
general pacification, and of the policy of the different European
powers, and said that he considered the system of the United States
towards them as wise and just. Mr. Adams replied, that the United
States, being a great commercial and pacific nation, were deeply
interested in a system which would give security to commerce in time
of war. It was hoped this great blessing to humanity would be
accomplished by his imperial majesty himself; and that the United
States, by all means consistent with their peace, and their separation
from the political system of Europe, would contribute to the support
of the liberal principles to which his majesty had expressed so strong
and just an attachment. The emperor replied, that between Russia and
the United States there could be no interference of interests, no
cause for dissension; but that, by means of commerce, the two states
might be greatly useful to each other; and his desire was to give the
greatest extension and facility to these means of mutual interest.
Passing to other topics, he made many inquiries relative to the cities
of the United States.

The empress and the empress mother each gave Mr. Adams a private
audience; and, after Mrs. Adams had also been presented to the
imperial family, they were invited to a succession of splendid
entertainments. "The formalities of these court presentations," Mr.
Adams remarked, "are so trifling and insignificant in themselves, and
so important in the eyes of princes and courtiers, that they are much
more embarrassing to an American than business of greater importance.
It is not safe or prudent to despise them, nor practicable for a
person of rational understanding to value them."

As the balls and parties given by the emperor, the foreign ministers,
and the nobility, did not usually terminate until four o'clock in the
morning, they so essentially interfered with the studies and official
engagements of Mr. Adams, that he determined, as far as his station
permitted, to relinquish attending them.

In December he requested the Chancellor to solicit the emperor to
interpose his good offices with the Danish government for the
restoration of American property sequestrated in the ports of
Holstein. Count Romanzoff, in reply, stated that the emperor took
great pleasure in complying with that request, and was gratified by
this opportunity to show his friendly disposition towards the United
States, and immediately ordered the Chancellor to represent to the
Danish government the wish of the emperor that the American property
might be examined and restored as soon as possible. The Danish
government acceded at once to the emperor's desire; and the effect of
his interposition was gratefully acknowledged by the Americans whose
property was liberated.

The residence of Mr. Adams in Russia was during an eventful period.
The Emperor Alexander was at first endeavoring to avoid a collision
with Bonaparte, by yielding to his policy; and afterwards, on his
invasion, was engaged in driving him out of Russia, bereft of his army
and continental influence. During these years the release or relief of
American vessels and seamen from the effects of the French emperor's
Berlin and Milan decrees, and from other seizures and sequestrations,
were the chief objects to which Mr. Adams directed his attention.

His subsequent attempts to establish permanent commercial relations
between the United States and Russia were favorably received by that
government. The chancellor of the empire, Count Romanzoff,
acknowledged the importance of a treaty between Russia and the United
States, and intimated that the only obstacle was the convulsed state
of opinion at that period throughout the commercial world, which was
such that "it hardly seemed possible to agree to anything which had
common sense in it." Count Romanzoff conducted towards Mr. Adams not
only with official respect, but with cordiality. On one occasion he
transmitted to him by his private secretary a work relative to an
armed neutrality, which was preparing under his auspices for
publication, requesting the American minister to make such
observations upon it as he thought proper.

The courteous manners of the Emperor Alexander, his apparent desire to
conciliate the United States, and the personal intercourse to which he
admitted its representative, were frequently acknowledged by Mr.
Adams. In the midst of the splendor of the Russian Court, and the
magnificent entertainments of its ministers and of resident
plenipotentiaries, some of whom expended fifty thousand roubles a
year, and the ambassador from the French emperor over four hundred
thousand, he maintained the simplicity of style suited at once to his
salary and to the character of the country he represented. Loans to an
indefinite amount were proffered to him by mercantile houses. These he
uniformly declined, though under circumstances of great temptation to
accept them. "The opportunities," he wrote, "of thus anticipating my
regular income, it is difficult to resist. But I am determined to do
it. The whole of my life has been one continued experience of the
difficulty of a man's adhering to the principle of living within his
income; the first and most important principle of private economy. In
this country beyond all others, and in my situation more than any
other, the temptations to expense amount almost to compulsion. I have
withstood them hitherto, and hope for firmness of character to
withstand them in future."

In connection with this topic, the following anecdote was related by
Mr. Adams: "As I was walking, this morning (in May, 1811), I was met
by the emperor, who was also walking. As he approached he said,
'Monsieur Adams, il y a cent ans que je ne vous ai vu,' and took me
cordially by the hand. After some common observations, he asked me
whether I intended to take a house in the country this summer. I said
'No; that I had for some time that intention, but I had given it
up,'--'And why?' said he. I was hesitating upon an answer, when he
relieved me from my embarrassment by saying, 'Peut-être sont-ce des
considerations de finance.' As he said it in perfect good humor, and
with a smile, I replied, in the same manner, 'Mais, Sire, elles y sont
pour une bonne partie.'--'Fort bien,' said he, 'vous avez raison. Il
faut toujours proportionner la depense à la recette;' a maxim,"
remarks Mr. Adams, "worthy of an emperor, though few emperors practise
upon it."

The customs, manners, and habits, of the nobility and the people;
their public institutions, edifices, monuments, and collections in the
fine arts; the overweening influence of the clergy, their power and
political subserviency; the character of the foreign ministers, and
the policy of the courts they represented, were carefully observed and
noted down for future thought and illustration.

Nor were his researches restricted to subjects of diplomatic duty, or
to objects immediately connected with his foreign relations. He studied
the language and history of Russia, the course and usages of its trade,
especially in relation to China, and made laborious inquiries into the
proportions of Russian, English, and French weights, measures, and
coins. In obtaining a minute accuracy in these proportions, he employed
many hours; on which he observed, "I fear I shall never attain them,
and the usefulness of which is at least problematical;[1] but '_Trahit
sua quemque ipsa voluntas_;' my studies generally command me--I seldom
control them."

      [1] The Report of Mr. Adams, when Secretary of State, on weights
      and measures, at the call of Congress, sufficiently evidences
      the ultimate usefulness of these researches.

The progress of the seasons in Russia, the rising and the setting of
the sun, were daily noted, as also the variation of the climate, by
the thermometer. His thirst for knowledge, and his desire of
investigating causes and effects, were never satiated.

Astronomy was with him a subject of early and intense interest. He
studied the works of Schubert, Lalande, Biot, and Lacroix, and
constantly observed the heavens, and noticed their phenomena, according
to the calendar. By Langlet's and Dufresnoy's tables he attempted to
ascertain with precision the Arabian and Turkish computations of time,
comparing them with those of Christian nations. From astronomy and
chronology he was drawn into the study of mathematics, and the
logarithms in the tables of Collet.

Neither were the works of the ancient philosophers and orators omitted
in the sphere of his studies. The works of Plato, the orations of
Demosthenes, Isocrates, Æschines, and Cicero, were not only read, but
made the subject of critical analysis, comparison, and reflection.

Religion was also in his mind a predominating element. A practice,
which he prescribed to himself, and never omitted, of reading daily
five chapters in the Bible, familiarized his mind with its pages. In
connection with these studies he read habitually the works of Butler,
Bossuet, Tillotson, Massillon, Atterbury, and Watts. With such an ardor
for knowledge, and universality in its pursuit, it is not surprising
that he should say, as on one occasion he did, "I feel nothing like the
tediousness of time. I suffer nothing like _ennui_. Time is too short
for me, rather than too long. If the day was forty-eight hours, instead
of twenty-four, I could employ them all, if I had but eyes and hands to
read and write."

In 1810, citizens of the United States, who had formed a settlement on
the north-west coast of North America, were embarrassed in their
intercourse with China, by the Chinese mistaking American for Russian
vessels. In a conversation with Mr. Adams on the means of avoiding
this difficulty, Count Romanzoff described the obstacles the Russians
had experienced in their commerce with China. He stated that in the
reign of Catharine II. the Emperor of China complained of a governor
of a province bordering on Russia, as "a bad man;" in consequence of
which, the empress caused him to be removed. This concession did not
satisfy the Chinese emperor, who declared the punishment insufficient,
and demanded that "_the offender should be impaled alive by way of
atonement_." This demand so shocked Catharine that she issued an
edict prohibiting her subjects from all commercial relations with
China. This edict continued in force until the Chinese themselves
sought for a renewal of their former intercourse, when the empress
yielded her resentment to policy.

The loss of time from the civilities and visits of his numerous
diplomatic associates was annoying to Mr. Adams. "I have been
engaged," he wrote, "the whole forenoon; and though I rise at six
o'clock, I am sometimes unable to find time to write only part of a
private letter in the course of the day. These visits take up so much
of my time, that I sometimes think of taking a resolution not to
receive them; but, on the other hand, so much information important to
be possessed, and particularly relative to current political events,
is to be collected from them, that they are rather to be encouraged
than discountenanced."

"The French ambassador," writes Mr. Adams, "assured me that he hoped
the difference between his country and mine would soon be settled, and
requested me to inform my government that it was the desire of the
Emperor of France, and of his ministers, to come to the best terms
with the United States; that they knew our interests were the same,
but he was perfectly persuaded that, if any other person but Gen.
Armstrong was there, our business might be settled entirely to our
satisfaction. I told him that, as I was as desirous that we should
come to a good understanding, I regretted very much that anything
personal to General Armstrong should be considered by his government
as offensive; that I was sure the government of the United States
would regret it also, and would wish, on learning it, to be informed
what were the occasions of displeasure which he had given. 'C'est
d'abord un très galant homme,' said the ambassador; 'but he never
shows himself, and upon every little occasion, when by a verbal
explanation with the minister General Armstrong might obtain anything,
he writes peevish notes.' This appears to me," observes Mr. Adams, "an
intriguing manoeuvre, of which the minister thinks I might be made
the dupe."

On one occasion, Count Romanzoff requested an interview with Mr.
Adams, and, among other inquiries, asked what could be done to restore
freedom and security to commerce. He replied, that, "setting aside all
official character and responsibility, and speaking as an individual
upon public affairs," as Count Romanzoff had requested, he thought the
best course towards peace was for his excellency to convince the
French government that the continental system, as they called it, and
as they managed it, was promoting to the utmost extent the views of
England, and, instead of impairing her commerce, was securing to her
that of the whole world, and was pouring into her lap the means of
continuing the war just as long as her ministers should consider it
expedient. He could hardly conceive that the Emperor Napoleon was so
blind as not to have made that discovery already. Three years'
experience, with the effects of it becoming every day more flagrant,
had made the inference too clear and unquestionable. The Emperor
Napoleon, with all his power, could neither control the elements nor
the passions of mankind. He had found his own brother could not or
would not carry his system into execution, and had finally cast at his
feet the crown he had given him, rather than continue to be his
instrument any longer. Count Romanzoff gravely questioned the
statement of Mr. Adams respecting the commercial prosperity of
England, but admitted his views in general to be correct, saying that,
as long as a system was agreed upon, he thought exceptions from it
ought not to be allowed. Mr. Adams then asked him how that was
possible, when the Emperor Napoleon himself was the first to make such
exceptions, and to give licenses for a direct trade with England?
Count Romanzoff replied, that he thought all such licenses wrong, and
he believed that there were not so many of them as was pretended.
There was indeed one case of a vessel coming to St. Petersburg both
with an English license and a license from the Emperor Napoleon. He
was of opinion that she ought to be confiscated for having the English
license. But the French commercial and diplomatic agents were very
desirous that she might go free, on account of her French license; and
perhaps the Emperor, in consideration of his ally, might so determine.
Romanzoff complained bitterly that all the ancient established
principles, both of commercial and political rectitude, had, in a
manner, vanished from the world; and observed that, with all her
faults, England had the advantage over her neighbors, of having
hitherto most successfully resisted all the innovations upon ancient
principles and establishments. For his own part, since he had been at
the head of affairs, he could sincerely protest one wish had been at
the bottom of all his policy, and the aim of all his labors,--and that
was universal peace.

In 1811 Mr. Adams received from the Secretary of State a commission of
an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States; an
appointment which he immediately declined.

In 1812 the emperor directed Count Romanzoff to inquire whether, if he
should offer his mediation to effect a pacification between the United
States and Great Britain, Mr. Adams was aware of any objection on the
part of his government. He replied, that, speaking only from a general
knowledge of its sentiments, the proposal of the emperor would be
considered a new evidence of his regard and friendship for the United
States, whatever determination might be formed. Under this assurance,
the offer was made, transmitted, and immediately accepted. In July,
1813, Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Bayard, being associated with Mr. Adams on
this mission, arrived at St. Petersburg, bringing credentials, for the
purpose of commencing a negotiation, under the mediation of the

On communicating these credentials to Count Romanzoff, Mr. Adams
informed him that he had received instructions from the American
government to remain at St. Petersburg under the commission he had
heretofore held; and that he had been mistaken in supposing that his
colleagues had other destination, independent of this mission. His
conjecture had been founded on the doubt whether the President would
have appointed this mission solely upon the supposition that the
mediation would be accepted by the British government; but he was now
instructed that the President, considering the acceptance of the
British government as probable, though aware that if they should
reject it this measure might wear the appearance of precipitation,
thought it more advisable to incur that risk than the danger of
prolonging unnecessarily the war for six or nine months, as might
happen if the British should immediately have accepted the mediation,
and he should have delayed this step until he was informed of it. It
was with the President a great object to manifest, not only a cheerful
acceptance on the part of the United States, but in a signal manner
his sentiments of consideration and respect for the emperor, and to do
honor to the motives on which he offered his mediation. After hearing
these statements of Mr. Adams, the emperor directed Count Romanzoff to
express his particular gratification with the honorable notice the
American government had taken of his offer to effect a pacification
between Great Britain and the United States.

In September Lord Cathcart delivered to the emperor a memoir from the
British government, stating at length their reasons for declining any
mediation in their contest with the United States. But, although the
British government did not choose that a third power should interfere
in this controversy, it had offered to treat directly with the
American envoys at Gottenburg, or in London.

This proposition having been accepted by the United States, Mr. Adams
was associated with Bayard, Clay, and Russell, in the negotiation.
After taking leave of the empress and Count Romanzoff,--the emperor
being then before Paris with the allied armies,--he quitted St.
Petersburg on the 28th of April, 1814. His family remained in that
city, and he travelled alone to Revel. There he received the news of
the taking of Paris, and the abdication of Napoleon. From thence he
embarked for Stockholm.

                             CHAPTER IV.


Mr. Adams arrived in Stockholm on the 24th of May, and after visiting
Count Engerström, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and meeting the
Swedish and foreign ministers at a diplomatic dinner, given by Baron
Strogonoff, he left that city on the 2d of June. A messenger from Mr.
Clay informed him that, at the request of Lord Bathurst, the negotiation
of the treaty of peace had been transferred to Ghent. Passing through
Sweden, he embarked from Gottenburg in the United States corvette John
Adams for the Texel, landed at the Helder, and proceeded through Holland
to Ghent, where his associates met for the first time in his apartments
on the 30th of June. The British commissioners did not arrive until the
7th of August, and their negotiations were not concluded until the 24th
of December, 1814. On presenting three copies of the treaty, signed and
sealed by all the commissioners, to Mr. Adams, and on receiving three
from him, Lord Gambier said, he trusted the result of their labors
would be permanent. Mr. Adams replied, he hoped it would be the _last_
treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States.

The American commissioners were presented to the Prince of Orange, the
sovereign of the Netherlands, and, on the 5th of January, 1815, the
citizens of Ghent celebrated the ratification of the treaty, by inviting
the representatives of both nations to a public entertainment at the
Hotel de Ville. Mr. Adams left that city with characteristic expressions
of gratitude for the result of a negotiation which he hoped would prove
propitious to the union and best interests of his country.

On the 3d of February he arrived in Paris, and met the American
commissioners, and with them was presented by Mr. Crawford, resident
minister of the United States, to Louis the Eighteenth, and to the Duke
and Duchess of Angoulême. He was also presented to the Duke of Orleans,
at the Palais Royal, who spoke with grateful remembrance of
hospitalities he had received in America. Mr. Adams was often in the
society of Lafayette, Madame de Staël, Humboldt, Constant, and other
eminent persons, and was deeply interested in observing the effect of
all changes in the laws and government of France.

The intelligence that Napoleon had left Elba soon caused great
excitement and anxiety in Paris, which continued to increase until the
morning of the 20th of March, when Louis the Eighteenth left the
Tuileries. In the evening Napoleon alighted there so silently, that Mr.
Adams, who was at the Théatre Français, not a quarter of a mile distant,
was unaware of the fact until the next day, when the gazettes of Paris,
which had showered execrations upon him, announced "the arrival of his
majesty, the Emperor, at _his_ palace of the Tuileries." In the Place
du Carousel Mr. Adams, in his morning walk, saw regiments of cavalry,
belonging to the garrison of Paris, which had been sent out to oppose
Napoleon, pass in review before him, their helmets and the clasps of
their belts yet glowing with the arms of the Bourbons. The theatres
assumed the title of Imperial, and at the opera, in the evening, the
arms of the emperor were placed on the curtain and on the royal box.

A few days afterwards, Mr. Adams requested an interview with the
emperor's Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Duke de Vicence, with whom he
had been previously acquainted at St. Petersburg. He assured Mr. Adams
that the late revolution had been effected without effort; that Fouché,
the new Minister of Police, who received reports from every part of the
country, informed him that there had not been one act of violence or
resistance. He said, that if Napoleon had not returned, the misconduct
of the Bourbons would have caused an insurrection of the people in less
than six months; that the emperor had renounced all ideas of extended
conquest, and only desired peace with all the world. Mr. Adams expressed
a hope that the relations between France and the United States would
become friendly and mutually advantageous, and said he was awaiting
orders from his government, and should soon need a passport to England.
The duke assured him of his readiness to comply with any request from
him or from Mr. Crawford. All the other foreign ministers had already
quitted Paris.

After Mrs. Adams had arrived from St. Petersburg, Mr. Adams, having been
appointed American minister at the British Court, left Paris, with his
family, on the 16th of May, 1815. About the time of his departure he
observed: "War appears to be certain. The first thought of the
inhabitants of Paris will be to save themselves. They have no attachment
either to the Bourbons or Napoleon. They will submit quietly to the
victorious party, and do nothing to support either."

On the 25th of May Mr. Adams arrived in London, and on the 29th had an
interview with Lord Castlereagh relative to the treaty of peace, and the
commercial relations of Great Britain with the United States. The Prince
Regent, at a private audience, said the United States might rely with
full assurance on his determination to fulfil all engagements with them
on the part of Great Britain.

After the convention concerning commerce had been concluded, and Mr.
Gallatin and Mr. Clay had departed, Mr. Adams removed his residence to
Boston House, Ealing, nine miles from London, where he commanded time
for his favorite studies, and reciprocated the civilities paid to him
and Mrs. Adams. He continued to receive in public and private the
distinguished attentions due to his official station and his personal
character and attainments. The queen gave him a private audience, and in
May, 1816, with Mrs. Adams, he was present at the marriage of the
Princess Charlotte of Wales. His society was sought and highly
appreciated by the most eminent men of all classes; and he availed
himself, with characteristic assiduity, of all opportunities to acquire
information, especially that relative to the science of government, and
the political relations of Europe.

Some conversations and opinions his papers preserve tend to throw light
upon his course and character. In reply to an inquiry made by Lord
Holland concerning the forms and results of representation in the United
States, Mr. Adams said that one consequence was that a very great
proportion of their public men were lawyers. Lord Holland said it was
precisely the same in England; that the theory of their representation
in the House of Commons was bad, but perhaps no theory could produce a
more perfect practice of representation of all classes and interests of
the community. Even the close boroughs often served to bring in able and
useful men, who by a more correct theory would find themselves excluded.
Men of property could always make their way into Parliament by their
wealth. Men of family might go into the House of Commons for a few years
in youth, to get experience of public business, and to employ time for
useful purposes; and there was no man of real talent who, in one way or
another, could fail of obtaining, sooner or later, admission into
Parliament. But a great proportion of the House of Commons were lawyers,
and most of the business of the house was done by them. In the House of
Lords all that was of any use was done by lawyers. The great practical
use of the House of Lords was to be a check upon mischief that might be
done by the Commons. Many bills passed through that house without
sufficient consideration. The Chancellor is under a sort of personal
responsibility to examine and stop them. His character depends upon it.
He is at the head of the nobility of the country, and his consideration
depends upon his keeping this vigilant eye on the proceedings of the
Commons. All the ordinary business of the house, therefore, rests upon a

Lord Holland observed that from what he heard the most defective part of
our institutions was the judiciary; which Mr. Adams admitted.

In August, 1816, at a diplomatic dinner, given on St. Louis' day, by the
French ambassador, the Marquis D'Osmond, Mr. Adams first met Mr.
Canning, then recently appointed President of the Board of Control. At
his request, he was introduced by Lord Liverpool to Mr. Adams. They both
spoke of the great and rapid increase of the United States, and Canning
inquired when the next presidential election would take place, and who
would probably be chosen. Mr. Adams replied, Mr. Monroe. Lord Liverpool
observed that he had heard his election might be opposed on account of
his being a Virginian. Mr. Adams said that had been a ground of
objection, but it would not avail. He afterwards remarks: "Mr. Canning,
whose celebrity is great, and whose talents are probably greater than
those of any other member of the cabinet, and who has been invariably
noted for his bitterness against the United States, seemed desirous to
make up by an excess of civility for the feelings he has so constantly
manifested against us."

After reading the Gazette Extraordinary sent him by Lord Castlereagh,
containing an account of the victory of Lord Exmouth, on the 27th of
August, over the Algerines, and that the terms of capitulation had
forced them to deliver up all their Christian slaves, to repay
ransom-money, and to stipulate for the formal abolition of Christian
slavery in Algiers forever, Mr. Adams observed, "This is a deed of real

The Lord Mayor of London introduced Mr. Adams to Sir Philip Francis,
then the supposed author of the letters of Junius. On this celebrated
work, on a subsequent occasion, Mr. Adams remarked: "Sir Philip Francis
is almost demonstrated to be the culprit. The speeches of Lord Chatham
bear the stamp of a mind not unequal to the composition of Junius. Those
of Burke are of a higher order. Were it ascertained that either of them
were the political assassin who stabbed with the dagger of Junius, I
should not add a particle of admiration for his talents, and should lose
all my respect for his morals. Junius was essentially a sophist. His
religion was infidelity, his abstract ethics depraved, his temper
bitterly malignant, and his nervous system timid and cowardly. The
concealment of his name at the time when he wrote was the effect of
dishonest fear. The perpetuation of it could only proceed from the
consciousness that the disclosure of his person would be discreditable
to his fame. The object of Junius, when he began to write, was merely to
overthrow the administration then in power. He attacked them in a mass
and individually; their measures, their capacities, their characters
public and private; charged them with every crime and every vice.
Afterwards, he followed up his general assault by singling out,
successively, the Dukes of Grafton and Bedford, Lord Mansfield, Sir
William Blackstone, and the King himself. He magnified mole-hills into
mountains, inflamed pin-scratches into deadly wounds, and at last
abandoned his course in despair at the very time when he might have
pursued it with the most effect. But while he was battering the ministry
upon paltry topics, which had neither root or stem, he had declared
himself emphatically and repeatedly upon their side on the only subject
on which their fate and the destiny of the nation altogether
depended--the controversy with America. The course he took in the early
stage of that conflict, and his disappearance from the theatre of
politics at the time when it was ripening into the magnitude of its
nature, have marked Junius in my mind as a man of small things--a
splendid trifler, a pompous and shallow politician."

In July, 1816, Mr. Adams showed Lord Castlereagh his authority and
instructions to negotiate a new commercial convention with the British
government, stating "that one object was to open the trade between the
United States and the British colonies in North America and the West
Indies, as great changes had occurred since the existing convention
between the countries was signed. That convention equalized the duties
upon British and American vessels, in the intercourse between Europe and
the United States, and thereby admitted British vessels into the ports
of the United States upon terms of equal competition with American
vessels. But, since that time, the exclusive system of colonial
regulations had been resumed in the West Indies with extraordinary
rigor. American vessels had been excluded from all the ports, and some
seizures had been made with such severity that there were cases upon
which it would soon become his duty to address the British government in
behalf of individuals who had suffered, and deemed themselves entitled
to the restitution of their property. The consequence of these new
regulations, as combined with the operation of the commercial
convention, was, that British vessels being admitted into our ports upon
equal terms with our own, and then being exclusively received in the
British West India ports, not only thus monopolized the trade between
the United States and the West Indies, but acquired an advantage in the
direct trade from Europe to the United States, which defeated the main
object of the convention itself, of placing the shipping of the two
countries upon equal terms of fair competition. In North America the
same system was pursued by the colonial government of Upper Canada. An
act of the Colonial Legislature was passed at their last session,
vesting in the Lieutenant-Governor and Council of the province the power
of regulating its trade with the United States; and immediately
afterwards a new tariff of duties was issued, by an order of the
previous Council, dated the 18th of April, laying excessively heavy
duties upon all articles imported into the province from the United
States, with the exception of certain articles of provision of the first
necessity; and a tonnage duty of twelve and sixpence per ton upon
American vessels, which was equivalent to a total prohibition."

Lord Castlereagh said "that he had not been in the way of following the
measures adopted in that quarter, and was not aware that there had been
any new regulations either in the West Indies or in North America. In
time of war he knew it had been usual to open the ports of the West
India Islands to foreigners, merely as a measure of necessity; and it
was not until the Americans attempted to starve them by their embargo
acts that they were driven to the resort of finding resources elsewhere.
But in time of peace it had been usual to exclude foreigners from these

He then asked if the trade was considerable. Mr. Adams replied that it
was. "Even in time of peace it was highly necessary to the colonies, in
respect to some of the imports indispensable to their subsistence; and,
by the exports, extremely advantageous to the interests of Great
Britain, by furnishing a market for articles which she does not take
herself, and which could not be disposed of elsewhere. At the very time
of the embargo, the governors of the Islands, so far from adhering to
the principle of excluding American vessels, issued proclamations
inviting them, with promises even that the regular papers should not be
required for their admission, and encouraging them to violate the laws
of their own country by carrying them supplies. In time of peace it was
undoubtedly not so necessary. Even then, however, it was so in a high
degree. The mother country may supply them in part, but does not produce
some of the most important articles of their importation,--rice, for
example, and Indian corn, the best and cheapest articles for the
subsistence of negroes. Even wheat and flour, and provisions generally,
were much more advantageously imported from the United States than from
Europe, being so much less liable to be damaged in those hot climates,
from the comparative shortness of the voyage. Another of their
importations was lumber, which is necessary for buildings upon the
plantations, and which, after the hurricanes to which the islands are
frequently exposed, must be had in large quantities."

Mr. Adams added, "that the American government did not on this ground
now propose that these ports should be opened to their vessels. They did
not seek for a participation in the British trade with them. Great
Britain might still prohibit the importation from the United States of
such articles as she chose to supply herself. But they asked that
American vessels be admitted equally with British vessels to carry the
articles which could be supplied only from the United States, or which
were supplied only to them. The effect of the new regulations had been
so injurious to the shipping interest in America, and was so immediately
felt, that the first impression on the minds of many was that they
should be at once met by counteracting legislative measures of
prohibition. A proposal to that effect was made in Congress; but it was
thought best to endeavor, in the first instance, to come to an amicable
arrangement of the subject with the British government. Immediate
prohibitions would affect injuriously the British colonies; they would
excite irritation in the commercial part of the British communities. The
consideration, therefore, of enacting legislative regulations, was

Lord Castlereagh, after expressing the earnest disposition of his
government to promote harmony between the two countries, said "he was
not then prepared to enter upon a discussion on the points of the
question, but would take it into consideration as soon as possible."

Mr. Adams then said "that the American government was anxious to settle
by treaty all the subjects of collision between neutral and belligerent
rights which, in the event of a new maritime war in Europe, might again
arise:--blockade, contraband, searches at sea, and colonial trade, but
most of all the case of the seamen,--concerning whom the American
government proposed that each party should stipulate not to employ, in
its merchant ships or naval service, the seamen of the other."

Lord Castlereagh inquired "whether the proposal in the stipulation
related only to native citizens and subjects; and, if not, how the
question was to be escaped,--whether any act of naturalization shall
avail to discharge a seaman from the duties of his original allegiance."

Mr. Adams replied, "that it was proposed to include in the arrangement
only natives and those who are on either side naturalized already; so
that it would not extend to any hereafter naturalized. The number of
persons included would, of course, be very few." Lord Castlereagh
inquired "what regulations were proposed to carry the stipulation into
effect." Mr. Adams replied, "that if it was agreed to, he thought there
would be no difficulty in concerting regulations to carry it into
execution; and that the American government would be ready to agree to
any Great Britain might think necessary, consistent with individual
rights, to secure the bona fide fulfilment of the engagement." "But,"
said Lord Castlereagh, "by agreeing to this stipulation, is it expected
we should abandon the right of search we have heretofore used; or is
this stipulation to stand by itself, leaving the rights of the parties
as they were before?" Mr. Adams replied, "that undoubtedly the object
of the American government was that the result of the stipulation
should ultimately be the abandonment of the practice of taking men from
American vessels." "How, then," said Lord Castlereagh, "shall we escape
the old difficulty? The people of this country consider the remedy we
have always used hitherto as the best and only effective one. Such is
the general opinion of the nation, and there is a good deal of feeling
connected with the sentiment. If we now give up that, how will it be
possible to devise any regulation, depending upon the performance of
another state, which will be thought as efficacious as that we have in
our own hands? He knew that the policy of the American government had
changed; that it was formerly to invite and encourage British seamen to
enter their service, but that at present it was to give encouragement
to their own seamen; and he was in hopes that the effect of these
internal legislative measures would be to diminish the necessity of
resorting to the right of search." Mr. Adams, in reply, said, "that his
lordship had once before made a similar observation, and that he felt
it his duty to take notice of it. Being under a perfect conviction that
it was erroneous, he was compelled to state that the American
government never did in any manner invite or encourage foreign seamen
generally, or British seamen in particular, to enter their service."
Lord Castlereagh said "that he meant only that their policy arose
naturally from circumstances,--from the extraordinary, sudden, and
almost unbounded increase of their commerce and navigation during the
late European wars; they had not native seamen enough to man their
ships, and the encouragements to foreign seamen followed from that
state of things." Mr. Adams replied, "that he understood his lordship
perfectly; but what he asserted was his profound conviction that he was
mistaken in point of fact. He knew not how the policy of any government
can be manifested otherwise than by its acts. Now, there never was any
one act, either of the legislature or executive, which could have even
a tendency to invite British seamen into the American service." "But,"
said Lord Castlereagh, "at least, then, there was nothing done to
prevent them." Mr. Adams replied, "That may be; but there is a very
material distinction between giving encouragement and doing nothing to
prevent them. Our naturalization laws certainly hold out to them
nothing like encouragement. You naturalize every foreign seaman by the
mere fact of two years' service on board of your public ships, _ipso
facto_, without cost, or form, or process. We require five years'
residence in the United States, two years of notice in a court of
record, and a certificate of character, before the act of
naturalization is granted. Thus far only may be admitted,--that the
great and extraordinary increase of our commerce, to which you have
alluded, had the effect of raising the wages of seamen excessively
high. Our government certainly gave no encouragement to this; neither
did our merchants, who would surely have engaged their seamen at lower
wages, if possible. These wages, no doubt, operated as a strong
temptation to your seamen to go into the American service. Your
merchant service could not afford to pay them so high. The wages in the
king's ships are much lower, and numbers of British seamen,
accordingly, find employment on board American vessels; but
encouragement from the American government they never had in any
manner. They were merely not excluded; and even now, in making the
proposal to exclude them, it is not from any change of policy, but
solely for the purpose of giving satisfaction to Great Britain, and of
stopping the most abundant source of dissension with her. It proves
only the earnestness of our desire to be upon good terms with you."

Mr. Adams said, with regard to his proposal of excluding each other's
seamen, "that he was not prepared to say that an article could not be
framed by which the parties might stipulate the principle of mutual
exclusion, without at all affecting or referring to the rights or claims
of either party. Perhaps it might be accomplished if the British
government should assume it as one of the objects to be arranged by the
convention." On which Lord Castlereagh said: "In that case there will
not be so much difficulty. If it is a mere agreement of mutual
exclusion, tending to diminish the occasion for exercising the right of
search, and undoubtedly if it should prove effectual, it would in the
end operate as an inducement to forbear the exercise of the right

Discussions with the same nobleman on other topics bearing upon the
commercial relations between the two nations are preserved among the
papers of Mr. Adams.

On the 16th of April, 1817, Mr. Adams received letters from President
Monroe, with the information that, with the sanction of the Senate, the
Department of State had been committed to him; a trust which he accepted
with a deep sense of its weight and responsibility. In compliance with
Mr. Monroe's request, he made immediate arrangements to return to the
United States. On presenting his letters of recall to Lord Castlereagh,
congratulations on his appointment were attended with regrets at his
removal from his mission. Mr. Adams stated that the uncertainty of his
acceptance of the office of Secretary of State had prevented an
immediate appointment of his successor, but that he was instructed in
the strongest manner to declare the earnest desire of President Monroe
to cultivate the most friendly intercourse with Great Britain. He gave
the same explanation to the Prince Regent, at a private audience, who
replied by an assurance of his disposition to continue to promote the
harmony between the two nations which was required by the interests of
both. There was no formality in the discourse on either side, and the
generalities of mutual assurance were much alike, and estimated at their
real value. In reply to the inquiries of the Prince, the names of the
members of Mr. Monroe's cabinet were mentioned. He was not acquainted
with any of them, but spoke in handsome terms of Mr. Thomas Pinckney and
Mr. Rufus King, and asked many questions concerning the organization of
the American government. Lord Castlereagh, in his final interview with
Mr. Adams, made numerous inquiries relative to the foreign relations of
the United States, especially in regard to Spain, and again expressed
the desire of the British government not only to remain at peace
themselves, but also to promote tranquillity among other nations. Prince
Esterhazy, in a parting visit to Mr. Adams, also assured him that the
cabinets of Europe were never so universally and sincerely pacific as at
that time; that they all had finances to redeem, ravages to repair, and
wanted a period of long repose.

After taking leave of his numerous friends in office and in private
life, Mr. Adams bade farewell to London, and embarked with his family
from Cowes, in the packet-ship Washington, on the 17th of June, 1817,
for the United States.

                             CHAPTER V.


A tedious voyage of seven weeks was beguiled by Mr. Adams with Bacon's
Novum Organum, the novels of Scott, and the game of chess, which last,
in his estimate, surpassed all other resources when at sea. On the 7th
of August he arrived at New York, with mingled emotions of gratitude for
the past, and anxious forecast of the cares and perils of the scene on
which he was about to enter. After a detention in that city by official
business, on the 18th of August he reached Quincy, Massachusetts, and
enjoyed the inexpressible happiness of again meeting his venerable
father and mother in perfect health, after an absence of eight eventful
years. In September, at Washington, he entered upon the duties of
Secretary of State.

The foreign relations of the United States were, at this period,
peaceful, except that questions concerning spoliations on American
commerce and settlement of boundaries were depending with Spain, and the
sympathy of the United States for her revolted colonies excited her
jealousy and fear, which the seizure of Amelia Island, under the real or
pretended authority of one of them, had tended greatly to increase.

Internally, the political relations of the country were in a transition
state. The chief power, which Virginia had held during three
presidencies, was now about to pass from her hands; there being no
statesman among her sons who could compete, as a candidate for the
successorship to Monroe, with the talents and popularity of rising
aspirants in other states. Her policy therefore was directed to secure,
for the next term of the presidency, a candidate friendly to the
political dogmas she cherished, and to the interests and projects of the
Southern States. The character and principles of Mr. Adams were not
adapted to become subservient to her views, and she saw with little
complacency his elevation to the office of Secretary of State, which was
in popular opinion a proximate step to the President's chair. Yet it
could not be doubted that his appointment had the assent, if not the
approbation, of Jefferson and Madison, without whose concurrence Monroe
would scarcely have ventured to raise a citizen of Massachusetts to that

The prospective change, in the principles and influences of public
affairs, which the close of Mr. Monroe's term of office would effect,
elevated the hopes and awakened the activity of the partisans of
Crawford, of Georgia, Clay, of Kentucky, and De Witt Clinton, of New
York. Crawford, who had been Secretary of the Treasury under Madison,
and who was again placed in that office by Monroe, was understood to be
the favorite candidate of Virginia. Clay, one of the most talented and
popular politicians of the period, had been an active supporter of
Monroe for the presidency. His friends did not conceal their
disappointment that he was not invited to take the office of Secretary
of State; nor did he disguise his dissatisfaction at the appointment of
Mr. Adams. In New York, De Witt Clinton, in his struggles with Van Buren
for ascendency in that state, by one of those mysterious changes to
which political tempests are subject, had been at one moment cast out of
the mayoralty of the city, and at the next into the governor's chair.
His partisans, deeming his position and popularity now favorable to his
elevation to the presidency, which he had long desired and once
attempted to attain, placed him in nomination for that office.

Each of these candidates possessed great personal and local popularity,
spirit and power adapted to success, and adherents watchful and
efficient. To cope with all these rival influences, Mr. Adams had
talents, integrity, fidelity to his country, and devotion to the
fulfilment of official duty, in which he had no superior. Having been
absent eight years in foreign countries in public service, he had no
Southern or Western current in his favor; and that which set from the
North, though generally favorable, being divided, was comparatively
feeble, and rather acquiescent in his elevation than active in promoting

On his appointment as Secretary of State, Mr. Adams remarked: "Whether
it is for my own good is known only to God. As yet I have far more
reason to lament than rejoice at the event; yet I feel not less my
obligation to Mr. Monroe for his confidence in me, and the duty of
personal devotion to the success of his administration which it
imposes." Before the lapse of a year that administration was assailed
in Congress and in the newspapers, and the attacks were concentrated
on Mr. Adams. The calumnies by which his father's administration had
been prostrated five-and-twenty years before were revived, and poured
out with renewed malignity. Duane, in his _Aurora_, published in
Philadelphia, and his coädjutors in other parts of the Union,
represented him as "a royalist," "an enemy to the rights of man;" as
a "friend of oligarchy;" as a "misanthrope, educated in contempt of
his fellow-men;" as "unfit to be the minister of a free and virtuous
people." Privately, and through the press, Mr. Monroe was warned that
he "was full of duplicity;" "an incubus on his prospects for the next
presidency, and on his popularity." When these calumnies were uttered,
as some of them were, in the House of Representatives, they naturally
excited the indignation of Mr. Adams, and the anxiety of his friends.
Being asked by one of them whether it would not be advisable to expose
the conduct and motives of rival statesmen, in the newspapers, he
answered explicitly in the negative, saying: "The execution of my
duties is the only answer I can give to censure. I will do absolutely
nothing to promote any pretensions my friends may think I have to the
presidency." On being told that his rivals would not be so scrupulous,
and that he would not stand on an equal footing with them, he replied:
"That is not my fault. My business is to serve the public to the best
of my abilities in the station assigned to me, and not to intrigue for
my own advancement. I never, by the most distant hint to any one,
expressed a wish for any public office, and I shall not now begin to
ask for that which, of all others, ought to be most freely and
spontaneously bestowed."

Among the difficulties incident to the office of Secretary of State,
that of making appointments was the most annoying and thankless. They
were sought with a bold and rabid pertinacity. Success was attributed to
the favor of the President; ill success, to the influence of the
Secretary. When the applicant was a relative his patronage was naturally
expected; but, with every expression of good-will, he avoided all
recommendation in such cases, saying that such claims must be presented
through other channels.

The attention of the government was early drawn to the proceedings of
the Seminole Indians, who had commenced hostilities with circumstances
of great barbarity. Orders were sent to General Jackson to repair to the
seat of war with such troops as he could collect, and the Georgia
militia, and to reduce the Indians by force, pursuing them into Florida,
if they should retreat for refuge there.

About this time the republic of Buenos Ayres sent an agent urging an
acknowledgment of their independence. Their claim was in unison with the
popular feeling in the South; but elsewhere throughout the nation public
opinion was divided, as were also the members of the President's
cabinet. Mr. Adams declared himself against such recognition, as it
would interfere with a negotiation with Spain for the purchase of the
Floridas. He urged, also, that McGregor, the adventurer, who, under a
pretence of authority from Buenos Ayres, had taken possession of Amelia
Island, should be compelled to withdraw his troops by a naval force sent
for that purpose. On this measure, also, both the nation and the cabinet
were divided. Mr. Clay, in the House of Representatives, took ground in
opposition to the policy of the administration, avowing openly his
intention of bringing forward a motion in favor of recognizing the
independence of Buenos Ayres. To control or overthrow the executive by
the weight of the House of Representatives, was apparently his object.[1]

      [1] A committee appointed by the House of Representatives, on
      McGregor's possession of Amelia Island, waited on Mr. Adams, and
      inquired concerning the proposed proceedings of the executive,
      and his powers in that respect. Mr. Adams took occasion to state
      and explain to them the effects of "the _secret laws_, as they
      were called, and which," he said, "were singular anomalies of our
      system, having grown out of that error in our constitution which
      confers upon the legislative assemblies the power of declaring
      war, which, in the theory of government, according to Montesquieu
      and Rousseau, is strictly an executive act. But, as we have made
      it legislative, whenever secrecy is necessary for an operation
    of the executive involving the question of peace and war, Congress
    must pass a _secret_ law to give the President power. Now, secrecy
    is contrary to one of the first principles of legislation, but the
    absurdity flows from having given to Congress, instead of the
    executive, the power of declaring war. Of these secret laws there
    are four, and one resolution; and one of the laws, that of the 28th
    of June, 1812, is so secret, that to this day it cannot be found
    among the rolls of the department. Another consequence has followed
    from this clumsy political machinery. The injunction of secrecy was
    removed on the 6th of July, 1812, from the laws previously passed
    by a vote of the House of Representatives, and yet the laws have
    never been published."

In January, 1818, McGregor and his freebooters having been driven, by
the authority of the executive, from Amelia Island by the United States
troops, a question arose whether they should be withdrawn, or possession
of the island retained, subject to future negotiations with Spain. Mr.
Adams and Mr. Calhoun advocated the latter opinion. The President, Mr.
Crowninshield, and Mr. Wirt, were in favor of withdrawing the troops.
After discussion of a message proposed to be sent to Congress avowing
the intention to restore the island to Spain, the subject was left
undetermined, the President being embarrassed concerning the policy to
be pursued, by the division of his constitutional advisers. On which Mr.
Adams remarked: "These cabinet councils open upon me a new scene, and
new views of the political world. Here is a play of passions, opinions,
and characters, different from those in which I have been accustomed
heretofore to move."

About this time the President received information that the Spanish
government were discouraged, and that Onis, the Spanish minister, had
received authority to dispose of the Floridas to the United States on
the best terms possible. This intelligence Mr. Monroe communicated to
Mr. Adams, and requested him to see the Spanish minister, and inquire
what Spain would take for all her possessions east of the Mississippi.
When Mr. Adams obtained an interview with Onis, he waived any direct
answer to the question, and asked what were the intentions of the United
States relative to the occupation of Amelia Island. Mr. Adams replied,
that this was a mere measure of self-defence, and asked what guarantee
Onis could give that the freebooters would not again take possession, to
the annoyance of lawful commerce, if the troops of the United States
were removed. Onis said he could give none, except a promise to write to
the Governor of Havana for troops; but he admitted that, if sufficient
force could there be obtained, six or seven months might elapse before
they could be sent to Amelia Island. A continuance of the present
occupation by the United States was thus rendered unavoidable. The
consideration of the question of restoring it to Spain was postponed in
the cabinet, and the message of the President to Congress was so
modified as to state his intention of keeping possession of it for the

During the remainder of this session Mr. Clay took opposition ground on
all the cardinal points maintained by the President, especially on the
constitutional question concerning internal improvements, and upon South
American affairs. His course was so obviously marked with the design of
rising on the ruins of Mr. Monroe's administration, that one of his own
papers in Kentucky publicly stated that "he had broken ground within
battering distance of the President's message." In a speech made on the
24th of March, 1817, on the general appropriation bill, he moved an
appropriation of eighteen thousand dollars as one year's salary and an
outfit for a minister to the government of Buenos Ayres. This was only a
mode of proposing a formal acknowledgment of that government. The motion
was soon after rejected in the House of Representatives by a great
majority, and his attempt to make manifest the unpopularity of the
administration proved a failure.

In July, 1818, news came that General Jackson had taken Pensacola by
storm,--a measure which excited universal surprise. But one opinion
appeared at first to prevail in the nation,--that Jackson had not only
acted without, but against, his instructions; that he had commenced war
upon Spain, which could not be justified, and in which, if not disavowed
by the administration, they would be abandoned by the country. Every
member of the cabinet, the President included, concurred in these
sentiments, with the exception of Mr. Adams. He maintained that there
was no real, though an apparent violation of his instructions; that his
proceedings were justified by the necessity of the case, and the
misconduct of the Spanish commandant in Florida. Mr. Adams admitted that
the question was embarrassing and complicated, as involving not merely
an actual war with Spain, but also the power of the executive to
authorize hostilities without a declaration of war by Congress. He
averred that there was no doubt that _defensive_ acts of hostility
might be authorized by the executive, and on this ground Jackson had
been authorized to cross the Spanish frontier in pursuit of the Indian
enemy. His argument was, that the question of the constitutional
authority of the executive was in its nature defensive; that all the
rest, even to the taking the fort of Barancas by storm, was incidental,
deriving its character from the object, which was not hostility to
Spain, but the termination of the Indian war. This was the justification
offered by Jackson himself, who alleged that an imaginary air-line of
the thirty-first degree of latitude could not afford protection to our
frontier, while the Indians had a safe refuge in Florida; and that all
his operations had been founded on that consideration.

This state of things embarrassed the negotiation with the Spanish
minister, who was afraid, under these circumstances, to proceed without
receiving instructions. Mr. Adams endeavored, however, to satisfy Onis,
by assuring him that Pensacola had been taken without orders; but he
also stated that no blame would be attached to Jackson, on account of
the strong charges he brought against the Governor of Pensacola, who had
threatened to drive him out of the province by force, if he did not
withdraw. In support of these views, Mr. Adams adduced the opinions of
writers on national law. To the members of the cabinet he admitted that
it was requisite to carry the reasoning on his principles to the utmost
extent they would bear, to come to this conclusion; yet he maintained
that, if the question were dubious, it was better to err on the side of
vigor than of weakness, of our own officer than of our enemy. There was
a large portion of the public who coincided in opinion with Jackson, and
if he were disavowed, his friends would assert that he had been
sacrificed because he was an obnoxious man; that, after having had the
benefit of his services, he was abandoned for the sake of conciliating
the enemies of his country, and his case would be compared to that of
Sir Walter Raleigh.

Mr. Monroe listened with candor to the debates of the cabinet, without
varying from his original opinion. They resulted in a disclaimer of
power in the President to have authorized General Jackson to take
possession of Pensacola. On this determination, Mr. Adams finally gave
up his opposition, and acquiesced in the opinion of every other member
of the cabinet, remarking on this result: "The administration are
placed in a dilemma, from which it is impossible for them to escape
censure by some, and factious crimination by many. If they avow and
approve Jackson's conduct, they incur the double responsibility of
having made a war against Spain, in violation of the constitution,
without the authority of Congress. If they disavow him, they must give
offence to his friends, encounter the shock of his popularity, and have
the appearance of truckling to Spain. For all this I should be
prepared; but the mischief of this determination lies deeper. 1. It is
weakness, and confession of weakness. 2. The disclaimer of power in the
executive is of dangerous example, and of evil consequences. 3. There
is injustice to the officer in disavowing him, when in principle he is
strictly justifiable. These charges will be urged with great vehemence
on one side, while those who would have censured the other course will
not support or defend the administration for taking this. I believe the
other would have been a safer and a bolder course." A wish having been
expressed that it should be stated publicly that the opinion of the
members of the cabinet had been _unanimous_, Mr. Adams said that he had
acquiesced in the ultimate determination, and would cheerfully bear his
share of the responsibility; but that he could not in truth say it had
been conformable to his opinion, for that had been to approve and
justify the conduct of Jackson, whereas it was disavowed, and the place
he had taken was to be unconditionally restored.

At this time Mr. Adams was laboriously collecting evidence in support of
these views, and preparing letters of instruction to George Erving,
dated the 19th of November, in which Jackson's conduct is fully stated,
and the execution of Arbuthnot and Ambrister and the taking of Pensacola
defended. Mr. Jefferson wrote to President Monroe expressing in the
highest terms his approbation of these letters, and the hope that those
of the 12th of March and the 28th of November to Erving, with, also,
those of Mr. Adams to Onis, would be translated into French, and
communicated to every court in Europe, as a thorough vindication of the
conduct and policy of the American government. Writing about the affairs
of Florida at this time, Mr. Adams observed: "With these concerns,
political, personal, and electioneering intrigues are mingling
themselves, with increasing heat and violence. This government is
assuming daily, more and more, a character of cabal and preparation, not
for the next presidential election, but for the one after, that is
working and counterworking, with many of the worst features of elective
monarchies. Jackson has made for himself a multitude of friends, and
still more enemies."

In the latter part of December, 1818, when General Jackson visited
Washington, a strong party manifested itself disposed to bring him
forward as a candidate for the next Presidency. "His services during the
last campaign," said Mr. Adams, "would have given him great strength,
had he not counteracted these dispositions by several of his actions in
Florida. The partisans of Crawford and De Witt Clinton took the alarm,
and began their attacks upon Jackson for the purpose of running him
down. His conduct is beginning to be arraigned with extreme violence in
every quarter of the Union, and, as I am his official defender against
Spain and England, I shall come in for my share of the obloquy so
liberally bestowed upon him."

Mr. Adams had the satisfaction of receiving from Hyde de Neuville, the
French minister, an assurance of his coincidence of opinion with him,
and that he had written to his own government that the proceedings of
General Jackson had been right, particularly in respect of the two
Englishmen. Although there was a difference of opinion on the subject
among the members of the diplomatic body, he declared that his own was
that such incendiaries and instigators of savage barbarities should be
put to death.

On one occasion, the President expressed to Mr. Adams his astonishment
at the malignancy of the reports which some newspapers were circulating
concerning him, and asked in what motives they could have originated.
Mr. Adams replied, that the motives did not lie very deep; that there
had been a spirit at work, ever since he came to Washington, very
anxious to find or make occasions of censure upon him. That spirit he
could not lay. His only resource was to pursue his course according to
his own sense of right, and abide by the consequences. To which the
President fully assented.

While these events were agitating the political world, Mr. Adams was
called to lament the death of his mother, dear to his heart by every tie
of affection and gratitude. His feelings burst forth, on the occasion,
in eloquent and touching tributes to her memory. "This is one of the
severest afflictions," he exclaimed, "to which human existence is
liable. The silver cord is broken,--the tenderest of natural ties is
dissolved,--life is no longer to me what it was,--my home is no longer
the abode of my mother. While she lived, whenever I returned to the
paternal roof, I felt as if the joys and charms of childhood returned to
make me happy; all was kindness and affection. At once silent and active
as the movement of the orbs of heaven, one of the links which connected
me with former ages is no more. May a merciful Providence spare for many
future years my only remaining parent!"

The policy of the friends and enemies of Mr. Monroe's administration was
developed by the debates in the House of Representatives on the Seminole
war, and the spirit of intrigue began to operate with great publicity.
Some of the Western friends of Mr. Adams proposed to him measures of
counteraction, on which he remarked: "These overtures afford
opportunities and temptations to intrigue, of which there is much in
this government, and without which the prospects of a public man are
desperate. Caballing with members of Congress for future contingency has
become so interwoven with the practical course of our government, and so
inevitably flows from the practice of canvassing by the members to fix
on candidates for President and Vice-President, that to decline it is to
pass a sentence of total exclusion. Be it so! Whatever talents I
possess, that of intrigue is not among them. And instead of toiling for
a future election, as I am recommended to do, my only wisdom is to
prepare myself for voluntary, or unwilling, retirement." On the same
topic, in February, 1819, he thus expressed himself: "The practice which
has grown up under the constitution, but contrary to its spirit, by
which members of Congress meet in caucus and determine by a majority the
candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency to be supported by the
whole meeting, places the President in a state of undue subserviency to
the members of the legislature; which, connected with the other practice
of reëlecting only once the same President, leads to a thousand corrupt
cabals between the members of Congress and heads of departments, who are
thus made, almost necessarily, rival pretenders to the succession. The
only possible chance for a head of a department to attain the Presidency
is by ingratiating himself with the members of Congress; and as many of
them have objects of their own to obtain, the temptation is immense to
corrupt coalitions, and tends to make all the public offices objects of
bargain and sale."

The treaty with Spain, by which the United States acquired the Floridas,
was signed by Onis and Adams on the 22d of December, 1819. To effect
this treaty, so full of difficulty and responsibility, Mr. Adams had
labored ever since he had become Secretary of State. His success was to
him a subject of intense gratification; especially the acknowledgment of
the right of the United States to a definite line of boundary to the
South Sea. This right was not among our claims by the treaty of peace
with Great Britain, nor among our pretensions under the purchase of
Louisiana, for that gave the United States only the range of the
Mississippi and its waters. Mr. Adams regarded the attainment of it as
his own; as he had first proposed it on his own responsibility, and
introduced it in his discussions with Onis and De Neuville. Its final
attainment, under such circumstances, was a just subject of exultation,
which was increased by the change of relations which the treaty produced
with Spain, from the highest state of exasperation and imminent war, to
a fair prospect of tranquillity and secure peace. The treaty was
ratified by the President, with the unanimous advice of the Senate.

In 1819 a committee of the Colonization Society applied to the
President for the purchase of a territory on the coast of Africa, to
which the slaves rescued under the act of Congress, then recently
passed, against piracy and the slave-trade, might be sent. The subject
being referred to Mr. Adams, he stated in reply that it was impossible
that Congress could have intended to authorize the purchase of
territory by that act, for they had only appropriated for its object
_one hundred thousand dollars_, which was a sum utterly inadequate for
the purchase of a territory on the coast of Africa. He declared also
that he had no opinion of the practicability or usefulness of the
objects proposed by the Colonization Society, of establishing in Africa
a colony composed of the free blacks sent from the United States. "The
project," said he, "is professedly formed, 1st, without making use of
any compulsion on the free people of color to go to Africa. 2d. To
encourage the emancipation of slaves by their masters. 3d. To promote
the entire abolition of slavery; and yet, 4th, without in the slightest
degree affecting what they call 'a certain species of property in
slaves.' There are men of all sorts and descriptions concerned in this
Colonization Society: some exceedingly humane, weak-minded men, who
really have no other than the professed objects in view, and who
honestly believe them both useful and attainable; some speculators in
official profits and honors, which a colonial establishment would of
course produce; some speculators in political popularity, who think to
please the abolitionists by their zeal for emancipation, and the
slaveholders by the flattering hope of ridding them of the free colored
people at the public expense; lastly, some cunning slaveholders, who
see that the plan may be carried far enough to produce the effect of
raising the market price of their slaves. But, of all its other
difficulties, the most objectionable is that it obviously includes the
engrafting a colonial establishment upon the constitution of the United
States, and thereby an accession of power to the national government
transcending all its other powers."

The friends of the measure urged in its favor that it had been
recommended by the Legislature of Virginia. They enlarged on the happy
condition of slaves in that state, on the kindness with which they were
treated, and on the attachment subsisting between them and their
masters. They stated that the feeling against slavery was so strong that
shortly after the close of the Revolution many persons had voluntarily
emancipated their slaves. This had introduced a class of very dangerous
people,--the free blacks,--who lived by pilfering, corrupted the slaves,
and produced such pernicious consequences that the Legislature was
obliged to prohibit their further emancipation by law. The important
object now was to remove the free blacks, and provide a place to which
the emancipated slaves might go; in which case, the legal obstacles to
emancipation being withdrawn, Virginia, at least, might in time be
relieved from her black population.

A committee from the Colonial Society also waited on Mr. Adams,
repeating the same topics, and maintaining that the slave-trade act
contained a clear authority to settle a colony in Africa; and that the
purchase of Louisiana, and the settlement at the mouth of Columbia
River, placed beyond all question the right of acquiring territory as
existing in the government of the United States. Mr. Adams, in reply,
successfully maintained that the slave-trade act had no reference to the
settlement of a colony on the coast of Africa; and that the acquisition
of Louisiana, and the settlement at the mouth of Columbia River, being
in territories contiguous to and in continuance of our own, could by no
reason warrant the purchase of countries beyond seas, or the
establishment of a colonial system of government subordinate to and
dependent upon that of the United States.

In July, 1819, Mr. Adams, writing concerning the failure at the
preceding session of Missouri to obtain admission as a state into the
Union, from the restriction, introduced by the House of Representatives,
excluding slavery from its constitution, thus expressed himself: "The
attempt to introduce that restriction produced a violent agitation among
the members from the slaveholding states, and it has been communicated
to the states themselves, and to the territory of Missouri. The
slave-drivers, as usual, whenever this topic is brought up, bluster and
bully, talk of the white slaves of the Eastern States, and the
dissolution of the Union, and of oceans of blood; and the Northern men,
as usual, pocket all this hectoring, sit down in quiet, and submit to
the slave-scourging republicanism of the planters."

Being urged to use his influence that the language and policy of the
government should be as moderate and guarded as possible, from the
consideration that both England and France were profoundly impressed
with the idea that we were an ambitious, encroaching people, Mr. Adams
replied: "I doubt if we should give ourselves any concern about it.
Great Britain, who had been vilifying us for twenty years as a
low-minded nation, with no generous ambition, no God but gold, had now
changed her tune, and was endeavoring to alarm the world at the gigantic
grasp of our ambition. Spain and all Europe were endeavoring to do the
same; being startled at first by our acquisition of Louisiana, and now
by our pretensions to extend to the South Sea. Nothing we can say will
remove this impression until the world shall be familiarized with the
idea of considering the continent of North America to be our proper
dominion. From the time we became an independent people, it was as much
a law of nature that this should become our pretension, as that the
Mississippi should flow to the sea. Spain had pretensions on our
southern, Great Britain on our northern borders. It was impossible that
centuries should elapse without finding them annexed to the United
States; not from any spirit of encroachment or of ambition on our part,
but because it was a physical, and moral, and political absurdity, that
such fragments of territory, with sovereigns fifteen hundred miles
beyond sea, worthless and burdensome to their owners, should exist,
permanently, contiguous to a great, powerful, enterprising, and
rapidly-growing nation. Most of the territories of Spain in our
neighborhood had become ours by fair purchase. This rendered it more
unavoidable that the remainder of the continent should ultimately be
ours. It was but very lately we had seen this ourselves, or that we had
avowed the pretension of extending to the South Sea; and, until Europe
finds it to be a settled geographical element that the United States and
North America are identical, any effort on our part to reason the world
out of the belief that we are an ambitious people will have no other
effect than to convince them that we add to our ambition hypocrisy."

Concerning the discords which arose in the cabinet, on policy to be
pursued, Mr. Adams remarked: "I see them with pain, but they are sown in
the practice which the Virginia Presidents have taken so much pains to
engraft on the constitution of the Union, making it a principle that no
President can be more than twice elected, and whoever is not thrown out
after one term of service must decline being a candidate after the
second. This is not a principle of the constitution, and I am satisfied
it ought not to be. Its inevitable consequence is to make every
administration a scene of continuous and furious electioneering for the
succession to the Presidency. It was so through the whole of Mr.
Madison's administration, and it is so now."

The signature of the treaty for the acquisition of Florida, sanctioned
by the unanimous vote of the Senate, had greatly contributed to the
apparent popularity of Mr. Monroe's administration. But the postponement
of its ratification by Spain soon clouded the prospect; and the question
whether Missouri should be admitted into the Union as a slave or free
state, in which Mr. Adams took a deep interest, immediately rendered the
political atmosphere dark and stormy. "There is now," Mr. Adams
observed, "every appearance that the slave question will be carried by
the superior ability of the slavery party. For this much is certain,
that if institutions are to be judged by their results in the
composition of the councils of the Union, the slaveholders are much more
ably represented than the simple freemen. With the exception of Rufus
King, there is not, in either house of Congress, a member from the free
states able to cope in powers of the mind with William Pinkney and James
Barbour. In the House of Representatives the freemen have none to
contend on equal terms either with John Randolph or Clay. Another
misfortune to the free party is that some of their ablest men are either
on this question with their adversaries, or lukewarm in the cause. The
slave men have indeed a deeper immediate stake in the issue than the
partisans of freedom. Their passions and interests are more profoundly
agitated, and they have stronger impulses to active energy than their
antagonists, whose only individual interest in this case arises from its
bearing on the balance of political power between the North and South."

