Notes of a Debate In the Senate of the United States
A few very brief and fragmentary notes of one or two debates held in the Senate, during the first session after the adoption of the Constitution, have been found intermixed with the latest pages of the Diary. The interest that attaches to them grows out of the fact that, during this period, and even until 1795, the doors of the Senate were kept closed, with a single exception, through all legislative as well as executive transactions, and therefore nothing has been reported. The resemding of the rule has changed the character of the body; whether for the better or for worse, time alone can fully determine.
The discussions which took place in the first Congress have a peculiar interest, from the fact that they were held between persons, many of whom had been engaged in framing the Constitution, upon vital measures of organization. Of these measures, none were of more consequence than those creating the offices subordinate to the President,—the great executive departments of the government. It was during the progress of one of these through both Houses, that the question was agitated of the President’s constitutional power of removing from office. A brief recital of the prominent steps taken will facilitate the comprehension of the succeeding notes.
On the 19th of May, the House of Representatives being then in committee of the whole, Mr. Madison, of Virginia, moved a resolution organizing the Department of Foreign Affairs, &c., and terminating with these words,—“who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and to be removable by the President.”
A long debate upon the power of removal ensued. Mr. Madison taking the lead in defence of the words of the resolution. Mr. Bland proposed to add “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.” But his motion failed, and the language objected to was retained by a considerable majority.
In accordance with this decision, a bill to organize the Department was subsequently reported, and was again debated in committee from the 16th to the 22d of June. A motion to strike out the words was lost, twenty voting for it against thirty-four in the negative. The objection then seems to have occurred to the majority, that they might be construed as conferring a power by the House, which the same authority might at any time withdraw. To escape this construction, when the bill was returned to the House, they consented to the erasure of the words which had caused the debate, and in lieu of them inserted in the second enacting clause the words “whenever the said principal officer shall be removed from office by the President of the United States.” This movement, acknowledging the power as conferred by the Constitution on the President, was sustained by thirty votes against eighteen in the negative. A day or two afterwards, the bill passed the House by twenty-nine affirmative against twenty negative votes.
The bill went to the Senate. On the 14th of July it was taken up for consideration, and was debated until the 18th. It is of a portion of this debate that the following notes were taken. Mr. Adams was then Vice-President; and it is probable that he took them for the sake of guiding his judgment in the contingency which happened of his being called to decide the disputed question by his casting vote. A motion was made to strike out the words marked in italics, which had been inserted in the last stages of the bill in the House; and the senators were found equally divided, nine on each side. The Vice-President then recorded his vote in the negative, and the words remained a part of the bill.
The country acquiesced in this decision; and the power of absolute removal has been exercised by the President ever since. The question has been agitated, however, at intervals, and it is liable to be whenever a majority of the Senate may be in political opposition to a new President coming in on a revolution of popular opinion. It is, therefore, not without its use, to accumulate as much of the contemporaneous construction of the Constitution on this point as possible. Among the papers of Mr. Adams, is what would seem to be the original of a paper defining the powers of the Senate on the subject of appointments, drawn up by Mr. Jefferson, as one of the Cabinet of General Washington, in the spring of the next year. It will be found in the Appendix to the present volume, A.
POWER OF REMOVAL.
The rule of construction of treaties, statutes, and deeds.
The same power which creates must annihilate. This is true where the power is simple, but when compound, not.
If a minister is suspected to betray secrets to an enemy, the Senate not sitting, cannot the President displace nor suspend?
The States-General of France demanded that offices should be during good behavior.
It is improbable that a bad president should be chosen—but may not bad senators be chosen?
Is there a due balance of power between the executive and legislative, either in the General Government or State governments?
English liberty will be lost when the legislative shall be more corrupt than the executive. Have we not been witnesses of corrupt acts of legislatures, making depredations? Rhode Island yet perseveres.
We are sworn to support the Constitution.
There is an explicit grant of power to the President, which contains the power of removal. The executive power is granted; not the executive powers hereinafter enumerated and explained.
The President, not the Senate, appoint; they only consent and advise.
