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Full text of "Works of Fisher Ames : with a selection from his speeches and correspondence"




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WORKS 



OF 



FISHER, AMES. 



WITH A 



SELECTION FROM HIS SPEECHES 



AND 



CORRESPONDENCE 

EDITED BY HIS SON, 

SETH AMES. 



BOSTON: 
LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY. 

1854. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by SETH AMES, in the 
Clerk s Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. 



RIVERSIDE, CAMBRIDGE: 



PRINTED BY H. O. HOUGHTON AND COMPANY. 



PREFACE. 



THE Editor of these volumes has for some time past 
had it in contemplation to publish a second edition of his 
father s writings. The collection originally published in 
1809 has long been out of print, and it was hoped that 
a second edition might be acceptable. Like many other 
resolutions intended to be carried into effect at some more 
convenient season, this project has slumbered, and perhaps 
has been in some danger of a general and indefinite post 
ponement. A few months ago, however, it was his good 
fortune to receive, from a friend in Boston, a large number 
of original letters to the late Governor Gore, and they were 
found, on examination, sufficiently interesting and important 
to change the half-forgotten purpose into a somewhat urgent 
and imperative duty. Further inquiries were made in appro 
priate quarters, and those inquiries have been so kindly 
received and so faithfully seconded, that it soon became 
manifest that the original letters, placed at the disposal of 
the editor, would require that his proposed republication 
should be, to a considerable extent, a new and a different 
work. It has been found more convenient to devote the 
second volume of the present work to the speeches and 
essays published in 1809. They will be found in that 



IV PREFACE. 

volume with a slight change of arrangement, and with the 
omission of one essay, entitled " Sketches of the State of 
Europe," which is now ascertained to have been the work of 
another author. 

The editor flatters himself that the new volume, contain 
ing a collection of his father s letters to his political and per 
sonal friends, will he found to he a valuable addition to the 
original work. It is well known that Fisher Ames was 
considered by his contemporaries quite as remarkable for his 
colloquial gifts, as for the eloquence and vigor of his public 
speeches and written essays. His letters were very numer 
ous, and generally as unpremeditated as his spoken words. 
They approach, in some degree, to the energy and viva 
city of his conversation, and partially supply the want of 
those personal memorials which have unfortunately per 
ished. He kept no letter-book, and, with only three or 
four exceptions, no copies of any of his letters, and un 
doubtedly a large portion of them is irrecoverably lost. 
None of them appear to have been written with any view to 
publication, and only two or three seem to have been intend 
ed to go beyond the persons to whom they were immediately 
addressed. Some of them were of an exceedingly delicate 
and confidential character, and some were accompanied with 
an injunction that they should be committed to the flames. 
But the reasons for privacy have long since ceased to exist, 
and there is nothing in the whole correspondence that will 
not bear the light of publicity. In some instances names 
have been suppressed ; and occasionally a paragraph has 
been omitted, which might give annoyance or uneasiness in 
some quarters if imparted to the public at large. In the let 
ters to his brother-in-law, Thomas Dwight of Springfield, 
there are of course many domestic details, too trivial and 
minute to be of any public interest, which are for that reason 



PREFACE. V 

omitted. No letters to his excellent and most intimate 
friend, George Cabot, are contained in this collection, because 
none could be found. Whatever written correspondence 
may have passed between them has disappeared, and is lost. 
The letters to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., Secretary of the Trea 
sury under Washington and Adams, published in Gibbs s 
History of the Federal Administrations, are omitted, because 
Mr. Gibbs s absence from this part of the country has ren 
dered it inconvenient to obtain that gentleman s express 
consent to their republication here. 

The editor hardly considers it necessary to apologize for 
not attempting to connect these letters together by a thread 
of biographical narrative. He was but three years of age 
at the time of his father s death, and he has absolutely no 
materials for such a narrative, except such as are furnished 
by the letters themselves, and the public history of the coun 
try. He may be pardoned also for saying that he cannot 
remember a time when he did not feel entirely satisfied with 
the beautiful and touching memoir by the late Dr. Kirkland. 
The most that he has attempted to do has been so to arrange 
the letters as to make the writer of them tell his own story, 
and act as his own biographer. For this reason, a few are 
included which are important only as furnishing some matter 
of fact, or going into some detail as to his daily life and 
occupation, which may not be found in Dr. Kirkland s brief 
and general sketch. 

The correspondence w r ill be found to present the unstudied 
outpourings of a singularly impulsive and ardent tempera 
ment. Sometimes, of course, it is deeply colored with the 
despondency growing out of habitual ill-health ; at other 
times the writer s gayety and good spirits are too great even 
for sickness wholly to subdue ; and sometimes he suffers 
himself to be betrayed into expressions which his more 



VI PREFACE. 

deliberate judgment would probably have led him to qua 
lify. The entire series will be found to present as honest 
an account of his own opinions and impulses for the time 
being, and as faithful a portrait of himself, as any man 
ever drew. It is hoped that it will be found valuable 
and interesting, not only as the history of a leader in the 
Federal party from its origin, but as a contemporaneous 
record, by an eye-witness, of a portion of our political history, 
once very generally neglected, now exciting more of curiosity 
and interest, but not even yet generally understood. The 
Federal party has long since ceased to exist, " except in the 
pages of history," and, for that very reason, the public is in 
a good position to inquire, without prejudice or passion, what 
sort of men the early Federalists were, what were their 
views of public affairs, and in what manner they fought the 
political battle of their day and generation. 



CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME. 



MEMOIR, by J. T. Kirkland, D. D. . . .1 

LETTERS. 

1789. PAGE 

March 25. To GEORGE R. MINOT. First Session of the First Con 
gress Delay for want of a quorum . . .31 
April 4. To THE SAME. The first House of Representatives . 32 
May 3. To THE SAME. Inauguration of the President . . 34 
14. To THE SAME. Presidential titles The Tariff . . 36 
16. To THE SAME. Debate on the Tariff . . .38 

18. To THE SAME. Fitzsimmons Madison . . .41 

19. To THE SAME. Debate on limiting the Tariff . .42 
27. To THE SAME. Description of the House The Tariff 

Presidential Titles . . . . - .44 

29. To THE SAME. Madison s parliamentary character . 47 
31. To THE SAME. The Tariff Rhode Island . . 50 

June 11. To THOMAS D WIGHT. Amendments of the Constitution . 52 
12. To GEORGE R. MINOT. Amendments of the Constitution 53 
23. To THE SAME. The President s power of removal from office 54 
July 2. To THE SAME. Discrimination in duties in favor of nations 

in treaty . . . . . .57 

8. To THE SAME. Tardiness of Committee of the Whole 

Description of the House . . . . .61 

23. To THE SAME. The Amendments Controversy between 

Vermont and New York Importance of the Union . 65 

August 12. To THE SAME. Amendments . . . .66 

Sept. 3. To THE SAME. Intrigues as to the seat of government . 68 

6. To THE SAME. Same subject . . , .71 

Oct. 21. To THOMAS D WIGHT. The President at Boston . . 73 

30. To THE SAME. Incompatibility of political and profes 

sional pursuits Hancock . . . . .74 



Vlll CONTENTS. 

1790. PAGE 

Jan y 13. To GEORGE R. MINOT. Necessity of an excise and na 
tional revenue . . . .72 
March 23. To THE SAME. Debate on Slavery and the Slave-trade . 75 
. May 20. To THE SAME. The funding system, and assumption of 

State debts ..... .77 

June 11. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Intrigues as to the seat of govern 
ment, and the assumption . . . . .79 

23. To GEORGE R. MINOT. Defeat of the excise Contest 

as to seat of government . . . . .81 

27. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Assumption Seat of government 83 
July 11. To THE SAME. Uncertainty as to the prospects of the 

assumption . . . . . .85 

25. To THE SAME. The funding bill Assumption likely to 

prevail . . . . . . .86 

August 8. To THE SAME. Proposed purchase of a portion of the 

public debt . . . . . . .88 

Dec. 12. To THE SAME. Congress at Philadelphia Opening of 

last session of first Congress . . . .88 

23. To THE SAME. Improvement of the public credit . 90 
1791. 

Jan y 6. To THE SAME. Judge Wilson s Lecture North Carolina 

and Robert Morris Jackson of Georgia . . .91 

24. To THE SAME. The excise bill Southern members 

against it . . . . . .92 

Feb y 7. To THE SAME. The National Bank Madison and Giles . 94 

17. To GEORGE R. MINOT. The bank and the excise bills . 95 

April 16. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Law partnership in Boston . 97 

26. To THE SAME. Popular murmurs against England . 98 
May To THE SAME. Indian war . . . .99 
Oct. 30. To THE SAME. Opening of the second Congress . . 99 
Nov. 22. To THE SAME. The Shaker Community at Bethlehem . 100 

30. To GEORGE R. MINOT. Elements and appearances of 
opposition in Congress Southern debts, and discontent 
with the funding system, &c. .... 101 

, Dec. 9. To THOMAS DWIGHT. St. Glair s defeat by the Indians . 106 
23. To GEORGE R. MINOT. Debate on the appointment of 

the Representatives . . . . .108 

1792. 
Jan y 13. To THOMAS DWIGHT. The Indian war The use made 

of it by the opposition . . . . .109 

23. To THE SAME. The Opposition in Congress . . 110 

30. To THE SAME. Discussion on the Indian War . .111 



CONTENTS. IX 

1792. PAGE 

Feb y 16. To GEORGE R. MINOT. Federalists and States-rights par 
ty in Congress . 112 
23. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Defence of the Frontiers Mr. 

Jefferson . * . , * . .113 

March 8. To GEORGE R. MINOT. Jealous construction of Consti 
tution by the Opposition . . .114 
8. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Resignation of place as director of 

U. S. Bank Opposition in Congress * * .115 

April 19. To THE SAME. Increase of impost duties . * . 116 

25. To THE SAME. The further assumption in danger The 

pension law not sustained by the Court t 4 .116 

May 3. To GEORGE R. MINOT. The Session tedious Indian 

war Organized opposition in Congress . . . 118 

June 16. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Preparations for housekeeping in 

Boston * . . . . .119 

Oct. 4. To THE SAME. Smallpox Electioneering . .120 

Nov. 12. To THE SAME. Second Session of the Second Congress 

Indian relations . . . * .121 

19. To GEORGE R. MINOT. Opposition Hostility of Vir 

ginia, &c., to Vice-President Adams * % .123 

Dec. 5. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Sedgwick s proposed resignation 

Assumption Indian Disturbances v . . 124 - 

31. To THE SAME. Slow progress of business in Congress . 125 

1793. 

Jan y To THE SAME. Decided and organized opposition in Con 

gress, under the lead of Madison . . , .126 

Feb y 6. To THE SAME. Defeat of the new assumption bill . 127 

20. To GEORGE R. MINOT. Factiousness of the Opposition . 128- 
August To THOMAS DWIGHT. Genet out of credit .129 
Sept. 16. To THE SAME. Removal to Dedham . .129 
Dec. 6. To GEORGE R. MINOT. First Session of Third Congress 

Account of the yellow fever at Philadelphia . . 130 

1794. 

Jan y 17. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Genet s reply to the complaints 

against him . ...... 132 

28. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Debate on Madison s resolu 
tions, for discriminating duties in favor of France, &c., 
and against England . . . . .133 

Feb y 25. To THE SAME. Critical relations with Great Britain, and 

danger of war . . . . . . 135 

March 5. To THE SAME. Exasperation produced by British spolia 
tions ....... 137 



X CONTENTS. 

1794. PAGE 

March 26. To THE SAME. Partiality for France, and exasperation 
against Great Britain Necessity of a mission to England 

Course to be pursued in the event of war . .139 
May 2. To THE SAME. Debate on taxing transfers of public stock 

On excises ...... 141 

6. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Strength of the Opposition in Con 
gress Danger of war ..... 143 

July 3. To THE SAME. Dedham and Norfolk County . .144 

24. To THE SAME. The Chronicle whip, &c. . . . 146 

August 8. To THE SAME. The Democratic Club in Boston . .146 

Sept. 3. To THE SAME. The activity of the clubs . . .147 

11. To THE SAME. Favorable prospects of Mr. Jay s mission 

The clubs . . . . . . .149 

Nov. 12. To GEORGE R. MINOT. Rumors as to Mr. Jay s mission . 151 
18. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Massachusetts election Fede 
ral prospects . . . . . .152 

29. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Debate on the Democratic clubs . 153 
Dec. 12. To THE SAME. The Whiskey Insurrection The Oppo 
sition formidable . . . . . .154 

17. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. The increasing strength of the 

antifederal party . . . . . .156 

27. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Unpromising condition of the Fe 

deral cause ....... 158 

1795. 

Jan y 7. To THE SAME. Political sermons . . . .159 

10. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Disputatious character of the 

House Democratic toast on 4th July v . . . 161 

17. To THE SAME. Debate on the public debt . . 162 

20. To GEORGE R. MINOT. Rancor of the Opposition Pub 
lic credit Land-tax . . . . .164 

Feb y 3. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Mr. Jay s success, and its probable 

effects . . . . . . .167 

24. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Passage of the bill for reduc 
tion of public debt B. F. Bache . . . .167 

24. To THOMAS DWIGHT. The libels of a Vermont newspa 
per The birth-night ball, and B. F. Bache . .168 

28. To THE SAME. Parties in Congress . . .169 
August 24. To THE SAME. Business at Dedham Housebuilding 

The Jay treaty ratified Disturbances following that 
event . . . . . . .170 

Sept. 13. To THE SAME. The treaty excitement Failure of health 

Discouragement . . . . . .173 



CONTENTS. XI 

1 795. PAGE 

Sept 22. To THE SAME. Ill health Edmund Randolph X. .175 
Oct. 3. To THE SAME. Renewed sickness . . . .177 

Nov. -18. To THE SAME. Partial improvement The otter sheep . 177 
Dec. 10. To D WIGHT FOSTER. Anticipated conflict of the two 

Houses of Congress . . . . .179 

30. "To THOMAS DWIGHT. Uncertain prospect in Congress in 

the treaty contest . . . . . .180 

1796. 

Jan y 4. To DWIGHT FOSTER The treaty excitement Ran 
dolph and Fauchet . . . . . .181 

18. To JEREMIAH SMITH. Intended journey to Philadelphia 

Camillus Presentation of the French flag . .183 

Feb y 3. To THE SAME. Incidents of the journey to Philadelphia . 184 
11. To THOMAS DWIGHT. First Session of the Fourth Con 
gress ....... 185 

16. To THE SAME. Anti-treaty party Virginia amendments 186 
March 9. To THE SAME. Debate on the treaty unfavorable pros 
pect Inability to join in the debate . . .187 
11. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Treaty debate Giles Madi 
son Powers claimed for the House, in the making of 
treaties .... . . .189 

April 2. To GEORGE R. MINOT. Refusal of the President to fur 
nish the treaty papers demanded by the House The 
treaty appropriations contested, and very uncertain . 190 

18. To THOMAS DWIGHT. The debate Public anxiety .192 

29. To DWIGHT FOSTER. The debate . . .192 
May 19. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Politics more quiet Impending 

Presidential contest . . . . .193 

30. To THE SAME. Session about to close . . .194 
July 30. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Constancy of the British gov 
ernment and people Political prospects . . .195 

August 22. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Law business and political quiet . 197 
Sept. 4. To JEREMIAH SMITH. Virginia Political prospects . 198 
Oct. 5. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Mistakes of the British govern 
ment in their conduct towards United States The revo 
lutionary mania in Europe Political affairs Ellsworth 199 
25. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Mr. Adams s prospects as a candi 
date . . . . . . .204 

Dec. 3. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Second Session of Fourth 
Congress Uncertainty of the Presidential election 
Strange proceedings of the French minister, Adet . 205 

8. To THOMAS DWIGHT. The election . 208 



Xll CONTENTS. 

1796. PAGE 

Dec. 10. To THE SAME. Committee on the answer to the President s 

address debate on their report .... 208 

17. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Adams, President, and Jeffer 
son, Vice-President Debate on the address . . .211 

1797. 

Jan y 5. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Temper of the House Jefferson 

and Adams . . . . . . .212 

27. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Probability of a land-tax 

Course to be taken . . . . . .213 

June 24. To DWIGHT FOSTER. Condition of health Thacher 

challenged to fight a duel ..... 215 
Oct. 4. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. Correspondence with Spanish 

minister French influence .... 216 

1798. 
Feb y 18. To DWIGHT FOSTER. The two houses at variance Lyon 

and Griswold ...... 218 

18. To JAMES McHENRY. Reasons for not accepting the ap 

pointment of Commissioner to treat with the Cherokees .219 
25. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Griswold and Lyon Proposed 

French invasion of England or Ireland . . . 220 

March 13. To JEREMIAH SMITH. Law business The Cherokee 

Commission Difficulties of the government . . 222 

April 23. To H. G. OTIS. Congress Difficulties with France . 224 
June 4. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. Controversy with France 

Position and proper course of the administration . . 226 

24. To DWIGHT FOSTER. Effect on the public mind of the 

despatches from the Envoys in Paris . . . 230 

July To TIMOTHY PICKERING. Fourth of July dinner at Ded- 

ham Address to the President .... 231 
10. To THE SAME. Relations with France Necessity of de 
fensive measures . . . . . .232 

28. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Relations with France Gerry 

Measures of Congress Popular sentiment . . 235 
Sept. 25. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Sickness in Boston and Philadel 
phia Gerry French arrogance . . .239 
Nov. 22. To JEREMIAH SMITH Democracy rampant . 240 
22. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. The difficulties with France . 241 
Dec. 7. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Congress likely to prove deficient 

in vigor towards France . . . .243 

18. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Political excitement John 

Marshall The alien and sedition laws Gerry . . 245 



CONTENTS. Xlll 

1799. PAGE 

Jan y 11. To THE SAME. Farming Dr. Logan and the French 
faction in Congress Taylor General Heath Impri 
sonment ....... 249 

Feb y 27. To THOMAS D WIGHT. The new mission to France . 252 

March 12. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. The new mission The Pre 
sident s conduct ...... 253 

Oct. 9. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Law business Judge Paine 

Improved health ...... 255 

19. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. The new mission Incurable 

division of the Federal party . . . .257 

20. To THOMAS DWIGHT. The political effect, of the new 

mission ....... 259 

Nov. 5. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. The consequences of the new 
mission to France The President The British claim 
of right of search . . . . . .260 

10. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Party politics Feeling to 
wards France, and towards England . . . 265 
23. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. Embarrassment to the Federal 
party by the renewal of negotiations with France Course 
to be taken . . . . . .269 

1800. 

Jan y 6. To THOMAS DWIGIIT. Appointment to deliver the Eulo- 

gium on Washington . . . . .273 

Feb y To JOHN WARD FENNO. Advice as to the management 

of a newspaper . . . . . .274 

March 5. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Massachusetts politics . .277 

August 15. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Probability of Jefferson s election 278 
25. To ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Dissension among the Fede 
ralists Compromise finally agreed upon Necessity of 
not expressly discarding Mr. Adams . . . 280 

29. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Perverseness of Mr. Adams s 

friends Pinckney . . . . .283 

(Nov.) To ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Dissensions of the Federal 
ists Effects of Hamilton s pamphlet . . .283 

Dec. 27. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Jefferson elected Massachusetts 

politics . . \, . . . . 285 

29. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Defeat of the Federalists 

Causes, and probable immediate results . . . 286 

1801. 

Jan y 1. To THOMAS DWIGHT. The Palladium to be the Federal 

paper . . . . . . .290 

VOL. I. b 



XIV CONTENTS. 

1801. PAGE 

Feb y 9. To DWIGHT FOSTER. Inquiries as to cabinet appoint 

ments, &c. . . . . . . .290 

16. To JEREMIAH SMITH. His appointment as a Judge of 

the Circuit Court . . . . -291 

rch 19. To THEODORE DWIGHT. Course to be pursued by the 

Federalists . . . . . . -292 

April 28. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Jefferson, Virginia . 295 

Dec. 7. To THE SAME. The farm The peace of Amiens . 296 

1802. 

April 16. To THE SAME. Federal hopes .... 297 

Oct. 5. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Advice to return to the practice 

of law ....... 298 

Nov. 7. To THE SAME. Orchard grass Cattle Agriculture . 303 
Dec. 13. To THE SAME. Danger from Democratic ascendency 

Federal apathy . .309 

14. To THE SAME. Attempt to rally the Federalists . . 311 

14. To JEREMIAH SMITH. Proposed course of action for the 

Federal party ... .313 

1803. 
Feb y 6. To DWIGHT FOSTER. Louisiana Excitement in Ken 

tucky Destructiveness of democracy . . .317 

24. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Necessity of Federal efforts 

Kentucky and Louisiana Local politics . . .318 

Oct. 3. To THE SAME. State of health The purchase of Louis 
iana Evils of democracy Course proposed for Federal 
ists in Congress . . . . . .321 

To THOMAS DWIGHT. American democracy revolutionary 
and dangerous . . . . . .327 

To THE SAME. The purchase of Louisiana and the French 

treaty . . 329 

ov. 16. To CHRISTOPHER GORE. Louisiana French invasion of 

England . . . . . . .331 

^^ 29. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Dangers of democracy Federal 

apathy Louisiana John Randolph . . .333 

1804. 
Jan y 15. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Mr. Tracy Connecticut Bank 

excitement State of health . . . .336 

25. To THE SAME. Violence of the democrats against Judge 

Chase, &c. Popular passions stronger than the govern 
ment . . . . . .337 

1805. 

Jan y 20. To THE SAME. Public apathy . 338 



x^^ 
N 



CONTENTS. XV 



1805. 

Nov. 27. To JOSIAH QUINCY. Decisions of British Admiralty Courts 

Question of rights of neutrals Confiscation . .339 
29. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Thanksgiving Popular despo 

tism . . -341 

Dec. 2. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. Condemnations in Admiralty - 
Collision with Great Britain as to rights of neutrals Ne 
gotiation necessary . . . . . .342 

16. To JOSIAH QUINCY. The President s message British 

doctrine as to neutral rights Negotiation necessary . 345 
1806. 
Jan y 6. To ELIPHALET PEARSON. Eeasons for not accepting the 

Presidency of Harvard College . . . .346 

20. To JOSIAH QUINCY. General Eaton Mr. Jefferson s 

evasion of responsibility Inquiries . . .349 

28. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. France and St. Domingo 

Right to trade with the latter . .350 

Feb y 1. To THOMAS DWIGHT. Presidency of Harvard College 
Hannah Adams Question with British government as to 
rights of neutrals ...... 354 

1. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. Petition for a mail route . 357 
1. To JOSIAH QUINCY. Same subject . 358 

12. To THE SAME. Non-intercourse Subjugation of Europe 360 
14. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. French ascendency Russia 
and the British navy, the obstacles to universal monarchy 

French mode of warfare Danger of Great Britain .361 
March 3. To THE SAME. Austerlitz France Liberty insecure . 366 

10. To THE SAME. Animosity of administration against Great 

Britain Discords of the democratic leaders Randolph 

Hayti Maine .... .368 

19. To JOSIAH QUINCY. Death of Pitt Randolph Irujo . 371 
24. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. Necessity of action by the Fe 

deralists in Congress Division of the democrats . .373 

Dec. 6. To JOSIAH QUINCY. John Randolph and the administra 

tion .... 374 

11. To THE SAME. The President s message . . . 376 
14. To RICHARD PETERS. The Federalists useful only as a 

check upon the government The navy and gunboats .377 

20. To JOSIAH QUINCY. The gunboats Non-importation 

Burr ... .379 

22. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. The " Pilgrim " anniversary 

Jefferson s dislike of preparations for defence . .380 



XVI CONTENTS. 

1807. PAGE 

Jan y 1. To THE SAME. The non-intercourse act Federal inac 
tivity . . . . . . .381 

1. To JOSIAII QUINCY. Commercial warfare against Great 

Britain Unseasonable economy Necessity of a navy . 383 
1 2. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. Dangers of popular licentious 
ness Insecurity of liberty European politics Power 
of France . . ... . . .385 

27. To JOSIAH QUINCY. The Federalists in Congress The 
true course for them to take Randolph Necessity of 
concert and participation in the debates . . .390 

Feb y 3. To THE SAME. Capacity of Federalism to be useful in Con 
gress Randolph Burr . . . . .392 

4. To TIMOTHY PICKERING. Burr French influence . 394 
Nov. 6. To THE SAME. Federal newspapers Evils and dangers 

of democracy . . . . . .397 

11. To JOSIAII QUINCY. The Chesapeake Animosity against 

Great Britain . . . . . .398 

19. To THE SAME. Course to be pursued by Federalists in 
Congress To point out danger, not to regain power 
Not to despair or to disband not to rely upon the dis 
cords of their adversaries . . . .399 
Dec. 6. To THE SAME. Uncertainty as to peace or war Non 
importation act the rejected treaty Randolph Ha 
tred of Great Britain . 404 



LIFE. 



MR. AMES was distinguished among the eminent men_of 
our country. All admitted, for they felt, his extraordinary 
jjowers; few pretended to doubt, if any seemed to deny, the 
purity of his heart. His exemplary life commanded respect ; 
tKe charms of his conversation and manners won afiStion. 
He^was equally admired and beloved. 

His public career was short, but brilliant. Called into the 
service of his country in seasons of her most critical emer 
gency, and partaking- in the management of her councils 
during a most interesting period of her history, he obtained 
a place in the first rank of her statesmen, legislators, orators, 
and patriots. By a powerful and original genius, an impres 
sive and uniform virtue, he succeeded, as fully perhaps as any 
political character, in a republic agitated by divisions, ever did, 
in surmounting the two pernicious vices, designated by the 
inimitable biographer of Agricola, insensibility to merit on the 
one hand, and envy on the other. 

Becoming a private citizen, he still operated extensively 
upon the public opinion and feeling, by conversation and 
writing. When least in the public eye, he remained the 
object of enthusiastic regard to his friends, and of fond reli 
ance and hope to those lovers of his country who discern the 

VOL. i. 1 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 

connection between the agency of a few and the welfare of 
the many ; whilst in the breasts of the community at large 
he engaged a sentiment of lively tenderness and peculiar 
respect. 

The sickness, which diffused an oppressive languor upon 
his best years, was felt to be a common misfortune ; and the 
newsoTTiis death, though not unexpected, gave a pang of 
distress to the hearts of thousands. Those inhabitants of tjie 
capital of Massachusetts who had always delighted to honor 
him, solicited his lifeless remains for the privilege of indulg 
ing their grief, and evincing their admiration by funeral ob 
sequies. The sad rites being performed, those who had 
cherished his character and talents with such constant regard 
and veneration, and who felt their OAvn and the public loss in 
his death with poignant affliction, demanded a publication 
of his works. They urged, that it would gratify their affec 
tion, reflect honor on his name, and be a voice of instruction 
"and warning to his country. 

In compliance with their general and earnest wish, this 
volume is given to the world. Some account of the author s 
life and character is thought due, if not to his fame, yet to 
the interest which all have in those " who were born, and 
who have acted, as though they were born for their country 
and for mankind." 

He needs not our praises ; he would be dishonored by our 
flattery ; but he was our distinguished benefactor. We owe 
a record of this kind, though imperfectly executed, to our 
sense of his " merits and services, and to our gratitude to 
heaven who endues some with extraordinary gifts to be em 
ployed for the benefit of others. It is the part of justice to 
afford, to those who desire it, all practicable lights to guide 
their judgment of an eminent man, living in times and acting 
in situations, which expose his character to be imperfectly 
understood. We must pay respect to that natural and lau 
dable curiosity of mankind, which asks an explanation of the 
causes that may have contributed to form any peculiar excel 
lence in one of our species, and which takes an interest in the 
circumstances and events of his life. Examples of great ta 
lents diligently exerted, and of shining virtues practised with 
uniformity, should be preserved and displayed, as furnishing 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 3 

models in conduct and incentives to excellence. By such 
exhibitions, the timid are encouraged and the inactive roused. 
Emulation fires generous spirits to endeavor to fill the void 
made by the loss of the eminent. Are any capable of doing 
great and durable good to their country and the world, they 
are stimulated to tread in the fair paths which have been 
trodden before ; and those whom nature and circumstances 
have confined to a small compass of action, are instructed to 
place their single talent to the best account. 

Fisher Ames lived and died in his native place. He was 
born April 9, 17*58? in the old parish of Dedham, a pleasant 
country town about nine miles south of Boston, and the shire 
tovyn oLNorfolk. He sprung from one of the oldest families 
in Massachusetts. In the line of his ancestry is the Rev. 
ffiiljiam Ames, a famous English^ divine, author of the Me 
dulla Theologize and several controversial" tfacTs. He was 
educated at .Christ s College, Cambridge, and to prevent an 
expulsion in form, on account of his strenuous assertion of 
Calvinistical principles, he forsook this college, went abroad, 
and was chosen, b^^e^totej_pjJFriejland, professor ofjthejr, 
university. He was at the synod of Dort, 1618. He had 
determined to emigrate to New England, but was prevented 
by death in November, 1683. 

The father of Fisher Ames was a physician and the son 
of a physician who lived in Bridgewater. His mother was * 
daughter of Jeremiah Fisher, Esq., one of the most respect- 6 
able farmers in the county. Dr. Nathaniel Ames was a 
man of acuteness and wit, of great activity, and of a cheerful 
and amiable temper. To his skill in his profession he added 
a knowledge of natural philosophy, astronomy, and mathe 
matics. He_jhejJn_Jiily, 1764, leaving four sons and one 
daughter.^ 

Fisher was the youngest child. The mother, as if " antici 
pating the future lustre of the jewel committed to her care," 
early resolved to struggle with her narrow circumstances in 
order to give this son a literary education ; and she has lived 
to see his eminence and prosperity, to receive the expressions 
of his filial piety, and to weep over his grave. 

It has been observed, that those who are prodigies of in 
fant genius, often disappoint the expectations they have raised, 



r 




4 LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 

whilst minds of no peculiar promise, and even of tardy 
growth in early years, have been known at length to bear 
vigorous and lasting fruit. On the other hand, it cannot be 
denied, that a great portion of those who display extraordi 
nary powers in mature life, give indications of decided supe 
riority in youth. The accounts of Mr^Ames prove the early 
expansion/ of Jiis faculties . WTien lie_was^ six_yearsj)ld, he 
iPthestudy^of Latin. From this time till he entered the 
unrv^fSy-hehaa^a variety of instructors in succession. He 
attended the town school, when the master happened to be 
capable of teaching him, and at other times recited his lessons 
to the Rev. Mr. Haven, minister of the parish, a gentleman 
to whom he always showed much respect and friendship. 

His frequent change of instructors and desultory applica 
tion to the languages were obvious disadvantages attending 
his initiation in classical literature. He did not receive that 
exact and sedulous culture, which such a mind as his de 
served, and would have fully repaid. His native energies in 
a good degree supplied these defects, and carried him for 
ward in the roa^. of improvement. In July, 177^5 soon after 
the^pjrmlejioji_^^ to Har 

vard College. Previous to his being offered, he was exa- 
mmecTby a gentleman accustomed to teach the languages, who 
expressed admiration of his quickness and accuracy, and 
pronounced him a youth of uncommon attainments, and 
bright promise. 

During this period he was remarkable for close applica 
tion in the hours of study, and for animation and gayety in 
the intervals of relaxation. He entered the university, in 
deed, at too tender an age for the mind to grasp the abstract 
sciences. It is said, however, that in the literary exercises 
in general he was ready and accurate, and in particular 
branches distinguished. He very soon gained the reputation 
of shining parts. He was attentive to his studies, and regu 
lar in his conduct. Young as he was, he did not abuse his 
power over that portion of his time which the laws of the 
institution submit to the discretion of the student, by idleness 
and trifling ; nor his liberty of self-direction in the choice of 
his associates, by consorting with the vicious. At that early 
period, he might say, as he did when he came into life : " I 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 5 

have never sought friends, whom I was not willing and de 
sirous to be known to have." 

It was not his fancy or his passion to break through the 
fences of discipline, or come into collision with the authority 
of his preceptors. He had a good standing with the govern 
ment of the college, without losing any part of the friend 
ship and esteem of his fellow-students. His tutors were 
accustomed to speak of his qualities with emphatic praise. 
There was a peculiar mildne^s_ajid^njpjest 
of young Ames, joinecT to ?T vivacity and pleasantness, that 
endeared him both to his superiors and equals. 

He_^s_a^jay^nte_in_a_society then recently formed among 
the students for improvement in elocution. It was early 
observed, that he coveted the glory of eloquence. In his 
declamation before this society, he was remarked for the 
energy and propriety with which he delivered such specimens 
of impassioned oratory as his genius led him to select. As 
a task or voluntary trial of his skill, he produced occasionally 
a theme or oration, and was known sometimes to invoke 
the muse of poetry, though he affected thenpas he did after 
wards, to decline the reputation of a poetic talent. Probably 
he was never satisfied \vith the success of his attempts in an 
art, in which want of excellence is want of every thing. His 
compositions at this time bore the characteristic stamp which 
has always marked his speaking and writing. They were 
sententious and full of ornament. 

It is especially to be told, that the morals of the young 
collegian passed the ordeal of a four years residence at the 
university unhurt. He surmounted the temptations to vice, 
perhaps inseparable from the place, and left it with an unsul 
lied purity of sentiments and manners. 

Those who perceive the intimate dependence of one part 
of life on another, and the infinite consequences of early im 
pressions and habits, will discern the auspicious influence of 
his blameless youth upon his subsequent character and for 
tunes. They will ask, by what means he walked erect in a 
way where many stumble and fall, and kept the treasure of 
his innocence in a region where the spoiler, in the form of 
seductive example, perverted sentiment, and unhallowed pas 
sion so often assaults it with success. 
1* 



6 LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 

Fact unhappily demonstrates, that, in spite of what instruc 
tion or discipline can do to check the cause or control the 
effects of youthful errors and passions, the college life is a 
severe experiment upon the strength of juvenile virtue. That 
degree of liberty, which is the necessary privilege of young 
men in a course of liberal education, is also the source of 
their imminent peril. In the instance of the subject of this 
notice, his tender age and his limited pecuniary means un 
doubtedly formed an important security against the worst 
excesses incident to the situation. But these accidental cir 
cumstances are far from insuring adequate sobriety and self- 
restraint, especially in those of ardent minds and highly 
excitable feelings. Happy dispositions and early good prin 
ciples in a young man entering upon this doubtful course, 
are essential pledges of his safety. In such a one the viva 
city of his mind and imagination, his lively spirits and warm 
affections are directed to objects that are laudable or safe : 
he is drawn to his literary pursuits by the allurement of 
pleasure, and places the point of honor in acting well his part. 
His taste is manly and just ; he does not miscall dissipation, 
enjoyment, nor revelry, mirth ; he has begun to take counsel 
from prudence, and to send his thoughts beyond the present 
moment. He has not been instructed in vain to ask himself 
for a reason of his conduct, to act by plan, and to look to the 
end. He has listened with solemnity to the injunction to 
beware of the first step in the path of evil. He has some 
comprehension of the hazard of a first deviation, the presump 
tion of timid liberties and dubious actions. That young man 
who answers to this description will, no doubt, resist both 
the terror and the charm that make his discretion and virtue 
difficult. Such was Mr. Ames, through his college life, 
and, indeed, all that period when the most durable impres 
sions are received, and the moral bias is generally contracted. 
Happily, he did not need the smart of guilt to make him vir 
tuous, nor the regret of folly to make him wise. He seems 
to have been early initiated in that caution and self-distrust, 
which he used afterwards to inculcate. He was accustomed 
to say, " We have but a slender hold of our virtues ; they 
ought, therefore, to be cherished with care, and practised 
with diligence. He who holds parley with vice and dis- 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. y 

honor, is sure to become their slave and victim. The heart 
is more than half corrupted, that does not burn with indig 
nation at the slightest attempt to seduce it." 

His spotless youth brought blessings to the whole remain 
der of his life. It gave him the entire use of his faculties, 
and all the fruit of his literary education. Its effects appeared 
in that fine edge of moraj feeling which he always preserved ; 
in his strict and often austere temperance ; in his love of 
occupation, that made activity delight ; in his distaste for 
public diversions, and his preference of simple pleasures. 
Beginning well, he advanced with unremitted steps in the 
race of virtue, and arrived at the end of life with peace and 
honor. X^ 

His jrajent had early directed his views to the study of law. 
Even before he entered college, and while there, he had spo 
ken of a profession, and sometimes mentioned divinity or 
medicine ; but she had always aimed to determine his choice 
to the law, which he adopted as his destined pursuit. 

After receiving his degree in 177^, several years passed 
away before he entered orPIns professional studies. The 
straitened situation of his mother, obliged to provide for her 
other children, the doubtful and troubled aspect of the times, 
joined to the immaturity of his years, occasioned this delay 
of his proper occupation. During a part of this interval, he 
had recourse to that employment, which the school establish 
ments of New England offer to young men of literary educa 
tion and limited means of support, and which has been the 
first resort, after leaving college, of many of our distinguished 
men in all professions. 

This period, however, which engaged his services to the 
community, was not lost to himself. He improved his lei-p^ 
sure by indulging his favorite propensity to books. During! 
this time, as he frequently said, he read with avidity, border- V 
ing on enthusiasm, almost every author Avithin his reach. He 
revised the Latin classics, which he had studied at college. 
He read works illustrating Greek and Roman antiquities, and 
the mythology of the ancients, natural and civil history, and 
some of the best novels. Poetry was both his food and 
luxury. He read the principal English poets, and became 
familiar with Milton and Shakspeare, dwelt on their beau- 



8 LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 

ties, and fixed passages of peculiar excellence in his memory. 
He had a high relish of the works of Virgil, and at this time 
could repeat considerable portions of the Eclogues and Geor- 
gics, and most of the splendid and touching passages of the 
.ZEneid. This multifarious, though, for want of a guide, 
indiscriminate, and probably, in some instances, ill-directed 
reading", must have contributed to extend and enrich the mind 

O 

of the young student. It helped to supply that fund of 
materials for speaking and writing which he possessed in sin 
gular abundance ; and hence, partly, he derived his remark 
able fertility of allusion, his ability to evolve a train of imagery 
adapted to every subject of which he treated. BT 

^lr.Anies__was_astudent at law* in the office of William 
Tudor, Esq., of Boston, and commenced practice at Dedham 
in the autumn of the year 1781. He had already begun to 
show the " public and private sense of a man." The contest of 
the States with the parent country, awakened in him a lively 
interest. He espoused their cause, and though too young to 
take an active part, watched its progress with patriotic con 
cern. In one instance he was selected for a public trust, 
which he discharged with an ability beyond his years. 

The inconveniences of a depreciated paper currency pro 
ducing general discontent, and in some cases acts of violence, 
a convention of delegates from every part of the State assem 
bled at Concord with a view to devise a remedy for the evil. 
They agreed to regulate the prices of articles arbitrarily, and 
adjourned to the autumn. At the adjourned meeting Mr. 
Ames attended, by delegation from his town. The plan 
adopted at the prior meeting had failed, as was anticipated 
by the discerning, though it was still an object with many to 
continue the experiment. 

Mr. Ames displayed the- subject in a lucid and impressive 
speech, showing the futility of attempting to establish, by 
power, that value of things, which depended solely on con 
sent ; that the embarrassment was inevitable, and that it must 
he met by patriotism and patience, and not by attempting to 
do what was impossible to be done. 

-"* Mr. Ames began to be mentioned as a pleader_of-j^ncom- 
mon eloquence, when his appearance as an essay writer con 
tributed^ raise and extend his reputation. The government 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 9 

of the State of Massachusetts was administered upon the 
principles of justice, which required that it should enforce the 
payment of private debts, and that public credit should be 
supported. Various causes made these functions of the go 
vernment distressing 1 or inconvenient to many of the people, 
whose discontents restless intriguing" men artfully and indus 
triously inflamed. The spirit of licentiousness broke out in 
an insurrection. The revolutionary fervor, which had been 
kindled- in the war with Great Britain, seemed to threaten 
with destruction our own constitution and laws. Liberty 
was confounded with license ; and those who could not be 
governed by reason, appeared to claim a right not to be go 
verned by force. 

Lucius Junius Brutus wrote to animate the government 
to decision and energy ; and when the insurrection was sup 
pressed, Camillus explained the lessons inculcated by the 
recent dangers and escapes of the country. These pieces 
were pronounced to be the production of no common mind. 
It was the light of genius and wisdom, darted athwart the 
gloom of our political chaos. When they were traced to 
Mr. Ames, leading- men in the State turned their eyes to him 
as one destined to render the most important services to his 
country. 

In the convention for ratifying the Federal Qoj^jjtution in 
17So7Tie~became conspicuous. The importance of the sub- 
jecf elevated and warmed ms mind. It was a decision on 
the question,jwhether this country should exhibit the awful 
spectacle^of jaTjieople^ withouTa government Within IfTew 
days after theopenmg of the convention,, he delivered the 
speech^on^ biennial elections ; and though its merit has been 
exceeded" by his speeches since, its effect was uncommonly 
great. 1 He showed that his opinion was then formed, that 
the principal danger to liberty in republics arose from popular 
factions. < A democracy, said he, is a volcano, which conceals 
the fiery materials^ its own destruction. He touched and illu- 
minated other parts of the Constitution in speeches, of which 
imperfect sketches only are preserved. 

He was chosen a member of the House of Representatives 

1 It is probably very imperfectly reported. Editor. 



10 ^ LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 

in the State Legislature, which assembled May, 1788. Here 
he was active in some important measures. He was a zeal 
ous advocated our town_sxhoels-, as institutions calculated to 
elevate the character of the great body of the people, and to 
increase their enjoyments. In a political view, he thought 
the education gained in these places would do more good by 
resisting delusion, than evil by furnishing means and incent 
ives to ambition. In this legislature he took the lead in 
procuring the Iq^. which placed our schools upon the ^present 
improved esfablishment. 

Such was* the impression that the talents and character of 
Mr^^Ames had made on the public mind, that he was selected, 
by the friends of the new government, to be one of its con 



ductors and guardians. He was chosen_jh p rs rep 

tive to Congress from the Suffolk district, which included the 

TapitaToTthe State. 

Whether his fame, suddenly acquired and remarkably bril 
liant, would .endure, remained yet to be known. He had 
not, how r ever, been long in Congress, before his friends were 
satisfied they had not formed too exalted ideas of his pow 
ers. During^eight years, the whole of Washington s admi- 
nistratipn^Mjr. AiTie^jwas_ajiiejnJ)er of the House of Represent 
atives. Here, in the collision of active and powerful minds, 
in the consideration of questions of the highest moment, 
in the agitation of interests that included all our political 
good, he acted a principal part. This is not the place to 
explain the principles or merits of this administration. In 
praise of Washington, not with any thought of compliment 
to himself, Mr. Ames has observed " that_governmentjwas 
administered withjmchjntegrit^^ mystery, and in so 

prosperous a courseTlEat it seemed wholly employed in acts 
of beneficence." 

In the course of this period the civil departments of the 
government were established; adequate provisions were 
made for the administration of justice, the maintenance of 
credit, and the final payment of a large floating debt ; a sys 
tem of internal taxation, which should be independent of the 
contingencies of foreign commerce, was matured and carried 
into effect ; the Indian tribes, by a wise and humane system, 
combining justice and force, were made permanent friends ; 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 1 1 

a dangerous insurrection was suppressed; our differences 
with Spain and Great Britain were accommodated, and from 
the latter, honorable recompense was obtained for injuries ; 
the country was rescued from the extreme peril of having its 
destinies mingled with those of France, and its fortune placed 
at her disposal. A multitude of subordinate interests, indi 
vidual and public, came within the care -of government. 
Nerves were given to industry, and life to commerce. The 
oil of gladness brightened the face of labor, and the whole 
country wore the smile of prosperity. 

In the duties of patriotism which were so successfully 
performed, Mr. Ames had a distinguished share. On every 
Important question he "took an lictive and responsible- parfc 
He gave all his time and all his powers to tHe~pubhc business . 
"The" elForts of such men were the more necessary, because tire 
government had to maintain its measures against a party 
whose zeal was inextinguishable, and activity incessant ; and 
who obstructed every operation to the utmost of their power. 

From the commencement of the government, the country 
was believed to be deeply interested in the event of the bill 
for funding the public debt. On the introduction of this bill, 
the opposition gained vigor by the junction of one of the 
framers, and most able 1 supporters of the Constitution, 
who from this time became the leader of the discontented 
party. He proposed to fund the debt, but in a way in which 
it was deemed impossible it should be funded. His proposal, 
therefore, was viewed as tending to defeat the object which 
it professed to favor. At every stage of this momentous 
business, Mr. Ames employed his resources of argument and 
eloquence, till the bill was passed into a law. 

The famous commercial resolutions of Mr. Madison, found- 
ed on a report of the Secretary of State, Mr. Jefferson, were 
apprehended to put in great hazard our prosperity and inde 
pendence. To subserve the interests of commerce was the 
pretext ; objects purely political, as Mr. Ames thought, were 
the motives. He insisted, that commerce could not be served 
by regulations, which shouldoblige us to " sell cheap and buy 
dear ;" Imd he inferred, that the effect of the resolutions 

1 Mr. Madison. 



12 LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 

could only be to gratify partialities and resentments, which 
all statesmen should discard. 

His speech on the appropriation for the British treaty was 
an era of his political life. For many months he had been 
sinking under weakness, and though he had attended the long 
and interesting debate on this question, which involved the 
Constitution and the peace of the United States, it was feared 
he would be unable to speak. But when the time came for 
taking a vote so big with consequences, his emotions would 
not suffer him to be silent. His appearance, his situation, 
the magnitude of his subject, the force and the pathos of his 
eloquence, gave this speech an extraordinary power over the 
feelings of the dignified and numerous assembly who heard 
it. When he had finished, a member in opposition moved 
to postpone the decision on the question, that they might not 
vote under the influence of a sensibility, which their calm 
judgment might condemn. 

Atjhe close of the session, in the spring of 1796, Mr. 

^Ain^lravelled^njo_Vir^iniaJbi > his health. He thought he 
derived partial benefit from drinking of the warm springs in 
Berkley county, and more from the journey and unremitting 
attention to regimen. In this visit he was an object of the 
most friendly and respectful attention, individual and public. 
He found many friends of the Washington system in this 
State, whose representatives had taken the lead in opposi 
tion, observing in a letter, " Virginia has been misrepre 
sented to us as much as the measures of government have 
been to them ; and good men are nowhere generally hostile 
to the federal cause." 

At^tnV4ime^_the College of New Jersey expressed their 

/estimation of his public character by conferring on him the 
degree of Doctor of Laws. 

He gained sufficient health to be able to attend the next 
[on of Congress, and to enter into business, though not 

with all his usual spirit. He was chairman of the committee 
which reported the answer to the President s speech. This 
answer contained a most affectionate and respectful notice of 
the President s declaration, that he now stood for the last 
time in their presence. In conclusion it said : " For your 
country s sake, for the sake of republican liberty, it is our 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 13 

earnest wish, that your example may be the guide of your 
successors, and thus, after being the ornament and safeguard 
of the present age, become the patrimony of our descend 
ants." In the debate on this answer he vindicated, with his 
accustomed openness and ability, the claim of Washington to 
the unqualified love and gratitude of the nation. 

fThe session being terminated, Mr. Ames, who had pre 
viously declined another election, became a private~ritizeft-. 
He reiired to his favorite residence at Dedhafn, to enjoy 
repose in the bosom of his family, and to unite wittTHs^prac^ 
tice alT a lawyer^ those rural occupations in which he delight- 
ed. He applied to HieTmanagement of his farm and fruitery 
a portion of that ingenuity and activity which he had be 
stowed on affairs of State. The excitability of his mind 
made him interested in whatever he undertook. The desire 
of usefulness, and a spirit of improvement, directed all his 
plans and exertions. He resumed his practice, and appeared 
.in important causes. He purposed to revise his law studies, 
and, for the sake of his family, to make a business of his 
profession ; but he found the labors of the bar too severe a 
trial of his constitution, and after a few years, gradually 
relinquished this employment. 

He also found it impossible to withdraw his mind from 
politics. That eventful period in 1798, when the spirit of 
the nation cooperated with the firmness of the administration 
in repelling the accumulated aggressions and reiterated indig 
nities of France, revived and animated all his public sympa 
thies. When the next year he perceived the reaction of the 
opposing party threatening to overpower the government, he 
wrote Laocoon and other pieces to restore the tone, to rekin 
dle the zeal, to disturb the security, and shake the presump 
tion of the federalists. " Our wisdom," says he, " framed a 
government, and committed it to our virtue to keep ; but our 
passions have engrossed it, and have armed our vices to 
maintain the usurpation." 

While GovernQT-^umner was in office, he accepted a seat 
in tKFCouncil of the Commonwealth. When Washington 

^Rfj,Ji^prnnnnmwj_ his~pTiin^yAArp. fhp Lpgi slatnrft. This 

"perlormance, though it contains touches of real pathos, is less 
impassioned than might at first be expected. The numerous 
VOL. i. 2 



14, LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 

funeral honors paid to the memory of this beloved man had 
already made a great demand on the public sensibility. Mr. 
Ames chose rather to dwell on the political events and acts 
which illustrated his character, than merely to draw tears for 
his loss. This performance has obtained much praise for its 
just description, accurate discrimination, sententious wisdom, 
and calm, dignified eloquence. 

At length the apprehensions of Mr. Ames were realized in 
the downfall of the federal cause, and the Constitution was 
transferred to the custody of its opposers. 

He had often said, that the government was maintained by 
efforts which would tire or be overpowered. Hs had seen that 
it was attacked with unremitting fury, whilst the defence 
was irregular, inconstant, and feeble. 

To secure the country against the worst consequences 
which this change portended, and which he feared, though 
retarded, must soon begin to take place, he thought the 
presses should be sedulously employed by federal writers. 
He said, he did not expect by this means to make all the 
people politicians, or acute judges of men and measures, but 
to assist those who have influence over the opinions of the 
many, to think correctly on our affairs, and particularly to 
disabuse their minds of the false theories of democracy. He 
did not calculate to restore the sceptre to federalism ; but, to 
use his own expression, he hoped " to have the wise and 
good and the owners of the country, a watchful minority, 
who, though they may be overcome, will not be deluded, and 
will save all that can be saved." 

He began from this time, and continued for two years, to 
be Srfliligent writer of political essays. He then suspended 
"his-labor, but resumed it afterwards, and never entirely aban 
doned it, while he could hold his pen. These productions 
treat of subjects on which he had bestowed much thought 
and research, and which he had often discussed in conversa 
tion with his friends. They were written, however, always 
with great rapidity ; often in the short intervals of a busy 
day, on a journey, at an inn, or in a court-house. They 
show his insight into human nature, and his knowledge of 
the character of democracy. They afford a strong proof of 
his ability to foresee the effects of political causes. 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 15 

Foreign politics, both as affecting our own, and as inte 
resting to humanity, passed under his pen. He beheld, he 
said, in the French revolution, a " despotism of the mob or 
the military from the first, and hypocrisy of morals to the 
last." The policy, the principles, and the power of France 
in all its forms, before the creation of the new dynasty, and 
under the present system of universal empire, always ap 
peared to him big with danger to the liberty of the world. 
The partiality to France in the national feelings of Americans, 
he regarded as having a tendency at all times to corrupt and 
pervert American politics. Nothing can exceed the interest 
with which he watched the efforts of Great Britain agrainst 

O 

the all-conquering and eccentric ambition of France ; not 
only because he was just to the British nation and character, 
but because he saw that all our hopes of independence were 
staked upon the issue. 

On all these subjects Mr. Ames was awake, while many 
others slept. What they saw obscurely, he saw clearly. 
What to them was distant, affected him as near. The admis 
sion of danger implies duty ; and many refuse to be alarmed, 
because they wish to be at ease. The despondent think 
nothing can be done ; the presumptuous, nothing need be 
done. Considering these facts and opinions, Mr. Ames s 
writings will be acknowledged to have produced much effect. 

In the year 34 Mr Ames vvas chosen President of 



^ 

Harvard College. His health would noFhaveTallowed him 
to accept the place, had other reasons permitted. Though 
greatly interested in the education of the young, he did not 
think his habits adapted to the office, and therefore declined 
the honor. %^ 

From 1795 his health continued to decline, with partial 
and flattering intermissions, until his death. He was a strik 
ing example of magnanimity and patience under suffering. 
Retaining always the vigor and serenity of his mind, he ap 
peared to make those reflections which became his situation. 
When speaking of his first attack, he observes, " I trust I 
realize the value of those habits of thinking, which I have 
cherished for some time. Sickness is not wholly useless to 
me. It has increased the warmth of my affection to my 
friends. It has taught me to make haste in forming the plan 



16 LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 

of my life, if it should be spared, more for private duties and 
social enjoyments, and less for the splendid emptiness of pub 
lic station, than yet I have done." 

At length, after an extreme debility for two years, the 
frame which had so long tottered, was about to fall. With 
composure and dignity he saw the approach of his dissolu 
tion. He had many reasons for wishing to live. The sum 
mons came to demand of his noon of life the residue of a day 
which had been bright and fair ; of his love of fame, the 
relinquishment of all that respect and honor which the world 
solicited him to receive ; of his patriotism, the termination of 
all his cares and labors for a country which he loved with 
inextinguishable ardor ; of his conjugal affection, a separation 
from an object inexpressibly dear ; of his parental tenderness, 
the surrender of his children to the chances and vicissitudes 
of life without his counsel and care. 

But these views of his condition did not sink his heart, 
which was sustained by pious confidence and hope. He ap 
peared now what he always was, and rose in virtues in pro 
portion to his trial, expressing the tenderest concern for those 
whom he should leave, and embracing in his solicitude his 
counfrjTand mankind. He__xpired: -en the morning of the 
\ fouth_oX^uly, 1808. When the intelligence reached Boston, 
) a~ meeting of citizens was held with a view to testify their 
j respect for his character and services. In compliance with 
J their request, his remains were brought to the capital for 
interment, at which an eulogy was pronounced by his early 
friend Mr. Dexter, and every mark of respectful notice was 
paid. 

Funeral honors to public characters, being customary 
offices of decorum and propriety, are necessarily equivocal 
testimonies of esteem. But Mr. Ames was a private man, 
who was honored because he was lamented. He was fol 
lowed to the grave by a longer procession than has perhaps 
appeared on atiy similar occasion. It was a great assem 
blage, drawn by gratitude and admiration around the bier of 
one exalted in their esteem by his preeminent gifts, and 
endeared to their hearts by the surpassing loveliness of his 
disposition. 

Having taken notice of the history of Mr. Ames, we are 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. lj 

required to present some additional views of his talents, opi 
nions, and character. The reader of his works will, no doubt, 
concur with those who knew him and who heard him in pub 
lic and private, in saying 1 , that he had a mind of high order, in 
some particulars of the highest, and that he has a just claim 
to be classed with the men of genius, that quality which it is 
so much more easy to discern than to define ; " that quality, 
without which judgment is cold and knowledge inert ; that 
energy which collects, combines, amplifies, and animates." 
We observe in Mr. Ames a liberal portion of all the facul 
ties and qualities that enter into this character, understand 
ing, memory, imagination, invention, sensibility, ardor. 

As a speaker and as a writer he had the power to enlighten 
adr-persuade, to move, to please, to charm, to astonish. He 
united those decorations that belong to fine talents to that 
penetration and judgment that designate an acute and solid 
mind. Many of his opinions have the authority of predic 
tions fulfilled and fulfilling. He had Jthe _abiHt_pf investiga 
tion, and, where it was necessary, tlfd investigate with patient 
attention, going through a series of observation and deduc 
tion, and tracing the links which connect one truth with an 
other. When the result of his researches was exhibited in 
discourse, the steps of a logical process were in some mea 
sure concealed by the coloring of rhetoric. Minute calcula 
tions and dry details were employments, however, the least 

"adapted to his peculiar construction of mind. It was easy") 
and delightful for him to illustrate by a picture, but painful! 
and laborious to prove by a diagram. It was the preroga 
tive of his mind to discern by a glance, so rapid as to seem 
intuition, those truths which common capacities struggle hard 
to apprehend ; and it was the part of his eloquence to dis-1 
play, expand, and enforce them. 

^^JHis, imagination was a distinguishing feature of his mind^ 
Prolific, grand, sportive, original, it gave him the command] 
of nature and art, and enabled him to vary the disposition^ 
and the dress of his ideas without end. Now it assembled 
most pleasing images, adorned with all that is soft and beau 
tiful ; and now rose in the storm, wielding the elements and 
flashing with the most awful splendors. 

Very few men have produced more original combinations. \ 

/-\ Ait 



18 LIFE OF FISHER MIES. 

/ He presented resemblances and contrasts which none saw 
before, but all admitted to be just and striking. In delicate / 
and powerful wit he was preeminent. 

The exercise of these talents and accomplishments was 
, guided and exalted by a sublime morality and the spirit of a 
rational piety, was modelled by much good taste, and prompt 
ed by an ardent heart. 

Mr. Ames was more adapted to the Senate than the bar. 
His speeches in Congress, always respectable, were many of 
them excellent, abounding in argument and sentiment, hav 
ing all the necessary information, embellished with rhetorical 
beauties, and animated with patriotic fires. 

So much of the skill and address of the orator do they ex 
hibit, that, though he had little regard to the rules of the art, 
they are perhaps fair examples of the leading precepts for the 
several parts of an oration. In debates on important ques 
tions he generally waited before he spoke, till the discussion 
^Jiad proceeded at some length, when he was sure to notice 
every argument that had been offered. He was sometimes 
^in a minority, when he well considered the temper of a ma 
jority in a republican assembly, impatient of contradiction, 
refutation, or detection, claiming to be allowed sincere in their 
convictions, and disinterested in their views. He was not 
unsuccessful in uniting the prudence and conciliation neces 
sary in parliamentary speaking, with lawful freedom of de 
bate, and an effectual use of those sharp and massy weapons 
which his talents supplied, and which his frankness and zeal 
prompted him to employ. 

He did not systematically study the exterior graces of 
speaking, but his attitude was erect and easy, his gestures 
manly and forcible, his intonations varied and expressive, his 
articulation distinct, and his whole manner animated and na 
tural. His written compositions, it will be perceived, have 
that glow and vivacity which belonged to his speeches. 

All the other efforts of his mind, however, were probably 
exceeded by his powers in conversation. He appeared among 
his friends with an illuminated face, and with peculiar ame 
nity and captivating kindness displayed all the playful felicity 
of his wit, the force of his intellect, and the fertility of his 
imagination. 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 19 

On the kind or degree of excellence which criticism may 
concede or deny to Mr. Ames s productions, we do not under 
take with accurate discrimination to determine. He was 
undoubtedly rather actuated by the genius of oratory, than 
disciplined by the precepts of rhetoric ; was more intent on 
exciting attention and interest, and producing effect, than se 
curing the praise of skill in the artifice of composition. Hence 
critics might be dissatisfied, yet hearers charmed. The 
abundance of materials, the energy and quickness of concep 
tion, the inexhaustible fertility of mind which he possessed, 
as they did not require, so they forbade a rigid adherence to 
artificial guides in the disposition and employment of his intel 
lectual stores. To a certain extent, such a speaker and 
writer may claim to be his own authority. 

Image crowded upon image in his mind ; he is not charge-f 
able with affectation in the use of figurative language ; hisl 
tropes are evidently prompted by imagination, and not forced 
into his service. Their novelty and variety create constant 
surprise and delight. But they are, perhaps, too lavishly 
employed. The fancy of his hearers is sometimes over plied 
with stimulus, and the importance of the thought liable to be 
concealed in the multitude and beauty of the metaphors. His ) 
condensation of expression may be thought to produce occa 
sional abruptness. He aimed rather at the terseness, strength, 
and vivacity of the short sentence, than the dignity of the 
full and flowing period. His style is conspicuous for senten 
tious brevity, for antithesis and point. Single ideas appear 
with so much lustre and prominence, that the connection of 
the several parts of his discourse is not always obvious to 
the common mind, and the aggregate impression of the com 
position is not always completely obtained. In those respects 
where his peculiar excellences came near to defects, he is 
rather to be admired than imitated. 

Mr. Ames, though trusting much to his native resources, 
did by no means neglect to apply the labors of others to his 
own use. His early love of books has been mentioned ; and 
he retained and cherished the same propensity through his 
whole life. He was particularly fond of ethical studies ; but 
he went more deeply into history, than any other branch of 
learning. Here he sought the principles of legislation, the 



t 



20 LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 

science of politics, the causes of the rise and decline of nations, 
and the character and passions of men acting in public affairs. 
He read Herodotus, Thucydides, Livy, Tacitus, Plutarch, and 
the modern historians of Greece and Rome. The English 
history he studied with much care. Hence he possessed a 
great fund of historical knowledge always at command both 
for conversation and writing. He contemplated the charac 
ter of Cicero as an orator and statesman with fervent admi 
ration. 

^ He_never__ceased to be a lover of the poets. Homer, in 
Pope, he often perused ; and read Virgil in the original within 
two years of his death with increased delight. His know- 
ledge of the French enabled him to read their authors, though 
not to speak their language. He was accustomed to read the 
Scriptures, not only as containing a system of truth and duty, 
but as displaying, in their poetical parts, all that is sublime, 
animated, and affecting in composition. His learning seldom 
appeared as such, but was interwoven with his thoughts, and 
became his own. s 

In public speaking he trusted much to excitememyand did 
little more in his closet than draw the outlines of his speech, 
and reflect on it, till he had received deeply the impressions 
he intended to make ; depending for the turns and figures of 
language, illustrations, and modes of appeal to the passions, 
on his imagination and feelings at the time. This excite 
ment continued, when the cause had ceased to operate. After 
debate, his mind was agitated, like the ocean after a storm, 
and his nerves were like the shrouds of a ship, torn by the 
tempest. 

He brought his mind much in contact with the minds of 
others, ever pleased to converse on subjects of public interest, 
and seizing every hint that might be useful to him in writing, 
for the instruction of his fellow-citizens. He justly thought, 
that persons below him in capacity might have good ideas, 
which he might employ in the correction and improvement of 
his own. His attention was always awake to grasp the ma 
terials that came to him from every source. A constant 
labor was going on in his mind. 

He never sunk from an elevated tone of thought and ac 
tion, nor suffered his faculties to slumber in indolence. The 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 1 

circumstances of the times in which he was called to act, 
contributed to elicit his powers, and supply fuel to his genius. 
The greatest interests were subjects of debate. When he 
was in the national legislature, the spirit of party did not tie 
the hands of the public functionaries ; and questions, on which 
depended the peace or war, the safety or danger, the freedom 
or dishonor of the country, might be greatly influenced by the 
counsels and efforts of a single patriot. . w 

The political principles and opinions of Mr. Ames are not 
difficuTno^e understood, and should be attentively regarded 
bythose who will estimate the merit of his labors. Mr. 
Ames was emphatically a republican. _He saw that many 
persons confounded a republic with a democracy. He con 
sidered them as essentially distinct and really opposite. Ac 
cording to his creed, a republic is that structure of an elect 
ive government, in which the administration necessarily pre 
scribe tothejnjelvesjthe general good as ^he~~objectjof_all 
their measures ; a democracy is that, in which the present 
popular passions, independent of the public good, become a 
guide to the rulers. In the first, the reason and interests of 
society govern ; in the second, their prejudices and passions. 
The frame of the American Constitution supposes the dangers 
of democracy. The division of the Legislature into two 
branches and their diverse origin , the long duration of office 
in one branch, the distinct power of the executive, the inde 
pendence and permanency of the judiciary, are designed to 
balance and check the democratic tendencies of our polity. 
They are contrivances and devices voluntarily adopted by the 
people to restrain themselves from obstructing, by their own 
mistakes or perversity, the attainment of the public welfare. 
They are professed means of insuring to the nation rulers, 
who will prefer the durable good of the whole, to the tran 
sient advantage of the whole or a part. When these provi 
sions become ineffectual, and the legislator, the executive 
magistrate, and the judge become the instruments of the pas 
sions of the people, or of the governing majority, the govern 
ment, whatever may be its form, is a democracy, and the 
public liberty is no longer safe. True republican rulers are 
bound to act, not simply as those who appoint them wotild, 
but as they ought ; democratic leaders will act in subordina- 






22 LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 

tion to those very passions which it is the object of govern 
ment to control ; but as the effect of this subserviency is 
to procure them unlimited confidence and devotedness, the 
powers of society become concentrated in their hands. Then 
it is, that men, not laws, govern. Nothing can be more 
inconsistent with the real liberty of the people, than the 
power of the democracy thus brought into action. For in 
this case the government is a despotism beyond rule, not a 
republic confined to rule. It is strong, but its strength is of 
a terrible sort ; strong to oppress, not to protect ; not strong 
to maintain liberty, property, and right, it cannot secure jus 
tice nor make innocence safe. 

Mr. Ames apprehended that our government had been 
sliding down ftom a true republic towards the abyss of de 
mocracy ; and that the ambition of demagogues operating on 
personal, party, and local passions, was attaining its objects. 
"A quack doctor, a bankrupt attorney, and a renegado from 
England, by leading the mobs of three cities, become worth 
a national bribe ; and after receiving it, they are not the ser 
vants but the betrayers of the state." The only resource 
against this degeneracy of our affairs, and their final catastro 
phe, Mr. Ames considered to be the " correctness of the pub 
lic opinion, and the energy that is to maintain it." Hence 
his zeal to support the federal administration in the constitu 
tional exercise of its powers, and his fervid appeals to en 
lighten, animate, and combine the friends of republican 
liberty. Hence the stress he laid on the principles, habits, 
and institutions that pertain to the New England state of 
society. " Constitutions," said he, " are but paper ; society 
is the substratum of government. The New England state 
of society is the best security to us, and, mediately, to the 
United States, for a government favorable to liberty and 
order. The chance of these is almost exclusively from their 
morals, knowledge, manners, and equal diffusion of property, 
added to town governments and clergy ; all circumstances 
inestimable." 

In conformity to these principles, he considered party as 
the necessary engine of good, as well as the instrument of evil 
in a republic. Party, meaning an association or political 
connection for the public good, is a name of praise ; and a 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. Qg 

" party united and actuated by a common impulse or interest, 
adverse to the rights of the citizens, and the permanent and 
aggregate interests of the community," even though it be a 
majority, is a faction. Accident, as well as vice, would ope 
rate strongly on the formation of the one body, and in some 
small degree of the other : but their prevailing character and 
views constitute their distinction, and determine them good 
or bad. Neutrality is not permitted to a good citizen. In 
difference about political party is not moderation, but either 
an insensibility to the public welfare, or a selfish desire of 
getting favor with both sides, at the expense of the honest. 
Moderation consists in maintaining the love of country supe 
rior to party feeling, and in showing respect to the rights of 
opponents, not in allowing their wishes, or fearing their 
enmity, or relaxing in prudent exertions to baffle their 
designs. 

Mr. Ames s character as a patriot rests on the highest and 
firmest ground. He loved his country with equal purity and 
fervor. This affection was the spring of all his efforts to 
promote her welfare. The glory of being a benefactor to a 
great people he could not despise, but justly valued. He 
was covetous of the fame purchased by desert ; but he was 
above ambition ; and popularity, except as an instrument of 
public service, weighed nothing in the balance by which he 
estimated good and evil. Had he sought power only, he 
would have devoted himself to that party in whose gift he 
foresaw that it would be placed. His first election, though 
highly flattering, was equally unsought and unexpected, and 
his acceptance of it interrupted his chosen plan of life. It 
obliged him to sacrifice the advantages of a profession which 
he needed, and placed in uncertainty his prospect of realiz 
ing the enjoyments of domestic life, which he considered as 
the highest species of happiness. But he found himself at 
the disposal of others, and did not so much choose as acqui 
esce in his destination to the national legislature. The viru 
lent pen of party ventured upon the surmise, that his pecu 
niary sacrifices were compensated by his interest in the pub 
lic credit, which his vote and influence helped to establish. 
From his knowledge of affairs, and his confidential standing 
with those who were principals in effecting that measure, he 



24- LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 

might have made himself a gainer, along with the public, by 
the funding system. But he consulted his lively sense of 
reputation by a scrupulous abstinence from participating in 
this advantage. He observed upon this calumny, which was 
uttered, not because it was deserved, but because it might be 
believed : " I have too good proofs of the want of property 
for surmise to the contrary to have weight ; I have much 
more occasion to justify myself to my family for being poor, 
than to repel the charge of being rich." His delicate mind 
and amiable temper made the contests of his public station 
often irksome. Though he did not allow himself to com 
plain, yet he sometimes felt these irritations with much sen 
sibility. " The value of friends," he observes, " is the most 
apparent and highest rated to those who mingle in the con 
flicts of political life. The sharp contests for little points 
wound the mind, and the ceaseless jargon of hypocrisy over 
powers the faculties. I turn from scenes which provoke and 
disgust me to the contemplation of the interest I have in 
private life, and to the pleasures of society with those friends 
whom I have so much reason to esteem." 

He did not, however, turn his eyes from the favorable side 
of his situation. " There is a vexation in public cares, but 
these cares awaken curiosity ; an active interest in the event 
of measures, which gradually becomes the habit of a politi 
cian s soul. Besides, the society of worthy and distinguished 
men, whose virtues and characters are opened and colored by 
the sympathy of united efforts, is no mean compensation." 
His health, and perhaps his life, were the costly oblations 
which he laid on the altar of patriotism. The fine machine 
ry of his system could ill withstand the excitement produced 
by public speaking, and his keen interest in public affairs. 

It is happy for mankind, when those who engage admi 
ration, deserve esteem; for vice and folly derive a pernicious 
influence from an alliance with qualities that naturally com 
mand applause. In the character of Mr. Ames, the circle 
of the virtues seemed to be complete, and each virtue in its 
proper place. 

The_0JbJctjrf religion presented themselves with a strong 
interest to his mind. The relation of the world to its 
AutKor, and of this life to a retributory scene in another, 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. #5 

could not be contemplated by him without the greatest 
solemnity. The religious_sanse was, in his view, essential 
in |be--consjiiutiQft-o- man. He placed a full reliance on the 
divine origin of Christianity. If there was ever a time in 
his life, when the light of revelation shone dimly upon his 
understanding, he did not rashly close his mind against 
clearer vision, for he was more fearful of mistakes to the 
disadvantage of a system, which he saw to be excellent and 
benign, than of prepossessions in its favor. He felt it his 
duty and interest to inquire, and discovered, on the side of 
faith, a fulness of evidence little short of demonstration. At 
about thirty-five, he made a public profession of his belief in 
the Christian religion, and was a regular attendant on its 
services. In regard to articles of belief, his conviction was 
confined to those leading principles, about which Christians 
have little diversity of opinion. Subtle questions of theo 
logy, from various causes often agitated, but never deter 
mined, he neither pretended nor desired to investigate, 
satisfied that they related to points uncertain or unimportant. 
Hejoved to_yiew religion on the practical side, as designed 
<5<Poperate by a few simple and grand truths on the 
affections, actions, and habits of men. He cherished the 
sentiment and experience of religion, careful to ascertain the 
genuineness and value of impressions and feelings by their 
moral tendency. He insisted much on the distinction be 
tween the real and lively, but gentle and unaffected emotions 
of a pious mind, naturally passing into the life, and that 
"morbid fanaticism," which consists in inexplicable sensa 
tions, internal acts, and artificial raptures, that have no good 
aspect upon religious obedience. In estimating a sect, he 
regarded more its temper than its tenets; he treated the 
conscientious opinions and phraseology of others on sacred 
subjects with tenderness, and approached all questions con 
cerning divine revelation with modesty and awe. His pru 
dence and moderation in these particulars may, possibly, 
have been misconstrued into an assent to propositions, which 
he meant merely not to deny, or an adoption of opinions or 
language, which he chose merely not to condemn. He, of 
all men, was the last to countenance exclusive claims to 
purity of faith, founded on a zeal for peculiar dogmas, which 
VOL. i. 3 



OQ LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 

multitudes of good men, approved friends of truth, utterly 
reject. He was no enemy to improvement, to fair inquiry, 
and Christian freedom; but innovations in the modes of 
worship and instruction, without palpable necessity or ad 
vantage, he discouraged, as tending to break the salutary 
associations of the pious mind. His conversation and beha 
vior evinced the sincerity of his religious impressions. No 
levity upon these subjects ever escaped his lips; but his 
manner of recurring to them in conversation indicated rever 
ence and feeling. The sublime, the affecting character of 
Christ, he never mentioned without emotion. 

. Mr. Ames was married July loth, 179# 5 to Frances, 

third daughter of John Worthington, Esq. of Springfield. 
He left seven children, six of whom are sons; the eldest 
fifteen years old. He was gratefully sensible of the peculiar 
felicity of his domestic life. In his beloved home, his sick 
ness found all the alleviation that a judicious and unwearied 
tenderness could minister; and his intervals of health, a 
succession of every pleasing engagement and heartfelt satis 
faction. The complacency of his looks, the sweetness of his 
tones, his mild and often playful manner of imparting 
instruction, evinced his extreme delight in the society of his 
family, who felt that they derived from him their chief hap 
piness, and found in his conversation and example a constant 
excitement to noble and virtuous conduct. As a husband 
and father, he was all that is provident, kind, and exemplary. 
He was riveted in the regards of those who were in his 
service. He felt all the ties of kindred. The delicacy, the 
ardor, and constancy, with which he cherished his friends, 
his readiness to the offices of good neighborhood, and his 
propensity to contrive and execute plans of public improve 
ment, formed traits in his character, each of remarkable 
strength. He cultivated friendship by an active and punc 
tual correspondence, which made the number of his letters 
very great, and which are not less excellent than numerous. 
When he emerged from comparative obscurity, to fill a 
large space in the eyes of the public, he lost none of the 
simplicity of character and modesty of deportment which he 
had before displayed, and neglected none of the friends of 
his youth. He never yielded to that aversion to the neces- 



LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 7 

sary cares of life, which men, accustomed to high concerns, 
or fond of letters, sometimes improvidently indulge. With 
out any particle of avarice, he was strictly economical. 

He had no enyyvfor he felt no personal rivalry. His 
ambition was^oFlhaF^urified sort, which is rather the desire 
of excellence, than the reputation of it: he aimed more at 
desert, than at superiority. He loved to bestow praise on 
those who were competitors for the same kind of public con 
sideration as himself, not fearing that he should sink by 
their elevation. 

He was tenacious of his rights, but scrupulous in his 
respernTfcT the rights of others. The obloquy of political 
opponents, was sometimes the price he paid for not de 
serving it. But it could hardly give him pain, for he had 
. no vulnerable points in his character. He had a perfect 
/ command of his temper ; his anger never proceeded to 
V passion, nor his sense of injury to revenge. If there was 
occasional asperity in his language, it was easy to see there 
was no malignity in his disposition. He tasted the good of 
his existence with cheerful gratitude ; how he received its 
evil has been already intimated. 

His fears concerning public affairs did not so much de 
press his spirits, as awaken his activity to prevent or miti 
gate, by his warnings and counsels, the disorder of the 
state. He was deeply anxious for the fortunes of his 
country, but more intent on rendering it all the service in 
his power ; convinced that, however uncertain may be the 
events of the future, the present duty is never performed 
in vain. 

/-< Mr. Ames, in person, a little exceeded the middle height, 

/ was well proportioned, and remarkably erect. His features 

( were regular, his aspect respectable and pleasing, his eye 

expressive of benignity and intelligence. His head and face 

are shown with great perfection in the engraving prefixed to 

his works. In his manners he was easy, affable, cordial, 

inviting confidence, yet inspiring respect. He had that 

. refined spirit of society, which observes the forms of a real, 

but not studied politeness, and paid a most delicate regard 

to the propriety of conversation and behavior. 

In faint lines we have sketched the character of this man 



28 LIFE OF FISHER AMES. 

of worth. If the reader ask, why he is represented without 
blemishes, the answer is, that, though as a man, he undoubt 
edly had faults, yet they were so few, so trivial, or so lost 
among his virtues, as not to be observed, or not to be 
remembered. 



THE WORKS 



OF 



FISHER AMES 



PART I. LETTERS. 



LETTERS. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT, 1 BOSTON. 

New York, March 25th, 1789. 

DEAR SIR, This morning we have twenty-six repre 
sentatives ; and as thirty are necessary to make a quorum, 
we are still in a state of inaction. This is a very mortify 
ing- situation. Mr. Coles, of Virginia, is at Philadelphia, 
detained by a slight indisposition, but is to set off to-day. 
Two members will be here from Jersey this evening, and if 
Messrs. Fitzsimmons and Clymer of Philadelphia come in, 
as we expect, we shall make an house on Friday. Mr. 
Elmer is expected to join the Senate this evening, which 
will make the Senate eleven strong. Therefore, we cannot 
hope for a Congress of both houses this week. 

I am inclined to believe that the languor of the old Con 
federation is transfused into the members of the new Con 
gress. This city has not caught the spirit, or rather the 
want of spirit, I am vexing myself to express to you. 
Their hall will cost ^20,000 York money. They are pre- 

1 Mr. Minot and Mr. Ames were fellow-students, and intimate friends. 
They were admitted to the bar together, in Boston, in November, 1781. 
Mr. Minot soon became eminent in his profession, and received many tokens 
of the public confidence. Their written correspondence appears to have 
ceased, at the termination of Mr. Ames s service in Congress ; probably be 
cause they had frequent and more direct personal intercourse. Their friend 
ship continued uninterrupted until Mr. Minot s death, which took place in 
1802. 



32 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

-paring fireworks, and a splendid barge for the President, 
which last will cost 200 or 300. 1 

This State is snarling about elections. But Massachu 
setts distances all the world. How will it be decided there I 
Write me. How can you preserve such an obstinate 
silence ] If you knew how fast I am obliged to write this 
nonsense, you would forgive me for making it such. 

We lose 1,000 a day revenue. We lose credit, spirit, 
every thing. The public will forget the government before 
it is born. The resurrection of the infant will come before 
its birth. Happily, however, the federal interest is strong 
in Congress. The old Congress still continues to meet, and 
it seems to be doubtful whether the old government is dead, 
or the new one alive. God deliver us speedily from this 
puzzling state, or prepare my will, if it subsists much 
longer, for I am in a fever to think of it. Write me long 
letters often. Your brother Clark s letter will not be for 
gotten. 

My dear friend, yours affectionately. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, April 4, 1789. 

DEAR SIR, I presume that you have heard that the 
House of Representatives met on Wednesday, the 1st, a 
quorum of thirty attending. They have met daily, and are 
still occupied in the little business of making arrangements. 
A committee is employed to form rules and orders. Slower 
progress will be made in this, by reason of the Senate not 
having yet a quorum to act upon any bill, in case the House 
should prepare one. Besides, I am inclined to believe, that 
there is in every popular assembly a strong resemblance of 
character the same refining, quiddling scepticism. The 

1 A Philadelphia newspaper of April 22d, 1789, informs its readers that 
" an elegant barge is now building in New York to waft the great Washing 
ton across the Hudson, to be rowed by ten sea captains, and one to act as 
cockswain." 



LETTERS. 33 

House is composed of sober, solid, old-charter folks, as we 
often say. At least, I am sure that there are many such. 
They have been in government before, and they are not 
disposed to embarrass business, nor are they, for the most 
part, men of intrigue. Yet, my friend, I foresee our 
General Court nicety. I think the debates upon questions 
of order will be frequent and animated. It may become 
necessary to consult the Aruspices, whether a man shall be 
called doorkeeper or sergeant-at-arms. I have given a 
reason why the delay arising from this source is not to be 
regretted, the Senate not having formed. Indeed, the little 
passions which occasion it will be speedily satiated or wea 
ried, and the great business before us will soon make us 
sufficiently serious. This in confidence, my friend. How 
ever, though I am rather less awed and terrified at the sight 
of the members than I expected to be, I assure you I like 
them very well. There are few shining geniuses ; there are 
many who have experience, the virtues of the heart, and the 
habits of business. It will be quite a republican assembly. 
It looks like one. Many who expected a Roman senate, 
when the doors shall be opened, will be disappointed. 
Admiration will lose its feast. In return for this breach of 
the rules of poetry, I presume the antis will laugh at their 
own fears. They will see that the aristocracy may be kept 
down some years longer. My dear friend, by these hasty 
hints I have tried to give my ideas of the character of the 
House. You will be better satisfied with it than with news 
paper stuff. The Senate will be a very respectable body. 
Heaven knows when they will act. Report is (and has 
been so these three weeks,) that several senators are just at 
hand. Let me hear from you frequently. I am rather 
more happy in your friendship for being vain of it. Your 
letters will gratify my vanity and comfort my heart ; your 
neglect would make it ache. 

I am, dear sir, your friend and humble servant. 



P. S. Please to observe, that noticing, in the way of 
compliments, all my friends, would exclude more valuable 
matter. I do not forget them, and as you know that to be 



34< WORKS OF FISHER AMES. > 

the case, pray represent me, and say what I ought to say. 
Mrs. Minot, Mr. Freeman and lady, in particular, &c. &c. 
About thirty-five representatives to-day. Mr. Partridge 
arrived to-day. 

Yours, in haste. 

Sunday, 5th April. 

I am this moment informed that Mr. R. H. Lee is 
arrived, and so the Senate has a quorum. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

(Confidential.) 

New York, May 3d, 1 789. Sunday. 

DEAR GEORGE, I would very cheerfully comply with 
the wishes expressed in your last, and pursue my sour com 
mentary upon great folks and public bodies, but haste will 
not permit. I was present in the pew with the President, 
and must assure you that, after making all deductions for 
the delusion of one s fancy in regard to characters, I still 
think of him with more veneration than for any other per 
son. Time has made havoc upon his face. That, and 
many other circumstances not to be reasoned about, conspire 
to keep up the awe which I brought with me. He ad 
dressed the two Houses in the Senate chamber ; it was a 
very touching scene, and quite of the solemn kind. His 
aspect grave, almost to sadness ; his modesty, actually shak 
ing ; his voice deep, a little tremulous, and so low as to 
call for close attention ; added to the series of objects pre 
sented to the mind, and overwhelming it, produced emotions 
of the most affecting kind upon the members. I, Pilgarlic, 
sat entranced. It seemed to me an allegory in which virtue 
was personified, and addressing those whom she would make 
her votaries. Her power over the heart was never greater, 
and the illustration of her doctrine by her own example was 
never more perfect. 



LETTERS. So 

Inclosed, you have my speech, taken after the debate, 
while the ideas were so fresh as to make it a very just 
transcript of my argument. More was said, but what is 
said ih the inclosed was actually delivered. A speech made 
afterwards would not amuse you. My friend, listen. Fenno 
published the speeches. Inter nos, I suppose Goodhue 
and Gerry wrote theirs, and gave to him. Mine is not 
flattered by the publication. Suppose it published in the 
Boston papers as the speech of an anonymous person, or as 
mine ; and if it should be asked how it came to differ from 
Fenno s, would it do to say, that many other papers take the 
debates from shorthand writers] I submit it to your 
friendship to judge whether it \vill tend to create invidious 
observations against me, or be a prudent thing. Do you 
suppress it, or show it to Mr. William Smith at the club, as 
you please, for the Gazette will not very clearly evince my 
attention to the business. 

Let me beg you to prevent any Centinel, or other, enco 
miums upon me. They lower a man very much. 

I have talked with Thacher about your book. 1 We 
thought of a list of persons to present a book to, and pro 
posed to ask your choice of t\velve out of a larger number. 
Pray continue your letters, and be assured that I shall not 
esteem myself when I cease to be, with affection, 

Your friend and very humble servant. 



I made two speeches, the latter in reply to Madison, who 
is a man of sense, reading, address, and integrity, as tis 
allowed. Very much Frenchified in his politics. He 
speaks low, his person is little and ordinary. He speaks 
decently, as to manner, and no more. His language is very 
pure, perspicuous, and to the point. Pardon me, if I add, 
that I think him a little too much of a book politician, and 
too timid in his politics, for prudence and caution are oppo- 
sites of timidity. He is not a little of a Virginian, and 
thinks that State the land of promise, but is afraid of their 
State politics, and of his popularity there, more than I think 

1 History of the Insurrection in Massachusetts. 



36 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

he should be. His manner is something like John Choate s. 1 
He is our first man. 

Suppose the list to be 

New York Governor Clinton, the Chancellor Living 
ston, Col. Hamilton, or Publius. 

Jersey Governor Livingston, Mr. Boudinot. 

Pennsylvania Tench Coxe, Speaker Muhlenburg. 

Virginia Madison, the late President of Congress, 
Cyrus Griffin. 

Carolina Judge Burke. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, May 14, 1789. Thursday evening. 

DEAR FRIEND, I have just left a letter for you in the 
post-office, where I received yours, and saw Mr. Geyer, 
Junior, who is going to Boston, by way of Providence. I 
will not hesitate to write again, because my letter, per post, 
will be found very empty, and will not reach you so soon as 
this. It is not easy to write the transactions of the House, 
because I forget the topics which do not reach you by the 
newspaper. A committee of both Houses had reported 
that it is not proper to address the President by any other 
title than that in the Constitution. The House agreed to 
the report, without debate. But the Senate rejected it, and 
notified the House that they had nonconcurred. The House 
was soon in a ferment. The antispeakers edified all aristo 
cratic hearts by their zeal against titles. They were not 
warranted by the Constitution ; repugnant to republican 
principles ; dangerous, vain, ridiculous, arrogant, and dam 
nable. Not a soul said a word for titles. But the zeal of 
these folks could not have risen higher in case of contra 
diction. Whether the arguments were addressed to the 
galleries, or intended to hurry the House to a resolve cen- 

i John Choate, of Ipswich, a member of the Convention of 1 788, at which 
the Federal Constitution was acceded to on the part of the State of Massa 
chusetts. 



LETTERS. 3*7 

suring the Senate, so as to set the two Houses at odds, and 
to nettle the Senate to bestow a title in their address, is not 
clear. The latter was supposed, and a great majority 
agreed to appoint a committee of conference. The business 
will end here. Prudence will restrain the Senate from 
doing any thing at present, and they will call him President, 
&c., simply. 

Another molasses battle has been fought. Like modern 
victories, it was incomplete, but we got off one cent. Two 
or three of our side happened to be out when the last and 
deciding vote passed, otherwise we should have reduced it 
to four cents, the ne plus ultra. A very important vote 
passed to-day, allowing ten per cent, discount on the duties 
of goods in American bottoms, which will be half a cent on 
molasses. The Senate will, I trust, revise our doings with 
a temperate spirit. The Senate is a very respectable body. 
An excise is a topic on which my zeal is beginning to 
kindle. I see, or think I see, the most evident necessity for 
drawing from that resource some part of the revenues. 
The southern people dread it, and say that the excise is 
an odious, unpopular tax, and will fall unequally on them. 
They are afraid for their whiskey. Madison will oppose 
this, and it will be a work of labor and some responsibility. 
But I dread the consequence of leaving it untouched, and at 
the mercy of the State governments, who can, by that mea 
sure, defeat the operation of our protecting duties, and excise 
our manufactures at their markets. Other ill effects may, 
and many will inevitably, flow from the neglect of this 
resource. 

Tell Dexter that five cents per quintal is allowed on the 
export of fish. Salted provisions in a proper degree, I for 
get what. I think the same per barrel. 

Your, I mean our, Wednesday night club is very censo 
rious, and I suppose my hypercriticism on their criticism 
will not be spared. I thank Mr. Eliot and Mr. Minot for 
their loyalty and taste. The sentences are rather long, and 
not so simply constructed as Blair would have them, but 
may not the meaning be readily known] Is not a very 
considerable degree of beauty and elegance consistent with a 
small degree of obscurity] I admire the sentiments. The 

VOL. i. 4 



38 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

writer seems to have thought and felt when he wrote. Ad 
dresses are commonly made hy turning a crank of Swift s 
essay-mill. This is the work of the head and the heart, 
and, I will maintain, in spite of the club, is evidence of the 
superior excellence of both. Had the club attended the 
delivery of it, I think their censure would have been spared. 1 
My compliments to them, and let them know that I am 
ready to obey their instructions, like a good man and true. 

Your late kind attentions have led me to consider whether 
my esteem and value for your friendship can be heightened. 
I am, dear George, yours affectionately. 

Will you desire Adams and Nourse 2 to send me the 
Excise Acts of Massachusetts \ 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

(Confidential so far as you think it may be needful.) 

New York, May 16th, 1789. Saturday evening. 

DEAR FRIEND, I am tired, lazy, have written twice 
before by the late post and by this conveyance, and there 
fore think I shall write little now. Gore not chosen ; Jar- 
vis, Dawes, Russell resigned; Boston topsy-turvy. Public 
life is very subject to mortality, as well as sin and sorrow. 
I do not admire every thing here. Lately it was debated 
whether the ships of nations in treaty should pay less ton 
nage than other foreigners. It passed in the affirmative. 
I was silent, but voted with the minority. The New Eng 
land representatives, I believe, thought as I did, but voted 
for it, because a higher tonnage was imposed on the ship 
ping of nations not in alliance, (say British,) than would have 
been voted otherwise. So that our shipping has the more 
advantage. Is that a just principle of action \ It is little 

1 He is supposed to refer to Washington s Inaugural Address. 

2 Printers of the Independent Chronicle. 



LETTERS. 39 

and mean, as well as unwise and unsafe, to discriminate. 
I wish I may never sacrifice national principles to local 
interests. 

Yesterday it was moved by Madison to make the Impost 
Bill temporary. This, at the close of the business, without 
notice, astonished me. I opposed it instanter. He sup 
ported it by reasons which I despise. It was, he said, anti- 
republican to grant a perpetual revenue, unappropriated ; it 
was unwise to part with the power ; and the Senate, or a 
third of the Senate, could prevent a repeal or amendment of 
the act, though it was already said to be imperfect, and 
might prove oppressive ; the act was perpetual, and the debt 
might be paid in a few years. Why should the people pay 
longer than the occasion required] The Senate and Presi 
dent might not agree to repeal the law, though the debt 
might be paid, unless their terms were agreed to; that it 
was an experiment, and it would be a thing unprecedented 
to establish a perpetual tax. You will think this resembles 
the cant of our Nassons. 1 

I retorted that he and Fitzsimmons had spoken with 
scorn of a temporary system, but now their consistency had 
yielded to their republicanism ; they would not trust the 
Senate nor even themselves, with the power of appropriating 
the money, though if a surplus should arise, not a farthing 
could be touched without. But was the power of imposing 
new taxes less than that of appropriations ? They had 
reckoned their wealth on paper, and were concerned at the 
excess of it. They were afraid of its producing another 
evil, an excess of credit. But the rate of duties was so 
high as to relieve me from the fear of the first, and the 
limiting the act would repel the other evil. That money is 
power, a permanent revenue is permanent power, and the 
credit which it would give was a safeguard to the govern 
ment. With all the powers which we had, and the most 
prudent exercise of them, it was not to be imagined that the 



1 Major Samuel Nason, (or Nasson, as his name was sometimes spelt,) of 
Sanford, York county, Maine, was a member of the Massachusetts Con 
vention, held in 1788, for the adoption of the Federal Constitution. He 
appears to have somewhat affected the heroic and ornate style of eloquence, 
and voted in the negative on the general question of the adoption. 



