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The following is a speech delivered to the Schiller Institute/International Caucus of Labor Committees Sept. 5-6 conference near Washington, D.C.
In 1778, and then again in 1780, as a young boy, he went with his father, John Adams, to Europe--his father was a leader of our Revolutionary fundraising and diplomacy.
John Quincy Adams's mother, Abigail Adams, wrote to him that he should go ahead with his father to Europe and not worry about missing some school; because, she said, ``This is a time in which a genius would wish to live.'' And, he lived his whole life with this revolutionary sense of excitement and determination, hour to hour, minute to minute.
In Europe, he studied French, and some Dutch, and a whole array of Classical studies.
In 1781, at age 14, in the middle of the American Revolution, in Europe on this mission with his father, he went to Russia as a private secretary and French interpreter for the U.S. minister to the Russian court, who was over there to try to convince the Tsarina to take America's side, or at least to stay neutral.
In 1782, he returned to Paris, as a secretary to the commission negotiating with the British for the end of the American Revolutionary War.
We notice that the treaty (Figure 1), signed and negotiated by Benjamin Franklin, begins with the words, ``In the Name of the most Holy and undivided Trinity''--very interesting, for an alleged ``deist'' like Franklin, right?
John Quincy Adams studied Plato in Paris. He was working with Benjamin Franklin, and became very close to Franklin, and also he became personally very close to Thomas Jefferson there in Paris. He remarked later, that he was struck at that time with the ``moral beauty'' of Plato's dialogues; in particular, The Laws. And this had a profound influence on him. When John Quincy Adams was President, his wife translated Plato from French into English, in the White House.
Coming back to the United States, he graduated from Harvard College in 1787, and became a lawyer and political writer.
And, they had some foolish and opportunistic Americans joining in these schemes, including Thomas Jefferson.
So, John Quincy Adams supported President Washington in public writings, in his stand for neutrality. Because the issue was: We've got to develop the United States, and we must not be drawn into these wars in Europe.
In 1794, President Washington appointed John Quincy Adams, then age 26, as U.S. minister to the Netherlands. Some of Adams's thoughts and phrases got into the Farewell Address delivered by Washington at the end of his Presidency.
Washington insisted that the Union of the states was the main defense of our liberty and independence. If you scratch any ``Confederate'' in the United States to this day, you'll find that he is opposed to every important thing that George Washington stood for, that great Virginian.
He warned against external enemies who would try to poison people's minds against the unity of the country.
He warned that the power and energy of the national government must not be weakened.
He warned against foreign powers using factions in our country to weaken and wreck the republic. Read the George Washington Farewell Address.
He warned against passionate attachments to, or hatreds against, any particular foreign country. Think about today's Israel, Russia, China, Iraq, Iran--pick your prejudice.
At this time, under President Washington, John Quincy Adams was the leading U.S. intelligence officer operating in Europe; a master of languages, and becoming a master of strategy.
In 1797, the new President, his father, John Adams, sent him as the ambassador to Prussia. There he studied the German classics of that day--Schiller and Goethe and others, their poetry and plays. He was a passionate advocate of the theater, and was one of the original stockholders of the Boston Theater; he loved the stage, and drama. He promoted the German classics when he came back and lectured at Harvard. While overseas, he negotiated the 1799 treaty of commerce and friendship between the United States and Prussia.
He was in the U.S. Senate from 1803 to 1808. At this time the British were putting pressure on the United States, to try to destroy the country. They never let up. They were kidnapping seamen from our ships. They were still arming Indians, provoking war between the Indians and the American settlers. And the French, the Napoleon regime, as stooges of the British, were also attacking American ships. In the Senate, John Quincy Adams said, we have to stay neutral against these foreign attacks. But, he began to rally the Americans to stand up to the British. And the President, by then Thomas Jefferson, had adopted a foreign policy along the lines of Washington's: to remain neutral, between the British and the French.
In 1806, while trying to steer people to stand up to the British, Sen. John Quincy Adams introduced a resolution calling for the Treasury Department to issue a plan for ``internal improvements,'' to build canals and roads to develop the West, as a national project of the United States. That's nationalism, against the foreign enemy!