The Senate is not an executive council; has no executive power.
The grant to the President express, not by implication.
This power of removal would be unhinging the equilibrium of power in the Constitution.
The Stadtholder withheld the fleet from going out, to the annoyance of the enemies of the nation.
In treaties, all powers not expressly given, are reserved.
Treaties to be gone over, clause by clause, by the President and Senate together, and modelled.
The other branches are imbecile; disgust and alarm; the President not sovereign; the United States sovereign, or people or Congress sovereign.
The House of Representatives would not be induced to depart, so well satisfied of the grounds.
The powers of this Constitution are all vested; parted from the people, from the States, and vested, not in Congress, but in the President.
The word sovereignty is introduced without determinate ideas. Power in the last resort. In this sense the sovereign executive is in the President.
The United States will be parties to a thousand suits. Shall process issue in their name versus or for themselves?
The President, it is said, may be put to jail for debt.
United States merely figurative, meaning the people.
The President is not above the law; an absurdity to admit this idea into our government. Not improbable that the President may be sued. Christina II. of Sweden committed murder. France excused her. The jurors of our lord the President, present that the President committed murder. A monarchy by a side wind. You make him vindea [Editor:?] injuriarum. The people will not like “the jurors of our lord, the President,” nor “the peace of our lord, the President,” nor his dignity; his crown will be left out. Do not wish to make the Constitution a more unnatural, monstrous production, than it is. The British Court is a three-legged stool; if one leg is longer than another, the stool will not stand.
Unpalatable; the removal of officers not palatable. We should not risk any thing for nothing. Come forward like men, and reason openly, and the people will hear more quietly than if you attempt side winds. This measure will do no good, and will disgust.
The danger to liberty greater from the disunited opinions and jarring plans of many, than from the energetic operations of one. Marius, Sylla, Cæsar, Cromwell trampled on liberty with armies.
The power of pardon; of adjourning the legislature.
Power of revision sufficient to defend himself. He would be supported by the people.
Patronage gives great influence. The interference more nominal than real.
The greater part of power of making treaties in the President.
The greatest power is in the President; the less in the Senate.
Cannot see responsibility in the President or the great officers of State.
A masked battery of constructive powers would complete the destruction of liberty.
Can the executive lay embargoes, establish fairs, tolls, &c.?
The federal government is limited; the legislative power of it is limited; and, therefore, the executive and judicial must be limited.
The executive not punishable but by universal convulsion, as Charles I.
The legislative in England not so corrupt as the executive.
There is no responsibility in the President or ministry.
The liberties of England owing to juries. The greatness of England owing to the genius of that people.
The Crown of England can do what it pleases, nearly.
There is no balance in America to such an executive as that in England.
Does the executive arm mean a standing army?
Willing to make a law that the President, if he sees gross misconduct, may suspend pro tempore.
Laments that we are obliged to discuss this question; of great importance and much difficulty.
The executive coextensive with the legislative. Had the clause stood alone, would not there have been a devolution of all executive power?
Exceptions are to be construed strictly. This is an invariable rule.
The President has not a continental interest, but is a citizen of a particular State. A. K. of E. otherwise; K. of E. counteracted by a large, powerful, rich, and hereditary aristocracy. Hyperion to a satyr.
Where there are not intermediate powers, an alteration of the government must be to despotism.
Powers ought not to be inconsiderately given to the executive without proper balances.
Triennial and septennial parliaments made by corruption of the executive.
Bowstring. General Lally. Brutus’s power to put his sons to death.
The power creating shall have that of uncreating. The minister is to hold at pleasure of the appointer.
If it is in the Constitution, why insert it in the law? brought in by a side wind, inferentially.
There will be every endeavor to increase the consolidatory powers; to weaken the Senate, and strengthen the President.
No evil in the Senate’s participating with the President in removal.
The President is to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. He is responsible. How can he do his duty or be responsible, if he cannot remove his instruments?
It is not an equal sharing of the power of appointment between the President and Senate. The Senate are only a check to prevent impositions on the President.
