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me were instigated from quarters where he was bound to
please, I ought not perhaps to be his apologist with yow, but
I regret to have been the cause of mutual irritation and severe
judgments between men who ought to esteem each other.

Your motto is very properly "Principles and Men," but
you have scarcely taken any part in the electioneering
politics of Pennsylvania, and it may perhaps be your wisest
policy to take as little interest in the struggle of electioneer-
ing which already rages for the next Presidency. You are
not yet so committed but that you can assume and maintain
an honorable neutrality upon that question and upon every-
thing appertaining to it. For the partiality which you have
already manifested in my favor I am fully and justly sensi-
ble, but I can ask neither you nor any man to expose himself
to the obloquy which will befall him by avowing himself as
politically my friend for the next two years.

"Abuse on all he loves or love him, shed," is the destiny
to which my mind must be made up, and although myself
cast into a position from which I cannot be honorably
withdrawn, and in which I must endure whatever the day
and the hour may bring forth, I have not the heart to ask
any one of my friends to make himself the mark to be shot
at by my side, or to share with me in the strife merely to be
the witness and partaker of my discomfiture.

The occasional notice which you have taken of the prin-
cipal artificers of falsehood against me in the presses of the
country has been sufficient for their exposure. But your

332 THE WRITINGS OF , [1822

prediction that I should be the choice of the universal Yankee
Nation was much hazarded in point of fact, and perhaps
questionably in point of principle. I have no more certainty
of being the choice of the Yankee than of the Virginia Na-
tion. I have been too much and too long the servant of the
whole Union to be the favorite of any one part of it. The
whole course of my public life has been that of crossing par-
tial interests whether sectional, political or geographical. I
have lived but little in my own state, and during that little
have been in conflict with all its leading statesmen of both
parties. For the honors bestowed upon me and the public
trusts committed to me I have been entirely and spon-
taneously indebted to the Virginian Presidents, from all four
of whom I possess testimonials of personal esteem and
confidence more gratifying to me than any office that ever
was in the gift of any one of them. Prejudices in me there-
fore against Virginia would add the crime of ingratitude to
the wrong of illiberality. I have none. I never sacrificed
a sentiment of my heart nor an opinion of my judgment to
Virginia, nor was any such sacrifice ever required of me. My
relations with all her Presidents have been those of independ-
ence, candor, and confidence. I have experienced nothing else
from them, and even now if those of them who survive and
the state itself with all its influence throughout the Union
should prefer another person for the succession to the chief
magistracy of the Union, however I might regret the pref-
erence I should have no right to complain of the partiality.
As to the late calumnies against me in the Washington
City Gazette^ presuming from the characteristic epithet in
your letter that you have been informed who that author is,
I suppose you also know the same which metamorphosed
him into the editor of that paper,^ that is in his sober inter-

' Jonathan Elliot.


vals. The two falsehoods In which the names of General
Vives and Mr. King were introduced were not more flagrant
than numberless others, but they were selected for contra-
diction because they implicated those gentlemen little less
than myself. They have nevertheless been and continue
to be repeated with an impudence that defies all contradic-
tion. The peculiarity of the story about Vives is that it is
falsified by the public documents themselves. The very
letter which it asserts to have been cancelled or suppressed
is a letter of 3 May, 1820, which was not only sent to him,
but with his answer dated two days after and a reply of
8 May from me was communicated to Congress by a mes-
sage from the President of 9 May, and published in many
of the newspapers of the time, among the rest in the Na-
tional Intelligencer^ There never was any letter from me to
General Vives communicated to him and afterwards with-
drawn, cancelled or altered. Nor did he ever say a word to
me that any human being in his senses could understand
or construe into a threat. I suppose you see that the motives
for imputing to me personal cowardice is by way of set-off.

I have answered you with frankness equally explicit and
confidential upon all the subjects touched upon In your
letter. To whatever extent the system of espionage may
be carried in this electioneering warfare, I trust I shall never
have the need or the inclination to deny my correspondence
with you. The more Intimate it is, the more consolation will
it afford to me; for if on either side it should contain any-
thing which we may wish to conceal from the eyes of slan-
derers and assassins, sure I am that there will be nothing
which either of us would wish to screen from the sight of God.

I am, etc.

1 May II, 1820.




In your paper of yesterday I have observed a note from
Mr. Henry Clay which requires some notice from me.

After expressing the regret of the writer at the unhappy
controversy which has arisen between two of his late col-
leagues at Ghent, it proceeds to say that in the course of the
several publications of which it has been the occasion, and
particularly in the appendix to the pamphlet recently pub-
lished by me, "he thinks there are some errors (no doubt
unintentional) both as to matters of fact and matters of
opinion, in regard to the transactions at Ghent relating to
the navigation of the Mississippi and certain liberties claimed
by the United States in the fisheries, and to the part which
he bore in these transactions."

