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In the year that succeeded the declaration of independence, however, the prospects of the country became exceedingly gloomy, and even the boldest were sometimes led to fear they had gone farther than their resources authorised them to do. It was at this critical juncture, after congress, whose members were reduced to twenty-eight individuals, had resolved to adjourn to Lancaster, that some of the leading gentlemen accidentally met in company with each other. A conversation in mutual confidence ensued. Mr. Adams, who was one of the number, was cheerful and undismayed at the aspect of affairs, while the countenances of his friends were strongly marked with the desponding feelings of their hearts. The conversation naturally turned upon the subject which most engaged their thoughts. Each took occasion to express his opinions on the situation of the public cause, and all were gloomy and sad. Mr. Adams listened in silence till they had finished. He then said, “Gentlemen, your spirits appear to be heavily oppressed with our public calamities. I hope you do not despair of our final success ?” It was answered, “ That the chance was desperate.” Mr. Adams replied, “ if this be our language, it is so, indeed. If we wear long faces, they will become fashionable. The people take their tone from ours, and if we despair, can it be expected that they will continue their efforts in what we conceive to be a hopeless cause ? Let us banish such feelings, and show a spirit that will keep alive the confidence of the people, rather

than damp their courage. Better tidings will soon arrive. Our cause is just and righteous, and we shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we show ourselves worthy of its aid and protection." His words were almost prophetic. Within a few days, the news arrived of the glorious success of our cause at Saratoga, which gave brightness to our prospects and confidence to our hopes: The year

1778, produced the attempt on the part of the British government, to divide or distract the colonies by their pretended offers of conciliation. Their drift was immediately perceived by Mr. Adams, and he wrote thas on the subject to his friend Mr. Lee, “Commissioners, we are told, are coming out to treat with us: this is what we had reason to expect; her only design is to amuse us, and thereby to retard our operations, till she can land her utmost force in America. We see plainly, what part we are to take; to be beforehand with her, and by an early stroke, to give her a mortal wound. If we delay our vigorous exertions till the commissioners arrive, the people abroad may, many of them will, be amused with the flattering prospect of peace, and will think it strange if we do not consent to a cessation of arms, till propositions can be made and digested. This carries with it ani air of plausibility, but from the moment we are brought into the snare, we may tremble for the consequence. As there are every where artful tories enough, to distract the minds of the people, would it not be wise for the congress, by a pub

lication of their own, to set this important intelligence in a clear light before them, and fix in their minds the first impression in favour of truth? for I do assure you, it begins to be whispered by the tories, and as soon as they dare to do it they will speak aloud, that this is but a French finesse and that Britain is the only real friend of America. *** The British court have nothing in view, but to divide by means of their commissioners: of this they entertain sanguine expectations; for I am well assured, that they say they have certain advice, that they have a large party in the congress, almost a majority, who are for returning to their dependency! This cannot be true. Doctor Franklin, in a letter of the second of March, informs me, that America at present stands in the highest light of esteem throughout Europe, and he adds, a return to dependence on England, would sink her into eternal contempt.”

In a letter written not long before he left congress, to the same gentleman, we find the following excellent remarks, on the necessity of preserving unimpaired the dignity of that illustrious body, and filling it with those only whose principles were known and unsullied. “My friend,” he says, “we must not suffer any thing to discourage us in this great conflict : let us recur to first principles without delay. It is our duty to make every proper exertion in our respective states, to revive the old patriotic feelings among the people at large, and to get the public departments, especially the most important of them, filled with men

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of understanding and inflexible virtue. It would be indeed alarming, if the United States should entrust the ship in which our all is at stake, with unexperienced or unprincipled pilots. Our cause is surely too interesting to mankind, to be put under the direction of men, vain, avaricious, or concealed under the hypocritical guise of patriotism, without a spark of public or private virtue." In the year 1781, with the prospects of peace,

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Mr. Adams began to turn his attention to the objects which ought to be secured by the United States, on an event to attain which she had suffered so much and so long; and with all the peculiar tenaciousness of his character, he determined that those privileges and rights should be explicitly secured, on which the respective interests of various.portions of the country depended. He saw clearly, too, the necessity of entering upon the world with those broad views of policy which would enable us to maintain our rights. “Are we soon to have peace ?" he writes, in the summer of 1781, to Mr. M.Kean, at that time president of congress; “ However desirable this may be, we must not wish for it on any terms but such as shall be honourable and safe to our country. Let us not disgrace ourselves by giving just occasion for it to be said hereafter; that we finished this great contest with an inglorious accommodation. Things are whispered here, which, if true, will cause much discontent. The citizens of this part of America will say, and judge, my dear sir, whether it would not be

VOL. IX.SS

just, that the fishing banks are at least as important as tobacco yards, or rice swamps, or the flourishing wheat fields of Pennsylvania. The name only of independence is not worth the blood of a single citizen. We have not been so long contending for trifles. A navy must support our independence ; and Britain will tell you that the fishery is a grand nursery of seamen."

And in a letter to the same gentleman, written in the following month, he says, “ I take it for granted that a very great majority of the people in each of the United States, are determined to support this righteous and necessary war, till they shall obtain their grand object, an undisputed sovereignty. This must hereafter be maintained, under God, by the wisdom and vigour of their own councils, and their own strength. Their policy will lead them, if they mean to form any connexion with Europe, to make themselves respectable in the eyes of the nations, by holding up to them the benefits of their trade. Trade must be so free to all, as to make it the interest of cach to protect it, till they are able to protect it themselves. This, the United States must do by a navy. Till they shall have erected a powerful navy, they will be liable to insults which may injure and depreciate their character, as a sovereign and independent state; and while they may be incapable of resisting it themselves, no friendly power ởnay venture to, or can, resent it on their behalf. The United States must, then, build a navy. They have, or may have,

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