The minister an agent, a deputy to the great executive.
Difficult to bring great characters to punishment or trial.
Power of suspension.
Gentlemen convince themselves that it is best the President should have the power, and then study for arguments.
Exceptions. Not a grant. Vested in the President would be void for uncertainty. Executive power is uncertain. Powers are moral, mechanical, material. Which of these powers? what executive power? The land; the money; conveys nothing. What land? what money?
Unumquodque dissolvitur eodem modo quo ligatur.
Meddles not with the question of expediency.
The executive wants power by its duration and its want of a negative, and power to balance. Federalist.
What is the difference between a grant and a partition?
ON THE PERMANENT SEAT OF GOVERNMENT.
No question was more vehemently contested in the first Congress than that of fixing the place for the seat of government. The records of both Houses show the spirit of rivalry which existed among the respective advocates of a position somewhere on the Susquehanna, on the Delaware, and on the Potomac. After a long debate, the House finally settled upon a bill authorizing the appointment of a commission to select a site on the banks of the Susquehanna, in the State of Pennsylvania. This bill went up to the Senate on the 22d of September, when the remarks that follow appear to have been made.
September 22. Grayson. No census yet taken, by which the centre of population—
We have markets, archives, houses, lodgings. Extremely hurt at what has passed in the House of Representatives. The money,—is your army paid? Virginia offered one hundred thousand dollars towards the federal buildings. The buildings may be erected without expense to the Union. Lands may be granted; these lands laid out in lots, and sold to adventurers.
The recent instance in France shows that an attempt to establish a government against justice and the will of the people, is vain, idle, and chimerical.
23. Wednesday. Lee. Navigation of the Susquehanna.
We are about founding a city which will be one of the first in the world, and we are governed by local and partial motives.
Carroll against the motion to expunge the proviso; considers the western country of great importance. Some gentlemen in both houses seem to undervalue the western country, or despair of commanding it. Government on the Potomac would secure it.
The question is not whether Pennsylvania or Maryland shall be benefited, but how are the United States benefited or injured.
Pennsylvania has altered the law this month respecting the navigation of the Susquehanna.
24. Thursday. Grayson moves to strike out the words “in the State of Pennsylvania.”
The centre of population the best criterion. The centre of wealth and the centre of territory.
At the commencement of the second session of the first Congress, the question occurred upon the revival of the business of the preceding session, or beginning anew. A joint committee raised to consider the matter reported on the 22d. “That the business unfinished between the two Houses ought to be regarded as if it had not been passed upon by either.”
On the 25th, a motion was made to postpone the report of the committee.
Where is the economy of repeating the expense of time?
Can this opinion be founded on the law of Parliament? The King can prorogue the Parliament, but there is no such power here.
The rule of Parliament, that business once acted on and rejected, shall not be brought on again the same session, is a good rule, but not applicable to this case.
A few entries in the Diary, made in the years 1795 and 1796, remain. They principally relate to agriculture, and to the improvements undertaken by the writer upon the farm purchased by him after his return from Europe, and which became his residence during the remainder of his life. A selection from them closes this portion of the work.
June 21. Lime dissolves all vegetable substances, such as leaves, straws, stalks, weeds, and converts them into an immediate food for vegetables; it kills the eggs of worms and seeds of weeds. The best method is to spread it in your barnyard among the straw and dung; it succeeds well when spread upon the ground. Burning limestones or shells diminishes their weight; but slaking the lime restores that weight. The German farmers say that lime makes the father rich, but the grandson poor; that is, exhausts the land. This is all from Mr. Rutherford. Plaster of Paris has a vitriolic acid in it which attracts the water from the air, and operates like watering plants. It is good for corn; not useful in wet land. You sprinkle it by hand as you sow barley, over the ground; five bushels powdered to an acre: carry it in a bag, as you would grain to sow.