Concurring with Mr. Clay in the regret that the contro-
versy should ever have arisen, I have only to find consola-
tion in the reflection that from the seed time of 1814 to the
harvest of 1822 the contest was never of my seeking, and
that since I have been drawn into it, whatever I have said,
written, or done in it has been in the face of day and under
the responsibility of my name.

Had Mr. Clay thought it advisable now to specify any
error of fact or of imputed opinion which he thinks is con-
tained in the appendix to my pamphlet, or in any other
part of my share in the publication, it would have given me
great pleasure to rectify by candid acknowledgment any
such error, of which, by the light that he would have shed
on the subject, I should have been convinced. At whatever
period hereafter he shall deem the accepted time has come


to publish his promised narrative, I shall, if yet living, be
ready with equal cheerfulness to acknowledge indicated
error and to vindicate contested truth.

But as by the adjournment of that publication to a period
"more propitious than the present to calm and dispassion-
ate consideration, and when there can he no misinterpretation
of motives,'' it may chance to be postponed until both of us
shall have been summoned to account for all our errors
before a higher tribunal than that of our country, I feel
myself now called upon to say that let the appropriate dis-
positions, when and how they will, expose the open day and
secret night of the transactions at Ghent, the statements
both of fact and opinion, in the papers which I have written
and published in relation to this controversy, will in every
particular, essential or important to the interest of the nation
or to the character of Mr. Clay, be found to abide unshaken
the test of human scrutiny of talents and of time.^

Washington i8th December, 1822.


Friends and Fellow Citizens:

By these titles I presume to address you, though personally
known to few of you, because my character has been arraigned

1 "The insinuations of Mr. Clay are manfully met by Mr. Adams; and I am mis-
taken if in public opinion Mr. Clay is not placed in a situation that may be found a
little embarrassing. The Kentucky Candidate should have strictly adhered to his
game; agere non scribere was his course, and he has been off his guard to depart
from it." Rufus King to Charles King, December 19, 1822. Life and Correspondence
of Rufus King, VI. 488. See Clay's reasons for his position in Colton, Life, Corre-
spondence and Speeches of Clay, IV. 70, 72.

^ This letter appeared in the Richmond Enquirer, January 4, 1823, and was after-


before you by your representative in Congress in a printed hand-
bill, soliciting your suffrages for re-election, who seems to have
considered his first claim to the continuance of your favor to con-
sist in the bitterness with which he could censure me. I shall never
solicit your suffrages, nor those of your representative for any-
thing; but I value your good opinion and wish to show you that
I have not deserved to lose it.

He says that if you will elect him once more, he shall have
served during the whole administration of Mr. Monroe, an ad-
ministration upon which he passes a high panegyric, and which,
he adds, he has found it agreeable to his judgment generally to
support. While in the exercise of my natural right of self-defense
I come to repel the charges of General Smyth, I pray you to under-
stand, that it is neither for the purpose of moving you to withhold
your vote from him, nor to induce the General himself to recon-
sider his opinion or his intentions as they personally concern me.
He offers himself a candidate for your votes, as having been
generally hitherto a supporter of the administration of Mr. Monroe.
On that ground and upon the reasonable expectation that he will
continue his support to it, he has my sincere and warm wishes for
his success. But as to his opinion of me, you will permit me to be
indifferent to the opinion of a man capable of forming his judgment
of character from such premises as he has alleged in support of his
estimate of mine.

His mode of proof is this. He has ransacked the Journals of the
Senate during the five years that I had the honor of a seat in that
body, a period, the expiration of which is nearly fifteen years
distant; and whenever he has found in the list of yeas and nays my
name recorded to a vote, which he disapproves, he has imputed it,
without knowing any of the grounds upon which it was given, to
the worst of motives, for the purpose of ascribing them to me. Is

wards published by Gales and Seaton in a pamphlet, Letter of the Hon. John Quincy
Adams in Reply to a Letter of the lion. Alexander Smyth to his Constituents. Also the
Speech of Mr. Adams on the Louisiana Treaty, and a Letter from Mr. Jefferson to
Mr. Dunbar relative to the cession of Louisiana.



this fair? Is It candid? Is it just? Where is the man who ever
served in a legislative capacity in your council, whose character
could stand a test like this? The General once petitioned the
members of a former Congress " to be mindfull of the rule of jus-
tice — to others do, what to thyself thou wishest to be done."
But it is to his charges against me that I would turn your atten-
tion. And first of that which he says he passes over, but does not
pass over: my relation to my father. If the General could have
found any of my votes upon the public journals during the adminis-
tration of my father, he might perhaps have used them as he has
those of a later date. But during the whole of my father's adminis-
tration I was absent from the country. For how much of my
father's acts I am accountable, I leave to your sense of justice to
determine; as I leave to the filial afi"ection and piety of every one
of you to estimate the temper of the reproach that I have never
been the reviler of them.