40 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

government was too strong-, or too competent to preserve its 
being ; it was weak, young, and counteracted. Instead of 
immortality, we took a lease for years. Necessity forced us 
upon a revenue system now. A few years hence would the 
zeal for government be so warm 1 would not factions arise 1 
should not we hear again of State interests, and the threats 
of those who will complain of actual oppression! The 
system was not liked now ; half the opposition to another 
act would destroy all credit. We might have occasion to 
pledge our funds. Why make our own terms with our 
creditors bad ! If the bill is bad, mend it. It was strange 
that men, who so lately defended the bill as a good one, 
should now admit the truth of our objections, and try to 
reconcile us to the blunders of it, by the hope that we should 
not have long to endure them. A perpetual act might be 
repealed or amended. It was a play on words. But the 
funds, if pledged, could not be taken away without an act. 
A temporary act might expire, and it was a mere non-fea 
sance not to renew it. The papers will give you some 
further state of the debate, though nothing of it is yet pub 
lished, that I know. I supposed it might amuse you to 
state a little of it as it came into my head. The yeas and 
nays were called for to-day ; eight against limiting, forty- 
one for it. My friends voted against me, I suppose, on the 
principle that the molasses duty five cents, and some other 
points, are wrong, and the sooner the act expires the better. 
But, is it not a risk, to trust the revenue in future to the 
caprice of the antifederalism, the State politics, or the 
knavery of these folks ] No revenue, no government, is a 
truth, and may you not be forced to buy their consent to a 
revenue to keep life in the government, either by amend 
ments, by renouncing protecting and navigation duties, or 
by damning the debt? On the other hand, is there any 
color of reason for a temporary regulation ! I am sick of 
fluctuating counsels, of governing by expedients. Let us 
have stability and system. I glory in my side of the 
question. I think Mr. Madison was chagrined. Spleen at 
reducing molasses was a part of his motive. He talked 
very differently of the Senate lately. Fitzsimmons is very 
like our .... He said to me in private, formerly, that 



LETTERS. 41 

a temporary system was despicable and ruinous. Publicly, 
he called it, in a former speech, a paltry one. I reproached 
him with the last term in my speech. He felt it very 
sensibly. The bill is gone to the Senate with all its imper 
fections. I wish to serve your brother, and speak of him to 
Mr. Strong, but cannot give a word of information what, or 
when, any thing will be done. 

Yours, &c. 

P. S. I break off short, for it grows late. Write me 
when the House get together, how they look, &c. The bill 
passed for seven years. Madison was for twenty-five, which 
was a very ridiculous comment on his own principles. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

Monday, May 18, 1789. 

DEAR FRIEND, I am sitting very lazily in the House, 
who are debating about the manner of enrolling the acts of 
Congress, which I care little about. I suppose the object is 
to have a clerk of enrolments, with a view of providing a 
good warm office for Fame is as flat 
tering as other painters, and as seldom draws likenesses. I 

thought another Seneca or Plato, before I 

saw him. Now, I think him an old woman. He is a 
smooth, plausible Jrishman, but superficial, arrogant, and 
rapacious. Whether I know enough of him to support this 
opinion, is of little consequence, for I write to you only. 

I inclose a part of the Journal ; as much as I could get 
at. I will send you more with pleasure. 

Pray let me know how the General Court looks and acts. 

Fitzsimmons, of Philadelphia, is supposed to understand 
trade, and he assumes some weight in such matters. He is 
plausible, though not over civil ; is artful, has a glaring eye, 
a down look, speaks low, and with apparent candor and 

coolness. I have heard him compared to 

4* 



4,2 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

The similitude is not unapt. He is one of those people, 
whose face, manner, and sentiments concur to produce cau 
tion, if not apprehension and disgust. Madison is cool, and 
has an air of reflection, which is not very distant from 
gravity and self-sufficiency. In speaking, he never relaxes 
into pleasantry, and discovers little of that warmth of heart, 
which gives efficacy to George Cabot s reasoning, and to 
Lowell s. His printed speeches are more faithful than any 
other person s, because he speaks very slow, and his dis 
course is strongly marked. He states a principle and de 
duces consequences, with clearness and simplicity. Sometimes 
declamation is mingled with argument, and he appears very 
anxious to carry a point by other means than addressing 
their understandings. He appeals to popular topics, and to 
the pride of the House, such as that they have voted before, 
and will be inconsistent. I think him a good man and an 
able man, but he has rather too much theory, and wants that 
discretion which men of business commonly have. He is 
also very timid, and seems evidently to want manly firmness 
and energy of character. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, May 19, 1789. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, You will see, by the papers, that 
your friend was left in a small minority, on the late question 
whether the Impost Bill should be limited. When a thing 
is decided, it would be weak and cowardly to suppose that 
all the ill effects which may result from the measure actually 
will result. But while it is in debate, it is proper to view it 
in that manner. Now the affair is over, the public will 
naturally see it in the first point of view, and of course the 
opposition of the nays will seem excessive. On sober 
reflection, (if you will admit that a man can think soberly of 
a question in which his opinion has been overruled, and 
stands of record,) I think still that the measure was a very 



LETTERS. 43 

improper one. The arguments for it were not only incon 
sistent with one another, but of the Nassonian kind. I 
never knew an argument addressed to the pride of the 
House, to the pride of corps, as I think the French call it, 
prove ineffectual, if used so much in time, as to get posses 
sion of the head, before better arguments can reach it. The 
House were told, that if they made the law perpetual, the 
Senate and President would have little need of them ; that 
in Connecticut, an old law vested the appointment of the 
sheriff, or whipper, or some such officer, in the Governor 
and Council ; and though it was found improper, they had 
never been able to get it repealed. Wonderful ! What 
could the President and Senate do with the public money, 
without the act of the whole Legislature appropriating it? 
Any other persons are as likely to break into the Treasury 
and steal it. We shall not adopt the State laws for the 
purpose of collecting the duties. A bill for that purpose 
was ordered to lie on the table. It would have been a very 
proper completion of the temporary system. 

We are about forming the civil departments. I cannot 
give you any information on the subject yet. Dr. Appleton 
wrote me a very judicious, friendly letter, some days ago. 
Pray thank him, and say to my friends how much I think 
of them. I must conclude. 

Your friend. 

P. S. Our House have been voting to vest the power 
of removing certain officers, say the Minister of Foreign 
Affairs, in the President only, without the concurrence of 
the Senate. The idea was to give him this power, and con 
sider him as responsible for the use of it. To-morrow it 
will be debated whether the Treasury shall be directed by a 
board or by one person. 



44 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

May 27, 1789. Election day in Massachusetts. 

DEAR FRIEND, You give yourself unnecessary trouble 
to make apologies in regard to your not having sooner no 
ticed my information respecting your books. For I take 
pleasure in thinking that I can be of any use to you, and 
you oblige me by putting my disposition to the trial. I am 
a cordial well wisher to your brother Clarke, for his sake as 
well as yours, and I am not troubled or teased with his 
application. I have seemed a little negligent, I am sensible, 
but haste and the present undecided state of appointments 
prevented my writing particularly about it. I am totally 
uncertain what offices will be created, and how appointments 
will be made. I will not forget nor neglect him. 

Your letter is dated June 20, by a kind of anticipation. 
I understood the date, and am not disposed to be witty, in a 
captious way. I am gratified by your correspondence, only 
let me beg that you will not consider it as a duty, or that I 
claim it. I will not complain if you should not write once 
a month, though I shall be pleased to read your letters at all 
times. When you feel disposed, write. Let the pen go 
freely. I will do the like. To people whom I do not so 
much esteem, I will write punctually and in form. You 
will have such claims on your time, that I should be cruel to 
require more labor of you. 

You call my letter a desponding one. I had forgot 
every syllable of it. Before yours came, the weather had 
become fair, and my memory had lost the traces of the ideas 
which it seems that had conveyed to you. A man who 
feels too much, which you justly observe, a public man 
should not, will represent things in a stronger manner than 
he feels them. The habit of feeling strongly produces that 
of expressing strongly, and I am not sure that strong 
expressions, e converse, do not produce strong feelings. All 
this is my case. With a warm heart, and an hot head, I 
often dupe my friends and myself. I felt chagrined at the 
yawning listlessness of many here, in regard to the great 



LETTERS. 45 

objects of the government ; their liableness to the impression 
of arguments ad populum ; their State prejudices ; their 
overrefining spirit in relation to trifles ; their attachment to 
some very distressing formalities in doing business, and 
which will be a curse to all despatch and spirit in transact 
ing it. I compared these with the idea I had brought here, 
of demi-gods and Roman senators, or at least, of the first 
Congress. The objects now before us require more inform 
ation, though less of the heroic qualities, than those of the 
first Congress. I was sorry to see that the picture I had 
drawn was so much bigger and fairer than the life. Add 
to this, that the rashness and madness of the rate of duties 
justified my fears, and my judgment converted my chagrin 
into terror approaching to despair. (In this particular note 
the language is too strong for the occasion.) But since, I 
have reflected coolly, that in all public bodies, the majority 
will be such as I have described I may add, ought to be 
such ; and if a few understand business, and have, as they 
will, the confidence of those who do not, it is better than for 
all to be such knowing ones ; for they would contend for 
supremacy ; there would not be a sufficient principle of 
cohesion. The love of ease makes many, who are knowing, 
submit to the judgment of others, more industrious, though 
not more knowing, than themselves, and this cements the 
mass. It produces artificial ignorance, which, joined with 
real ignorance, has been found, in fact, to furnish mortar 
enough for all public assemblies. The House is composed 
of very good men, not shining, but honest and reasonably 
well-informed, and in time they will be found to improve, 
and not to be much inferior in eloquence, science, and 
dignity, to the British Commons. They are patriotic 
enough, and I believe there are more stupid (as well as 
more shining) people in the latter, in proportion. 

The Senate has begun to reduce the rate of duties. 
Rum is reduced one third. Jamaica ten cents, common, 
eight. Molasses from five to four. This is not propor 
tionally lowered. I feel as Enceladus would if Etna was 
removed. The Senate, God bless them, as if designated by 
Providence to keep rash and frolicsome brats out of the fire, 



46 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

have demolished the absurd, impolitic, mad discrimination of 
foreigners in alliance from other foreigners. 

The business of titles sleeps. It is a very foolish thing 
to risk much to secure ; and I wish Mr. Adams had been 
less undisguised. 1 I do not fear tyranny from giving, nor 
contempt from refusing, a title. Mr. Adams is greatly 
respected, and I have no doubt will be eminently useful, and 
enough on his guard in relation to delicate points. He has 
been long absent, and at first he had not so clear an idea of 
the temper of the people as others who had not half his 
knowledge in other matters. 

You give me excellent advice in regard to Dwight s good 
example. I never think of that fascinating subject without 
trying to unbewitch myself by the school-boy trash about 
one, who " all the bread and cheese he got, he laid upon a 
shelf," and when the quantity was sufficient, the story pro 
ceeds, that he got a wife. You are sensible that I am not 
in the land of bread and cheese. I know not what I am 
here for. I was satisfied with my former condition, and 
was looking forward to a better. Now my future state 
seems to be receding. Is this enigmatical ? I believe what 
I write often seems to be nonsense, for want of an interpre 
tation. 

George Cabot is coming here in two or three weeks with 
his wife, on a journey for her health. I shall see him with 
a great deal of pleasure. I see a Massachusetts man with 
pleasure ; but Dawes, 2 whom I could ask a million questions, 
seemed to be worth his weight in money. He has done 
right in declining his seat. I must finish. 

Your affectionate friend. 

1 This remark is supposed to refer to Mr. Adams s work, entitled " Dis 
courses on Davila." 

2 Thomas Dawes, a member of the club, and well known afterwards as 
Judge of the Municipal Court in Boston. 



LETTERS. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

(This letter is a piece of egotism. You may read as little as you think fit.) 
New York, May 29, 1789. Friday morning. 

DEAR MINOT, Yours by the post reached me last eve 
ning. You give me your advice with a delicacy which 
evinces your discernment of the frailty of the human heart. 
In general, advice procures little thanks, and does little good. 
Those who need, will seldom bear it, and those who can 
best give, will seldom risk giving it. Your giving it is 
very far from hurting my pride. If I had not in some 
degree your good opinion, and to a very great degree your 
good wishes, you would not have done the act of kindness 
which calls for all my gratitude. I am proud that you 
think my temper will bear it, and I submit to your friendly 
discipline with cheerfulness. Submit, did I say ^ I ask, I 
entreat it. Your friendship will be as useful, as it has ever 
been agreeable. Your office will not be a sinecure. 

My letter by this day s post was sent to the office before 
yours came. It will serve as an answer to yours, however, 
for I enlarge, in that, upon my proneness to represent things 
too strongly. But did I express any contempt for Madison ] 
Upon my word, I do not recollect a word of it, and there is 
not in my heart a symptom of its having ever been there. 
Before I came, I was cautioned against pinning my faith on 
any man s sleeve. I was afraid of it, for I think I am not 
apt to resist the influence of those whom I esteem. But I 
see in Madison, with his great knowledge and merit, so 
much error, and some of it so very unaccountable, and tend 
ing to so much mischief, that my impatience may have 
tinctured my letter with more gall than I remember. Why 
I disapprove the limitation of the revenue act, I have told 
you. I will add, this is a government over governments. 
We may find it as hard to get a revenue bill reenacted, as 
the kings of England used to find money-bills, and for the 
same, or even stronger, reasons. It may be used as a 
means of starving the government into concessions and 
sacrifices. A million of popular objections will furnish addi- 



48 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

tional motives and a safe pretext. If I am in the wrong* on 
this point, I am very much in the wrong. If accident or 
mistake made me warm at first, reflection has made me 
ohstinate. I believe that Madison is not at ease on this 
point, and I think I have seen him struggling to disentangle 
himself from his own w r eb. He was decided for the ton 
nage acts being zmlimited. His former friends could not 
see the difference of the cases, and were refractory. I will 
not say another word about it. But do you think me in 
the wrong I Take the pains to point out my error. 

You may be assured that I was not betrayed into any 
warmth in the argument in the House, that I know of. 
There are certain bounds which my zeal arrives at, almost 
instantly. The habit of being in public assemblies has 
imposed sufficient restraint on my mind, and I seldom pass 
those bounds. You know what they are. You know my 
manner of reasoning in public, and I am sensible that the 
excess of that zeal would very much lessen me. Your 
caution is very necessary, however ; for if I do not offend, it 
is a frailty to which I am constantly liable. I say many 
words, you see, about it. 

I do not remember any thing relating to shipping or navi 
gation in which I took an opposite side to Madison, in the 
public debates. The discrimination seems to me undignified 
and impolitic. I voted against it silently. The States not 
in alliance allow us as good terms of admission into their 
ports, as we get from our allies, and probably better than 
we could get by treaty. I am now unable to account for 
Madison s passionate attachment to the discrimination. It 
is a favorite point with the Frenchmen in town. Yet it is 
admitted, that it will not benefit France. Why then urge 
it 1 Is it to affront the English, and to create a closer con 
nection with her enemy ] He is very much devoted to the 
French, it is said, and his reasonings were not very logical, 
nor much to the credit of his political character. That you 
may be less liable to misunderstand my idea of him in 
future, take this explication of it. He is probably deficient 
in that fervor and vigor of character which you will expect 
in a great man. He is not likely to risk bold measures, 
like Charles Fox, nor even to persevere in any measures 



LETTERS. 



49 



against a firm opposition, like the first Pitt. He derives 
from nature an excellent understanding, however, but I 
think he excels in the quality of judgment. He is possessed 
of a sound judgment, which perceives truth with great clear 
ness, and can trace it through the mazes of debate, without 
losing it. He is admirable for this inestimable talent. As 
a reasorier, he is remarkably perspicuous and methodical. 
He is a studious man, devoted to public business, and a 
thorough master of almost every public question that can 
arise, or he will spare no pains to become so, if he happens 
to be in want of information. What a man understands 
clearly, and has viewed in every different point of light, he 
will explain to the admiration of others, who have not 
thought of it at all, or but little, and who will pay in praise 
for the pains he saves them. His clear perception of an 
argument makes him impressive, and persuasive sometimes^ 
It is not his forte, however. Upon the whole, he is an use 
ful, respectable, worthy man, in a degree so eminent, that 
his character will not sink. He will continue to be a very 
influential man in our country. Let me add, without mean 
ing to detract, that he is too much attached to his theories, 
for a politician. He is well versed in public life, was bred 
to it, and has no other profession. Yet, may I say it, it is 
rather a science, than a business, with him. He adopts his 
maxims as he finds them in books, and with too little regard 
to the actual state of things. One of his first speeches in- 
regard to protecting commerce, was taken out of Smith s 
Wealth of Nations. The principles of the book are excel 
lent, but the application of them to America requires caution. 
I am satisfied, and could state some reasons to evince, that 
commerce and manufactures merit legislative interference in 
this country, much more than would be proper in England. 
The drain that is making of our people beyond the moun 
tains, and the want of sufficient intercourse between the 
manufacturing and staple States, the British credit, British 
agents, &c., are among the circumstances which furnish 
those reasons. I say again, that he is afraid, even to timid 
ity, of his State, and has reasoned, to my disgust and sur 
prise, about the topics I have mentioned so strongly. I am 
less ambitious, and, upon my word, less distinguished than 
VOL. i. 5 



JO WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

you think me. I am as silent as I can possibly be, and am 
not in a hurry to take consequence. I shall certainly have 
as much as I deserve, and if I should get more, I should 
soon lose it. I am resolved to apply closely to the necessary 
means of knowledge, as I well know it is the only means of 
an j niring reputation. I have scarcely opened my mouth 
in the House these ten days, and if my restraining" grace 
should hold out against the temptations I am exposed to, my 
judgment will lead me to decline any part in the tedious 
frivolity of the daily business. We are not in haste, or at 
least, have not learned to be in a hurry to advantage. I 
think it is the most dilatory assembly in the universe. 
Which do you most admire at this moment, my candor or 
my prudence ? The latter is not offended by confiding the 
remark to you, and truth will prove the former clear. Thus 
endeth the first lesson. Amen. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, May 31, 1789. 

DEAR FRIEND, Yours of the 24<th is before me. You 
propose a weekly exchange of letters. You call yourself 
the Father Carries of the Club. You will not pretend to be 
of so much importance to a member of the Federal House 
as that gentleman would be. 

I do not believe you will read, or that you have ever read, 
one of my public-spirited letters on the floor of the house. 

The club are, however, my constituents, as Major Reed 
says ; and I cannot disobey the instructions of my con 
stituents. 

I am already remarkable for my scribbling. My fellow- 
lodgers call me the Secretary of State. I will not promise 
punctuality, but if I may calculate upon the future by the 
past, I shall write twice a week. I leave it to the clerical 
members of the club to decide whether my letters would not 
read better if they were not so long and so frequent. 



LETTEKS. 51 

The Senate are reducing the rate of duties : Jamaica 
spirits to ten cents ; other spirits to eight ; Madeira eighteen ; 
other wines ten ; Molasses will probably be reduced to three. 
If so reduced, I am afraid the drawback will be refused. 
The House will submit to the amendments reluctantly. I 
think they will pass. 

The collection bill is reported. It is longer, and has more 
checks than the Massachusetts impost. It will be debated 
this week. Mr. Dawes will inform you more fully about 
the state of our politics than I can do. I wish most earnestly 
that Congress would despatch the Civil Departments, the 
necessary Revenue Acts, say impost and excise, the Judi 
ciary, and have a recess of a few months, leaving the 
business of appropriating the revenue, till we have one, 
say next session. It would be well to see the people who 
sent us, and to hear what they have to say. If we keep shut 
up here, we shall forget their sentiments, and lay such duties 
as they will disapprove. Is not this a very republican sen 
timent ? It will do to read, in the character of Mr. Carnes. 
There is much to do, but I think we should do wisely to 
postpone all the subjects of legislation, which will admit of it. 
The prospect of a recess would produce despatch. 

What shall we do with Rhode Island ] Would it be too 
condescending to send a recommendation to their Assembly 
to call a Convention, in the words of the former Congress I 
Would it be proper to make their produce liable to the same 
duties as foreign produce, after the 1st of December next, 
when North Carolina may perhaps accede, so as to allow 

time for the Rhode Island folks to adopt it ] Would it 

(At this place I was called down to see company, and I do 
not know what should fill up the blank.) I understand that 
the House in Massachusetts is likely to be well disposed, and 
less numerous than the last. I wish they may pass the 
School Bill as it was sent up to the Senate. I would have 
our State first for knowledge, in the Union. Some are of 
opinion that ignorance produces loyalty. In 1786 it was 
otherwise, and I believe it will ever be found, that the best 
informed among the people are the most governable. You 
dislike the responsibility of the President in the case of the 
Minister of Foreign Affairs. I would have the President re- 



.>J WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

sponsible for his appointments ; and if those whom he puts in 
are unfit, they may he impeached, on misconduct, or he may 
remove them, when lie finds them obnoxious. It would he 
easier for a minister to secure a faction in the Senate, or get 
the protection of the senators of his own State, than to se 
cure the protection of the President, whose character would 
suffer by it. The number of the senators, the secrecy of 
their doings, would shelter them, and a corrupt connection 
between those who appoint to office, and who also maintain 
in office, and the officers themselves would be created. The 
meddling- of the Senate in appointments is one of the least 
defensible parts of the Constitution. I would not extend 
their power any further. I must finish. 

Yours, affectionately. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



New York, June 11, 1789. 

DEAR SIR, I begin to wish you would break silence. 
I hear, by Mr. Cabot, of the return or arrival of the new 
married pair, whom God bless, to Springfield. 

I write in a violent hurry. Company interrupted my 
writing, and the post-office is near closing. 

The Senate has finished the impost bill. It is not sent 
down yet. Molasses at two and a half cents, and no draw 
back on exportation. I hope the House, proud and stubborn 
as they are, will comply with the amendments, and pass the 
bill as speedily as possible. 

The bill for the collection of the duties produces much 
debate, as indeed every thing does. Our House is a kind of 
Robin Hood society, where every thing is debated. The 
judicial business is maturing fast in the committee of the 
Senate. 

Mr. Madison has introduced his long expected amend- 



LETTERS. 53 

ments. 1 They are the fruit of much labor and research. 
He has hunted up all the grievances and complaints of news 
papers, all the articles of conventions, and the small talk 
of their debates. It contains a bill of rights, the right of 
enjoying property, of changing the government at pleasure, 
freedom of the press, of conscience, of juries, exemption from 
general warrants, gradual increase of representatives, till the 
whole number, at the rate of one to every thirty thousand, 
shall amount to , and allowing two to every 

State, at least. This is the substance. There is too much 
of it. Oh ! I had forgot, the right of the people to bear 
arms. 

Risum teneatis amici ? 

Upon the whole, it may do some good towards quieting 
men, who attend to sounds only, and may get the mover 
some popularity, which he wishes. 

It grows dark, and I must finish. 

Yours, affectionately. 

The drawback is taken off from all spirits exported, brandy 
and gin excepted. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, June 12, 1789. Friday. 

DEAR MINOT, I inclose, for Mr. Benjamin Russell, some 
of the amendments of the impost bill in Senate. Please to 
hand it to him. He has been very civil in sending me 
papers. 

Your brother, Clarke Minot, wrote me by the last post. 
The appointments seem to be almost as far off and uncertain 

1 A proposition to amend the Constitution, in compliance with the expressed 
wishes of most of the States, was early introduced by Mr. Madison. Seventeen 
amendments were agreed upon in the House, which were reduced by the 
Senate (partly by compression of two or three into one) to twelve. Ten 
were ultimately adopted by the people. 
5* 



54. WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

as ever. There is proposed a collector and naval officer 
to each port. But the nature and number of offices is totally 
uncertain in this state of the bill. It is daily debated. With 
tolerable diligence, and good temper, which has not been 
wanting hitherto, it will be finished next week, and sent to the 
Senate. The civil departments will employ us next, and the 
judiciary the Senate. They will finish their stint, as the 
boys say, before the House has done. Their number is less, 
and they have matured the business in committee. Yet Mr. 
Madison has inserted, in his amendments, the increase of 
representatives, each State having two at least. The rights 
of conscience, of bearing arms, of changing the government, 
are declared to be inherent in the people. Freedom of the 
press, too. There is a prodigious great dose for a medicine. 
But it will stimulate the stomach as little as hasty-pudding. 
It is rather food than physic. An immense mass of sweet 
and other herbs and roots for a diet drink. 

Mr. Barrett will wait, and I must finish. But be assured 
that I am, affectionately, 

Your friend. 

The judiciary bill is reported in Senate, ordered to be 
printed, and to have a second reading next Monday week. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, June 23, 1789. 

DEAR FRIEND, I have written so often, that my con 
science did not reproach me with any neglect of duty to you, 
or to our good friends in the club. I am not able to write 
fine-spun sentiments and grave remarks, and to give my 
letter the ease of epistolary writing. I would write, as I 
am used to converse with you ; and as to matter of fact, 
the newspapers take the advantage of me, and possess them- 



LETTERS. 55 

selves of every novelty, before I could send it. You will 
see of course how slender materials are left me, to gratify 
the curiosity of our friends. The debate in relation to the 
President s power of removal from office, is an instance. 
Four days unceasing speechifying has furnished you with 
the merits of the question. The transaction of yesterday 
may need some elucidation. In the committee of the 
whole, it was moved to strike out the words " to be re 
movable by the President," &c. This did not pass, and 
the words were retained. The bill was reported to the 
house, and a motion made to insert in the second clause, 
" whenever an officer shall be removed by the President, or 
a vacancy shall happen in any other way," to the intent to 
strike out the first words. The first words, " to be remova 
ble," &c., Avere supposed to amount to a legislative disposal 
of the power of removal. If the Constitution had vested it 
in the President, it was improper to use such words as 
would imply that the power was to be exercised by him 
in virtue of this act. The mover and supporters of the 
amendment supposed that a grant by the legislature might 
be resumed, and that as the Constitution had already given 
it to the President, it was putting it on better ground, and, 
if once gained by the declaration of both houses, would be 
a construction of the Constitution, and not liable to future 
encroachments. Others, who contended against the advisory 
power of the Senate in removals, supposed the first ground 
the most tenable, that it would include the latter, and ope 
rate as a declaration of the Constitution, and at the same 
(time) expressly dispose of the power. They further appre 
hended that any change of position would divide the victors, 
and endanger the final decision in both houses. There was 
certainly weight in this last opinion. Yet the amendment 
being actually proposed, it remained only to choose between 
the two clauses. I think the latter, which passed, and 
which seems to imply the legal (rather constitutional) power 
of the President, is the safest doctrine. This prevailed, and 
the first words were expunged. This has produced discon 
tent, and possibly in the event it will be found disagreement, 
among those who voted with the majority. 

This is in fact a great question, and I feel perfectly satis- 



56 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

fied with the President s right to exercise the power, either 
by the Constitution or the authority of an act. The argu 
ments in favor of the former fall short of full proof, but in 
my mind they greatly preponderate. 

You will say that I have expressed my sentiments with 
some moderation. You will be deceived, for my whole 
heart has been engaged in this debate. Indeed it has ached. 
It has kept me agitated, and in no small degree unhappy. 
I am commonly opposed to those who modestly assume the 
rank of champions of liberty, and make a very patriotic 
noise about the people. It is the stale artifice which has 
duped the world a thousand times, and yet, though detected, 
it is still successful. I love liberty as well as anybody. I 
am proud of it, as the true title of our people to distinction 
above others ; but so are others, for they have an interest 
and a pride in the same thing. But I would guard it by 
making the laws strong enough to protect it. In this de 
bate a stroke was aimed at the vitals of the government, 
perhaps with the best intentions, but I have no doubt of the 
tendency to a true aristocracy. 



Wednesday Evening, June 25. 

I have received yours, per post, and thank you for it. I 
am hurrying this to get it in before the mail closes. We 
have had the treasury bill before us to-day made some 
progress. A puerile debate arose, whether the Secretary of 
the Treasury should be allowed to exhibit his reports and 
statements to the legislature. The champions of liberty 
drew their swords, talked blank verse about treasury influ 
ence, a ministry, violation of the privileges of the House by 
giving him a hearing from time to time. They persevered 
so long and so furiously, that they lost all strength, and 
were left in a very small minority. The clause, permitting 
this liberty, passed. 



LETTERS. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, July 2, 1789. 

DEAR FRIEND, You seem to consider me as a kind 
of traitor to your expectations of a weekly letter. In sober 
truth, I set out better than I can hold out. While I 
scribbled the hasty reflections which occurred to me, and 
which came in more plenty because the novelty of my situa 
tion supplied them, I imposed no guard upon my prudence, 
and felt little reserve. But inasmuch as your club expects 
my communications, I begin to put on a wise face, and to 
calculate how very profound the remarks must be, which 
will be worthy of the attention of those gentlemen. Mr. 
.... may be assured, that I am not hardy enough to 
expose any undigested, crude opinions, to the censure of so 
redoubted a critic. Nor would it be safe to lay aside my 
caution, if any thing should occur which might affect the 
interests and feelings of the harmless flock under his pas 
toral charge. 

Yesterday, for instance, the tonnage bill came upon the 
tapis. The discrimination in favor of nations in treaty with 
us, would not go down in the Senate. They expunged the 
clause which creates it. The House non-concurred. The 
Senate adhered, and sent back the bill. Mr. Madison, who 
patronized it, urged the House to adhere to their vote allow 
ing the discrimination. He said it was a point not to be 
given up. On the other side, it was said to be a mark of 
obstinacy and ill-temper, thus repeatedly to disagree ; har 
mony between the two Houses was to be cultivated ; the 
loss of the bill would ensue, as the Senate was nearly unani 
mous, and inflexible ; that the loss of revenue, and the 
injury to the navigation of the Union, which this bill would 
favor, were weighty considerations. The ayes and noes 
were demanded by Mr. Page ; the bill passed, thirty-one 
against nineteen ; and so the discrimination is expunged. 
Whether Mr. Madison s conduct were not a little intem 
perate ; whether there is any reason for his principles, which 
would not operate against the loss of the bill I The whole 



58 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

merits of the question of discrimination, that is to say, of 
favoring 1 the French and restricting- the English, will not be 
clearly understood by the papers. It is proposed to wage 
a commercial war with England. The proposed measure 
would not injure, though it would irritate, England. It 
would not benefit France, though every Frenchman seemed 
to wish it. And it would deprive our treasury of some reve 
nue, and give less encouragement to our own shipping than 
it merits. However, the Britons have so large a proportion 
of the shipping employed in our country, that it would have 
little effect in the two latter ways. If so, it would be a 
wanton insult upon one nation, and an empty compliment 
to the other. Why, then, was it wished and pushed so very 
zealously 1 Its commercial effects would be little. Was it 
for the sake of its political effects 1 Was it to prolong in 
America the expiring spirit of alienation and hatred, which 
the war had fostered against England 1 The Constitution 
was supported by arguments tending to prove that general 
laws of trade were necessary to exclude the Britons from 
our trade, and great effects were promised, more than can 
ever be verified. Part is certainly true, and I am clearly of 
opinion that the navigation and manufactures of America 
cannot well be too much encouraged. But the people have 
been led to expect an exclusion of the British rivalry, that 
we may force or frighten them into an allowance of a free 
trade to the West Indies, &c. ; and the people of Virginia 
(whose murmurs, if louder than a whisper, make Mr. 
Madison s heart quake) are said to be very strenuous for a 
law to restrict the British trade. They owe them money, 
perhaps would be glad to quarrel with their creditors. 
Their tobacco will sell in all events. But are w r e Yankees 
invulnerable, if a war of regulations should be waged with 
Britain I Are they not able to retaliate I are they not rich 
enough to bear some loss and inconvenience? would not 
their pride spurn at the idea of being forced into a treaty ] 
would not their politics be offended at the partial fondness 
for France] would not they exclude our potash, flaxseed, 
&c., and shut us out from their India factories ? perhaps 
foment the discontents of the Western people, and protect 
them against the government, and eventually supply their 



LETTERS. 59 

West Indies from the Mississippi. Is it not more prudent 
to maintain a good understanding with Great Britain, and 
to preserve a dignified neutrality and moderation of conduct 
towards all nations] It is said the Senate are willing to 
put all foreign nations trading here upon the footing of our 
people in their ports. But is it not a risky measure, ex 
posing a feeble trade, as the American is, to the shock of 
experiment] Will the people forbear murmuring, if the 
West India trade should be cut off ] Will it not affect our 
own government ] Had we not better wait till government 
has gained strength ] And then, if we can extend our own 
trade, by retaliating upon foreign nations their own restric 
tions, I would do it ; but I am afraid of taking an intempe 
rate zeal for reformation of commerce for my guide. Some 
say, let us interdict all trade with the British Islands, unless 
in our own vessels. Whether we could carry such a law 
into effect, I doubt. I think we could not. If we could, 
what effect would it produce ] By the neutral ports, from 
Hamburg, the Baltic, and the British colonies, they would 
still be supplied with provisions and lumber. But they 
would be supplied at a dearer rate. Britain could well bear 
the loss of forty or fifty thousand pounds sterling. But 
would not a part of that loss fall upon us ] Lumber is 
worth nothing but the labor of getting it to market. We 
should lose the employment, and our people would make 
loud complaints, and would smuggle their articles to the 
British market at a less net price than they get at present. 
Our restrictions would operate as a bounty upon the produce 
of the British colonies on the continent. 

What an immeasurable length I have spun out my letter 
to, without intending it. 

Perhaps our friends will think me whimsical in these 
remarks. A vindictive policy, if it merits the name, would 
be more grateful to the people. I freely declare, that I 
apprehend the Eastern interest would suffer greatly by any 
such measures, if taken speedily. The encouragement of 
our own shipping, though too moderate, will do something, 
and I trust will be increased from time to time. The duties 
will protect manufactures tolerably well, and the Southern 
market for them will be a growing one. 1 Their pay is bad, 



6Q WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

but they have rich staples. A foundation is laid for the 
prosperity of these interests, which ought to he dear to 
us ; perhaps the attempt to do more would be found as 
pernicious to them in practice, as it is repugnant in theory 
to the sober dictates of prudence. Our friends will judge 
witli candor, whether my ideas are just. I have not written 
a word that I intended to write, but I have been so lengthy, 
that I can only say that I am 

Your affectionate friend. 

P. S. Though the tonnage bill has passed without the 
discrimination, I am afraid that there is a strong disposition 
in both Houses to restrict the trade of foreign nations, espe 
cially to the British West Indies, unless carried on in our 
own vessels. It is principally for that reason, I have dilated 
upon the subject. Notwithstanding my scruples, such a 
measure would pass, if set a-going. I think so, because 
many opposed the discrimination because it did not go far 
enough. 

The treasury bill has nearly passed. I sent it to Dr. 
Appleton. It remains only to be engrossed, and differs 
little from the printed bill, except that the Secretary of the 
Treasury is to be removable by the President alone, is to 
give bond, and is forbidden to trade. 

1 A few indications of the existence of the cotton manufacture appear in 
the newspapers at this early date. The Gazette of the United States has an 
item headed, " Petersburg, Va., July 9, 1789," in the following terms: 
u Virginia cloth, of excellent quality and very cheap, may be purchased 
almost every day of the country people, who come to town for the purpose of 
making sale of it. It is made of cotton, and several gentlemen have bought 
full suits of it." Very possibly Virginia may have been the first cotton- 
manufacturing State. 

The same paper, under date Aug. 15, 1789, says : " The cotton manu 
facture is established at Philadelphia and at Beverly. The Boston Assembly 
have granted 5QOL to the one at Beverly, as a gratuity for its advancement. 
It is carried on with Arkwright s machines." 



LETTERS. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

No. 1. New York, July 8, 1789. 

DEAR FRIEND, We are going- on a slow trot, on our 
journey to the completion of the revenue system. The col 
lection bill is advancing, and as the first of August is the 
term for the impost to commence, we have agreed to meet 
at ten in the morning. But though we have so many spurs to 
expedition, and we seem to feel some of them, yet our progress 
is very tedious. The hill was at first very imperfect. We 
labored upon it for some time, settled some principles, and 
referred it to a large and very good committee. They met, 
agreed upon principles, and the clerk drew the bill which 
they reported. We consider it in committee of the whole, 
and we indulge a very minute criticism upon its style. We 
correct spelling, or erase may and insert shall, and quiddle in 
a manner which provokes me. A select committee would 
soon correct little improprieties. Our great committee is 
too unwieldy for this operation. A great, clumsy machine 
is applied to the slightest and most delicate operations the 
hoof of an elephant to the strokes of mezzotinto. I dislike 
the committee of the whole more than ever. We could not 
be so long doing so little, by any other expedient. In spite 
of it, however, I begin to flatter myself with the hope of an 
adjournment towards the end of August, which Heaven grant. 
I shall take my friend by the hand with new satisfaction. 

I have expressed myself so peevishly in regard to the 
committee of the whole, that common justice will demand a 
further account of the House. There is the most punctual 
attendance of the members at the hour of meeting. Three 
or four have had leave of absence, but every other member 
actually attends daily, till the hour of adjourning. There 
is less party spirit, less of the acrimony of pride when dis 
appointed of success, less personality, less intrigue, cabal, 
management, or cunning than I ever saw in a public assem 
bly. The question of the President s power of removal 
seemed to kindle some sparks of faction, but they went out 
for want of tinder. Measures are so far from being the 

VOL. i. 6 



fy2 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

product of caucusing and cabal, that they are not sufficiently 
preconcerted. Mr. Brown s amendment was such, and it had 
some effect to divide those whom zeal for the right inter 
pretation of the Constitution had united into a corps. It was 
a good amendment. Some voted against it from the vexation 
they felt in having the ground changed. 

I am in the House, and, finding this short piece of paper 
before me, I begun to write, almost by instinct, to you. 
When I can get another piece, I will write more. I attend 
at the same time to the debates, which are not of a nature to 
require a very strict attention. 

No. 2. Thursday Evening, July 9. 

I shall not be able to pursue my scribbling much further. 
The mail is just closing. 

You may judge of the character of the House by knowing 
the classes, into which they may be divided. 

Three sorts of people are often troublesome. The anti- 
federals, who alone are weak, and some of them well disposed. 
The dupes of local prejudices, who fear eastern influence, 
monopolies, and navigation acts. And lastly, the violent 
republicans, as they think fit to style themselves, who are new 
lights in politics ; who would not make the law, but the peo 
ple, king ; who would have a government all checks ; 
who are more solicitous to establish, or rather to expatiate 
upon, some high-sounding principle of republicanism, than to 
protect property, cement the union, and perpetuate liberty. 
" This new Constitution," said one Abner Fowler, in 177? 
c; will destroy our liberties. We shall never have another 
mob in the world." This is the republicanism of the aristo 
cracy of the southern nabobs. It breaks out daily, tinctures 
the debates with the hue of compromise, makes bold, manly, 
energetic measures very difficult. The spectre of Patrick 
Henry haunts their dreams. They accuse the eastern people 
with despotic principles, and take no small consequence to 
themselves as the defenders of liberty. Now, my dear friend, 
you well know that I represent things rather too strongly. 
In fact, there is perfect good humor. Allow for my over 
doing manner, and you will not be deceived by taking the 
substance of my account for fact. 

Yours, affectionately. 



LETTERS. (33 

No. 3. Continued. 

A little time remains and I proceed. The three classes I 
have described are strong when united. This does not hap 
pen frequently. In all assemblies, the indolent class is nu 
merous, though seldom strong. All these are combined and 
divided by chance, and seldom move in phalanx. It is 
pleasant to notice that the division is seldom by States. 
A large body is capable of a strong impulse, thinks less, and 
is more guided by its feelings, than a smaller. No body can 
think much, but our body thinks enough, or is in such a posi 
tion as to be little susceptible of those strong impulses which 
carry most popular assemblies a great way, without stopping, 
in a right or wrong direction, as chance or party may happen 
to direct. We are more likely to hesitate, to temporize, to 
forbear doing what is right, or to do less than is right, than to 
usurp power, and to run riot. Our body is so small, as to 
partake of the senatorial caution and phlegm. 

We are not in a hurry to act upon the case of Rhode Is 
land and Vermont. It is not easy to say what is best, but 
if we knew, we should not readily act with decision. In 
addition to the obstacles which any measures, positively good 
or bad, would have to encounter, this would be retarded by 
the jealousy of a few, who consider those States as unfriendly 
to the removal to Philadelphia, and an accession to the 
eastern interest. Now I must finish. 

Yours, once more. 

Continued. 

A little of the sourness of party has been produced by the . 
great debate, respecting the President s power of removal. 
I cannot, with any prudence or propriety, become a critical 
reviewer of the characters of the leading- men. There seemed 

c? 

to be, on both sides, a most sanguine belief of their creed. 
The talk was to the public rather than to each other. The 
public will probably think that the quantity is too great for 
curiosity, and too intricate and fine-spun for conviction. They 
will, as usual, lump the matter, and decide according to their 
feelings. 

The House has again disagreed to the amendments to the 
impost bill, and chose a committee of conference. The 
tonnage bill is in the like state of conference. The favor 



64 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

to nations in treaty, which the Senate are inflexibly opposed 
to, is the only hone of contention which will delay the passage 
of the hills. I do not apprehend any more debate, and little 
delay of cither of them. The bill for collecting the duties, 
which was recommitted, will be reported to-morrow, and I 
trust will slide along with more celerity than it did at first. 
The Judiciary is before the Senate, who make progress. 
Their committee labored upon it with vast perseverance, and 
have taken as full a view of their subject, as I ever knew a 
committee take. Mr. Strong, Mr. Ellsworth, and Mr. 
Paterson, in particular, have their full share of this merit. 

Now, my dear friend, I have said so much of the bills in 
detail, you would wish some remarks upon the nature of our 
transactions, &c., in the general. 

There is certainly a bad method of doing business. Too 
little use is made of special committees. Virginia is stiff* 
and touchy against any change of the committee of the whole. 
The language of the House is not very unlike that of the 
General Court, and the repugnance to principles, which our 
government people would support, is equally invincible. They 
are for watching and checking power ; they see evils in embryo; 
are terrified with possibilities, and are eager to establish rights, 
and to explain principles, to such a degree, that you would 
think them enthusiasts and triflers. Yet there is not a 
deficiency of good sense and political experience ; and I 
verily believe that almost every man, who impedes the move 
ment of the government by these principles, is guided by 
pure motives. I have never seen an assembly where so 
little art was used. If they wish to carry a point, it is directly 
declared, and justified. Its merits and defects are plainly 
stated, not without sophistry and prejudice, but without man 
agement. I thought the manner of opposing the President s 
power of removal was artful, two or three days ago, but I 
now think that the very best method of trying their strength 
was blundered upon, and finally not perceived to be the best. 
There is no intrigue, no caucusing, little of claiming* together, 
little asperity in debate, or personal bitterness out of the 
House. And yet it is very far from being a Roman Senate. 1 
I must finish. Yours. 

1 This may be a proper place to mention, that among the questions debated 
was a proposition that the bill for a department of foreign affairs should be 



LETTERS. 55 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, July 23, 1789. 

DEAR SIR, I begin to feel some confidence in the 
approbation of our progress in business. It seems to have 
moved with more velocity than formerly. The judicial bill 
is to be taken up next Monday. If that should not occupy 
us longer than the spirit of fair inquiry may demand, we 
shall adjourn in six weeks. I dare not indulge the hope of 
it. We have had the amendments on the tapis, and referred 
them to a committee of one from a State. I hope much de 
bate will be avoided by this mode, and that the amendments 
will be more rational, and less ad populum, than Madison s. 
It is necessary to conciliate, and I would have amendments. 
But they should not be trash, such as would dishonor the 
Constitution, without pleasing its enemies. Should we pro 
pose them, North Carolina would accede. It is doubtful, 
in case we should not. The agents of Vermont arrived here 
yesterday. New York has appointed commissioners to treat 
with them on that subject, which is right, but they erased a 
clause empowering them to quiet their possessions, which is 
wrong, and perhaps worse than doing nothing. That is the 
very difficulty with Vermont. A whole people cannot be 
dispossessed, and as the land was actually bought, and by 
labor has become their own, it is not to be expected that they 
will suffer it to be taken away, or contested. I wish most 
earnestly to see Rhode Island federal, to finish the circle of 
union, and to dig for the foundations of the government below 
the frost. 1 If I did not check this emotion, I should tire you 

limited to a few years. This proposition was advocated seriously, on the 
ground that all our intercourse with Europe would gradually be withdrawn, 
and in a few years there would be no occasion for any such department. 

1 The accession of Rhode Island to the Union was thus announced in the 
" Gazette of the United States," (a Philadelphia Newspaper,) of Wednesday, 
June 2d, 1790. 

" New York. Monday afternoon arrived Sloop Rambler, Capt. Casey, from 
Newport, Rhode Island, who left that place on Sunday morning last. 

" By the arrival of Capt. Casey, we have received the authentic information 
that the Convention of Rhode Island did, on Saturday last, adopt the Con 
stitution of the United States by a majority of two. The yeas were thirty- 
four the nays, thirty-two." 

6* 



(j(3 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

with rant. I am displeased to hear people speak of a State 
out of the union. I wish it was a part of the catechism to 
teach youth that it cannot he. An Englishman thinks he 
can heat two Frenchmen. I wish to have every American 
think the union so indissoluhle and integral, that the corn 
would not grow, nor the pot hoil, if it should be broken. I 
flatter myself that this country will be what China is, with 
this difference, that freedom and science shall do here, what 
bigotry and prejudice do there, to secure the government. 
For I believe that ignorance is unfavorable to government, 
and that personal freedom is useful to government, and 
tfovernment (and a braced one too) indispensable to freedom. 
Sedgwick has come in, and orders me to quit writing. 
You know his arbitrary principles, a spoiled child in the 
rebellion. So I must obey. But God bless you, King is 
Senator. 

Your friend. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, August 12, 1789. Thursday. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I felt no kind of peevishness be 
cause you have long kept silence. I apprehended that you 
was ill, and intended writing to some Boston friend, to inform 
me by the first post. I am happy to find my fears ground 
less. Go on ; enjoy your humor of writing or forbearing 
to write. I value your friendship too much to impose any 
burden upon you. Let my release of all epistolary demands 
annul your unjust rule, of requiring a hundred for one. The 
duty would operate as a prohibition. For though I might 
continue to value your favors at that rate, as in fact I do, I 
should not be able to pay for them. 

We are beginning the amendments in a committee of the 
whole. We have voted to take up the subject, in preference 
to the Judiciary, to incorporate them into the Constitution, 
and not to require, in committee, two thirds to a vote. This 
cost us the day. To-morrow we shall proceed. Some Ge- 



LETTERS. #7 

neral, before engaging, said to his soldiers, " Think of your 
ancestors, and think of your posterity." We shall make 
a dozen or two of rights and privileges for our posterity. If 
I am to be guided by your advice, to marry and live in 
Boston, it behooves me to interest myself in the affair. It 
will consume a good deal of time, and renew the party 
struggles of the States. It will set Deacon Smead and many 
others to constitution-making, a trade which requires little 
stock, and often thrives without much custom. The work 
man is often satisfied to be the sole consumer. Our State is 
remarkable for it. We made several frames of government, 
which did not pass. The timber was so green, the vessels 
rotted on the stocks. However, I am persuaded it is proper 
to propose amendments, without delay, and if the antis affect 
to say that they are of no consequence, they may be re 
proached with their opposition to the government, because 
they protested that the principles were important. 

Our friend, Dr. Dexter, may be assured, that the collec 
tion law is considered as imperfect. Probably it will need 
some amendments, every session, these ten years, till expe 
rience has taught us how to guard, in the best possible 
manner, against the infinity of frauds which will be practised. 
Time at last pressed, and it was necessary to let the law take 
place with all its imperfections on its head. 

A recess is proposed, and ardently desired. I think it a 
proper thing in itself, and expedient at this juncture. Deacon 
Smead will be pleased with the intermission of the members 
pay. 

I never said that I thought Mr. L. 1 should not ac 
cept as District Judge. I say he ought. I have my fears 
whether he will be asked to do it. If the Chief Justice 
should be Associate Judge, possibly Dana may be District 
Judge. Our excellent friend, Mr. L. merits every thing 
in that line. He has my fervent wishes in his favor. If 
any thing here looks inviting, I should wish to know your 
pleasure, and aid you in the attainment. Your brother Clarke 
perhaps would accept a clerkship in one of the great depart- 

1 Hon. John Lowell, whose appointment as Judge of the United States 
Court for the district of Massachusetts, was announced September 4, of this 
year. 



(58 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

X 

ments. If so, he had better write to General Knox, and to 
Mr. Jay, and to the Secretary of the Treasury, when known. 
I will aid him with alacrity and zeal. 

The mail is closing, and I must abruptly assure you that 
I am, affectionately, 

Yours, &c. 

P. S. The kingdom of the devil is not likely to be 
built up. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, September 3, 1 789. 

DEAR SIR, You interest me by your account of the 
school politics of Boston. I will not give an opinion as to 
what ought to be done. The subject is important, and merits 
a more manly independency of conduct than you have de 
scribed. These sneaking fellows are their own commentators. 
Art springs from fear, and that fear from weighing their 
own talents against other men s, and finding them wanting. 
I mean where the purpose is honest. For art is sometimes 
practised by able men. Then it is used to conceal the tur 
pitude of the motive. I am sick of art. It requires too 
severe attention to keep it always guarded. And then the 
art of one is so overmatched by the art, and indeed by the 
simplicity of many, that it eternally miscarries. An honest, 
sincere conduct has to sustain an ordeal. The proudly mean 
are offended that a man dares to think and act in opposition 
to the vox popidi He appeals to the reasons for his conduct, 
and never acts without reasons. The same mean censurers 
will applaud his sense and firmness, and ever after leave him 
at liberty to act as he sees fit. Public clamor is employed 
as a means of effecting the removal of that resistance which 
the unpopular man makes to their will. When it is found 
that this end cannot be accomplished by such means, they will 
forbear. I would preach to the pride of these hunters after 



LETTERS. 



69 



popularity, and show how they degrade themselves, to their 
love of ease, and make manifest their needless painstaking ; 
and to their cowardice, and evince the peril they incur. You 
will ask, And why do you preach to me ? Forgive me. 
This is stuff, for a letter. 

I believe that the New England people are better taught 
than any other, and Boston better than any other city. Since 
I have been here, I have thought of the advantage of our 
town corporations and town schools. I do not believe that 
any country has such judicious expedients for repelling 
barbarism, supporting government, and extending felicity. 
Boston might be an Athens, and I would wish to make it a 
London. Apropos, we are caballing about the permanent 
residence of Congress. The Pennsylvanians have made, or 
are about making, a compact with the southern people to fix 
it on the Potomac. They can carry this in the House if 
they think fit, and all unite from Pennsylvania southward. 
The Pennsylvanians abhor this in their hearts, but the terms 
are to remove the temporary residence of Congress to Phil 
adelphia ; and as the members east of the head of the 
Chesapeake outnumber the others, they are pretty sure of 
preventing the future removal to the Potomac. Mr. Morris, 
who wishes to fix at Trenton, disclaims and abhors the bar 
gain. It is some proof of the nationality of his views. 
Possibly, however, it is the result of a more discerning selfish 
ness. His opposition in the Senate will be weighty, and 
perhaps we may effect something in the House. The business 
is in nubibus, and in such dark intrigues, the real designs of 
members are nearly impenetrable. Reasoning will do no 
good. You will see, by the papers, what pace we move in 
the discussion of the judiciary bill. The question whether 
we shall have inferior tribunals, (except Admiralty Courts, 
which were not denied to be necessary,) was very formidably 
contested. Judge Livermore, and ten others, voted against 
them. You will see, in Fenno s Gazette, my speechicle on 
the subject. The lawyers will consider my idea of the ex 
clusive nature of certain parts of the national judicial power 
(offences against statutes, and actions on statutes) in various 
points of light. If my distinction between jurisdiction and 
the rule of decision in causes properly cognizable in a State 



^O WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

Court should be clearly understood, they will have the means 
of judging on the merits of my argument. The idea is not 
easy to make clear, and I feel embarrassed to choose terms 
which will make my ideas as clear as I perceive them myself. 
However, the public has them, and I will not comment on 
them. 

The Jersey election is decided in favor of the sitting mem 
ber, by a large majority. The case, though confined to the 
construction of their State law, was very complex. I have 
seldom kept my mind in suspense till the vote was called. 
In this case, I remain still in suspense, inclining sometimes 
pro, sometimes con. 

The recess will probably obtain at the time proposed, or 
very near it. You politicians in Massachusetts say that we 
are running away from duty. I think that some good will 
ensue, and considerable inconvenience be prevented by it. 
There is an interval between the organization of the govern 
ment and the ordinary business, in which nothing should be 
done. We shall return in better humor than we should 
maintain together. We shall find business prepared by our 
great officers, and a weight given to national plans, which 
they have not at present. 

It is now three o clock, and we are debating about the 
permanent residence of Congress. The Pennsylvanians and 
southern people forced us, loath and supplicating delay, to 
take it up this day. Now, it turns out that the Pennsyl 
vanians will not pursue the intended treaty with their intended 
allies, but actual and natural rivals. The former offer to fix 
it in Pennsylvania where the eastern people may choose, and 
to stay in New York, till the proposed place is prepared to 
receive the government. The minority, infinitely disappointed 
and chagrined, are begging delay, though they denied us, 
and to get one day, are talking the time out. Whose 
stomachs will conquer, I know not. I must seal this, 
because I expect to go out of town, to dine with the Vice. 
If so, I shall have no time to tell the event. 

I think Judge Dana will be District Judge. It is only 
guess work. In any event my best wishes will attend you. 

Your affectionate friend. 



LETTERS. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, .September G, 1789. 

DEAR FRIEND, This has been a week of incessant ex 
ertion, and this is not a day of repose. The world will 
wonder what inflames and busies Congress so much. Hear 
it. The eastern members had agreed that it was best to 
postpone the question of the permanent seat of government, 
and we had no doubt of being able to do it. We were de 
ceived. All south of the Delaware had agreed to make 
Philadelphia the temporary residence, and the Potomac the 
permanent seat. To break this intrigue was then our and 
New York s object. We decided for the Susquehanna. 
The Pennsylvanians, though really divided, had agreed to act 
together, and in fact held the balance. After a day s deli 
beration, they complied with the proposition for the Susque 
hanna, and New York in the mean time. How they got 
clear of their allies is none of my business. Then the 
southerns, finding a majority against them, begged delay, 
though they had denied us. This was impossible, for Penn 
sylvania held the balance, and would have us fix in ,her 
limits. The minority, with great purity of virtue, exclaimed 
against the bargain, though observe, they had made one 
themselves, which failed ; and now, failing in the committee 
of the whole, where our propositions for the Susquehanna 
passed, they make every exertion to embarrass and delay the 
business. To-morrow we resume the subject in the House, 
and as a minority is commonly well united, and this is violent, 
active, and persevering, and our majority is not perfectly 
agreed as to the place, I think there is some danger of our 
final defeat. The recess is less certain on account of this 
vile, unreasonable business. But a majority are resolutely 
bent on having one punctually on the 2d. The Judicial 
slumbers, and, when it shall be resumed, will probably pass, 
as an experimental law, without much debate or amendment, 
in the confidence that a short experience will make manifest 
the proper alterations. 

I must close. My compliments attend Mrs. Minot. Ac 
cept my best wishes, and believe me to be, as I really am, 

Your affectionate friend. 



AVORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, January 13, 1790. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I suppose you are beginning, this 
day, your General Court labors. I wish you may have 
nothing to record, which a real patriot would not wish to 
find on the journals. If the spirit of hostility should expire 
in our State, the new government will not have much oppo 
sition to fear from any other quarter. A Mr. Hawkins, a 
Senator from North Carolina, has arrived. The letter of 
the Virginia Senators, addressed to that State (Virginia) 
legislature, was not received* with approbation, on account 
of the antifederal sentiments which it expressed. They 
would not even order it to be printed, and it was conveyed to 
the press by a private hand. I suppose you have read it. It 
seems intended to prevent the amendments giving satisfac 
tion, more radical ones being wanting. Patrick Henry, it is 
said, advises all his partisans to support the Constitution, and 
if they wish to be secure against its supposed ill tendency, to get 
into the government. This is a very ancient mode of proving 
the faith by the practice. In this State all is quiet. The 
legislature is federal. The people get too much by the new 
government to wish it overthrown. I wish the parties in 
Massachusetts may not wage war again. The question of ex 
cise and assumption of State debts may possibly furnish the 
fuel for fresh heats. I think the assumption will be a seri 
ous article of our business in Congress. I wish, from our 
State, cooperation, not resistance. Our people pay great 
taxes. In this, and every other State, they are more moderate. 
They have not raised twenty-five thousand pounds in this 
State these three years. Their dry taxes are very trifling. 
Why should our industrious people be crushed, to pay taxes 
to maintain State credit, and without maintaining it, too, 
when the United States by excises, &c., equally imposed, can 
do it effectually I Will they love their fetters so well as to 
contend against the hand that would set them at liberty? 
To-morrow the budget is to be opened. The report of the 
Secretary will excite curiosity, and produce, as every great 



LETTERS. 73 

object will, diversity of sentiment. How the business will 
issue, cannot be conjectured. I am positive there cannot be 
a safe and adequate revenue while the States and the United 
States are in competition for the product of the excises, &c. 
Wherefore the debts must be assumed. 

I have written very dogmatically, and why should I affect 
doubts, when I entertain none I I am as dogmatical when I 
affirm that I am, with the esteem of my whole heart, your 
unfeigned friend, and humble servant. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Boston, October 21, 1789. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, No private conveyance offering, 
this will go by the post. You see, by the date, that I am in 
Boston, which is busy with preparation and expectation. 
The President is to appear on a triumphal arch. The 
Governor l begins to take a part in the affair. The gout 
came so opportunely last Saturday, that it has been doubtful 
whether his humility would be gratified with the sight of his 
superior. Is it credible that doubts should have existed, 
w r hether he or the President should first visit? that so 
much honor to one should be supposed to degrade the other ] 
This inter nos. Some of his folks have thrown cold water 
on the ardor of the town, to no purpose. I wish you and 
all my Springfield friends may be gratified with the sight 
and conversation of the great and good President. God 
bless him. 



I am, my dear friend, affectionately yours. 

1 Hancock. 
VOL. I. 7 



74. WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Boston, October 30, 1789. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I should be sorry to have any friend 
require of me an account of myself. Since my return from 
New York, I have seen many who were glad to see me, and 
many who were disposed to claim attention from me. I have 
dangled after the President, &c. He is gone, and I am glad 
of it, and I cannot find that I have done a single thing 
towards putting my affairs in a train to run away from them. 
Yet it is from such details, that I draw my excuse for 
not having written more particularly in my last, and for 
writing little now. (lam going to Dedham to-day, and on 
Monday to Salem Court. I found it impossible to attend 
the Court in Middlesex. Ah, politics ! how have they spoiled 
me for my profession. It is time, my friend, for me to con 
sider what the noisy popularity of a public life will produce. 
It is a reward that wants value and permanency. Either I 
must become a mere politician, and think of my profession as 
a secondary matter, or renounce politics, and devote myself 
to the humble drudgery of earning bread. Pardon this 
egotism. You are not indifferent I think to the subject, and 
you will discern the risk of postponing the final decision, till 
the time when my head will be crazed with the chase, as 
other men s have beenT) No more of this. 

Every-body, excepr Hancock and his tools, has been 
anxious to show more respect for the President, than he could 
find means to express. The good man has (I think) seen 
that the zeal for supporting government, and the strength, 
too, are principally on this side the Hudson. The Governor 
finally waited upon him. His friends say that he never 
doubted the point of etiquette, and that it was a mere false 
hood invented to injure him. The popularity of the Presi 
dent seemed to bear every thing down, like a torrent. Com 
parisons are odious, they say. 

When I took my pen, I did not imagine I was going to 
write such a letter as I have. I would burn it, but have not 
time to write one that would please me better. Take it as 



LETTERS. 75 

the accidental effusion of an heart that would not hide even 
its follies from you. I think I shall not see you at Spring 
field till December. My respectful compliments to friends, 
particularly of your house. 

With affectionate esteem, I am, dear sir, 

Your friend and humble servant. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, March 23, 1790. 

DEAR SIR, You will wonder at the slumber which the 
report of the Secretary has enjoyed for more than a week ; 
and still more at the business which has waked in its stead, 
the Quaker memorial. 1 The absence of Messrs. Fitzsim- 
mons, Clymer, and Wadsworth, who vote with us for the 
assumption of the State debts, has produced a wish to have 
the report postponed till their return. Clymer is expected to 
day, and Wadsworth at the end of the week. This is some 
excuse for the delay but it is not for the violence, per 
sonality, low wit, violation of order, and rambling from the 
point, which have lowered the House extremely in the debate 
on the Quaker memorial. You will read in the papers suffi 
cient to confirm this representation ; but it is scarcely possible 
to secure, by any description, the full measure of contempt 
that we have deserved. The Quakers have been abused, the 
eastern States inveighed against, the chairman rudely charged 
with partiality. Language low, indecent, and profane has 
been used ; wit equally stale and wretched has been attempted ; 
in short, we have sunk below the General Court in the dis 
orderly moment of a bawling nomination of a committee, or 
even of country (rather Boston) town-meeting. The southern 
gentry have been guided by their hot tempers, and stubborn 
prejudices and pride in regard to southern importance and 
negro slavery ; but I suspect the wish to appear in the eyes 

1 Upon the slave-trade. 



JQ WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

of their own people, champions for their black property, is 
influential an election this year makes it the more proba 
ble ; and they have shown an uncommon want of prudence 
as well as moderation ; they have teased and bullied the 
House out of their good temper, and driven them to vote in 
earnest on a subject which at first they did not care much 
about. 

It remains to say something about the resolutions, which 
have been so many days in debate. They declare the Consti 
tution in regard to the slave-trade, &c. I disapproye the 
declaring Constitution. It is risky ; it is liable to error, by 
false reasoning, and to carelessness which will not reason at 
all. It is pledging Congress to dogmas which may be here 
after denied it is useless, because it leads to no art. Upon 
the whole, I am ashamed that we have spent so many days 
in a kind of forensic dispute a matter of moonshine. It 
is a question that makes the two southern States mad and 
furious. 1 

You will judge, my dear friend, how much of this is fit to 
be read to the club. 

A motion was made just now by Mr. Madison, and de 
cided by the yeas and nays, to enter the report of the com 
mittee of the whole House on the journals, because it was 
understood that the subject would not be pressed further. 
But there did not seem to be much reason for it ; for the 
whole discussion has been justified on two grounds ; it was 
intended to form a result of the opinions on the points which 
were entertained, and to quiet the alarms, which have agi 
tated the southern States, on account of the emancipation of 
the slaves. The opinion of the committee of the whole is 
sufficient for the first point, and public enough for the 
second purpose; and the insertion of dogmas relating to 
the constitution on the journals is in my opinion highly ex 
ceptionable and imprudent. 

March 23, 1790. Wednesday the 24th. 

Another member from North Carolina is arrived Mr. 
Ashe. We suppose that he will be against the assumption 

1 South Carolina and Georgia. 



LETTERS. 77 

though we are ignorant of his opinion. 1 The majority, till 
the return of the absent of our side, will be small. All our 
State, and all New England (except Livermore, who is 
not violent and perhaps may concur with us) will vote for 
the assumption. While the States discover more and more 
jealousy of the national government, it seems to be proper 
to secure it against the many dangers which threaten it, and 
the multitude of such as are now unforeseen and will arise 
when the present state of harmony shall be changed. Neg 
lecting to do good will be doing evil. In any country, a 
public debt absolutely afloat, will produce agitation. How 
necessary then for us to act firmly and justly ! 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, May 20, 1790. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, It is a long time since I have heard 
from you. I wish to be assured by your own handwriting, 
that you have escaped the influenza, or if not, that you are 
well over it. The most dismal accounts of the prevailing 
sickness of the people in Boston have been given here. Our 
friend, Dr. Dexter, I am told has been very ill, and is but 
half recovered. I hope this is not true. You are going to 
be busy soon with the General Court, and after that kind 
of duty shall have begun, I shall despair of getting a word 
from you. 

All my letters from our State assure me that Congress is 
becoming unpopular, and losing confidence as well as repu 
tation. The impatience of the creditors to have their debt" 
funded without delay has been mingled with the murmurs of 
the antis. I think I can see the policy of the latter, in forbear- 

1 Mr. Ashe very soon put an end to all uncertainty on this point. Mr. Ames 
used to say that it was a very great convenience to himself that their names 
stood so near each other on the roll. He was always quite sure that he had 
voted right, if Mr. Ashe, who came next, voted the other way. 

7* 



78 WORKS OF FISHER AMES, 

incr to complain of the assumption as a piece of usurpation, and 
making use of the angry creditors to help their cause against 
the government. I was lately made apprehensive that the 
creditors were going to agree on a memorial, praying that 
the deht might be immediately funded, whether the assump 
tion should be agreed to or not. Such a step would have 
blown up the whole assumption, and probably the funding 
system with it. But that memorial seems to be laid aside, 
and I am glad of it. For the cause of assuming the State 
debts has derived aid from the opinion, that the advocates of 
that measure would not suffer it to be separated from the 
funding system ; but if the creditors at Boston had expressed 
a willingness to submit to such a separation on any terms, 
the aid of those who have been lugged along, m et armis, to 
approve of the assumption, would be withdrawn. We are 
now in committee on the bill for funding the debt, and de 
bating about the old money. I am not sure that it is pru 
dent to introduce it in this place. The success of any provision 
for the old money is problematical, and as it is now objected 
that it will delay and embarrass the funding business, it is 
attended with increased difficulty, to get the rate fixed at the 
scale of forty for one, which would confirm the promise made 
by the old government. 

The assumption is not less to be hoped for than it has been 
for several weeks past. /Mr. Sherman is indisposed, but in 
a day or two will renew \Jiis motion for assuming certain fixed 
sums. The success of it would be certain, if the Pennsyl 
vania creditors were well disposed towards it. But they 
consider it as dividing their loaf with others, and they wish 
to have it all. j I am surprised that men, who are to depend 
on government should be careless as to arguments, which 
seem to prove how much its strength will be impaired by a 
divided revenue system. They seem to be secure as to the 
permanency of the government, and mindful of nothing but 
the property of the debt. I hope we shall not finish the ses 
sion without funding the whole debt ; if not the whole, then 
as much as we can. For if we should not fund at all, I am 
apprehensive that the popular torrent, at a future session, 
would be found to be strong against funding. It might 
be said, we ought not to promise more than we know we 



LETTERS. 



79 



can perform ; that of consequence, temporary appropriations 
would be safe, and adequate to every purpose of justice, and 
the old game of preying upon the creditors would be played 
again. Without a firm basis for public credit, I can scarcely^/ 
expect the government will last long. I own, my dear friend, 
I am sometimes ready to despond, when I think how great 
hazard attends those measures which are essential to its being. 
The President has been dangerously sick, and though much 
better, is still very weak. This circumstance has added some 
thing to our gloom. I hope in a few days, however, that I 
shall be able to say, the assumption is agreed to. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

New York, June 11, 1790. 
In the Federal Hall. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

I am going this afternoon to visit Passaic Falls, in New 
Jersey, with a party, and I write now, because I wish you 
to know the events of this day by the next post, which I 
shall not return in due season to write. 

You have seen that we are sold by the Pennsylvanians,, 
and the assumption with it. They seem to have bargained 
to prevent the latter, on the terms of removing to Philadel 
phia. It became necessary to defeat this corrupt bargain. 
We had voted in the House for Philadelphia. The Senate 
disagreed. The motion being renewed in the House, we 
have opposed it, first so as to gain time, and next to baffle 
the scheme in to to. Yesterday it rained, and Governor 
Johnson, \vho had been brought in a sick bed to vote in 
Senate against Philadelphia, could not be safely removed in 
the rain. It was supposed, that if the resolve to remove 
could be urged through the House, and sent up while it 
continued raining, that it would pass in Senate. They 



80 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

called for the question, but Gerry and Smith made long- 
speeches and motions, so that the question was not decided 
till this morning. Rather than gratify the Pennsylvanians, 
and complete their bargain at the same time, we voted for 
Baltimore, which passed by two majority, to the infinite 
mortification of the Pennsylvanians. Philadelphia was struck 
out, and as, by the rules of the House, it could not be in 
serted again, it is a complete overthrow. But, my dear 
friend, we gain useless victories, (j care little where Con 
gress may sit.} I would not find fault with Fort Pitt, if 
we could assume the debts, and proceed in peace and quiet 
ness. But this despicable grog-shop contest, whether the 
taverns of New York or Philadelphia shall get the custom 
of Congress, keeps us in discord, and covers us all with 
disgrace. How this resolve will fare in Senate, I know 
not. I trust the attempt will be made to turn it into a 
question of permanent residence. That would make the 
friends of the assumption the umpires, and enable them to 
dictate their own terms. I am, however, almost in despair 
of success. Yesterday it was moved in Senate to tack the 
assumption as an amendment to the funding bill, j But 
Morris, Langdon, and another, declaring that they liked the 
assumption, said that they would not agree to it, as a part 
of that bill, lest the bill should be lost by it. Whereas the 
Pennsylvanians have both in their own power, and there is 
no ground for pretending danger to the bill, if they are dis 
posed to vote for it. Their declaration is plain proof that 
Philadelphia stands in the way of the State debts. It is a 
shameful declaration for men to make, who have so solemnly 
asserted their zeal for the measure. Langdon is a partisan 
for Philadelphia. It is barely possible for any business to 
be more perplexed and entangled than this has been. We 
have fasted, watched, and prayed for the cause. I never 
knew so much industry and perseverance exerted for any 
cause. Mr. Sedg-wick is a perfect slave to the business. 
Mr. Goodhue frowns all day long, and swears as much as a 
good Christian can, about the perverseness of Congress. 

We are passing the ways and means bill. We do so 
little, and behave so ill in doing that, that I consider Con 
gress as meriting more reproach than has been cast upon it. 



LETTERS. 81 

I am gratified to know that your river is becoming im 
portant. I wish you could, by faith or otherwise, remove 
the rocks from its bed. I am pleased to find our General 
Court so much better than it was ; but their sense, as ex 
pressed by their vote, will not help us to carry the assump 
tion. It furnishes the others with a plea to delay, and get 
the sense of the other States, which would not be in the like 
strain. 

My regards to friends. The first week of leisure, or 
rather of respite from urgent business, will carry me to 
Springfield. 

I am, affectionately yours, &c. 

The Pennsylvanians have hurried the removal of Con 
gress, because (the) Rhode Island Senators are expected 
daily to join the New Yorkers. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

New York, June 23, 1790. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I do not suppose you will wish 
my correspondence, while your duty in the General Court 
imposes so hard a task. However, you know that I do not 
pretend to exact an answer as a right. 

I expect all the holders of securities in Boston will be 
alarmed, when they learn that on Monday the bill for ex 
cises, called the supply, or ways and means bill, was lost 
in the House, ayes twenty-three, noes thirty-five. Their 
anxiety will abate, when they know the circumstances that 
made it necessary to kill it. The perverseness of the Penn- 
ylvanians has made them risk every thing for Philadelphia. 
One of them has often defied the friends of the assump 
tion, to hinder the passage of the funding systemA The 
Senate had become a scene of discord upon that subject, and 



82 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

partly from aversion to all funding, and partly from a desire 
to show that refusing the State debts would make the terms 
of the other debt worse, they have excluded the alternatives, 
and offer a simple four per cent, to the creditor. This is 
playing Rhode Island with one third of the debt, and I can 
not think of it without indignation. In short, it was be 
coming probable that the whole would be postponed to the 
next session. The negative upon the ways and means, by 
opening the eyes of the advocates of the funding to a sense 
of their danger, really contributes to the security of the 
provision for public credit. It is rather paradoxical, I con 
fess. x Besides, a scheme has been ripening, and is agreed 
upon between the Pennsylvanians and the southern people, 
to remove to Philadelphia, stay fifteen years, and fix the per 
manent seat on the Potomac. To do this, and at the same 
time reject the assumption, is such an outrage upon the feel 
ings of the eastern people, as I persuade myself they dare 
not commit ; and as our claim of justice has been ex 
pressed in a loud tone, and our reproaches and resent 
ments have been reiterated since it was denied us, they have 
become afraid of consequences ; and as our zeal and industry 
have not relaxed, and every instrument of influence has 
been tried, I think I see strong indications of an assent 
to the assumption. Those who love peace, and those who 
fear consequences, will naturally shrink from any side, and 
however unavailing the debates may have been to procure 
votes, they have at last silenced opposition. And it is, at 
the same time, in itself gratifying and a presage of success, 
that the justice and policy of the assumption, except as it 
regards the vox popiili in the south, are no longer denied, 
or denied so faintly as to indicate merely the repugnance of 
pride to yielding a contested point. Mr. Morris is a zealous 
friend of the assumption, (though he has acted crookedly,) 
and he has strong motives to prevent the convulsions which 
would ensue, if a bargain for Philadelphia should be sup 
posed the cause of losing the measure. His own wishes, 
shame, prudence, will concur to exact from all whom he can 
influence a vote for it, and taking all these things together, 
I begin to indulge a very confident hope of success. I be 
lieve that Congress will sit next at Philadelphia, and if we 



LETTERS. 33 

succeed in the assumption, we shall have nothing of bargain 
to reproach ourselves with. I confess, my dear friend, with 
shame, that the world ought to despise our public conduct, 
when it hears intrigue openly avowed, and sees that great 
measures are made to depend, not upon reasons, but upon 
bargains for little ones. This being clear, I should have 
supposed myself warranted to make a defensive or counter 
bargain, to prevent the success of the other. But even that 
would wear an ill aspect, and be disliked by the world. I 
repeat it, therefore, with pleasure, that we have kept clear 
of it. 

I see by the papers that Mr. Gardiner s reform of the 
law is not quite extinct ; but as our House is far better than 
the last, and the Senate absolutely federal, I hope no fresh 
disturbance will be given to the course of our judicial pro 
ceedings. Pray tell your brother Clarke, that I went to the 
President on his behalf, and made a strong representation of 
his losses and merits. The President is well disposed to 
wards him, but I think he will not nominate him to the 
light-house, because Knox is there locum tenens. He will 
stand well for any vacant place. General Lincoln s vote 
would go far to serve him. Be so good as to say what I 
wish to have said to friends, Mr. Freeman, &c. My most 
respectful compliments to Mrs. Minot. Dear George, if 
you have leisure, and not else, write to me, for I have long 
been so vexed by the waves and storms of the political sea, 
as to wish, as much as the sailors do, for the port, and like 
them perhaps I shall be willing to quit it again. 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

New York, June 27, 1790. 



MY DEAR FRIEND, 

Your fears are strong that we shall lose the assumption. 
Mine have been so, as I have often signified in my letters. 



84 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

Now, I am pretty confident of a better issue to this long 
contest. Conviction seems at last to have (won) its way to 
men, whose prejudices seemed to have barred up the pas 
sage. We hear no more about the injustice of the assump 
tion ; at last, it is tacitly allowed that it will promote justice ; 
and it is asked, let it rest till the next session, and then we 
shall doubtless assume. This looks like coming over. Be 
sides, consequences are feared. The New England States 
demand it as a debt of justice, with a tone so loud and 
threatening, that they fear the convulsions which would pro 
bably ensue. Further, they are going to fix the residence 
permanently on the Potomac, and by the apostasy of Penn 
sylvania will do it, removing, however, immediately to Phila 
delphia, and staying there ten years. Two such injuries 
would be too much. They dare not, I trust, carry Congress 
so far south, and leave the debts upon us. R. Morris, 
too, is really warm for the assumption, and as he is the fac 
totum in the business, he will not fail to insist upon the 
original friends of it, and who have ever been a majority, 
voting for it. With five Pennsylvanians, our former aid 
from that delegation, we can carry it, or least obtain four 
fifths of the debts to be assumed. Accordingly, they begin 
to say, these violent feuds must be composed ; too much is 
hazarded, to break up in this temper. Maryland is the 
most alarmed, as well as, next to Virginia, most anxious for 
the Potomac. I am beginning to be sanguine in the hope 
of success. 1 This week may decide. If so, the next will 
carry me to Springfield. But while such immense objects 
are depending, at the very crisis too, you will see that I can 
not desert, without being chargeable with a breach of duty, 
and taking a risk of consequences and a weight of reproach 
I ought not to bear with my own consent. Please to give 
me your opinion upon these circumstances. 

1 The proposition to assume the State debts failed at one time in the 
House ; but on being revived, and connected with the proposition to remove 
the seat of government to Philadelphia, and after the expiration of ten years, 
to the Potomac, it prevailed by a very scanty majority. Mr. Jefferson says 
that this log-rolling connection of the two measures was arranged by an ex 
press agreement. Accordingly, two gentlemen, " with a revulsion of stomach 
almost convulsive," voted for the assumption ; and this change of votes secured 
its passage. , 



LETTERS. So 

We shall adjourn soon. The impatience to get 
to Philadelphia will make it tedious to stay in New York, 
and others wish to see their families. Poor D. suffers the 
pains of a public man. I cannot think that George Cabot 
will serve. Dear friend, I am in haste, going to spend the 
day abroad ; and, at the hazard of writing nonsense, I have 
scribbled what I wished you to know without delay. 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

New York, July 11, 1790. 

MY DEA*R FRIEND, 

To-morrow a committee will report in Senate in favor of 
the assumption, and on Tuesday I suppose it will be taken 
up. But we begin to relax in our sanguine hopes of suc 
cess. It is plainly in our power. The game is in our 
hands. Last week the removal bill passed, in favor of 
Philadelphia and the Potomac. That encumbrance out of 
our way, it is not to be doubted that we could carry our 
long-contested point. But in Senate, some gentlemen advo 
cate a simple four per cent, provision for the debt, making 
no compensation, as the Secretary has reported, for the two 
per cent. This has been agreed to as an amendment to the 
funding bill, which is still in that House. Several Senators, 
friendly to the funding and assuming, say that such a mea 
sure (four per cent, and no equivalent for the two per cent.) 
is against justice, against national policy, against eastern 
policy ; for it is for giving, or rather throwing away, one third 
of the property now collected in the middle and eastern 
States, disgraceful to the public, weakens the attach 
ment of individuals, &c. ; that if we can pay four per 
cent, now, we can pay two more in ten years. Even if we 
should fail, the evil would be foreseen and guarded against, 
and then we should have gained strength, and could bear it 

VOL, i. 8 



1 



85 AVOllKS OF FISHER AMES. 

better. Four per cent., though dishonest, affords no relief; 
it is an unnecessary anticipation of an uncertain contingency, 
&c., &c. I confess I incline to this opinion. The other is, 
that as we may fail ten years hence, it is better not to pro 
mise. This difference of opinion is becoming serious. Those 
who insist on the Secretary s proposals, say that unless 
assurances are given that these offers shall be made to the 
creditors, they will vote against the funding, assumption, 
and every thing connected with what they call so improper 
a plan. Neither party seems to advance towards accommo 
dation, and it now seems inevitable, that the assumption will, 
on Tuesday, be rejected in Senate. Thus, rny friend, we 
hope and fear we then become sanguine, and then abso 
lutely despair. I begin to fear that we are but fifteen years 
old in politics, which is the age of our nation since 177^, ail( l 
that it will be at least six years before we become fit for 
any thing but colonies. We want principles, morals, fixed 
habits, and more firmness against unreasonable clamors. 
I shall give you the vapors. I finish. 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

New York, July 25, 1790. 

MY DEAR FRIEND,-- You have drawn an affecting pic 
ture of the distress of our amiable friends 1 on the departure 
of Mrs. B. I expected that the scene would call up all 
the father in the old gentleman. Ambition and the pursuit 
of property have no longer any allurements for him. II is 
family concentres all his views, and the absence of M. nar 
rows the circle of his enjoyments. Of course, it is a cruel 
privation. Your sympathy does you honor. Let me shun 
those who call it weakness. 

Our politics have been critical the past week. The fund- 

1 The family of Colonel Worthinjiton, at Springfield. The marriage of 
the eldest daughter to Mr. Bliss, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, had recently taken 
place. 



LETTERS. gy 

ing bill having passed the Senate with amendments, on 
Friday the House took up the amendments, and instead of 
funding twenty-six dollars (on each hundred to be loaned) 
at the end of ten years, the House propose thirty-three and 
a third, at the end of seven years. The indents and interest 
on the debt of the United States to be raised from three 
per cent., as proposed by the Senate, and funded at four per 
cent. This being just, I wish it may pass in the Senate. 
Three per cent, seems to be abandoning all pretence of pay 
ing the creditors. 

Yesterday we renewed the battle for the assumption 
rather, we began it on Friday. Mr. Jackson 1 then made a 
speech, which I will not say was loud enough for you to 
hear. It disturbed the Senate, however ; and to keep out 
the din, they put down their windows. Mr. Smith (S. C.) 
followed him, an hour. Yesterday, Mr. Gerry delivered 
himself. Jackson rebellowed. The motion by Jackson be 
ing that the House do disagree to the amendment of the 
Senate. Voted in the negative ; thirty-two (not including 
the Speaker, who is of our side) against twenty-nine. 
Several motions were made to alter the sums to be assumed 
from the States, but were negatived. Thus, my friend, we 
again stand on good ground. We shall finish the amend 
ments, I hope, to-morrow ; and as they are not likely to be 
founded on improper principles, I hope the Senate will con 
cur, and relieve us from a state of solicitude which has been 
painful beyond any I ever suffered. 

I do not see how the bill can be lost, as both Houses have 
agreed to its passage ; and though the amendments may not 
suit both, I will not fear that they will be agreed to in some 
form or other. We are impatient for the end of the ses 
sion. Should all go smoothly, we shall sit till near the 
middle of August. 

I must conclude with my affectionate regards to friends, 
and especially to you, for I am truly 

Your friend and humble servant. 

The Indian chief, McGillivray, is here. He is decent, 
and not very black. 

1 Of Georgia. 



88 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

New York, August 8, 1790. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I have not replied to your friendly 
letters, because I have hoped to give you absolute assurance 
that I should quit this place next Wednesday. A bill is 
ordered to be reported, and will be to-morrow, for employing 
a million of dollars which we have to spare, for buying up 
the debt. This will restore a great sum to circulation ; 
raise credit and the price of paper ; make foreigners pay dear 
for what they may buy, or stop their buying ; produce good 
humor among the creditors, and among the people, too, when 
they see the debt melting away ; create a sinking fund of near 
eighty thousand dollars yearly, and, by a little management, 
of upwards of one hundred thousand. Objects so great and 
so popular carry away every personal consideration. I think 
such an act of vigor and policy would restore all the credit 
and regard that the government has lost. This bill may, and 
I fear will, detain us two days longer, but no new business 
will be touched. Wherefore I think that on Monday week at 
the latest, and perhaps on Friday next, I shall reach Spring 
field, and help you help our fair friends keep house. I de 
spise politics, when I think of this office. I shall forget, 
though you hint at it, that I am a candidate, and am to be 
gibbeted in Edes s newspaper. I am in haste, and why should 
I write a great deal, and spoil my pleasant task of telling you 
all I know ] Your friend, c. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



Philadelphia, December 12, 1790. 

DEAR FRIEND, Yesterday I took lodgings at the house 
of a Mrs. Sage, where I begin to enjoy quiet, and to feel settled 
and at home. I arrived in the city the last Sunday evening, and 
lodged at the Indian Queen, a tavern, where I found it diffi- 



LETTERS. 89 

cult to write you. We had no sooner landed our baggage in 
the stage-office, a place adjoining the tavern, taken a dish of 
tea, &c., than we learned that the room where it was left was 
robbed. Mr. Oliver Phelps s and Mr. Dalton s trunks were 
taken away, containing their linen, Phelps s notes of hand for 
his new lands, his title deeds, twenty thousand dollars secur 
ities he had brought for a friend, eight or ten thousand of 
his own, with many papers valuable only to Phelps. Dalton 
had forty dollars, and a dozen shirts, &c. The next day, the 
two trunks, with many of Phelps s papers, including the great 
est part of his securities, which were wrapped in a letter, and 
so eluded their search, were found in a field. We were dis 
turbed by this misfortune, as you may suppose, and kept up 
almost all night. My name was on my trunk. The partial 
rogues took that as a mark, that nothing was to be got by 
taking it away. But see my good temper ; I have not felt 
angry at the slight. 

Both Houses were formed on the second day of the session. 
We have had the speech from the throne, have answered it, 
and to-morrow we are to present our answer. Both contain 
some divine molasses. 

Mr. Jackson, of Georgia, yesterday let off a balloon about 
the treaty with the Creeks, complaining that the speech was 
silent on that topic, and that he should move very furiously 
for papers, and an address to the President to know whether 
there were any secret articles, &c. Ruat coelum, fiat justitia. 
We wish for Sedgwick, and shall want him soon. Virginia"" 
is teeming, we hear, with antifederalism. The excise will 
be opposed, and any other proper mode of provision for the 
State debts will rub hard. These are my fears. 

This is a very magnificent city. Our accommodations to 
meet, &c., are good. 

This cold weather admonishes you, that you are losing 
time. Why will you remain a forlorn, shivering bachelor a 
minute longer I I could preach on this subject in a manner 
that would edify you and all other negligent sinners, if I was 
not at this moment obliged to wind off. Sat sapienti verbum. 
Think of these things. 

Pray read Sedgwick s letter. 
8* 



90 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, December 23, 1790. 

DEAR FRIEND, I inclose, in two newspapers, the plan of 
a bank reported by Mr. Hamilton. The late surprising rise 
of public stock is supposed to be owing in part to this report, 
because it affords an opportunity to subscribe three fourths 
paper and one fourth silver into the bank stock. In Hol 
land, we are told, our stock sells above par. 

The creditors in this State have sent us a huffing memo 
rial, which I inclose. It came in when the price of debt 
affords an answer to it. No notice was taken of it. The 
Senate, I hear, have proposed to answer them by resolving 
that a revision of the funding act is improper. Please to let 
Colonel Worthington see the inclosed. I wish to be made 
use of to furnish any thing from hence that may amuse my 
Springfield friends. Please to signify as much at that 
house. 

I think the public will be delighted to see the public credit 
rise, the debt reduced by two hundred and seventy-eight 
thousand dollars, which cost only one hundred and fifty thou 
sand dollars, and still reducing more. The President has 
afforded them such evidence of our prosperous condition, as 
they will not controvert. I scribble in haste for the sake of 
inclosing the papers by this post. Instead of a letter, which 
I have not time to write, pray represent me at Colonel 
Worthington s. 

The Senate have just voted, R. Morris only dissenting, in 
substance as I stated before. I wonder how the petitioners 
could overcome their Philadelphia modesty so far as to pre 
sent such a .... memorial. You may fill the blank 
for yourself. 

Sedgwick arrived, and took his seat this morning. 

Pray let me hear from you. Are you married I 

Your friend. 



LETTERS. 91 

P. S. Old Mr. Edes s paper accused me of keeping- aris 
tocratic company at New York. I obey the admonition of 
my constituent. Instead of Sedgwick, Benson, and other 
bad company, I now lodge with Gerry, Ashe, Sevier, and 
Parker. Birds of a feather. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, January G, 1791. 

FRIEND, I inclose Judge Wilson s introductory 
law lecture, addressed with a propriety, which he says malice 
cannot question, to Mrs. Washington. I heard it, but have 
not had leisure to read it. Will you be so obliging as to 
present it to Colonel Worthington I The great law-learning 
and eminent station of the writer had raised great expecta 
tions of the performance. Whether there are not many 
parts that discretion and modesty, if they had been consulted, 
would have expunged, you will be at liberty to judge. 
It will be a frolic to the London reviewers to make the 
Judge s feathers fly. He has censured the English form of 
government, and can expect no mercy.! 

North Carolina is still in a ferment; They have rejected, 
by a very great majority, a proposition made in their Assem 
bly for taking the oath to support the Constitution of the 
United States. You will see their resolves against their 
senators, and against direct and indirect taxes, in Fenno, 
which, as Fenno says on bad information, were not rejected 
by the Senate, except the preamble, and the word monstrous 
salaries was changed for enormous. 

Before the Constitution was adopted by North Carolina, 
Robert Morris was sued there, his attorney ordered to trial 
without delay, and of course, judgment for ten thousand 
pounds against poor Bobby, as the New York boys used to 
call him. He filed, in their State Chancery Court, a bill, and 
obtained an injunction to stay the execution. In this stage 
of it, the Constitution was agreed to, and Mr. Morris ob- 



92 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

tained from the federal Circuit Court a certiorari to remove 
the cause from the State Court. This the supreme judges of 
the State refused to obey, and the marshal did not execute 
his precept. The State judges, knowing the angry state of 
the assembly, wrote a letter of complaint, representing the 
affair. Whether the United States judges have kept within 
legal bounds is doubted. I should be sorry for an error of 
so serious a kind, and under such unlucky circumstances. 
Please to mention this affair to Colonel W. and to my 
friend H. 

The excise bill is going forward smoothly. Mr. Jackson 
flamed forth yesterday, before the first paragraph was read. 
He was stopped to hear it out, and then he moved to strike 
it out, after a violent speechicle, which was not answered. 
Fifteen only voted with him. We hear nothing further about 
the treaty. 1 But that subject, the excise, the judicial quarrel, 
before mentioned, and the assumption, seem to keep the 
States of Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia, in a con 
dition not unlike that of Naples when Vesuvius cuts capers. 

Yours, in haste. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, January 24, 1791. 

DEAR FRIEND, 

We should have passed the excise bill to be engrossed for 
a third reading, if for our trial, as all afflictions you know 
are, one of our Massachusetts members had not seen anti- 
republicanism in the clause giving the President power to 
assign compensation to the inspectors, &c., not exceeding five 
per cent, of the duties. The bugbear of influence gained by 
the Executive, of Constitution, because it would empower him 

1 Probably the treaty with the Creek Indians, before mentioned. 



LETTERS. 93 

to establish offices, in effect, by fixing the pay, and forty 
other topics, were addressed ad populum. The clause was 
struck out, and a new bill, regelating tfeTpay of inspectors, is 
to be brought in. The Secretary tells us, in his report, that 
the only practicable method in the first instance is to leave it 
to the President. But we are equal to things impracticable, 
and though time and information are wanting, we are going 
to undertake it. In the mean time, we are going on with 
the excise bill. Every effort is made to puzzle, by amend 
ments crowded in and by debates upon them, to spin out the 
day and waste it. Hitherto we have beaten our adversaries, 
and I think we shall finally prevail, though the event is far 
from being safe. The southern people care little about the 
debt. They doubt the necessity of more revenue. They fear 
the excise themselves, and still more their people, to whom it 
is obnoxious, and to whom they are making it more odious 
still, by the indiscreet violence of their debates. Besides, 
they wish to seize the bill as a hostage for such a regulation 
of the bank, as will not interfere with Conococheague a ten years 
hence. They wish to limit its term to ten years, or to pro 
vide that its stock shall be removed with the seat of govern 
ment. 