The debate on this subject commenced in the Senate. In the course of
January and February, 1820, Rufus King, senator from New York, delivered
two of the most well-considered and powerful speeches that this Missouri
question elicited. The remarks they drew forth from Mr. Adams render it
proper that some idea of their general course should be stated, although
it is impossible that any abstract can do justice to them. Disclaiming
all intention to encourage or assent to any measure that would affect
the security of property in slaves, or tend to disturb the political
adjustment which the constitution had established concerning them, he
enters at large into the power of Congress to make and determine
whatever regulations are needful concerning the territories. He
maintained that the power of admitting new states is by the constitution
referred wholly to the discretion of Congress; that the citizens of the
several states have rights and duties, differing from each other in the
respective states; that those concerning slavery are the most
remarkable--it being permitted in some states, and prohibited in others;
that the question concerning slavery in the old states is already
settled. Congress had no power to interfere with or change whatever has
been thus settled. The slave states are free to continue or abolish
slavery. The constitution contains no provision concerning slavery in a
new state; Congress, therefore, may make it a condition of the admission
of a new state that slavery shall forever be prohibited within it.

Mr. King then enters upon the history of the United States relative to
this subject, and to the rights of the citizens of Missouri resulting
from the terms of the cession of Louisiana, and of the act admitting it
into the Union. From this recapitulation and illustration he
demonstrates, beyond refutation, that Congress possesses the power to
exclude slavery from Missouri. The only question now remaining was to
show that it ought to exclude it. In discussing this point, Mr. King
passes over in silence arguments which to some might appear decisive,
but the use of which in the Senate of the United States would call up
feelings that he apprehended might disturb or defeat the impartial
consideration of the subject.

Under this self-restraint he observed that slavery, unhappily, exists
in the United States; that enlightened men in the states where it is
permitted, and everywhere out of them, regret its existence among us,
and seek for the means of limiting and of eradicating it. He then
proceeds to state and reason concerning the difficulties in the
apportionment of taxes among the respective states under the old
confederation, and in the convention for the formation of the
constitution, which resulted in the provision that direct taxes should
be apportioned among the states according to the whole number of free
persons and three fifths of the slaves which they might respectively
contain. The effect of this provision he then analyzes, and shows that,
in consequence of it, _five_ free persons in Virginia have as much
power in the choice of representatives, and in the appointment of
presidential electors, as _seven_ free persons in any of the states in
which slavery does not exist. At the time of the adoption of the
constitution no one anticipated the fact that the whole of the revenue
of the United States would be derived from indirect taxes; but it was
believed that a part of the contribution to the common treasury would
be apportioned among the states, by the rule for the apportionment of
representatives. The states in which slavery is prohibited ultimately,
though with reluctance, acquiesced in the disproportionate number of
representatives and electors that was secured to the slaveholding
states. The concession was at the time believed to be a great one, and
has proved the greatest which was made to secure the adoption of the
constitution. Great as is this concession, it was definite, and its
full extent was comprehended. It was a settlement between the thirteen
states, and not applicable to new states which Congress might be
willing to admit into the Union.

The equality of rights, which includes an equality of burdens, is a
vital principle in our theory of government. The effect of the
constitution has been obvious in the preponderance it has given to the
slave-holding states over the other states. But the extension of this
disproportionate power to the new states would be unjust and odious. The
states whose power would be abridged and whose burdens would be
increased by the measure would not be expected to consent to it. The
existence of slavery impairs the industry and power of a nation. In a
country where manual labor is performed by slaves, that of freemen is
dishonored. In case of foreign war, or domestic insurrection, slaves not
only do not add to, but diminish the faculty of self-defence.

If Missouri, and the states formed to the west of the River Mississippi,
are permitted to introduce and establish slavery, the repose, if not the
security, of the Union, may be endangered. All the states south of the
River Ohio, and west of Pennsylvania and Delaware, will be peopled with
slaves; and the establishment of new states west of the River
Mississippi will serve to extend slavery, instead of freedom, over that
boundless region. But, if slavery be excluded from Missouri and the
other new states which may be formed in that quarter, not only will the
slave-markets be broken up, and the principles of freedom be extended
and strengthened, but an exposed and important frontier will present a
barrier which will check and keep back foreign assailants, who may be as
brave, and, as we hope, as free as ourselves. Surrounded in this manner
by connected bodies of freemen, the states where slavery is allowed will
be made more secure against domestic insurrection, and less liable to be
affected by what may take place in the neighboring colonies.

At the delivery of these speeches Mr. Adams was present, and thus
expressed his opinion in writing: "I heard Mr. King on what is called
the Missouri question. His manner was dignified, grave, earnest, but not
rapid or vehement. There was nothing new in his argument, but he
unravelled with ingenious and subtle analysis many of the sophistical
tissues of slaveholders. He laid down the position of the natural
liberty of man, and its incompatibility with slavery in any shape; he
also questioned the constitutional right of the President and Senate to
make the Louisiana treaty; but he did not dwell upon those points, nor
draw the consequences from them which I should think important. He spoke
on that subject, however, with great power, and the great slaveholders
in the house gnawed their lips and clenched their fists as they heard

"At our evening parties," he adds, "we hear of nothing but the Missouri
question and Mr. King's speeches. The slaveholders cannot hear of them
without being seized with the cramps. They call them seditious and
inflammatory, which was far from being their character. Never, since
human sentiment and human conduct were influenced by human speech, was
there a theme for eloquence like the free side of this question, now
before the Congress of the Union. By what fatality does it happen that
all the most eloquent orators are on its slavish side? There is a great
mass of cool judgment and of plain sense on the side of freedom and
humanity, but the ardent spirits and passions are on the side of
oppression. O! if but one man could arise with a genius capable of
comprehending, a heart capable of supporting, and an utterance capable
of communicating, those eternal truths which belong to the question,--to
lay bare in all its nakedness that outrage upon the goodness of God,
human slavery,--now is the time, and this is the occasion, upon which
such a man would perform the duties of an angel upon earth."

About this time Mr. Calhoun remarked to Mr. Adams, that he did not think
the slave question, then pending in Congress, would produce a
dissolution of the Union, but, if it should, the South would, from
necessity, be compelled to form an alliance, offensive and defensive,
with Great Britain. Mr. Adams asked if that would not be returning to
the old colonial state. Calhoun said, Yes, pretty much, but it would be
forced upon them. Mr. Adams inquired whether he thought, if by the
effect of this alliance, offensive and defensive, the population of the
North should be cut off from its natural outlet upon the ocean, it would
fall back upon its rocks, bound hand and foot, to starve; or whether it
would retain its power of locomotion to move southward by land. Mr.
Calhoun replied, that in the latter event it would be necessary for the
South to make their communities all military. Mr. Adams pressed the
conversation no further, but remarked: "If the dissolution of the Union
should result from the slave question, it is as obvious as anything that
can be foreseen of futurity, that it must shortly afterwards be followed
by an universal emancipation of the slaves. A more remote, but perhaps
not less certain consequence, would be the extirpation of the African
race in this continent, by the gradually bleaching process of
intermixture, where the white is already so predominant, and by the
destructive process of emancipation; which, like all great religious and
political reformations, is terrible in its means, though happy and
glorious in its end. Slavery is the great and foul stain on the American
Union, and it is a contemplation worthy of the most exalted soul,
whether its total abolition is not practicable. This object is vast in
its compass, awful in its prospects, sublime and beautiful in its issue.
A life devoted to it would be nobly spent or sacrificed."

On the 26th of February, Mr. John Randolph spoke on the Missouri
question in the House of Representatives between three and four hours,
on which speech Mr. Adams observed: "As usual, it had neither beginning,
middle, nor end. Egotism, Virginian aristocracy, slave-purging liberty,
religion, literature, science, wit, fancy, generous feelings, and
malignant passions, constitute a chaos in his mind, from which nothing
orderly can ever flow. Clay, the Speaker, twice called him to order;
which proved useless, for he can no more keep order than he can keep
silence." On the 1st of March the Missouri question came to a crisis in
Congress. The majorities in both branches were on opposite sides, and in
each a committee was raised to effect a compromise. This endeavor
resulted in the abandonment by the House of Representatives of the
principle it had inserted, that slavery should be prohibited in the
Missouri constitution, and in annexing a section that slavery should be
prohibited in the remaining parts of the Louisiana cession, north of
latitude thirty-six degrees thirty minutes. This compromise, as it was
called, was finally carried in the House of Representatives, by a vote
of ninety to thirty-seven, after several successive days, and almost
nights, of stormy debate.

On the 3d of March, a member of the house from Massachusetts told Mr.
Adams that John Randolph had made a motion that morning to reconsider
one of the votes of yesterday upon the Missouri bill, and of the
trickery by which his motion was defeated. The Speaker (Mr. Clay)
declared it when first made not in order, the journal of yesterday's
proceedings riot having been then read; and while they were reading the
journal, the clerk of the house carried the bill as passed by the house
to the Senate; so that, when Randolph, after the reading of the journal,
renewed his motion, it was too late, the papers being no longer in the
possession of the house. "And so it is," said Mr. Adams, "that a law
perpetuating slavery in Missouri, and perhaps in North America, has been
smuggled through both houses of Congress. I have been convinced, from
the first starting of this question, that it could not end otherwise.
The fault is in the constitution of the United States, which has
sanctioned a dishonorable compromise with slavery. There is henceforth
no remedy for it but a reörganization of the Union, to effect which a
concert of all the white states is indispensable. Whether that can ever
be accomplished is doubtful. It is a contemplation not very creditable
to human nature that the cement of common interest, produced by slavery,
is stronger and more solid than that of unmingled freedom. In this
instance the slave states have clung together in one unbroken phalanx,
and have been victorious by the means of accomplices and deserters from
the ranks of freedom. Time only can show whether the contest may ever,
with equal advantage, be renewed; but, so polluted are all the streams
of legislation in regions of slavery, that this bill has been obtained
by two as unprincipled artifices as dishonesty ever devised. One, by
coupling it as an appendage to the bill for admitting Maine into the
Union; the other, by the perpetrating this outrage by the Speaker on the
rules of the house."

Mr. Calhoun, after a debate in the cabinet on the Missouri question,
said to Mr. Adams that the principles avowed by him were just and noble,
but in the Southern country, whenever they were mentioned, they were
always understood as applying to white men. Domestic labor was confined
to the blacks; and such was the prejudice that, if he were to keep a
white servant in his house, although he was the most popular man in his
district, his character and reputation would be irretrievably ruined.
Mr. Adams replied that this confounding the ideas of servitude and labor
was one of the bad effects of slavery. Mr. Calhoun thought it was
attended with many excellent consequences. It did not apply to all sorts
of labor; not, for example, to farming. He, himself, had often held the
plough. So had his father. Manufacturing and mechanical labor was not
degrading. It was only menial labor, the proper work of slaves. No white
person could descend to that. And it was the best guarantee of equality
among the whites. It produced an unvarying level among them. It not only
did not excite, but did not admit of inequalities, by which one white
man could domineer over another.

Mr. Adams replied, that he could not see things in the same light. "It
is in truth all perverted sentiment; mistaking labor for slavery, and
dominion for freedom. The discussion of this Missouri question has
betrayed the secret of their souls. In the abstract they admit slavery
to be an evil. They disclaim all participation in the introduction of
it, and cast it all on the shoulders of 'old grandame Great Britain.'
But, when probed to the quick upon it, they show at the bottom of their
souls pride and vain-glory in their very condition of masterdom. They
fancy themselves more generous and noble-hearted than the plain freemen,
who labor for subsistence. They look down on the simplicity of Yankee
manners, because they have no habits of overbearing like theirs, and
cannot treat negroes like dogs. It is among the evils of slavery that it
taints the very source of moral principle. It establishes false
estimates of virtue and vice; for what can be more false and heartless
than this doctrine, which makes the first and holiest rights of humanity
to depend on the color of the skin? It perverts human reason, and
reduces man endowed with logical powers to maintain that slavery is
sanctioned by the Christian religion; that slaves are happy and
contented in their condition; that between the master and slave there
are ties of mutual attachment and affection; that the virtues of the
master are refined and exalted by the degradation of the slave; while,
at the same time, they vent execrations on the slave-trade, curse Great
Britain for having given them slaves, burn at the stake negroes
convicted of crimes for the terror of the example, and writhe in agonies
of fear at the very mention of human rights as applicable to men of

"The impression produced on my mind," continued Mr. Adams, "by the
progress of this discussion, is, that the bargain between freedom and
slavery contained in the constitution of the United States is morally
and politically vicious; inconsistent with the principles on which alone
our Revolution can be justified; cruel and oppressive, by riveting the
chains of slavery, by pledging the faith of freedom to maintain and
perpetuate the tyranny of the master; and grossly unequal and impolitic,
by admitting that slaves are at once enemies to be kept in subjection,
property to be secured and returned to their owners, and persons not to
be represented themselves, but for whom their masters are privileged
with nearly a double share of representation. The consequence has been
that this slave representation has governed the Union. Benjamin's
portion above his brethren has ravined as a wolf. In the morning he has
devoured the prey, and in the evening has divided the spoil. It would be
no difficult matter to prove, by reviewing the history of the Union
under this constitution, that almost everything which has contributed to
the honor and welfare of this nation has been accomplished in despite of
them, or forced upon them; and that everything unpropitious and
dishonorable, including the blunders of their adversaries, may be traced
to them. I have favored this Missouri compromise, believing it to be all
that could be effected under the present constitution, and from extreme
unwillingness to put the Union at hazard. But perhaps it would have been
a wiser and bolder course to have persisted in the restriction on
Missouri, until it should have terminated in a convention of the states
to revise and amend the constitution. This would have produced a new
Union of thirteen or fourteen states unpolluted with slavery, with a
great and glorious object, that of rallying to their standard the other
states, by the universal emancipation of their slaves. If the Union must
be dissolved, slavery is precisely the question upon which it ought to
break. For the present, however, this contest is laid asleep."

Again he says: "Mr. King is deeply mortified at the issue of the
Missouri question, and very naturally feels resentful at the imputations
of the slaveholders, that his motives on this occasion have been merely
personal aggrandizement,--'close ambition varnished o'er with zeal.' The
imputation of bad motives is one of the most convenient weapons of
political, and indeed of every sort of controversy. It came originally
from the devil.--'Doth Job serve God for naught?' The selfish and the
social passions are intermingled in the conduct of every man acting in a
public capacity. It is right that they should be so. And it is no just
cause of reproach to any man, that, in promoting to the utmost of his
power the public good, he is desirous; at the same time, of promoting
his own. There are, no doubt, hypocrites of humanity as well as of
religion; men with cold hearts and warm professions, trading upon
benevolence, and using justice and virtue only as stakes upon the turn
of a card or the cast of a die. But this sort of profligacy belongs to a
state of society more deeply corrupted than ours. Such characters are
rare among us. Many of our public men have principles too pliable to
popular impulse, but few are deliberately dishonest; and there is not a
man in the Union of purer integrity than Rufus King.

"The most remarkable circumstance in the history of the final decision
of the Missouri question is that it was ultimately carried against the
opinions, wishes, and interests, of the free states, by the votes of
their own members. They had a decided majority in both houses of
Congress, but lost the vote by disunion among themselves. The
slaveholders clung together, without losing one vote. Many of them, and
almost all the Virginians, held out to the last, even against
compromise. The cause of the closer union on the slave side is that the
question affected the individual interest of every slaveholding member,
and of almost every one of his constituents. On the other side,
individual interests were not implicated in the decision at all. The
impulses were purely republican principle and the rights of human
nature. The struggle for political power, and geographical jealousy, may
fairly be supposed to have operated equally on both sides. The result
affords an illustration of the remark, how much more keen and powerful
the impulse is of personal interest than is that of any general
consideration of benevolence and humanity."

The compromise, by which Missouri was admitted into the Union, did not
finally settle the question in. Congress. At the next session it
reappeared, in consequence of the insertion into the constitution of
Missouri of an article declaring it to be the duty of the Legislature to
pass laws prohibiting free negroes and persons of color from coming into
Missouri; which declaration was directly repugnant to that article in
the constitution of the United States which provides that the citizens
of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of
citizens of the other states. The only mode of getting out of this
difficulty, said Mr. Adams, was "for Congress to pass a resolution
declaring the State of Missouri to be admitted from and after the time
when the article repugnant to the constitution of the United States
should be expunged from its constitution. This question was much more
clear against Missouri than was that of their first admission into the
Union; but the people of the North, like many of their representatives
in Congress, began to give indications of a disposition to flinch from
the consequences of this question, and to be unwilling to bear their
leaders out."

Mr. Adams, in conversation with one of the senators of the South,
observed, that "the article in the Missouri constitution is directly
repugnant to the rights reserved to every citizen in the Union in the
constitution of the United States. Its purport is to disfranchise all
the people of color who were citizens of the free states. The
Legislatures of those states are bound in duty to protect the rights of
their own citizens; and if Congress, by the admission of Missouri with
that clause in her constitution, should sanction this outrage upon
those rights, the states a portion of whose citizens should be thus
cast out of the pale of the Union would be bound to vindicate them by
retaliation. If I were a member of the Legislature of one of these
states, I would move for a declaratory act, that so long as the article
in the constitution of Missouri, depriving the colored citizens of the
state (say) of Massachusetts of their rights as citizens of the United
States within the State of Missouri, should subsist, so long the white
citizens of Missouri should be held as aliens within the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts, and not entitled to claim or enjoy, within the same,
any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States." And Mr.
Adams said he would go further, and declare that Congress, by their
sanction of the Missouri constitution, by admitting that state into the
Union without excepting against that article which disfranchised a
portion of the citizens of Massachusetts, had violated the constitution
of the United States. Therefore, until that portion of the citizens of
Massachusetts whose rights were violated by the article in the Missouri
compromise should be reintegrated in the full enjoyment and possession
of those rights, no clause or article of the constitution of the United
States should, within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, be so
understood as to authorize any person whatsoever to claim the property
or possession of a human being as a slave; and he would prohibit by law
the delivery of any fugitive upon the claim of his master. All which,
he said, should be done, not to violate, but to redeem from violation,
the constitution of the United States. It was indeed to be expected
that such laws would again be met by retaliatory laws of Missouri and
the other slaveholding states, and the consequences would be a
dissolution _de facto_ of the Union; but that dissolution would be
commenced by the article in the Missouri constitution. "That article,"
declared Mr. Adams, "is itself a dissolution of the Union. If
acquiesced in, it will change the terms of the federal compact--change
its terms by robbing thousands of citizens of their rights. And what
citizens? The poor, the unfortunate, the helpless, already cursed by
the mere color of their skin; already doomed by their complexion to
drudge in the lowest offices of society; excluded by their color from
all the refined enjoyments of life accessible to others; excluded from
the benefits of a liberal education,--from the bed, the table, and all
the social comforts, of domestic life. This barbarous article deprives
them of the little remnant of right yet left them--their rights as
citizens and as men. Weak and defenceless as they are, so much the more
sacred the obligation of the Legislatures of the states to which they
belong to defend their lawful rights. I would defend them, should the
dissolution of the Union be the consequence; for it would be, not to
the defence, but to the violation of their rights, to which all the
consequences would be imputable; and, if the dissolution of the Union
must come, let it come from no other cause but this. If slavery be the
destined sword, in the hand of the destroying angel, which is to sever
the ties of this Union, the same sword will cut asunder the bonds of
slavery itself."

"In the House of Representatives, on the 4th of December," writes Mr.
Adams, "Mr. Eustis, of Massachusetts, made a speech against the
resolution for admitting Missouri into the Union without condition, and
it was rejected, _ninety-three_ to _seventy-nine_. On the 19th of
December he offered a resolution admitting Missouri into the Union
conditionally; namely, 'from and after the time when they shall have
expunged from their constitution the article repugnant to the
constitution of the United States.' On the 24th of January, 1821, this
resolution was rejected by a vote of one hundred and forty-six to six.
It satisfies neither party. It is too strong for the slave party, and
not strong enough for the free party." In December and January the
subject was ardently debated in the House of Representatives, and,
after commitment and various attempts at amendment, on the 13th of
February the report of a committee of the House of Representatives in
favor of admitting Missouri into the Union, in conformity with the
resolution which had passed the Senate, was rejected, eighty-five to

The proceedings of the House of Representatives, in counting the votes
for President and Vice-President, are thus stated by Mr. Adams: "On
the 14th of February, while the electoral votes for President and
Vice-President were counting, those of Missouri were objected to
because Missouri was not a state of the Union--on which a tumultuous
scene arose. A Southern member moved, in face of the rejection by a
majority of the House, that Missouri _is_ one of the states of this
Union, and that her votes ought to be counted. Mr. Clay avoided the
question by moving that it should lie on the table, and then that a
message should be sent to the Senate informing them that the House were
_now_ ready to proceed in continuing the enumeration of the electoral
votes, according to the joint resolution; which was ordered. The Senate
accordingly proceeded to open the votes of Missouri, and they were
counted. The result was declared by the President of the Senate, in the
alternative that if the votes of Missouri were counted there were two
hundred and thirty-one votes for James Monroe as President, and two
hundred and eighteen votes for Daniel D. Tompkins as Vice-President;
and if not counted, there would be two hundred and twenty-eight votes
for James Monroe as President, and two hundred and fifteen for Daniel
D. Tompkins as Vice-President; but, in either event, both were elected
to their respective offices. He therefore declared them to be so

"After the two houses had separated, Mr. Randolph moved two resolutions:
one, that the electoral votes of the State of Missouri had been counted,
and formed part of the majorities by which the President and
Vice-President had been elected; and the other, that the result of the
election had not been declared by the presiding officer conformably to
the constitution and the law, and therefore the whole proceedings had
been irregular and illegal. This motion, after a very disorderly debate,
was disposed of by adjournment. Mr. Randolph was for bringing Missouri
into the Union by storm, and by bullying a majority of the House into a
minority. The only result was disorder and tumult.

"On the 23d of February, the Missouri question being still undecided, on
a motion of Mr. Clay, the House of Representatives chose by ballot a
committee of twenty-three members, who were joined by a committee of
seven from the Senate. Their object was a last attempt to devise a plan
for admitting Missouri into the Union. On the 26th, the committee
proposed a _conditional_ admission, upon terms more humiliating to
the people of Missouri than it would have been to require that they
should expunge the exceptionable article from their constitution; for
they declared it a fundamental condition of their admission that the
article should never be construed to authorize the passage of any law by
which any citizen of the states of this Union should be excluded from
his privileges under the constitution of the United States; and they
required that the Legislature of the state, by a solemn public act,
should declare the assent of the state to this condition, and transmit a
copy of the act, by the first Monday of November ensuing, to the
President of the United States. But, in substance, this condition bound
them to nothing. The resolution was, however, taken up this day in the
House of Representatives, read three times, and passed by a vote of
eighty-seven to eighty-one. On the 28th of February, the Senate, by a
vote of twenty-eight to fourteen, adopted the resolution.

"This second Missouri question was compromised like the first. The
majority against the unconditional admission into the Union was small,
but very decided. The problem for the slave representation to solve was
the precise extent of concession necessary for them to detach from the
opposite party a number of antiservile votes just sufficient to turn the
majority. Mr. Clay found, at last, this expedient, which the slave
voters would not have accepted from any one not of their own party, and
to which his greatest difficulty was to obtain the assent of his own
friends. The timid and the weak-minded dropped off, one by one, from the
free side of the question, until a majority was formed for the
compromise, of which the servile have the substance, and the liberals
the shadow.

"In the progress of this affair the distinctive character of the
inhabitants of the several great divisions of this Union has been shown
more in relief than perhaps in any national transaction since the
establishment of the constitution. It is, perhaps, accidental that the
combination of talent and influence has been the greatest on the slave
side. The importance of the question has been much greater to them than
to the other side. Their union of exertion has been consequently closer
and more unshakable. They have threatened and entreated, bullied and
wheedled, until their more simple adversaries have been half coaxed,
half frightened into a surrender of their principles for a bauble of
insignificant promises. The champions of the North did not judiciously
select their position for this contest. There must be, some time, a
conflict on this very question between slave and free representation.
This, however, was not the proper occasion for contesting it."

At this period Mr. Adams considered that the greatest danger of the
Union was in the overgrown extent of its territory, combining with the
slavery question. The want of slaves was not in the lands, but in their
inhabitants. Slavery had become in the South and South-western states a
condition of existence. On the falling off of the revenue, which
occurred about this time, he observed that "it stirs up the spirit of
economy and retrenchment; and, as the expenditures of the war department
are those on which the most considerable saving can be made, at them the
economists level their first and principal batteries. Individual,
personal jealousies, envyings, and resentments, partisan ambition, and
private interests and hopes, mingle in the motives which prompt this
policy. About one half of the members of Congress are seekers of office
at the nomination of the President. Of the remainder, at least one half
have some appointment or favor to ask for their relatives. But there are
two modes of obtaining their ends: the one, by subserviency; the other,
by opposition. These may be called the cringing canvass and the flouting
canvass. As the public opinion is most watchful of the cringing canvass,
the flouters are the most numerous party."

                             CHAPTER VI.


During the second term of Mr. Monroe's Presidency, Mr. Adams continued
to take his full proportion of responsibility in the measures of the
administration. Questions concerning the Bank of the United States, the
currency, the extinction or extension of slavery, the bankrupt law, the
tariff, and internal improvements, brought into discussion the interests
of the great States of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York, combined
with the never-ceasing struggles for power of parties and individuals.
Candidates for the office of President and Vice-President were brought
into the field by their respective adherents. Every topic which could
exalt or depress either was put in requisition, and office-holders and
office-seekers became anxious and alert.

In July, 1821, at the request of the citizens of Washington, Mr. Adams
delivered an address on the anniversary of American Independence. It did
not receive the indulgence usually extended to such efforts, but was
made the occasion of severe animadversions on his character and talents.
In December his friends called his attention to calumnies and aspersions
copied into the _City Gazette_, from papers issued in Georgia and
Tennessee, and expressed their opinions that they ought to be answered
by him, as they knew they could be most triumphantly. Mr. Adams replied:
"Should I comply with your request, it will be immediately said, I was
canvassing for the Presidency. I never, that I can recollect, but once,
undertook to answer anything that was published against me, and that was
when I was in private life. To answer newspaper accusations would be an
endless task. The tongue of falsehood can never be silenced. I have not
time to spare from public business to the vindication of myself."

To place Philip P. Barbour, of Virginia, in the Speaker's chair, and to
prevent the reelection of John W. Taylor, of New York, the tried friend
of the administration, became the next object of all those who hoped to
rise by opposing it. The partisans of Barbour were successful, and the
consequences of his elevation were immediately apparent. As the
Committee of Foreign Relations was, by a practical rule, the medium of
communication between Congress and the executive government, it was
customary for the Speaker to constitute it chiefly of members who
coïncided in their views. But many of those now appointed by Barbour,
especially the chairman, were hostile to their politics. To this
committee all the delicate and critical papers relative to the foreign
relations of the United States were to be confidentially communicated.
No arrangement could have been more annoying to Mr. Monroe and his
cabinet, or more symptomatic of a settled opposition.

By a vote passed in March, 1817, the Senate had required of Mr. Adams a
report on weights and measures; and in December, 1819, the House of
Representatives had by a resolution made the same requisition. To this
subject he had directed his attention when in Russia; and had devoted
the leisure his duties as Secretary of State permitted, without
approximating to its completion, owing to the number and perplexity of
details its pursuit involved.

In the summer of 1820 he relinquished a visit to his father and friends
in Massachusetts, and concentrated his attention, during six months,
exclusively on this report, which he finished and made to Congress, in
February, 1821. At the conclusion of his work he thus expresses himself:
"This subject has occupied, for the last sixty years, many of the ablest
men in Europe, and to it all the powers, and all the philosophical and
mathematical learning and ingenuity, of France and Great Britain, have
been incessantly directed. It was a fearful and oppressive task. It has
been executed, and it will be for the public judgment to pass upon it."

From the abstruse character of this work, the labor, research, and
talent, it evidences have never been generally and justly appreciated.
It commences with the wants of individuals antecedent to the existence
of communities, and deduces from man's physical organization, and from
the exigences of domestic society, the origin of _measures of surface,
distance, and capacity_; and that of _weight_, from the difference
between the specific gravity of substances and its importance in the
exchange of traffic consequent on the multiplication of human wants,
with the increase of the social relations. He then proceeds to state
and analyze the powers and duties of legislators on the subject, with
their respective limitations. The results of his researches relative to
the weights and measures of the Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans,
are successively stated. From the institutions of the nations of
antiquity he derives those of modern Europe and of the United States.
He praises the "stupendous and untiring perseverance of England and
France" in this field, and explains the causes which have not rendered
their success adequate to their endeavors. The system of modern France
on this subject he investigates and applauds, as "one of those attempts
to improve the condition of human kind, which, although it may
ultimately fail, deserves admiration, as approaching more nearly than
any other to the ideal perfection of uniformity in weights and
measures." After stating the difficulties which prevented other nations
from seconding the endeavors of France, Mr. Adams concludes this
elaborate treatise with the opinion that universal uniformity on the
subject can only be effected by a general convention, to which all the
nations of the world should be parties. Until such a general course of
measures be adopted, he regards it as inexpedient for the United States
to make any change in their present system. After an elaborate
enumeration of the regulations of the several states of the Union,
accompanied by voluminous documents, he concludes with proposing,
"first, to fix the standard with the partial uniformity of which it is
susceptible for the present, excluding all innovation. Second, to
consult with foreign nations for the future and ultimate establishment
of _permanent_ and _universal_ uniformity."

The Senate ordered six hundred copies of this report to be printed. But
its final suggestions were not made the subject of action in either
branch. A writer of the day said, with equal truth and severity, "It was
not noticed in Congress, where ability was wanting, or labor refused,
to understand it." As Mr. Adams was one of the candidates in the
approaching presidential election, party spirit was inclined to treat
with silence and neglect labors which it realized could not fail to
command admiration and approval. In England the merits of this report
were more justly appreciated. In 1834, Col. Pasley, royal engineer, in a
learned work on measures and money, acknowledged the benefits he had
derived from "an official report upon weights and measures, published
in 1821, by a distinguished American statesman, John Quincy Adams. This
author," he adds, "has thrown more light into the history of our old
English weights and measures _than all former writers on the subject_;
and his views of historical facts, even when occasionally in opposition
to the reports of our own parliamentary committees, appear to me most
correct. For my own part, I do not think I could have seen my way into
the history of English weights and measures in the feudal ages without
his guidance."

In the summer of 1821 Mr. Adams was apprized that rumors, very
unfavorable to his reputation, even for integrity, had been
industriously circulated in the Western country. It had been stated
that he had made a proposition at Ghent to grant to the British the
right to navigate the Mississippi, in return for the Newfoundland
fisheries, and that it was in that section represented as a high
misdemeanor. Mr. Adams said, that a proposition to confirm both those
rights as they had stood before the war, and as stipulated by the
treaty of 1783, had been offered to the British commissioners, not by
him, but by the whole American mission, every one of whom had
subscribed to it. The proposition was not made by him, but by Mr.
Gallatin, who knew it would be nothing to the British but a mere naked
right, of which they could not make any use. It was accordingly
promptly rejected by the British commissioners, and made the ground of
a counter proposition of renouncing the right they had, under the
treaty of 1783, of navigating that river, on condition of our
renouncing the old article on the fisheries. Mr. Adams at once declared
that, if it was acceded to, he would never sign the treaty; and it was
promptly rejected by the American commissioners. When he was again told
that he would be accused in the Western States of the proposition to
confirm the British rights as they stood before the war, he replied,
that he had no doubt it would be so; for Mr. Clay had already, in one
of his speeches in Congress, represented that this proposition had been
made by a _majority_ of the Ghent commissioners, he being in the
minority, without acknowledging _that he had himself signed the note by
which the offer was made_, and without disclosing how lightly the
concession was estimated by the British commissioners, and how promptly
they rejected it.

Accordingly, on the 18th of April, 1822, John Floyd, of Virginia, who,
both in that state and in Congress, was active in seeking and scattering
malign imputations concerning the political course of Mr. Adams, called,
in the House of Representatives, for a letter, written by Jonathan
Russell, in 1814, to Mr. Monroe, then Secretary of State, and, as he
stated, deposited in that office.

This call of Floyd was the springing of the mine for a long-meditated
explosion. On searching the records of state, no such letter could be
found. Mr. Russell immediately volunteered a copy, and deposited it in
that office. This letter was addressed to James Monroe, then Secretary
of State, and was dated Paris, 11th of February, 1815. It was a letter
of seven folio sheets of paper, and amounted, said Mr. Adams, to little
less than a denunciation of a majority of the Ghent commissioners for
proposing the article recognizing the fishery, and the British right to
navigate the Mississippi,--a proposition in which Mr. Russell had
concurred. He wrote this letter at Paris, where all the commissioners
then were, without ever communicating it to Mr. Adams, or letting him
know he had any intention of writing such a letter. It was a most
elaborate, disingenuous, and sophistical argument against principles in
which Mr. Russell himself concurred, and against the joint letters of
the 14th December, 1814, to which he signed his name. His motives, Mr.
Adams considered, for writing then to a Virginian Secretary of State,
under a Virginian President, were, apparently, at once to recommend
himself to their sectional prejudices about the Mississippi, and to
injure him in their esteem and favor, for future effect; and that his
motive for now abetting Floyd, in his call for these papers as a public
document, was to diminish the popularity of Mr. Adams in the Western

With these views of the purposes of Floyd and Russell, Mr. Adams
immediately endeavored to obtain the original letter, of which Mr.
Russell had now deposited in the Secretary of State's office a paper
purporting to be a copy. The original he ascertained was still in the
possession of Mr. Monroe, who had received it soon after its date; but,
as it was marked "private" by Mr. Russell, he considered it
confidential, and did not place it in the office of the Secretary of
State. On ascertaining these facts, Mr. Adams claimed the original
letter from Mr. Monroe, believing, from internal evidence, that the
duplicate, instead of being a true copy of the original, had been in
some respects adapted to present effect. Mr. Monroe declined to listen
to the repeated remonstrances of Mr. Adams, and continued to maintain
that he could not, with honor, make the original letter public. He did
not consent until he was called upon for it by a vote of the House of
Representatives, proposed by the friends of Mr. Adams, and resisted by
Floyd and his party. The original letter being thus obtained, Mr. Adams
prepared and published a severe and scrutinizing examination of its
facts and suggestions, of the motives which prompted those who had
brought it before the public, and of the discrepancies between the
original and the alleged copy which Mr. Russell had volunteered to place
in the office of the Secretary of State. Mr. Russell replied through the
newspapers; on which reply Mr. Adams bestowed a searching and caustic
analysis, commenting with great severity on his language and conduct.

The whole of this controversy was published immediately in an octavo
pamphlet, including important documents relative to the subject and to
the transactions of the commissioners at Ghent, by means of which Mr.
Adams vindicates himself and his colleagues from the charges brought
against them. This elaborate and powerful defence, on which the strength
and character of his mind are deeply impressed, was regarded as

      [1] This publication is contained in _Niles' Weekly Register_,
      vol. XXII., pp. 198, 209, 220, 296, 327, and continued in vol.
      XXIII., pp. 6 and 9.

Mr. Gallatin also published a pamphlet, generally corroborative of the
statements of Mr. Adams; an example which Mr. Clay, another of the Ghent
commissioners, being at that time a prominent competitor with Mr. Adams
for the Presidency, did not see fit to follow. But, as total silence on
his part might be construed to his disadvantage, he published in the
newspapers a letter, dated the 15th of November, 1822, in which he
intimated that there were some errors, both as to matter of fact and
opinion, in the letter of Mr. Adams, as well as in that of Mr. Gallatin;
and declared that he would at some future period, more propitious to
calm and dispassionate consideration, and when there could be no
misrepresentation of motives, lay before the public his own narrative of
these transactions.

Mr. Adams, on the 18th of the ensuing December, in a communication to
the _National Intelligencer_, expressed the pleasure it would have
given him, had Mr. Clay thought it advisable to have specified the
errors he had intimated, to have rectified them by acknowledgment. He
added, that whenever Mr. Clay's accepted time to publish his promised
narrative should come, he would be ready, if living, to acknowledge
indicated errors, and vindicate contested truth. But, lest it might be
postponed until both should be summoned to account for all their errors
before a higher tribunal than that of their country, he felt called
upon to say that what he had written and published concerning this
controversy would, in every particular essential or important to the
interest of the nation, or to the character of Mr. Clay, be found to
abide unshaken the test of human scrutiny, of talents, and of time.

In July, 1822, a plan for an independent newspaper was proposed to Mr.
Adams by some members of Congress, and the necessity of such a paper was
urged upon him with great earnestness. He replied: "An independent
newspaper is very necessary to make truth known to the people; but an
editor really independent must have a heart of oak, nerves of iron, and
a soul of adamant, to carry it through. His first attempt will bring a
hornet's nest about his head; and, if they do not sting him to death or
to blindness, he will have to pursue his march with them continually
swarming over him, and be beset on all sides with obloquy and slander."

In August, 1822, paragraphs from newspapers, laudatory of other
candidates, and depreciatory of Mr. Adams, were shown to him, on which
he remarked, "The thing is not new. From the nature of our institutions,
competitors for public favor and their respective partisans seek success
by slander of each other. I disdain the ignoble warfare, and neither
wage it myself or encourage it in my friends. But, from appearances,
they will decide the election to the Presidency."

In December, 1822, Alexander Smyth, also a representative of one of the
districts of Virginia, followed the example of Mr. Floyd, and, in an
address to his constituents, took occasion to introduce malign
imputations upon the political course of Mr. Adams. To this end, having
ransacked the journals of the Senate of the United States at the time
when Mr. Adams was a member, he undertook to attribute to him base
motives for the votes he had given, particularly such as would be likely
most to affect his popularity in Virginia. Mr. Adams immediately caused
to be printed and published an address to the freeholders of Smyth's
district; the nature and spirit of which reply will be shown by the
following extracts:

    "Friends and Fellow-Citizens: By these titles I presume to address
    you, though personally known to few of you, because my character has
    been arraigned before you by your representative in Congress, in a
    printed handbill, soliciting your suffrages for reëlection, who
    seems to have considered his first claim to the continuance of your
    favor to consist in the bitterness with which he could censure me. I
    shall never solicit your suffrages, nor those of your
    representatives, for anything. But I value your good opinion, and
    wish to show you that I do not deserve to lose it."--"I come to
    repel the charges of General Smyth, but neither for the purpose of
    moving you to withhold your suffrages from him, nor induce the
    General himself to reconsider his opinion concerning me."--"As to
    his opinions, you will permit me to be indifferent to the opinions
    of a man capable of forming his judgment of character from such
    premises as he has alleged in support of his estimate of
    mine."--"His mode of proof is this: He has ransacked the journals of
    the Senate during the five years I had the honor of a seat in that
    body,--a period the expiration of which is nearly fifteen years
    distant,--and wherever he has found in the list of yeas and nays my
    name recorded to a vote which he disapproves, he has imputed it,
    without knowing any of the grounds on which it was given, to the
    worst of motives, for the purpose of ascribing them to me. Is this
    fair? Is this candid? Is this just? Where is the man who ever served
    in a legislative capacity in your councils whose character could
    stand a test like this?"

Mr. Adams then proceeds to reply to all the charges brought against him
by Alexander Smyth, analyzing and explaining every vote which he had
made the subject of animadversion fully and successfully. The close of
his defence is as follows:

    "Fellow-Citizens: I have explained to you the reasons and real
    motives of all the votes which your representative, General
    Alexander Smyth, has laid to my charge, in a printed address to you,
    and to which unusual publicity has been given in the newspapers. I
    am aware that, in presenting myself before you to give this
    explanation, my conduct may again be attributed to unworthy motives.
    The best actions may be, and have been, and will be, traced to
    impure sources, by those to whom troubled waters are a delight. If,
    in many cases, when the characters of public men are canvassed,
    however severely, it is their duty to suffer and be silent, there
    are others, in my belief many others, wherein their duty to their
    country, as well as to themselves and their children, is to stand
    forth the guardians and protectors of their own honest fame. Had
    your representative, in asking again for your votes, contented
    himself with declaring to you his intentions concerning me, you
    never would have heard from me in answer to him. But when he imputes
    to me a character and disposition unworthy of any public man, and
    adduces in proof mere naked votes upon questions of great public
    interest, all given under the solemn sense of duty, impressed by an
    oath to support the constitution, and by the sacred obligations of a
    public trust, to defend myself against charges so groundless and
    unprovoked is, in my judgment, a duty of respect to you, no less
    than a duty of self-vindication to me. I declare to you that not one
    of the votes which General Smyth has culled from an arduous service
    of five years in the Senate of the Union, to stigmatize them in the
    face of the country, was given from any of the passions or motives
    to which he ascribes them; that I never gave a vote either in
    hostility to the administration of Mr. Jefferson, or in disregard to
    republican principles, or in aversion to republican patriots, or in
    favor of the slave-trade, or in denial of due protection to
    commerce. I will add, that, having often differed in judgment upon
    particular measures with many of the best and wisest men of this
    Union of all parties, I have never lost sight either of the candor
    due to them in the estimate of their motives, or of the diffidence
    with which it was my duty to maintain the result of my own opinions
    in opposition to theirs."

In 1823, as the Presidential election approached, the influences to
control and secure the interests predominating in the different
sections of the country became more active. Crawford, of Georgia,
Calhoun, of South Carolina, Adams, of Massachusetts, and Clay, of
Kentucky, were the most prominent candidates. In December, Barbour, of
Virginia, was superseded, as Speaker of the House of Representatives,
by Clay, of Kentucky; an event ominous to the hopes of Crawford, and to
that resistance to the tariff, and to internal improvements, which was
regarded as dependent on his success. The question whether a
Congressional caucus, by the instrumentality of which Jefferson,
Madison, and Monroe, had obtained the Presidency, should be again held
to nominate a candidate for that office, was the next cause of
political excitement. The Southern party, whose hopes rested on the
success of Crawford, were clamorous for a caucus. The friends of the
other candidates were either lukewarm or hostile to that expedient.
Pennsylvania, whose general policy favored a protective tariff and
public improvements, hesitated. In 1816 she had manifested an
opposition to that plan of Congressional influence, and in 1823 a
majority of her representatives declined attending any partial meeting
of members of Congress that might attempt a nomination. But the
Democracy of that state, ever subservient to the views of the Southern
aristocracy, held meetings at Philadelphia, and elsewhere, recommending
a Congressional caucus. This motion would have been probably adopted,
had not the Legislature of Alabama, about this time, nominated Andrew
Jackson for the Presidency, and accompanied their resolutions in his
favor with a recommendation to their representatives to use their best
exertions to prevent a Congressional nomination of a President. The
popularity of Jackson, and the obvious importance to his success of the
policy recommended by Alabama, fixed the wavering counsels of
Pennsylvania, so that only three representatives from that state
attended the Congressional caucus, which was soon after called, and
which consisted of _only sixty members_, out of _two hundred and
sixty-one_, the whole number of the House of Representatives; of which
Virginia and New York, under the lead of Mr. Van Buren, constituted
nearly one half. Notwithstanding this meagre assemblage, Mr. Crawford
was nominated for the Presidency, under a confident expectation that
the influence of the caucus would be conclusive with the people, and
the candidate and policy of Virginia would be confirmed in ascendency.
But the days of Congressional caucuses were now numbered. The people
took the nomination of President into their own hands, and the insolent
assumption of members of Congress to dictate their choice in respect of
this office was henceforth rebuked.

While these intrigues were progressing, Mr. Adams was zealously and
laboriously fulfilling his duties as Secretary of State, neither
endeavoring himself, nor exciting his friends, to counteract these
political movements, one of the chief objects of which was to defeat his
chance for the Presidency.

The course of Mr. Adams relative to the application of the Greeks, then
struggling for independence, for the aid and countenance of the United
States, next brought him into opposition to the prevailing tendency of
the popular feeling of the time. A letter was addressed to him, as
Secretary of State, by Andrew Luriottis, envoy of the provisional
government of the Greeks, at London, entreating that political and
commercial relations might be established between the United States and
Greece, and proposing to enter upon discussions which might lead to
advantageous treaties between the two countries. Mr. Rush, the American
minister in London, enclosed this letter to Mr. Adams, and recommended
the subject to the favorable attention of our government. Mr. Adams,
after expressing the sympathy of the American administration in the
cause of Greek freedom and independence, and their best wishes for its
success, proceeded to state that their duties precluded their taking
part in the war, peace with all the world being the settled policy of
the United States; but that if, in the progress of events, the Greeks
should establish and organize an independent government, the United
States would welcome them, and form with them such diplomatic and
commercial relations as were suitable to their respective relations. Mr.
Adams also wrote a letter to Mr. Rush, requesting him to explain to Mr.
Luriottis that the executive of the United States sympathized with the
Greek cause, and would render the Greeks any service consistent with
neutrality; but that assistance given by the application of the public
force or revenue would involve them in a war with the Sublime Porte, or
perhaps with the Barbary powers; that such aid could not be given
without an act of Congress, and that the policy of the United States was
essentially pacific.

The popular feeling in favor of granting aid to the Greeks soon began to
be general and intense. Balls were held and benefits given to raise
funds for their relief, and sermons and orations delivered in their
behalf, in many parts of the United States. "On this subject," Mr. Adams
remarked, "there are two sources of eloquence: the one, with reference
to sentiment and enthusiasm; the other, to action. For the Greeks all is
enthusiasm. As for action, there is seldom an agreement, and after
discussion the subject is apt to be left precisely where it was. Nothing
definite, nothing practical, is proposed." The United States were at
peace with the Sublime Porte, and he did not think slightly of a war
with Turkey. He had not much esteem for that enthusiasm for the Greeks
which evaporated in words.

In the ensuing session, on the 9th of January, 1824, Mr. Webster, in the
Senate of the United States, proposed a resolve "that provision ought to
be made by law for defraying the expense incident to the appointment of
an agent or commissioner to Greece, whenever the President shall deem it
expedient to make such appointment;" supporting it by a speech adapted
to catch the popular tide, then at the full, and, in fact, doing nothing
with the appearance of doing something. A member of Congress consulted
Mr. Adams on an amendment he proposed to make to the project of Mr.
Webster, as specified in his resolve, it being then under consideration
in the House of Representatives. Mr. Adams replied, it was immaterial
what form the resolution might assume; the objection to it would be the
same in every form. It was, in his opinion, the intermeddling of the
legislature with the duties of the executive; it was the adoption of
Clay's South American system; seizing upon the popular feeling of the
moment to embarrass the administration. A few days afterwards, Mr. Adams
took occasion to state his reasons to Mr. Webster for being averse to
his resolution.

Notwithstanding the Virginia doctrine, that the constitution does not
authorize the application of public moneys to internal improvement, was
one of the hinges on which the selection of candidates in the Southern
States turned, Mr. Adams did not refrain from openly expressing his own
opinion. In a letter to a gentleman in Maryland, dated January, 1824, he
stated that "Congress does possess the power of appropriating money for
public improvements. Roads and canals are among the most essential means
of improving the condition of nations; and a people which should
deliberately, by the organization of its authorized power, deprive
itself of the faculty of multiplying its own blessings, would be as wise
as a Creator who should undertake to constitute a human being without a

      [2] _Niles' Register_, vol. XXVI., pp. 251-328.

While the election of President was pending, and the event uncertain, a
member of Congress from Ohio told Mr. Adams there were sanguine hopes of
his success; on which he remarked: "We know so little of that in
futurity which is best for ourselves, that whether I ought to wish for
success is among the greatest uncertainties of the election. Were it
possible to look with philosophical indifference to the event, that is
the temper of mind to which I should aspire. But who can hold a
firebrand in his hand by thinking of the frosty Caucasus? To suffer
without feeling is not in human nature; and when I consider that to me
alone, of all the candidates before the nation, failure of success would
be equivalent to a vote of censure by the nation upon my past services,
I cannot dissemble to myself that I have more at stake in the result
than any other individual. Yet a man qualified for the duties of chief
magistrate of ten millions of people should be a man proof alike to
prosperous and adverse fortune. If I am able to bear success, I must be
tempered to endure defeat. He who is equal to the task of serving a
nation as her chief ruler must possess resources of a power to serve
her, even against her own will. This I would impress indelibly on my own
mind; and for a practical realization of which, in its proper result, I
look for wisdom and strength from above."

At the close of the year 1824, Mr. Adams responded to a like intimation:
"You will be disappointed. To me both alternatives are distressing in
prospect. The most formidable is that of success. All the danger is on
the pinnacle. The humiliation of failure will be so much more than
compensated by the safety in which it will leave me, that I ought to
regard it as a consummation devoutly to be wished."

At this period an apprehension being expressed to him that if he was
elected Federalists would be excluded from office, he said, he should
exclude no person for political opinion, or on account of personal
opposition to him; but that his great object would be to break up the
remnant of all party distinctions, and to bring the whole people
together, in point of sentiment, as much as possible; and that he should
turn no one out of office on account of his conduct or opinions in the
approaching election.

The result of this electioneering conflict was, that, by the returns of
the electoral colleges of the several states, it appeared that none of
the candidates had the requisite constitutional majority; the whole
number of votes being two hundred and sixty-one--of which Andrew Jackson
had ninety-nine, John Quincy Adams eighty-four, William H. Crawford
forty-one, and Henry Clay thirty-seven. For the office of Vice-President,
John C. Calhoun had one hundred and eighty votes, and was elected.

This result had not been generally anticipated by the friends of Mr.
Adams. His political course had been, for sixteen years, identified
with the policy of the leading statesmen of the Southern States, and
had been acceptable to that section of the Union. It had therefore been
hoped that, with regard to him, the general and inherent antipathy to a
Northern President, which there existed, would have been weakened, if
not subdued. His diplomatic talents had been successfully exercised in
carrying into effect Mr. Madison's views during the whole of that
statesman's administration. He had been the pillar on which Mr. Monroe
had, during both terms of his Presidency, leaned for support, if not
for direction. It was, therefore, not without reason anticipated that
at least a partial support would have been given to him in the region
where the influences of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, were
predominant. But, of the _eighty-four_ votes cast for Mr. Adams, not
one was given by either of the three great Southern slaveholding
states. _Seventy-seven_ were given to him by New England and New York.
The other _seven_ were cast by the Middle or recently admitted states.

The selection of President from the candidates now devolved on the
House of Representatives, under the provisions of the constitution.
But, again, Mr. Adams had the support of none of those slaveholding
states, with the exception of Kentucky, and her delegates were equally
divided between him and General Jackson. The decisive vote was, in
effect, in the hands of Mr. Clay, then Speaker of the House, who cast
it for Mr. Adams;[3] a responsibility he did not hesitate to assume,
notwithstanding the equal division of the Kentucky delegation, and in
defiance of a resolution passed by the Legislature of that state,
declaring their preference for General Jackson.[4] On the final vote
Andrew Jackson had _seven_ votes, William H. Crawford _four_, and John
Quincy Adams _thirteen_; who was, therefore, forthwith declared
President of the United States for four years ensuing the 4th of March,

      [3] _Niles' Register_, vol. XXVII., p. 387.

      [4] Ibid., vol. XXVII., p. 321.

In the answer of Mr. Adams to the official notice of his election by the
House of Representatives, after paying tribute to the talents and public
services of his competitors, he declared that if, by refusal to accept
the trust thus delegated to him, he could give immediate opportunity to
the people to express, with a nearer approach to unanimity, the object
of their preference, he would not hesitate to decline the momentous
charge. But the constitution having, in case of such refusal, otherwise
disposed of the resulting contingency, he declared his acceptance of the
trust assigned to him by his country through her constitutional organs,
confiding in the wisdom of the legislative councils for his guide, and
relying above all on the direction of a superintending Providence.

                             CHAPTER VII.


Those sectional, party, and personal influences, which at all times tend
to throw a republic out of the path of duty and safety, were singularly
active and powerful during the Presidency of Mr. Adams. They were
peculiar and unavoidable. His administration, beyond all others, was
assailed by an unprincipled and audacious rivalry. Its course and
consequences belong to the history of the United States, and will be
here no further stated, or made the subject of comment, than as they
affect or throw light on his policy and character.

Immediately after his inauguration, Mr. Adams appointed Henry Clay, of
Kentucky, Secretary of State; Richard Rush, of Pennsylvania, Secretary
of the Treasury; James Barbour, of Virginia, Secretary of War; Samuel L.
Southard, of New Jersey, Secretary of the Navy; John McLean, of Ohio,
Postmaster-General; and William Wirt, of Virginia, Attorney-General. The
election of Mr. Adams to the Presidency depended on the vote of Henry
Clay, who recognized and voluntarily assumed the responsibility. By
voting for General Jackson, he would have coïncided with the majority of
popular voices; but, actuated, as he declared, by an irrepressible sense
of public duty, in open disregard of instructions from the dominant
party in Kentucky, he dared to expose himself to the coming storm, the
violence of which he anticipated, and soon experienced. In a letter to
Mr. F. Brooke, dated 28th of January, 1825, which was soon published,[1]
he thus expressed his views: "As a friend to liberty and the permanence
of our institutions, I cannot consent, in this early stage of their
existence, by contributing to the election of a military chieftain, to
give the strongest guaranty that this republic will march in the fatal
road which has conducted every other republic to ruin." In a letter
dated the 26th of March, 1825, addressed to the people of his
Congressional district, in Kentucky, Mr. Clay more fully illustrated the
motives for his vote: "I did not believe General Jackson so competent to
discharge the various intricate and complex duties of the office of
chief magistrate as his competitor. If he has exhibited, either in the
councils of the Union, or in those of his own state or territory, the
qualities of a statesman, the evidence of the fact has escaped my
observation."--"It would be as painful as it is unnecessary to
recapitulate some of the incidents, which must be fresh in your
recollection, of his public life, but I was greatly deceived in my
judgment if they proved him to be endowed with that prudence, temper,
and discretion, which are necessary for civil administration."--"In his
elevation, too, I thought I perceived the establishment of a fearful
precedent."--"Undoubtedly there are other and many dangers to public
liberty, besides that which proceeds from military idolatry; but I have
yet to acquire the knowledge of it, if there be one more pernicious or
more frequent. Of Mr. Adams it is but truth and justice to say that he
is highly gifted, profoundly learned, and long and greatly experienced
in public affairs, at home and abroad. Intimately conversant with the
rise and progress of every negotiation with foreign powers, pending or
concluded; personally acquainted with the capacity and attainments of
most of the public men of this country whom it might be proper to employ
in the public service; extensively possessed of much of that valuable
kind of information which is to be acquired neither from books nor
tradition, but which is the fruit of largely participating in public
affairs; discreet and sagacious, he will enter upon the duties of the
office with great advantages."[2]

      [1] _Niles' Weekly Register_, vol. XXVII., p. 386.

      [2] _Niles' Weekly Register_, vol. XXVIII., p. 71.

General Jackson was deeply mortified and irritated by Mr. Clay's
preference of Mr. Adams, and still more by his avowal of the motives on
which it was founded. In a letter to Samuel Swartwout, dated the 23d of
February, 1825,[3] by whom it was immediately published, he complained
bitterly of the term "military chieftain," which Mr. Clay, in his letter
to Mr. Brooke, had applied to him; and, utterly disregarding the rights
and duties which the provisions of the constitution had conferred and
imposed on Mr. Clay, he assumed that he was himself entitled, by the
plurality of votes he had received, to be regarded as the object
indicated by "the supremacy of the people's will." Treating the
objections as personal, and as ominously bearing on his future political
prospects, after insinuating that there had been "art or management to
entice a representative in Congress from a conscientious responsibility
to his own or the wishes of his constituents," he declared his intention
"to appeal from this opprobrium and censure to the judgment of an
enlightened, patriotic, uncorrupted people."

      [3] Ibid., p. 20.

Not content with uttering these general insinuations against Mr. Clay
and Mr. Adams, he immediately put into circulation among his friends and
partisans an unqualified statement to the effect that Mr. Adams had
obtained the Presidency by means of a corrupt bargain with Henry Clay,
on the condition that he should be elevated to the office of Secretary
of State. To this calumny Jackson gave his name and authority, asserting
that he possessed evidence of its truth; and, although Mr. Clay and his
friends publicly denied the charge, and challenged proof of it, two
years elapsed before they could compel him to produce his evidence.
This, when adduced, proved utterly groundless, and the charge false; the
whole being but the creation of an irritated and disappointed mind.
Though detected and exposed, the calumny had the effect for which it was
calculated. Jackson's numerous partisans and friends made it the source
of an uninterrupted stream of abuse upon Mr. Adams, through his whole

The Legislature of Tennessee immediately responded to General Jackson's
appeal to the people, by nominating him as their candidate for the
office of President, at the next election; a distinction which he
joyfully accepted, and on that account immediately resigned his seat in
the Senate of the United States.

Thus, before Mr. Adams had made any development of his policy as
President, an opposition to him and his administration was publicly
organized by his chief competitor, under the authority of one of the
states of the Union, which manifested itself in party bitterness, and
animosity to every act and proposition having any bearing on his
political prospects. The appointment of Henry Clay to the office of
Secretary of State was seized upon as unequivocal proof of Jackson's
allegation; yet it was impossible to designate any leading politician
who had such just, unequivocal, and high pretensions to that station, or
one more popular, especially at the South and the West. Mr. Clay had
been a prominent candidate for the Presidency in opposition to Mr.
Adams. His talents were unquestionable, and a long career in public life
rendered him more conspicuous and suitable for the office than any other
statesman of the period. These qualifications weighed nothing in the
scale of popular opinion and prejudice. The strength of opposition,
based on the calumny circulated by Jackson, became apparent on every
question which could be construed to affect the popularity of Mr. Adams;
especially with regard to those measures which were obviously near his
heart, and which tended to give a permanent and effective character to
his administration.

In his inaugural address, on the 4th of March, 1825, after enumerating
the duties of the people and their rulers, he proceeded to intimate the
views which characterized his policy: "There remains one effort of
magnanimity, one sacrifice of prejudice and passion, to be made by
individuals, throughout the nation, who have heretofore followed the
standard of political party. It is that of discarding every remnant of
rancor against each other, of embracing as countrymen and friends, and
of yielding to talents and virtue alone that confidence which, in times
of contention for principle, was bestowed only on those who bore the
badge of party communion."

His thoughts on this subject were again expressed in May, 1825: "The
custom-house officers throughout the Union, in all probability, were
opposed to my election. They are all now in my power; and I have been
urged very earnestly, and from various quarters, to sweep away my
opponents, and provide for my friends with their places. I can justify
the refusal to adopt this policy only by the steadiness and consistency
of my adhesion to my own. If I depart from this in any one instance, I
shall be called upon by my friends to do the same in many. An invidious
and inquisitorial scrutiny into the personal disposition of public
officers will creep through the whole Union, and the most sordid and
selfish passions will be kindled into activity, to distort the conduct
and misrepresent the feelings of men, whose places may become the prize
of slander upon them."

He made but two removals, both from unquestionable causes; and, in his
new appointments, he was scrupulous in selecting candidates whose
talents were adapted to the public service. It was averred, in the
spirit of complaint or disappointment, that he often conferred offices
on men who immediately coïncided with the opponents and became
calumniators of his administration. He was soon made to realize the
impracticability of disregarding the old lines of party. On being
informed, by some of his friends in the Southern States, that the
objections to the appointment of Federalists were insuperable, and would
everywhere affect the popularity of his administration, he observed: "On
such appointments all the wormwood and gall of the old party hatred ooze
out. Not a vacancy to any office occurs but there is a distinguished
Federalist started and pushed home as a candidate to fill it, always
well qualified, sometimes in an eminent degree, and yet so obnoxious to
the Republican party, that they cannot be appointed without exciting a
vehement clamor against him and the administration. It becomes thus
impossible to fill any vacancy in appointment without offending one half
of the community--the Federalists, if their associate is overlooked; the
Republicans, if he be preferred. To this disposition justice must
sometimes make resistance, and policy must often yield."

The intention of Mr. Adams, avowed and invariably pursued, to make
integrity and qualification the only criterions of appointment to
office,--to remove no incumbent on account of political hostility, and
to appoint no one from the sole consideration of political
adherence,--diminished the power of the administration. The most active
members of party, who follow for reward, either of place or station,
were discouraged, and preferred to continue their allegiance to those
from whom pay was certain, rather than to transfer it to an
administration whose continuance, from the well-known influences on
which political power in this country depends, was dubious, and probably
short-lived. These consequences were familiar to the mind of Mr. Adams;
but his spirit was of a temper which chose rather to fall in upholding
the constitution of his country on its true and pure principles, than to
become the abettor of corruption, and participator in its wages, for the
sake of power. The firmness of these principles was put to frequent
trial during his Presidency, but his resolution never wavered.

The confiding spirit in which he conducted his intercourse with his
cabinet was thus stated by himself in November, 1825: "I have given the
draft of my annual message to the members of the administration, who are
to meet and examine it by themselves, and then discuss the result with
me. I have adopted this mode of scrutinizing the message because I wish
to have the benefit of every objection that can be made by every member
of the administration. But it has never been practised before, and I am
not sure that it will be a safe precedent to follow. In England the
message or speech is delivered by a person under no responsibility for
its contents; but here, where he who delivers it is alone responsible,
and those who advise have no responsibility at all, there may be some
danger in placing the composition of it under the control of cabinet
members, by giving it up to discussion entirely among themselves."