Mr. Meredith, at Mr. Vaughan’s, explained to me his method. He takes a first crop of clover early; then breaks up the ground, cross-ploughs and harrows it, then plants potatoes. He only ploughs a furrow, drops the potatoes a foot asunder, and then covers them with another furrow. He ploughs now and then between these rows, but never hoes. As soon as the season comes for sowing his winter barley, he digs the potatoes, ploughs and harrows the ground, sows the winter barley with clover seeds and orchard-grass seeds; and the next spring he has a great crop of barley, and afterwards a great burthen of grass. He prefers orchard-grass to herds-grass, as much more productive.
Quincy, July 12. Tuesday. Yesterday mowed all the grass on Stony-field Hill. To-day ploughing for hilling among the corn over against the house. Briesler laying the foundation of the new barn, which is to be raised to-morrow at the east end of my father’s barn. Puffer and Sullivan Lathrop ploughing among potatoes in the lower garden.
This Journal is commenced to allure me into the habit of writing again, long lost. This habit is easily lost, but not easily regained. I have, in the course of my life, lost it several times, and regained it as often; so I will now. I can easily credit the reports I have heard of Dr. Robertson, the Scottish historian, who is said to have lost the habit of writing for many years; but he reacquired it before his death, and produced his Inquiry into the Knowledge of the Ancients of India.
13. Wednesday. B. went out to hoe this morning, but soon came in. Said he had sprained his arm, and could not work. He soon went out towards Captain Beale’s. P., one of my workmen from Stoughton, came home late last night. Said Captain L. had called him in and given him a bottle of brandy. By what sympathy do these tipplers discover one another?
This day my new barn was raised, near the spot where the old barn stood, which was taken down by my father when he raised his new barn in 1737.
14. Thursday. The wind northwest, after a fine rain. A firing of cannon this morning in the harbor. I arose by four o’clock, and enjoyed “the charm of earliest birds;” their songs were never more various, universal, animating, or delightful.
My corn this year has been injured by two species of worms,—one of the size and shape of a caterpillar, but of a mouse color, lies at the root, eats off the stalk, and then proceeds to all the other plants in the hill, till he frequently kills them all; the other is long and slender as a needle, of a bright yellow color; he is found in the centre of the stalk near the ground, where he eats it off, as the Hessian fly eats the wheat. My brother taught me the method of finding these vermin and destroying them. They lie commonly near the surface.
I have been to see my barn, which looks very stately and strong. Rode up to Braintree, and saw where T. has been trimming red cedars. He has not much more to do. He was not at work. He has probably worked two days since I was there last.
It rains at eleven o’clock. The barley is growing white for the harvest. My men are hilling the corn over the road. A soft fine rain in a clock calm is falling as sweetly as I ever saw in April, May, or June; it distils as gently as we can wish; will beat down the grain as little as possible, refresh the gardens and pastures, revive the corn, make the fruit grow rapidly, and lay the foundation of fine rowen and after feed.
15. Friday. A very heavy shower of rain. Thunder in the morning.
Went with three hands to Braintree, and cut between forty and fifty red cedars, and with a team of five cattle brought home twenty-two of them at a load. We have opened the prospect, so that the meadow and western mountains may be distinctly seen.
B. has two hands employed in heaping up manure in his barnyard. The cattle have broken into his cornfield, through the gap which we left unfinished in the great wall, and eaten a hundred hills.
The new barn is boarded on the roof, and the underpinning is finished.
17. Sunday. Warm, but clear. B. at home, but running down cellar for cider.
We are to have a Mr. Hilliard.
Mr. Otis confirms the account of the nomination and appointment of my son to be minister plenipotentiary of the United States at the court of Portugal. He also confirms the adjournment of Congress to the constitutional day, the first Monday in December. Mrs. W. is not to return to Philadelphia till November.
Mr. Hilliard of Cambridge preached for us. He is the son of our old acquaintance, minister of Barnstable, and afterwards at Cambridge. Mr. Quincy and Mr. Sullivan drank tea with us.
