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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

To Nathan Webb, With a Strange Prediction

By John Adams (1735–1826)

[Selections from Adams’s Correspondence. From The Works of John Adams. Edited by his Grandson, Charles Francis Adams. 1856.]

SOON after the Reformation, a few people came over into this new world for conscience’ sake. Perhaps this apparently trivial incident may transfer the great seat of empire into America. It looks likely to me: for if we can remove the turbulent Gallicks, our people, according to the exactest computations, will in another century become more numerous than England itself. Should this be the case, since we have, I may say, all the naval stores of the nation in our hands, it will be easy to obtain the mastery of the seas; and then the united force of all Europe will not be able to subdue us. The only way to keep us from setting up for ourselves is to disunite us. Divide et impera. Keep us in distinct colonies, and then, some great men in each colony desiring the monarchy of the whole, they will destroy each others’ influence and keep the country in equilibrio.

Be not surprised that I am turned politician. This whole town is immersed in politics. The interests of nations, and all the dira of war, make the subject of every conversation. I sit and hear, and after having been led through a maze of sage observations, I sometimes retire, and by laying things together, form some reflections pleasing to myself. The produce of one of these reveries you have read above. Different employments and different objects may have drawn your thoughts other ways. I shall think myself happy, if in your turn you communicate your lucubrations to me.

I wrote you some time since, and have waited with impatience for an answer, but have been disappointed.

I hope that the lady at Barnstable has not made you forget your friend. Friendship, I take it, is one of the distinguishing glories of man; and the creature that is insensible of its charms, though he may wear the shape of a man, is unworthy of the character. In this, perhaps, we bear a nearer resemblance to unembodied intelligences than in anything else. From this I expect to receive the chief happiness of my future life; and am sorry that fortune has thrown me at such a distance from those of my friends who have the highest place in my affections. But thus it is, and I must submit. But I hope ere long to return, and live in that familiarity that has from earliest infancy subsisted between yourself and affectionate friend,

WORCESTER, 12 October, 1755.