James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from John Adams, 28 November 1814

From John Adams

Quincy November 28. 1814

Dear Sir

When my Son departed for Russia, I enjoined upon him to write nothing to me, which he was not willing Should be published in French and English Newspapers. He has very Scrupulously observed the rule.

I have been equally reserved in my letters to him: but the Principle on both Sides has been to me a cruel privation, for his correspondence when Absent, and his Conversation when present has been a principal enjoyment of my Life.

In the enclosed Letter he has ventured to deviate; and has assigned his Reason for it. I think however that I ought to communicate it to you.1

I have no Papers, that I recollect that can be of any Service to him. I published in the Boston Patriot all I recollected of the Negotiations for Peace in 1782 and 1783.2 But I have no Copy of that Publication in manuscript or Print, and I had hoped never to See it or hear of it again;

All I can Say is that I would continue this War forever, rather than Surrender One Acre of our Territory, one Iota of the Fisheries, as astablished by the Third Article of the Treaty of 1783 or one Sailor impressed from any Merch⟨ant⟩ Ship.

I will not however Say this to my Son; though I Shall be very much obliged to you, if you will give h⟨i⟩m orders to the Same Effect.

It is the decree of Providence, as I believe, that this Nation must be purified in the furnace of Affliction.

You will be So good as to return my Letter and believe me your respectful fellow Citizen and Sincere public and private Friend

John Adams

RC (owned by Mr. and Mrs. Philip D. Sang, Chicago, Ill., 1958); letterbook copy (MHi: Adams Papers). RC docketed by JM. Parts of words in angle brackets supplied from the letterbook copy. Minor differences between the copies have not been noted.

1Adams enclosed John Quincy Adams’s letter to him of 27 Oct. 1814, which described the course of the peace negotiations at Ghent, summarized the British threat to revoke American fishing rights in the Canadian Maritimes (see JM to Congress, 10 Oct. 1814, n. 1) and inquired whether the elder Adams could supply “any information tending to elucidate” the agreement regarding those rights in the 1782 and 1783 treaties with Great Britain. The younger Adams went on to note that “this Letter contains more than I should at this moment think myself warranted to communicate even to you but for the particular motive which occasions it,” and to request that his father therefore “consider it as entirely confidential” (MHi: Adams Papers [microfilm ed.], reel 154).

2Beginning in April 1809 and continuing into May 1812, nearly every issue of the biweekly Boston Patriot contained a letter from Adams documenting and defending his public career. Those in which he discussed the 1783 Treaty of Paris and the negotiations preceding it appeared from 24 July 1811 through 29 Apr. 1812.

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