On a late debate on the bill to provide what officer shall 
act as President, when the two first offices shall be vacant, 
the ambition of Mr. Jefferson s friends was disclosed. They 
contended for him with zeal. That will have its share in the 
business of the session. All this is inter nos. But rely on 
this, my friend, no compromise will be made by trucking off 
one thing for another. If the government cannot be sup 
ported without foul means, let it go. 

The Pennsylvania assembly has voted in the lower House 
against an excise. It was awkward to see the excise debating 
in two places at once, as the case actually happened. Is not 
this anarchy! The State governments seem to beat their 
drums, and to prepare to attack us. We have many advan 
tages over them, and they have several over us. But appear- 



1 The name of a stream entering the Potomac in the westerly part of 
Maryland. Those who were malecontent with the scheme of removing the 
seat of government, in 1801, to the banks of the Potomac, revenged them 
selves by giving the name of Conococheague to the proposed capital. 



94 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

ances indicate that the superiority of the one to the other will 
be brought to the test. I hope the Massachusetts General 
Court will not incite the people to any further clamor. Our 
State has got relief, and that is the pretext for the noise in 
the southern States. I must finish. 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, February 7, 1791. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I am in the House, and have not 
your last favor before me. You express a doubt with re 
gard to the time of your going to heaven. I expect to 
return in March, and possibly I may be in Springfield at 
the time of your ascent. I shall be happy to be a spectator 
of your metamorphosis, or, as you will call it during the first 
moon, your apotheosis. Congress will certainly adjourn on 
the third of March. I shall pass three or four days in New 
York, and then make haste to Springfield. The prospect is 
a very grateful one to my mind, especially if I am to get a 
piece of the wedding cake. 

I am now hearing Mr. Giles, of Virginia, preach against 
the bank. Mr. Madison has made a great speech against 
it. I am not an impartial judge of it. Take my opinion 
with due allowance ; it is, that his speech was full of casu 
istry and sophistry. He read a long time out of books of 
debates on the Constitution when considering in the several 
States, in order to show that the powers were to be con 
strued strictly. This was a dull piece of business, and very 
little to the purpose, as no man would pretend to give Con 
gress the power, against a fair construction of the Consti 
tution. 

All appearances indicate that we shall beat them by a 
considerable majority. This will not happen till the quan 
tum of speeches is exhausted, which I expect will take place 
to-morrow. 



LETTERS. 95 

You must excuse me now for making a short letter of 
this. Did I send Colonel Worthington a copy of the report 
of the Attorney-General ? If I did not, I will. 

Please make my respectful compliments to your good 
family, and elsewhere. 

Your affectionate friend. 

Monday Evening. 

It is hoped that we shall take the question on the bank 
to-morrow; though, as Mr. Madison discovers an intention 
to speak again, and several others appear charged, I think 
the chance is against the question till Wednesday. Our time 
is precious, because it is short. We sit impatiently to hear 
arguments which guide, or at least change, no man s vote. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

Philadelphia, February 17, 1791. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, It gave me great pleasure to re 
ceive a line from you, after so long an interruption of our 
correspondence. 

I am sure that our mutual regard has not suffered any 
interruption at all. My own sentiments will not suffer me 
to doubt of yours. I shall take pleasure in serving you or 
your friends. The letter inclosed in yours, and the interests 
of your brother, shall be attended to. 

We have been occupied a long time with the debate on 
the bank bill. Mr. Madison has made a potent attack upon 
the bill, as unconstitutional. The decision of the House, by 
a majority of thirty-nine against twenty, is a strong proof 
of the little impression that was made. Many of the 
minority laughed at the objection deduced from the Consti 
tution. 

""The great point of difficulty Avas, the effect of the bank 
law to make the future removal of the government from 
this city to the Potomac less probable. This place will be- 



9(5 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

come the great centre of the revenue and banking opera 
tions of the nation. So many interests will be centred 
here, that it is feared that, ten years hence, Congress will 
be found fast anchored and immovable. 

This apprehension has an influence on Mr. Madison, the 
Secretary of State, 1 as it is supposed, and perhaps on a still 
greater man. The bank law is before the I 3 resident. 

The excise act is before the House. Some amendments 
have been proposed by the Senate. I do not apprehend that 
the bill will be lost, though, as our senators voted against 
it, the adversaries of the bill are encouraged with the hope 
of destroying it in the House. They will try to spin out 
the time, which is short. We are to adjourn on the 3d 
March. The Boston distillers have sent us a letter, ex 
pressing their apprehension that the duties of the excise bill 
will injure their business. Our senators, not being able to effect 
any alteration, chose to give their votes in the negative, as 
the strongest testimony of their disapprobation of the rate 
of duties. This is what I understand to be their motive. 

What are you about in the General Court! Will yo^i 
join the complaining States, and pass censuring votes against 
Congress ! How came the Captain to push for a seat so 
hard in the General Court ! It is a small object to him ; 
but such formal disputes concerning the dangerous influence 
of the United States Government and its officers, give some 
disturbance to the public, at a time when it seems to be 
uncommonly tranquil. 

This session of Congress has passed with unusual good 
temper. The last was a dreadful one. In public, as well 
as in private life, a calm comes after a storm. When I 
return, which will be in March, I shall try to turn out of 
my head all the politics that have been huddled into it, and 
to restore the little scraps of law which I once hoped to 
make a market of. 

The newspaper sometimes gives a sad character of law 
yers. I hope you are not so very vile as Adams s paper 
describes the order. 

You perceive when the abuse of the order is in question, 

1 Jefferson. 



LETTERS. 97 

I say you. I shall be very willing to take my share of the 
abuse, on the terms of having my share of the profits of 
the trade. 

Pray remember me to the gentlemen of the club. 

Your affectionate friend. 

Excuse haste, for I cannot wait to read over what I 
have written. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Boston, April 16, 1791. 

DEAR SIR, I presume you had my letter from Hart 
ford, which informed you that I was going to Philadelphia. 
The date of this will announce to you that I have returned. 
My journey was a rapid but not unpleasant one. Such con 
tinued exercise is good for a lazy fellow, as your humble 
servant s good health testifies. I returned from New York, 
by water, to Providence, which deprived me of the pleasure 
of visiting you and my other friends at Springfield. I hope 
you are married, and should have enjoyed a great deal of 
satisfaction in attending the ceremony. 1 Allow me to salute 
the bride, and to offer my fervent wishes for your mutual 
felicity. Pray assure the worthy family, as well as your 
household, of my respectful attachment. After taking some 
measures to establish myself in business here, I shall not 
fail to visit your town. The law courts will detain me 
several weeks. But I hope to see the trees in blossom on 
my journey. I am going to be connected with Jo Hall. 
The office is in State street. I shall try to forget politics, 
and to like the drudgery of an office. I think I have fully 
explained to you heretofore the manner in which I intend to 
dispose of myself during the recess of Congress, and my 

1 Mr. Dwight s marriage occurred about this time. 
VOL. I. 9 



98 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

joint concern in the law way with Mr. Hall. My friends 
here approve this connection, as promising mutual advan 
tage. 1 .... 

I am, dear sir, your friend, &c. 

I will send, if I can, Burke s famous pamphlet to Colonel 
Worthington. 



DEAR SIR, 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Boston, April 26, 1791. 



People here seem to care as little about politics, as I think 
you do at this moment. There is a scarcity of grievances. 
Their mouths are stopped with white bread and roast meat. 
Our worthy Governor is again ill, laid up with the gout. I 
hope you will bear it, and all other public calamities, with a 
patriotic firmness. Some murmurs are whispering, because 
Congress has not begun to quarrel with England on account 
of navigation. Men are more true to their passions than 
to their interests. What we have is great, and what we 
may hope is immense ; yet many are ready to put all to the 
hazard, by a war of regulations with that country. 

Farewell. Believe me your affectionate friend. 

I am almost, not quite, fixed in this town. 

1 In a letter dated Boston, May 11, 1791, he says: "I opened my office 
last Monday, and am not so hurried with business as to deny myself the plea 
sure of writing to you. My office is in King street, next door to the custom 
house." 



LETTERS. 99 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

May, 1791. 

If I can make a rebellious report on Harmer s trial lie 
peaceably in a sheet of folio paper, I will send it you by this 
post. Please to communicate it, with my respects, to the 
worthy old gentleman, whom God bless. Considering your 
captainship, there is a propriety in your having it. You 
will learn to respect the militia, that bulwark of a free coun 
try, as the cant is. 

Probably the remainder of the State debts will be as 
sumed. Opposition will be made ; but I think there is a 
good prospect of success. 

We have cause to lament the Indian war. Neither ambi 
tion, nor the thirst for revenge, nor the desire of their lands, 
kindled it. The government has been mild, patient, and 
assiduous in the use of every means of keeping peace, in 
vain. 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, October 30, 1791. 

DEAR FRIEND, After enduring weariness, cold, watch 
ing and hunger, (that is, between meals,) after perils in the 
stages and ferry-boats, in darkness and snow-storms, I am 
(what a sinking in style) very well, by the fireside. You 
have been sleeping in clover I do not mean in the barn, 
neither while I have scarcely slept at all on my journey. 
So it is, that the drivers ease their horses by tiring the pas 
sengers. They do not drive fast, but they are a great many 
hours performing their task. The horses are shifted, but 
the poor traveller is kept harnessed. And yet, hard as the 
sufferings of a stage-coach are, the man who describes them 



100 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

in the tragedy style gets laughed at. The unfeeling world 
would deny me their pity, if I was to ask it. I will not 
give them the opportunity. 

The first arrangements of the bank have passed over 
smoothly. Though mutual jealousies were felt, yet all 
parties saw and yielded to the necessity of harmonizing. 
Preparations are making, with all possible speed, for the 
circulation of the bills, and the discounting of notes. Yes 
terday, McKean, of South Carolina, Avas appointed cashier. 
He is a man of genteel manners and fair character. Mr. 
Francis, cashier of the old bank, is very much of the bear, 
and yet was strenuously supported for the office in the Bank 
of the United States. The stock of the bank is chiefly held 
in New York and Massachusetts. This is a favorable cir 
cumstance in the outset. I trust it will have the more of a 
national cast on that account. 

Politics is yet asleep. Business is preparing in Con 
gress ; but nothing has indicated that degree of turbulence 
which marked the former sessions. Pray let me hear from 
you often. Farewell. 

Your friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, November 22, 1791. 

DEAR FRIEND, In some of my reading, I have met 
with a sentiment to this effect : the happy are very apt to 
forget those who are not so. To apply it, you are married. 
You enjoy the social chat. You live with those whom you 
love and esteem, and who have the like sentiments towards 
you. I, forlorn wight, am the fellow-lodger of the five North 
Carolinians. I am a banished man, and my old friends will 
not cheer my exile with a letter of condolence. . . . 

I have made a trip to Bethlehem, fifty-eight miles from 
hence. I saw as many ugly women and girls, with close 
caps, a little puffed at the ears, as you could well imagine 



LETTERS. 101 

together; possibly two hundred. They seem to be a hu 
mane, well-regulated little community. I may give you 
some further account of them on some future occasion. 
Morse s Geography is said to contain a just description of 
their tenets and social economy. At one George Vogel s 
tavern, on the road, I noticed a piece of taste, which you 
may imitate, if you should think proper. He was once a 
tailor in this place : becoming bankrupt, he keeps tavern, 
thirty miles out. There was hung up, glazed, framed, and 
gilt, his commission as ensign in the fourth company of the 
fourth battalion of foot of the Philadelphia militia. But it 
seems merit is sure of its reward ; for, turning to the other 
side of the room, another picture announced that Mr. Vogel 
was become a lieutenant in the same company. I paid my 
reckoning with due respect for my landlord. I knew the 
merit of one of my friends, 1 and the influence of his wife at 
the Governor s, so well, that I should not despair of his be 
ing able to cover his walls with his glory. It would be 
bearing his honors thick about him. Having done with Mr. 
Vogel, I have consumed the time I had to write, and con 
clude, in the style of our country. Yours to serve. 

Respectful compliments to your (better) half. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

Philadelphia, November 30, 1791. 

DEAR MINOT, The inclosed epistle, having grown into 
an immoderate length, is submitted to your discretion, after 
perusal, to be read in whole or in part to the club, or 
single members of it, according to your idea of expediency. 
Gore, towards whom I have no reserves, may, if you choose, 
read the whole. The actual state and the true cause of 
southern discontent are better known at Boston than the 

1 Mr. Dwight was an officer in the Massachusetts militia. 



102 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

degree of jt. Congress and the British Parliament are 
viewed alike, and equally foreign to them, equally false and 
hostile to liberty, tyrannical and rapacious, taxing one thing 
after another, and going on narrowing their rights and en 
joyments, till air only will be free. 

You will think me hypochondriac. I own I sometimes 
lose my spirits when fresh evidence is given of the truth of 
what I have written. All that may happen may fail ; and 
even at the worst, the mischief might be repelled by force, 
or soothed by prudence. That is another affair. I write 
what I believe. There is, indeed, no counting the numbers 
of the discontented, for in such cases the satisfied are silent, 
and are not counted. Making all these statements and re 
serves, you will not mistake the impression under which I 
write. 

Your conjecture in regard to the bench is curious ; but I 
was not unprepared for it. 

My respects, &c., to Mrs. Minot, and friends Freeman, 
Dexter, &c. 

Your friend, &c. 



The following is the "inclosed" referred to in the above letter. 

Philadelphia, November 30, 1791. 

DEAR SIR, I am solicitous to keep alive the remem 
brance of me with my friends. Congress is so little minded 
in the transaction of the business of this session, that I 
must not confide in my drawing their attention, as a spoke 
in the political wheel. Therefore, I will make continual 
claim to your notice, whenever I begin to apprehend being 
forgotten, to such a degree as to overcome my lazy habits, 
and the difficulty arising from the dearth of matter. 

The spirit of debate bears no proportion to the objects of 
debate. It may be a question with moral observers, which 
most inflames the zeal of members, the magnitude of the 
consequences which a measure will produce, or the sensi 
bility to the contradiction of their opinions. I decide nothing 
on this delicate subject. But in fact several debates have 



LETTERS. 103 

arisen, like thundergusts in a pleasant day, when no Mr. 
Weatherwise would have guessed it. The ratio of repre 
sentation seemed to me, beforehand, as pacific a question as 
any public assembly ever slumbered over. But though the 
difference of opinion was narrowed within the limits of one 
to thirty or thirty-four thousand, yet eloquence, so long 
weary of rest, seemed to rejoice in the opportunity of 
stretching its limbs. We heard, and no doubt, if you had 
patience, you have read, about republicanism, and aristocracy, 
and corruption, and the sense of the people, and the amend 
ments, and indeed so much good stuff, that I almost wonder 
it did not hold out longer. We have disputed about a mode 
of trying the disputed election of Generals Wayne and Jack 
son. To be serious, my friend, the great objects of the 
session are yet untouched; but the House, especially the 
new members, have been very often engaged in the petite 
guerre. 

Instead of facts, I will notice to you, that the remark so 
often made on the difference of opinion between the mem 
bers from the two ends of the continent, appears to me 
not only true, but founded on causes which are equally 
unpleasant and lasting. To the northward, we see how 
necessary it is to defend property by steady laws. Shays 
confirmed our habits and opinions. The men of sense and 
property, even a little above the multitude, wish to keep the 
government in force enough to govern. We have trade, 
money, credit, and industry, which is at once cause and 
effect of the others. 

At the southward, a few gentlemen govern ; the law is 
their coat of mail ; it keeps off the weapons of the foreign 
ers, their creditors, and at the same time it governs the 
multitude, secures negroes, &c., which is of double use to 
them. It is both government and anarchy, and in each case 
is better than any possible change, especially in favor of an 
exterior (or federal) government of any strength; for that 
would be losing the property, the usufruct of a government, 
by the State, which is light to bear and convenient to 
manage. Therefore, and for other causes, the men of 
weight in the four southern States (Charleston city except- 
ed) were more generally antis, and are now far more turbu- 



104. WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

lent than they are with us. Many were federal among them 
at first, because they needed some remedy to evils which 
they saw and felt, but mistook, in their view of it, the 
remedy. A debt-compelling government is no remedy to 
men who have lands and negroes, and debts and luxury, 
but neither trade nor credit, nor cash, nor the habits of in 
dustry, or of submission to a rigid execution of law. My 
friend, you will agree with me, that, ultimately, the same 
system of strict law, which has done wonders for us, would 
promote their advantage. But that relief is speculative and 
remote. Enormous debts required something better and 
I speedier. I am told that, to this day, no British debt is 
".recovered in North Carolina. This, however, I can scarcely 
^/credit, though I had strong evidence of its truth. You will 
agree that our immediate wants were different we to en 
force, they to relax, law. The effects of these causes on 
opinions have been considerable, as you will suppose. Va 
rious circumstances, some merely casual, have multiplied 
them. 

Patrick Henry, and some others of eminent talents, and 
influence, have continued antis, and have assiduously nursed 
the embryos of faction, which the adoption of the Constitution 
did not destroy. It soon gave popularity to the antis with a 
grumbling multitude. It made two parties. 

Most of the measures of Congress have been opposed by 
the southern members. I speak not merely of their members, 
but their gentlemen, &c., at home. As men, they are mostly 
enlightened, clever fellows. I speak of the tendency of things, 
upon their politics, not their morals. This has sharpened 
discontent at home. The funding system, they say, is in 
favor of the moneyed interest oppressive to the land ; that 
is, favorable to us, hard on them. They pay tribute, they 
say, and the middle and eastern people, holders of seven 
eighths of the debt, receive it. And here is the burden of 
the song, almost all the little that they had and which cost 
them twenty shillings for supplies or services, has been 
bought up, at a low rate, and now they pay more tax 
towards the interest than they received for the paper. This 
tribute, they say, is aggravating, for all the reasons before 
given ; they add, had the State debts not been assumed 



LETTERS. 105 

they would have wiped it off among themselves very speedily 
and easily. Being assumed, it has become a great debt ; and 
now an excise, that abhorrence of free States, must pay it. 
This they have never adopted in their States. The States of 
Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia are large territories. 
Being strong, and expecting by increase to be stronger, the 
government of Congress over them seems mortifying to their 
State pride. The pride of the strong is not soothed by 
yielding to a stronger. How much there is, and how much 
more can be made of all these themes of grief and anger, by 
men who are inclined and qualified to make the most of 
them, need not be pointed out to a man, who has seen so 
much, and written so well, upon the principles which disturb 
and endanger government. 

I confess I have recited these causes rather more at length 
than I had intended. But you are an observer, and I hope 
will be a writer of our history. The picture I have drawn, 
though just, is not noticed. Public happiness is in our power 
as a nation. Tranquillity has smoothed the surface. But 
(what I have said of southern parties is so true that I may 
affirm) faction glows within like a coal-pit. The President 
lives is a southern man, is venerated as a demi-god, he is 
chosen by unanimous vote, &c., &c. Change the key and 
You can fill up the blank. But, while 
he lives, a steady prudent system by Congress may guard 
against the danger. Peace will enrich our southern friends. 
Good laws will establish more industry and economy. The 
peculiar causes of discontent will have lost their force with 
time. Yet, circumstanced as they are, I think other subjects 
of uneasiness will be found. For it is impossible to adminis- I 
ter the government according to their ideas. We must have 
a revenue ; of course an excise. The debt must be kept 
sacred ; the rights of property must be held inviolate. We 
must, to be safe, have some regular force, and an efficient 
militia. All these, except the last, and that, except in a form 
not worth having, are obnoxious to them. I have not noticed 
what they call their republicanism, because having observed 
what their situation is, you will see what their theory must 
be, in seeing what it is drawn from. I have not exhausted, 
but I quit this part of the subject. In fine, those three States 
are circumstanced not unlike our State in 1786. 



106 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

I think these deductions flow from the premises : That the 
strength as well as hopes of the union reside with the middle 
and eastern States. That our good men must watch and 
pray on all proper occasions for the preservation of federal 
measures, and principles. That so far from being in a con 
dition to swallow up the State governments, Congress cannot 
be presumed to possess too much force to preserve its con 
stitutional authority, whenever the crisis, to which these 
discontents are hastening, shall have brought its power to 
the test. And, above all, that, in the supposed crisis, the 
State partisans, who seem to wish to clip the wings of the 
union, would be not the least zealous to support the union. 
For, zealous as they may be to extend the power of the 
General Court of Massachusetts, they would not wish to be 
controlled by that of Virginia. I will not tire you with 
more speculation ; but I will confess my belief that if, now, 
a vote was to be taken, Shall the Constitution be adopted, 
and the people of Virginia, and the other more southern 
States, (the city of Charleston excepted,) should answer in 
stantly, according to their present feelings and opinions, it 
would be in the negative. 

These are dangers which our Massachusetts parties pro 
bably do not know, and have not weighed, and I shall hope 
that if they should be brought to view them in as alarming 
forms as it is an even chance they will, we shall have there 
but one sentiment. We ought to have but one. My paper 
is out, so farewell. 

Your affectionate friend, &c. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



Philadelphia, December 9, 1791. Friday evening. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, The mail for the eastward will not 
go hence till Tuesday next. I write by a private hand as 
far as New York. There my letter will take the mail 
for you. 



LETTERS. 

I would not delay till the regular post day, to inform you 
of the disaster to our army at the westward. The authority, 
though not official, being indisputable, I proceed to tell you, 
that General St. Clair, being with (fame says) twelve or 
fourteen hundred men about ninety miles from Fort Wash 
ington, was surrounded by the Indians, drew up in a hollow 
square, the cannon and baggage in the centre, and was 
attacked by a greatly superior force of Indians. It was not 
a surprise, for the men lay under arms all night. The attack 
was made at four in the morning, with unexampled fury. 
The militia broke ; the cannon were taken ; the General was 
surrounded, and rescued by a party of the regulars with 
fixed bayonets. The cannon were retaken, but were not of 
use, all the artillerymen being killed. At nine in the morn 
ing, our men broke, and were pursued five miles ; fled thirty 
miles to a little new fort, called Jefferson, where, it is said, a 
garrison and the wounded are since invested. It is reported 
that General St. Clair has reached Fort Washington ; but 
Fort Jefferson, and the first regiment, said not to have been 
with the main body, are in danger, perhaps lost. Ken 
tucky was up in arms to save the remnant. St. Clair 
behaved well, and, though defeated, is not reproached. 

On reading the account of killed, &c., you will lament the 
names you will see on the list. 

Killed General Butler, Colonel Oldham, Majors Brown, 
Hart, Clark, Ferguson ; Captains Bradford, Upton, Smith, 
Newman, Phelan, Kirkwood, Price, and three others ; Lieu 
tenants Winslow, Warren, Spear, and eight others ; Ensigns 
Bentley, Cobb, Balch, Brooks, and five others ; three Quar 
termasters. 

Wounded Colonel Gibson, cannot live ; Colonel Darke, 
Major Butler, cannot live ; thirteen Captains, among them 
Greaton, of Roxbury, and six hundred privates. 

The news probably comes at its worst, but the truth is 
doubtless bad enough. Farewell. 

Yours, &c. 



108 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

Philadelphia, December 23, 1791. 

DEAR FRIEND, Though my former letters have ex 
pressed indifference to the debate on the ratio of representa 
tives, yet at last the violent injustice of the bill became so 
manifest, as to overcome all my moderation. Representatives 
and taxes are to be apportioned among the several States, 
according to their respective numbers. Giving representa 
tives to the States not according to their numbers, is no 
apportionment, but a flagrant wrong, and against the words 
and principles of the Constitution. 

This was done by the bill. The whole number of repre 
sentatives being one hundred and twelve, an apportionment 
of these to Virginia, according to her numbers, would give 
that State nineteen members. Yet the bill gave her twenty- 
one. What did we Yankees do but mount the high horse, 
and scold in heroics against the disfranchisement of the other 
States ] The Senate amended the bill from thirty to thirty- 
two thousand for a member, which latter produces a more 
equal apportionment. The House disagreed, the Senate 
insisted, and finally both houses adhered, and so the bill died, 
and I am glad of it. We have to begin again. 

Major Thomas Pinckney, of South Carolina, a man of 
excellent character, is nominated Minister at the Court of 
London ; Gouverneur Morris at the Court of France ; Mr. 
Short at the Hague. 

Will you do me the favor to send me, by the first post, one 
of your histories of the rebellion. It is not to be had here. 
I want it for young Mr. Thornton, the secretary to the 
English Minister, a worthy young man, to whom I have 
spoken about you and your book. He wishes to see it. 

I am, dear friend, affectionately yours, Sec. 



LETTERS. 



109 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, January 13, 1792. 

DEAR FRIEND, 

I believe that the war will be pursued against the Indians ; 
that the public will be made to see that the charges of violence 
and oppression on the part of the United States, the disturb 
ance of the Indian possession of their lands, and a hundred 
others, are Canterbury tales. Little of the cause, the history, 
the object, or the prospect of this confounded war have been 
known abroad. Those who knew nothing, wished to know, 
and of course believed, a good deal. A good deal has been 
offered them to believe. The foes of government have seized 
the occasion, a lucky one for them. The foes of the Secretary 
at War ] have not been idle. Even the views of the western 
people, whose defence has been undertaken by government, 
have been unfriendly to the Secretary at War, and to the popu 
larity of the government. They wish to be hired as volun 
teers, at two thirds of a dollar a day, to fight the Indians. 
They would drain the Treasury. They are averse to regu 
lars. Besides, it looks not only like taking the war out of 
the hands of the back settlers, but so many troops there will 
look as if government could not be resisted, and the excise 
perhaps would be less trifled with. All these, and many other 
causes, have swelled the clamor against the war. A strong post 
at the Miami village would protect a long frontier, and curb 
the Indians, by placing an enemy behind them, when they 
attack the settlements. This attempt has been twice made 
without success. The late season, the grass having failed, 
so that the horses wanted fodder, the bad discipline of the 
troops, and the extra number of the Indians beyond what 
was expected, seem to be the causes of the disaster. A 
greater force, better disciplined, at an earlier season of the 
year, with a due proportion of horse and riflemen, could not 
fail of taking a strong post. That being effected, parties 
could be fed and rested at the post, would then be safe, and 

1 General Knox. 
VOL. I. 10 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

could rush out suddenly, and keep the Indians always in 
alarm and in danger. We should exactly change conditions. 
So much for war. You will not (freely) speak of what 
I write. 

Before this time, the AnaJcim is a judge, or a martyr to 
his chagrin. 

Though I have blotted a sheet of paper, I am in a hurry. 
Therefore I conclude. 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, January 23, 1792. 

MY FRIEND, 

The business of Congress is not unimportant. Yet our 
progress in despatching it affords no good omens. A popular 
assembly is good to deliberate, and so good at that as to 
exclude every other occupation. I fear that we shall only 
deliberate and not act. I do not believe that the hatred of 
the Jacobites towards the house of Hanover was ever more 
deadly than that which is borne by many of the partisans of 
State power towards the government of the United States. 
I wish I could see in Congress a spirit to watch arid to oppose 
their designs ; but we are surrounded by men who affect to 
think it a duty, and who really think it popular, to take part 
with those who would weaken and impede the government. 
The hour of victory is dangerous. The federalists have 
triumphed ; they have laid their own passions asleep ; 
they have roused those of their adversaries. I do not like 
our affairs. You will think me a croaker. Be it so. I 
see how much power this government needs, and yet how 
little is given ; how much is done and contrived against it ; 
how much it ought to do, and yet how little it does, or is 
disposed, or capable, to do ; how few, how sleepy, how 
obnoxious its friends are, and how alert its foes. An im 
mense mass of sour matter is fermenting at the southward. 



LETTERS. 

Every State government is a county convention. My pen 
needs mending ; that gives me time to break off this endless 
theme. 

The mad bank schemes of New York produce ill effects. 
Sober people are justly scared and disgusted to see the wild 
castle-builders at work. It gives an handle to attack the 
government. 

What will you say of a new recruiting service, to fight 
the Indians ] How will your wise ones approve it ? You 
who watch for government among the people, should throw a 
few soothing paragraphs into the papers. 

In future, I think government will move with strength and 
caution, so that the Indians shall be bridled effectually. 
Compliments to your cara sposa. That is Latin for honey. 
Regards to other friends. 

Yours, affectionately. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, January 30, 1792. 

DEAR FRIEND, 

After a day s, or rather part of a day s, open debate 
on the bill for augmenting the military establishment to 
five thousand two hundred and sixty-eight men, the doors 
were shut to read some papers, intrusted to the House 
by the President, and have not since been opened to 
discuss that subject. As the papers sent from the Pre 
sident were expressly in confidence, it was improper to open 
the doors at all, though perhaps the impression on the 
public would not be worse for their being possessed of the 
pro and con of the argument. I am convinced that the 
war is a misfortune to the government, and attended with 
a loss of cash and glory, and of the popular good humor. 
Still, I insist that government may plead not guilty to every 
article of the newspaper charges against it. General Knox, 
by the President s direction, has caused a memorial stating 
the causes of the war to be published, which you will see. 



112 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

Some think that the Constitution is to be administered, as 
writs were formerly put to the test, by captious pleas of abate 
ment. They say Congress has not authority to allow a 
bounty to the cod-fishery, nor to the encouragement of manu 
factures. This is the Virginia style. It is chiefly aimed at 
the report of the Secretary of the Treasury on the subject of 
manufactures. 

Respects and compliments to friends. 

Your friend, &c. 







TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

Philadelphia, February 16, 1792. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Accept the congratulations of a 
friend on your appointment to the Probaty. 1 You will not need 
many words to convince you that I rejoice in an event, which 
seems to secure you a good, though not an ample, provision. 
I hope you will pursue your literary labors. Your own 
fame, and that of our country, demand it. 

An attentive observation of the events which fate is pre 
paring for us, is one of the duties of an historian as well as 
of a citizen. You may see them in the embryo. I cannot be 
lieve that we are out of the woods. Success is poison to 
party zeal. The friends of the United* States government 
have applied themselves to spending their six per cents. 
The opposers are industrious, watchful, united. On every 
side, it seems to me, theory denotes that we are going 
retrograde. Instead of making a government strong enough 
to dare to be firm and honest, we seem to be afraid 
that it is too strong, and needs unbracing and letting down. 
The States are advised to oppose Congress. Consolidation 
is a bugbear which scares not only those who are in the dark, 
as might be expected, but those in the broad daylight. Facts 
refute this pretence of a progressive encroachment on the 
State powers. Even in Congress, the States seem to bear a 

1 Mr. Minot was about this time appointed Judge of Probate for the 
county of Suffolk. 



LETTERS. 

major vote. No act has gone beyond federal limits many 
important ones have stopped far short. The States, on the 
other hand, keep up an almost incessant siege ; there is 
scarcely an article which some of them have not co-legislated 
upon. With such means of carrying their sense and nonsense 
home to the great body of the people, it is not only easy to 
beat Congress, but it is hard for them not to beat, unless the 
men of sense, generally, see the anarchy to which they would 
carry us, and, in consequence, assume their proper station of 
champions for good order. Faction in this government will 
always seek reenfor cements from State factions-, and these 
will try, by planting their men here, to make this a State 
government. I could be personal, if I chose it, on this affair. 
There is some fear in the respect for government ; and that 
fear will become hatred on some occasions, and contempt on 
others. The government is too far off to gain the affections 
of the people. What we want is not the change of forms. 
We have paper enough blotted with theories of govern 
ment. The habits of thinking are to be reformed. Instead 
of feeling as a Nation, a State is our country. We look with 
indifference, often with hatred, fear, and aversion, to the 
other States. 

If you have leisure, let me hear from you. Will any 
thing be done for the college. I wish a portion, say ten 
per cent, on the sale of wild lands, was reserved for them. 
I consider our club as ordained and set apart once a-week 
for any good thing which tends to promote learning. 

My respectful compliments to Mrs. Minot. Remember me 
to other friends 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



Philadelphia, February 23, 1792. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Mr. Sedgwick is returned in good 
spirits, after having talked a Dutch jury into a verdict, clear- 
10* 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

ing Hogeboom s murderers. . . . The evidence, 
I learn, was pretty strong- ; but vox populi, that is, the verdict 

a jury, is truth ; fiat just itia. 

I hear that the plan for the defence of the frontiers is 
likely to pass in the Senate. This I approve. To protect 
all is the duty of a government ; and, under so many circum 
stances as furnish the frontier men a pretext to say the 
government is for the exclusive benefit of the middle and 
eastern States, it will soothe the terrified and angry spirits. 

The Secretary of State is struck out of the bill for the 
future Presidency, in case of the two first offices becoming 
vacant. His friends seemed to think it important to hold 
him up as King of the Romans. The firmness of the Senate 
kept him out. 

We have broached the militia bill, and I hope and believe 
shall pass one, doubtless a feeble, bad thing ; but a beginning 
must be made, and improvements will follow. 

Yesterday was the birthday. It was celebrated in a man 
ner that must please the big man. 

The post-office, I learn, often fails of the passage of news 
papers. I inclose one. 

I believe the further assumption will prevail. 

Your friend. 




TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

Philadelphia, March 8, 1792. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Congress moves slowly, too slowly. 
The spirit of debate is a vice that grows by indulgence. 
It is a sort of captiousness that delights in nothing but con 
tradiction. Add to this, we have near twenty antis, dragons 
watching the tree of liberty, and who consider every strong 
measure, and almost every ordinary one, as an attempt to 
rob the tree of its fair fruit. We hear, incessantly, from the 
old foes of the Constitution, " this is unconstitutional, and 
that is ;" and indeed, what is not ] I scarce know a point 
which has not produced this cry, not excepting a motion for 



LETTERS H5 

adjourning. If the Constitution is what they affect to think 
it, their former opposition to such a nonentity was improper. 
I wish they would administer it a little more in conformity 
to their first creed. The men who would hinder all that is 
done, and almost all that ought to be done, hang heavy on 
the debates. The fishery bill was unconstitutional ; it is 
unconstitutional to receive plans of finance from the Secre 
tary ; to give bounties ; to make the militia worth having ; 
order is unconstitutional ; credit is tenfold worse. 

Do not despair as to your new office. I cannot doubt 
that it will do well. I thank you for your and Mrs. Minot s 
attentions to Miss W. 

I am compelled to say, in this place, instead of putting off 
a sheet farther, as I could have wished, that I am truly, your 
friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, March 8, 1792. 

MY DEAR SIR, 

I have just resigned my place as a director of the bank, 
finding that my time in Congress occupies me too much, 
even to appear to discharge the former trust. I accepted it 
with reluctance at first, and then took occasion to declare 
my intention to resign, as soon as the branches should be 
formed. 

Congress has been slow in motion, too slow. A multi 
tude is capable of preventing action, but not of acting. The 
practice of crying out " this is unconstitutional," is a vice that 
has grown inveterate by indulgence, and those cry out most 
frequently who were opposed to its adoption. If they were 
more disposed to execute it according to their objections, the 
friends of union and order would have less cause to complain 
of delay, as well as of the hazard in which every good 
measure is kept hanging, as it were, with a rope round its 
neck, during its passage. 



116 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



DEAR SIR, 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, April 19, 1792. 



The ways and means bill has passed the committee of the 
whole House, and is before the House. It makes an increase 
of the impost duty, which, in certain points of view, is dis 
agreeable. 

There is some burden on the merchant, and it seems to 
strain too much on one string. Smuggling is the natural 
consequence of excessive duties on imports, but the good 
habits of the officers and the importers, and the checks and 
guards of the law, I hope may be relied on, in a good 
measure, to prevent it. 

The increase of duties on rival foreign manufactures 
cannot fail to raise our own. Iron is among the protected 
articles, and rated, I think, at ten per cent. The effect of the 
protecting duties will certainly be seen throughout the coun 
try, and in a few years our own fabrics will be carried on 
successfully. Opposition is made to the new duties being 
made permanent, and I have some fears that the act will be 
limited to a few years, say three. 

The sun begins to blister one almost. What a charming 
thing to pass the dogdays here. I am not at liberty to quit 
the field at this period of the session, but I am feverish with 
impatience. 

Yours, sincerely. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, April 25, 1792. 



DEAR FRIEND, 

The assumption is in danger of being finally lost, and as 



LETTERS. 

not a man of the antis will stir, and S .... is gone, and 
others of our side going, from the House, the difficulty is almost 
insuperable. Messrs. Strong and Langdon are gone from 
the Senate ; still, however, I have considerable hopes of suc 
cess, and no efforts will be spared to obtain it. We agree, 
and the Senate concur, to adjourn on the 5th May, which we 
shall not much exceed, to meet on the first Monday of 
November. 

The Indians took leave of the President, and made 
speeches this day, and are going for home to-morrow. Joy 
go with them. They have been daily drunk. 

(The decision of the Judges, on the validity of our pension 
law, is generally censured as indiscreet and erroneous. At 
best, our business is up hill, and with the aid of our law I 
courts the authority of Congress is barely adequate to keep 
the machine moving ; but when they condemn the law as 
invalid, they embolden the States and their courts to make 
many claims of power, which otherwise they would not have 
thought ofTj. 

We shall amend the excise law, pass a poor law for the 
militia, and a bill to call them out to repel invasions, and to 
suppress insurrections and rebellions, and a few others of a 
like nature, before we rise. The bill respecting the public 
debt is yet before the House, and how many long speeches 
Messrs. Giles and Mercer have in them, is not to be known 
till the time of painful experience. 

It is a long time since I had a letter. I will not com 
plain, for that is a bad habit at best, and in a letter not to be 
indulged. I begin to fear, that, having long forborne, you 
now calculate on the rising of Congress, so as to miss your 
mark. 

Present me to friends, particularly to Mrs. D. 

Your affectionate friend. 



118 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

Philadelphia, May 3, 1792. 

DEAR FRIEND, We shall not finish business on Satur 
day, and therefore I take it for certain we shall not adjourn 
on that day ; but the members have made up their mouths 
for home, and nothing will stop them many days longer. 
I fancy we shall adjourn without fail in the course of next 
week. 

I am tired of the session. Attending Congress is very 
like going to school. Every day renews the round of yes 
terday ; and if I stay a day or two after the adjournment, I 
shall be apt to go to Congress from habit, as some old horses 
are said to go to the meeting-house on Sunday without a 
rider, by force of their long habit of going on that day. The 
session will end more efficiently than I feared. A number of 
useful laws have passed ; much remains unfinished, though 
in a state of preparation, which will facilitate the work at a 
future day. The assumption is yet unaccomplished, but not 

quite despaired of. If S &c., had not skulked 

off and left us, I think we could carry it. 

The wishes of the people and the policy of the government 
appear to me to coincide, in respect to hastening the extinc 
tion, or at least the progressive diminution, of the public 
debt. This important desideratum would have been suffi 
ciently within reach, if this most unwelcome Indian war had 
not absorbed the means. While the government is reproached 
with it as a crime, every friend of it will see that it is a mis 
fortune, which prudence cannot now avoid, and surely, even 
folly could not have chosen it, as a good thing per se. No 
measures will be neglected to finish it speedily ; for the Pre 
sident, I am persuaded, is anxious to do so. But though the 
diminution of the debt may be retarded by this means, it will 
not be prevented. I am in no doubt of the Secretary s 
earnest desire to advance this work as fast as possible. 

Causes, which I have in a former letter explained to you, 
have generated a regular, well-disciplined opposition party, 
whose leaders cry liberty, but mean, as all party leaders 



LETTERS. lig 

do, power, who will write and talk and caress weak and 
vain men, till they displace their rivals. The poor Vice will 
be baited before the election. All the arts of intrigue will be 
practised but more of this when we meet. 

My usual desire to see Boston and so many esteemed friends 
as I have there, is increased by the talk of improvements a 
new bridge and all the world in a bustle at the west end of 
the town the town streets lighted, &c., &c. 

Please to present my regards to our club friends. 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Boston, June 16, 1792. 

DEAR FRIEND, I cannot become a Benedict till the 
House is ready, and my landlord, Mr. Ivers, though a good 
man, is so little quickened by my impatience, that everything 
is granted loathly, often retracted, and to be regranted by 
dint of importunity and persecution on my part, and then 
put in train of execution as soon as he cannot help it. 
I have been kept on the trot incessantly, and finally, I hope 
to get the outside of my habitation painted, the two parlors 
brushed up, that is, new painted, the kitchen whitewashed or 
colored, the paper replaced on the rooms where it is loose, 
and the entry papered, and a woodhouse built. The house 
is pleasant. 1 You will perceive, by the preceding observa 
tions, that there are two parlors and a kitchen, two good 
chambers, and a small place over the entry for a small bed, 
a large and decent kitchen chamber, a pleasant and very good 

1 In a previous letter, he describes the house in these words : " It is on the 
hill next to Governor Bowdoin s. It will be painted and put in decent 
repair, and, as I think it sound philosophy to make the mind bend to the occa 
sion, I already say it is well that I could not obtain another house, for this is 
commodious, at least decent, and, in point of prospect, &c., superior to most 
situations in the town." 

The house has long since ceased to exist, and the very hill that it stood 
upon has been dug away. 



120 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

upper chamber, and several upper apartments for a servant, 
a good cellar and two acres of ground, badly fenced, and Mr. 
Ivers is very loath to fence it at all. In this state of things, 
you will see I am not in a condition to indulge my wishes, 
by going to housekeeping within two or three weeks, if so 
soon, yet I shall have a man and maid in the house, and shall 
sleep there myself very soon. 

Your friend, &c., in haste. 

The house of the late Governor Hutchinson, near the old 
North Square, I hear, is to be had. But although that is 
the place for a public man to make influence, I cannot think 
of the north end. 1 The house is a noble one, however. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Boston, October 4, 1792. Thursday. 

DEAR FRIEND, I embrace the opportunity afforded by 
the return of Mr. J. Dwight s two pretty boys, to write you, 
not because I have any thing interesting to inform you of, but 
the missing a direct opportunity seems not unlike passing by 
you in the street without speaking, which is a thing I should 
not do. 

The smallpox has desolated many families in this town. 
Charles Bulfinch has lost two children, and two others, 
brought by a favorite nurse from the country, are also dead. 
The doctors say, they lose next to none, but every night the 
silent mourners steal obscurely, without tolling of bells, to 
the grave. I have no doubt that the malignity of the disease 
exceeds any thing known in this town since the art of inocu 
lating has been successfully practised. It is said one in fifty 
dies ; in 1777 it was only one in about two hundred. 

1 The reasons why the north end was not to be thought of in 1792, were 
not precisely the same as would occur to the mind in 1854. It was then the 
most fashionable, and of course the most expensive, part of the town. 



LETTERS. 

I suspect that much is yet to be learned in regard to the 
proper method of treatment ; rather, #//, for the improve 
ment of skill consists in having unlearned certain murderous 
errors in heating the patient. 1 

To-morrow fortnight we begin our southern journey. 
Instead of locking up the house, we must quit it for good. 
Doctor Joy is going to sell it ; price one thousand pounds. 
He has been civil enough ; but as buying is out of the ques 
tion for me, I am not sorry to save six months dead rent till 
next spring. You, my friend, live in your own house, and 
no landlord can tell you to walk out of doors. Man is born 
to trouble, you see. This event is unexpected, and will oblige 
me to look out for a place of rest against my return. 

France is madder than Bedlam, and will be ruined, if hos 
tile force and friendly folly can effect it. 

Electioneering goes on sleepily here. My name is omitted 
in the Monday and Thursday papers, but I expect to see it 
in those papers very soon with a vengeance. 

I find Sedgwick is coming here. I wish to see him, but 
I sincerely regret that his lawsuit compels him. 

Regards to friends, especially your cara sposa. 

Yours, truly. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, November 12, 1792. 

DEAR FRIEND, Frances has been busy writing to So 
phia, and will have informed her, as a matter of course, how 
she likes Philadelphia, her lodgings, &c. Our journey was 
uncommonly favorable as to the great points of good com 
pany, good weather, and good carriages. Our daily journey 
was easy, the houses better than those resorted to by the 

1 In a previous letter (September 16, 1792) he says, " This town is an 
hospital. The gowns which men, women, and children, black and white, have 
put on, look queerly, especially in the cold easterly weather. By way of 
precaution against the smallpox, they expose themselves to the cold> in a 
manner that would impair the health of the most robust. 

VOL. I. 11 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

stage. The great business of visiting by cards is begun with 
spirit. Frances makes more progress in her department, 
than I am making in Congress. For we seem to move 
slowly, as we are used to do. The speech from the President 
will have reached you. It says, the dogs shall not bark 
against the excise the House in reply say, amen. I think 
the excise will at last be gulped down the throats, even of 
the wild woodmen. Our politics present some interesting 
points. The excise will be a great revenue, if duly collected, 
and hasten the extinction of the debt very fast. The Indians 
are yet hostile. The tribes near the Wabash have made 
peace with General Putnam, (a good beginning,) and I hope 
the others will, after some time, listen to terms. The south 
ern Indians are turbulent and threaten trouble. Spain is 
thought to interest herself improperly in their affairs. Her 
meddling would be a misfortune and make trouble. The sky 
is not clear in that quarter. 

I expect to see parties as violent as ever. The debts of 
the States will not be received without a struggle. But, as 
it is said the accounts are nearly closed, I hope something 
may be done to the relief of our State ; perhaps it might be 
carried to open a loan for such amounts as shall be found 
due to the States. This would answer our purpose in Mas 
sachusetts. Let me hear from you, your spouse, M., and 
other connections, to whom give my love. Yours, truly. 

I am ignorant of the event of the elections. Notwith 
standing, I have slept as well as can be expected in this 
situation. Let me hear from you. 

The an Us have joined to set up Clinton against John 
Adams. They seem to wish he may have the singular 
chance to mar two Constitutions. 1 I hope Vermont will not 
join that party. The men of the south are well trained for 
Clinton, says fame. 

i The writer considered him as holding the office of Governor of New 
York, in violation of the Constitution of that State. At the election in April, 
1792, John Jay received a clear majority of the votes, but by the simple ex 
pedient of putting into the fire the certified returns from three counties, the 
canvassers arrived at a way to declare Clinton elected. See Life of John 
Jay, by his son, (1833,) vol. i. chapter 8. 



LETTERS. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

Philadelphia, November 19, 1792. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, The last post brought me no letters 
from Boston. I suppose my friends do not consider me as 
being yet in the harness. Congress seems not to begin the 
campaign with any spirit. The speech of the President is 
so federal that I should hope it would have some effect to 
repress the factious, levelling spirit which has plagued us 
heretofore. But it would be a weakness to suppose that we 
shall not find the opposition revived, as soon as any import 
ant measure shall stir the wrathful souls of our fault-finders. 
The poor Vice will be hard run. The Virginians have ex 
erted all their force to combine the south, and discontented 
men in the middle States, and in New York, against him, 
and in favor of Clinton. I trust New England will rouse, 
and give Mr. Adams a firm and zealous support. Is it not 
strange that a man, unblemished in life, sincere in his politics, 
firm in giving and maintaining his opinions, and devoted to 
the Constitution, should be attacked, to place Mr. Clinton in 
the chair, who would have trusted the issue to arms, and 
prevented New York from adopting it, who has kept an anti 
party alive there by his influence, and holds his governorship 
by a breach of the State Constitution I 

From the account of the votes, published in the Centinel, 
I think I shall be turned to grass. I have been stall-fed here 
for a long time, and I have not any repugnance to trying my 
luck at the bar. This you know is the cant of all men who 
say the grapes are sour, when they cannot get at them. My 
partner joins with me in offering compliments to Mrs. Minot. 

Dear friend, I am yours, truly. 

For certain reasons I wish you would get from Russell 
the Centinel which has in it the piece on the moral influence 
of preaching, and send me by post. If not too troublesome, 
send with it a paper which contains a speculation, written 
to show that the New England States are not declining in 
their republicanism, as it has been pretended in a newspaper 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



in this city. The equal distribution of estates, their schools, 
and town corporations, are insisted on as proofs of their spirit 
of equality. Both the Centinels alluded to appeared about 
October, or the latter end of September. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, December 5, 1792. 

DEAR FRIEND, Sedgwick has, unfortunately, in a fit 
of spleen, actually written to Sam Fowler a virtual renun 
ciation of his pretensions as a candidate in the next race for 
Congress. It is unworthy his fame, his sense, his duty, as 
an enlisted federal man, to shrink from the shadow of oppo 
sition. When his firmness was tried by its substance, it 
triumphed. Shall he lose, by want of temper, the ground he 
held by his fortitude I He must not be lost. He must be 
put forward at the head of the column in the next Congress, 
when the host of the south will come to trample down the 
labors of the two first Congresses. If Sam Fowler be his 
friend, and not incited to use the letter to his own views, 
will he not suppress it ? I am sure Mr. S. would not, 
on reflection, write such another. I submit the matter to 
your reflections. It is very important that all the Massa 
chusetts force should be kept good, and in case he should 
withdraw, it will make a twofold loss. 1 

The Commissioners for settling accounts of the United 
States with the individual States, inform us, by a letter, that 
they will be able to finish the business by July next, the term 
of their commission; that the State debts may be funded 
till March, which of course keeps the accounts open, and 
produces some delay. The attempt will be made to provide 



1 In a subsequent letter, after mentioning some domestic reasons that might 
require Mr. Sedgwick s retirement from Congress, he says : " I lament, as a 
heavy public misfortune, the probable loss of his services at Congress. We 
are not strong enough to lose a single man, still less such an Ajax as Sedg 
wick. Our demoniacs would play France if they could." 



LETTERS. 

that, as soon as the balances due to any States shall be 
known, loans shall be opened for the State notes to the 
amount. This provisional assumption of what may be found 
due to creditor States, will no doubt effect our purpose, or at 
least substantially, in Massachusetts. I suppose we are cre 
ditors of the United States, and I fear a more simple and 
direct assumption could not be carried. 

The Indians at the south are said to be turbulent, and 
to threaten a general war. It has been said that they were 
pacified, but new appearances indicate very hostile dispo 
sitions. This would be horrible. There is no pretext even 
of complaint against the United States, as far as I have 
heard ; probably the Indians are elated by the successes 
against St. Clair, and incited by Spanish arts, who evidently 
consider the Creeks as a barrier against the growing strength 
of the United States. The hostile Indians of the north-west 
are supposed to be rather more pacific than they were ; but 
our Indian affairs, on the whole, are gloomy. Money spent 
in that way is worse than lost, and yet protection is not to 
be denied. 

The Vice is here. He looks as if his election was unde 
cided. The event is past conjecture. It would be a shame 
to oust him for that anti, Clinton. 

Farewell. Yours, truly. 

My salutations to friends. Since writing the first page, I 
hear that the returns might be received till this day. There 
fore it is very possible Sedgwick may be chosen. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



Philadelphia, December 31, 1792. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I thank you for your epistolary 
favors. I know you are extremely busy, and I declare by 

11* 



126 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

these presents, that I release my claim for answers, except 
as you may conveniently find leisure. 

You reason very prudently on the conduct to be observed 
in regard to declining as a candidate. To refuse what is not 
in a very manifest train to be proposed, is not pleasant, and 
I have my fears that antifederal candidates will, by intrigue, 
exclude good men. It is important to have all the Massa 
chusetts members true blue. W. Lyman is not of that 
description, and I hope no effort will be omitted to exclude 
him. 

Frances is her own secretary. I find the length of the 
session is less obnoxious to my feelings than it was in my 
solitary bachelor state. I shall take it for certain that my 
mate will, from time to time, inform you of all that is worth 
your knowing. My scribbling will therefore be the shorter. 
Congress is very lazy ; never more so. Two months only 
remain, and the sinking fund and assumption are yet to be 
acted upon. As we manage our time, I think we shall never 
get out of employment. The next session will be the pitched 
battle of parties. I am habitually a zealot in politics. It is, 
I fancy, constitutional, and so the cure desperate. I burn 
and freeze, am lethargic, raving, sanguine and despondent, 
as often as the wind shifts. On the whole, as men are gov 
erned more by feeling than reasoning, more by prejudice than 
even by their interests, I dare not confide in the stability of 
our politics. Time encourages hope, as every day adds the 
force of habit to federalism. Besides, the rising generation 
are all federal. 

Accept the commission of representing me at Col. Ws., 
as their and your faithful friend, &c. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



Philadelphia, January, 1793. 

DEAR FRIEND, I read with concern your account of 
the divided state of the federal interest in your district. 



LETTERS. 

Virginia moves in a solid column, and the discipline of the 
party is as severe as the Prussian. Deserters are not spared. 
Madison is become a desperate party leader, and I am not 
sure of his stopping at any ordinary point of extremity. We 
are fighting for the assumption of the balances, which shall 
be declared due the creditor States. He opposes, vi et armis. 
The spirit of the opposition, the nature and terms of the ob 
jections, all equally indicate a fixed purpose to prevent the 
payment of any thing called debts. If the balances were 
dSctefed to-day, the objections against providing for them 
are ready broached. We hear it said, let us first see how 
we like what the commissioners decide ; let us see whether 
it will be proper to ratify their doings ; let the debtor States 
pay the creditor States, &c., &c. Should our assumption 
fail, should the provision for the balances fail in the next 
Congress, or should the commissioners cut off our just dues, 
so as to raise suspicions of jockeying, what a ferment there 
will be in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and 
South Carolina ; and the rage of these States will be turned 
on the government, which has pledged its faith to pay them, 
not on the party that causes the breach. Thus by hostility 
they will gain allies, and make the well-affected disaffected. 

I write in confidence, for part of my remarks are of a 
delicate nature. You will say, I croak and am hypped. Be 
it so. I shall be happy to find that the grounds of my ap 
prehensions of trouble exist only in the fumes of my brain. 

Yours, truly. 



TO* THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, February 6, 1793. 



MY DEAR SIR, 

On Monday the Senate negatived our assumption bill, 
seventeen to eleven. . . . There is no hope of doing 
any thing for the State debts this session, nor will the fac- 



WORKS OF FISHER MIES. 



tion from the south ever agree to provide for the balances. 
Thus we lose a valuable object now, and hereafter we may 
expect wars and rumors of wars. This will be a do-little 
session. What we fall short in work, we make up in talk. 

Yours, truly. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

Philadelphia, February 20, 1793. 

MY DEAR SIR, The session of Congress has not been 
very efficient. The acknowledged object of the opposition 
is to prevent any important business being done. They pre 
tend that the new House will be more equally representative. 
The negroes will then be represented ; our oxen not. Quere, 
whether more equal then than now. However, I am far from 
being disposed to urge any objection to the negro computa 
tion of the Constitution. It may at least be used, inter nos, 
to repel the plea of existing inequality. The calls on the 
Secretary of the Treasury, the pretexts against the purchases 
of the public debt on terms to hold up the credit of the 
United States, (a declared object of the law,) the proceedings 
of the committee on the subject of St. Clair s failure, all the 
party do and all they say, and the manifestoes of their Na 
tional Gazette, 1 indicate a spirit of faction, which must soon 
come to a crisis. I do not hesitate to declare my belief, that 
it is not intended by the leaders to stop at any temperate 
limit. They set out sour, suspicious, and with an ambition 
that places in the government might soothe. But, in the 
progress of things, they have, like toads, sucked poison from 
the earth. They thirst for vengeance. The Secretary of the 
Treasury is one whom they would immolate ; Knox another. 
The President is not to be spared. His popularity is a fund 
of strength to that cause which they would destroy. He is 
therefore rudely and incessantly attacked. Every exertion is 

1 Freneau s Gazette, a paper usually considered as Mr. Jefferson s organ. 



LETTERS. 



making, through their Gazette, to make the people as furious 
as they are themselves. My friends will say I am too ready 
to think ill of their views. I appeal from them to the 
Gazette, which they do not read in Boston, and I further 
appeal. . . . [The residue of this letter is unfortunately 
lost.] 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Boston, August, 1793. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

The town is less frenchified than it was. Citizen Genet 
is out of credit ; his rudeness is as indiscreet as it is extra 
ordinary, and everybody is provoked with him. I like the 
horizon better than I did ; there are less clouds. I do hope 
and trust we shall keep at peace. As to faction, we must 
expect to sleep, if we can, \vhile the ship is rolling, for no 
calms, except those which are portentous of storms, are to be 
expected. We may be safe ; we must not hope to be quiet. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, September 16, 1793. 1 

I have just begun to display my taste as a gardener, and 
would wish to make Frances own that I am worthy to be 
your rival in that line. I cannot expect any other person 
will be partial enough to yield to such a bold pretension, and 
she would do it least of any one, if she did not meddle so 

1 He removed from Boston to Dedham in the spring or summer of 1793. 



130 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

much in it as to take part of the praise, the greatest part. 
I have cut an alley through, which is partly bordered with 
trees, and shall be completely so. I intend to lay off the 
ground into regular beds, and, in a word, to make a very 
productive kitchen-garden, which shall contain all that is 
good to eat, and a small part of what is pretty to look upon. 
I begin to feel some spirit in the undertaking, though con 
scious of a want of taste and industry. Yet even the lazy 
will work for a hobby-horse. I begin to count the weeks 
which are left of the recess. I look forward with very un 
pleasant anticipations to that period, on political and domestic 
accounts. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

Philadelphia, December 6, 1793. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I arrived here on the third day of 
the sitting of Congress, not without a portion of the hypo, 
on entering this city. I felt emotions not unlike those which 
a field of battle would inspire after the action. I expected 
to find the people in mourning, and almost in ruin, and I 
seemed to be at the threshold of a prison just closing upon 
me. The malignancy of the fever which showed its devas 
tations, and that of politics which threatens them, raised up 
some bugbears. I soon found, however, that the greater 
part of this gloom proceeded from my own conjuration. The 
citizens seem to be busy and cheerful, and already the deep 
traces of the most formidable curse that ever visited any of 
our towns, are more than half worn out. It is not so much 
as allowed for an instant, that there can be any ground of 
apprehension of infection. Yet I am well assured a Mrs. 
has died here of it within six days. It is never 
theless hardily denied that she is dead, or that she has been 
sick at all. It was a vile thing, however, to bury her, for in 
fact they have done it, dead or alive. One is said to have 



LETTERS. 

shown signs of life, by the violent crowding his body into a 
small coffin. Another beat his coffin open. Both (says fame) 
are alive, and well. If danger has not absconded, fear has, 
such is the difference between looking upon danger approach 
ing and retiring. I shall not neglect such precautions as 
prudence may point out, but I do not apprehend much hazard. 
I trust some to the non-susceptibility of a Yankee, and more 
to the disinfecting quality of the winter air. The history of 
the distemper is, and I fear will remain, very obscure. 
Many facts are lost ; and faction among the doctors, and 
grief and terror among the citizens, have distorted those 
which are to be collected. So that if the fever should come 
again, I think the doctors would not starve it. It has been 
disputed whether it was imported or bred here ; whether con 
tagious or not ; whether curable by tonics, or calomel and 
bleeding ; whether the frost and rain put a stop to its ra 
vages ; in short, every thing that ought to be called fact, is 
disputed, and all that should be modestly confessed to be 
ignorance, is affirmed. For a long time the disease was local 
to Water street ; afterwards round every sick person the 
infection spread in a circle. It is even said that some dis 
tricts were not visited by it at all. Gould, the barber, is dead. 
It is said he took it by watching with the sick. Another is 
said to have stumbled in the dark over a coffin, which being 
burst, was put down and left to get a hammer. In a day 
or two he fell sick and died. Almost every person infected 
could, say they, trace the infection to a sick or dead person. 
Perhaps it was imported, but the susceptibility of the citizens 
might arise from the state of the air, and from the extreme 
agitation of the mind. The country was unsusceptible, ex 
cept in a few instances, which are also contested, as every 
thing relating to the fever seems to be. Rush pronounced 
calomel and bleeding the cure-alls ; provided he was called 
in season, he declared he cured ninety-nine out of an hundred. 
The proviso destroys the assertion. All vouch success. None 
had it. Like Sangrado s patients, they died for want of 
bleeding and warm water enough. I honor the zeal and 
heroism of the doctors, but heaven preserve me from being 
the subject of their noble exertions. I had rather trust na 
ture. She would do better contending with one enemy than 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

with two. A Doctor Ross, who has lived in Turkey, (says 
fame,) treated it as the plague ; his patients all died. He 
adopted Rush s mode ; all died. Being alarmed and afflicted, 
he maturely formed a plan digested from the two others ; all 
died. The frost came the distemper disappeared. This I 
believe is the most true history. Not one, so far as I can 
learn, (except Colonel Hamilton) who had the decided malig 
nant symptoms, survived. Colonel Hamilton was saved by 
Doctor Stevens s cold bath, and bark. The method being 
expensive, requiring many attendants, and condemned by the 
Rushites, was not put to any further test. The distemper 
was doubtless the most mortal ever known ; not less deadly 
than animal poisons. Indeed antidotes are now found against 
them. 

The spirit of the President will show you how affairs are. 
He sent us the correspondence with Genet, and a message 
rather tart. The House echo the speech. The new mem 
bers look good-natured. Our horizon looks calm, but who 
can trust the weather. I hope for the best. Our State has, 
as Mr. B. Russell said, I know not on what authority, a 
balance of more than twelve hundred thousand dollars. The 
Congress House has been enlarged, commodiously I think. 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, January 17,1 794. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I cannot complete the imperfect 
information of my last, concerning Genet. Whether he is, 
or is not, recalled, is not known. His letter, denying that 
he has caused troops to be raised on our territory, and avow 
ing that he has given out commissions to engage persons to 
fight for France, who are willing to expatriate themselves, is 
sent us by the President. It is a strange mixture of evasion 
and impudence ; persons willing to fight for France become 
Frenchmen, and have a right to go armed, where they may 



LETTERS. 

choose. It is really an avowal of the charge, under the 
cover of a flimsy excuse. His outrages, for which his masters 
doubtless gave him authority, ought to provoke indignation. 

There is no winter here, which is not friendly to health, 
say those who dread yellow fevers, nor to business in New 
England. Our regulation of commerce is yet in debate. 
It is all French that is spoken in support of the measure. 
I like the Yankee dialect better. Speak of me to your good 
mother. 

Yours, truly. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Philadelphia, January 28, 1794. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, The debate on the war regulations 
(for so they ought to be named) is yet open. 1 Never was a 
completer defeat than the restricting party have met with, as 
far as argument goes. But party has resources after those 
of reasoning are exhausted. The ground is avowedly changed. 
Madison & Co. now avow that the political wrongs are the 
wrongs to be cured by commercial restrictions, which, in 
plain English is, we set out with a tale of restrictions and 
injuries on our commerce, that has been refuted solidly; 
pressed for a pretext, we avow that we will make war, not 
for our commerce, but with it ; not to make our commerce 
better, but to make it nothing, in order to reach the tender 
sides of our enemy, which are not to be wounded in any 
other way. You and I have long believed this to be the 
real motive ; I own I did not expect to hear it confessed. It 
was, I still think, ill-judged to do it ; but the case was urgent, 
and silence shameful. Our trading folks should be unde 
ceived, if facts, which speak for themselves, and which have 
at last made faction itself speak truth, can restore them the use 
of their faculties. All Massachusetts will vote against the re- 

1 Mr. Madison s resolutions, introduced January 3, 1794. See introduction 
to " speech on Mr. Madison s resolutions." < 
VOL. I. 12 



134* WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

solutions, (at least so we are persuaded) ; probably all New 
England, Smith, of Vermont, excepted ; but the south is well 
disciplined. Lee, of Virginia, made a very catholic speech 
against his colleagues. The event of the first vote is rather 
doubtful, yet we think the chance in our favor. I have, 
however, no idea that this folly will pass into a law. It an 
swers the usual wish of the faction to prevent doing any 
good. 

You mention your opinion that Dearborn is fond of atten 
tions, and inflated with his own importance. I know little of 
the man, but I had a prepossession in his favor. I have 
supposed that he came here, as new members sometimes do, 
persuaded that the old ones go too far, and that a middle 
course is more eligible ; however this may be, I have no 
great fears of any eventual misapplication of the force of 
Massachusetts. It is, with Connecticut, the lifeguard of the 
Constitution. If this is vanity, excuse it. I mean no com 
pliment to myself further than being federal is one. I have 
been delivered, safely, of a speech, which I am glad to have 
off my hands. It contained answers to several of your in 
quiries, heretofore suggested in your letters. Dexter made 
a speech much better than mine, which has fixed his reputa 
tion in the House very properly ; he will be a good fellow, 
and prop the cause of good government like a little Atlas. 

There has lately been a call from the Senate on the Presi 
dent, to lay before them the correspondence between Gouver- 
neur Morris and the French Republic. This, if published, 
might disclose our minister s sentiments, and perhaps expose 
his head. Whether the President will send the correspond 
ence or not, is yet to be seen ; I hope not, for these fellows 
claim a share in diplomatic business, which is intended to 
unpresident the chief magistrate. The spirit of mischief is 
as active as the element of fire, and as destructive. I continue 
to hear good intelligence from Springfield. Speak of me to 
Mrs. Gore. 

Yours, &c. 



LETTERS. 135 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Philadelphia, February 25, 1794. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I miss you, because I wish to sit 
down and croak with a friend. I have more fears of war 
than I had when you left us. The newspapers indicate a 
storm. The seizure of our vessels, carrying French West 
India produce, is said to be going on, under the pretext of 
some old edict. If this should be pushed by the English, it 
is driving us to the wall. There is no appearance of an 
intention to give up the posts ; and the pressing of that 
point was, I think, both unwise and ill-timed on our part. 
These circumstances, which ought to double our caution, will 
probably inflame our rashness. What ought to be a dissua 
sive, will, I fear, prove an incentive. The resolutions will, 
no doubt, be reinvigorated by the show of Boston support. 
I think they will not be carried ; but the irritation against 
England has gained upon the sentiment of the House, and, 
to speak truth, the causes for it are more manifest. John Bull, 
proud of his strength, angry with our partiality to France, 
ardent in his contest, and straining every sinew, shows less 
patience and respect for us than he ought to do. He shows 
no spirit of condescension in respect to the posts, and in the 
line of navigation and trade, the principle of the seizures, 
before mentioned, shows a spirit of rivalry that is provoking 
enough. We have not, however, any authentic notice of the 
adoption of such a principle. 

On the whole, I do not believe that Great Britain intends 
to force us into a war ; but she intends to make our neutrality 
unpleasant to our feelings and unprofitable to our navigation, 
&c. ; and in doing this, she probably cares little whether it 
is war or peace. Our gallicism hurts her pride, and she is~, 
heated enough to punish all the friends of her foes. You 
will not think so meanly of me as to suppose that I am 
gloomy on account of your town-meeting. I feel no loath- 
ness to engage in measures that will draw more resentment 
upon my head, if by doing so I can add any new security to 
our peace. I found my apprehensions on some facts respecting 



136 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

their stubbornness on the affair of the posts, and also on 
premises of a still more decisive kind, before alluded to, 
which God grant may prove untrue. Learned Trumbull and 
others have been croaking with me, which is some consola 
tion. However the crisis of our politics may issue, the line 
of duty is plain. Peace, peace, to the last day that it can be 
maintained ; and war, when it must come, should be thrown 
upon our faction, as their act and deed. In the mean time, 
good men should be alert ; they should see the urgency of 
circumstances, and be ready to impress caution upon the rash 
and factious, and to rouse the activity of the sleepy patriots. 
The resolutions can only aggravate the danger, and diminish 
our preparation against it. Our policy should be precisely 
the reverse ; to dispel the danger, if possible, and at the same 
moment to prepare the means of defence against it. To arm, 
to fortify, to train militia corps, and above all, to furnish pe 
cuniary resources now in peace ; to do as much of this, and 
to continue it as long as possible, and let foreign nations 
waste their strength and their fury. Thus we might hope, 
by delay, to gain as they lose strength ; besides which, we 
should take the chance of events, which may, and I flatter 
myself will, after all, save us from the destructive evil that 
threatens our nation. 

What I have written is strictly of a confidential nature. 
It may also appear, at a future day, to be a symptom of the 
dumps. Be that as it may, I write under the impressions of 
the moment, which others feel as strongly as I express them. 
I beg you would let Craigie see the inclosed, in confidence. 
Our friends Eustis and J. C. Jones ought to know, in like 
manner, that they are keepers of the peace. I see no objec 
tion to their knowing the contents. 1 

Yours, as ever. 

1 Our relations with Great Britain had become extremely critical. The 
military frontier posts, within the jurisdiction of the United States, which 
were to have been given up by the terms of the treaty of peace, continued to 
be occupied by British garrisons. No compensation had been made for the 
negroes carried away at the close of the war. In addition to these old causes 
of irritation, the fury of the great contest in Europe caused our rights as 
neutrals to be brought into constant question, and American vessels and pro 
perty were continually captured by British cruisers, and condemned, under 
certain recent orders in Council, of a most unreasonable and exceptionable 
character. The never-failing question of the right of impressment was also 



LETTERS. 137 

TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Philadelphia, March 5, 1794. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

It is needless to remark how acceptable and how well- 
timed the second Boston town-meeting was. The languid 
resolutions 1 receive a death wound in consequence. They 
were postponed by the party for one week. The war party 
will be kept in check for a time. We have no further news 
from Kentucky. I fancy we should be able to carry a vote 
disavowing them, and for suppressing their banditti by force, 
which I trust would prevent a war with Spain. 2 Gallatin 
is turned out of the Senate. 3 I heard King make there 
one of the most admirable speeches that ever was pro 
nounced. It was both solid and rhetorical. John Langdon 
would probably serve the people as Vice-President. The 
hope of that may gain the party a vote for the time. Of 
all petulant, imprudent men, the English minister 4 is the 
most so. I believe he has sense and good principles ; but 
he rails against the conduct of our government, not ore ro- 
tundo, but with a gabble that his feelings render doubly 
unintelligible. Mr. Pinkney is evidently sour, and also gal- 
lican. Here the man is void of moderation and prudence. 
The cross-fire of their accounts is enough to raise a quarrel. 
Our man has the most coolness, undoubtedly. But it is 
lamentable that the true history of events should be given 

fruitful of difficulties, and our vessels were searched and men taken from them 
as British subjects, with all the insolence which is apt to accompany supe 
riority of physical force. In short, Great Britain was " driving us to the 
wall," in a manner which, if not speedily redressed, would have compelled us 
to resort to the sword. 

1 Mr. Madison s resolutions, offered in the House January 3, 1794. 

2 The western country was in a state of excitement on account of the re 
fusal by Spain of the free navigation of the Mississippi. Among the machi 
nations imputed to " Citizen " Genet, was a project for a military expedition 
from Kentucky against New Orleans. 

3 His seat was contested and declared vacant, on the ground that he had 
not been, for nine years previous to his election, a citizen of the United 
States. 

4 Mr. Hammond. 

12* 



138 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

by men under such prejudices. Messrs. J. Coles and T. 
Dickinson would do well to state some sound and whole 
some truths through some channel that would reach Mr. 
Pitt. Had such a man as Lord Dorchester been sent here, 
their foolish insolence, and our no less foolish prejudices, 
would not have had existence at this day; the true in 
terests of both would be now understood and pursued. 
Neither is just or cool enough at present to do it. On 
looking over the page, I see that I use too strong expres 
sions respecting Mr. Pinkney; he is a sober, calm man, 
and will not irritate ; but he has prejudices, and unless a 
man has a mind above them, he can do little service there. 

It is reported that William Smith and your humble servant 
have been burned in effigy in Charleston, South Carolina. 
The fire, you know, is pleasant, when it is not too near ; 
and I am willing to have it believed, that, as I come out 
of the fire undiminished in weight, I am now all gold. I 
laugh, as you will suppose, at the silly rage of the burners. 

We have this moment adopted a resolution to lay a gene 
ral embargo, by a great majority. 1 Whether this will be 
agreed to by the Senate, is more than I can guess. Should 
objection be made there, I think it will be to its being 
general. My own impressions are, that the supposed re 
medy should go no farther than the present state of the 
evil, namely, to the West India trade. 

The language of the House is rather intemperate. We 
call the British our enemies. I would do what is firm, and 
say what is not harsh. Harsh phrases, used here, can only 
obstruct our demand for justice. 

Our materials for war are but poor ; speech-making pub 
lic bodies are no warriors. 

1 A joint resolution was passed (March 26) laying an embargo for thirty 
days ; afterwards extended for thirty days longer. 

About a month after, and after Mr. Jay s appointment as special minister 
to Great Britain, a bill for the suspension of all intercourse with that nation 
passed the House, but failed in the Senate by the casting vote of the Vice- 
President. By that good deed, Mr. Adams brought upon himself much 
obloquy ; but there was ample indemnity in the conviction that he thereby 
prevented the failure of Mr. Jay s negotiation, and saved us from a war. at 
least until 1812. 



LETTERS. 139 

It is to be decided to-day whether the Senate will agree 
to our embargo. Much may be said against it; yet it is 
left to chance to decide its usefulness. Our vote was so 
general, that I think the Senate will agree to an embargo 
on the West India trade, at least, which I thought would 
be going far enough. Yours. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Philadelphia, March 26, 1794. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I take more and more pride in 
the comparison of our merchants and people with those of 
the south. You praise the former, very justly, for their 
coolness and steadiness. It is a time when the indulgence 
of passion is peculiarly pleasant, and no less costly ; for it 
will perhaps cost our peace, our wealth, and our safety. 
It is our intemperate passion that aggravates our embar 
rassments. Some persons think it had no little influence to 
produce them. I would not justify the insolence and in 
justice of the English : they are not to be justified ; but 
our fury for the French, and against the English, is more 
natural than salutary. France has stopped more than an 
hundred sail of our vessels at Bordeaux. We sit still ; we 
say nothing ; we affect to depend on their justice ; we make 
excuses. England stops our vessels with a provoking inso 
lence ; we are in a rage. This marked discrimination is 
not merited by the French. They may rob us ; they may, 
as it is probable they will, cut off Tom Paine s head, vote 
out the Trinity, kill their priests, rob the merchants, and 
burn their Bibles ; we stand ready to approve all they do, 
and to approve more than they can do. This French mania 
is the bane of our politics, the mortal poison that makes our 
peace so sickly. It is incurable by any other remedy than 
time. I wish we may be able to bear the malady till 
the remedy shall overcome it. The English are absolutely 
madmen. Order in this country is endangered by their 



14,0 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

hostility, no less than by the French friendship. They act, 
on almost every point, against their interests and their real 
wishes. I hope and believe such extreme absurdity of con 
duct will be exposed with success. Should a special minis 
ter be sent from this country to demand reparation, much 
will depend on his character and address. Who but Hamil 
ton would perfectly satisfy all our wishes ? This idea, a 
very crude and unwarranted one to suggest, should be 
locked up in your bosom. I know not that such a thing 
will happen ; I incline to wish it may. He is ipse agmen, 
Should it be carried into effect, the English merchants ought 
to rouse their London friends, and to exert their pen and 
ink powers, to explain the true situation of things in this 
country. In a word, I think you ought to help the two 
gentlemen mentioned in your letter to state the political mis 
chiefs worked here by the Jacobin system the English pur 
sue ; that they Frenchify us ; they do every thing they 
should not do ; that they ought to raise their policy from 
the ground, where it now grovels, to the height from whence 
the statesman can see clearly and very far. I am full of a 
book on this subject. I wish I could make John Bull read 
it ; such ideas, fully dilated, repeated, pressed, and diffused, 
would aid the extra messenger, and would help the cause 
of peace. 

If John Bull is a blockhead, and puts himself on his 
pride to maintain what he has done, and should refuse repa 
ration, it will, I think, be war. 

In that case, I dread anarchy more than great guns. To 
guard against it, let us be careful how we form our plan of 
warfare. I consider two dangers as peculiarly attached to 
a state of war : the stoppage, disturbance, and diversion of 
industry from the productive to the destructive course ; 
and the acrimony and delirium of popular passions by the 
efforts and disasters -of the operations of war. Therefore, 
forbear all land expeditions, invasions of Canada, &c. Keep 
a force to repel and baffle invasions ; thus the most pos 
sible will be produced, the least possible expended. Strain 
the revenue as much as prudence will warrant ; support 
credit, and do every thing by the National Government, 
nothing by the States ; and let individuals privateer. The 



LETTERS. 144 

whole energy of the war will he drawn off into the cold 
water; and while it acts there with the more effect, for not 
having our force occupied in any other way, it will not gene 
rate much fury at home. Thus it is, I hope, possible we 
may avoid anarchy, and prevent the extreme impoverish 
ment of the country. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Philadelphia, May 2, 1794. 

MY DEAR SIR, It seems to be well known to the 
public, that Sedgwick has affronted me, and that I have a 
proper sense of it. Conformably, therefore, to the expecta 
tion of my constituents a rule for my whole conduct I 
have challenged him, and the fellow will not fight me. 
What can I do, therefore 1 I am glad he will not. 

To be serious, it is a strange fancy people have, to cut 
me out fighting work. Sedgwick s dispute, if it existed, 
was that which he so much enjoyed giving an account of at 
Breck s. 

Yesterday, we had a squabble about a tax on the trans 
fers of funded stock, and it was carried. Dexter took a 
wrong course. This distresses Hamilton exceedingly, and 
well it may ; for, to begin to tax the public debt, when we 
are afraid to tax snuff, is a bad omen. I think the tax 
proposed is five cents on a hundred dollars transferred. I 
used my endeavors to show that a free transfer was a part 
of the terms ; that a tax on the transfer was virtually levied 
on the possession, by diminishing the value, which is no 
more than the article will net on the sale; that a right, 
claimed and exercised, to draw back ad libitum^ annihilates 
the debt, which exists in confidence ; that the moral person 
who contracted will never become the legislator over the 
contract; and that, by doing so, instead of contributing a 
part for a common protection, the creditor loses all his pro 
perty the exaction of a part being annihilation to the 
residue. All which are familiar arguments to you. 

But I took occasion to notice the falsity of the pamphlets, 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

newspapers, and speeches, which say that paper influence 
moves Congress ; for that, in truth, the Massachusetts mem 
bers do not draw income enough merely from funded stock 
to buy the oats for the southern members coach-horses. 
I had taken occasion to say that no one of the Massachusetts 
men keeps a coach, or is able to do it. 

If any thing can justify this exculpatory speech, which, 
however, did not say a word about myself separately, it is 
the public utility of it, to arrest the activity of calumny 
against the government. 

To notice these scoundrel handbills, &c., is humbling. 
To say nothing, when facts are so much on one s side, is 
more proud than wise. 

The combat against excises on tobacco turned favorably. 
Madison spouted against excise, and in favor of land tax, 
hoping to prevent any thing, or to get only that voted which 
would raise enemies to the government. Taylor, of Vir 
ginia, says to King " You are strange fellows : Formerly, 
you did what you chose with a small majority ; now, 
we have a great majority, and can do nothing. You have 
baffled every one of our plans." 

I wish he may prove a prophet. The resistance to wild 
projects has risen in its spirit and style, as hope declined. 
We have banged them as hard as we could, and they have 
been tamer than formerly. 

Taylor said, also, that, though a minority, we had carried 
and were carrying all our measures, frigates, taxes, negotia 
tion, &c. 

We shall, I hope and earnestly pray, adjourn in three 
weeks. A bill prohibiting the sale of French prizes, passed 
by the Senate, lies before us. The irritation against Eng 
land is yet strong, which keeps it back. Should it not pass, 
it will afford some pretext to urge against Mr. Jay in Eng 
land. The embargo will not be continued again. So say 
most persons. I always thought it a measure of weakness ; 
but of the many proposed, it was the least to be disapproved. 
Nothing would have been better still. 

Yours, &c. 

Dexter is a jewel of a fellow. He holds a bold language, 
and awes the Smileys and Gileses. 



LETTERS. 14,3 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, May 6, 1794. 

DEAR FRIEND, I should suffer a fever of the hypo, as 
severe as the fever and ague, if I could persuade myself 
Congress would sit here till midsummer. But I think we 
shall adjourn in three weeks. The heat, weariness, a desire 
to disperse our mischief-makers, conspire to wind up the 
session. 

It has been unusually painful and hazardous to peace and 
good order. My hopes are, however, that we shall escape 
the threatened danger, which will coincide with the interests 
and wishes of the people, and the sense of a majority of 
Congress. Such are the wishes of a majority of Congress, 
although a number have been duped into a support of mea 
sures tending to a war. The desperadoes desire war; 
and I think they would get the upper hand to manage a 
war. Whatever kindles popular passions into fury, gives 
strength to that faction. What fine topics for calumny 
would not a war furnish ? A moderate or honest man 
could be stigmatized, mobbed, declared a suspected person, 
guillotined, and his property might be taken for public pur 
poses. France might see her bloody exploits rivalled by her 
pupil, emulous of her glory. 

War, without anarchy, is bad enough ; but would it not 
also bring the extreme of confusion ? 

Federal men come from the northward to Congress with 
an opinion that government is as strong as thunder, and 
that by coaxing and going half way with certain southern 
members, they might be won. Both these opinions yield 
very soon to the evidence of their senses. They see govern 
ment a puny thing, held up by great exertions and greater 
good luck, and assailed by a faction, who feel an inextin 
guishable animosity against any debt-compelling govern 
ment, and whose importance sinks as that of equal laws 
rises. 

Yesterday, the senators from Virginia moved for leave to 
bring in a bill to suspend that part of the treaty with Great 



144. WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

Britain which relates to debts. Thus, murder, at last, is 
out. Norfolk and Baltimore perform heroic exploits in the 
tar and feathers line. Here, they only dismantled, by force, 
a schooner, which five British officers, prisoners on parole, 
had got leave to go to England in, having chartered her. 
These are violences worthy of Mohawks. Compared with 
New England, the multitude in these towns are but half 
civilized. 

Will our Yankees like a war the better for being mobbed 
into it, and because, also, the south will not pay the British 
debts ? Our people have paid; and will they pay, in the 
form of war, for their southern brethren ! I do not know 
that passion is ever to be reasoned down ; but other passions 
could be reasoned up to resist the prevailing one. I wish 
our newspapers were better rilled with paragraphs and essays 
to unmask our Catilines. 

A land tax is likely to be rejected, and the dislike to it 
will carry along indirect taxes. While war is an event to 
be provided against, the increase of revenue, by excise, is an 
important object. 

is as he was made. His foes will say, by way of 

reproach, and his friends, by way of vindication, he was 
born so. 

I am sorry for the failure of the dam, and am in hopes 
you will profit by the event to make it the stronger. Suc 
cess to you. 

Speak of me to friends as may suit the sentiments with 
which I am theirs and yours. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



Dedham, July, 3, 1794, 

MY DEAR FRIEND, The events which have occurred 
since we left Springfield have not deserved a place in the 
history of the Nation or the State. They are, nevertheless, 
worth relating to those whose kind concern for the actors 



LETTERS. 

confers importance upon trivial occurrences. After this 
formal prooemium, I proceed with my work, without in 
voking any muse. Frances sits by me, so much elated with 
the arrival of the long-expected new chaise, that a spark of 
her spirits will be inspiration sufficient. It was almost a 
shame to travel so fast as w r e did. Having taken a hack, 
to suit the delicacy of our travellers, we did not blush to 
reach Dedham on Saturday morning, unhurt by the violent 
shower which overtook us on Thursday. . . The cool 
ness of the weather, and the perfect convenience of our 
vehicle, diminished the fatigue, and we are all very well. 
On arriving, we consulted Dr. A. for John s cough ; but 
before it was convenient to administer medicine, he got well. 
This would happen to most patients, probably, if they would 
give nature fair play. Since his cold abated, the boy has 
been very wonderful. His improvement in the imitative 
arts is so great, that he shakes his head as his mother does. 
I hope this is not an ominous forwardness. 

The politics of Dedham are interesting. Be it known, to 
our friends at a distance, that the squash town is the capital 
of Norfolk. A court-house is ordered, by the worshipful 
sessions, (by a vote passed on Tuesday,) to be erected near 
my territory, according to a plan which Mr. Bulfinch is to 
be requested to draw. A jail is also to be built, which is a 
comfort to us. I do not perceive that our folks are much 
elated with their new dignity, so that if our squash vines 
should in future bear pineapples, they will be surprised. 
The Supreme Court is to sit here in August, and then we 
shall have lessons and examples of good manners. I deal 
much in little things ; and I confess I prefer them to the 
wrangling scenes of Congress, where meaner passions are 
often excited by meaner objects, and strut with a mock dig 
nity that would be farce, if it did not menace us with 
tragedy. I do not read the Chronicle. Abuse is unread, 
and I hope unregarded. I am willing to keep politics out 
of my head, lest they should craze me. It requires little 
more than self-command to prefer domestic happiness to the 
furious contests of party, where a man has only to choose 
between the reproaches of his own mind and those of bank 
rupts and knaves. If I were still a single man, I might dread 

VOL, i. 13 



146 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

more than I actually do the sentence of the public, stay at 
home. 

I shall go to-morrow to hear the oration, and to see the 
bustle of the Boston frolic. George Bliss will give you as 
good a preachment as any of the orators of the day. The 
season is a hopeful one. We have had fine showers. 

Yours affectionately. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

July 24, 1794. 


I am beginning to feel in earnest in building, and have 
lost all feeling to the Chronicle whip, till I see they have, in 
Monday s, alluded to Colonel W., the Hampshire tory of 
177^ Rascals, let him alone, and give me double beatings. 
His age, truly venerable by virtue and wisdom, ought not 
to be disturbed, because I stand in the way of others. I 
wish he may not notice the paragraph, for, stupid as it is, it 
might give him some pain. 

I know nothing of the state of parties further than that 
the bad are busy, and the good are, as usual, timid and in 
dolent. Calumny is despised, and yet it has an effect. The 
Chronicle is a noted liar, and yet scandal is a treat to many 
who despise the vehicle. . . . Yours, &c. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

August 8. Friday morning. 



DEAR FRIEND, 

The democratic club 1 met lately in Faneuil Hall. This is 

1 Among the forgotten follies of a past age, the attempt, in this country, to 
imitate the worst of all conceivable models, the Jacobin Club of Paris, was 



LETTERS. 

bold, and every thing really shows the fixed purpose of their 
leaders to go desperate lengths. It is a pleasant thing for 
the yeomanry to see their own government taken out of 
their hands, and themselves cipherized by a rabble formed 
into a club. Thus, Boston may play Paris, and rule the 
State. 

I live out of the vortex of politics, and keep my mind 
more unengaged than I expected I could. I bud my trees 
with zeal ; and as long as the Chronicle lets my plums and 
pears alone, I will not attempt to rescue my character. All 
that can injure, is not worth saving. 

Yours, &c. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Boston, September 3, 1794. 

DEAR FRIEND, I am, with Frances and the child, S., 
and Miss H., at Mrs. Phillips s; she is the mother of the 
Springfield tribe. F. and I and John have been to see 
Mr. Gore s palace, at Waltham. I do not expect to build a 
smarter one myself. But it will give you as warm a recep 
tion as any house can. I shall have a hall, and no entry 
through the house. To name it Springfield Hall is one step 
towards warming the house, and making it seem home-ish, 
before we get into it. If I cannot see my friends there, I 
would not wish to live there myself. F. goes in winter, as 
the swallows do, to a more genial climate, to wait till spring 
thaws the old nest. I have a wife and family during sum 
mer; but, as the birds do, I return in spring, and choose 
the same mate, and build again in the same nest. Do you 
lengthen your own family catalogue, as you do mine ? I 
have not thought of counting my children by the dozen ; 

one of the most remarkable. Some details of the theatrical extravagances 
of the American imitations are given in the " Life of John Jay," (by his 
son William Jay, New York, 1833.) Nothing but their mischievous and 
dangerous character saved them from measureless contempt. 



148 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

but I shall arrange my house to hold as large a family as I 
may be blessed with. Yet you will observe that houses of 
the smallest size are usually twice as full of children as 
palaces. Our little boy requires more than one attendant, 
although he is the quietest soul in the world. How half a 
dozen little ones are kept out of the fire and water at the 
same time, I cannot see. I am at last more at ease in 
respect to the choice of the plan for my house than I ex 
pected to be. It will be larger than my first views, yet for 
plainness and even cheapness, it will not go far beyond 
them. . . . 

I am concerned to hear of the sickness at New Haven. 
I hope it is not infectious, (I should say contagious.) If I 
should hear that character of the disease, I should have 
fears for Springfield. 

The club is despised here by men of right heads. But 
it is not safe to make light of your enemy. They poison 
every spring ; they whisper lies to every gale ; they are 
everywhere, always acting like Old Nick and his imps. 
Such foes are to be feared as well as despised. They wait 
in silence for occasions, and when they occur, out they come 
and carry their points. They will be as busy as Macbeth s 
witches at the election, and all agree the event is very doubt 
ful. On personal accounts, I cannot be called to hazard 
less ; perhaps by falling, to gain more ; for, besides peace 
and quietness, I should, by being out, pass for one who is 
persecuted for doing my duty. If I should be rechosen, 
the same eagerness to criminate me, and much less to coun 
teract it, might leave me on worse ground. The late crisis 
affords the best point of time to be off. Yet you are all well 
aware that a man cannot quit the party that will not quit 
him, without bringing reproach on his spirit and on his 
principles. By getting out, he becomes again a free agent. 
The Pittsburg rebellion cannot, I think, end badly for 
government, unless government flinches from its duty. It 
hastens faction to act, before it is ready for more than in 
trigue and plotting. Your papers should be kept right. 

Yours, ever. 



LETTERS. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, September 11, 1794. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, The expedient of a journey to 
Dedham, for the benefit of M. s health, appears to me judi 
cious. The charming air of September, so cooled and puri 
fied by showers as it has been of late, is a cure-all. We 
have no yellow fevers at Dedham. Laziness is my disease, 
and it has been too long neglected, I fear, to be cured. I 
have a string of affairs to talk about, with an exemplary 
diligence ; not one, however, is in train of execution. To 
dig a cellar, prepare materials for building, and to adjust 
contracts, are jobs for which I am as ill qualified by inexpe 
rience as indolence. Yet they will overwhelm me if neg 
lected, and my time is soon to be claimed for public duty. 
What immense sacrifices a patriot has to make ! and what 
a bustle the candidates make for the chance ! 

Of late, the Chronicle seems to droop, and the party is 
said to be crestfallen on account of Mr. Jay s good recep 
tion. The chance of peace is even now such, that it would 
have been rashness to have lost it by war measures. Yet 
the chance, though promising, may turn against us. In 
that case, the event will, as usual, govern opinions ; and the 
wise world will rail against the men of peace. Europe ex 
hibits a scene of confusion and misery, which is contrasted 
more strongly by the state of America than that of any 
other part of the world. Yet though we are bystanders, 
and ought to be impartial, the passions of probably a ma 
jority have taken sides. Should the war last another year, 
I have the most serious apprehensions that the excessive 
partiality of our citizens for one of the fighting parties, will 
be played upon to dupe the nation into the whirlpool. How 
can the war last another season \ how can it end ] I can 
answer neither of these queries. 

I wish to see you, to commune with you concerning 
politics and building your canal, and my fruit trees. The 
latter are pro tempore my hobby-horse. My knife, for in 
oculating, is daily in my hands. I hope, at some future day, 

13* 



150 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

to enjoy the pleasure of giving my Springfield friends a 
variety of the best fruit. The prospect is not, I trust, a 
very remote one, as many of my trees are thrifty. Simple 
pleasures of this class are so long in progress, that I con 
sider it proper to cultivate a taste which may not wear out 
faster than I do. I own, however, that I go on with too 
much ardor to expect to hold my wind to the end of the 
race. 

