be about him and employed by him, the fidelity of
congress itself would be suspected, and a total loss
of confidence would follow. I am much concerned
for the reputation of congress, and have laboured to
support it because that body is and must be the cement
of the union of the states. I hope, therefore,
they will always make it evident to reasonable men
that their administration merits the public applause.
Will they be able to do this, if they should cease
to be very watchful over men whom they trust in great
departments, especially those who have the disposition
of the public moneys? Power will follow the possession
of money, even when it is known that it is not the
possessor’s property. So fascinating are
riches in the eyes of mankind! Were our financier,
I was going to say, even an angel from heaven, I hope
he will never have so much influence as to gain the
ascendency over congress, which the first lord of
the treasury has long had over the parliament of Britain;
long enough to effect the ruin of that nation.
These are the fears which I expressed in congress when
the department was first instituted. I was told,
that the breath of congress could annihilate the financier;
but I replied, that the time might come, and if they
were not careful it certainly would, when even congress
would not dare to blow that breath. Whether these
fears are the mere creatures of the imagination you
My regards to Dr. Holten and Mr. Higgenson, if he
is still in Congress.
Pray write to me often.
1 For a facsimile note by Adams to Gerry, dated September
11, 1783, see Brotherhead, Signers of the Declaration
of Independence (1872), p. 172.
[Ms., Adams Papers, Quincy; the text is also
in John Adams, Works, vol. ix., pp. 519-521.]
Boston Novr 4 1783.
Colo John Trumbull, the Son of the worthy Governor
of Connecticutt is the Bearer of this Letter.
I give the Governor this Epithet, because I think
his faithful Services to our Country entitle him to
it. Yet even he has undergone the Suspicions
of some, unsupported by any solid Reasons that I have
heard of. We live in an Age of Jealousy, and it
is well enough. I was led to believe in early
Life, that Jealousy is a political Virtue. It
has long been an Aphorism with me, that it is one
of the greatest Securities of publick Liberty.
Let the People keep a watchful Eye over the Conduct
of their Rulers; for we are told that Great Men are
not at all times wise. It would be indeed a Wonder
if in any Age or Country they were always honest.
There are however some Men among us, who under the
Guise of watchful Patriots, are finding Fault with
every publick Measure, with a Design to destroy that
just Confidence in Government, which is necessary
for the Support of those Liberties which we have so