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but they can, and are justifiable in so doing, take that which
the treaty, if perfect, would have bound Spain to deliver up
to them; and they are further entitled to indemnity for all
the expenses and damages which they may sustain by con-
sequence of the refusal of Spain to ratify. The refusal to
ratify gives them the same right to do justice to themselves
as the refusal to fulfil would have given them if Spain had
ratified, and then ordered the governor of Florida not to
deliver over the province.

By considering the treaty as the term beyond which the
United States will not look back in their controversial rela-
tions with Spain, they not only will manifest a continued
respect for the sanctity of their own engagements, but they
avoid the inconvenience of reentering upon a field of mu-
tual complaint and crimination so extensive that it would
be scarcely possible to decide where or when negotiation
should cease, or at what point force should be stayed for
satisfied right; and by resorting to force only so far as the
treaty had acknowledged their right, they offer an induce-
ment to Spain to complete the transaction on her part, with-
out proceeding to general hostility. But Spain must be
responsible to the United States for every wrong done by
her after the signature of the treaty by her minister; and
the refusal to ratify his act is the first wrong for which they
are entitled to redress.

I have the honor, etc.^

' See Hyde de Neuville, Memoires et Souvenirs, II. 410.



562 THE WRITINGS OF [1819

TO WILLIAM LOWNDES

Department of State,
Washington, December 21, 1819.
Sir:

In answer to the questions contained in your letter of
the loth instant, I have the honor to state for the informa-
tion of the committee:

1st. That information has been received by the govern-
ment of the United States, though not through a direct
channel, nor in authentic form, that another motive besides
those alleged in the letter of the Duke of San Fernando to
Mr. Forsyth did operate upon the Spanish cabinet to induce
the withholding of the ratification of the treaty, namely,
the apprehension that the ratification would be immediately
followed by the recognition by the United States of the
independence of one or more of the South American prov-
inces. It has been suggested that, probably, the most im-
portant of the explanations which the minister to be sent
by Spain will be instructed to ask, will consist of an explicit
declaration of the intentions of this government in that
respect. There is reason, also, to believe that the impunity
with which privateers fitted out, manned, and officered,
in one or more of our ports, have committed hostilities upon
the Spanish commerce, will be alleged among the reasons
for delay, and perhaps some pledge may be required of the
effectual execution against these practices of laws which
appear to exist in the statute book.

It may be proper to remark that, during the negotiation
of the Florida treaty, repeated and very earnest efforts were
made, both by Mr. Pizarro at Madrid, and by Mr. Onis
here, to obtain from the government of the United States,



i8i9] JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 563

either a positive stipulation or a tacit promise that the
United States would not recognize any of the South Amer-
ican revolutionary governments; and that the Spanish ne-
gotiators were distinctly and explicitly informed that this
government would not assent to any such engagement, either
express or implied.

2d. By all the information which has been obtained of
the prospective views of the French and Russian govern-
ments in relation to the course which it was by them thought
probable would be pursued by the United States, it is ap-
parent that they strongly apprehended the immediate
forcible occupation of Florida by the United States, on the
non-ratification by Spain of the treaty within the stipulated
time. France and Russia both have most earnestly dis-
suaded us from that course, not by any regular official com-
munication, but by informal friendly advice, deprecating
immediate hostility, on account of its tendency to kindle a
general war, which they fear would be the consequence of
a war between the United States and Spain. It was alleged
that, in the present state of our controversy with Spain, the
opinion of all Europe on the point at issue was in our favor,
and against her; that, by exercising patience a little longer,
by waiting, at least, to hear the minister who was announced
as coming to give and receive explanations, we could not fail
of obtaining, ultimately, without resort to force, the right
to which it was admitted we were entitled; but that precipi-
tate measures of violence might not only provoke Spain to
war, but would change the state of the question between
us, would exhibit us to the world as the aggressors, and would
indispose against us those now the most decided in our favor.

It is not expected that, in the event of a war with Spain,
any European power will openly take a part in it against
the United States; but there is no doubt that the principal



S64 THE WRITINGS OF [1819

reliance of Spain will be upon the employment of privateers
in France and England as well as in the East and West
India seas and upon our own coast, under the Spanish flag,
but manned from all nations, including citizens of our own,
expatriated into Spanish subjects for the purpose.