Another charge which the General brings against me, while
professing to pass it over, is that I have written against the Rights
oj Man; not only, he says, against the work thus entitled, but
against the rights themselves. This is a mistake. I wrote a series
of papers containing an examination of some of the doctrines in
Thomas Paine's pamphlet entitled the Rights of Man. I believed
i many of its doctrines unsound. I think I have not seen either the
pamphlet or my examination of it for more than thirty years. In
that time I claim not more indulgence for changes of opinion with
regard to the principles of government and to the French Revolu-
tion than may be fairly claimed by any man. Far from having
written against the rights of man, I appealed, in the papers alluded
to, from what I deemed the inflammatory principles of Paine to
the sober and correct principles of our own declaration of independ-
ence. My opinion of Paine and his writings was not then very
exalted. They have not since that time risen in my esteem. As
occasional addresses to popular passions, I see in all his works the
flashes of a powerful genuis. Acknowledging the service of his
Common Sense and some other of his writings during our revolu-


tionary war, all his subsequent publications, political, religious,
and personal, are in my opinion worse than worthless. The two
parts of his Rights of Man are characteristic of the same mind, and
indicative of the same soul, as the two parts of his Jge of Reason,
and all proceeded from the same heart as his letter to Washington.
The last three of these pamphlets I am sure few of you would now
read with any other sentiments than those of abhorrence and
disgust. They are rapidly passing into oblivion, and the sooner
they are forgotten, the more propitious will it be to the cause of
virtue. The world will lose nothing should the two others be
forgotten with them. In entertaining these sentiments it is cer-
tainly with all the regard and veneration due from me to Mr. Jef-
ferson, as to one of the men to whom the nation owes its deepest
debt of gratitude. I am charged by General Smyth with an
attempt to ridicule Mr. Jefferson. An expression, distorted and
misrepresented in the kennel newspapers of the present day, is
the support which the General has for this accusation. Of that
expression and of the cause from which it proceeded, I will not now
speak. If the animosities of political contention are not to be
eternal, it is time to consign that subject to silence. But I address
you in the face of our common country, and I hope and trust this
paper will pass under the eye of Mr. Jefferson himself. I say, with-
out fear of being disavowed by him, that he will not approve of
the use of his name by any one for the purpose of casting odium
upon me. And I take this opportunity to add that I deprecate
with equal earnestness the unauthorized use by any one of his
name to obtain favor of any kind for me. i^

But advancing from these skirmishes of the General's wit to
meet him in his main army. He objects to me that I am "no
statesman." To this you will not expect me to reply. But he
adds, "that the pernicious passions warp my judgment, and do not
leave my mind in a proper state to decide on the interest of a
nation and to adopt an enlarged arid liberal system of 'policy.'"
This is a serious charge. But the votes upon which General Smyth
has passed so severe a sentence upon my character, were all given


in the interval between October, 1803, when I first took my seat
in the Senate, and December, 1805. At a distance of seventeen or
eighteen years it can scarcely be expected that I should be able to
recollect, and still less to prove the motives or the reasons upon
which every one of those votes was given; but I will show to your
satisfaction that all of them were founded upon reasons very
different from any which could originate in the motive charged
upon me. And after assigning those reasons I will leave it to your
candor to determine, whether they were of so weak a texture that
they can be attributed to no other than factious motives.

The first was on the 26th of October, 1803, upon a bill enabling
the President to take possession of Louisiana, against which
General Smyth says, I voted in a minority of six. Upon recurring
to a private minute of my own made at the time, I find the follow-
ing remark: " The objection was to the second section as unconstitu-
tional." ^

To enable you to judge of the sincerity with which I voted upon
that principle against the bill, I beg leave to submit to your medita-
tions the section against which the objection was taken.

And be it further enacted, that until the expiration of the present
I session of Congress, unless provision for the temporary government of
the said territories be sooner made by Congress, all the military, civil and
judicial powers exercised by the oificers of the existing government of the
same shall be vested in such person and persons, and shall be exercised in
such manner, as the President of the United States shall direct, for main-
taining and protecting the inhabitants of Louisiana in the free enjoy-
ment of their liberty, property, and religion.

Let me ask you before we proceed further to stop here, to reflect
well upon the extent and consequences of the power conferred in
this section by the Congress upon the President of the United
States, and point out to me the article, section, and paragraph of
that instrument, which authorize the Congress to confer upon the
President of the United States this tremendous power. If you
^ Adams, Memoirs, October 26, 1803.




can produce it now, I will plead guilty to General Smyth's charge
of factious motive for voting against this act; but if you can pro-
duce it now, it is more than the majority were able to do then.
They were called upon to produce it and could not. They could
find it only in construction.