Our city 1 is soon to be adorned with a jail and court 
house, provided a committee of the sessions can be per 
suaded to hasten their snail s gallop. I think I have men 
tioned, in a former letter, that the honorable Supreme Court 
was to sit here in August. They did sit, and in tolerable 
good humor. Two days and a piece finished the business. 
The jurors could not but feel relief from the former burden 
of attending fifteen, sometimes thirty, days in Boston. I 
argued one cause, and thought I could be well satisfied to 
wear my law coat again, especially if the pockets should be 
properly lined ; and it will not be the fault of the democratic 
club, if I do not cast off my political coat. Such strong 
ground may be taken against those clubs, that it ought not 
to be delayed. They were born in sin, the impure offspring 
of Genet. They are the few against the many ; the sons of 
darkness (for their meetings are secret) against those of the 
light ; and above all, it is a town cabal, attempting to rule 
the country. Some Hampshire ink should be shed against 
them. They are rather waning here. Yet their extinction 
is more to be wished than expected ; and if they exist at all, 
it will be like a root of an extracted cancer, which will soon 
eat again and destroy. Any taint of that poison, left be 
hind, will reinfect the seemingly cured body ; therefore the 
knife should now be used to cut off the tubercles. I hate 
this metaphor, as I am unskilled in surgery. Plainly, then, 
I think it necessary they should be so written down, and 
utterly discredited, that they shall have less than no influ 
ence by making influence against their disgraceful cabal. 
Soon the pilgrims travelling towards Mecca, for their elec 
tion, will have to proceed on pease, boiled or unboiled, as 

1 Dedham. 



LETTERS. 

fortune may direct. The democratic clubs will not neglect 
to support the only two faithful of the Massachusetts mem 
bers. 

Our little John is the best boy in the world, says the 
critical review of his mother, which proves that the best are 
noisy things. , 

Your affectionate brother. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

Philadelphia, November 12, 1794. 

DEAR FRIEND, Report says that despatches are re 
ceived from Mr. Jay, containing the best information re 
specting the progress of his mission ; that although nothing 
is definitively settled, nothing meets with obstruction. The 
Secretary of State tells me that the British Government pro 
ceed fairly, candidly, and without affected delays. Young 
Bob Morris is arrived yesterday, and says a passenger (from 
London) is very confident despatches were actually sent to 
Lord Dorchester to give up the posts. This is not to be 
expected, in the progress of the business. I believe, how 
ever, that the prospect of peace brightens. Bob Morris 
left London the latter end of September. I write in haste, 
as the mail is near closing. The support of the wise and 
worthy, in my district, does me great honor, although I 
well know their support is given from higher motives than 
private or personal considerations. No quorum yet in the 
Senate. Yours, truly. 

Regards to friends in the club. 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Philadelphia, November 18, 1794. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

Sedgwick is come; and we have hopes of having anti- 
federalism weeded quite out of the Massachusetts corps, as 
the prospect of excluding Lyman and Dearborn is much 
relied on, as well as of the election of good men in the other 
districts. We know little of the state of facts at present, 
further than my district. Lyman looks woebegone. 

Dallas has returned from the army, sounding the praises 
of the Secretary. Strange ! But what is stranger, he has 
penned a paragraph in Brown s Gazette, of the same tenor. 
So say the conjurors. Is it to win character, by joining a 
prosperous cause, now that the Genet and anarchy side is 
weak and disgraceful I He is said to have fallen out with 
the Governor, whose daily libations have drowned his discre 
tion, and let him down in the opinion of the army. It 
proves D. s principles, and the preponderance of the good 
cause. 

To-morrow the speech is to be delivered in our House, as 
the Senate chamber is thought to be dangerous for the 
crowd to overload. Mr. Burr arrived, and made a quorum 
this day. Faction seems to languish. The storm was 
dreadful formerly ; now the calm is stupid. I hear of no 
bad schemes ; but there is no trust in appearances. 

You men of Boston deserve a good government, for you 
show you will support it. Here the supine good men let 
Swanwick 1 get a nominal majority, which will be contested. 
Never was more open influence, nor more corrupt, as his 
opposers say. 

It would gratify the well disposed in Boston to learn how 
generally and anxiously their exertions were regarded from 
hence, and from every other quarter. The great man cer 
tainly was not indifferent not because my personal weight 
was much, but the party battle was to prove that he had or 

1 Of Philadelphia. 



LETTERS. 153 

had not the support of that part, and, by its influence, of 
the other parts of the eastern States. His own system of 
negotiation was in trial. 

I lately saw Toby Lear, who is not cured of attachment 
to some errors. L. Lincoln is said to be wrong, also, in 
some leading principles a good and able man. It would 
be unfortunate he should go wrong, if chosen. 

The federal prospect is thought, by our friends, to be 
brightening daily; peace is more and more to be relied on. 

Yours, truly. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, November 29, 1794. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

I have not, at this sitting, leisure to write fully on the 
very interesting and singular debates of the week. 1 Fenno 
and the inclosed will give you the public history of the 
affair. The private history deserves to be known ; that 
the faction in the House fomented the discontents without; 
that the clubs are everywhere the echoes of the faction in 
Congress ; that the Speaker" 2 is a member of the democratic 
club, and gave the casting vote on adding certain words 
which spoiled the clause, being a member of the club. He 
voted, therefore, for his own exculpation. Madison and 

1 In the President s address to Congress, at the opening of the session, the 
leading topic was the then recent insurrection in Pennsylvania, usually known 
as the "whiskey rebellion." The manner in which he spoke of the demo 
cratic clubs led to a stormy debate in the House. Mr. Jefferson, in a letter 
to Madison, spoke of the President s denunciation of the clubs as an extraordi 
nary act of boldness, an attack on the freedom of discussion, an inexcusable 
aggression. 

2 The Speaker was Mr. Muhlenburg, of Pennsylvania. In the debate in 
committee of the whole, upon the answer of the House to the President s 
address, the answer was amended by striking out the reference to the " self- 
created societies." In the House, the part struck out was restored. A mo 
tion was then made to add a clause restricting what was said of " self-created 
societies" to such as existed in "the four western counties of Pennsylvania, 
and parts adjacent." This motion was carried by the casting vote of the 
Speaker. 



154. WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

Parker are honorary members. Oh shame ! where is thy 
sting ! 

Yours, affectionately. 

P. S. Would the insertion of the debates into your 
country papers have any good effect ] W. Lyman did as 
usual. Every thing that will impress public opinion, as far 
as truth and decency allow, ought now to be urged, as the 
issue rests with the public, to hold up the clubs or the 
magistracy. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, December 12, 1794. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I think public life has not chilled 
my social attachments ; nor do I see much in it calculated 
to draw me off from them. 

The last session, the noise of debate was more deafening 
than a mill ; and this, excepting in one instance, maintains 
a pouting silence, an armed neutrality, that does not afford 
the animation of a conflict, nor the security of peace. We 
sleep upon our arms. To sink the public debt, by paying 
it, seems to be the chief business to expedite. That will 
require some address to get effected, as our anti-funders are 
used to a more literal sinking of debts. To put the debt in 
train of being paid off, would, in a measure, disarm faction 
of a weapon. 

Events have shown the falsehood of almost every anti- 
federal doctrine ; and the time favors the impression of 
truth. It is made, and the government stands on better 
ground than it ever did. But I wish exceedingly that our 
sober citizens should weigh matters well. Faction is only 
baffled, not repenting, not changed. New grounds will be 
found or invented for stirring up sedition ; and unless the 
country is now deeply sensible of the late danger, and of 
the true characters of our public men, new troubles will 
arise. Good fortune may turn her back upon us the next 



LETTERS. 155 

time ; and if she had in August last, this union would have 
been rent. Viginia acted better than could have been ex 
pected ; and the militia return to all the States, full of fede 
ralism, and will help to diffuse their feelings among their 
connections. The spirit of insurrection had tainted a vast 
extent of country, besides Pennsylvania; and had all the 
disaffected combined and acted together, the issue would 
have been long protracted, and doubtful at last. 

Will the people, seeing this pit open, approach it again 
by sending those to Congress who led them blindfold to its 
brink ? Some exertion, indeed all that can be made, appears 
to me to be worth making nay, more, indispensably ne 
cessary, wherever an anti is held up as a candidate ; for I 
venture to speak as a prophet, if they will send insur 
gents, they must pay for rebellions. This government is 
utterly impracticable, for any length of time, with such a 
resisting party to derange its movements. The people must 
interpose in the appointed way, by excluding mobocrats 
from legislation. I have faith that very plain dealing with 
them would work a change, even in Virginia. Ought not 
these considerations, which concern political life and death, 
to weigh down all others in New England? Will not the 
river men, who are so noted for good principles and habits, 
give them support in the election which, I hear, is yet unde 
cided between General and I 

I know that men, breathing the air of New England, 
cannot credit the state of things in the back country and at 
the south. They must not judge of others by themselves. 
They must remember, that, for preserving a free govern 
ment, a supine security is next to treachery. If all New 
England would move in phalanx, at least, we could hold our 
posts ; and a short time will work changes at the south. 
Our good citizens must consent to be more in earnest in their 
politics, or submit to be less secure in their rights and pro 
perty. 

Your account of Thanksgiving has almost made me home 
sick ; not a pumpkin pie have I seen. A Yankee is sup 
posed to derive his principles from his keeping. Yet, when 
that is changed, he must not flinch. 

Yours. 



156 AVORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Philadelphia, December 17, 1794. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Your and Mrs. G. s approba 
tion of my speech 1 is very flattering, even if your friendly 
partiality should have augmented it; for that partiality is 
worth as much as the praise of more impartial critics. In 
deed, the resources of private friendship are peculiarly ne 
cessary to a man in such a government as ours. Bright as 
the prospect now is, I am decided one thing only will make 
it answer : to speak French, 2 a revolutionary effort, a rising, 
in mass, at the elections, to purify Congress from the sour 
leaven of antifederalism. So much faction as now exists in 
it will kill. Good men must not be duped. I stake my 
credit on it. The disease may and will produce many 
deaths. I know but one cure the real federalism of the 
body of the electors. The lottery was three blanks to one 
prize in August last ; and had not Harry Lee been Governor 
of Virginia, probably that region would have been whiskeyed. 
This State for a long time acted a whiskey part, till, by the 
zeal of New Jersey, the talents of the little Secretary, 3 the 
weight of the President s name, and bad management among 
the rioters, the tide turned in favor of government. Disaf 
fection enough to begin, if not to complete, a revolution, 
actually existed. The talk of all rascals, that they are in 
favor of supporting government, ought to deceive only 
blockheads. In a more respectable case, did not the lan 
guage, " We adore the British Constitution and dependence 
on that Crown," continue long after blood was spilt I 

Excuse my croaking. I feel sure of turbulent times, un 
less more changes take place than I see any cause to expect. 
Time, I begin to think, is against us. State factions get 
better organized and more diffused. The best men are 
weary, and in danger of being driven out. The President, 

1 The speech referred to was made in the debate alluded to in the letter to 
Dwight, November 29. 

- That is, in the French style. 
8 Hamilton. 



LETTERS. 157 

with whom his country lives, will quit in disgust, or be in 
a few years with Timoleon and Epaminondas. As our sys 
tem is now constituted, the reaction of party will be, in 
ordinary times, infinitely stronger than the action of the 
constituted authorities. These sentiments are delicate ; but 
the solus reipub. depends, in my opinion, on their being 
adopted by the real patriots. I commit them, as I have often 
done before, to your discretion. 

Your proposition for duly receiving the French minister, 
Houdard, is a pleasant one ; but Blair McClenachan should 
not do all the kissing. Equality would require a negro. 
Fauchet is said to be safe in his place at present. Little is 
doing here. A storm will rise on the plan for sinking the 
debt. It is proposed to pay off the redeemable part yearly ; 
but it will be necessary to prolong or render perpetual the 
revenue acts of the last session. That will be opposed, 
under the old pretext of a land tax in lieu of them, but 
really with a view of having no tax. Keep your eye on 
the progress of this business ; for, as the faction will labor 
hard to take away, or at least to lessen, the purse of the go 
vernment, they will be obliged to run on the shoals of a land 
tax to hide their design. To dismiss the troops, will be 
another object. No purse, no sword, on the part of au 
thority ; clubs, mobs, French influence, on the side of fac 
tion : A very intelligible arrangement. 

Faction is no better, no weaker, now than formerly. The 
fall of the Chronicle would do credit to our General Court. 
Such rascals do not deserve the bread of any public. New 
York is thought to be doing badly in the city. I own the 
circumstance has augmented my glooms at the moment. 

Your friend. 

Lyman and Dearborn rechosen ! 

The inclosed, if published in the Orrery, might do a 
little. If sent to me, after publication, I would get it re 
printed here. Virginia might be impressed. They elect in 
March. 

VOL. i. 14 



158 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, December 27, 1794. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I have no reason to doubt that I 
have duly received all your favors ; but your doubts excite 
others in me, whether I have not been very delinquent in 
acknowledging them. As a friend and brother, I need not, 
I hope, assure you how much I value your correspondence. 
I will try to deserve it better in future, as far as scribbling 
will support my claim. I have notified Mr. Fenno that 
Mr. Stebbins is at Springfield. The election of W. Lyman 
and Dearborn, and, as I believe, of Edward Livingston, at 
New York, almost gives me the hypo. I am confirmed in 
it : the crisis must come ; but I will not bore you with 
my vapors. 

Mr. Jay s success is yet unascertained, but events help 
him; and if good sense had more to do with politics, I 
should expect to see faction in the gutter. The Methodists 
say, very justly, you cannot kill the devil. It would be 
against experience and the nature of man to look for as 
much art and industry on the right side as on the wrong ; 
and therefore the federal cause will go down, or I am no 
conjurer. 

I hear, with pleasure, of the health of your family, and 
of my two. 1 I long to see my friends, more than I can 
describe. 

A man like Dr. Lathrop is too able to defend his errors, 
to yield them up, and least of all to do it when they are 
made doubly dear by being attacked. It is to be lamented, 
that a good man must be given up to base company and a 
vile cause. Colonel Pickering is mentioned as God of War ; 
Wolcott to succeed Hamilton. This is however but report. 
France will finally help us by the madness or the sobriety 
of her example. The great point is to hold out till peace 
in Europe removes a part of the present support from fac 
tion. Thus, we may rub along a little while, but not long. 

1 That is, wife and son. 



LETTERS. 



159 



I feel a due portion of patriotic zeal for the success of 
your canal. Yet, pardon me, I could see it to more advan 
tage unfinished in March next. 

The German church in Fourth, near Arch street, was 
burned down last evening. It caught from the stove-pipe. 
It was a magnificent spectacle, but not worth thirty thou 
sand pounds, which it was insured for, as it is said. The 
organ alone cost near five. The confusion and want of ad 
dress were manifest, and strongly contrasted with the con 
duct at a Boston fire. Yet a gentleman assured me no 
place can match Philadelphia in these points. Practice 
has made Boston perfect. 

Yours, truly. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



Philadelphia, January 7, 1795. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I do not neglect writing for the 
purpose of drawing from you complaints of my neglect. 
Yet I own my interpretation of your notice how seldom I 
write, is, that my letters have some value with you. As 
they have none here, allow me to send them to the best 
market. Seriously, I am more and more impressed with 
the sense of what I owe my friends, and my epistolary 
trade is one of the most gainful I can carry on. I am 
happy in the correspondence of a very few select friends, 
and I should be ashamed to think my part of the intercourse 
a burden. The public business is no excuse for my neglect, 
because idle men have less time than the busy. 

The weather imposes on me the task of drawing my 
breath, which is for the most part a heavy burden. I get 
along, however, by throwing off almost every other. A 
great rain is falling, and I hope winter will venture his coy 
person immediately after. On the whole, I like the old 
contrivance of this world better than the new : hot weather 
in the dog days ; cold and snow at Christmas. If I had to 
guide the plough, I should prefer October and April for 



160 WORKS OF FISHER MIES. 

that work, to the season called winter. If the pines pro 
tect Springfield from disease, I shall reverence your sa 
cred plains, and become a druid, only changing the wood. 



You did not seem to understand my hint to you, that 
your merit, in forwarding the canal on the Connecticut, might 
be blazoned at an election ; and you will not deny that the 
candidates, who have no intrinsic worth of character, seek 
occasions to mingle in every showy undertaking, and after 
wards brag of their patriotism. The electioneering spirit 
corrupts and mutilates every thing. You, I know, prefer 
home to the forum of Congress. I confess I justify your 
opinion ; and I hope I shall never give cause, in my own 
conduct at elections, to question that I approve the inde 
pendence of your spirit. That would be called, by many, 
aristocratic pride. I admit the right a man has to seek an 
election, in case of a scolding wife, a smoky house, or a host 
of duns three pleasant reasons. 

The debate on requiring nobles to renounce titles, prior to 
becoming citizens, may furnish our Chronicle with a sub 
ject. Content ; it would have been more prudent to 
treat the silly motion with silence or ridicule. In the south, 
it may confirm their prejudices. But men of sense will 
need no further proof of the art and hypocrisy of the advo 
cates. 

Mr. Osgood s sermon is extolled. The good sense and 
boldness of the sentiments will work their way. The heathen 
in this State, and farther south, ought to have him sent as a 
missionary. The sermon is reprinting here. The procla 
mation by the President, for a Thanksgiving, will afford an 
opening for other clergymen to seek glory. Will any re 
nowned anti vindicate the anarchists from the pulpit] 
Parson Lyman or Dr. L. ? I hope the respectable character 
of the latter will not be soiled by any such attempt. Sedg- 
wick has a letter from the former, teeming with Jacobinism. 
Yet it would be unwise, perhaps unjust, to slight those two 
men. Yours, &c. 



LETTERS. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Philadelphia, January 10, 1795. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, A circumstance, of a singular 
nature, has been mentioned repeatedly, and on so good 
authority, that I believe it. At a meeting of a county in 
Virginia, one Callender, the rival of Venable, the present 
member, gave at dinner, in a large company, this toast : 
" A speedy death to General Washington." On some subse 
quent notice of the toast, (for I did not hear of any being taken 
at the dinner,) he said it would be for his glory to die soon. 
The prejudices of these people, and the savageness of their 
manners, will be evinced by any interpretation of this 
horrid toast ; yet in South Carolina W. Smith and Gene 
ral Wynne, the two federalists, are rechosen, and the others 
are not. Benton, indeed, is rechosen ; but, as he did not 
attend, his party is not known. 

It is worthy of remark, that the disputatious turn of the 
House appears in quibbles on little things, as evidently as 
it did the last session in things of great importance. Our 
progress is slow, and the nature of the discussion trivial 
and stupid. Such a collection of Secretaries of the Trea 
sury, so ready on questions of peace, war, and treaty, feel 
a competence to every thing, and discover to others an in 
competence for any thing, except what, by the Constitution, 
they should be, a popular check on the other branches. 
To prevent usurpation or encroachment on the rights of the 
people, they are inestimable; as executive agents, which 
our disorganizes contend for, they are so many ministers of 
destruction. 

John Barnwell, the brother of Robert, is chosen from 
South Carolina. If he proves worthy of being Robert s 
brother, he will be a good member. 

Taylor, when he resigned his senatorship, is said to have 
assigned, in his letter to the Assembly, as a reason, the ex 
treme corruption of Congress and the President. This 
morgeau of madness and antifederalism is said to be sup 
pressed. I wish the crackbrain could be convicted for 
14* 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

libelling the government. I presume you have heard the 
crow story, which has made his resignation so famous. 

A Doctor McClurg, once a nominal director of the United 
States Bank, is the reputed author of Marcellus. I have 
the pleasure to see an edition of Manlius piled up in Fenno s 
office, for circulation among the heathen in the back parts of 
this State among those who sit in darkness, and yet hate 
the light. Marcellus, Manlius, and Parson Osgood, have 
deserved well of the country. 

I have scribbled a paragraph for the Centinel, respecting 
Wynne and Smith, which may ^3? the former. 

I just learn that Jacob Reed, a zealous antigallican and 
federalist, is chosen senator in Mr. Izard s stead ; and one 
Marshall, the best Fed in Kentucky, in place of Edwards. 
Here they turn out the members from the rebellious coun 
ties on the ground that, in a state of force and rebellion, 
the right of suffrage cannot be exercised. It is agreed to 
in the committee of the House, by eleven majority, and 
will pass. Yours. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Philadelphia, January 17, 1795. Saturday morning. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I was done over yesterday with 
the exertion of a noisy speech on sinking the public debt. 
That, and engagements the remainder of the day, prevented 
my writing to you till this late hour, although your last two 
letters, and the Orrery, afford me materials for several pages. 
The faction pretending, as usual, exclusive zeal to pay off* the 
debt, and, as usual, opposing every measure for the purpose, 
seemed to take the ascendant on the question, to strike out 
the resolution to prolong the temporary taxes to the year 
1801. This at last produced in me what Randolph calls 
personal excitement, and led me on to make a long speech, 
and a loud one, to take away, if possible, their popular cloak, 
and show in puris naturalibus, the loathness of the party to 
pay oft the debt. It had, because it was the plain truth, 



LETTERS. 153 

some effect. The doctrine that a land tax must be resorted 
to, has gravelled them. They begin to equivocate, and Madi 
son speaks (now) hypothetically of the measure. He has 
some idea of digesting an apportionment, not a requisition 
says he, on the States, which they may spread over such tax 
able property as Congress could not reach. This jargon of 
hypocrisy convinced nobody, and yet plainly showed that at 
last they are unwilling and afraid to propose any tax for 
the debt. But the debate has confirmed the old fact, that the 
party propose a land tax, and a land tax only, for the purpose. 
Such a fact ought to make impression in New England. On 
the whole, we rise upon them and they are once more chop- 
fallen. 

Hamilton yesterday sent a letter, which arrived while I 
was speaking, but was not read till after I had done, an 
nouncing that he had digested and got ready a report on 
sinking the debt. The party were unprepared, and out of 
spirits to oppose its being directed to be laid before the House, 
and it passed, Lyman only opposing. This order to receive 
the report is a curiosity, especially after the vile debate on 
committing the President s message, inclosing Knox s letter. 
The report of Hamilton will be printed, and no doubt help 
the business. I have not been made acquainted with its 
contents or precise objects. 

I hope Sam Cooper is not thrown off from the good men, 
by the attack on his father. Is it not possible to pacify his 
wrath, which I hear is roused by the Jacobiniad? The 
Boston poets are formidable, and would be guillotined, if the 
Robespierres whom they expose had the power. 

In the debate (I had forgot to observe) that McDowell 
proposed a tax on transfers, as a fund for sinking the debt. 
What fund more proper or more efficient ? The bottomless 
pit would not sink the debt lower. 

Yours. 



164< WORKS OF FISHER MIES. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

Philadelphia, January 20, 1795. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Had your offence in the epistolary 
way been as aggravated as you state it, the letter would have 
been not only atonement, but supererogation a stock of merit 
laid up against a rainy day. I am too proud, as well as too 
considerate of my own infirmity, [indolence] to arraign my 
friends for neglect of me when they do not write. I should 
prefer any solution of your forbearance to that of your cool 
ing in point of regard. For I often draw consolation and 
pleasure from the reflection, that though I did not choose my 
enemies, I could not mend it by choosing ; nor were I to 
choose over again, could I mend my list of friends. 

I see no abatement of the rancor of party here, nor would 
it be reasonable to expect their temper best, when disap 
pointment has done the most to sour it. Victory over party 
may procure a truce, in which they will take breath, and 
make their cartridges, but peace is out of the question. 
Government here is in the cradle, and good men must watch 
their own child, or it will die, or be made way with. It is 
therefore a chapter of comfort in my theory, that when events 
portend a crisis of extremity, the spirit of defence will rise in 
proportion to the violence of the attack, and this justice must 
be done our Catilines they do all they can to raise and keep 
up the federal spirit to this revolutionary height, though not 
intentionally. On the whole, I hope more and fear rather 
less for our government than I did two months ago. This 
may be versatility ; but I see the difficulty of opposing, which 
the antis conflict with, is sometimes more burdensome than 
of supporting government. 

All measures for propping up public credit have been 
opposed, first because they hate the debt, and would pay it 
off, and secondly because they hate excises, and long for land 
taxes. Yet, lo ! the principle of opposition becomes at last, 
by the turning round of business, a principle of action : thus 
they have trained their men to bawl for a reduction of the 
debt ; and, now it is proposed and urged, they are gravelled ; 



LETTERS. 165 

for still they would oppose. Yet I flatter myself their com 
mon soldiers will fall off, because they do not see how the 
new opposition squares with the old style of declamation. 
Besides, as we are in full possession of the popular ground 
of paying off the deht, they are driven, hy their hard luck, to 
oppose the reduction by clamoring against excises, and for 
the land tax, meaning really to do nothing. How will our 
clamorers like these manoeuvres 1 how will they be able to go 
on with their patriots, who would tax carts and free coaches ] 
Read the inclosed speech of Madison, and see this doctrine 
avowed ; although, having heard that it will ruin them 
among our Yankees, they try to wrap up the land tax in the 
hypocrisy of a tax on property, which, rendered into English, 
you will see reads land tax. A report of the Secretary of 
the Treasury came in during the debate, and is ordered to 
be printed, urging the reduction of the debt. 

I admire the Jacobmtad. The wit is keen, and who can 
deny its application ? Regard to friends of the club. 

Your affectionate friend. 

I read with some indignation the Chronicle abuse of Dex 
ter, for saying republicanism means any thing or nothing. 
They are no better than formerly. It is astonishing that 
they choose to hazard such gross misrepresentation. Either 
they are the biggest fools, or their readers the veriest dupes 
in the world. Unluckily too for them, Madison s speech, 
recommending land tax, comes out here on the day that the 
Chronicle asserts that the Madisonians are opposed to it, and 
that Mr. Sedgwick first proposed that measure. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



Philadelphia, February 3, 1795. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Your last letter, covering a Spring 
field paper, was very acceptable, though very short. Usually 
my value of your letters is guided by measure, the longest 



166 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

the best. But the last assured me that all is well at Spring 
field ; and as the canker-rash prevails in your town, it is 
peculiarly agreeable to hear from you and yours, and mine. 

I like the article in your Spy, relating to the democratic 
societies, and their complaints of the violation of the liberty 
of the press, and have requested Fenno to republish it. Such 
comments on their inconsistency are read, because they are 
brief, and remembered because they are pointed, and make 
them ridiculous ; and it is in human nature to approve the 
making others ridiculous. 

The success of Mr. Jay will secure peace abroad, and 
kindle war at home. Faction will sound the tocsin against 
the treaty. I see a little cloud, as big as a man s hand, in 
Bache s paper, that indicates a storm. Two things will be 
attempted. First, before the event is known, to raise the 
expectation of the public, that we have every thing granted, 
and nothing given in return ; and secondly, that the treaty, 
when published, has surrendered every thing. I think it 
probable that they will succeed in stirring up the fires of the 
south ; for when have they shown a want of philosophy (or 
folly) in kindling a fire 1 We must wait for time, sometimes 
our friend, sometimes our foe, to help us out of our uncer 
tainties and embarrassments. 

The military establishment has generated war in the 
debates. Virginia would reduce. Economy is the plea, and 
as usual the zeal by saving, to have cash to reduce the debt. 
The usual reproaches on the advocates of standing armies, 
and perpetual public debts, fell from them of course. But I 
think they are not likely to prevail, as the profuse expense of 
militia is well proved in the discussion. To reduce the reg 
ulars, and swell the expense of the Indian war, as well as to 
protract its period, is the tendency of Virginia politics. 

Four weeks from this day I gallop Springfield-ward. 
Judge, from your own emotions, with what impatience. 

Yours, &c. 

Would not Judge Sumner be the most eligible candidate 
to oppose S. A. 1 as Governor \ Sedgwick and some others, 
as well as your humble servant, incline to the opinion. 

1 Samuel Adams. 



LETTERS. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 



167 



Philadelphia, February 24, 1795. 

DEAR FRIEND, The bill for reduction of the public debt, 
has passed the House. It pins fast the funding system, con 
verts the poison of faction into food for federalism ; it puts 
out of the reach of future mobocrats the funds, and the con 
trol of them. It is therefore the finale, the crown of federal 
measures. You will naturally wonder that such men should 
suffer such a step to be taken. Shame at being glaringly 
inconsistent, and real inefficiency of character, kept them 
back. Yet this triumph is clouded. The clauses to provide, 
bond fide, for the unsubscribed debt, and for the discharge of 
a certain species of the loan-office certificates, were thrown 
out. The old three per cent, men and principles were re 
vived. I except, much to his honor, Sedgwick. Prudence 
prevented many of us, who think as formerly, from pressing 
the right principle, which would have been in vain. To make 
the subscription of the small residuum of debt compulsory, is 
base in principle, and not excused even by the pretence of 
necessity. Hamilton retires, full of the horrors, on this account. 
It is truly lamentable that the best men are so incorrect in 
principle. The folly of vindicating federal measures, on the 
mean plea of expediency, is apparent. " What," said the 
compulsion men, " would you give the foes of your system 
(meaning Charles Petit, &c.) more than the subscribing 
creditors 1 " I answer yes, if obliged by contract to do so. 
I have long seen that our measures are supported by preju 
dices, not less erroneous than those of their opposers. 

A letter from Monroe appears in Brown, and will to-mor 
row be in Fenno. It should be republished as from Mon 
roe. Mr. Randolph has told several persons that it is ; and 
it would greatly assist the antidote, to know that it was sent 
from one who had swallowed the poison and was cured. 
Strange, that Monroe should warn us against Jacobins ! 
So the world turns round. At the birthright bill, Ben. F. 
Bache acted as manager. Yet his paper teems with daily 
abuse of courtly sycophancy. The poor creature should not 



158 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

be brought into the danger of suffering by contact with 
courts. I will keep my temper, and be silent in regard 
to D. s election. No treaty yet arrived. The Senate will 
be specially called to ratify, or not. No French treaty is 
here spoken of. Are not their resources on the decline, 
as moderatism is now the order of the day! A million 
Stirling, will not, I think, more than defray the expense 
of four days. Neither rapine, nor regular taxes, can long 
support this immense expense. Thank God, it is their 
affair, not ours. The Thanksgiving has helped tone the 
public mind. Tom Paine has kindly cured our clergy of 
; their prejudices. 

The Georgia land speculation calls for vigor in Congress. 
Near fifty millions acres, sold by Georgia for a song, 
threatens Indian, Spanish, and civil, wars. Energy at first 
may prevent all of them. 

Yours, truly. 

I have requested a receipt, from Mrs. Fitzsimons, of the 
catholic and only true way of making buckwheat cakes. 

Inclosed is Monroe s undoubted authentic letter. If the anti- 
gallican sentiments of the poem should not shock your nerves, 
do get B. R. to republish that and Monroe in his Centinel. 
The French mania is in the train of being cured, and such 
doses should be got down by the patients. Really, more 
truth is told, and it is better received, than formerly. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, February 24, 1795. 



MY DEAR FRIEND, 

The newspapering a woman is an outrage I had hoped 
Hottentots would not commit. Is Vermont more enlightened 
than Whidah or Angola ? Otherwise, I should think, they 
would not endure such abuse of types. I feel happy that 



LETTERS. 



159 



they did not praise me, as they did Dayton. It is no little 
consolation that the daughters of Colonel Worthington, from 
good sense, and their remembrance of tory times, are able to 
restrain their just sensibilities within proper bounds. I am 
rather flattered, than insulted, by the suggestion that a very 
deserving wife influences me. And for what, my friend, 
am I, like a turkey the day before Thanksgiving, set up to be 
shot at a target for the popgun-men to practise upon for 
learning marksmanship ? For the immense salary of a first 
clerk in a public office. I feel a spirit of indignant independ 
ence, although it does not, I confess, require much spirit of 
any sort to despise the attacks of the despised clubbists. 

B. Bache appeared as manager at the ballroom (birth- 
night ball.) A pretty fellow, to fill his paper with insults on 
the celebration, and yet act as manager ..... l 

The celebration was unusually demonstrative of respect, 
&c., to our great chief. He rises over enemies, like the sun 
scattering the mists. The Thanksgiving has keyed up the 
public mind to federalism. Dr. Smith s sermon is liberally 
subscribed for, and will be spread over the United States. 
He treats French madness and wickedness very plainly. 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, February 28, 1795. 

DEAR FRIEND, Congress is too inefficient to afford the 
stuff for a letter. No public body exists with less energy of 
character to do good, or stronger propensities to mischief. 
We are Frenchmen, democrats, antifeds / every thing but 
Americans, and men of business. 

I have a right to find fault with others, though I do no 
thing myself, as I am unfit for labor. We scarcely think 

1 A few somewhat spicy words are here omitted. 
VOL. I. 15 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

that a war raging on our coast requires any steps. The 
Chronicle called our disposition towards France rebellious, 
and we seem to concur in the sentiment. Jacobinism and 
Gallomania are stronger here than anywhere else. The last 
place that will be rid of this plague is the very one which, 
it is fondly believed by many, cannot catch it. Your General 
Court, I trust, is much better, and that is precious, as it 
inspires confidence in a good issue to the election, for Go 
vernor Sumner is the only man. All feds must join or die ; 
for another anti Governor would ruin the harmony of the 
State, and overthrow all federalism. Yours. 

Watch and pray for the first Monday, April. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, August 24, 1795. Monday. 

MY DEAR SIR, Court week is over, and I am alive, 
and beginning to take long breaths. Not half the jury actions 
were tried. My share of them kept me in a throng of peo 
ple at my own house, and on the way to and from court ; 
and there, the heat, the crowd, and the effort of speaking, 
almost did me over. Once I sat down, and left my ally to 
finish on the same side. I could not sleep at night, in con 
sequence of overdoing at court. But a change of weather 
recruited me, and I am now as well as usual. So particular 
an account of the court may serve to show you how far I 
am yet from sound health. To mend my crazy frame, the 
scheme of the long-deferred journey to Newport is resumed, 
for the last of this week, and I trust will be executed. 
Unless the cold of the fall season should brace me up, I shall 
scarcely earn my six dollars a day at Congress work. 

I hope your family is free from medicine, and the neces 
sity of making use of it. If I had my newspaper riches in 
possession, I would hire a hack, and make a visit to Spring- 



LETTERS. 

field ; but as my treasure lies as far out of my way, as it is 
out of that of moths and thieves, I am limited to a one-horse 
chaise, and that forbids our going" in caravan, namely, man 
and wife, girl and child. I drop the scheme of going to 
Vermont, as the rains have made the roads bad, and I have 
no companion, and am not well enough to go without one. 
The heat has been more trying to invalids, I believe, than 
any former season, as it has been accompanied with excessive 
dampness. The rains have totally drowned more than two 
thousand acres of meadow between Dedham and Newton, 
on Charles river; about twelve or thirteen acres of mine 
lie in soak. We are sadly abused by the millers at Newton 
upper falls. Not one drop of flood water would be left after 
two days, if we had the command of the stream, to remove 
the dams, and only one rock at the falls. The improvement 
of the soil could not fail to be capital, if it were not drowned. 
I have my barn full of hay, as it is, but I should have had 
some to sell, had not the flood spoiled the meadows. It will 
be two years at least before the grass will recover itself in 
quantity or quality. 

My house is two thirds plastered ; the masons quitted it 
to avoid court week, but I expect them back every hour. 
We shall be able to effect our removal to the new house with 
ease in October ; but for the greater caution, I propose to 
delay it till November. Three months ought to dry plaster 
sufficiently. Our lodging chamber was plastered the eleventh 
of August, and the room we sleep in is almost the only place 
to apprehend taking cold in. The time of my men is so 
taken up by the masons, &c., that my garden is buried in 
weeds, and there seems to be no end to the job of making the 
glacis and clearing away the rubbish. 

On the whole, our prospect of neighborhood in future 
is fifty per cent, improved from the state we found it in, 
when we removed here from Boston. Still we think it an 
essential part of our summum bonum, that our Springfield 
friends should visit us once a year. I am loath to give up the 
idea of Colonel and Mrs. W. s coming. 

I find my paper strangely filled up, as Mr. Morehead 
would say, with emptiness. Not a word of politics in almost 
three pages ! is it not strange \ 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

My letter by Mr. Boylston expressed to you and Colonel 
W. a vehement suspicion the President would not ratify the 
treaty. This was grounded on confidential information that 
he had gone to Virginia, and had not done it. Since that 
time, I am happy to learn, through a channel that I believe 
pure, that he has ratified it. Now let the heathen rage. If the 
government dare act right, I still believe it can maintain it. 
The time will come when faction will make it afraid ; nay, 
when it will become the instrument of faction, and be as little 
disposed as able, to uphold order. Is it not manifest that 
the violence of this storm springs from the anticipation of the 
election to the Presidency \ The New Hampshire man is 
encouraged to hope the second place. Jefferson s party seize 
the moment to discredit their most dreaded rival, Jay. 
Clinton s and Adams s parties in the two States, and State 
parties elsewhere, enlist under the banner of the Jefferson 
leaders. Does this augur an unbiased appointment, or a 
cordial support, of Washington s successor ] An experienced 
sailor would say, these little whirlwinds of dry leaves and 
dirt portend a hurricane. How can a government be ma 
naged in adverse times ; and when the chief magistrate asks 
support against the faction of his rival, but can give none, or 
almost none, to the laws when we see that the splendid 
name of the present possessor, though stronger than a host, 
scarcely protects him, and the government is but just spared 
from destruction by the mobs of Philadelphia, Boston, &c., 
although their complaining mouths are actually stopped by 
the showers of manna \ A ship that is sinking, or near 
sinking, at her anchors in the port, will drown her crew if 
they venture to sea in her. We shall, at any rate, get along 
for some time ; and if the country people see that the wounds 
attempted to be given by the mobs aforesaid will be mortal, 
they will become alarmed, and afford such a support to law 
and order, as possibly may enable government to stand its 
ground. It is a crisis full of instruction, perhaps of fate. 1 

Yours, &c. 

1 The disappointment and anger of the democratic leaders, when it was 
ascertained that Mr. Jay s mission was successful, were very strongly mani 
fested. That party had rather lost ground by the controversy between our 
government and Citizen Genet, and perhaps also by the extravagances of the 
clubs. But the political operation of the general exasperation against Eng- 



LETTERS. 173 

Let the above be in confidence with you and discreet friends. 

P. S. ... I saw Sam Dexter lately, on his return 
from a court in Rhode Island. He says, there they boast 
of their being right respecting the treaty, while Boston goes 
wrong. Formerly, they say, they were deemed outlaws 
against all government, and now they are firmer and steadier 
than Massachusetts. Connecticut is also right ; ga ira. 
The treaty will go in spite of mobs. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, September 13, 1795. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I found your letter of the 4th, at 
Mrs. Phillips s. I had scarcely read it, and digested my 
wrath against the puppy who opened my packet by Spencer 
Whiting, when I found your brother Josiah in the street, 
who brought a welcome cargo from Colonel W. and Secre 
tary Sophy. As to the letter that was broken open, Mr. 
Whiting would not do such a thing, and how could any 
other person have the opportunity 1 It contained some trea 
son, I suppose, though I do not remember what ; not so bad 
I think as a former one, full of gloomy fears that a certain 

land was very much in their favor ; and the rejection of Mr. Jay s treaty would 
have an apparent tendency to bring them into power at the next election. 
Accordingly, all the machinery of denunciation, tumultuous meetings, proces 
sions, effigies, and mobs, was brought to bear upon the public mind, and the 
unfortunate delay of the President, in the ratification, (a delay partly owing, 
no doubt, to the questionable counsels of Edmund Randolph, the Secretary 
of State,) encouraged the hopes, and so increased the violence of the oppo 
sition. 

There is very little in the treaty ^tself that accounts for such a warm, and 
as it now appears, extravagant opposition. It proved to be a good one. It 
provided a full and honorable indemnity for the spoliations on our commerce, 
and we lived very contentedly, from 1815 to 1842, upon a treaty very much 
like it, only somewhat less in our favor.^. It did not settle the great question 
of impressment. That never has been, and perhaps never will be, settled in 
express terms by any treaty whatever, between the two nations. Time, and 
the increase of our national strength, have made diplomacy on that subject 
quite unimportant. 

15 * 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

great man would shrink from the storm of popular fury. 
I care little what use the man may think fit to make of it. 
I lose my timidity, as to popular questions, almost daily, and 
am ready to indulge a surly sort of independence of spirit. 
Old Nick seems to begin his government, and his accession 
is welcomed by as much loyalty and zeal among" his subjects, 
as any sovereign can boast. Every passion, every prejudice, 
of a certain part of our citizens in the large towns is blown 
up to a pitch of fanaticism. Let the country folks keep firm 
and steady, and these triflers in their opinions, but demons in 
their excesses, will be restrained from doing irreparable mis 
chief. fThe demagogues seem to resolve to bring the business 
to a crisis, to corrupt and inflame our own citizens as much 
as they can, and, by reenforcing their corps with a French 
force, to overcome the government of their country. I see 
no objection to joining the issue tendered ; for governments 
are oftenest lost by flinching from the trial, and if ours has 
any strength, it cannot use it at a more favorable moment. 
Washington at the head, Pittsburg at its feet, 1 pockets full of 
money, prosperity shining like the sun on its path. If it 
falls, it will prove that it had no strength, and must have 
fallen soon had not this foe prevailed. The sooner we are 
rid of it, if it be really good for nothing, the better. I think 
it good, and that every real patriot will hazard his life to 
defend it. 

Since my return from Newport, I have drooped a good 
deal. Accident, or the operation of the season, has deranged 
my stomach and head. Often oppressed, always languid, 
with little appetite, less rest, I have thought myself, for ten 
days past, duly qualified and fully authorized to use and enjoy 
the vapors as amply and freely as other invalids. I choose, 
however, to delay my use and occupation of this most de 
lightful privilege, till I have trotted my horse a great many 
times over all the roads near our village ; till I have tried 
the use of meat and stimulants, abstaining from vegetables, 
&c. ; till cold weather has arrived, without effect, and if pos 
sible, till I die. My actual complaints are trivial, but the 
cause they spring from is not. The vis vitce is on the ebb. 

1 The neighborhood of Pittsburg was the scene of the " Whiskey Insur 
rection." 



LETTERS. 175 

The momentum of my blood is impaired. My case is more 
that of an old man than a sick one. I fully believe great 
precaution is necessary to secure my recovery, and I am far 
from being discouraged in respect to its success. 

My friend, is it not enough to make a man enamored of 
politics ? Here am I, scarcely able to ride thirty miles in a 
day, and that only on resting one day to prepare me for pro 
ceeding, going to carry my musket in the wars of politics, 
leaving my wife to mope alone in my new house, under cir 
cumstances of uncommon discouragement. I will try my 
best not to go crazy as she approaches the period of her 
trial. Have I not already got the vapors, think you ] This 
subject brings them, when I think of it. I will not think of 
it, therefore. 

Never, probably, could Colonel W. choose a time to visit 
us when his company would be more cheering. In propor 
tion as the tenure of my life becomes obviously more preca 
rious, I value the society of my friends and connections. In 
that way I turn the hours of life to profit and enjoyment. 

I wish you health and happiness, as also to Mrs. Dwight 
and the children. 

Yours, &c. 

I hope your trip to Monson has been agreeable. My trees 
afford rather more than a promise of a treat of peaches. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, September 22, 1795. 

DEAR FRIEND, I have just returned from a freezing 
ride with Frances to Boston. Such changes from heat to 
cold, and both extreme, were, I believe, never before known, 
I have suffered by both. I was very ill last week for three 
days, and lost more than half my strength. The cold recruits 
it again, but too much like a continued cold bath. I am 



1<JQ WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

told my case is nervous, bilious, a disease of the liver, atro 
phy, &c., as different oracles are consulted. I am forbidden 
and enjoined to take almost every thing. / prescribe, and 
take meat, some cider, a trotting horse, keep as warm as I 
can, abstain from excess of every kind, and I have still faith 
I may recruit ; although more than half of those who com 
plain without being able to tell what ails them, go to their 
long home. I know how tedious valetudinary accounts 
usually are, but I think your friendly concern will not be 
less engaged in this part of my letter, than if it were filled 
with politics, as usual. 

There is a buzzing rumor in town, that letters from the 
ex-minister, Fauchet, have been intercepted by a British 
armed vessel, and sent to our government, containing an 
account of the disposal of sums of French secret-service 
money, and stating sums paid to our late Secretary of State * 
and others, (one senator, it is said) whose names are not 
mentioned. That in consequence, Mr. Randolph immediately 
resigned. 2 Who doubted that French crowns were scattered 
to hire American traitors ] Such a fact ought to alarm even 
stupid zealots for the French. Sat verbum. More will soon 
transpire. 

Should doubts exist in regard to my being able to travel 
in a stage the whole journey, possibly I may go by a packet 
from Providence to New York, which would be compara 
tively easy. This idea augments my solicitude for Colonel 
W. s visit. But you and Mrs. D. are, I hope, more easy of 
persuasion. Come and see us, which will be a cordial to 
your friend. 

1 Edmund Randolph. 

2 This transaction was very lamely and imperfectly explained by Mr. Ran 
dolph, in his published vindication. 



LETTERS. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



177 



Dedham, October 3, 1795. 

DEAR SIR, I think you will have heard of my having 
had a relapse for some weeks past. Extreme weakness, want 
of appetite, want of rest, &c. 

I despair, or have but faint expectations of reaching Phila 
delphia at the first of the session, if ever ; but I believe the 
cool weather, and the resolute adherence to the tonic plan, 
will raise me again upon my legs (which have been of late 
almost useless) before December. We earnestly wish a visit 
from you, and our other Springfield friends. Remember it 
is a duty of charity to visit the sick. 1 

Our Common Pleas Court is sitting here, but I decline, 
and indeed am quite unable, to attend it. It is the less to be 
lamented, as it does not rain fees. It rains incessantly almost 
every thing besides. The weather is generally bad for me. 
I hope soon the beginning of the bright days of the fall, 
which I fancy will renovate my old fabric. 

The mobs are quiet, I hear, in Boston ; and Dedham has 
not the spirit to raise any. 

Yours, and Mrs. D. s very true friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, November 18, 1795. 

DEAR FRIEND, When kings and princes are sick, it is 
usual to publish daily bulletins of their condition. The Conven 
tion caused the report on the health of the late Louis XVI., 

1 The writer s health broke down at about this period, in a very dangerous 
and alarming manner ; and, although improved subsequently, it never was 
fully restored. 



178 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

and afterwards of the Dauphin, to be inserted in the bulletin. 
My pride, though of the true blue democratic sort, finds some 
relief, in the resemblance of my weekly employment at letter- 
writing, to the bulletin aforesaid. Indeed I rise higher than 
sick kings and princes, because the mob and their deadly 
enemies indulged their curiosity by reading the printed re 
port ; and it would wrong my Springfield friends to make the 
comparison, after having mentioned that. 

You will judge, by the levity of my style, that I am 
better, and you will judge right. I recruited so fast the last 
week, that I began to reproach myself for pretending to be 
an invalid. I walked, sometimes hoed in the garden, and 
rode out with the best spirits. On Thursday last I rode four 
miles to visit parson Bradford, and returned without fatigue. 
That day, George Minot, and parson Freeman, Mr. and 
Mrs. Gore, came to visit us, and I found them unexpectedly 
on my return. In the afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Cabot came, 
and other company succeeded. The long attention, and your 
wife will say, the incessant talking, tired me a good deal. 

I am very happy to find that the spirit of one hundred 
thousand barrels of Hampshire cider is all federal. It will 
beat as much whiskey, and twice as much peach brandy. It 
will not be the fault of our wicked faction, if the cider spirit 
is not put to the proof. The ball will soon open in the 
federal House of Representatives. I expect Old Nick will be 
unchained. 

I have bought, and am going to present to farmer Gore, two 
queer looking sheep, their legs short like the creeping sort of 
fowls, their shoulders growing splay, like the rickets. 1 Their 

1 This prepossessing variety of the sheep family was well known in New 
England as the Otter breed. Since the introduction of the Merino, our farm 
ers have manifested more anxiety to improve the quality of the wool than to 
perpetuate the questionable advantages of short legs and rickety shoulders, 
and the Otter sheep are to be reckoned among the things that were. They are 
described in Livingston s Essay on Sheep (published at New York in 1809) 
in terms of some sensibility. The writer says, " But what particularly charac 
terizes these sheep, and from which, together with the length of their bodies, 
they probably took their name, is the extreme shortness of their legs, which 
are also turned out in such a manner as to render them rickety. They can 
not run or jump, and even walk with some difficulty. They appear as if their 
legs had been broken, and set by an awkward surgeon. To me there is 
something so disgusting in the sight of a flock of these poor lame animals, 



LETTERS. 

wool is said to be more abundant, and tbey cannot climb fence. 
Having less activity, they are expected to fatten better in the 
same pasture than other sheep. A Mr. Seth Wight, of 
Dover, found a couple of lambs, such as I describe, dropped 
by his flock, and he has at length a whole flock of the kind. 
They begin to draw some attention, and for the reasons I 
have suggested, they seem to deserve an uncommon share of 
it. My farming zeal has so far abated, that I prefer getting 
experiments made by others, to making them myself. I gave 
eight dollars for the sheep, and that is cheaper than to keep 
them at home. 

I am trying to raise new breeds of potatoes from the seed. 
The labor and expense of this petty operation suit my lazi 
ness, as well as my economy. Regards to friends. 

Yours, truly, &c. 



TO DWIGHT FOSTER (IN CONGRESS.) 

Dedham, December 10, 1795. 

DEAR SIR, 

The public expectation is up, and if a good deal of mis 
chief should not be done, we shall be disappointed, agreeably, 
I confess. I please myself with the hope that faction will be 
frustrated, because the heads of the party will aim at more, 
and worse, than the wrong-headed but not very ill-disposed 
on their side, will support. To make one branch directly 




ther this will counterbalance the sufferings to which they must be liable in a 
deep snow, the impossibility of driving them to distant pastures, or to market, 
and the facility with which they may be destroyed by dogs, is a matter of 
calculation with the economical farmer. Those, however, who possess a grain 
of taste, who take a pleasure in the sportive gambols of their lambs, or who 
delight rather in perfecting than maiming the works of nature, will seldom 
be induced to propagate, beyond what is absolutely necessary, an infirmity 
which abridges the short enjoyments of a helpless and useful animal." " What 
was at first, probably an accidental circumstance, has become the basis of a 
new and unsightly race." 



180 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

attack the other two, or even to do it as indirectly as the 
thing will. admit of, seems to me too obvious a mischief to 
he concealed or disguised. Therefore I do my best to be 
lieve that the moderate men on the wrong side will vote 
against proceeding to extremities. 

I lie on the gridiron of impatience, as still as I can, ex 
pecting by next week s post to have some facts, and better 
ground for conjectures. 1 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, December 30, 1795. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

You reckon a good event to the session of Congress, with 
more confidence than I can find a footing for. I count fifty- 
six antis, forty-nine feds, of the one hundred and five mem 
bers of the House of representatives. It is possible that 
some may shrink from the edge of the pit, to which their 
leaders would push them. They may express a dislike of 
the treaty, in the answer to the speech, and be so much 
blockheads as to suppose the expression of such a dislike, not 
only harmless, but an essential duty. But they will be more 
reluctantly brought to act with effect against the execution of 
the treaty. They will not impeach the President. What are 
we to hope from a body so deeply infected with the spirit of 
folly or jacobinism, but continual efforts to disorganize? It 
will be a gymnasium in which all the turbulent passions will 
be disciplined, and grow strong by exercise. 

I repeat my prediction with more faith than ever ; a crisis 
will soon come. It may be delayed, but cannot be prevented. 
Mr. King writes to me, that he hears Mr. Madison says, it 
is necessary to express the sense of the representatives on 
the treaty. I rely on the good disposition of the New Eng 
land people, but when a government will go wrong, what 

1 The contest upon the treaty, though daily expected, did not begin till 
February. 



LETTERS. 

can individuals do 1 When a house is divided against itself, 
it cannot be held up by main strength. The House, by ex 
pressing any opinion in disapprobation of the other two, will 
bring on a new state of things. Faction will then have one 
branch, and the friends of order will cling to the President 
and Senate. If such a crisis can be produced, and is nearly 
arrived, in the midst of prosperity, peace, and knowledge, 
and while the government is administered with integrity, 
and with Washington at the head, does it warrant very san 
guine expectations of future tranquillity, when adversity, 
disturbance, and panic, shall prevail ; when the hated head 
of one party shall exact obedience from the other ; when the 
ruling party shall, as all ruling parties will, abuse its power 
sometimes, and commit blunders at others ? I renounce this 
topic, lest I should fill my page with it, and lose my spirits. 

Your affectionate friend and brother. 

A few inches of snow have fallen this morning, and it 
still snows, but as the wind is not far from south-east, it will 
soon stop. Should a good body of it fall, possibly I may 
tackle my covered sleigh, and go as far as New Haven. 
Thence to New York, trust Providence. This is only in 
my brain at present. I could not bear the stage, but I could, 
I think, travel in a hack or sleigh. 

I have read Sedgwick s great speech. Things wear a 
threatening face. 



TO DWIGHT FOSTER. 

Dedham, January 4, 1 796. 

DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 19th is very consoling. 
Party has expected nothing but triumphs at this meeting of 
Congress ; and when party triumphs, the conquered must 
be dragged at the victor s chariot wheels. It is a childish 
comfort that many enjoy, who say the minority aim at place 
only, not at the overthrow of government. They aim at 

VOL, i. 16 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

setting mobs above law, not at filling places which have a 
known legal responsibility. The struggle against them is 
therefore pro aris et focis ; it is for our rights and liberties, 
words which we have a better right to use than those who 
make them ridiculous by having them always in their 
mouths. 

Does not R. s l vindication confound the wicked faction \ 
The first paragraph of number ten evinces designs unfriendly 
to the United States too bad to be intrusted to his^(Fauchet s) 
colleagues, and on which R. s precious confessions throw a 
satisfactory light. The design may be presumed to relate to 
the whiskey rebellion, as that seems to be the burden of the 
song. F. s sympathy of feeling, and his approbation, go 
along with the whiskey rebels and the faction in Congress. 
It is truly important that our farmers should be made to 
comprehend this instructive truth. It will keep them out of 
the power of the tempters in the seaports, and their mobs ; 
and when our farmers in Worcester and Hampshire are right, 
will W. L. dare to go wrong as formerly] Could not S. L. 
use some effectual remonstrances with his namesake \ Is it 
not worth the trouble, little as the merit or stability of the 
former may be deemed \ I wish to see J. B. V. left alone 
in our list. I write, as you will see, in confidence. There 
has not been a time when I conceived the country was so 
well prepared to take right impressions. My health is un 
doubtedly improving, and though I do not expect to be able 
to travel in a stage for a long time, I think easy journeys in 
a hack or sleigh would be practicable in a short time. My 
physicians who encourage this expectation do it with a strict 
proviso that I hold my tongue in Congress. 

Yours, with affectionate regard. 

1 Randolph s. 



LETTERS. 183 



TO JEREMIAH SMITH. 

Dedham, January 18, 1796. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, You have deserved well of the coun 
try for writing so punctually and so fully, so wittily and so 
wisely. I am glad you abstain from scandal, because you know 
I hate it, yet abuse Mr. Thatcher, if you please, for his not writ 
ing to me, and I shall esteem the favor in proportion to your 
known repugnance to the task. I think spiritedly, and almost 
resolve to go on to Philadelphia. Should this snow last, I am 
half resolved to jingle my bells as far as Springfield, within 
a week. That, however, is a crude purpose ripening in my 
brain. To-morrow I go to my loyal town of Boston, in my 
covered sleigh, by way of experiment of my strength, which 
will prove just nothing, as it is no exercise. More of this, 
and more decidedly, in my next. I am, I believe, unfit for 
any fatigue, or for business. I go with a fixed design to be 
useless. Does that surprise you I 

I have read two Camilluses 1 on the constitutionality of 
the treaty ; so much answer to so little weight of objection 
is odds. He holds up the segis against a wooden sword. 
Jove s eagle holds his bolts in his talons, and hurls them, not 
at the Titans, but at sparrows and mice. I despise those 
objections in which blockheads only are sincere. 

Our Governor has not yet delivered his most democratic 
speech, although it is the second week of the court-sitting. 
To-morrow wisdom opens her mouth. It is said, he has 
twice or thrice new modelled his preachment, as he was led 
by hopes and fears of the temper of the members, finding no 
anti-treaty stuff would be well received, it is to be supposed. 
So says rumor. Your despatches are referred to a committee 
of the whole, and if any part shall be found to demand a 
more detailed answer, it shall be sent by the next post. 
Whether you did play the fool, or not, when the flag was 
delivered, you seem to have done it. 2 Such parade to check 

1 By Hamilton. 

2 The presentation of the French flag took place on the first day of Janu 
ary, 1796. It was accompanied with much ceremony, and both Houses of 
Congress passed rather sentimental resolutions on the occasion. 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

enthusaism ! Oh stuff ! Is it necessary to show zeal for the 
power of France, to evince regard for liberty ] You remark 
justly, "Reason is a slim underpinning 1 for government." 
But our reason is no less wild than our passions. Our very 
wise folks think a man false to his own country, if he is not 
a partisan of some foreign nation. 

Your friend. 



TO JEREMIAH SMITH. 

Mamaroneck, at Mrs. Horton s, 27 miles east from 
New York, February 3, 1796. Wednesday morning. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Here I am, per varios casus, 
through thick and thin ; jactatus et terris^ the sleigh often 
on bare ground ; vi superiim, and then there was great wear 
and tear of horseflesh ; tantcene animis irce, such is my pa 
triotic zeal to be useless in Congress. I give you a transla 
tion to save you trouble, and I have the most intimate 
persuasion l that it is as near the original as the copies of Mr. 
Fauchet s despatches, number three and six. I left Spring 
field Saturday morning, and came on to Hartford, very sick 
all the way. But I assure you, solemnly, I survived it, and 
was well the next morning. Lodged at New Haven Sunday 
night, at Norwalk Monday night. The snow grew thin at 
New Haven, and was nearly gone in the cartway at Stam 
ford. There I procured a coachee from a Mr. Jarvis, who 
was very obliging, and no democrat, his name notwithstand 
ing. Came on wheels to this place, and slept ; waked and 
found a snow-storm pelting the windows. It still continues, 
and I have sent back the coachee sixteen miles to Mr. Jarvis, 
and wait for the sleigh. Fate, perhaps, ordains that it will 
thaw by the time it comes back ; so much uncertainty is there 
in all the plans of man ! The novelty of this grave reflec- 

1 Tn Mr. Randolph s published vindication, a letter was introduced from 
Faucbet, stating, among other things, that he had a most intimate persuasion 
that he had misunderstood Mr. R. s application. 



LETTERS. 185 

tion will recommend it to you. To-morrow expect to hear 
the bells ring, and the light-horse blow their trumpets, on 
my reaching New York. If Governor Jay will not do that 
for me, let him get his treaty defended by Camillas and such 
understrappers. I intend to pass two days there, and three 
more will, I trust, set me down in Philadelphia. Do not let 
me go down to the pit of the Indian Queen. It is Hades, 
and Tartarus, and Periphlegethon, Cocytus, and Styx, where 
it would be a pity to bring all the piety and learning that he 
must have, who knows the aforesaid infernal names. Pray 
leave word at the said Queen, or, if need be, at any other 
Queen s, where I may unpack my weary household gods. 
I am the better for the journey, although I have, at least 
three times, been so ill as to come near fainting. My coun 
try s good alone could draw a man so sick from home, 
saving that I am not sick, and shall do my country no good. 
That, however, is not allowed by counsel, to impair the obli 
gation to pay me six dollars per day. Forbearing to be 
mischievous is said to be a valid consideration. I shall not 
prove a troublesome lodger, nor call for little messes ; a slice 
of dry bread at noon, wine- whey frequently at bedtime, will 
be all the addenda to the common attendance. Your offer to 
lodge with me in the same house is really very friendly, as 
you might well expect to find me both stupid and hyp d. 
If I should prove otherwise and better, it will be a just 
reward for your generous friendship. 

Yours, &c. 



TO THOMAS DW1GHT. 

Philadelphia, February 11, 1796. 

DEAR FRIEND, I arrived here the 9th, and am, after 
a day s discomposure by the journey, the better for the exer 
cise. Several times, on the way, I was very ill. I should 
have sent you an account of myself, had I known where a 
letter would hit you. This doubt will shorten this epistle. 

I am now in Congress. The House is too hot for me, 
16* 



186 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

although the business is cool and stupid enough ; election of 
Smith, of Virginia. Faction is preparing its mines, and 
getting all ready for an explosion. Many think it will not 
be fired. I know very little, as yet, of the views of parties. 
Massachusetts has given faction a blow by the answer to the 
speech, and the contempt of Virginia s revolutionary amend 
ments. This State treats the latter very cavalierly, and marks 
a most spirited federalism. 

Judge Sumner would kill faction in Massachusetts, if he 
was Governor. 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, February 16, 1796. 

DEAR FRIEND, I see, by the Centinel, your name is on 
the list of the majority, on the question of amendments. Still 
I think it prudent to address this to Springfield. 

My health is the better for the journey. I doubt whether 
I could have effected it on wheels, as with all the accommo 
dation of a sleigh, and all the precautions I could use, and 
although sixteen days on the road, I was several times near 
a full stop, being so unwell as to unfit me to travel. I am 
here, however, and as the weather is mild, and is usually 
very fine from this date for three months, I believe my 
chance of recovery is mended by the situation I am in. 

I rejoice with you, that the spirit of our Massachusetts 
legislature is so adverse to desperate innovation as the yeas 
and nays indicate. I hope, however, that many of the mi 
nority are opposed to the Virginia amendments, but voted as 
they did on other grounds, for I conceive it demonstrable on 
the most approved principles, vouched by experience, that 
the said amendments are not merely unfriendly to, but utterly 
subversive of, a free republican government. 

Disorganizers never sung a more lamentable dirge. France 



LETTERS. 

is robing herself in costume, the uniforms of her three 
branches. Is not that worse than titles I The United States 
behold the failure of the schemes of foreign corruption and 
domestic faction ; the States, one after another, fulminating 
contempt on Virginia and Co. ; as, for example, the ironical 
and sarcastic resolves of Pennsylvania. Every such proceed 
ing chills the Catilines here, like the touch of the torpedo. 
Whether the anti-treaty resolutions will be moved in Con 
gress is doubted by some. I believe they will be moved, 
and I fear will be carried. Others think they will fail. The 
unconstitutionally of the treaty is too ridiculous a piece of 
sophistry for men of sense to maintain. A direct vote that 
it is bad, disgraceful, and ruinous, is said to be resolved on 
by the party. 

The whisperers of secret history say that the flag of 
France was presented to the President, after a design and an 
attempt to get it received by the House of Representatives, 
thus to throw the President into the background ; but find 
ing it would not do, the mode adopted was the only one. 

A majority of wrong heads is said to be in the House. 
If so, and good laws are impeded, as usual, let the blame fall 
on those who hold the power of acting or stopping action. 

Your friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, March 9, 1 796. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I sit now in the House, and, that I 
may not lose my temper and my spirits, I shut my ears 
against the sophisms and rant against the treaty, and divert 
my attention by writing to you. 

Never was a time when I so much desired the full use of 
my faculties, and it is the very moment when I am pro 
hibited even attention. To be silent, neutral, useless, is a 
situation not to be envied. I almost wish ... . was 



188 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

here, and I at home, sorting squash and pumpkin seeds for 
planting-. 

It is a new post for me to be in. I am not a sentry, not 
in the ranks, not in the staff . I am thrown into the wagon, 
as part of the baggage. I am like an old gun, that is spiked, 
or the trunnions knocked off, and yet am carted off, not for 
the worth of the old iron, but to balk the enemy of a trophy. 
My political life is ended, and I am the survivor of myself, 
or rather a troubled ghost of a politician, that am condemned 
to haunt the field of battle where I fell. Whether the go 
vernment will long outlive me is doubtful. I know it is 
sick, and, many of the physicians say, of a mortal disease. 
A crisis now exists, the most serious I ever witnessed, and 
the more dangerous, because it is not dreaded. Yet, I con 
fess, if we should navigate the federal ship through this 
strait, and get out again into the open sea, we shall have a 
right to consider the chance of our government as mended. 
We shall have a lease for years say four or five ; not a 
freehold certainly not a fee-simple. 

How will the Yankees feel and act when the day of trial 
comes I It is not, I fear, many weeks off . Will they let 
the casuists quibble away the very words, and adulterate the 
genuine spirit, of the Constitution ] When a measure passes 
by the proper authorities, shall it be stopped by force I So 
phistry may change the form of the question, may hide some 
of the consequences, and may dupe some into an opinion of 
its moderation when triumphant, yet the fact will speak for 
itself. The government cannot go to the halves. It would 
be another, a worse government, if the mob, or the leaders 
of the mob in Congress, can stop the lawful acts of the Pre 
sident, and unmake a treaty. It would be either no govern 
ment, or instantly a government by usurpation and wrong. 

March 12. 

The debate is yet unfinished, and will continue some days 

longer. I beg you let have the paper, after you 

have done with it. 

I think we shall beat our opponents in the end, but the 
conflict will light up a fierce war. 

Your friend. 



LETTERS. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Philadelphia, March 11, 1796. 

DEAR FRIEND, Mr. Giles has just finished a great 
speech, and our friend Sedgwick is now making- another. 
Nothing will be decided till the next week. The manifest 
force of argument is on our side. Madison spun cobweb 
yesterday stated five constructions of the Constitution, 
and proceeded to suggest the difficulties in each, but was 
strangely wary in giving his opinion. Conscience made 
him a coward. He flinched from an explicit and bold creed 
of anarchy. Giles has no scruples, and certainly less sense. 
Pray attend to the debate. I am not able to stay in the 
House all the time ; expect therefore a broken history from 
my pen. The party abhors being drawn into the argument 
on the construction of the Constitution, on this question for 
a call of papers. They see the disadvantage of setting up a 
claim to unlock the cabinet, and a right to keep the key in 
future. Montezuma may, and I hope he will, set down his 
foot, and refuse them. Then the party will rage in vain, 
and I expect a final success to our attempts to carry the 
treaty into effect. In this mode, the party must assail his 
character, powers, and doings : all our strength against part 
of theirs. The form of this debate will create surprise 
that we refused to accept Madison s amendment, to except 
such papers as he might deem improper, and our going on 
to discuss the whole doctrine of the powers of each depart 
ment. I think both proceedings right. An amendment, by 
hiding the cloven foot, would have made the motion worse. 

Giles is said to have ready three resolutions : 

1st. That the treaty is pernicious, &c., &c. 

2d. That this House will not concur in measures to carry 
it into execution. (I since hear it is not so, but an assertion 
of the discretion of the House to grant or withhold.) 

3d. That it will concur in measures to give effect to a 
proper treaty. 

I like their violence. You and other discerning friends 
of order will note the wickedness, inconsistency, and sophistry 



190 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

of these Catilines. Virginia is said to be growing tamer ; 
and if the storm should not sink the federal ship immediately, 
a better crew may be looked for, even from Virginia. This 
is the opinion of the most respectable, and probably the lead 
ers dread the same thing, for they put all at risk on this 
struggle. 

I am obliged to hear as though I heard not, and to feel as 
though I was an oyster. 

March 12. 

No decision yet, and the debate will continue some days. 
It was the design of Giles to go into a rambling debate, ex 
citing the passions against this and that article of the treaty. 
Instead of an address to passion, the debate takes the turn of 
argument, an accurate discussion of a proposition its truth, 
not its consequences. Giles will try to get it on the journals, 
That the House asserts its right to sanction, or refuse to 
sanction, treaties which include any of the legislative powers 
of Congress, after which he will let his common men drop 
off, and carry the treaty into effect. Others believe the ut 
most effort will be made to prevent its going into effect. 

Yours. 



TO GEORGE RICHARDS MINOT. 

Philadelphia, April 2, 1796. 

DEAR FRIEND, 

I feel no desire to convert Doctor Kilham, because not 
having ceased to view him as a man of worth and good 
sense, I would not wish to run the hazard of a new casting. 
I do not know, and, believing what I have suggested of his 
character, I do not much care, what his politics are. Such 
antis as he was will do no harm. Men of fair minds, and 
possibly of too much perspicacity in espying objections to 
systems, may raise their own apprehensions, but not mine. 
They are not the bearers of firebrands, and daggers. The 
present household of antifederalism would be too much 



LETTERS. 



191 



praised, to be compared with the few sensible and over- 
apprehensive men of principle, who dreaded the operation of 
our government at its outset. 

Experience seems to have malice against theories. Friends 
and foes must confess the danger from the government, and 
the danger to it, appear in unsuspected places. 

When clubs fail of deciding elections, mobs must be re 
sorted to, for guiding the conduct of the chosen. When 
riotous meetings can prevent the ratification of a treaty, the 
power of negotiating will be virtually in the hands of the 
leaders of the sovereign people, as they very foolishly call a 
thousandth part of a nation. This very course has been 
taken, and the event is the problem yet unsolved. 

The answer of the President respecting the treaty papers 
will be with you. The party seemed wild on its being read. 
The project of referring the message to a committee of 
the whole House, is for the declared purpose of replying 
to it ; that is a manifesto or declaration of war against 
the other two branches. The serious aspect of the business 
needs no comment. My own faith is, the country will 
leave them, or more properly is not with them. Mr. Ma 
dison is deeply implicated by the appeal of the President to 
the proceedings of the General Convention, and most per 
sons think him irrecoverably disgraced, as a man void of 
sincerity and fairness. 

The appropriation of money to carry the treaty into effect 
will be vehemently contested, and it is hard to say how it 
will go. I think some will flinch. A statement is made to 
give you an idea of the votes. 





Yeas. 


Nays. 


Doubtful 


Absent. Yeas. 


Nays. 


Doubtful 


Absent. 


N. H. 


3 








1 


Del. 





1 








Mass. 


10 


3 





1 


MJ. 


6 


1 





1 


Conn. 


7 











Vir. 





19 








R.I. 


2 











Ken. 





1 


1 





Vt. 


1 


1 








N. Car. 


2 


7 


1 





N. Y. 


5 


4 


1 





S. Car. 


2 


3 





1 


N. J. 


5 











Geo. 





2 








Penn. 


4 


7 


2 




















47 



49 



More are doubtful, and should one or two leaders desert 
the terrorists, they will drop off rapidly. Such an event is 
probable. My health is slowly, though I am persuaded per 
ceptibly, improving. I am unfit for debate, and am not able 
to attend through a whole sitting. God bless you. 



192 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO THOMAS DWIGIIT. 

Philadelphia, April 18, 1796. 

DEAR FRIEND, I have just returned from riding. Mr. 
Giles is speaking" in the House, and I have enjoyed your 
and Mrs. A. s letters in the committee chamber. 

Here, we dance upon the edge of the pit, crying ga ira / 
it is but a little way to the bottom. No war. Reject the 
treaty. All depends on the constancy of the Senate, and on 
the alarms that the people will feel and send back to us. 
There will be no adjournment, if no treaty no motion to 
the wheels of government. The mill will be stopped, if the 
antis refuse to grind this treaty grist. In short, it is what 
Genet threatened an appeal to the public. Heaven knows 
what the court of appeals will do. At present, the vox populi 
seems to be vox rationis. This city is right. So is Balti 
more. The Quakers are alarmed. Alarms are contagious. 
I do not despair, nor will I brag, because the issue is actually 
joined, so long ago croaked about in all my letters. I wish 
the event had disgraced my conjuring skill. 

My best wishes for Mrs. D., Miss B., &c., and two ounces 
(all I have a right to frank) of kisses for Mary and John. 

Yours, &c. 

I am l)ona fide a better man than when you saw me at 
Dedham, or than I was at the date of my last. 



TO DWIGHT FOSTER. 

April 29.1 

DEAR SIR, Mrs. Ames will have too lively apprehen 
sions for my safety, when she finds (as she will by the 

1 The day after his great speech on the British treaty. The speech was an 
open violation of the Doctor s orders, and perhaps of some domestic injunc 
tions, which the sad condition of his health made to appear not unreasonable. 



LETTERS. 193 

Gazettes) that I have been speaking in public. I would quiet 
them if possible, and am justly anxious to do it at this time, 
as her situation is critical. The verity of my accounts is a 
good deal suspected, and will probably be received as a drug 
artfully made up to suit her case. 

I beg you address a letter to Colonel Thomas Dwight, 
and mention in it that I am alive, to your knowledge, and 
not the worse for having preached. J. Smith engages to 
tell my story to you in such a manner as to save your con 
science from blame, or to furnish excuses, if they should be 
called for. Your goodness will excuse this call upon it, and 
command the thanks of , your obliged friend. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, May 19, 179G. 

DEAR FRIEND, You are too modest in respect to your 
letters when you fancy they are, or ever can be, burdens. 
So far from it, they would make the political burden the 
lighter, if I bore any part of it. But I do not. I venture 
to say, and I do not know who will have a right to contra 
dict me, that I am the most idle and useless man here. 
I am but indifferent even fruges consumere. I attend Con 
gress daily, but crack jokes instead of problems, and think 
as little of the proceedings as the doorkeeper. The business 
of the world is not done by thinking, I confess, and on that 
ground alone my claim to preeminent inconsequence would 
be disputable. I have other grounds. I am often absent at 
a vote. 

Our politics assume a pacific and insipid face. The war 
will soon begin again. Who shall be President and Vice, 
are questions that will put an end to the armed neutrality of 
parties. Mr. Adams will be our man, and Jefferson theirs. 
The second is yet on both sides somewhat doubtful. 

If your place in the Senate should not be found to injure 
VOL. i. 17 



194 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

your concerns, I shall be glad of your appointment to it. It 
will bring you near Dedham, and assist the good cause of 
virtue and order in the General Court. Faction will send 
its recruiting sergeants round to obtain recruits for Jefferson 
by beat of the Chronicle drum. The choice of electors will 
be attended to everywhere with eagle eyes. 

We shall probably rise about the 27th. Rejoice when our 
mob has dispersed, and no windows broken. 

A great rain is falling. I hope it is not too late for the 
Yankee grass. 

If the pamphlet, containing the speech of your friend and 
humble servant, can be procured in time for the mail, it shall 
be sent to you. If you think proper to make its last stage, 
or its place of rest and cobwebs, in your library, you will 
deposit it there, but not in my name. That would expose 
the vanity, which I cannot conquer, but can hide, except 
when I boast of my friends ; and especially that I am 

Yours. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, May 30, 1796. 

DEAR FRIEND, You are, I trust, now doing all the 
good you can in the Senate* To prevent evil is one of the 
most useful and necessary duties of that station. Messrs. 
Cabot and Strong, 1 we hear, will not serve after this session. 
To send bad men to succeed two so good, would be unpar 
donable, especially at this high pitch of Massachusetts good 
sense and federalism. 

Congress will rise June 1st, as most of us expect. 
Rejoice when that event is ascertained. If we should finish 
and leave the world right side up, it will be happy. Do not 
ask what good we do : that is not a fair question, in these 
days of faction. The sky of politics seems clear for the pre- 

1 Members of the Senate. 



LETTERS. 



195 



sent, but the blue sky is seldom to be seen, for it rains almost 
without ceasing. If that should be denied, I fear the Ded- 
ham meadows would prove the fact. They cry de profundis 
for relief. 

My return may be expected I will not say when. 
I shall leave this city for the south on June 2d, unless Con 
gress should linger in their seats. I reckon three weeks 
for the journey. I shall pass three or four days in New 
York, and by attention to riding on horseback after my re 
turn, and the prospect of some law business, I shall be little 
of a domestic man during the recess. This is a state of 
vagabondism which I rejoice to think will soon end. 

I hope your household is in health. God bless you. 

Yours. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 1 

Philadelphia, July 30, 1796. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I take up the pen and yet I find 
a want of the writing impulse. That is strange, as I write 
to you, yet so it is, and, therefore, expect a dull epistle. 

On the d of August I shall leave this place, and be 
glad to leave it, as the air is of the hottest. You are now 
respiring the foggy coolness of the Thames, and wondering, 
as I certainly should, at the splendor of London. England 
at this instant exerts a force beyond that of Trajan or Anto 
ninus. The magnanimity that sustains bad success and 
perseveres against events, is not strange in a ministry. But 
I am ready to pay some respect to a people who can do this. 
Sudden feelings seem to be as right as tardy wisdom ; and 
even the latter would refuse peace on the terms of yielding to 
France her conquests. Peace on such terms would aggra 
vate the fear and the danger, and paralyze the efforts which 

1 Mr. Gore was a member of the Commission on British Spoliations, pro 
vided for in the Jay treaty, and was at this time residing at London, in the 
execution of his duties. 



196 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

would remove the cause, or at least counteract its immediate 
alarms. I am solicitous to know how the war will proceed, 
after such wonderful success of the French in Italy. The 
Emperor may now he at ease, as he has no more dominions 
in harm s way. So much for Europe. 

As to the United States, I think John Adams will succeed 
our chief. Late events have aided the friends of order. 
What fatality is there on the measures of Great Britain to 
tease and wrong us, by the petty depredations of Bermuda ] 
You know, and perhaps they do not, that this little pick 
pocket system makes them more hitter enemies here than 
can well be conceived. Prejudice against them would be no 
great matter, especially if they court, or rather provoke it, 
provided it was no obstacle to good order, and the great in 
terests of peace in the United States ; but it is, as you 
know. Lord send us peace in our day, that the passions of 
Europe may not inflame the sense of America ! 

Our politics are now on a good footing. The people are 
calm, and reason has made herself understood. She speaks 
low, and is often hoarse, and of all speakers the most easily 
browbeaten ; therefore, I calculate the calm of our affairs 
accordingly. For passion comes in our sky, like the thun- 
dergusts in clear weather, and catches the grain in the sheaf 
and the hay in the swarth : the air is the better immediately 
after. Since the treaty, we see nothing but blue sky. 

You will be missed in October at the election. I shall 
speak very plainly, and the more so, as I shall have no votes 
to expect or wish. William Eustis, I fear, is quite wrong. H. 
G. Otis will be my successor, if right men prevail. Swanwick 
will be ousted here. Muhlenburg also, if a good competitor 
can be fixed on. ^alletin and Findlay will be opposed with 
vigor. Senator Ross is the Ajax of the western country. 
Our W. Lyman is in disgrace in Hampshire. These are 
good omens. It is, however, common to see more blossoms 
than apples. 

I will contend the point with no man, woman, or child, 
that Philadelphia is a very hot place, for at this instant I am 
dissolving. 

It was said by our good President, to a person who spoke 
to him of England, that we are strong in that country; 



LETTERS. 197 

alluding" to a friend of mine, King", and Pinckney. That 
will help to reconcile me to the privations I am to bear, be 
yond any one of your acquaintance, in consequence of your 
absence. My return to private life, and my bad health, will 
demonstrate this conclusion. While I assure you that I an 
ticipate your letters with pleasure, I think it just to concede, 
that my claim shall be restrained to such communications 
only as you may find it quite convenient to make. I will 
soon write again. Yesterday I gave a letter to a Mrs. Car- 
rington, addressed to the care of Dickason & Co. This will 
go to the letter-bag of the same vessel. God bless you. 

Yours. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, August 22, 1796. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, If I am your debtor for the use of 
your horse, I am your accuser for having so cruelly calum 
niated him. Mars himself would not have done better in the 
harness ; a West Springfielder would not have gone with a 
federal weight hitched behind him more willingly. Oats 
enough, and a new lash to the whip, really inspired him, 
much to the surprise of my young friend Joseph. 

With regard to the favor, I shall only say, it is (and ex- 
cjise me if I avow it has ever been) your disposition to lay 
heavy loads on your friends, and you will not permit your 
self to touch them with one of your fingers. I thirst for 
revenge, and I will retaliate in a vindictive way on the first 
occasion that presents ; so take care of yourself. 

We are here almost speechless, crying water, water ; for 
our gardens are as dry as ashes. If I can buy a sulky, I 
contemplate a trip of three or four weeks, after the fourth 
week in September. 

The weather is now very hot, and clients are coming in. 

They and I sweat under the weight (and more with the 

length) of their tragical stories. Whether anybody will be 

hanged this term, I know not ; but if justice is done, some 

17* 



198 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

persons will have to pay forty shillings. I shall, no doubt, 
be weary with the business of the week, but I feel as if I 
could bear the fatigue of it. I shall be glad, however, when 
it is over. 

The drum of politics never beats here. When they go 
wrong, our folks appear as a militia. But I trust right im 
pressions are made, or may be made, against election day. 

With my very best regards to Mrs. D. and Miss B. 

I am your friend. 



TO JEREMIAH SMITH. 

Dedham, September 4, 1796. 

MY DEAR SMITH, I promised to write to you on my 
return, and therefore I must ; for a promise, you know, like 
a treaty, is binding. To one who is, at least semiannually, 
a lover, I might urge my excuse, that between friends (as 
between lovers) a promise is but wind. I renounce such 
quibbles, and will do my duty ; and because it is my duty, I 
fear (and indeed I feel) that I shall do it as dully as you 
might expect, when I make writing an affair of conscience. 

I saw Virginia, and it is not in a state to brag of ; the 
land is good, but the inhabitants scattered, and as bad farm 
ers as politicians. As to the latter, I must do them justice ; 
for una voce, all men in whole clothes said, and prove, more 
majorum, that their representatives did not speak their lan 
guage ; that they did love the President, the Constitution, 
and the Union ; that they would support these, obey the 
laws, and if they could, turn out their members at the next 
election. A federal party is certainly rising up there, and 
though (as a party) it is the weaker, the citizens are now 
more impressible by them than by the Jacobins. I hope, and 
my most considerate informants were absolutely certain, that 
some changes would be made in the next Congress, by send 
ing real feds four, at least, of the nineteen. Amen. 

Brent, Cabell, Heath, are among those who are marked 



LETTERS. 



199 



for dead men at the next election battle. Jefferson will not 
have all the votes in Virginia for President. John Adams, 
and Thomas Pinckney will be supported by the feds in Ma 
ryland and Pennsylvania ; and I hope the spirit of the Yan 
kees will not be wanting on an occasion that so deeply 
concerns the salus Reipub. 

Here the sea of politics, lately so stormy, is as still as a 
mill-pond. Another storm will be necessary before long to 
keep it sweet. 

Having thus attended to the public, I come, last of all, 

to myself. We patriots have made this a habit 

I am as strong and healthy as a man (no. that is not true) 
as a woman. Put a woman to hoe corn, or chop wood, and 
you have a just idea of my forces. I can ride better than at 
Philadelphia, fast longer, have fewer faint, low turns, sleep 
better, &c., but my appetite is yet puny; I soon tire with 
standing, or walking, or sitting up after nine. Like a grass- 
fed horse, my skin is glossy, and I carry my head up, but 
put me to work and I soon flinch. Yet I have gained seven 
pounds of flesh; proud flesh, your witty malice will say, 
because it grew on rne, and in Virginia. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Dedham, October 5, 1796. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Your favors, of the 26th July and 
2d August, came to my hands on the evening of the 3d, 
when the storm, that we may call the equinoctial, was whist 
ling through my keyhole. The letters cheered us, in spite 
of the gloom of a very terrible tempest. 1 I am happy to 
hear of our friend King s safe arrival. As he is, beyond 

1 The following is from Governor Gore s letter, referred to in the text : 

London, 26 July, 1796. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I received your favor of 31st May with great plea 
sure ; it was the first letter I had seen from any of my American friends ; 
and you, who have so feeling a heart, will know how much I enjoyed from 
reading the sentiments of affection and esteem which it contained. Before 



200 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

question, an abler man than any of the corps diplomatique 
in the United States, I anticipate the impression he will 
make in London, as raising the American character. Pro 
bably we think too highly of the abilities of their ministry, 

this reaches you, the news of our safe arrival will have been in Boston, and, 
I flatter myself, will have afforded you and some other friends satisfaction. 
Kintr and his family are now added to our society ; they arrived, in health, 
on Saturday evening. He visits Lord Grenville to-day, his majesty to-mor 
row, the queen the next day, and then is ready to do the business of his 
mission, and Mr. Pinckney to relinquish his. This latter gentleman intends 
to embark in September for South Carolina. I really esteem him as an 
amiable, honorable man, and cannot but think that, in the neighborhood of 
wise and firm men, he would be inclined to see the weakness and nonsense 
of some ideas that are very prevalent among the madmen of Europe and 
America. If the fates shouid place him in the Vice-President s chair, I should 
acquiesce in their decrees. As Cabot, Ellsworth, King, and Strong are out, 
and John Adams is, we hope, to be President, I pray we may have no more 
such nice and important questions as have agitated that board ever since its 
existence ; for, although I do not mean to derogate from the powers and 
integrity of those who are to supply their places, I should feel great anxiety 
at seeing the points discussed which have been argued there, and afterwards 
brought to the chair for a decision. 

Sedgwick and Goodhue, I trust, will accept the call of their country, and 
I really rejoice for them and the public ; but where, my friend, is to be found 
the leader of this band ? 

When you are absent, who is to play your part in the House, and guide 
in the tempestuous element which will ever reign in a place where so many 
and such various views direct the members? I look on the Executive, too, 
with more than distrust of its popularity. The pitiful avarice, falsely called 
economy, together with the abuse which good men see so plentifully heaped 
upon the public servants, without emotion, has driven, and will drive, from 
that part of our government, all that is able and virtuous. The wicked and 
weak, who affect to serve the public out of pure, disinterested love for the 
people, may then riot, unopposed, on the spoils which faction has created, or 
rather prepared, for their hands. 

I received, from Philadelphia, your speeches, and know that they are in 
the hands of Mr. Pitt, Mr. Dundas, and Lord Grenville. I will, when I 
obtain another, send it to E. B. It is universally admired; it does honor to 
our country, and is read with great avidity by men of genius and taste. 

You would really be surprised to hear the strange questions that are fre 
quently put to Americans on the subject of our country, its customs, and 
languages. We suppose that what concerns our nation is pretty well under 
stood by all the reading and inquisitive men of this ; but this is a mistake. 
I have been asked, by a very sensible man, who appeared acquainted with 
our politics, as relating to this country, what language we talked in America ; 
and when I answered, the English, he wished to know if we talked it so 
generally as that our laws were printed in that. He told me he supposed 
we were a race of men composed of so many different nations, that we had 
a language as various as the different nations from which his imagination 
considered us made up, or a sort of motley language, like our own, as he 
supposed, mongrel race. 



LETTERS. 201 

and too meanly of the principles of their government. If 
the prudence of their conduct towards the United States 
should be the test of the former, we should rate them very 
low. At this time of day, when experience has shown how 
they ought not to have acted, and when their actual situation 
threatens to make error fate, I did hope they would adopt 
wise rules of action, and carry them further, and adhere to 
them the more steadily, in proportion to the little repentance, 
and the greater apprehension, which I have supposed even 
their arrogance had felt for their former deviations. But 
your hints of their judicial delays, and of the unmanageable- 
ness of their ministry, renew my fears. If they should 
play a little, mean, game at last, they would do us infinite 
mischief. They would Frenchify and democratize us, ten 
times the worse for the long delay of the crisis. Surely 
they would not like to see us turn mob at last ; and you 
know that the ultimate failure, or even the material disap 
pointment, of the hopes entertained here from the treaty, 
would bring up giant anarchy again, like Anteeus from the 
ground, the stronger for his fall. Is it impossible to make 
them see, and, which is ten times better, to make them feel 
and fear, this tendency ? I will not proceed to write all 
that you and I already think on this subject ; it would be a 
folio. I will only add, that I fear victory will make the 
fury of the French again contagious. Peace, under present 
circumstances, would expose Great Britain to dangers of 
unknown shapes and sizes. The revolutionary torrent was 
thought to have spent itself, and to be spreading into a still 
lake. On the contrary, it seems to be wearing itself a 
channel, and to be running with as much force, and nearly 
as much froth, as ever. Whether the mountain of Great 
Britain will stand strong, is a curious problem, that I am 
very willing, if it please God, to live to see solved. If it 
should be undermined and sink, there will not be a fruitful 
plain, the fabled plain of equality, in its stead, but a lake, 
to send up hotter and more pestiferous steams than that of 
Asphaltites. The principles of real order will be every 
where in disgrace and persecution. Our children must then 
pass through the fire to Moloch ; suffer for liberty, and not 
have it at last. The French ought to see that to run mad, 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

is not the way to understand it ; and to enjoy it, they 
have committed the practice of the principles of humanity 
to the hangman and his former customers. If the Emperor 
should hold out, and resolve on another campaign, will not 
the funds of the French fail at last^ Will shoe-buckles 
at home, and church plate in Italy, furnish pay and plunder 
to a million soldiers abroad and two millions of committee- 
men at home I They are living, and not very frugally, on 
the old stock. Miracles are no more ; and one would not 
look for their renewal in favor of the French saints. It 
is not within probability that they will find the means of 
another campaign by conquest and plunder, for they have 
gone the length of their chain ; nor that they could squeeze 
more from their own subjects, without reviving the flames 
of civil war. But we hear that Spain is going to put on 
armor, and take the enviable chance of losing ships, colonies, 
and independence, in a war that France forces her into, and 
which cannot help her interests by any of its vicissitudes. 
Such would have been our lot, had Genet prevailed here, or 
Mr. M. at Paris. B. H. and J. S., the two Dorchester 
patriots, formerly from Paris, speak very highly of Mr. M. 
They affect to be friends of order. But they will not do 
much mischief, as matters now are. 

I will not dilate on our affairs; in truth, there is not 
much to write about. All is calm at present ; and because 
it is calm, we ought to expect a storm ; for, in such times, 
the feds go to sleep in full faith that all danger is over. I 
fear this is the case in respect to my successor. I shall try 
to rouse a better spirit. Eustis is very equivocal, and, I 
agree with you, should be made to declare himself, and take 
his side. If Jefferson should be our chief, he will be a 
decided Jacobin. J. C. Jones will, no doubt, refuse ; and 
H. G. Otis will, I think, be our man. His talents will 
distinguish him, and I hope he will be careful to wait pa 
tiently in Congress till they do ; but he is ardent and ambi 
tious. I reserve myself to croak on the state of the nation, 
when the choice of our first and second men becomes more 
calculable. 

I have read your two letters with equal attention and 
pleasure ; but, instead of paying you for each article with a 



LETTERS. 203 

comment or reply, I have rambled out into infinite space, 
like a comet. Do not imagine, however, that my vanity 
loses one word of your flattering notice of my treaty speech. 
As to my absence from the House, the loss will be nothing 
as to leading. I never had any talent in that way, and I 
have not been the dupe of such a false belief. Few men 
are fit for it. Ellsworth, Hamilton, King, and perhaps John 
Marshall, would lead well, especially Ellsworth, 

.... quo non praastantior alter 
JEre ciere viros, Martemque accendere cantu. 

