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condemning the embargo act, and the views and means which had led to its adoption. This measure affected New England most seriously, and in that quarter it met with strong resistance, although it was everywhere looked upon as a misfortune to the country, however it might appear as a political necessity.
On the last day of March, 1808, Mr. Adams published a reply to this letter, in which he defended the Administration and the embargo measure, claimed that Mr. Pickering's letter was designed in its tendency to reconcile the commercial States to the servitude of British protection, and war with the rest of Europe, and was, in its general tone deprecatory of the course of the New England politicians.
This was a straw too. much, and the consequence was what Mr. Adams might have foreseen. His term in the Senate would expire on the 3d of March, 1809, but to show their dissatisfaction with his course, long before the usual time, the Federalists in the Legislature caused an election to be held, in which James Lloyd was chosen as his successor by a vote of two hundred and forty-eight, over two hundred and thirteen for Mr. Adams. This mean reproof on the part of the Federalists was more than it was in the nature of John Quincy Adams to stand. The result was a letter of resignation from him, in which he said:—
"It has been my endeavor, as I have conceived it was my duty, while holding a seat in the Senate of the Union, to support the Administration of the General Government in all necessary measures within its competency, the object of which was to preserve from seizure and depredation the persons and property of our citizens, and to vindicate the rights essential to the independence of our country against the unjust pretensions and aggressions of all foreign powers.
"Certain resolutions recently passed by you have expressed your disapprobation of measures to which, under the influence of these motives, I gave my assent. As far as an opinion of a majority in the Legislature can operate, I can not but consider these resolutions as enjoining upon the representation of the State in Congress a sort of opposition to the National Administration in which I can not consistently with my principles concur.
"To give you, however, the opportunity of placing in the Senate of the United States a member who may devise and enforce the means of relieving our fellow-citizens from their present suffering without sacrificing the peace of the Nation, the personal liberties of our seamen, or the neutral rights of our commerce, I now restore to you the trust committed to my charge, and resign my seat as a Senator of the United States on the part of this Common wealth."
The resignation was accepted, and Mr. Lloyd at once elected to serve out the remainder of Mr. Adams's term.
Thus ended Mr. Adams's career in the Senate of the United States, and his association with the Federal party. Early in June, 1808, his letter of resignation was written, and in less than a month the Republicans offered to make him their candidate for the Lower House of Congress, a proposition he declined without hesitation. Mr. Adams was now systematically read out of the Federal party, and branded not only as an ingrate and an apostate, but openly accused of selling himself for Republican promises or expectations. More and worse than this, he was accused of falling into the support of Thomas Jefferson, the so-styled bitter enemy of his father.
In fact, the Federalists of New England, and especially of Massachusetts, pretended to despise him from every point at which they viewed him. The prejudices of such inveterate hate were long made a part of the political heir-looms of powerful old families, which may not be wholly lost sight of at this late day.
It can hardly be useful or interesting to review more fully this now correctly understood, but greatly censured, period in Mr. Adams's career. At no other time in the history of political parties in this country, perhaps, could a politician whose acts were, at all, a matter of public note or comment, have furnished so many reasons which must now appear good and sufficient for a change of political faith and practice as at the very moment when John Quincy Adams crossed over into the Democratic (Republican) camp.
Not that the new party, which hardly had an existence before the Presidency of the elder Adams, was an entirely respectable, reliable, or correct organization, but the Federalists, who had established the Government, had wandered from the right in some very important matters of administration, to say nothing of some principles of foreign policy, cowardly, if not also dishonorable. Neither Thomas Jefferson nor his successor was the man for a great warlike emergency in the life of the Republic, but the important events transpiring under them were gathering to their support the great mass of the patriotic men of the country.
Notwithstanding this fact, in some respects it was a strange thing to see an Adams cutting asunder from his old party and aristocratic social moorings. That Mr. Adams had been bought there was not then nor at any subsequent time the least foundation in truth. Dr. Rush, of Philadelphia, did ask him about the probability of his accepting an office under Mr. Jefferson, but nothing appears in this more than that Mr. Adams would not depart from his principles to have any position in the gift of the President, nor would he decline an office simply because Mr. Jefferson might proffer it. The notorious William B. Giles, of Virginia, touched Mr. Adams on the subject of an appointment under Mr. Jefferson, but it was found that the course Mr. Adams was pursuing had its origin in his own independent views of the demands of the times. He had no political expectations. He asked nothing of the Democratic party, rior did it promise him any thing.
When he heard prominent Federalists attempting to justify the most malignant and unprovoked outrages of the British Minister he lost his temper, and forever abandoned any kind of co-operation with their party. In the history of the times his course stands above reproach. In the double record of his public words and acts and the private confessions of a Diary in which he can hardly be accused of meditated insincerity, his motives mainly appear above suspicion.
Nor are the Massachusetts Federalists to be censured without stint. That they were in some particulars mistaken, it is easy to believe, but that their motives were evil is quite another thing. They, no doubt, earnestly felt that Mr. Adams had broken faith and dealt unfairly with them, and as mere party adherents they were right. They did believe, too, that Mr. Jefferson's non-importation and embargo measures were the most wicked things which could have been done to them. They were a race of traders, and they thought the blundering Southerner was going to ruin them and the country. It was the old story of the blinding influence of money-getting, of commercial and selfish interests. When patriotism rises above these it becomes a virtue worthy of all admiration. The modest facts would, perhaps, support the assertion that Mr. Adams reached this standard at this very period in his career which has been so unfavorably criticised.
In the summer of 1805 Mr. Adams was offered the new professorship of Rhetoric and Oratory in Harvard University, which he accepted on two or three conditions; one of which was that he should select his own time for delivering his lectures while serving in Congress. He was not, however, inaugurated in this new position until June of the following year.
Although an orator himself, Mr. Adams never put much stress upon his powers in that way. On writing of his efforts in the Senate on an important occasion when he desired to appear to the best advantage, he said: "In manner I was as I always am, miserably defective, but the substance was not without weight."
In the winter of 1807, in comparing himself with Mr. Bayard, he wrote in his Diary :—
"For the talent of extemporaneous speaking he knows his great superiority over me, and he exults in displaying it, because in every other particular he is conscious of his inferiority. It is, perhaps, from consciousness of both these things, also, that his exultations of victory are so galling to me. I know my moral and political principles to be more pure than his; and this is saying little, for his are very loose. I believe my talents and acquirements greater than his, excepting that of unpremeditated eloquence. Of that I have very little, and he more than any man I ever heard in Congress."
Still all of this did not prevent his being a very successful teacher of oratory, as the times then went, in Harvard University. His father and mother were present to hear him deliver his installation address,