Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Two Letters

Consider these two letters:

Adams to Jefferson, January 31, 1796 (259)
“I consider all Reasoning upon French Affairs of little moment. The Fates must determine hereafter as they have done heretofore. Reasoning has been all lost. Passion, Prejudice, Interest, Necessity has governed and will govern; and a Century must roll away before any permanent and quiet System will be established. An Amelioration of human affairs I hope and believe will be the result, but You and I must look down from the Battlements of Heaven if We ever have the Pleasure of Seeing it.

TJ to JA, Sep 4th 1823
"The spirit of the Spaniard and his deadly and eternal hatred to the Frenchman, gives me much confidence that he will never submit, but finally defeat this atrocious violation of the laws of god and man under which he is suffering; and the wisdom and firmness of the Cortes afford reasonable hope that the nation will settle down in a temperate representative government, with an executive properly subordinated to that. Portugal, Italy, Prussia, Germany, Greece will follow suit. You and I shall look down from another world on these glorious achievements to man, which will add to the joys of heaven."

Could Jefferson in 1823 have had in mind Adams's letter from 1796, indicating to Adams that the French Revolution did not slow down the progress of representative government in the way that Adams had predicted in 1796?

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Blogger Tortoise(notHare) said...

Waiting 27 years to say, indirectly, "I told you so" sounds very much like TJ.
I'm curious, did JA reply to that particular letter from TJ?

Not related to the letters, as such, but I often wonder that JA might also have had a much stronger focus on the English experience of the 17th Century and early 18th Century (regicide, Cromwell, restoration, William of Orange etc.). JA wept in Leyden when he saw the Church at which the Mayflower-Pilgrims worshiped when they lived there in exile.
TJ certainly would have known this history but I doubt that it was part of his marrow (slavery seemed to be his lifelong issue). Just a stray thought.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Tortoise(notHare) said...

Two other comments that I hope might shed some light:
1. JA was raised with Calvinist Theology and he certainly believed in the "moral depravity of Man". Nothing that JA saw in life or in law practice was contrary to that basic supposition.
2. TJ was primarily a person who saw the glass as half-full whereas JA saw the glass as half-empty and he demanded to know who stole the other half!

2:14 PM  

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