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    John Quincy Adams Letter Signed "John Quincy Adams." Four pages of a bifolium, 7.25" x 9", Berlin; January 27, 1798. Addressed to a Mr. Murray, likely U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, William Vans Murray. At the time, John Quincy Adams was serving as U.S. Ambassador to Prussia. The letter concerns a number of topics, mainly early American foreign policy in relation to the XYZ Affair, and Alexander Hamilton's infamous Reynolds Affair. It reads in part:

    "...The proposal of the directory to make prize and confiscate every vessel and cargo infected by a single parcel of goods of british produce has been adopted by the 500 without discussion. Villers the reporter took the occasion to affirm that the President of the U.S. made in full Senate the same speeches that Pitt makes in the Parliament of England and full of outrages against France. This Villers with about as much foundation assents that there is not a single merchant vessel under English colours floating upon the ocean.
    ...You will perhaps not be surprised to hear that I have not met with civilities and kindness from any of the foreign Ministers here more than from those of France and Spain. Both of them are very friendly and obliging. The former has shewn a real disposition to do me kind offices and the little services which are so useful to a total stranger in a new situation. We have conversed too very freely upon the subject of the differences between our Governments. I believe him very well intentioned for their settlement: but I suppose that since the Fructidorian affair, he himself hands to his office by a slender thread.
    ...If we can only have that union of sentiment which supported us through our glorious struggle, we may smile at all the vapouring of the grand Nation and bid defiance to all the fire and sword and pestilence, and what is worse than all to the pestilential principles of the terrible Republic...In these times the traitors from bribery are nothing in comparison to the traitors from principle. Treachery is organized into a system, roosted into every passion that actuates the species, and preached into the conscience as a moral and political obligation. Take up the lists of the present House of Rep: and count over all the numbers, who next to France and French doctrines, love their country better than anything, and tell me whether the People must not chuse again before we can expect a clear unequivocal majority who love their country better than France. When the People choose again, will anything better result from the election?
    ...Have you seen Hamilton's indication of himself against a charge of speculation? This affair must injure him with the rigid moralists, and makes him liable to a sort of censure which he acknowledges and which I cannot but consider as just. But in the conduct of those who compelled him to uncover his nakedness to the public there is something worse than his offense: there is a skulking cowardly malignant wish to stigmatize him with corruption, without daring to assent it. Monroe especially has shewn himself at this time what he was when he set Tom Paine to howl at his benefactor Washington; silencing him in word while he instigated him indeed. There is no distinction of weapons in the modern philosophy. Poison is just as freely used as the sword..."

    Earlier in 1798, the U.S. and France became involved in a series of diplomatic disputes known collectively as the XYZ Affair, a complicated series of events which involved the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand asking for U.S. bribes. Thus began an undeclared naval war between the United States and France, called the Quasi War. Between 1798 and 1800, the French seized nearly 300 American ships bound for British ports in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Caribbean seas. During negotiations with France, the United States also began to build up its navy and army to defend against both the French and the British. The provisional army was placed under the control of Alexander Hamilton as Inspector General. The previous summer, Hamilton had published the Reynolds Pamphlet, in which he defended himself against rumors of speculation and public misconduct by revealing that he had been blackmailed by James Reynolds after having an affair with his wife, Maria Reynolds. The affair severely damaged Hamilton's reputation, and became the first political sex scandal in American history.

    Condition: Flattened folds and light toning. Minor chipping at the edges. Ink burn through with a few small holes, affects very little of the text. Small area of archival material repair at the top edge.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2020
    12th Thursday
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