John Adams



Thomas Jefferson's Opinions

(October 10, 1808)


"..... Mr. Jefferson in my Opinion has long ago adopted two very erroneous Opinions;


1. That England was tottering to a fall;  That her strength and resources were exhausted;  That she must soon be a bankrupt and unable to maintain her naval superiority.  This I never believed and we shall yet have proofs enough and to spare of her tremendous power,  though I dread it not .....''


"2.  But the second opinion,"  he continues,  "was still more erroneous and still more fatal.  He did not study this French Nation,  nor consider the character of her Court, her Nobility, her Clergy,  her Lawyers,  her Institution,  and much less the nature of her common people,  not one in fifty of whom could read or write.  He had studied so little the nature of man,  and still less the nature of government,  that he came from France and continued for years,  fully persuaded,  that the nation would establish a free republican government and even a leveling democracy,  and the Monarchy and Nobility would be forever abolished in France.

... my opinion of the French Revolution,  produced a coldness towards me in all my old revolutionary friends and an inclination towards Mr. Jefferson,  which broke out in violent invective and false imputations upon me in flattering panegyricks upon Mr. Jefferson,  till they indeed (resulted) in ..... the elevation of him to the President's chair.  My Writings were but a pretext.  They knew that neither Aristocracy or Monarchy were recommended to this country in any of them."


Adams ridicules the Jeffersonians' aversion to a standing army,  to a respectable naval establishment - and most of all, their insistence that America can be defended adequately by amateurs:


"To what use are 100,000 Militia to defend our Merchantmen at Sea?  To what end are 200 or 300 Gun boats to protect our Commerce?  For what Purpose are 10,000 regular Troops on the continent of America,  for the protection of our ships in the Mediterranean,  the Baltic,  the English Channels,  the Bay of Biscay,  or the West Indian or East Indian Oceans?'


In the margin:

“Dec 20th  I have no Clerk and must


send this letter without preserving a


copy. Therefore burn it.”