18. Monday. B. is at hoe. The kitchen-folk say he is steady. A terrible, drunken, distracted week he has made of the last. A beast associating with the worst beasts in the neighborhood, running to all the shops and private houses, swilling brandy, wine, and cider, in quantities enough to destroy him. If the ancients drank wine as our people drink rum and cider, it is no wonder we read of so many possessed with devils.
Went up to Pen’s Hill. Trask has the rheumatism in his arm, and is unable to work. He told me that rattlesnakes began to appear,—two on Saturday; one killed, the other escaped. He told me, too, of another event that vexed, provoked, and alarmed me much more, namely,—that my horses were yesterday in such a frenzy at the church door, that they frightened the crowd of people, and frightened a horse, or the people in the chaise, so that they whipped their horse till he ran over two children. The children stooped down, or fell down, so that the chaise went over them without hurting them; but it must have been almost a miracle that they were not killed or wounded. I know not when my indignation has been more excited at the coachman for his folly and carelessness, and, indeed, at others of the family, for the carriage going to meeting at all. As Mrs. A. could not go, the coach ought not to have gone. The coachman and footman ought to have gone to meeting, and the girls to have walked. I scolded at the coachman first, and afterwards at his mistress, and I will scold again and again; it is my duty. There is no greater tyranny or insolence than sporting with horses and carriages among crowds of people.
19. Tuesday. A plentiful shower of rain, with thunder and lightning, this morning. Took a teaspoonful of bark in spirits. B. steady, but deep in the horrors, gaping, stretching, groaning.
20. Wednesday. Commencement. Rode to the swamp at the top of Pen’s Hill. T. is mowing the bushes, cutting the trees, and leaves only the white oaks, which he trims and prunes as high as he can reach. My design is to plough up a cornfield for Burrill, against next year, in that inclosure. Walked in the afternoon over the hills and across the fields and meadows, up to the old plain. The corn there is as good as any I have seen, excepting two or three spots. Briesler and Sullivan cutting sleepers for the barn. My beautiful grove, so long preserved by my father and my uncle, proves to be all rotten. More than half the trees we cut are so defective as to be unfit for any use but the fire. I shall save the white oaks and cut the rest. I was overtaken with the rain at the end of my walk, and returned home in it.
21. Thursday. S. L. and B. carting earth into the yard from the ground which is to be thrown into the highway, over against my house. The old apple-tree, probably a hundred years of age, is to fall. B. and T. L. mowing in the meadow. Six hogsheads of lime, fifty gallons each, were brought home yesterday for manure. I have it of Mr. Brackett, at fifteen shillings the hogshead.
I am reading Dr. Watson’s Apology for the Bible, in Answer to T. Paine’s Second Part of the “Age of Reason.”
That apple-tree over the way, to which the beauty and convenience of the road have been sacrificed for a hundred years, has now, in its turn, with apples enough upon it to make two barrels of cider, fallen a sacrifice to the beauty and convenience of the road. It has been felled this morning, never to rise again; and the road is to be widened and enlarged. The stump and roots are to be dug out of the ground, and the wall to be removed back and made a ha-ha. B. had a mind to go upon wall. I went with him from place to place, and could resolve on nothing. I then set him to split and mortise some posts for the fence against Mrs. Veazie’s. We went up, carried the posts, but when we came there we found that the wall was too heavy and stones too large for two hands; four at least were necessary. B. was wild; and we came to some explanation. He must go off, &c. Mrs. Adams paid him, and then he thought he would not go. After long conversations, B. came to a sort of agreement to stay a year from this day, at forty-five pounds. He declared he would not drink spirit nor cider for the whole year. He reserved, however, twelve days for himself. We shall see to-morrow morning how he behaves.
22. Friday. B. sober and steady, persevering in his declaration that he will not drink these twelve months. Paid Trask in full, sixteen dollars for twenty-four days’ work. He insisted on four shillings a day. He has finished clearing the swamp on Pen’s Hill this day.
23. Saturday. Rode down to the barley and black-grass at the beach. The barley is better than I hoped. The clover has taken pretty well in general; parts where the tide has flowed are killed. Weeds very thick round the margin of the salt meadow, or rather black-grass meadow. Twitch-grass, scattering and thin. B. sober, composed as ever; B. and B. mowing with him. James, the coachman, enjoying the pleasures of a sportsman, shooting marsh birds instead of mowing.