His first message to Congress contained the following special
recommendations: "The maturing into a permanent and regular system the
application of all the superfluous revenues of the Union to internal
improvement." "The establishment of a uniform standard of weights and
measures, which had been a duty expressly enjoined on Congress by the
constitution of the United States." "The establishment of a naval
school of instruction for the formation of scientific and accomplished
officers; the want of which is felt with a daily and increasing
aggravation." "The establishment of a national university, which had
been more than once earnestly recommended to Congress by Washington,
and for which he had made express provision in his will." "Connected
with a university, or separated from it, the erection of an
astronomical observatory, with provision for the support of an
astronomer." Every one of these recommendations was obviously
intimately associated with the progress and character of the nation,
and independent of all personal or party influences. Yet they were
treated with utter neglect, or, after having been permitted to pass
through the forms of commitment and report, were suffered to lie
unnoticed on the tables of both houses, or to be lost by indefinite

The firmness of Mr. Adams, and his independence of personal
considerations, were constantly manifested. Thus, in November, 1825,
when he was urged by some of his influential friends to put into his
message _something soothing to South Carolina_, he replied: "South
Carolina has put it out of my power. She persists in a law[4] which a
judge of the United States has declared to be in direct violation of
the constitution of the United States, and which the Attorney-General
of the United States has also declared to be an infringement of the
rights of foreign nations; against which the British government has
repeatedly remonstrated, and upon which we have promised them that the
cause of complaint should be removed;--a promise which the obstinate
adherence of the government of South Carolina to their law has
disenabled us from fulfilling. The Governor of South Carolina has not
even answered the letter from the Department of State, transmitting to
them the complaint of the British government against this law. In this
state of things, for me to say anything gratifying to the feelings of
the South Carolinians on this subject, would be to abandon the ground
taken by the administration of Mr. Monroe, and disable us from taking
hereafter measures concerning the law, which we may be compelled to
take. To be silent is not to interfere with any state rights, and
renounces no right of ourselves or others."

      [4] In the year 1823 the State of South Carolina passed a law
      making it the duty of the sheriff of any district to apprehend any
      free negro or person of color, brought into that state by any
      vessel, and confine him in jail until such vessel depart, and then
      to liberate him only on condition of payment of the expenses of
      such detention. To this law William Johnson, a South Carolinian,
      and a judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, in a letter
      to Mr. Adams, then Secretary of State, called the attention of the
      President of the United States, as a violation of the constitution;
      and declared his belief "that it had been passed as much for the
      pleasure of bringing the functionaries of the United States into
      contempt, by exposing their impotence, as from any other cause
      whatsoever;" they being precluded from resorting to the writ of
      habeas corpus and injunction because the cases assumed the form of
      state prosecutions. William Wirt, also, the Attorney-General of
      the United States, in a letter to Mr. Adams, then Secretary of
      State, pronounced that law "as being against the constitution,
      treaties, and laws, and incompatible with the rights of all
      nations in amity with the United States."

The same trait of character is evidenced by his persisting in
recommending the application of the superfluous revenue to internal
improvements, notwithstanding he well knew its unpopularity in Virginia,
where it was denounced as realizing the prophecy of Patrick Henry, that
"the Federal government would be a magnificent government." After
delivering his first message, he was told, by a leading and influential
member of Congress from Virginia, that "excitement against the general
government was great and universal in that state; that opinions there
had been before divided, but that now the whole state would move in one
solid column." And the same member read to him letters from Jefferson
and Madison, denouncing the doctrines of the message in the most
emphatic terms.

A letter from distinguished friends of De Witt Clinton, stating that his
adherents predominated in the Legislature of New York, and recommending
a course to conciliate their influence, was shown to Mr. Adams in 1826.
On this suggestion he remarked: "A conciliatory course, so far as may be
compatible with self-respect, is proper and necessary towards all; but,
in the protracted agony of character and reputation which it is the will
of a superior power I should pass through, it is my duty to link myself
to the fortunes of no man. In the balance of politics it is seldom wise
to make one scale preponderate by weights taken from another. Neutrality
towards parties is the proper policy of a President in office."

When officially informed that a senator from Georgia threatened that,
unless the lands of the Creek Indians, claimed by that state as within
its boundaries, were ceded, her weight would be thrown for General
Jackson, Mr. Adams replied, "that we ought not to yield to Georgia,
because we could not do so without gross injustice; and that, as to her
being driven to support General Jackson, he felt little care about that.
He had no more confidence in the one party than the other."

A similar reply was made to an influential New York politician, who told
him that the friends of De Witt Clinton would probably support the
administration, but that Van Buren and his bucktails would be inveterate
in their opposition. "I consider it," said he, "a lottery-ticket whether
either of those parties would support the administration."

The opposition to the election, and subsequently to the administration
of Mr. Adams, in the South, had its origin and support, as we have seen,
first, in the fact that he was (with the exception of his father) the
only President who had not been a slaveholder; and, next, in the fixed
determination, in that section of the Union, to keep the Presidency, if
possible, in the hands of an individual belonging to that class. If,
from circumstances, this should be no longer practicable, then their
policy would be to select a candidate who had no sympathy for the slave,
and whose subserviency to the supremacy of Southern interests was
unquestionable. The attempt to extinguish slavery in Missouri, although
it had resulted in what was called the Missouri compromise, had created
towards all who were not slaveholders a feverish jealousy in the South,
which descended on Mr. Adams with double violence because his free
spirit was known. This was not diminished by the fact that he had,
neither in act nor language, ever transcended the provisions of the
constitution, but had, in every instance, fully recognized its

In February, 1826, two resolutions, which had been adopted in executive
session, were brought to Mr. Adams. The first declared "that the
expediency of the Panama mission ought to be debated in Senate with open
doors, unless the publication of the documents, to which it would be
necessary to refer in debate, would prejudice existing negotiations. The
second was a respectful request to the President of the United States to
inform the Senate whether such objection exists to the publication of
all or any part of those documents; and, if so, to specify to what part
it applies."

"These resolutions," said Mr. Adams, "are the fruit of the ingenuity of
Martin Van Buren, and bear the impress of his character. The resolution
to debate an executive nomination with open doors is without example;
and the thirty-sixth rule of the Senate is explicit and unqualified,
that all documents communicated in confidence by the President to the
Senate shall be kept secret by the members. The request to me to specify
the particular documents the publication of which would affect
negotiations was delicate and ensnaring. The limitation was not of
papers the publication of which might be injurious, but merely of such
as would affect existing negotiations; and, this being necessarily a
matter of opinion, if I should specify passages in the document as of
such a character, any senator might make it a question for discussion in
the Senate, and they might finally publish the whole, under color of
entertaining an opinion different from mine upon the probable effect of
the publication. Besides, should the precedent once be established of
opening the doors of the Senate in the midst of a debate upon executive
business, there would be no prospect of ever keeping them shut again. I
answered the resolution of the Senate by a message stating that all the
communications I had made on this subject had been confidential; and
that, believing it important to the public interest that the confidence
between the Executive and the Senate should continue unimpaired, I
should leave to themselves the determination of a question, upon the
motives of which, not being informed, I was not competent to decide."

When the intrigues which embarrassed and disturbed the Presidency of Mr.
Adams were in full vigor, his spirit and strength of character were
conspicuously manifested. In April, 1827, whilst the state elections
were pending, letters were shown to him complaining that the
administration did not support its friends, and intimating that time and
money must be sacrificed to his success. Mr. Adams remarked: "I have
observed the tendency of our elections to venality, and shall not
encourage it. There is much money expended by the adversaries of the
administration, and it runs chiefly in the channels of the press. They
work by slander to vitiate the public spirit, and pay for defamation, to
receive their reward in votes."

At the beginning of the third year of his term of office the currents of
party began to run strongly towards the approaching struggle for the
Presidency. Mr. Adams, writing concerning the aspects of the time,
remarked. "General politics and electioneering topics appear to be the
only material of interest and of discourse to men in the public service.
There are in several states, at this time, and Maryland is one of them,
meetings and counter meetings, committees of correspondence, delegations,
and addresses, for and against the administration; and thousands of
persons are occupied with little else than to work up the passions of
the people preparatory to the presidential election, still more than
eighteen months distant."

Complaints were constantly made that the administration neglected its
friends, and gave offices to its enemies. Applications for appointments,
especially for clerkships, in the departments, were continual, and were
often made to Mr. Adams himself. He always refused to interfere
directly, or by influence, unless his opinion was sought by the heads
of the departments themselves, saying that to them the selection and
responsibility properly belonged. "One of the heaviest burdens of my
station," he observed, "is to hear applications for office, often urged,
accompanied with the cry of distress, almost every day in the year,
sometimes several times in the day, and having it scarcely ever in my
power to administer the desired relief."

In May, 1827, Mr. Adams wrote to a friend: "Mr. Van Buren paid me a
visit this morning. He is on his return from a tour through Virginia,
North and South Carolina, and Georgia, with C. C. Cambreling, since the
close of the last session of Congress. They are generally understood to
be electioneering; and Van Buren is now the great manager for Jackson,
as he was, before the last election, for Mr. Crawford. He is now acting
over the part in the Union which Aaron Burr performed in 1799. Van
Buren, however, has improved, in the art of electioneering, upon Burr,
as the State of New York has grown in relative strength and importance
in the Union. Van Buren has now every prospect of success in his present
movements, and he will avoid the rock on which Burr afterwards split."
These general conclusions, formed on observation and knowledge of
character, projects, and movements, time has proved to be just. At this
day there can be no doubt that, during a tour through the Southern
section of the Union, in April and May, 1827, by Van Buren and
Cambreling, one a senator, the other a representative in Congress from
New York, an alliance was formed between the former and Jackson, having
for its object to supersede Mr. Adams and to elevate themselves in
succession to the Presidency. The result is illustrative of the means
and the arts by which ambition shapes the destinies of republics, by
pampering the passions and prejudices of the multitude, by casting
malign suggestions on laborious merit, effective talent, and faithful

In June, 1827, some of the friends of Mr. Adams urged him to attend the
celebration at the opening of the Pennsylvania Canal, to meet the German
farmers, and speak to them in their own language. He replied: "I am
highly obliged to my friends for their good opinion; but this mode of
electioneering is suited neither to my taste nor my principles. I think
it equally unsuitable to my personal character, and to the station in
which I am placed."

As the year drew towards the close, Van Buren, who had increased his
influence by union with De Witt Clinton, triumphed throughout the State
of New York. "The consequences," said Mr. Adams, "are decisive on the
next presidential election; but the principles on which my administration
has been conducted cannot be overthrown. A session of Congress of
unexampled violence and fury is anticipated by its friends. My own mind
is made up for it. I have only to ask that as my day is so may my
strength be."

A letter from Thomas Mann Randolph, on the opinions of Mr. Jefferson
relative to the last presidential election, which had been recently
published in Ohio, was at this time shown to Mr. Adams, and it was
proposed to him to publish a letter to his father from Mr. Jefferson, on
that subject; which he declined, saying: "The letter is not here, but if
it were I would not publish it. I possess it only as executor to my
father; and, it having been confidential, the executors of Mr. Jefferson
have undoubtedly a copy of it, and, as depositaries of his confidence,
are the only persons who can, with propriety, authorize its publication."
He added: "The divulging private and confidential letters is one of the
worst features of electioneering practised among us. Though often
tempted and provoked to it, I have constantly refrained from it."

At this period Mr. Rush read to Mr. Adams his report on the finances, in
which he largely discussed the policy of encouraging and protecting
domestic manufactures. "It will, of course," said Mr. Adams, "be roughly
handled in Congress and out of it; but the policy it recommends will
outlive the blast of faction, and abide the test of time."

At the opening of the Twentieth Congress, in December, 1827, the
election of Andrew Stevenson, of Virginia, a man decidedly hostile to
the administration, as Speaker of the House of Representatives,
manifested that the opposition had now gained a majority in both houses
of Congress; a state of affairs which had never before occurred under
the government of the United States.

Mr. Adams, being informed that it was Mr. Clay's intention to issue
another pamphlet in refutation of the charge of bargaining and
corruption, which General Jackson and his partisans under his authority
had brought against them both, remarked: "They have been already amply
refuted; but, in the excitement of contested elections, and of party
spirit, judgment becomes the slave of the will. Men of intelligence,
talent, and even of integrity upon other occasions, surrender themselves
to their passions, believe anything, with and without, and even against
evidence, according as it suits their own wishes."

Mr. Clay and his friends were not disposed to permit a calumny so
opprobrious to pass without disproof; yet during two years they could
only oppose to it a general denial; but, in March, 1827, a letter from
Mr. Carter Beverly, a friend of General Jackson, came into their
possession, by which it appeared that Jackson, before a large company,
in Beverly's presence, had declared that, "concerning the election of
Mr. Adams to the Presidency, Mr. Clay's friends made a proposition to
his friends, that if they would promise for _him_ not to put Mr. Adams
into the seat of Secretary of State, Mr. Clay and his friends would _in
one hour_ make him the President;"[5]--a proposition which, Jackson
said, he indignantly rejected. No sooner was this statement made known
to Mr. Clay, than he pronounced it "a gross fabrication, of a
calumnious character, put forth for the double purpose of injuring his
public character and propping up the cause of General Jackson; and
that, for himself and his friends, he defied the substantiation of the
charge before any fair tribunal whatever." This compelled General
Jackson, in self-defence, to come before the public; and in a letter to
Carter Beverly, dated the 5th of June, 1827, he made specific charges
against Mr. Clay and Mr. Adams. He stated that early in January, 1825,
a member of Congress, of high respectability, informed him that there
was a great intrigue going on, which it was right he should know; that
the friends of Mr. Adams had made overtures to the friends of Mr. Clay,
that if they would unite in the election of Mr. Adams, Mr. Clay should
be Secretary of State; that the friends of Mr. Adams were urging, as a
reason to induce the friends of Mr. Clay to accede to their
proposition, that if he (Gen. Jackson) was elected President, Mr. Adams
would be continued Secretary of State [_Innuendo_, there would be no
room for Kentucky]; that the friends of Mr. Clay stated, that the West
did not wish to separate from the West, and if he would say, or permit
any of his confidential friends to say, that, in case he was elected
President, Mr. Adams should not be continued Secretary of State, by a
complete union of Mr. Clay and his friends they would put an end to the
presidential contest in one hour; and that this respectable member of
Congress declared that _he was of opinion it was right to fight such
intriguers with their own weapons_. To which General Jackson replied,
that he would never step into the presidential chair by such means of
bargain and corruption; and added, that the second day after this
communication and reply, it was announced in the newspapers that Mr.
Clay had come out openly and avowedly in favor of Mr. Adams.[6]

      [5] _Niles' Weekly Register_, vol. XXXII., p. 162.

      [6] _Niles' Weekly Register_, vol. XXXII., p. 316.

To this accusation Mr. Clay, in a letter to the public, dated the 4th
of July, 1827, made "a direct, unqualified, and indignant denial," and
called on General Jackson "to substantiate his charges by satisfactory
evidence." General Jackson immediately gave to the public the name of
James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, as "the respectable member of
Congress" who made to him this communication and proposition. This
declaration compelled Mr. Buchanan to come before the public; who
accordingly, in a letter dated the 8th of August, 1827,[7] published to
the world what he declared to be "_the only conversation which he ever
held with General Jackson_," in which he stated to him that, having
heard a rumor that he intended, in case of his election, to appoint Mr.
Adams Secretary of State, and thinking such an appointment would "cool
the ardor of his friends," he called on him, and informed him of the
rumor, and asked him whether he had ever intimated such intention; that
Jackson replied he had not, and that, if elected President, he would
enter upon the office untrammelled; and that this was substantially the
whole conversation. Mr. Buchanan added, that he did not call upon
General Jackson as the agent of Mr. Clay, or his friends, which he was
not; and that he was incapable of entertaining the opinion Jackson had
charged him with, that "_it was right to fight such intriguers with
their own weapons_;" and that he thought that Jackson "could not have
received this impression until after Mr. Clay and his friends had
actually elected Mr. Adams President, and Mr. Adams had appointed Mr.
Clay Secretary of State."

      [7] Ibid., p. 415.

A more full, direct, and conclusive contradiction of every fact asserted
by General Jackson is impossible. Yet it had no effect upon his
prospects or policy. His partisans continued to propagate the calumny,
and profess their belief in it; and he gave encouragement to this course
by maintaining a scrupulous silence on Mr. Buchanan's contradiction. Mr.
Clay, speaking on this point, observed: "After Mr. Buchanan's statement
appeared, there were many persons who believed that General Jackson's
magnanimity would immediately prompt him to retract his charge. I did
not participate in that just expectation, and therefore felt no
disappointment that it was not realized."[8]

      [8] _Niles' Register_, vol. XXXIII., p. 297.

The calumny had done its work. It had been, for more than two years,
cankering the public mind. General Jackson realized that it was an
efficient means of victory, and was not disposed to diminish its power.
His partisans, as Mr. Adams anticipated, had "surrendered themselves to
their passions, and believed, without evidence and against evidence, as
suited their own wishes."

The inveteracy of opposition to the administration of Mr. Adams was
systematic, violent, and unprincipled. Party spirit determined that it
should be prostrated. It was stated publicly that "a highly-respected
member of Congress, of General Jackson's party, had declared that it was
to be put down though it be as pure as the angels which stand at the
right hand of the throne of God." No respect was paid, no regard had,
for either faithful services or acknowledged integrity. An
administration conducted on the most elevated and consistent principles,
as far above party and selfish motives as it is possible for human
beings to attain, was destined to be sacrificed. General Jackson entered
upon his civil career in the spirit of a military chieftain. He knew
well how to collect round his standard those intriguers in the free
states who were content to adopt his badge, and ride into power in his
train. Of the slave states he was sure, from both affinity and policy.

Mr. Clay, in his address to the public in December, 1827, thus
represents the spirit of General Jackson's party at that period:[9] "The
rancor of party spirit spares nothing. It penetrates and pervades
everywhere. It does not scruple to violate the sanctity of social and
private intercourse. It substitutes for facts dark surmises and
malevolent insinuations. It misrepresents, and holds up in false and
insidious lights, incidents perfectly harmless in themselves, of
ordinary occurrence, or of mere common civility."

      [9] _Niles' Register_, vol. XXXIII., p. 303.

During these agitations Mr. Adams was diligently watching over the great
interests of the country, and assiduously fulfilling the duties of his
station, and no further interesting himself in the struggles of party
than when compelled to notice them by their virulence, or by the
earnestness of political friends. A member of the Senate having asked
him how the interdiction of commerce by our vessels with the British
colonies could be counteracted, "My opinion is," he replied, "that there
should be an act of Congress totally interdicting the trade with all her
colonies, both in the West Indies and North America; but the same act
should provide for reopening the trade, upon terms of reciprocity,
whenever Great Britain should be disposed to assent to them."

Early in 1828 Mr. Adams was informed that the question of Free-masonry
was the conclusive criterion on which the elections in the western parts
of the State of New York would turn; and that it was industriously
circulated that he was a Free-mason. If the assertion was denied, offers
had been made to produce extracts from the books of the lodge to which
he belonged. He was, therefore, requested publicly to deny being a
Mason. He replied, that he was not, and never had been, a Free-mason;
but that, if he should publicly deny it, he would not be surprised if a
forged extract from some imaginary lodge should be produced to
counteract his statement. Such are the morals of electioneering!

On the subject of the Indians in the State of Georgia Mr. Adams said:
"Our engagements with them and among ourselves, in relation to the
lands lying within that state, are inconsistent. We have contracted
with the State of Georgia to extinguish the title to the Indian lands
lying within that state, and at the same time have stipulated with the
Creeks and Cherokees that they should hold their lands forever. We
have talked about benevolence and humanity, and preached them into
civilization; but none of this benevolence is felt when the rights of
the Indians come into collision with the interests of the white man.
The Cherokees have now been making a written constitution; but this
_imperium in imperio_ is impracticable; and, in the instance of the New
York Indians removed to Green Bay, and of the Cherokees removed to the
Territory of Arkansas, we have scarce given them time to build their
wigwams before we are called upon by our own people to drive them out
again. My own opinion is that the most benevolent course towards them
would be to give them the rights and subject them to the duties of
citizens, as a part of our own people. But even this the people of the
states within which they are situated would not permit."

In January, 1828, Mr. Adams received a letter from his friends in
Pennsylvania, proposing a subscription for the purchase and setting up a
German newspaper in support of the administration, and inquiring if he
would permit his son, John Adams, to contribute to that object. He
replied that, on full consideration of the transaction, he deemed it his
duty to decline; that how far the employment of money to promote the
success of the election might be proper in others, it was not for him to
determine; he could only lament the necessity, if it existed; but to
apply money himself for the promotion of his own election he thought
incorrect in principle, and had invariably avoided it. He knew that
others were less scrupulous, and that it had been done by one individual
to the pecuniary embarrassment of his whole life. He had been solicited
to adopt a like course, but had uniformly declined, not from pecuniary
considerations, but because he could not approve of the thing.

In January, 1828, Mr. Floyd, of Virginia, who had taken upon himself the
inglorious office of hunting up and disseminating malign aspersions
against President Adams, brought before the House of Representatives
statements concerning his accounts, which had been long before settled
at the treasury of the United States; and, after recapitulating the
number of the public offices he had held, and swelling to the utmost the
amount he had received out of the public treasury, terminated his
censorious attack with the mean sneer that he did not complain, since
every man should make his own living, if he can. To this, Mr. Everett,
of Massachusetts, replied, with truth and dignity, that whatever Mr.
Adams had received, be it great or small, was sanctioned by other
administrations, with which Mr. Adams had nothing to do, either in
establishing the office fixing the compensations, or seeking the
employment. For a third of a century passed in the service of his
country, neither he, nor his friends for him, with his knowledge nor
without his knowledge, ever solicited any public office or employment;
and that, taking into consideration the number of years passed by him in
the public service, and the variety and importance of the missions with
which he had been intrusted in whole or in part, no foreign minister had
ever received less than Mr. Adams, while many have received more. These
statements he supported by many minute, accurate, and unanswerable
details. In a like spirit Mr. Sargent, of Philadelphia, reprobated and
refuted the calumnies uttered against the administration relative to
these accounts.

In January, 1828, Mr. Chilton, of Kentucky, introduced a resolution into
the House of Representatives, declaring the necessity of retrenchments,
to save money and pay off the national debt; and proposing reductions
not only in executive contingencies, but also in those of the two
houses. This movement disconcerted the party to which Mr. Chilton
belonged. They were disposed to point the battery against the
administration, but charges of abusive applications of the public moneys
by the past as well as the present administration, and both houses of
Congress, did not suit party purposes. Randolph, of Virginia, Ingham, of
Pennsylvania, and McDuffie, of South Carolina, accordingly strove, by
amendments, to narrow down the discussion so as to make it bear upon Mr.
Adams or Mr. Clay, and to give countenance to every slander with which
the newspapers were teeming against them, but deprecating all general

Being repeatedly asked concerning his rule of conduct relative to
appointments to office, Mr. Adams answered: "My system has been, and
continues to be, to nominate for reäppointment all officers, for a term
of years, whose commissions expire, unless official or moral misconduct
is charged and substantiated against them. This does not suit the
Falstaff friends 'who follow for the reward;' and I am importuned to
serve my friends, and reproached for neglecting them, because I will not
dismiss, or drop from executive favor, officers faithful and able,
because they are my political opponents, to provide for my own
partisans. This I will not do."

In February, 1828, Mr. Wright, of Ohio, defended Mr. Adams and his
administration, on the subject of his votes in the Senate on the
acquisition of Louisiana, on the Mississippi and fishery question at
Ghent, on an expression in his message to Congress in December, 1825,
and other charges and falsehoods which the friends of General Jackson
were publishing against him in newspapers, handbills, and stump
speeches, throughout the Union.

Mr. Adams was earnestly entreated by his friends to reply to a pamphlet
by Samuel D. Ingham, of which many thousands had been franked by members
of Congress to their constituents. He refused to do it, saying, "The
slanders and falsehoods of that pamphlet have already been abundantly
refuted in the speeches of Jonathan Roberts, Edward Everett, and John C.

In the committee on retrenchments, Mr. Wickliffe and Mr. Ingham were
extremely busy in search of charges against the administration, and
asserted that there was a large item of secret services, vouched only by
the certificate of Mr. Adams. A member of Congress informed him of their
proceedings, and asked, if there should be any clamorers on that
subject, whether he would have any objection to make a communication
with regard to it. Mr. Adams replied: "Certainly. The secret was
enjoined on me by the constitution and the law, and I shall not divulge
it. It might be alleged as probable--and such was the fact--that,
although the accounts had been but lately settled, the expenditures had
been incurred and the payment authorized by the direction of the late
President Monroe."

As the electioneering struggle was progressing, Mr. Adams, being asked
to advance money in aid of his own election, replied: "The Presidency of
the United States is not an office to be either sought or declined. To
pay money for securing it is, in my opinion, incorrect in principle. The
practices of all parties are tending to render elections altogether
venal, and I am not disposed to countenance them."

On the subject of personal interviews with the President, he thus
expressed himself: "I have never denied access to me as President to any
one, of any color; and, in my opinion of the duties of that office, it
never ought to be denied. Place-hunters are not pleasant visitors, or
correspondents, and they consume an enormous disproportion of time. To
this personal importunity the President ought not to be subjected; but
it is, perhaps, not possible to relieve him from it, without excluding
him from interviews with the people more, perhaps, than comports with
the nature of our institutions."

In Kentucky the Senate of the state constituted itself into an
inquisition on a charge against Mr. Adams of corruption, sent for
persons and papers, and invited _ex parte_ depositions and garbled
statements, where the parties inculpated had no opportunity of being
heard, and where the testimony given and the testimony suppressed were
alike adapted to promote groundless slanders.

In South Carolina movements were made towards civil war and the
dissolution of the Union, for the purpose of carrying the election by
intimidation, or, if they should fail in that, of laying the foundation
of a future forcible resistance, to break down or overawe the
administration after the event.

Evidences of the vehement party war stimulated and personally waged by
General Jackson against Mr. Adams might be easily multiplied; but enough
has been stated to vindicate the character of his administration and the
judgment of Henry Clay. By daring to exercise his constitutional rights,
by taking the responsibility of preferring Mr. Adams to General Jackson,
Mr. Clay postponed for four years an administration characteristic of
its leader, violent, intriguing, headstrong, and corrupt. After the
passions and interests of the present day have passed away, his vote on
that occasion will be regarded by posterity as his choicest and purest
title to their remembrance.

To aid the adversaries of Mr. Adams, and to awaken against him in the
Northern States, where his strength lay, the dormant passions of former
times, the name and influence of Mr. Jefferson were brought into the
field. In December, 1825, a letter had been drawn from him, by William
B. Giles, a devoted partisan of Jackson, and given to the public with
appropriate commentaries and asperities. In this letter Mr. Jefferson,
after acknowledging that "his memory was so broken, or gone, as to be
almost a blank," undertook to relate a conversation he had with Mr.
Adams in 1808, and connected it with facts with which it had no
relation, and which occurred several years afterwards, while Mr. Adams
was in Europe. These mistakes, in the opinion of Mr. Adams, required
explanations. He, therefore, gave a full statement of the facts, so far
as he was concerned, and of the communications he had made in 1808 to
Mr. Jefferson. These explanations had the tendency which Mr. Giles and
the authors of the scheme intended; but the controversies which ensued
are not within the scope of this memoir. Feelings and passions, which
had slept for almost twenty years, were awakened. Correspondences
ensued, in which the policy and events of a former period were discussed
with earnestness and warmth. But the ultimate object, for which the
broken and incoherent recollections of Mr. Jefferson's old age were
brought before the public, was not attained. Those who differed from the
opinions of Mr. Adams, and had condemned his political course in former
times, although their sentiments remained unchanged, were satisfied with
the principles and ability he evinced in his present high station, and
indicated no inclination to aid the projects of his opponents. The
embers of former animosity were indeed uncovered, but in the Eastern
States, where the friends of Mr. Adams were most numerous, no
disposition was evinced to favor the elevation of General Jackson to the

In other sections of the Union a combination of influences tended to
defeat the reëlection of Mr. Adams. In Virginia William B. Giles engaged
in giving publicity to violent and inflammatory papers against his
administration; Thomas H. Benton, of Missouri, strenuously endeavored to
destroy his popularity in the West; while Martin Van Buren, the leader
of the party which then controlled New York, also devoted his efforts to
secure Jackson's ascendency.

When Mr. Adams was informed that Mr. Clay's final and full vindication
of himself against the aspersions of General Jackson had appeared from
the press, he said: "It is unnecessary. Enough has already been said to
put down that infamous slander, which has been more than once publicly
branded as falsehood. The conspiracy will, however, probably succeed.
When suspicions have been kindled into popular delusion, truth, reason,
and justice, speak to the ears of adders. The sacrifice must be
consummated. There will then be a reäction in public opinion. It may not
be rapid, but it will be certain."

By one of those party arrangements which ever have shaped, and to human
view forever will decide, the destinies of this republic,--a coalition
being effected between the leading influences of the slave states and
those of New York and Pennsylvania,--Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun,
both slaveholders, were respectively elected President and
Vice-President of the United States.

                             CHAPTER VIII.


On the 4th of March, 1829, Andrew Jackson was inaugurated President of
the United States, and Mr. Adams retired, as he then thought forever,
from public life. His active, energetic spirit required neither
indulgence nor rest, and he immediately directed his attention to those
philosophical, literary, and religious researches, in which he took
unceasing delight. The works of Cicero became the object of study,
analysis, and criticism. Commentaries on that master-mind of antiquity
were among his daily labors. The translation of the Psalms of David into
English verse was a frequent exercise; and his study of the Scriptures
was accompanied by critical remarks, pursued in the spirit of free
inquiry, chastened by a solemn reference to their origin, and influence
on the conduct and hopes of human life. His favorite science, astronomy,
led to the frequent observation of the planets and stars; and his
attention was also turned to agriculture and horticulture. He collected
and planted the seeds of forest trees, and kept a record of their
development, and, in the summer season, labored two or three hours daily
in his garden. With these pursuits were combined sketches preparatory to
a full biography of his father, which he then contemplated as one of his
chief future employments.

From the subjects to which the labors of his life had been principally
devoted his thoughts could not be wholly withdrawn. As early as the 27th
of April, 1829, a citizen of Washington spoke to him with great severity
on the condition of public affairs, and of the scandals in circulation
concerning them; stating that removals from office were continuing with
great perseverance; that the custom-houses in Boston, New York,
Philadelphia, Portsmouth in New Hampshire, and New Orleans, had been
swept clear; that violent partisans of Jackson were exclusively
appointed, and that every editor of a scurrilous newspaper had been
provided for.

Again, in June of the same year Mr. Adams wrote: "Mr. Van Buren is now
Secretary of State. He is the manager by whom the present administration
has been brought into power. He has played over again the game of Aaron
Burr in 1800, with the addition of political inconsistency, in
transferring his allegiance from Crawford to Jackson. He sold the State
of New York to them both. The first bargain failed by the result of the
choice of electors in the Legislature. The second was barely
accomplished by the system of party management established in that
state; and Van Buren is now enjoying his reward."

On the abolition of slavery, Mr. Adams observed: "It is the only part of
European democracy which will find no favor in the United States. It may
aggravate the condition of slaves in the South, but the result of the
Missouri question, and the attitude of parties, have silenced most of
the declaimers on that subject. This state of things is not to continue
forever. It is possible that the danger of the abolition doctrines, when
brought home to Southern statesmen, may teach them the value of the
Union, as the only thing which can maintain their system of slavery."

On the course and feelings of Mr. Jefferson on this subject, Mr. Adams
thus expressed himself: "His love of liberty was sincere and ardent, but
confined to himself, like that of most of his fellow-slaveholders. He
was above that execrable sophistry of the South Carolina nullifiers,
which would make of slavery the corner-stone of the temple of liberty.
He saw the gross inconsistency between the principles of the Declaration
of Independence and the fact of negro slavery; and he could not, or
would not, prostitute the faculties of his mind to the vindication of
that slavery, which, from his soul, he abhorred. But Jefferson had not
the spirit of martyrdom. He would have introduced a flaming denunciation
of slavery into the Declaration of Independence, but the discretion of
his colleagues struck it out. He did insert a most eloquent and
impassioned argument against it in his Notes on Virginia; but, on that
very account, the book was published almost against his will. He
projected a plan of a general emancipation, in his revision of the
Virginia laws, but finally presented a plan leaving slavery precisely
where it was; and, in his Memoir, he leaves a posthumous warning to the
planters that they must, at no distant day, emancipate their slaves, or
that worse will follow; but he withheld the publication of his prophecy
till he should himself be in the grave."

Mr. Adams was not long permitted to remain in retirement. In October,
1830, he was nominated, in the newspapers, to represent in Congress the
district of Massachusetts in which he resided. When asked if he would
consent to be a candidate, he replied, in the spirit which had governed
his whole life, never to seek and never to decline public service: "It
must first be seen whether the people of the district will invite me to
represent them. I shall not ask their votes. I wish them to act their
pleasure." In the ensuing November he was elected Representative of the
twelfth Congressional district of Massachusetts.

On the 3d of January, 1831, Mr. Adams thus remarked on the resolutions
of the Legislature of Georgia setting at defiance the Supreme Court of
the United States: "They are published and approved in the _Telegraph_,
the administration newspaper at Washington. By extending the laws of
Georgia over the country and people of the Cherokees, the constitution,
laws, and treaties, of the United States, were _quoad hoc_ set aside.
They were chaff before the wind. In pursuance of these laws of Georgia,
a Cherokee Indian is prosecuted for the murder of another Indian,
before a state court of Georgia, tried by a jury of white men, and
sentenced to death. He applies to a chief justice of the Court of the
United States, who issues an injunction to the Governor and executive
officers of Georgia, upon the appeal to the laws and treaties of the
United States. The Governor of Georgia refuses obedience to the
injunction, and the Legislature pass resolutions that they will not
appear to answer before the Supreme Court of the United States. The
constitution, the laws, and treaties, of the United States, are
prostrate in the State of Georgia. Is there any remedy for this state
of things? None; because the State of Georgia is in league with the
Executive of the United States, who will not take care that the laws
be faithfully executed. A majority of both houses of Congress sustain
this neglect and violation of duty. There is no harmony in the
government of the Union. The arm refuses its office. 'The whole head is
sick, and the whole heart faint.' This example of the State of Georgia
will be imitated by other states, and with regard to other national
interests,--perhaps the tariff, more probably the public lands. As the
Executive and Legislature now fail to sustain the Judiciary, it is not
improbable cases may arise in which the Judiciary may fail to sustain
them. The Union is in the most imminent danger of dissolution from the
old, inherent vice of confederacies, anarchy in the members. To this
end one third of the people is perverted, one third slumbers, and the
rest wring their hands, with unavailing lamentations, in the foresight
of evils they cannot avert."

On the 4th of July, 1831, Mr. Adams delivered an oration before the
inhabitants of the town of Quincy, in which he controverted the
doctrine of Blackstone, the great commentator upon the laws of England,
who maintained "that there is, and must be, in all forms of government,
however they began, and by what right soever they subsist, a supreme,
irresistible, absolute, uncontrolled authority, in which the _jura
summi imperii_, or _the rights of sovereignty_, reside." "It is not
true," Mr. Adams remarks, "that there _must_ reside in all governments
an absolute, uncontrolled, irresistible, and despotic power; nor is
such a power absolutely essential to sovereignty. The direct converse
of the proposition is true. Uncontrollable power exists in no
government upon earth. The sternest despotisms, in every region and
every age of the world, _are and have been_ under perpetual control;
compelled, as Burke expresses it, to truckle and huckster. Unlimited
power belongs not to the nature of man, and rotten will be the
foundation of every government leaning upon such a maxim for its
support. Least of all can it be predicated of any government professing
to be founded upon an original compact. The pretence of an absolute,
irresistible, despotic power, existing in every government _somewhere_,
is incompatible with the first principle of natural right."

This proposition Mr. Adams proceeds fully to illustrate, and thus to
apply: "This political sophism of identity between _sovereign_ and
_despotic_ power has led, and continues to lead, into many vagaries,
some of the statists of this our happy but disputatious Union. It
seizes upon the brain of a heated politician, sometimes in one state,
sometimes in another, and its natural offspring is the doctrine of
nullification; that is, the _sovereign_ power of any one state of the
confederacy to nullify any act of the whole twenty-four states which
the _sovereign_ state shall please to consider as unconstitutional.
Stripped of the sophistical argumentation in which this doctrine has
been habited, its naked nature is an effort to organize insurrection
against the laws of the United States; to interpose the arm of state
sovereignty between rebellion and the halter, and to rescue the traitor
from the gibbet. Although conducted under the auspices of state
sovereignty, it would not the less be levying war against the Union;
but, as a state cannot be punished for treason, nullification cases
herself in the complete steel of sovereign power." "The citizen of the
nullifying state becomes a traitor to his country by obedience to the
law of his state,--a traitor to his state by obedience to the law of
his country. The scaffold and the battle-field stream alternately with
the blood of their victims. The event of a conflict in arms between the
Union and one of its members, whether terminating in victory or defeat,
would be but an alternative of calamity to all."

Mr. Adams took his seat in the House of Representatives in December,
1831, and immediately announced to his constituents that he should hold
himself bound in allegiance to no party, whether sectional or political.
Ten years afterwards he had occasion to explain to his fellow-citizens
his policy and feelings at this period. "I thought this independence of
party was a duty imposed upon me by my peculiar position. I had spent
the greatest part of my life in the service of the whole nation, and had
been honored by their highest trust; my duty of fidelity, of affection,
and of gratitude, to the whole, was not merely inseparable from, but
identical with, that which was due from me to my own commonwealth. The
internal conflict between slavery and freedom had been, and still was,
scarcely perceptible in the national councils. The Missouri compromise
had laid it asleep, it was hoped, forever. The development of the moral
principle which pronounced slavery _a crime_ of man against his
brother-man had not yet reached the conscience of Christendom. England,
earnestly and zealously occupied in rallying the physical, moral, and
intellectual energies of the civilized world against the African
slave-trade, had scarcely yet discovered that it was but an instrument,
and in truth a mitigation, of the great, irremissible wrong of slavery.
Her final policy, the extinction of slavery throughout the earth, was
not yet disclosed. The Jackson project of dismembering Mexico for the
acquisition of Texas, already organized and in full operation, was yet
profoundly a secret. I entered Congress without one sentiment of
discrimination between the interests of the North and the South; and my
first act, as a member of the House, was, on presenting fifteen
petitions from Pennsylvania for the abolition of slavery within the
District of Columbia, to declare, while moving their reference to the
committee of the District, that I was not prepared to support the
measure myself, and that I should not. I was not then a sectional
partisan, and I never have been."[1]

      [1] Address of John Quincy Adams to his Constituents, at
      Braintree, September 17, 1842, p. 27.

When Mr. Adams was entering this new field of labor, Mr. Clay asked him
how he felt at turning boy again, and going into the House of
Representatives; and observed that he would find his situation extremely
laborious. Mr. Adams replied: "I well know this; but labor I shall not
refuse so long as my hands, my eyes, and my brain, do not desert me."

To understand the position in which Mr. Adams was placed, on his taking
his seat in the House of Representatives, it is important that some of
the events which had occurred during his absence from public life should
be briefly recapitulated. General Jackson had been two years President
of the United States. The alliance which he had entered into with Mr.
Van Buren for their mutual advancement, to which allusion has been made
in a former chapter, had not resulted immediately as the high
contracting parties probably intended. An obstacle to the advancement of
Mr. Van Buren to the Vice-Presidency presented itself which was
insurmountable. John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, possessed an
influence in the slave states which it was important to conciliate, and
imprudent to set at defiance. The allies were, consequently, compelled
to accede to his nomination as Vice-President, and Van Buren was forced
to be content with the prospect of being appointed Secretary of State.

The elevation of Calhoun to the Vice-Presidency, there is reason to
believe, could not have been acceptable to Jackson. It appears, by the
documents published by Calhoun in connection with his account of his
controversy with Jackson, that William H. Crawford had, as early as
December, 1827, taken direct measures to render the friendship of
Calhoun suspected by Jackson. On the 14th of that month he wrote a
letter to Alfred Balch, at Nashville, with the express purpose of its
being shown to Jackson, containing the following statement: "My
opinions upon the next presidential election" (against Adams and in
favor of Jackson) "are generally known. When Mr. Van Buren and Mr.
Cambreling made me a visit, last April, I authorized them, upon every
proper occasion, to make these opinions known. The vote of the State of
Georgia will, as certainly as that of Tennessee, be given to General
Jackson, in opposition to Mr. Adams. The only difficulty that this
state has upon that subject is, that, if Jackson should be elected,
Calhoun will come into power. I confess I am not apprehensive of such a
result. For ---- ---- writes to me, Jackson ought to know, and if he
does not he shall know, that, at the Calhoun caucus in Columbia, the
term _military chieftain_ was bandied about even more flippantly than
it had been by Henry Clay, and that the family friends of Mr. Calhoun
were most active in giving it currency; and I know, personally, that
Calhoun favored Mr. Adams' pretensions until Mr. Clay declared for him.
He well knew that Clay would not have declared for Adams without it was
well understood that he, Calhoun, was to be put down if Adams could
effect it. If he was not friendly to his election, why did he suffer
his paper to be purchased up by Adams' printers, without making some
stipulation in favor of Jackson? If you can ascertain that Calhoun will
not be benefited by Jackson's election, you will do him a service by
communicating the information to me. Make what use you please of this
letter, and show it to whom you please."[2]

      [2] See, for Crawford's letter and Calhoun's address, _Niles'
      Weekly Register_, vol. XL., p. 12.

That these opinions of Crawford concerning Calhoun were communicated to
Van Buren and Cambreling when they visited him, as he states, on their
electioneering tour, in April, 1827, cannot be reasonably questioned:
and that Crawford's letter to Balch was also communicated to Jackson can
as little be doubted. That at this period Calhoun's want of political
sympathy with Jackson was publicly known and talked about at Nashville,
is apparent from Calhoun's address to the people of the United States in
his controversy with Jackson, in which he bitterly complains: "I
remained ignorant and unsuspicious of these secret movements against me
till the spring of 1828, when vague rumors reached me that some attempts
were making at Nashville to injure me."

Why statements made by such a high authority as Crawford, so well
adapted to kindle the inflammatory temperament of Jackson, and at once
so auspicious to the hopes of Van Buren and so ominous to those of
Calhoun, were not immediately made the subject of action, can only be
accounted for by the fact that Calhoun was at that time too strong in
the affections of the South for them then to commence hostilities; for,
in that case he would, as Crawford intimated, have "favored the
pretensions of Adams," and possibly have defeated the plans of the
alliance. Jackson, therefore, yielded, and allowed Calhoun to be run as
a candidate for the Vice-Presidency on the same ticket with himself, and
postponed any attempt to deprive him of his chance of succession until a
more convenient opportunity. To this arrangement Van Buren also was
compelled to submit, and, after Adams was superseded, and Jackson
inaugurated President, he was appointed Secretary of State.[3]

      [3] Jackson's cabinet were, Martin Van Buren, Secretary of State;
      Samuel D. Ingham, Secretary of the Treasury; John H. Eaton,
      Secretary of War; John Branch, Secretary of the Navy; John M'P.
      Berrien, Attorney-General; William T. Barry, Postmaster-General.

In April, 1830, when the Legislatures of New York and Pennsylvania took
incipient measures to nominate Jackson for a second term of office, the
favorable moment arrived to bring his artillery to bear upon Calhoun.
At this time two letters of Crawford were brought to the mind of
General Jackson,--the one to Alfred Balch, already referred to; the
other to John Forsyth, dated the 30th of April, 1830,[4]--in which
Crawford expressly stated that "Mr. Calhoun had made a proposition to
the cabinet of Monroe for _punishing_ him for his conduct in the
Seminole war." Jackson, greatly excited, immediately, on the 12th of
May, 1830, addressed a letter to Mr. Calhoun, declaring his great
surprise at the information those letters contained, and inquiring
whether he had moved or sustained any attempt seriously to affect him
in Monroe's cabinet council. Calhoun replied, that he "could not
recognize the right of General Jackson to call in question his conduct
in the discharge of a high official duty, and under responsibility to
his conscience and his country only." The anger of Jackson was not in
the least assuaged by this reply, nor by the explanations which
accompanied it. A correspondence ensued, which, with collateral and
documentary evidence, occupied fifty-two pages of an octavo pamphlet;
resulting in Jackson's declaration of his poignant mortification to see
in Calhoun's letter, instead of a negative, an admission of the truth
of Crawford's allegations. An irreconcilable alienation between Jackson
and Calhoun was evinced in this correspondence; a state of feeling
which for the time was concealed from the public, but was well known to
their respective partisans, who understood that at the approaching
election the influence of the former would be thrown into the scale of
Van Buren. Jackson's intention of standing for the Presidency a second
time was kept a profound secret until January, 1831. Under the
supposition that he might decline, the partisans of Calhoun, Clay, and
Van Buren, engaged in active measures to put them respectively into the

      [4] For which see _Niles' Weekly Register_, vol. XL., pp. 12,

From the party movements during this uncertainty it was clearly
perceived that, if Jackson was not again a candidate, a contest between
Van Buren and Calhoun for the Presidency was unavoidable. Calhoun's
chance of success was preëminent, for he would unite in his favor all
the votes and influence of the South,--Van Buren not having then had an
opportunity to evince his entire subserviency to the slaveholding power.
Jackson, into whose heart Van Buren had wound himself, looked with
little complacency on the probable success of Calhoun. Under these
circumstances, he resolved to enter the lists himself as a candidate for
the Presidency, and, by taking Van Buren with him for the
Vice-Presidency, put him at once in the best position to become his
successor. Van Buren coïncided in these views, and acquiesced in, if he
did not originate, this measure. He foresaw that the popularity of
Jackson would throw Calhoun out of the field, whether he was a candidate
at the next ensuing election for the Presidency or Vice-Presidency. The
time had now come to put an end to the hopes of Calhoun for the
attainment of either of those high stations, by making public the
animosity of Jackson; but this could not be done without a struggle.
Branch, Ingham, and Berrien, all members of Jackson's cabinet, were
known friends to Calhoun, and far from being well disposed to Van Buren.
Under these circumstances, Jackson resolved to dissolve his cabinet, in
which Van Buren himself held a place, and form another, better adapted
to their united views. As a violent contest with the friends of Calhoun
was anticipated, Van Buren, if he should continue Secretary of State,
would be considered responsible for all Jackson's proceedings to
frustrate Calhoun's aspirations for the Presidency, which might
injuriously affect his popularity in the Southern States. Van Buren
therefore retired upon a mission to England.

Such were the general views and policy of these allied aspirants to the
two highest offices of state, which public documents now make apparent,
when, in April, 1831, say the newspapers of the period, "an explosion
took place in the cabinet at Washington, the announcement of which came
upon the public like a clap of thunder in a cloudless day."[5] On the
7th of April, the Secretary of War, General Eaton, resigned, without
giving any other reason than his own inclination, and that he deemed the
moment favorable, as General Jackson's "course of policy had been
advantageously commenced." On the 11th of April, Van Buren resigned the
office of Secretary of State. So far as his motive could be discerned
through the haze of ambiguous and diplomatic language, it was that his
name had been connected with that distracting topic, the question of
successorship, which rendered his continuance in the cabinet
embarrassing, and might be injurious to the public service. The two
other secretaries, Ingham and Branch, were kept in ignorance of these
resignations until the 19th of April, when Jackson informed them that,
to command public confidence and satisfy public opinion, he deemed it
proper to select a cabinet of entirely new materials,[6] and therefore
requested them to resign their respective offices. They accordingly
tendered their resignations, which were accepted by the President, in a
letter to each, couched in language perfectly identical, in which he
admits that the dismissed officers had faithfully performed their
respective official duties, but intimates that the want of harmony in
the cabinet "made its entire renovation requisite."[7] Branch and Ingham
both denied any want of harmony in the cabinet, and the latter declared
that "it had never been interrupted for a moment, nor been divided in a
single instance by difference of opinion as to the measures of the
government."[8] These contradictions, thus openly made, created intense
curiosity, and public clamor for a full development of facts. Branch, in
a letter dated May 31st, 1831, addressed to certain citizens of Bertie
County, North Carolina, declared that "discord had been introduced into
the ranks of the administration by the intrigues of selfish

      [5] See _Niles' Weekly Register_, vol. XL., pp. 129-145.

      [6] Ibid., pp. 152-3.

      [7] _Niles' Register_, vol. XL., p. 201.

      [8] Ibid., p. 220.

      [9] Ibid., p. 253.

The Attorney-General, Mr. Berrien, did not resign until the 15th of June
ensuing, nor until he also had been invited to do so by Jackson. He then
declared that he resigned "simply on account of the President's will,"
and that he knew of no want of harmony in the cabinet which either had
or ought to have impeded the operations of the administration.[10] In
July, Mr. Ingham, on returning home, was received by a great cavalcade
of his fellow-citizens, and was called upon for an explanation of "the
extraordinary measure, the dissolution of the cabinet, which had shocked
the public mind." He replied, that it was exclusively the act of the
President, who alone could perfectly explain his own motives, and he
deemed it improper for him to anticipate the explanation which the
President must deem it his duty to make.[11] As Jackson made no
explanation, Mr. Branch, after being repeatedly called upon in the
public papers, authorized the publication of a letter he had addressed
to Edmund B. Freeman, dated the 22d of August, 1831,[12] in which he gave
a full statement of the overbearing language and conduct of Jackson, and
unequivocally declared that the contemporaneous resignation of Eaton and
Van Buren was a measure adopted for the purpose of getting rid of the
three offensive members of the cabinet; that "their dismission had been
stipulated for, and the reason was that Van Buren, having discovered
that the three members of the cabinet (afterwards ejected) disdained to
become tools to subserve his ambitious aspirings, had determined to
leave them as little power to defeat his machinations as possible; and
that he had become latterly almost the sole confidant and adviser of the

      [10] Ibid., p. 304.

      [11] _Niles' Weekly Register_, vol. XL., p. 331.

      [12] Ibid., vol. XLI., pp. 5, 6.

The details of this controversy belong to general history, and will be
found in the documents of the period. Enough has been given to indicate
the great influence Van Buren had acquired, for his own political
advancement, by an unscrupulous subserviency to the overbearing violence
of the President.

On this subject Mr. Adams observed: "Van Buren outwits Calhoun in the
favor of Jackson. He brought the administration into power, and now
enjoys the reward of his intrigues. Jackson rides rough-shod over the
Senate, in relation to appointments; but they dare not oppose him." It
was impossible, in view of these scenes of discord and mutual
crimination, for Mr. Adams not to feel self-congratulation when he
recollected the uninterrupted harmony which, during four years, had
prevailed in his own cabinet. From without it had been assailed with
calumny and malignant passions; but within was peace, quiet, mutual
assistance and support. No jealousies disturbed the tranquillity of
their meetings. No ambitious spirit had shaped measures to purposes of
his own aggrandizement. Though silent, he could not fail, while
contemplating the comparison, to realize the triumph history was
preparing for himself and his administration. The contrast presented by
its principles, when compared with those of his successor, must have
been also a natural source of intense self-congratulation.
Notwithstanding the warning voice of Henry Clay, a military chieftain
had been placed in the chair of state. He entered it with the spirit of
a conqueror, and conducted in it in the spirit of the camp. The
gratification of his feelings, and the reward of his partisans, were
apparently his chief objects. He dismissed from office, without trial,
without charge, and without fault, faithful and able men. During the
whole period of Mr. Adams' administration not an officer of the
government, from Maine to Louisiana, was dismissed on account of his
political opinions. Many well known to him as opposed to his
reëlection, and actively employed in behalf of his competitor, were
permitted to hold their places, though subject to his power of
dismission. Not one was discharged from that cause. In the early part
of his administration appointments were promiscuously made from all the
parties in the previous canvass. This course was pursued until an
opposition was organized which denounced all appointments from its
ranks as being made for party purposes. Of _eighty_ newspapers employed
in publishing the laws during the four years of his Presidency, only
_twelve_ or _fifteen_ were changed, some for geographical, others for
local considerations. Some papers among the most influential in the
opposition, but otherwise conducted with decorum, were retained. Of the
entire number of changes, not more than four or five were made on
account of their scurrilous character. During the same period _not more
than five_ members of Congress received official appointments to any
office. Even these shocked General Jackson's patriotism, from their
mischievous bearing on the purity of the national legislature, and the
permanency of our republican institutions. Being then a candidate for
the Presidency, in opposition to Mr. Adams, he deliberately declared to
the Legislature of Tennessee his firm conviction that no member of
Congress ought to be appointed to any office except a seat on the
bench; and he added that he himself would conform to that rule.
Notwithstanding this pledge, he appointed _eight_ or _ten_ members of
Congress to office in the first four weeks of his Presidency. Mr. Clay
publicly asserted his belief that within two months after Jackson had
attained that high station more members of Congress had offices
conferred on them "than were appointed by any one of his predecessors
during their whole period of four or eight years." His proceedings
evidenced that among this favorite class no office is too high or too
low for desire and acceptance, from the head of a department to the
most subordinate office under a collector. On editors of newspapers he
bestowed unexampled patronage. Fifteen or twenty of those who had been
most active in his favor during the preceding canvass,--the most
abusive of his opponents, and the most fulsome in his own praise,--were
immediately rewarded with place. Of all attempts, his were the boldest
and the most successful ever made to render the press venal, and to
corrupt this palladium of liberty.[13] Happily the times were not
propitious to give immediate development to these principles of
permanent power. But the degree of success of this first attempt of one
man to constitute "_himself the state_" contains a solemn foreboding as
to the possible future fate of our republic. For, although at this time
the ambition of the individual was not fully gratified, enough was
effected to encourage the reckless and aspiring. The seeds of
corruption were thickly scattered. In that Presidency the doctrine was
first promulgated, "_To the victors belong the spoils_." From that day,
subserviency to the chief of the prevailing party became the condition
on which station and place were given or holden. In his hands was
lodged the power of reward and punishment, to be exercised ruthlessly
for party support and perpetuation; resulting, in the higher
departments, in tame submission to the will of the chief, and, in the
lower, in the adoption of the detestable maxim that _all is fair in
politics_. The consequences are daily seen in the servility of
office-holders and office-seekers; in forced contributions, during
pending elections, for the continuance of the prevailing power, and
afterwards in a heartless proscription of all not acceptable to the
successful dynasty; in the excluding every one from office who has not
the spirit to be a slave, and filling the heart of every true lover of
his country with ominous conjectures concerning the fate of our

      [13] The facts above stated are chiefly derived from a speech of
      Henry Clay, delivered at Lexington, Kentucky, on the 16th of May,
      1829, in which all the topics here touched are forcibly and
      eloquently illustrated. It may be found at length in _Niles'
      Weekly Register_, vol. XXXVI., pp. 399 to 405.

During the early periods of Jackson's administration, Mr. Adams, though
in retirement, was neither unobserving nor silent concerning its
proceedings. In January, 1830, in the course of a conversation with a
senator from Louisiana on the politics and the intrigues then going on
at Washington in relation to the next presidential election, he said:
"There are three divisions of the administration party: one for General
Jackson, whose friends wish his reëlection; one for Mr. Van Buren, and
one for Calhoun. Van Buren sees he cannot eight years longer discharge
the duties of the Department of State; and that he must succeed at the
end of four years, or not at all. His friends insist that Jackson has
given a pledge that he will not serve another term. Calhoun and his
friends are equally impatient, and he is much disposed to declare
himself against the leading measures of the present administration. But
if Mr. Clay was brought forward by his friends as a candidate, it would
close all the cracks of the administration party, and rivet them

In the beginning of February, Mr. Adams remarked: "All the members
of Congress are full of rumors concerning the volcanic state of the
administration. The President has determined to remove Branch, but
was told that if he did the North Carolina senators would join the
opposition, and all his nominations would be rejected. The
administration is split up into a blue and green faction upon a point
of morals; an explosion has been deferred, but is expected."

On the 26th of March, 1830, he again remarked: "There is a controversy
between the _Telegraph_, Calhoun's paper here, and the _New York
Courier_, Van Buren's paper, upon the question whether Jackson is or is
not a candidate for reëlection as President,--the _Courier_ insisting
that he is, and the _Telegraph_ declaring that it is premature to ask
the question. Mr. Van Buren has got the start of Calhoun, in the merit
of convincing General Jackson that the salvation of the country depends
on his reëlection. This establishes his ascendency in the cabinet, and
reduces Calhoun to the alternative of joining in the shout 'Hurra for
Jackson!' or of being counted in opposition."

On the 28th of March, 1830, the question being still in agitation before
the public whether Jackson, if a candidate, would be successful, Mr.
Adams said: "Jackson will be a candidate, and have a fair chance of
success. His personal popularity, founded solely on the battle of New
Orleans, will carry him through the next election, as it did through the
last. The vices of his administration are not such as affect the popular
feeling. He will lose none of his popularity unless he should do
something to raise a blister upon public sentiment, and of that there is
no prospect. If he lives, therefore, and nothing external should happen
to rouse new parties, he may be reëlected not only twice, but thrice."

In June, 1830, he again expressed his views on the policy and prospects
of the administration. He said it was impossible to foresee what would
be the fluctuations of popular opinion. Hitherto there were symptoms of
changes of opinion among members of Congress, but none among the people.
These could be indicated only by the elections. He had great doubts
whether the majorities in the Legislatures of the free states would be
changed by the approaching elections, and was far from certain that the
next Legislature of Kentucky would nominate Mr. Clay in opposition to
the reëlection of General Jackson. The whole strength of the present
administration rested on Jackson's personal popularity, founded on his
military services. He had surrendered the Indians to the states within
the bounds of which they are located. This would confirm and strengthen
his popularity in those states, especially as he had burdened the Union
with the expense of removing and indemnifying the Indians. He had taken
practical ground against internal improvements and domestic industry,
which would strengthen him in all the Southern States. He had, as might
have been expected, thrown all his weight into the slaveholding scale;
and that interest is so compact, so consolidated, and so fervent in
action, that there is every prospect it will overpower the discordant
and loosely constructed interest of the free states. The cause of
internal improvement will sink, and that of domestic industry will fall
with or after it. There is at present a great probability that Jackson's
policy will be supported by a majority of the people.

After a conversation with Oliver Wolcott, the successor of Alexander
Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury under Washington, who had been
subsequently Governor of Connecticut, Mr. Adams remarked: "Mr. Wolcott
views the prospects of the Union with great sagacity, and with hopes
more sanguine than mine. He thinks the continuance of the Union will
depend upon the heavy population of Pennsylvania, and that its
gravitation will preserve the Union. He holds the South Carolina
turbulence too much in contempt. The domineering spirit naturally
springs from the institution of slavery; and when, as in South Carolina,
the slaves are more numerous than their masters, the domineering spirit
is wrought up to its highest pitch of intenseness. The South Carolinians
are attempting to govern the Union as they govern their slaves, and
there are too many indications that, abetted as they are by all the
slave-driving interest of the Union, the free portion will cower before
them, and truckle to their insolence. This is my apprehension."

While Jackson's nominations were pending before the Senate, a senator
from New Hampshire said to Mr. Adams that he hoped the whole tribe of
editors of newspapers would be rejected; for he thought it the most
dangerous precedent that could be established, and, if now sanctioned by
the Senate, he despaired of its being controlled hereafter; and added
that he was almost discouraged concerning the permanency of our
institutions. Mr. Adams replied, that his hopes were better, but that
undoubtedly the giving offices to editors of newspapers was of all
species of bribery the most dangerous.

From the time Mr. Adams took his seat in the House of Representatives,
in December, 1831, till the period of his death, few of his
contemporaries equalled and none exceeded him in punctuality of
attendance. He was usually among the first members in his place in the
morning, and the last to leave it. On every question of general interest
he bestowed scrupulous attention, yielding to it the full strength of
his mind, and his extensive knowledge of public affairs. A full history
of the proceedings of Congress during this period alone can do justice
to his devotion to the public service. In this memoir his views and
course will no further be recorded than as they regard topics obviously
nearest his heart, and in which his principles and character are
developed with peculiar ability and power.

In December, 1831, on the distribution of the several parts of the
President's message to committees, Mr. Adams was appointed chairman of
that on manufactures. Against this position he immediately remonstrated,
and solicited the Speaker to relieve him from it. He stated that the
subject of manufactures was connected with details not familiar to him;
that, during the long period of a life devoted to public service, his
thoughts had been directed in a very different line. It was replied,
that he could not be excused without a vote of the House; that the
continuance of the Union might depend on the questions relative to the
tariff; and that it was thought his influence would have great weight in
reconciling the Eastern States to such modifications as he might
sanction. He therefore yielded all personal considerations to the
interests of his country, and accepted the appointment.

