Excerpt of a letter by John Adams to his wife Abigail Adams — July 3d. 1776
The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.
// Insert American War of Independence Here
Excerpt of a letter by John Adams to John Jay — June 2d. 1785
The Door was shut and I was left with his Majesty and the Secretary of State alone. I made the three Reverences, one at the Door, another about half Way & the third before the Presence, according to the Usage established at this and all the Northern Courts of Europe, and then addressed myself to his Majesty in the following Words—
“Sir, The United States of America have appointed me their Minister Plenipotentiary to your Majesty, and have directed me to deliver to your Majesty this Letter which contains the Evidence of it. It is in Obedience to their express Commands that I have the Honor to assure your Majesty of their unanimous Disposition and Desire to cultivate the most friendly and liberal Intercourse between your Majesty’s Subjects and their Citizens, and of the best Wishes for your Majesty’s Health and Happiness and for that of your royal Family. The Appointment of a Minister from the United States to your Majesty’s Court, will form an Epocha in the History of England & of America. I think myself more fortunate than all my fellow Citizens in having the distinguished Honor to be the first to stand in your Majesty’s royal Presence in a diplomatic Character and I shall esteem myself the happiest of Men if I can be instrumental in recommending my Country more and more to your Majesty’s royal Benevolence and of restoring an entire Esteem, Confidence & Affection, or in better Words, the old good Nature and the old good Humour between People who, tho’ separated by an Ocean and under different Governments, have the same Language, a similar religion & kindred Blood. I beg your Majesty’s Permission to add, that altho’ I had some Time before been entrusted by my Country, it was never in my whole Life in a Manner so agreeable to myself.”—
The King list’ned to every Word I said with Dignity but with an apparent Emotion—whether it was the Nature of the Interview or whether it was my visible Agitation, for I felt more than I did or could express, that touched him I cannot say—but he was much affected and answered me with more Tremor than I had spoken with, & said
“Sir—The Circumstances of thy Audience are so extraordinary, the Language you have now held is so extremely proper and the Feelings you have discovered so justly adapted to the Occasion, that I must say that I not only receive with Pleasure the Assurances of the friendly Dispositions of the United States, but that I am very glad the Choice has fallen upon You to be their Minister. I wish you Sir, to believe, and that it may be understood in America, that I have done nothing in the late Contest, but what I thought myself indispensably bound to do, by the Duty which I owed to my People. I will be very frank with you. I was the last to consent to the Separation, but the Separation having been made and having become inevitable, I have always said, as I say now, that I would be the first to meet the Friendship of the United States as an independent Power. The Moment I see such Sentiments & Language as yours prevail, and a Disposition to give to this Country the Preference, that Moment I shall say, let the Circumstances of Language; Religion and Blood have their natural and full Effect.”
I dare not say that these were the King’s precise Words, and it is even possible that I may have in some Particular mistaken his meaning; for altho his Pronunciation is as distinct as I ever heard, he hesitated some Times between his Periods and between the Members of the same Period—He was much affected & I was not less so, and therefore I cannot be certain that I was so attentive, heard so clearly and understood so perfectly as to be confident of all his Words or Sense; And I think that all which he said to me should at present be kept a Secret in America, unless his Majesty or his Secretary of State should judge proper to report it. This I do say, that the foregoing is in his Majesty’s Meaning as I then understood it, and his own Words as nearly as I can recollect them.
The King then asked me whether I came last from France, and upon my answering in the Affirmative, he put on an Air of Familiarity and smiling or rather laughing said, there is an Opinion among some People that you are not the most attached of all your Countrymen to the Manners of France. I was surprized at this because I thought it an indiscretion and a Departure from the Dignity—I was a little embarrassed but determined not to deny the Truth on one Hand, nor leave him to infer from it any Attachment to England on the other. I threw off as much Gravity as I could and assumed an Air of Gaiety and a Tone of Decision as far as was decent, and said—That Opinion Sir, is not mistaken, I must avow to your Majesty, I have no Attachment but to my own Country. The King replied as quick as Lightning: an honest man will never have any other.
The King then said a Word or two to the Secretary of State, which being between them I did not hear, and then turned & bowed to me, as is customary with all Kings and Princes when they give the Signal to retire. I retreated, stepping backward as is the Etiquette, and making my last reverence at the Door of the Chamber, I went my Way.—