His want of a certain fire that H. and K. have, would make 
him the fitter as dux gregis. The House will be like sheep 
without a shepherd. I never was more than shepherd s dog ; 
and my friends have been too civil sometimes, in their praise 
of my barking, when the thieves and the wolves were coming. 
My vanity (God knows I have enough) is laying no traps 
for an answer of praise ; but I know, and you know, that 
if sometimes I can talk with some effect, I am good for 
nothing else. I shall do ill as a lawyer, and I am unfit 
for any public employment. The talent of exaggeration is 
a poor claim to any station that requires moderation of 
mind, and accuracy, and patience of observation. I wish, 
therefore, I do really wish, to be obscure at home, where 
my wife and children, &c., will think of me as I wish. 
The world would find me out, if I was placed in any 
new post. This is not mock modesty; far enough from 
it, or any modesty. Over and above all other considera 
tions, my ties to this life are not stronger than cobweb. 
My health is not equal to any exertion. It is possible I 
may mend, yet I believe it is a fixed debility, a kind of 
premature old age ; and as I am a new light in politics, the 
fervors of the next two years, especially if our politics should 
go wrong, would destroy me. You and my other friends 
will admit that this is probable. 

I will attend to your query respecting the interpretation 
of the words of the treaty, " the ordinary course of justice," 
&c. I shall take the first occasion to ask the opinions of 
better casuists than I can pretend to be. Every thing that 
has the most remote connection with your fame and happi 
ness, will have its importance in my eyes. Yours, &c. 



204- WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, October 25, 179G. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

I left positive directions with a friend, yesterday, to cause 
my declining a place on the list of candidates for Congress 
to be announced in the Centinel. It has been delayed too 
long, and that has not been my fault. H. G. Otis will be 
our man ; Eustis or J. Bowdoin for the antis. Governor 
Adams will, it is said, offer as an elector. This evinces a 
design to quit the chair, at least in May next; for, after 
the mischief he would do as an elector, is it possible that 
Massachusetts would reelect him ] 

The prospect of choosing John Adams is thought to be 
very good. Thomas Pinckney will be proposed as Vice, and 
votes will be sought for John Adams in the South, on the 
expectation that the eastern States will vote fairly for him 
and Pinckney. Swanwick and Blair McClenachan are 
chosen the latter for the county of Philadelphia : a thick 
headed Irishman. Vox popuK is, you know, always vox 
sapient ice. The successes of France do not appear to me 
greatly to bewitch our citizens. The gloss of novelty is 
off, and our gallicism appears shabby to the men of sense. 
Their opinion finally guides that of the public. I am sorry 
to see its progress so very slow. If reverses of fortune 
should happen to the French, which are not impossible, our 
cure would be hastened. 

I am building stone wall, which will not cost less than a 
guinea a rod. Is not this a good business, well followed] 
My house is moated round in dirt, like an entrenched camp. 
I hurry my improvements, as I am soon to pluck up stakes 
for Congress. When my apprenticeship is out in March, 
will master give me a new suit of clothes and an hundred 
pounds, old tenor ? I think not, but I hope my customers 
will. 

With my best regards to you and yours, I am 

Yours, truly. 



LETTERS. 0,5 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Philadelphia, December 3, 1796. 

DEAR FRIEND, Our correspondence has been longer 
interrupted than either could wish. Your last was dated 
7th September, and my last on or near the 7th November. 
All that time I was vexed with our Dedham antis^ for 
voting as they did for Governor A. and J. B. Yet H. G. 
Otis is chosen very handsomely, and will sustain the cause 

of order and his own fame in Congress The 

House will be better ; the Senate cannot be, as to voting, at 
least as to effective voting. The loss, in talents, &c., &c., is 
to be lamented. We have not another Rufus King to put 
there. 

As to President, never was there a more embarrassing 
state of things. A statement of the votes is given thus : 
North of Delaware, Adams, 58 ; a Mr. Coleman, of Penn 
sylvania, is of this State s number, 1. But a Mr. A. J. 
Dallas, it is said, will oust him, by causing Governor Mifflin 
to certify anew. Greene County votes would exclude Cole 
man, and they have come in since the Governor s certificate 
or proclamation. Delaware, 3 ; Maryland, 6, (others insist 
7 say 6,) = 9. Virginia, 2. (A Mr. Eyre, of the East 
ern Shore, and Colonel Powell say positively there will 
be 4< against Jefferson,) Q = JO a majority of 138. 
North Carolina, it is hoped, will give one, who declared he 
would, if chosen, vote for Adams, and this in a newspaper. 
Thus, you see, it is very close. Accident, whim, intrigue, 
not to say corruption, may change or prevent a vote or two. 
Perhaps some may be illegal, and excluded. What a ques 
tion this last would be, if made when the two houses con 
vened ! How could it be debated or adjusted I a la Pologne ? 
You will see the resolve of Massachusetts to empower the 
electors to fill up their own vacancies, if any should be. A 

strange resolve Who can foresee the issue of 

this momentous election] Perhaps the Jeffs, foreseeing a 
defeat, may vote for Mr. Pinckney, in which case he might 
come in by two thirds of all the votes. But they expect 
VOL. I. 18 



206 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

success, and therefore will not throw away their votes. Yet 
Mr. P. may have more than Adams ; and of the three 
chances, his may be thought the most hopeful. That would 
be a subject of incalculable consequences. On the one hand, 
he is a good man ; on the other, even a good President, 
thus made by luck or sheer dexterity of play, would stand 
badly with parties and with the country. It would wear an 
ill aspect in Europe, as well as here. We shall soon know 
the decree of destiny; and it will reach London by the 
gazettes. 

While our government is thus on the transmigration, 
(excuse the word) and exposed to some foreseen and more 
unforeseen contingencies, Adet 1 times his electioneering in 
solence. Some among us are so wicked as to justify the 
French ; and others so mean, so unspeakably mean, as to 
say we must choose a President that will conciliate that na 
tion. Some of the Quakers have supported the Jeff ticket 
on that plea. I think the Yankee spirit higher and better : 
otherwise, I should wish to import a cargo of emancipated 
Dutchmen, to be the fathers of the next generation. I trust 
the feelings of our countrymen will repel this more than 
Genet outrage on an independent government. But the 
business is supposed to depend on the issue of the cam 
paign. France, if victorious, will not fail to interdict our 
trade with Great Britain ; if beaten, she will receive expla 
nations from General Pinckney. The world is deeply in 
terested to have her exorbitant power curtailed, and I really 
hope our ox-eating fools begin to see it. To celebrate 
French victories may be right for Jacobins ; but we should 

1 Adet, the French minister, did not content himself with corresponding 
with the Secretary of State, according to old diplomatic usage, but occa 
sionally appealed to the people, by publishing in the Aurora (the leading 
Democratic paper) a duplicate of his official communications to the De- 
partmei\t. He had recently published in that manner a full and elaborate 
exposition of the complaints of France against the American government, 
the principal grievance, of course, being the British treaty. This remarkable 
and declamatory document announced, among other things, that, although 
France was terrible in her resentment, she was magnanimous ; and if Ame 
ricans would but let their government return to itself, they would still find in 
Frenchmen faithful friends and generous allies. This appeal was at the eve 
of a very doubtful election, in which the danger of a rupture with France 
was relied upon, by the Democratic party, as a reason for a change of ad 
ministration. 



LETTERS. 

cease to celebrate the Fourth of July. The publication is so 
recent, we cannot be sure how it is received. If Adams 
should be President, and Jefferson should accept the Vice- 
Presidency, as many swear he certainly will, if elected, party 
will have a head, responsible for nothing, yet deranging- and 
undermining every thing, and France would have a new ma 
gazine of disorganizing influence. If Jefferson should be 
President, he would aid the French design (formerly baffled) 
of excluding the English trade, and would colonize the 
United States in effect. I own I am ready to croak Avhen 
I observe the gathering of the vapors in our horizon. Yet it 
is not every cloud that brings rain. On Monday, the fifth, 
Congress is to meet. A quiet session is predicted. This is 
probable enough, but many circumstances may occur to raise 
a storm. A contested vote for President, when the two 
houses meet to count the votes, would realize, in an instant, 
our worst forebodings. The French attacks may grow more 
serious, and oblige parties to array themselves. But I hope 
Moreau is disposed of. He was hemmed in by the Austrians, 
and was thought, at our last dates of intelligence, to be cut 
off. The ruin of his army would change the outrageous 
conduct of the French towards the United States. Jourdan 
is entirely defeated, and his army dispersed, as we hear, 
although new troops are sent to cover him at Dusseldorf. 
Pray give me the military news. 

I left Dedham fourteen days ago, in a hack, and proceeded 
in it to New York. There I took an extra stage, so that 
my journey was easy, and although it was very cold weather, 
I performed it almost as well as ever. My health is much 
improved. I am yet tender, but I am not allowed to call 
myself an invalid. By care and exercise, I really hope to be 
in statu quo ante 1795. 

Yours, and Mrs. G. s. 



208 WORKS OF FISHER AMES 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, December 8, 1796. 

DEAR FRIEND, My journey was easy and salutary, and 
my friends unite, at first sight, in pronouncing that I have 
now the face of perfect health. I am, I hope, becoming fit 
for application to business, but it will require a considerable 
further period of relaxation before I shall resume my former 
engagements, or believe that I may do it with impunity. 

Who is to be President is yet the puzzle. If Mr. Pinck- 
ney has the eastern votes, or two thirds of them, many believe 
he will be President. Jefferson, I hope and trust, has the 
worst chance of the three. His being Vice would be a for 
midable evil, if his pride would let him take it. 

Little is yet done or said in Congress, and the session we 
hope will be free from the accustomed tempests. W. Lyman, 
I hope, will stay at home in future, and Dearborn ; then 
Skinner would be more likely to go straight. 

Yours, affectionately. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



Philadelphia, December 10, 1796. 

DEAR FRIEND, Yours of 5th December informs that 
all is well at Springfield, which is news sufficient to make 
a letter very welcome. I am very well, and few will 
suffer me to say a word about my old claims as an invalid. 
Thus my privileges are disputed, but the family I am with 
indulge all my pretensions. I am bound to say that I receive 
the kindest attentions, and with these I hope I shall return in 
trim to earn half a dollar by my work. I resolve to work 
here but little as a legislator. I am on a speech-answering 
committee at present, which imposes all the task on me ; and 
as there is an allusion to the French, and a propriety in an 



LETTERS. 209 

eulogium on the President, it is no sinecure. We shall 
probably bring a debate on our heads to get it through the 
House. After this I decline committees. 1 



1 The debate came, as was anticipated, and proved to be somewhat extra 
ordinary. 

After a number of verbal alterations had been proposed, Mr. Giles, of Vir 
ginia, moved to strike out from the address reported by the committee all the 
clauses from the sixth inclusive, and to recommit. He said that he did not 
object to every sentiment expressed in the portions of the report which he 
moved to strike out. He had no objection that the address should be compli 
mentary, but wished it to be so within the bounds of moderation and justice. 
He would state the parts which he conceived objectionable. He objected 
to the sixth paragraph because he conceived it unnatural and unbecoming to 
exult at our prosperity, by putting it pointedly in comparison with the calami 
ties of Europe. It was not necessary to tell persons, unfortunately involved 
in a calamity, that we were so much happier than they. This had no relation 
with the business of the House. 

If he stood alone in the opinion, yet he would declare that he was not con 
vinced that the administration of the government, these six years past, had 
been wise and firm. Indeed he had opposed every measure of theirs respect 
ing our foreign relations, and unless he could be convinced that he had been 
wrong in that opposition, he could not be made to feel the existence of that 
wisdom. If the measures of that administration with respect to foreign powers 
had been wise, we should not have been brought to the present crisis. A 
want of wisdom and firmness had conducted the affairs of the nation to a crisis 
which threatened greater calamities than any that had before occurred. 

If the report had been so framed as to express a sense of the patriotism, 
virtue, and uprightness of the President, it might have obtained the unanimous 
vote of the House, but it was not to be expected that many of the members 
should so far lose sight of self-respect as to condemn, by one vote, the whole 
course of their own political conduct. If a view was to be taken, indeed, of 
our internal situation, it would be seen that circumstances exist not usually 
attendant on a state of prosperity. Public and private credit is shaken, 
arising in a great degree from the fiscal operations of administration. 

Another sentiment in the report he could not agree to. He did not regret 
the President s retiring from office. He hoped he would retire, and enjoy the 
happiness that awaited him in retirement. He believed it would more con 
duce to that happiness, that he should retire, than that he should remain in 
office. He believed the government of the United States founded on the 
broad basis of the people ; that they were competent to their own government; 
and the remaining of no man in office was necessary to the success of that 
government. The people would be truly in a calamitous situation, if one 
man were essential to the existence of their government. He was convinced 
that the United States possessed a thousand citizens capable of filling the 
Presidential chair, and he would trust to the discernment of the people for a 

Proper choice. Though the voice of all America should declare the Presi- 
ent s retirement a calamity, he could not join in the declaration, because he 
did not conceive it a misfortune. He hoped the President would be happy 
in his retirement, and he hoped he would retire. 

He reverted again to that part of the report which declared the administra 
tion to have been wise and firm in its measures. He had always disapproved, 
he repeated, of the measures of that administration with respect to foreign 
relations, and many members of the House had, also. He was therefore sur 
prised that gentlemen would now come forward and wish him, in one breath, to 
disavow all his former opinions, without being previously convinced of having 

18* 



210 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

One elector was sick and did not vote in Delaware. A 
loss to Adams. In Pennsylvania, report from Harrisburg 
says, three will vote for Adams ; and two, three, or four are ex 
pected in North Carolina. Still, if the votes of the Eastern 
States are for Pinckney, he will be the man. Yours, &c. 

been in an error. For his own part, he conceived there was more cause than 
ever for adhering to his old opinions. The course of events had pointed out 
their propriety, and if he was not much mistaken, a crisis was at hand, which 
would confirm them. He wished that while gentlemen are willing to compli 
ment the President, they would pay some respect to the feelings of others. 

After some further objection to the declaration as to Americans being the 
freest and most enlightened of nations, he adverted to the sentiment expressed 
in the same clause, " that adulation would tarnish the lustre," &c., and ob 
served that those words, introduced in a parenthesis, appeared to have forced 
themselves upon the committee, as in fact self-condemning what had been 
written before in exalted praise of the President. 

He concluded by a few remarks on the last clause of the reported address, 
which expressed a wish that the President s successors may keep him in view, 
as an example worthy of imitation. It would be time enough, he hoped, to 
speak of his successor when he should arrive. His successor, he did not doubt, 
when he did come into office, would exert his best judgment and ability for 
the good of the United States, and would pursue the course without any ex 
ample. The objectionable parts of the report he considered so interwoven 
with the rest, that he hoped his motion to strike out and recommit would 
prevail. 

In the course of the debate, Mr. Nicholas objected to the address as too 
strong to be agreed to. Mr. Rutherford lamented that a mistaken zeal in be 
half of the President had led to the introduction of an address which could 
not command unanimous concurrence. Nobody could vote for this address 
who doubted the propriety of the course of our government towards France. 

Mr. Livingston hoped that the answer would have been so drawn as to 
avoid this debate. And as to the declaration concerning -the " tranquil pros 
perity " of the country, the present circumstances do not warrant it. He 
could not assent to it without mocking the distresses of his constituents. 

Mr. Giles s motion was then negatived. 

Mr. Livingston then moved to strike out the words, " your wise, firm and 
patriotic administration," and substitute, " your wisdom, firmness, and patriot 
ism." Mr. Giles, in advocating this amendment, remarked that the British 
Treaty was a ruinous measure, and this ere long would be the opinion of 
America. The British Treaty and the emission of transferable paper had 
been particularly opposed. He believed that the President possessed talents, 
virtue and wisdom ; but that these qualities had not been so eminently dis 
played in the government as in other acts of his life. 

After considerable debate, in which it appeared that some of the Demo 
cratic members could not go so far as to advocate it, this amendment was cut 
off by the previous question. 

Mr. Blount then moved to strike out the last sentence of the address, " for 
your country s sake," &c., which motion was rejected by a vote of fifty-four 
against twenty-four. The same gentleman then, in order, as he said, that 
posterity might see that he did not consent to the address, called for the yeas 
and nays. The address was then adopted, the twelve following being the 
only members who voted in the negative, viz. Messrs. Blount, Coles, Giles, 
Greenup, Holland, Andrew Jackson, Livingston, Locke, William Lyman, 
Maclay, Macon, and Venable. 



LETTERS. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Philadelphia, December 17, 1796. 

DEAR FRIEND, It is now taken for certain that Mr. A. 
will be President, as he has sixty-seven votes, and Vermont 
will give him four more, South Carolina perhaps two or three. 
But though Jefferson cannot be President, he may be Vice;, 
which would be disastrous. In a Senate that will bring him 
into no scrapes, as he will have no casting votes to give, re 
sponsible for no measures, acting in none that are public, he 
may go on affecting zeal for the people ; combining the antis, 
and standing at their head, he will balance the power of the 
chief magistrate by his own. Two Presidents, like two suns 
in the meridian, would meet and jostle for four years, and 
then Vice would be first. Can we get along with so much** 
less than the natural, not to say the present, state of the ex 
ecutive strength, and so much more than the ordinary;., 
power and combination of party ] Mr. Pinckney may yet 
come in Vice, and I wish it, for the reasons alluded to 
above. 

The gazettes will keep you informed of the state of the 
election. 

Yesterday we presented the answer of the House to the 
Speech. The echo of the paragraph respecting a foreign 
nation was drafted as inoffensively as it could be, to avoid 
party points, and to evince our support of the President. 
Yet Giles, Parker, and others opposed it with vehemence. 
Their speeches went beyond the present state of popular 
feeling, and in the end we beat them. Their defeat will 
help to sink that exotic folly faster than it was going before, 
as very plain language was used in respect to foreign influ 
ence, &c., &c. Instead of blame on our government for 
having an affray to manage, it was our own base Americans 
at Paris, and a base party here, who fomented, encouraged, 
and now openly abetted, the injury and the insult. This 
brought out explanations, vindications, &c., that they did love 
their own country the best, and that they would fight even 
their beloved France, if necessary. Such sentiments will 



012 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

certainly promote the cure of our contagious prejudices, 
and our gazettes already manifest it. 

I had intended to write to you at great length. But 
riding out daily, and very frivolous reasons, have obstructed 
my design. I will resume it very soon. I pray you write 
often. Wishing you and Mrs. G. health and happiness, I 
am, Yours, &c. 

I used to say, that if I had a friend in London I would 
beg his attention to buy for me a small set of second-hand 
books, which I understand could be had, of even an elegant 
kind, and at half price. Yet I am a little shy of pursuing 
this intention, lest you should be more zealous in the business 
than I would have you, as you are too importantly occupied, 
and, I may add, too much an American Commissioner, to 
buy second-hand books. 

I propose a compromise therefore : If, through Mr. S. 
Cabot, I could procure such as I want, within any time that 
would admit of its being done without trouble, I would wish 
to have bought Robertson s History of Scotland, Charles V., 
and America ; Hume s History of England, Pope s Iliad and 
Odyssey. Should you think the thing feasible without much 
of your attention, I would form a list with some care. I 
should be satisfied with decent bindings 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Philadelphia, January 5, 1797. 

DEAR FRIEND, 

I know little of Congress affairs. Much is not done or 
attempted, and I perceive (inter nos) the temper and objects 
of the members are marked with want of due reflection and 
concert, and indicate the proneness to anarchy, and the self- 
sufficient imbecility of all popular bodies, and especially of 
such as affect to engross all the active and efficient powers of 



LETTERS. 



213 



the other branches to themselves, as our folks do. A House 
that will play President, as we did last spring, Secretary of 
the Treasury, as we ever do, &c., &c., will play mob at last. 
Unless it is omnipotent, the members will not believe it has 
the means of self-defence. I could write a book, without 
rising from my chair, on the bad tendency of this disposition, 
and the actual progress we have made in it. However, you 
call me a croaker. I croak on, believing you will join me at 
last. Mr. Jefferson is said to have written to his friends x 
here, not to oppose him, in a choice by States, if it should 
come to that, against John Adams, as he (A.) ought to be 
the President. Such hypocrisy may dupe very great fools, 
but it should alarm all other persons, as it shows a deep 
design, which neither shame nor principle will obstruct, to 
cajole and deceive the public, and (inter nos) even J. A. ; in 
which I hope he, though an arch deceiver, will fail. His 
\ ice-Presidency is a most formidable danger. This I say as 
a conjurer. Kiss all the children, yours and mine, on behalf 
of your friend. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Philadelphia, January 27, 1797. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Although I have not much to add 
to my late letters, I will not lose the opportunity of writing 
again by the Favorite. There is policy in multiplying my 
letters. It will procure the more in reply from you. 

The vote for a direct tax passed the House, forty-nine 
to thirty-nine. I voted with the latter. A committee is 
preparing a bill. Revenue is necessary, and that on trade is 
precarious. A resort to the land will be made soon or late. 
With these opinions, you will wonder at my vote. But in 
my judgment three things ought to concur before we venture 
on a land tax : The improvement of our internal taxes, sys 
tematizing and enforcing the collections ; now Kentucky pays 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

nothing, and the backwoodsmen generally very little. Even 
the carriage and license taxes are badly collected in New 
England. The details of these should be perfected. I also 
wish first to see an extension of our indirect taxes to licenses 
for taverns, stamps, an higher duty on salt, on bohea* tea, 
and brown sugar. The aversion to a land tax affords the means 
of effecting both these important objects of fiscal improvement, 
at least one would hope so, provided a proper union of the fede 
ral members was formed. Thirdly, and to conclude, I think 
the public mind should be prepared for a land tax before it is 
imposed, which it is not. I could wish the necessity of a tax 
might be admitted, in and out of Congress ; that every effort 
be made to get the needful without touching the land ; but 
the deficiency must be had at the next session by a land tax ; 
and to that end that the mode of taxing should be now passed 
into a law, and the vote for a sum to be levied to be delayed 
till the next session. In this manner the public would be 
made to see that the necessity was real, and the effort to 
avoid a tax on land sincere. A levy of the deficiency would 
be (say $500,000) so light as to disappoint their fears, and 
cure their prejudices. The abrupt assessment of near a mil 
lion and a half would operate very differently, as you will not 
doubt. 

It is no easy matter to combine the anarchical opinions, 
even of the good men, in a popular body. We are a mere 
militia. There is no leader, no point de ralliement. The 
motion-makers start up with projects of ill-considered taxes, 
and, by presenting many and improper subjects, the alarm to 
popular feelings is rashly augmented. Whether we shall be 
able, in the event, to do any better is beyond my powers of 
conjecture. I shall preach to our friends to concert their 
plan, and to be complying to one another, for the common 
good. The session is wearing away, and I fear no revenue 
will be obtained. I am not robust enough to bear the labor 
of close application in the House, and thus I throw off my 
share of blame. 

A committee reported on V. s election, censuring the 
petition against him as malevolent. This part was erased, 
and another substituted, that V. had acted honorably in the 
election, which was carried, though it is not true. Brown 



LETTERS. 

ought to have made some effort to sustain his charges, for the 
sake of the public opinion. 

General Shepard is probably chosen, vice W. Lyman. I 
hear that the Georgia business strains the purses and credit 
of many in Boston, and is likely to prove a ruinous thing. 
There will be great distress everywhere among the moneyed 
men, as spoliations, speculations, luxury in living, and the 
course of trade, all lead to it. I might say over trading. 

We are more than ever impatient to hear European news, 
as we all believe that events will augment or diminish the 
spoil committed on our commerce, according to their nature. 
W. Paine will keep you informed of what passes in Boston, 
&c. God bless you and your Commission. 

Yours. 



TO DWIGHT FOSTER. 

Dedham, June 24, 1797. 

DEAR SIR, I am the more thankful to you for your 
kind remembrance of me, manifested by your repeated let 
ters, as it could be only from your benevolence that so use 
less a creature or thing, as I am, still attracts your attention. 
I rise rather early, put on my Germantown stockings, 
though it is June, ride a few miles, return very weary, lie 
down to recruit, take a biscuit and a glass of wine when I can 
no longer endure the lowness I am subject to, walk a little in 
the garden, read as much as I can, eat as much as I dare at 
dinner, ride again towards evening, and at nine o clock go to 
roost. This is my life, and what matter is it whether I 
know how the world goes, or that Congress is as feeble and 
inefficient as I am I 

My life is of no more use to the world, my family except, 
than the moss to the trees in your orchard : it sucks out a 
very little of the sap, and that sustains a stinted and barren 
vegetation. I bar all compliment in reply, and insist that 
ten such valetudinarians are not worth one cabbage plant. 



216 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

We are cabbage stumps, and take up the room of better 
thing s. I will not urge this argument so far as to insist 
that all such folks as I am should be knocked on the head, 
although I could answer the objections and cavils of all ex 
cepting the concerned. My design in being thus particular 
is not to establish my claim to martyrdom, which I am con 
tent for the present to waive, but to help you to judge how I 
vegetate, and to enable you to answer the inquiries that some 
may still think fit to make about me. Whether I am to be 
worthy Bruges consumere, by doing any thing to obtain them, 
is a problem too deep for me to solve at present. My own 
opinion has changed repeatedly, since I left Congress, in 
respect to the actual degree of my health, and the prospect of 
its being better or worse. 

I leave it to you wise men to save the nation. Some of 
you must watch and pray, and others must fight, if need be. 
I should not have thought the lot would have fallen upon 
Thatcher to defend his principles by the sword. 1 And what 
is not the least remarkable, he got into the scrape by express 
ing his aversion to any thing French. He is a worthy 
fellow. May he long escape wounds and sickness, and enjoy 
as much glory as he thirsts for, without bleeding to get it. 
Does not J. Smith remark the advantage of a wife I She is 
an excuse on a challenge. God preserve you from gun 
powder, &c. Yours. 



TO HON. TIMOTHY PICKERING. 2 

Dedham, October 4, 1797. 

DEAR SIR, My engagements in a law court have not 
permitted me to thank you sooner, for the entertainment your 

1 Mr. Thatcher, a member from Massachusetts, (afterwards Judge of the 
Supreme Court,) was challenged by a Mr. Blount, for words spoken in debate. 
He declined the challenge in terms that rather turned the laugh against the 
challenger. 

2 Mr. Pickering was at this time Secretary of State. 



LETTERS. 

printed answer to the little Don 1 has afforded. You have 
not left a whole bone in his skin. If his nation were not in 
question, I should say he was beaten too much, beaten after 
he was down, and every bystander would pity him. But as 
Spain once had power, and is still magni nominis umbra, with 
as much pride as if the substance had not departed, the spirit 
and vigor of the answer will have its effect in Europe. 
There they all tremble at France, and Spain too, because the 
terrible Republic says, Love me, love my dog. For my part, 
I love neither ; and I rejoice to see the country acquiring, 
very fast, that self-respect which, with such an increment of 
power and resources as every year gives to the United States, 
will soon extort from foreign states the proper diplomatic 
sentiments and behavior. We have suffered strange imperti 
nences from these privileged gentry. Mortified and provoked 
as I have been, on the successive occasions, I think it clear 
that the outrages upon our national dignity have raised the 
spirit and patriotism of the citizens. I find, everywhere, de 
posits of facts and opinions are culled from your reply to 
Adet (letter to Mr. Pinckney.) Many are disinfected, who 
were given over as incurable. If France should have another 
volcanic eruption, as many expect she will, her partisans here 
will grow modest. If the sword should preserve their tran 
quillity, my fears are that they will change their policy from 
force to hypocrisy, and hug us worse than they have rob 
bed us. I am not sure that the old cant, with a change of 
conduct, would not make new troubles for the government 
by giving a new influence to the French partisans, its ene 
mies. That influence is, however, so much weakened, I will 
hope it cannot be again near as mischievous as, formerly. 

Accept my best wishes for your own and your family s 
health, at the time of contagion and alarm. 

I am, dear sir, yours sincerely. 

1 The Spanish minister, Irujo. His collisions with- our government were 
somewhat frequent. 



VOL. I. 19 



18 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO DWIGHT FOSTER. 

Dedham, February 18, 1798. 

DEAR SIR, Craik s speech is extensively read and much 
admired. It puts arguments into the mouths of those who 
wanted them, and corrects many errors in regard to the char 
acter and views of the Demos. I am impatient to know the 
issue. When will the House vote the Senate useless, and the 
President dangerous I I give full credit to many who say 
they intend no such thing. The work of mischief never stops, 
because the instinct that executes it is blind. The fear of the 
Executive power is still as lively as if the President were a 
king. The fear of Church establishments is nearly as strong 
among the same set. They do not see that the tendency to 
certain evils is counteracted in one case by ample political 
precautions, in the other by the spirit of the age in addition. 
Our Executive is no match for the representative body in a 
contest for his being. Suppose a war, the executive power 
must be used, and perhaps would be abused ; but the consti 
tutional depositary would not hold it. The use must be 
obtained by usurpation, sanctioned by the necessity of the 
case. What is to keep armies subordinate to the civil power, 
especially after or during a war, but the interest and the 
means of the Executive to govern according to his functions 
by law instead of being controlled by usurped power 1 These 
Demos are just such friends to liberty as they would be 
to the Bank, if they forbid guards, locks, and keys for the 
safety of their vault. They are just such friends as have 
ever betrayed it when it has been lost. The country, I really 
believe, is more correct in opinion, and better disposed in 
point of feeling than they. 

Is Lyon 1 still in your cage, or turned into the woods ] I 
owe you more thanks for your attentions, so often repeated, 
than I have offered not more than prompt me at this 
moment to subscribe myself Your friend. 

1 The rencontre between Lyon and Griswold, being the first case of the kind 
on the floor of Congress, excited more sensation than similar events do at the 
present time. 



LETTERS. 



TO JAMES M C HENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR. 

Dedham, February 18, 1798. 

SIR, I was honored by the last mail with your letter, 
and I lose no time to communicate the result of my most 
mature reflections upon the subject of it. 

Though I want neither a sense of duty and attachment to 
the government, nor of grateful respect for the President, 
(from whom any mark of confidence is really an honor,) and 
though I am much affected and flattered by believing, as 
I do, that the expectation of good effects upon my health 
from the journey has contributed to my nomination as com 
missioner to hold a treaty with the Cherokees, yet these 
considerations,vpowerful as they certainly are, yield, neverthe 
less, to others still more cogent, which compel me to decline 
the appointment. This I very respectfully beg leave to do. 

My health is feeble ; though it requires exercise, it is un 
equal to hardship and fatigue. The time of departure, the 
place of meeting, and most of the circumstances from which 
I might calculate the competency of my strength to the jour 
ney, are unknown to me. 

I think myself bound in sincerity to disclose another ob 
stacle to my acceptance. 

The emoluments of my practice of the law are not very 
considerable. Such as they are, however, they are too 
essential to the support of my family to be neglected. It is 
sufficiently obvious that an absence of several months from 
the bar would reduce my part from little to less. 

I cannot but hope the weight of my reasons will appear to 
justify the conclusion to which they have led me. 

With sentiments of great respect, I have the honor to be, 
Sir, your obedient, humble servant. 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



,TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

February 25, 1798. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Paine says this may go by a vessel 
to Ireland. I am not sure the postage on so large a packet 
will be compensated by the contents. 

Mrs. A. left me on the 13th, and is at her father s. My 
solitary state will continue, I fear, a fortnight longer. Q^is 
no offset that I am to enjoy Judge Paine s company a part 
of this time. The Georgia cause is to be broke on demurrer 
to-morrow. The points will engage the zeal of counsel on 
both sides, and the anxious attention of the town of Boston. 
I hope for our friend, but I have my fears also. 

The Attorney-General 1 and Chief Justice 2 are at open war. 
A committee of new trials received from the former a letter, in 
answer to their application for information respecting a cause, 
(The Commonwealth vs. Little,) in Maine, in which he says a 
new trial was granted by the Court, and that any other ver 
dict of any other jury might as well be set aside. This 
roused the ire of the Chief Justice, who wrote to the General 
Court demanding a hearing on the floor, in exculpation of 
himself and associates. A committee is to report on this 
request, and it is expected will deny it ; and the Chief Jus 
tice will not be so put off. How it will terminate, is matter 
of conjecture. A contest between these law chiefs amuses 
the townT) The battle in Congress excites more wonder. 
Most persons justify Griswold for beating Lyon on their 
floor, where the latter spat in his face. That the whole affair 
will disgrace our country, all agree ; but why, say they, 
should G. be more nice of the honor of the House, than the 
House itself ? The disgrace was, they add, complete before, 
when they refused to expel Lyon for this unspeakable bru 
tality, committed on Griswold while they were sitting. You 
brag of our country like a patriot. What will you say to 
spitting, caning, and cuffing, on the floor of Congress I The 
southern men of honor voted against the expulsion, and our 

1 James Sullivan. 

2 Francis Dana, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 



LETTERS. 

three Massachusetts antis, Skinner, Varnum, and Freeman. 
The duellists, rather inconsistently, protect the aggressor in 
such a case. Is it not strange that Blount, who challenged 
Thacher for almost nothing, and . , who was glad 

to be protected by the House against Gunn, should now 
vote in favor of Lyon ] No ! it is not strange. 

On Thursday last, the 2d, the ex-President s birthday 
was celebrated in Concert Hall. The Governor and Judges 
were there, and your humble servant. The spirit and feel 
ings of the day were exceedingly different from the timid and 
divided policy of our government. The people are as will 
ing to follow good measures as they can be. They wish for 
peace ; but they are impressible by appealing to their sense 
of duty and interest, (llie General Court have taxed dogs, 
and are about encouraging Justices. A bill has passed the 
House to give exclusive cognizance of all causes under one 
hundred dollars to these Solomons. The attempted judi 
ciary bill, which contemplated a respectable County Court, 
is lost ; and a scheme is pushing to erect a separate Supreme 
Court for Maine, imperium in imperioT^j 

All eyes will soon turn to the^evCnt of the French pre 
parations to invade England or Ireland. The threat may be 
of use to them, but the execution must be very difficult. To 
land is no easy matter ; to establish themselves and to subdue 
a nation, fighting at home for their household gods, is still 
more difficult. But the French say therefore they will suc 
ceed ; that victory is chained to their car. The attempt, if 
made without success, will greatly change the face of affairs. 
I should think the ascendency of England would, in that case, 
become very decided. You, on the spot, can judge of ap 
pearances better than any one at this distance. Heaven 
forbid that they should land and triumph ! The world would 
have to wear chains. 

Congress is so divided, and faction has so debased and 
alienated the amor pair ice , I almost despair of any right mea 
sures. A letter from Murray, at the Hague, says, unofficially, 
that there is no prospect of the success of our Envoys. 1 This 
he infers from a letter to him from General Marshall. You 

l At Paris. 
19* 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

will favor me by as full information as you can find time to 
give, of the state and prospect of affairs. Excuse my illegible 
pages. All tbat you cannot decipher means, that I am 
affectionately Yours, &c. 

P. S. The Spaniards, we hear, are actually engaged in 
giving up the Natchez, &c., to the United States ; and the 
cloud in that quarter is believed to be dispersed before this day. 
This looks as if France intended to be sweeter than her treat 
ment of our commissioners foreboded. Gerry, we hear by 
a Salem vessel from Bordeaux, is used much better than his 
colleagues. What means that] 

Griswold, after beating Lyon on the floor, I this moment 
read, has, with Lyon, promised to keep the peace the remain 
der of the session. The affair is again committed. 



TO JEREMIAH SMITH. 

Boston, March 13, 1798. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Do not wrong me so much as to 
suppose that my long delay in answering your letter (so full 
of wit and friendship) arose from any decline of my regard. 
I had resolved to write before I had yours. I have been 
busy, sick, and stupid for four weeks. I have been stupefy 
ing in the Supreme Court in this place, abusing the health 
I have acquired, and marring the prospect of its future im 
provement. No experience has been so decisive of my 
incompetence to any thing that excites or requires much 
engagement of mind, as that which I have lately had. Yet 
I am not dead, and hope to inhale health with the air and 
repose that next week offers at Dedham. Fate is heedless 
of my prayers, which are, to be in a situation to rear pigs 
and calves, and feed chickens at Dedham the world forget 
ting, by the world forgot. Saving always, I would not 
forget my friends, nor have them forget me ; saving also 
the right, at all times, to rise into a rage against the politics 



LETTERS. 

of Congress, and a few more savings, all equally moderate 
and reasonable. In serious sadness, I wish to rest from all 
labor of the mind that wears out the body, and I would do 
it if I could eat Indian pudding without drudging in Court. 
You, I hope, enjoy good fees, cum dignitate happy you 
certainly are, and you know it. I have heard that Mrs. 
Smith had a long illness when she was confined. I have 
not been able to learn how she is of late, and I will thank 
you to offer to her my best wishes and regards. I salute my 
daughter-in-law, 1 whose merits and accomplishments are so 
rare and excellent. My eldest son 2 is at Springfield, and 
has there cast his eyes on a young lady of that town, but my 
second son is at present unengaged, and is offered to you as 
the party to the treaty. 

Apropos of treaty, I am not going to see the Cherokees, 
the Tennessees, nor Sacs. I dare not, vain as I am, under 
take to persuade the aborigines of any thing so difficult as 
the task allotted for an experiment of my powers, in your 
facetious letter. The journey is long, and would subject me 
to fatigues and hardship the duty is complicated and 
difficult, and would expose me to responsibility which I 
should choose to shun ; and the absence of four, five, or 
six months from my office would spoil my business, which I 
would not consent to for the public pay proposed. The 
decided hostility of these back settlers to the government, 
fomented by party, and protected by so many in the House, 
(where a majority votes against the stamp act,) is formidable, 
and will soon bring on a crisis. The Vermont liberty-pole 
men have now a banner to rally under. What anarchical 
notions we find prevailing ! What other government finds 
the elements of discord and dissolution so powerful within 
its very bosom ! Everywhere, out of the United States, the 
government, good or bad, has the power to act or forbear 
acting. Its difficulties, and the menaced resistance to its 
action lie without ; here, they appear within. The machinery 
of our government, as understood by Gallatin and Co., is 
made to stand still, not to go. I hope New Hampshire 
keeps all its federal fires alive. 

1 At this time, six months old. 2 About five years old. 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



A letter left at Henry Vose s, ci-devant Brackett s, School 
street, would reach me duly. Pray remember you have 
such a place in my esteem, that it will be always acceptable 
to me to know how you do, &c., &c. Yours truly. 



TO H. G. OTIS. 

Dedham, April 23, 1798. 

DEAR SIR, I have yours of the 16th, and besides the 
pleasure I derive from your political remarks, I am much 
pleased with your half page of egotism first as a mark of 
your confidence, second as an opening to be free with you. 

The reputation you carried with you was well earned and 
deserved, but, let me tell you, it was too good, and especially 
too brilliant, for Congress. Expectation in such cases is 
extravagant, and requires that to be accomplished which dis 
cretion forbids should be attempted. Unless a man could 
out-thunder Jove, he would disappoint folks. Now it is 
my creed that reputation will not grow up in Congress with 
the heat of one day, and the dew of one night, like lettuce. 
The basis on which it stands and strikes down its root, is 
confidence confidence in the experienced ability and fair 
ness of the man. It takes time, and a good deal of time, 
for the weak to know, with absolute certainty, who is 
strong enough to lean upon who can bear his own weight 
and theirs. Those who grope in the dark, naturally seek 
those who can guide and enlighten their path ; but their 
first steps in the light are hesitating. Dropping metaphor, 
Congress is no place for sudden character, because most 
of the members are above blockheadship, if they fall below 
the sphere of genius. I do not forget the respectable 
exceptions that are to be made in favor of some of the 
worthies. I am therefore not only satisfied, but pleased 
with your discretion and reserve of yourself. Your place, 
for the reasons before stated, will not be lost by non-claim. I 
go on to observe, that I do not rank you lower on the list, 



LETTERS. 

that the members assign to each other and the public to all, 
than I used to predict. 

Your speech was good, but your letter to General H. 
better than good; it is excellent useful to the public, 
reputable to you; and the strokes ad captandum are so 
blended with irony, that Roxbury vanity must be flattered 
and humbled at the same time. I write in confidence, and I 
should despise the thought of flattery. Rely on it, your 
friends exult on the perusal of the letter. You must not 
talk of fees, nor of being weary of well doing. The enlist 
ment is such, you cannot return to private life yet, without 
desertion. I hope and trust your task will be in future less 
irksome, and more will help you. Folly has nearly burnt 
out its fuel, I mean the French passion ; and the zeal of good 
men must be warmer and more active than it has been or we 
sink. It is too late to preach peace, and to say we do not 
think of war; a defensive war must be waged, whether 
it is formally proclaimed or not. That, or submission, is 
before us. 

The President and his ministers are decidedly popular, 
and if a strong impulse should be given to the people, by the 
measures of government, the disorganizers would fall. But, 
when fallen, they would gnash their teeth. The late com 
munications have only smothered their rage ; it is now a 
coal-pit, lately it was an open fire. Thacher would say, the 
effect of the despatches is only like a sermon in hell to 
awaken conscience in those whose day of probation is over, 
to sharpen pangs which cannot be soothed by hope. 

I am getting bitter ; but to-morrow is our Common Pleas, 
and with molliter manus imposuit, a case or two of bastardy, 
and a writ of entry on disseisin, &c., &c., I shall be sick. 
God bless you. Yours. 

Surely you will not rise till you have done something 
efficient. 1 We, the people, wait to take our tone from you. 

1 A very brief explanation of the position of our relations with France may 
be convenient at this point. 

That government saw fit to consider the British treaty negotiated by Mr. 
Jay (that "fatal treaty? as Jefferson called it) as a violation of the rights of 
France, and to resent it accordingly. Our minister, Mr. Pinckney, was not 
received at Paris, and the Directory expressly declared that no American 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



Strong*, energetic measures are more likely to be supported 
cheerfully, than half way things that presuppose discord and 
lukewarmness towards the cause and the government. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, June 4, 1798. 

DEAR SIR, I have not seen any time when I thought 
the government stood as strong as at present. The male- 
contents never had any efficiency, and have lost at present 
even the appearance of strength. The Feds have at all 
times possessed a power which was inactive, but would have 
been irresistible, if occasion had called it forth. The occasion 
has happened, and the confidence in government, and zeal for 
it, appears to me great enough to encourage every attempt 
for good measures, and to sustain them when adopted. But 

minister would be received, "until after that redress of grievances which 
France had a right to expect from the United States." While the door was 
thus closed against diplomatic intercourse, the seas were swarming with 
French privateers, and the most audacious and piratical plundering of our 
commerce was systematically carried on, on a very large scale, under the 
sanction of that government A new mission, composed of Messrs. Pinckney, 
Marshall, and Gerry, was despatched by our government, and arrived at 
Paris in October, 1 797. These gentlemen, with much patience and discretion, 
occupied themselves, for many weeks, in a fruitless endeavor to be received in 
their official capacity. While dancing attendance in this ineffectual manner, 
certain informal negotiators made great efforts to induce them to buy a favor 
able reception by large presents in money to influential members of the 
French government. They were also given to understand that a large loan 
of money from our own treasury to France, " our ancient ally," would be an 
indispensable condition to the making of any treaty whatever. Rejecting 
these delicate overtures, our commissioners were at last constrained to take 
their departure without ever having been received at all in their official 
character. 

At the present period of our national strength, it is really hard to say which 
seems most amazing, the insolence of the French government, or the patience 
of our own. The despatches of our commissioners very naturally produced 
no little excitement, and very active and vigorous defensive preparations 
were made. A slight exertion of our actual naval strength was sufficient to 
clear the West India seas of the privateers, and to reduce the spoliations to 
comparatively narrow limits. The reluctance manifested in Congress to do 
even so much, appears at this day not a little remarkable. 



LETTERS. 

as I know, and every mail brings proof, that Congress is yet 
far behind the people, I fear the occasion will pass over, and 
yield less fruit than it might and ought. The members still 
talk too much of peace, as if we had our choice, and as if we 
ought to choose it now. They are too much afraid of mea 
sures of self-defence, as if the French or our own citizens 
would think them crimes. They narrow the extent of those 
measures, and restrict the little they grant, to an excess. All, 
all we can do is little enough, but I really believe it would 
prove enough to keep the French in check. To be more 
explicit, I am sorry more force is not raised immediately ; 
more, and a great deal more, revenue ; the employment of the 
ships more like war ; the obligation of our treaty with France 
legislatively declared null ; the discretion vested in the Presi 
dent to embargo the trade to the French West Indies ; a 
sedition bill ; and generally more decision and more despatch 
in passing such acts as the urgent necessity of affairs de 
mands. No good man desires more than the security of 
true liberty and independence ; and no good citizen will now 
wince at measures tending to that point. The number of 
Jacobins is not too great. The contrast between the senti 
ments in doors and out should be strongly marked to be 
perceived, and to induce and almost to compel the southern 
electors to reform their representation. Such a mass of 
opposition as they combine must fall, or the government will ; 
and it is against all good sense to imagine that evidence has 
convinced, and that conviction will convert them. At first 
it confounds, and next it will enrage them. They will soon 
rise from the mire, where they now lie, and attach them 
selves to any set of honest men, who in every question shall 
be for doing the least and the latest. Thus a new party may 
be formed to paralyze and distract our measures and our 
counsels, and the public, relapsing into its habitual apathy, 
will not again give the tone to government it has lately 
given. I repeat it, therefore, the moments are precious, and 
the friends of the government ought to act under that im 
pression. Not one Jacobin is changed, though many are 
dumb. The light that guides others, makes their eyeballs 
ache. It is indeed very necessary that the thinking federal 
ists should note well, that the causes of opposition to free 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

republican systems are in the heart of man and not to be 
eradicated. Truth has lately mown them down, but in six 
weeks they will sprout again, as unconquerable as the weeds. 
I will add that half measures are much harder to carry, and 
to support, than such as great perils call for. Half the de 
baters admit that to preserve peace is a duty, and therefore 
defensive measures are to be justified on ground so narrow 
and metaphysical, that all the weak federalists stagger or 
slide from it. No people can long keep steady in such a 
half state ; and therefore a full state of ivar, waged but not 
declared, and limited cautiously to the existence of their vile 
acts, seems to me necessary to be passed by Congress with 
acclamation, and we the people will echo it. To annul the 
French treaty is also indispensable. Every day s delay is 
perilous. Everybody asks, shall we have war 1 My answer 
is, we have war, and the man who now wishes for peace 
holds his country s honor and safety too cheap. Cardinal de 
Retz, who well understood human nature, has shown the 
danger and folly of keeping multitudes long in suspense. 
Keep them in action, and shift the scenes, and you may suc 
ceed ; but this state of passive obedience, this devout prayer 
for peace, when it is shameful for Congress-men to be caught 
at their prayers, will quench that fire which, like every other, 
will expire the sooner for burning briskly. In the actual 
state of things, government may give any proper tone to the 
people, and when once given it may be continued. I confess 
Congress has done better than I feared, but, I must not 
conceal, fall very far short of my wishes. Their beggarly 
system of starving their chief officers, and the committee 
system, must be changed. In their appropriations, they go 
into details on the pretence of vigilance, which transfer too 
much of the ministerial duty to the members. Congress 
should prescribe rules, the departments should apply them to 
the particular cases. 

I did not foresee the course this letter would take, which 
is all the excuse I can offer for it. 

The Legislature of Massachusetts is good. Judge of its 
federalism by one fact. Levi Lincoln, of Worcester, was 
not chosen representative by his town, and was only a candi 
date for the Senate, in which body he served the last year. 



LETTERS. 

The two houses in convention gave him only seventeen votes 
out of one hundred and seventy-six, although his competitor 
was confessedly his inferior in every thing, but federalism. 
Other vacancies in the Senate have been filled up in a man 
ner to indicate an equal preponderance of the anti-Gallic 
sentiment. Lincoln was obnoxious only as a Frenchman. 
Governor Sumner is rechosen by seventeen twentieths of the 
votes, and will address the two houses in language of deci 
sion, after which the Feds will vote a strong address to the 
President. It is only for the speech that they are waiting. 
I almost fear that the antis are down too low in our General 
Court to produce warmth by collision. Among other point 
ings of the public opinion, I mark with pleasure that the 
necessity of an efficient naval force is acknowledged, and it 
will be an easy thing to animate New England to insist upon 
it as a local right. I fear, however, that it will be difficult 
to prevent bad economy in the construction, and bad conduct 
in the first operations, of our ships. I should regret this the 
more, as it might disgust our citizens against naval protec 
tion. I cannot be insensible to the difficulty of selecting the 
best characters for the Navy Secretaryship, as the compensa 
tion is inadequate. Some of your countrymen know the 
weight of the services and toils which the heads of the 
departments have to sustain. The good will offer, as a par 
tial reward, their thanks and esteem, and the bad will add the 
honorable testimony of their calumny. Thus far you may be 
very sure of your reward. I am, with unfeigned esteem, 
Your most obedient, humble servant. 

P. S. I have seen Mr. Stoddert, of Georgetown, but I 
cannot believe he will accept ; he appeared to be a man of 
good sense. 

When you see Mr. Goodhue, I pray you offer him my 
regards, instead of a letter which I had intended to write. 



VOL. i. 20 



230 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

TO DWIGHT FOSTER. 

Dedham, June 24, 1798. 

DEAR SIR, Colonel Dwight is with me, and speaks of 
you in a manner that revives my sense of your obliging 
attentions. I wish your body was half as federal as that he 
belongs to. I am a state-government man, you know, and 
I am half willing Congress should order, assign, and indorse 
its powers to our General Court. The timid, doubting spirit 
of the former, that seems yet undecided whether to serve God 
or Mammon, would do for Switzerland, for the Bullocks of 
Europe, whose necks are patient of the yoke, but ill suits the 
Yankee stiffness. The impulse given by the Despatches 1 to 
the people is excellent, and is yet strong ; but it is too much 
to expect that any popular impulse will last long, and not 
only go right, but keep government right. Yet, as your 
body is using clampers, that last duty is needful. Rely on 
it, trimming will expose the members to a severe account. 
Bullock is spoken of as a doubtful man. S. Lyman wrote 
some letters home, condemning long speeches and warm zeal, 
which ill accord with the decided spirit of his district. 

Senator Dexter called, the instant I wrote the last word, 
on his return from Newport. His election is a good proof 
of the excellent disposition of our General Court. His 
talents will prop our federal temple ; and, as war is evidently 
unavoidable, the employment of such talents is important. 

The French will try arts and arms to trouble our politics, 
more than to subdue our strength ; and, therefore, timid, 
temporizing measures will be out of season, and out of credit. 
Is Bullock turning anti? Is Coit incurable I The policy of 
the French is never so blind as ours. They discern and they 
seize all advantages at the very critical moment. How does 
Fenno succeed] He is a good man and true, and merits 
success. Porcupine is patronized, and I hope Fenno is not 
neglected. Will Virginia amend its delegation, that is, make 
a new one \ Yours, truly. 

1 From the commissioners at Paris, giving an account of the attempts to 
obtain bribes from them. It was deemed prudent, in their despatches, to sup 
press the names of the persons by whom the propositions were urged, and 
they were described as X, Y, and Z. 



LETTERS. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, July, 1798. 

MY DEAR SIR, Finding the minds of our people in 
Dedham and its vicinity unexpectedly well prepared, I re 
commended to some very capable young men an oration, 
dinner, patriotic song, &c., &c. A week only remained for 
preparation before the 4th instant. But antifederal and 
Gallic as our people have been, the proposition took exceed 
ingly well. I am happy to announce to you, that it has 
succeeded; and, inconsiderable as the politics of a village 
may be, yet, as an indication of the progress of right opinions, 
and as a proof of the rapid decline of Gallicism where it was 
lately strongest, and is still perhaps the most malevolent in 
spirit that exists, it will not be deemed quite unimportant. 

The company at dinner was about sixty. The number of 
men of education was unusually great. Five clergymen 
attended, whose hearts are with us. Three signed the ad 
dress, two others retired before it was proposed, a sixth was 
invited, and, like the rest of his valuable order, was federal, 
but could not attend. Among the signers are magistrates, 
men of influence in their several circles, enlightened farmers, 
and mechanics. On the whole, I may say, with truth, no 
meeting has been held in this part of the country, within my 
memory, equally respectable. It was not attempted to get 
subscribers to the address out of the number of those who 
were present on the occasion, and, as you see, it was nearly 
unanimous. As our representative in the General Court did 
not vote for the address of that body, we conceived it right 
and proper to signify for ourselves that we are not of his 
antifederal sect. I am persuaded the effect of the meeting 
will be salutary, and will rally the friends of government to 
their posts. Our representative was at the dinner, but de 
clined signing, as consistency required that he should. 

On the whole, I am confident that vigor in Congress 
would electrify this part of the country, and mount their zeal 
up to the old revolutionary pitch. I wish Congress may not 
take another nap so long and benumbing to their patriotism 
as the last. I am, dear sir, with great respect, 

Your very humble servant. 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



The address will be sent to you under another cover. If 
you think these particulars worthy of the President s notice, 
please to let him read this. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, July 10, 1798. 

DEAR SIR, Your obliging* letter, besides the pleasure 
it afforded on other accounts, relieved me from the stings of 
a bad conscience, which had continually reproved me for 
writing that to which yours was an answer. I had really 
feared mine was an unwarranted intrusion upon the time of 
a man so oppressed with the weight of correspondence as 
you are. To avoid the sin of augmenting this burden, I will 
add, that I do not expect you will answer this. You have 
intimated that I may communicate my thoughts, which is as 
much as I ought to engross of your time. 

The burden of my former letter was, that the people could 
not be kept up at the height of zeal where they are, if Con 
gress should finally bind us all up in the frost of that 
Platonism they so much affect. Half measures are seldom 
generally intelligible, and almost never safe, in the crisis of 
great affairs. The answers of the President have elevated 
the spirit, and cleared the filmy eyes, of the many. The 
people have risen gradatim , every answer was a step up 
stairs. But Congress follows too slowly, and unless they 
make haste to overtake the people, the latter, I fear, will 
begin to descend. I should be absolutely certain of this 
collapsing and sinking of the public, if I did not depend on 
the friendly profligacy of the French. They will kick us 
into courage. Their plan allows us no retreat. The 
southern Congress men will be obliged, at last, to feel 
French blows, with some pain, through their thick skins, 
although hitherto what has wounded others only tickles 
them. To us, the wrongs of France are whips of scorpions ; 
to them, the strokes of a feather. As France aims at empire, 



LETTERS. 



233 



and will exact compliances unexpected even by democrats ; 
as she wants cash, and will insist on more than they will 
freely give, I calculate on her doing for us, at last, that 
which Congress seems resolved shall not be attributable 
to the energy and wisdom of our counsels. If, in the interim 
of our infatuated torpor and indecision, she should condescend 
to resort to fraud and flattery, we should even yet be lost. 
But as her violence and arrogance happily lessen our fears 
on that head, I calculate on the eventual resort of Congress 
to measures of force. Internal foes can do us twice as much 
harm as they could in an open war. The hope of peace is 
yet strong enough to furnish the means of popular influence 
and delusion ; at any rate, it chills the spirit of the citizens, 
and distracts them in the exercise of duty. I wish therefore, 
impatiently, to see Congress urged to proceed to steps which 
will have no such ambiguity in them. A declaration of war 
would be such a step. But it is the very one that their im 
becility would reluct at ; it is the very one that demands 
something like unanimity. I think this very reluctance 
might be used to advantage. Instead of declaring war m 
form, could they not be persuaded, even some of the Demos, 
to enact penal laws, as if it was war ? To do something 
short of duty, something tamer than energy, suits the foible 
of the weak, temporizing, trimming members. 

I should imagine a number, who would flinch from a 
declaration of war , would urge the enacting, one by one, the 
effects of a state of war. Not being on the spot, I can judge 
only from my knowledge of some characters, and the color 
of their conduct and speeches ; with such materials I may be 
deceived in my conclusion. I think it probable, however, 
that several votes could be gained for strong measures, from 
the dread of being urged to adopt still stronger. Energy is 
a word of comparison, and to vote as if we were in war, 
might seem a half-way business, compared with a declaration 
of war. In this way they may authorize the burning, sink 
ing, and destroying French ships and property gradatim, till 
no case is left which is to shelter them from hostility. As 
every armed French vessel takes our vessels, every armed* 
French vessel should be prize, every one on board a prisoner ; 
correspondence with the French, adhering to our enemies, 
20 * 



234. WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

&c., &c. I need not detail the consequences of this idea, as 
they will occur to you, nor discriminate the odds between a 
formal declaration of war, which would instantly draw after 
it all the consequences of a state of war, and a series of acts 
of Congress, which would annex to our state of peace all 
those consequences, one by one. 

The difference of effect on the public mind is also worth 
computation and deliberation. 

To declare is to choose war ; it is voluntarily changing our 
condition, which however urgent the reasons and motives of 
the change may be, leaves a door open for blame on the go 
vernment ; it is, no doubt, a change at all times involving a 
high responsibility. Disasters in the conduct of a war would 
aggravate first ill impressions, and give a malecontent party 
a specific text of sedition. Ripe as the citizens are for self- 
defence, they reluct at offence ; they would yield much, far 
too much, for peace ; and this hope would delude them, if 
proud France would condescend to hold it out. Now why 
should not we play off against our foe a part of their own 
policy ] Wage war, and call it self-defence ; forbear to call 
it war ; on the contrary, let it be said that we deprecate war, 
and will desist from arms, as soon as her acts shall be re 
pealed, &c., &c., grounding all we do on the necessity of 
self-preservation, &c. We should need no negotiation to 
restore peace ; at least we should act, as the salus Reipublicce 
demands we should, instantly, and there would be little 
balancing among the citizens, and the spirit would grow 
warmer in its progress. But a formal declaration would 
perhaps engender discords ; all the thinking would come first, 
the action after. I would reverse this order. Not that I 
would conceal from the country its duties or its dangers. 
No, they should be fully stated and enforced. I would, how 
ever, oppose art to art, and employ, in self-defence against 
French intrigue, some of those means of influence which we 
may lawfully use, and which her party will so much abuse if 
we do not first possess them. 

My long letter amounts to this : we must make haste to 
waye war, or we shall be lost. But in doing it, and, I might 
premise, to induce Congress to do it, and that without its 
ordinary slowness, we had better begin at the tail of the 



LETTERS. 35 

business, and go on enacting the consequences of war, instead 
of declaring it at once. The latter might be the bolder 
measure ; its adaptedness to the temper of Congress, and 
even of the country, is not equally clear. Something ener 
getic and decisive must be done soon. Congress fiddles 
while our Rome is burning. America, if just to her own 
character, and not too frugal of her means, can interdict 
France the ocean. Great Britain will keep her close in her 
European ports ; we can clear our coasts, and, before long, 
the West Indian seas. My faith is that we are born to high 
destinies. The length of this letter, and the fear of being 
too officious, restrains me from descanting on our prospects, 
as to our government, and as to any alliance with England. 
As to the former idea, governments are generally lost from 
bashfulness. Great occasions, like the present, either over 
turn or establish them. 

I am ashamed to begin a third sheet. I have written 
very rapidly, as you will have already observed, and with 
less revisal and care than I ought. I am so earnestly en 
gaged in thought on the state of our country, and so anxious 
to see its measures answer the noble style of the President s 
replies to addresses, as well as correspond with the peril 
arising from the power and insidious art of our foe, that I 
cannot forbear pouring myself forth in this way. Congress 
is willing to do little, at a time when less than all we can do 
is treachery. We halt apparently between two opinions, at 
a time when the alternative is war or subjugation. 

I inclosed our address lately to you. Jacobinism, in 
vicinity of Boston, is not yet dead, it sleepeth. 

I am, respectfully, &c., Your most obedient servant. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 



July 28, 1798. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, You ask for letters from America 
with such earnestness, I am half persuaded to think mine 
may be worth rather more in the London market than at 



236 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

home in the factory. I do not pick a quarrel with you be 
cause it is so long, so very long, since the date of your last. 
I lay it all to the French, or if that should be an error, I will 
charge it to hurry, to the supposed allowance of letters to 
other friends, such as George Cabot, as if they were ad 
dressed to me. I will never tease a real friend on this 
account, as I know there is no danger of your forgetting me, 
and for any other reason I care not a pin. 

Your last was, I think, dated in February. I have 
written in folio since, like a Dutch civilian. I know not 
what I write, as I keep no copies, premeditate nothing, and 
say to myself, it is only for my Gore. I would be very wise 
if I could on the subject of our government, but the weather 
is too warm. Congress is up, and has middled its measures 
without being tutissimus. The last measure, a bounty per 
gun captured, was negatived by Harper s perverseness. Did 
Lord Grenville and Mr. Dundas know that their eulogium 
on his book would help the French by marring a good thing 
of Congress 1 Yet so it was. H. is a fine fellow, but praise 
has half spoiled him, and made him sometimes cold and 
sometimes opposed towards right things originated by others. 
George Cabot thinks the act not so very material. I do not 
concur with him. It would have wakened the privateering 
spirit, cut out work for the active, warmed the frigid, and 
placed our safety beyond the dreaded stroke of French coax 
ing. I own my hope is that we are beyond it. But as the 
trade of France affords no prizes, something was needed to 
give a spur, instead of the usual one. A bounty per gun 
was that spur. I am afraid of inertness, of languor, of the 
collapsing of the national spirit ; an event always to be feared 
when there is much to apprehend and little to do. France 
will not forgive us for doing so much, and I am in a patriotic 
rage because we do so little. Should they fly into a passion, 
as their manner is, and wage an open war, we shall know 
what to do. There will be no puzzle about measures, and 
little ground to fear the event. For surely we can beat 
Frenchmen. The Austrian men think the French devils. 
Our Marblehead boys shall thrash them at the rate of two to 
three. The President will be in a hurry to see Congress 
speedily together again, sooner, I think, than December. 



LETTERS. 



237 



Mr. Gerry s return is earnestly desired. He will reap the 
harvest he has sowed. His stay was well calculated to spoil 
every good act of our government, but it has not. I do not 
rail at Congress for not declaring war, but then they ought 
to have gone the farther in waging it. Nothing doubtful in 
the situation of the United States, or in the duty of citizens 
should have been left. The donations to build ships is noble, 
and will soon form a decent naval force. Hone, and the 
Chronicle wretches, are despised and abhorred; but their 
malice is unchanged, and I dread of all things a revolution 
in Paris or a change of system, that would try art in place 
of force against us. For the fallen Jacobins would rise re 
cruited, from bathing in the mud where they now lie, and 
the impressions in favor of a delusive, fatal peace would be 
perhaps irresistible. God forbid ! I hate war as much as 
anybody, but nothing else can save us from France. Many 
supposed good men showed great weakness in Congress. 

The President has turned out three Portsmouth Jacobins 
from office. One Whipple has sued Ben Russell for a para 
graph, which, he says, lost him the office. I admit it is 
actionable and slanderous to call a man democrat ; but this 
W. passed for such for years, and if he bore it quietly, let 

him sit down w r ith the consequence 

Are we not, on the whole, a very incorrect people not 
more than half in earnest in our best principles. Our very 
political righteous are to be saved only from free grace, as 
their theory is almost ever visionary or pernicious. It is true 
they seldom long stand to it, but are led by good affections 
and by the impulse of events to act beyond the squeamish 
mediocrity of their whims. The federal government would f 
have been years ago in its grave, and in oblivion, if the 
providence of man had alone watched over it. Events sup 
ply the place of wisdom and of habit. I do not say this to 
detract from Washington, Adams, &c., God bless them, 
but to reiterate my conviction, that we are democrats play 
ing republicanism. I love and reverence the latter. I do 
really think it practicable, and monarchy, though excellent in 
England, impracticable here. But it will require great 
efforts to procure a fair chance for the former in the United 
States. I do this justice, however, to our citizens. They 




238 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

receive strong impressions of political truth very readily, and 
are as much affected by it as any people ever known ; witness 
the late Despatches : they really electrified all classes. To open 
the cabinet, to play government as it were in the street, and 
to affect the merit of introducing the sovereign people into 
negotiations, is a concession and a precedent from the event. 
In future we may find we have done some evil that great 
good might come of it. I see that Great Britain (and even 
the Emperor) talks democracy to the nation. So the world 
is changed. 

Will there be a new coalition against France 1 Is Prussia 
to be paid for duplicity, by the gift of French principles I Is 
Russia to be always seeming to act, and never acting ] Is 
the Emperor so thrashed, that he can only wait till the scabs 
fall off" from his old wounds I Is his new territory to be 
kept under only by force, which, employing a part of his 
troops, weakens him, while Belgium, &c., adds much to the 
power of France 1 Is Spain to be revolutionized, demoral 
ized, and minted by France, or to rejoin Great Britain ? 
Is the Toulon fleet to catch the King of Naples and his little 
navy, or to dig a canal through Egypt into the Red Sea, or 
to help the Irish liberty boys ? Is Great Britain to be better 
or worse by the state of things between the United States 
and France I A little squadron cruising on our coast, and a 
larger, duly active, in the West India seas, would keep all 
pirates close. Yours, once more. 

My question above relates to spoliations. Will Great Bri 
tain act rightly, or rely on our being obliged to fight her foe, 
and be tolerably civil to her, whether she does our folks 
justice or not ] Woe be to her greatness if she plays such a 
dirty game. Rufus King will tell the great ones that tricks 
of that sort will not answer. 

God bless Mrs. G., so says and prays my wife, and I say, 
Amen. 



LETTERS. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, September 25, 1798. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

Boston has been worse afflicted, for a few days past, than 
its inhabitants, jealous of its fame for salubrity, would own, 
as long as they could help it. 1 My creed is, that the fever 
is yet either an unknown malady, or so rapid in its march 
that remedies come too late. This is certain, all the systems 
of cure have been equally disgraced by the event. This 
town is perfectly healthy 

My own health is much mended, since a cold, got at the 
Supreme Court, went off. Like an evil spirit, it threw me 
down before it was cast out, and produced a fainting turn, 
which, however, was not followed by the great prostration 
of strength I have generally experienced in like cases. 
I am bound fast in chains of darkness in the Common Pleas, 
for the week, and hope to survive some few ten-dollar causes 
which are intrusted to my care. 

Philadelphia has sipped the bitter dregs from the cup of 
affliction. If legislative bounty to our cities, to supply water 
to wash the streets, would afford security against the return 
of this curse, which is becoming almost annual, I should re 
joice to see it granted, and liberally. The reputation of our 
country is impaired, which is some evil in commerce. I agree 
with you, the probable check of patriotic emigrants would be 
no matter of grief. Perhaps the overgrowth of cities may not 
be desirable, as they render the operations of our govern 
ment rather more problematical for a length of years. 
These speculative ideas are no counterpoise to the evil of 
the fever, and if a remedy could be had for money, it would 
be cheap. 

Report says Mr. Gerry is to return, with a Frenchman 
as an envoy, to coax, and lie, and sow division. For every 
purpose that demands negotiation, they might proceed at 

1 The yellow fever prevailed at this time in Boston and Philadelphia. 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

Paris, and Mr. Gerry was not disliked as a diplomatic 
man. The project, therefore, is on its very face unfair and 
insidious. But many will be deluded, and the mock converts 
among the democrats would take the occasion to go back to 
their old cause and companions. Nicholson s capture of the 
twenty-gun ship is a good thing as an antidote to French 
diplomatic skill I have never thought France would be 
angry with any thing we do, but to supplicate and kneel. 
Our spirit is sure to mollify hers. Hypocrisy is her only 
weapon. Without ships, she cannot much annoy us ; and 
she will not, by declaring war in form, deprive herself of 
the means of carrying it on by lies and intrigues her only 
means. Your friend. 

Alas, poor John Fenno, 1 a worthy man, a true federalist, 
always firm in his principles, mild in maintaining them, and 
bitter against foes and persecutors. No printer was ever so 
correct in his politics 



TO JEREMIAH SMITH. 

Boston, November 22, 1798. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Seeing Mr. Conner in an office, I 
steal a moment from the din of the Supreme Court, sitting 
here, to tell you I am alive, pretty well, very glad to hear 
from you and your better half, as I do by Mr. Conner. 
Write to me, and kiss my daughter-in-law, the princess. 
Her future spouse is a fine fat boy, as ragged and saucy as 
any Democrat in Portsmouth. You have none in Exeter. 
They abound in Dedham, though the liberty-pole is down. 
Nelson has beaten the French fleet. Do not grieve for that. 
What are we to do ] The devil of sedition is immortal, and 
we, the saints, have an endless struggle to maintain with 

1 Editor of the Gazette of the United States. His death had recently been 
announced. 



LETTERS. 



himj Your State is free enough from his imps and in 
fluence, to give joy and courage to the two Langdons. 1 I 
really wish to see you and Mrs. Smith. God bless you. 

Yours. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, November 22, 1 798. 

DEAR SIR, I was at Albany when I first saw the letter 
you addressed to the democrat Johnston, and which, on my 
return, I found you had obligingly inclosed to me. I was 
gratified to perceive that its spirit was felt, and its reasoning 
duly apprehended, by most persons. Few publications in 
favor of government appear to me to have been so generally 
well received. The public mind is as near right as it can 
be, and nearer than it can be long kept, if Congress should 
flinch from spirited measures. I had, six months ago, some 
hopes, but they were then faint, that the pride of France 
would prevail over her artful policy. It is, however, ap 
parent that the proud are the lowest stoopers, and that their 
palaver, as the tars call it, will be more outre than even their 
former insolence. Great care seems necessary, that the 
answer of the House to the President s speech should be in 
unison with the voice of America. The faction is not 
changed, nor like to be ; and the Chronicle has been puffing 
the votes for Heath as a muster of their strength. They 
are overjoyed to find they yet have any, and that the re 
sources afforded to their cause by popular credulity, envy, 
and levity, are not soon to be exhausted. If the elections 
should go very badly, (and I fear it,) our danger will be, 
perhaps, greater than ever, unless the fate of France should 
be so far decided, in the interim, as to take away from our 
perverseness the option of public ruin. 

1 Governor John Langdon, and Judge Woodbury Langdon. 
VOL, I. 21 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

It is very important that Congress should not retrograde 
any thing, in its approaching short session ; and yet that body 
has manifested, on most critical occasions, so much imbecility 
to act, and so much energy within itself to oppose acting, 
that no great advance in the measures of defence can be ex 
pected, if it should be necessary to make any. The Gallatins 
will argue publicly, or, more probably, will whisper to the 
members whose votes they influence, that even if France is 
deceitful, her hypocrisy may be a good reason for jealousy 
and vigilance, but is none for our hostility ; that events show 
that the force we begin to prepare will not be wanted, and 
that our country, once at war, will be more exposed to its 
chances and reverses, and still more to the insidious and en 
slaving friendship of Great Britain, than to the apprehended 
deceit and ambition of the Directory. Noah Webster, I 
perceive, says we must have a fleet, and, therefore, we do 
not want an army. It is also an even chance that the men, 
who deprecated measures of self-defence, because France is 
omnipotent, and would resent any thing but the raising our 
hands suppliant and unarmed, will change their tune, and 
insist that Nelson has so reduced that omnipotence, that our 
resistance is not necessary to shield us from her domination. 
Thus the power of that restless state is at one time to be an 
excuse for our timidity, and at another for our supineness 
or instability of counsels. I hope our good men in Congress 
will take due pains to animate the public spirit, which is high 
enough to second the government, but cannot be expected to 
keep up its own tone long, and to impart one to Congress. 
Even Mr. Gerry, I hear, says that nothing is to be expected 
from negotiation ; that harmony of opinion and energy in 
measures must be inculcated ; that Congress has done well 
in the latter concern, and if it has failed, it is that enough 
was not done ; that France has no liberty, the people no 
voice, and the government no integrity ; that its objects are 
all temporary, &c. How he can reconcile such ideas, with 
such conduct as his mission led him to follow, I know not. 

The liberty-pole in this town was cut down by some federal 
young men of Dedham, who were attacked by the seditious, 
and one of their number seized. To get his liberty, he very 
indiscreetly paid the mob guard, of five, twenty dollars. 



LETTERS. 

One of the persons concerned in raising the pole, an opulent 
farmer, has been arrested and bound over. The deluded are 
awed by this measure, but the effect is not so great as their 
intemperance and folly merit. The powers of the law must 
be used moderately, but with spirit and decision, otherwise 
great risk of disorders will be incurred. I hope you are, 
with your family, safe in Philadelphia from fever, and not 
disquieted by the dread of it. I am, dear sir, with great 
esteem, &c. Your very humble servant. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, December 7, 1798. Friday evening. 

DEAR FRIEND, Fearing that Mr. D. L. will leave town, 
I write in haste to acknowledge your favor. Your letters, 
rely on it, are always very acceptable, as they always evince 
a friendship I ought to cherish, and I do. My Springfield 
friends have a high place in my regards ; and as there is every 
reason why I should value them very much, I trust I shall be 
believed when I make some professions of attachment, which 
I do seldomer than I feel inclined. A charming letter of 
Mrs. Bliss s, written with a contagious tenderness of heart, 
has provoked me to express the sensibilities she has excited. 
But as I am awkward at this civil work, I will drop it before 
I begin it. There is Paddy for you. 

I wish you had been more particular as to the effect of the 
pool on your complaint. Has it cured, has it even alleviated, 
your case I I invite you to bring Mrs. D. with you to the 
Court. It will be good for the salt rheum. I keep a good 
fire, and temperance will be an easy virtue to practise, where 
there is no luxury. 

The severe weather gives a value to my preparation of a 
good wood-pile, a new coal-house filled with charcoal, a stove 
in my kitchen with an oven that yields a good crop of hot 
apple pies, &c., &c. I have also made a new hen-house for 
my pullets to roost, and all these projects nearly addle me 



244 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

with joy. Nelson s victory pleases other people, and is a 
good thing- ; next to my stove and coal-house, a very good 
thing, as it reduces the pride and the power of the evil one, 
and the more evil five. 1 Our wise fools will cry peace, and 
hope a revolution in Paris. I do not wish it. These rogues, 
being known as such, are to be preferred to any new set yet 
to be found out. 

Congress will soon manifest its disposition to persevere in 
well-doing to the end, or to flinch from it. I fear the latter, 
as their courage was, the last summer, when it was the most 
extolled, a mere make believe. Rely on it, our teaching is to 
cost something. We are to feel birch, before we learn poli 
tical wisdom. Our antis will at last take arms againsjt the 
laws. Their folly, their want of spirit, and the course of 
events, have checked their malice. The crisis, so often de 
layed, will come. I will not proceed any further with the 
dismal prophecies my fixed and habitual creed would dictate. 
Vigor in our government would delay their accomplishment, 
and perhaps finally prevent them from happening at all. 
But the parsimony that will starve talents out of office, or 
forbid their acceptance of it, will, I fear, greatly lessen the 
chances of such an administration, for the next ten or twenty 
years, as would impart strength to our federal system. My 
decided belief is, our federal men are very incorrect, and 
more than half democrats in their doctrines. They act right 
indeed, from hatred and dread of the democrats. Their 
theory is yet to be settled by severer experience than our 
kind fates have called us to suffer. Precept is thrown away 
on mankind. The stripes of adversity, while they tingle, 
print political instruction more than skin deep. We must 
smart for all the knowledge that will abide. 

Dedham thrives in house and business, and our tradesmen 
are growing richer. I do not think we grow worse in sin 
and Jacobinism. Thatcher s parish is confessedly the worst. 
The south (Chickering s) is decidedly federal ; and the old 
parish, where I live, is divided the old are half Demos, 
the young chiefly Feds. The tone of Hampshire and 
Berkshire is excellent 

1 The French Directory. 



LETTERS. 

L. B. desired me to coax you for a vote to make him 
something, I think, a notary. 

My health would be good if I could exercise. I wish for 
an estate to follow the business of doing nothing, which I 
would diversify by a trip to the Saratoga Spring, or some 
other distant place, twice a year. Application to my profes 
sion takes away my stomach. If I do not apply, I have a 
good stomach, and no bread. 

With my best regards to Mrs. D., and at Col. Worthing- 
ton s, I am truly yours. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

December 18, 1798. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Your letters would be valuable if 
they were not scarce, as they are ; and mine would be cheap 
if I did not labor so much to make them plenty. The scene 
you survey, and your place near the point or fulcrum of the 
British power, make me greedy for the news you send, or 
the comments that explain it. My seat in my chimney-cor 
ner compels me to generalize my ideas, and to bore you with 
essays, instead of amusing you with intelligence. All that I 
can write about is already pretty familiar to you. I know 
little of European events, and the characters of their drama. 
Expect, therefore, to be weary of the task assigned you, of 
satisfying my curiosity, and of the epistolary good works, on 
which I found my claim to your compliance. 

The struggle with our Jacobins is like the good Christian s 
with the evil one. It is no amusement to the bystander, 
and is barren of events for description. Besides, one cannot 
tell how much others have gone into detail in their letters to 
you, nor what parts of our drama excite your curiosity, and 
to write every thing is impossible. 

These are my apologies for being dull. When the des 
patches from our envoys were published here, the Jacobins 
were confounded, and the trimmers dropt off from the party, 

21* 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

like windfalls from an apple-tree in September, the worst of 
the fruit vapid in cider and soon vinegar. The wretches 
looked round, like Milton s devils when first recovering from 
the stunning- force of their fall from Heaven, to see what 
new ground they could take. The alien and sedition bills, 
and the land tax, were chosen as affording topics of discon 
tent, and, of course, a renewal of the popularity of the party. 
The meditated vengeance and the wrongs of France done by 
our treaty, were less spouted on. And the implacable foes 
of the Constitution foes before it was made, while it was 
making, and since, became full of tender fears lest it should 
be violated by the alien and sedition laws. You know that 
federalists are forever hazarding the cause by needless and 
rash concessions. John Marshall, with all his honors in 
blossom and bearing fruit, answers some newspaper queries 
unfavorably to these laws. George Cabot says that Otis, 
our representative, condemns him ore rotundo, yet, incon 
sistently enough, sedulously declares his dislike of those laws. 
G. C. vindicates J. M., and stoutly asserts his soundness of 
federalism. I deny it. No correct man, no incorrect 
man even, whose affections and feelings are wedded to the 
government, would give his name to the base opposers of 
law, as a means for its annoyance. This he has done. Ex 
cuses may palliate, future zeal in the cause may partially 
atone, but his character is done for. Hceret lateri lethalis 
Virginia newspaper. Like a man who in battle receives an 
ounce ball in his body it may heal, it lies too deep to be 
extracted ; but, on every change of weather, it will be apt to 
fester and twinge. There let it lie. False federalists, or 
such as act wrong from false fears, should be dealt hardly 
by, if I were Jupiter Tonans. 1 The theory of the Feds is 
worse than that of the antis, in one respect. They help the 
government at a pinch, and then shout victory for two 
seconds, after which, they coax and try to gain the antis, 
by yielding the very principles in dispute. The moderates 
are the meanest of cowards, the falsest of hypocrites. The 
other side has none of them, though it abounds in every 

1 This spleen at John Marshall was by no means the writer s deliberate or 
permanent sentiment. 



LETTERS. 24,7 

other kind of baseness. Their Guy Fauxes are no triflers. 
They have energy enough to vindicate the French, and, if 
opportunity favored, to imitate them. They stick to the 
cause, and never yield any thing that can be contested, nor 
even then, without a more than equivalent concession. They 
beat us in industry, audacity, and perseverance ; and will 
at last meet us in the field, where they will be beaten. 

There is no describing the impulse they have given their 
party to decry these acts. They have sent runners every 
where to blow the trumpet of sedition. One David Brown, 
a vagabond ragged fellow, has lurked about in Dedham, 
telling everybody the sins and enormities of the government. 
He had been, he said, in all the offices in all the States, and 
knew my speculating connection with you, and how I made 
my immense wealth. I was not in this part of the country, 
otherwise I should have noticed his lies, not to preserve 
my reputation, but to disarm his wickedness. Before I 
returned from my trip to the westward, he had fled, and a 
warrant to apprehend him for sedition was not served. He 
had, however, poisoned Mr. Thatcher s parish, and got them 
ready to set up a liberty-pole, which was soon after actually 
done. This insult on the law, was the cause of sending 
out the marshal with his warrant ; but the Feds of Mr. 
Chickering s parish had previously cut down the pole. 
One of the Fed party was, however, seized by the mobbers, 
and twenty dollars extorted from him before he got free. 
There is at least the appearance of tardiness and apathy, on 
the part of government, in avenging this insult on law. But 
the judge and attorney think all is done right. The govern 
ment must display its power in terrorem, or, if that be 
neglected or delayed, in earnest. So much irritable folly 
and credulity, managed by so much villany, will explode at 
last ; and the issue will be tried, like the ancient suits, by 
wager of battle. 

I think the clamor against the alien law, a proof that the 
party has chosen to make one, and that it makes no odds on 
what the choice falls, an equal clamor being excitable on one 
as much as on another subject. The salus Reipub. so plainly 
requires the power of expelling or refusing admission to 
aliens, and the rebel Irish, and negroes of the West Indies 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

so much augment the danger, that reason, one would think, 
was disregarded by the Jacobins, too much even to be per 
verted. Kentucky is all alien ; and we learn that the Go 
vernor Gerard has made a most intemperate address to the 
legislature of that State, little short of a manifesto. This is 
said to be echoed by the legislature. In that case, the issue 
must be tendered and tried. The gazettes will, no doubt, 
explain the fact to you more fully than I can at present. 

I hear that one of our trio says, that he could not, with 
any safety, refuse compliance with the demand to disclose 
the X, Y, Z of the Paris business. Can any words express 
the merit of the man, who can now plead his fears as his 
apology I Were I intrusted by a great nation, and called to 
act on a great stage, I should pray God to give me courage 
to defy a thousand deaths in such a case, or, if that should 
fail me, that I might have the discretion to let others find 
out some better excuse for my conduct than that I was 
afraid. Will not Europeans note such facts, and, if they 
feel a spirit of candor, say for us, that we are yet new in our 
independence, and that the notions of shame and honor, 
though not factitious in their origin, are so in their applica 
tion I Our public men, they will say, will learn when they 
ought to lose life sooner than honor. 

My wife joins with me in offering our united regards to 
you and Mrs. G. Yours. 1 

1 The following, from one of Mr. Gore s letters to Mr. Ames, may interest 
the reader. 

London, 20th December, 1798. 
MY DEAR FRIEND, 

You will see in the papers a speech of a Mr. Canning, on the motion of 
Tierney. This man undoubtedly possesses talents, and is a scholar of no 
common attainments. He is Under-Secretary of State, and the particular 
protege of Mr. Pitt. His speech is cried up here as a prodigy of eloquence, 
classical learning, and political wisdom ; and it is not improbable that this 
very speech may waft him to a peerage. Less admired performances have 
been attended with such consequences. It is a country where talents are 
abundantly rewarded, and where eloquence, to use Ross s expression, is 
omnipotent. On the subject of eloquence, some things would surprise you. 
The gift is local. To explain myself: The short time Mr. Pitt was at the 
bar, he displayed nothing remarkable. His first entree in the House of 
Commons discovered him a giant, boasting of his strength, and desirous of 
combating with the most powerful and adroit. Erskine, who is unrivalled 
at the bar, and with ease talks down his brother barristers, courts, and jury, 



LETTERS. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

January 11, 1799. 

DEAR FRIEND, I passed two or three hours of the last 
evening with Paine, at your house in town, and while he 
was making himself up as a beau to dance, we chatted about 
your farm. I should have enjoyed it better had you been 
there, as I think I possess a tolerably good theory in agricul 
ture to lose money. My creed is, that grazing is more 
profitable than tillage, and that farming on a scale beyond 
one man s (the owner s) immediate superintendency, is not 
adapted to this country. Paine says that General Heath 
gets three thousand dollars a-year by the vegetables, &c., 
from his farm ; and he talks of engaging, and interesting on 
shares, some good young fellow to manage your place (or the 
garden there) in that way. I solicit the honor of being ap 
pointed to the post of privy counsellor, or secretary of your 
cabbage and squash department. Am I not qualified by my 
knowledge and experience, to advise Paine in such affairs ? 
Paine denies my doctrines respecting a piggery. In order 
to augment the heap of manure, I am as tenacious of my 
system to fill the styes, as any Charlestown man. The cows 

attempts to speak in Parliament, only to be disgraced. However well pre 
pared, and this is always the case, in his own opinion, he can never find 
utterance there, and is obliged to have recourse to the press to communicate 
what he considers oracular sayings to the gaping multitude. 

There is very little opposition to the measures of administration at present 
in Parliament; and abroad there appears but one sentiment hatred to the 
French, and confidence in their own will and resources to humble the enemy 
and support their own situation, which they consider the most enviable of the 
world : and justly too, so far as respects ail nations but our own. And here, 
my friend, if we enjoy but the same temper, the same self-confidence and 
respect for our constitution and laws, we shall be safe ; and may cut and carve 
for ourselves such a fair portion of the globe, as to enable us to live within 
our own hemisphere, uninterested and unconcerned spectators of what 
Europe, Asia, and Africa may choose to enterprise or achieve 

I read Pickering s letter to the addressers of Prince Edward county with 
great delight. This is a most estimable man, who does much honor to our 
country in Europe, and supports its honor with becoming spirit and dignity. 
It is understood Gerry is a candidate for Congress, and I predict that he 
will be chosen. The elections which have come to our knowledge, by 
no means correspond with the good temper discovered in the addresses to the 
President. 



250 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

of our country are said to be inferior to the English. Is this 
true ] Is it owing to neglect of the breed, or to our climate 
or herbage I You are a patriot. Ought you not to send a 
bull and cow of the Alderney race 1 

After all, my theory ends in this either you must pursue 
such a plan as will do without much care, as grazing, which 
executes itself, or procure that in the degree required by in 
teresting another in the process. I shall therefore try to get 
a good young fellow to treat with Paine for the charter of 
his market-cart. I know one of whom I think favorably. 

Can you bear with me I Do I bore you with the subject 
of husbandry ] or is it still enough your hobby to revive your 
old sensibilities 1 If you still like the theme, it will be 
wholesome to give you these two pages, as the smell of the 
clods of fresh earth is said to abate the virulence of the sea 
scurvy. If you are crammed with politics as we are, any 
change, even to less delicate fare, will be a feast. 

By looking at Congress you will see that the French fac 
tion there is no better than formerly. Gallatin and Nicholas 
vindicate Logan s mission * very boldly. The country, where 
such abominations as they utter can be even tolerated, is to 
be tried and purified in the furnace of affliction. Are Eng 
lishmen, even the malecontents, in the habit of prating as 
perversely as our Demos ? 

Virginia, excited by crazy Taylor, is fulminating its ma 
nifesto against the federal government, as we hear. But the 
papers as yet only state that the antis prevailed on the deci 
sion of Taylor s motion. The precise nature of their pro 
ceedings is not fully known. The more absurd and violent 
the better. The less will it be in the power of government 
to forbear proper measures, or to adopt them by halves, and 
the more will the spirit of the Virginia Feds rise; for Feds 
there are even in Virginia. 

1 Dr. Logan, of Philadelphia, visited France in August, 1798, as a sort of 
volunteer ambassador. He was provided with letters of introduction from 
Jefferson, and was received with great eclat, after the departure of the com 
missioners, the more authentic representatives of our government. He was 
very coldly received by Washington, on his return, and his mission gave very 
great offence to the federal party. Congress, soon after, passed an act, pro 
hibiting, under severe penalties, this sort of interference with the foreign 
diplomacy of the government. 



LETTERS. 

General Heath s memoirs are said to be a strange farrago 
of egotism and pompous inanity. The wits are hacking the 
author and his book. He is not a firm subject enough for 
their dissecting knives. 

The General Court is convened, and are not in the humor 
of falling in with the rage of Virginia. The insult to the 
American flag, by impressing seamen from the sloop of war 
Baltimore, rouses all the tongue-valor of Congress. It is 
indeed too outrageous for that government to avow ; and yet 
the liableness of Britons to serve their king and country will 
not be abandoned. 

I am in better health than I was a year ago, and hope, 
by great care and a good regimen, to be fit to stay at home 
and do nothing before your return. Slight deviations from 
my usual carefulness of diet, &c., still derange my health. 
Health and fraternity. 1 Yours. 

1 A few extracts from a letter of Mr. Gore to Mr. Ames, dated London, 
7th September, 1798, are subjoined. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

The political face of our country is very good. The manner in which the 
government and people have received the insolent and degrading treatment of 
the French, has elevated the character of the United States, in the eyes of 
Europe. It has raised the spirits and confirmed the disposition of those who 
oppose the monster. It will serve to disgrace the villains who exercise their 
tyranny over all who are not at actual war with them. 

What course France may pursue after knowing what Congress has done, 
is extremely uncertain. We have French papers to the 31st August inclu 
sive. It was then known that Decatur had taken another French privateer, 
and had carried her into port. Some time prior to this, as one of their insi 
dious tricks to lull us, the Minister of Marine writes to the different commis 
sioners, that the embargo on American ships had been misconstrued, so as to 
cause the imprisonment of American seamen, which places the government 
of France in an hostile attitude against the United states ; whereas every 
thing on the part of the former indicated a pacific disposition, and a discharge 
is ordered of the seamen. 

Logan arrived at Hamburg, had passports, it is said, from Jefferson and 
McKean, was extremely desirous of reaching Paris before Gerry s departure, 
in which, however, he did .not succeed. The French newspapers say, he is 
an American envoy. A paper, Le Surveillant, of the 13th Fructidor, (for 
your information, who, I suppose, are not conversant in the French calendar, 
that is 30th August,) has the following paragraph, "Le nouvel envoye Ame- 
ricain, venu a Paris au nom du parti patriots des Etats Unis, est le docteur 
Logan. C est lui qui a obtenu la levee de 1 embargo en faveur de la plupart 
des batiniens de sa nation." You will have seen that the United Irishmen 
have had an accredited minister at Paris, a long time. The raising of the 
embargo from the vessels is false, in my belief. There is not the smallest 
paragraph in any of the papers to support the idea, that they have or intend to 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Boston, February 27, 1799. 

DEAR SIR, 

..** 

The new embassy to France, however qualified and guarded 
by the President, disgusts most men here. 1 Peace with 
France they think an evil, and holding out the hope of it 
another, as it tends to chill the public fervor. Inter nos, 
I like it little on its outside appearance, yet I believe the 
President will exact more terms to secure respect, and if a 
negotiation should be begun, will urge indemnity further than 
French arrogance and poverty can or will go. What good 
he sees in it, I know not. I rely on his good judgment as 
much as I ought, and his patriotism is undoubted. The step, 

release the vessels or their cargoes. The letter of the Minister of Marine is 
dated 8 Fructidor, and only directs the Commissaries of the Ports to put at 
liberty all Americans, who, in consequence of the embargo of their ships, had 
been considered prisoners of war. The letter of 30th Prairial, of Citizen 
Talleyrand to Citizen Gerry, will only serve to increase the indignation of our 
countrymen against these robbers. The arrete for recalling the letters of 
marque and reprisal from their pirates in the West Indies, and on which they 
have cracked so much, as demonstrative of their pacific views, probably origin 
ated with two views ; one of deluding our countrymen, (and yet it is to be 
hoped, that none can be so weak as to be deceived by so futile a measure,) 
and the other as a matter of finance, such as by recalling their commissions, 
and granting them anew, on receiving a certain sum of money. How could 
Gerry have failed to reply on this subject, that captures were made in the 
European seas on the like pretences as in the West Indies, and condemned 
by their courts at the seat of government, and that all the laws authorizing 
capture of American property still remain in full force and unrepealed ? This 
is still the fact ; and some time after the publication of this famous arrete that 
was to be a full satisfaction for their abominable piracies, a question was made 
in the Councils, whether the terms " growth or manufacture of England." 
subjected to condemnation vessels and their cargoes which consisted of either, 
or whether both must be true to render the capture valid. It was determined, 
as doubtless the law authorized, that having on board articles either of the 
growth or manufacture, rendered vessel and cargo a good prize 

1 While the quarrel with France was at its height, the President, without 
consulting or even notifying his Cabinet, astonished all parties by nominating 
a new Minister to that country. This unexpected coup d etat was a blow 
from which the federal party did not recover. It produced a schism among 
the friends of the administration which could not be healed. 



