Adams, John Quincy (1767-1848) to William Plumer
Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04755
Author/Creator: Adams, John Quincy (1767-1848)
Place Written: Ealing near London
Type: Autograph letter signed
Date: 17 January 1817
Pagination: 4 p. ; 24.4 x 20.3 cm.
Summary of Content: Regarding the European feeling that Americans shall ”become dangerous members of the Society of Nations.” Naval Victories, state of Barbary (fighting the pirates of Barbary and Algiers rather than giving them tribute), enemies everywhere, few friends except Russia. Also mentions subserviency to ”Holy Religion, and the Press Gang.”
Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860
Full Transcript: His Excellency William Plumer, }, Governor of New Hampshire } Ealing, near London 17. January 1817., , My dear Sir, I am yet to acknowledge the receipt of your two obliging favours of 6. March, and 30. July last, the latter enclosing a copy of your Speech to the Legislature - During the whole time that I have enjoyed the happiness of an acquaintance and friendship with you, there has been so general a coincidence of Sentiment between us upon all the objects of concernment to our Country which have successively arisen, that I can ascribe it to no other cause than to the similitude, or rather the identity, of our political and moral principles. It was therefore not possible for me to read your excellent speech without great pleasure, and I was much gratified to see that its merits did not escape public notice, even in this Country. It was republished entire in one of the Newspapers of most extensive circulation; not as during our late War, some of our Governor’s speeches were republished, to show the subserviency of the Speakers to the Bulwark of our Holy Religion, and to the Press gang, but professedly for the pure and patriotic, and genuine Republic sentiments with which it abounded. It has been a truly cheering contemplation to me to see that the People of New Hampshire have recovered from the delusion of that unprincipled faction, which under the name of federalism were driving to the dissolution of the Union, and under the name of Washington to British recolonization - to see them returning to the Counsils of sober and moderate men, who are biassed by no feelings but those of public Spirit, and by no interests but those of their Country. Such a person I well know they had found in you, and such I hope you will find in your present and future co-adjutors. Although the progress of reformation has not been so rapid and effectual in our native State as it has been with  you, yet the tendency of the Public opinion has been steadily since the Peace in that direction, as it has been throughout the Union; and as that faction can not fail to sink in proportion as the County prospers. I do not despair of seeing the day when the policy of all the State Governments will be in unison with that of the Nation. , We have lately received what may be termed President Madison’s valedictory message to Congress; and grateful indeed must it be to his feelings to compare the condition of the Country, at the close of his administration, with the turbulent and perilous state in which it was at the period of his first election - It will be the great duty of his Successor, and of the Congress with which he is to co-operate to use diligently the days of Peace to prepare the Nation for other trials, which are probably not far distant, and which sooner or later cannot fail to arise - Your Speech most justly remarks that the late War, raised our public character in the estimation of other Nations; but we cannot be too profoundly impressed with the Sentiment that it has by no means added to the number of our friends - In this country more particularly it is impossible for me to disguise to myself that national feeling of animosity and rancour against America, and the Americans is more universal and more bitter than it was before the War - A considerable part of the British Nation then despised us; and contempt is a feeling far less active in spurring to acts of hostility than hatred and fear, which have taken its place - No Briton of any party ever imagined that we should be able to maintain a contest against them upon the Ocean. Very few among ourselves expected it. Our victories both by Sea and Land though intermingled with defeats and disasters, which we ought to remember, more studiously than our triumphs, have placed our character as a martial Nation upon a level with the most respectable Nations of Europe, but the effect here has been to unite all parties in the conviction that we are destined to be the most formidable of the enemies and rivals of the their naval power. Now the Navy is so universally the Idol of this Nation, that there is not a Statesman of any description or party who dares befriend any thing opposed to it; or look with other than hostile  eyes to any thing that threatens its glory or portends its downfall - The Opposition party, and its leaders before the War, were much more liberally disposed towards America than the Ministerialists; but after the war commenced, they joined the Ministers in full pack and since the Peace their party tactics have constantly been to cavil against any liberality or concession of the Ministers to America - The issue of the late European Wars has been to give for the moment, (though it will not last long,) to the British Government, an ascendancy of influence over the whole Continent of Europe, which they will naturally use to inspire prejudices and jealousies against us - There is already in all the Governments of Europe a strong prejudice against us as Republicans, and as the primary causes of the propagation of those political principles, which still make the throne of every European Monarch rock under him, as with the throes of an Earthquake - With Spain we are and have been for years on the verge of War. Nothing but the impotence of the Spanish Government has hitherto prevented the explosion; and we have so many collisions of interest as well as of principles with Spain that it is not only the Court, but the Nation which hates and fears us - In France the Government besides being in tutelage under Britain have feelings against America, more venomous even than the British. The mass of the French Nation have no such feelings, but they have no attachment to us, or friendship for us - Their own condition absorbs all their feelings and they would delight in seeing us at War with Great Britain, because they flatter themselves that would operate as a diversion in their favour, and perhaps enable them to break the yoke under which they are groaning. We have claims for indemnities against the Governments of France, Spain, the Netherlands, Naples and Denmark, the justice of which they do not admit, and which nothing but necessity will ever bring there to acknowledge. The very pursuit of those claims has a tendency to embroil us with those Nations, as has been fully exemplified in the result of Mr Pinkney’s late Mission to Naples, and yet as the claims are just they ought not to be abandoned. The States of Barbary owe us a heavy grudge for the chastisements we have inflicted upon all of them,  and for the example first set by us to the European Nations, of giving them battle instead of tribute, and of breaking up their system of piracy. We have therefore enemies in almost every part of the world, and few or no friends any where - If there be an exception it is in Russia; but even there the shameful misconduct of the Russian Consul General at Philadelphia, and the infamous manner in which he has been abetted by the Minister Dasehkoff have produced a coldness on the part of the Emperor which endangered at least the harmony of the relations between the two Countries - Add to all this that there is a vague and general sentiment of speculative and forecasting jealousy against us prevailing all over Europe - We are considered not merely as an active and enterprizing, but as a grasping and ambitious People - We are supposed to have inherited all the bad qualities of the British character, without some of those of which other nations in their dealings with the British have made their advantage. They ascribe to us all the British rapacity, without allowing us the credit of the British profusion - The universal feeling of Europe in witnessing the gigantic growth of our population and power is that we shall, if united become a very dangerous member of the Society of Nations. They therefore hope, what they confidently expect; that we shall not long remain united. That before we shall have attained the strength of National Manhood, our Union will be dissolved, and that we shall break up into two or more Nations in opposition against one another. The conclusion from all which that we must draw is to do justice invariably to every nation, and the same time to fix our military, naval, and fiscal establishments upon a foundation adequate to our defence, and enabling us to obtain justice in return from them. , I have not yet been able to procure for you Adam’s History of the Indians, but I have found at a very moderate price, a complete set of the Remembrancer, including the Prior Documents, all in eleven Volumes, which I purpose to send you by the Galen; to sail about the first of March - I remain with great respect and attachment, , Dear Sir, your friend & humble Sevt John Quincy Adams.
Keywords/Subjects: Presidents;, Africa;, Pirates;, Barbary Pirates;, Barbary Wars;, Barbary Coast;, War of 1812;, Navy;, Military History;, Global History and Civics;, Foreign Affairs;, Religion;
Sub Era: The First Age of ReformOrder Image