Thomas Jefferson Papers

Notes on Comments by John Adams and Robert Goodloe Harper, 26 December 1797

Notes on Comments by John Adams and Robert Goodloe Harper

Dec. 26.
Langdon tells me that at the 2d. election of Pr. and V.P. of US. when there was a considerable vote given to Clinton in opposition to Mr. Adams, he took occasion to remark it in conversation in the Senate chamber with Mr. A. who gritting his teeth said ‘Damn ’em’ ‘Damn ’em’ ‘Damn ’em’ you see that an elective government will not do.’—He also tells me that Mr. A. in a late conversation said ‘Republicanism must be disgraced, Sir.’ The Chevalr. Yruho called on him at Braintree, and conversing on French affairs, and Yruho expressing his belief of their stability in opposition to Mr. Adams’s, the latter lifting up and shaking his finger at him said ‘I’ll tell you what, the French republic will not last 3. months.’ This I had from Yruho.

Harper lately in a large company was saying that the best thing the friends of the French could do was to pray for the restoration of their monarch, then says a bystander ‘the best thing we could do I suppose would be to pray for the establishment of a monarch in the US.’ ‘Our people says Harper are not yet ripe for it, but it is the best thing we can come to and we shall come to it.’ Something like this was said in presence of Findlay.1

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 102: 17524); entirely in TJ’s hand, written on same sheet as Notes on a Conversation with Tench Coxe, 27 Dec. 1797, with beginning of Notes on the Formation of the Federal Government, 5 Jan. 1798, written on verso; later notation by TJ (see note below).

The comments by Harper lately in a large company were printed in slightly different form by James T. Callender in his Sketches of the History of America, 52n, where they were attributed to a conversation in the Pennsylvania State House on 23 Dec. 1797 at which unnamed congressmen were present. In March 1798 the anecdote was reprinted by the New York Argus from Callender’s work, and the Philadelphia Aurora of 21 Mch. 1798 carried a letter from Harper proclaiming the statement “an absolute falsehood from beginning to end.” Harper admitted that “I have often said and now repeat, that the abolition of monarchy in France was, in my opinion, a misfortune to that country; but it is absolutely false that I ever expressed a sentiment respecting the American government, like that attributed to me in the above paragraph.”

1Sentence possibly added later. In the space between this sentence and the Notes on a Conversation with Tench Coxe of 27 Dec. 1797, TJ interlined: “1798. Mar. He now denies it in the public papers tho it can be proved by several members.”

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