LETTERS. 



however, ought to have heen known, if not approved, by the 
chief officers and supporters of government in Congress, 
which fame whispers it was not. The antis raise their fallen 
crests upon the news, and promise the renewal of our first 
love. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, March 12, 1799. 

DEAR SIR, I could make long excuses for my long 
neglect of writing to you. You have been so very obliging, 
I will not stand mute on the occasion, though I will not de 
fend myself at full length. The courts have kept me very 
busy. I have also thought my silence a merit, as I do not 
think I have a right to impose on you the burden of answer 
ing. I am really very thankful for the seeds, and I will 
give part to some friends, who will attend to their culture, 
and who keep a gardener. Seeds from a rank democratic 
soil would not thrive in my garden, but the south of France 
is, I suppose, far from democratic. Besides, the Aurora would 
maintain, that they are the seeds of aristocracy which you 
delight to spread. 

Had the President acted only half as wonderfully, the 
defence of his conduct would have been harder to the few 
who vindicate the nomination of Mr. Murray. The reasons, 
though weak, might have been accessible, and their weight 
determined by the scales. But the thing was so totally con 
trary to his conduct, his speeches, and the expectations of all 
men, that reasons, though sought for, could not be found, 
and must therefore be imagined ; and when that failed, they 
must be referred further on to mysteries of state locked up 
in his cabinet. That even that plea, so paramount to all 
others, fails in this instance, because negotiation can be vindi 
cated only as the mean to an end peace with France. The 
end being a bad one, all means are unwise and indefensible. 
I could say much on the subject, though nothing that you 
have not anticipated. Two remarks occur, and there is 

VOL. I. 22 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

consolation in both that there is some energy in our coun 
sels, for they skilfully parried the measure, and prevented all 
the had effects of it, except its disgrace ; and secondly, that 
our nation has some energy, as all men condemn the thing in 
its appearance ; and some put their wits to the task, to fancy 
that information is possessed by the President, to call for the 
measure. 

Public opinion is the real sovereign of our country, and 
not a very capricious one neither. France is neither loved 
nor trusted. War is not desired for its own sake, as it should 
not be ; but peace, as France would give it, is not desired, 
as it should not be. We begin to feel a little patriotism, 
and the capture of the Insure/ ente cherishes it. But if the 
next Congress should be democratic, and the intrigues for 
the chair of state should proceed with as much heat as in 
ternal faction and foreign influence can engender, we shall 
see trouble. You who watch for us, have a hard task, and 
if its weight and irksomeness are to be aggravated, by your 
being ostensibly excluded from participating in advising 
measures, your magnanimity and sense of duty must be 
your present reward. Your country will add to it, and 
so will posterity. I am, dear sir, 

Yours, truly. 

I hope the President will not doubt that the public is 
averse to all delusive negotiations. In his answer to the 
Dedham address, he says echoing the words of it " For 
delaying counsels, the Constitution has not made me respon 
sible ; but, while I hold my present place, there shall be no 
more delusive negotiations." Evidently, our public connects 
shame with feeble and receding measures. Fortunately our 
fate has not been always, if ever, at the disposal of our folly. 
England fights our battles with her own, and the momentum 
of European politics is imparted to ours, and carries us on, 
even when we stop, or would go backward. 

What I write, you will, of course, consider as strictly con 
fidential. No one respects more sincerely the talents and 
virtues of our chief, but few know better than I do, the 
singularities that too frequently discredit his prudence. 



LETTERS. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 



255 



Dedham, October 9, 1 799. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I have your favor, of the 4th 
August. In a former letter you invite me to London to 
recover my health. I should like the trip very much, 
especially if I had no other object than amusement to com 
mand a six or eight months expatriation. Business, the 
res angustce domi, and the ties that hold me fast with my 
family, forbid the idea. My health might profit by it, but 
does not exact such a step. The proposition deserves two 
reflections : that I have a friend with the heart to make it ; 
and a heart of my own to estimate its value rightly. 

Thank God, I am better. (Clients came in at the Dedham 
August Supreme Court, and overpowered me with applica 
tion to stakes and stones, and plots of land in ejectment. 
My mind was not excited with zeal, but my spirits were 
exhausted by continued attention. The second day of the 
Court, after a night of disturbed sleep, I fainted at 5, A. M., 
and was kept from fainting, for three hours, only by water 
dashed into my face, and volatiles ; during all which time I 
was swimming off into insensibility. That day clients came 
into my chamber per force ; and the next, I went into Court 
to enjoy the soothing civilities of Judge Ursa Major R. T. 
Paine. 1 I did not die from weariness nor vexation. The 
next week I went to Boston, and Paine s caresses were con 
tinued per curiam. The robbery of the Nantucket Bank, 
charged on the prime men of the Island, employed me five 
days, and kept me afterwards very low for six more with a 
cold procured in a court-house, crowded with unusual num 
bers. I was also hoarse, by four hours bawling to a jury. 

At Dedham Common Pleas, last Tuesday of September, 
the work was small, and the law laborers many. A writ of 
ri^ht for a pigsty, in which I am for the defendant, con 
tinued to April. Old Doctor S. is dead intestate ; the heirs 

1 Judge Paine was somewhat deaf, and not at all distinguished for suavity 
of manners. After an uncomfortable scene in his Court, Mr. Ames said that 
" no man could get on there, unless he came with a club in one hand and a 
speaking-trumpet in the other." 



256 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

have contested the administration, and at length your friend, 
by consent of all, is the administrator. Thus I am in busi 
ness, you see, and must demand payment for boluses and 
pills to the last generation, as well as thr^T^ In spite of all 
these cares, and some relapses, I progress in health, and am 
now unusually well. It is my time to fatten. I shall enter 
this winter much better, I really hope, than I did the last. 
I shall, probably, lose ground about February, be puny again 
in April, and recruit as formerly in May. It is, however, 
consoling that my revolutions are not so much in extremes 
as formerly. I lose less when I decline, and gain more 
when I advance, than I did last year. What I want is 
repose ; with that, and regimen, I should hope to be as good 
as any one of the numerous clan of the good-for-nothings. 
But I see that my cares are not to diminish. Like a stage- 
horse, I perform my trip by the strength of my oats ; but 
that is pretty sure to founder him at last. The tonic regi 
men, which I still continue, though in a less degree, is a 
borrowing of health upon terms of usury. 

Excuse my long-winded egotism. What can I fill these 
long pages with else 1 I observe every word you write ; 
but politics are forbidden, since our vessels are liable to be 
prizes 

Judge Benson was here in August, and looked ill. Many 
say he is hyp d. I fear he is seriously attacked by an old 
disease of the bowels. Our friend Cabot has been yellow, 
vertiginous, and wan. We have felt alarms for him. He 
looks better again, but not so well as I wish. 

The crops of corn and potatoes are fine. Cider is dear, 
and little made this side of Connecticut river, where it is 
abundant. The Yankees must and will drink more beer 
than ever ; and the breweries in and near Boston will profit 
by the taste that will supplant cider, in some degree, in 
future. It is better to look for our drink to our trees than 
to our ploughs. 

My wife forbids my writing further than to offer her very 
best regards to you and Mrs. G.. with those of 

Yours, &c. 



LETTERS. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, October 19, 1799. 

DEAR SIR, I AATote to you, months ago, Avith great 
freedom and little discretion, on the subject of the new 
mission of Envoys. I then endeavored to account for this 
astonishing measure, on the ground of personal Aveakness, 
as I found no reason for it in public principles. If my 
imprudence has restrained you from making any answer, I 
will thank you to burn my letter, as it is not proper to be 
trusted to the chances of falling into other hands. But, 
Avhile I acknoAvledge my indiscretion, I Avill repeat it. 1 
cannot yet compose myself, when I think of the consequences 
of this error, or notice its existing evil. Federal men already 
begin to divide upon it. Already the Jacobins raise their 
disgraced heads from the mire of contempt. Attachment 
to the person of the President, or to the singleness of the 
Executive poAver, is the plea of tAvo different sets of men, 
once called federal, for palliating (none justify) this miracu 
lous caprice. I hear that the Envoys are not to go at 
present. But the measure is only suspended, not aban 
doned; and until it is, the schism among the friends of 
government cannot be healed. The measure has not even 
the merit of imposture ; not even plausible vindications of 
it are offered ; not even the shadoAv of any good is exhi 
bited. The hatred of Great Britain is to be courted, and 
excited to do as much mischief and to embroil our affairs, as 
much as love of France once did: and I OAVU I fear that, 
Avhile all good men una voce condemn the business, the 
multitude are to be addressed for favor, in a style that Avill 
obtain it for a time. France is our foe, and so is Britain. 
We must depend on ourselves. This is true in a degree, 
and the inference AA^ould be right, if it Avere not made to 
sustain a policy that threatens to bring on a war with Eng 
land, and to revive the Jacobin faction in our bosom. The 
state of things is very gloomy and embarrassing ; and I fear 
that the good men at helm will feel intolerable disgust, 
and perhaps meet Avith it, to induce them to quit their prin 
ciples or their places. But I hope the opportunity to do 



258 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

good will be too much valued, to be lost or neglected by 
them. Two resources occur to my impaired hopes : one, in 
the real virtue and discernment of the President ; the other, 
in the clear views our public has taken of the policy and 
character of the French. How the influence on the former 
can be impressed, so as to soothe, without shocking, his feel 
ings, I know not. I fear it is too difficult and too late. 
The latter is not to be neglected. Never was there a time 
when our public ought to be made to see the truth more 
clearly. Those who seek office, and who court power, will 
flinch at the meeting of Congress, and the Jacobins will join 
them. The public is right, and ought to make its good 
sense and honest zeal intelligible, so that the members, who 
incline to act right, shall feel incited and supported. 

I will disclose to you, that Governor Gill, in his proclama 
tion, had a clause to thank God for this mission of Envoys. 
This was got out, and our Thanksgiving may be as free as 
usual from hypocrisy and nonsense 

The temporizing, weak federal members of Congress will 
be tampered with, and I do not see how any thing, but a very 
strong impression of public sentiment, can prevent a division 
of the federal party. The despised and the detested already 
are Jacobins. Any new assortment of our citizens must, of 
necessity, give that bad cause better men. Perseverance in 
the first error may embroil the peace of the nation with 
England, and I greatly fear it will ; and if it should, evils 
within and without will be numberless. But the event will 
be no less fatal to the peace and reputation of the author of 
the measure. This will be poor consolation to me, for I 
wish him honor and permanence in office, as much as any 
one. 

I again request that your discretion to burn this, will 
supply my want of it. I am, dear sir, with great esteem, 

Yours, truly. 

I perceive that the Jacobins, and the half federalists, are 
ripe for attacking the permanent force, as expensive, and 
unnecessary, and dangerous to liberty. By disbanding the 
troops, Congress would create many rnalecontents and disarm 
authority. 



LETTERS. 59 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, October 20, 1799. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

From pig s to politics : l How do you like the Thanks 
giving proclamation ] I did not write it. It was, when I 
first saw it, a Janus, looking sweet at the mission of envoys, 
and affectedly sour at the French, whom it denominated our 
foes. This is confidential. 

Alas, that mission, though suspended, blasts the character 
and the hopes of our country. Either it will bring on a war 
with England, or humiliation to avoid it. It has not even 
the gloss of an imposture, not even a show of advantage, 

to cheat with. . There is 

every thing to excite your wonder, your vexation, and your 
fears. Take these scraps and place them in order, to make 
sentences to your liking. The Jacobins will rise in con 
sequence of this blunder. Trouble with them and with 
Britain will follow. McKean will be Governor of Penn 
sylvania. It is all the better. Every good man will feel 
shocked and roused to action, by so scandalous an event. 
Had Ross been chosen, they would have gone to sleep, ex 
pecting him to keep all the wild Irish who vote for McKean 
in good order. The Feds will have a proper stimulus for 
the next three years. The things that have happened against 
our wishes, for the last seven years, have, ultimately, more 
promoted them than the events called, at the time, prosperous. 
Ne cede mails, sed contra audentior ito. 

The defeats of the French will do good on both sides the 
Atlantic. Nothing less than severe, and, I maintain, nothing 
less than bloody, experience will cure our people of some of 
their prejudices, and impress some truths that concern our 

1 In the beginning of this letter, he had given some information about his 
farm. 



260 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

peace, so that we can get along*. We are democrats ; we 
pretend to be republicans. Experience will punish and 
teach. I am, dear sir, 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, November 5, 1799. 

MY DEAR SIR, -Your apology for the delay of an 
answer to a former letter of mine, was not necessary, nor 
expected by me. It is more than I think my correspondence 
entitled to. You have much to communicate, both of facts 
and remarks, and I have little more than complaints and 
forebodings to give in return. 

The mission to France has not been vindicated by even 
one reason offered to the public. The unfriendliness of 
Great Britain affords none, as it will aggravate that, and 
provide no resource against it. On the contrary, internal 
union will be less, and foreign help worse than nothing. 
It is a measure to make dangers, and to nullify resources ; 
to make the navy without object; the army an object of 
popular terror, which, for Hamilton s sake, will be artfully 
prosecuted. Government will be weakened by the friends it 
loses, and betrayed by those it will gain. It will lose, and 
it rejects, the friendship of the sense, and worth, and property 
of the United States, and get in exchange the prejudice, vice, 
and bankruptcy of the nation : a faction who honor govern 
ment by their hostility, as that shows it is no patron of their 
views, not the dupe of their prejudices, not the instrument of 
their passions. The Jacobins, too, serve the good cause by 
the violence of their attack, which makes good men enough 
afraid of their success, to rouse their own energies, and to 
oppose passion to passion. In this way, as our government 
is ever in danger of falling by party, it is fated to be saved 
and to live, if it shall live, by party. Its bane must be its 



LETTERS. 

diet. But this measure threatens to stop its breath suddenly. 
Our system never could stand alone, and scarcely with holding 
up ; and if the men who hold the property and respect the 
principles that will protect it, are compelled to even a passive 
silence, and a desponding neutrality, (and at this moment it 
requires some virtue to stop there,) the Jacobins will break 
in, and get possession of the public authority, and, in six 
months, make the man who holds it their captive, their tool, 
their trophy. He will not long be permitted to figure even 
in that under character. The first seat in their synagogue 
is full, and they will not displace the occupant for another, 
whose vanity makes him intractable, even with the associates 
of his own cause, and his own principles ; and as he has 
les, he will, from them and his weakness both, soon 

!ome doubly intractable to his new allies. This, they well 
know ; and their friendship, which he seeks for himself, will 
prove like that of France, which he no less blindly seeks for 
his country, a snare ; not peace, but a sword. They will not 
prop up his fame, nor his power ; and, finally, he will see his 
mistake, and wish himself back again. Perhaps his return 
may be possible ; and things may demand great sacrifices of 
feeling and interest to occasions. Therefore, I incline at 
present to think he must be spared, and not driven quite 
over to the foe. While measures are under discussion, it is 
proper to paint the probable evils strongly. After they are 
adopted, it is right to hope for success, that such a hope may 
inspire wisdom and spirit in the choice of the means of pre 
caution and safety. 

I rely on Mr. E. 1 as much as any one can, to watch the 
foe, and to parry the stroke of her dagger. But the measure 
is so deadly in its nature, I do not see how even he can do 
much to preserve us ; a treaty ready made, in which nothing 
is refused, would be hard to evade. Pledges of security for 
its performance are not to be asked, if exorbitant, and, if 
moderate, possibly they would not be denied. / would re 
quire the delivery of ships, or islands, or money, as pledges, 
so that, in case of a breach of faith, we should start anew 
with a part of our enemy s force. That, however, I know, 

1 Mr. Ellsworth, one of the envoys. 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

is chimerical. The spirit that sends Envoys, asks no indem 
nities. 

France is proud, and may find it harder to stoop in her 
adversity than ever. It may be, too, that the care her rulers 
may be taking (at the time of negotiating-) of their lives and 
plunder, may spoil the game of their policy. I notice that, 
in the charges against the ex-Directors, the vile usage of the 
United States is not an article, though less wrongs done the 
Cisalpines and Dutch are inserted and exaggerated. This 
denotes a perseverance in the old system, in regard to us. 
I do not see how the late measure can be made popular, 
without promoting that French system. The friendship of 
that nation must be made to appear worth something in its 
effects, and worthy of some trust. The fear of British hos 
tility must be magnified in proportion, and it will be easy to 
make that chimera real. Popular feelings will cooperate 
with executive acts, and will be resistless at the beginning. 

No passion should be attacked in its strength ; in its ebb, 
or when some new one runs counter, it may be overcome. 
Thus I conclude that public discussion would not be discreet 
at present, farther than to suggest that the mission has its 
dangers, though it may have wise reasons, yet to be dis 
closed, for its vindication. The splitting of the friends of 
government, and the revival of a French faction, are those 
dangers ; and writers may urge, without much alarm to the 
friends of the President, the mischiefs to be apprehended 
from both. When the business is more advanced, some 
thing lucky may turn up to save us for the hundredth 
time. 

The French may expose some vile trick, that will again 
exasperate our nation. The treaty may be such, as to afford 
good grounds of objection. The sense and virtue, and the 
fears and feelings of the country, may be again brought to 
act together. In a word, the present moment seems to me 
to call for this kind of conduct, to keep the public mind 
excitable, as before mentioned, to a sense of the two dangers ; 
but not to excite it against the late measure, nor its author, 
till events afford the means and the excuse. Our people 
really distrust France, but they hate Great Britain ; and yet 
they are vexed that their government does not return us love 



LETTERS. 

for hatred, and show to us the partiality our government, at 
least, still shows to France, or seems to show. 

On the whole, new aspects of affairs present themselves ; 
new parties will arise, and new evils with them. Our 
citizens are rather democrats than republicans ; and nothing 
short of experience, that cuts the flesh, and dresses the wounds 
with caustics, will cure the errors of public opinion. The 
biggest fools we have are our sensible fools, whose theories 
are more pestilent than popular prejudices. They are more 
stubborn, are more tinctured with fanaticism, and with the 
rage of making proselytes. It would greatly improve sucH 
theories to dash them strongly with stupidity. Of this sort 
I reckon the dreams of all the philosophers who think the 
people angels, rulers devils ; information will keep all right, 
quell riots and rebellions, and save the expense of armies ; 
the people always mean right, and if the government do not 
oppress, the citizens will not resist ; that man is a perfectible 
animal, and all governments are obstacles to his apotheosis. 
This nonsense is inhaled with every breath. It gives a bias 
to the opinions of those who are no philosophers, or who, at 
least, do not imagine they are such. Errors so deep, so 
hostile to order, so far out of the reach of all cures, except 
the killing one of experience, are to be mitigated and pal 
liated by truth, perhaps delayed from exploding for some 
years. But they will have vent, and then all will shake to 
the Alleghany ridge. 

I have written thus far as fast as I could make my pen 
go too fast, perhaps, for my discretion to follow. I confide 
the letter to your friendship and prudence, not unwilling, 
however, that Mr. Wolcott should see it, under the like 
securities. I am, dear sir, 

Yours, with perfect regard and esteem. 

P. S. While I think it unwise to provoke a discussion 
of the mission at present, I fear we shall not be allowed to 
choose our time for it, or to adopt any plan that we may 
believe suitable to the sad state of affairs. A war with 
Great Britain will be, somehow or other, begun, and it will 
then be said, the hostility of that government justifies the 
step, and glorifies the foresight of the President. The war 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

might have been avoided. If Great Britain will search our 
men of war, it is plain she means to understand the temper 
of our cabinet unfavorably, and to strike the first blow. Our 
commercial capital will melt away, and perhaps Jefferson and 
other patriots may see with joy the republican sky cleared of 
the corrupt vapors and clouds that the northern funded and 
other capital throws up. It will also make the northern 
States so much the lighter in the scale. Philosophers can 
enjoy the future good of great evils, and call those changes 
cheap, that beggar the aristocratic merchants and stock 
holders, but cannot cost the patriots any thing. British 
influence Baldwin will see decline, as our wealth takes wing 
and flies away. 

2d P. S. The order of the British king to detain and 
search our ships of war, as well as the vessels under their 
convoy, denotes a resolution to go to war with us. If it be 
so in fact, perhaps, all we have to do is to exert our best 
force and courage in the war. But, if any alternative be 
yet left to us, peace with that power is to be sought most 
earnestly, as all our floating capital would soon fall a sacri 
fice, and the anti-funding party might rejoice that their 
northern antagonists were so much the weaker. To hold 
up a war with Great Britain as a triumph of the Jacobins, 
as the ruin of commerce, as the source of new evils, new 
taxes, endless confusion, &c., would be right, in case it is 
not too late. I have felt restrained, by the sense of pro 
priety, from plainly stating to you the usefulness of some 
prudent course of conduct being considered by you and Mr. 
Wolcott, and intimated to some discreet person here. The 
newspapers are venal, servile, base, and stupid. But they 
would, for the last reason, publish a good deal very freely, 
because they would not understand it. I am very deeply 
distressed and anxious about the state of our affairs. No 
one would reject desponding and trimming counsels, how 
ever, with more disdain than I. This letter being strictly 
confidential, and the urgency of the occasion being great, I 
will not scruple to signify my hope that Mr. Cabot, or I, 
should have such sentiments furnished to us, as the public 
ought to comprehend. Any very elaborate or detailed 



LETTERS. 

argument, or series of essays, would do less good than light 
paragraphs and incidental remarks. In that way something, 
I hope, may yet be done to keep our friends and regain our 
deserters. I will only add my entreaties that you will ex 
cuse my loose method of writing ; and be assured that I am 
greatly honored and obliged by your expressions of friendship 
and regard. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

November 10th, 1799 Sunday. 

DEAR FRIEND, I wish, by the safe hands of Mr. 
Paine, to write all that you would wish to read. My last 
was so stuffed with croakings about the Envoys, that I have 
left it to Paine, after all, to tell you viva voce all that I could 
write. 

Since the Despatches were published, the trimmers among 
the Jacobins have pretended to be converted. The town of 
Boston has been so decidedly anti-French, that the Sullivans, 
and the Winthrops, and the Master Vinals, the leaders of 
fifties and hundreds, joined the vox populi, as it was natural 
they should ; but the captains of thousands, the Honesti, Jar- 
vis, and old S. Adams, remain unchanged. 

If any point is really conceded by that party, it is that of 
a navy, which they admit to be wise and right, perhaps with 
the sole view of insisting the more on the uselessness and 
danger of armies, which, besides, can go after rebels by land, 
which ships cannot. In the heart of even the proselytes the 
same rancor still lurks. The mission is the darling measure 
of them all. The Jacobins in the vicinity of Boston are as 
openly bitter as ever, though rather less clamorous, and, on 
the whole, the rabies canina of Jacobinism has gradually 
spread, of late years, from the cities, where it was confined 
to docks and mob, to the country. I think it is still spread 
ing silently, and why should it not I All that is base is of 
course Jacobin, and all that is prejudice, and jealousy, and 
VOL. I. 23 



66 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

rancor, in good hearts, (and even they have a taint of every 
evil propensity,) is susceptible of their impressions. Envy, 
fear, and cupidity, will renew the generations of factious 
men to the world s end. I smile at the shallow hopes ex 
pressed in conversation, of talking- or writing folly and preju 
dice down, and of dosing the citizens with information, till 
they cannot take the contagion of faction. As well might 
we hope, by keeping people on a milk diet, to starve out 
the contagion of the smallpox. 

Our good men feel better towards the government than 
they talk or reason. They really believe seven eighths of 
the democratic lying theories invented and propagated to 
subvert all government. They really think paper constitu 
tions adamantine walls about liberty. Their creed, in short, 
would damn the government as surely as the passions of the 
Jacobins. Few men, however, act up to their creed, be it 
what it may. Our good men, therefore, would act, on occa 
sion, with some spirit and constancy, in support of the good 
cause, and I cannot but hope that events will, in future, 
favor our tranquillity, or at least our political liberty and 
existence, as in times past. We shall profit, though little 
and slowly, by experience, and when things seem desperate, 
and a crisis inevitable, we have uniformly profited the most. 
I own I see not how this blind hope can be realized, but, like 
S. B., I will try to think that good will come out of evil. 

Wolcott and Pickering are certainly most excellent minis 
ters, and if they should not be turned out, or get disgusted and 
refuse to stay in office, they will moderate evils ; they will 
draw to themselves a share of the confidence of the country. 
These are reasons for my wishing them to remain perhaps 
weak reasons ; for, after all, I am half of the mind, that bad 
measures are the longer persevered in for not being clearly 
understood by the citizens, and this leads me to doubt whe 
ther Ellsworth ought to have been urged to go. He goes 
reluctantly. Monroe and Burr would have done better, and 
left the case as plain and intelligible as we could wish to 
make it. The Envoys do not, we are told, even know to 
what port they are destined. Their instructions, no doubt, 
are, to adjust differences, to demand reparation for captures, 
and to make a treaty to regulate our commercial intercourse. 



LETTERS. 

The last part seems to me like putting up good furniture in 
a house that is already on fire ; if it should burn, we lose 
our furniture ; if it should be put out, the engines will spoil 
and soak it. As to reparation, I should hope pledges will 
be asked to secure the performance. Why not tell Mon 
sieur Fiveheads, 1 Give us ships, give us an island in pawn ; 
we trust your rogueships no further than we can see you, and 
that is too far, unless you are bound hand and foot. But 
why prattle about the pledges of a treaty with France I It 
is like Doctor Faustus s league with the Devil our soul 
for his services. 

The soberest result of my reflections is this that our 
people understand the French, but do not understand the 
English. They do not comprehend the interests or policy 
of their government any better than its structure or mate 
rials. We expect their love and friendship, yet think it a 
crime to have any for them. We also magnify our own 
importance, at the very moment we are content to forfeit all 
pretension to it. For we tamely take kicks and snubs from 
France, and fancy Great Britain full of terror, lest our cut 
ters should grow up into a rival navy. I do not trust to 
that, far off as jealousy can look for a rival. With a thou 
sand ships, she is not afraid of us. The monopoly spirit 
and the rage against France are more obvious and powerful 
springs of action. Why should we expect that nations will 
see, or prefer their interests to their passions, when very wise 
individuals every day make a sacrifice of the former to the 
latter I We are like the English ; the comparison is to be 
made between us and them, and in that, national pride takes 
an interest and feels a wound. Our envy, hatred, and re 
venge, naturally point against England, therefore, because 
we resemble them, and not against France, whom we do not 
resemble. Like two rival beauties, we are in danger of 
hating each other, because both are handsome. Which is 
handsomest, is a question that shoots through every marrow 
bone, like the pains of the rheumatism. While France had 
so many partisans, no Frenchman here had many friends. 
England, on the contrary, was hated, yet every Englishman 

i The French Directory. 



26$ WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

was courted, trusted, and preferred. From our love and 
hatred of those two nations, we took care, as often as we 
had opportunity, to make exception of every individual be 
longing to the one or the other. Soon or late, every strong 
popular impulse will be felt. Every stubborn national error 
is a root of bitterness, that tillage will not extirpate. It will 
appear in such a country as ours, in acts of government. 
Therefore I conclude that our absurd hatred of Great Britain 
will produce a war with that nation, and our excessive de 
mocracy, a convulsion or revolution. 

Really sound and correct sentiments are extremely rare 
among those who either seek or enjoy any popularity in the 
United States. That treasure is so fugitive, that the having 
it breeds avarice and meanness. The fear of losing it, ex 
tinguishes bold, independent sentiments, and makes rare 
truth unwelcome, when it visits them. The plain folks 
think better, and are less afraid of the truth when they find 
it. A large part of our yeomanry are nearly made up and 
right in regard to France. Our upper counties are quite 
so. Among the more enlightened, Chief Justice Dana has 
been eminently zealous and prompt in his politics. He is 
not a man whom you delight to honor, because he is crabbed 
on the bench. Much praise is due to him, however. 

The last spring, the new county of Norfolk, (separated, as 
you know, from Suffolk,) was supposed to be clearly Jacobin. 
The antis resolved to turn out General Thayer, John Read, 
and a Major Bullard, the senators, because they voted once 
on the federal side. A single offence was unpardonable, and 
they started three high Jacobin candidates, with the most 
elate confidence of success. But I scarcely know how it 
happened ; they failed of majorities for their men, and, as 
the old senators were supported, from the necessity of the 
case, by the federal votes, they were on the list of candidates, 
(there being no choice,) and our federal General Court of 
course elected the said old members, who now call themselves 
high federals, and will be rechosen next April. 

I have made, at two sittings, a very long despatch. I 
freely own it, that I am rather barren in my communica 
tions to you. I find a scarcity of materials. If I could see 
you, my tongue would run like a mill. I should find sub- 



LETTERS. 

jects supplied by conversation forever and ever. I need not 
tell you, that you are a friend to whom I am bound by ties 
not to be severed ; and I please myself with believing, that 
if God, in his mercy, should spare us both to old age, we 
shall hobble along our downhill path the more cheerfully, 
for treading it together. When you are to return, you 
scarcely know yourself. The ill aspect of affairs between 
the two countries may bring you home the sooner. But as 
it may create subjects of adjustment, it may detain you. I 
scarcely wish you to return soon ; yet I am not very unwilling 
to see you again at the bar dear as your fame and happi 
ness will ever be to me ; for I do not believe that will degrade 
you, or plague you very much after the first six weeks. You 
would act on a respectable scale, which, in my dictionary, is 
synonymous with large fees. I sincerely wish, however, 
that your return to the professional drudgery may be most 
perfectly optional with you. 

God bless you, and Mrs. Gore. 

Yours, &c. 



TO T. PICKERING. 

Dedham, November 23, 1799. 
(Private.) 

DEAR SIR, I expressed such thoughts, in my late letter, 
as occurred to me, in the first moments of my surprise and vex 
ation, on finding the Envoys were actually going. They were 
crude, and deduced from a very imperfect view of the whole 
case. I then thought the public had been more prepared by 
art, and were more strongly impresssed by the authority of 
the President, than I now think. I then thought an indirect 
plan of self-defence the only one left, to diminish or escape 
the enormous mischiefs of that fatal measure. I still think, 
that a direct newspaper discussion is to be postponed. I did 
not, however, duly consider the probable state of things in 
Congress. There, the public sentiment will spring, as from 
its proper fountainhead. If the speech should be a menace 
23* 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

to Great Britain, all will be lost, if Congress should echo, or 
only tacitly acquiesce. 

If the President should only state facts, and give a gen 
eral view of the state of affairs, and of the hopes of the effect 
of his mission, the question (as) to the proper conduct for 
federal men to pursue, in framing the answer, will be more 
difficult. I have a little turned my thoughts to the subject, 
and though it is but a little, I will hastily and unreservedly 
state them to you. 

If this mission is to be a flam, to delude the French with 
mock friendship, they will, I fear, turn it into serious earnest. 
The President, I hear, says he has no hope of its success. 
But why he should calculate on their being so shallow as to 
refuse the promise of any thing, I cannot see. 

It is, apparently, a game too delicate to play with advan 
tage, against any but novices, and these old sinners will cer 
tainly beat us at it. My own belief is, that, for certain 
reasons, the mission proceeds on the ground, that Great 
Britain is hostile, is too great, and that France and we are to 
lean to the same side, to make a balance. Though war is not 
intended, perhaps not foreseen, by the President, yet he is 
willing to have the multitude, and the Jacobins, give him 
credit, as no friend to the English, and no well-wisher to the 
growth of their naval power, or to the depression of their 
rivals. This is a prodigious merit, and will throw such a 
glory round any prophet s head, as may well fascinate. He 
may calculate that this will procure and secure popularity, 
not only with the multitude, but with the pretended Ameri 
can party, as I have heard he terms those who are not of 
the French or British parties ; all which parties he supposes 
to exist distinctly. 

Now, such opinions and such interests, and the measures 
in consequence of them, beginning with the envoys, will cer 
tainly produce effects, at home and abroad ; at home, to em 
broil and divide ; abroad, to irritate and bring on losses and 
disgraces. If, to the effect of these dispositions and mea 
sures on the part of the chief of the government, we should 
unfortunately have to add what will be produced by the ac 
quiescence, tacit or express, of Congress, and the newspaper 
assent of the nation, which, as the newspapers now are, will 



LETTERS. 271 

be expressed loudly in favor of the President and his mis 
sion, will not Great Britain banish all doubt of our hostility, 
and act accordingly 1 Will not an open war, or an active 
one, though not declared, but ruinous to our trade, be the 
certain and speedy consequence 1 I know some wise folks 
insist, that she has her hands full, and that we are too good 
customers to quarrel with. This is plausible, but false. 
Armed as she is, our hostility would be nothing. With a 
thousand ships, her trade would be safe, and with a thousand 
privateers, which such a trade as ours would invite to scour 
the seas, ive should be stript of nearly our whole commercial 
capital in one short season. And as to manufactures, we 
must have them. They would reach us (at) a dear rate, and 
so scantily as to ensure poverty and nakedness. 

I rely on it, that Great Britain is not half so reluctant to 
go to war as we are, with all our unseasonable bluster. This 
is her time, and not our time. If we must go to war, and 
could choose the time, it should be when the world was at 
peace. Then, if we should demand justice, without menace 
or insult, I am sure we should obtain it. If not, I would not 
ask, I would not accept, French aid to fight her, not even if 
France were sober, and again a monarchy, and had a hun 
dred ships of the line fitted for sea. My reasons are, that, 
alone, we should have less force to contend with, and more 
to contend for. Our little navy would not require, and 
would not produce, the arming of all, nor, perhaps, of a 
tenth part of the British ; our trade would not encourage 
the equipment of so many English privateers, as ours and 
the French together, if France was our associate in the war. 
We, on the contrary, should equip more privateers, as the 
harvest would not be shared with the cruisers of France. 
Besides, the British merchant ships would be armed and 
convoyed with more care, if we had France engaged, than 
if we stood alone. For these reasons, I do not subscribe to 
the doctrine, that we ought not to stand alone, nor that any 
European nation, except Great Britain, and she only in the 
peculiar existing state of things, could or would prosecute a 
war against us, after patching up a peace with her nearer 
and more powerful enemy. 

But to return from this long digression. I have endea- 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

vored to show, that this is the worst time for us, the best 
for Great Britain, to go to war. Any time would be a bad 
one, for both countries, and would cost a great sacrifice of 
interest to passion. But the minister of Great Britain 
might argue thus : These people hate us. and would fight us, 
if they dared ; with such animosities, they will join our foe 
as soon, and annoy us, even in peace, as much as possible. 
Better then choose war ; it is our time. We are clad in 
armor, and invulnerable. The order to their cruisers will 
be rigorous ; spoliation will be augmented, discontents will 
multiply, the Jacobins, who profit by all ill humors, will 
speedily triumph, and then we should have open war. Or 
it may be, open war will happen first, and that would bring 
on poverty, discontent, faction, and triumphant Jacobinism. 

Admitting this progress, (no matter which end it may 
begin at,) the petty discords among federalists, the small 
talk among the small politicians, about disrespect to the Pre 
sident, &c., &c., (which, on any other question than that of 
national life or death I should call important,) I say, these 
minor considerations lose all weight in the comparison. 

If the House, by an express answer disapproving, could 
prevent the impression on foreign nations, that the mission 
was the expression of the will of all the branches of our go 
vernment, the evil might yet be stopped. We might be only 
disgraced, not ruined suffer some clamors, lose some fede 
ralists, and save our peace, wealth, and government. 

But if the House will not speak the true language, I do 
not see why a few, why even one member should not speak it, 
if a second would not join him. The division of the fede 
ralists might be disclosed by such a debate, but it would not 
be occasioned. The public would rally; the real dangers 
would strike the real patriots, who now sleep ignorant of 
them. If Gallatin and Co. should be for the mission, Con 
necticut, always sound, against it, and the known friends of 
order and government should join the latter, even yet some 
thing might be done. I do not forget that this is a very 
unwelcome effort, for members to make ; that evils would 
attend its success; that care must be taken to make it 
really, and in appearance, a correct constitutional and parlia 
mentary step, and that every energy of every enlightened 



LETTERS. 



273 



mind must be put in requisition, to give it effect without 
doors. I know that those who hate labor, who dread re 
proach, and even scrutiny, who expect office, and who are 
enslaved by names, or who want the sense or the spirit to 
discern the crisis, and of course, to despise little objec 
tions, and to surmount even great difficulties, when great 
duties call for it, these, and multitudes like these, will 
flinch, and I fear exceedingly that ill success would attend 
the effort. 

But if it is a case fit, as the Catholics say, for extreme 
unction, good men are bound to do all they can to save the 
nation. If they fail in the attempt, the nation will then have 
to answer for its own undoing. I submit it, therefore, to 
you, whether every effort ought not to be made in debate, to 
open the eyes of the people, even if the good men were sure 
of being in a minority. 

Perhaps some equally impressive ground may appear to 
you and others accessible and tenable. I wish to engage 
your most mature thoughts, in conjunction with the friends 
about you, and the friends of the country. Congress ever 
meets unimpressed, and ready to take a plan of conduct, if 
well digested and properly recommended, but never ready to 
frame one for itself. 

I am, dear sir, with a grateful sense of your exertions for 
us all, and with perfect esteem, 

Yours, truly. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Boston, January 6, 1800. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

Inter nos. I fear that I shall be asked to deliver an Eulo- 
gium on General Washington. I am intriguing to parry 
this malicious blow of the fates, for I have not time to pre 
pare. I cannot do the thing justice. I should disappoint 
everybody, and mortify myself intolerably. This is not a 
modesty trap, but a sad prognostic of the event. 

Yours, affectionately. 



#74. WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO JOHN WARD FENNO, ESQ., PHILADELPHIA. 

Dedham, February, 1800. 

MY DEAR SIR, A friend in Boston had occasionally 
sent me your Gazette. That, joined to my being engaged 
in business in Boston, makes me doubtful whether I had 
received any of your papers, before the* two that came with 
your esteemed favor of the 10th. I value the favor of your 
Gazette, as I ought. Those who think, are not very many, 
and the world s business, luckily, is not to be done by think 
ing. All have passions and prejudices, and these are called 
principles, creeds, virtues. A Gazette, conducted by a man 
of keen remark, and who dares to publish what he has dis 
cernment enough to comprehend, will of course have rivals 
and slanderers, even among his most clumsy imitators. This 
distinction, like all preeminence, is fascinating, and requires 
a variety, and at least a seeming contrariety, of qualities, to 
wear with grace and manage with advantage. Your father 
was a rare good man : my heart grows heavy as often 
as I revive in it the remembrance of his death. My affec 
tion for his memory, and my regard for you, would author 
ize me to set myself up, through one page, as your adviser, 
if I did not know, that of all rights, those of advisers are 
the most mistaken and abused. Prudence is thought to be 
of a mean parentage, and is often in a bad neighborhood, 
being reputed the offspring of dull feelings and base fears, 
a sort of jockey virtue, a substitute for both sense and 
morals. I am, I confess, at length old enough to consider it 
as the ripe fruit of experience, the just discernment of things 
as they are, and the condescension to weaknesses and preju 
dices. 

This, I confess, is rather a grave and awkward beginning. 
It is not designed as the preface to a sermon of reproof. 
Far from it. Young men, with an honest warmth of heart, 
despise little condescensions. Yet there is no possibility of 
getting along in this world among so many little folks and 
little prejudices, without making a great many. It is impos 
sible to strip off these, as they make up half or nine tenths 



LETTERS. 

of the whole political man. Young men of talents, also, who 
discern dangers far off, are impatient, that others are dull to 
see and slow to provide against them. This is your case, 
and that of the public. Sanguine hopes, of the most ridicu 
lous kind, enable millions to extract comfort from facts that 
show how fallacious they are. They suffer few ills by anti 
cipation, and reflect little on such as have happened. The 
mass of the nation are, of course, little affected by theories ; 
not much by any but very great events. They communicate 
almost no impulse to government, and are open to all strong 
impressions, either of government or of the faction opposed 
to it. A few leading ideas are, however, deeply rooted. I 
hope love of the Union is one, and when the crisis arrives 
that will oblige them to choose, I flatter myself they will 
choose right, or at least stand by authority, in support of 
such a choice. 

I admit, however, that things are gloomy enough. I 
lament the tame and fluctuating spirit that some of our mea 
sures indicate. I cannot deny, that many bad consequences 
are scarcely to be shunned. But, on the whole, I glean a 
good number of hopes from the same field where my fears 
grow so rank. The Federal Constitution is at least as cor 
rect as public opinion, and as events mend the latter, the 
former will gain energy. A system that shall thus adapt 
itself to experience, will be worth a million of Abbe Sieyes s 
theories. I am not of the opinion that any change or amend 
ment would answer, that the people do not understand in 
some degree, and feel the want of in a greater, before it is 
incorporated into our constitution. Gradually, we shall, I 
hope, adjust our systems to our wants, and our opinions to 
our systems. At any rate, we must not give up our hold 
on this Constitution ; we must support it ; we must, when 
necessary, amend it, and in your day it may acquire the 
strength that time and habit, as well as judicious alterations, 
will supply. These are my leading ideas of the actual state 
of our affairs, of what is prudence and what is duty. Allow 
me to proceed frankly with you. You are not obliged to 
assume the opinions you reprobate. But when they are 
adopted by great numbers, who cannot or will not reason, 
they are to be attacked with some caution, if you would 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

overcome them. They are often insensible to argument, 
always enraged by contempt. There is scarcely any lesson 
that may not be taught so as to avoid disgusting. Truth 
ought to be made popular, if possible. Your Gazette ought 
to be the vehicle of such lessons, and to make it such, many 
hands ought to aid your labors. The style of the pieces 
should never be such as to separate you from the good in 
disposition, who are slow in understanding. Truths inces 
santly inculcated are not quite lost upon us, though I own 
the effect is not very manifest. But less experience will 
teach us, and we shall be the sooner taught. I should be 
happy, for your own sake, as well as for the public s, to see 
your Gazette as correct in taste, style, and sentiment, a terror 
to evil-doers, and a praise to such as do well, as the Leyden 
Gazette was formerly. Do not infer, from this mode of 
expression, that I would censure it. I consider the task too 
much for any one man to accomplish. The most able friends 
of the government ought to be your assistants. With such 
aid, and the maturing of your mind by the advantages of so 
great early experience, I should hope you would make the 
success satisfactory to yourself and to us all. 

I agree with you, that the turgid bombast of our papers 
has been abominable. I have heard much of Thomas s eulo- 
gium on Turenne, but know not where to find it. I will 
send you one of my things, as soon as printed. To interest 
people, after their impressions had all grown flat, and to play 
tricks with pathos, when they had buried their grief, was not 
to be done ; therefore I attempted neither. Simplicity of 
thought and expression would be merit, and such merit as I 
would affect. It would be of a novel kind, as the public 
taste is formed to the Johnsonian method. An oration may, 
and, indeed, must be raised on stilts, or it will not be raised 
at all. I thank you for your attentions, and am much 
obliged to Mr. Dennie for his. My best wishes for the 
happiness and fame of you both. 

Yours, &c. 



LETTERS. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Boston, March 5, 1800. 

DEAR FRIEND, The Court will break up to-day, after 
passing several acts, of some value to the State ; one for 
inspecting beef, much wanted, and which will make a great 
reform in this article ; turnpike acts, to bring the produce of 
Vermont to this market, and which will recover to Boston a 
large part of the back country, which has for many years 
gone to New York. A turnpike is granted from the line of 
Connecticut to the thirty-milestone, on the road west of 
Dedham and Medfield, and which joins the Connecticut turn 
pike from Hartford ferry to the aforesaid line, adjoining this 
State at Douglas. This will divert the cheese, butter, &c., 
&c., which has gone to Providence more and more, and re 
store to the South End rum-and-molasses shops, the Jona 
thans who used to have their sweet communion with them. 
These regulations will really tend to raise Boston ; and if 
your Middlesex Canal should succeed, the success will be 
hastened. Do I not write like a patriot I yet I sell neither 
rum nor molasses. 

There is also an act to add two judges to the Supreme 
Court, any two of the seven to be a quorum in the Province 
of Maine, any four in Massachusetts proper. Thus there 
will be two courts distributing justice at the same time, and 
more courts or terms will be holden. To help the Attorney- 
General, there is to be a Solicitor-General, who, I suppose, 
will go one way, Sullivan another. There are to be law 
terms. I have not read the bill, however. 

The nomination of Caleb Strong was by a caucus of sev 
enty-two members of the two branches, and was so published 
in the gazettes. This was indiscreet. Gerry is the man of 
the antis, and they raise as much clamor as they can about 
the usurpation of the rights of the people. This makes some 
impression ; and others object to the choice of a man who 
lives a hundred miles from salt water, whose wife wears 
blue stockings, and who, with his household, calls hasty pud- 

VOL. i. 24 



278 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

ding luxury. These are childish, tattling- ohjections. Strong 
is a man of sense and merit, and made and set apart to be a 
Governor, and, with all his nolo episcopari and modesty, the 
very man to like the great Chair. I think, and so thinks 
E. H. Robbins, who is firm and true, that he will be chosen 
by the people. Mr. Gill is also a candidate. All parties 
propose him as Lieutenant ; both parties, Fed and anti, seem 
to decline him as Chief. Great exertions will be made on 
and before the first Monday in April. 

I hope Joe Hall writes at length on General Court affairs. 
If he should not, my letter will be of some value. The mem 
bers go home well affected to Government, but I think so 
many interests combine to make the members more nume 
rous, and to change the sort, that the Jacobins will be stronger 
in the next House. The mode of choosing electors in this 
State will be to confirm or alter, and Mr. Adams will be, I 
think, supported by all the Feds in the United States, and 
opposed by all the ant-is. This was, perhaps, not expected by 
either his friends or his foes, but events control the men who 
think they control them. Our parties in Congress seem to 
regard that approaching election as the only object of atten 
tion. We expect a treaty from our Envoys. The common 
prattle is, we shall not give heed to the promises and lies of 
France, and yet all, except a dozen persons, hunger and thirst 
and pray, without ceasing, for a batch of such promises and 
lies in the form of a treaty. Truxton s battle with a supe 
rior French ship, McKean s violence, and the tiresome per 
severance of frigid eulogies, shall not add another sheet to 
my letter. Your friend. 

Write, I pray you. I will make compensation, if that 
could do it, by two letters to one from you. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



Dedham, August 15, 1800. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, We are deeply affected and alarmed 
by your intelligence, in your favor of the 5th and 6th, from 



LETTERS. 

Springfield. We beg you to keep us exactly informed of the 
bill of health, especially in your own family, and Mr. H. s. 
His J. is a fine hopeful boy, and my heart would bleed for 
his parents, if they should lose him, which God forbid should 
be the event. My terrors are always lively, when the dis 
eases of children are prevalent. I resort to such precautions 
as I think may prevent an irritable state of their stomachs 
and intestines, without forgetting my utter ignorance of the 
subject, and that, after all, I must place my trust for their 
safety in God s good providence. Two children have died here, 
within a fortnight, of the canker and sore throat, which, Dr. 
A. says, is not the throat distemper. I hope he is right. 

We have had some fine showers, and vegetation revives. 
I was at Newport last Sunday, where I went on law busi 
ness, and no showers blessed them. They do not count 
every vote of their State federal, unless they should change 
the mode of appointing electors, from districts, to a choice 
by the legislature. Their Governor will be one by the 
former mode, and not by the latter, and he would probably 
vote for Adams and Jefferson. Maryland will not alter its 
mode ; it will be seven federal, three anti. South Carolina 
will be all Adams and Pinckney, if they should get a federal 
legislature chosen, for which an effort is now making. I 
fear it will fail ; then it will be all Jefferson and Burr. On 
the whole, Mr. Jefferson will surely be elected, unless all 
New England will unite for Adams and Pinckney. The 
friends of the President resolve that it shall not be so. They 
will not have this union, which if they prevent, they will oust 
Mr. Adams. This, if not victory, will be revenge, because 
it will oust, or rather prevent the election of, Pinckney. The 
Feds, in the South, fully rely on our cooperation faithfully 
and fairly for both, leaving it, as the Constitution has unfor 
tunately left it, to chance, to decide the issue. If South 
Carolina should be anti, I think Jefferson will stand a chance 
to be chosen, in spite of the united opposition of all the Feds 
throughout the United States. Indeed, I can make no com 
putation how he should fail. If that State should be federal, 
as there is some hope, then no federal candidate can be 
elected without their cooperation. How, then, the Adamites 



280 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

can make up a face to charge the Essex junto with opposing 
Adams, and how they can hope to carry his election against 
the friends of Pinckney in the South, is to me inconceivable. 
When they fail, they will charge their failure on the Essex 
Junto, who recommend union for Adams and Pinckney, and 
not on the Jacobins, who will bring about the event. Will 
the General Court meet in the same temper they separated, 
that is, to combine the federal votes for Adams and Pinckney ] 

Monday Morning. (Private.) 

I should not be surprised if the Feds, at New York or 
further South, should be so much provoked by the conduct 
of the Adamites here, as to attack and expose the capricious, 
strange excesses of temper, language, and conduct, which 
have so much distinguished the Great Man. What would 
be the effect ? Yours. 



TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON. 

Dedham, August 26, 1800. 

DEAR SIR, I have communicated your letter by Mr. 
Coolidge to Mr. Cabot and two or three friends. I have 
desired him, and he has promised, to write to you on the 
subject. Since its reception, I have had a long, and pro 
foundly sensible and interesting letter from Mr. Wolcott. 
The same friends have also considered that, and we all agree 
in the result. 

We understand that, at the close of the late session, the 
federalists consulted on the measures proper to be taken by 
the friends of order and true liberty, to keep the chair from 
being occupied by an enemy of both. This was the principal 
object, to which all inferior considerations must be made to 
yield. It was known and allowed that Mr. Adams had con 
ducted strangely and unaccountably, and that his reelection 
would be very inauspicious to the United States. But, great 
as that evil appeared, it was thought indispensably necessary 
to run the risk of it, and to agree fairly to vote for him and 



LETTERS. 



281 



General Pinckney, because chance might exclude the former, 
and because any other arrangement would, by dividing the 
party, inevitably exclude both, and absolutely secure the 
success of Mr. Jefferson ; and because, also, many, perhaps 
most, of the federalists will believe, it is better to have him, 
Mr. Adams, again, than Mr. Jefferson. The question being, 
not what opinion we must have of the candidates, but what 
cqnduct we are to pursue, I do not see cause to arraign the 
policy of the result of that meeting. For, in the first place, 
it is manifestly impossible to get votes enough for General 
P. to prevent the choice of Mr. Jefferson, in case he should 
be supported in open hostility to Mr. A. The sixteen votes 
of this State, and four of Rhode Island, may be counted as 
adhering, in all events, to Mr. A. Then why should we 
ground any plan of conduct on a known impracticability of its 
execution I By taking that course of open hostility, gene 
rous as it may seem, we are at issue with all the federalists 
who would not join us, and whose vexation and despair 
would ascribe the certain ill success of the party to us, and 
not to the Jacobins. They would say we make Mr. Jefferson 
President, and the vindictive friends of Mr. A. would join in 
the accusation. The federalists would be defeated, which is 
bad, and disjointed and enraged against one another, which 
would be worse. Now it seems to me, that the great object 
of duty and prudence is, to keep the party strong, by its 
union and spirit. For I see almost no chance of preventing 
the election of Mr. Jefferson. Pennsylvania will be managed 
eventually by Governor McKean and Governor Dallas, to 
throw its whole weight into that scale. The question is not, 
I fear, how we shall fight, but how we and all federalists shall 
fall, that we may fall, like Anteeus, the stronger for our fall. 
It is, I confess, awkward and embarrassing, to act under 
the constraints that we do. But sincerity will do much to ex 
tricate us. Where is the inconsistency of saying, President 
A. has not our approbation of some of his measures, nor do 
we desire his reelection : but many federalists do, and the 
only chance to prevent the triumph of the Jacobins, is to 
unite, and vote according to the compromise made at Phila 
delphia, for the two candidates I That this gives an equal 
chance, and a better than we would freely give to one of 
24* 



282 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

them. But, strong as our objections are, and strongly as we 
could, and are willing to, urge them to the public, we refrain, 
because the effect of urging them would be to split the fede 
ralists, and absolutely to insure Mr. Jefferson s success. 
That, however, if the rancorous and absurd attacks of Mr. 
A. s personal friends, and the meditated intrigues with our 
legislature, should make it necessary, we shall not fail to 
prevent the effect of that compromise which they thus abuse, 
and turn against the avowed design of those who made it ; 
and that we shall not sit still, but resort to such measures as 
they will render necessary. That this compromise not only 
exhibits the condescension and pliancy of Mr. A. s opposers, 
but is the only good basis of the success of either Mr. A. s 
or General P. s friends in the event, as it engages before 
hand for the acquiescence of the disappointed part of the 
federalists, and also as it is the only step that can unite them 
to oppose the election of a Jacobin, and, in that sad event, 
that can keep them united as a party, without whose union, 
oppression and revolution will ensue. 

Where is the absurdity or inconsistency of this language \ 
It is, besides, that which we have held for some time, and it 
is difficult now to change it. 

I am therefore clear, that you ought not, with your name, 
nor, if practicable, in any way that will be traced to you, to 
execute your purpose of exposing the reasons for a change 
of the Executive. But a strong appeal to the sense and prin 
ciples of the real federalists would not, or need not, contra 
dict or discredit the language above stated. I have tried to 
compress as much as I can into one sheet. But I have 
much more I wish to suggest to you. I have no occasion 
to say how much I respect your judgment, but I exceed 
ingly desire to discuss with you the point of the changes 
which the Jacobins may force the nation to make, in the plan 
of the government. 1 Yours, truly. 

1 It is proper to say that the above is printed from a copy, and that the 
Editor only conjectures, from the evidence of its contents, that it was ad 
dressed to Hamilton. 



LETTERS. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Boston, August 29, 1800. Friday. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 
. 

The antis rise in hopes and insolence, on the bad result of 
the Essex election, and that still worse in Worcester. A bad 
House of Representatives, and a Jacobin President, would be 
too much. 

Mr. Adams s friends do not know, but they ought to know, 
that the loss of any federal votes will certainly prevent his 
election ; that the only ground on which they can or ought 
to expect them, is the agreement made at Philadelphia, hon 
orably and fairly to run General Pinckney with Mr. Adams, 
and that, if they show an intention to fall from that agree 
ment, Mr. Adams will have no federal votes in Jersey, Dela 
ware, or Carolina. Whether the labor I have been at to 
display this consequence to some of them, will stop the cur 
rent of their rash and silly newspaper eloquence, I know not. 
Quern Deus vult perdere, prius dementat. 

Yours. 



TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON. 

DEAR SIR, The situation we are in, though not unex 
pected by a few, has filled the public with equal surprise and 
terror. The votes, Rhode Island excepted, have been given 
in a manner to take away that sort of reproach from the 
HamiltonianSi that momentary interests and the petulance of 
disappointment would otherwise have naturally thrown upon 
us. I discern symptoms of general wish to pass an act of 
oblivion, and to unite in self-defence against oppression, the 
danger of which folly persisted in refusing to discover, so 
long as there was, in reference to the election, any utility in 
thinking right, and acting together. 



284. WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

While we had a real or reputed federal head, weak men 
could see no danger, except in over federalism. Supposing 
the government to have, intrinsically, ample means of self- 
defence, and it being in federal hands, all, they thought, was 
safe, unless the men in power should govern too much and 
carry things too far. True patriots ought to lean against 
the administration, according to their opinions and feelings. 
This political hypercriticism is soothing to the weak, who 
happen to be vain, and are not yet found out, or do not know 
that they are. It passes for independence of spirit, for 
superior sense and virtue. This sort of vanity makes bad 
federalists as well as many democrats ; it has inspirited the 
assault, and dispirited the defence, of the cause. It is only 
at times when people are very heartily afraid of their adver 
sary, that they are well united to their party. That time has 
come : and all the talent, patriotism, and worth, and weight 
of character, in the country, ought now to be in requisition 
to save it. You are no stranger to my just estimate of the 
importance of your services and talents, and of the like im 
portance of the country s relying on them and claiming them. 
I will not say that you could have delayed or suppressed your 
book, or that its ultimate effects will not be salutary. But, 
though I think it one of your best written performances, 
there existed more unlucky momentary causes to make it 
unacceptable to federal men, than any thing you ever wrote. 
In political affairs, few speak so much from respect for truth 
as for stage effect. In the sphere of politics, 

" All would be gods and rush into the skies." 

The disclosure of truth implies previous ignorance. Few 
dwell on faults that they do not claim to have discovered, 
and those they exaggerate. Your book told less than we 
knew, because you would not charge, I suppose, more than 
you could prove. It told more than others would admit 
they had to learn, and especially those who extol the man 
who is the subject of your writing. Yet it is amusing to 
hear many begin thus : Mr. Adams has his faults, we know ; 
then conceding ten or twenty, such as are fatal to his 
political reputation, yet why should General H. come out 
now with his pamphlet, to divide and distract the federal 



LETTERS. 

councils I It was insidious, unfair, and deeply, rancorously 
hostile. You well know there is no such thing as persuad 
ing people to believe or doubt, against their inclinations. It 
has, therefore, been the opinion of your friends, that the facts 
stated must be left to operate on the public mind ; and that 
the rage of those whom they wound, will give them cur 
rency. At no very distant day, every right impression will 
be made; and it is not clear that it would be made the 
sooner for our sustaining, in the newspapers, the results that 
ought to be drawn from your facts. In conversation, we 
have been explicit enough, and our legislature was pretty 
extensively impressed with our sentiments. Mr. Cabot and 
I would readily say or write any proper thing in vindication 
of your character, if it were necessary. But we justly deem 
it superior to the prejudices against you, which have been 
spread with much art and some success. You know the 
cause and most of the pretexts. The Jacobins admit that 
you are their most dreaded adversary, and they greatly enjoy 
it, that the station unanimously assigned to you by your 
enemies, should torment and distract their enemies. These, 
however, are, I trust and hope, only temporary prejudices, 
which, with their author and the occasion, are already on the 
wane. 

It is exceedingly important that the federalists should 
unite. The soundness of their councils, and their success 
in impressing the public, will probably depend upon you as 
much in future as in time past. 1 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, December 27, 1800. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, It is a long time since I had a 
letter from you, or have deserved one by writing myself. 
Silence is a bad habit, as our wives would concur with us in 

1 This letter is taken from a sheet marked " Copy of my letter." It is 
apparently incomplete. 



286 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

saying ; let us, therefore, mutually try to amend of that fault, 
at least. I wish I could amend of a still greater fault, my 
own delicacy of constitution, as the ladies denominate the 
case. By going to Boston in a sleigh when there was snow, 
I was chilled through, like a chicken that falls out of the 
nest, and peeps all night unbrooded ; sneezed and snuffled, 
kept house and drank camomile tea for a week, and did 
not faint, though I came near it daily. 

Our General Court has, and merits, the praise of well 
doing ; and due care ought to be taken to prevent the sons 
of Belial from turning the good men out next spring. It 
will be attempted; and probably, nay, certainly, Governor 
Strong will be violently assailed. Hampshire must do as 
well as it has done 

The canker-rash has not disappeared from this place. 
Several persons complain of very bad sore throats. The 
weather is mild since Jefferson was elected ; but it is an un 
wholesome and treacherous softness, that seizes the windpipe 
like an assassin. Storms will succeed, and find us relaxed. 
Is not this an emblem of the smooth hypocrisy with which 
his reign will begin, as well as of its inevitable rigor and 
agitation \ 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

December 29, 1800. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, You will hear, with surprise and 
grief, the event of the election. While evils are in prospect, 
it is right to aggravate their magnitude and our apprehen 
sions ; after they are arrived, to make the best of them. 
Bad is the best. At the distance you are placed from the 
scene and the actors here, you will be ready to find more 
fault with us than you would had you been here. One, at 
least, of your correspondents has his reasons for thinking we 
were unconciliating and violent. The truth is, we were 
assaulted, rashly and unaccountably, by the head of the 



LETTERS. 

party, and we stood in our own defence with as much tem 
per, forecast, and spirit, as men could. Scarcely any political 
transaction has seemed to me, on a retrospect, so little liable 
to the reproach of bad play. Judge whether the utter ruin 
of the federal cause, and of all federalists, was not in train, 
when the accusations against them were such as you heard 
with your own ears. He now denies it all ; and a young 
man, his secretary, told General Marshall, he was authorized 
to deny it. This was in reply to what General M. said, 
that the hardest thing for federalists to bear was the charge 
of British influence. You will make your own comments 
on the contradiction. How he will act in his retirement, 
whether he will approve attacks on the muck heap of finance, 
on the impostures and swindling of banks ; whether he will 
recommend paper money, and a war with Great Britain ; 
whether he will permit himself to be made Governor, or 
nominated as minister to France or Great Britain, you may 
amuse yourself with conjecturing. The plan of jointly and 
equally supporting Adams and Pinckney, met with all the 
opposition from him and his personal friends, and from the 
Commercial Gazette, that could be made, and with all the 
virulence that could give an edge to their passions. Now it 
appears that South Carolina would willingly have voted for 
Jefferson and Pinckney ; but General and Major P., with 
singular good faith and honor, adhered to the compact, and 
rejected the offer. This forms a strong contrast with the 
conduct of Rhode Island, where, it is believed, two votes were 
thrown away from P. Such a fact will discredit New Eng 
land ; will check any future alliances with South Carolina ; 
will tend to make Rhode Island separate itself from federal 
ism, especially as Governor Fenner is anti, and the novus 
ordo seclorum will augment jacobin propensities. The folly, 
levity, and bad faith of the two electors, who thus threw 
away their votes, are now conspicuous. For had not the 
honor and probity of the Pinckneys prevented the vote of 
South Carolina from being as above, Pinckney and Jeffer 
son would have been equal, 7^ and 7^> and Congress would 
make P. President. 

The excellent conduct of the Pinckneys will be long and 
warmly applauded in New England, and, I hope, make the 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

basis of true federalism broader than ever. While the 
eastern States have grown worse, I verily believe the 
southern have grown better, and even the antis here feel 
a little sore that the eastern States have lost the Presidency. 
To support and commend even Jefferson, will be against 
their old malecontent habits and feelings. It remains also 
to be seen, whether, if Burr and Jefferson are equal, the 
former will not be preferred by Congress. It is the subject 
of discourse. It is said he is preferable, has the more 
energy of the two, and will keep the government together, 
if he can wield it. I consider it, however, as bravado, and 
that the Feds will not contest, if the equality of the votes 
should furnish the occasion, Jefferson s presidency. Madison 
is agreed on as Secretary of State among the antis. But 
other places are said to be undecided on. Gallatin pants for 
Wolcott s place, now or soon to be vacant. Stoddert will go 
out, and, probably enough, the navy and the department be 
abolished together. Dexter is not expected to quit volunta 
rily, and I think he will not be turned out. Monroe will, 
if he likes, return to France to embrace liberty again. To 
go on as formerly in measures, will not suit many of the 
dominant faction ; the anarchists and Jacobins want the 
government to whirl like a top ; the antis would amend it 
to death ; the democrats would get on by temporizing and 
coaxing. Jefferson and Madison are, probably, of the latter. 
The four sorts are now melted together, and seem to be 
homogeneous ; but, as the metal cools, I think all the four 
ingredients will, in some degree, separate, and appear dis 
tinctly. The Lord knows how the interior will be ; and the 
exterior relations will be bad, or we shall try to make them 
bad. 

Formerly, pretty good men thought the government party 
was rather too violent, and fond of governing too much. It 
seemed to such blinkers a duty to lean back from the govern 
ment, and to lend a little countenance to the opposition. 
Now, the same jockeys will fear the new administration. 
They will fear for the safety of property and government, 
and have reason. If these should be attacked, the spirit of 
the new opposition will be undivided and energetic ; and it 
is very possible that we may find ourselves fitter and more 



LETTERS. 89 

united for the work than for sustaining, as heretofore, the 
men and measures of our choice. All fears now will be for 
the safety of all that government has yet erected. Stocks 
have fallen, and rich men have begun to find out that they 
ought to bestir themselves. The late discord among federal 
ists will probably subside. The occasion for a civil war 
between us is past, and there is discretion enough to hold 
our tongues. We see, however, that much of Jefferson s 
work is ready done to his hand. We are, by treaty, to 
embrace France, and Frenchmen will swarm in our porridge- 
pots. Jefferson will say he only supports the friendly system 
of his predecessor. Had he found things as they were in 
1798, it would have been a great and palpable innovation to 
bring them to the point where he finds them. The federalists 
are already stigmatized as an oligarchy, a British faction. 
Hamilton is obnoxious and persecuted by popular clamors, 
in which federalists, to their shame, join. A war with Great 
Britain is said to be a cowardly fear, and quite improbable ; 
no matter if it happens. Banks, funding systems, are muck ; 
paper money, a good revolutionary resource ; Hancock and 
Adams forever ! These are great advantages for the new 
administration to start with. Perhaps they are such as 
pretty naturally flowed from the dominancy of the federal 
party in 1798. Then they were very strong; and is it not 
the nature of every party to split, as soon as it becomes 
greatly superior to its antagonist ? On that hypothesis, we 
may, perhaps, soon profit by the discord of the Jacobins. 
It is clear that some of them want no government, and are 
anarchists. Some plot for a revolutionary Robespierrism ; 
they are Jacobins, thirsting for blood and plunder. The 
antifederalists prefer state aristocracies allied, not bound 
closely together. The democrats would trust to the rights 
of man and chopping logic. Locke and Paine are authorities 
to direct and enlighten us, and that is all that citizens need. 
Eustis 1 will have a difficult game to play. If he spiritedly 
supports revenue, navy, and credit, what becomes of Jacobin 
ism ? If he joins in demolishing them, what becomes of his 
Boston support I On the whole, I hope that, as the elements 

1 Representative in Congress from Boston. 
VOL. I. 25 



290 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

of the new administration are discordant, they will feel their 
weakness ; and that, when federalists have nothing to do but 
to defend, they will feel and make manifest their strength. 
I trust they will do it very differently from the Jacobins, and 
as patriots and good men should. The Palladium, or Mas 
sachusetts Mercury, is to be the federal gazette. I pray you 
send me sometimes pamphlets or papers, to give me just 
ideas of European politics. 

Yours. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, January 1, 1801. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

They talk strongly of preferring Burr to Jefferson. It is 
said the Feds can decide which shall reign. The Mercury 
or Palladium is to be the federal paper, and pains must be 
taken to spread it, and gain readers and patrons in all parts 
of New England. It languishes hitherto for pecuniary funds. 
But literary help will be considerable in the beginning, and 
unless (this in confidence) K., J. L., and F. A., will work 
for it, the tug will soon become hard. One of the three is 
very lazy ; but as he can and will write when he is, and 
because he is, there is a chance he will yawn over pieces that 
will set the readers yawning. All well here. 

Yours, with love to friends, &c. 



TO DWIGHT FOSTER. 

Dedham, February 9, 1801. (Private.) 

DEAR SIR, You have a difficult task to perform on the 
llth, 1 and though I hesitate and am undecided in a degree 

1 At this period the Constitution required that each presidential elector 
should vote for two persons, without designating which should be President, 



LETTERS. 



291 



that is not, I think, often my custom in political matters, I 
leave all to the Feds, who, on the spot, will act for the best. 
I doubt whether Burr will be federal, if chosen by Feds, and 
he would reconcile himself to his old friends as soon as he 
can. You will, I fear, become weary of well-doing in Con 
gress, and resolve to quit your post sooner than we shall be 
willing to release you from it. Will Dexter be allowed to 
hold te, or the office of State, if royal grace should remove 
him to it I Will Madison go to France if Jeff, reigns I Will 
Gallatin get an office? Will Jeff, forget or forgive your 
efforts to bring in Burr, if they should fail of success I Will 
resentment, or the sense of increased dependence on his party, 
precipitate him to adopt violent counsels, to attack the funds, 
to restrict British commerce, to hug France close, &c. ? It 
is very important that the Feds should adopt some plan of 
conduct, suited to the state we shall soon be placed in. We 
must keep united, and keep the public with us. Great 
efforts will be made to jacobinize Massachusetts, and to elect 
Gerry, though many think Mr. A. will be the jacobin can 
didate. The members of the General Court will go home 
full of zeal to reelect Strong. The Jacobins are full of confi 
dence that they shall triumph in Boston, and throughout the 
State. Accept my best wishes. Yours, truly. 



TO JEREMIAH SMITH. 



Dedham, February 16, 1801. 

MY GOOD FRIEND, It is bold in you, sinner as you are, 
to ask any thing of me. You did not answer my letter about 

and which should be Vice-President. The person having the largest number 
of electoral votes was to be President, and the one having the next largest 
was to be Vice-President. At this time there was a tie between Jefferson 
and Burr, each having seventy-three votes, and the decision between them 
devolved upon the House of Representatives, voting by States. The ballot 
ing began on the llth of February, 1801, and was protracted to the 17th of 
that month. 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

writing to Ben Bourne, nor a former letter, nor those letters 
I did not write, but which you knew I had regard enough 
for you to write. I have your Judge letter ; and with all 
these demerits unatoned, I wrote for you to Dexter, request 
ing him to show it to Marshall, and to do all that he can 
possibly do for you. I heap coals of fire on your unworthy 
head. But I will not allow my rage to proceed any further ; 
on the contrary, thank you for early asking my influence, 
which, as one of the Essex Junto, you know is great, in favor 
of your appointment. I did not write to Mr. Adams, which 
piece of neglect he will excuse, and I hope you will. I have 
read, and I admire, his book. And if you will write a great 
book on tenures, as you promised, I will buy it, and, if pos 
sible, read it. I am your friend, and will exert myself, you 
see, to serve you. Seriously, I wish you a Judge, though 
you have not gravity. I wish to see you, to give you pud 
ding in my house, and to tell you, with the warmth of feeling 
of 1796, that I am, Court sitting, very busy, 

Your friend, &c. 



TO THEODORE DWIGHT. 

Dedham, March 19, 1801. 

SIR, There are many federalists who think that nothing 
can be done, and others who think it is too soon to do any 
thing, to prevent the subversion of property and right of every 
kind. Some even say that Mr. Jefferson will be a federalist, 
and, of course, there is no need that any thing should be done. 
As I happen to entertain a very different opinion on all these 
three points, I ask leave to state, as briefly as I must in a 
letter, my sentiments to you. I will crowd the paper that I 
may do it the more fully. I conceive that the Virginia 
politics are violent, according to the temper of her Taylors, 
Monroes, and Gileses, and I may add Jeffersons. They 
are vindictive, because that State owes much, and the com- 



LETTERS. 

mercial States have gained, and now possess, much; and 
this newly accumulated moneyed interest, so corrupt and cor 
rupting, is considered a rival interest, that baffles Virginia 
in her claim of ruling the public counsels. The great State 
has the ambition to be the great nation. Philosophism and 
Jacobinism add vigor to the passions that spring from the 
sources before mentioned. As political power is to be 
wholly in their hands ; as even the senate will apparently be 
jacobin ; and as the popular current is setting in favor of the 
extremest use of this power, it seems strange that any 
federalist of good sense can see matter of consolation in 
the prospect before us. 

Party is an association of honest men for honest purposes, 
and, when the State falls into bad hands, is the only efficient 
defence ; a champion who never flinches, a watchman who 
never sleeps. But the federalists are scarcely associated. 
Their confidence is so blind, and they are yet acted upon so 
little by their fears, their trust in the sinless perfection of a 
democracy is so entire, that perhaps suffering severely is the 
only mode for teaching. Others, who foresee and foretell 
the danger, must suffer with them. Is it not, therefore, 
proper, and indispensably necessary, to be active, in order to 
prevent the dissolution of the feeble ties by which the federal 
party is held together I Is it not practicable to rouse a part 
of the good men, and to stay the contagion of Jacobinism 
within, at least, its present ample limits ] It would be wrong 
to assail the new administration with invective. Even when 
bad measures occur, much temperance will be requisite. To 
encourage Mr. Jefferson to act right, and to aid him against 
his violent jacobin adherents, we must make it manifest that 
we act on principle, and that we are deeply alarmed for the 
public good ; that we are identified with the public. We 
must speak in the name and with the voice of the good and 
the wise, the lovers of liberty and the owners of property. 
By early impressing the preciousness, if I may use the word, 
of certain principles, and of the credit, commerce, and arts, 
that depend on adhering to them, and by pointing out the 
utter ruin of the commercial States by a Virginia or demo 
cratic system, may we not consolidate the federalists, and 
check the licentiousness of the jacobin administration ? I 
25 * 



94* WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

do not believe that the eastern States, if roused effectually, 
would be assailed in their great interests ; I believe as little 
that if they are suffered to sleep supinely, confiding, instead 
of watching, they will escape ruin. Smooth promises, and 
a tinsel called conciliation, are to be used to break their 
coherence, to invite deserters from their corps, and, after thin 
ning their ranks, the breach of those promises would be safe. 
Violence would enjoy impunity. It will be too late to alarm 
after the contagious principles of Jacobinism have made 
New England as rotten as Pennsylvania. 

The newspapers are an overmatch for any government. 
They will first overawe and then usurp it. This has been 
done ; and the Jacobins owe their triumph to the unceasing 
use of this engine ; not so much to skill in the use of it, as 
by repetition. Fas est et ab hoste doceri. We must use, but 
honestly, and without lying, an engine that wit and good 
sense would make powerful and safe. To this end, the 
talents of Connecticut must be put in requisition. The Pal 
ladium might be made a great auxiliary to true liberty, and 
the endangered cause of good order. Its circulation, how 
ever, must be greatly increased. Any paper, to be useful at 
this crisis, must spread ten times as much as any will or can, 
unless the federal party, by a common concert, join to make 
it, like the London Gazette, the Gazette of the party. Could 
not your clergy, your legislators, your good men, be im 
pressed with the zeal to diffuse it at once through your 
State ? The attempt is making here ; but, I confess, many 
think it a folly to be alarmed. Many others are alarmed. 
An active spirit must be roused in every town to check the 
incessant proselytizing arts of the Jacobins, who will soon 
or late subvert Connecticut, as surely as other States, unless 
resisted with a spirit as ardent as their own. If such a 
spirit could be roused, we should certainly preserve all that 
we have not yet lost. We should save property, credit, and 
commerce. We should, I am sanguine enough to believe, 
throw upon our antagonists the burdens of supporting and 
vindicating government, and enjoy their late advantages of 
finding fault, which popular prejudice is ever prone to listen 
to. We should soon stand on high ground, and be ready to 
resume the reins of government with advantage. You will 



LETTERS. 95 

suppose that I still bear in mind, that we are not to revile or 
abuse magistrates, or lie even for a good cause. We must 
act as good citizens, using only truth, and argument, and 
zeal to impress them. 

The success of this design depends on the diffusion of like 
ideas among all the federalists, and the exertion of the first 
talents of the party. I think myself entitled to call upon 
you, and to ask you to call upon the mighty Trumbull, who 
must not slumber, like Achilles in his tent, while the camp 
is in danger of being forced. Mr. Wolcott must be sum 
moned to give his counsels, as well as to mend his excellent 
pen. Connecticut is the lifeguard of liberty and federalism. 
I am trying to sound the tocsin. Mr. Button, the editor of 
the Palladium, has talents, learning, and taste ; what is no 
less essential, he has discretion. It is intended that every 
clergyman in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont 
shall have a paper one year by a subscription. 

I write as much, in confidence, to you as the nature of the 
subject requires. I am, sir, with great respect, &c. 

Yours. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedliam, April 28, 1801. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

I am very glad you are Senator once more, first for my 
own sake, as I shall see you the sooner and the longer ; 
next for the public s. If we can stave off the evil for a 
year, we shall rise again New York may vote right. 
Massachusetts may appear as well in the next General 
Court as ever. A less number, more sensible of the dan 
ger, more vigilant and spirited to repel it, will be a gainful 
substitute for a large majority, trusting where no trust ought 
to be placed. If from New Jersey eastward, all should 
look federal, a correspondent of mine observes, Jefferson 



296 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

will stand in his place, a monument of despair popular 
without power, the head of the Virginia body, which is lan 
guid and impotent. Virginia is a giant in a palsy ; when 
you would lift him he is more than your load ; when you 
would assail him, he is less than your match. 

Your friend. 



. TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, December 7, 1801. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

The great evil of our school law is, that the towns, when 
unwilling to maintain schools, may render themselves unable 

by splitting up their districts Pray take the 

matter into your senatorial consideration, and your petitioner 
as in duty bound, shall &c. ; which is, ever vote for your 
honor as long as you live, and longer. It is strange, that 
with my thoughts so turned to legislation, I cannot be chosen ; 
but the people know no better than to neglect me. 

I divide my cares for my country with those for my farm, 
and I have the pleasure to inform you that I carried my 
pigs to a good market, the peace notwithstanding. Ten 
cents a pound in September indemnified me for all the grain 
consumed for my horse, oxen, cows, calves, poultry and 
family, and a handsome balance in cash. I make no secret 
of the way to get rich. If corn could be bought on the 
river to advantage, I would wish to place cash in your hands 
for the purpose. I have more than sixty pigs, who are 
pretty expensive boarders. My cows produce only in butter 
and calves nearly thirty-six dollars each. Keep that to your 
self till the valuation is settled. To be serious, I think my 
farm is approaching the period when it will be profitable. 
If I did not think it would be, it would not be an amuse 
ment. It would be a mere piece of ostentation on any 
other prospect an expensive folly, a toilsome disappoint- 



LETTERS. 

ment. The peace will reduce labor and produce and lands. 
Its effects are not to be foreseen, and on the whole, I incline 
to believe, though I scarcely know why, they are overrated. 
France will be busy with her intrigues in all countries. 
She has made peace as a conqueror, and annexed to her 
empire a great territory. Her arrogance will be great, and 
I suppose that the British minister, seeing (that) Europe, so 
far from being willing to combine and fight against France, 
was not willing to let Great Britain fight alone and save 
them all ; that Russia, Prussia, and the Emperor were 
more or less jealous of the naval greatness of England, and 
not enough jealous of the Roman greatness of France ; I 
say, I suppose that he was willing, and almost forced, to 
make a peace, and such a peace, as by exhibiting and 
augmenting the arrogance of France, would rouse a jea 
lousy of her in all Europe. The territory ceded was not of 
much value to keep, not worth the impression supposed 
upon all other nations. The schemes of Russia, and the 
discords in France will be probably the points on which the 
question of the peace lasting or not lasting will turn. As 
weatherwise folks tell you on being asked of the weather, 
I will let you know more hereafter. 

Yours &c. 



MY DEAR FRIEND, 



TO THOMAS D WIGHT. 

Dedham, April 16, 1802. 



iOur politics go swimmingly, as there is need they should, 
for""fhe angels of destruction at Washington are making 
haste, as if they knew their time is short. It is now their 
part to vindicate, and stand on their defence when attacked ; 
a post hard to keep, and yet they must keep it, or part with 
their power. Like the first National Assembly, they or 
two thirds of their gang have been silly enough to suppose 



298 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

they could go on with the Constitution by the will of the 
people that is, by indulging their own passions. The 
French from 1789 to 179& in like manner established a 
democracy of the wildest and wickedest sort, and thought 

/they could have a king at the head of it. A monarchical 
mobocracy was their philosophical plan. It answered just 
as we might expect from joining contradictions together, 
A like issue must attend our Democrats, and the next thing 
\ will be, as in France, anarchy, then Jacobinism organized 
A, with energy enough to plunder and shed blood. [The only 
\ chance of safety lies in the revival of the energy of the 
federalists, who alone will or can preserve liberty, property 
or Constitution. This revival is most encouragingly indi 
cated by the late election. It is a victory which we ought 
to reap the fruits of. We ought to exert ourselves through 
out New England to counteract the Jacobins, by understand 
ing what their topics of declamation are, and then confuting 
them in the newspapers, in pamphlets and discourse. 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Dedham, October 5, 1802. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, 

Since I have sought pleasure and profit among my trees 
and cows and pigs, and since the cares of a little law 
business and a large family have engrossed my time and 
thoughts, I am no longer so desperate a scribbler to my 
friends as I was while in Congress. Then I gave you little 
respite. I confess that I find an increasing indisposition to 
letter-writing, which I regret and will resist. Besides you 
read the Boston papers, and I cast about to find matter not 
taken up in them ; and, uncertain what you know and what 
you are ignorant of, I write under the discouragement that 



LETTERS. 

I give you nothing but what is stale. Your reproof that I 
write you too seldom and too short, is flattering yet painful, 
and the sensibility, with which your letter of the 29th July 
bemoans your apprehended estrangement from country and 
friends, is conveyed in a manner very much to sharpen my 
remorse that I have given you occasion, as I confess I have, 
for your regrets and remonstrances. I promise reformation. 
Repentance is strongest while it is new and fresh, and I will 
avail myself of its earliest impulse to write a letter as long 
and as lively as any thing ever written, and not for publica 
tion excepting only General Heath s orders when he de 
tached a party. In that case the commander of the detach 
ment seldom found the task to be performed so laborious, as 
the reading of a quire of instructions. I pray you do not 
interpret this engagement of mine to write a great deal, as 
a threat. For I have something to add that I would not 
intimidate you from reading. 

You ask my advice about your resuming the law busi 
ness. I cheerfully undertake the office, only premising that 
in deciding the most momentous concerns of life, a man is 
not only his best, but almost solely, his own adviser. He 
has exclusively that instinctive perception of what he pre 
fers, and of what he can do, that the most discerning friend 
must only suppose, and may, and indeed must, in a great 
measure mistake. Nevertheless, friends ought to advise, be 
cause they bring this power of self judging into operation 
precisely, and with ample materials. All I will pretend to 
do is to frame a special verdict, and then humbly submit it 
tovour honor s judgment. 

fGreat law knowledge is sure to gain business and emolu- 
nrent: The splendid eloquence that displays its treasures 
may hasten the popular judgment to decide that a man po- 
sesses them, but ultimately the learning of the lawyer de 
cides the measure of his fame. Now, I pronounce that you 
are well fitted by nature and study, as well as practice for 
such eminence, and by a practice that evinces your extensive 
learning and sound judgment as a lawyer, I cannot conceive 
that you will submit to an unfavorable test of character, or 
that you will be degraded from the place your friends wish 
to see you take. 



300 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

I will therefore assume it as a point proved, that by prac 
tice in great causes, and where law learning will be chiefly 
sought for, you will not impair the dignity of your standing 
by resorting to the bar. But you will reply, that by re 
turning to open shop you cannot choose your customers, nor 
refuse to sell ordinary wares ; to harangue a jury about 
the flogging given to a sailor, or to mingle in the snipsnap 
war about admitting a witness or a deposition, will often vex 
and humble the liberal mind ; business of small value will 
not lie in your way. I reply, your share will be made up 
by insurance cases, and questions which our bankrupt law is 
sowing for the harvest of 1804-. I observe that the little 
contests and litigations are engrossed by the junior class of 
the profession and by those who never advance beyond me 
diocrity. This is, I think, a different position of things from 
what existed in 1786. You will not calculate on the small 
fees, nor the vexatious litigation which concern sixpenny in 
terests and sixpenny passions. Mr. Parsons practises on 
this large scale that I recommend ; and I will add, fees are 
infinitely better than they were in 1786. 

Who are the rivals for this business with whom you 
must divide the booty I Parsons stands first, but he is 
growing older, less industrious, and wealth, or the hypo, 
may stop his practice. Otis is eager in the chase of fame 
and wealth, and, with a great deal of eloquence, is really a 
good lawyer, and improving. He however sighs for politi 
cal office he knows not what ; and he will file off the 
moment an opportunity offers. 

Dexter is very able, and will be an Ajax at the bar as 
long as he stays. You know, however, that his aversion to 
reading and to practice are avowed, and I believe sincere. 
His head aches on reading a few hours, and if he did not 
love money very well, he would not pursue the law. Sulli 
van, who seems immortal, is admonished of his decay by a 
fit every three months, and will not be in your way. 

I, your humble servant, never was qualified by nature or 
inclination for the bar, and this I always well knew. Want 
of health, and the possession of a small competence will 
stop my mouth, if fate should not stop my breath before 
your return. I have reckoned all the persons who pretend 



LETTERS. 



301 



to be considerable. John Lowell s health is wretched. . . . 
A number of eminent lawyers will be wanted in Boston, and 
though the place is overstocked, I think the prospect for 
180i not unhopeful. I know of no very dashing- young 
men coming forward. 

Yet truth requires that I should, after all, state my ex 
pectation, that your share of the business will not be as 
great as it would have been if you had not left the country. 
It takes time to form connections and to resume the old set 
of clients. You are no chicken, and ought not to calculate 
on a very long period of drudgery at the bar. You will, 
and you ought to, enjoy the otium cum amicis et libris et 
dignitate, for many years before you die. I will not con 
ceal from you my opinion, that you ought not to expect, or 
to take into your plan, the receipt of a great many great 
bags of money from your practice. I do not found this 
moderate calculation on your want of merit and talent, or 
on the refusal of the public to admit your title to both ; I 
only insist that, from circumstances connected with you, with 
rivals in practice, and with the state of business, you are not 
to look for a very large income. 

Suppose, however, instead of six, eight or ten thousand 
dollars a year, which Hamilton and some others are said to 
derive from practice, you get only fifteen hundred or two 
thousand dollars, ought you to decline practice on that ac 
count, or to feel mortified, as if the public had rejected and 
degraded you \ I am interested to insist that this estimate 
of reputation is not fair, for I am not entitled to boast of a 
lucrative practice. The truth is, other considerations deserve 
weight, and the public will give it to them. 

To be engaged on great law points, and to acquit your 
self as you will, surely cannot fail to vindicate you with 
everybody. Your time of life, your reputation, property, 
and moderation as to the passion for gain, will be assigned 
as reasons, even before you can assign them yourself, for 
your declining the toil of promiscuous business. It will be 
said, you would not be idle, nor will you be a drudge. This 
line of practice, the only one in your choice, Avill shelter 
you from the ungentlemanly wrangles of the bar, and the 
Court have of late years set about learning some mannersT! 

VOL. I. 26 



302 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

Then the question is fairly before you, whether you will 
open your shop on such terms, and with such prospects as I 
have stated. Why not 1 I ask. You will, or some friends 
rather of yours will reply, why should Mr. Gore descend to 
this not very respectable, not very comfortable, not very lu 
crative fagging at the bar I I urge that it is better to keep 
up your style of living by some business, than to change it 
for an idle life, and a style observably lower than that you 
have been accustomed to. A man may make some re 
trenchments and savings, but he cannot greatly alter his ex 
pense without descending , which I should be sorry you 
should have forced upon you. A man may not incline to 
take a certain degree on the scale of genteel living, but hav 
ing once taken it he must maintain it. Still I think that law 
in Boston will keep you out of the way of spending fifteen 
hundred or two thousand dollars, that a retirement of idle 
luxury would impose upon you at Waltham. Every southern 
visitor must see your improvements, show them to his wife, 
and eat and drink you ten guineas worth. $2000 saved, 
and $2000 got is $4000, enough to meet all the demands 
on your treasury, over and above the resources drawn from 
your property. Perhaps the superior cheapness of living in 
Boston may not strike you. I reply, a busy man may make 
savings and reputably, if he will ; and indeed he must re 
nounce business, or be moderate in his pleasures. He must 
often draw a special plea and refuse a feast. This is not 
all. Make the comparison between business and no busi 
ness. Farming at Waltham will be some resource, but I 
have no idea that it will afford that steady occupation which 
is essential to keep life from being a heavy burden. Books, 
you will say, afford that resource. In some degree they do, 
but they need auxiliary resources. In case you should be at 
Waltham, unemployed by the public, you will be in some 
danger of being forgotten by the great multitude out of 
sight out of mind, is their maxim. By practice you will 
be in sight, and ready, in every one s mind, for such public 
employment as your friends will say ought to seek you. 
Therefore the bar is in my judgment the best place for you 
to occupy, whether you aim at economy in expense, tranquil 
enjoyment of friends, or the resumption of any public sta- 



LETTERS. 303 

tion. Your social affections will find objects and exercise ; 
you will be kept busy, and of course cheerful ; you will not 
appear to be laid by or thrown away, but to have chosen 
your old post. Even if you should do little business, the 
extent of your sacrifice will be the more apparent. You 
will return, not with a raging thirst of gain, but with a 
resolution to study your cases and to merit confidence and 
reputation. 

Hence I conclude you ought to " open shop" again. On 
conversing with Mr. Cabot, I confess he instantly decided 
the point against me ; on further discussion he came over to 
my opinion. Indeed it seems to me not merely the best 
course, but the only one left to you. All which is humbly 
submitted. 

FISHER AMES, Foreman. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Dedham, November 7, 1802. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, The very hour and minute that I 
received and was reading your letter about Mr. Salisbury s 
experiments on my orchard grass-seed, pronouncing it, on 
philosophical authority, to be coarse and unfit for pasture, 
my cows were in my house-lot, eating it with the voracious 
appetite of ignorance. The Encyclopaedia, I find, says it is 
liked by sheep and horses, but is refused by cows. The 
poor things did not know that it was the dactylis glomera- 
tus, and was refused by cows. It is a shame to the very 
cattle to be so ignorant. It was natural to expect dreadful 
consequences from this apparently fatal mistake. The arts 
and sciences, who had spoken so plainly in their Encyclo 
paedia, one would think, would send a witch to give my cows 
the colic. There was no temptation and very little excuse 
for the blunder, for in the lot were other grasses in abun 
dance, the honey-suckle, or white clover, the May or spear 
grass, and the other various sorts, or gramma, as we the 
learned, choose to term them. Yet, rejecting what was 



304< WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

good and lawful, and preferring that which it turns out, 
though I must insist they did not know it, was prohibited, 
they did prefer the aforesaid dactylis ylomcratus, against 
the dignity of the Royal Society, and their Botanical Garden, 
and in contempt of the common law, and of the Encyclo 
pedia, as before recited, and in very evil example to sundry 
other cows, who looked over my fence, desiring to offend in 
like manner. I will not wholly vindicate this enormity it 
is too bad for that ; but I urge, in palliation, that probably 
the dactylis glomeratus is as sweet as any grass that grows 
so rank ; probably somewhat sweeter, for the hay is pre 
ferred by my cattle. But I can scarcely doubt, that the 
white clover, and other small grasses, are better pasture. 
But as the orchard grass grows very fast, Avhile the others 
stand still, and often forms a tuft, or hassock, in rich land, as 
large as a peck measure, unless the cattle love it much better, 
they will not keep it down so close ; for in an equal space of 
time it will be ranker than other grasses, and, being the 
rankest, will of course be left. Yet this very inconsiderable 
difference, supposing it to exist, in favor of other grasses, 
which is, however, mere hypothesis, is an affair of trivial 
account. As the orchard grass is succulent and juicy, and 
cattle will eat it, their preference or taste is of no great im 
portance to your own cows. If, indeed, you invite your 
neighbor s cows to push down your fence and breakfast in 
your lot, you should entertain them on the best. The grass 
and hay are highly nourishing ; they are abundant, and, with 
manure, bring better crops on dry lands than any other grass, 
perhaps not excepting clover. 