In the ensuing March, on being appointed on a committee to investigate
the affairs of the United States Bank, Mr. Adams requested of the House
to be excused from service on the Committee on Manufactures, giving the
same reasons he had previously urged, and others resulting from the
incompatibility of the two offices. An opposition was made by
Cambreling, of New York, Barbour, of Virginia, and Drayton, of South
Carolina, in speeches which were characterized by the newspapers of the
times as "most extraordinary."[14] Cambreling said: "The present
condition of the country and of the public mind demanded the
intelligence, industry, and patriotism, for which Mr. Adams was
distinguished. The authority of his name was of infinite importance."
Mr. Barbour followed in a like strain. "The member from Massachusetts,"
said he, "with whom I have been associated in the Committee on
Manufactures, has not only fulfilled all his duties with eminent
ability, in the committee, but in a spirit and temper that demanded
grateful acknowledgments, and excited the highest admiration." He
concluded with an appeal to Mr. Adams, "as a patriot, a statesman, and
philanthropist, as well as an American, feeling the full force of his
duties, and touched by all their incentives to lofty action, to forbear
his request." Mr. Drayton also, in a voice of eulogy, declared that,
"Amidst all the rancor of political parties with which our country has
been distracted, and from which, unhappily, we are not now exempt, it
has always been admitted that no individual was more eminently endowed
with those intellectual and moral qualities which entitle their
possessor to the respect of the community, and to entire confidence in
the purity of his motives, than Mr. Adams."

      [14] _Niles' Weekly Register_, vol. XLII., pp. 86-88.

These politicians were the active and influential members of a party
which had raised General Jackson to the President's chair. When laboring
to displace Mr. Adams from that high station, that party had represented
him as "neither a statesman nor a patriot; without talents; as a mere
professor of rhetoric, capable of making a corrupt bargain for the sake
of power, and of condescending to intrigue for the attainment of place
and office." To hear the leaders of such a party now extolling him for
integrity, diligence, and intelligence, upon whose continuance in office
the hopes of the country and the continuance of the Union might depend,
was a change in opinions and language which might well be attributed to
the awakening of conscience to a sense of justice, and a desire for
reparation of wrong, were it not that leaders of factions have never any
other criterion of truth, or rule in the use of language, than
adaptation to selfish and party purposes.

Equally uninfluenced by adulation and undeterred by abuse, on the 23d of
May, 1832, as chairman of the Committee on Manufactures, by order of a
majority, Mr. Adams reported a bill, which, in presenting it, he
declared was not coïncident with the views of that majority, and that
for parts he alone was responsible. After lauding the anticipated
extinction of the public debt, he proceeded to show, by a laborious
research into its history, that such extinction had always been
contemplated, and that the policy of the government, from the earliest
period of its existence, had concurred in the wisdom of this application
of the revenue. He proceeded to expose and deprecate that Southern
policy, which seized on this occasion "to reduce the revenues of the
Union to the lowest point absolutely necessary to defray the ordinary
charges and indispensable expenditures of the government;" a system
which, by inevitable consequence and by avowed design, "left our shores
to take care of themselves, our navy to perish by dry rot upon the
stocks, our manufactures to wither under the blast of foreign
competition;" and he urged, in opposition to these destructive
doctrines, the duty of levying revenue enough for "common defence," and
also to "protect manufactures," and supported his argument by a great
array of facts; severely animadverting upon those politicians who
glorified themselves on the prosperous state of the country, and yet
labored to break down that "system of protection for domestic
manufactures by which this prosperity had been chiefly produced." The
duty of "defensive preparation and internal improvements" he maintained
to be unquestionable, obligations resulting from the language and spirit
of the constitution. The doctrine that the interests of the planter and
the manufacturer were irreconcilable, and that duties for the protection
of domestic industry operate to the injury of the Southern States, he
analyzed, illustrated, and showed to be fallacious, "striking directly
at the heart of the Union, and leading inevitably to its dissolution;" a
result to which more than one distinguished and influential statesman of
the South had affirmed that "his mind was made up." The doctrine that
the interest of the South is identified with the foreign competitor of
the Northern manufacturer, he denounced as in conflict with the whole
history of our Revolutionary War, and a satire on our institutions. If
it should prove true that these interests were so irreconcilable as to
cause a separation, as some Southern statesmen contended, after such
separation the same state of irreconcilable interests would continue,
and "with redoubled aggravation," resulting in an inextinguishable or
exterminating war between the brothers of this severed continent, which
nothing but a foreign umpire could settle or adjust, and this not
according to the interests of either of the parties, but his own. The
consequences of such a state of things he displayed with great power and
eloquence, and concluded with alluding "to that great, comprehensive,
but peculiar Southern interest, which is now protected by the laws of
the United States, but which, in case of severance of the Union, must
produce consequences from which a statesman of either portion of it
cannot but avert his eyes."

Contemporaneously with this report on manufactures, Mr. Adams, as one of
the committee to examine and report on the books and proceedings of the
Bank of the United States, submitted to the House of Representatives a
report, signed only by himself and Mr. Watmough, of Pennsylvania, in
which he declared his dissent from the report of the committee on that
subject. After examining their proceedings with minuteness and searching
severity, he asserted that they were without authority, and in flagrant
violation of the rights of the bank, and of the principles on which the
freedom of this people had been founded.

In February, 1832, Mr. Adams delivered a speech on the ratio of
representation--on the duty of making the constituent body small, and
the representatives numerous; contending that a large representation and
a small constituency was a truly republican principle, and illustrating
it from history, and from its tendency to give the distinguished men of
the different states opportunities to become acquainted with each other.

In July ensuing, a vote censuring a member for words spoken in debate
being on its passage in the House, Mr. Adams, when the roll was called,
and his name announced, rose with characteristic spirit, and delivered
a paper to the clerk, which contained the following words: "I ask to be
excused from voting on the resolution, believing it to be unconstitutional,
inasmuch as it assumes inferences of fact from words spoken by the
member, without giving the words themselves, and the fact not being
warranted, in my judgment, by the words he did use." A majority of the
house, being disposed to put down, and, if possible, disgrace Mr.
Adams, refused to excuse him. On his name being called, he again
declined voting, and stated that he did not refuse to vote from any
contumacy or disrespect to the house, but because he had a right to
decline from conscientious motives, and that he desired to place his
reasons for declining upon the journals of the house. A member observed
that, if they put those reasons on the journal, they would spread on it
their own condemnation; adding that, by going out of the house, Mr.
Adams might easily have avoided voting. The latter replied, "I do not
choose to shrink from my duty by such an expedient. It is not my right
alone, but the rights of all the members, and of the people of the
United States, which are concerned in this question, and I cannot evade
it. I regret the state of things, but I must abide by the consequences,
whatever they may be." A motion made to reconsider the vote refusing to
excuse him was lost--yeas _fifty-nine_, nays _seventy-four_. The
Speaker then read the rule by which every member is required to vote,
and stated that it was the duty of every member to vote on one side or
the other. The question then being repeated, when the clerk called the
name of Mr. Adams, he gave no response, and remained in his seat. A
member then rose, said it was an unprecedented case, and moved two
resolutions. By the one, the facts being first stated, the course
pursued by Mr. Adams was declared "a breach of one of the rules of the
house." By the other, a committee was to be appointed for inquiring and
reporting "what course ought to be adopted in a case so novel and
important." The house then proceeded to pass the original vote of
censure on the member, without repeating the name of Mr. Adams.

The next day the vote for a committee of inquiry on the subject caused a
desultory and warm debate, during which Mr. Adams took occasion to say
that the whole affair was a subject of great mortification to him. The
proposed resolution, after naming him personally, and affirming that he
had been guilty of a breach of the rules of the house, proposed that a
committee of inquiry should be raised, to consider what was to be done
in a case so novel and important. On this resolution, which the mover
seemed to suppose would pass of course, Mr. Adams said, that he trusted
opportunity would be given him to show the reasons which had prevented
him from voting. Mr. Everett, of Massachusetts, then remonstrated with
the majority of the house for attempting thus to censure a man, such as
they knew Mr. Adams to be, than whom he was confident the whole house
would bear him witness that there was not an individual on that floor
more regular, more assiduous, or more laborious, in the discharge of his
public duty. A motion was then made to lay the resolution on the table,
which prevailed--yeas _eighty-nine_, nays _sixty-three_.

Thus ended a debate which severely tested the firmness of the spirit of
Mr. Adams. Neither seduced by the number nor quailing under the threats
and violence of his assailants, he maintained the rights of his public
station, and with silent dignity set at defiance their overbearing
attempts to terrify, until they abandoned their purpose in despair, awed
by the majestic power of principle.

In December, 1832, when the South Carolina state convention was opposing
the revenue laws with great violence, accompanied with threats of
disunion, President Jackson, in his message to Congress, recommended a
reduction of the revenue, and a qualified abandonment of the system of
protection; and also that the public lands be no longer regarded as a
source of revenue, and that they be sold to actual settlers at a price
merely sufficient to reïmburse actual expenses and the costs arising
under Indian compacts. "In this message," said Mr. Adams, "Jackson has
cast away all the neutrality he heretofore maintained upon the
conflicting opinions and interests of the different sections of the
country, and surrenders the whole Union to the nullifiers of the South
and the land speculators of the West. This I predicted nearly two years
since, in a letter to Peter B. Porter."

In January, 1833, with regard to a member friendly to modifying the
tariff according to the Southern policy, and who professed himself a
radical, Mr. Adams remarked: "He has all the contracted prejudices of
that political sect; his whole system of government is comprised in the
maxim of leaving money in the pockets of the people. This is always the
high road to popularity, and it is always travelled by those who have
not resolution, intelligence, and energy, to attempt the exploration of
any other."

On January 16th, 1833, President Jackson communicated, in a message, the
ordinance of the convention of South Carolina nullifying the acts of
Congress laying duties on the importation of foreign commodities, with
the counteracting measures he proposed to pursue. On the 4th of
February, on a bill for a modification of the tariff, Mr. Adams moved to
strike out the enacting clause, thereby destroying the bill. In a speech
characterized by the fearless spirit by which he was actuated, he
declared his opinion that neither the bill then in discussion nor any
other on the subject of the tariff ought to pass, until it was "known
whether there was any measure by which a state could defeat the laws of
the Union." The ordinance of South Carolina had been called a "pacific
measure." It was just as much so as placing a pistol at the breast of a
traveller and demanding his money was pacific. Until that weapon was
removed there ought to be no modification of the tariff. Mr. Adams then
entered at large into the duty of government to protect all the great
interests of the citizens. But protection might be extended in different
forms to different interests. The complaint was, that government took
money out of the pockets of one portion of the community, to give it to
another. In extending protection this must always be more or less the
case. But, then, while the rights of one party were protected in this
way, the rights of the other party were protected equally in another
way. This he proceeded to illustrate. In the southern and southwestern
parts of this Union there existed a certain interest, which he need not
more particularly designate, which enjoyed, under the constitution and
laws of the United States, an especial protection peculiar to itself. It
was first protected by representation. There were on that floor upwards
of twenty members who represented what in other states had no
representation at all. It was not three days since a gentleman from
Georgia said that the species of property now alluded to was "the
machinery of the South." Now, that machinery had twenty odd
representatives in that hall; representatives elected, not by that
machinery, but by those who owned it. Was there such representation in
any other portion of the Union? That machinery had ever been to the
South, in fact, the ruling power of this government. Was this not
protection? This very protection had taken millions and millions of
money from the free laboring population of this country, and put it into
the pockets of the owners of Southern machinery. He did not complain of
this. He did not say that it was not all right. What he said was, that
the South possessed a great interest protected by the constitution of
the United States. He was for adhering to the bargain; but he did not
wish to be understood as saying that he would agree to it if the bargain
was now to be made over again.

This interest was protected by another provision in the constitution of
the United States, by which "no person held to service or labor in one
state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in
consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such
service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to
whom such service or labor may be due." What was this but protection to
this machinery of the South? And let it be observed that a provision
like this ran counter to all the tenor of legislation in the free
states. It was contrary to all the notions and feelings of the people of
the North to deliver a man up to any foreign authority, unless he had
been guilty of some crime; and, but for such a clause in the compact, a
Southern gentleman, who had lost an article of his machinery, would
never recover him back from the free states.

The constitution contained another clause guaranteeing protection to the
same interest. It guaranteed to every state in the Union a republican
form of government, protection against invasion, and, on the application
of the Legislature or Executive of any state, furnished them with
protection against domestic violence. Now, everybody knew that where
this machinery existed the state was more liable to domestic violence
than elsewhere, because that machinery sometimes exerted a self-moving
power. The call for this protection had very recently been made, and it
had been answered, and the power of the Union had been exerted to insure
the owners of this machinery from domestic violence.

On the 28th of the ensuing February, Mr. Adams, on the part of the
minority of the Committee on Manufactures, made a report, signed by
himself and Lewis Condit, of New Jersey, which was read and ordered to
be printed by the House. In this report he took occasion to express his
dissent from the doctrine of the message, which he asserted to be that
in all countries generally, and especially in our own, the strongest
and best part of our population--the basis of society, and the friends
preëminently of freedom--are the "_wealthy landholders_." This he
controverted with a spirit at once suggestive and sarcastic, as new,
incorrect, and incompatible with the foundation of our political
institutions. He maintained that this assertion was not true even in
that part of the Union where the cultivators of the soil are slaves;
for, although there the landholders possess a large portion of the
wealth of the community, they were far from constituting an equal
proportion of its strength. Nor was it true in that portion of the
Union where the cultivators of the soil earn their bread by the sweat
of their brow, that they were _the best_ part of society. They were as
good as, but no better than, the other classes of the community. The
doctrine is in opposition to the Declaration of Independence and the
government of the Union, which are founded on a very different
principle--the principle that all men are born equal, and with equal
rights. It cannot be assumed as a foundation of national policy, and is
of a most alarming and dangerous tendency, threatening the peace and
directly tending to "the dissolution of the Union, by a complicated
civil and servile war." He traced its consequences, present and future,
in the proposition to give away the public lands, thereby withdrawing
all aid from this source to objects of internal improvement; and in the
destiny to which it consigns our manufacturing interests, and those of
the handicraftsmen and the mechanics of our populous cities and
flourishing towns, for the benefit of these wealthy landholders.

The insincerity of the message and the danger of its doctrines he
elucidates with scrutinizing severity, exposing its fallacies, and
showing that, by its recommendations, "a nation, consisting of ten
millions of freemen, must be crippled in the exercise of their
associated power, unmanned of all the energies applicable to the
improvement of their own condition, by the doubts, scruples, or fanciful
discontents, of a portion among themselves less in number than double
the number in the single city of New York."

Its doctrine, which divides the people into the best and worst part of
the population, is here denounced as "the never-failing source of
tyranny and oppression, of civil strife, the shedding of brothers'
blood, and the total extinction of freedom."

This report earnestly entreats the general government not to abdicate,
by _non user_, the power vested in them of appropriating public money
to great national objects of internal improvements, and declares the
final result of the doctrine of abdicating powers arbitrarily
designated as doubtful is but the degradation of the nation, the
reducing itself to impotence, by chaining its own hands, fettering its
own feet, and thus disabling itself from bettering its own condition.
The impotence resulting from the inability to employ its own faculties
for its own improvement, is the principle upon which the roving Tartar
denies himself a permanent habitation, because to him the wandering
shepherd is the best part of the population; upon which the American
savage refuses to till the ground, because to him the hunter of the
woods is the best part of the population. "Imperfect civilization, in
all stages of human society, shackles itself with fanatical prejudices
of exclusive favor to its own occupations; as the owner of a plantation
with a hundred slaves believes the summit of human virtue to be
attained only by independent farmers, cultivators of the soil."

Mr. Adams avers that the spirit of these recommendations indicates "a
proposed revolution in the government of the Union, the avowed purpose
of which is to reduce the general government to a simple machine.
Simplicity," he adds, "is the essential characteristic in the condition
of slavery. It is by the complication of the government alone that the
freedom of mankind can be assured. If the people of these United States
enjoy a greater share of liberty than any other nation upon earth, it is
because, of all the governments upon earth, theirs is the most
complicated." The simplicity which the message recommends is "an
abdication of the power to do good; a divestment of all power in this
confederate people to improve their own condition."

The recommendation of the message, that the public lands shall cease
as soon as practicable to be a source of public revenue,--that they
shall be sold at a reduced price to actual settlers, and the future
disposition of them be surrendered to the states in which they lie,--Mr.
Adams condemns as the giving away of the national domain, the property
of the whole people, to individual adventurers; and as taking away the
property of one portion of the citizens, and giving it to another, the
plundered portion of the community being insultingly told that those on
whom their lands are lavished are _the best part of the population_.
Neither this, nor the surrender of them to the states in which they lie,
can be done without prejudicing the claims of the United States, and
of every particular state within which there are no public lands, and
trampling under foot solemn engagements entered into before the adoption
of the constitution. He reprobates thus giving away lands which were
purchased by the blood and treasure of our revolutionary fathers and
ourselves, which, if duly managed, might prove an inexhaustible fund
for centuries to come. He maintains that the policy indicated by this
message regards the manufacturing interests of the country "as a victim
to be sacrificed." This view leads him into an illustrative and powerful
argument on the duty of protection to domestic industry, in which are
set forth its nature, limitations, and impressive obligations.

In this report the absurd doctrines of nullification and secession are
canvassed, and it is shown that they never can be carried out in
practice but by a dissolution of the Union. The encouragement given by
the policy of the administration to the unjust claims and groundless
pretensions of South Carolina is exposed. The assumed irreconcilableness
of the interests of the great masses of population which geographically
divide the Union, of which one part is entirely free, and the other
consists of masters and slaves, which is the foundation of those
doctrines, is denied, and the question declared to be only capable of
being determined by experiment under the compact formed by the
constitution of the United States. The nature of that compact is
analyzed, as well as the effect of that representation of property which
it grants to the slaveholding states, and which has secured to them "the
entire control of the national policy, and, almost without exception,
the possession of the highest executive office of the Union." The causes
and modes of operation by which this has been attained Mr. Adams
illustrates to this effect: The Northern and wholly free states conceded
that, while in the popular branch of the Legislature they themselves
should have a representation proportioned only to their numbers, the
slaveholders of the South should, in addition to their proportional
numbers, have a representation for three fifths of their living
property--their machinery; while the citizens of the free states have no
addition to their number of representatives on account of their
property; nor have their looms and manufactories, or their owners in
their behalf, a single representative. The consequent disproportion of
numbers of the slaveholding representation in the House of
Representatives has secured the absolute control of the general policy
of the government, and especially of the fiscal system, the revenues and
expenditures of the nation. Thus, while the free states are represented
only according to their numbers, the slaveholders are represented also
for their property. The equivalent for this privilege provided by the
constitution is that the slaveholders shall bear a heavier burden of all
direct taxation. But, by the ascendency which their excess of
representation gives them in the enactment of laws, they have invariably
in time of peace excluded all direct taxation, and thereby enjoyed their
excess of representation without any equivalent whatever. This is, in
substance, an evasion of the bilateral provision in the constitution. It
gives an operation entirely one-sided. It is a privilege of the Southern
and slaveholding section of the Union, without any equivalent whatever
to the Northern and North-western freemen. Always united in the purpose
of regulating the affairs of the whole Union by the standard of the
slaveholding interest, the disproportionate numbers of this section in
the electoral colleges have enabled them, in ten out of twelve
quadriennial elections, to confer the chief magistracy on one of their
own citizens. Their suffrages at every election have been almost
exclusively confined to a candidate of their own caste. Availing
themselves of the divisions which, from the nature of man, always
prevail in communities entirely free, they have sought and found out
auxiliaries in other quarters of the Union, by associating the passions
of parties and the ambition of individuals with their own purposes to
establish and maintain throughout the confederated nation the
slaveholders' policy. The office of Vice-President--a station of high
dignity, but of little other than contingent power--has been usually, by
their indulgence, conceded to a citizen of the other section; but even
this political courtesy was superseded at the election before the last
(1829), and both the offices of President and Vice-President of the
United States were, by the preponderancy of slaveholding votes, bestowed
upon citizens of two adjoining slaveholding states. "At this moment
(1833) the President of the United States, the President of the Senate,
the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice of
the United States, are all citizens of this favored portion of this
united republic."

Mr. Adams, regarding "the ground assumed by the South Carolina
convention for usurping the sovereign and limitless power of the people
of that state to dictate the laws of the Union, and prostrate the
legislative, executive, and judicial authority of the United States, as
destitute of foundation as the forms and substance of their proceedings
are arrogant, overbearing, tyrannical, and oppressive," declared his
belief "that one particle of compromise with that usurped power, or of
concession to its pretensions, would be a heavy calamity to the people
of the whole Union, and to none more than to the people of South
Carolina themselves; that such concession would be a dereliction by
Congress of their highest duties to their country, and directly lead to
the final and irretrievable dissolution of the Union."

                             CHAPTER IX.


On the 4th of March, 1833, Andrew Jackson was inaugurated President of
the United States a second time. Of two hundred and eighty-eight votes,
the whole number cast by the electors, he had received two hundred and
nineteen, Henry Clay being the chief opposing candidate. Martin Van
Buren, having been elected Vice-President by one hundred and eighty-nine
votes, was inaugurated on the same day. The coalition formed in 1827 by
Jackson with Van Buren had thus fulfilled its purpose. Jackson's triumph
was complete; he had superseded Adams, defeated Clay, crushed Calhoun,
and placed Van Buren in the most auspicious position to be his successor
in the President's chair.

The infatuating influence of military success over the human mind, and
the readiness with which intelligent and well-disposed men, living under
a constitution of limited powers, while dazzled by its splendor, endure
and encourage acts of despotic power, is at once instructive and
suggestive. Violations of constitutional duty, known and voluntarily
acquiesced in by a whole people, subservient to the will of a popular
chieftain, may, and probably will, in time, change their constitution,
and destroy their liberties.

When Mr. Adams said that "Jackson rode roughshod over the Senate of the
United States," he only characterized the spirit by which he controlled
every branch and department of the government. In every movement Jackson
had displayed an arbitrary will, determined on success, regardless of
the means, and had applied without reserve the corrupting temptation of
office to members of Congress. He had rewarded subserviency by
appointments, and punished the want of it by removal; had insolently
called Calhoun to account for his official language in the cabinet of
Monroe, and dismissed three members of his own, acknowledged to have
been unexceptionable in the discharge of their official duties, because
they would not submit to regulate the social intercourse of their
families by his dictation. These and many other instances of his
overbearing character in civil affairs had become subjects of severe
public animadversion, without apparently shaking the submissive
confidence of the citizens of the United States. Their votes on his
second election indicated an unequivocal increase of popular favor; the
admirer of arbitrary power exulted; the lover of constitutional liberty
mourned. The friends of despotism in the Old World, ignorant of the real
stamina of his popularity, regarded it as unquestionable evidence of the
all-powerful influence of military achievement in the New. But the
infatuation which had been the exciting cause of General Jackson's first
election to the Presidency would soon have evaporated under the
multiplied evidences of an ill-regulated will, had it not been
encouraged and supported by a local interest which predominated in the
councils of the nation. With no desire to establish arbitrary power in
the person of the chief magistrate of the Union, the slave-holders of
the South instinctively perceived the identity of Jackson's interests
with their own, and gave zeal and intensity to his support. The
acquisition of the province of Texas, and its introduction into the
Union as a slave state, with the prospective design of forming out of
its territories four or five slave states, was a project in which they
knew Jackson's heart was deeply engaged, and for the advancement of
which he had peculiar qualifications.

Such was the true basis of that extraordinary show of popularity which
Jackson's second election as President indicated. Accordingly, his first
measures were directed to the acquisition of Texas. These, as Mr. Adams
said at the time, "were kept profoundly secret," but at this day they
are clear and evident. The Florida treaty was accepted with approbation
and joy by the government and people of the United States, under the
administration of Mr. Monroe. But the extension of its boundaries to the
Colorado, which had been hoped for during the negotiation of that treaty
between Mr. Adams and Onis, was not attained. Afterwards, during the
Presidency of Mr. Adams, when every engine in the South and West was set
at work to depreciate his character, and destroy his popularity, John
Floyd, of Virginia, in an address to his constituents, attributed the
relinquishment of our claim to Texas to him, and said he had thus
deprived the South of acquiring two or more slave states. The same
charge was brought against him by Thomas H. Benton, of Missouri, who
afterwards, when apprized of the facts, openly acknowledged, in the
Senate of the United States, that it was unjust, and an error. The
calumny had the effect for which it was fabricated; for Mr. Adams, out
of respect for those through whose constitutional influence he had
abandoned that claim, disdained to defend himself by publishing the

The facts were, that slavery not being then permitted in Mexico, and the
project of introducing it, by the annexation of Texas, not being yet
developed, Mr. Adams deemed the extension of the territory of the United
States to the Colorado so important, that when Onis absolutely refused
to accede, he declined further negotiation, declaring that he would not
renew it on any other ground. He did not yield until those deeply
interested in obtaining Florida had, by their urgency, persuaded him to
treat on the condition of not including Texas. Although desirous, from
general considerations of national interest and policy, to obtain that
province, it was well known that he would not engage in any conspiracy
to wrest it from Mexico. His character and firmness in that respect
lessened his popularity in the Southern States, and excited an
inordinate zeal for Jackson.

Accordingly, Mr. Poinsett, of South Carolina, minister of the United
States in Mexico, immediately after the inauguration of President
Jackson, in 1829, being apprized of his views and policy, took measures
to carry them into effect. Under pretence of negotiating for the
purchase of Texas, he remained in Mexico, and so mingled with the
parties which at the time distracted that republic as to become
obnoxious to its government. The Legislature passed a vote to expel
him from their territories, and issued a remonstrance intimating
apprehensions of his assassination if he continued there; charging him
expressly with being concerned in establishing "some of those secret
societies which will figure in the history of the misfortunes of
Mexico." It might have been expected that a foreign minister would
have repelled such an accusation with indignation. Poinsett, on the
contrary, in a letter[1] addressed to the public, admitted that he
had been instrumental in establishing _five_ such secret societies,
but asserted that they were only lodges of Freemasons,--merely
philanthropic institutions, which had nothing to do with politics.
For the truth of these assertions he appealed to his own personal
character, and to the character of the members of the secret societies,
who, he declared, had been his intimate friends for more than three
years, vouching himself for their patriotism and private virtues. Even
this authentication did not create implicit belief in the minds of
those to whom it was addressed.

      [1] See this letter in _Niles' Weekly Register_, vol. XXXVII.,
      pp. 91-93.

During these proceedings of Poinsett in Mexico the newspapers in the
United States announced that the American government were taking proper
steps for the acquisition of Texas. Intimations were also circulated of
the sum Poinsett had been authorized to offer for it; and, to make sure
of its ultimate attainment, in the summer and autumn of 1829 emigrants
from the United States were encouraged by the American government to
settle in Texas. To the Southern States the acquisition of that province
was desirable, to open a new area for slavery. In open defiance,
therefore, of a formal decree about this time issued by the rulers of
Mexico prohibiting slavery in Texas, the emigrants to that province took
their slaves with them; for they knew that the object of the American
government was not so much territory as a slave state, and that upon
their effecting this result their admission into the Union would depend.
Such was the policy commenced and pursued during the first term of
Jackson's administration. It was the conviction of this which led Mr.
Adams publicly to declare that, though "profoundly a secret as it
respected the public, it was then in successful progress;" and to make
it a topic of severe animadversion and warning, combined with language
of prophecy, which events soon expanded into history. Every movement of
Jackson was in unison with the policy and imbued with the spirit of the
slaveholders. He manifested animosity to the protection of manufactures,
and to internal improvement by his veto of the bill for the Maysville
Turnpike, and to the Bank of the United States by his veto of the bill
for extending its charter; and, after violently denouncing the spirit of
nullification, he publicly succumbed to it by proposing a modification
of the tariff, in obedience to its demands. But the most flagrant, act,
and beyond all others characteristic of his indomitable tenacity of
will, overleaping all the limitations of precedent and the constitution,
was his removal, on his own responsibility, of the deposits from the
Bank of the United States. After ascertaining that Duane, the Secretary
of the Treasury, would not be his tool in that service, he, in the
language of that officer, "concentrating in himself the power to judge
and execute, to absorb the discretion given to the Secretary of the
Treasury, and to nullify the law itself," proceeded at once to remove
him, and to raise Roger B. Taney from the office of Attorney-General to
that of Secretary of the Treasury, for the sole object of availing
himself of an instrument subservient to his purposes.

In his annual message, at the opening of the session, Jackson announced
to Congress that the Secretary of the Treasury had, by his orders,
removed the public moneys from the Bank of the United States, and
deposited them in certain state banks.

The spirit of Mr. Adams kindled at this usurpation, and he gave
eloquent utterance to his indignation. Among the remonstrances to
Congress against this act of President Jackson, one from the
Legislature of Massachusetts was sent to him for presentation. In his
attempt to fulfil this duty he was defeated three several times by the
address of the Speaker of the House, and finally deprived of the
opportunity by the previous question. He immediately published the
speech he had intended to deliver, minutely scrutinizing the
President's usurpation of power. The removal of the deposits, and the
contract with the state banks to receive those deposits, he asserts
were both unlawful; and the measure itself neither lawful nor just--an
arbitrary act, without law and against law. He then proceeds to analyze
the whole series of documents adduced by the Secretary of the Treasury,
and by the Committee of Ways and Means in his aid, as _precedents_ to
justify the removal of the deposits, and concludes a lucid and
laborious argument with, "I have thus proved, to the very rigor of
mathematical demonstration, that the Committee of Ways and Means, to
bolster up the lawless act of the Secretary of the Treasury, in
transferring public moneys from their lawful places of deposit to
others, in one of which, at least, the Secretary had an interest of
private profit to himself, have ransacked all the records of the
Treasury, from its first institution in July, 1775, to this day, in
vain. From the whole mass of vouchers, to authenticate the lawful
disposal of the public moneys, which that department can furnish, the
committee have gathered fifty pages of documents, which they would pass
off as _precedents_ for this flagrant violation of the laws, and not
one of them will answer their purpose. One of them alone bears a
partial resemblance to the act of the present secretary; and that one
the very document adduced by the committee themselves pronounces and
proves to be unlawful."

After some remarks upon the office of Secretary of the Treasury, and
the legal restraints upon it, he proceeds: "I believe both the spirit
and the letter of this law to have been violated by the present
Secretary of the Treasury when he transferred the public funds from the
Bank of the United States to the Union Bank of Baltimore, he himself
being a stockholder therein. And so thorough is my conviction of this
principle, and so corrupting and pernicious do I deem the example which
he has thereby set to future Committees of Ways and Means, to cite as
_precedents_ for yet ranker rottenness, that, if there were a prospect
of his remaining in office longer than till the close of the present
session of the Senate, I should deem it an indispensable, albeit a
painful, duty of my station, to take the sense of this house on the
question. And, sir, if, after this explicit declaration by me, the
chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means has not yet slaked his
thirst for _precedents_, he may gratify it by offering a fifth
resolution, in addition to the four reported by the committee, as thus:
Resolved, that the thanks of this house be given to Roger B. Taney,
Secretary of the Treasury, for his pure and DISINTERESTED patriotism in
transferring the use of the public funds from the Bank of the United
States, where they were profitable to the people, to the Union Bank of
Baltimore, where they were profitable to himself."

He then proceeds to show, in a severe and searching examination of
the proceedings of this secretary, that the transfers were utterly
unwarrantable; that he _tampered_ with the public moneys to sustain the
staggering credit of selected depositaries, and "scatter it abroad
among swarms of rapacious political partisans." After stating and
answering all the charges brought by the Secretary of the Treasury
against the Bank of the United States, and showing their falsehood or
futility, he declares all the proceedings of the directors of the
bank to have been within the pale of action warranted by the laws of
the land; and, so long as they do this, "a charge of dishonesty or
corruption against them, uttered by the President of the United States,
or by the Secretary of the Treasury, is neither more nor less than
slander, emitted under the protection of official station, against
private citizens. This is both ungenerous and unjust. It is the abuse
of the shelter of official station to circulate calumny with impunity."

Mr. Adams next examines and severely reprobates the declaration of
the President of the United States, that, "if the last Congress had
continued in session one week longer, the bank would, by corrupt means,
have procured a re-charter by majorities of two thirds in both houses
of Congress;" and declares the imputation as unjust as it was
dishonorable to all the parties implicated in it. He did not believe
there was _one_ member in the last Congress, who voted against
re-chartering of the bank, who could have been induced to change his
vote by corrupt means, had the president and directors of the bank been
base enough to attempt the use of them. "That the imputation is cruelly
ungenerous towards the friends of the administration in this house,
is," said Mr. Adams, "my deliberate opinion; and now, when we reflect
that this defamatory and disgraceful suspicion, harbored or professed
against his own friends, supporters, and adherents, was the real and
efficient _cause_ (to call it reason would be to _shame_ the term),
that it was the real _motive_ for the removal of the deposits during
the recess of Congress, and only two months before its meeting, what
can we do but hide our heads with _shame_? Sir, one of the duties of
the President of the United States--a duty as sacred as that to which
he is bound by his official oath--is that of maintaining unsullied
the honor of his country. But how could the President of the United
States assert, in the presence of any foreigner, a claim to honorable
principle or moral virtue, as attributes belonging to his countrymen,
when he is the first to cast the indelible stigma upon them? '_Vale,
venalis civitas, mox peritura, si emptorem invenias_,' was the
prophetic curse of Jugurtha upon Rome, in the days of her deep
corruption. If the imputations of the President of the United States
upon his own partisans and supporters were true, our country would
already have found a purchaser."

"That this was the true and efficient _cause_," Mr. Adams proceeds,
"of that removal, is evident, not only by the positive testimony of Mr.
Duane, but from the utter futility of the reasons assigned by Mr. Taney.
Mr. Duane states that, on the second day after he entered upon his
duties as Secretary of the Treasury, the President himself declared to
him his determination to cause the public deposits to be removed before
the meeting of Congress. He said that the matter under consideration was
of vast consequence to the country; that, unless the bank was broken
down, it would break us down; that, if the last Congress had remained a
week longer in session, two thirds would have been secured for the bank
by corrupt means; and that the like result might be apprehended the next
Congress; that such a state bank agency must be put in operation, before
the meeting of Congress, as would show that the United States Bank was
not necessary, and thus some members would have no excuse for voting for
it. 'My suggestions,' added Mr. Duane, 'as to an inquiry by Congress, as
in 1832, or a recourse to the judiciary, the President repelled, saying
that it would be idle to depend upon either; referring, as to the
judiciary, to the decisions already made as indications of what would be
the effect of an appeal to them in future.'

"These, then," continued Mr. Adams, "were the effective _reasons_ of
the President for requiring the removal of the deposits _before_ the
meeting of Congress. The corruptibility of Congress itself, and the
foregone decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, were
alike despised and degraded. The executive will was substituted in the
place of both. These reasons had been urged, without success, on one
Secretary of the Treasury, Louis McLane. He had been promoted out of
office, and they were now pressed upon the judgment and pliability of
another. He, too, was found refractory, and displaced. A third, more
accommodating, was found in the person of Mr. Taney. To _him_ the
reasons of the President were all-sufficient, and he adopted them
without reserve. They were all summed up in one,--_'Sic volo, sic
jubeo, stet pro_ RATIONE _voluntas_.'

"It is to be regretted that the Secretary of the Treasury did not feel
himself at liberty to assign this reason. In my humble opinion it ought
to have stood in front of all the rest. There is an air of conscious
shamefacedness in the suppression of that which was so glaringly
notorious; and something of an appearance of trifling, if not of
mockery, in presenting a long array of reasons, omitting that which lies
at the foundation of them all.

"The will of the President of the United States was the reason paramount
to all others for the removal, by the Secretary of the Treasury, of the
deposits from the Bank of the United States. It was part of his system
of simplifying the machine of government, to which it was admirably
adapted. It placed the whole revenue of the Union at any time at his
disposal, for any purpose to which he might see fit to apply it. In vain
had the laws cautiously stationed the Register, the Comptroller, the
Treasurer, as checks upon the Secretary of the Treasury, so that the
most trifling sum in the treasury should never be accessible to any one
or any two men. With a removal of the deposits and a transfer draft,
millions on millions may be transferred, by the stroke of the pen of a
supple and submissive Secretary of the Treasury, from place to place, at
home and abroad, wherever any purpose, personal or political, may
thereby be promoted.

"To this final object of simplifying the machine two other maxims have
been proclaimed as auxiliary fundamental principles of this
administration. First, that the contest for place and power, in this
country, is a state of war, and all the emoluments of office are the
spoils of victory. The other, that it is the invariable rule of the
President to reward his friends and punish his enemies."

In the course of the years 1832 and 1833, Freemasonry having become
mingled with the politics of the period, Mr. Adams openly avowed his
hostility to the institution, and addressed a series of letters to
William L. Stone, an editor of one of the New York papers, and another
to Edward Livingston, one of its high officers, and a third to the
Anti-masonic Convention of the State of New York, in which his views,
opinions, and objections to that craft, are stated and developed with
his usual laborious, acute, and searching pathos and power.

In October, 1833, Mr. Adams was applied to by one of his friends for
minutes of the principal measures of Mr. Monroe's administration, while
he was Secretary of State, and also of his own, as President of the
United States, to be used in his defence in a pending election. "I
cannot reconcile myself," said Mr. Adams, "to write anything for my own
election, not even for the refutation of the basest calumnies. In all my
election contests, therefore, my character is at the mercy of the basest
slanderer; and slander is so effective a power in all our elections,
that the friends of the candidates for the highest offices use it
without scruple. I know by experience the power of party spirit upon the
people. Party triumphs over party, and the people are all enrolled in
one party or another. The people can only act by the machinery of

About this time there was an attempt in Norfolk County to get up a
Temperance Society, and a wish was expressed to him that he would take a
lead in forming it. He declined from an unwillingness to shackle himself
with obligations to control his individual, family, and domestic
arrangements; from an apprehension that the temperance societies, in
their well-intended zeal, were already manifesting a tendency to
encroach on personal freedom; and also from an opinion that the cause
was so well sustained by public approbation and applause that it needed
not the aid of his special exertions, beyond that of his own example.

On the 12th of December, 1833, Mr. Clay sent a message to the President
of the United States, asking a copy of his written communication to his
cabinet, made on the 18th of September, about the removal of the
deposits from the United States Bank; to which the President replied by
a flat refusal. Mr. Adams remarked: "There is a tone of insolence and
insult in his intercourse with both houses of Congress, especially since
his reëlection, which never was witnessed between the Executive and
Legislature before. The domineering tone has heretofore been usually on
the side of the legislative bodies to the Executive, and Clay has not
been sparing in the use of it. He is now paid in his own coin."

An intelligent foreigner, in relating a visit to Mr. Adams, in 1834,
thus describes his powers of conversation: "He spoke with infinite ease,
drawing upon his vast resources with the certainty of one who has his
lecture before him ready written. He maintained the conversation nearly
four hours, steadily, in one continuous stream of light. His subjects
were the architecture of the middle ages, the stained glass of that
period, sculpture, embracing monuments particularly. Milton, Shakspeare,
Shenstone, Pope, Byron, and Southey, were in turn remarked upon. He gave
Pope a wonderfully high character, and remarked that one of his chief
beauties was the skill exhibited in varying the cæsural pause, quoting
from various parts of his author to illustrate his remarks. He said
little on the politics of the country, but spoke at considerable length
of Sheridan and Burke, both of whom he had heard, and described with
graphic effect. Junius, he said, was a bad man, but maintained that as a
writer he had never been equalled."[2]

      [2] _Niles' Weekly Register_, vol. XLVII., p. 91.

In March, 1834, Mr. Polk, of Tennessee, having indulged in an idolizing
glorification of General Jackson, with some coarse invectives against
Mr. Adams, the latter rose and said: "I shall not reply to the gentleman
from Tennessee; and I give notice, once for all, that, whenever any
admirer of the President of the United States shall think fit to pay his
court to him in this house, either by a flaming panegyric upon him, or
by a rancorous invective on me, he shall never elicit one word of reply
from me.

    'No; let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
    And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee,
    Where THRIFT may follow fawning.'"

On the 20th of February, 1834, Mr. Adams attended the funeral of Mr.
Wirt, on which event he thus uttered his feelings: "For the rest of the
day I was unable to attend to anything. I could think of nothing but
William Wirt,--of his fine talents, of his amiable and admirable
character; the twelve years during which we had been in close official
relation together;[3] the scene when he went with me to the capitol; his
warm and honest sympathy with me in my trials when President of the
United States; my interview with him in January, 1831, and his faithful
devotion to the memory of Monroe. These recollections were oppressive to
my feelings. I thought some public testimonial from me to his memory was
due at this time. But Mr. Wirt was no partisan of the present
administration. He had been a formal and dreaded opponent to the
reëlection of Andrew Jackson; and so sure is anything I say or do to
meet insuperable obstruction, that I could not imagine anything I could
offer with the remotest prospect of success. I finally concluded to ask
of the house, tomorrow morning, to have it entered upon the journal of
this day that the adjournment was that the Speaker and members might be
able to attend the funeral of William Wirt. I wrote a short address, to
be delivered at the meeting of the house."

      [3] Mr. Wirt was Attorney-General of the United States during the
      four last years of Mr. Monroe's and the whole of Mr. Adams'

It appears, by the journal of the house, that, on the 21st of February,
1834, Mr. Adams, of Massachusetts, addressed the chair as follows:[4]

      [4] See _Congressional Debates_, vol. X., part 2d, p. 2758.

    "MR. SPEAKER: A rule of this house directs that the Speaker
    shall examine and correct the journal before it is read. I therefore
    now rise, not to make a motion, nor to offer a resolution, but to
    ask the unanimous consent of the house to address to you a few words
    with a view to an addition which I wish to be made to the journal,
    of the adjournment of the house yesterday.

    "The Speaker, I presume, would not feel himself authorized to make
    the addition in the journal which I propose, without the unanimous
    consent of the house; and I therefore now propose it before the
    reading of the journal.

    "I ask that, after the statement of the adjournment of the house,
    there be added to the journal words importing that it was to give
    the Speaker and members of the house an opportunity of attending the
    funeral obsequies of William Wirt.

    "At the adjournment of the house on Wednesday I did not know what
    the arrangements were, or would be, for that mournful ceremony. Had
    I known them, I should have moved a postponed adjournment, which
    would have enabled us to join in the duty of paying the last tribute
    of respect to the remains of a man who was an ornament of his
    country and of human nature.

    "The customs of this and of the other house of Congress warrant the
    suspension of their daily labors in the public service, for the
    attendance upon funeral rites, only in the case of the decease of
    their own members. To extend the usage further might be attended
    with inconvenience as a precedent; nor should I have felt myself
    warranted in asking it upon any common occasion.

    "Mr. Wirt had never been a member of either house of Congress. But
    if his form in marble, or his portrait upon canvas, were placed
    within these walls, a suitable inscription for it would be that of
    the statue of Molière in the hall of the French Academy: 'Nothing
    was wanting to his glory; he was wanting to ours.'

    "Mr. Wirt had never been a member of Congress; but, for a period of
    twelve years, during two successive administrations of the national
    government, he had been the official and confidential adviser, upon
    all questions of law, of the Presidents of the United States; and he
    had discharged the duties of that station entirely to the
    satisfaction of those officers and of the country. No member of this
    house needs to be reminded how important are the duties of the
    Attorney-General of the United States; nor risk I contradiction in
    affirming that they were never more ably or more faithfully
    discharged than by Mr. Wirt.

    "If a mind stored with all the learning appropriate to the
    profession of the law, and decorated with all the elegance of
    classical literature; if a spirit imbued with the sensibilities of a
    lofty patriotism, and chastened by the meditations of a profound
    philosophy; if a brilliant imagination, a discerning intellect, a
    sound judgment, an indefatigable capacity, and vigorous energy of
    application, vivified with an ease and rapidity of elocution,
    copious without redundance, and select without affectation; if all
    these, united with a sportive vein of humor, an inoffensive temper,
    and an angelic purity of heart;--if all these, in their combination,
    are the qualities suitable for an Attorney-General of the United
    States, in him they were all eminently combined.

    "But it is not my purpose to pronounce his eulogy. That pleasing
    task has been assigned to abler hands, and to a more suitable
    occasion. He will there be presented in other, though not less
    interesting lights. As the penetrating delineator of manners and
    character in the British Spy; as the biographer of Patrick Henry,
    dedicated to the young men of your native commonwealth; as the
    friend and delight of the social circle; as the husband and father
    in the bosom of a happy, but now most afflicted family;--in all
    these characters I have known, admired, and loved him; and now
    witnessing, from the very windows of this hall, the last act of
    piety and affection over his remains, I have felt as if this house
    could scarcely fulfil its high and honorable duties to the country
    which he had served, without some slight, be it but a transient,
    notice of his decease. The addition which I propose to the journal
    of yesterday's adjournment would be such a notice. It would give his
    name an honorable place on the recorded annals of his country, in a
    manner equally simple and expressive. I will only add that, while I
    feel it incumbent upon me to make this proposal, I am sensible that
    it is not a fit subject for debate; and, if objected to, I desire
    you to consider it as withdrawn."

Mr. Adams proceeds: "When the question of agreeing to the proposed
addition was put by the Speaker, Joel K. Mann, of Pennsylvania,
precisely the rankest Jackson man in the house, said 'No.' There was a
general call upon him, from all quarters of the house, to withdraw his
objection; but he refused. Blair, of South Carolina, rose, and asked if
the manifest sense of the house could be defeated by one objection. The
Speaker said I had requested that my proposal should be considered as
withdrawn if an objection should be made, but the house was competent to
give the instruction, upon motion made. I was then called upon by
perhaps two thirds of the house,--'Move, move, move,'--and said, I had
hoped the proposal would have obtained the unanimous assent of the
house, and as only one objection had been made, which did not appear to
be sustained by the general sense of the house, I would make the motion
that the addition I had proposed should be made on the journal. The
Speaker took the question, and nine tenths, at least, of the members
present answered 'Ay.' There were three or four who answered 'No.' But
no division of the house was asked."

In a debate in the House of Representatives, on the 30th of April, 1834,
on striking out the appropriation for the salaries of certain foreign
ministers, in the course of his remarks, Warren R. Davis, of South
Carolina, turning with great feeling towards Mr. Adams, said: "Well
do I remember the enthusiastic zeal with which we reproached the
administration of that gentleman, and the ardor and vehemence with
which we labored to bring in another. For the share I had in those
transactions,--and it was not a small one,--_I hope God will forgive
me, for I never shall forgive myself_."

In December, 1834, Mr. Adams, at the unanimous request of both houses of
Congress, delivered an oration on the life, character, and services, of
Gilbert Motier de Lafayette. The House of Representatives ordered fifty
thousand copies to be published at the national expense, and the Senate
ten thousand. Mr. Clay said that, in proposing the latter number, he was
governed by the extraordinary vote of the house; but that, "if he were
to be guided by his opinion of the great talents of the orator, and the
extraordinary merit of the oration, he felt he should be unable to
specify any number."

In January, 1835, Mr. Adams, on presenting a petition of one hundred
and seven women of his Congressional district, praying for the
abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, moved its reference
to a select committee, with instructions; but stated that, if the house
chose to refer it to the Committee on the District of Columbia, he
should be satisfied. All he wished was that it should be referred to
some committee. He begged those members who could command a majority of
the house, and who, like himself, were unwilling to make the abolition
question a stumbling-block, to take a course which should treat
petitions with respect. He wished a report. It would be easy to show
that such petitions relative to the District of Columbia ought not
to be granted. He believed the true course to be to let error be
tolerated; to grant freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and
apply reason to put it down. On the contrary, it was contended by
Southern men that Congress had a right not to receive petitions,
especially if produced to create excitement, and wound the feelings
of Southern members. Mr. Adams advocated the right of petition. If
the language was disrespectful, that objection might be stated on the
journal. He knew that it was difficult to use language on this subject
which slaveholders would not deem disrespectful. Congress had declared
the slave-trade, when carried on out of the United States, _piracy_. He
was opposed to that act, because he did not think it proper that this
traffic without our boundaries should be called piracy, while there was
no constitutional right to interdict it within our borders. It was
carried on in sight of the windows of the capitol. He deemed it a
fundamental principle that Congress had no right to take away or
abridge the constitutional right of petition.

The petition was received, its commitment refused by the house, and it
was laid on the table.

About this time Mr. Adams remarked: "There is something extraordinary in
the present condition of parties throughout the Union. Slavery and
democracy--especially a democracy founded, as ours is, on the rights of
man--would seem to be incompatible with each other; and yet, at this
time, the democracy of the country is supported chiefly, if not
entirely, by slavery. There is a small, enthusiastic party preaching the
abolition of slavery upon the principles of extreme democracy. But the
democratic spirit and the popular feeling are everywhere against them."

In August, 1835, Mr. Adams was invited to deliver an address before the
American Institute of New York. After expressing his good wishes for the
prosperity of the institution, and of their cause, he stated, in reply,
that the general considerations which dictated the policy of sustaining
and cherishing the manufacturing interests were obvious, and had been
presented by Judge Baldwin, Mr. J. P. Kennedy, and Mr. Everett, with
eloquence and ability, in addresses on three preceding years. If he
should deliver the address requested, it would be expected that he would
present the subject under new and different views. His own opinion was
that one great difficulty under which the manufacturing interest of the
country labors is a political combination of the South and the West
against it. The slaveholders of the South have bought the coöperation of
the Western country by the bribe of the Western lands, abandoning to the
new Western States their own proportion of this public property, and
aiding them in the design of grasping all the lands in their own hands.
Thomas H. Benton was the author of this system, which he brought forward
as a substitute for the American system of Mr. Clay, and to supplant the
latter as the leading statesman of the West. Mr. Clay, by his tariff
compromise with Mr. Calhoun, abandoned his own American system. At the
same time he brought forward a plan for distributing among all the
states of the Union the proceeds of the sales of the public lands. His
bill for that purpose passed both houses of Congress, but was vetoed by
President Jackson, who, in his annual message of December, 1832,
formally recommended that all the public lands should be gratuitously
given away to individual adventurers, and to the states in which the
lands are situated. "Now," said Mr. Adams, "if, at this time, on the eve
of a presidential election, I should, in a public address to the
American Institute, disclose the state of things, and comment upon it as
I should feel it my duty to do, it would probably produce a great
excitement and irritation; would be charged with having a political
bearing, and subject me to the imputation of tampering with the

On the 25th of May, 1836, Mr. Adams delivered, in the House of
Representatives, a speech on certain resolutions for distributing
rations from the public stores to the distressed fugitives from Indian
hostilities in the States of Alabama and Georgia. "It is," said he, "I
believe, the first example of a system of gratuitous donations to our
own countrymen, infinitely more formidable in its consequences as a
precedent, than from anything appearing on its face. I shall,
nevertheless, vote for it." "It is one of a class of legislative
enactments with which we are already becoming familiar, and which, I
greatly fear, will ere long grow voluminous. I shall take the liberty
to denominate them _the scalping-knife and tomahawk laws_. They are all
urged through by the terror of those instruments of death, under the
most affecting and pathetic appeals, from the constituents of the
sufferers, to all the tender and benevolent sympathies of our nature.
It is impossible for me to withhold from those appeals a responsive and
yielding voice." He had voted, he said, for millions after millions,
and would again and again vote for drafts from the public chest for the
same purpose, should they be necessary, until the treasury itself
should be drained.

In seeking for a principle to justify his vote, he could find it
nowhere but in the war power and its limitation, as expressed in the
constitution of the United States by the words "_the common defence and
general welfare_." The war power was in this respect different from the
peace power. The former was derived from, and regulated by, the laws
and usages of nations. The latter was limited by regulations, and
restricted by provisions, prescribed within the constitution itself.
All the powers incident to war were, by necessary implication,
conferred on the government of the United States. This was the power
which authorized the house to pass this resolution. There was no other.
"It is upon this principle," said Mr. Adams, "that I shall vote for
this resolution, and _did vote against_ the vote reported by the
slavery committee, 'that Congress possess no constitutional authority
to interfere with the institution of slavery.' I do not admit that
there is, even among the peace powers of Congress, no such authority;
but in many ways Congress not only have the authority, but are bound to
interfere with the institution of slavery in the states." Of this he
cites many instances, and asks if, in case of a servile insurrection,
Congress would not have power to interfere, and to supply money from
the funds of the whole Union to suppress it.

In this speech Mr. Adams exposes the effects of the slave influence in
the United States, by the measures taken to bring about a war with
Mexico. 1. By the proposal that she should cede to us a territory large
enough to constitute nine states equal in extent to Kentucky. 2. By
making this proposition at a time when swarms of land-jobbers from the
United States were covering these Mexican territories with slaves, in
defiance of the laws of Mexico by which slavery had been abolished
throughout that republic. 3. By the authority given to General Gaines
to invade the Mexican republic, and which had brought on the war then
raging, which was for the reëstablishment of slavery in territories
where it had been abolished. It was a war, on the part of the United
States, of conquest, and for the extension of slavery. Mr. Adams then
foretold, what subsequent events proved, that the war then commencing
would be, on the part of the United States, "a war of aggression,
conquest, and for the reëstablishment of slavery where it has been
abolished. In that war the banners of _freedom_ will be the banners
of Mexico, and your banners--I blush to speak the word--will be the
banners of slavery."

The nature of that war, its dangers, and its consequences, Mr. Adams
proceeded to analyze, and to show the probability of an interference on
the part of Great Britain, who "will probably ask you a perplexing
question--by what authority you, with freedom, independence, and
democracy, on your lips, are waging a war of extermination, to forge new
manacles and fetters instead of those which are falling from the hands
and feet of men? She will carry emancipation and abolition with her in
every fold of her flag; while your stars, as they increase in numbers,
will be overcast by the murky vapors of oppression, and the only portion
of your banners visible to the eye will be the blood-stained stripes of
the taskmaster."

"Mr. Chairman," continued Mr. Adams, "are you ready for all these wars?
A Mexican war; a war with Great Britain, if not with France; a general
Indian war; a servile war; and, as an inevitable consequence of them
all, a civil war;--for it must ultimately terminate in a war of colors,
as well as of races. And do you imagine that while, with your eyes
open, you are wilfully kindling these wars, and then closing your eyes
and blindly rushing into them,--do you imagine that, while in the very
nature of things your own Southern and South-western States must be
the Flanders of these complicated wars, the battle-field upon which the
last great conflict must be fought between slavery and emancipation,--do
you imagine that your Congress will have no constitutional authority to
interfere with the institution of slavery, _in any way_, in the states
of this confederacy? Sir, they must and will interfere with it, perhaps
to sustain it by war, perhaps to abolish it by treaties of peace; and
they will not only possess the constitutional power so to interfere,
but they will be bound in duty to do it by the express provisions of
the constitution itself.

"From the instant that your slaveholding states become the theatre of
war, civil, servile, or foreign, from that instant the war powers of
Congress extend to interference with the institution of slavery in every
way by which it can be interfered with, from a claim of indemnity for
slaves taken or destroyed, to the cession of the state burdened with
slavery to a foreign power.

"Little reason have the inhabitants of Georgia and of Alabama to
complain that the government of the United States has been remiss or
neglectful in protecting them from Indian hostilities. The fact is
directly the reverse. The people of Alabama and Georgia are now
suffering the recoil of their own unlawful weapons. Georgia, sir,
Georgia, by trampling upon the faith of our national treaties with the
Indian tribes, and by subjecting them to her state laws, first set the
example of that policy which is now in the process of consummation by
this Indian war. In setting this example she bade defiance to the
authority of the government of this nation. She nullified your laws; she
set at naught your executive and judicial guardians of the common
constitution of the land. To what extent she carried this policy, the
dungeons of her prisons, and the records of the Supreme Judicial Court
of the United States, can tell.

"To those prisons she committed inoffensive, innocent, pious ministers
of the Gospel of truth, for carrying the light, the comforts, the
consolations of that Gospel, to the hearts and minds of those unhappy
Indians. A solemn decision of the Supreme Court of the United States
pronounced that act a violation of your treaties and your laws. Georgia
defied that decision. Your executive government never carried it into
execution. The imprisoned missionaries of the Gospel were compelled to
purchase their ransom from perpetual captivity by sacrificing their
rights as freemen to the meekness of their principles as Christians: and
you have sanctioned all these outrages upon justice, law, and humanity,
by succumbing to the power and the policy of Georgia; by accommodating
your legislation to her arbitrary will; by tearing to tatters your old
treaties with the Indians, and by constraining them, under _peine
forte et dure_, to the mockery of signing other treaties with you,
which, at the first moment when it shall suit your purpose, you will
again tear to tatters, and scatter to the four winds of heaven; till the
Indian race shall be extinct upon this continent, and it shall become a
problem, beyond the solution of antiquaries and historical societies,
_what_ the red man of the forest was.

"This, sir, is the remote and primitive cause of the present Indian
war--your own injustice sanctioning and sustaining that of Georgia and
Alabama. This system of policy was first introduced by the present
administration of your national government. It is directly the reverse
of that system which had been pursued by all the preceding
administrations of this government under the present constitution. That
system consisted in the most anxious and persevering efforts to
civilize the Indians, to attach them to the soil upon which they lived,
to enlighten their minds, to soften and humanize their hearts, to fix
in permanency their habitations, and to turn them from the wandering
and precarious pursuits of the hunter to the tillage of the ground, to
the cultivation of corn and cotton, to the comforts of the fireside, to
the delights of _home_. This was the system of Washington and of
Jefferson, steadily pursued by all their successors, and to which all
your treaties and all your laws of intercourse with the Indian tribes
were accommodated. The whole system is now broken up, and instead of it
you have adopted that of expelling, by force or by compact, all the
Indian tribes from their own territories and dwellings to a region
beyond the Mississippi, beyond the Missouri, beyond the Arkansas,
bordering upon Mexico; and there you have deluded them with the hope
that they will find a permanent abode, a final resting-place from your
never-ending rapacity and persecution. There you have undertaken to
lead the willing, and drive the reluctant, by fraud or by force, by
treaty or by the sword and the rifle--all the remnants of the
Seminoles, the Creeks, of the Cherokees and the Choctaws, and of how
many other tribes I cannot now stop to enumerate. In the process of
this violent and heartless operation you have met with all the
resistance which men in so helpless a condition as that of the Indian
tribes can make.

"Of the _immediate_ causes of the war we are not yet fully informed;
but I fear you will find them, like the remoter causes, all attributable
to yourselves.

"It is in the last agonies of a people forcibly torn and driven from the
soil which they had inherited from their fathers, and which your own
example, and exhortations, and instructions, and treaties, had riveted
more closely to their hearts--it is in the last convulsive struggles of
their despair, that this war has originated; and, if it bring some
portion of the retributive justice of Heaven upon our own people, it is
our melancholy duty to mitigate, as far as the public resources of the
national treasury will permit, the distresses of our own kindred and
blood, suffering under the necessary consequences of our own wrong. I
shall vote for the resolution."

This speech, perhaps one of the most suggestive and prophetic ever made,
appears in none of the newspapers of the time, and was published by Mr.
Adams from his own minutes and recollections.

In September, 1836, Mr. Adams, at the request of the Mayor, Aldermen,
and Common Council of the city of Boston, delivered a eulogy on the life
and character of James Madison.

On the 7th of January, 1837, Mr. Adams offered to present the petition
of one hundred and fifty women for the abolition of slavery in the
District of Columbia. Mr. Glascock, of Georgia, objected to its
reception. Mr. Adams said that the proposition not to receive a petition
was directly in the face of the constitution. He hoped the people of
this country would be spared the mortification, the injustice, and the
wrong, of a decision that such petitions should not be received. It was
indeed true that all discussion, all freedom of speech, all freedom of
the press, on this subject, had been, within the last twelve months,
violently assailed in every form in which the liberties of the people
could be attacked. He considered these attacks as outrages on the
constitution of the country, and the freedom of the people, as far as
they went. But the proposition that such petitions should not be
received went one step further. He hoped it would not obtain the
sanction of the house, which could always reject such petitions after
they had been considered. Among the outrages inflicted on that portion
of the people of this country whose aspirations were raised to the
greatest improvement that could possibly be effected in the condition of
the human race,--the total abolition of slavery on earth,--that of
calumny was the most glaring. Their petitions were treated with
contempt, and the petitioners themselves loaded with foul and infamous
imputations, poured forth on a class of citizens as pure and virtuous as
the inhabitants of any section of the United States.

Violent debates and great confusion in the house ensued; but when the
question, "Shall the petition be received?" was put, it was decided in
the affirmative--_one hundred and twenty-seven_ ayes, _seventy-five_
nays. Mr. Adams then moved that the petition should be referred to the
Committee on the District of Columbia. This was superseded by a motion
to lay it on the table, which passed in the affirmative--ayes _one
hundred and fifty_, nays _fifty_.

On the 18th of January, 1837, the House of Representatives passed a
resolution,--one hundred and thirty-nine ayes, sixty-nine nays,--"that
all petitions relating to slavery, without being printed or referred,
shall be laid on the table, and no action shall be had thereon."

