The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: With a Life of the Author - Vol. 1

By John Adams; Charles Francis Adams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX.
ORGANIZATION OF THE NEW GOVERNMENT -- ELECTION AND SERVICES AS VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

On the 20th of April, 1788, Mr. Adams bade farewell to the shores of the ancient world. He returned to his native land to Þnd it permanently freed from all dangers, excepting those which had their origin from within. He had quitted it the first time at the very crisis of the war. He came back to see it in the most critical moment of the peace. The political world had undergone, in the interval, a great revolution. Those questions which had agitated the people so long as independence was in doubt, had all passed away, and many of the men who appeared to lead at the beginning had vanished from the scene. But four of the members of congress who had signed their names to the Declaration in 1776 were members of the same body when the treaty of peace was submitted for ratification in 1783. It may fairly be doubted whether, in any modern government having a semblance of free institutions, the state of public feeling or the motives and principles that affect action ever continue for three years together the same. The passions of men cannot long endure a high degree of tension, and the decline of an excitement is invariably followed by indifference to a revival of the same emotion, as well as indisposition immediately to enter up- on any new one. The peace had been received with joy, because it was regarded as a final object. Nothing further was needed to make America happy and prosperous. Hence there was little disposition to exertion. It was expected that the country would go on of itself. Great was then the disappointment to discover, at the end of four or five years, that independence had not done all that was hoped of it, that the people were not prosperous, that law and order were not so well established as they had been in the colonial days, that instead of im

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