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more his strong opinion that peace was possible only at the arbitration of the sword. Sink or swim, survive or perish, we must fight, was his burning conviction.
The course of the British government more and more convinced the people that John Adams saw the alternative offered to the colonies, to fight for their independence or be permanently oppressed. Every month made it clearer to some of them, and when the summer of 1776 made clear to the people that our soldiers could match the red-coats, and that the decision must be made by the fierce onslaught of war, they were ready for the declaration of independence. There were still many for begging and cringing and waiting,-many who so believed in the infallibility and omnipotence of England, that it seemed like resisting the Almighty to lift the feeble hand of the colonies against her; but John Adams' strong voice rang out for freedom or death; and Patrick Henry responded with matchless eloquence to the mighty appeal. At length the die was cast, and the country committed to freedom or death.
MINISTER TO FRANCE.
In the last part of the year 1777, Mr. Adams was appointed by congress minister to France. He accepted the dangers, and set sail on the thirteenth of February, 1778, and reached Paris the eighth of April, after having been chased by British cruisers, encountered a severe storm in the gulf-stream, met and captured a British letter-of-marque, and passed safely the exposure in the British channel. He found affairs in a better condition than was expected. His predecessor, Mr. Deane, had arranged a treaty that gave reasonable satisfaction to the country. Mr. Adams found the French people in full sympathy with America, and in the belief that the war would soon close. Indeed, it has been since learned that the capitulation of Burgoyne convinced the English government that it could not conquer her vigorous colonies in America; but the dogged stubbornness cf the British spirit would not yield till the capture of Cornwallis at Yorktown. Mr. Adams put the affairs between France and America in a satisfactory condition, and returned in about seventeen months.
MASSACHUSETTS CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION.
In two days after his return to his home, Mr. Adams was elected by Braintree to serve in the convention which was to form a constitution for Massachusetts. In this commonwealth there were three interests to be conciliated and combined-the extreme democracy of the rural districts, the extreme property interests chiefly of the seaport towns, and the middle class of trading and professional men. They were each clamoring for supremacy. If they could be happily combined, the great question of popular government in America would be favorably solved. The convention met. As though by a good Providence, the best-read constitutional lawyer of America, John Adams, had returned and been elected to this convention. He was no partisan; he served no faction; he had no interest of his own to serve; he was simply the ripe man of the times prepared to serve the new nation being born and the new era of constitutional law for the world. As Washington was the providential man to lead the armies to victory, so was Adams the providential man to lay the foundation of the new government in constitutional law. At the opening of the convention, his pre-eminent abilities and service to his country pointed to him to open an outline of the work to be done, which he did in a speech of such commanding clearness and force that it became the fountain of unity for all adverse interests. Personal rights, property rights, state rights and national rights, were so disentangled and classified that the convention was enabled to give them all their proper place in the constitution, and thus set before the world an outline of constitutional law in which all rights are protected, and a government by the people made possible and powerful.
The true aim of government, in his idea, was to establish upon the firmest footing the rights of all who live under it, giving to no one interest power enough to become aggressive upon the rest, and yet not denying to each a share sufficient for its own protection. The convention at once announced its object in two propositions: first, "to establish a free republic;"
second, "to organize the government of a people by fixed laws. of their own making."
COMMISSIONER FOR PEACE.
Mr. Adams was not through with the work of the convention when he was appointed commissioner to treat for peace and commerce with Great Britain. On the thirteenth of November, 1779, he sailed for Paris on this mission, and reached the French capital on the fifth of February, 1780. But difficulties arising between him and Count de Vergennes, he had less to do on this mission than was expected. While remaining at Paris he used his pen freely in enlightening Europe on American affairs.
During his stay in Europe he visited Holland and effected a treaty of amity and commerce with that country which he always regarded with as much satisfaction as any service he ever rendered his own country.
Here, in the "Gazette" of Leyden, he published twenty-six letters on the revolution in America, which are now published in his works by his grandson.