On the 6th of February, 1837, Mr. Adams stated that he held in his hand
a paper, on which, before presenting it, he desired to have the decision
of the Speaker. It purported to come from slaves; and he wished to know
if such a paper came within the order of the house respecting petitions.
Great surprise and astonishment were expressed by the slaveholders in
the house at such a proposition. One member pronounced it an infraction
of decorum, that ought to be punished severely. Another said it was a
violation of the dignity of the house, and ought to be taken and burnt.
Waddy Thompson, of South Carolina, moved the following resolution:
"Resolved, that the Honorable John Quincy Adams, by the attempt just
made by him to introduce a petition purporting on its face to be from
slaves, has been guilty of a gross disrespect to the house; and that he
be instantly brought to the bar to receive the severe censure of the
Speaker." Charles E. Haynes, of Georgia, moved "to strike out all after
Resolved, and insert 'that John Quincy Adams, a representative from the
State of Massachusetts, has rendered himself justly liable to the
severest censure of this house, and is censured accordingly, for having
attempted to present to the house the petition of slaves.'" Dixon H.
Lewis, of Alabama, offered a modification of Waddy Thompson's
resolution, which he accepted, "that John Quincy Adams, by his attempt
to introduce into the house a petition from slaves, for the abolition of
slavery in the District of Columbia, committed an outrage on the rights
and feelings of a large portion of the people of this Union, and a
flagrant contempt on the dignity of this house; and, by extending to
slaves a privilege only belonging to freemen, directly invites the slave
population to insurrection; and that the said member be forthwith called
to the bar of this house, and be censured by the Speaker."

After violent debates and extreme excitement, Mr. Adams rose and said:
"In regard to the resolutions now before the house, as they all concur
in naming me, and charging me with high crimes and misdemeanors, and in
calling me to the bar of the house to answer for my crimes, I have
thought it my duty to remain silent until it should be the pleasure of
the house to act on one or other of those resolutions. I suppose that,
if I shall be brought to the bar of the house, I shall not be struck
mute by the previous question, before I have an opportunity to say a
word or two in my own defence. But, sir, to prevent further consumption
of the time of the house, I deem it my duty to ask them to modify their
resolution. It may be as severe as they propose, but I ask them to
change the matter of fact a little, so that when I come to the bar of
the house, I may not, by a single word, put an end to it. I did not
present the petition, and I appeal to the Speaker to say that I did not.
I said I had a paper purporting to be a petition from slaves. I did not
say what the prayer of the petition was. I asked the Speaker whether he
considered such a paper as included within the general order of the
house that all petitions, memorials, resolutions, and papers, relating
in any way to the subject of slavery, should be laid upon the table. I
intended to take the decision of the Speaker before I went one step
towards presenting, or offering to present, that petition. I stated
distinctly to the Speaker that I should not send the paper to the table
until the question was decided whether a paper from persons declaring
themselves slaves was included within the order of the house. This is
the _fact_."

It having been stated in one of the resolutions that the petition was
for the abolition of slavery, Mr. Adams said the gentleman moving it
"must amend his resolution; for, if the house should choose to read this
petition, I can state to them they would find it something very much the
reverse of that which the resolution states it to be; and that if the
gentleman from Alabama still shall choose to bring me to the bar of the
house, he must amend his resolution in a very important particular, for
he probably will have to put into it that my crime has been for
attempting to introduce the petition of slaves that slavery should not
be abolished; and that the object of these slaves, who have sent this
paper to me, is precisely that which he desires to accomplish, and that
they are his auxiliaries, instead of being his opponents."

In respect of the allegation that he had introduced a petition for the
abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, Mr. Adams said: "It
is well known to all the members of this house--it is certainly known
to all petitioners for the abolition of slavery in the District of
Columbia--that, from the day I entered this house to the present
moment, I have invariably here, and invariably elsewhere, declared my
opinions to be adverse to the prayer of petitions that call for the
abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. But, sir, it is
equally well known that, from the time I entered this house, down to
the present day, I have felt it a sacred duty to present any petition,
couched in respectful language, from any citizen of the United States,
be its object what it may--be the prayer of it that in which I could
concur, or that to which I was utterly opposed. I adhere to the right
of petition; and let me say here that, let the petition be, as the
gentleman from Virginia has stated, from free negroes, prostitutes, as
he supposes,--for he says there is one put on this paper, and he infers
that the rest are of the same description,--_that_ has not altered my
opinion at all. Where is your law which says that the mean, the low,
and the degraded, shall be deprived of the right of petition, if their
moral character is not good? Where, in the land of freemen, was the
right of petition ever placed on the exclusive basis of morality and
virtue? Petition is supplication--it is entreaty--it is prayer! And
where is the degree of vice or immorality which shall deprive the
citizen of the right to supplicate for a boon, or to pray for mercy?
Where is such a law to be found? It does not belong to the most abject
despotism. There is no absolute monarch on earth who is not compelled,
by the constitution of his country, to receive the petitions of his
people, whosoever they may be. The Sultan of Constantinople cannot walk
the streets and refuse to receive petitions from the meanest and vilest
in the land. This is the law even of despotism; and what does your law
say? Does it say that, before presenting a petition, you shall look
into it, and see whether it comes from the virtuous, and the great, and
the mighty? No, sir; it says no such thing. The right of petition
belongs to all; and so far from refusing to present a petition because
it might come from those low in the estimation of the world, it would
be an additional incentive, if such an incentive were wanting."

In the course of this debate Mr. Thompson, of South Carolina, said that
the conduct of Mr. Adams was a proper subject of inquiry by the Grand
Jury of the District of Columbia, and stated that such, in a like case,
would be the proceedings under the law in South Carolina. Mr. Adams, in
reply, exclaimed: "If this is true,--if a member is there made amenable
to the Grand Jury for words spoken in debate,--I thank God I am not a
citizen of South Carolina! Such a threat, when brought before the world,
would excite nothing but contempt and amazement. What! are we from the
Northern States to be indicted as felons and incendiaries, for
presenting petitions not exactly agreeable to some members from the
South, by a jury of twelve men, appointed by a marshal, his office at
the pleasure of the President! If the gentleman from South Carolina, by
bringing forward this resolution of censure, thinks to frighten me from
my purpose, he has mistaken his man. I am not to be intimidated by him,
nor by all the Grand Juries of the universe."

After a debate of excessive exacerbation, lasting for four days, only
twenty votes could be found indirectly and remotely to censure. In the
course of this discussion circumstances made it probable that the names
appended to the petition were not the signatures of slaves, and that
the whole was a forgery, and designed as a hoax upon him. On which
suggestion Mr. Adams stated to the house that he now believed the paper
to be a _forgery_, by a slaveholding master, for the purpose of daring
him to present a petition purporting to be from slaves; that, having
now reason to believe it a forgery, he should not present the petition,
whatever might be the decision of the house. If he should present it at
all, it would be to invoke the authority of the house to cause the
author of it to be prosecuted for the forgery, if there were competent
judicial tribunals, and he could obtain evidence to prove the fact. He
did not consider a forgery committed to deter a member of Congress from
the discharge of his duty as a _hoax_.[5]

      [5] _Niles' Weekly Register_, N. S., vol. I., pp. 385--390,
      et seq.

In March, 1837, Mr. Adams addressed a series of letters to his
constituents, transmitting his speech vindicating his course on the
right of petition, and his proceedings on the subject of the
presentation of a petition purporting to be from slaves. These letters
were published in a pamphlet, and were at the time justly characterized
as "a triumphant vindication of the right of petition, and a graphic
delineation of the slavery spirit in Congress;" and it was further said
of them, that, "apart from the interest excited by the subjects under
discussion, and viewed only as literary productions, they may be ranked
among the highest literary efforts of the author. Their sarcasm is
Junius-like--cold, keen, unsparing." A few extracts may give an idea of
the spirit and character of this publication.

Commenting on Mr. Thompson's resolution, as modified by Mr. Lewis (p.
249), Mr. Adams exclaims:

"My constituents! Reflect upon the purport of this resolution, which was
immediately accepted by Mr. Thompson as a modification of his own, and
as unhesitatingly received by the Speaker. He well knew I had made no
attempt to introduce to the house a petition from slaves; and, if I had,
he knew I should have done no more than exercise my right as a member of
the house, and that the utmost extent of the power of the house would
have been to refuse to receive the petition. The Speaker's duty was to
reject instantly this resolution, and tell Mr. Lewis and Mr. Thompson
that the first of his obligations was to protect the rights of speech
of members of that house, which I had not in the slightest degree
infringed. But the Speaker was a _master_.

"Observe, too, that in this resolution the notable discovery was first
made that I had directly invited the slaves to insurrection; of which
bright thought Mr. Thompson afterwards availed himself to threaten me
with the Grand Jury of the District of Columbia, as an incendiary and
felon. I pray you to remember this, not on my account, or from the
suspicion that I could or shall ever be moved from my purpose by such
menaces, but to give you _the measure_ of slaveholding freedom of
speech, of the press, of action, of thought! If such a question as
I asked of the Speaker is a direct invitation of the slaves to
insurrection, forfeiting all my rights as representative of the people,
subjecting me to indictment by a grand jury, conviction by a petit jury,
and to an infamous penitentiary cell, I ask you, not what freedom of
speech is left to your representative in Congress, but what freedom of
speech, of the press, and of thought, is left to yourselves.

"There is an express provision of the constitution that Congress shall
pass no law _abridging_ the right of petition; and here is a resolution
declaring that a member ought to be considered as regardless of the
feelings of the house, the rights of the South, and an enemy to the
Union, _for presenting a petition_.

"Regardless of the feelings of the house! What have the feelings of the
house to do with the free agency of a member in the discharge of his
duty? One of the most sacred duties of a member is to present the
petitions committed to his charge; a duty which he cannot refuse or
neglect to perform without violating his oath to support the
constitution of the United States. He is not, indeed, bound to present
all petitions. If the language of the petition be disrespectful to the
house, or to any of its members,--if the prayer of the petition be
unjust, immoral, or unlawful,--if it be accompanied by any manifestation
of intended violence or disorder on the part of the petitioners,--the
duty of the member to present ceases, not from respect for the feelings
of the house, but because those things themselves strike at the freedom
of speech and action as well of the house as of its members. Neither of
these can be in the least degree affected by the mere circumstance of
the condition of the petitioner. Nor is there a shadow of reason why
feelings of the house should be outraged by the presentation of a
petition from slaves, any more than by petitions from soldiers in the
army, seamen in the navy, or from the working-women in a manufactory.

"Regardless of the rights of the South! What are the rights of the
South? What is the _South_? As a component portion of this Union, the
population of the South consists of masters, of slaves, and of free
persons, white and colored, without slaves. Of which of these classes
would the rights be disregarded by the presentation of a petition from
slaves? Surely not those of the slaves themselves, the suffering, the
laborious, the _producing_ classes. O, no! there would be no disregard
of their rights in the presentation of a petition from them. The very
essence of the crime consists in an alleged _undue_ regard for their
rights; in not denying them the rights of human nature; in not classing
them with horses, and dogs, and cats. Neither could the rights of the
free people without slaves, whether white, black, or colored, be
disregarded by the presentation of a petition from slaves. Their rights
could not be affected by it at all. The rights of the South, then, here
mean the rights of the masters of slaves, which, to describe them by an
inoffensive word, I will call the rights of _mastery_. These, by the
constitution of the United States, are recognized, not directly, but by
implication, and protection is stipulated for them, by that instrument,
to a certain extent. But they are rights incompatible with the
inalienable rights of all mankind, as set forth in the Declaration of
Independence--incompatible with the fundamental principles of the
constitutions of all the free states of the Union; and therefore, when
provided for in the constitution of the United States, are indicated by
expressions which must receive the narrowest and most restricted
construction, and never be enlarged by implication. There is, I repeat,
not one word, not one syllable, in the constitution of the United
States, which interdicts to Congress the reception of petitions from
slaves; and as there is express interdiction to Congress to abridge by
law the right of petition, that right, upon every principle of fair
construction, is as much the right of the South as of the North--as
much the right of the slave as of the master; and the presentation of a
petition from slaves, for a legitimate object, respectful in language,
and in its tone and character submissive to the decision which the
house may pass upon it, far from degrading the rights of the South, is
a mark of signal homage to those rights.

"An enemy to the Union for presenting a petition!--an enemy to the
Union! I have shown that the presentation of petitions is one of the
most imperious duties of a member of Congress. I trust I have shown
that the right of petition, guaranteed to the people of the United
States, without exception of slaves, express or implied, cannot be
_abridged_ by any act of both houses, with the approbation of the
President of the United States; but this resolution, by the act of one
branch of the Legislature, would effect an enormous abridgment of the
right of petition, not only by denying it to full one sixth part of the
whole people, but by declaring an enemy to the Union any member of the
house who should present such a petition.

"When the resolution declaring that I had trifled with the house was
under consideration, one of the most prominent allegations laid to my
charge was that, by asking that question, I had intended indirectly to
cast ridicule upon that resolution, and upon the house for adopting it.
Nor was this entirely without foundation. I did not intend to cast
ridicule upon the house, but to expose the absurdity of that resolution,
against which I had protested as unconstitutional and unjust. But the
characteristic peculiarity of this charge against me was, that, while
some of the gentlemen of the South were urging the house to pass a vote
of censure upon me, for a distant and conjectural inference of my
intention to deride that resolution, others of them, in the same debate,
and on the same day, were showering upon the same resolution direct
expressions of unqualified contempt, without even being called to order.
Like the saints in Hudibras,--

    'The saints may do the same thing by
    The Spirit in sincerity,
    Which other men are prompted to,
    And at the devil's instance do;
    And yet the actions be contrary,
    Just as the saints and wicked vary,'--

so it was with the gentlemen of the South. While Mr. Pickens could
openly call the resolution of the 18th of January a miserable and
contemptible resolution,--while Mr. Thompson could say it was only fit
to be burnt by the hands of the hangman, without rebuke or reproof,--I
was to be censured by the house for casting ridicule upon them by asking
the question whether the resolution included petitions from slaves."

About this time Mr. Adams received an invitation to attend a public
meeting at New York during the session of Congress. He replied: "I do
not hold myself at liberty to absent myself from the house a single day.
Such is my estimate of representative duty, confirmed by a positive rule
of the house itself, not the less obligatory for being little observed."

In December, 1835, President Jackson transmitted to Congress a message
relative to the bequest of four hundred thousand dollars, from James
Smithson, of London, to the United States, for the purpose of
establishing at Washington an institution "for the increase and
diffusion of knowledge among men;" and submitted the subject to Congress
for its consideration. A question was immediately raised whether
Congress had power, in its legislative capacity, to accept such a
bequest; and also whether, having the power, its acceptance was
expedient. The message of the President was referred to a committee, of
which Mr. Adams was appointed chairman. No subject could be better
adapted to excite into action his public spirit than the hopes awakened
for his country by the amount of this bequest, and the wisdom of the
objects for which it was appropriated. The general tenor of the
testator's will excited numerous private interests and passions with
regard to the application of the fund. Mr. Adams immediately brought the
whole strength and energy of his mind to give it a proper direction.
Although some of his recommendations were slighted, and an object near
his heart, an astronomical observatory, was resisted by party spirit,
his zeal and perseverance effectually prevented the bequest from being
diverted to local and temporary objects, and his general views relative
to Mr. Smithson's design ultimately prevailed.

In January, 1836, Mr. Adams, as chairman of the committee, made a
report, declaring that Congress was competent to accept the bequest, and
that its acceptance was enjoined by considerations of the most imperious
obligations, and suggesting some interesting reflections on the subject.
The testator, he said, was a descendant in blood from the Percys and the
Seymours,--two of the most illustrious names of the British
islands;--the brother of the Duke of Northumberland, who, by the name of
Percy, was known at the sanguinary opening scenes of our Revolutionary
War, and fought as a British officer at Lexington and Bunker Hill, and
was the bearer of the despatches, from the commander of the British
forces to his government, announcing the event of that memorable day.
"The suggestions which present themselves to the mind," Mr. Adams adds,
"by the association of these historical recollections with the condition
of the testator, derive additional interest from the nature of the
bequest, the devotion of a large estate to an institution 'for the
increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.'" The noble design of Mr.
Smithson Mr. Adams thus proceeds to illustrate:

    "Of all the foundations of establishments for pious or charitable
    uses, which ever signalized the spirit of the age, or the
    comprehensive beneficence of the founder, none can be named more
    deserving of the approbation of mankind than this. Should it be
    faithfully carried into effect, with an earnestness and sagacity of
    application, and a steady perseverance of pursuit, proportioned to
    the means furnished by the will of the founder, and to the greatness
    and simplicity of his design, as by himself declared, 'the increase
    and diffusion of knowledge among men,' it is no extravagance of
    anticipation to declare that his name will be hereafter enrolled
    among the eminent benefactors of mankind.

    "The attainment of knowledge is the high and exclusive attribute of
    man, among the numberless myriads of animated beings, inhabitants of
    the terrestrial globe. On him alone is bestowed, by the bounty of
    the Creator of the universe, the power and the capacity of acquiring
    knowledge. Knowledge is the attribute of his nature which at once
    enables him to improve his condition upon earth, and to prepare him
    for the enjoyment of a happier existence hereafter. It is by this
    attribute that man discovers his own nature as the link between
    earth and heaven; as the partaker of an immortal spirit; as created
    for higher and more durable ends than the countless tribes of beings
    which people the earth, the ocean, and the air, alternately instinct
    with life, and melting into vapor, or mouldering into dust.

    "To furnish the means of acquiring knowledge is, therefore, the
    greatest benefit that can be conferred upon mankind. It prolongs
    life itself, and enlarges the sphere of existence. The earth was
    given to man for cultivation--to the improvement of his own
    condition. Whoever increases his knowledge multiplies the uses to
    which he is enabled to turn the gift of his Creator to his own
    benefit, and partakes in some degree of that goodness which is the
    highest attribute of Omnipotence itself."

    "If, then, the Smithsonian Institution, under the smile of an
    approving Providence, and by the faithful and permanent application
    of the means furnished by its founder to the purpose for which he
    has bestowed them, should prove effective to their promotion,--if
    they should contribute essentially _to the increase and diffusion
    of knowledge among men_,--to what higher or nobler object could
    this generous and splendid donation have been devoted?"

After further illustrating the renown of the name of Percy from the
historical annals of England, Mr. Adams proceeds to urge other
considerations, from among which we make the following extracts:

    "It is, then, a high and solemn trust which the testator has
    committed to the United States of America; and its execution
    devolves upon their representatives in Congress duties of no
    ordinary importance. In adverting to the character of the trustee
    selected by the testator for the fulfilment of his intentions, it is
    deemed no indulgence of unreasonable pride to mark it as a signal
    manifestation of the moral effect of our political institutions upon
    the opinions and the consequent action of the wise and good of other
    regions and of distant climes, even upon that nation from whom we
    generally boast our descent."

The report continues:

    "In the commission of every trust there is an implied tribute to the
    integrity and intelligence of the trustee, and there is also an
    implied call for the faithful exercise of those properties to the
    fulfilment of the purposes of the trust. The tribute and the call
    acquire additional force and energy when the trust is committed for
    performance after the decease of him by whom it is granted; when he
    no longer lives to constrain the effective fulfilment of his design.
    The magnitude of the trust, and the extent of confidence bestowed in
    the committal of it, do but enlarge and aggravate the pressure of
    the obligation which it carries with it. The weight of duty imposed
    is proportioned to the honor conferred by confidence without
    reserve. Your committee are fully persuaded, therefore, that, with a
    grateful sense of the honor conferred by the testator upon the
    political institutions of this Union, the Congress of the United
    States, in accepting the bequest, will feel, in all its power and
    plenitude, the obligation of responding to the confidence reposed by
    him, with all the fidelity, disinterestedness, and perseverance of
    exertion, which may carry into effective execution the noble purpose
    of an endowment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among

The report concludes with recommending a bill, which passed in both
branches, vesting authority in the President to take measures to
prosecute, in the court of chancery in England, the right of the United
States to this bequest.

                             CHAPTER X.


On the 4th of March, 1837, Martin Van Buren succeeded to the Presidency
of the United States. The undeviating zeal with which he had supported
all the plans of Andrew Jackson, especially those for dismembering
Mexico and annexing Texas to the Union as a slave state, had proved, to
the satisfaction of the slaveholders, that reliance might be placed on a
Northern man to carry into effect Southern policy.

On the 14th of October ensuing Mr. Adams delivered a speech, in the
House of Representatives, on a bill for "adjusting the remaining claims
upon the late deposit banks." When this bill was in discussion in a
committee of the whole house, Mr. Adams asked the author of it (Mr.
Cambreling, of New York) to what banks certain words, which he stated,
were intended to apply. Cambreling replied that Mr. Adams could answer
his own interrogatory by reading the bill himself. Mr. Adams then
proceeded to state several other objections to the terms of the bill,
and confessed that his faculties of comprehension did not permit him to
understand its phraseology. Mr. Cambreling rose quickly, and remarked
that, at so late a period of the session, the last working night, he
could not waste his time in discussing nouns, pronouns, verbs, and
adverbs, with the gentleman from Massachusetts. Mr. Adams replied:
"Well, sir, as language is composed of nouns and pronouns, verbs and
adverbs, when they are put together to constitute the law of the land
the _meaning_ of them may surely be demanded of the legislator, and
those parts of speech may well be used for such a purpose. But, if such
explanation be impossible, it certainly ought not to be expected that
this house will consent to pass a law, composed of nouns and pronouns,
verbs and adverbs, which the author of it himself does not

      [1] _Niles' Weekly Register_, New Series, vol. III., pp. 167,

"On which," said Mr. Adams, "I took the floor, and, in a speech of
upwards of two hours, exposed the true character of the bill, and of
that to which it is a supplement, in all their iniquity and fraud. I
made free use of the computations I had drawn from the reports of the
Secretary of the Treasury, and minutely scrutinized the bill in all its
parts, and denounced the bargain made in the face of the house by
Cambreling and the members of the debtor states, procuring their votes
for the postponement of the bill by promising them increased indulgence
for their banks. Cambreling, who could not answer me, kept up a
continual succession of interruptions and calls to order, in despite of
which I went through, with constant attention from the house, and not a
mark of impatience, except from Cambreling. When I finished, he moved to
lay the bill aside, and take up the appropriation bill, which was done."

On this subject the editor of the _National Register_ remarks: "Mr.
Adams' speech upon nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adverbs, displays a
degree of patient labor and research, which must convince both
political friends and foes that neither time nor circumstances have
impaired the strength or acuteness of his mind, or his zeal in behalf
of what he deems to be the interests of the people. Familiar as we have
been, for a series of years, with minute calculations and statistical
details, the most powerful but least prized modes of exhibiting
results, we have been surprised and delighted at the clearness and
force with which every point is illustrated, and most warmly commend
the speech to all who wish to understand the questions on which it

      [2] _Niles' Weekly Register_, New Series, vol. III., p. 161.

The name thus given, of "A Speech on Nouns and Pronouns, Verbs and
Adverbs," was assumed by Mr. Adams, and adopted as its title.

On the 22d of June, 1838, Mr. Adams addressed a letter to certain young
men of Baltimore, who had written to him a very respectful letter,
asking his advice concerning the books or authors he would recommend.
After a general expression of his sense of their confidence, and regret
of his inability fully to recommend any list of books or authors worthy
of the attention of all, he proceeds to speak of the _Bible_ as almost
the only book deserving such universal recommendation, and as the book,
of all others, to be read at all ages and in all conditions of human
life--to be read in small portions, one or two chapters every day,
never to be intermitted unless by some overruling necessity. He then
enters at large into the advantages of such a practice, and into the
mode of conducting it, and proceeds to suggest other subsidiary studies
in history, biography, and poetry, concluding with the advice of the
serving-man to a young student, in Shakspeare--"Study what you most

      [3] _Niles' Weekly Register_, New Series, vol. V., p. 219.

On the 4th of July, 1837, Mr. Adams delivered at Newburyport, at the
request of its inhabitants, an oration on the Declaration of
Independence, the spirit of which may be discerned in the following

    "Our government is a complicated machine. We have twenty-six states,
    with governments administered by separate legislatures and executive
    chiefs, and represented by equal numbers in the general Senate of
    the nation. This organization is an anomaly in the history of the
    world. It is that which distinguishes us from all other nations,
    ancient and modern: from the simple monarchies and republics of
    Europe, and from the confederacies which have figured in any age
    upon the face of the globe. The seeds of this complicated machine
    were all sown in the Declaration of Independence; and their fruits
    can never be eradicated but by the dissolution of the Union. The
    calculators of the value of the Union, who would palm upon you, in
    the place of this sublime invention, a mere cluster of sovereign,
    confederated states, do but sow the wind to reap the whirlwind.

    "One lamentable evidence of deep degeneracy from the spirit of
    the Declaration of Independence is the countenance which has been
    occasionally given, in various parts of the Union, to this
    doctrine; but it is consolatory to know that, whenever it has
    been distinctly disclosed to the people, it has been rejected by
    them with pointed reprobation. It has, indeed, presented itself in
    its most malignant form in that portion of the Union the civil
    institutions of which are most infected by the gangrene of slavery.
    The inconsistency of the institution of domestic slavery with the
    principles of the Declaration of Independence was seen and lamented
    by all the Southern patriots of the Revolution; by no one with
    deeper and more unalterable conviction than by the author of the
    Declaration himself. No insincerity or hypocrisy can fairly be laid
    to their charge. Never, from _their_ lips, was heard one syllable
    of attempt to justify the institution of slavery. They universally
    considered it as a reproach fastened upon them by the unnatural
    step-mother country; and they saw that, before the principles of
    the Declaration of Independence, slavery, in common with every
    other mode of oppression, was destined sooner or later to be
    banished from the earth. Such was the undoubting conviction of
    Jefferson to his dying day. In the memoir of his life, written at
    the age of seventy-seven, he gave to his countrymen the solemn and
    emphatic warning that the day was not distant when they _must_ hear
    and adopt the general emancipation of their slaves. 'Nothing is
    more certainly written,' said he, 'in the book of fate, than that
    these people are to be free.' My countrymen! it is written in a
    better volume than the book of fate; it is written in the laws of
    Nature and of Nature's God.

    "We are told, indeed, by the learned doctors of the nullification
    school, that color operates as a forfeiture of the rights of human
    nature: that a dark skin turns a man into a chattel; that crispy
    hair transforms a human being into a four-footed beast. The
    master-priest informs you that slavery is consecrated and sanctified
    by the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament: that Ham was
    the father of Canaan, and all his posterity were doomed, by his own
    father, to be hewers of wood and drawers of water to the descendants
    of Shem and Japhet: that the native Americans of African descent are
    the children of Ham, with the curse of Noah still fastened upon
    them; and the native Americans of European descent are children of
    Japhet, pure Anglo-Saxon blood, born to command, and to live by the
    sweat of another's brow. The master-philosopher teaches you that
    slavery is no curse, but a blessing! that
    Providence--Providence!--has so ordered it that this country should
    be inhabited by two races of men,--one born to wield the scourge,
    and the other to bear the record of its stripes upon his back; one
    to earn, through a toilsome life, the other's bread, and to feed him
    on a bed of roses; that slavery is the guardian and promoter of
    wisdom and virtue; that the slave, by laboring for another's
    enjoyment, learns disinterestedness and humility; that the master,
    nurtured, clothed, and sheltered, by another's toils, learns to be
    generous and grateful to the slave, and sometimes to feel for him as
    a father for his child; that, released from the necessity of
    supplying his own wants, he acquires opportunity of leisure to
    improve his mind, to purify his heart, to cultivate his taste; that
    he has time on his hands to plunge into the depths of philosophy,
    and to soar to the clear empyrean of seraphic morality. The
    master-statesman--ay, the statesman in the land of the Declaration
    of Independence, in the halls of national legislation, with the muse
    of history recording his words as they drop from his lips, with the
    colossal figure of American Liberty leaning on a column entwined
    with the emblem of eternity over his head, with the forms of
    Washington and Lafayette speaking to him from the canvas--turns to
    the image of the father of his country, and, forgetting that the
    last act of his life was to emancipate his slaves, to bolster up the
    cause of slavery says, '_That_ man was a slaveholder.'

    "My countrymen! these are the tenets of the modern nullification
    school. Can you wonder that they shrink from the light of free
    discussion--that they skulk from the grasp of freedom and of truth?
    Is there among you one who hears me, solicitous above all things for
    the preservation of the Union so truly dear to us--of that Union
    proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence--of that Union never
    to be divided by any act whatever--and who dreads that the
    discussion of the merits of slavery will endanger the continuance of
    the Union? Let him discard his terrors, and be assured that they are
    no other than the phantom fears of nullification; that, while
    doctrines like these are taught in her schools of philosophy,
    preached in her pulpits, and avowed in her legislative councils, the
    free, unrestrained discussion of the rights and wrongs of slavery,
    far from endangering the Union of these states, is the only
    condition upon which that Union can be preserved and perpetuated.
    What! are you to be told, with one breath, that the transcendent
    glory of this day consists in the proclamation that all lawful
    government is founded on the inalienable rights of man, and, with
    the next breath, that you must not whisper this truth to the winds,
    lest they should taint the atmosphere with freedom, and kindle the
    flame of insurrection? Are you to bless the earth beneath your feet
    because she spurns the footsteps of a slave, and then to choke the
    utterance of your voice lest the sound of liberty should be reëchoed
    from the palmetto-groves, mingled with the discordant notes of
    disunion? No! no! Freedom of speech is the only safety-valve which,
    under the high pressure of slavery, can preserve your political
    boiler from a fearful and fatal explosion. Let it be admitted that
    slavery is an institution of internal police, exclusively subject to
    the separate jurisdiction of the states where it is cherished as a
    blessing, or tolerated as an evil as yet irremediable. But let that
    slavery which intrenches herself within the walls of her own
    impregnable fortress not sally forth to conquest over the domain of
    freedom. Intrude not beyond the hallowed bounds of oppression; but,
    if you have by solemn compact doomed your ears to hear the distant
    clanking of the chain, let not the fetters of the slave be forged
    afresh upon your own soil; far less permit them to be riveted upon
    your own feet. Quench not the spirit of freedom. Let it go forth,
    not in panoply of fleshly wisdom, but with the promise of peace, and
    the voice of persuasion, clad in the whole armor of truth,
    conquering and to conquer."

In July, 1838, Mr. Adams published a speech "on the right of the
people, men and women, to petition; on the freedom of speech and debate
in the House of Representatives of the United States; on the
resolutions of seven State Legislatures, and on the petitions of more
than one hundred thousand petitioners, relative to the annexation of
Texas to this Union;" the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on
these subjects being under the consideration of the House. In this
publication he states and analyzes the course of that "conspiracy for
the dismemberment of Mexico, the reïnstitution of slavery in the
dismembered portion of that republic, and the acquisition, by purchase
or by conquest, of the territory, to sustain, spread, and perpetuate,
the _moral and religious blessing_ of slavery in this Union;" and which
he declares to be in the full tide of successful experiment. But a few
only of the topics illustrated in this publication, which expanded into
a pamphlet of one hundred and thirty octavo pages, can here be touched.
It is, in fact, a history of the disgraceful proceedings by which that
conspiracy effected its purpose.

Mr. Adams inquired of the committee whether they had given as much as
five minutes' consideration to the resolutions of the Legislatures, and
the very numerous petitions of individuals, which had been referred to
them. One of the committee, Hugh S. Legaré, of South Carolina, answered,
he had not read the papers, nor looked into one of them. Mr. Adams
exclaimed, "I denounce, in the face of the country, the proceeding of
the committee, in reporting upon papers referred to them, without
looking into any one of them, as utterly incorrect. I assert, as a great
general principle, that when resolutions from Legislatures of states,
and petitions from a vast multitude of our fellow-citizens, on a subject
of deep, vital importance to the country, are referred to a committee of
this house, if that committee make up an opinion without looking into
such resolutions and memorials, the committee betray their trust to
their constituents and this house. I give this out to the nation."

A long and exciting debate, lasting from the 16th of June to the 7th of
July, on the report of the committee relative to the annexation of
Texas, ensued; the heat and violence of which were chiefly directed upon
Mr. Adams.

One of the topics agitated during this debate arose upon a speech of
Mr. Howard, of Maryland. Among the petitions against the annexation of
Texas were many signed by women. On these Mr. Howard said, he always
felt a regret when petitions thus signed were presented to the house,
relating to political subjects. He thought these females could have a
sufficient field for the exercise of their influence in the discharge
of their duties to their fathers, their husbands, or their children,
cheering the domestic circle, and shedding over it the mild radiance of
the social virtues, instead of rushing into the fierce struggles of
political life. He considered it _discreditable_, not only to their
particular section of country, but also to the national character.

Mr. Adams immediately entered into a long and animated defence of the
right of petition by women; in the course of which he asked "whether
women, by petitioning this house in favor of suffering and distress,
perform an office 'discreditable' to themselves, to the section of the
country where they reside, and to this nation. The gentleman says that
women have no right to petition Congress on political subjects. Why?
Sir, what does the gentleman understand by 'political subjects'?
Everything in which the house has an agency--everything which relates
to peace and relates to war, or to any other of the great interests of
society. Are women to have no opinions or actions on subjects relating
to the general welfare? Where did the gentleman get this principle? Did
he find it in sacred history--in the language of Miriam the prophetess,
in one of the noblest and most sublime songs of triumph that ever met
the human eye or ear? Did the gentleman never hear of Deborah, to whom
the children of Israel came up for judgment? Has he forgotten the deed
of Jael, who slew the dreaded enemy of her country? Has he forgotten
Esther, who, by HER PETITION, saved her people and her country? Sir, I
might go through the whole of the sacred history of the Jews to the
advent of our Saviour, and find innumerable examples of women, who not
only took an active part in the politics of their times, but who are
held up with honor to posterity for doing so Our Saviour himself, while
on earth, performed that most stupendous miracle, the raising of
Lazarus from the dead, at _the petition of a woman_! To go from sacred
history to profane, does the gentleman there find it 'discreditable'
for women to take any interest or any part in political affairs? In the
history of Greece, let him read and examine the character of Aspasia,
in a country in which the character and conduct of women were more
restricted than in any modern nation, save among the Turks. Has he
forgotten that Spartan mother, who said to her son, when going out to
battle, 'My son, come back to me _with_ thy shield, or _upon_ thy
shield'? Does he not remember Cloelia and her hundred companions, who
swam across the river, under a shower of darts, escaping from Porsenna?
Has he forgotten Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi, who declared that
her children were her jewels? And why? Because they were the champions
of freedom. Does he not remember Portia, the wife of Brutus and
daughter of Cato, and in what terms she is represented in the history
of Rome? Has he not read of Arria, who, under imperial despotism, when
her husband was condemned to die by a tyrant, plunged the sword into
her own bosom, and, handing it to her husband, said, 'Take it, Pætus,
it does not hurt,' and expired?

"To come to a later period,--what says the history of our Anglo-Saxon
ancestors? To say nothing of Boadicea, the British heroine in the time
of the Cæsars, what name is more illustrious than that of Elizabeth?
Or, if he will go to the Continent, will he not find the names of Maria
Theresa of Hungary, the two Catharines of Russia, and of Isabella of
Castile, the patroness of Columbus, the discoverer in substance of this
hemisphere, for without her that discovery would not have been made?
Did she bring 'discredit' on her sex by mingling in politics? To come
nearer home,--what were the women of the United States in the struggle
of the Revolution? Or what would the men have been but for the
influence of the women of that day? Were they devoted _exclusively_ to
the duties and enjoyments of the fireside? Take, for example, the
ladies of Philadelphia."

Mr. Adams here read a long extract from Judge Johnson's life of General
Greene, relating that during the Revolutionary War a call came from
General Washington stating that the troops were destitute of shirts, and
of many indispensable articles of clothing. "And from whence," writes
Judge Johnson, "did relief arrive, at last? From the heart where
patriotism erects her favorite shrine, and from the hand which is seldom
withdrawn when the soldier solicits. The ladies of Philadelphia
immortalized themselves by commencing the generous work, and it was a
work too grateful to the American fair not to be followed up with zeal
and alacrity."

Mr. Adams then read a long quotation from Dr. Ramsay's history of South
Carolina, "which speaks," said he, "trumpet-tongued, of the daring and
intrepid spirit of patriotism burning in the bosoms of the ladies of
that state." After reading an extract from this history, Mr. Adams
thus comments upon it: "Politics, sir! 'rushing into the vortex of
politics!'--glorying in being called rebel ladies; refusing to attend
balls and entertainments, but crowding to the prison-ships! Mark this,
and remember it was done with no small danger to their own persons, and
to the safety of their families. But it manifested the spirit by which
they were animated; and, sir, is that spirit to be charged here, in
this hall where we are sitting, as being 'discreditable' to our
country's name? Shall it be said that such conduct was a national
reproach, because it was the conduct of women who left 'their domestic
concerns, and rushed into the vortex of politics'? Sir, these women did
more; they _petitioned_--yes, they petitioned--and that in a matter of
politics. It was for the _life of Hayne_."

In connection with this eloquent defence of the right of women to
interfere in politics, of which the above extracts are but an outline,
Mr. Adams thus applies the result to the particular subject of

    "The broad principle is _morally wrong, vicious_, and the very
    reverse of that which ought to prevail. Why does it follow that
    women are fitted for nothing but the cares of domestic life: for
    bearing children, and cooking the food of a family; devoting all
    their time to the domestic circle,--to promoting the immediate
    personal comfort of their husbands, brothers, and sons? Observe,
    sir, the point of departure between the chairman of the committee
    and myself. I admit that it is their duty to attend to these
    things. I subscribe fully to the elegant compliment passed by him
    upon those members of the female sex who devote their time to these
    duties. But I say that the correct principle is that women are not
    only justified, but exhibit the most exalted virtue, when they do
    depart from the domestic circle, and enter on the concerns of their
    country, of humanity, and of their God. The mere departure of woman
    from the duties of the domestic circle, far from being a reproach
    to her, is a virtue of the highest order, when it is done from
    purity of motive, by appropriate means, and towards a virtuous
    purpose. There is the true distinction. The motive must be pure,
    the means appropriate, and the purpose good; and I say that woman,
    by the discharge of such duties, has manifested a virtue which is
    even above the virtues of mankind, and approaches to a superior
    nature. That is the principle I maintain, and which the chairman of
    the committee has to refute, if he applies the position he has
    taken to the mothers, the sisters, and the daughters, of the men of
    my district who voted to send me here. Now, I aver further, that,
    in the instance to which his observation refers, namely, in the act
    of petitioning against the annexation of Texas to this Union, the
    motive was pure, the means appropriate, and the purpose virtuous,
    in the highest degree. As an evident proof of this, I recur to the
    particular petition from which this debate took its rise, namely,
    to the first petition I presented here against the annexation--a
    petition consisting of three lines, and signed by two hundred and
    thirty-eight women of Plymouth, a principal town in my own
    district. Their words are:

    "'The undersigned, women of Plymouth (Mass.), thoroughly aware of
    the sinfulness of slavery, and the consequent impolicy and
    disastrous tendency of its extension in our country, do most
    respectfully remonstrate, with all our souls, against the annexation
    of Texas to the United States as a slaveholding territory.'

    "These are the words of their memorial; and I say that, in
    presenting it here, their motive was pure, and of the highest order
    of purity. They petitioned under a conviction that the consequence
    of the annexation would be the advancement of that which is sin in
    the sight of God, namely, slavery. I say, further, that the means
    were appropriate, because it is Congress who must decide on the
    question; and therefore it is proper that they should petition
    Congress, if they wish to prevent the annexation. And I say, in the
    third place, that the end was virtuous, pure, and of the most
    exalted character, namely, to prevent the perpetuation and spread of
    slavery throughout America. I say, moreover, that I subscribe, in my
    own person, to every word the petition contains. I do believe
    slavery to be a sin before God; and that is the reason, and the only
    insurmountable reason, why we should refuse to annex Texas to this

On the 28th July, 1838, to an invitation from the Massachusetts
Anti-Slavery Society to attend their celebration of the anniversary of
the day upon which slavery was abolished in the colonial possessions of
Great Britain, Mr. Adams responded:

    "It would give me pleasure to comply with this invitation; but my
    health is not very firm. My voice has been affected by the intense
    heat of the season; and a multiplicity of applications, from
    societies political and literary, to attend and address their
    meetings, have imposed upon me the necessity of pleading the
    privilege of my years, and declining them all.

    "I rejoice that the defence of the cause of human freedom is falling
    into younger and more vigorous hands. That, in three-score years
    from the day of the Declaration of Independence, its self-evident
    truths should be yet struggling for existence against the degeneracy
    of an age pampered with prosperity, and languishing into servitude,
    is a melancholy truth, from which I should in vain attempt to shut
    my eyes. But the summons has gone forth. The youthful champions of
    the rights of human nature have buckled and are buckling on their
    armor; and the scourging overseer, and the lynching lawyer, and the
    servile sophist, and the faithless scribe, and the priestly
    parasite, will vanish before them like Satan touched by the spear of
    Ithuriel. I live in the faith and hope of the progressive
    advancement of Christian liberty, and expect to abide by the same in
    death. You have a glorious though arduous career before you; and it
    is among the consolations of my last days that I am able to cheer
    you in the pursuit, and exhort you to be steadfast and immovable in
    it. So shall you not fail, whatever may betide, to reap a rich
    reward in the blessing of him that is ready to perish, upon your

In August, 1838, Mr. Adams addressed a letter to the inhabitants of
his district, in which, after stating what had been done on the same
subject by the Legislature of Massachusetts and other states, he
proceeded to recapitulate the wrongs which had been done to the
colored races of Africa on this continent, "which have indeed been of
long standing, but which in these latter days have been aggravated
beyond all measure. To repair the injustice of our fathers to these
races had been, from the day of the Declaration of Independence, the
conscience of the good and the counsel of the wise rulers of the land.
Washington, by his own example in the testamentary disposal of his
property,--Jefferson, by the unhesitating convictions of his own mind,
by unanswerable argument and eloquent persuasion, addressed almost
incessantly, throughout a long life, to the reason and feelings of his
countrymen,--had done homage to the self-evident principles which the
nation, at her birth, had been the first to proclaim. Emancipation,
universal emancipation, was the lesson they had urged on their
contemporaries, and held forth as transcendent and irremissible duties
to their children of the present age. Instead of which, what have we
seen? Communities of slaveholding braggarts, setting at defiance the
laws of nature and nature's God, restoring slavery where it had been
extinguished, and vainly dreaming to make it eternal; forming, in the
sacred name of liberty, constitutions of government interdicting to the
legislative authority itself that most blessed of human powers, the
power of giving liberty to the slave! Governors of states urging upon
their Legislatures to make the exercise of the freedom of speech to
propagate the right of the slave to freedom felony, without benefit of
clergy! Ministers of the gospel, like the priest in the parable of the
Good Samaritan, coming and looking at the bleeding victim of the
highway robber, and passing on the other side; or, baser still,
perverting the pages of the sacred volume to turn into a code of
slavery the very word of God! Philosophers, like the Sophists of
ancient Greece, pulverized by the sober sense of Socrates, elaborating
theories of _moral slavery_ from the alembic of a sugar plantation, and
vaporing about lofty sentiments and generous benevolence to be learnt
from the hereditary bondage of man to man! Infuriated mobs, murdering
the peaceful ministers of Christ for the purpose of extinguishing the
light of a printing-press, and burning with unhallowed fire the hall of
freedom, the orphan's school, and the church devoted to the worship of
God! And, last of all, both houses of Congress turning a deaf ear to
hundreds of thousands of petitioners, and quibbling away their duty to
read, to listen, and consider, in doubtful disputations whether they
shall receive, or, receiving, refuse to read or hear, the complaints
and prayers of their fellow-citizens and fellow-men!"

Mr. Adams proceeds, in a like spirit of eloquent plainness, to denounce
the violation of that beneficent change which both Washington and
Jefferson had devised for the red man of the forest, and had assured to
him by solemn treaties pledging the faith of the nation, and by laws
interdicting by severe penalties the intrusion of the white man on his
domain. "In contempt of those treaties," said he, "and in defiance of
those laws, the sovereign State of Georgia had extended her jurisdiction
over these Indian lands, and lavished, in lottery-tickets to her people,
the growing harvests, the cultivated fields, and furnished dwellings, of
the Cherokee, setting at naught the solemn adjudication of the Supreme
Court of the United States, pronouncing this licensed robbery alike
lawless and unconstitutional." He then proceeds, in a strain of severe
animadversion, to reprobate the conduct of the Executive administration,
in "truckling to these usurpations of Georgia;" and reviews that of
Congress, in refusing "the petitions of fifteen thousand of these
cheated and plundered people," when thousands of our own citizens joined
in their supplications.

In this letter Mr. Adams states and explains the origin of the treaty of
peace and alliance between Southern nullification and Northern
pro-slavery, and the nature and consequences of that alliance. In the
course of his illustrations on this subject he repels, with an
irresistible power of argument, the attempt of the slaveholder to sow
the seeds of discord among the freemen of the North. "The condition of
master and slave is," he considered, "by the laws of nature and of God,
a state of perpetual, inextinguishable war. The slaveholder, deeply
conscious of this, soothes his soul by sophistical reasonings into a
belief that this same war still exists in free communities between the
capitalist and free labor." The fallacy and falsehood of this theory he
analyzes and exposes, and proceeds to state and reason upon various
measures of Congress connected with these topics, at great length, and
with laborious elucidation.[4]

      [4] For this letter see _Niles' Weekly Register_, New Series,
      vol. V., p. 55.

On the 27th of October, 1838, Mr. Adams addressed a letter to the
district he represented in Congress, in which he touched on those points
of national policy which most deeply affected his mind. Among many
remarks worthy of anxious thought, which subsequent events have
confirmed and are confirming, he traces the "smothering for nearly three
years, in legislative halls, the right of petition and freedom of
debate," to the influence of slavery, "which shrinks, and will shrink,
from the eye of day. Northern subserviency to Southern dictation is the
price paid by a Northern administration for Southern support. The people
of the North still support by their suffrages the men who have truckled
to Southern domination. I believe it impossible that this total
subversion of every principle of liberty should be much longer submitted
to by the people of the free states of this Union. But their fate is in
their own hands. If they choose to be represented by slaves, they will
find servility enough to represent and betray them. The suspension of
the right of petition, the suppression of the freedom of debate, the
thirst for the annexation of Texas, the war-whoop of two successive
Presidents against Mexico, are all but varied symptoms of a deadly
disease seated in the marrow of our bones, and that deadly disease is

When, in the latter part of June, 1838, news of the success of Mr. Rush
in obtaining the Smithsonian bequest, and information that he had
already received on account of it more than half a million of dollars,
were announced to the public, Mr. Adams lost no time in endeavoring to
give a right direction to the government on the subject. He immediately
waited upon the President of the United States, and, in a conversation
of two hours, explained the views he entertained in regard to the
application of that fund, and entreated him to have a plan prepared, to
recommend to Congress, for the foundation of the institution, at the
commencement of the next session. "I suggested to him," said Mr. Adams,
"the establishment of an Astronomical Observatory, with a salary for an
astronomer and assistant, for nightly observations and periodical
publications; annual courses of lectures upon the natural, moral, and
political sciences. Above all, no jobbing, no sinecure, no monkish
stalls for lazy idlers. I urged the deep responsibility of the nation to
the world and to all posterity worthily to fulfil the great object of
the testator. I only lamented my inability to communicate half the
solicitude with which my heart is on this subject full, and the
sluggishness with which I failed properly to pursue it." "Mr. Van
Buren," Mr. Adams added, "received all this with complacency and
apparent concurrence of opinion, seemed favorably disposed to my views
and willing to do right, and asked me to name any person whom I thought
might be usefully consulted."

The phenomena of the heavens were constantly observed and often recorded
by Mr. Adams. Thus, on the 3d of October, 1838, he writes: "As the clock
struck five this morning, I saw the planets Venus and Mercury in
conjunction, Mercury being about two thirds of a sun's disk below and
northward of Venus. Three quarters of an hour later Mercury was barely
perceptible, and five minutes after could not be traced by my naked eye,
Venus being for ten minutes longer visible. I ascertained, therefore,
that, in the clear sky of this latitude, Mercury, at his greatest
elongation from the sun, may be seen by a very imperfect naked eye, in
the morning twilight, for the space of one hour. I observed, also, the
rapidity of his movements, by the diminished distance between these
planets since the day before yesterday."

In the following November he again writes: "To make observations on the
movements of the heavenly bodies has been, for a great portion of my
life, a pleasure of gratified curiosity, of ever-returning wonder, and
of reverence for the great Creator and Mover of these innumerable
worlds. There is something of awful enjoyment in observing the rising
and the setting of the sun. That flashing beam of his first appearing
upon the horizon; that sinking of the last ray beneath it; that
perpetual revolution of the Great and Little Bear around the pole; that
rising of the whole constellation of Orion from the horizon to the
perpendicular position, and his ride through the heavens with his belt,
his nebulous sword, and his four corner stars of the first magnitude,
are sources of delight which never tire. Even the optical delusion, by
which the motion of the earth from west to east appears to the eye as
the movement of the whole firmament from east to west, swells the
conception of magnificence to the incomprehensible infinite."

When one of his friends expressed a hope that we should hereafter know
more of the brilliant stars around us, Mr. Adams replied: "I trust so. I
cannot conceive of a world where the stars are not visible, and, if
there is one, I trust I shall never be sent to it. Nothing conveys to my
mind the idea of eternity so forcibly as the grand spectacle of the
heavens in a clear night."

To a letter addressed to him by the Secretary of State, by direction of
the President, requesting him to communicate the result of his
reflections on the Smithsonian Institution, Mr. Adams made the following

    "QUINCY, _October 11, 1838_.

    "SIR: I have reserved for a separate letter what I proposed to say
    in recommending the erection and establishment of an Astronomical
    Observatory at Washington, as one and the first application of the
    annual income from the Smithsonian bequest, because that, of all
    that I have to say, I deem it by far the most important; and
    because, having for many years believed that the national character
    of our country demanded of us the establishment of such an
    institution as a debt of honor to the cause of science and to the
    world of civilized man, I have hailed with cheering hope this
    opportunity of removing the greatest obstacle which has hitherto
    disappointed the earnest wishes that I have entertained of
    witnessing, before my own departure for another world, now near at
    hand, the disappearance of a stain upon our good name, in the
    neglect to provide the means of increasing and diffusing knowledge
    among men, by a systematic and scientific continued series of
    observations on the phenomena of the numberless worlds suspended
    over our heads--the sublimest of physical sciences, and that in
    which the field of future discovery is as unbounded as the universe
    itself. I allude to the continued and necessary _expense_ of such
    an establishment.

    "In my former letter I proposed that, to preserve entire and
    unimpaired the Smithsonian fund, as the principal of a perpetual
    annuity, the annual appropriations from its proceeds should be
    strictly confined to its annual income; that, assuming the amount of
    the fund to be five hundred thousand dollars, it should be so
    invested as to secure a permanent yearly income of thirty thousand;
    and that it should be committed to an incorporated board of
    trustees, with a secretary and treasurer, the only person of the
    board to receive a pecuniary compensation from the fund."

Mr. Adams then refers to a report made by C. F. Mercer, chairman of a
committee of the House of Representatives, on the 18th of March, 1826
(during his own administration), relative to the expenses of an
Observatory, for much valuable information, and thus proceeds:

    "But, as it is desirable that the principal building, the
    Observatory itself, should be, for the purposes of observation,
    unsurpassed by any other edifice constructed for the same purposes,
    I would devote one year's interest from the fund to the construction
    of the buildings; a second and a third to constitute a fund, from
    the income of which the salaries of the astronomer, his assistants
    and attendants, should be paid; a fourth and fifth for the necessary
    instruments and books; a sixth and seventh for a fund, from the
    income of which the expense should be defrayed of publishing the
    ephemeris of observation, and a yearly nautical almanac. These
    appropriations may be so distributed as to apply a part of the
    appropriation of each year to each of those necessary expenditures;
    but for an establishment so complete as may do honor in all time
    alike to the testator and his trustees, the United States of
    America, I cannot reduce my estimate of the necessary expense below
    two hundred thousand dollars.

    "My principles for this disposal of funds are these:

    "1st. That the most complete establishment of an Astronomical
    Observatory in the world should be founded by the United States of
    America; the whole expense of which, both its first cost and its
    perpetual maintenance, should be amply provided for, without
    costing one dollar either to the people or to the _principal_ sum
    of the Smithsonian bequest.

    "2d. That, by providing from the income alone of the fund a
    supplementary fund, from the interest of which all the salaries
    shall be paid, and all the annual expenses of publication shall be
    defrayed, the fund itself would, instead of being impaired,
    accumulate with the lapse of years. I do most fervently wish that
    this principle might be made the fundamental law, now and hereafter,
    so far as may be practicable, of all the appropriations of the
    Smithsonian bequest.

    "3d. That, by the establishment of an Observatory upon the largest
    and most liberal scale, and providing for the publication of a
    yearly nautical almanac, knowledge will be dispersed among men, the
    reputation of our country will rise to honor and reverence among the
    civilized nations of the earth, and our navigators and mariners on
    every ocean be no longer dependent on English or French observers or
    calculators for tables indispensable to conduct their path upon the

Mr. Adams, about this period, expressed himself with deep
dissatisfaction at the course pursued by the President relative to the
Smithsonian bequest, combining the general expression of a disposition
to aid his views with apparently a total indifference as to the
expenditure of the money. "The subject," said he, "weighs deeply upon my
mind. The private interests and sordid passions into which that fund has
already fallen fill me with anxiety and apprehensions that it will be
squandered upon cormorants, or wasted in electioneering bribery. Almost
all the heads of department are indifferent to its application according
to the testator's bequest; distinguished senators open or disguised
enemies to the establishment of the institution in any form. The utter
prostration of public spirit in the Senate, proved by the selfish
project to apply it to the establishment of a university; the investment
of the whole fund, more than half a million of dollars, in Arkansas and
Michigan state stocks; the mean trick of filching ten thousand dollars,
last winter, to pay for the charges of procuring it, are all so utterly
discouraging that I despair of effecting anything for the honor of the
country, or even to accomplish the purpose of the bequest, the increase
and diffusion of knowledge among men. It is hard to toil through life
for a great purpose, with a conviction that it will be in vain; but
possibly seed now sown may bring forth some good fruits. In my report,
in January, 1836, I laid down all the general principles on which the
fund should have been accepted and administered. I was then wholly
successful. My bill passed without opposition, and under its provisions
the money was procured and deposited in the treasury in gold. If I
cannot prevent the disgrace of the country by the failure of the
testator's intention, I can leave a record to future time of what I have
done, and what I would have done, to accomplish the great design, if
executed well. And let not the supplication to the Author of Good be

In November, 1838, the anti-slavery party made the immediate abolition
of slavery in the District of Columbia a test question, on which Mr.
Adams remarked: "This is absurd, because notoriously impracticable. The
house would refuse to consider the question two to one." Writing on the
same subject, in December of the same year, "I doubt," said he, "if
there are five members in the house who would vote to abolish slavery in
the District of Columbia at this time. The conflict between the
principle of liberty and the fact of slavery is coming gradually to an
issue. Slavery has now the power, and falls into convulsions at the
approach of freedom. That the fall of slavery is predetermined in the
councils of Omnipotence I cannot doubt. It is a part of the great moral
improvement in the condition of man attested by all the records of
history. But the conflict will be terrible, and the progress of
improvement retrograde, before its final progress to consummation."

In January, 1839, Mr. Adams, in presenting a large number of petitions
for the abolition of slavery, asked leave to explain to the house his
reasons for the course he had adopted in relation to petitions of this
character. He asked it as a courtesy. He had received a mass of letters
threatening him with assassination for this course. His real position
was not understood by his country. The house having granted the leave,
he proceeded to state that, although he had zealously advocated the
right to petition for the abolition of slavery in the District of
Columbia, he was not himself then, prepared to grant their prayer; that,
if the question should be presented at once, he should vote against it.
He knew not what change might be produced on his mind by a full and fair
discussion, but he had not yet seen any reason to change his opinion,
although he had read all that abolitionists themselves had written and
published on the subject. He then presented the petitions, and moved
appropriate resolutions.

On the 21st of February, 1839, Mr. Adams presented to the house several
resolutions, proposing, in the form prescribed by the constitution of
the United States, 1st. That after the 4th day of July, 1842, there
shall be no hereditary slavery in the United States, and that every
child born on and after that day, within the United States and their
territories, shall be born free. 2d. That, with exception of Florida,
there shall henceforth never be admitted into this Union any state the
constitution of which shall tolerate within the same the existence of
slavery. 3d That from and after the 4th of July, 1848, there shall be
neither slavery nor slave-trade at the seat of government of the United

Mr. Adams proceeded to state that he had in his possession a paper,
which he desired to present, and on which these resolutions were
founded. It was a petition from John Jay, and forty-three most
respectable citizens of the city of New York. Being here interrupted by
violent cries of "Order!" he at that time refrained from further
pressing the subject.

On the 30th of April, 1839, Mr. Adams delivered before the Historical
Society of New York a discourse entitled "The Jubilee of the
Constitution;" it being the fiftieth year after the inauguration of
George Washington as President of the United States. Of all his
occasional productions, this was, probably, the most labored. In it he
traces the history of the constitution of the United States from the
period antecedent to the American Revolution, through the events of that
war, to the circumstances which led to its adoption, concluding with a
solemn admonition to adhere to the principles of the Declaration of
Independence, practically interwoven into the constitution of the United

In October, 1839, in an address to the inhabitants of Braintree, of
which "Education" was the topic, he traces that of New England to the
Christian religion, of which the Bible was the text-book and foundation,
and the revelation of eternal life. He then illustrated the history of
that religion by recapitulating the difficulties it had to encounter
through ages of persecution; commented upon the ecclesiastical hierarchy
established under Constantine, and the abuses arising from the policy of
the Church of Rome, until their final exposure by Martin Luther, out of
which emanated the Protestant faith. The display of learning, the power
of reasoning, and the suggestive thoughts, in this occasional essay,
exhibit the extent and depth of his studies of the sacred volume, to
which, more than to any other, the strength of his mind had been

About this time was published in the newspapers a letter from Mr. Adams
to Dr. Thomas Sewall, concerning his two letters on Phrenology, and
giving his own opinion on that subject in the following characteristic
language: "I have never been able to persuade myself to think of the
_science of Phrenology_ as a _serious_ speculation. I have classed it
with judicial astrology, with alchemy, and with _augury_; and, as
Cicero says he wonders how two Roman augurs could have looked each
other in the face without laughing, I have felt something of the same
surprise that two learned phrenologists can meet without like
temptation. But, as it has been said of Bishop Berkeley's anti-material
system, that he has demonstrated, beyond the possibility of refutation,
what no man in his senses can believe, so, without your assistance, I
should never have been able to encounter the system of thirty-three or
thirty-five faculties of the immortal soul all clustered on the blind
side of the head. I thank you for furnishing me with argument to meet
the doctors who pack up the five senses in thirty-five parcels of the
brain. I hope your lectures will be successful in recalling the sober
sense of the _material_ philosophers to the dignity of an
_imperishable_ mind."

With an urgent request, contained in a letter dated the 28th of June,
1839, for his opinion on the constitutionality and expediency of the
law, then recently sanctioned by two Legislatures of Massachusetts,
called the license law, Mr. Adams declined complying, for reasons stated
at length. He regarded the purpose of the law as "in the highest degree
pure, patriotic, and benevolent." It had, however, given rise to two
evils, which were already manifested. "The first, a spirit of concerted
and determined resistance to its execution. The second, a concerted
effort to turn the dissatisfaction of the people with the law into a
political engine against the administration of the state. There is no
duty more impressive upon the Legislature than that of accommodating the
exercise of its power to the spirit of those over whom it is to operate.
Abstract right, deserving as it is of the profound reverence of every
ruler over men, is yet not the principle which must guide and govern his
conduct; and whoever undertakes to make it exclusively his guide will
soon find in the community a resistance that will overrule him and his
principles. The Supreme Ruler of the universe declares himself, in the
holy Scriptures, that, in dealing with the prevarications of his chosen
people, he sometimes gave them statutes which were _not good_."

On the 2d December, 1839, at the opening of the Twenty-Sixth Congress,
the clerk began to call the roll of the members, according to custom.
When he came to New Jersey, he stated that five seats of the members
from that state were contested, and that, not feeling himself authorized
to decide the question, he should pass over those names, and proceed
with the call. This gave rise to a general and violent debate on the
steps to be pursued under such circumstances. It was declared by Mr.
Adams that the proceeding of the clerk was evidently preconcerted to
exclude the five members from New Jersey from voting at the organization
of the house. Innumerable questions were raised, but the house could not
agree upon the mode of proceeding, and from the 2d to the 5th it
remained in a perfectly disorganized state, and in apparently
inextricable confusion. The remainder of the scene is thus described, in
the newspapers, by one apparently an eye-witness:

    "Mr. Adams, from the opening of this scene of confusion and anarchy,
    had maintained a profound silence. He appeared to be engaged most of
    the time in writing. To a common observer he seemed to be reckless
    of everything around him. But nothing, not the slightest incident,
    escaped him.

    "The fourth day of the struggle had now commenced. Mr. Hugh A.
    Garland, the clerk, was directed to call the roll again. He
    commenced with Maine, as usual in those days, and was proceeding
    towards Massachusetts. I turned and saw that Mr. Adams was ready to
    get the floor at the earliest moment possible. His eye was riveted
    on the clerk, his hands clasped the front edge of his desk, where he
    always placed them to assist him in rising. He looked, in the
    language of Otway, like a 'fowler eager for his prey,'

    "'New Jersey!' ejaculated Mr. Hugh Garland, 'and--'

    "Mr. Adams immediately sprang to the floor.

