ADAMS, JOHN, President. Autograph letter signed in full as United States Minister to Great Britain, TO ELBRIDGE GERRY, Grosvenor Square, Westminster [London], 6 July 1785. 1 1/4 pages, 4to, narrow strip of paper along one edge of second page where once hinged, otherwise in fine condition.
"THE PEOPLE OF ALL THE STATES SHOULD FOLLOW....CONSIDER PERSONS AND PROPERTY AS SACRED. THERE IS NO NECESSITY OF VIOLATING EITHER..."
An intriguing letter written to his friend and fellow Signer a little after a month after Adams had formally presented his credentials as Minister and had his important first interview with King George III. Adams lengthy description of that interview, for John Jay, marked for
cyphering, was sold at Christie's 15 May, 1992, lot 28; it is possible a copy of that letter is among those he now sends to Gerry, with a caution that he not share them too freely. "My Dear Friend The inclosed Letters [no longer present] I sent to Mr. [John] Jay in Cypher, but all the Conversations with the King and Queen have been reported by Lord Carmathen and the Lord and Ladies in Waiting on the Queen, and are become generally known, there is no longer a Necessity of so much mystery, yet you must be Sensible of the Delicacy of the Subject, and therefore communicate them with Discretion and in Confidence. If Mr. Jay should not have rec'd the Originals in Cypher you may deliver these to him when you see him but I make no doubt he will receive them.
"The Dispositions of the [British] Ministry, are either very deceitful or very good, but they are watched and embarassed by Oppositions of various Parties, that it will at least be long before they venture on any Thing decisive. They may do something to the Purpose sooner than I expect, but I see no present hope. I am much afraid there will be a necessity that the People of all the States Should follow the Example at Faneuil Hall. But it cannot be too earnestly recommended to them to consider Persons and Property as Sacred. There is no necessity of violating either. Petitions of the People to their Assemblies and Instructions from them to Congress will be sufficient for all Good Purposes...."
Adams expresses his frustrations and doubts concerning the commercial treaty he hoped to negotiate with Britain. In the wake of the Revolution, America had been flooded by British imported goods, and protests by American merchants and manufacturers, complaining of unfair competition, mounted. Congress, under the Articles of Confederation, was specifically barred from enacting tariffs and could do nothing to ameliorate the problem. In April and May, various Massachusetts groups had held meetings at Faneuil Hall to lobby for protection. These resulted in the state's passage of a Navigation Act and a protective tariff.