With Holland he arranged for a loan of money for the United States, which was a great help to them in their financial stress. Now France, Spain and Holland had become friendly and helpful to the United States.
In October, 1782, he returned to Paris, and after much. diplomatic manoeuvering, met the other commissioners from America and those from England, and arranged for a treaty of peace with England, which was signed at Paris on the twentyfirst of January, 1783.
Soon after this, Frederick the Second, of Prussia, made overtures to Mr. Adams for a treaty of amity and commerce with his country. After some correspondence, he agreed upon a treaty to offer to Congress; by this time he received authority, in conjunction with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jefferson, to negotiate treaties with any European power desiring such treaty.
This opened a prospect of a much longer stay in Europe, and Mrs. Adams, with their only daughter, went to France to join him in his lonely life abroad. This was a comfort and help
he greatly needed. His health had become impaired by the strain upon him in the last ten years. He needed her society. His country was now free, and though yet in many trials, he believed would maintain and justify itself before the world
Paris was in a stage of transition from what it had been to something yet to be determined. Philosophy and literature had become the rage of a class of brilliant and fashionable people. Religion was, in the main, scouted by them. The flippant ridicule of all things sacred, in which Voltaire was the brilliant and easy-virtued leader, had a great following. Old France was despised; new France, under philosophy and popular leadership, was hailed with hurrahs. Mr. Adams was in the midst of this society. They had only congratulations for him and his happy country. But he knew how little they understood his country, and the profound respect of its people for all that is sacred in religion, and severe and self-sacrificing in virtue. Through a casting down of religion and all the old notions of government, the French looked for a government of the people; while America looked for a republic through an elevation of religion, and a practical respect for whatever has been found useful in constitutional government.
With the French, freedom was a frenzy of the passions; with the Americans, it was a principle of the conscience. Not understanding it, the French gave the Americans great joy over their success, and thought they were about to copy the example; but they gave, at last, so much of their distraction to America, that they much endangered the liberties of the new nation.
THE NEW COMMISSION.
On the thirtieth day of August, 1784, Mr. Adams, Dr. Franklin and Thomas Jefferson met in Paris to begin their work of forming treaties of amity and commerce with the countries of Europe. But no country came forward but Prussia, which had already a well-considered plan. In due time this was completed and signed.
On the twenty-fourth day of February, 1785, Congress elected Mr. Adams to the post of envoy to the court of St.
James; and accordingly in the May following he went to reside in England. This appointment to the court of George III. made necessary a presentation to the king in person. It was probably as profoundly cool a meeting as two strongly selfwilled and high-positioned persons ever had. Each did his part as well as he could under the circumstances. But so solid was the king's hatred of the rebels whom he could not conquer, and so heartily did his government and people sympathize with him, that no satisfactory treaty of commerce could be made with them. At that time, in England, the prevailing opinion. was that the United States was a union of sand and would soon fall apart. The first flush of enthusiasm in Europe over the American war, soon turned into a distrustful waiting to see what would be the result. All the ancient republics had been short-lived. European intelligence generally supposed this would be. The poverty of the American people after the war; the general distraction of society; their difficulty in paying foreign debts: the fierce opposition of many to Washington as president; the organization of Jacobin or democrat clubs; the tendency in many places to rebellion; the prevailing sympathy with revolutionary France; the sectional jealousies; the distrust of the national government in many minds, and the general irritability of the popular nerves, made European monarchists generally distrust the capacity of America to make successful the experiment of self-government; and in England this conviction amounted almost to a certainty, that in a very few years the conquering rebels would call upon their mother country to take them back. And there was much in America to awaken distrust of them. Why, then, should they make treaties with such a body of anarchy? Mr. Adams was full of anxiety, and often wished he was at home to assist in making general the principles he had put into the constitution of Massachusetts.
ADAMS' PUBLICATIONS IN ENGLAND.
From his long residence in France, Mr. Adams became deeply convinced of the dangerous fallacies that were leading the French people into irreligion and anarchy, which fallacies he