3d. The enclosed copies of letters from Mr. Fromentin
contain the most particular information possessed by the
executive with regard to the subjects mentioned in your
third enquiry. In the month of September, a corps of
three thousand men arrived at the Havana from Spain,
one-third of whom are said to have already fallen victims
to the diseases of that climate. By advices from the Ha-
vana, as recent as the 4th of this month, we are assured
that no part of this force is intended to be, in any event,
employed in Florida.

4th. A communication from the Secretary of War, also
herewith enclosed, contains the information requested by
the committee upon this enquiry.

5th. At the time when Captain Read left Madrid (13
October), Mr. Forsyth had no positive information even of
the appointment of the person who is to come out as the
minister. Indirectly, we have been assured that he might
be expected to arrive here in the course of the present month.
I am, etc.



i8i9] JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 565

TO THE PRESIDENT 1

[James Monrok]

Washington, 25th December, 1819.
Sir:

The meeting held yesterday having terminated without
any arrangement relative to the subject upon which it had
upon desire been convened, and it being understood that it
left the members of your administration free to pursue the
course of conduct dictated by their sense of propriety re-
spectively, to avoid being misunderstood in regard to that
which I have hitherto pursued and to manifest my wish
to pursue in future any other which you will please to direct
or advise, I have thought necessary to submit the following
observations to your candor and indulgence.

It has, I understood from you, been indirectly made a
complaint to you ^ as a neglect of duty on the part of some
of the members of your administration, or at least of the
Secretary of State, that he omits paying at every session of
Congress a first visit of form to every member of the Senate
of the United States, and that his wife is equally negligent
of her supposed duty, in omitting to pay similar visits to
the ladies of every member of either House who visit the
city during the session. The fact of omission, both as it
regards my wife and myself, is acknowledged, and as you
had the kindness to propose having any explanation of the
motives of our conduct made known to those who to our

' These two letters, printed in Adams, Memoirs, concern a question of long stand-
ing at Washington, and one which confronted Adams soon after he became Secre-
tary of State. See lb., January S, 1818, December 16, 20, 22, 27.

2 By Ninian Edwards (1775-1833), Senator from Illinois.



566 THE WRITINGS OF [1819

very great regret appear to be dissatisfied with it, the fol-
lowing statement is made to give that explanation.

I must premise that having been five years a member
of the Senate, and having during four of the five sessions
been accompanied at the seat of government by my wife,
I never received a first visit from any of the heads of de-
partments, nor did my wife ever receive a first visit from
any of their ladies. We invariably paid the first visit and
at that time always understood it to be the established
usage. I do not mean to say that every Senator then paid
the first visit to the heads of departments, but that the
Senators neither exacted nor generally expected a first visit
from them. Visiting of form was considered as not forming
a part either of official right or official duty. I never then
heard a suggestion that it was due in courtesy from a head
of department to pay a first visit to all Senators, or from his
wife to visit the wife of any member of Congress. When I
came here two years ago I supposed the usual rules of visit-
ing to remain as I had known them and practised them
ten years before. Entertaining the profoundest respect
for the Senate as a body, and a high regard for every in-
dividual member of it, I am yet not aware of any usage
which required formal visits from me as a member of the
administration to them as Senators.

The Senate of the United States, independent of its im-
portance and dignity, is of all the associations of men upon
earth that to which I am bound by every and the most
sacred and indissoluble ties of personal gratitude. In a career
of five and twenty years and through five successive ad-
ministrations, scarcely a year has passed but has been marked
in the annals of my life by manifestations of the signal
confidence of that body. Unworthy indeed should I be of
such confidence, if I had a heart insensible to those obliga-



i8i9] JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 567

tions. Base indeed should I feel myself if, inflated by the
dignity of the stations to which their continued, uninter-
rupted and frequently repeated kindness has contributed
to raise me, I were capable of withholding from them col-
lectively or individually one particle of the reverence and
honor due from me to them. But I was not conscious that
this mode of showing my respect to them was either due or
usual, and when the first intimation was given to me that
there was such an expectation entertained by the Senators
in general, I quickly learnt from other quarters that if
complied with, it would give great offense to the members
of the House of Representatives unless extended also to
them. To pay visits of ceremony to every member of Con-
gress at every session would not only be a very useless waste
of time, but not very compatible with the discharge of the
real and important duties of the departments, always pecul-
iarly pressing during the session of Congress. Neither did
the introduction of such a system of mere formality appear
to me altogether congenial to the republican simplicity of
our institutions. To avoid all invidious discrimination I
have paid no first visit to any member of either house of
Congress as such, but I have returned the visits of all who
have pleased to visit me, considering it as perfectly optional
between every member of either house and me whether any
interchange of visits should take place between us or not.
The rule which I have thought it best to adhere to for my-
self has also been pursued by my wife with my approbation.
She has never considered as incumbent upon her to visit
first ladies coming to this place strangers to her. She could
draw no line of discrimination of strangers whom she should
and strangers whom she should not visit. To visit all with
the constantly increasing resort of strangers here, would
have been impossible; to have visited only the ladies of



