I have long had it in contemplation to pay my respects to you, but a wandering life and various avocations have hitherto prevented.
I am very happy to find that our labors in convention were not in vain. The Constitution, as finished by the convention and accepted by the people, is publishing in all the public papers of Europe, the report of the committee having been published before. Both have been treated with much respect both in Europe and in the other States of America. The noble simplicity of your address to the people is much admired. The substitute for the Governor’s negative is generally thought an amelioration, and I must confess it is so widely guarded that it has quite reconciled me.
I want to hear of the elections. If these are made with as much gravity, sobriety, wisdom, and integrity as were discovered in the convention and among the people, in the whole course of this great work, posterity will be happy and prosperous. The first citizen will be one of two whom we know.
Whichever it may be, I wish him support and success. It is no light trust. However ambitious any may be of it, whoever obtains this distinction, if he does his duty, will find it a heavy burden. There are, however, other great trusts. The Governor’s office will be rendered more or less useful, according to the characters that compose the Senate and the Council. If the people are as prudent in the choice of these as they were in the choice of the convention, let the Governor be almost what he will, he will not be able to do much harm; he will be necessitated to do right.
There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution. We cannot have a bad Governor at present. We may not possibly have the best that might be found, but we shall have a good one; one who means to do no evil to his country, but as much good as he can.
The convention I shall ever recollect with veneration. Among other things, for bringing me acquainted with several characters that I knew little of before, of which number Mr. Jackson is one. I shall be much honored, Sir, if you would be so good as to write me the state of things. There are more opportunities from your port to Spain and Holland, I think, than from any other.
- John Adams, Letter to Jonathan Jackson, October 1780
I went on Fryday night with Mr. Storer to the Drawing Rooms where the warmth of the weather increased by a great fire and a Croud of good Company, gave me one of my annual great Colds. The same Evening the large Lutheran Church in our old Neighbourhood took fire and was burnt down. The next morning, Mrs. Otis was brought to bed and the Mother and the Daughter are very well.
So much for News good and bad.
The Weather continues very moderate: but the old Adage a green Christmas makes a growing Church Yard, or a fat Church Yard as the various readings have it, is a damper to its Pleasures. Our Country is not yet sufficiently drained, for these warm Winters. Cold Weather is necessary to confine, or kill the putrid deleterious vapours, which arise from uncultivated forests and undrained Marbles.
Parson Osgoods Sermon makes a great Noise here. — What says The Governor to his share of the Whipping?
The Clergy of New England have trumpetted Paine and Robespierre till they begin to tremble for the Consequences of their own Imprudence. Did Mr. Wibirt in complaisance to the Proclamation omit the national Government?
Old Men say that time flys faster and faster every year. If I concur in this observation it must be when I am at Quincy. Here my moments are long and slow. I read my Eyes out, and cant read half enough neither. The more one reads the more one sees We have to read.
An horrid Journey of 3 or 400 miles before I can get home lies before me like a mountain.
Charles has lost his Friend Steuben. I have written to him a great many Letters: but I can get only a line in answer. At one time he says he has a willow on his Finger. At another he is very busy. This is good news. I have invited him to come and spend a Week with me in January if his Business will allow.
I have bought the Tryals of the Scotch Jacobins, and sent them to him as Presents. They are in the Way of his Profession and will be both Entertainment and Information to him. Self Created societies in Switzerland, England and Scotland, dont come off with a gentle rap over the knuckles in a Speech or a sermon: but they promote their Members to the Cord or to Botany Bay, to Banishment, Transportation or Death.
The mildness of our Government is a pleasing delightful Characteristic: but and although it will probably give Encouragement to some Disorders, and even some daring Crimes, it is too prescious to be relinquished without an absolute Necessity.
Have my Mother with you as often as possible and tell her I hope to see her again in two months.
- John Adams to his Mother, date unknown
- John Adams, Letter to Horatio Gates, March 23, 1776