No Taste For Sword and Fire

John Adams, Letter to François Adriaan Van der Kemp, 25 April 1808:


In Politicks, one of my Maxims is Nil Desperandum you deprecate the Angel of Perdition who desolats Europe and you pray that he may not be permitted to stretch his Sword to this Continent. To this I say Amen! because I have not a taste for your Ense or Igne. But if I were a Scipio, (observe I do not Say an Alexander a Cæsar, a Charles the twelfth or a Marlborough) I would not wish for a better Employment, that that of giving the first Check to this Destroyer in America. I dread him not.—How many Men can he transport to America? Fifty–thousand Men, would require one hundred and fifty thousand Tons of ships, that is five hundred Ships of Three hundred Tons Burthen [ ] to transport them to America, and then one half of them would be Sick, and unfit for service. But where can he find five hundred ships of 300 tons. All Europe at present, could not furnish them. Ships of War can hardly Stow away their own Sailers and Marines. Put an Additional Number of Soldiers on board for the long Voyage to America and you breed a plague. If this Country could not resist fifty thousand Men, it deserves to be enslaved. Rome with 250,000 Citizens fought Carthage Siria Macedonia, Gaul Spain and Etolia. We have a Million of Citizens: and an immense Continent, not a Single City to Subdue.


I have always cryed “Ships! Ships! Hamiltons Hobby Horse was Troops! Troops! With all the Vanity and Timidity of Cicero, all the Debauchery of Marc Anthony and All the Ambition of Julius Caesar, his object was the command of fifty thousand Men. My object was the Defence of my Country, and that alone, which I knew could be effected only by a Navy.

John Adams - Wikipedia

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