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Extract of a Letter from John Adams to a Friend



I sent you, from New-York, a pamphlet entitled "Common Sense," written in vindication of doctrines which there is reason to expect that the further encroachments of tyranny, and depredations of oppression, will soon make the common faith, unless the cunning Ministry, by proposing negotiations and terms of reconciliation, should divert the present current from its channel.

Reconciliation, if practicable, and peace, if attainable, you very well know, would be as agreeable to my inclinations, and as advantageous to my interest as to any man' s; but I see no prospect, no probability, no possibility. And I cannot but despise the understanding which sincerely expects an honourable peace, for its credulity, and detest


the hypocritical heart which pretends to expect it, when in truth it does not.

The newspapers here are full of free speculations, the tendency of which you will easily discover. The writers reason from topics which have been long in contemplation, and fully understood by the people at large in New-England, but have been attended to in the Southern Colonies only by gentlemen of free spirits and liberal minds, who are very few. I shall endeavour to enclose to you as many of the papers and pamphlets as I can, as long as I stay here. Some will go by this conveyance.

Doctor Franklin, Mr˙ Chase, and Mr˙ Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, in Maryland, are chosen a Committee to go into Canada. The characters of the two first you know. The last is not a member of Congress, but a gentleman of independent fortune, perhaps the largest in America — a hundred and fifty or two hundred thousand pounds sterling; educated in some University in France, though a native of America, of great abilities and learning, complete master of the French language, and a professor of the Roman Calholick religion, yet a warm, a firm, a zealous supporter of the rights of America, in whose cause he has hazarded his all. Mr˙ John Carroll, of Maryland, a Roman Catholick Priest, and a Jesuit, is to go with the Committee, the Priests in Canada having refused baptism and absolution to our friends there. General Lee is to command in that country, whose address, experience, and abilities, added to his fluency in the French language, will give him great advantages.

The events of war are uncertain. We cannot insure success, but we can deserve it. I am happy in this provision for that important department, because I think it the best that could be made in our circumstances. Your prudence will direct you to communicate the circumstances of the Priest, the Jesuit, and the Romish religion, only to such persons as can judge of the measure upon large and generous principles, and will not indiscreetly divulge it. The step was necessary, for the anathemas of the Church are very terrible to our friends in Canada.