The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: With a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations - Vol. 8

The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: With a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations - Vol. 8

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The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: With a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations - Vol. 8

The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: With a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations - Vol. 8

Read FREE!

Excerpt

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Paris, 8 November, 1782.

SIR,-- In one of your letters you suppose, that I have an open, avowed contempt of all rank. Give me leave to say, you are much mistaken in my sentiments. There are times, and I have often seen such, when a man's duty to his country demands of him the sacrifice of his rank, as well as his fortune and life; but this must be an epoch, and for an object worthy of the sacrifice. In ordinary times, the same duty to his country obliges him to contend for his rank, as the only means indeed, sometimes, by which he can do service; and the sacrifice would injure his country more than himself. When the world see a man reduced to the necessity of giving up his rank, merely to serve the public, they will respect him, and his opinions will have the more weight for it; but when the same world see a man yield his rank for the sake of holding a place, he becomes ridiculous. This, you may depend upon it, will not be my case.

Ranks, titles, and etiquettes, and every species of punctilios, even down to the visits of cards, are of infinitely more importance in Europe than in America, and therefore congress cannot be too tender of disgracing their ministers abroad in any of these things, nor too determined not to disgrace themselves. Congress will, sooner or later, find it necessary to adjust the rank of all their servants, with relation to one another, as well as to the magistrates and officers of the separate governments.

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