    "'I rise to interrupt the clerk,' was his first exclamation.

    "'Silence! Silence!' resounded through the hall. 'Hear him! Hear
    him! Hear what he has to say! Hear John Quincy Adams!' was
    vociferated on all sides.

    "In an instant the most profound stillness reigned throughout the
    hall,--you might have heard a leaf of paper fall in any part of
    it,--and every eye was riveted on the venerable Nestor of
    Massachusetts--the purest of statesmen, and the noblest of men! He
    paused for a moment, and, having given Mr. Garland a withering look,
    he proceeded to address the multitude.

    "'It was not my intention,' said he, 'to take any part in these
    extraordinary proceedings. I had hoped this house would succeed in
    organizing itself; that a speaker and clerk would be elected, and
    that the ordinary business of legislation would be progressed in.
    This is not the time or place to discuss the merits of conflicting
    claimants from New Jersey. That subject belongs to the House of
    Representatives, which, by the constitution, is made the ultimate
    arbiter of the qualifications of its members. But what a spectacle
    we here present! We degrade and disgrace our constituents and the
    country. We do not and cannot organize; and why? Because the clerk
    of this house--the mere clerk, whom we create, whom we employ, and
    whose existence depends upon our will--usurps the _throne_, and
    sets us, the representatives, the vicegerents of the whole American
    people, at defiance, and holds us in contempt! And what is this
    clerk of yours? Is he to suspend, by his mere negative, the
    functions of government, and put an end to this Congress? He
    refuses to call the roll! It is in your power to compel him to call
    it, if he will not do it voluntarily.' [Here he was interrupted by
    a member, who said that he was authorized to say that compulsion
    could not reach the clerk, who had avowed that he would resign
    rather than call the State of New Jersey.] 'Well, sir, let him
    resign,' continued Mr. Adams, 'and we may possibly discover some
    way by which we can get along without the aid of his all-powerful
    talent, learning, and genius!

    "'If we cannot organize in any other way,--if this clerk of yours
    will not consent to our discharging the trust confided to us by our
    constituents,--then let us imitate the example of the Virginia House
    of Burgesses, which, when the colonial Governor Dinwiddie ordered it
    to disperse, refused to obey the imperious and insulting mandate,
    and, like men--'

    "The multitude could not contain or repress their enthusiasm any
    longer, but saluted the eloquent and indignant speaker, and
    interrupted him with loud and deafening cheers, which seemed to
    shake the capitol to its centre. The very genii of applause and
    enthusiasm seemed to float in the atmosphere of the hall, and every
    heart expanded with an indescribable feeling of pride and
    exultation. The turmoil, the darkness, the very 'chaos of anarchy,'
    which had for three successive days pervaded the American Congress,
    was dispelled by the magic, the talismanic eloquence, of a single
    man; and once more the wheels of government and legislation were put
    in motion.

    "Having, by this powerful appeal, brought the yet unorganized
    assembly to a perception of its hazardous position, he submitted a
    motion requiring the acting clerk to call the roll. Accordingly Mr.
    Adams was interrupted by a burst of voices demanding, 'How shall the
    question be put?' 'Who will put the question?' The voice of Mr.
    Adams was heard above the tumult: 'I intend to put the question
    myself!' That word brought order out of chaos. There was the master

    "As soon as the multitude had recovered itself, and the excitement
    of irrepressible enthusiasm had abated, Mr. Richard Barnwell Rhett,
    of South Carolina, leaped upon one of the desks, waved his hand, and
    exclaimed: 'I move that the Honorable John Quincy Adams take the
    chair of the Speaker of the house, and officiate as presiding
    officer till the house be organized by the election of its
    constitutional officers. As many as are agreed to this will say Ay;

    "He had not an opportunity to complete the sentence, 'those who are
    not agreed will say No;' for one universal, deafening, thundering
    AY responded to the nomination.

    "Hereupon it was moved and ordered that Lewis Williams, of North
    Carolina, and Richard Barnwell Rhett, conduct John Quincy Adams to
    the chair.

    "Well did Mr. Wise, of Virginia, say: 'Sir, I regard it as the
    proudest hour of your life; and if, when you shall be gathered to
    your fathers, I were asked to select the words which, in my
    judgment, are best calculated to give at once the character of the
    man, I would inscribe upon your tomb this sentence: _I will put
    the question myself_.'"

                             CHAPTER XI.


On the 5th of March, 1840, Mr. Adams, as chairman of the select
committee on the Smithsonian bequest, made a report, in which he
recapitulated all the material facts which had previously occurred
relative to the acceptance of this fund, and entered into the motives
which prevailed with the former committee as to its disposal. It
appeared from this report, which was accompanied by a publication of all
the documents connected with the subject up to that period, that the
fund had been received, and paid into the Treasury, and invested in
state stocks, and that the President now invited the attention of
Congress to the obligation devolving upon the United States to fulfil
the object of the bequest. While this message was under consideration
various projects for disposing of the funds had been presented by
individuals, in memorials, concerning which the report states that they
generally contemplated the establishment of a school, college, or
university, proposing expenditures absorbing the whole in the erection
of buildings, and leaving little or nothing for the improvement of
future ages. "In most of these projects," says Mr. Adams, "there might
be perceived purposes of personal accommodation and emolument to the
projectors, more adapted to the promotion of their own interest than to
the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men."

While these memorials and the subject of the disposal of the whole
Smithson fund were before the select committee, a resolution came from
the Senate appointing "a joint committee, consisting of seven members of
the Senate, and such a number as the House of Representatives should
appoint, to consider the expediency of providing an institution of
learning, to be established at the city of Washington, for the
application of the legacy bequeathed by James Smithson, of London, to
the United States, in trust for that purpose." The House, out of
courtesy to the Senate, concurred in their resolution, and added on
their part the members of that of which Mr. Adams was chairman.

The propositions of the committee on the part of the House and that on
the part of the Senate were so widely at variance, that it was found
that no result could be obtained in which both committees would concur.
It was finally agreed that the committee on the part of the House should
report their project to the House for consideration. Mr. Adams,
thereupon, as chairman, reported a series of resolutions, substantially
of the following import: That the whole Smithson fund should be vested
in a corporate body of trustees, to remain, under the pledge of the
faith of the United States, undiminished and unimpaired, at an interest
yielding annually six per cent., appropriated to the declared purpose of
the founder, exclusively from the interest, and not in any part from the
principal,--the first appropriation of interest to be applied for the
erection of an astronomical observatory, and for the various objects
incident to such an establishment;--that the education of youth had not
for its object the _increase_ and diffusion of knowledge among men,
but the endowment of individuals with knowledge already acquired; and
the Smithson fund should not be applied to the purpose of education, or
to any school, college, university, or institution of education.

The chairman of the committee of the Senate, in their behalf, presented
counter resolutions, disapproving the application of any part of the
funds to the establishment of an astronomical observatory, and urging
the appropriation of them to the establishment of a university. The
bill prepared by the House is presented at large in this report,
accompanied with the argument in its support, prepared by Mr. Adams
with a strength and fulness to which no abstract can do justice. In
this argument he illustrates the reasons for preserving the principal
of the fund unimpaired, and confining all expenditures from it to the
annual interest; also those which preclude any portion of it to be
applied to any institution for education; showing, from the peculiar
expressions of the testator, that it could not have been his intention
that the fund should be applied in this manner. He then proceeds to
set forth the reasons why the income of the fund should in the first
instance be applied to an astronomical observatory, without intending
to exclude any branch of human knowledge from its equitable share of
this benefaction. The importance of this object he thus eloquently
illustrates: "The express object of Mr. Smithson's bequest is the
_diffusion of knowledge_ among men. IT IS KNOWLEDGE, the source of
all human wisdom, and of all beneficent power; knowledge, as far
transcending the postulated lever of Archimedes as the universe
transcends this speck of earth upon its face; knowledge, the attribute
of Omnipotence, of which man alone, in the physical and material world,
is permitted to anticipate."

Why astronomical science should be the object to which the income of
this fund should be first applied he thus proceeds to set forth:

    "The express object of an observatory is the increase of knowledge
    by new discovery. The physical relations between the firmament of
    heaven and the globe allotted by the Creator of all to be the abode
    of man are discoverable only by the organ of the eye. Many of these
    relations are indispensable to the existence of human life, and
    perhaps of the earth itself. Who, that can conceive the idea of a
    world without a sun, but must connect with it the extinction of
    light and heat, of all animal life, of all vegetation and
    production, leaving the lifeless clod of matter to return to the
    primitive state of chaos, or to be consumed by elemental fire? The
    influence of the moon--of the planets, our next-door neighbors of
    the solar system--of the fixed stars, scattered over the blue
    expanse in multitudes exceeding the power of human computation, and
    at distances of which imagination herself can form no distinct
    conception;--the influence of all these upon the globe which we
    inhabit, and upon the condition of man, its dying and deathless
    inhabitant, is great and mysterious, and, in the search for final
    causes, to a great degree inscrutable to his finite and limited
    faculties. The extent to which they are discoverable is and must
    remain unknown; but, to the vigilance of a sleepless eye, to the
    toil of a tireless hand, and to the meditations of a thinking,
    combining, and analyzing mind, secrets are successively revealed,
    not only of the deepest import to the welfare of man in his earthly
    career, but which seem to lift him from the earth to the threshold
    of his eternal abode; to lead him blindfold up to the
    council-chamber of Omnipotence, and there, stripping the bandage
    from his eyes, bid him look undazzled at the throne of God.

    "In the history of the human species, so far as it is known to us,
    astronomical observation was one of the first objects of pursuit for
    the acquisition of knowledge. In the first chapter of the sacred
    volume we are told that, in the process of creation, 'God said, Let
    there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day
    from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for
    days, and for years.' By the special appointment, then, of the
    Creator, they were made the standards for the measurement of time
    upon earth. They were made for more: not only for seasons, for days,
    and for years, but for SIGNS. Signs of what? It may be that
    the word, in this passage, has reference to the signs of the
    Egyptian zodiac, to mark the succession of solar months; or it may
    indicate a more latent connection between the heavens and the earth,
    of the nature of judicial astrology. These relations are not only
    apparent to the most superficial observation of man, but many of
    them remain inexhaustible funds of successive discovery, perhaps as
    long as the continued existence of man upon earth. What an unknown
    world of mind, for example, is yet teeming in the womb of time, to
    be revealed in tracing the causes of the sympathy between the magnet
    and the pole--that unseen, immaterial spirit, which walks with us
    through the most entangled forests, over the most interminable
    wilderness, and across every region of the pathless deep, by day, by
    night, in the calm serene of a cloudless sky, and in the howling of
    the hurricane or the typhoon? Who can witness the movements of that
    tremulous needle, poised upon its centre, still tending to the polar
    star, but obedient to his distant hand, armed with a metallic guide,
    round every point of the compass, at the fiat of his will, without
    feeling a thrill of amazement approaching to superstition? The
    discovery of the attractive power of the magnet was made before the
    invention of the alphabet, or the age of hieroglyphics. No record of
    the event is found upon the annals of human history. But seven
    hundred years have scarcely passed away since its polarity was first
    known to the civilized European man. It was by observation of the
    periodical revolution of the earth in her orbit round the sun,
    compared with her daily revolution round her axis, that was
    disclosed the fact that her annual period was composed of three
    hundred and sixty-five of her daily revolutions; or, in other words,
    that the year was composed of three hundred and sixty-five days. But
    the shepherds of Egypt, watching their flocks by night, could not
    but observe the movements of the dog-star, next to the sun the most
    brilliant of the luminaries of heaven. They worshipped that star as
    a god; and, losing sight of him for about forty days every year,
    during his conjunction with the sun, they watched with intense
    anxiety for his reäppearance in the sky, and with that day commenced
    their year. By this practice it failed not soon to be found that,
    although the reäppearance of the star for three successive years was
    at the end of three hundred and sixty-five days, it would, on the
    fourth year, be delayed one day longer; and, after repeated
    observation of this phenomenon, they added six hours to the computed
    duration of the year, and established the canicular period of four
    years, consisting of one thousand four hundred and sixty-one days.
    It was not until the days of Julius Cæsar that this computation of
    time was adopted in the Roman calendar; and fifteen centuries from
    that time had elapsed before the yearly celebration of the Christian
    paschal festivals, founded upon the Passover of the Levitical law,
    revealed the fact that the annual revolution of the earth in her
    orbit round the sun is not precisely of three hundred and sixty-five
    days and one quarter, but of between eleven and twelve minutes less;
    and thus the duration of the year was ascertained, as a measure of
    time, to an accuracy of three or four seconds, more or less--a
    mistake which would scarcely amount to one day in twenty thousand

    "It is, then, to the successive discoveries of persevering
    astronomical observation, through a period of fifty centuries, that
    we are indebted for a fixed and permanent standard for the
    measurement of time. And by the same science has man acquired, so
    far as he possesses it, a standard for the measurement of space. A
    standard for the measurement of the dimensions and distances of the
    fixed stars from ourselves is yet to be found; and, if ever found,
    will be through the means of astronomical observation.

    "The influence of all these discoveries upon the condition of man is
    no doubt infinitely diversified in relative importance; but all,
    even the minutest, contribute to the increase and diffusion of
    knowledge. There is no richer field of science opened to the
    exploration of man in search of knowledge than astronomical
    observation; nor is there, in the opinion of this committee, any
    duty more impressively incumbent upon all human governments than
    that of furnishing means, and facilities, and rewards, to those who
    devote the labors of their lives to the indefatigable industry, the
    unceasing vigilance, and the bright intelligence, indispensable to
    success in these pursuits."

These remarks are succeeded by others on the Royal Observatory of
Greenwich, on the connection of astronomy with the art of navigation, on
the increase of observatories in the British Islands, in France, and in
Russia; and, after repeating the objections to applying the fund of Mr.
Smithson to a school devoted to any particular branch of science, or for
general education, Mr. Adams, in behalf of the committee, submitted a
bill for the consideration of the house, embracing the principles
maintained in his report.

On May 8th, 1840, a bill to insure a more faithful execution of the laws
relating to the collection of duties on imports being under
consideration of the house, Mr. Adams, after commenting on the nature
and injurious consequences of the fraud which it was the object of the
bill to prevent, said that this practice was "a sort of national thing,"
to such an extent were the citizens of Great Britain accustomed to come
over to this country to cheat us out of our revenue, and to defraud our
manufacturing interest, and added:

    "I have said that there is something national in this matter, and I
    will now proceed to state what, in my judgment, lies at the bottom
    of this proceeding. It is a maxim of British commercial law that it
    is lawful for the citizens of one nation to defraud the revenues of
    other nations. The author of the maxim was a man famous throughout
    the civilized world,--a man of transcendent talents, who fixed,
    more, perhaps, than any other man of the same century, his impress
    on the age in which he lived, and upon the laws of England,--I mean
    Lord Mansfield. In some respects it has been greatly to the
    advantage of those laws, but in others as much to their disadvantage
    and discredit, of which the maxim of which I now speak is a signal
    instance. He was the first British judge who established the
    principle that it is a lawful thing for Englishmen to cheat the
    revenue laws of other nations, especially those of Spain and

    "This principle was first settled in an act of Parliament, the
    object of which was to suppress what are denominated wager policies
    of insurance--a species of instrument well known to lawyers as
    gambling policies, being entered into when the party insuring has
    no interest in the property insured. It had been a question whether
    such policies were lawful by the common law. The practice had
    greatly increased, insomuch that wager policies had become a common
    thing. It was with a view to suppress these that the statute of the
    nineteenth of George the Second, chapter thirty-seventh, was
    passed. The object of that statute was good; it was remedial in its
    character; it went to suppress a public evil; but, while it
    prohibited wager policies in all other cases, it contained _an
    express exception in favor of those made on vessels trading to
    Spain and Portugal_."

    After commenting on this act of the British Parliament, he quotes
    the words of Blackstone, who, after stating the nature of these
    smuggling policies, and dwelling upon their immorality and
    pernicious tendency, refers to the law above mentioned, which
    enacts "that they shall be totally null and void, except as to
    policies on privateers in the Spanish and Portuguese trade, _for
    reasons sufficiently obvious_." (2 Blackstone, ch. XXX., p. 4, §
    1.) On this statement of Blackstone Mr. Adams remarks:

    "It is an old maxim of the schools that frauds are always concealed
    under generalities. What were these _obvious reasons_? Why were
    they concealed? It is known to the committee that, in the
    celebrated controversy of the man in the mask,--I mean Junius with
    Blackstone,--he said, that for the defence of law, of justice, and
    of truth, let any man consult the work of that great judge, his
    Commentaries upon the laws of England; but, if a man wanted to
    cheat his neighbor out of his estate, he should consult the doctor
    himself. I go a little further than Junius, although I do it with
    great reluctance, for I hold the book to be one of the best books
    in the world. I say that the observation of Junius applies to the
    book as much as to the judge, when, from reasons like those with
    which scoundrels cover their consciences, that book evades telling
    why the exception was made in regard to Spain and Portugal, and
    what those reasons were which the judge declares to be
    '_sufficiently obvious_.'

    "This exception of the British law was _infectious_; it spread into
    France, whose government adopted the same provision by way of

Mr. Adams then read from Emerigon, the principal authority of French
lawyers on insurance, who denies the principles of the English statute;
and M. Pothier, not a mere lawyer, but a philosopher and moralist, who
protests against this doctrine, and appeals to the eternal laws of
morality. He then cites the second volume _Term Reports_, p. 164, in
which Judge Buller states, "I have heard Lord Mansfield say that the
reason of that allowance was to favor the smuggling of bullion from
those countries." On which Mr. Adams remarks:

    "This is the sum of the whole matter. Judge Buller heard Lord
    Mansfield say that the object of the exception in regard to Spain
    and Portugal was to encourage--yes, to _encourage_--the smuggling
    trade. The object was that smugglers should not only escape the
    effect of their villany, but should be actually encouraged by
    government in its perpetration.

    "I think I have now established the position which I assumed, that
    the lawfulness of violating the revenue laws of other nations is a
    principle of English law,--a principle sanctioned by the Legislature
    and the judicial courts of Great Britain,--but one which the best
    elementary writers, proceeding on the great and eternal principles
    of morality, have condemned as a false principle; and I have thought
    it necessary to do this with a view to trace these frauds upon our
    revenue, committed by British subjects, to what I believe to be
    their original source in the false morality in the English
    Parliament and English judges. What is the natural effect of the
    promulgation of such principles by such authority? What can it be
    but to encourage frauds on the revenue of other nations? When a
    principle like this goes out, sanctioned with the legislative
    authority, it will have its effect on the nation.

    "'_Quid leges sine moribus._' The whole moral principle of a nation
    is contaminated by the legislative authorization and judicial
    sanction of a practice dishonest in itself, which necessarily
    includes not merely a permission, but a stimulant, to perjury.
    If an English merchant, subscribing to this principle, goes to
    establish himself in a foreign country, he goes as an enemy,
    warranted, by the sanction of his own courts and Parliament, to do
    anything that can defraud its revenue. Perhaps this may be one of
    the causes of the vulgar saying,--which all must have heard, but
    which, thank God, I still hope is not warranted by the practice of
    the native merchants of our country,--that custom-house oaths
    have no validity. There is a feeling, but too prevalent, which
    distinguishes between custom-house oaths and other oaths. It is
    obvious that smuggling can not be carried on to any extent without
    the commission of perjury. There must be false swearing; and it is
    that false swearing which the British laws have sanctioned. None
    of this bullion, of which Justice Buller speaks, could be smuggled
    out of Spain and Portugal without false oaths; and you will find,
    from the details of a case which I shall presently call to your
    attention, that false swearing is at the bottom of the frauds which
    this bill seeks to correct--frauds in consequence of which seven
    eighths of all the woollens imported into New York escaped the
    payment of the duty charged by law. These people do not hold
    themselves bound to respect our revenue laws, and thus proceed
    without scruples to the perpetration of perjury in order to carry
    on with success the evasion of them."

In the conclusion of his speech Mr. Adams paid the following tribute to
the English nation, saying:

    "That of the English nation he entertained sentiments of the most
    exalted admiration; that he was proud of being himself descended
    from that stock, although two hundred years had passed away, during
    which all his ancestors had been natives of this country. He claimed
    the great men of England of former ages as his countrymen, and could
    say with the poet Cowper, in hearty concurrence with the sentiment,
    that it is

                               'Praise enough
        To fill the ambition of a common man,
        That Chatham's language was his mother tongue,
        And Wolfe's great name compatriot with his own.'

    "He believed that no nation, of ancient or modern times, was more
    entitled to veneration for its exertion in the cause of human
    improvement than the British. He thought their code of laws
    admirable; but, in the discussion of the bill before the committee,
    he had been compelled, in the discharge of his duty, to expose one
    great erroneous principle of morals incorporated into their laws; a
    principle, the natural and necessary consequence of which had been
    the occasion of the bill now before the committee; a principle
    enacted by the British Parliament, and sanctioned by the decision of
    their highest judicial tribunals, with the express and avowed
    purpose of encouraging the subjects of Great Britain to the practice
    of defrauding, even by the commission of perjury, the revenues of a
    foreign country."

In July, 1840, a memorial was presented to Congress, from the American
Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, asking the aid of government to
carry on a series of magnetic and meteorological observations. This
application was made in coöperation with the Royal Society of Great
Britain, and at their solicitation, and had for its object an extended
system of magnetic observations at fixed magnetic observatories in
different quarters of the globe. Mr. Adams, having been appointed
chairman of a committee on the memorial, made a report setting forth at
large the motives for concurrence, and the importance of the object
asked for. The following extracts illustrate his comprehensive views and
appreciation of the subject:

    "Among the most powerful, most wonderful, and most mysterious agents
    in the economy of the physical universe, is the magnet. Its
    attractive properties, its perpetual tendency to the poles of the
    earth and of the heavens, and its exclusive sympathies with one of
    the mineral productions of the earth, have been brought within the
    scope of human observation at different periods of the history of
    mankind, separated by the distance of many centuries from each
    other. The attractive power of the magnet was known in ages of
    antiquity so remote that it transcends even the remembrance of the
    name of its first discoverer, and the time of its accession to the
    mass of human knowledge. Its polarity, or, at least, the application
    of that property to the purposes of navigation beyond the sight of
    land, was unknown in Europe, and probably throughout the world,
    until the twelfth or thirteenth century of the Christian era; and
    its horizontal variation from the tendency directly to the pole was
    first perceived by Christopher Columbus, in that transcendent voyage
    of discovery which gave a new hemisphere to the industry and
    intelligence of civilized man;--an incident then so alarming to him
    and his company, that, but for the inflexible and persevering spirit
    of this intrepid and daring mariner, it would have sunk them into
    despair, and buried the New World for ages upon ages longer from the
    knowledge of the Old. Centuries have again passed away, disclosing
    gradually new properties of the magnet to the ardent and eager
    pursuit of human curiosity, still stimulated by constant observation
    of the phenomena connected with this metallic substance, dug from
    the bowels of the earth, yet seeming more and more to elude or defy
    all the ordinary laws of matter. Thus, in the process of observation
    to ascertain the horizontal variation of the needle from its polar
    direction, it was found that it differed in intensity in the
    different regions of the earth and the seas; that its variations
    were affected by different causes, some tending in the same
    direction, alternately east and west, through a succession of years,
    of ages, even of centuries, and others accomplishing their circle of
    existence from day to day, perhaps from hour to hour, or at stated
    hours of the day. It was found that there was a perpendicular as
    well as a horizontal deviation from the polar direction; and it
    became a matter of anxious inquiry to ascertain the intensity both
    of the dip and variation of the needle at every spot on the surface
    of the globe. It was inferred, from the different intensities of
    variation in different latitudes, that there were magnetic poles not
    coïncident with those of the earth; and the northern of these poles
    has been recently traced to its actual location by the British
    circumnavigators, Parry and Ross.

    "The attractive power, the polarity, the deviations from the polar
    direction, horizontal and perpendicular, the varieties even of these
    deviations, and the detection of the northern magnetic pole, have
    still left materials for further observation, and suggested problems
    for solution to the perseverance and ingenuity of the human mind.

    "In the spring of 1836 that illustrious philosopher and statesman,
    Baron Alexander Von Humboldt, addressed to the Duke of Sussex, then
    President of the Royal Society, a letter upon the means of
    perfecting the knowledge of terrestrial magnetism, by the
    establishment of magnetic stations and corresponding observations;
    and solicited the powerful concurrence of the Royal Society in favor
    of the labors then already undertaken by a learned association in
    Germany, and which, radiating at once from several great scientific
    central points in Europe, might lead progressively to the more
    precise knowledge of the laws of nature."

Mr. Adams then proceeds to state the subsequent proceedings of the Royal
Society, and the measures the British government had taken to carry into
effect the views of that society, earnestly recommending the compliance
with the request of the American Philosophical Society, and adds:

    "The committee would hail, with feelings of hope and encouragement,
    the virtual alliance of great and mighty nations for this union of
    efforts in the promotion of the cause of science. Long enough have
    the leagues and federations between the potentates of the earth been
    confined to alliances, offensive and defensive, to promote purposes
    of mutual hatred and hostility. It is refreshing to the friends of
    humanity to witness the rise and progress of a spirit of common and
    concerted inquiry into the secrets of material nature, the results
    of which not only go to accumulate the mass of human knowledge, but
    to harmonize in a community of enjoyments the varied tribes of man
    throughout the habitable globe. The invitation to participate in
    these labors, and to acquire the credit and reputation of having
    contributed to the beneficial results which may confidently be
    expected from them, is itself creditable to the character of our own

In conclusion, the committee recommend the adoption of a resolution,
which they report, appropriating twenty thousand dollars for the
establishment of five several stations for making observations on
terrestrial magnetism and meteorology, conformably to the invitation of
the Royal Society of Great Britain to the American Philosophical Society
of Philadelphia.

In July, 1840, at the closing of the congressional session, Mr. Adams
thus expressed his opinion of the state of public affairs: "The late
session of Congress has been painful to me beyond all former experience,
by the demonstration it has given of degenerating institutions. Parties
are falling into profligate factions. I have seen this before; but the
worst symptom now is the change in the manners of the people. The
continuance of the present administration will, if accomplished, open
wide all the floodgates of corruption. Will a change produce a reform?
Pause and ponder! Slavery, the Indians, the public lands, the collection
and disbursement of public moneys, the tariff, and foreign affairs--what
is to become of them?"

In September, 1840, Mr. Adams remarked, on the electioneering addresses
then made, preparatory to the next election of President: "This practice
of itinerant speech-making has suddenly broken out in this country to a
fearful extent. Electioneering for the Presidency has spread its
contagion to the President himself, to his now only competitor, to his
immediate predecessor, to the candidates Henry Clay and Daniel Webster,
and to many distinguished members of both branches of Congress. The
tendency of all this is to the corruption of popular elections both by
violence and fraud."

Again, in October ensuing: "One of the peculiarities of the present time
is that the principal leaders of the political parties are travelling
about the country from state to state, and holding forth, like Methodist
preachers, to assembled multitudes, under the broad canopy of heaven.
Webster, Clay, W. C. Rives, Silas Wright, and James Buchanan, are among
the first and foremost in this canvassing oratory; while Andrew Jackson,
and Martin Van Buren, with his heads of departments, are harping on
another string of the political accordion, by writing controversial
electioneering letters. Besides the principal leaders of the parties,
numerous subaltern officers of the administration are summoned to the
same service, and, instead of attending to the duties of their offices,
roam, recite, and madden, round the land."

In a speech made on the 28th of December, 1840, Mr. Adams severely
denounced the policy pursued by the government in respect of the navy
pension fund; stating that it amounted to one million two hundred
thousand dollars; that, without any authority, it had been loaned to
different states, and vested in their stocks, which, for the most part,
were either depreciated in value, wholly lost, or unsalable. That fund,
he maintained, was a sacred trust, and proceeded to state fully and at
large the manner in which it had been violated without authority.

Mr. Adams then went on to state the proceedings of the Executive
relative to the Smithsonian fund. He said that about the 1st of
September, 1838, the sum of five hundred and nine thousand dollars had
been deposited in the Mint of Philadelphia in gold,--in mint-drops;--a
sacred trust, which the United States had accepted, on the pledge of
their faith to keep it whole, entire, for the purpose for which it had
been given by a foreigner. Within three days the five hundred thousand
dollars were on their way to Arkansas to make a bank. The members of the
Senate and of the House from Arkansas had a quick scent of these moneys
coming into the Treasury; and care had been taken to insert into a bill
for a very different object a provision authorizing the President and
Secretary of the Treasury to loan to the states that sum of money when
it should come into the Treasury. This was three months beforehand; and
three days after the money was received the plan was carried into

"Now, we had heard," said Mr. Adams, "of British gold carrying the
elections, which had resulted, not in favor of the present incumbent of
the presidential chair, but against him. There he could put his finger
upon five hundred and nine thousand dollars of British gold, which
contributed, so far as it could go, to the election of the present
executive magistrate; and he thought he had shown the means by which it
was done. Go to the State of Arkansas. The dollars are not there, but
they _were_ there, and they were sent there from the Mint of the United
States. Here was policy--profound policy--economy--democracy; and all
this accompanied with so great a horror at the idea of assuming state
debts, that the hair of the gentlemen stood on end at the mere mention
of the possibility of such a thing. Was not here a debt of the State of
Arkansas of half a million of dollars? Had not the general government
assumed that debt? Had they not employed trust-money? If Arkansas
should declare herself insolvent to-morrow, Congress must pay that
debt; they had assumed it."

About this time, Mr. Adams, in some of his writings, thus graphically
illustrates the political influences which have mainly shaped the
destinies of the United States: "A very curious philosophical history
of parties might be made by giving a _catalogue raisonné_ of the
candidates for the Presidency voted for in the electoral colleges since
the establishment of the constitution of the United States. It would
contain a history of the influences of the presidential office. Would
not the retrospect furnish practical principles concerning the
operation of the constitution?--1st. That the direct and infallible
path to the Presidency is military service, coupled with demagogue
policy. 2d. That, in the absence of military service, demagogue policy
is the first and most indispensable element of success, and the art of
party drilling the second. 3d. That the drill consists in combining
the Southern interest in domestic slavery with the Northern riotous
democracy. 4th. That this policy and drill, first organized by Thomas
Jefferson, accomplished his election, and established the Virginia
dynasty of twenty-four years;--a perpetual practical contradiction of
its own principles. 5th. That the same policy and drill, invigorated by
success and fortified by experience, has now placed Martin Van Buren in
the President's chair, and disclosed to the unprincipled ambition of
the North the art of rising upon the principles of the South. And 6th.
That it has exposed in broad day the overruling influence of the
institution of domestic slavery upon the history and policy of the

In the case of a contested election Mr. Adams remarked: "The conduct of
a majority of the House has, from beginning to end, been governed by
will, and not by judgment; and so I fear it will be always in every case
of contested elections."

"The speech of Horace Everett, of Vermont," (made on the 8th June, 1836,
on the Indian annuity bill,) said Mr. Adams, "gives a perfectly clear
and distinct exposition of the origin and causes of the Florida war, and
demonstrates, beyond all possibility of being gainsaid, that the wrong
of the war is on our side. It depresses the spirits, and humiliates the
soul, that this war is now running into its fifth year, has cost thirty
millions of dollars, has successively baffled and disgraced all our
chief military generals,--Gaines, Scott, Jesup, and Macomb,--and that
our last resources now are bloodhounds and no quarter. Sixteen millions
of Anglo-Saxons unable to subdue, in five years, by force and by fraud,
by secret treachery and by open war, sixteen hundred savage warriors!
There is a disregard of all appearance of right, in our transactions
with the Indians, which I feel as a cruel disparagement of the honor of
my country."

On the 1st of January, 1841, Mr. Adams, referring to the accounts he had
received that the attendance at the Presidential levees was much smaller
than usual, and that the visitors were chiefly from among the
President's old adversaries, the Whigs, remarked:

    "'_Donec eris felix multos numerabis amicos Tempora si fuerint
    nubila solus eris._'

There is, perhaps, no occasion in human affairs," he added, "which more
uniformly exemplifies this propensity of human nature than the exit of a
President of the United States from office."

On the 4th of February, 1841, there arose, incidentally, in the House
of Representatives, a debate upon the act to suppress duelling. Mr.
Wise, of Virginia, had said, in the course of a former debate: "The
anti-duelling law is producing its bitter fruits. It is making this
house a bear-garden. We have an example in the present instance. Here,
with permission of the chair and committee, and without a call to order
from anybody, we see and hear one member (Mr. Johnson) say to another
(Mr. Duncan) that he had been branded as a coward on this floor. The
other says back that 'he is a liar!' And, sir, there the matter will
stop. There will be no fight." Before proceeding to comment, Mr. Adams
called for the reading of this statement, as reported in the _National
Intelligencer_. On which Mr. Wise said publicly, in the house, "That is
a correct report."[1]

      [1] See, for all the proceedings on this subject, the
      _Congressional Globe_, vol. IX., pp. 320-322.

After this acknowledgment, Mr. Adams proceeded to remark with severity
on this statement and language, occasioning an excitement in the house,
particularly among the duellists, which belongs to the history of the
period. After stating that he understood that statement and language "as
maintaining that duelling, between members of this house, for matters
passing within this house, is a practice that ought not to be
suppressed," he continued: "I maintain the contrary; and I maintain it
for the independence of this house, for my own independence, for the
independence of those with whom I act, for the independence of the
members from the Northern section of this country, who not only abhor
duelling in theory, but in practice; in consequence of which members
from other sections are perpetually insulting them on this floor, under
the impression that the insult will not be resented."

Here Mr. Campbell, of South Carolina, as the reporter states, called Mr.
Adams to order. The chairman said something, of which not a word could
be heard, the house being in such a state of tempestuous uproar. When
the voice of Mr. Adams again caught the ear of the reporter, he was
proceeding as follows:

    "Would you smother discussion on the duelling law? There is not a
    point in the affairs of this nation more important than this very
    practice of duelling,--considered as a point of honor in one part of
    the Union, and a point of infamy in another,--with its consequences.
    I say there is no more important subject that can go forth, North
    and South, East and West; and I therefore take my issue upon it. I
    have come here determined to do so between the different portions of
    this house, in order to see whether this practice is to be
    continued; whether the members from that section of the Union whose
    principles are against duelling are to be insulted, upon every topic
    of discussion, because it is supposed that the insult will not be
    resented, and that 'there will be no fight.'"

Mr. Adams here called for the reading of "the act to suppress duelling;"
which the clerk having read, he proceeded:

    "I was going on to say that the reason why I had brought this
    subject into the discussion is because it is most intimately
    connected with all the transactions in this house and this nation;
    and because I think it time to settle this question between the
    duellists and non-duellists, whoever they may be. I say that, in
    consequence of my principles, and what I believe to be the
    principles of a very large portion of the people in that part of the
    country from which I came, I will not, as regards the approaching
    administration, put myself under the lead of any man who considers
    the duelling law in this district as having borne any bitter fruits
    whatever. It may not, indeed, be sufficiently potent in its
    operation to prevent the thirst for blood which follows offensive
    words; but I believe it has prevented, and will prevent, any such
    occurrences as we have witnessed here. But, as it bears upon the
    affairs of the nation, I am not willing to sit any longer here, and
    see other members from my own section of the country, or those who
    may be my successors here, made subject to any such law as the law
    of the duellist. I am unwilling that they should not have full
    freedom of speech in this house on all occasions--as much so as the
    primest duellist in the land. I do not want to hear perpetual
    intimations, when a man from one part of the country means to insult
    another coming from other parts of the country, as, 'I am ready to
    answer here or elsewhere;' and 'The gentleman knows where I am to be
    found;' saying, as the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. W. C. Johnson)
    did just now, that he would call to account any person who dared
    make allusion to what had taken place between him and another member
    of this house. I do not intend to hear that any more, for myself or
    others, if I can help it. Therefore I move to bring the matter up
    for full discussion here, whether we are to be twitted and taunted
    with remarks that a man is ready to meet us here or elsewhere. It
    goes to the independence of this house; it goes to the independence
    of every individual member of this house; it goes to the right of
    speech and freedom of debate in this house; and I felt myself bound
    to bear my testimony in the most decided manner against the practice
    of duelling, or anything in the shape of even a virtual challenge
    taking place in this house, now and forever. If the committee think
    proper to put me down, after a debate of three weeks, involving
    almost every topic under the sun, and in which not one man has been
    called to order, I must submit. It shall go out to the country, and
    I am willing that the sober sentiment of the whole nation shall be
    my final judge on this subject."

Mr. Adams, after having recapitulated his course of proceedings on
various topics, and explained his motives and their relations on former
occasions, and his present general views on those subjects, closes his
remarks on duelling by declaring that what he had said had been from
motives of pure public spirit, with no disposition to offend any
gentleman, and least of all the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wise); but
that he had felt it his duty to say what he had said, because he
believed that the application of the principle of duelling, as regards
different portions of this house, is such that it must be discarded;
that duelling must be considered as a crime, and that it must not be
countenanced by professions of any necessity for its existence.

In January and March, 1841, Mr. Adams delivered his celebrated argument
before the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of the United
States, appellants, against Cinque and others, appellees. This was
afterwards published at length. In it he publicly arraigned before that
court and the civilized world the conduct of the then existing
administration, for having, in all their proceedings relating to these
unfortunate Africans, exhibited sympathy for one of the parties, and
antipathy for the other; sympathy for the white, antipathy to the black;
sympathy for the slaveholders, in place of protection for the
unfortunate and oppressed. It is impossible by any abstract or outline
to do justice to the laborious ability with which this argument is
sustained. The just severity with which he scrutinizes the proceedings
of the Executive and the demands of the Spanish Minister, the
completeness with which he vindicates for these Africans their right to
freedom,--the extensive research into the law of nations, and the broad
principles of eternal justice, on which he supports their claim to be
liberated, were probably not excelled by any public effort at that
period, whether of the bar or the senate. He concluded with the
following touching reminiscences of distinguished members of the bench
and the bar, with whom in former times he had been associated:

    "May it please your honors: On the 7th of February, 1804, now more
    than thirty-seven years past, my name was entered, and yet stands
    recorded, on both the rolls, as one of the attorneys and counsellors
    of this court. Five years later, in February and March, 1809, I
    appeared for the last time before this court, in defence of the
    cause of justice and of important rights, in which many of my
    fellow-citizens had property to a large amount at stake. Very
    shortly afterwards I was called to the discharge of other duties,
    first in distant lands, and in later years within our own country,
    but in different departments of her government. Little did I imagine
    that I should ever again be required to claim the right of appearing
    in the capacity of an officer of this court; yet such has been the
    dictate of my destiny, and I appear again to plead the cause of
    justice, and now of liberty and life, in behalf of many of my
    fellow-men, before that same court which, in a former age, I had
    addressed in support of rights of property. I stand again, I trust
    for the last time, before the same court. '_Hic cæstus, artemque
    repono._' I stand before the same court, but not before the same
    judges, nor aided by the same associates, nor resisted by the same
    opponents. As I cast my eyes along those seats of honor and of
    public trust now occupied by you, they seek in vain for one of those
    honored and honorable persons whose indulgence listened then to my
    voice. Marshall, Cushing, Chase, Washington, Johnson, Livingston,
    Todd,--where are they? Where is that eloquent statesman and learned
    lawyer who was my associate counsel in the management of that cause,
    Robert Goodloe Harper? Where is that brilliant luminary, so long the
    pride of Maryland and of the American bar, then my opposing counsel,
    Luther Martin? Where is the excellent clerk of that day, whose name
    has been inscribed on the shores of Africa as a monument of his
    abhorrence of the African slave-trade, Elias B. Caldwell? Where is
    the marshal--where are the criers of the court? Alas! where is one
    of the very judges of the court, arbiter of life and death, before
    whom I commenced this anxious argument, even now prematurely closed?
    Where are they all? Gone--gone--all gone! Gone from the services
    which in their day and generation they faithfully tendered to their
    country. From the excellent characters which they sustained in life,
    so far as I have had the means of knowing, I humbly hope, and fondly
    trust, they have gone to receive the rewards of blessedness on high.

    "In taking, then, my final leave of this bar, and of this honorable
    court, I can only ejaculate a fervent petition to Heaven that every
    member of it may go to his final account with as little of earthly
    frailty to answer for as those illustrious dead; and that every one,
    after the close of a long and virtuous career in this world, may be
    received at the portals of the next with the approving sentence,
    'Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of
    thy Lord.'"

                             CHAPTER XII.


On the 4th of March, 1841, William Henry Harrison, of Ohio, was
inaugurated President of the United States, and John Tyler, of Virginia,
Vice-President; each of whom had two hundred and thirty-four out of two
hundred and ninety-four votes,--the whole number,--and Martin Van Buren,
the only other candidate for the Presidency, had sixty. Mr. Adams
remarked that this inauguration was celebrated with demonstrations of
popular feeling unexampled since that of Washington, in 1789, and at the
same time with so much order and tranquillity that not the slightest
symptom of conflicting passions occurred to disturb the enjoyments of
the day. Many thousands of people from the adjoining, and considerable
numbers from distant states, were assembled to witness the ceremony.

On the 4th of April, 1841,--precisely one calendar month after his
inauguration,--President Harrison died. On this occasion Mr. Adams thus
expressed himself:

    "The first impression of this event here, where it occurred, is of
    the frailty of all human enjoyments, and the awful vicissitudes
    woven into the lot of mortal man. He had reached, but one short
    month since, the pinnacle of honor and power in his own country. He
    lies a lifeless corpse in the palace provided by his country for his
    abode. He was amiable and benevolent. Sympathy for his suffering and
    his fate is the prevailing sentiment of his fellow-citizens. The
    bereavement and distress of his family are felt intensely, albeit
    they are strangers here, and known scarcely to any one.

    "The influence of this event upon the condition and history of the
    country can scarcely be foreseen. It makes the Vice-President of the
    United States, John Tyler, of Virginia, acting President of the
    Union for four years, less one month.

    "Tyler is a political sectarian, of the slave-driving, Virginian,
    Jeffersonian school; principled against all improvement; with all
    the interests and passions and vices of slavery rooted in his moral
    and political constitution; with talents not above mediocrity, and a
    spirit incapable of expansion to the dimensions of the station on
    which he has been cast by the hand of Providence, unseen, through
    the apparent agency of chance. To that benign and healing hand of
    Providence I trust, in humble hope of the good which it always
    brings forth out of evil. In upwards of half a century this is the
    first instance of a Vice-President being called to act as President
    of the United States, and brings to the test that provision of the
    constitution which places in the executive chair a man never thought
    of for it by anybody.

    "Tyler deems himself qualified to perform the duties and exercise
    the powers and office of President, on the death of President
    Harrison, without any other oath than that which he has taken as
    Vice-President; yet, as doubts might arise, and for greater caution,
    he will take and subscribe the oath as President. May the blessing
    of Heaven upon this nation attend and follow this providential
    revolution in its government! For the present it is not joyous, but

    "The moral condition of this country is degenerating, and especially
    through the effect of that part of its constitution which is
    organized by the process of unceasing elections. The spirit of the
    age and country is to accumulate power in the hands of the
    multitude: to shorten terms of service in high public places; to
    multiply elections, and diminish executive power; to weaken all
    agencies protective of property, or repressive of crime; to abolish
    capital punishments and imprisonment for debt. Slavery,
    intemperance, land-jobbing, bankruptcy, and sundry controversies
    with Great Britain, constitute the materials for the history of John
    Tyler's administration. But the improvement of the condition of man
    will form no part of his policy, and the improvement of his country
    will be an object of his most inveterate and inflexible opposition."

In September, 1841, one Alexander McLeod was imprisoned at Lockport, in
the State of New York, under an indictment for murder. The following
circumstances were the occasion of these proceedings. A steamer, called
the Caroline, owned and fitted out at Buffalo, had been engaged in
aiding certain insurgents against the Canadian government with military
apparatus and provisions; and an expedition, sent by the British
authorities, had cut the Caroline out of the port of Buffalo, set her on
fire, and sent her floating over the Niagara Falls. In the fight which
occurred one of the men on board the Caroline was killed.

The excitement was general and excessive throughout the State of New
York. McLeod was the leader in this expedition, and having, after the
lapse of some time, visited that state, he was arrested, imprisoned,
indicted, and the popular voice was clamorous that he should be
_hanged_. Notwithstanding the British government had declared that he
had acted under their authority as a military man, simply obeying the
order of his superiors, a like state of feeling and purpose had
extended to Congress, and a resolution had been introduced requesting
the President to inform the House "whether any officer of the army, or
the Attorney-General, had been directed to visit the State of New York
for any purpose connected with the imprisonment or trial of Alexander
McLeod; or whether, by any executive measures, the British government
had been given to understand that McLeod would be released."

Fearing that the result of these proceedings might lead to a great and
most formidable issue of peace and war between the United States and
Great Britain, Mr. Adams took this occasion to express his views on the

    "The first question which occurs to me is," he said, "what is the
    object of this resolution, and for what purpose has the house been
    agitated with it from the commencement of the session to this day?
    The gentleman who offered it has disclaimed all party purposes; he
    breathes in a lofty atmosphere, elevated high above that of party.
    But what sort of comprehension had both the friends and the
    opponents of the resolution put upon it? No party complexion! O, no!
    No; it was patriotism--pure patriotism--patriotism pure and
    undefiled! Well; I am disposed to give gentlemen on all sides of the
    house credit for whatever patriotism they profess; but sure it is
    that patriotism is a coat of many colors, and suited to very
    different complexions; and, if it had not been for that unqualified
    profession of patriotism and no party, which had rung through this
    house, from every gentleman who had supported this resolution, I
    should have felt bound to believe it the rankest party measure that
    ever was introduced into this house.

    "What is the object of this resolution? It is to make an issue with
    Great Britain--an issue of right or wrong--upon the affair of
    burning the Caroline. No, sir; never shall my voice be for going to
    war upon that issue. I will not go to war upon an issue upon which,
    when we go to a third power to arbitrate upon it, they will say we
    are wrong. The issue will be decided against us. We shall be told it
    is not the thing for us to quarrel about.

    "I have not the time, were I possessed of the information, to give a
    history of the affair of the Caroline; and it is known as much to
    every member of the house as it is to me. We have heard a great deal
    of talk about territorial rights, and independence, and of state
    rights. But, in a question of that kind, other nations do not look
    much to your state rights nor to your independence questions. They
    will not talk of your independence; but they will say who is right,
    and who is wrong. Who struck the first blow? I take it, will be the
    main question with them. I take it that in the late affair the
    Caroline was in hostile array against the British government, and
    that the parties concerned in it were employed in acts of war
    against it; and I do not subscribe to the very learned opinion of
    the Chief Justice of the State of New York (not, I hear, the Chief
    Justice, but a Judge of the Supreme Court of that state), that there
    was no act of war committed. Nor do I subscribe to it that every
    nation goes to war only on issuing a declaration or proclamation of
    war. This is not the fact. Nations often wage war for years without
    issuing any declaration of war. The question is here not upon a
    declaration of war, but acts of war. And I say that, in the
    judgment of all impartial men of other nations, _we_ shall be held
    as a nation responsible; that the Caroline there was in a state of
    war against Great Britain; for purposes of war, and the worst kind
    of war,--to sustain an insurrection--I will not say rebellion,
    because rebellion is a crime, and because I heard them talked of as
    'patriots.' Yes; and I have heard, in the course of the discussion
    here, these patriots represented as carrying on a righteous cause,
    and that we ought to have assisted them; that we ought to have
    given them that assistance that a nation fighting for its liberty
    is entitled to from the generosity of other nations. Well, admit
    that merely for a moment. If we were bound to do it, we were bound
    to do it avowedly and above-board. But we disclaimed all intention
    of taking any part in it; and yet there was very little disguise
    about this expedition, and that this vessel was there for the
    purposes of hostility against the Canadian government. I say,
    therefore, that we struck the first blow; and if, instead of
    pressing this matter to a war, we were to refer it to a third
    power, even if it should be to a European republic,--if any such
    thing is remaining,--and should say there had been an invasion of
    our territory, they would ask us a question something like that
    which was put to a character in a play of Molière: _Que diable
    allait il faire dans cette galère?_--What the devil had we to do in
    that galley?

    "Now, I think the arbitrator would say, "What the devil had you to
    do with that steamboat?" He would say that we struck the first blow.
    Now, admit that,--and none of your state rights men can deny
    it,--admit that, and all the rest follows of course. They will say
    it was wrong--abstractly, if you please. Talking of abstractions, it
    was wrong for an expedition to come over and burn the steamboat, and
    send her over the falls. But what was your steamboat about? What had
    she been doing? What was she to do the next morning? And what ought
    you to do? You have reparation to make for all the men, and for all
    the arms and implements of war, which we were transporting, and
    going to transport, to the other side, to foment and instigate
    rebellion in Canada. That is what the third party would say to us.
    And it would come, in the end, after all the blood and treasure had
    been wasted by a war between the two countries, to this, that we
    must shake hands and drink champagne together, after having made a
    mutual apology for mutual transgression. That is the way things are
    settled between individuals,--'If you said so, why, I said so,'--and
    thus the dispute is amicably settled. So we should have to do with
    this national matter; for there is not any great difference in the
    essentials of quarrelling and making up between nations and

Mr. Adams then proceeded to another point of view in which he objected
to this resolution. He said:

    "A prodigious affair has been made of this matter, as if the
    government of the United States had outraged the State of New York,
    because the great empire State of New York had undertaken to say
    that she would _hang_ McLeod, whatever Great Britain or the general
    government might do. Yes; whatever they might do, the great empire
    State of New York would _hang_ McLeod! That was the language.

    "What, sir, I ask, is the object of this resolution? To inquire of
    the President of the United States whether any officer of the army,
    or the Attorney-General of the United States, since the 4th of March
    last, has visited the State of New York for any purpose connected
    with the trial of Alexander McLeod. What then? Has not the President
    a right to send the Attorney-General to New York on that or any
    other subject? Where is the constitutional provision prohibiting him
    from sending the Attorney-General to New York on that or any other
    of the subjects which are before the judicial courts of that state?
    Yes, the Attorney-General has been sent there, and we have his
    instructions. And I have heard here, on the part of some of my forty
    friends from New York, a great deal about the conscious dignity and
    honor of this _Empire State_ of New York. I am not very fond of
    that term 'empire state,' in the language of this Union; and I say
    that if there is an 'empire state' in the Union, it is Delaware. To
    be magniloquent, and talk about the empire state, may well become
    the forty gentlemen who represent the state on this floor, having
    reference to their own numbers, and the numbers of their
    constituents, or to the extent, fertility, and beauty, of her soil;
    yet this is a distinction not recognized in the constitution of the
    United States. They are all, as members of this Union, equal, and
    the State of Delaware has as good a right to be called the 'empire
    state' as New York. Now, if my forty friends from New York choose to
    call it the 'empire state,' I will not quarrel with them. It is only
    as to consequences that I enter my caveat against the too frequent
    use of those terms on this floor; for there is meaning in those
    words, 'empire state,' when used among co-estates, more than meets
    the ear.

    "Suppose that it was in Delaware that such an event had occurred; do
    you suppose my friend here (Mr. Rodney) from Delaware would have
    offered such a resolution as this? And, by the terms of the
    resolution, I should presume my friends from New York think there is
    a little more dignity and power in forty representatives than only

In September, 1841, a plan for a newly-invented Commonplace Book, as an
improvement upon Locke's, was brought to Mr. Adams for his
recommendatory notice; which he declined, from a general rule he had
adopted on the subject, but said he thought it might be very useful, if
a practical system of such a manual could be simplified to the intellect
and industry of common minds, which he doubted. "I had occupied and
amused a long life," said he, "in the search of such a compendious
wisdom-box, but without being able to find or make it. I had made myself
more than one of Locke's Commonplace Books, but never used any one of
them. I had learnt and practised Byrom's Shorthand Writing, but no one
could read it but myself. I had kept accounts by double
entry,--day-book, journal, and ledger, with cash-book, bank-book,
house-book, and letter-book. I had made extracts, copies, translations,
and quotations, more perhaps than other man living, without ever being
able to pack up my knowledge or my labors in any methodical order; and
now doubt whether I might not have employed my time more profitably in
some one great, well-compacted, comprehensive pursuit, adapting every
hour of labor to the attainment of some great end."

In December, 1841, Mr. Adams delivered before the Massachusetts
Historical Society a lecture on the war then existing between Great
Britain and China. The principles stated and maintained in that lecture
were so much in advance of the opinions entertained at the time, that
it is believed to have been published in but a single newspaper in this
country or in Europe, and never in a pamphlet form, except by the
proprietors of the _Chinese Repository_, published in Macao, China, in
May, 1842. Though his views were ridiculed or repudiated by many when
delivered, they are at this day acknowledged; and are made some of the
chief grounds of the justification of that invasion of the Chinese
empire now apparently in successful progress. The subject is of
preëminent importance, and is canvassed with that laborious research
and independence eminently characteristic of the author.

In this lecture, after controverting the doctrine of an eminent French
writer, who contended that there was no such thing as international law,
and that the word law is not applicable to the obligations incumbent
upon nations, on the ground that law is a rule of conduct prescribed by
a superior; and that nations, being independent, acknowledge no
superior, and have no common sovereign from whom they can receive
law,--Mr. Adams proceeds to maintain that "by the law of nations is to
be understood, not one code of laws, binding alike on all the nations of
the earth, but a system of rules varying according to the character and
condition of the parties concerned." There is a law of nations, among
Christian communities, which is the law recognized by the constitution
of the United States as obligatory upon them in their intercourse with
European states and colonies. But we have a different law of nations
regulating our intercourse with the Indian tribes on this continent;
another, between us and the woolly-headed natives of Africa; another,
with the Barbary powers; another, with the flowery land, or Celestial
empire. This last is the nation with which Great Britain is now at war.
Then, reasoning on the rights of property, established by labor, by
occupancy, and by compact, he maintains that the right of exchange,
barter,--in other words, of commerce,--necessarily follows; that a state
of nature among men is a state of peace; the pursuit of happiness man's
natural right; that it is the duty of men to contribute as much as is in
their power to one another's happiness, and that there is no other way
by which they can so well contribute to the comfort and well-being of
one another as by commerce, or the mutual exchange of equivalents. These
views and principles he thus illustrates:

    "The duty of commercial intercourse between nations is laid down in
    terms sufficiently positive by Vattel, but he afterwards qualifies
    it by a restriction, which, unless itself restricted, annuls it
    altogether. He says that, although the general duty of commercial
    intercourse is incumbent upon nations, yet every nation may exclude
    any particular branch or article of trade which it may deem
    injurious to its own interest. This cannot be denied. But, then, a
    nation may multiply these particular exclusions, until they become
    general, and equivalent to a total interdict of commerce; and this,
    time out of mind, has been the inflexible policy of the Chinese
    empire. So says Vattel, without affixing any note of censure upon
    it. Yet it is manifestly incompatible with the position which he had
    previously laid down, that commercial intercourse between nations is
    a moral obligation incumbent upon them all.

    "The empire of China is said to extend over three hundred millions
    of human beings. It is said to cover a space of seven millions of
    square miles--about four times larger than the surface of these
    United States. The people are not Christians, nor can a Christian
    nation appeal to the principles of a common faith to settle the
    question of right and wrong between them. The moral obligation of
    commercial intercourse between nations is founded entirely and
    exclusively upon the Christian precept to love your neighbor as
    yourself. With this principle, you cannot refuse commercial
    intercourse with your neighbor, because, commerce consisting of a
    voluntary exchange of property mutually beneficial to both parties,
    excites in both the selfish and the social propensities, and enables
    each of the parties to promote the happiness of his neighbors by the
    same act whereby he provides for his own. But, China not being a
    Christian nation, its inhabitants do not consider themselves bound
    by the Christian precept to love their neighbors as themselves. The
    right of commercial intercourse with them reverts not to the
    execrable principle of Hobbes, that the state of nature is a state
    of war, where every one has a right to buy, but no one is obliged to
    sell. Commerce becomes altogether a matter of convention. The right
    of each party is only to propose; that of the other is to accept or
    refuse, and to his result he may be guided exclusively by the
    consideration of his own interest, without regard to the interests,
    the wishes, or other wants, of his neighbor.

    "This is a churlish and unsocial system; and I take occasion here to
    say that whoever examines the Christian system of morals with a
    philosophical spirit, setting aside all the external and historical
    evidences of its truth, will find all its precepts tending to exalt
    the nature of the animal man; all its purpose to be peace on earth
    and good will towards men. Ask the atheist, the deist, the Chinese,
    and they will tell you that the foundation of their system of morals
    is selfish enjoyment. Ask the philosophers of the Grecian
    schools,--Epicurus, Socrates, Zeno, Plato, Lucretius, Cicero,
    Seneca,--and you will find them discoursing upon the Supreme Good.
    They will tell you it is pleasure, ease, temperance, prudence,
    fortitude, justice: not one of them will whisper the name of love,
    unless in its gross and physical sense, as an instrument of
    pleasure; not one of them will tell you that the source of all moral
    relation between you and the rest of mankind is to love your
    neighbor as yourself--to do unto him as you would that he should do
    unto you.

    "The Chinese recognize no such law. Their internal government is a
    hereditary patriarchical despotism, and their own exclusive interest
    is the measure of all their relations with the rest of mankind.
    Their own government is founded upon the principle that as a nation
    they are superior to the rest of mankind. They believe themselves
    and their country especially privileged over all others; that their
    dominion is the celestial empire, and their territory the flowery

    "The fundamental principle of the Chinese empire is anti-commercial.
    It is founded entirely upon the second and third of Vattel's general
    principles, to the total exclusion of the first. It admits no
    obligation to hold commercial intercourse with others. It utterly
    denies the equality of other nations with itself, and even their
    independence. It holds itself to be the centre of the terraqueous
    globe,--equal to the heavenly host,--and all other nations with whom
    it has any relations, political or commercial, as outside tributary
    barbarians, reverently submissive to the will of its despotic chief.
    It is upon this principle, openly avowed and inflexibly maintained,
    that the principal maritime nations of Europe for several centuries,
    and the United States of America from the time of their acknowledged
    independence, have been content to hold commercial intercourse with
    the empire of China.

    "It is time that this enormous outrage upon the rights of human
    nature, and upon the first principle of the rights of nations,
    should cease. These principles of the Chinese empire, too long
    connived at and truckled to by the mightiest Christian nations of
    the civilized world, have at length been brought into conflict with
    the principles and the power of the British empire; and I cannot
    forbear to express the hope that Britain, after taking the lead in
    the abolition of the African slave-trade and of slavery, and of the
    still more degrading tribute to the Barbary African Mahometans, will
    extend her liberating arm to the furthest bound of Asia, and at the
    close of the present contest insist upon concluding the peace upon
    terms of perfect equality with the Chinese empire, and that the
    future commerce shall be carried on upon terms of equality and
    reciprocity between the two communities parties to the trade, for
    the benefit of both; each retaining the right of prohibition and of
    regulation, to interdict any article or branch of trade injurious to
    itself, as for example the article of opium, and to secure itself
    against the practices of fraudulent traders and smugglers. This is
    the truth, and I apprehend the only question at issue between the
    governments and nations of Great Britain and China. It is a general,
    but I believe altogether a mistaken opinion, that the quarrel is
    merely for certain chests of opium, imported by British merchants
    into China, and seized by the Chinese government for having been
    imported contrary to law. This is a mere incident to the dispute,
    but no more the cause of war than the throwing overboard of the tea
    in Boston harbor was the cause of the North American Revolution.

    "The cause of the war is the pretension on the part of the Chinese
    that in all their intercourse with other nations, political or
    commercial, their superiority must be implicitly acknowledged, and
    manifested in humiliating forms. It is not creditable to the great,
    powerful, and enlightened nations of Europe, that for several
    centuries they have, for the sake of a profitable trade, submitted
    to these insolent and insulting pretensions, equally contrary to the
    first principles of the law of nature and of revealed religion--the
    natural equality of mankind--

        "'_Auri sacra fames, quid non mortalia pectora cogis?_'

    "This submission to insult is the more extraordinary for being
    practised by Christian nations, which, in their intercourse with one
    another, push the principle of equality and reciprocity to the
    minutest punctilios of form."

This lecture concludes with a sketch of the treatment of Lord Macartney
by the Chinese emperor, in 1792, when sent to that court as ambassador
from Great Britain, illustrating and supporting its general argument.
The remarks of Mr. Adams upon the distinction with a very small
difference between "the bended knee" and "entire prostration," as a
token of homage,--admitted as to the first, denied as to the last, by
the British ambassador,--are characteristic.

