Adams Papers

To John Adams from William Loughton Smith, 5 September 1798

Lisbon, Sepr. 5.[17]98

Dear Sir

The wise & energetic conduct of our government in respect to France must have attracted the applauses of all Europeans, who yet dare to have an opinion of their own. Future events will, I trust demonstrate that this is the only fit policy for the United States to pursue, and if peace should be the result of any future negotiations, the basis of it will have been laid in that Policy. It is to be regretted that Mr. Gerry should have confined his views (in his last letter to Talleyrand) merely to spoliations in the W. Indies & on the Coast of America & should have countenanced the Idea that these spoliations were unauthorized by the french government, for now the letter of Talleyrand & the Decree of the Directory will appear to many a satisfactory removal of our complaints. How came he to forget all their Decrees? The new Decree, which artfully professes to be a Salve for all our wounds, is to confine the Privateers to legal limits, so that in fact it leaves things much where they were; yet the superficial politician who forms his opinion of the state of our affairs from these two pieces, viz, Gerry’s letter & Talleyrand’s answer, will naturally enough conclude that we have nothing more to ask, and that we are determined at all events on war unless we call in our ships of war & disband our Armies. How came he to forget redress for past injuries? How came he to forget many other essential points, when he could so well recollect a thousand little minutiæ, which, appeared necessary to extricate himself from a dilemma, into which he had suffered himself to be thrown by his curiosity and timidity? But I will not anticipate any further your reflections on a conduct so extraordinary & unexpected.—

We remain still in uncertainty about the Fleets in the Mediterranean—the reports of the engagemt still continue, but a late letter from Ld St. Vincent gives no credit to them; a few days ago he had received no intelligence from Nelson.

I lament the state of the Northern powers as described in your favor of 18th. July. The policy of Prussia astonishes me & can only be ascribed to a fatal influence in her Cabinet. There is still some prospect of a rupture between France & Austria.—Our last accnts. from America are down to the 16th. July—Congress had adjourned on that day to meet in Decemr.—Your illustrious Parent was daily requiring more & more the well earned confidence—affections of the People, who thank God, at length see their true Interests.—A minister from this Country to Paris sat out lately from Madrid—some money will suit the Directory better now than the Expences & hazard of an Invasion.

With the truest regard I am / Dr. Sir / your

Wm. Smith

I remain with Mr Sartoris, whom I congratulate on his agreable establishmt.

MHi: Adams Papers.

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