Still reading Bishop Watson’s Apology; finished.
My men mowed the black-grass and barley at the beach, came home and split all the red cedars into posts, and mortised some of them. Sullivan mortised, after having assisted Burrill to get in all his fresh hay.
Began the Life of Petrarch, by Susanna Dobson.
24. Sunday. We are to have for a preacher a Mr. Whitcomb. B. is still cool and steady. In the first volume of the Life of Petrarch, p. 52, it is said that Pope John XXII. believed that the souls of the just would not enjoy the vision of God till after the universal judgment and the resurrection of their bodies. This opinion is Priestley’s, and Price was much inclined to it. This Pope’s imprudent endeavors to establish this doctrine, produced an insurrection of the cardinals and court of Rome, divisions of the doctors in theology, at Paris, &c., and obliged the Pope to retract. Petrarch appears to have favored his opinion concerning the vision of God.
Went to church forenoon and afternoon, and heard Mr. Whitcomb of Bolton.
25. Monday. Dull weather, but no rain. The L. with the team are going to the swamp on Pen’s Hill for a load of wood that T. has cut. Rode up to the swamp on Pen’s Hill. S. and B. loaded up a cord of wood, and S. drove it home. B. staid, and cut down and cut up an old walnut, murdered by the women and children for their dye-pots.
26. Tuesday. Cloudy, and begins to rain; the wind at northeast. The men gone up the hill to rake the barley. In conformity to the fashion, I drank this morning and yesterday morning about a gill of cider; it seems to do me good.
The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity, and humanity, let the blackguard Paine say what he will; it is resignation to God, it is goodness itself to man.
27. Wednesday. B. and S. making and liming a heap of manure. They compounded it of earth carted in from the ground opposite the garden, where the ha-ha wall is to be built, of salt hay and sea weed trodden by the cattle in the yard, of horsedung from the stable, and of cowdung left by the cows. Over all this composition they now and then sprinkle a layer of lime. Bass and Thomas hoeing potatoes in the lower garden.
I rode up to the barn, which Mr. Pratt has almost shingled, and over to the plain, but found my tenants were at work in my father’s old swamp, which I could not reach without more trouble than I was willing to take.
Dr. W. came up, with two young gentlemen from New York, Mr. John and Mr. Henry Cruger, the youngest of whom studies with my son Charles, as a lawyer, who gives him an excellent character. They are journeying eastward as far as Portland, and return by Albany. The eldest of them has lately returned from the East Indies.
28. Thursday. B. and S. are gone to the beach for a load of sea-weed to put into their hill of compost. B. and T. hoeing still in the lower garden. James sick of a surfeit of fruit. I continue my practice of drinking a gill of cider in the morning, and find no ill, but some good effects.
It is more than forty years since I read Swift’s comparison of Dryden in his translation of Virgil, to the Lady in a Lobster, but, until this day, I never knew the meaning of it. To-day, at dinner, seeing lobsters at table, I inquired after the Lady, and Mrs. B. rose and went into the kitchen to her husband, who sent in the little lady herself, in the cradle in which she resides. She must be an old lady; she looks like Dr. Franklin, that is, like an Egyptian mummy. Swift’s droll genius must have been amused with such an object. It is as proper a subject, or rather allusion or illustration for humor and satire, as can be imagined. A little old woman in a spacious habitation as the cradle is, would be a proper emblem of a President in the new house at Philadelphia.
B. and S. brought up in the morning a good load of green sea-weed. B. and B. have been carting dirt and liming the heap of compost. S. and T. thrashing barley at the little barn.
29. Friday. Hot, after thunder, lightning, and an hour’s rain. The two Lathrops threshing. B. and B. brought up a third load of sea-weed. They go on making the heap of compost with lime, sea-weed, earth, &c. &c. Still reading the second volume of Petrarch’s Life.
