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Adams, John (1735-1826) to Benjamin Rush re: Jefferson and Madison's Presidential terms, War of 1812

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC07492 Author/Creator: Adams, John (1735-1826) Place Written: Quincy Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 1812/09/18 Pagination: 3 p. + FF 24.8 x 19.7 cm

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC07492 Author/Creator: Adams, John (1735-1826) Place Written: Quincy Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 1812/09/18 Pagination: 3 p. + FF 24.8 x 19.7 cm

Summary of Content: "Those who brought us into this confusion are the best qualified to bring us out of it" (War of 1812).

Background Information:

Full Transcript: Quincy Septr. 18. 1812
My dear Friend


In the good old English Phrase, I give you ten thousands Thanks for the Muscat Wine of Samos, which is now in my Cellar, in ...good order and of good quality. you did not for see one effect of it. I will increase my Love of Greek and Latin more than my Patriotism. Oh! How I heard a Circle of Ladies, of the first quality, old and middle Aged, and young, praise it last Evening! If indeed there is any Such Thing as quality in our Country.
When you thanked me, in strict propriety you was in [illegible]. you did wrong. I gave you nothing, I was Trustee for [struck] our Country. Had I known a Man more fit, more deserving, you would not have been Selected. You have given me you own. I have accepted your own. I ought therefore to give you ten thousand, thousand Thanks, and you ought to have given me none at all. [illegible] have a head [illegible] enough to discern, and an heart Subscribe enough to fell these nice distinctions: and therefore to be convinced that I ought not always to lay under the Weight of this great Obligation.

I feel the Force of all your " But," "Butt," "Butt"s. I know of but one "Butt," however, that ought to have been decisive. This is the rash Insult to Jefferson and Madison, in the Address to Congress. This I give up. I would have done as Jefferson did. I could have done no otherwise. And this I consider as an eternal Sentence Against [struck] the Man to Poverty and Obscurity and Inutility.

I never heard him Speak of either W's with any. Contempt. He has always been cautious before me. He once sent me [insert: when I was President] a Bundle of Papers of Complaint against [illegible], from Detroit. Upon the calmest coolest, most impartial and [illegible] Consideration of them. I thought they did more harm than anything else at Wilkinson. The amount of them all was that he had proclaimed Martial Law at Detroit. This I believe to be necessary because the Inhabitants there were Tories, and I fear they remain Tories Still. Therefore Acquitted Wilkinson and continued him in Command, all my time.
I rejoice in the Success of your Son Benjamin, and in the happiness of all your Family. Benjamin will return laden with, knowledge and Experience.

You have done wisely, in avoiding Controversy, about the questions whether Apostate Angells, fallen Angels, or in other Words Devils, possessed the Demonians of the New Testament, or whether Demons and [illegible] the Prince of Demons, possessed people in [illegible]. The great [illegible] whether Demons and their Prince and the Same Spirits as the Devil and his Angels, did not necessarily fill within the compass of your inquiry.
Shakespeare and Pringle were not adepts in the Science of Biblical Criticism, which is now in the full tide of successful experiment - [Where will it end?] See our Cambridge general Repository.
Have you treated of St. Anthony's Fire, St Vitus's dance, and the Night Mare? These are all Madness, or at least produce Madness.
The Antients Seem to have thought all Madness Possession. The Devil is not once in the New Testament Said possess. Man Woman Child or Hog:
The word [illegible] occurs fifty two lines; [illegible] three; [illegible] thirteen. [Illegible] not once. Search then the Distinction between Demon and Devils, and you will find it as great as between Heathenism and Christianity.
But what is all this to your purpose? Unless it be to give you suspicion that I am in danger of becoming a fit subject for your Treatise and your Chair.?
For my part I am of opinion, with mad Johnson, that all Mankind are a little mad. You cannot there fore describe all the Species of this distemper nor care them all. I believe none possessed, either by Devil or Demon. It is all Vice or distemper, moral or physical Evil.
"To be sober, I believe Mr. Madison will be again elected; and upon the whole, I wish it because I see no Man who will be likely to do better. The Nation it is true is greatly and justly allarmed [sic] at the Imbecility of the last twelve years, But those who brought Us into this Confusion are the best qualified to bring Us out of it, if they can be made to attempt it in the right Way. Madisons private opinions and Jeffersons too, are more correct than their [insert: public] Conduct has been; for that has been dictated by their Party.
Neither Mr Clinton nor Mr Jay, nor Mr Martial, nor any other Man that occurs to me could in the present Circumstances Serve Us so effectually as Mr Madison, if Congress will let him. But if Congress at their not session do not commence some Serious Effects for a Navy, though Mr Madison may be chosen, a disaffection will be so deeply radicated in New York and all the northern States as to parrallyse [sic] all the Measures of government and produce a disastrous War, by Sea and Land, and [illegible] a rupture of the Union. Besides Mr Madisons Majority will be very Small.
" I am perfectly of your opinion that The federal denial of the Justice of the War, by which [insert: then] identify themselves with the Tories and the English is a great a blunder on [illegible] part, as any that has been committed by their Antagonists, these twelve years. The Federalists are as apt to Stumble as the Republicans, and are no more to be trusted than they: yet as the latter are in possession of the fond Affections of the People they can do better, if they will, than the [illegible]. I Speak with difference however, having been so long out of the World."

I am, dear, Sir, as ever your affectionate and obliged Friend
John Adams


Dr Rush
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People: Adams, John, 1735-1826
Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: PresidentWar of 1812Global History and CivicsForeign AffairsMilitary HistoryPresidents Discussing PresidentsVice President

Sub Era: The Age of Jefferson & Madison

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