Observe that I do not now deny the existence of this authority
in the constitution. But it is a constructive power, and at the time
when I was called upon to record my vote upon it, the question was
new to me and new to Congress, with reference to the legislative
exposition of the constitution. The principle had not been settled,
and it was the first time it had ever been made my duty to act,
as a member of the legislature, upon a question involving the
extent of the powers of Congress. I believed, as I still believe, that
the constitution of the United States was a constitution of limited
powers. That some of those powers must be constructive I never
doubted; but that this construction must itself have some limits
I was equally convinced; and I could not reconcile it to my judg-
ment that the authority exercised in this section was within the
legitimate powers of Congress, conformable to the constitution.
Were the question now a new one, I have no hesitation in saying
that I should retain the same opinion and give the same vote. And
I am willing now to record it again; and to leave to my country and
to posterity the opinion, that all the other constructive powers
assumed by Congress from the 4th of March, 1789, to this day put
together, are, whether considered in themselves or in their con-
sequences, unequal to the transcendent power assumed, exercised
and granted by that little section.

It was on the same principle a conscientious belief that Congress
had not by the constitution the power to exercise the authorities
contained in them, that in the course of the same session I voted
against the other acts relating to Louisiana, enumerated in General
Smyth's address to you. They formed altogether a system of
absolute and unlimited power, bearing upon the people of Louis-
iana, and exercised by the Congress of the United States. I be-
lieved that the power had not been granted to Congress, either by



the people of the United States, or by the people of Louisiana: and
when it was assumed by construction, I could not perceive any
limitation to the constructive power which could be consistently
maintained by those who could find in the constitution of the
United States authority for the exercise of all these powers in

General Smyth therefore has done me great injustice in drawing
from these votes the conclusion that I was governed in giving
them either by principles of faction or by hostility to Louisiana.
It is well known to all those with whom I acted at the time, as
well those whose votes concurred with mine, as those who sanc-
tioned by their votes these assumptions of constructive powers,
that my voice and opinion were in favor of the acquisition of
Louisiana, and of the ratification of the treaty by which it was
acquired. The power to make treaties is by the constitution given
to the President with concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate
present upon the question for their advice and consent, without
limitation. It extends to whatever can form the subject of treaties
between sovereign and independent nations. Of the power to
make the treaty, therefore, I had no doubt, as having been granted
by the constitution. But the power to make a treaty, and the
power to carry it into execution, are, by the organization of our
government not the same. The former is merely a transaction
with a foreign nation. To have limited that would have been to
limit the power of the nation itself, in its relations of intercourse
with other states. It would have been an abdication by the nation
itself of some of the powers appertaining to sovereignty, and have
placed it on a footing of inequality with other sovereigns. But
the latter, the power to carry a treaty into execution, imports the
exercise of the internal powers of government and was subject to
all the limitations prescribed by the constitution to the exercise of
these powers. In the very message by which President Jefferson
communicated this treaty to Congress after its ratifications had
been exchanged, he said: "You will observe that some important
conditions cannot be carried into execution but with the aid of the


legislature." This is a circumstance common to many treaties, and
has frequently given occasion to debates in the House of Repre-
sentatives, how far they are bound to sanction in their legislative
capacity stipulations with "foreign nations, solemnly made and
ratified by the treaty making power. But the Louisiana purchase
treaty did, in my opinion, to be carried into execution require
something more. It required the exercise of powers which had not
been granted to Congress itself, of powers reserved by the people
of the United States to themselves, and of powers inherent by
natural right in the people of Louisiana. The union of the two
people required the express and formal consent of both. So far
as the rights of France were concerned they had been extinguished
by the treaty. To appropriate and pay the money stipulated for
the purchase of the territory I believed to be within the legitimate
power of Congress, though even that was a constructive power.
But that the social compact with all its burdens and all its blessings,
all its privileges and all its powers, should be formed between the
people of the United States and the people of Louisiania was,
according to the theory of human rights which I had learned from
the declaration of independence, an act, the sanction of which
could be consummated only by themselves. The people of the
United States had not, much less had the people of Louisiana
given to the Congress of the United States the power to form this
union. And until the consent of both people should be obtained,
every act of legislation by the Congress of the United States over
the people of Louisiana, distinct from that of taking possession of
the territory, was in my view unconstitutional, and an act of
usurped authority. My opinion therefore was that the sense of the
people, both of the United States and of Louisiana, should imme-
diately be taken; of the first, by an amendment to the constitu-
tion, to be proposed and acted upon in the regular form; and of the
last, by taking the votes of the people of Louisiana immediately
after possession of the territory should be taken by the United

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