The last spring I remarked my orchard grass grew thick, 
and formed hassocks, while the dry cold weather kept all 
other sorts back. On the whole, this species of grass is 
with me beyond the grade of experiment. It has tried ex 
cellence, and I will stick to it. 

I have a great deal more to say to you. I am full of zeal 
about farming. Cattle and fruit trees are my themes, in 
prose. Poetry, if I had any, I would devote to my pigsty 
and politics two scurvy subjects, that should be coupled 
together. I wish exceedingly to get such cows as, being 
well fed on the dactylis glomeratus^ will give more milk than 



LETTERS. 305 

any other cows. The Alderney breed is said to be of that 
description, but, being English, I make no doubt they would 
refuse the dactylis. Expect to hear from me again very 
soon. Your affectionate friend. 

P. S. I have been to Paine s, chiefly to see the cattle. 
Unfortunately, he was not at Waltham. I will add a few 
words on farming affairs. 

Your English bull was certainly a very fine animal ; but 
size, which strikes the multitude, and beauty of form, so 
much admired by the few who have taste, are not alone the 
objects of the breeder. Cattle for the butcher should be 
bred in the distant farms, where land is cheap. Waltham 
and Dedham farms will not answer to breed for fatting, no, 
not even for working oxen. Mere size, however important 
in Vermont, is no object here. The best cows for milk may 
be bred with profit, because the fresh butter, for the market 
of Boston, must be sent from the farms in the vicinity, and 
the best cows are not to be bought. To breed them, there 
fore, is, in my view, a great affair. Whether your old bull 
that killed the Irishman, and so perhaps hindered his being 
naturalized by Governor McKean, is of the race for good 
milkers, I know not. Your cattle produced from him ap 
pear to me rather too bony, and not remarkably handsome. 
This I ascribe to the cows not being selected very carefully 
for their excellence in point of form. The bull that I had 
from Waltham was a fine formed animal. I bred from him 
and a very fine cow, a round handsome bull, as fine, I believe, 
though not so large as some, as fine as any ever bred in the 
State. From him and my best cows I have made some at 
tempts to breed a race, and, as far as I can pronounce on heif 
ers, with entire success. A cow that gives less than a pail of 
milk is denied citizenship in my cow-yard. The best that I 
can buy with argent, beaucoup d argent^ I buy, and the very 
prime of these and of those I breed, I select for breeders. 

Some cows are washy, pining animals, give poor milk, 
though a great deal of it, often go farrow, and are soon dry, 
or almost dry. I watch them on all these accounts, and 
have had them often milked in pails that are graduated and 
measured from bottom to the top. On the whole, I conclude 
26* 



306 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

that color, size, crossing the breed, and several other articles 
of the popular faith, are mere prejudices. The cow that 
gives the most milk, often, and perhaps as often as any 
other, gives the best milk. All the good qualities, even 
beauty of form, may as well unite as be disjoined. The 
best cow may prove the hardiest, have the fattest calf, the 
most rarely go farrow, give the best milk, the most, and 
the longest. All these properties are inheritable, and, by 
selecting fine cows to breed from, double the common profit 
may certainly be had from our dairies. I will not pretend 
that I shall effect half as much as I brag of effecting. I am 
certain, however, that I have made some steps forward in a 
business the most neglected, though the most important, of 
any in our farming science near Boston. My endeavors are 
but recent, though aided by my care seventeen years ago to 
procure two or three very fine cows ; from which I have a 
progeny of heifers. 

The fame of English cows is great ; and I am in doubt 
whether this is owing to any care in breeding them, or to 
the simple circumstance that they feed themselves on the 
best and in the greatest abundance, which the dripping Eng 
lish climate enables them to do. Our burning sun brings a 
pinching drought almost yearly. The breed of horses has 
long occupied all the thoughts of jockeys and fops and game 
sters. Of course I conclude that, Bakewell excepted, Eng 
lish cows have been neglected as much as our own in the 
race, and better taken care of in the feeding. 

I will add a word on breeding cattle, and on feeding them. 

Breeding. I see, in my experience, full proof that certain 
fine properties are transmissible. As much care should be 
had for the bull as the cow ; and this care, continued for two 
or three generations of the cattle, will banish those instances 
of a degenerate progeny which sometimes appear. A calf 
will resemble a distant relation of the family, more than the 
sire or dam, and the properties may be as different as the 
shape and color. But, admitting these exceptions to exist, 
which prove the rule, not detract from it, an improved race, 
and a peculiar race, having certain excellences to distinguish 
them, will be formed. It is a folly very much in fashion to 
breed horses, and great dependence is placed on the invaria- 



LETTERS. 



307 



ble excellence of the colts from the sires and dams. The race 
of gamblers and spendthrifts is indubitably propagated, and 
is not in the least inferior to the gamblers and spendthrifts 
of any former age. Why, then, should not cattle be pro 
duced like their sires, as certainly as coxcombs I Omne majus 
in se continet minus. 

Feeding. In our red hot climate, the grass dries up 
every year exactly on the 20th of July, and remains brown 
till the 1st of September. The cows, half starved, are 
pinched, and when the grass grows, their milk returns no 
more. Nature very prudently applies her energies to cover 
their ribs. Hence the loss of milk is great. To prevent 
this loss, I plant corn, and cut it up close to the ground, for 
my cows to eat it while the ears are green. I plant pump 
kins without corn to shade them ; these ripen early. I slice 
them once a day for their supper or breakfast. Item, I sow 
carrots and give them tops and all. Thus I keep them full 
of rnilk and full of flesh. But a cow will not easily gain 
more flesh in the barn. She comes out in the spring as lean 
as she goes in. Therefore, besides good hay, currying and 
great care in often feeding, I give some meal daily, say one 
or two quarts to each cow, from January to June, increasing 
it as the days lengthen and the calves lug their dams more 
and more. My calves weigh thirty pounds a quarter at seven 
or eight weeks old. I choose to continue the meal two or 
three weeks after the cows go to grass, then the green feed 
will not drench them. They will hold their flesh ; they will 
immediately give out great messes ; a short drought will not 
pinch their bags ; the milk will yield more cream and butter ; 
whereas the cows that are poorly fed, do not give full messes 
for fifteen or twenty days after being turned out to grass. 
Being weak in health, dry weather reduces their milk and 
it is poor in quality. 

You will say, such expense in meal exceeds the profit. 
I reply, my cows pay nearly ten pounds a year each. The 
meal is food, and of course less hay will answer. Moreover, 
cows in good flesh eat less food than such as are very lean. 
They are even less dainty, and reject meadow or bog hay less 
fastidiously than other cows. In case of an accident, a broken 
limb, for instance, or an unforeseen necessity to dry a cow, 
she is easily turned into beef. 



308 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

I admire to visit my barn, and see the cows as happy as 
the being well born and well fed can make them. I recollect 
an expression of a French traveller in England. Speaking 
of the cows in a gentleman s lawn, I believe you call it, he 
says of the cows, de qui V embonpoint annonceroit leur maitre. 
I should be very proud of such a description given of my 
cows, and, after a year or two, I hope to deserve it for them. 
But that honor depends on the progress of my English 
mowing. I manure my best lands, and, after having made 
a lot very good, I think it fitted for manure. Thus I prefer 
the aristocracy of grounds : the best will make the best re 
turns. Thirty great loads to an acre will bring two tons to 
the acre. A less ample dressing the next year will bring as 
much crop after ; and the highest possible health and strength 
will be infused into the grass roots. The ground will be 
swelled by the ferment of the manure ; each root will be 
large and strong to seek its nourishment. The grass will 
get good habits. 

Take only one crop from such lands, and feed off the 
after growth. Your cows will pay for it better than the 
rowen or after crop would ; an acre of fine mowing to each 
cow will keep her full fed, and thus a dairy always urged by the 
best food, winter and summer, and never pinched, will be all 
that a dairy can be. How important, then, is it to have cows 
that will give a pailful, say ten wine quarts, instead of six I 
that will give it a month longer than other cows, and milk 
of a better quality 1 

I wish a fair trial of the Alderney race, or any other good 
race in England, but I hope more from selecting the very best 
Yankees. 

Not a word of the foregoing was written to be published, 
but if you think the materials of any value to Arthur Young, 
or such very wise folks, I care not what use you make of 
them, provided you excuse me from the glory of appearing, 
nominatim, in print. 1 

1 He occasionally corresponded on agricultural subjects, with Col. Picker 
ing, whose warm interest in them is well known. 

A short extract from a letter to that gentleman, under the date of October 
26, 1805, is subjoined. 

" I have tried Sainfoin, and seen Lucerne tried. I do not believe in either 



LETTERS. 309 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Boston, December 13, 1802. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Our ruin advances like a ship- 
launch, very slow at first, so that you can scarcely see 
motion, then quicker, and then so quick as to fire the ways. 
Congress is sitting, and we are expecting the gracious mes 
sage from the throne. Its nature I will not pretend to say 
I can conjecture. It will, no douht, address the popular 
passions, and try to excite or to gratify them. The hopes 
and fears of the people are two windlasses, which the 
political machine obeys, as implicitly as any machine can. 
Those who turn the windlass, are as blind as the French 
revolutionists to the ruin that is sure to reach them. For 
revolution is merciless towards those of her own household ; 
like some other loathsome existences, she is sure to eat up 
her own litter. They will probably change the places of 
doing the financial business of the government from the 
United States Bank to the State banks. They will thus 
hope to organize a faction in each State, devoted to them 
selves ; to divide, by such means, the moneyed interest of the 
State, and to attach a part to themselves ; and, after having 
thus secured an influence in each State, to throw back the 
government, by amendments, into the hands of their partisans 
in the several States : Virginia being not first among equals, 
but such a head to the confederacy as Rome was to the con 
federacy of the Latins, or Tuscans, the more a mistress for 
affecting to hide her power. All this will not be done at 

of them. Every kind of weed, and all the common grasses, seem able to 
overpower them. Dear as labor is, I will not believe those grasses good that 
will not grow themselves, but must have the posse raised to help them grow. 

I shall be truly happy to converse with you, and shall think it an excellent 
bargain, to truck off my pig wisdom for your potato knowledge. 

On the whole, I expect no immediate and extensive benefit from new agri 
cultural inventions or discoveries. Enough is known for an age to come, if, 
in that period, the present lest practice can be made the general practice. 
You will not suppose me so absurd as to condemn the zeal of speculatists, or 
to refuse any new improvement, when ascertained to be such. 

I am happy to communicate all the little I know about pigs, to my friends ; 
but, though often importuned, I have refused, and shall never be willing, to 
climb into my literary sty as an author." 



310 \VORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

this session ; the mob must be trained, and kept as ferocious 
as a Spanish bull, first teased by little darts stuck into his 
hide, before he is turned out to toss men and dogs. 

To prevent this utter destruction of all that is worth 
saving 1 , we must animate the federalists. We must try to 
raise their zeal high enough to defend, on principle, what the 
others would seize by violence. The federalists must en 
trench themselves in the State governments, and endeavor to 
make State justice and State power a shelter of the wise, and 
good, and rich, from the wild destroying rage of the southern 
Jacobins. Such a post will be a high one, from which to 
combine in our favor the honest sentiments of New England 
at least. Public opinion must be addressed ; must be puri 
fied from the dangerous errors with which it is infected ; 
and, above all, must be roused from the prevailing apathy, 
the still more absurd and perilous trust in the moderation of 
the violent, and the tendency of revolution itself to liberty. 
These latter expect order as the only thing that can ensue 
from confusion. Liberty, they think, gets rid of a fever by 
bleeding at the throat ; her winding-sheet is so much whole 
some clean linen. Her assassins say (and these dupes will 
believe they are her champions) she is a goddess, and cannot 
die. 

It is indispensably necessary ; it is, I believe, though most 
of my friends say not it is practicable to rouse our sleeping 
patriotism sleeping, like a drunkard in the snow, to wake 
no more. It is possible to rouse the al^le men to action with 
pen and ink, and by their support of one newspaper not a 
dozen newspapers, as at present federalism would take the 
ascendant ; the sense of the country would be nearly unani 
mous ; Jacobinism would sneak back into dirty lanes and 
yellow fever courts ; vice and ignorance would march under 
their own banners, and, though we may be overpowered, we 
should not be deluded. Such an exertion, as I allude to, 
has not yet been made. The newspapers have been left to 
the lazy or the ill-informed, or to those who undertook singly 
work enough for six. 

But, as I have written a long letter to Mr. Wolcott on 
this subject, I will not enlarge upon it here. Expect to see 
it, without a name, as soon as I can find courage to copy 



LETTERS.- 311 

four sheets. This is certain, our revolution cannot be 
stopped, provided our rich and able men remain as inactive 
as they now are, or prove as great dupes as those of France 
did. No resources but those of the mind need be employed. 
Let wealth lie snug in its iron chest, and let its defence be 
committed to the wit, learning, and talent of a few, then it 
will be safer than armies could make it. But where are the 
few 1 A puzzling question. But England did not need an 
anti-Jacobin half as much as we do ; yet a few were found 
there, who did as much as Lord Duncan or Lord Nelson. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Boston, December 14, 1802. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Young Warren has just called at 
the Council Chamber, (the Council is now adjourned till 
January next,) with your letter of October 15. I shall be 
happy to notice him for your, his father s, and his own sake. 
Colonel Dwight s seal came rather later than August, when 
you say mine was dated, and your letter. He, Colonel D., 
is pleased with it. He is member elect to Congress, and a 
good fellow ; grateful for little favors from those to whom 
he ascribes great merit. fThave also received seven volumes 
of books Suetonius, Herodotus, Demosthenes ; as to any 
others, I will employ James White, if I have occasion, 
though, I confess, I am very willing to ask any such service 
from you. Books claim and deserve more of my attention 
than fees. I am, in health, a man of straw ; my declamation 
is not of the bar sort ; and the clients are rather dull that I 
am not more out of credit with them than I am, which, 
however, is pretty generally. I hate the sort of application 
that needs drudgery. Impulses command me ; I cannot 
command them ; and the bar requires that they should be 
bespoke a month beforehand. Absolute poverty exacted of 
me, four years ago, that I should go to the bar and truck off 
reputation for cash. I am now, with the aid of Mrs. A. s 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

portion, and my own good management, which is better than 
you think it, rather better off. My form will be soon pro 
ductive ; my India adventures turn out well ; and though it 
pleases God to fill my house with children, (a son born in 
October, which makes my census four sons, one daughter,) 
yet beef and pork abound, and bread, and milk, and butter. 
I will not, therefore, work hard at the bar. You may, if 
you like it, yet I think you ought, but that you will not con 
tract your expenses, in case you should get less than you 
expect in an officeT") I have written you at great length on 
the subject. You will soon have it. Though a nobleman, 
you ought to resume the practice. Joe Hall laughs at the 
project. 

I have written a four-sheet letter to Mr. Wolcott, and one 
to you, yesterday, in the Council Chamber, which I have 
asked a friend to copy, on the state of affairs, and the need 
of exerting the best and utmost power of the pen, before the 
time comes (it is coming) to see the power of the sword. 
Your own I intend you shall have by this vessel, and a copy 
of that to \Yolcott, and also of one I wrote, this day, to 
Jere Smith. The whole will show you nearly all my 
thoughts on paper. I am alone and unaided; you would 
impel things here with a force beyond all the rest. Revolu 
tion might be hindered : it will not be ; for alone I cannot 
do it, and not a soul will help me. They sometimes yield 
to, but ofteiier stare at, my zeal, and, oftener still, laugh at 
my means. In the Palladium you will see an imitation of an 
ode of Horace, ad navem qua Virgilius veliebatur. You will 
suspect the author, from the notes. He is unsuspected here, 
and is supposed to be from Connecticut. Much may be 
done, and something more than the former lazy effusions 
shall be ; but others are surprisingly inert. 

Your friend, &c. 

Bonaparte will surely flinch, if England does not. De 
mocracy is a bully, fierce towards those who are afraid, 
conceding to those who defy. B. is no democrat, but he 
will not fight when England is ready and willing. 



LETTERS. 313 



TO JEREMIAH SMITH. 

Boston, December 14, 1802. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, The second French and first Ame 
rican" Revolution is now commencing, or rather has advanced 
two sessions of the National Assembly almost, for the mes 
sage will decide and do the work of the pending session. 
To demolish banks and funds, not directly, but under 
plausible pretexts, all false and cheating, all founded on 
experienced state policy, will be the first act, though the 
death-blow may not be given to either of them till the fifth, 
which will be three or five years later. To amend the Con 
stitution, and give to Virginia the power to reign over us, is 
the next step. To do this, new activity will be used to raise 
and to strengthen the factions in each State, and to drill and 
equip them as subs to Virginia. The newspapers will lie 
and declaim as usual, and more than usual. Unprinted lies 
will be spread abroad, carefully steering off from post-roads 
and offices, as pedlars carry their packs, far out of the way 
of large shops. Emissaries, such as David Brown was, will 
be pedestrian and equestrian carriers of the people s mail. 
This is doing in all the obscure parts of New England ; and 
the spirit of New England will be as much perverted soon, 
as it is flattered now. Even Connecticut, so ardent in 
federalism, will decline from her high station, and learn 
politics of Abraham Bishop. I am serious. A party 
inactive, is half conquered. The Feds maintain twenty 
opinions, the best of which is quite enough to ruin any 
party. " Let the people run themselves out of breath ; all 
will come right ; there is no occasion for us to do any 
thing." Others say, " We despair ; nothing can be done 
with effect." Not unfrequently the same persons maintain 
both these opinions. 

Let us be precise in deciding our object. First, negatively, 
it is not the regaining of the supreme power. The end 
is, security against the approaching danger, or the best 
security, if not perfect, that is attainable. What are the 
means] Not indispensably that we should again have a 

VOL. I. 27 



314 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

majority. It is enough to have a strong minority. That 
minority need not be very numerous ; but it should be 
powerful in talents, union, energy, and zeal. It should see 
far, and act soon. 

At this moment, we actually hold sway in three of the 
New England States. Vermont has a good Governor, and 
many good Feds, almost one half the legislature. Rhode 
Island should be wrong, and lend the dirty mantle of its 
infamy to the nakedness of sam-culottism. New Jersey 
and New York are not hopeless. Delaware and Maryland 
are not yet as much emptied of federalism as Pennsylvania 
is, say little of the more southern States, though federalism 
sprouts in all of them. It is, I own, however, with such a 
sickly, yellow vegetation as the potatoes show in winter, in 
a too warm cellar. 

Now sum up the forces, and surely we are not to despair. 
We have a strong minority in numbers ; of talents enough ; 
of zeal little, but more may be excited, and the approaching 
danger, if duly represented, would excite it all. Self-defence 
exacts from us a union closer than ever, and supplies to our 
party the energy that party alone possesses an energy that 
is inconsistent with languor or inaction in the chief men who 
inspire and guide it. 

As the newspapers greatly influence public opinion, and 
that controls every thing else, it is not only important, but 
absolutely essential, that these should be used with more 
effect than ever. Let all the federal papers be kept up as 
high as at present ; but let a combination of the able men 
throughout New England be made, to supply some one 
gazette with such materials of wit, learning, and good sense, 
as will make that superior to any thing ever known in our 
country, or in any other, except the English Anti-Jacobin in 
1797 an( l 1798. To pretend to supply, with such materials, 
twenty federal papers, is absurd and impracticable. But, 
instead of uneducated printers, shop-boys, and raw school 
masters being, as at present, the chief instructors in politics, 
let the interests of the country be explained and asserted by 
the able men, who have had concern in the transaction of 
affairs, who understand those interests, and who will, and 
ever will, when they try, produce a deep national impression. 



LETTERS. 315 

The pen will govern, till the resort is to the sword, and even 
then, ink is of some importance, and every nation at war 
thinks it needful to shed a great deal of it. As matters are 
actually arranged, the Palladium must be that paper. It 
must have, it must have by requisition, the contributions of 
the mind from those who are rich in that sort of treasure. 
One or two of that gazette ought to be crowded into every 
small town, and more into larger towns, throughout New 
England. It must be so supplied, as to need no helps in 
money, but to force its own progressively increasing circula 
tion. It should clearly and aptly state the merits of every 
question ; tell every inquirer exactly what he wants to know 
about the public business, and in the manner that will impress 
him in the manner that will confound and disarm jacobin 
liars. The principles, the circumstances, the effects of mea 
sures should be unfolded, summarily, for the most part, 
but often by profound investigation and close argument. 
Business paragraphs should be short, clear, and frequent. 
Occasional essays should appear, to examine speculative 
democratic notions, which yet prevail, and almost all of 
which are either false or pernicious, but often mischievous 
conclusions from admitted principles. 

Wit and satire should flash like the electrical fire ; but 
the Palladium should be fastidiously polite and well-bred. 
It should whip Jacobins as a gentleman would a chimney 
sweeper, at arm s length, and keeping aloof from his soot. 
By avoiding coarse, vulgar phrases, it would conciliate 
esteem, and appear with an unusual dignity for a newspaper 
being. Foreign news should be skilfully exhibited, not in 
the jumbled mass that is usual. Literature demands the 
review of books, and especially of all newspapers, so far as 
their general scope, or any remarkable performances, require 
it. Agriculture should have a share, once a week at least, 
of the paper. Morals, manners, schools, and such disquisi 
tions as general knowledge would supply, should be furnished 
with regularity. And for all these labors, various classes of 
able men should be engaged to supply these various depart 
ments. But for the superintendence and principal conduct 
of the paper, only a few should be selected, and the others 
should hold themselves as a body of reserve, to step in fresh 
when the front rank grows weary. 



316 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

Only six able men in the different branches of this under 
taking I mean six men in the whole would secure its 
success. McFingal Trumbull, I hope, would be one, as he 
is Hermes redivions. 

Will you think of these things ? Will you make these 
ideas known, in confidence, to Governor Oilman and Mr. 
Peabody \ Will you contribute, with your pen, to such dis 
cussions of law or constitution, or such pleasantries as you 
can easily forward to Warren Button, Esq. 1 Will you 
spread these opinions among your leading good men, and 
hasten their delilierate judgment on the only means to save 
our country I (All this being done, and well done, in every 
State, then lettne building up the State governments be 
considered an important federal object. Let State justice be 
made stable and effective, to shelter the wise and rich from 
the proscriptions, and decrees to make emigrants, that the 
progress of the American Revolution will produce. Let the 
first men be persuaded to take places in the State assemblies. 
Let a system of conciliation and courting of the people I 
mean such as are yet undecided be pursued ; let it be a 
system of proselytism. Let the popular and wealthy Feds 
take commissions in the militia, and try to win the men. 
All this must be done, or all will be in confusion, and that 
speedily. Federalism cannot be lost, or decline much lower, 
without losing all ; for though new parties would succeed 
federal and jacobin, yet the extinction of federalism would 
be followed by the ruin of the wise, rich, and good. The 
only parties that would rise up afterwards will be the sub 
divisions of the victors the robbers quarrelling about their 
plunder all wicked/^ 

Despondency, inaction, democratic sanguine notions, or 
federal despair, are to be renounced. I write as fast as I 
can, and am in a hurry to get done. 

Now you may talk, for I require no more of your atten 
tion. 

Your affectionate friend. 



LETTERS. 



TO DWIGHT FOSTER. 

Dedham, February 6, 1803. 

MY DEAR SIR, I am at home, after passing the week 
in Boston. You will have learned that the struggle of the 
choice of senator is over, at least, supposing the Senate should 
concur in the election of John Q. Adams. 1 The Democrats 
exult because Colonel Pickering had not a majority, and 
because Skinner had a plurality of seventy-one votes. Jaco 
binism is full of ardor, and is proud of its power in the 
government. It boasts that all the south is democratic, and 
I confess I see little cause to expect that the southern State 
governments will be in federal hands. Louisiana is a subject 
of popular irritation, and of temporary embarrassment to the 
powers that be. But I foretell the acquiescence of public 
opinion in the measures of forbearance and disgrace. We 
shall sit down, as Junius says, as a nation infamous and con 
tented. We shall preserve peace and lose character. We 
shall part with our rights, and with armies and taxes. The 
rogue, who has his ears cropped for forgery, may say, " Ears 
bring in nothing ; I can hear as well as ever." What is 
national character but a phantom that delights in blood] 
Such is philosophy, on the pillory and in the chair. 

Yet Kentucky may possibly break its bridle, and rush into 
business. How would our philosopher 2 tame the infuriate 
man of the mountains 1 Perish, he would not ; cooperate, 
he dare not ; tax, he dare not ; raise troops, he dare not. 
Your surly Davis seems to understand the Quaker character 
of our government, that when one cheek of Kentucky is 
smitten, requires them to turn the other. I will not say 
that war ought to be chosen ; it is a great evil. But it 
ought to be prepared for, and the best mean to avert it is by 

1 Adams and Pickering were chosen senators from Massachusetts. Picker 
ing had been a candidate for the House of Representatives, but had failed of 
election, though the majority against him was but small. 

2 Jefferson. The Spanish authorities in Louisiana had recently refused to 
permit the deposit of American merchandise at New Orleans ; an event 
which occasioned much excitement in the western States, and particularly in 
Kentucky. 

27* 



318 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

preparation. I leave to Mr. Jefferson to write pretty non 
sense about peace and universal philanthropy. 

The work of destruction seems to be retarded, and your 
democrats seem to wait for the next year s crop of ruin. I 
own I expected mint and debt would go this year. They go 
the next, and soon the workers of iniquity will follow their 
work, and worse destroyers will follow them. I hope no 
thing from time and truth, who tell, like gravestones, where 
the body rots. Passion and prejudice will slay, before they 
are chiselled and placed as memorials over the grave. Much 
might be done by writing ; nothing will be. Federalism takes 
opium ; Jacobinism gunpowder and rum. 

We are told you are to resign. This I do not wish, and, 
all things considered, I am not sure I should advise! Your 
resolution will be taken before this will reach you, and your 
family will rejoice in it. I cannot, therefore, urge a reconsi 
deration. Indeed Washington is not paradise but purgatory, 
where, I fear, sinners are made worse. 

With the prevalence of southern politics, we have southern 
winters, rain in torrents, little snow, roads like harrow-teeth 
when it freezes, and like swamps when it thaws. I am, 
dear sir, Your friend, &c. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Boston, February 24, 1803. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I begin to wish, with more than 
usual impatience, for your return to Boston. Life is wast 
ing away ; and all that part of it that passes without enjoy 
ing our friends is time lost. Besides I am almost separated 
from all my federal friends They are lazy or in despair, 
and they urge, with wonderful eagerness, the futility of all 
exertions to retrieve the public mind from its errors, or to 
prevent their consequences. I will not bore you with my 
side of the argument, which I still think as sound as I did 



LETTERS. 

before I began to be teased and vexed with any opposition 
to it. I still believe the talents of a nation might sway 
its opinions, if not its sceptre of elective power. The pen 
will rule till the sword is drawn ; and no matter which 
side draws it or finally holds it, the sword alone will rule. 
Liberty will be lost, and a military government, not a whit 
the better or the milder for the victory having been gained 
by the good men, if that should happen, will be established. 

Hence I maintain that all the energies of the wise and 
good should be summoned into action, and strained to their 
ne plus, while this state of probation, this salvable interval 
shall continue. For when the progress of faction has 
reached violence, we go to our future state to that region 
from whose bourne no republic can return. Fully impressd 
with the idea that we are making this progress ; that for 
want of a strong impulse on the public mind, our federal 
strength is wasting, some part is lost by timidity, some by 
sloth, some by apathy, and much more by the envy and 
mean spirit of competition, which are sure to divide a party 
when no impulse, stronger than these petty passions, com 
bines it, I have, over and over again, made the offer to 
almost every considerable man in Connecticut and New 
Hampshire, as well as Massachusetts, to form a phalanx to 
write, &c. 

My offers have produced some ridicule, more disgust, no 
cooperation. Weary and disgusted myself, despairing, as 
well I may, of any good effect from my single efforts, I now 
claim the quiet repose that, like a fool, I have so long refused 
to enjoy, and that I have so fruitlessly offered to renounce. 
I have done. And even if to-morrow the combination of 
able and industrious writers were made, I think I should 
persist in preferring my ease to the labor and obloquy of 
scribbling. I begin to relish the apathy that benumbs my 
friends. Zeal is a bad sleeper, and I will try opium with 
the rest of them. Expect me then, in future, to write about 
pruning apple trees, or breeding cattle. Let the federalists 
who are made for slaves, although their driver will be at 
great charge for whips, reap where they have sown ; their 
harvest is ripening, and it will be all tares. 

I hear that the debates of Parliament denote a risen 



320 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

spirit in England. I rejoiee in it as they have the 
power, I am glad they have the spunk to resist the new 
Romans. But Bonaparte will not accept the challenge. As 
long as he can avoid war with John Bull, he will, and any 
nation that is willing and prepared to fight him, he will not 
fight. The French heroes seek no foes, but such as their 
own fears or the arts of France have already conquered. 
If, however, Russia will join England, I expect to see the 
war renewed nolente Bonaparte. As to Louisiana we shall 
sit down infamous and contented. Prayers and missions 
are our arms. If Victor should arrive at New Orleans, he 
will coax, bribe, and terrify ; he will grant, by way of in 
dulgence to the friends of liberty, what he will refuse as of 
right to the nation. Kentucky will be pacified to sell its 
produce, and lose the title to the navigation of the river ; 
and when a war breaks out between France and England, 
the latter will block up the mouth, and the French will use 
the American flag to protect their own French cargoes, and 
the exercise of the rights of search and capture will be used 
with success, as a subject of complaint against the English. 
Thus we shall be useful tools to France, and she will have 
an influence to make us her associates in the war, if she has 
occasion for it. Yet I expect that France will see impend 
ing dangers from Great Britain so near and great as to 
delay the expedition to Louisiana, till a more convenient sea 
son, which may not soon arrive. At any rate our govern 
ment dare not go to war, nor lay a tax for one hundred 
pounds, nor raise a battalion. The claims of Kentucky are 
embarrassing to them, and some pretext is wanted, that 
will pacify the wild men of the mountains for the present. 
France will furnish some pretext, and then we shall hear 
boasts enough of the Avisdom that has saved our peace, and 
the spirit that has vindicated our honor. Is there any point 
on the scale of disgrace lower than that to which we have 
descended I 

Massachusetts has yet a show of federalism. It may 
last a year longer. In the mean time, all that can be cor 
rupted is corrupting, and all that cannot be perverted is nod 
ding into a lethargy. The Jacobin mode of waging war 
resembles the expedition of Diomed into the Trojan camp. 



LETTERS. 

There is to be seen only a quick destruction, that provokes 
no resistance the victims die without waking. At Wor 
cester, the son of Levi Lincoln is to pronounce an oration 
on the accession of Mr. Jefferson to the Consulate, and a 
great feast is to be made, that the ignorant may eat and 
drink themselves into Jacobinism. This pretty business is 
to be transacted also on a great scale at New Haven. Con 
necticut stands, but its good men should say incessantly, 
Take heed lest we fall. The race for Governor here will 
probably be uncontested ; no symptoms yet appear of his 
Excellency Governor Gerry, being run. The General 
Court is busy making Banks and Turnpikes. A great 
Bank in Boston, of twelve hundred thousand dollars, is now 
in debate in the Senate, having passed the House. It is 
supported by the principal moneyed men in this town, and 
opposed by John Q. Adams, whose popularity is lessened 
by it. They say also he is too unmanageable. Yet he is 
chosen Senator to Congress in consequence of a caucus 
compact, that if Col. Pickering should not be elected on 
two trials, then the Feds would combine and vote for J. Q. 
A. This happened accordingly. 

^A"bill reducing our seven Judges to five, as soon as two 
vacancies shall happen, altering their terms, and allowing at 
one of the two terms in a county, one Judge to be a quorum, 
and raising their salaries to $2000 when such reduction shall 
take place, has passed the House. Its fate in the Senate is 
dubious. It is a proof of melioration that a competent 
salary is voted. We may need the state tribunals as sanc 
tuaries, when Jacobinism comes to rob or slayT[ I pray you 
write often, for nothing is more acceptable than news from 
you. I pray you offer my best compliments, &c. to Mrs. 
Gore, in which my wife always most sincerely joins. 

Yours, &c. 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

October 3, 1803. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Your welcome favor of the 15th 
of August by the Galen, received this moment, reminds me 
that I must write by the John Adams, nearly ready to sail, 
in which Mr. Lowell and family are to be passengers. By 
him, you will of course expect to get news of me. Yet he 
has not lately seen me, and knows only from report how I 
am. 

Many months ago, I believed my health in danger of a 
downfall. A series of colds half the winter, and all the 
spring, and through summer a bad stomach, and a laxity 
and irritation of the lower viscera, announced a crisis not 
far distant. Accordingly in August, I had a severe fainting 
fit, followed, as it was caused, by that complaint. For four 
days, my life was apprehended in instant danger. I sent, 
in extremis, for Dr. Jeffries, and have since taken other 
advice. I have renounced wine, butter, tea, and almost 
cider, and I think my change of regimen has produced a 
small, but progressive improvement of my condition. . . . 
I creep slowly and often sliding back, along the steep side 
of that hill from which I leaped headlong in August last. 
These details will not be uninteresting to you. I will only 
add, the visceral irritation has diminished, and my decline 
of strength is arrested at least. I have yet exuberant 
spirits, and should talk myself to death if I yielded to ten 
dollar clients, who urge me to go into Court, to keep my 
wits and my fibres, only half an hour for each of them, on 
the grindstone. This I have had the sense and the fortitude 
to refuse doing. I ride five miles in a chaise and return 
weak and weary, but daily stronger. Oh, if I could step 
on board the Adams, pass the winter in London, and return 
with you in May, how delightful ! yet I am a fool to add, 
how painful ! I am seriously advised, and importunately 
urged, to take a voyage to Calcutta, and I have offered, in 
that event, to use my endeavors with the British govern- 



LETTERS. 323 

ment to ransom one of Tippoo s sons for a king, whose 
color and hereditary principles qualify him excellently to 
reign over the Jacobins. I hope that I can recruit by stay 
ing at home. It is a problem whether the sea air, sea 
sickness, and the et cceteras, which on shipboard must be 
borne, if I could not bear them, would not give me to the 
sharks. My health, now it seems to be worth so little care, 
engrosses all I can bestow. The object of my life is to live, 
and to ascertain which answers best, boiled rice, or a dry 
rusk. Thus my friend, I am an outside passenger in the 
journey of the political folks. I take my part of the jolts 
and the dust, but am not to touch the reins with one of my 
fingers. 

As to Louisiana, I agree with you in almost all your 
opinions. I cannot conceive that our Monroe and Living 
ston were ignorant (they ought not when the convention 
was signed to be ignorant) that the war between the 
First Consul and Great Britain would be renewed. I also 
say that the acquiring of territory with money is mean and 
despicable. For as to the right of navigating, &c. the 
Mississippi, that was our own before ; and the nation 
that will put its rights into negotiation, is deserving of 
shame and chains. The least show of spirit, the least array 
of force, the slightest proof that any measure of shame, 
however ample, might find at last even our cow r ardice 
would reject, this would certainly have brought the Consul 
to terms to any terms. As to the money we are to pay, 
I care not for it. As to the territory, the less of it the 
better. But the abject spirit of our administration is below 
all scorn. In such a state of things as we see, the rulers 
have the lowest of all personal and private views to answer. 
Their popularity is their all. Even that vile trinket is at 
risk. I do not believe that in^New England, and especially 
with the yeomanry, they have gained applause. The mer 
chants at the southward look with eyes of favor to the open 
ing of the port of New Orleans. The western settlers also 
like the thing, and care not what mean compliances, nor 
how many millions it costs. The Mississippi was a boundary 
somewhat like Governor Bowdoin s whimsical all-surround 
ing orb we were confined within some limits. Now, by 



WORKS OF FISHER MIES. 

adding an unmeasured world beyond that river, we rush like 
a comet into infinite space. In our wild career, we may 
jostle some other world out of its orbit, but we shall, in 
every event, quench the light of our own. 

Two causes might make a government free in principle, 
tranquil in operation, and stable in its existence : Separate 
orders in the state, each possessing much and therefore 
pledged to preserve all ; or, secondly, the pressure of an 
external foe. The latter would produce the most exalted 
patriotism the former would provide the most adequate 
substitute for it. But a democracy is only the isthmus of a 
middle state ; it is nothing of itself. Like death it is 
only the dismal passport to a more dismal hereafter. Such 
is our state. Yet we have so few rabble, power centres so 
much in the hands of, say, three hundred thousand small 
landholders, and our state governments, rankly teeming with 
poison, so naturally sprout with the antidotes because 
every separate mass of power breeds fear and hostility to 
wards every other preponderant mass, that I have hopes 
blended with my anxiety, and I say that the crisis of our 
evils is probably more remote than my day or probably than 
yours, or even my children s. A safer conclusion is, that a 
case so anomalous as ours, so unlike every thing European 
in its ingredients, its action, and thus far in its operation, 
will baffle, for a long time, all the conjectures and prognostics 
that are drawn from other scenes. Not that I fancy other 
republics were ruled by men inferior to our heaven-born 
administration, or that our citizens are angeli implumes, as 
flattery has already made them believe, but the means for 
faction to work with, and the means for good men to resist 
faction, are essentially different here from what they were in 
Greece or Rome, or even in pure France. Quiet is forbid 
den to us. Hope is not, chiefly because we can discern 
some impediments to our ruin, though scarcely any practi 
cable path to our liberty. Monarchy is no path to liberty, 
offers no hopes. It could not stand, and would, if tried, 
lead to more agitation and revolution than any thing else. 
Our political soil must be seeded, like the earth after Noah s 
flood. Some of the seeds are winged and float at random ; 
some swim in the flood, and no one can foretell whether 



LETTERS. 

they will strike root, or where ; others are swallowed by 
birds, and dropped in the regions to which they may mi 
grate ; others lie buried deep in the ground, covered with an 
oily coat, sealed up for posterity, when the plough may by 
some chance bring them up to the surface. How many 
ages it will take, for the right plants to get established in 
the right places, I know not. I leave that problem to Thu- 
cydides the second to decide, in his new History of the 
American Peloponnesian War, and whether that war will be 
between Virginia and New England, or between the At 
lantic and Tramontane States, or whether Chaos and old 
Night will jumble together the elements of society, as in 
France, the poor against the rich, and the vile against the 
worthy, I say not. No muse has told me, and uninspired 
I cannot tell you. 

I dismount from my Pegasus, as an invalid should not 
ride too far at a time, and observe, in prose, that I think 
Congress will ratify the Convention, 1 and provide the need 
ful to carry it into effect. But I hope the orators on the 
federal side will fully develop the subject, start all the fair 
objections and no others ; and impress on the public every 
topic that will hold the administration responsible for this 
great affair, as their measure, which, without approving or 
aiding, the Feds will not obstruct by their votes ; they will 
make it intelligible ; they will call for explanations and 
answers to objections, so that the whole force of their rea 
sons shall be left to operate with the nation. This contrast 
would signalize federalism. For in the case of the British 
Treaty, since proved to be a good one, the Jacobins opposed 
con furore. Now the Feds show their regard for principles 
by their forbearance, and resort only to truth and argument. 
I will not be sparing of any means in my power to urge 
the grant of your outfit. But I have not confidence enough 
in the powers that be to expect that such hearts will devise 
liberal things. 

I observe that the valiant printers of London threaten to 
invade France, with royalists under the command of Piche- 
gru and Dumourier and the Princes. I hope not yet. It 

1 With France. 
VOL. I. 28 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

is too soon. If the invasion be laid aside, and the arms of 
the Consul should be in disgrace, the coward spirit of Eu 
rope may be roused, the weight of their new chains may 
make the nations weary ; and after two or three years, an 
insurrection, once begun in Brittany, the Low Countries, 
Italy or Holland, may be furnished with officers, money and 
continental aid, with some effect. But until the British 
nation has become really martial in spirit, and confident in 
discipline, it is too soon to think of encountering France in 
her interior or in her dependencies. It would be putting 
too much at risk, and with too little chance of success. 
A failure would prove a sad disaster, as it would remove, 
to an indefinite distance, the reduction of the gigantic power 
of the Consul. 

The brilliant success of your Commission ought to crown 
Mr. Jay with glory, 1 and wreathe very green honors about 
your head, my friend. For I know very well your perse 
verance, and your being so much au fait on all the many 
questions that have occurred, has contributed essentially to 
the success. Your own mind and your friends will bestow 
the due praise ; perhaps the body of the merchants will 
allow as much per cent, as they pay when bankrupt. But 
the Jacobins and the administration will not forgive you the 
success that puts them so much in the wrong. 

October 7. 

Mr. Cabot was here at my house yesterday, and had 
much to say about you. He almost advises me to take a 
trip to England. But while I hope I shall do well at home, 
I doubt extremely whether I could bear the hardships even 
of a favorable voyage. But should it please God to give a 
little addition to my strength before spring, I may then con 
template, with some seriousness, the project of visiting Lon 
don. At present I should be barely able to get as far as 
Boston. 

I shall be very happy to see you here in May next, be 
cause, among other reasons, I calculate that I must then 

1 The indemnities awarded to American merchants by the Commission 
amounted to about six millions of dollars. 



LETTERS. 



have better health, if I do see you. Be that as it may, I 
shall be, as long as I am any thing, 

Your affectionate friend, &c. 

Mrs. A. joins with me in best regards to you and Mrs. 
Gore. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, October 26, 1803. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I had resolved to write to you, 
before I received any letter from you. For a week this 
scheme of merit has been formed and postponed, till by your 
esteemed favor, with the printed copy of the message, it has 
this day failed entirely. 

I am glad to hear of your safe, though weary, arrival at 
the heaven of other men s ambition, your purgatory, where 
indeed you will see good spirits, with other spirits conjured 
by democracy from the vasty deep. Remember what I 
have often told you, that the scene you are entering upon 
will form the best characters, and display them to the great 
est advantage. The furnace of political adversity will sepa 
rate the dross, but purify the gold. You will have the best 
society, under circumstances to endear it to you and you to 
them. To serve the people successfully, will be out of your 
power ; the attempt to do it will be unpopular. To flatter, 
inflame, and betray them, will be the applauded work of 
demagogues, who will dig graves for themselves, and erect 
thrones for their victors, as in France. 

The principles of democracy are everywhere what they 
have been in France ; the materials for them to work upon 
are not in all places equally favorable. The fire of revolu 
tion burnt in Paris like our New England rum, quick to 
kindle, not to be quenched, and leaving only a bitter, nause 
ous, spiritless mass. Our country would burn like its own 
swamps, only after a long drought, with much smoke, and 



328 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

little flame ; but when once kindled, it would burrow deep 
into the soil, search out and consume the roots, and leave, 
after one crop, a caput mortuum, black and barren, for ages. 
If it should rain blessings, and keep our soil wet and soak 
ing, it might not take fire in our day. 

Our country is too big for union, too sordid for patriot 
ism, too democratic for liberty. What is to become of it, 
he who made it best knows. Its vice will govern it, by 
practising upon its folly. This is ordained for democracies ; 
and if morals as pure as Mr. Fauchet ascribes to the French 
republic, did not inspire the present administration, it would 
have been our lot at this day. 

But on reading the message I am edified, as much as if I 
had heard a Methodist sermon in a barn. The men who 
have the best principles, and those who act from the worst, 
will talk alike, except only that the latter will exceed the 
former in fervor. But the language of deceit, though stale 
and exposed to detection, will deceive as long as the multi 
tude love flattery better than restraints, as long as truth has 
only charms for the blind, and eloquence for the deaf. Sup 
pose a missionary should go to the Indians and recommend 
self-denial and the ten commandments, and another should 
exhort them to drink rum, which would first convert the 
heathen! Yet we are told, the vox populi is the vox del; 
and our demagogues claim a right divine to reign over us, 
deduced no doubt from the pure source I have indicated. 

My health is somewhat better. I rode in a chaise to 
Boston yesterday with Mrs. A. It was a fine day ; but in 
spite of all my precautions, I was caught by several friends, 
who tired me down in the street. My progress is slow, 
but I really think I make some. 

You shall hear from me as often as I can find a spirit 
of industry to write, when I am not riding, which is twice 
a day. But if I should prove negligent, still believe me, as 
I really am, 

Your truly affectionate friend, &c. 



LETTERS. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



329 



Dedham, October 31, 1803. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I have this morning received by 
post your delightful treaty, 1 and S. H. Smith s paper, and 
your esteemed favor, in which you give me a particular 
account of yourself and your accommodations. This latter 
is really more interesting to my curiosity and feelings than 
the rest of the contents under cover. 

There is little room for hope, almost none for satisfaction, 
in the contemplation of public affairs. When somebody (a 
Jacobin too) drives, we must go ; and we shall go the old 
and broad road, so smooth, so much travelled, but without 
any half-way house. 

Having bought an empire, who is to be emperor 1 The 
sovereign people I and what people ] all, or only the people 
of the dominant States, and the dominant demagogues in 
those States, who call themselves the people ] As in old 
Rome, Marius or Sylla, or Csesar, Pompey, Antony, or 
Lepidus will vote themselves provinces and triumphs. 

I have as loyal and respectful an opinion as possible of 
the sincerity in folly of our rulers. But surely it exceeds 
all my credulity and candor on that head, to suppose 
even they can contemplate a republican form as practicable, 
honest, or free, if applied when it is so manifestly inappli 
cable to the government of one third of God s earth. It 
could not, I think, even maintain forms ; and as to princi 
ples, the otters would as soon obey and give them effect, as 
the Crallo-Hispano- Indian omnium gatherum of savages and 
adventurers, whose pure morals are expected to sustain and 
glorify our republic. Never before was it attempted to play 
the fool on so great a scale. The game will not how 
ever be half played ; nay, it will not be begun, before it is 

1 A copy of the Convention with France. Mr. Dwight was at this time a 
Representative in Congress. 

28* 



330 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

changed into another, where the knave will turn up trumps 
and win the odd trick. 

Property at public disposal is sure to corrupt. Here, to 
make this result equally inevitable and inveterate, power is 
also to be for some ages within the arbitrium of a house of 
representatives. Before that period, Botany Bay will be a 
bettering-house for our public men. Our morals, forever 
sunning and flyblown, like fresh meat hung up in the elec 
tion market, will taint the air like a pestilence. Liberty, if 
she is not a goddess that delights in carnage, will choke 
in such an atmosphere, fouler than the vapor of death in a 
mine. 

Yet I see, that the multitude are told, and it is plain they 
are told because they will believe it, that liberty will be a 
gainer by the purchase. They are deceived on their weak 
side ; they think the purchase a great bargain. We are to 
be rich by selling lands. If the multitude was not blind 
before, their sordid avarice, thus addressed, would blind 
them. 1 

But what say your wise ones ? Is the payment of so 
many millions to a belligerent no breach of neutrality, espe 
cially under the existing circumstances of the case, when 
Great Britain is fighting our battles and the battles of man 
kind, and France is combating for the power to enslave and 
plunder us and all the world I Is not the twelve years re 
serve of a right to navigate, &c. a contravention of our 
treaty with Great Britain, as all other nations are for twelve 
years excluded from a participation of this privilege, espe 
cially too as the increase of the French and Spanish navi 
gation is avowedly the object of the stipulation ? 

I have not yet read the treaty. I have only glanced my 
eye over the seventh article. I am weary and sick of my 
subject. 

My health is bad, and is to be bad through the winter. 
I sleep poorly, digest poorly, and often take cold. I perse- 

1 According to the federal opinion of that period, Louisiana was a mere 
wilderness, equally destitute of inhabitants and of value ; the title which 
France had in the country sold to us was very disputable and uncertain ; and 
the real object of Mr. Jefferson was, under pretence of a purchase, to aid Bona 
parte s finances at a critical moment. The capacities of the West had hardly 
been revealed to either of the two parties. 



LETTERS. 331 

vere in riding on horseback, and shall saw wood in bad 
weather when I cannot ride. I live like an ostrich or man- 
monkey, imported from a foreign climate, and pining amidst 
plenty for want of the native food that would suit his sto 
mach. Mine is as fastidious as a fine lady s, who is afraid 
of butter on her potatoes, lest it should tinge her com 
plexion. 

I intend soon to try the lukewarm bath in the evening, 
not often, but occasionally. A bad digestion is an evil not 
to be removed. Its effects I hope may be parried by finding 
something that I can better digest than my usual food. 

My wife and I join in saying, God bless you. 

Being yours, &c. 



TO CHRISTOPHER GORE. 

Dedham, November 16, 1803. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, You will soon see Edmund Dwight, 
who sailed in the ship John Adams, and hear from his mouth 
all that relates to my health. The care of this object is all 
that occupies me. In good weather, and in bad, I find exer 
cise to ride in the one, and saw wood in the other ; and, on 
the whole, I have some strength, though not much new flesh 
to boast of. I am confined to my house and six miles round 
it, and have seen Boston but once in the last three months. 
Being thus out of the world, you will not expect much from 
my correspondence^nd this must be my excuse, if I write 
seldom and short. |Our own politics are unworthy comment. 
We are in the hanosof the philosophers of Lilliput. I have 
lately read Randolph s and Nicholson s speeches in reply to 
R. Griswold s call for papers, 1 and I protest that the Court 
of Sessions, in old Justice Gardner s day, produced as good 
sense and as good logic. What can be expected from a 

1 This call was for a copy of the treaty between France and Spain, under 
which France claimed a title to Louisiana. 



332 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

country where Tom Paine is invited to come by the chief 
man, as Plato was hy Dionysius ; where the whiskey secre 
tary is Secretary of the Treasury ; and where such men as 
the English laws confine in gaol for sedition, make the laws, 
and unmake the judges ] The purchase of Loujgjana is said 
to begin to make trouble for these poor creaturesTJ The Don 
blusters, in the person of the Marquis Irujo, and swears we 
shall not have it ; and the majority seem to be ready and 
willing to send General Wilkinson to serve an Tidbere facias 
possessionem at New Orleans. Our people care not much 
for these things. (To get money is our business; the mea 
sures of government and political events, are only our amuse 
ments. To be told of our sovereignty, our rights, &c., &c., 
only gives zest to that entertainment ; it does not change its 
nature, nor our nature. 

In England I behold a real people, patriotism broad awake, 
and holding authority over all the passions and prejudices of 
the nation. This, at least, is the outside look of the thing. 
I well know how deceptive this often is. You are behind 
the scenes, and, probably enough, discern the meanness of 
those who seem to play the great parts so well. We expect 
a great fete for Bonaparte, as soon as the dark nights 
admit of his passage. I confess I am not quite free from 
inquietude in respect to the invasion. I suppose his passage 
possible ; if he should land an army on English ground, 
his first victories probable, and his ultimate defeat certain. 
Great Britain is not to be conquered ; but I place little re 
liance on the tailors and men -milliners in regimentals ; they 
would be beaten. Pray let me hear from you often. 

I am more than ever engrossed by my farm. Hie libertas, 
hie patria. It is liberty to have one hundred acres, and that 
is emphatically my country. How much my swine weigh, 
how much milk my cows give, what bright hopes I have in 
my trees, I will not tell you ; yes, I will, when you come 
here to eat my pork and Indian pudding. 

Mrs. Ames enjoins it upon me, to offer to you and Mrs. 
Gore her best regards with my own. 

Your friend, &c. 



LETTERS. 333 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, November 29, 1803. 

YOUR letters, my dear friend, afford me so much pleasure 
and information, that I cannot forbear writing without in 
gratitude, nor write without making very barren returns. 
Whether bad health has abated my ardor in everything, or 
that the inevitable consequence of having nothing to do with 
our politics is, that I cease to care who has, or how the 
work is done, the fact is certain, I am almost at home ex 
patriated from the concerns that once exclusively engrossed 
my thoughts. In this philosophic, lackadaisical temper, I 
really think my fellow sovereigns participate. Congress-hall 
is a stage, and by shifting the scenes, or treading the boards 
in comedy or farce, (for, since the repeal of the judiciary, 
you do not get up tragedy,) you amuse our lazy mornings 
or evenings as much, or nearly as much, as the other theatres. 
But, in sober truth, the affair is as much theatrical on our 
part as on that of the honorable members on the floor. You 
personate the patriot, and we, the people, affect the sovereign. 
We beg you to believe, on the evidence of the newspapers, 
that we watch you closely, and lie awake a-nights with our 
fears for the public safety. No such thing. We talk over 
our drink as much in earnest as we possibly can, and among 
ourselves, when nobody is a looker-on whose opinion we 
dread, we laugh in the midst of our counterfeit rage. The fact 
is, our folks are ten times more weary of their politics, than 
anxious about their results. Touch our pockets directly, or 
our pleasures ever so indirectly, then see our spirit. We 
flame, we soar on eagles wings, as high as barn-door fowl, 
and, like them, we light to scratch again in the muckheap. 
Alter the Constitution ; amend it, till it is good for nothing ; 
amend it again and again, till it is worse than nothing; 
violate without altering its letter, it is your sport, not ours. 
Our apathy is a match for your party spirit. The dead flesh 
defies your stimulants. We sleep under the operation of 
your knife, as the Dutchman is said to have gnawed a 
roasted fowl, while the surgeon cut off his leg. There is no 



334* WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

greater imposture than to pretend our people watch, under 
stand, or care a sixpence for these cheap sins, or the distant 
damnation they will draw down on our heads. If honest 
men could associate for honest purposes, if we had, in short, 
a party, which I think federalists have not, or have not had 
the stuff to make, their steady opposition to the progress of 
a faction towards tyranny, revolutionary tyranny, might be 
checked. I waive the subject, however, on which I have a 
thousand times vented my vexations to no purpose. Peace 
to the dead ! 

Louisiana excites less interest than our Thanksgiving. It 
is an old story. I am half of Talleyrand s opinion, when he 
says we are phlegmatic, and without any passion except that 
for money-getting. 

Mr. Huger, in his speech on the alteration of the clause 
respecting the votes for President and Vice-President, pays 
compliments to the candor and sincerity of the amendment- 
mongers, when they protest and swear, that they want no 
other amendment. This compliment is not worth much to 
the receivers, but is a costly one to the bestower. Roland 
and Condorcet always protested that they would stop. But 
is a revolution or the lightning to be stopped in midway ? 
Mr. E. has libelled the Constitution in a newspaper. The 
Virginia Assembly has voted amendments of the most abo 
minable sort. All the noble lords of Virginia and the south 
are as much for rotation in office as the senators of Venice. 
It is the genuine spirit of an oligarchy, eager to divide power 
among themselves, and jealous of the preeminence of any one 
even of their own order. 

Mr. R., in his speech on the constitutionality of acquiring 
territory, has risen again in my opinion. I cannot readily 
assent to the federal argument, that our government is a 
mere aifair of special pleading, and to be interpreted in every 
case as if every thing was written down in a book. Are not 
certain powers inseparable from the fact of a society s being 
formed I are they not incident to its being 1 Besides, as party 
interprets and amends the Constitution, and as we the people 
care not a pin s point for it, all arguments from that source, 
however solid, would avail nothing. 

One of two things will, I confess, take place: either 



LETTERS. 335 

the advances of the faction will create a federal party, or 
their unobstructed progress will embolden them to use their 
power, as all such gentry will if they dare, in acts of vio 
lence on property. In the former case, a federal party, 
with the spirit which, in every other free country, political 
divisions impart to a minority, will retard and obstruct the 
course of the ruling faction towards revolution ; and if they 
do not move quick, they will not, perhaps, be able long to 
move at all. In case of a strong opposition, (I use the term 
in a qualified and guarded sense,) the federalists could pre 
serve some portion of right, though they might not have 
strength to reassume power, which, I confess, I do not look 
for. 

Suppose an attack on property, I calculate on the " sensi 
bilities " of our nation. There is our sensorium. Like a 
negro s shins, there our patriotism would feel the kicks, and 
twinge with agonies that we should not be able so much as 
to conceive of, if we only have our faces spit in. In this 
case, we could wipe off the ignominy, and think no more of 
the matter. He that robs me of my good name, takes trash. 
What is it but a little foul breath, tainted from every sot s 
lungs 1 But he who takes my purse, robs me of that which 
enriches him, instead of me, and therefore I will have ven 
geance. 

Hence I am far from despairing of our commonwealth. 
It is true, our notions are pestilent and silly. But we have 
been cured already in fourteen years of more of them than a 
civil war and ten pitched battles would have eradicated from 
France. The remainder are, indeed, enough to ensure our 
destruction ; and we should be destroyed, if these silly demo 
cratic opinions, which once governed us all, were not now so 
exclusively claimed and carried to extremes by those whom 
we so dread and despise, that we in New England are, in a 
great measure, driven out of them. The fool s cap has been 
snatched from our heads by the southern Demos, who say 
this Olympic crown was won by them. Let them wear it. 

Connecticut is sound enough perhaps; for if democracy 
were less in that State, federalism would sink with them as 
in the other States. But their first men are compelled to 
come forward in self-defence. They are in the federal army 
what the immortals were in the Persian, or the sacred band 



336 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

under Pelopidas. I will not mention Vermont. Rhode Is 
land is not to be spoken of by any body. But New Hamp 
shire, old Massachusetts, and Connecticut are too important 
to be forced into a revolution ; and, at present, appearances 
do not indicate that they will join in hastening" it on wil 
lingly. 

For these and other reasons, I think our condition may 
not soon be changed so essentially as, in like critical circum 
stances, it would be in any other country. We shall lose 
indeed almost every thing; but my hope is, that we shall 
save something, and preserve it long. 

Thus we may, like a wounded snake, drag our slow 
length along for twenty years ; and time will in that period 
have more to do in fixing our future destiny than our ad 
ministration. Events govern us ; and probably those of 
Europe will, as heretofore, communicate an unforeseen and 
irresistible impulse to our politics. We are in a gulf stream, 
which has hitherto swept us along with more force than our 
sails and oars. I think the government will last my time. 
For that reason, I will fatten my pigs, and prune my trees ; 
nor will I any longer be at the trouble to govern this coun 
try. I am no Atlas, and my shoulders ache. No, that 

irksome task I devolve upon Mr , and Mr , of 

the House, and Mr , of the Senate. You federalists 

are only lookers-on. 

You are a polite man, otherwise you would say I have 
tired you. In that respect I have used you as well as I do 
myself. In mercy to both, I this moment assure you of the 
affectionate regard with which I am, dear friend, 

Yours, truly. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, January 15, 1804. 



MY DEAR FRIEND, 

Tracy s speech in a pamphlet will have effect on the New 
England legislatures. It has been copied into the Boston 
federal papers, and will be extensively read 



LETTERS. 

How is Tracy s health. Pray give my affectionate regards 
to him. I hope David will not slay him. It is attempted, 
because Tracy is a Goliah. It may be that a resolute lie can 
be hunted down in Connecticut, but it will be a credit to their 
good sense, if it can be 

The spirit of banking is a perfect influenza. Dedham, 
Roxbury, and the upper part of Norfolk county, will petition, 
though at present I think the first and last will unite, and 
contend against Roxbury. I am, as you will suppose, a calm 
looker-on. What the General Court will do is yet unknown 
to me. Intrigue and speculation will probably have their 
perfect work. I want a bank in my barn-yard, and wish to 
be erected into a corporation sole, to take deposits of corn, 
for my pigs. 

I am still puny and tender My constitution 

is like that of federalism, too feeble for a full allowance even 
of water-gruel, and like that, all the doctor I have is a Jaco 
bin. The Lord, you say, have mercy on me a sinner. 



MY DEAR FRIEND, 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, January 25, 1804. 



violence of Randolph and Co. against the judges 
somewhat exceeds my estimate of the man and the party. 1 
Democracy is a troubled spirit, fated never to rest, and 
whose dreams, if it sleeps, present only visions of hell. I 

i 

1 The Judge of the United States District Court for New Hampshire, had 
recently been impeached and removed. Articles of impeachment were voted *" 
also against Judge Chase, who was tried and acquitted. Randolph afterwards^>,y^ 
in his mortification at this failure, proposed to amend the Constitution, so as 
to make the Judges removable by joint resolution of the two Houses. He 
also prevailed upon the House to refuse to pay the respondent s witnesses* 
The violence spoken of in the text was displayed in a debate in the House 
on the adoption of the articles of impeachment against Judge Chase. 
VOL. I. 29 



338 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

have long thought justice one of the most refined luxuries of 
the most refined society ; that ours is too gross, too nearly 
barbarous, to have it. Justice, to be any thing, must be 
stronger than government, or at least stronger than the 
popular passions. Nothing in the United States is half so 
strong as these passions ; indeed the government itself has 
no other strength. I have contemplated an essay, to show 
that democracy and justice are incompatible ; but Randolph s 
tongue outruns my wits, and proves before I could discuss/! 

I am very early in life arrived at the still water, where all 
is contemplative, and nothing in action. I live, the ambitious 
would say I stay, but it is for my friends and my family. 
My health is bad enough ; but, on the whole, very good for 
a bad sort. God give you health, long life, and patience. 

Yours, ever. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, January 20, 1805. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, If I write often, as I like to write, 
you must be content to accept very little at a time. My 
stock of merchantable ideas will not bear any thing beyond 
a small retail trade. There was a time when I was foolish 
enough to think the examination of a public question of some 
public importance ; but since party reasons are the only ones 
sought for and regarded, I am duly and humbly sensible of 
the impertinence of urging any other. Congress may re 
strict the trade to Saint Domingo, and hang the traders, or 
permit the French to do it. Our public, I engage, will be 
as tame as Mr. Randolph fan desire. You may broil Judge 
Chase and eat him, or eat him raw; it shall stir up less 
anger or pity, than the Six Nations would show, if Corn- 
planter or Red Jacket were refused a belt of wampum. The 
boast of a love of liberty, so often repeated, like a coward s 
boast how he would fight when once he gets hotly engaged, 
is all bluster. Perhaps Connecticut has some spunk. The 



LETTERS. 339 

rest of the Yankees have none ; and will part with their 
plaything, liberty, with less of the pouts than your or my 
children would yield to any boy big enough to be President, 
their gingerbread chariot. Virginia has nothing to fear from 
us, and we have nothing to hope from her. 

Governor Caleb s speech is a calm defiance 
of the votes of next April. For once I think his preaching 
on principles in the abstract seasonable, and because such 
preaching is now as effectual as any other. 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, November 27, 1805. 

MY DEAR SIR, The late condemnations in England 
have filled men s minds with anxiety, and not a little eager 
ness of expectation of the measures of Congress. 1 It is a 
misfortune for a man, who has nothing to do with public 
affairs but to talk about them, to have his doubts on popular 
questions. This is my case. I am very willing the British 
should turn out exceedingly in the wrong, in regard to con 
demning our vessels when laden with colony produce. If 
they are not in the wrong, I see not the policy or fitness of 
hazarding our commerce, peace, and prosperity, on an unten 
able point. Force of guns is on their side. I would not 
voluntarily have the force of argument against us also. In 
case a candid examination should create many doubts of our 
assumed principles, as I think it will, why should we make 
the retracting of the contrary principles by England a sine 
qua non of our measures I You will see many members 
very willing to kindle and blaze, because England is in 
question. Others, I think, will in their hearts feel hostility 

1 Several American vessels had recently been condemned by the Admiral 
ty Courts in Great Britain, for reasons that were considered new and strange, 
and to be justified only by a forced construction of maritime law. Their 
neutrality had been declared to be fraudulent and evasive, on grounds that 
produced great alarm among our merchants. 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

to Eastern commerce, and act from that hostility. Some 
more will be ignorant, and will be made to believe all the 
blustering tales our vanity has to tell, about the dependence 
of England on the United States. Confiscation of British 
debts is a measure very like war. There can be no other 
ground for it, than as reprisals for losses by their unjust 
condemnations. When angry nations resort to reprisals, 
they ought to expect war, and prepare for it. A non-inter 
course act, so much commended in the Chronicle, is little 
better. Unless the administration intend war, they are r 
except their dishonor and folly, measures of no avail. 

I cannot believe our administration intend to fight Eng 
land. I cannot think of any way Mr. Jefferson has to 
extricate himself and the country from out this scrape, so 
eligible as to remonstrate to that court, and to spin out the 
affair into length, till he feels bold enough to make a British 
Treaty, if he can, and perhaps the new coalition will be 
dissipated, and John Bull will be in another year more 
pliant. My hopes of that coalition are slender, as you know. 
Austria is hearty in the cause, but wants power. Russia 
has power, but is not hearty. To reduce France within 
moderate limits will require an age of battles, and England 
alone is possessed of the means, and forced to display the 
courage, to fight them with the necessary perseverance. I 
expect reverses and disasters, and that Great Britain, now 
on the high horse, will dismount again. The time will come, 
therefore, when negotiation may effect much. Menace and 
the base hostility of confiscation will surely prevent its being 
effected. I could fill a dozen sheets with speculations, be 
cause I should deal in conjectures. I will spare you. Why 
should one Yankee help another to guess ? 

The session portends much bustle and debate. I confess 
I see no prospect of any auspicious issue to it, either as it 
respects the prosperity or rather security of commerce, or 
the effect on our public in favor of the old Washington sys 
tem. Among your friends I shall feel not the coldest, in 
regard to the impression your public labors may make, being, 
with unfeigned regard, 

Your friend, &c. 



LETTERS. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 



Dedham, November 29, 1805. Thanksgiving evening. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, N. is better. His leg is yet much 
swelled, but nearly free from pain, and the doctor hopes no 
suppuration will ensue. You will rejoice with us, for our 
revived hopes make a truly joyful Thanksgiving. In every 
other respect, it is dull enough. 

M. and H. are at my mother s, in search of something 
more cheerful than my house affords. They have fine 
spirits, and improve, I make no doubt, by their Medford 
school. My John W. sits by me at his book, " the world 
forgetting," and enjoying a Thanksgiving feast for his mind. 
It is true, he reads on such occasions for amusement, but I 
indulge him, for I hope something will stick to him. The 
habit of literary labor may be ingrafted on the free stock of 
literary curiosity. I will not defend my metaphor, but I 
believe my meaning is expressed clearly by it. A passion 
for books is never inspired, I believe, late, in the breasts of 
those who, having access to books, do not feel it young. 
But to apply, to investigate closely, to study, to make the 
mind work, is a very different thing from a passionate fond 
ness for battles and romances. It is by performing tasks, 
not by choosing books for their amusement, that boys obtain 
this power to fix and detain attention. 

But is there encouragement in our country to educate 
boys for any great degree of usefulness 1 While faction is 
forging our fetters, the specious talents are more in demand 
than the solid. But after a tyranny is settled, perhaps our 
Augustus will have a fancy, that learning is an essential 
thing to his glory. Nero pretends to be an artist himself, 
and would feel himself eclipsed by the excellence of another. 

Every popular despotism is, I believe, in its inception, 
base and tasteless. As great geniuses snatch the sceptre 
from the hands of great little rascals, the government rises, 
though liberty rises no more. Ours is gone, never to return. 
To mitigate a tyranny, is all that is left for our hopes. We 
cannot maintain justice by the force of our constitution ; yet, 
29* 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

I think, the spirit of commerce, which cannot be separated 
from the Yankee mind, is favorable to justice. To guard 
property by some good rules, is a necessary of life in every 
commercial state. 

But it is foolish, or rather it is presumptuous, to speculate 
on the untried state of being that our degraded country has 
to pass through. 

Vestibulumi ante ipsum, primoque in limine Ditis 
Luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae. 

I quote from memory of Virgil s sixth book, perhaps not 
correctly. 1 The application seems to me fearfully correct. 
At the threshold of our new state of being, we are to meet 
the Luctus et ultrices Curce. 

I will leave my letter open till morning, to inform you 
more of N. 

Your affectionate friend. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, December 2, 1805. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have just returned from Boston, 
where I find the merchants have had a meeting on Mr. 
Fitzsimons s letter, and appointed a committee of seven. 2 
Our friend Cabot is much too much, mortified that he is 
one of them. He hates hypocrisy, and respects principles, 
and he dreads lest the popular feeling should impel the com 
mittee to deny what he believes to be true, or to ask for 
what he knows to be mischievous. I confess I have rather 
approved the meetings of merchants. Losers will feel and 
complain ; and capricious and fickle as passions are, when 
they possess a multitude, interest will keep the merchants as 

1 Virgil s words are : 

Vestibulum ante ipsum, primisque in faucibus Orci 
Luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curee. 

2 On the subject of the condemnations in admiralty in England. 



LETTERS. 34,3 

steady as the anchors do their own ships. Besides, this 
body is not loved nor cherished by our government, and I 
like to see them claim and take their place as a part of the 
people. I expect more good than evil from their interposi 
tion, especially if such men as Cabot will consent to appear 
among them. I hope they will be prevailed on soon or late 
to depute such men as James Lloyd and Thomas H. Perkins 
to the government, as their committee, who could not fail to 
impose respect on the Sam Smiths 1 among you. 

If party considerations may be admitted, it seems to me a 
time when the probable hostility and undeniable negligence 
of our administration, in respect to our commerce, may be 
made appear. The very hatred of Great Britain, which 
generally locks up men s minds against argument, will now 
rouse them to attention. I have not the least doubt, that an 
early attempt at negotiation would have been successful ; and 
why the attempt was not made, when the British instructions 
of June, 1808, plainly denounced the now experienced evil, 
I cannot comprehend on any grounds, but the want of good 
will or good sense, in regard to the hated and dreaded mo 
neyed or trading interest of the United States. In 1803, 
Great Britain was alone, and wished help or countenance 
from any quarter. Then she would have been comparatively 
pliant. Now she is arrogant, or at least elated with her new 
allies, who, I think, will not help her long or much. Even 
yet the chance of negotiation is worth something, and as we 
can only humbly pray, while others fight, it is worth every 
thing to us. Negotiation seems to me the object we ought 
to propose to ourselves. The administration, probably, does 
not wish to fight, and, least of all, to fight for commerce and 
for Yankees. Their ignorance may choose hostile measures, 
supposing them to be equally safe and efficacious. Their 
malice towards trade may be delighted to hear the vox populi 
calling for its poison. The influence of Bonaparte, whose 
resentment they dare not rouse, whose aid they still court, 
whose friends are their friends, may hurry them on to 
sequester, and other violences. The popular rage may be 
easily roused against Great Britain ; but, if I mistake not 

1 Mr. Smith was a senator from Maryland. 



344 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

the temper of the country, they love their gain more than 
they hate England, and therefore peace, and the measures of 
peace, and a negotiation to preserve it, may be supported on 
popular grounds. The attempt ought to be made, as it will 
be right in itself, and is the best defence against the furious 
rashness of the faction of revolutionists. I know that go 
vernment possesses the power to move, or to stop moving, 
in this business. But I think public expectation ought to be 
steadily and strongly directed to this end. It would not be 
policy to concede, at once, all that Great Britain claims, even 
if we should think her claim plausibly well grounded. It 
seems to me that her practice, during the late war, ought to 
be urged as her own exposition of her rights ; and if she 
would adjust the matter on that footing, I believe it would 
be satisfactory to the merchants. I wrote lately to Mr. 
Quincy on the subject ; and I find Mr. Cabot has forwarded 
by mail my long letter to you. I omitted, to both of you, 
one remark, which, though perhaps quite unnecessary, I will 
now subjoin. 

The conduct of Great Britain is undoubtedly unpopular, 
which, in our country, is the test of right and wrong. In 
quiry usually stops at that point. I hope the federalists will 
be very shy, therefore, and cautious how they come out as 
the avowed apologists for England. It is for our own best 
interest that we ought to provide ; and, that we may be per 
mitted to do it in any degree, I hope the Feds will not 
needlessly make themselves unpopular, by vindicating the 
British principles. Waiving such discussion, is it not clear 
that Mr. Monroe, or the government, neglected all reason 
able care of our commercial concerns ] And is it not the 
point for prudence now to ascertain, how our embarrassed 
trade can be most effectually relieved from the effects of their 
unexpected operation ? I am not to lecture you on these 
matters ; but I well know you hate all evasion and duplicity. 

My letter would have been shorter, and much more to the 
purpose, if I had bestowed more time and meditation upon it. 

The message is expected, as the raising of the curtain of 
our political playhouse. With respect and esteem, 

Yours, unfeignedly. 



LETTERS. 34,5 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, December 16, 1805. 

MY DEAR SIR, I received this day, and have read with 
pleasure, your favor of the 6th. The message seems to me 
ill written, and liable to endless criticism as to its matter. 
Mr. Jefferson seems to take his ground, that the British 
principle is wrong, and is to be resisted in every event. 
When Spain violated a treaty, without any pretext for the 
violation, then he was for negotiating, pimping, begging, and 
buying ; any thing but fighting. What a difference ! How 
does he know that the British Cabinet claim the principle, as 

r JL JT 

they exercise it of late by their Admiralty Courts 1 Answer : 
By their Instructions of June, 1 803. Why then did he not 
long ago remonstrate or negotiate in London 1 A grain of 
prevention, say the wise, is worth a ton of remedy. 

Suppose the British doctrine right, is it to be met in arms, 
in "the bloody arena"? Suppose it wrong, is its error not 
to be exposed by Mr. Monroe s able and spirited notes, before 
we make resort to measures of compulsion ] And do nations 
undertake to compel other nations, more proud and powerful 
than themselves, without expecting the game to be shifted 
from acts of Congress to broadsides I Be it that Great 
Britain is unjust, yet all men will say the object of our 
patriots is to preserve our peace and commerce, if they can 
be preserved with due regard to the dignity of the nation. 
Angry measures of commercial restriction, in the first re 
sort, seem to throw away both these objects. Why does our 
Solomon, in the first instance, put down his foot, that Great 
Britain is unwarranted in her doctrine, unless he means to 
appeal to the ultima ratio regum, and to make that appeal 
absolutely necessary I 

Negotiation is the measure that I should think he would 
adopt, if even party wisdom guided him. Our federal few 
ought not, I am sure, to be the advocates of Great Britain, 
nor yet flinchers from the truth of principles. There are 
ways of stating the British reasoning, so as to check and 
confound the jacobin declaimers, without becoming respon- 



346 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

sible for its conclusions. Yet, I am clear, the folly of pro 
hibitions, sequestration, &c., ought to be strongly exposed; 
and I verily believe our multitude will not fail to applaud 
the side of peace and moderation. Our merchants are not 
thought to be so sanguine now in condemning the British 
doctrine, as they were three weeks ago. It would be mad 
ness to assume, as a sine qua non of peace with England, a 
doctrine that we could not sustain any better in argument 
than in arms. The federalists not being the responsible 
men, ought to expose the mischiefs of the measures proposed 
by the dominant party ; and in case such as are recommend 
ed by the jacobin gazettes should be brought forward, the 
task would not be hard. 

As to your part, my friend, I wish you to reserve yourself 
to act as circumstances may require, after the progress of 
debate has afforded you all the means of being decided. I 
shall take great pleasure in observing the rise of your repu 
tation ; and as I know you love your country with passion, 
the increase of your influence with your parliamentary ex 
perience will be a good omen. 

The symptoms of discord among the bad deserve notice. 
By dividing, their power to destroy will be diminished. 

I pray you offer my best wishes to Mrs. Quincy, for her 
self and the children. 

Yours, with unfeigned regard, &c. 



TO ELIPHALET PEARSON, LL.D. 

Dedham, January 6, 1806. 

SIR, I have received notice through a friendly and 
authentic, though unofficial, channel, that the Corporation 
of Harvard College, at a meeting on the llth December 
last, unanimously elected me President of that University. 

However I may have been accustomed to rate my claim 
to reputation, I could not fail to perceive the influence of this 
event to extend and confirm it. I can say, with gratitude, 



LETTERS. 

as well as with unfeigned sincerity, and on due reflection, 
that, situated as I am in life, and with my habits of think 
ing, there is no testimonial of public approbation that could 
be more soothing to my self-love, or, in my conception, 
more substantially honorable to me, than the suffrages of the 
learned and truly respectable members of the Corporation. 

On the first information I had of the choice, I perceived 
instantly that it was due to the Corporation, as well as to 
the members individually, to the public, as well as to my 
self, that I should bestow my most careful thoughts upon 
the subject ; that I should delay my determination till I had 
revolved every consideration of propriety and duty that ought 
to influence it ; and that as soon as possible after I had thus 
matured my final decision, and without permitting its disclos 
ure to the public, I should hasten, with equal frankness and 
respect, to lay it before the Corporation. 

I am not unapprised that an informal notice, and espe 
cially, too, of an election yet unconfirmed by the Board of 
Overseers, does not apparently require, though I presume 
(it) does not forbid, so early an answer. But having at 
length arrived, after careful and long meditation, to an entire 
satisfaction of my own mind, as to the kind of answer that I 
ought to give, I cannot discern any reason, and scarcely any 
justification, for longer delaying to give it. I am the more 
urgently impelled to this communication by adverting to the 
near approach of the session of the legislature, when, as the 
meeting of the Overseers will be facilitated, I naturally infer 
it will be convened. 

My first and only difficult inquiry was to ascertain what 
is my duty in this case. I should be unworthy of your very 
flattering approbation, and should certainly impair my own, 
if I could resolve to decline the office of President against a 
clear sense of moral obligation to accept it. Two consider 
ations have, nevertheless, appeared to me to allow that I 
should decide the question with a perfect liberty of choice. 
In this widely extended and not unfruitful field of the 
sciences, it will not be thought an excess, or an affectation 
of modesty, if I believe, and assume it to be certain, that 
there is ample room for the selection of a candidate, at least 
as well qualified for this important office as I can pretend, 



34<8 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

or even imagine I am thought, to be. While I view the 
University as one of the brightest lights and ornaments of 
our quarter of the globe, I rejoice that its interests are com 
mitted to gentlemen whose zeal for their advancement is no 
less ardent than pure. Am I not, then, warranted to act 
on the supposition, that such a selection will, of course, be 
made? To this I can truly add, that the slender health 
which I have but very recently enjoyed, and which almost 
every week s experience admonishes me I hold by an un 
usually frail tenure, has, by God s blessing, slowly accrued 
by my persisting to renounce almost all the cares, even more 
apprehensively than the labors, of life. However by your 
indulgence the labors of the office, if I should enter upon 
it, might be diminished, the high responsibility, the anxious 
solicitude, the strenuous exertion inseparable from its duties, 
would remain, and to these, it is my entire belief, my health 
would prove inadequate. 

As considerations of duty, therefore, are so far from exact 
ing my acceptance of the appointment, that they actually deter 
me from it, I might, very properly, desist from alleging any 
further reasons for my decision. I have none of equal force. 
But I think it will readily occur to every discerning mind, 
that a man, so far advanced in life as I am, ought to dread 
as fatal, or at least perilous, to its happiness, so complete a 
change of all its habits as I must make, if I should be trans 
ferred from the position I now occupy, to that more distin 
guished one which you are pleased to offer me. 

I should submit these considerations to you, sir, and to the 

fentlemen of the Corporation, with no little pain of mind, if 
did not anticipate from your known candor and good sense 
a ready acquiescence in the result to which they have impel 
led me. Being, therefore, not only permitted, but, as I 
conceive, constrained, to decline the appointment, to which 
you have proposed to raise me, I wish it to be explicitly 
understood, that I do decline it ; and may the great Source of 
wisdom enlighten you in the future election of a President. 
I must beg you to communicate this letter, with the ex 
pressions of my most grateful respect, to the gentlemen of 
the Corporation ; and allow me to add, that I am, with sen 
timents of entire esteem, Sir, yours. 



LETTERS. 34.9 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, January 20, 1806. 

MY DEAR SIR, You will find no want of correspond 
ents, and the greater number will exact from you more, in 
point both of frequency and length of letters, than comports 
with my notion either of justice or liberty. To write as 
much as business or common civility requires, is no small 
task for the representative of the capital of Massachusetts. 
And I consider too, how unreasonable it is to expect a Con 
gress-man can fill letter after letter with important matter, 
when your wise body actually brings nothing to pass ; and 
if any thing be intended to be done, you forlorn Feds, who 
are not allowed to attend the legislative caucus, can know 
nothing about it. A wanderer on the deserts of Barca, can 
cull no variety of fruits or flowers. Apropos, I liked your 
amendment of Barca for Lybia. Classical names, when laid 
aside, are no more to be used than quidnunc names never yet 
adopted, as Doctor Mitchell s Fredonia. I hate Columbia 
too, because it is not our name, nor can all the efforts of all 
our literary fops bring it into vogue. I wish Congress may 
learn that giving swords and medals lothly, and by bare 
majorities, is not conferring honor. In stable governments, 
usages become laws. Things wear a certain channel for 
themselves ; and if they bear along some abuses in their 
current, they do not stagnate for want of current. Without 
a metaphor, habits, if not principles, then govern ; whereas, 
in democracies, prejudices not only subvert every thing that 
is sacred, but disfigure every thing that is decent. The dis 
cussion of the question of " Thank you, General Eaton" is 
both rudeness and ingratitude. Is Eaton a hearty federalist] 
Is he, on that account, obnoxious to the ruling Virginians! 
Is Lear a favorite with them? 

Mr. Jefferson s message indicates that he looks to Con 
gress as the fountain of power. He says and unsays, and 
seems to be willing to stand to any thing that the two houses 
will signify they would have him say. This is the natural 
course for the head of a party; he evades responsibility. 
VOL. i. 30 



350 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

When the seal of secrecy is broken, we expect to know what 
Congress, acting in the diplomatic line, will do. If confisca 
tion, non-importation, &c., should be agreed to, the seventh 
seal will be broken the seventh vial poured out ; and as 
the woes denounced in that event will reach the workers of 
iniquity, I cannot think our rulers will be passionately fond of 
the project. When the time allowed by fate arrives, I, as 
one of the people, shall be glad to know what is to be done, 
and who are the agents of the great political work. Is 
Randolph really in discredit, as the gazettes allege ? Is 
Bidwell viewed by this grand seignior as a brother too near 
the throne] Who is Clinton] not De Witt. Is Brown, 
of Delaware, as fine a fellow as Bayard] While you are 
seeing the play, I, who have no ticket, should like to know 
the dramatis personce a little better. If you should think fit 
to send a page or two of " federal scurrility," I will put it 
into the fire. I must be allowed to read it first, to know 
that it is scurrility. 

The answers to my questions may not fill more than a 
quire or two of paper ; and as federal members have not the 
least concern with the deliberative business of Congress, the 
work of filling those quires may keep you busy, but cannot 
interrupt your discharge of duty. Without banter, I claim 
nothing from you as a correspondent, neither punctuality, 
nor frequency, nor quantity, nor labor ; but observe, as a 
friend, I am not willing to abate any of my pretensions to 
your remembrance and regard. In the full exercise of them, 
I beg leave to assure you of the esteem with which I am, 
dear sir, Yours, truly. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 



Dedham, January 28, 1806. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have had it in my thoughts to exa 
mine the question of our right to trade with the revolted 
part of Saint Domingo, as it is laid down in books. And 



LETTERS.- 



351 



I well know, that to meddle with it in a loose way is pecu 
liarly improper in a letter to you, who spare no pains to 
get at truth, and hold every substitute for it in contempt. 
Nevertheless, as I perceive I shall be occupied on some 
turnpike business, and hindered from reading writers on the 
law of nations, I feel a desire to communicate such thoughts 
as rise uppermost. 

Nations very properly abstain from assuming the decision 
of questions of right between any two contending powers. 
Facts alone are regarded. When, therefore, one state claims 
from another subjection and obedience, which that other re 
fuses to yield, and maintains its refusal by successful arms, 
no third power will constitute itself the judge of the legiti 
macy of its reasons for so refusing. The actual possession of 
independence is ground enough for holding a state independ 
ent of right, as far as third parties are concerned nationally. 
I mean, that the trade to such a self-made new state, is not 
a national offence against the power claiming sovereignty 
over the revolted country. This intercourse is at the peril 
of the private individuals concerned, whose cargoes may be 
seized and confiscated by the cruisers of the offended nation. 
But their so continuing to trade, seems not obviously to 
implicate the nation to which the traders belong, unless that 
nation, or its government, should do some act, whereby such 
responsibility is assumed. For the greater clearness, I will 
put a case. The Dutch assumed independence in 1570 or 
80. While this event was recent, and the contest depend 
ing, the Dutch cities suffering sieges, and the armies of Spain 
superior in the field in Holland, the supply of arms by Queen 
Elizabeth was, of course, an act of aggression. But for a 
London merchant to send flour or sugar at the risk of cap 
ture by the Spaniards, it seems to me, would not amount 
to an act of intermeddling by the English government ; 
especially, I will add, if the queen had, by proclamation, 
apprised her subjects, that a civil war raged in Holland, in 
which she would take no part ; and that she forbade her 
subjects trading with the Dutch, on the peril of capture, as 
aforesaid, by the Spaniards, in which case she would. not 
claim restitution, nor afford protection to the captured. The 
war would then proceed by Spain against English traders ; 



352 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

and the supplies poured into Holland would afford no ground 
for hostilities against England. But after the Spanish armies 
were beaten out of the country, and the lapse of near thirty 
years without any effort to subdue the Dutch, the capture of 
such vessels would be apparently unjust. 

Whether the suspension of the efforts of France to recover 
Saint Domingo, merely because of the war with England, 
amounts to an abandonment of the colony, is questionable. 
There is, in fact, no doubt she intends to resume the busi 
ness, as soon as the mare clausum becomes once more a mare 
liber urn, by a peace with Great Britain. Ad interim, any 
national act of intermeddling, on the part of the United 
States, in favor of Dessalines, would be an aggression. 
Permitting the use of force against French captures may 
possibly be unwarrantable. But the declaring, by Mr. Jef 
ferson s proclamation, that traders taken in such commerce 
will not be protected ; in other words, that they traffic with 
Dessalines at their peril, that is, the peril of capture by the 
French, I should think, would exculpate our government 
and nation, on principle. 

For Congress to legislate, seems to me quite another 
thing. It is ex abundantia, it is more than France can 
properly require. If Mr. Jefferson should issue a proclama 
tion, declaring the trade unauthorized, and at the peril of the 
concerned, it would be left to the French to enforce the law 
as it now exists, by capturing the vessels, if they can. But 
for us to extend, or create rights and remedies for them ; to 
say, you cannot catch these wrongdoers, but we can and will, 
seems to be journey-work for Bonaparte. As I premised, it 
quits the ground of matter of fact for perplexing theories. 
If the power of France is not adequate to exclude Saint 
Domingo from the exercise of its independence, it has just 
the same right, the right of the strongest, to independence, 
that other nations found their exercise of it upon. It is 
already de facto, and of course de jure, independent. 

On the other hand, if France has means to cut off the 
trade of that island, and to capture the vessels concerned 
in it, let her use those means. We abandon our traders to 
capture. 

Thus the question is left to work its own peaceable 



LETTERS. 



353 



decision, without compromitting the tranquillity, dignity, or 
rights of either the United States or France. Has the latter 
any right beyond the foregoing, that is, to a public disclaimer 
by proclamation of all protection to those concerned in trad 
ing, and to a faithful forbearance to form treaties, or afford 
any aid, as a government, to the black emperor ? Is not the 
request, or rather insolent claim, of more than this, an ad 
mission that Saint Domingo is lost to France, and that the 
United States must turn the war into a blockade to starve 
the blacks into submission 1 Is it not saying to us, We do 
not merely ask your forbearance, we insist on your coopera 
tion ; you must meddle, but only on our side I 

If my ideas are made intelligible, they seem to me of 
some use to discriminate the line of right and duty in the 
case, which line, perhaps, is to admit, that the French have 
rights, and leave them to exercise them as they now exist, 
but to refuse legislating for extending those rights or enforc 
ing them by our power. 

As to the line of policy, I can scarcely doubt, that we 
ought to shun a quarrel with France upon the point, if 
France contents herself with claiming no more than an 
existing right, and the enforcing it by capturing the vessels 
in the trade. If she claims more from the United States as 
a vassal, our dignity should be temperately asserted, and her 
demand civilly but firmly refused. We ought by no means 
to commit ourselves to the discredit of a treaty with Des- 
salines, or in any way to intermeddle as a government. But 
we ought to wish most earnestly, that Hayti may maintain 
its independence ; and so much the more, as the colonial 
systems of all nations may be expected on a peace to abridge 
our intercourse with the dependent islands. 

I have run the risk to write these crude conceptions as 
fast as I can drive my quill, and I can assure you, I shall 
feel no mortification, if it should turn out, that I commit 
several mistakes in the argument. I am, dear sir, with un 
feigned esteem, Yours, &c. 

P. S. It occurs to me to add, that there is some, though 
I am aware, not a close analogy between the case of our 
trade with Hayti and the revenue laws of foreign nations. 
30 * 



WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

To enforce these, one state never asks legislative or any 
other aid from another. Yet smuggling is an evil. I know 
it has been said, that the reason for this mutual forbearance 
is, that revenue laws are merely municipal, and create neither 
right nor obligation out of the territory for which they were 
made. 

But, as a matter of right, we equally abstain from the 
question depending in arms between the two emperors, Des- 
salines and Napoleon. The fact that Saint Domingo once 
acknowledged, and now refuses to acknowledge, the supreme 
authority of France, is all that we know, or will, if we are 
wise, concern ourselves to know. The rights claimed by 
France are merely, that we shall not intermeddle in the 
contest ; not that we shall help her. 

Justice requires that I should make it understood, that I 
claim from you no answers to my communications. I would 
sooner suppress such of my letters, than have them operate 
to impose a task on you. 



TO THOMAS DWIGHT. 

Dedham, February 1, 1806. Saturday. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, All habits grow stronger as we 
grow older ; and I am sorry to find that the bad habit of 
neglecting to write to you becomes more inveterate by indul 
gence. I condemn myself for it, and go round the beaten 
circle of resolving to do better in future. But what avail 
wise saws against foolish propensities ] 

Happening to be in the office, pen and ink before me, and 
expecting your brother J. this evening, I say to myself, nick 
the moment, and write, or you will persist in your sins, and 
aggravate them by your fruitless repentance. Conscience, 
which will sometimes meddle against old sinners, speaks out, 
contrary to custom, with some authority, and I obey. 

These few lines come to let you know, that I am very 
well, sickness excepted, as I hope you are, without exception, 



LETTERS. 



355 



at this present writing. Want of exercise brings want of 
appetite that furs my tongue and dulls my wits. I sleep 
worse, and yet am a sleepy fellow ; and, on the whole, have 
ground for two dozen complaints about my health, and not 
one new apprehension. 