    "The narrative of Sir George Staunton distinctly and positively
    affirms that Lord Macartney was admitted to the presence of the
    Emperor Kienlung, and presented to him his credentials, without
    performing the prostration of the Kotow--the Chinese act of homage
    from the vassal to the sovereign lord. Ceremonies between superiors
    and inferiors are the personification of principles. Nearly
    twenty-five years after the repulse of Lord Macartney, in 1816,
    another splendid embassy was despatched by the British government,
    in the person of Lord Amherst, who was much more rudely dismissed,
    without even being admitted to the presence of the emperor, or
    passing a single hour at Pekin. A Dutch embassy instituted shortly
    after the failure of that of Lord Macartney, fared no better,
    although the ambassador submitted with a good grace to the
    prostration of the Kotow. A philosophical republican may smile at
    the distinction by which a British nobleman saw no objection to
    delivering his credentials on the bended knee, but could not bring
    his stomach to the attitude of entire prostration. In the discussion
    which arose between Lord Amherst and the celestials on this
    question, the Chinese, to a man, insisted inflexibly that Lord
    Macartney had performed the Kotow; and Kiaking, the successor of
    Kienlung, who had been present at the reception of Lord Macartney,
    personally pledged himself that he had seen his lordship in that
    attitude. Against the testimony to the fact of the imperial witness
    in person, it may well be conjectured how impossible it was for the
    British noble to maintain his position, which was, after all, of
    small moment. The bended knee, no less than the full prostration to
    the ground, is a symbol of homage from an inferior to a superior,
    and if not equally humiliating to the performer, it is only because
    he has been made familiar by practice with one, and not with the
    other. In Europe, the bended knee is exclusively appropriated to the
    relations of sovereign and subject; and no representative of any
    sovereign in Christendom ever bends his knee in presenting his
    credentials to another. But the personal prostration of the
    ambassador before the emperor was, in the Chinese principle of
    exaction, symbolical not only of the acknowledgment of subjection,
    but of the fundamental law of the empire prohibiting all official
    intercourse upon a footing of equality between the government of
    China and the government of any other nation. All are included under
    the general denomination of outside barbarians: and the commercial
    intercourse with the maritime or navigating nations is maintained
    through the exclusive monopoly of the Hong merchants."

At the opening of the session of Congress, on the 3d of December, 1841,
Mr. Adams thus wrote concerning his own course and the country's

    "Between the obligation to discharge my duty to the country and the
    obvious impossibility of accomplishing anything for the improvement
    of its condition by legislation, my deliberate judgment warns me to
    a systematic adherence to inaction upon all the controverted topics
    which cannot fail to be brought into debate. Upon the rule-question
    (that is, refusing to receive or refer petitions on the subject of
    slavery) I cannot be silent, but shall be left alone, as heretofore.
    I await the opening of the session with great anxiety; more from an
    apprehension of my own imprudence than from a belief that the
    fortunes of the country will be much affected, for good or evil, by
    anything that will be done. There is neither spotless integrity nor
    consummate ability at the helm of the ship, and she will be more
    than ever the sport of winds and waves, drifting between breakers
    and quicksands. May the wise and good Disposer send her home in

On the 24th of January, 1842, Mr. Adams presented the petition of
forty-five citizens of Haverhill, Massachusetts, praying that Congress
would immediately take measures peaceably to dissolve the Union of these
States. 1st. Because no Union can be agreeable which does not present
prospects of reciprocal benefits. 2d. Because a vast proportion of the
resources of one section of the Union is annually drained to sustain the
views and course of another section, without any adequate return. 3d.
Because, judging from the history of past nations, that Union, if
persisted in, in the present course of things, will certainly overwhelm
the whole nation in utter destruction. Mr. Adams moved that the petition
be referred to a select committee, with instructions to report an answer
showing the reasons why the prayer of it ought not to be granted.

The excitement the presentation of this petition produced was immediate
and intense. Mr. Hopkins, of Virginia, moved to burn it in presence of
the house. Mr. Wise, of the same state, asked the speaker if it was in
order to move to censure any member for presenting such a petition. Mr.
Gilmer, also of Virginia, moved a resolution, that Mr. Adams, for
presenting such a petition, had justly incurred the censure of the
house. Mr. Adams said that he hoped the resolution would be received and
discussed. A desultory debate ensued, and was continued until the house
adjourned. A caucus was immediately held by the opponents of Mr. Adams
among the representatives from the South and West, to take measures to
effect his expulsion. It was feared that the two thirds vote requisite
to expel a member could not be obtained. Three resolutions were
therefore prepared, the adoption of which it was deemed would in popular
effect be equivalent to an expulsion. Thomas F. Marshall, of Kentucky,
consented to present them the next day. The consideration of these
resolutions, which continued until the 5th of February, produced a
series of as violent and personal debates as perhaps the halls of
Congress ever witnessed. They were in these words:

    "WHEREAS, The federal constitution is a permanent form of
    government, and of perpetual obligation, until altered or modified
    in the mode pointed out in that instrument; and the members of this
    House, deriving their political character and powers from the same,
    are sworn to support it; and the dissolution of the Union
    necessarily implies the destruction of that instrument, the
    overthrow of the American republic, and the extinction of our
    national existence: a proposition, therefore, to the representatives
    of the people, to dissolve the organic laws framed by their
    constituents, and to support which they are commanded by those
    constituents to be sworn before they can enter into the execution of
    the political powers created by it and intrusted to them, is a high
    breach of privilege, a contempt offered to this House, a direct
    proposition to the legislature and each member of it to commit
    perjury, and involving necessarily in its execution and its
    consequences the destruction of our country, and the crime of high

    "_Resolved, therefore_, That the Honorable John Quincy Adams,
    member from Massachusetts, in presenting for the consideration of
    the House of Representatives of the United States a petition praying
    for the dissolution of the Union, has offered the deepest indignity
    to the House of which he is a member, an insult to the people of the
    United States, of which that House is the legislative organ; and
    will, if this outrage be permitted to pass unrebuked and unpunished,
    have disgraced his country, through their representatives, in the
    eyes of the whole world.

    "_Resolved, further_, That the aforesaid John Quincy Adams, for
    this insult, the first of the kind ever offered to the government,
    and for the wound which he has permitted to be aimed, through his
    instrumentality, at the constitution and existence of his country,
    the peace, the security, and liberty of the people of these States,
    might well be held to merit expulsion from the national councils;
    and the House deem it an act of grace and mercy when they only
    inflict upon him their severest censure for conduct so utterly
    unworthy of his past relations to the state, and his present
    position. This they hereby do, for the maintenance of their own
    purity and dignity. For the rest, they turn him over to his own
    conscience, and the indignation of all true American citizens."

The scene which occurred, on their presentation, is thus graphically
described in the newspapers of the day:

    "On the 25th of January, the whole body of Southerners came into the
    House, apparently resolved to crush Mr. Adams and his cause forever.
    They gathered in groups, conversed in deep whispers, and the whole
    aspect of their conduct at twelve o'clock indicated a conspiracy
    portending a revolution. Thomas F. Marshall, of Kentucky, rose, and,
    having asked and received of Mr. Gilmer leave to offer a substitute
    for his resolution of censure which was pending at the adjournment,
    presented the three prepared resolutions. He assumed a manner and
    tone as if he felt the historical importance of his position; spoke
    with great coolness and solemnity,--a style wholly unusual with him;
    assumed a solemn, magisterial air, and judicial elevation, as if he
    thought, in the insolence of his conceit, that he was about to pour
    down the thunder of condemnation on the venerable object of his
    attack, as a judge pronouncing sentence on a convicted culprit, in
    the sight of approving men and angels. Warming somewhat with the
    silent, imposing attention of the vast audience before whom he
    spoke, he expanded into an inflated exhibition of his own past
    relations to the object of his attack, and thus represented himself
    eminently qualified to act the part he had assumed of prosecutor,
    judge, and executioner. When he finished, the speaker announced to
    Mr. Adams that his position entitled him to the floor, bringing up
    to the imagination a parallel scene: 'Then Agrippa said unto Paul,
    Thou art permitted to speak for thyself.'

    "Up rose, then, that bald, gray old man, his hands trembling with
    constitutional infirmity and age, upon whose consecrated head the
    vials of tyrannic wrath had been outpoured. Among the crowd of
    slaveholders who filled the galleries he could seek no friends, and
    but a few among those immediately around him. Unexcited, he raised
    his voice, high-keyed, as was usual with him, but clear,
    untremulous, and firm. In a moment his infirmities disappeared,
    although his shaking hand could not but be noticed: trembling not
    with fear, but with age. At first there was nothing of indignation
    in his tone, manner, or words. Surprise and cold contempt were all.
    But anon a flash of withering scorn struck the unhappy Marshall. A
    single breath blew all his mock-judicial array into air and smoke.
    In a tone of insulted majesty and reinvigorated spirit, Mr. Adams
    then said, in reply to the audacious, atrocious charge of 'high
    treason:' 'I call for the reading of the first paragraph of the
    Declaration of Independence. Read it! read it! and see what that
    says of the right of a people to reform, to change, and to dissolve
    their government.'

    "The look, the tone, the gesture, of the insulted patriot, at that
    instant were most imposing. The voice was that of sovereign command.
    The burthen of seventy-five winters rolled off, and he rose above
    the puny things around him, who thought themselves his equals, from
    being his associates.

    "When the passage of the Declaration was read that solemnly
    proclaims the right of reform, revolution, and resistance to
    oppression, the old man thundered out, '_Read that again!_' and
    he looked proudly round on the listening audience, as he heard his
    triumphant vindication sounded forth in the glorious sentences of
    the revolutionary Magna Charta.

    "The sympathetic revulsion of feeling was intense, though voiceless.
    Every drop of free, honest blood in that vast assemblage bounded
    with high impulse, every fibre thrilled with excitement.

    "A strong exhibition of the facts in the case, mostly in cold, calm,
    logical, measured sentences, concluded the high appeal of Mr. Adams,
    from the slaveholders of the present generation to the Father of
    that system of revolutionary liberty with which he is the coëval and
    the noblest champion. And then he sat down vindicated, victorious."

Apart from the excited interest of friends, the malign aspersions of
political enemies, and his own indignant response to the hollow tirade
of his assailants, his defence, reduced to its elements, was simply
this: that the petition was sent to him for presentation; that it was a
subject for which the signers of it had a constitutional right to
petition, and that in presenting it he had proposed that the committee
should be instructed to report reasons why it ought not to be granted.
He said that he should not enter further into his self-defence at that
time, but should wait to see the action of the house upon those
resolutions. But whenever the proper time for his defence should come,
he pledged himself to show that "a portion of the country from which the
assailants came was endeavoring to destroy the right of habeas corpus,
and of trial by jury, and all the rights in which the liberties of the
country consist;"--"that there was in that portion of country a
systematic attempt even to carry it to the dissolution of the Union,
with a continual system and purpose to destroy all the principles of
civil liberty among the free states, and by power to force the detested
principles of slavery on the free States of this Union;" a pledge which
in the course of his subsequent argument he fully redeemed.

The last of January, Mr. Adams thus expressed himself concerning these
proceedings: "My occupations during the month have been confined
entirely to the business of the house, and for the last ten days to the
defence of myself against an extensive combination and conspiracy, in
and out of Congress, to crush the liberties of the free people of this
Union, by disgracing me with the brand of censure, and displacing me
from the chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, for my perseverance
in presenting abolition petitions. I am in the midst of that fiery
ordeal, and day and night absorbed in the struggle against this attempt
at my ruin. God send me a good deliverance!"

Intemperate debates, with violence undiminished, succeeded, in which all
the topics of party censure, from the adoption of the constitution, were
collected and heaped upon Mr. Adams by Marshall, Wise, Gilmer, and

On the 3d of February Mr. Adams took the floor, and spoke for two hours
in his own defence, with an eloquence and effect to which no description
can do justice. He touched the low underplot of the Committee on Foreign
Affairs with pointed severity and bitter truth, and then gave amusing
particulars of missives he had received from the South threatening him
with assassination. Among other kindly hints sent through the
post-office was a colored lithograph portrait of himself, with the
picturesque annotation of a rifle-ball on the forehead, and a promise
that such a remedy "would stop his music." He alluded to these
communications with perfect good nature, some of them being identical
with words used towards him by Mr. Gilmer. A further account of them
will be given from the correspondent of the newspapers of the day.[1]

      [1] See the _Boston Courier_ and _New York American_ of the

    "Among the many strange impressions of these singular scenes,
    nothing is more striking than the total, disgraceful ignorance
    which prevails as to who John Quincy Adams _is_. That he has been
    President of the United States, and had previously borne high
    offices, seems occasionally to be vaguely remembered by a few of
    the most intelligent of his persecutors. But of the part which he
    has borne for half a century in the history of America and of the
    world they know no more than they do of the Vedas and Puránas.

    "The thread of this great discourse was his present and past
    relations to Virginia and Virginians. After gratefully acknowledging
    his infinite obligations to the great Virginians of the first age of
    the federal republic, he modestly and unpretendingly recounted the
    unsought exalted honors heaped upon him by Washington, Madison, and
    Monroe, and detailed with touching simplicity and force some of his
    leading actions in the discharge of those weighty trusts. As he went
    back through the historic vista of patriotic achievements, he seemed
    to renew his youth like the eagles, and rose into a still loftier
    and bolder strain than in the withering retort with which he struck
    down Wise and Marshall. In passing over the preliminaries of his
    discourse, he chanced to fix his eye on the latter, who was moving
    down one of the side aisles. Instantly, at the suggestion of the
    moment, he burst forth into a beautiful appeal to the hallowed
    memory of the venerated and immaculate Virginian who once bore the
    name of Marshall through a long career of judicial honor and
    usefulness. The general interest in this appeal to the past was
    impressive. The members of the house drew together around him; even
    his persecutors paid an involuntary tribute to 'the old man

    "Lord Morpeth was an attentive spectator and auditor of these scenes
    of turbulence; and it was interesting to see a British statesman
    looking up to learn from such a source the unwritten history of his
    own country, as well as of Europe. For such it was, when Mr. Adams
    gave the history of the movements at the court of the Emperor
    Alexander, and his connection with them, which resulted in the
    Russo-British alliance and in the overthrow of Napoleon. The
    early-chosen favorite of Washington, the trusted counsellor of
    Jefferson, the much-honored agent of Madison, the guide and chief
    support of Monroe, the restorer of the purity of the Washingtonian
    epoch to the Presidential chair, and for the last ten years the bold
    champion of universal liberty, stood there baited by absurd charges
    of perjury and treason, by insignificant beings of yesterday.

    "The monument of a past age, a beacon to the present, a landmark to
    the future, he towered above the little things around him. The
    beautiful poetic appeal to Virginia, with which he concluded, caused
    a thrill of delighted admiration in the whole assembly. The
    emphasis, the pathetic intonation, touched every heart. The triumph
    of Mr. Adams was complete."

On the eleventh day of this debate, Mr. Adams, in opening his defence,
said that he had been charged by his assailant with consuming an
unreasonable portion of the time of the house with his own affairs; but
he thought that six days could not be deemed an extravagant requirement
for the defence of a man situated as he was, when a great portion of
that period had been consumed by his assailants, their associates, and
others. He did not desire to be responsible for any unnecessary
consumption of the hours of debate. He wished, indeed, to state the
whole affair; and, to accomplish this, he should require a great deal
more time. He had laid out a great platform for his defence, if he was
forced to continue it; but he was willing to forego it all, provided it
could be done without sacrificing his rights, the rights of his
constituents, and those of the petitioners. He then stated that if any
gentleman would make a motion to lay the whole subject on the table, he
would forbear to proceed any further with his defence. This motion was
immediately made by Mr. Botts, of Virginia, and the house decided in
its favor, by a vote of _one hundred and six_ to _ninety-three_. The
petition from Haverhill was then taken up and refused to be received;
one hundred and sixty-six in the affirmative to forty in the negative.

On the 12th of April, 1842, Mr. Adams, as chairman of the committee on
the Smithsonian fund, made a report in the form of a bill, the object of
which was to settle three fundamental principles for the administration
and management of the fund in all after time. The bill provided, First,
that the principal fund should be preserved and maintained unimpaired,
with an income secured upon it at the rate of six per cent. a year, from
which all appropriations for the purposes of the founder should be made.
Second, that the portions of the income already accrued and invested in
state stocks should be constituted funds, from the annual income of
which an astronomical observer, with suitable assistants, should be
supported. Third, that in the future management of this fund no part of
it should be applied to any institution of education, or religious

To the persevering spirit with which Mr. Adams on every occasion urged
upon Congress and the people of the United States the observance of
those fundamental principles which he had first asserted and which he
afterwards uninterruptedly maintained, notwithstanding a local and
interested opposition to them, may be justly attributed the preservation
of that fund, and its subsequent application to the objects of the
founder's bequest, although in his prevailing desire that an
astronomical observatory should be one of them, he did not succeed.
Connected with this report, all the previous proceedings in relation to
it were again published, for the information of Congress and the public.

On the 14th of the same month, a bill making appropriations for the
civil and diplomatic expenses of government being under consideration,
Mr. Linn, of New York, moved to strike out so much of it as related to a
minister to Mexico, expressing his belief that the object of this
mission was to bring about the annexation of Texas. A debate ensued,
which was desultory and declamatory on the part of those advocating the
appropriation. Mr. Wise, of Virginia, said that the tyrant of Mexico was
now at war with Texas; that he threatened to invade her territory, and
never stop until he had driven slavery beyond the Sabine; and that the
gentlemen opposed to the mission would let him loose his servile horde,
and yet send no minister to remonstrate or to threaten. Our citizens had
claims on that government to the amount of twelve or thirteen millions.
Ten or a dozen of our citizens--of our own native citizens--were in
degrading bondage in the mines of Mexico, or sweeping its streets; and
yet a minister to Mexico was opposed because the President and a party
in this country wished to annex Texas to the Union. It was not only the
duty of this government to demand the liquidation of our claims and the
liberation of our citizens, but to go further, and demand the
non-invasion of Texas. We should at once say to Mexico, "If you strike
Texas, you strike us." And if England, standing by, should dare to
intermeddle and ask, "Do you take part with Texas?" his prompt answer
would be, "Yes, and against you."

Mr. Ingersoll, of Pennsylvania, followed on the same side, maintaining
that Texas ought to be annexed to the Union, even at the risk of a war
with Great Britain. He said that he was a man of peace, and was not
insensible to the evils of war, but he contended that they were greatly
exaggerated. He wished the British minister to understand that war would
not do us so much harm as it would his own country. In the first place,
if we chose to apply the principles of war, it paid all the state debts
at once,--two hundred millions of dollars. At all events, it suspended
the interest during the war. We had a sufficient population, the
capacity of drilling that population, and all the materials for war.
There were two vessels now within the sound of his voice to which there
was nothing in a British or French navy to be compared. Our lakes were
covered with transporting steamboats, which could easily be made
effective for harbor defence. We lived in a republican country, in an
armed nation; and he would rather take this nation as it was than the
most completely armed nation in the world. Having proceeded at great
length in this strain, stating various particulars, some of which may be
gathered from Mr. Adams' reply, he concluded by challenging opposition
to the opinion that there was no right of search in time of war, and
that such a claim was a monstrosity. The greatest question in the world,
which now agitated nearly all Christendom, was this mixed question of
the slave-trade and the right of visit and search. To statements and
arguments of this force and nature Mr. Adams made a scrutinizing and
unanswerable reply, of which the following extract will sufficiently
exhibit the power and quality.

    "The gentleman from Pennsylvania began by saying that he was for
    peace--for universal peace. Then followed a most learned
    dissertation to prove that it was an entire mistake to suppose that
    we are not now prepared for war; and to demonstrate that a nation
    which goes into a war unprepared will infallibly conquer; that it
    must be so; that every unarmed and unprepared nation always had
    conquered its armed opposers. No; we are not unprepared for
    war,--not at all,--because we have in sight of the windows of this
    capitol two armed steamers; one of them, as I am informed, nearly
    disabled, so that she will need, in a great measure, to be rebuilt,
    leaving for our use, in case of immediate hostilities, one entire
    steamer, and with that we are to burn London; and though the
    gentleman readily admitted that it was possible, nay, very probable,
    that New York would be burnt too, yet, as London was four or five
    times as large, we should have a great balance of burning on our
    side. Yes; we were to conquer Great Britain and burn London, and we
    were told that it would be a very cheap price for all this to have
    the city of New York burnt in turn, or burnt first. And this was an
    argument _for peace_!

    "What else did the gentlemen say? What else did he not say? He made
    a great argument and a valorous display of zeal in relation to the
    right of search. O, that--that was a point never to be conceded--no,
    never. He maintained that there is no such thing as a right of
    search--no such right in time of war, none in time of peace. Well, I
    do agree with the gentleman partially on that one point, so far as
    to believe that there is no need of our coming to an issue with
    Great Britain there, and we have not as yet. After reading, as I
    have done, and carefully examining the papers put forth on both
    sides, I asked myself, What is the question between us? And I have
    heard men of the first intelligence say that they found themselves
    in the very same situation. The gentleman has made a total
    misrepresentation of the demand of Great Britain in the matter. She
    has never claimed the right to search American vessels--no such
    thing. On the contrary, she has explicitly disclaimed any such
    pretension, and that to the whole extent we can possibly demand.
    What is it we do demand? Not that Great Britain should disclaim the
    right to search American vessels, but we deny her the right to board
    pirates who hoist the American flag. Yes; and to search British
    vessels, too, that have been declared to be pirates by the laws of
    nations, pirates by the laws of Great Britain, pirates by the laws
    of the United States. That is the demand of our late minister to
    London, whose letters are so much admired by the gentleman from
    Pennsylvania. Now, it happens that behind all this exceeding great
    zeal against the right of search is a question which the gentleman
    took care not to bring into view, and that is the support and
    perpetuation of the African slave-trade. That is the real question
    between the ministers of America and Great Britain: whether
    slave-traders, pirates, by merely hoisting the American flag, shall
    be saved from capture.

    "I say there is no such thing as an exemption from the right of
    search by the laws of nations, and I challenge and defy the
    gentleman to produce the proof. The right of search in time of war
    we have never pretended to deny. Nay, we ourselves exercised that
    right during the last war. And the Supreme Court of the United
    States, in their decisions of prize cases brought before them,
    sustained us in doing so, and said it was lawful according to the
    laws of nations. And, indeed, we should have had a very poor chance
    in a war with Great Britain, without it.

    "But what is the right of search in time of peace? And how has
    Congress felt, and how has the American government acted, on this
    point? I have some knowledge on this subject. In the year 1817, when
    I was about to return from England to the United States, Mr.
    Wilberforce, then a member of the British Parliament, very
    celebrated for his long and persevering exertions to suppress the
    African slave-trade, wrote me a note requesting an interview. I
    acceded promptly to his request; and in conversation he stated to me
    that the British government had found that without a mutual right of
    search between this country and that, upon the coast of Africa, it
    would be impossible to carry through the system she had formed in
    connection with the United States for the suppression of that
    infamous traffic. I had then just signed with my own hand a treaty
    declaring 'the traffic in slaves (not the African slave-trade, but
    THE TRAFFIC IN SLAVES) unjust and inhuman,' and in which
    both nations engaged to do all in their power to suppress it. Mr.
    Wilberforce inquired of me whether I thought that a proposal for a
    mutual, restricted, qualified right of search would be acceptable to
    the American government. I had at that time a feeling to the full as
    strong against the right of search, as it had then been exercised by
    British cruisers, as ever the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr.
    Ingersoll) had, in all his life. I had been myself somewhat involved
    in the question as a public man. It constituted one of the grounds
    of my unfortunate difference from those with whom I had long been
    politically associated; and it was for the exertions I had made
    against the admission of that right that I forfeited my place in the
    other end of the capitol, and, which was infinitely more painful to
    me, for this I had differed with men long dear to me, and to whom I
    had also been dear, insomuch that for a time it interrupted all
    friendly relations between us.

    "The first thing I said, in reply to Mr. Wilberforce, was: 'No; you
    may as well save yourselves the trouble of making any proposals on
    that subject; my countrymen, I am very sure, will never assent to
    any such arrangement.' He then entered into an argument, the full
    force of which I felt, when I said to him, 'You may, if you think
    proper, make the proposal; but I think some other mode of getting
    over the difficulty must be resorted to; for the prejudices of my
    country are so immovably strong on that point, that I do not believe
    they will ever assent.'

    "I returned home, and, under the administration of Mr. Monroe, I
    filled the office of Secretary of State; and in that capacity I was
    the medium through which the proposal of the British government was
    afterwards made to the United States to arrange a special right of
    search for the suppression of the slave-trade. This proposition I
    resisted and opposed in the cabinet with all my power. And I will
    say that, although I was not myself a slaveholder, I had to resist
    all the slaveholding members of the cabinet, and the President also.
    Mr. Monroe himself was always strongly inclined in favor of the
    proposition, and I maintained the opposite ground against him and
    the whole body of his official advisers as long as I could.

    "At that time there was in Congress, and especially in the House, a
    spirit of concession, which I could not resist. From the year 1818
    to the year 1823, not a session passed without some movement on this
    point, and some proposition made to request the President to
    negotiate for the mutual concession of this right of search. I
    resisted it to the utmost; and so earnest did the matter become,
    that, on one occasion, at an evening party in the President's house,
    in a conversation between myself and a distinguished gentleman of
    Virginia,--a principal leader of this movement, now living, but not
    now a member of this house,--words became so warm that what I said
    was afterwards alluded to by another gentleman of Virginia, in an
    address to his constituents, against my election as President of the
    United States. It was made an objection against me that I was an
    enemy to the suppression of the slave-trade. That address and my
    reply to it are in existence, and the latter in the hands of a
    gentleman of Virginia now in this house, and who can correct me if I
    do not state the matter correctly. The address was written, and
    would have been published, with an allusion to what I had said in
    the conversation (which the writer heard, although it was not
    addressed to him), but the gentleman with whom I was conversing went
    to him, and told him that if he did refer in print to that private
    conversation, he would never speak to him; and so it was suppressed.
    I state these facts, sir, that I may set myself right on this
    question of the right of search.

    "At that time a gentleman, who was the leader of one of the parties
    in this house, had endeavored from year to year to prevail with the
    house to require of the President a concession of the right asked.
    I name him to honor him; for he was one of the most talented,
    laborious, eloquent, and useful men upon this floor. I allude to
    Charles Fenton Mercer, of Virginia. Session after session, he
    brought forward his resolution; and he continued to press it,
    until, finally, in 1823, he brought the house by yeas and nays to
    vote their assent to it; and, strange to say, there were but nine
    votes against it. The same thing took place in the other house. The
    joint resolution went to the President, and he accordingly entered
    into the negotiation. It was utterly against my judgment and
    wishes; but I was obliged to submit, and I prepared the requisite
    despatches to Mr. Rush, then our minister at the court of London.
    When he made his proposal to Mr. Canning, Mr. Canning's reply was,
    'Draw up your convention, and I will sign it.' Mr. Rush did so, and
    Mr. Canning, without the slightest alteration whatever,--without
    varying the dot of an _i_, or the crossing of a _t_,--did affix to
    it his signature; thus assenting to our own terms in our own

    "The convention came back here for ratification; but, in the mean
    time, another spirit came over the feelings of this house, as well
    as of the Senate. A party had been formed against the administration
    of Mr. Monroe; the course of the administration was no longer
    favored, and the house came out in opposition to a convention drawn
    in conformity to its own previous views.

    "But now, as I do not wish to intrude on the attention of this
    committee a single moment longer than is necessary, I will pass over
    the rest of what I might say on this subject, and recur, in a few
    observations, to the other war-trumpet which we have heard within
    the last two days.

    "They unite in one purpose, though they seem to be pursuing it by
    different means. The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wise), confining
    his observations to our relations with Mexico, also urges us to war
    with the same professions of a disposition for peace as were so
    often repeated by the gentleman from Pennsylvania in regard to Great
    Britain. He does not immediately connect the questions of war with
    Mexico and war with Great Britain, but apparently knows and feels
    that they are in substance and in fact but one and the same
    question; and that, so surely as we rush into a war with Mexico, we
    shall shortly find ourselves in a war with England. The gentleman
    appeared entirely conscious of that; and I hope that no member of
    this committee will come to the conclusion that it is possible for
    us to have a war with Mexico without at the same time going to war
    with Great Britain. On that subject I will venture to say that the
    minister from England has no instructions. That is not one of the
    five points on which the gentleman from Pennsylvania tells us our
    controversy with England rests, and the surrendering of which is to
    open to that minister so easy a road to an earldom. The war with
    Mexico is to be produced by different means, and for different
    purposes. I think the gentleman from Virginia, in his speech, rested
    the question of the war with Mexico upon three grounds: 1st, That
    our citizens had claims against the Mexican government to the amount
    of ten or twelve millions; 2d, That some ten or twelve of our
    citizens had been treated with great severity, and suffered disgrace
    and abuse from the Mexican government, having been made slaves, and
    compelled to work at cleansing the streets; that these citizens were
    detained in servitude, while one British subject had been promptly
    released on the first demand of the British minister there; and, 3d,
    That a war with Mexico would accomplish the annexation of Texas to
    the Union. The gentleman was in favor of war, not merely for the
    abstract purpose of annexing Texas to the Union, but he was for war
    by peremptorily prohibiting Santa Anna from invading Texas.

    "I will take up these reasons in order. And, first, as to going to
    war for the obtaining of these ten or twelve millions of dollars,
    being the claims of our own citizens on Mexico. This seems a very
    extraordinary reason, when, according to the doctrine of the
    gentleman from Pennsylvania, a state of war at once extinguishes all
    national debts. If we go to war with Mexico, her debts to our
    citizens will be expunged at once, if the doctrine of the gentleman
    from Pennsylvania be true. He did, to be sure, qualify the position
    by saying that war would at least suspend the payment of interest.
    If so, then it would equally suspend interest in the case of Mexico.
    The arguments of the two war gentlemen happen to cross each other,
    though they are directed to the same end. One of them will have us
    go to war with Mexico to recover twelve millions of dollars; the
    other would have us go to war with England to wipe out a debt of two
    hundred millions. I will not compare the arguments of the two
    gentlemen together; but I will say, in regard to the doctrine of the
    gentleman from Pennsylvania, that it has quite too much of
    repudiation in it for my creed. I do not think that a war with
    England would extinguish these two hundred millions, but that, on
    the contrary, Great Britain would be likely to say to us, 'We will
    go to war to recover the money you owe us,' That is one of the
    questions which we must settle if we go to war, but which we might
    otherwise, at least for a time, stave off. But, if we go to war,
    what must be the effect of the peace that follows? We must pay our
    two hundred millions, with the interest. As to our debt from Mexico,
    I believe the way to recover it is not to go to war for it; for war,
    besides failing to recover the money, will occasion us the loss of
    ten times the amount in other ways.

    "As to war producing a suspension of interest on a national debt,
    let the gentleman look back a little to the wars of France. In 1793
    France was at war with almost all the countries of Europe, and she
    immediately confiscated all her debts to them. But what happened
    thirty years after, when the reäction came? The allies took Paris,
    and, in the settlement which then took place, they compelled France
    to pay all her debts, with full interest on the whole period during
    which payment had been suspended. That was the consequence to France
    of going to war to extinguish debts. And, if we go to war with Great
    Britain to-morrow, she will make us, as one of the conditions of
    peace, pay our whole debt of two hundred millions, with interest.
    And what shall we gain? Spend millions upon millions every year, as
    long as the war continues; and, unless it is greatly successful,
    have to pay our debt at last, principal and interest. This would
    depend on the chances of war, or the issues of battle. And, as our
    contests would be chiefly on the ocean, we must first obtain a
    superiority on the seas before we can put her down and vanquish her;
    and this to save ourselves from the payment of two hundred millions
    justly due from our citizens to hers!

    "There is a second reason given by the gentleman from Virginia in
    favor of war. He reminds us, with great warmth, that there are some
    ten or twelve citizens of the United States now prisoners in the
    city of Mexico, and dragging chains about the streets of that city;
    that a British subject taken with them has been liberated, while
    they are kept in bondage. Now, if I am correctly informed, one
    American citizen, a son of General Coombs, has been liberated on
    the application of the minister of the United States, who was as
    fairly a subject of imprisonment as the British subject of whom the
    gentleman speaks. I certainly have no objections to our minister's
    making such representations as he can in favor of the release of
    citizens of the United States, although taken in actual war against
    Mexico, in association with Texian forces; but I am not prepared to
    go to war to obtain their liberation. I must first be permitted to
    ask how it is that these men happen to be in the streets of Mexico.
    Is it not because they formed part of an expedition got up in Texas
    against the Mexican city of Santa Fé? Were they not taken
    _flagrante bello_, actually engaged in a war they had nothing to do
    with, to which the United States were no party? In all this great
    pity and sympathy for American citizens made to travel hundreds of
    miles barefoot and in chains, the question 'How came they there?'
    seems never to be asked. And yet, so far as the interposition of
    this nation for their recovery is concerned, that is the very first
    question to be asked.

    "I come now to the third ground for war urged by the gentleman from
    Virginia, and I hope I do not misrepresent him when I say that I
    understood him to affirm that if he had the power he would prohibit
    the invasion of Texas by Mexico; and if Mexico would not submit to
    such a requirement, and should persist in her invasion, he would go
    to war. The gentleman stated, as a ground for war, that Santa Anna
    had avowed his determination to 'drive slavery beyond the Sabine.'
    That was what the gentleman from Virginia most apprehended--that
    slavery would be abolished in Texas; that we should have neighbors
    at our doors not contaminated by that accursed plague-spot. He would
    have war with Mexico sooner than slavery should be driven back to
    the United States, whence it came. If that is to be the avowed
    opinion of this committee, in God's name let my constituents know
    it! The sooner it is proclaimed on the house-tops, the better--the
    house is to go to war with Mexico for the purpose of annexing Texas
    to this Union!"

                             CHAPTER XIII.


On the 23d of June, 1842, President Tyler announced to the House of
Representatives that he had signed and approved an act for the
apportionment of representatives among the several states, and had
deposited the same in the office of the Secretary of State, accompanied
with his reasons for giving to it his sanction; by which it appeared
that, after having officially "approved" that act, he had declared, in
effect, that _he did not approve of it_, having doubts concerning
both its constitutionality and expediency, and that he had signed it
only in deference to the opinions of both houses of Congress. Mr. Adams,
from the committee to whom these proceedings of the President had been
referred, in a report to the House severely scrutinizes the course of
the President in this respect. He declares that the duty of the
President, in exercising the authority given him by the constitution to
sign and approve acts of Congress, is prescribed in terms equally
concise and precise; and that it has given him no power to alter, amend,
comment upon, or assign his reasons for the performance of his duty.
These views he illustrates by a minute examination of the language of
that instrument, and shows that what the President had done was a
departure not only from the language but from the substance of the law
prescribing to him his duties in that respect. Mr. Adams then, in behalf
of the committee, after showing that the proceeding of the President in
this instance is without precedent or example, and imminently dangerous
in its tendencies, proceeds to remark:

    "The entry upon the bill is, 'Approved: John Tyler;' and that entry
    makes it the law of the land; and then, by a private note deposited
    with the law in the Department of State, the same hand which, under
    the sacred obligation of an official oath, has written the word
    '_approved_,' and added the sign-manual of his name, feels it due
    to himself to declare that the bill is not approved, and that he
    doubts both its constitutionality and its policy, and that he signs
    it only in deference to the declared _will_ of both houses of
    Congress; not from assent to their reasons, but in submission to
    their _will_.

    "And he feels it due to himself to say this,--first, that his
    motives for signing it may be rightly understood; secondly, that his
    opinions may not be liable to be misunderstood, or, thirdly, quoted
    hereafter erroneously as a precedent. The motives of a President of
    the United States for signing an act of Congress can be no other
    than because he approves it; and because, in that event, the
    constitution enjoins it upon him to sign it as a duty, which he has
    sworn to perform, and with which he cannot dispense.

    "But no; in the present case the President feels it due to himself
    to say that his motives for signing the bill were not because he
    approved it, or because it was made by the constitution his duty to
    sign it, but to prove his submission to the will of Congress. He
    feels it due also to himself to guard against the liability of his
    opinions to misconstruction, or to be quoted hereafter erroneously
    as a precedent. His signature to the bill, preceded by the word
    '_approved_,' taken in connection with the duties prescribed to the
    President of the United States by the constitution, certainly was
    liable to the construction that his opinions were favorable to the
    bill. They were, indeed, liable to no other construction respectful
    to him, or trustful to his honor and sincerity; nor can there be a
    doubt that they would have been quoted hereafter as a precedent. No
    man living could have imagined that the word '_approved_' could be
    construed to mean either doubt or obsequious submission to the will
    of others; and it is with extreme regret that the committee see, in
    the President's exposition of his reasons for signing an act of
    Congress, the open avowal that, in his vocabulary, used in the
    performance of one of the most solemn and sacred of his duties, the
    word '_approved_' means not approval, but doubt; not the expression
    of his own opinions, but mere obsequiousness to the will of

The report proceeds to deny that the example of the advice given by the
first Secretary of State to the first President of the United States,
which the President adduces in his support, and the following that
advice by that President, gave any "sanction to such recorded
duplicity." It asserts that such an example is of dangerous tendency--an
encroachment by the Executive on legislative functions; that the reasons
given by President Tyler are a running commentary against the law,
against its execution according to the intention of the legislature, and
forestalling the appropriate action of the judicial tribunals in
expounding it. These and consentaneous views the report largely
illustrates, and concludes with a resolution declaring the proceedings
of the President in this case to have been unwarranted by the
constitution and laws of the United States, injurious to the public
interest, and of evil example in future; solemnly protesting against its
ever being repeated, or adduced as a precedent hereafter.

On the 9th of August, 1842, President Tyler returned to the House of
Representatives the bill to provide a revenue from imports, and changing
the existing laws imposing duties on them, accompanied with his
objections to it. The house referred the subject to a select committee,
of which Mr. Adams was chairman. On the 16th of August he reported that
the message was the last of a series of executive measures, the result
of which had been to defeat and nullify the whole action of the
legislative authority of the Union upon the most important interests of
the nation;--that, at the accession of the late President Harrison, the
revenue and the credit of the country were so completely disordered,
that a suffering people had commanded a change in the administration;
and the elections throughout the Union had placed in both houses of
Congress majorities, the natural exponents of the principles which it
was the will of the people should be substituted instead of those which
had brought the country to a condition of such wretchedness and
shame;--that there was a perfect harmony between the chosen President of
the people and this majority; but that, by an inscrutable decree of
Providence, the chief of the people's choice, in harmony with whose
principles the majorities of both houses had been constituted, was laid
low in death. A successor to the office had assumed the title, with
totally different principles, who, though professing to harmonize with
the principles of his immediate predecessor, and with the majorities in
both houses of Congress, soon disclosed his diametrical opposition to

The report then proceeds to show the several developments of this new
and most unfortunate condition of the general government, effected by "a
system of continual and unrelenting exercise of executive legislation,"--by
the alternate gross abuse of constitutional power, and bold assumption
of powers never vested in him by any law,--resulting in four several
vetoes, which, in the course of fifteen months, had suspended the
legislation of the Union. It then states and comments upon the reasons
assigned by the President for returning this bill to the House of
Representatives, with his objections to it, as specified in the veto
message referred to this committee; and, after a rigid analysis and
course of argument, pronounces them "feeble, inconsistent, and
unsatisfactory;" after which the report proceeds:

    "They perceive that the whole legislative power of the Union has
    been, for the last fifteen months, with regard to the action of
    Congress upon measures of vital importance, in a state of suspended
    animation, strangled by the _five_ times repeated stricture of
    the executive cord. They observe that, under these unexampled
    obstructions to the exercise of their high and legitimate duties,
    they have hitherto preserved the most respectful forbearance towards
    the Executive Chief; that while he has time after time annulled, by
    the mere act of his will, their commission from the people to enact
    laws for the common welfare, they have forborne even the expression
    of their resentment for these multiplied insults and injuries. They
    believed they had a high destiny to fulfil, by administering to the
    people, in the form of law, remedies for the sufferings which they
    had too long endured. The will of one man has frustrated all their
    labors, and prostrated all their powers. The majority of the
    committee believe that the case has occurred, in the annals of our
    Union, contemplated by the founders of the constitution, by the
    grant to the House of Representatives of the power to impeach the
    President of the United States; but they are aware that the resort
    to that expedient might, in the present condition of public affairs,
    prove abortive. They see the irreconcilable difference of opinion
    and of action between the legislative and executive departments of
    the government is but sympathetic with the same discordant views and
    feelings among the people. To them alone the final issue of the
    struggle must be left. In sorrow and mortification, under the
    failure of all their labors to redeem the honor and prosperity of
    their country, it is a cheering consolation to them that the
    termination of their own official existence is at hand; that they
    are even now about to return to receive the sentence of their
    constituents upon themselves; that the legislative power of the
    Union, crippled and disabled as it may now be, is about to pass,
    renovated and revivified by the will of the people, into other
    hands, upon whom will devolve the task of providing that remedy for
    the public distempers which their own honest and agonizing energies
    have in vain endeavored to supply.

    "The power of the present Congress to enact laws essential to the
    welfare of the people has been struck with apoplexy by the executive
    hand. Submission to his will is the only condition upon which he
    will permit them to act. For the enactment of a measure, earnestly
    recommended by himself, he forbids their action, unless coupled with
    a condition declared by himself to be on a subject so totally
    different that he will not suffer them to be coupled in the same
    law. With that condition Congress cannot comply. In this state of
    things he has assumed, as the committee fully believe, the exercise
    of the whole legislative power to himself, and is levying millions
    of money upon the people, without any authority of law. But the
    final decision of this question depends neither upon legislative nor
    executive, but upon judicial authority; nor can the final decision
    of the Supreme Court upon it be pronounced before the close of the
    present Congress. In the mean time, the abusive exercise of the
    constitutional power of the President to arrest the action of
    Congress upon measures vital to the welfare of the people has
    wrought conviction upon the minds of a majority of the committee
    that the veto power itself must be restrained and modified by an
    amendment of the constitution itself; a resolution for which they
    accordingly herewith respectfully report."

The report was signed by ten members of the committee, including the
chairman. The resolution with which it closed provided for submitting to
the States a proposed modification of the constitution, by substituting
the words "majority of the whole number," instead of the words "two
thirds," by which the power of the House of Representatives to pass a
law, notwithstanding the veto of the President, is at present

The report was agreed to in the house by a majority of one hundred ayes
to ninety nays, and the resolution itself passed by a majority of
ninety-eight ayes to ninety nays; but the constitution, in such cases,
requiring two thirds majority, it was of consequence rejected.

In November, 1842, Mr. Adams delivered a lecture before the Franklin
Lyceum, at Providence, Rhode Island, on the Social Compact, in which he
enters into "an examination of the principles of democracy, aristocracy,
and universal suffrage, as exemplified in a historical review of the
present constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with some
notice of the origin of human government, and remarks on the theories of
divine right, as maintained by Hobbes and Sir Robert Filmer, on one
side, and by Sydney, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau, on the other."

He shows, from the history of Massachusetts, that the fundamental
principle asserted in the fifth article of our declaration of rights,
that all power resides originally in _the people_, is derived from the
above-named writers, and explains how this power has been practically
exercised by the people of that state. The assertion of Rousseau, that
the social compact can be formed only by unanimous consent, because the
rule itself that a majority of votes shall prevail can only be
established by agreement, that is, by compact, Mr. Adams controverts,
maintaining in opposition to it that the social compact constituting
the body-politic is, and by the law of nature must be, a compact not
merely of individuals, but of families. On this view of the subject he
largely animadverts. The philosophical examination of the foundations
of civil society, of human governments, and of the rights and duties of
man, he views as among the consequences of the Protestant Reformation.
The question raised by Martin Luther involved the whole theory of _the
rights_ of individual man, paramount to all human authority. The
talisman of _human rights_ dissolved the spell of political as well as
of ecclesiastical power. The Calvinists of Geneva and the Puritans of
England contested the right of kings to prescribe articles of faith to
their people, and this question necessarily drew after it the general
question of the origin of all human government. In search of its
principle, Hobbes, a royalist, affirmed that the state of nature
between man and man was a state of war, whence it followed that
government originated in _conquest_. This theory is directly opposite
to that of Jesus Christ. It cuts the gordian knot with the sword,
extinguishes all the rights of man, and makes fear the corner-stone of
government. It is the only theory upon which slavery can be justified,
as conformable to the law of nature. This is Sir John Falstaff's law,
when, speaking of Justice Shallow, he says, "If the young dace be a
bait for the old pike, I see no reason in _the law of nature_ why I may
not snap at _him_." Sir Robert Filmer, by a theory far more plausible,
though not more sound, than that of Hobbes, derived the origin of human
government from the Scriptures of the Old Testament, from the grant of
the earth to Adam, and afterwards to Noah.

But the vital error of Filmer was in assuming that the natural
authority of the father over the child was either permanent or
unlimited; and still more that the authority of the husband over the
wife was unlimited. Sir Robert Filmer did not perceive that by the laws
of nature and of God every individual human being is born with rights
which no other individual, or combination of individuals, can take
away; that all exercise of human authority must be under the limitation
of right and wrong; and that all despotic power over human beings is
exercised in _defiance_ of the laws of nature and of God--all, Sir John
Falstaff's law of nature between the young dace and the old pike.

The history of Filmer's work was remarkable. It was composed and
published in the heat of the struggle between King Charles the First
and the Commons of England, which terminated in the overthrow of the
monarchy, and in the death of King Charles upon the scaffold. It was
the theory of government on which _the cause_ of the house of Stuart
was sustained. No man can be surprised that such a cause was swept away
by a moral and political whirlwind; that it carried with it all the
institutions of civil society, so that its march was a wild desolation.
James, by relying on the principles of Filmer's theory, fell back into
the arms of the Church of Rome, and vainly struggled to turn back the
tide of religious reformation, and revive the divine right of kings,
and passive obedience, and non-resistance. The republican spirit had
slumbered on the white cliffs of Albion, and in his sleep, like the
man-mountain in Lilliput, had been pinned down to the earth by the
threads of a spider's web for cords. On the first reäppearance of
Filmer's book, he awoke, and, like the strong man in Israel, at the
cost of his own life, shook down the temple of Dagon, and buried
himself and the Philistines again under its ruins.

The discourses of John Locke concerning government demolished while
they immortalized the work of Filmer, whose name and book are now
remembered only to be detested. But the first principles of morals and
politics, which have long been settled, acquire the authority of
self-evident truths, which, when first discussed, may have been
vehemently and portentously contested. John Locke, a kindred soul to
Algernon Sydney, seven years after his death published an elaborate
system of government, in which he declares the "false principles and
foundation of Sir Robert Filmer and his followers are detected and
overthrown." Subsequently, he published an essay concerning the true
original extent and end of civil government. "The principles," says Mr.
Adams, "of Sydney and Locke constitute the foundation of the North
American Declaration of Independence; and, together with the subsequent
writings of Montesquieu and Rousseau, that of the constitution of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and of the constitution of the United
States." Neither of these constitutions separately, nor the two in
combined harmony, can, without a gross and fraudulent perversion of
language, be termed a _Democracy_. They are neither democracy,
aristocracy, nor monarchy. They form together a mixed government,
compounded not only of the three elements of democracy, aristocracy,
and monarchy, but with a fourth added element, _Confederacy_. The
constitution of the United States when adopted was so far from being
considered as a democracy, that Patrick Henry charged it, in the
Virginia Convention, with an awful squinting towards monarchy. The
tenth number of the Federalist, written by James Madison, is an
elaborate and unanswerable essay upon the vital and radical difference
between a democracy and a republic. But it is impossible to disconnect
the relation between names and things. When the anti-federal party
dropped the name of Republicans to assume that of _Democrats_, their
principles underwent a corresponding metamorphosis; and they are now
the most devoted and most obsequious champions of executive power--the
very life-guard of the commander of the armies and navies of this
Union. The name of Democracy was assumed because it was discovered to
be _very taking_ among the multitude; yet, after all, it is but the
investment of the _multitude_ with absolute power. The constitutions of
the United States and of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are both the
work of the people--one of the Union, the other of the State--not of
the whole people by the phantom of universal suffrage, but of the whole
people by that portion of them capable of contracting for the whole.
They are not democracy, nor aristocracy, nor monarchy, but a compound
of them all, of which democracy is the oxygen, or vital air, too pure
in itself for human respiration, but which in the union of other
elements, equally destructive in themselves and less pure, forms that
moral and political atmosphere in which we live, and move, and have our

The preceding abstract, given almost wholly in the language of Mr.
Adams, shows the general drift of this characteristic essay.

On the 17th of September, 1842, a convention of delegates from the
district he represented received Mr. Adams at Braintree, and expressed
their thanks for his services on the floor of Congress, especially for
his fidelity in their defence "against every attempt of Southern
representatives and their Northern allies to sacrifice at the altar of
slavery the freedom of speech and the press, the right of petition, the
protection of free labor, and the immunities and privileges of Northern
citizens." Mr. Adams, in reply, after expressing his sensibility at
their unabated confidence in the integrity of his intentions, and in his
capacity to serve them, declared that it had been his endeavor to
discharge all the duties of his station "faithfully and gratefully to
them; faithfully to our native and beloved Commonwealth; faithfully to
our whole common country, the North American Union; faithfully to the
world of mankind, in every quarter of the globe, and under every variety
of condition or complexion; faithfully to that creator, God, who rules
the world in justice and mercy, and to whom our final account must be
made up by the standard of those attributes." He then proceeded to
state, that on receiving their invitation to attend that meeting, it had
been his intention to avail himself of the opportunity to unfold to them
the professions, principles, and practices, of the federal
administration of these United States, under the successive Presidents
invested with executive power, from the day when he took his seat as
their representative in Congress to the then present hour.

    "I trusted it would be in my power to present to your contemplation,
    not only the outward and ostensible indications of federal policy,
    proclaimed and trumpeted abroad as the maxims of the Jackson, Van
    Buren, and Tyler administrations, but to lay bare their secret
    purposes, and never yet divulged designs for the future government
    or dissolution of this Union.

    "Further reflection convinced me that this exposition would require
    more time than you could possibly devote to one meeting to hear me.
    My friend and colleague, Mr. Appleton, has, in an answer to an
    invitation of his constituents to a public dinner, lifted a corner
    of the veil, and opened a glance at the monstrous and horrible
    object beneath it; but South Carolina nullification itself, with its
    appendages of separation, secession, and the forty-bale theory, was
    but the struggles of Quixotism dreaming itself Genius, to erect on
    the basis of state sovereignty a system for seating South Carolina
    slavery on the throne of this Union in the event of success; or of
    severing the present Union, and instituting, with a tier of embryo
    Southern States to be wrested from the dismemberment of Mexico, a
    Southern slaveholding confederation to balance the free Republic of
    the North.

    "'The passage,' says Mr. Appleton, 'of the revenue bill imposing
    discriminating duties with a view to the protection and
    encouragement of American industry, is, under the circumstances, an
    event of the very highest importance. Notwithstanding the system had
    been formerly established in 1816, and fortified by succeeding
    legislation; notwithstanding its success in the development of our
    resources and the establishment of manufactures and arts, surpassing
    the expectation of the most sanguine; notwithstanding the immense
    investments of capital made on the faith of the national legislation
    inviting such application, the attempt was seriously entertained of
    breaking down this whole system, with a reckless disregard of
    consequences, either in the wanton destruction of capital, or, what
    is far more important, in the general paralysis of the industry of
    the country. _The origin of this attempt may be traced to the mad
    ambition of certain politicians of South Carolina, who, in 1832,
    formed the project of a Southern Confederacy, severed from the rest
    of the Union, with that state for its centre, as affording more
    security to the slave states for their peculiar institutions than
    exist under the general government._

    "'This project led to the invention of a theory of political
    economy, which was maintained with an ingenuity and perseverance
    worthy of a better cause, founded on the assumption that all imports
    are, in effect, direct taxes upon exports. So indefatigable were the
    promulgators of this theory, that the whole South was made to
    believe that a protective tariff was a system of plunder levied upon
    their productions of cotton, rice, and tobacco, which constituted
    the bulk of our exports to foreign markets.'"

Mr. Adams then proceeds to state that the principles of nullification
were never more inflexibly maintained, never more inexorably pursued,
than they had been by all that portion of the South which had given
them countenance, from the day of the death of William Henry Harrison
to the present, and that nullification is the creed of the executive
mansion at Washington, the acting President's _conscience_, and the
woof of all his vetoes.

"Nullification," he adds, "portentous and fatal as it is to the
prospects and welfare of this Union, is not the only instrument of
Southern domination wielded by the executive arm at Washington. The
dismemberment of our neighboring republic of Mexico, and the acquisition
of an immense portion of her territories, was a gigantic and darling
project of Andrew Jackson, and is another instrument wielded for the
same purpose.

    "Within five weeks after the proclamation of the constitution of the
    Republic of Texas followed the battle of San Jacinto; and from that
    day the struggles of the Southern politicians, who ruled the
    councils of this nation, were for upwards of two years unremitting,
    and unrestrained by any principles of honor, honesty, and truth:
    openly avowed, and audaciously proclaimed, whenever they dared;
    clandestinely pursued, under delusive masks and false colors,
    whenever the occasion required.

    "No sooner was the event of the battle of San Jacinto known than
    memorials and resolutions, from various parts of the Union, were
    poured in upon Congress, calling upon that body for the immediate
    recognition of the independence of the Republic of Texas. Many of
    these memorials and resolutions came from the free states, and one
    of them from the Legislature of Connecticut, then blindly devoted to
    the rank Southern, sectional policy of the Jackson administration,
    by that infatuation of Northern sympathy with Southern interests,
    which Mr. Appleton points out to our notice, and the true purposes
    of which had already been sufficiently divulged in an address of Mr.
    Clement C. Clay to the Legislature of Alabama. But there was another
    more hidden impulse to this extreme solicitude for the recognition
    of the independence of Texas working in the free states, quite as
    ready to assume the mask and cap of liberty as the slave-dealing
    champions of the rights of man. The Texan land and liberty jobbers
    had spread the contagion of their land-jobbing traffic all over the
    free states throughout the Union. Land-jobbing, stock-jobbing,
    slave-jobbing, rights-of-man-jobbing, were all, hand in hand,
    sweeping over the land like a hurricane. The banks were plunging
    into desperate debts, preparing for a universal suspension of specie
    payment, under the shelter of legislative protection to flood the
    country with irredeemable paper. Gambling speculation was the
    madness of the day; and, in the wide-spread ruin which we are now
    witnessing as the last stage of this moral pestilence, Texan bonds
    and Texan lands form no small portion of the fragments from the
    wreck of money corporations contributing their assets of two or
    three cents to the dollar. All these interests furnished vociferous
    declaimers for the recognition of Texan independence."

Mr. Adams next states the proceedings of Congress on this subject during
the whole of the residue of the Jackson administration, terminating with
the recognition by Congress of the independence of Texas. At this period
Mr. Van Buren--a Northern man with Southern principles--assumed the
functions of President of the United States. But the recognition of the
independence of Texas availed nothing without her annexation to the
United States. In October, 1837, a formal proposition from the Republic
of Texas for such annexation was communicated to Congress, with the
statement that it had been declined by Mr. Van Buren. But the passion
for the annexation of Texas was not to be so disconcerted. Memorials for
and against its annexation poured into Congress, and were referred to
the Committee on Foreign Affairs. "In the debate which arose from their
report," says Mr. Adams, "I exposed the whole system of duplicity and
perfidy towards Mexico, which had marked the Jackson administration from
its commencement to its close. It silenced the clamors for the
annexation of Texas to this Union for three years, till the catastrophe
of the Van Buren administration. The people of the free states were
lulled into the belief that the whole project was abandoned, and that
they should hear no more of the slave-trade cravings for the annexation
of Texas. Had Harrison lived, they would have heard no more of it to
this day. But no sooner was John Tyler installed into the President's
house than nullification, and Texas, and war with Mexico, rose again
upon the surface, with eye steadily fixed upon the polar star of
Southern slave-dealing supremacy in the government of the Union."

Mr. Adams then comments upon the history of the Santa Fé expedition,
which was fitted out in the summer of 1841, shortly after the accession
of Mr. Tyler, by the then President of Texas, having been originated and
concerted within these states, and carried on chiefly by citizens of the
United States. That it was known, countenanced, and encouraged, at the
presidential house, was, said Mr. Adams, more than questioned; for,
while it was on foot, and before it was known, frequent hints were given
in public journals, moved by Executive impulse, that at the coming
session the annexation of Texas was to be introduced by a citizen of the
highest distinction. "But the Texan expedition was ill-starred. Instead
of taking and rioting upon the beauty and booty of Santa Fé, they were
all captured themselves, without even the glory of putting a price on
their lives. They surrendered without firing a gun." The failure of this
expedition discomfited the war faction in Congress, and injured for a
moment, and only for a moment, the project to which Southern
nullification clung with the grasp of death.

Mr. Adams next proceeds to exhibit the evidence to show "the
participation of the administration at Washington with this incursion of
banditti from Texas against Santa Fé," and to explain "the legislative
exploit" by which the treasury of the United States was made to
contribute to "the dismemberment of Mexico, and the annexation of an
immense portion of its territory to the slave representation of the
Union." The internal evidence he regarded as irresistible that "the
expedition against Santa Fé was planned within your boundaries, and
committed to the execution of your citizens, under the shelter of
Mexican banners and commissions."

In the subsequent portion of this address Mr. Adams, regarding the
principles of nullification as being at the basis of Mr. Tyler's whole
policy, enters at large into its nature, and thus speaks of its origin
and association with democracy:

    "Let me advert again to the important disclosure in the letter of
    Mr. Appleton to his constituents, from which I have taken the
    liberty of reading to you an extract. Nullification was generated
    in the hot-bed of slavery. It drew its first breath in the land
    where the meaning of the word democracy is that a majority of the
    people are the goods and chattels of the minority; that more than
    one half of the people are not men, women, and children, but
    things, to be treated by their owners, not exactly like dogs and
    horses, but like tables, chairs, and joint-stools; that they are
    not even fixtures to the soil, as in countries where servitude is
    divested of its most hideous features,--not even beings in the
    mitigated degradation from humanity of beasts, or birds, or
    creeping things,--but destitute not only of the sensibilities of
    our own race of men, but of the sensations of all animated nature.
    That is the native land of nullification, and it is a theory of
    constitutional law worthy of its origin. _Democracy_, pure
    democracy, has at least its foundation in a generous theory of
    human rights. It is founded on the natural equality of mankind. It
    is the corner-stone of the Christian religion. It is the first
    _element_ of _all_ lawful government upon earth. Democracy is
    self-government of the community by the conjoint will of the
    majority of numbers. What communion, what affinity, can there be
    between that principle and nullification, which is the despotism of
    a corporation--unlimited, unrestrained, _sovereign_ power? Never,
    never was amalgamation so preposterous and absurd as that of
    nullification and democracy."

Of the hostility of nullification to the prosperity of the free states
he thus speaks:

    "The root of the doctrine of nullification is that if the internal
    improvement of the country should be left to the legislative
    management of the national government, and the proceeds of the
    sales of the public lands should be applied as a perpetual and
    self-accumulating fund for that purpose, the blessings unceasingly
    showered upon the people by this process would so grapple the
    affections of the people to the national authority, that it would,
    in process of time, overshadow that of the state governments, and
    settle the preponderancy of power in the free states; and then the
    undying worm of conscience twinges with terror for the fate of _the
    peculiar institution_. Slavery stands aghast at the prospective
    promotion of the general welfare, and flies to nullification for
    defence against the energies of freedom, and the inalienable rights
    of man."

After stating and commenting upon the policy of General Jackson, as
having for its object the "dismembering of Mexico, and restoring slavery
to Texas, and of surrounding the South with a girdle of slave states, to
eternize the blessings of the peculiar institution, and spread them like
a garment of praise over the whole North American Union," he explained
the effect of party divisions always operating in the United States, and
the character of the several proportions of their power. Their results,
in tending to revive and strengthen slavery and the slave-trade, which
Mr. Adams then foretold, excited melancholy anticipations in the mind of
every reflecting freeman. What was then prophecy is now history.

    "There are two different party divisions always operating in the
    House of Representatives of the United States,--one sectional,
    North and South, or, in other words, slave and free; the other
    political--both sides of which have been known at different times
    by different names, but are now usually denominated Whigs and
    Democrats. The Southern or slave party, outnumbered by the free,
    are cemented together by a common, intense interest of property to
    the amount of twelve hundred millions of dollars in human beings,
    the very existence of which is neither allowed nor tolerated in the
    North. It is the opinion of many theoretical reasoners on the
    subject of government that, whatever may be its form, the ruling
    power of every nation is its property. Mr. Van Buren, in one of his
    messages to Congress, gravely pointed out to them the
    anti-republican tendencies of associated wealth. Reflect now upon
    the tendencies of twelve hundred millions of dollars of associated
    wealth, directly represented in your national legislature by one
    hundred members, together with one hundred and forty members
    representing persons only--freemen, not chattels. Reflect, also,
    that this twelve hundred millions of dollars of property is
    peculiar in its character, and comes under a classification once
    denominated by a Governor of Virginia _property acquired by crime_;
    that it sits uneasy upon the conscience of its owner; that, in the
    purification of human virtue, and the progress of the Christian
    religion, it has become, and is daily becoming, more and more
    odious; that Washington and Jefferson, themselves slaveholders,
    living and dying, bore testimony against it; that it was the dying
    REMORSE of John Randolph; that it is renounced and abjured by the
    supreme pontiff of the Roman Church, abolished with execration by
    the Mahometan despot of Tunis, shaken to its foundations by the
    imperial autocrat of all the Russias and the absolute monarch of
    Austria;--all, all bearing reluctant and extorted testimony to the
    self-evident truth that, by the laws of nature and nature's God,
    man cannot be the property of man. Recollect that the first cry of
    human feeling against this unhallowed outrage upon human rights
    came from ourselves--from the Quakers of Pennsylvania; that it
    passed from us to England, from England to France, and spread over
    the civilized world; that, after struggling for nearly a century
    against the most sordid interests and most furious passions of man,
    it made its way at length into the Parliament, and ascended the
    throne, of the British Isles. The slave-trade was made piracy first
    by the Congress of the United States, and then by the Parliament of
    Great Britain.

