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John Adams to Abigail Adams

10 Feb. 1796

My Dearest Friend Philadelphia Feb. 10. 1796

MrNeckar in his Essay on the true Principles of Executive Power in great States. chapter 12. Says

"A Man, like myself, who has been Some Years placed in the Center of Public affairs, who has been one of the Axes round which the motions of personal Interest perform their Circuit, is best able to judge from his own Experience of the Activity of those Interests, and to perceive in what manner the human heart is influenced, irritated and Soothed by hope. Full often are the thoughts of Men employed upon their own personal Views, when they affect most carelessly to neglect or most generously to sacrifice them. I grant that Individuals have for their Days of parade a pompous and wonder working Language; but I affirm, that, in their daily habits and in their secret Confessions, We find them always occupied either with the fortune they are pursuing or the Eminence to which they aspire. It must not therefore be doubted that the more We narrow the Circle of Encouragement and Rewards which the Executive Power can bestow, the more We shall enfeeble the Action of it."

A Man, who like myself, who have been many more years, than Mr Neckar ever was, in the Center of Public affairs and that in a young Country which has ever boasted of its Simplicity, Frugality, Integrity Public Spirit, public Virtue, Disinterestedness &c can judge from my own Experience of the Activity of Private Interest, and perceive in what manner the human heart is influenced, irritated and Soothed by hope. Neglect and Sacrifices of personal Interests are oftener boasted than practised. The Parade and Pomp and Ostentation and Hypocrisy have been as common in America as in France. When I hear these Pretensions Sett up, I am very apt to Say to myself this Man deceives himself, or is attempting to deceive me.

The various Elections of the United States, will soon call forth all these Personal Interests in all their Vigour, and all the Arts of Dissimulation to conceal them. I am weary of the Game. Yet I dont know how I could live out of it. I dont love Slight neglect, Contempt, disgrace nor Insult more than others. Yet I believe I have firmness of Mind enough to bear it like a Man, a Hero and a Philosopher. I might groan like Achilles and roll from Side to side, abed Sometimes at the Ignorance, Folly, Injustice & Ingratitude of the World. But I should be resigned and become more easy and chearful and enjoy myself & my Friend better than ever I did.

Charles came upon me by Surprize last Evening express from N. York with the Alquine Treaty and Presents among which is the Sword with a Golden Scabbard. Col John Smith in a Vessell from Lisbon is arrived at New York with this prescious Deposit and Charles came on to bring it. He left all well.—I wish the English and Spanish Treaties would arrive that We might have all under one View.

I am

J. A

RC (MHi: Adams Papers).
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