Why did you not invite me to visit Springfield] That 
omission, some care of our ever-depending turnpike, the 
depth of the snow, and its faithless appearance in this thawy 
weather, banish or retard the project I wish to ripen and 
execute of going with my one-horse cutter to your town. 
Why should I not] Do I not want some of your large 
pepper seed ] The dry season forbade mine to ripen. Do 
I not want to see your great bridge ] Do I not want to 
drink your cider, which article is scarce here ] How rea 
sons thicken in my catalogue. Yet as they govern me just 
as little as they do the rest of this stubborn, unreasonable 
world, I think it probable I shall not go ; and that, on the 
aforesaid grounds, it is much more proper that you and your 
good wife should come here, although you could not find one 
of the reasons for it that I have urged in my own case. 

As you would not come for pepper seed, nor to drink 
cider, nor to see the Dedham canal up Charles river, which 
is not to be seen, I will readily admit that you both come to 
see Mrs. A. and your humble servant. I will not enlarge 
on the weight these last motive s would have with any other 
good people, but my vanity stiffly maintains that they have 
influence with you. Indeed it founds itself a good deal on 
such kind of pretensions. 

Sir, I was elected President not of the United States ; 
and do you know why I did not accept ] I had no inclina 
tion for it. The health I have, would have been used up at 
Cambridge in a year. My old habits are my dear comforts, 
and these must have been violently changed. 

How much I was in a scrape in consequence of the offer, 
and with what three weeks mystery and address I extricated 
myself, are themes for conversation when we meet. I have 
extricated myself, and feel like a truck or stage horse, who 
is once more allowed to roll in the dirt without his harness. 
Everybody has heard of Mrs. A. s proposing that I should 
take H. A., if I went to Cambridge, as she would neither 
go nor learn Greek. 



356 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

Apropos of Hannah Adams. Her abridgment of her 
History of New England, for the use of schools, has, I be 
lieve, superior merit. I have read a chapter, and, after 
reading more, shall put my name to the recommendation of 

the work. Young , and others, friends to 

modest merit, have bought the whole of her first edition, 
and a second is preparing. I wish to see it in use. 

Are you sharp-shooters of Hampshire ready to get the 

bounty for Englishmen s scalps I s intemperate folly 

shows the temper of the ruling party. If a step should be 
stirred onward in that path, we are plump in a war. I have 
hoped that the sacred shield of cowardice, as Junius calls it, 
would protect our peace. I still hope. Yet this tongue- 
courage is a bad omen. If we assert rights that we cannot 
maintain by argument, and that we will not enforce by arms, 
what follows from our so early putting down our foot so 
positively stating that Britain usurps our rights, and that we 
never will abandon them] What, I say, but an increased 
and a very unnecessary propensity on both sides to war ; an 
indisposition to negotiation, " the only umpire between just 
nations ; " and a tenfold disgrace, if we tamely forbear to 
enforce our claims, or explicitly renounce them ] In point 
of true dignity or common prudence, this preliminary en 
gagement of our government to be inflexible seems singu 
larly absurd. Mr. Madison s great pamphlet on the maritime 
principle of Great Britain, however plausible and ingenious, 
is an indiscreet pledge of the government, and of the public 
opinion, to maintain what we know England will not con 
cede, and we will not enforce. 

I could subjoin, that the chief labor of Madison is to show 
that Great Britain has no right from old treaties nor from 
old writers. He might as well show that neither Aristotle 
nor the laws of Solon make any mention of such a principle. 
A new state of things exists, and a new case requires a new 
application of old principles. Here, I strongly apprehend, 
the decision will be against us at " the bar of reason," where 
Mr. Jefferson, like the crier, summons Mr. Pitt to appear 
and answer. How is it possible for Great Britain to defend 
herself, without the utmost use of her navy ^ And how can 
she use her navy with any effect against her deadly enemy, 
if she leaves his colony trade free to neutrals, and thereby 



LETTERS. 

makes that immense fund of wealth cheaply accessible to 
France I I confess, I know not. But why do I bore you 
with a prize question? 

N. continues to mend. We are all well. Thank you for 
more of Doctor Lathrop. Remember me to all friends, es 
pecially to those of your household. A kiss for little Bess. 

Yours, &c. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, February 1, 1806. 

MY DEAR SIR, The proprietors of the stage through 
Dedham to Hartford have procured a list of subscribers to a 
petition to Congress, that the Postmaster-General may be 
required, by law, to cause a mail to be carried, three times a 
week, on that road. Being a Dedham and a turnpike man, 
I premise that I am an interested witness. Still I come for 
ward to testify, that reasons exist to recommend their petition, 
which others will allow to have force. 

This great extent of country is destitute of information, 
except by a slow creeping mail on horseback once a week ; 
and as all information is admitted by our rulers to come 
through newspapers, the people may be supposed to be in a 
benighted condition, being too, for half the distance, Con 
necticut folks. The request may possibly awaken the town 
patriotism of Mr. Granger, and the Worcester men may feel 
as if their preeminence, as to the mail, would be attacked. 
You know the middle toad ; it is the nearest. The stage is 
supported with spirit, and in excellent order ; and I should 
think the expense of a mail need not be very great to our 
economical government, as the stage runs without it. While 
it is better for the public that the mail should go in the stage, 
I suppose it is nearly essential to the future success of the 
proprietors of the line, that they should get the contract. 
They promise great expedition. A turnpike is made, or 
granted, the whole distance, and the due improvement of the 
road, where it wants any, depends on the arrangement in 



358 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

question, as without it, the want of enterprise and want of 
means, which so long obstruct improvements, will retard 
this. 

I shall be informed by getting my Boston newspaper with 
my breakfast; and yet I cannot suppose that accommoda 
tion, singly taken, would induce our loving administration to 
spend many dollars on the contract. Be this as it may, I 
have made a promise to Messrs. Trask and Wheelock, the 
stage owners, in Boston, that I will use my influence in pro 
moting their project. This influence I was obliged to leave 
them at liberty to believe very considerable, otherwise I could 
not have resisted their importunate request to put my name 
to their petition. 

They did not seem to comprehend why my name would 
create them opposition. I did comprehend it, as I believe 
you will. Will you then allow me to assign over these men 
and their affair to your attention and friendly patronage. 
Having been at the head of the department, you ought to 
have more influence than I claim. I am, with esteem, &c. 

Yours, truly. 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, February 1, 1806. 

MY DEAR SIR, Messrs. Trask and Wheelock, two 
knights of the currycomb in Bromfield lane, and proprietors 
of the stage through Dedham to Hartford, from a sheer love 
to the public, are willing to use and abuse their horses to 
expedite the mail in eighteen hours in summer, provided that 
Congress will order the Postmaster-General to make a con 
tract with them to carry it three times a week. Even love, 
you know, grows faint if unrequited. Here we sit in dark 
ness ; and instead of having the light of the newspapers, the 
only light men can see to think by, shed dingy and streaked 
every morning, like Aurora, we often have to wait, as they do 
in Greenland, for the weather and the northern lights. The 



LETTERS. 

town stage is often stopped by rain or snow ; the driver for 
gets to bring the newspapers, or loses them out of his box. 
This is our bad condition here. How much worse it is ten 
miles farther from Boston, you may conceive. The darkness 
might be felt. Now, as the government alone possesses in 
formation, and as the stage-horses alone are the pipes for its 
transmission to the printers, who are the issuing commissaries 
to the people, we, the people, the rank-and-file men, ask our 
ofBcers, through Trask and Wheelock, to provide for our 
accommodation. Let us have food for the mind every other 
day. 

The middle road is the nearest, by twenty or twenty-five 
miles ; besides Mr. Dowse lives upon it, and as it is now 
all turnpike, in fact or on paper, and as fifty miles of it 
through Connecticut, without granting the petition, might 
not in any season, if at all, get knowledge of Mr. Wright s 
bill, and his bounty for shooting Englishmen, the public 
reasons are the strongest imaginable for ordering the Post 
master-General to make such a contract. It would not cost 
much ; and as the increase of mails increases letter-writing, 
who will say that ultimately it will cost any thing I The 
only sensible economy in farming is to spend money ; it 
may be so in government matters. 

To be serious, there can be no doubt the public good re 
quires the arrangement in question, as Sam Brown, George 
Blake, and Dr. Eustis subscribe the petition. The Worces 
ter road may seem to be attacked, by the conferring the high 
prerogative of a mail three times a week on a parallel road ; 
and Granger s bowels may yearn for his imperial city of 
feathers and wooden trays, which is situated on the route 
through Springfield. Pray do what you can for these folks, 
and get others to help you. Even Mr. Randolph ought to 
promote these views, as it will, no doubt, increase the num 
ber of the readers of his speeches. 

Yours, truly, &c. 



360 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, February 12, 1806. 

MY DEAR SIR, Your highly esteemed favor, of QJth 
January, reached me on the 8th, and that of the 30th Janu 
ary, on the 10th February. Shall I say they give me 
pleasure ] I had curiosity to pry into the books of the 
fates, and your answers are like those of the ancient inter 
preters of those books, to inquirers predestined to ruin, a 
terrible satisfaction of curiosity. I had hoped our feeble 
chief would have done nothing, and left time and chance to 
work for our country. But Gregg, 1 or the evil one, will 
not let us profit by events. Our folly must meddle, and 
hasten our destruction. Non-intercourse surely needs no 
exposure as a folly. Admit its inefficacy, it is proved. 
Admit its efficacy, will Great Britain wait to have it mani 
fested 1 She can bear a war as well as we ; non-intercourse, 
say they, worse. The option is for her to make, which she 
will bear. Park exposes it well in his Repertory. I sit at 
home, and mope, ignorant of any effects of Congress s ex 
travagance on prices. I have not seen George Cabot, to 
whom I will show your favors. 

The conquest of Europe seems already achieved by Bona 
parte, if we may believe French accounts. I do not believe 
them without great allowances, yet, truly, I see little means 
and less spirit of resistance left there. England would merit 
ruin, if she accepted peace, and took it quietly. Russia 
surely has force enough untouched ; but distance, want of 
money, and blockheads in the cabinet, for they glide in 
through every keyhole, may incline her (I can scarcely think 
it) to quit " the bloody arena." In case Europe accepts 
peace and chains, we, of the United States, are ripe and 
rotten for servitude and tribute. Bonaparte would have no 
need to pull trigger. Disguise the name, and we shall fur 
nish our quota as cheerfully as Italy or Spain. If Burr 
igoes and finds Bonaparte triumphant, Jefferson has a master, 

1 Mr. Gregg, of Pennsylvania, had proposed resolutions for the non-import 
ation of goods, of British production. 



LETTERS. 

and the United States a prefect. In point of military pre 
paration, we are scarcely a match for the Mamelukes, or 
even the cooks of the world s emperor ; and our one hun 
dred thousand militia would do little more in the field than 
the tailors that make their uniforms. Prussia has probably 
fallen like a forest tree, not by cutting" it down, or prying up 
its roots, but by felling the neighboring trees that sheltered 
and propped it. The backwoodsmen will tell you that such 
trees fall, because the very zephyrs that fan their leafy tops 
loosen their foundations. Yet these woodsmen are our Wis- 

o 

lators, and make our commerce not the object to contend for, 
but the weapon to contend with. This is certain, if England 
cannot save Europe, we cannot save ourselves. The spirit 
that would buy rights when Spain violates them, would pay 
tribute when France offers land to disguise it. I have long 
thought a democracy incapable of liberty. It seems now 
almost impossible that we should long enjoy the honor and 
happiness of a tyrant of our own. 

Company interrupts, and I will finish my croakings. 
Please to offer my best wishes and respects to Mrs. Quincy. 

Yours, truly. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 



Dedham, February 14, 1806. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have sent your letters to Mr. Cabot, 
who, I am sure, will think their contents as interesting as I 
do. Indeed, " they suit the gloomy habit of my soul," as 
Young says in his Zanga. I am infinitely dejected with 
the view of Europe, as well as of our own country ; and I 
begin to consider the utmost extreme of public evils as more 
dreadfully imminent than ever I did before in my life. I 
have long consoled myself with believing that the germs of 
political evil, as well as of good, lie long, like the unnum 
bered seeds of every species of plants, in the ground without 
sprouting ; and that it was unnecessary and unwise to con 
template the possibilities of national servitude, and, more 

VOL. I. 31 



$62 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

properly, of universal convulsion and ruin under a French 
empire, as either very near or very probable. Late events, 
I confess, lessen my confidence in the military capacity of 
resistance of all the foes of France, England not excepted. 
A fate seems to sweep the prostrate world along that is not 
to be averted by submission, nor retarded by arms. The 
British navy stands like Briareus, parrying the thunderbolts, 
but can hurl none back again ; and if Bonaparte effects his 
conquest of the dry land, the empire of the sea must in the 
end belong to him. That he will reign supreme and alone 
on the Continent is to be disputed by nobody but Russia ; 
and if pride, poverty, distance, false ambition, or fools in his 
cabinet persuade the Emperor Alexander to make a separate 
peace, France must be Rome, and Russia, Parthia, invincible 
and insignificant. The second Punic war must terminate in 
that case, for aught I can see, in the ruin of England ; and 
the world must bow its base neck to the yoke. It will 
sweat in servitude and grope in darkness, perhaps another 
thousand years ; for the emulation of the European states, 
extinguished by the establishment of one empire, will no 
longer sustain the arts. They and the sciences will soon 
become the corrupters of society. It is already doubtful 
whether the press is not their enemy. 

I make no doubt, Bonaparte will offer almost carte 
blanche to Russia and Austria, saving only his rights as 
master ; and I greatly fear that Russia will be lured, as 
Austria will be forced, to abandon Great Britain. Another 
peace makes Bonaparte master of Europe. 

Russia has soldiers, and they are brave enough ; and I 
should think so vast an augmentation of the French empire 
would seem to Alexander to demand the exertion of all his 
vast energies. Without Pitt s gold, this will be a slow and 
inadequate exertion ; and how Pitt is to get money, if neu 
trals take this generous opportunity to quarrel with him, I 
cannot see. 

If we intend to quarrel and to assert our rights in arms, 
it may be wise and right to take up our cause as we do ; for 
if England will not recede, we cannot honorably, which 
last word, I well know, is a mere expletive, of no more 
import than a semicolon, or rather an interjection. If we 



LETTERS. 



863 



resolve that Great Britain shall fight or yield, and that the 
United States will sooner fight than yield, it is all of a piece 
to argue and bluster as we do. But on the hypothesis, that 
we mean peace in every event, the folly of this prompt as 
sumption of our ultimatum is strange. I am the more 
ready to think it so, because I expect to hear John Bull 
say, he is as little convinced as afraid. Like a good citizen, 
I am silent while our side is argued ; but I am far from 
thinking it impossible that the question should appear to the 
candid and intelligent to have another side. If it has, I 
abstain from all insult and reproach, and from all feelings of 
indignation against Great Britain for her alleged " interpo 
lations." On one point, her condemning without notice, I 
think her culpable, and that if an envoy like Mr. King were 
sent, she would refund. 

It is ever a misfortune for a man to differ from the poli 
tical or religious creed of his countrymen. You will not 
fail to perceive, that I am worse than a lingerer in my faith 
in the conclusiveness of the reasoning of Mr. Madison & Co. 
This, however, I keep to myself and less than half a dozen 
friends. As you seem to be more orthodox than I am on 
this article, I am the more ready to applaud your generous 
and just sentiments in favor of the British cause against 
France. 

It has never happened, I believe, for any great length of 
time, that our American politics have been much governed 
either by our policy or blunders. Events abroad have im 
posed both their character and result ; and I see no reason 
to doubt that this is to be the case more than ever. If 
France dictates by land and sea, we fall without an effort. 
The wind of the cannon-ball that smashes John Bull s brains 
out, will lay us on our backs with all our tinsel honors in the 
dirt. Therefore I think I may, and feel that I must, return 
to European affairs. 

Two obstacles, and only two, impede the establishment of 
universal monarchy: Russia and the British navy. The 
military means of the former are vast, her troops numerous 
and brave. Of money she has little, but a little goes a great 
way, for every thing is cheap. This is owing to the barbar 
ism of her inhabitants. Now, for revenue, a highly civilized 



364- WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

state is most favorable ; but for arms, I beg leave to doubt 
whether men half savage are not best. Not because rude 
nations have more courage than those that are polished, but 
because they have not such an invincible aversion to a military 
life as the sons of luxury and pleasure, and the sons of labor 
too, in the latter. As society refines, greater freedom of the 
choice of life is progressively allowed ; and the endless variety 
of employments and arts of life attaches men, and almost all 
the men, to the occupations of peace. To bring soldiers into 
the field, the prince must overbid the allurements of these 
occupations. He exhausts his treasury without filling his 
camp. 

But in Russia men are yet cheap, as well as provisions. 
Little is left to the peasantry to choose, whether they will 
stand in the ranks or at a work-bench ; and though the em 
peror may not incline absolutely to force men into the army, 
a sum of money, that John Bull would disdain to accept, 
would allure them in crowds. Russia in Asia is thinly set 
tled ; but Russia in Europe is the seat of five sixths of the 
inhabitants of the empire, and not very deficient in populous- 
ness, if we consider the extent of unimprovable lands, and the 
little demand for manufacturing labor. With thirty millions 
in Europe, Russia is surely able to withstand Bonaparte ; and 
the latter will not long forbear to say to ci-devant Poland, 
" shake off your chains, rise to liberty and fraternity." Prus 
sia and Austria could say nothing against this ; but Russia 
could not and would not acquiesce in it. 

I amuse myself with inquiring into the existence of physi 
cal means to resist France. I seem to forget, though in 
truth I do not forget, that means twice as great once existed 
in the hands of the fallen nations. They were divided in 
counsel, and taken unprepared. Russia being a single 
power, and untainted with revolution mania, and plainly 
seeing her danger, ought to do more than all the rest. Yet, 
after all, I well know that if small minds preside on great 
occasions, they are sure to temporize when the worst of all 
things is to do nothing; and very possibly the Russian 
cabinet sages partake of this fatal blockheadship. 

It also seems to me that the science, or at least the prac 
tice, of war has greatly changed since Marlborough s days. 



LETTERS. 



365 



In 1702 to 1709, or 1710, he fought a great battle on 
a plain of six miles extent. On gaining the victory, he 
besieged a fortress as big as an Indian trading post, mined, 
scaled, battered, and fought six weeks to take it, and then 
went into winter quarters. Thus the war went on campaign 
after campaign, as slowly as the Middlesex canal, which in 
eight years has been dug thirty miles. 

The French have done with sieges and field-battles. Posts 
are occupied along the whole frontier line of a country. If 
the line of defence be less extensive, they pass round it ; if 
weakened by extent, through it. An immense artillery, 
light, yet powerful, rains such a horrible tempest on any 
part that is to be forced, that the defenders are driven back 
before the charge of the bayonet is resorted to. The lines 
once forced, the defending army falls back, takes new posi 
tions, and again loses them as before. Thus a country is 
taken possession of without a battle, and a brave people 
wonder and blush to find they are slaves. 

Is not this invariable and yet always surprising result 
owing to the number, spirit, and discipline of the French, 
and to their almost irresistible superiority of artillery 1 No 
arts being regarded, every Frenchman is a soldier, if his 
master chooses to call him into the ranks. Military means 
are, therefore, infinite. Success and the national character 
have supplied the spirit to animate this mass. The opposers 
of France can have no such means. Men enjoying liberty 
will not march as if they were soldiers without their consent. 
They are to be bought and paid for at a dear rate before they 
will march. Of course government can command means to 
buy only a few of them ; a scanty force is collected, im 
patient of discipline, pining for their return to their homes, 
easily discouraged and dispersed. Why then should we 
wonder to see France mistress of Europe? 

On these grounds of advantage on the side of France, I 
have long deemed the fate of Europe fixed irreversibly, 
unless other nations can be made almost as military as she 
is ; and I confide less than ever in the possibility of this 
change, or at least, within the term when it could avail for 
resistance. 

I have never believed the volunteers of England worth a 
31* 



366 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

day s rations of beef to the island, if invaded. With you, I 
have assumed it, as a thing* absolutely certain, that they 
would be beaten and dispersed by one hundred thousand 
invading Frenchmen. Improved as the military art now 
is, and, as I have supposed, far beyond what it was in the 
Duke of Marlborough s days, it is folly at all times, and 
infatuation in time of danger, to consider militia as capable 
of defending a country. My hope has been that England 
would array two hundred and fifty thousand regulars, and 
perfect their discipline without delay. Without a great land 
force, I now think with you, she is in extreme danger. 

After her fall, ours would not cost Bonaparte a blow. 
We are prostrate already, and of all men on earth the fittest 
to be slaves. Even our darling avarice would not make a 
week s resistance to tribute, if the name were disguised; 
and I much doubt whether, if France were lord of the navies 
of Europe, we should reluct at that, or even at the appella 
tion and condition of Helots. 

I write too fast to avoid mistakes, or to correct them. 
You, I know, will overlook them, inasmuch as you permit 
me to subscribe myself Your unfeigned friend, &c. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, March 3, 1806. 

MY DEAR SIR, When I wrote to you, not long since, 
on the affairs of Europe, I was under more political dejec 
tion than I remember ever to have felt before in my life. 
The news then was that the Russian army had capitulated, 
and was to be sent home ; that Austria had made a separate 
peace, and of course that Europe, England excepted, was con 
quered. Assuming those facts, universal monarchy would 
be no thing of speculation. It would be as real at Wash 
ington, as at Berlin, Madrid, or Amsterdam. Thank kind 
Heaven, still the protector of this spiritless country, the 
Russian bayonets are long, and the French had four inches 



LETTERS. 

of them in their vitals before they could reach their antag 
onists. Still I fear that the Lisbon story of the French 
victory on the 9th December, will turn out true. 1 Even 
if true, I do not despair ; for so many rumors concur in 
announcing the accession of Prussia to the coalition, that 
I more than half believe it. If the military powers still 
contend, the loss or gain of a battle is nothing in my eyes. 
The longer they contend, the better will be the exercise for 
all the virtues that sprout and blossom and bear fruit in the 
emulation of states, and that wither and rot when one sub 
dues the rest. 

The morbid cause of the French Revolution lies deep ; it 
is not a rash on the skin ; it is a plague that makes the 
bones brittle and cankers the marrow. The disease is not 
medicable. The world must wait for a sound generation to 
be born, and war must educate them in all the ancient manly 
virtues, before there can be peace or security. As to liberty 
we are to have none democracy will kindle its own hell, 
and consume in it. Our independence may be, and I now 
begin to think it will be, preserved, by the French being 
rendered as incapable of usurping as we are of defending 
it. In a democracy, factions hate none but rival factions. 
A foreign enemy may happen to be, indeed must be, the 
friend of one of them. We are capable of resisting, but 
we should no more be permitted to resist, than Switzerland 
was. With these conceptions, I am ready to believe our 
folly is as impotent as our spirit or our wisdom, and that 
we shall not enjoy the honor and happiness of being able to 
undo ourselves. We shall try, and in the work of ruin, no 
men are more efficient than the weak men. Yet with all 
these advantages and dispositions, I think we shall have a 
chance to be saved if Europe is. I smile, therefore, at the 
drawn dagger, and defy the point of Sam Smith s and 
Crowninshield s resolutions. 2 They may have some stage 
effect upon our mob. But John Bull, though he may be 

1 The Russian bayonets did not prove quite long enough. The Lisbon 
story was the first rumor of the battle of Austerlitz, and was true in all but 
the date. 

2 Resolutions proposing commercial restrictions, by way of retaliation, 
against the aggressions of Great Britain. 



368 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

nettled, will scorn to let the world see he is angry, with 
their playhouse thunder. I can scarcely be justified in no 
ticing the reported intention of buying Florida after what 
I have intimated of the insignificance of our domestic poli 
tics. If the multitude ever paid any regard to merit in the 
choice of a favorite, I should expect that the exposure of 
the folly of our land bargains would shake their First Con 
sul out of his triumphal car into the mine. All that can be 
done by displaying the truth, which is very little, ought to 
be done as soon as the facts may be used for the purpose. 
Such a display might, and I think would, influence some votes 
on our approaching election for Governor, &c. Much exer 
tion will be used on both sides. If Sullivan should be chosen, 
what can we say more than that vice and folly have taken 
their natural ascendant I 

The terms of our correspondence are, I know, exceedingly 
in my favor ; for I am a rustic, and you a statesman forced 
to be a spectator, if not allowed to be an actor, in the po 
litical drama. I write because I would not be ungrateful, 
and your obliging acceptance of my letters is a fresh obliga 
tion. I refrain, however, from what some would think com 
pliments, as I know you do not like such light commodities. 
I am, with entire esteem and regard, dear sir, 

Yours, truly. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, March 10, 1806. 

MY DEAR SIR, I receive your letters so often and in 
such a series, that there is not the least doubt of their all 
reaching me. How undeserving am I, that I have left you 
in doubt on this head ! It is, however, some consolation, 
if not excuse to me, that Mr. Cabot is as negligent as I 
have been. He has repeatedly shewn me your letters, and 
that in particular to which you allude with some concern 
lest it should have miscarried. They are full of matter, 




LETTERS. 

valuable and interesting ; and if I had been* an admirer of 
the administration, your well-drawn pictures of their poverty 
of intellect and spirit, would oblige me to despise them as 
ordinary knaves, who happen to be in a situation to do more 
than ordinary mischief. With power, they are base and 
abject ; and with cowardice and ignorance, they are odious. 
If any one should doubt the exact justice of this character, 
their unspeakable servility in the St. Domingo business 
would fully establish it. In case the Russians arrive in 
season to check Bonaparte, and the King of Prussia really 
joins the coalition, all these condescensions will appear as 
unwise as dastardly. 

Towards Great Britain, it seems, we have courage enough 
to swagger. Wright s motion, so worthy of a Mohawk, will 
convince Europeans, that we are savages, and perhaps 
revolutionists. I lament the disgrace of the Senate in so 
far allowing it countenance. There was a time when John 
Bull would strike, because we make such mouths at him. 
He, poor fellow, is bound to keep the peace, and, I feared 
six weeks ago, to sit in the stocks. Sending Burr 1 will not 
alienate the people from the administration. They need not 
fear the moral sense, or sense of honor, or any other sense 
of our people, except their nonsense, which they will take 
special good care to keep on their side. 

The discords of your democratic leaders will raise hopes 
of good, for the federalists are stubborn hopers. Randolph, 
no longer the guest of the great man s private board, no 
longer his earwig, will not be his antagonist. If he is, he 
will lose his party and his influence. These people may dis 
agree about the manner or even the extent of doing mis 
chief, but to do good they have neither inclination nor under 
standing. Our disease is democracy. It is not the skin 
that festers our very bones are carious, and their marrow 
blackens with gangrene. Which rogues shall be first, is of 
no moment our republicanism must die, and I am sorry 
for it. But why should we care what sexton happens to be 
in office at our funeral. Nevertheless, though I indulge no 
hopes, I derive much entertainment from the squabbles in 

i A mission of this gentleman to Great Britain was talked of at that time. 



370 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

Madam Liberty s family. After so many liberties have been 
taken with her, I presume she is no longer a miss and a 
virgin, though she may still be a goddess. 

It is a mark of a little mind in a great man, to get such 
people about him for favorites as our chief is said to prefer. 
Hancock thought himself a Jupiter, and filled his Olympus 
with buffoons, sots, and blockheads. Is our Jupiter to reign 
another term of four years ? I am at a loss to comprehend 
his ardent passion for buying territory. Is he land-mad, or 
is he afflicted with a gunpowder-phobia ? Admitting that 
we must either buy the Spanish right or take it, reasons 
of the day may decide in favor of buying ; but a million mis 
chiefs will grow out of this enlargement of our territory, and 
some of them at no great distance. 

I am flattered agreeably by finding, that you and Mr. 
Bayard approve my opinions respecting St. Domingo. I 
have never seen that gentleman, but I have, as everybody 
here has, a very high respect for his merit and talents. I 
lament, that they are so much lost to our country, which, 
you know, is destined to the grasp of all its vice and ambi 
tion, the ambition of its low tyrants. 

You will read that Professor Webber is chosen President 
of the College, and I hear that it is in print that Mr. Pear 
son has resigned. 

Our election will excite at least as much zeal and bustle 
as ever. We live in the island of Lemnos, and in Vulcan s 
own shop ; it seems as if we had no business but to forge 
party thunderbolts. We maintain, that there is as much 
honor as noise in this happy situation, but surely we cannot 
deceive ourselves so far as to suppose there ever will be any 
tranquillity. 

The District of Maine, I fear, grows yearly worse and 
worse. If that part of the State could stand neuter, Mas 
sachusetts proper would be right some years longer. Either 
we ought to dismember that territory, reserving perhaps the 
extreme part of it, where the State lands, yet unsold, chiefly 
lie, for a second State, or we should make the most unre- 
mitted exertions to federalize it. I have some faith in at 
least the partial success of the latter, if the expense of pam 
phlets and newspapers could be amply supplied. I believe 



LETTERS. 

Strong will be chosen, because I wish it, and because I 
think great industry will be exerted to effect it. 

Mason s strange scheme of the portraits of the three 
Presidents, is, I suppose, left to die. Your comment is very 
just. 

How numerous are the foes of order, and how incorrect 
as well as faint-hearted are its friends ! With respect 
and unfeigned regard, I am, dear sir, 

Yours, truly. 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, March 19, 1806. 

MY DEAR SIR, The news from Europe is truly dis 
tressing. 1 The death of Mr. Pitt fills me with grief and 
terror, with grief, that so great a statesman and patriot 
should sink under his labors and with terror, that Fox, 
Erskine, and Sheridan should come into power. A neigh 
bor of mine, well known to you as a good-hearted man, is 
overjoyed that Billy Pitt is dead. He also exults in the 
prospect of Sullivan s election, whose morals, he says, are 
purity itself. You will not be at a loss to conjecture who it 
is I mean. When a man of so much real worth is so de 
luded, as to rejoice that Pitt is dead, and that Sullivan lives 
to be Governor, as he believes, what reason have we to 
think the people will see their error, when they commit any, 
and return to the right path 1 I wish to learn from you, 
how our Congress patriots are affected, by the successes of 
Bonaparte, and the peace he has dictated. Are they silly 
or base enough to believe his success is our success ] The 
newspapers inform us that Mr. Randolph has denounced the 
administration and Bonaparte. But I have read no speech, 
or part of a speech, from that gentleman, nor have I lately 
had a line from any correspondent, on the state of Congress 

1 The victory of Austerlitz, and its immediate consequences. 



372 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

business. I am therefore quite in the dark about your poli 
tics. The discords of your Randolphs and Bidwells can 
do no harm to their betters, or the cause of good order. 
But I can scarcely believe they will part so widely, as not to 
come together, and unite again heartily, when any signal 
mischief is to be done. Of all descriptions of political 
men, I most profoundly dread the fools. Randolph is im 
mature in judgment as a statesman, and perhaps has too 
much impetuosity and fancy, ever to ripen into one. But 
he is no fool, and if he ever consents to promote mischief, 
he will know what he is doing. I am far from sure that I 
rightly comprehend his character, and for that reason I the 
more freely disclose to you my opinion of it. It will be a 
topic of conversation, when I shall again be so happy as to 
see you. 

You have often mentioned, in your letters, the subject of 
the election of a President of Harvard College. I have no 
reserves with my friends, but I can communicate very little, 
as to the reasons that determined me not to accept it, that 
you will not anticipate ; I want health for it. I also want 
the most indispensable of all talents, inclination for it. Mr. 
Webber is chosen. He has, it is said, great learning in the 
mathematics, and great modesty. 

Is Iruco s refusal to quit the United States deemed a 
correct thing in point of diplomatic principle I l It is in 
deed singular that a foreign minister should thus take post 
in a country, and intrench himself as a citizen. I have 
never looked at a book, nor revolved the matter enough to 
form any conclusion. 

Yours, truly. 

1 The Spanish government had been requested to recall Irujo, the minister 
from that nation to this country. He somewhat cavalierly refused to go, 
although notified by Mr. Madison that his presence at Washington " was dis 
satisfactory to the President." 



LETTERS. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 



373 



Dedham, March 24, 1806. Monday. 

My DEAR SIR, I had three days ago your favor of 
the 1 1th inst. The mail this morning brought your precious 
communications of the same date, the four sheets no date, 
the letter of the 13th, and Mr. White s speech. In that of 
the llth, first received, I had the pamphlet of Nicklin and 
Griffith, to which you have added the United States Gazette, 
containing additional documents in that case. 

It is a violent snow storm, equal to any that has happened 
this winter. I am quite at leisure to enjoy my feast. It has 
had one hasty reading, and I am going to give the whole 
another, more deliberately. A lad who draws the highest 
prize in a lottery feels no richer than I do, with my se 
cret hoard. As to my discretion in the use of it, I will, as 
soon as it clears up, go to Boston, and with our excellent 
friend George Cabot, who is the keeper of my conscience 
and judgment, endeavor to frame a mature plan of conduct. 
1 abstain now from all comment. 

As Randolph is no federalist, is too Virginian, and per 
haps too ambitious to be any sooner trusted than the other 
jacobin competitors for power, why, I ask, should the fede 
ral orators be silent ] It is no doubt right to let them, the 
Jacobins, get by the ears. Too prompt a declaration on 
any question might be a cause for some weak democrats to 
vote worse than they otherwise would. Yet I confess I 
have strong doubts whether the Feds do not carry their 
reserve to an extreme. A party exists by acting, and dies 
by wholly forbearing to act. Feeble as the Feds are in 
numbers, they are strong in talents, formidable by their 
virtues, and chance now arms them with the weapons of 
John Randolph & Co. I decide nothing on the point, but 
I hope and trust it is considered by our worthy friends, in 
both houses, that the crisis is favorable to popular impres 
sion ; that Quincy, Dana, and Broom in the House, you, Mr. 
Bayard, &c., in the Senate, by stating facts with their just 
inferences, can make that impression. I see not why the 

VOL. I. 32 



374 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

Feds should not let the nation know that they still exist, 
and that they are still faithful to their old principles. They 
may take their own peculiar federal ground, and if converts 
should not be made from democracy, let them bear it in 
mind, federalism in New England needs exhortation, con 
solation, and encouragement incessantly. I would not be 
impertinent with Mr. Bayard, but I have no objection to 
your suggesting these ideas to him. With my old friend 
Tracy I need no apologies for hinting what comes upper 
most. 

Fit and proper as I think it to use exertions, I neverthe 
less concede the point, that the splitting of the jacobin party 
bodes no good to our cause. There is no return, in political 
affairs, from vice to virtue, from the wrangles of jacobinism 
to the peace of federal order. Worse men, if they are to 
be found, will succeed Jefferson ; meaner I think will not. 
If rogues must rule us, it is luck to obey knowing ones. 
I will write to you soon, but I have little to export to pay 
for my late valuable imports. 

Yours with unfeigned esteem, &c. 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, December 5, 1806. 

MY DEAR SIR, I hope you and good Mrs. Quincy 
were snug and safe at Washington, before the snow storm 
of the 3d. The wind was violent, but so much rain fol 
lowed, and so warm weather, that we have little snow on 
the ground. 

I have just read the second number of Decius, ascribed 
to Mr. Randolph, and I am deceived if he will not find that 
he writes himself down. His attack on the Feds is not 
only illiberal, not only unworthy of a man of sense, for it 
gives vent to vulgar prejudices, but I confess it sinks him 
exceedingly as a man of spirit. It attacks the foes of Jef 
ferson, as a propitiatory merit to beg his own acquittal. He 



LETTERS. 

even praises Fox for being the friend of the illustrious 
American Chief Magistrate. No enemy of Mr. Randolph 
can desire to see him sink lower than to crawl at the foot 
of Jefferson s throne, and to flatter the man he has offended, 
and still despises. Thus it is that Burr disgraced himself, 
that Callender drowned himself, and Bonaparte went to war 
again, just at the time when Jefferson needed exactly such 
good luck to escape disgrace. And now Randolph, his ene 
my, voluntarily becomes, nay publicly petitions to become, 
his footstool, I always doubted his judgment, and never 
could get so far as to have a doubt about his wild, irregular 
ambition. But I did suppose he had spirit, that often felt 
when it should not, and always when it should. As I take 
his word for his sentiments and intentions, I am obliged to 
put him back again, for the present, on the list of ordinary 
demagogues, where he placed himself, and the public placed 
him, on the trial of Judge Chase. He rose by brevet last 
winter (that is not the right phrase) he acted as a 
commander in chief, but his commission must be made out 
as ensign, unless he displays more independence in every 
sense of the word. I greatly desire to know how the* play 
will open, on the Washington boards, and what part Mr. R. 
will take. 

I do not hesitate to give you my first impressions, be 
cause I do not cherish my claim to wisdom in foretelling 
what Congress will do, believing as I do with all imagin 
able civism and duty, that Congress knows as little of its 
own plans as I do. 

Lord Lauderdale will eat his Christmas pie in London ; 
but whether Bonaparte will eat his in Berlin, is not so cer 
tain. He brags as if he felt a little afraid to play the risky 
game of war once more, and the King of Prussia is no 
doubt ten times as much afraid as he. He has more reason. 

Your friend, &c. 

Please show the other side to Colonel Pickering. 



376 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, Thursday, December 11, 1806. 

DEAR MR. QUINCY, I received by the mail from Bos 
ton the favor of yours, covering* the message. It had ap 
peared in the Boston paper of Tuesday, which I have not 
seen ; and unless the mail be corrected, I must ask you to 
send me the Boston news. We have here three mails a 
week, called the great mail, Mondays, Wednesdays, and 
Fridays, which do not stop at our little office, and on each 
of the other days, a little mail, which regularly fails to bring 
the papers in season. If my dear Seaver did but know 
how the poor people s bowels yearn in vain for the Chroni 
cle, he would pity our case, and would use his influence with 
Granger to get " the procedure corrected." So much for 
the grievances of Lilliput. 

The message is insipid. It is pompous inanity. While 
he thinks gunboats will do instead of a navy, and that a 
little more in the way of doing nothing to fortify our har 
bors will answer for the seaports, where God s chosen peo 
ple are not to be found, and five hundred cavalry instead of 
an army, he gravely pronounces that the liberation of our 
revenue is " of all objects the most desirable." There is 
something as despicable as unsound in this sentiment. One 
would imagine the message was a report from George De- 
blois to the town of Boston, about the management and 
expenditures of the almshouse. The scale of his message 
is graduated below the politics of Sancho s government of 
5jBarataria, and is really below it. For Mr. Jefferson only 
( I takes care of his popularity, which forbids him to govern at 
* Vail. The day of judgment for nations comes while sinners 
live. Experience will yet whip out of our flesh what folly 
has bred in our bone. All our notions, our prejudices, our 
very vanity that makes other nations fight, are unsocial and 
make us base and sordid. If we remain so, we cannot de 
fend our liberty, and if we get a master, he will try to raise 
our spirit, because, with such slaves, he could not maintain 
his usurpation. I make these remarks because I seem to 



LETTERS. 

see the John Winthrops and Deacon Tudors as the men 
chiefly relied on to applaud the sentiments of our illustrious 
Csesar. While it (the message) boasts of our overflowing 
treasury, the political horizon is allowed to he overcast and 
threatening ; and, to make amends for unwelcome tidings, 
he doubles his usual dose of slang. 

Let us, however, be just to this man. Is he not a very 
good chief for us ] Would any man, who was free from 
the lowest passions and prejudices of the lowest mob, ma 
nage our affairs with success I Our nation must act out its 
character, or rather act without one, till forty years of ad 
versity have taught all those who can learn, and extermi 
nated those who will not. Colonel Burr is not, I suppose, 
formidable, but his designs show the presumption of demo 
cratic reliance on our cobweb ties for lions. 

I restrain my propensity to preach. I am one of your 
congregation, and dutifully wait for information, which you 
know the southern members biennially distribute in circu 
lars. 

Yours, &c. 



TO RICHARD PETERS, PHILADELPHIA. 

Dedham, December 14, 1806, 

MY DEAR SIR, A conscience is a plague to a man 
and yet a man is the worse for having none. I read your 
letter with pleasure. I thought it kind and friendly, and 
richly full of good matter. I could make a book upon it, 
if I had a pen like General Heath, whose orders, I have 
been told, were very voluminous. But though a ready scrib 
bler, I am no author I shall never rise to the honor of 
being bound in calf or sheepskin. There is so much matter 
in your letter I could not in ten days decide which of its 
topics first claims an answer. 

I am no royalist, Anglo-American, nor tory. I only ask 
how our government is to be supported; and I answer by 
32* 



378 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

miracle. The miracle of virtue, that loves others first, then 
one s-self. 

All this I admire, and I am willing to say, when the 
proof comes, ecce signum. It will never come. Our mis 
take is in supposing men better than they are. They are 
bad, and will act their bad character out. The federalists 
are good for nothing to govern worth every thing to 
check those who do. Behold, here is my political creed! 
I like the pretty business of hoping, but I see very little 
foundation for it. The rogues may fall out, but the honest 
men will never come by their right in consequence. 

I now resume my first position : a conscience is a plague 
to a man for I liked your letter very much. I thought 
it kind and friendly, deserving my grateful and speedy ac 
knowledgment. It furnished, too, the most copious theme 
for scribbling, and that is another thing I like. Neverthe 
less I have shamefully delayed acknowledging my obliga 
tion ; and, say what you will on the subject, I say beforehand 
I deserve reproof, and my impertinent, officious conscience is 
very forward to make it. 

You wish to see a navy ; but are you not satisfied with 
gunboats, which candid judges, I presume, would pronounce 
not to be much worse than good for nothing ] The system 
of our rulers is anti-commercial, and yet their noisiest sup 
porters are in cities. 

I pray you offer my ever affectionate regards to my friend 
Mr. Rundle. Mrs. R. will readily know a geranium from 
an oleander; but I have been afraid my sagacious friend 
would make some mistakes about his potatoes and cucum 
bers. I have heard of a city farmer who turned his beans 
down again when he thought they sprouted wrong end upper 
most. 

With sentiments of respect and esteem, 

I am, dear sir, yours. 



LETTERS. 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 



379 



Dedham, December 20, 1806. 

MY DEAR SIR, From you and Colonel Pickering I 
have the message and the Spanish papers. The message 
plainly tells us we are not to have protection. I am igno 
rant what gunboats are good for. Yet they are now most 
clearly adopted in lieu of a navy ; and troops are not to 
be raised, because they are never to be employed while an 
overflowing treasury will afford tribute, and tribute upon 
tribute. Your non-importation act is, I perceive, suspended 
by the House, and no doubt by the Senate. The occasions 
will recur to expose the folly and impotence of that measure. 
It appears to me right for the Feds to seek or make the oc 
casions, and use them. Efforts are not lost, though baffled. 
Our people argue badly, but they feel, and the baseness of 
the policy of administration ought to be exposed. The re 
peal of the salt tax is an abominable proposal. Of all our 
taxes, it is the easiest collected, the article very cheap, of 
universal consumption, great bulk, and capable of yielding, 
in times of urgency, a great supply to government. It 
ought to be resisted by the most forcible, yet temperate ap 
peal, to the boasted good sense of the country. 

Burr is still the theme of conversation. Eaton s narra 
tive creates surprise, and though I am far from thinking it 
false, I can scarcely allow it to be accurate. Burr was in 
no condition for such a project, and if he had been, would 
he have opened himself so indiscreetly to Eaton ? Does 
the disclosure awaken no fears of the future politics of the 
transalpine states I Will not our imperial mistress, Virginia, 
allow that her chicken 1 will one day peck her eyes out I 
If Bonaparte demolishes the King of Prussia, Mr. Jefferson 
must redouble his assiduities, to please our future master. 

You will have with you our excellent friends. Pray give 
my regards to J. P. Davis and the rest. 

I am, dear sir, yours, truly. 

i Kentucky. 



380 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, December 22, 1806. 

MY DEAR SIR, This being our Forefathers day, I could 
wish I was in good plight to celebrate it with many of the 
worthies at Vila s, in Boston. I hope the day will be ever 
memorable with a posterity worthy of such ancestors. Still, 
I confess, it is matter of regret that the celebration has been 
used for high party purposes, and has been charged with de 
generating into a bacchanalian feast. Our excellent friend, 
Isaac P. Davis, has exerted himself much to give it eclat. 
By separating this celebration from party, and giving it, as 
it deserves, a serious and even religious turn, it might be 
diffused over New England. If, in the course of events, a 
second Burr should divide our empire by the Alleghany, 
(the present Burr will not succeed in it,) the nationality of 
New England will be a security against the disasters of such 
a convulsion. When peace opens the door for foreign in 
trigue, and the growth of the tramontane states shall make 
them " feel power and forget right," (it may be ten years for 
this progress to be completed,) another Burr would probably 
succeed, and our fifteen-million paradise would go with the 
mountaineers. Would not Virginia tremble at such a fore 
sight of things 1 Her cheap defence of the nation would then 
seem to be no defence. 

I perceive by the message, which you was kind enough to 
inclose in a pamphlet, (date of your letter, 3d December,) 
that Mr. Jefferson s system is now fixed. The sea is to 
have no defence but gunboats and non-importation acts ; 
and our territory is to be made safe by paying tribute. He 
would not arm on seeing a speck of war in the horizon. 
What a trap for popularity with the basest of our vulgar ! 
If force is not to be prepared before it is wanted, when can 
it be prepared ] To be always prepared, is the surest way 
to be long at peace. To free our treasury from claims upon 
it, is " of all things the most desirable," says Mr. Jefferson. 
To be free within, enjoying justice, and respected without our 
limits, so as to have liberty arid justice with the greatest 



LETTERS. 

possible degree of security for their lasting long, seems to 
me a more desirable object. 

No matter for the trading cities " the great sores" 
provided God s chosen people, many of whom have renounc 
ed him, or are ignorant of his government and revealed 
will, are protected and paid five or six times as much for 
riding into the woods and scalping some old squaws, as a 
regular force would cost. This is economy ; this is equality. 
I see no reason for the forbearance of the federalists. Why 
should they not expose, in speeches, the tricks of adminis 
tration ? 

I am flattered by your letter, because it says, a little 
unexpectedly I confess, that my correspondence would not 
be irksome. Our commerce is quite unequal, as I have 
almost nothing to export of any value, in comparison with 
what I receive. 

I am an invalid, moping obscurely in the country, and 
grieving that the King of Prussia is probably unkinged be 
fore this date. 

Isaac P. Davis and some other very good men of Boston, 
are with you, and will often see you. They will come back 
fuller than all the newspapers with the secret history of our 
American St. Cloud. 

Yours, with the highest regard, &c. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, January 1, 1807. 

MY DEAR SIR, The President, by delaying the recom 
mendation of the suspension of Nicholson s act, 1 till the 
world had been edified with his message, seems to have 
chosen, on plan, that the molasses for the mob should be un- 
mingled with acid. The fools in Congress seem too to be 
instructed to boast that Great Britain has yielded to the 

1 The non-importation act. 



382 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

mere show of this tremendous weapon of non-intercourse. 
How far that nation consults her dignity, or feels herself 
pressed by her situation as a belligerent, to permit this mis 
take to be made, I know not. I should think she would 
insist, as a preliminary, that the act be repealed, or, better 
yet for her, leave the United States to the sad and shameful 
experience of its operation. As matters now are, party will 
teach, and fools will believe, on the evidence of experience, 
that we have bullied her into concessions. Whether Tracy s 
motion for papers be perfectly correct, pending a negotiation, 
I have not considered. Great Britain, I should imagine 
from the little that I know, is more afraid of our hostility 
than she need be. The United States could not be forced 
into a war with her, until Bonaparte has so nearly conquered 
this great rival, that there would be no danger in it for the 
United States to coalesce with him. Now Fox is dead, and 
Lord Grenville resumes, I suppose, the control he had in 
Pitt s day, I should calculate on a greater degree of indiffer 
ence for a treaty with the United States. Fortune seems to 
be almost as much a friend to Jefferson as to Bonaparte. 
The depressed fortunes of Great Britain keep her surpris 
ingly tame under insult, and eager to coax us into a recon 
ciliation. The sad fate of Prussia will still more subdue her 
pride, and the sagacious ignorance of our country will cry, 
Behold the fruit of Jefferson s vigorous counsels ! Behold 
what means the Feds always possessed but never dared to 
use! 

No strong impression can be made on national opinion. 
There is apathy enough to blunt the edge of Demosthenes 
rhetoric. He would be so far from changing our faith, he 
would not command our attention. But though great strokes 
are not to be struck, I still rely on the effect of repetition. 
Our lazy ignorance would yield to an assault perpetually re 
newed. I cannot, therefore, see why the Feds should be so 
very shy, as they are, about speaking out. I cannot see why 
a strong yet temperate manner, like that of the best sort of 
English parliamentary opposition in 177^ an( l 1774*? should 
not be tried, and tried over again, with an incessant repeti 
tion. Why should not Dana move in the House to expose 
abuses, and to tear, if possible, the veil with which adminis- 



LETTERS. 

tration choose to hide their doings \ It might fail of effect. 
It would not make power change hands, nor, if I may use a 
low expression, make power wash its hands, but it would 
help to retard its progress. It would fortify that declining 
power of control that the Feds throughout the Union yet 
possess, and which cannot he lost without losing the last 
hope of mitigating the despotism to which we are devoted. 
All former reasons for forbearance are now at an end. 
Randolph yields to a master whom he finds too firm in his 
seat to be lifted out of it ; and it is clear that his success 
would be no triumph for our party. Efforts are not lost, 
and I wish the Feds would make them. The discords 
of our masters can only charge our masters not to restore 
our power. Why then suppress the voice of truth and 
patriotism in Congress. 

If Burr has the ambition of a Lord Clive, I think it full 
as likely, as his, to take the road to speculation as insurrec 
tion. I cannot believe that Burr is going to set up the 
standard of civil war. Has not he some land scheme be 
yond the Mississippi \ If I understand the papers from 
Wilkinson, it is not the Spaniards that flinch. They are to 
patrol the disputed ground, &c. With great regard and 
esteem, Yours, truly. 

I am afraid Russia will be reduced to nullity, so that 
Bonaparte will conquer alone, or take her into partnership 
with him to share the Ottoman Empire. 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, January 1, 1807. 

MY DEAR SIR, It would be a violation of the rules of 

evidence to deny that V , S , and C are 

as great fools as they pretend to be, in regard to the bully 
ing effect of our non-intercourse law. This sort of candor 
would, however, be excessive towards B ; for, if I 



384 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

mistake not the character of the man, it would take him a 
whole age of probation, and perhaps purgatory, to rise in 
the scale of reformation so high as sincerity in vice. I 
make no doubt the folly of that impotent measure will be 
hid from the eyes of our wise multitude, who have eyes, but 
see not. How Great Britain can, and why she would, con 
cede the question of neutral rights, is incomprehensible. It 
seems as if that point would be to be settled with France 
yet ; for, if Prussia falls, and Russia is disarmed, how long 
will it be before Great Britain will be done for 1 I expect 
yet to see Mr. Jefferson a prefect of Bonaparte. He is one 
of his Legion of Honor already. Is that permitted by our 
Constitution] I cannot imagine that Burr has means for 
any thing great as a public enemy. Neither France, Spain, 
nor Great Britain would furnish those means ; and the west 
ern country will not be ripe for such a man as Burr these 
ten years. 

To repeal any existing tax is absurd enough. Certainly 
we want ships and fortifications, and lessening our treasure 
must delay the extinction of our debt. " To free the re 
venue is, of all objects, the most desirable ! " How loose, 
how incorrect is Mr. Jefferson ! The salt tax is one of the best, 
the least felt, and most unexceptionable. Is it not pledged 
for the public debt ? Why should not such schemes to get 
popularity be exposed I Who fitter for that task than you 1 
And why not seize that occasion to urge the necessity of a 
navy, and the fitness of applying as much as the salt revenue 
receipts yearly to the construction of ships of the line, (espe 
cially as, in case of the neutrality of the British navy, our 
only mode of resistance would be to meet an invading foe 
half seas over,) that we might equip ships enough to destroy 
such expeditions 1 A navy is popular, and the public is not 
quite blind to its danger, if Great Britain should cease to 
fight Bonaparte. The employment it would create in our 
seaports, the call for timber, &c., &c., in those parts of the 
country where the salt tax is felt, or pretended to be felt, 
would afford good heads of discourse ; and as the ground is 
solid, as true patriotism calls for a navy, as Mr. Jefferson 
means to get taxes from us to spend in the woods, the public 
attention might be a little engaged. 



LETTERS. 



385 



I am delighted with yours of the 21st, just received. It 
delineates character in a most interesting manner. I shall 
read it over till I am sure I lose no part of the portrait you 
have drawn. 

What do you think of the frequent observations in the 
Repertory, in reference to their effect, good or bad, or no 
effect, on the once expected division of the party] Will the 
man alluded to be made better or worse by them"? I do 
not believe that vanity ever wears so thick a mail as to be 
unwounded by merited sarcasm, however invariably this may 
be pretended. I see, too, that Bidwell begins to crow again 
like a dunghill cock, as if he had forgotten his former beat 
ing. Will R. 1 let him crow 1 

I pray you offer my most respectful compliments to Mrs. 
Quincy, and believe me, with regard and esteem, 

Yours, &c. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

.Dedham, January 12, 1807. 

MY DEAR SIR, The man who never flatters cannot 
avoid furnishing the occasions for his friends to flatter 
themselves. Indeed their being his friends will furnish 
one. Your kind wishes for my health, in your favor of 
New Year s day, will afford another. I was much gratified 
by the perusal of the other parts of your letter, but that part 
was not the least pleasing. In return, I will wish that for 
tune may serve you as well as you serve your country, and 
that one of your rewards and enjoyments may be, to see our 
country escape from the perils to which it is blind, and the 
administration to which it is now partial. 

You describe our dangers and disgraces with so just a 
discernment of their causes, and with so much feeling for 
the public evils that will be their consequences, that I am 
ready to acquit former republics from a good deal of the 

1 Randolph. 
VOL. I. 33 



386 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

reproach that has survived their ruin the reproach of 
wanting sense to see it, when it was obvious and near. 
Probably, however, we shall yet find evidence enough in 
the works of their great writers, to prove that the wise and 
good among their citizens did foresee their fate, and would 
have resisted it, if they could ; but that a republic tends, ex 
perience says, irresistibly towards licentiousness, and that a 
licentious republic, or democracy, is of all governments that 
very one in which the wise and good are most completely 
reduced to impotence. Such men no more deserve the re 
proach that their republics fall, than that ships are cast away 
at sea ; or, if I may drop all high metaphor and speak like 
a farmer, that a fence falls when it is supported by nothing 
but white birch stakes. It is the nature of these to fail in 
two years ; and a republic wears out its morals almost as 
soon as the sap of a white birch rots the wood. 

And are we not fated to have our present chief the longer 
on account of his inefficiency? His whole care is to be 
where he is, and to do nothing to risk his place. Unless 
great public disasters get the multitude angry with this do- 
nothing policy, they will like it exceedingly. The chiefs of 
party, of course, cannot get a handle to turn him out ; and 
their inducement to do it is always least, when the squad of 
the party that is secretly opposed to him is the most clearly 
convinced of his imbecility. It is not contempt, it is the 
dread of a really able man at the head of a hostile party that 
rouses all the fierceness of political competition. 

It is natural to ask, whether we are not hastening to the 
time when public disasters will make him obnoxious. It 
seems to me probable, his election will happen first. Of 
course our country must remain unprepared, and be ruined, 
if it please God to permit the British navy to belong to 
Bonaparte. The Assyrian will tread us down like the rnire 
of the streets. I have read the tenth chapter of Isaiah, to 
which you refer me, and I think it strikingly applicable to 
the French and to the United States. As, however, the 
British navy may resist for several years, we may be per 
mitted, without interruption, to finish our destruction our 
selves. When I note Crowninshield s anti-bank scheme, 
Gallatin s report to refund, or unfund, the debt, and the 



LETTERS. 

schemes for amending" the Constitution to death, I am ready 
to suppose that our Jacobins will be in at the death before 
our French conquerors. 

I am a little less disposed than most persons to throw all 
the blame, of delaying to resist France, on the king of 
Prussia. Last fall I stated, that unless the coalition would 
consent to make him great, they had no right to expect to 
make him hostile to Bonaparte ; that small powers could not 
now exist in Europe independent; that Prussia would be 
ruined by France, if he joined against her, and the coalition 
failed of its object ; that he would as certainly be ruined by 
his allies, if the coalition succeeded, for he would be little 
and they great; and that the foresight of this manifest 
danger would justify him, if he insisted, as a sine qua non, 
to be made as potent at least as Austria ; that he ought to 
have Hanover, Saxony, Hesse, and Holland added to his 
kingdom, indemnifying in money, or other territory, the 
ousted princes ; and thus he would be placed to fight France 
with only the Rhine for a barrier ; but I added, that pro 
bably neither of the parties to the coalition would agree to his 
aggrandizement. 

It was not long after the disasters of Austria before the 
king of England, as elector of Hanover, declared to the king 
of Prussia, that in no possible event would he alienate his 
German dominions. Such narrow views, such stiffness at a 
time which required yielding to a friend, lest he should have 
to yield to a foe, still appear to me to merit the reproach of 
ruining the coalition, and excluding the king of Prussia 
when he was willing to reenforce it. His late manifesto 
alludes darkly to some of these facts. His gallant conduct 
to meet Bonaparte in the field of battle was probably well 
and maturely considered beforehand ; yet it has turned out 
wrong ; for if he had led his army to join the Russians, the 
battle would have been yet to fight, and the event might be dif 
ferent. It seems as if Frederick thought a defensive system 
a poor one against the French. In that, no doubt, he was 
right ; still I wish he had waited for the Russians. 

I think I have formerly communicated to you some re 
flections I had made, on the causes of the steady superiority 
maintained in war by the French armies, and that I ascribed 



388 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

them to their superiority in numbers, in cavalry, and in artil 
lery. From hence it ensues that fortified towns are of little 
significance, and small arms of much less than formerly. 
On each of these heads I could dilate, but I think it needless 
to you. But the consequence of this real superiority is, that 
the defensive system is no longer to be trusted. Nations 
could formerly spin out a war, and tire down a foe. To 
conquer was, of course, next to impossible. Since, however, 
the experience of the French system has evinced that absolute 
conquest is no longer an improbable event of a contest with 
France, it becomes obvious that nations, who would be safe, 
must get the sort of force that gives to France this tremen 
dous superiority. Relying no longer on a frontier of fortified 
towns with strong garrisons, and a weak army of observation 
in the field, they must now have numbers, cavalry, and artil 
lery superior to the invader, or make up their minds to 
submit to him. A navy, if we had one, might hinder this 
invader from coming over. But if he comes, he will be our 
master, if we have nothing but militia with small arms to 
oppose his march. Indeed his march would be a quiet pro 
cession, through the centre of the States, from Norfolk to 
New York, little disturbed, and not at all obstructed by 
myriads of popping militia. Such an enemy could get 
horses by stripping Long Island, the eastern shore, and the 
coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Our patriots too 
would, no doubt, supply them for a good price. The light 
artillery they would bring with them ; and as the French 
stow men as thick in their ships as the Guinea traders do 
their negro slaves, they could bring over fifty thousand 
troops and twenty thousand dismounted dragoons. What 
could we do but join Duane in lamenting that we had so 
long suffered anglo-federal presses to provoke the great 
nation 1 Apropos of Duane, how audaciously insolent he 
is on that subject ! 

These are my grounds for showing that, unless we prepare, 
and on a great scale, we must submit when our English de 
fenders give out. 

I really wish you would examine this perhaps obscure 
sketch of the grounds of my military notions, to convince 
Mr. Giles how defenceless we are, and how fallacious are 



LETTERS. 



389 



his popular ideas. The sing-song of Bunker Hill Yankee 
heroes will not do against the French. They understand 
their trade. An inferior army, even of regulars, would be 
exposed, would he sure to have its flank turned ; and thus a 
victory would be won without a chance to fight. With a 
numerous cavalry, there would be no chance for running 
away. Is any country, then, more conquerable than the 
United States, from New York southward ] Even our 
Yankee land, though abounding in strong posts, would be 
destitute of men and means to occupy and maintain them. 
My idea would be, that the utmost energies of the United 
States should be called forth to equip a powerful fleet of 
ships of the line, and that salt duties, interior and direct 
house taxes should be resumed or augmented, to array a 
considerable body of artillerists, and a military school of 
engineers, &c., and regiments enough to supply officers; 
the complement of men to be small. On the whole, a less 
number than twelve thousand I should think unsafe to trust 
to. If any fears of the danger to liberty should arise from 
such an army, have a select militia, three times as numerous, 
of yeomanry, encamped yearly in such numbers as would 
teach discipline, and let that be perfect. To that end, there 
must be martial law in the camp. 

I well know that all this is moonshine, and that embar 
rassments in executing so great a plan would arise. The 
people would think it madness ; the federalists would be as 
much afraid of arming as the democrats. I know too, as a 
consequence of all this, that we fall when the navy of our 
unthanked champion is withdrawn. Fifty thousand real 
soldiers might make us safe; and we might have, and 
ought to have, a navy to block up Cadiz, Brest, and Toulon, 
whenever England makes peace, and our danger from France 
should make it necessary. 

I will ask of Mr. Cabot the perusal of your letter to him. 

Yours, &c. 



33* 



390 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, January 27, 1807. 

DEAR MR. QUINCY, You great men in Congress love 
to banter us poor farmers. The style of the court, we have 
always heard, is very flattering ; otherwise I should say, you 
are too civil by half, when you profess yourself my pupil. 

Abstract truths still appear to us at home to be truths ; 
but their application depends upon circumstances, which we 
cannot know at all, or not in season for advising you, who 
are on the spot. I am ready therefore, with, I believe, nine 
tenths of the men whom you too modestly think well in 
formed on the subjects that pass before your honorable body, 
to approve whatever you do and say, because you think fit 
to do and say it. I really felt impressed with the judicious 
manner of your opposition to the repeal of the salt tax ; and 
I not only honored your spirit, which so small a minority 
renders the more conspicuous, but I thought it politic, if 
you had only cared for reputation, to brave such a majority. 
The spirit of the country is not very high, but it is higher 
than the administration. 

What you do and say is very right, for we, the people, 
yield to every strong impression upon our minds. There 
fore, what your party neglects to do and say seems to me 
very wrong, for it leaves us to the impression of the clumsy 
arts of your adversaries. They do what ought not to be 
done, they neglect what ought to be done, and all seems right 
to us, the people, so long as you good men in Congress for 
bear to expose the facts. In Great Britain, opposition is 
methodical in its way. Every thing is done on plan, and 
that plan is to show the incapacity and tricks of administra 
tion. Why is this task left, and left exclusively, to Ran 
dolph ] Why should not the Feds speak out, quasi Feds 1 
Why should they permit their name and principles, and the 
memory of both, to perish I Either Bonaparte must kill our 
liberty, or faction will kill it. But states have an hereafter 
in this world. In our future state, which may not be five 
years off, perhaps not two, the influence of the Feds to miti 
gate a tyranny may be great, though it is found little to 



LETTERS. 391 

prevent its occurrence. The peculiar federal ground should 
he forever notorious with our citizens. As matters are, the 
Feds seem to me too much merged in the other parties. 
Popular topics are ever at hand with those who find fault. 
Your own good speech on fortifications is an example. It 
made an impression, and the impression yet remains. The 
ohjects of the administration are mean and personal. The 
people want some of the advantages of good government ; 
and when there is no question about the burden of taxes, the 
denial of those advantages affords aliment to that malecontent 
spirit, which is unappeasable in all republics. But the 
silence of the federalists as a party, and as a peculiar party, 
still adhering to Washington principles, nearly loses all the 
influence arising from all these various sources. I will 
thank you to offer my respectful salutations to Mr. Theodore 
Dwight, and ask his reflections on the plan of the campaign 
for the Feds. He is a man of resource, and well knows the 
avenues to New England minds. 

It is certainly better that Randolph should expose the 
wretched policy of our Solomons, than that it should be left 
unnoticed. But while his course should be left free, why 
should not the Feds fastidiously pursue their own, taking 
care to let it appear that it is different from his I You good 
men in Washington are not to be lectured by anybody, and 
I feel as little disposed to take the chair of lecturer as any 
man alive. You will not do me the injustice to interpret 
my suggestions otherwise than I wish you should. The 
entertaining matter and vivacity of manner in your letters 
extort from me the prosing returns I make you. I wish to 
see the federal grounds displayed, and become as public as 
the public roads. All eyes are turned to Washington. 
There federalism concentres its deputies, and thence should 
emanate the facts, documents, and arguments for us all. It 
is true you are a minority, and what you ask for will be 
refused ; but it will nevertheless remain a notorious fact that 
you ask, and you are not tongue-tied, but you can surely 
make the reasons why you ask universally known. Great 
caution, no doubt, great concert and great ability are neces 
sary ; and a few able men can furnish all these requisites. 
I declare to you, I fear federalism will not only die, but all 



392 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

remembrance of it be lost. As a party, it is still good for 
every thing it ever was good for ; that is to say, to cry 
"fire" and "stop thief," when Jacobinism attempts to burn 
and rob. It never had the power to put out the fire, or to 
seize the thief. 

Nor should too much maiden modesty be affected about 
causing your speeches to be carefully corrected and printed. 
It is respectful towards the public to expose reasons, as if 
we could comprehend or would regard them. S. H. Smith 
is too partial to be trusted with that business. 

I am glad Randolph s mouth is at last open. 

Your friend. 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, February 3, 1807. 

MY DEAR SIR, As soon as I learned where your salt 
speech could be found in print with any correctness, I took 
measures to get it republished. It is in the Repertory of 
this day, and is, I say it without compliment, an ornament 
to its columns. I am as well satisfied with what you do not 
say, but only hint, as if you had said it in form. Your 
argument is sound, and the subject is presented in the right 
point of view. No man seldomer says flattering things to 
his friends than I do ; and if I had waited a week after 
reading your speech, I should have been more stingy of 
praise. Having just read it, I cannot wholly suppress my 
warmth of approbation. Let me repeat that you should not 
be too modest about getting your speeches into print cor 
rectly. It is the public that is argued with; that public 
that always pronounces its judgment, and seldom condescends 
to give its attention ; that is almost always wrong in the 
hour of deliberation, and right in the day of repentance. 
Federalism is allowed to have little to do with deliberation ; 
and I am far from certain that popular repentance is often 
accompanied with saving grace. We are not so truly sorry 
for the sin, as for its bad success. To get people to think 



LETTERS. 393 

right therefore, either first or last, is not the most hopeful 
undertaking in the world. But federal good sense is never 
to guide measures. Archimedes might calculate the force 
of the wind, but could not prevent its blowing. Now, 
though argument will never turn the weathercock, it may 
prove how it points. That power, which your adversary can 
use in spite of you, is checked by your efforts. If he exerts 
all his force, and you all yours, his force is reduced to the 
degree in which he surpasses you, and in that degree you 
may not be liable to very serious injury. Federalism is not 
a sword, nor a gun ; it is not wings, but a parachute. In 
this sense, the good men in Congress should be on the alert. 

I feel assured that we are to be subjugated by Bonaparte ; 
and I have a curiosity to know how Randolph and the know 
ing ones can sit as easy as the fools do, and see him hasten 
ing to snatch from their hands the power they are so ready 
to contend among themselves about. I saw in the Repertory, 
of last week, a long piece, of five or six columns, on the 
causes of the French military superiority, and on the facility 
of their conquest of the United States, unless we prepare on 
a great scale. Whether such discussions produce any effect, 
I know not ; but if they do not produce any, it must be 
because our noisy liberty-men are eager for power, and per 
fectly indifferent about the fall of the country from its boasted 
independence. J. R. s boast, that he never reads the news 
papers, is a shrewd sign that he studies them. I hope his 
real politics are better than Varnum s, whose ignorance 
blinds him, or than Jefferson s, whose fears make him a 
slave. But if J. R. was disposed ever so heartily to urge 
preparations, he could not prevail to have any made. The 
force of primary popular notions would control Lord Chat 
ham, if he was our premier. I often dare to think our 
nation began self-government without education for it. Like 
negroes, freed after having grown up to man s estate, we are 
incapable of learning and practising the great art of taking 
care of ourselves. We must be put to school again, I fear, 
and whipped into wisdom. 

Nobody here seems to care a cent about Burr s plan. 
They think him desperate and profligate ; but they concern 
themselves very little about his managing his own affairs in 



394 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

his own way, without too much of Mr. Jefferson s regulation. 
The riots on account of Selfridge are over, but the effect on 
the popular mind is not obliterated. Our General Court 
seems to be nearly as ready for revolution as that in Penn 
sylvania, which McKean lately resisted with success. 

On the whole, if Bonaparte should not come soon, we 
shall ruin ourselves before he gets here ; and if he comes, 
he will ruin us. I like usurpation better than conquest. It 
is better to lie in purgatory than in hell. 

It was my design to write you a short letter, but I cannot 
stop my pen when I would, and if I have tired you two 
pages back, charge it, I pray you, to my infirmity. 

Your friend, &c. 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, February 4, 1807. 

MY DEAR SIR, The immeasurable ambition, and equal 
profligacy of Colonel Burr, have created no surprise, nor 
have I doubted that his desperate situation would urge him 
upon desperate measures, if any chance of success in any 
such should offer. But my surprise still continues, because 
I cannot see that any chance of success could have flattered 
him. Burr I supposed shrewd and intelligent, of all men 
the least likely to mistake peevish discontents among the 
western people for deep disaffection, or to take other men, 
like Truxton, for instance, to be Aaron Burrs. I supposed 
he might err in daring too much ; I little thought he would 
hazard every thing by trusting too soon, and opening his 
designs to men who, everybody could have sworn, would 
reject his proposals. The men who are destitute of any 
virtue, are generally too much in want of character, to have 
influence ; and to mislead the men of virtue, two things 
must, I think, concur. The prospect must be such as to 
enable him to corrupt them, by their virtues, which is as 
sure a way to corrupt them, as to tempt bad men by their 
passions. There was nothing in Burr s scheme but rebel- 



LETTERS. 395 

lion, without plausible pretexts. The next way to gain men 
is so to contrive the project, that the total loss of character 
should not he the penalty. It is too much to expect that 
the chance of power or land should reconcile Truxton, or 
even Wilkinson, to live execrated by all men in the United 
States at least. Instant disgrace is a condition that would 
spoil any offer with all the ordinary rogues, who as seldom 
act steadily upon bad principles, as good men upon those of 
virtue. 

However, nobody cares for Burr or his conspiracy. I 
am struck with it, to see how little the hopes and fears of 
our part of the public are interested. Curiosity is hungry, 
but our patriotism seems unconcerned. The separation of 
the western country has not appeared to me a probable 
event. Democracy acts by the physical force of the many, 
and the vis major will keep the whole territory indivisible. 
Insurrection will either conquer or be conquered, and divi 
sion will thus end in unity. Foreign events may work great 
interior changes. We approach the term when they will 
begin. France is gaining the dominion over us as well as 
Europe, and Bonaparte may hinder licentiousness from un 
doing us, by acquiring the mastery here first. He will not 
then allow anybody to play the oppressor but himself and 
his subs. My heart sinks at the prospect. We are abject 
and base, people as well as government, and nothing could 
save us but energy and magnanimity. We have none of 
these. Our great democracy cannot remain as it is. Ipsa, 
moles nocet. It must ferment, if Bonaparte should let it 
alone, and fermentation is an agent that must change and 
may destroy the mass. Indeed I consider the whole civil 
ized world as metal thrown back into the furnace, to be 
melted over again. If we should lose our dross, our negro 
population, and our licentious spirit, we shall come out of the 
furnace much less in bulk than we go in with. Futurity, 
however, like the blue ether of the sky, is impenetrable 
without seeming to be so. There appears to be nothing to 
stop our vision, but there is nothing to guide it. Indeed, 
I think in both cases we can see most, by shutting our eyes. 
Providence will dispose of us, and if our destiny should be 
no better than our deserts, we shall have no great consola 
tion in the prospect. 



396 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

Supposing that you see the Repertory regularly, I have 
not sent it to you. The last week a long essay of five 
columns appeared in it, to show the causes of the French 
superiority, and the facility with which they could get the 
upperhand over our militia. You will see other pieces in 
that paper, written apparently in the hope of rousing the 
people, and alarming the administration, which you will say 
is no great proof of the writer s discernment. I remember 
Tracy used to say of the Jacobins, they were hell-hardened 
sinners. If the government saw the danger, the people 
would not let them provide against it. But I have a 
curiosity to know whether Giles, Randolph, and Jefferson 
himself are blind to it. Whether the latter confides in Bo 
naparte, or, if he should attempt invasion, whether he thinks 
a militia any defence. All these men are talkers, and I 
should suppose open themselves frequently on every subject. 
Mr. Quincy s speech on the salt tax is a good one, and is 
much approved. I did not greatly mistake Mr. Dana s cha 
racter, but somebody must come forward in the House ; and 
for a great speech or two, Mr. D., I should hope, would be 
found adequate. He is sprightly and witty, though I appre 
hend, not a great lover of business and drudgery. Your 
idea of the dejection of Great Britain agrees with mine, 
though I think not exactly with Mr. Cabot s. He has sug 
gested that they act on a refined plan of policy, to evade 
rather than to yield the points in dispute. So much eva 
sion, however, looks like real timidity. Our cowards ap 
pear to think themselves entitled to brag about the non-in 
tercourse law. When Bonaparte has all Europe, from the 
Baltic round to the Euxine, in his dominion, I really fear 
Great Britain will find it difficult, or at least useless, to con 
tend longer. Then we must yield. The insolent threat of 
the young Frenchman could be executed. We should take 
monarchy, despotism, fetters, and ignominy better than any 
people, not excepting the Dutch, that Bonaparte has yet 
conquered. I ought to have said sooner, that yours of 23d 
January is received. I make no doubt Truxton is brave 
and honest. 

With esteem and regard, yours, &c. 



LETTERS. 397 



TO TIMOTHY PICKERING. 

Dedham, November 6, 1807. 

MY DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 28th October, 
covering the message and documents referred to, reached me 
yesterday somewhat unexpectedly. I had supposed you 
would not go on to Washington till November. Besides, 
shut up half my time in a sick chamber, and the other half 
in my parlor, I am unaffectedly sensible of my insignifi 
cance. If, however, you and my worthy friend Mr. Quincy 
think fit sometimes to send me intelligence, I shall be grate 
ful. I am in the habit of thinking your comments better 
than the text. 

I was disgusted about a fortnight since, on reading, in 
Ben Russell, a short piece tending to show that Great 
Britain had the empire of the sea and Bonaparte of the 
land ; that both obtained it by force, which gives them all 
the rights they have, the one to subjugate the nations, and 
the other to make and expound the laws of nations. When 
federal newspapers publish such stuff", are we to wonder at 
the folly of our people I Have we any security, as long as 
that folly or worse reigns ? I am ready to believe that we, 
as great boasters as the ancient Greeks, are the most igno 
rant nation in the world, because we have had the least ex 
perience. Fresh from the hands of a political mother, who 
would not let us fall, we now think it impossible that we 
should fall. Bonaparte will cure us of our presumption ; 
or, if that task should be left to some other rough teacher, 
we shall learn at last the art, that is, the habits, manners, 
and prejudices of a nation, especially the prejudices which 
are worth more than philosophy, without which I venture to 
consider our playing government as a sort of free negro 
attempt. It is probably necessary, that we should endure 
slavery for some ages, till every drop of democratic blood 
has been got rid of by fermentation or bleeding. I dread 
to look forward to the dismal scenes, through which my 
children are to pass. As every nation has been trodden 
under foot, ground in a mill, and purged in the fire of ad- 

VOL. I. 34 



398 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

versity, I know not why we should hope for all fair weather 
and sunshine, for peace and gainful commerce and an ever 
lasting futurity of elysium, before we have lived and suffered 
as others have done. We seem to expect a state of felicity 
before a state of probation. Of our six millions of people 
there are scarcely six hundred who yet look for liberty any 
where except on paper. Excuse me I am teasing you 
with a theme as trite and as tragical as the Children in the 
Wood. 

I thank you from my heart for the offer of your corres 
pondence. I am an outside passenger, and should like to 
know what the gentlefolks are doing inside. 

My health is exceedingly tender. While I sit by the fire 
and keep my feet warm, I am not sick. I have heard of a 
college lad s question, which tolerably describes my case : 
" Whether bare being, without life or existence, is better 
than not to be, or not I " I cannot solve so deep a problem ; 
but as long as you are pleased to allow me a place, in your 
esteem, I shall continue to hold better than " not to be " 
to be, Dear sir, your friend, &c. 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, November 11, 1807. 

MY DEAR SIR, I am amused to see the embarrass 
ment that your motion for a select committee to state the 
facts in the affair of the Chesapeake, produced among the 
governing party. Facts could not be stated truly without 
exposing the unneutral omissions and commissions of the 
administration. I may err in my views of things as they 
pass at such a distance. But I think I see clearly that the 
Jeffersonians rely on the vague but violent impressions of 
the people, and will by no means descend to particulars. In 
this their policy is skilful, for I confess I can discern but 
little excuse for our government, if the whole truth be laid 
open. But the speculative opinion, who is in the right or 



LETTERS. 399 

who in the wrong-, will be of no account in the final result. 
We hate Great Britain, and would fight her if we dared. 
She would resent our aggressions, if it were not so very 
inconvenient to herself as it is actually at this time. Her 
whole soul is engaged in a struggle that concerns us, and 
we should confess it, if we had any soul. We are, however, 
either blind to the common danger, or resolved to seek our 
safety by helping to hasten the worst. Yet it seems to me, 
that little as Congress affairs look like true wisdom, they 
look still less like war. I hear no motion for a declaration 
of war, for bills to confiscate, or to put the non-intercourse 
law into operation. War does not come from cold blood, 
and the salamanders have not yet appeared among you. 
What will J. Randolph do? Will the coming election of a 
new king keep him in the background. 

I cannot write five words worth your reading, but I get 
all the information worth attending to, from you and Colo 
nel Pickering. Why then should I not contrive to extort 
replies from you that will furnish it ? 

Yours, &c. 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, November 19, 1807. 

DEAR SIR, I consider familiar letters as a substitute 
for conversation, and that when writing to you, I may pour 
out my careless effusions to a friend without premeditation 
on my part, or disappointment on yours. Your letter of 
the 7 tn to Mr. Cabot seems to be of a graver cast, and to 
demand a well-examined answer. Even then, however, 
when we pretend to think deeply, (I speak for one,) we do 
but skim off* from the surface the old thoughts that have 
long floated there ; and it is in truth no little proof of 
their being right, that neither experience nor disputation 
have expelled them from their post. I make this confes 
sion, because I am willing to lay open the source of my 
opinion on your question, " Whether the federalists should 



400 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

make motions and speeches, or should wait in silence for the 
effect of the civil wars that are ready to hreak out among 
the Jacobins 1 " The federal party, which I consider as 
that of all honest men, would wish to do some things, and 
to hinder others from being done. Your means for both 
are not in your votes, but in the influence you may produce 
on public opinion. That is wrong, but it is not weak. It 
is blinded in error, but not disarmed by power. Here I 
observe, that your address to public opinion is not to get 
power yourselves, but to hinder or control its exercise in the 
hands of others. You would have the people see what 
exists, or is impending, not make them choose what they 
dread, or love those they hate. You would make them love 
liberty, not you. You cannot make the people federal, be 
cause you cannot change their hearts and affections. You 
could sooner sink the Alleghany to a lake. Though they 
have partialities and aversions which you cannot control, 
they have also hopes and fears which you can. They are 
incurably timorous. They see tempests in every cloud, and 
goblins in every shadow. Hence I draw this result : Do 
not disturb the people in their love and hatred, but confine 
your energies to the display of the public embarrassments 
and apprehensions. Leave Jefferson to Randolph. Be pa 
tient and mild when misrepresented in the House. I shall 
be sooner at my point, if I say at once, do not irritate ; 
expose public dangers, and refrain as much as possible from 
recriminations and individual misconduct in office, Wilkin 
son, perhaps, excepted. In his case, the popular ground may 
be taken. I will not pretend to say that you may not be 
forced to act occasionally in opposition to every one of the 
ideas I have ventured to suggest. Still, I presume to think 
your plan, as a party, ought to rest upon them. It is, in a 
word, that you should do what can be done, not waste your 
force in trying to do what you cannot. You really love 
liberty, but the people do not love .you, and they never hate 
you more than when you attack their favorites. These they 
cherish the more for their disgraces, which they call perse 
cutions for their sakes. 

The people dread war, and they will allow you to point 
out remedies at least this is what I hope. Even sup- 



LETTERS. 401 

pose the majority will not receive the truth when you exhibit 
it, at least the federalists will. You are chosen to do what 
you can, and if after all, it is unavailing-, the party will ap 
plaud you, and gather zeal from your arguments. Suppose 
you sit silent, will it long be possible to hinder the apathy 
of despair, indeed the chills of dissolution, from pervading 
the federal body I Will men eagerly vote for others who 
sit sullen, and will not speak I Feeble as the federal party 
is, it is inestimable to the public. It is " Spes ultima Romce" 
Can liberty have any chance, when it no longer has any 
friends \ Even now, federalism checks, though it cannot 
govern. It is fitter to check than to rule. And it is all 
the check we want, when it deters faction from eating us 
alive. All we ask is, that they would let us exist. It is 
better to suffer the fatigue of pumping, than to sit sullen 
till the ship sinks. It is despair that raises among you 
these doubts as to your exertions. Will not your feelings 
be contagious, and induce your constituents to dissolve the 
party ? Will not they refuse to make efforts in a cause that 
you abandon \ A party out of action is out of existence. 
It is a salamander that dies if you refuse fresh fuel, and, 
what is no less essential, the breath of the bellows. This 
last, I am afraid you will say, means speeches : I disclaim all 
evil meanings, and am quite serious. I repeat it, that the 
chance of liberty will be the worse, probably worse than 
nothing, if our party be dissolved. How has party sub 
sisted in England] Certainly not by long inaction. In 
cessantly baffled, yet still assailing, and at last in power for 
a short time. This is what federalism is not to expect I 
think not to desire. By the flight of the emigrants, France 
instantly fell into the extremes of revolution. Besides, your 
cautious but ever-vigilant spirit will find or make the op 
portunities to be useful. A war, if it is hindered, will be 
hindered by you. If it happens, the first danger will be 
that the rage of the people will persecute or sacrifice the 
federalists. It may oppress them in a thousand ways, all 
intolerable, unless you preserve to us an independent exist 
ence. When the people suffer much, (as they will,) if they 
do not tear us to pieces, (which I confess I think not im 
probable,) there will be times when they will hear you. 
34* 



402 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

There will yet be many new organizations of party, many 
overwhelming changes. In resettling affairs, the federalists 
should be in some force, that is, in credit. They deserve 
credit for wisdom and patriotism ; and in times of fearful 
adversity, the wise and good are sometimes allowed to ad 
vise. It is this eventual employment of party that I would 
have in view. For instance, if France should propose an 
alliance, would you wish to have federalism extinct I Would 
you leave it to John Randolph to awaken New England? 
I shall be told, that what you all say goes for nothing. Con 
sider whether this is true. If Junius should write in our 
papers, and genius should sparkle like phosphorus in every 
column, the pride of every other federal editor would reluct 
at republishing the performances, and as to the Chronicle, 
Egis, and Aurora, their readers would never hear of the 
publication. It is otherwise with speeches in Congress. 
They are printed in jacobin papers, as well as federal, and 
all the nation, soon or late, gets the substance of a great de 
bate. By all means renounce that false pride that leaves 
your argument to be stated by the tools of faction. Write 
yourselves. It will not, unless too long, be refused by S. 
H. Smith. Here alone (in Congress) the candle of federal 
truth shines outside of the bushel, and I think you should 
see that it is kept lighted, and snuffed on every great dark 
question. I am far from recommending that you should be 
verbose, or forever spouting. Quite the reverse. Leave the 
petite guerre to others. Let John Randolph and Smilie 
have the amusement of the cockpit to themselves. Turn 
your backs on the combats of the wild beasts in the Amphi 
theatre, but take your places as Senators in the Forum. In 
zeal for liberty, no men are your rivals. Show that zeal in 
its temperance and wisdom. There is not likely to be a 
want of occasions. 

Nothing is to be expected from the civil wars of the fac 
tion. You will not hinder their fighting, but you will never 
profit by their victories. They will conquer for themselves, 
not you, and the views of the victor, whether Randolph or 
Varnum, are to be always at variance with yours. Do as 
our nation ought, and place trust only in yourselves. There 
is scarcely any great national question in which you would 



LETTERS. * 403 

make efforts in vain. I confess great prudence and many 
forbearances are necessary. In almost every case, a popu 
lar, or, at least, inoffensive aspect can be given to your argu 
ment. Invincible popular notions may be let alone, or 
touched without wounding them. For, I repeat, the skill 
of the business is to attempt only what is practicable, and 
some of the popular tenets are false yet sacred, and there 
fore respectable. I keep writing on, I find, because I did 
not stop at first to make an exact division of my subject. 
I hope, however, I have not omitted any thing that I deem 
material. The illustration and detail of my principal ideas 
would lead me a great way, but to experienced and able 
men I have suggested more than enough. I readily allow 
that you on the spot are the best judges, and I am in the 
habit of thinking what you do and say is right, because 
you have said and done it. Yet your question was so gene 
ral, that I have not thought myself incompetent to discuss 
it, on account of my distance from the scene of your de 
bates. Brevity, and not a spirit of dogmatism, has made 
me use the imperative style, which I pray you to excuse. 
I have scarcely a doubt that I should, if I had a seat in 
Congress, agree with the majority of the federalists, on 
any plan of conduct they may adopt. I truly rejoice in the 
acquisition of talents from Maryland, New York, and Ken 
tucky. I say of you all, " melioribus utere fails" The 
very time has come that should make able men active. 

From the beginning of my letter, you would expect from 
me the result of profound meditation. On the contrary, I 
have written as fast as I could, but not crude new thoughts. 
I cannot write in any other manner, unless I would submit 
to a more rigorous toil of thinking than you would expect 
from a lazy volunteer. 

I am, my dear sir, with great esteem and regard, 

Yours, most sincerely. 



40 i WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 



TO JOSIAH QUINCY. 

Dedham, December 6, 1807. Sunday. 

MY DEAR SIR, I owe you many thanks for your 
letter of the 26th, because, by writing it, you must have ag 
gravated your nervous headache, because the contents were 
very interesting, and because I, confined closer than a debtor, 
am not worth a statesman s correspondence. In this last, 
I assure you, I have no mock modesty, for I feel and 
know, that a man out of the world has no right to any ac 
count from those who are doing its business. I shall have 
no miffs if I am left to glean all I can from the occasional 
bounty of our mutual friends in Boston. Yours to J. P. 
Davis was in this way communicated to me, to my great 
satisfaction. But that to Thomas H. Perkins has not been 
sent out to me. 

I have no doubt that Great Britain will forbear to begin 
war. Yet unwilling as your men of cotton may be to do 
any thing to make one, it happens that by doing nothing, 
your wise non-importation law will soon go into effect, and 
that, we are told, will be taken for war by Great Britain. 
How correctly this is rumored, of course I know not. 
Nevertheless from the high tone of your folks, from Mr. 
Adams s bill, and from the majority against committing the 
Philadelphia petition, I should draw the inference that Var- 
num and Co. will not allow that act to be repealed. Al 
though I cannot suppose that Congress wishes for a war, 
yet nobody but the federalists, and perhaps not all of them, 
seems to be willing to take, or as yet to urge, the measures 
that will prevent one. Your dark, but encouraging assur 
ances about the federalists, come very seasonably, just as I 
am ready to despair of peace. If a British envoy should 
come, will he negotiate, while war measures are permitted 
to go into operation ] And how can your Solons find a 
pretext for repealing it now, after having done so much to 
bind themselves to its support I Great Britain deplores 
already the shame of the Foxites, whose treaty was made 



LETTERS. 

pendente lege} Will that shame be endured by the Pittites, 
who then said it was intolerable I As the Boston Exchange 
is, I am told, pretty calm, I suppose I am ignorant of the 
grounds of their pacific hopes. The Revenge going and 
returning via France looks like our administration asking 
leave to negotiate, or assistance to fight. Which is it ? or 
an alliance to draw closer the fraternal bands. 

Of your Randolph s sentiments or designs, I know no 
thing. Yet I expect to see him in a minority. Here I be 
lieve there is great dread of a war, yet great apathy about 
the men or the measures that will bring it about. The re 
pugnance of the southern men to a war appears to me an 
incompetent security against that dire event. Great resolu 
tions are always brought to maturity unexpectedly to the 
many. These men of cotton have the same passions with 
the war party. Their confidence is reposed in the same 
leading men. They will cheerfully act out any anti-British 
scheme of policy, which can still be called peace. For to 
act hostilely was called pacific, when the non-importation 
law passed. I shall look, therefore, with some apprehension 
to the 14th December, when the suspension is to expire. 

Ever since independence, we have cherished our vanity 
and nourished our passions. These last have been the 
fiercer, for being impotent. We have hated those most 
who oftenest make us feel their impotence. The British 
have done this, by their searches of our vessels, even while 
our trade became a monopoly in consequence of the British 
naval triumphs, as it would be easy to demonstrate. Our 
cargoes sold well, because the enemies of Great Britain 
could not sell at all, and we have grown year by yeaV more 
enraged, because we ascribe to the British vexations the 
disappointment of our hopes that they would sell still better. 
We met nobody at sea but Englishmen, and they never 
failed to exact from us submission, and sometimes sacrifices. 

1 During the short administration of Mr. Fox, a treaty was agreed upon 
by the negotiators of the two nations at London, substantially like Mr. Jay s 
treaty. The question of impressment was not disposed of by it, but arrange 
ments were made for the suspension or mitigation of that obnoxious clafm. 
Unfortunately President Jefferson rejected it instanter, and thereby threw 
away the last chance of avoiding war. 



406 WORKS OF FISHER AMES. 

Our pride was mortified, and our avarice stript. We cursed 
their navy, and their maritime law, and wished success to 
France, and a free sea, that is, that neutrals in every future 
war should have nothing to do, but take a few hundred 
dollars freight, instead of fifty per cent, profit on the cargoes. 
This last item shows how blind we are in our rage, and how 
little our passions are curbed by our government. On the 
contrary, the business of the administration has been to find 
fagots for the bonfire. Thus opinionated and inflamed, our 
democracy has got loose from every restraint but fear. Our 
cabinet takes counsel of the mob ; and it is now a question, 
whether the hatred of Great Britain, and the reproach fixed 
even upon violent men, if they will not proceed in their 
violence, will not overcome the fears of the maritime States, 
and of the planters in Congress. The usual levity of a 
democracy has not appeared in regard to Great Britain. 
We have been steady in our hatred of her, and when popu 
lar passions are not worn out by time, but augment, they 
must, I should think, explode in war. You are in a situa 
tion to judge much better than your eastern friends. I shall 
rejoice in the success of your efforts, and if, as I expect, 
your particular merits should be distinguished, I shall re 
joice in it with the warmth of a friend. 

Yours, truly. 



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