S68 THE WRITINGS OF [1819

members of Congress, would have been a distinction of-
fensive to many other ladies of equal respectability; it
would have applied even to the married daughter of the
President. The only principle of Mrs. Adams has been to
avoid invidious distinctions, and the only way of avoiding
them is to visit no lady as a stranger. She first visits her
acquaintance according to the usual rules of private life,
and receives or returns visits of all ladies strangers who pay
visits to her. We are aware that this practice has given
offense to some members of Congress and their ladies,
and we very sincerely regret the result. We think, however,
that the principles properly understood cannot be offensive.
To visit first all strangers or none appears to be the only
alternative to do justice to all. Above all we wish it under-
stood that while we are happy to receive any respectable
stranger who pleases to call upon us, we have no claim or
pretension to claim it of any one.

It only remains for me to add that after this frank expo-
sition of what we have done and of our only motives for the
course we have pursued, I am entirely disposed to conform
to any other which you may have the goodness to advise.

With perfect respect I remain, etc.



i8i9] JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 569

TO THE VICE PRESIDENT 1
[Daniel D. Tompkins]

Washington, 29th December, 1819.
Dear Sir:

It has been suggested to me that some of the members of
the Senate, entertaining the opinion that a formal visit in
person or by card is due from each of the heads of the execu-
tive departments at the commencement of every session of
Congress to every Senator upon his arrival at the seat of
government, have considered this omission on my part to
pay such visits as the withholding from them of a proper
mark of respect, or even as implying a pretension to exact
such a formality from them. Disclaiming every such pre-
tension and every such claim on my part, I take the liberty
of submitting to you the following explanation of the mo-
tives which have governed my conduct in relation to this
subject.

I have invariably considered the government of the
United States as a government for the transaction of busi-
ness, and that no ceremonial for the mode or order of inter-
changing visits between the persons belonging to the respec-
tive departments in it had ever been established. I was
myself five years a member of the Senate, and at four of the
five sessions of Congress which I attended I was accom-
panied by my wife. During that time I never once received
a first visit from any of the heads of departments, nor did
my wife ever receive a first visit from any one of their
ladies, except perhaps once, when she was sick, from Mrs.
Madison. We always called upon them soon after our

> See Adams, Memoirs, January 22, 1820.



570 THE WRITINGS OF [1819

arrival at Washington, not from any opinion that it was an
obligation of duty, but because we understood and believed
it to be usual, and because we did not think it improper.
We made an exception after the first session with regard to
Mr. Gallatin, who never having returned my first visit was
supposed not to incline to that sort of intercourse with us.

When I came to this place to reside two years since, I
was under the impression that the usages with regard to
visiting were as I had known and practised them ten years
before, that as a member of the Administration I had no
sort of claim to a first visit from any member of either house
of Congress, but that neither had any member of Congress
any claim to a first visit from me; that the interchange and
order of visits was entirely optional on both sides; and that
no rule of etiquette whatever existed which required that
either party should pay the first visit, or indeed any visit to
the other.

In the course of the winter of 18 17-18 two members of the
Senate, for both of whom I have the highest respect and
with one of whom I had had the pleasure of sitting several
years in the Senate, called on me at my office and informed
me that there was a minute of a rule agreed upon, not of-
ficially but privately, by the members of the Senate of the
first Congress, that the Senators of the United States paid
the first visits to no person except the President of the
United States. I observed to them that as during five years'
service as a Senator I had never seen or heard of this rule
I could hardly consider it as ever having been much ob-
served, that I could, however, have no possible objection to
the Senators prescribing any rule to themselves of visiting
which they might think proper. But I asked them, if they
understood the rule as implying an order that other persons
should visit them.? They answered, if I recollect right, by



i8i9] JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 571

no means, and I supposed they viewed the whole affair as
I did, as of little or no importance.