31. Sunday. A fine northwest wind, pure air, clear sky, and bright sun. Reading the second volume of Petrarch’s Life. This singular character had very wild notions of the right of the city of Rome to a republican government, and the empire of the world. It is strange that his infatuation for Rienzi did not expose him to more resentment and greater danger. In the absence of the Pope at Avignon, and the people having no regular check upon the nobles, these fell into their usual dissensions, and oppressed the people till they were ripe to be duped by any single enthusiast, bold adventurer, ambitious usurper, or hypocritical villain who should, with sufficient impudence, promise them justice, elemency, and liberty. One, or all of these characters belonged to Rienzi, who was finally murdered by the people whom he had deceived, and who had deceived him. Tacitus appears to have been as great an enthusiast as Petrarch for the revival of the republic and universal empire. He has exerted the vengeance of history upon the emperors, but has veiled the conspiracies against them, and the incorrigible corruption of the people which probably provoked their most atrocious cruelties. Tyranny can scarcely be practised upon a virtuous and wise people.
August 4. Thursday. Of all the summers of my life, this has been the freest from care, anxiety, and vexation to me, the sickness of Mrs. A. excepted. My health has been better, the season fruitful, my farm was well conducted. Alas! what may happen to reverse all this? But it is folly to anticipate evils, and madness to create imaginary ones.
6. Saturday. Omnium rerum domina, virtus. Virtue is the mistress of all things. Virtue is the master of all things. Therefore a nation that should never do wrong must necessarily govern the world. The might of virtue, the power of virtue, is not a very common topic, not so common as it should be.
10. Wednesday. Mr. Howell, of Rhode Island, came up to see me, and conversed the whole evening concerning the St. Croix and his commission for settling that boundary.
11. Thursday. Mr. Howell lodged with us, and spent the whole morning in conversation concerning the affairs of his mission. He said, by way of episode, that the President would resign, and that there was one thing which would make Rhode Island unanimous in his successor, and that was, the funding system. He said they wanted Hamilton for Vice-President. I was wholly silent.
13. Saturday. Three loads of salt hay yesterday from the beach marsh. Got in fifty-one bushels of barley, winnowed and raddled. T. burning bushes on Pen’s Hill. Reading Tully’s Offices. It is a treatise on Moral Obligation. Our word obligation answers nearer and better than duty to Cicero’s word, officium.
14. Sunday. One great advantage of the Christian religion is, that it brings the great principle of the law of nature and nations,—Love your neighbor as yourself, and do to others as you would that others should do to you,—to the knowledge, belief, and veneration of the whole people. Children, servants, women, and men, are all professors in the science of public and private morality. No other institution for education, no kind of political discipline, could diffuse this kind of necessary information, so universally among all ranks and descriptions of citizens. The duties and rights of the man and the citizen are thus taught from early infancy to every creature. The sanctions of a future life are thus added to the observance of civil and political, as well as domestic and private duties. Prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude, are thus taught to be the means and conditions of future as well as present happiness.
26. Friday. “Inflexible to preserve, virtuous to pursue, and intelligent to discern the true interests of his country.” Flattering expressions of a toast, the more remarkable as they originated in New York. God grant they may never be belied, never disproved!
Mr. Sedgwick and Mr. Barrell came up to see me, and give a sanguine account of the future elections of senators and representatives.
September 8. Thursday. B. and P. laying wall. B. and J. picking apples and making cider. S. widening the brook.
I think to christen my place by the name of Peacefield, in commemoration of the peace which I assisted in making in 1783, of the thirteen years peace and neutrality which I have contributed to preserve, and of the constant peace and tranquillity which I have enjoyed in this residence.
Editors Note: This is Volume 3 of the 10 Volume “The Works of John Adams”, (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). The author, Charles Henry Adams is John Adams grandson. The copyright for the original text is in the Public Domain because its copyright has expired. The font, and formatting of this version of The Works of John Adams, as well as all other Americanist Library and Founders Corner selections are, unless otherwise specified, Copyright © 2011 Steve Farrell.