ADAMS, John. Autograph letter signed ("John Adams") to Joseph Lyman, Quincy, 20 April 1809. 3 full pages, 4to (7¼ x 8¾ in), a few tiny fold tears, otherwise in excellent condition.
ADAMS RECALLS THE "TREACHERY" OF HAMILTON AND HIS OWN STRUGGLE AS PRESIDENT "TO PROMOTE PRESERVE AND SECURE THE INTEGRITY OF THE UNION AND THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE NATION"
An excellent letter in which Adams stoutly defends his Administration, recalls with anger the treachery of Hamilton and others in the 1796 election, and ponders the chances for war. To comment on all the topics raised in Lyman's letter, he protests, "would require a volume." Recalling his term as President, he asserts that "I have forsaken the Persons and Interests of none of my Friends. The Leaders to whom the Federal Party has now blindly abandoned itself were never my Friends." Moreover, "I have departed from no Principle. My invariable Principle for five and thirty years has been to promote preserve and secure the Integrity of the Union and the Independence of the Nation, against the Policy of England as well as France. When France attempted to degrade us I exerted all my Industry to arrouse inspire and animate my Fellow Citizens to Resistance, and with so much success that the then French goverment were compelled to retreat. If, for this service I had no thanks from the Republicans, I had nothing but Insolence...from the Federalists. Look back and read the Federal Newspapers in Boston, New York and Philadelphia, of that Period. You will there see how I was treated."
Recalling a particularly bitter episode, the election of 1796, when Hamilton and certain other Federalists attempted to ensure the election of Pinckney, the vice-Presidential candidate, over Adams, he observes that if one individual, "then a Representative in Congress," were now alive, he could describe "the treachery of my pretended federal Friends. He assured me that the Federalists in New York with Hamilton at their head had in Secret Caucus agreed to Sacrifice Adams. I had other Information...that at the Meeting of the Cincinati at New York when they chose Hamilton their President General it was agreed...to Sacrifice Adams and bring in Pinckney. The Intrigues they practised to accomplish this were very extensive and very Jesuitical. But to develop them would lead me too far. I will only add that the Boston, and the Pensilvania, if not the South Carolina Federal Leaders were in the same Plott,...assisted too by the Publications in England..." He concludes bitterly that "I know that French Influence drove me into banishment: but it would not have had the power if it had not been essentially assisted by the Pharaical Jesuitical Machiavellian Intrigues and Influence of the leading Federalists."
On the prospect for war he observes that "a War with England will not meet my 'Hearty Reprobation' if England makes it necessary. England and France have both given us just cause of war. But neither has yet made it necessary. The first of the two that shall render war necessary shall have my vote for it. I am surprised that you should think there is no pretext or excuse for a war with England...You say Mr Adams would have resented and repelled, to the utmost of his Power the British Proclamation of Blockade of Eleven hundred Miles of Sea coast from the Elbe to Brest which was the first act of the Diabolical Warfare of Blockades, Decrees and orders of Council..."
He contends that "in plain English, Great Britain is the first Sinner, and the original Guilt of our present Calamities lies at her door: though France in point of actual Transgression is not much behind her. The Federal Papers for the last year or two...have been employed in varnishing over the conduct of Great Britain...till they appear to have obtained a temporary Majority in New England. I greatly respect the public opinion of New England when it is truly informed. In the present Instance, with infinite grief I fear it is not. The Press has not been free." He concludes with the sour observation that "I am not able to see how the Federalists of New England are to get along with their new Friends the Old English. If they Succeed I shall wish them Joy: but I cannot expect to live to enjoy that felicity."
Provenance: Lindley and Charles Eberstadt (sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, 13 October 1964, lot 12).