I have therefore paid no visits of form to members of the
Senate, and though always [happy] to receive and return
visits of those who pleased to call upon me, and happy to
invite to my house every member of the Senate, whether he
had or had not paid me a visit who would give me the honor
of his company, I yet always respected the motives of those
who declined paying me any visit, or even frequenting my
house at all. I exacted nothing from them which they might
think incompatible with their dignity. I presumed they
would exact nothing from me not within the line of my of-
ficial duty. I soon learnt that if I should make it a rule
to pay the first visit to every Senator at each session, the
same compliment would be claimed, if not by all, at least
by a large proportion of the members of the House of Repre-
sentatives, and I could find no republican principle which
would to my own mind justify me in refusing to the members
of one house that which I should yield as due to the mem-
bers of another. At the commencement of each session of
Congress I have visited the presiding member of each house,
not from a sense of obligation but of propriety. I have not
felt it my duty to pay first visits to any individual member of
either house. Nor has it entered my imagination that a
first visit was due from any member of either house to me.

If there is a body of men upon earth for whom more than
for any other I ought to cherish any feelings of attachment
superadded to every sentiment of reverence it is the Senate
of the United States. Its importance and dignity as one of
the branches of the legislature, as one of the component
parts of the supreme executive, and as the tribunal of of-
ficial honor and virtue cannot be more highly estimated by
any man than by me. My father had the honor of being



572 THE WRITINGS OF I1819

its first presiding oificer. I had for five years that of being
one of its members, and through every successive adminis-
tration of this government, from the estabhshment of the
national Constitution to this time, I have received frequent
tokens of its confidence, which can never be obliterated from
my memory and claiming all my gratitude. For every in-
dividual member of the body I feel all the respect due to
his public character, and there is not one member towards
whom I entertain a sentiment other than that of regard
and esteem. If, therefore, the principle upon which I have
omitted to pay them the first visits of form should ulti-
mately fail of meeting their approbation, it will be serious
cause of regret to me; but at all events I hope they will
impute it to any other cause than intentional disrespect
to them. I take this occasion of observing that with my
approbation and advice, my wife has acted upon the same
principle with regard to the ladies connected with members
of the Senate or House of Representatives who have visited
the place during the sessions of Congress, that I have pur-
sued in relation to the members themselves. She has paid
no first visits to ladies with whom she had not the advan-
tage of being acquainted. She has received with pleasure
and returned the visits of all ladies who have called upon
her, whether connected with members of Congress or other-
wise. She has visited her friends and acquaintances on the
usual footing of private citizens, without pretension to claim
and without being sensible of any obligation to pay any
first visit. She would have paid with much pleasure the
compliment to ladies of members of Congress had it been
proper in her opinion to confine it to them. But she was
aware that many other ladies, equally strangers to her and,
though not immediately allied to members of Congress of
character and standing in society equall]^ respectable, occa-



i8i9l JOHN QUINCY ADAMS 573

sionally came to spend some time in the city, and knowing
it to be impossible that she should visit them all she declined
the invidious task of discriminating whom she should and
whom she should not visit first. If in observing this rule
she has deviated from the practice of some other ladies in
situations similar to her own, she has conformed to that
which she constantly observed when she was herself the
wife of a Senator at the seat of Government. She then
always called upon the ladies of the heads of departments
when she came to Washington, and always understood it
to be the common practice. She lays no claim, however,
to the same attention from any other lady, and having no
pretension to visits of etiquette herself, thinks herself amen-
able to none from others. She has invited to her house
without waiting for formal visits every lady of a member
of Congress to whom she had not reason to believe such
an invitation would be unwelcome, and while feeling it as
a favor from those who have accepted her invitations, she
has only regretted the more rigorous etiquette of those who
have declined, inasmuch as it bereft her of the happiness
which she would have derived from a more successful cul-
tivation of their acquaintance. She would regret still more
the error which should in any instance attribute her conduct
to a pretension of any kind on her part, or to disregard of
what is due to her from others.

I have thought this candid explanation of the motives of
my conduct particularly due to those members of the Senate
who, it has been intimated to me, have thought there was
something exceptionable in it. I submit it to your indul-
gence and to their candor with the sincere and earnest as-
surance of my perfect respect for yourself and for them.



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