    "But the curse fastened by the progress of Christian charity and of
    human rights upon the African slave-trade could not rest there. If
    the African slave-trade was piracy, the coasting American
    slave-trade could not be innocent, nor could its aggravated
    turpitude be denied. In the sight of the same God who abhors the
    iniquity of the African slave-trade, neither the American
    slave-trade nor slavery itself can be held guiltless. From the
    suppression of the African slave-trade, therefore, the British
    Parliament, impelled by the irresistible influence of the British
    people, proceeded to point the battery of its power against slavery
    itself. At the expense of one hundred millions of dollars, it
    abolished slavery, and emancipated all the slaves in the British
    transatlantic colonies; and the government entered upon a system of
    negotiation with all the powers of the world for the ultimate
    extinction of slavery throughout the globe.

    "The utter and unqualified inconsistency of slavery, in any of its
    forms, with the principles of the North American Revolution, and the
    Declaration of our Independence, had so forcibly struck the Southern
    champions of our rights, that the abolition of slavery and the
    emancipation of slaves was a darling project of Thomas Jefferson
    from his first entrance into public life to the last years of his
    existence. But the associated wealth of the slaveholders outweighed
    the principles of the Revolution, and by the constitution of the
    United States a compromise was established between slavery and
    freedom. The extent of the sacrifice of principle made by the North
    in this compromise can be estimated only by its practical effects.
    The principle is that the House of Representatives of the United
    States is a representation only of the persons and freedom of the
    North, and of the persons, property, and slavery, of the South. Its
    practical operation has been to give the balance of power in the
    house, and in every department of the government, into the hands of
    the minority of numbers. For practical results look to the present
    composition of your government in all its departments. The President
    of the United States, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of
    the House, are all slaveholders. The Chief Justice and four out of
    the nine Judges of the Supreme Court of the United States are
    slaveholders. The commander-in-chief of your army and the general
    next in command are slaveholders. A vast majority of all the
    officers of your navy, from the highest to the lowest, are
    slaveholders. Of six heads of the executive departments, three are
    slaveholders; securing thus, with the President, a majority in all
    cabinet consultations and executive councils. From the commencement
    of this century, upwards of forty years, the office of Chief Justice
    has always been held by slaveholders; and when, upon the death of
    Judge Marshall, the two senior justices upon the bench were citizens
    of the free states, and unsurpassed in eminence of reputation both
    for learning in the law and for spotless integrity, they were both
    overlooked and overslaughed by a slaveholder, far inferior to either
    of them in reputation as a lawyer, and chiefly eminent for his
    obsequious servility to the usurpations of Andrew Jackson, for which
    this unjust elevation to the Supreme Judicial bench was the reward.

    "As to the house itself, if an article of the constitution had
    prescribed, or a standing rule of the house had required, that no
    other than a slaveholder should ever be its Speaker, the regulation
    could not be more rigorously observed than it is by the compact
    movements of the slave representation in the house. Of the last six
    speakers of the house, including the present, every one has been a
    slaveholder. It is so much a matter of course to see such a person
    in the chair, that, if a Northern man but thinks of aspiring to the
    chair, he is only made a laughing-stock for the house.

    "With such consequences staring us in the face, what are we to think
    when we are told that the government of the United States is a
    democracy of numbers--a government by a majority of the people? Do
    you not see that the one hundred representatives of persons,
    property, and slavery, marching in solid phalanx upon every question
    of interest to their constituents, will always outnumber the one
    hundred and forty representatives only of persons and freedom,
    scattered as their votes will always be by conflicting interests,
    prejudices, and passions?

    "But this is not all. The second party division in the house to
    which I have alluded is political, and known at present by the
    names of Whigs and Democrats, or Locofocos. The latter are
    remarkable for an exquisite tenderness of affection for _the
    people_, and especially for the poor, provided their skins are
    white, and against the rich. But it is no less remarkable that the
    princely slaveholders of the South are among the most thoroughgoing
    of the Democrats; and their alliance with the Northern Democracy is
    one of the cardinal points of their policy."

The residue of this address is devoted to a searching and severe
examination of the whole course of President Tyler's administration,
showing that "the sectional division of parties--in other words, the
conflict between freedom and slavery--is the axle round which the
administration of the national government revolves." "The political
divisions with him, and with all Southern statesmen of his stamp, are
mere instruments of power to purchase auxiliary support to the cause of
slavery even from the freemen of the North."

In closing this most illustrative address, he apologizes to his
constituents for any language he may have used in debate which might be
deemed harsh or acrimonious, and asks them to consider the adversaries
with whom he had to contend; the virulence and rancor, unparalleled in
the history of the country, with which he had been pursued; and to
remember that, "for the single offence of persisting to assert the right
of the people to petition, and the freedom of speech and of the press,
he had been twice dragged before the house to be censured and expelled."
One of his assailants, Thomas F. Marshall, had declared, in an address
to his constituents, his motives for the past, and his purposes for the
future, in the following words:

    "Though petitions to dissolve the Union be poured in by thousands,
    I shall not again interfere on the floor of Congress, since the
    house have virtually declared that there is nothing contemptuous or
    improper in offering them, and are willing again to afford Mr.
    Adams an opportunity of sweeping all the strings of discord that
    exist in our country. I acted as I thought for the best, being
    sincerely desirous to check that man, who, if he could be removed
    from the councils of the nation, or _silenced_ on the exasperating
    subject to which he seems to have devoted himself, _none other, I
    believe, could be found hardy enough, or bad enough, to fill his

"Besides this special and avowed malevolence against me," Mr. Adams
remarks,--"this admitted purpose to expel or silence me, for the sake
of brow-beating all other members of the free representation, by
establishing over them the reign of terror,--a peculiar system of
tactics in the house has been observed towards me, by _silencers_ of
the slave representation and their allies of the Northern Democracy."

The system of tactics to which he alludes was, first, to turn him out
of the office of chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and,
this failing, to induce a majority of the servile portion of that
committee to refuse any longer to serve with him; their purpose being
exactly that of Mr. Marshall, to remove him from the councils of the
nation, or to silence him, for the sake of _intimidating_ all others by
"an ostentatious display of a common determination not to serve with
any man who would not submit to the gag-rule, and would persist in
presenting abolition petitions." Mr. Adams then illustrates the
powerful effect of such movements to overawe members from the free

"Another practice," he observed, "of this communion of Southern,
sectional, and Locofoco antipathy against me is, that I never can take
part in any debate upon an important subject, be it only upon a mere
abstraction, but a pack opens upon me of personal invective in return.
Language has no word of reproach or railing that is not hurled at me;
and the rules of the house allow me no opportunity to reply till every
other member of the house has had his turn to speak, if he pleases. By
another rule every debate is closed by a majority whenever they get
weary of it. The previous question, or a motion to lay the subject on
the table, is interposed, and I am not allowed to reply to the grossest
falsehoods and most invidious misrepresentations."

This course of party tactics Mr. Adams exhibits by a particular
narrative of the misrepresentation to which he had been subjected,
closing his statement with the following acknowledgment: "I must do many
of the members of the House of Representatives from the South the
justice to say that their treatment of me is dictated far more by the
passions and prejudices of their constituents than by their own. Were it
not for this curse of slavery, there are some of them with whom I should
be on terms of the most intimate and confidential friendship. There are
many for whom I entertain high esteem, respect, and affectionate
attachment. There are among them those who have stood by me in my
trials, and scorned to join in the league to sacrifice me as a terror to

In September, 1842, at the invitation of the Norfolk County Temperance
Society, Mr. Adams delivered at Quincy an address,--not perhaps in
coïncidence with the prevailing expectations of that society, but in
perfect unison with his own characteristic spirit of independence. He
instituted an inquiry into the effect of the _principles_ of total
abstinence from the use of spirituous liquors, the administration of
pledges, or, in other words, the contracting of engagements by vows;
and examined the whole subject with reference to the essential
connection which exists between temperance and religion. In the course
of his argument he maintains that the moral principles inculcated by
the whole tenor of the Old Testament, with regard to temperance,
are,--1. That the _temperate_ use of wine is innocent, and without sin.
2. That excess in it is a heinous sin. 3. That the voluntary assumption
of a vow or pledge of total abstinence is an effort of exalted virtue,
and highly acceptable in the sight of God. 4. That the habit of excess
in the use of wine is an object of unqualified abhorrence and disgust.
He concluded with a warning to his fellow-citizens to "stand fast in
the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be not entangled
again with the yoke of bondage;" and, after applauding the members of
the Norfolk County Temperance Society for their attempts to suppress
intemperance, declaring it a holy work, and invoking the blessing of
Heaven on their endeavors, he bids them "go forth as missionaries of
Christianity among their own kindred. Go, with the commendation of the
Saviour to his apostles when he first sent them forth to redeem the
world: 'Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.' In
the ardor of your zeal for moral reform forget not the rights of
personal freedom. All _excess_ is of the nature of intemperance.
Self-government is the foundation of all our political and social
institutions; and it is by self-government alone that the laws of
temperance can be enforced.... Above all, let no tincture of party
politics be mingled with the pure stream from the fountain of

The spirit of this address, and the intimate knowledge of the Scriptures
Mr. Adams possessed, will be illustrated by the following extract:

    "Throughout the whole of the Old Testament the vine is represented
    as one of the most precious blessings bestowed by the Creator upon
    man. In the incomparable fable of Jotham, when he lifted up his
    voice on the summit of Mount Gerizim, and cried to the men of
    Shechem, 'Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken
    unto you,' he told them that when the trees of the forest went
    forth to anoint them a king to reign over them, they offered the
    crown successively to the olive-tree, the fig-tree, and the _vine_.
    They all declined to accept the royal dignity; and when it came to
    the turn of the vine to assign the reasons for his refusal, he
    said, 'Should I leave my _wine_, which cheereth God and man, and go
    to be promoted over the trees?' In the one hundred and fourth
    Psalm,--that most magnificent of all descriptions of the glory, the
    omnipotence, and the goodness of the Creator, God,--wine is
    enumerated among the richest of his blessings bestowed upon man.
    'He causeth the grass to grow,' says the Psalmist, 'for the cattle,
    and herb for the service of man, that he may bring forth food out
    of the earth, and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil
    to make his face to shine, and bread that strengtheneth man's

    "But, while wine was thus classed among the choicest comforts and
    necessaries of life, the cautions and injunctions against the
    inordinate use of it are repeated and multiplied in every variety
    of form. 'Wine is a mocker,' says Solomon (Prov. 20:1); 'strong
    drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.'
    'He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man; he that loveth wine
    and oil shall not be rich.' (21:17.) 'Who hath woe? who hath
    sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds
    without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry _long_ at
    the wine; they that go _to seek_ mixed wine. Look not thou upon the
    wine when it is red, when it giveth its color in the cup, when it
    moveth itself aright,'--say, like sparkling Champagne.--'At the
    _last_ it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine
    eyes shall behold strange wonders, and thine heart shall utter
    perverse things; yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the
    midst of the sea, or as he that lieth on the top of a mast. They
    have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have
    beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it
    yet again.' Never was so exquisite a picture of drunkenness and the
    drunkard painted by the hand of man.

    "Yet in all this there is no interdict upon the _use_ of wine.
    The caution and the precept are against excess."

On the 29th of May, 1843, Mr. Adams delivered before the Massachusetts
Historical Society a discourse in celebration of the Second Centennial
Anniversary of the New England Confederacy of 1643. This work is
characterized by that breadth and depth of research for which he was
distinguished and eminently qualified. It includes traces of the early
settlements of Virginia, New England, Pennsylvania, and New York; of the
causes of each, and the spirit in which they were made and conducted,
and of the principles which they applied in their intercourse with the
aboriginals of the forest. He then proceeds to give an account of the
confederation of the four New England colonies, Plymouth, Massachusetts,
Connecticut, and New Haven, in 1643, with appropriate statements of the
principles and conduct of the founders of each settlement, and of the
character and motives of the leaders of each of them.

The origin, motives, and objects of that confederation, he explains;
analyzing the distribution of power between the commissioners of the
whole confederacy and among the separate governments of the colonies,
and showing that it combined the same identical principles with those
which gathered and united the thirteen English colonies as the prelude
to the Revolution which severed them forever from their national
connection with Great Britain; and that the New England Confederacy of
1643 was the model and prototype of the North American Confederacy of

His sketch of the founder of the Colony of Rhode Island will give a
general idea of the spirit and bearing of this discourse:

    "Roger Williams was a man who maybe considered the very
    impersonation of a combined conscientious and contentious spirit.
    Born in the land of Sir Hugh Evans and Captain Fluellen, educated at
    the University of Oxford, at the very period when the monarchical
    Episcopal Church of England was purging herself, as by fire, from
    the corruptions of the despotic and soul-degrading Church of Rome,
    he arrived at Boston in February, 1630, about half a year after the
    landing of the Massachusetts Colony of Governor Winthrop. He was an
    eloquent preacher, stiff and self-confident in his opinions;
    ingenious, powerful, and commanding, in impressing them upon others;
    inflexible in his adherence to them; and, by an inconsistency
    peculiar to religious enthusiasts, combining the most amiable and
    affectionate sympathies of the heart with the most repulsive and
    inexorable exclusions of conciliation, compliance, or intercourse,
    with his adversaries in opinion.

    "On his first arrival he went to Salem, and there soon made himself
    so acceptable by his preaching, that the people of Mr. Skelton's
    church invited him to settle with them as his colleague. But he had
    broached, and made no hesitation in maintaining, two opinions
    imminently dangerous to the very existence of the Massachusetts
    Colony, and certainly not remarkable for that spirit of charity or
    toleration upon which he afterwards founded his own government, and
    which now, in after ages, constitutes his brightest title to renown.
    The first of these opinions was that the royal charter to the Colony
    of Massachusetts was a nullity, because the King of England had no
    right to grant lands in foreign countries, which belonged of right
    to their native inhabitants. This opinion struck directly at all
    right of property held under the authority of the royal charter,
    and, followed to its logical conclusions, would have proved the
    utter impotence of the royal charter to confer power of government,
    any more than it could convey property in the soil.

    "The other opinion was that the Church of Boston was criminal for
    having omitted to make a public declaration of repentance for having
    held communion with the Church of England before their emigration;
    and upon that ground he had refused to join in communion with the
    Church of Boston.

    "By the subtlety and vehemence of his persuasive powers he had
    prevailed upon Endicott to look upon the cross of St. George in the
    banners of England as a badge of idolatry, and to cause it actually
    to be cut out of the flag floating at the fort in Salem. The red
    cross of St. George in the national banner of England was a grievous
    and odious eye-sore to multitudes, probably to a great majority, of
    the Massachusetts colonists; but, in the eyes of the government of
    the colony, it was the sacred badge of allegiance to the monarchy at
    home, already deeply jealous of the purposes and designs of the
    Puritan colony."

On the 4th of July, 1843, Mr. Adams, in a letter addressed to the
citizens of Bangor, in Maine, declining their invitation to deliver an
address on the 1st of August, the anniversary of British emancipation of
slavery in the West Indies, thus expressed his views on that subject:

    "The extinction of SLAVERY from the face of the earth is a problem,
    moral, political, religious, which at this moment rocks the
    foundations of human society throughout the regions of civilized
    man. It is indeed nothing more nor less than the consummation of
    the Christian religion. It is only as _immortal_ beings that all
    mankind can in any sense be said to be born equal; and when the
    Declaration of Independence affirms as a self-evident truth that
    all men are born equal, it is precisely the same as if the
    affirmation had been that all men are born with immortal souls;
    for, take away from man his soul, the immortal spirit that is
    within him, and he would be a mere tamable beast of the field, and,
    like others of his kind, would become the property of his tamer.
    Hence it is, too, that, by the law of nature and of God, man can
    never be made the property of man. And herein consists the fallacy
    with which the holders of slaves often delude themselves, by
    assuming that the test of property is human law. The soul of one
    man cannot by human law be made the property of another. The owner
    of a slave is the owner of a living corpse; but he is not the owner
    of a man."

In illustration of this principle he observes that "the natural
equality of mankind, affirmed by the signers of the Declaration of
Independence to be _held up_ by them as self-evident truth, was not so
held by their enemies. Great Britain held that sovereign power was
unlimitable, and the natural equality of mankind was a fable. France
and Spain had no sympathies for the rights of human nature. Vergennes
plotted with Gustavus of Sweden the revolution in Sweden from liberty
to despotism. Turgot, shortly after our Declaration of Independence,
advised Louis Sixteenth that it was for _the interest_ of France and
Spain that the insurrection of the Anglo-American colonies _should be
suppressed_. But none of them foresaw or imagined what would be the
consequence of the triumphant establishment in the continent of North
America of an Anglo-Saxon American nation on the foundation of the
natural equality of mankind, and the inalienable rights of man."

Mr. Adams then states and reasons upon these consequences in Europe and
the United States: the abolition of slavery by the judicial decision of
the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, three years after the Declaration of
Independence. Since that day there has not been a slave within that
state. The same principle is corroborated by the fact that the
Declaration of Independence imputes slavery in Virginia to George the
Third, as one of the crimes which proved him to be a tyrant, unfit to
rule a free people; and that at least twenty slaveholders, if not
thirty, among whom were George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, avowed
abolitionists, were signers of that Declaration.

He next states that "the result of the North American revolutionary war
had prepared the minds of the people of the British nation to
contemplate with calm composure the new principle engrafted upon the
association of the civilized race of man, the self-evident truth, the
natural equality of mankind and the rights of man." He then introduces
Anthony Benezet, a member of the society of Friends, and Granville
Sharp, an English philanthropist, "blowing the single horn of human
liberty and the natural equality of mankind against the institution of
slavery, practised from time immemorial by all nations, ancient and
modern; supported by the denunciation of the traffic in slaves by the
popular writers both in France and England,--by Locke, Addison, and
Sterne, as well as by Raynal, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Voltaire;
succeeded by the association of Thomas Clarkson and two or three
Englishmen together, for the purpose of arraying the power of the
British empire for the total abolition of slavery throughout the earth."
The success of that association he next illustrates,--until this
"emanation of the Christian faith is now, under the cross of St. George,
overflowing from the white cliffs of Albion, and sweeping the
slave-trade and slavery from the face of the terraqueous globe." He

    "People of that renowned island!--children of the land of our
    forefathers!--proceed, proceed in this glorious career, till the
    whole earth shall be redeemed from the greatest curse that ever has
    afflicted the human race. Proceed until millions upon millions of
    your brethren of the human race, restored to the rights with which
    they were endowed by your and their Creator, but of which they have
    been robbed by ruffians of their own race, shall send their choral
    shouts of redemption to the skies in blessings upon your names. O,
    with what pungent mortification and shame must I confess that in the
    transcendent glories of that day our names will not be associated
    with yours! May Heaven in mercy grant that we may be spared the
    deeper damnation of seeing our names recorded, not among the
    liberators, but with the oppressors of mankind!"

After inquiring what we have done in the United States to support "the
principle proclaimed to the world as that which was to be the vital
spark of our existence as a community among the nations of the earth,"
and declaring that we have done nothing, he thus enumerates the
proceedings which disqualify us from presuming to share in the
festivities and unite in the songs of triumph of the 1st of August, and
shows how little we have concurred with Great Britain in her attempts to
break the chain of slavery. He inquires into what we are doing:

    "Are we not suffering our own hands to be manacled, and our
    own feet to be fettered, with the chains of slavery? Is it not
    enough to be told that, by a fraudulent perversion of language in
    the constitution of the United States, we have falsified the
    constitution itself, by admitting into both the legislative and
    executive departments of the government an overwhelming
    representation of one species of _property_, to the exclusion of
    all others, and that the odious property in slaves?

    "Is it not enough that, by this exclusive privilege of property
    representation, confined to one section of the country, an
    irresistible ascendency in the action of the general government has
    been secured, not indeed to that section, but to an oligarchy of
    slaveholders in that section--to the cruel oppression of the poor
    in that same section itself? Is it not enough that, by the
    operation of this radical iniquity in the organization of the
    government, an immense disproportion of all offices, from the
    highest to the lowest, civil, military, naval, executive, and
    judicial, are held by slaveholders? Have we not seen the sacred
    right of petition totally suppressed for the people of the free
    states during a succession of years, and is it not yet inexorably
    suppressed? Have we not seen, for the last twenty years, the
    constitution and solemn treaties with foreign nations trampled on
    by cruel oppression and lawless imprisonment of colored mariners
    in the Southern States, in cold-blooded defiance of a solemn
    adjudication by a Southern judge in the Circuit Court of the Union?
    And is not this enough? Have not the people of the free states been
    required to renounce for their citizens the right of habeas corpus
    and trial by jury; and, to coërce that base surrender of the only
    practical security to all personal rights, have not the
    slave-breeders, by state legislation, subjected to fine and
    imprisonment the colored citizens of the free states, for merely
    coming within their jurisdiction? Have we not tamely submitted for
    years to the daily violation of the freedom of the post-office and
    of the press by a committee of seal-breakers? And have we not seen
    a sworn Postmaster-general formally avow that, though he could not
    license this cut-purse protection of the peculiar institution, the
    perpetrators of this highway robbery must justify themselves by the
    plea of necessity? And has the pillory or the penitentiary been the
    reward of that Postmaster-general? Have we not seen
    printing-presses destroyed; halls erected for the promotion of
    human freedom levelled with the dust, and consumed by fire; and
    wanton, unprovoked murder perpetrated with impunity, by
    slave-mongers? Have we not seen human beings, made in the likeness
    of God, and endowed with immortal souls, burnt at the stake, not
    for their offences, but for their color? Are not the journals of
    our Senate disgraced by resolutions calling for _war_, to indemnify
    the slave-pirates of the Enterprise and the Creole for the
    self-emancipation of their slaves; and to inflict vengeance, by a
    death of torture, upon the heroic self-deliverance of Madison
    Washington? Have we not been fifteen years plotting rebellion
    against our neighbor republic of Mexico, for abolishing slavery
    throughout all her provinces? Have we not aided and abetted one of
    her provinces in insurrection against her for that cause? And have
    we not invaded openly, and sword in hand, another of her provinces,
    and all to effect her dismemberment, and to add ten more slave
    states to our confederacy? Has not the cry of war for the conquest
    of Mexico, for the expansion of reïnstituted slavery, for the
    robbery of priests, and the plunder of religious establishments,
    yet subsided? Have the pettifogging, hair-splitting, nonsensical,
    and yet inflammatory bickerings about the right of search,
    pandering to the thirst for revenge in France, panting for war to
    prostrate the disputed title of her king--has the sound of this
    war-trumpet yet faded away upon our ears? Has the supreme and
    unparalleled absurdity of stipulating by treaty to keep a squadron
    of eighty guns for five years without intermission upon the coast
    of Africa, to suppress the African slave-trade, and at the same
    time denying, at the point of the bayonet, the right of that
    squadron to board or examine any slaver all but sinking under a
    cargo of victims, if she but hoist a foreign flag--has this
    diplomatic bone been yet picked clean? Or is our _indirect_
    participation in the African slave-trade to be protected, at
    whatever expense of blood and treasure? Is the supreme Executive
    Chief of this commonwealth yet to speak not for himself, but
    for her whole people, and pledge _them_ to shoulder their
    muskets, and to endorse their knapsacks, against the fanatical,
    non-resistant abolitionists, whenever the overseers may please to
    raise the bloody flag with the swindling watch-word of 'Union'?
    O, my friends, I have not the heart to join in the festivity on
    the First of August--the British anniversary of disenthralled
    humanity--while all this, and infinitely more that I could tell,
    but that I would spare the blushes of my country, weigh down my
    spirits with the uncertainty, sinking into my grave as I am,
    whether she is doomed to be numbered among the first liberators
    or the last oppressors of the race of immortal man!

    "Let the long-trodden-down African, restored by the cheering voice
    and Christian hand of Britain to his primitive right and condition
    of manhood, clap his hands and shout for joy on the anniversary of
    the First of August. Let the lordly Briton strip off much of his
    pride on other days of the year, and reserve it all for the pride of
    conscious beneficence on this day. What lover of classical learning
    can read the account in Livy, or in Plutarch, of the restoration to
    freedom of the Grecian cities by the Roman consul Flaminius, without
    feeling his bosom heave, and his blood flow cheerily in his veins?
    The heart leaps with sympathy when we read that, on the first
    proclamation by the herald, the immense assembled multitude, in the
    tumult of astonishment and joy, could scarcely believe their own
    ears, and made him repeat the proclamation, and then '_Tum ab
    certo jam gaudio, tantus cum clamore, plausus est ortus, totiesque
    repetitus, ut facile appararet nihil omnium bonorum multitudini
    gratius quam libertatem esse_.--Then rang the welkin with long
    and redoubled shouts of exultation, clearly proving that, of all the
    enjoyments accessible to the hearts of men, nothing is so delightful
    to them as liberty.' Upwards of two thousand years have revolved
    since that day, and the First of August is to the Briton of this age
    what the day of the proclamation of Flaminius was to the ancient
    Roman. Yes! let them celebrate the First of August as the day to
    them of deliverance and glory; and leave to us the pleasant
    employment of commenting upon their motives, of devising means to
    shelter the African slaver from their search, and of squandering
    millions to support, on a pestilential coast, a squadron of the
    stripes and stars, with instructions sooner to scuttle their ships
    than to molest the pirate slaver who shall make his flagstaff the
    herald of a lie!"

In July, 1843, the Cincinnati Astronomical Society earnestly solicited
Mr. Adams to lay the corner-stone of their Observatory. No invitation
could have been more coïncident with the prevailing interest of his
heart, and he immediately accepted it, notwithstanding his advanced age,
and the great distance which the performance of the duty required him to
travel. Some of his constituents having questioned the propriety of this
acceptance, and expressed doubts whether the duties it imposed were
compatible with his other public obligations, Mr. Adams, in an address
to them, at Dedham, on the 4th of July, took occasion to state that the
encouragement of the arts and sciences, and of all good literature, is
expressly enjoined by the constitution of Massachusetts. The patronage
and encouragement of them is therefore one of the most sacred duties of
the people of that state, and enjoined upon them and their children as a
part of their duty to God. "The voices of your forefathers, founders of
your social compact, calling from their graves, command you to this
duty; and I deem it, as your representative, a tacit and standing
instruction from you to perform, as far as may be my ability, that part
of your constitutional duty for you. It is in this sense that, in
accepting the earnest invitation from a respectable and learned society,
in a far distant state and city of the Union, to unite with them in the
act of erecting an edifice for the observation of the heavens, and
thereby encouraging the science of astronomy, I am fulfilling an
obligation of duty to you, and in your service." The nature of this duty
he thus illustrates:

    "From the Ptolemies of Egypt and Alexander of Macedon, from Julius
    Cæsar to the Arabian Caliphs Haroun al Raschid, Almamon, and
    Almansor, from Alphonso of Castile to Nicholas, the present Emperor
    of all the Russias,--who, at the expense of one million of rubles,
    has erected at Pulkova the most perfect and best-appointed
    observatory in the world,--royal and imperial power has never been
    exercised with more glory, never more remembered with the applause
    and gratitude of mankind, than when extending the hand of patronage
    and encouragement to the science of astronomy. You have neither
    Cæsar nor Czar, Caliph, Emperor, nor King, to monopolize this glory
    by largesses extracted from the fruits of your industry. The
    founders of your constitution have left it as their dying
    commandment to you, to achieve, as the lawful sovereigns of the
    land, this resplendent glory to yourselves--to patronize and
    encourage the arts and sciences, and all good literature."

Mr. Adams left Quincy for Cincinnati on the 25th of October, and
returned to Washington on the 24th of November. At Saratoga, Rochester,
Buffalo, he was received with marked attention; and in every place where
he rested assemblages of the inhabitants took occasion to evidence their
respect and interest in his character by congratulatory addresses, and
welcomed his presence by every token of civility and regard. At Columbus
he was met by a deputation from Cincinnati, and, in approaching that
city, he was escorted into it by a procession and cavalcade. No
demonstration of honor and gratitude for the exertion he had made, and
the fatigues he had undergone, for their gratification, was omitted. His
whole progress was an ovation.

In the presence of a large concourse of the citizens of Cincinnati, Mr.
Adams was introduced to the Astronomical Society by its president, Judge
Burnet, who gave, in an appropriate address, a rapid sketch of the
history of his life and his public services, touching with delicacy and
judgment on the trials to which his political course had been subjected.
The following tributes, from their truth, justice, and appropriateness,
are entitled to distinct remembrance:

    "Being a son of one of the framers and defenders of the Declaration
    of Independence, his political principles were formed in the school
    of the sages of the Revolution, from whom he imbibed the spirit of
    liberty while he was yet a boy.

    "Having been brought up among the immediate descendants of the
    Puritan fathers, whose landing in Massachusetts in the winter of
    1620 gave immortality to the rock of Plymouth, his moral and
    religious impressions were derived from a source of the most rigid
    purity; and his manners and habits were formed in a community where
    ostentation and extravagance had no place. In this fact we see why
    it is that he has always been distinguished for his purity of
    motive, simplicity of manners, and republican plainness in his style
    of living and in his intercourse with society. To the same causes
    may be ascribed his firmness, his directness of purpose, and his
    unyielding adherence to personal as well as political liberty. You
    have recently seen him stand as unmoved as the rock of Gibraltar,
    defending the right of petition, and the constitutional privileges
    of the representatives of the people, assembled in Congress, though
    fiercely assailed by friends and by foes.

    "It is a remarkable fact that during the whole of his public life,
    which has already continued more than half a century, he never
    connected himself with a political party, or held himself bound to
    support or oppose any measure for the purpose of advancing or
    retarding the views of a party; but he has held himself free at all
    times to pursue the course which duty pointed out, however he may
    have been considered by some as adhering to a party. This fact
    discloses the reason why he has been applauded at times, and at
    other times censured, by every party which has existed under the
    government. The truth is that, while the American people have been
    divided into two great political sections, each contending for its
    own aggrandizement, Mr. Adams has stood between them, uninfluenced
    by either, contending for the aggrandizement of the nation. His
    life has been in some respects _sui generis_; and I venture the
    opinion that, generally, when his course has differed most from the
    politicians opposed to him, it has tended most to the advancement
    of the public good.

    "As a proof of the desire Mr. Adams has always cherished for the
    advancement of science, I might refer to his annual message to
    Congress in December, 1825, in which he recommended the
    establishment of a National University, and an Astronomical
    Observatory, and referred to the hundred and thirty of those
    'light-houses of the skies' existing in Europe, as casting a
    reproach on our country for its unpardonable negligence on that
    important subject. The manner in which that recommendation was
    received and treated can never be forgotten. It must at this day be
    a source of great comfort to that devoted friend of science that
    those who yet survive of the highly-excited party which attempted to
    cast on him reproach and ridicule for that proposition, and
    especially for assimilating those establishments to light-houses of
    the skies, have recently admitted the wisdom of his advice by making
    ample appropriations to accomplish the very object he then proposed."

The oration Mr. Adams delivered on that occasion is, perhaps, the most
extraordinary of his literary efforts, evidencing his comprehensive
grasp of the subject, and the intensity of his interest in it. It
embraces an outline of the history of astronomy, illustrated by an
elevated and excited spirit of philosophy. Those who cultivated, those
who patronized, and those who advanced it, are celebrated, and the
events of their lives and the nature of their services are briefly
related. The operations of the mind which are essential to its progress
are touched upon. The intense labor and peculiar intellectual
qualifications incident to and required for its successful pursuit are
intimated. Nor are the inventors of those optical instruments, who had
contributed to the advancement of this science beyond all previous
anticipation, omitted in this extensive survey of its nature, progress,
and history.

After celebrating "the gigantic energies and more than heroic labors of
Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo," he pronounced Newton "the
consummation of them all."

"It was his good fortune," observed Mr. Adams, "to be born and to live
in a country where there was no college of cardinals to cast him into
prison, and doom him to spend his days in repeating the seven
penitential psalms, for shedding light upon the world, and publishing
mathematical truths. Newton was not persecuted by the dull and ignorant
instruments of political or ecclesiastical power. He lived in honor
among his countrymen; was a member of one Parliament, received the
dignity of knighthood, held for many years a lucrative office, and at
his decease was interred in solemn state in Westminster Abbey, where a
monument records his services to mankind, among the sepulchres of the
British kings.

"From the days of Newton down to the present hour, the science of
astronomy has been cultivated, with daily deepening interest, by all the
civilized nations of Europe--by England, France, Prussia, Sweden,
several of the German and Italian states, and, above all, by Russia,
whose present sovereign has made the pursuit of knowledge a truly
imperial virtue."

After speaking of the patronage extended to this science by the nations
and sovereigns of Europe, he terminates his developments with this
stirring appeal to his own countrymen:

    "But what, in the mean time, have we been doing? While our fathers
    were colonists of England we had no distinctive political or
    literary character. The white cliffs of Albion covered the soil of
    our nativity, though another hemisphere first opened our eyes on
    the light of day, and oceans rolled between us and them. We were
    Britons born, and we claimed to be the countrymen of Chaucer and
    Shakspeare, Milton and Newton, Sidney and Locke, Arthur and Alfred,
    as well as of Edward the Black Prince, Harry of Monmouth, and
    Elizabeth. But when our fathers abjured the name of Britons, and
    'assumed among the nations of the earth the separate and equal
    station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitled
    them,' they tacitly contracted the engagement for themselves, and
    above all for their posterity, to contribute, in their corporate
    and national capacity, their full share, ay, and more than their
    full share, of the virtues that elevate and of the graces that
    adorn the character of civilized man. They announced themselves as
    _reformers_ of the institution of civil society. They spoke of the
    laws of nature, and in the name of nature's God; and by that sacred
    adjuration they pledged us, their children, to labor with united
    and concerted energy, from the cradle to the grave, to purge the
    earth of all slavery; to restore the race of man to the full
    enjoyment of those rights which the God of nature had bestowed upon
    him at his birth; to disenthrall his limbs from chains, to break
    the fetters from his feet and the manacles from his hands, and set
    him free for the use of all his physical powers for the improvement
    of his own condition. The God in whose name they spoke had taught
    them, in the revelation of the Gospel, that the only way in which
    man can discharge his duty to Him is by loving his neighbor as
    himself, and doing with him as he would be done by; respecting his
    rights while enjoying his own, and applying all his emancipated
    powers of body and of mind to self-improvement and the improvement
    of his race."

                             CHAPTER XIV.


In April, 1844, certain resolves of the Legislature of Massachusetts,
proposing to Congress to recommend, according to the provisions of the
fifth article of the constitution of the United States, an amendment to
the said constitution, in effect abolishing the representation for
slaves, being under consideration, and a report adverse to such
amendment having been made by a majority of the committee, Mr. Adams,
and Mr. Giddings, of Ohio, being a minority, united in a report, in
which, concurring in the opinion of the majority so far as to believe
that it was not, at that time, expedient to recommend the amendment
proposed by the Legislature of Massachusetts, they were compelled to
dissent from the views and the reasons which had actuated them in coming
to that conclusion.

    "The subscribers are under a deep and solemn conviction that the
    provision in the constitution of the United States, as it has been
    and yet is construed, and which the resolves of the Legislature of
    Massachusetts propose to discard and erase therefrom, is repugnant
    to the first and vital principles of republican popular
    representation; to the self-evident truths proclaimed in the
    Declaration of Independence; to the letter and spirit of the
    constitution of the United States itself; to the letter and spirit
    of the constitutions of almost all the states in the Union; to the
    liberties of the whole people of all the free states, and of all
    that portion of the people of the states where domestic slavery is
    established, other than owners of the slaves themselves; that this
    is its essential and unextinguishable character in principle, and
    that its fruits, in its practical operation upon the government of
    the land, as felt with daily increasing aggravation by the people,
    correspond with that character. To place these truths in the
    clearest light of demonstration, and beyond the reach of
    contradiction, the subscribers proceed, in the order of these
    averments, to adduce the facts and the arguments by which they will
    be maintained."

The report then proceeds, in reply to the reasoning of the majority of
the committee, to maintain that "the principle of republican popular
representation is that the terms of representative and constituent are
correlative;" that "democracy admits no representation of property;"
that "the slave representation is repugnant to the self-evident truths
proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence." The truths in that
Declaration the report illustrates from history, from Scripture, and
from the teachings of Jesus Christ; who was aware that wars, and their
attendant, slavery, would continue among men, and that the destiny of
his Gospel itself was often to be indebted for its progressive
advancement to war.

    "'I came not,' said he, 'to send peace upon earth, but a sword;'
    meaning, not that this was the object of his mission, but that, in
    the purposes of the Divine nature, war itself should be made
    instrumental to promote the final consummation of universal peace.
    Slavery has not ceased upon the earth; but the impression upon the
    human heart and mind that slavery is a wrong,--a crime against the
    laws of nature and of nature's God,--has been deepening and
    widening, till it may now be pronounced universal upon every soul
    in Christendom not warped by personal interest, or tainted with
    disbelief in Christianity. The owner of ten slaves believes that
    slavery is not an evil. The owner of a hundred believes it a
    blessing. The philosophical infidel has no faith in Hebrew
    prophecies, or in the Gospel of Jesus. He says in his heart, though
    he will not tell you to your face, that the proclamation of the
    natural equality of mankind, in the Declaration of Independence, is
    untrue; that the African race are physically, morally, and
    intellectually, _inferior_ to the white European man; that they are
    not of one blood, nor descendants of the same stock; that the
    African is born to be a slave, and the white man to be his master.
    The worshipper of mammon and the philosophical atheist hold no
    communion with the signers of the declaration that all men are
    created equal, and endowed by their Creator with unalienable
    rights. But, with these exceptions, poll the whole mass of
    Christian men, of every name, sect, or denomination, throughout the
    globe, and you will not hear a solitary voice deny that slavery is
    a wrong, a crime, and a curse."

This report then proceeds to maintain that the representation of slaves
as persons, conferred not upon themselves but their owners, is repugnant
to the self-evident truth proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence,
and equally repugnant both to the spirit and letter of the constitution
of the United States, and to the constitution of almost every state of
the Union; that it is deceptive, and inconsistent with the principle of
popular representation;--all which is supported by reference to the
writings of Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder, concerning the relations of
master and slave. It is shown how, by the effect of that article in the
constitution, all political power in the states is absorbed and
engrossed by the owners of slaves, and the cunning by which this has
been effected is explained. The report then enters into the history of
slavery, declaring that "the resolves of the Legislature of
Massachusetts speak the unanimous opinions and sentiments of the
people--unanimous, with the exception of the sordid souls linked to the
cause of slavery by the hopes and expectations of patronage."

In June, 1844, Mr. Adams, as chairman of a select committee on the
Smithsonian fund, reported a bill, in which he referred to its actual
state, and proposed measures tending to give immediate operation to that
bequest. In support of its provisions, he stated that, on the first day
of September, 1838, there had been deposited in the mint of the United
States, in gold, half a million of dollars,--the full amount of the
bequest of Mr. Smithson,--which, on the same day, under the authority of
an act of Congress, and with the approbation of the President, had been
vested by the Secretary of the Treasury in bonds of the States of
Arkansas, Michigan, and Illinois; that the payment of the interest on
these bonds had been almost entirely neglected; that the principal and
arrears of interest then accumulating amounted to upwards of six hundred
and ninety-nine thousand dollars; that the payment of these bonds was
remote, and unavailable by Congress for application to the objects of
this bequest.

In accepting this legacy, the faith of the United States had been
pledged that all money received from it should be applied to the humane
and generous purpose prescribed by the testator; and he contended that,
for the redemption of this pledge, it was indispensably requisite that
the funds thus locked up in the treasury, in bonds of these states, with
the accruing and suspended interest thereon, should be made available
for the disposal of Congress, to enable them to execute the sacred trust
they had assumed.

The committee then reported a bill providing, in effect, for the
assumption by Congress of the whole sum and interest, as a loan to the
United States, invested in their stock, bearing an annual interest of
six per cent., payable half-yearly, and redeemable at the pleasure of
Congress by the substitution of other funds of equal value. In
connection with this purpose they reported a bill making appropriations
to enable Congress to proceed immediately to the execution of the trust
committed to them by the testator, and for the fulfilment of which the
faith of the nation had been pledged.

In specifying the objects to which it should be applied, that of the
establishment of an Astronomical Observatory was not omitted. This
recommendation decided the fate of the bill; for there was no purpose on
which the predominating party were more fixed than to prevent the
gratification of Mr. Adams in this well-known cherished wish of his

In October, 1823, Mr. Adams, being then Secretary of State, had
addressed a letter to a member of the corporation of Harvard University,
urging the erection of an Astronomical Observatory in connection with
that institution, and tendering a subscription, on his own account, of
one thousand dollars, on condition a requisite sum should be raised, for
that purpose, within two years. His proposal not meeting correspondent
spirit among the friends of science at that time, in October, 1825, he
renewed the offer, on the same condition and limitation. In both cases a
concealment of his name was made imperative.[1]

      [1] Quincy's History of Harvard University, vol. II., p. 567.

The establishment of an Astronomical Observatory was recommended in his
first message to Congress, as President of the United States; but the
proposition fell on a political soil glowing with a red heat, enkindled
by disappointed ambition. Opposition to the design became identified
with party spirit, and to defeat it no language of contempt or of
ridicule was omitted by the partisans of General Jackson. In every
appropriation which it was apprehended might be converted to its
accomplishment, the restriction "_and to no other_" was carefully
inserted. In the second section of an act passed on the 10th of July,
1832, providing for the survey of the coasts of the United States, the
following limitation was inserted: "_Provided that nothing in this act,
or in the act hereby revived, shall be construed to authorize the
construction or maintenance of a permanent Astronomical Observatory_."
Yet, at the time of passing this act, it was well understood that the
appropriation it contained was to be applied to that object; and
subsequently, in direct defiance of this prohibition, Congress
permitted that and other appropriations to be applied to the erection
of an Astronomical Observatory in the city of Washington, to which
annual appropriations were successively granted in the bill providing
for the navy department; the authors of the proviso being aware of the
uses to which the fund would be applied, but causing its insertion for
the purpose of preventing its erection from being attributed to the
influence of Mr. Adams. To such disreputable subterfuges party spirit
can condescend, to gratify malignity, or to obscure merit from the
knowledge of the world, to the power of which it is itself compelled to

Nothing was effectually done, on the subject of the Smithsonian fund,
until the 22d of April, 1846, when a bill to carry into effect that
bequest was reported by Mr. Owen, of Indiana, and earnestly supported by
him and others. In its important general features it coïncided with the
views of Mr. Adams, except only that it made no provision for an
Astronomical Observatory. After various amendments, it received the
sanction of both houses of Congress, Mr. Adams voting in its favor. On
the 10th of August, 1846, it received the signature of the President of
the United States.

During the debate upon this bill, its supporters acknowledged "that Mr.
Adams had labored in this good cause with more zeal and perseverance
than any other man."

In the course of the same debate it was said by one member that,
"inasmuch as the views of Mr. Adams had been carried out in respect of
an Astronomical Observatory, by the government, in the District of
Columbia,"--and by another, that, "as building light-houses in the
skies had grown into popular favor,"--it was hoped he would find no
difficulty in giving his vote for the bill. On which Mr. Adams observed,
that "he was very glad to hear that the 'building light-houses in the
skies had grown into popular favor.' The appropriation for this
Astronomical Observatory had been clandestinely smuggled into the law,
under the head of a _dépôt_ for charts, when, a short time before, a
provision had been inserted in a bill passed that _no appropriation
should be applied to an Astronomical Observatory_. He claimed no
merit for the erection of an Astronomical Observatory, but, in the
course of his whole life, no conferring of honor, of interest, or of
office, had given him more delight than the belief that he had
contributed, in some small degree, to produce these Astronomical
Observatories both here and elsewhere.[2] He no longer wished any
portion of the Smithsonian fund to be applied to an Astronomical

      [2] _Congressional Globe_, vol. XV., p. 738.

Notwithstanding this disclaimer, the four reports of Mr. Adams, on the
Smithsonian fund, in 1836, 1840, 1842, and 1844, which were neither
coïncident with the views nor within the comprehension of his opponents,
will remain imperishable monuments of the extent and elevation of his
mind on this subject. When the continued and strenuous exertions with
which Mr. Adams opposed, at every step, the efforts to convert that fund
to projects of personal interest or ambition are appreciated, it will be
evident that the people of the United States owe to him whatever benefit
may result from the munificence of James Smithson. History will be just
to his memory, and will not fail to record his early interest and
strenuous zeal for the advancement of astronomical science, and the
influence his eloquence and untiring perseverance, in illustrating its
importance with an unsurpassed array of appropriate learning, exerted on
the public mind in the United States, not only in effecting the
establishment of other Astronomical Observatories, but absolutely
compelling party spirit, notwithstanding its open, bitter animosity, to
lay the foundation of that Observatory which now bears the name of

In February, 1843, Andrew Jackson addressed a letter to Aaron Vail
Brown, a member of Congress, strongly recommending the annexation of
Texas, and giving his reasons for that measure, which he commenced by
stating the following facts:

    "Soon after my election, in 1829, it was made known to me by Mr.
    Erwin, formerly our minister at the court of Madrid, that whilst at
    that court he had laid the foundation of a treaty with Spain for the
    cession of the Floridas, and the settlement of the boundary of
    Louisiana, fixing the western limit of the latter at the Rio Grande,
    agreeably to the understanding of France; that he had written home
    to our government for power to complete and sign this negotiation;
    but that, instead of receiving such authority, the negotiation was
    taken out of his hands, and transferred to Washington, and a new
    treaty was there concluded, by which the Sabine, and not the Rio
    Grande, was recognized and established as the boundary of Louisiana.
    Finding that these statements were true, and that our government did
    really give up that important territory, when it was at its option
    to retain it, I was filled with astonishment. The right to the
    territory was obtained from France, Spain stood ready to acknowledge
    it to the Rio Grande, and yet the authority asked by our minister to
    insert the true boundary was not only withheld, but, in lieu of it,
    a limit was adopted which stripped us of the whole vast country
    lying between the two rivers."

The letter containing this statement Aaron Vail Brown kept concealed
from the public until March, 1844, when he gave it publicity to
counteract a letter from Mr. Webster against the annexation of Texas to
the United States. This statement of Andrew Jackson having thus been
brought to the knowledge of Mr. Adams, he took occasion, on the 7th of
October in that year, in an address to a political society of young men
in Boston, to contradict and expose it in the following terms:

    "I have read the whole of this letter to you, for I intend to
    prolong its existence for the benefit of posterity." [After reading
    the above extract from the letter of Andrew Jackson, Mr. Adams
    proceeds.] "He was filled with astonishment, fellow-citizens! I am
    repeating to you the words of a man who has been eight years
    President of the United States; words deliberately written, and
    published to the world more than a year after they were written;
    words importing a statement of his conduct in his office as chief
    magistrate of this Union; words impeaching of treason the government
    of his predecessor, James Monroe, and in an especial manner, though
    without daring to name him, the Secretary of State,--a government to
    which he (Andrew Jackson) was under deep obligations of gratitude.

    "In what language of composure or of decency can I say to you that
    there is in this bitter and venomous charge not one single word of
    truth; that it is from beginning to end grossly, glaringly, wilfully
    false?--false even in the name of the man from whom he pretends to
    have derived his information. There never was a minister of the
    United States in Spain by the name of Erwin. The name of the man who
    went to him on this honorable errand, soon after his election in
    1829, was George W. Erving, of whom and of whose revelations I shall
    also have something to say. I do not charge this distortion of the
    name as wilfully made; but it shows how carelessly and loosely all
    his relations and intercourse with him hung upon his memory, and how
    little he cared for the man.

    "The blunder of the name, however, is in itself a matter of little
    moment. Mr. George W. Erving never did make to Mr. Jackson any such
    communication as he pretends to have found true, and to have filled
    him with astonishment. Mr. Erving never did pretend, nor will he
    dare to affirm, that he had laid the foundation of a treaty with
    Spain for the cession of the Floridas, and the settlement of the
    boundary of Louisiana, fixing the western limit at the Rio Grande.
    The charge, therefore, that our government did really give up that
    important territory, when it was at its option to retain it, is
    purely and unqualifiedly untrue; and I now charge that it was known
    by Mr. Brown to be so when he published General Jackson's letter;
    for, in the postscript to Jackson's letter, he says 'the papers
    furnished by Mr. Erwin, to which he had referred in it, could be
    placed in Mr. Brown's possession, if desired.'

    "They were accordingly placed in Mr. Brown's possession, who, when
    he published Jackson's letter to the _Globe_, alluding to this
    passage asserting that Erving had laid the foundation of a treaty
    with Spain, fixing the western limit at the Rio Grande, otherwise
    called the Rio del Norte, subjoined the following note: 'That this
    boundary could have been obtained was doubtless the belief of our
    minister; _but the offer of the Spanish government was probably to
    the Colorado--certainly a line far west of the Sabine_.'

    "This is the note of Aaron Vail Brown, and my fellow-citizens will
    please to observe,--

    "First, That it blows to atoms the whole statement of Andrew Jackson
    that Erving had laid the foundation of a treaty by which our western
    bounds upon the Spanish possessions should be at the Rio Grande;
    and, of course, grinds to impalpable powder his charge that our
    government did give up that important territory when it was at its
    option to retain it.

    "Secondly, That this note of Aaron Vail Brown, while it so
    effectually demolishes Jackson's fable of Erving's treaty with Spain
    for the boundary of the Rio del Norte, and his libellous charge
    against our government for surrendering the territory which they had
    the option to retain, is, with this exception, as wide and as wilful
    a departure from the truth as the calumny of Jackson itself, which
    it indirectly contradicts."

Mr. Adams then enters into a lucid and elaborate statement of Erving's
connection with this negotiation with the Spanish government, with
minute and important illustrations, highly interesting and conclusive;
severely animadverting upon the conduct of General Jackson and Mr.
Brown. He says:

    "The object of the publication of that letter of Andrew Jackson was
    to trump up a shadow of argument for a pretended reännexation of
    Texas to the United States, by a fabulous pretension that it had
    been treacherously surrendered to Spain, in the Florida treaty of
    1819, by our government,--meaning thereby the Secretary of State of
    that day, John Quincy Adams,--in return for greater obligations than
    any one public servant of this nation was ever indebted for to
    another. The argument for the annexation, or reännexation, of Texas
    is as gross an imposture as ever was palmed upon the credulity of an
    honest people."

In conclusion Mr. Adams addresses in a serious and exciting strain of
eloquence the young men of Boston; and, after recapitulating part of an
oration which he delivered on the 4th of July, 1793, before their
fathers and forefathers, in that city, he closes thus:

    "Young men of Boston, the generations of men to whom fifty-one years
    bygone I gave this solemn pledge have passed entirely away. They in
    whose name I gave it are, like him who addresses you, dropping into
    the grave. But they have redeemed their and my pledge. They were
    your fathers, and they have maintained the freedom transmitted to
    them by their sires of the war of independence. They have
    transmitted that freedom to you; and upon you now devolves the duty
    of transmitting it unimpaired to your posterity. Your trial is
    approaching. The spirit of freedom and the spirit of slavery are
    drawing together for the deadly conflict of arms. The annexation of
    Texas to this Union is the blast of a trumpet for a foreign, civil,
    servile, and Indian war, of which the government of your country,
    fallen into faithless hands, have already twice given the signal:
    first by a shameless treaty, rejected by a virtuous Senate; and
    again by the glove of defiance hurled by the apostle of
    nullification at the avowed policy of the British empire peacefully
    to promote the extinction of slavery throughout the world. Young men
    of Boston, burnish your armor--prepare for the conflict; and I say
    to you, in the language of Galgacus to the ancient Britons, 'Think
    of your forefathers! think of your posterity!'"[3]

      [3] _Niles' National Register_, Second Series, vol. XVII.,
      pp. 105-111.

On the 30th of the same month Mr. Adams delivered to his constituents at
Weymouth an address equally elaborate, comprehensive, and historical, in
a like fervid and characteristic spirit,[4] which thus concludes:

      [4] _Niles' National Register_, Second Series, vol. XVII., pp.

    "Texas and slavery are interwoven in every banner floating on the
    Democratic breeze. 'Freedom or death' should be inscribed on ours. A
    war for slavery! Can you enlist under such a standard? May the Ruler
    of the universe preserve you from such degradation! 'Freedom! Peace!
    Union!' be this the watchword of your camp; and if Ate, hot from
    hell, will come and cry 'Havoc!' fight--fight and conquer, under the
    banner of universal freedom."

In February, 1845, our title to Oregon being the subject of debate in
Congress, Mr. Adams joined in it, displaying his full knowledge of the
subject, and declaring that it was time to give notice to Great Britain
that the affair must be settled. He was desirous as any man to bring
this subject to an issue, but he did not wish to enter upon the
discussion of this matter before the world until we could show that we
had the best of the argument. He wished to have the reasons given to
the world for our taking possession of seven degrees of latitude, and
perhaps more; and whenever we took it, too, he hoped we should have it
defined geographically, defined politically, and, more than all the
rest, defined _morally_; and then, if we came to question with Great
Britain, we should say, "Come on, Macduff!" In answer to the inquiry
who had been the means of giving this country a title to Oregon, Mr.
Adams answered, it was a citizen of Massachusetts that discovered the
Columbia River; and that he (Mr. Adams) had the credit of inserting the
clause in the treaty on which our right was based. If it had not been
for the attacks which had been made upon him, the fact would have gone
with him to the grave.

In February, 1845, in a speech on the army bill, he treated ironically
the spirit of conquest then manifesting itself towards Mexico, Oregon,
and California. He said, at some future day we might hear the Speaker
not only announce on this floor "the gentleman from the Rocky
Mountains," or "the gentleman from the Pacific," or "the gentleman from
Patagonia," but "the gentleman from the North Pole," and also "the
gentleman from the South Pole;" and the poor original thirteen states
would dwindle into comparative insignificance as parts of this mighty

In November, 1845, in answer to a letter soliciting his opinion on the
constitutionality of the law of Congress retroceding Alexandria to
Virginia, Mr. Adams replied: "I have no hesitation to say I hold that
act unconstitutional and void. How the Supreme Court of the United
States would consider it I cannot undertake to judge, nor how they
would carry it into execution, should they determine the act
unconstitutional. The constitution of the United States '_Stat magna
nominis umbra_.'"

In the great debate on the Oregon question, which commenced in January,
1846, the intellectual power of Mr. Adams, and the extent and accuracy
of his acquaintance with the facts connected with that subject, were
preëminently manifested. Though conscious, being then in his
seventy-eighth year, that he stood on the threshold of human life, he
sought no relaxation from duty, no exemption from its performance. To
counteract the effect of a nervous tremor, to which he was
constitutionally subject, he used for many years an instrument to steady
his hand when writing, on the ivory label of which he inscribed the
motto "Toil and trust," indicative of the determined will, which had
characterized his whole life, "to scorn delights and live laborious
days." His step, however, now became more feeble, and his voice less
audible, but his indomitable spirit never failed to uplift him in
defence of liberty and the constitution of his country, when assailed.

In a debate on the Oregon question, in August, 1846, when Mr. Adams
arose to speak, the hall was found too extensive for the state of his
voice, and the members rushed to hear him, filling the area in front of
the Speaker. That officer, in behalf of the few who remained in their
seats, called the house to order, and Mr. Adams continued his remarks
with his accustomed clearness and energy.

At the close of the session, in 1846, he returned to his seat in Quincy,
with unimpaired intellectual powers, and with no perceptible symptom of
immediately declining health, until the 19th of November, when, walking
in the streets of Boston, an attack of paralysis deprived him of the
power of speech, and affected his right side. In the course of three
months, however, he was sufficiently recovered to resume his official
duties at Washington.

On the 16th of February, 1847, as he entered the Hall of the House of
Representatives for the first time since his illness, the house rose as
one man, business was at once suspended, his usual seat surrendered to
him by the gentleman to whom it had been assigned, and he was formally
conducted to it by two members. After resuming it, Mr. Adams expressed
his thanks to the member who had voluntarily relinquished his right in
his favor, and said: "Had I a more powerful voice, I might respond to
the congratulations of my friends, and the members of this house, for
the honor which has been done me. But, enfeebled as I am by disease, I
beg you will excuse me."

After this period, on one occasion alone he addressed the house. On the
refusal of President Polk to give information, on their demand, as to
the objects of the then existing war with Mexico, and the instructions
given by the Executive relative to negotiations for peace, Mr. Adams
rose, and maintained the constitutional power of the house to call for
that information; denying that in this case the refusal was justified by
that of President Washington on a similar demand; and declaring that the
house ought to sustain, in the strongest manner, their right to call for
information upon questions in which war and peace were concerned.

From this time, though daily in his seat in the House of
Representatives, he took no part in debate. On the 21st of February,
1848, he answered to the call of his name in a voice clear and emphatic.
Soon after, he rose, with a paper in his hand, and addressed the
Speaker, when paralysis returned, and, uttering the words, "This is the
last of earth; I am content," he fell into the arms of the occupant of
an adjoining seat, who sprang to his aid. The house immediately
adjourned. The members, greatly agitated, closed around him, until
dispersed by their associates of the medical faculty, who conveyed him
to a sofa in the rotundo, and from thence, at the request of the Speaker
of the House of Representatives, Robert C. Winthrop, he was removed to
the Speaker's apartment in the capitol. There Mrs. Adams and his family
were summoned to his side, and he continued, sedulously watched and
attended, in a state of almost entire insensibility, until the evening
of the 23d of February, when his spirit peacefully departed.

The gate of fear and envy was now shut; that of honor and fame opened.
Men of all parties united in just tributes to the memory of John Quincy
Adams. The halls of Congress resounded with voices of apt eulogy. After
a pathetic discourse by the Chaplain of the House of Representatives,
the remains of the departed statesman were followed by his family and
immediate friends, and by the senators and representatives of the State
of Massachusetts, as chief mourners. The President of the United States,
the heads of departments, both branches of the national legislature, the
members of the executive, judicial, and diplomatic corps, the officers
of the army and navy, the corporations of all the literary and public
societies in the District of Columbia, also joined the procession, which
proceeded with a military escort to the Congressional cemetery. From
thence his remains were removed, attended by thirty members of the House
of Representatives,--one from each state in the Union,--to

Every token of honor and respect was manifested in the cities and
villages through which they passed. In Boston they were received by a
committee appointed by the Legislature of Massachusetts, and by the
municipal government; and, passing through the principal streets, were
deposited, under care of the mayor of the city, in Faneuil Hall, which
was appropriately draped in mourning. Here they lay in state until the
next day, when, attended by the representatives of the nation, the
Executive and Legislature of Massachusetts, and the municipal
authorities of Boston, they were removed to Quincy, the birthplace of
Mr. Adams. There, in its Congregational church, after an eloquent
address,[5] these national tributes to the departed patriot closed,
beside the sepulchre of his parents, amidst the scenes most familiar and
dear to his heart.

      [5] By William P. Lunt, minister of the First Congregational
      Church in Quincy.

                *            *            *            *

The life of a statesman second to none in diligent and effective
preparation for public service, and faithful and fearless fulfilment of
public duty, has now been sketched, chiefly from materials taken from
his published works. The light of his own mind has been thrown on his
labors, motives, principles, and spirit. In times better adapted to
appreciate his worth, his merits and virtues will receive a more
enduring memorial. The present is not a moment propitious to weigh them
in a true balance. He knew how little a majority of the men of his own
time were disposed or qualified to estimate his character with justice.
To a future age he was accustomed to look with confidence. "_Alteri
sæculo_" was the appeal made by him through his whole life, and is
now engraven on his monument.

The basis of his moral character was the religious principle. His spirit
of liberty was fostered and inspired by the writings of Milton, Sydney,
and Locke, of which the American Declaration of Independence was an
emanation, and the constitution of the United States, with the exception
of the clauses conceded to slavery, an embodiment. He was the associate
of statesmen and diplomatists at a crisis when war and desolation swept
over Europe, when monarchs were perplexed with fear of change, and the
welfare of the United States was involved in the common danger. After
leading the councils which restored peace to conflicting nations, he
returned to support the administration of a veteran statesman, and then
wielded the chief powers of the republic with unsurpassed purity and
steadiness of purpose, energy, and wisdom. Removed by faction from the
helm of state, he re-entered the national councils, and, in his old age,
stood panoplied in the principles of Washington and his associates, the
ablest and most dreaded champion of freedom, until, from the station
assigned him by his country, he departed, happy in a life devoted to
duty, in a death crowned with every honor his country could bestow, and
blessed with the hope which inspires those who defend the rights, and
uphold, when menaced, momentous interests of mankind.

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