Washington Jan. 16. 1801
In your Letter of the 9th, you say, that you will not say you disagree with Manlius, in his opinion, that the downfall of the federal Cause is to be attributed to the Mission to France—In this opinion I fully believe that both of you are mistaken; and I am confident, I could convince you of this, if I had an opportunity of recalling to your recollection, the Passages of the times before and after the nomination of Mr Murray. It would require more time, than I have at my command to devellope the particulars. But if the Papers which I have seen & even those I have in Possession, had been published as they would have been & the President had refused to institute a negotiation, with the Alien Law—the Sedition Law and the direct Tax in full force & operation, with the Army on foot, Eight Per Cent Loans proceeding, & the other Sources of Revenue yet untouched, explored and fresh taxes laid on in my Opinion the President would scarcely have had twenty Votes at the last Election—The new Senators would have been all Jacobins & the new Representatives too, very generally, even in New England. Without the negotiation with Franc, there would have been a compleat Revolution of Sentiment in America and such decided Majorities of Jacobins brought in, as would have carried the government into a direct War with Great Britain, after making a Treaty with France, infinitely more disadvantageous, than the convention is. The convention is perfectly consistent with our faith, our honor, & excepting the relinquishment of a compensation for spoliations, which had become desperate, highly promotive of our interests.
Tell me whether I am nearly right.
The federal cause has been so imprudently managed as well as so discordantly composed that the overthrow of the Party is no wonder. The federal cause had no head. Washington was head. Hamilton was head. Pickering was head, and Wolcott was head. If there was any subordination among these four, it was to Hamilton
MHi: Adams Papers.