The history books say that this plan ``failed''--because many writers really hate John Quincy Adams, for many reasons. But within a few weeks, another Senator made an identical resolution, and the Treasury Department was ordered to do that. They drew up a plan. Unfortunately, the government at the time was Jefferson and Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin, and on domestic policy they were insane; it was a species of ``Maoism.'' For example, the friends of Alexander Hamilton who were building the Erie Canal asked President Jefferson for Federal government contributions to the project, but Jefferson turned them down, saying that this canal was 100 years before its time, even though Jefferson's Treasury Department had put out a general plan for the project.
John Quincy Adams at this point was breaking with his political party. Now, what's the party? The Federalist party had not been run by Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, who was dead by this time, had broken with these so-called Federalists himself. The Federalist party was run by Boston; by the slave-ship-runners, who later became opium traders. It was run by people loyal to the British. That party was formed in reaction to another party set up with British as well as French influence, the so-called Jeffersonian party. But the patriots, everybody in our country who was a significant mover, broke with the so-called Federalist party. And so did John Quincy Adams; because we had to stand up to the British.
These so-called Federalists from New England, Timothy Pickering and others, applauded the British for carrying out these attacks on our ships. These are the ancestors of McGeorge Bundy and his set.
So, keeping Hamilton's economics of nationalism, the economics of building the country, but breaking with the party that falsely claimed to be identified with Hamilton, John Quincy Adams went to President Jefferson and said: My fellow party members in Massachusetts are committing treason. Working with the British governor of Nova Scotia, they are trying to foment secession of the northern states.
Adams was then kicked out of the party and had to resign as Senator; so, he was out of politics.
In 1809, the next President, James Madison, appointed John Quincy Adams as United States minister to Russia. Recall that he had been there at age 14 as a translator and secretary. While U.S. ambassador there, he proposed to industrialize Russia through a deal with the Tsar to have Robert Fulton build steamboats in Russia, and get them operating on all the Russian rivers to integrate that nation and make it into a modern country. (Two years earlier, Fulton's new steamboat had been introduced onto New York's Hudson River. Earlier, Hamilton had subsidized Fulton to go to France, where he had worked on designing a submarine to destroy the British Navy.)
The Adams-Fulton Russia steamboat deal fell through because of the imminent war between the United States and Britain. But, Adams's actions would later lead to the building of Russia's railroads.
We went to war with Britain in 1812. They burned our capital city. John Quincy Adams was the head of the United States delegation at Ghent, Netherlands, to negotiate the end of that war. Then, he took over as U.S. ambassador to Britain. Rising in the service of his country abroad, looking at the global scene, he became the most powerful mind in respect to what was facing us in the world and how to deal with it.
You can see how the British faction inside America reflected the British view of Adams. This is what James Gallatin, son of Albert Gallatin, wrote about Adams in James Gallatin's Diary, May 17, 1815:
``Mr. Adams is really a thorn; he is so absolutely `Yankee' and of a common type. Why he is Minister here I cannot understand. He is totally unfitted for the post. He bursts out at times, upsetting everybody and everything.... I can see the contempt on the faces of the English delegates; they are so courteous and civil....''Later, this James Gallatin, during the Civil War, was head of Associated Banks of New York. With his close ties to British and French bankers, he tried to dictate to President Lincoln: ``You're not getting any money from Wall Street unless you do as we say.'' He was kicked out by Lincoln.
At this time, Spain was the nominal owner of Florida. We had gotten title to the center of the continent in the Louisiana Purchase, up the middle from Texas northward, but there was no defined border between the Spanish territories to the south, and our territory in this area. This was before Mexico had been fully confirmed as an independent nation. So, Spanish territory included Florida, the Gulf coast, and a lot of the middle of the country.
Indian raids were being run from inside the United States, directed by British soldiers on the scene. We were not in any official war with England. We had fought two wars with them, but were then ``at peace.'' Gen. Andrew Jackson went on a mission into Spanish Florida and captured two British scoundrels, who were running this ``Indian'' terrorism.
This is a big lesson, now, for President Clinton and people around the world. When we signed a peace treaty with England, a British Colonel Nichols, operating in this Spanish territory, signed another treaty with the Indians inside America, an offensive and defensive treaty to fight the Americans! When Adams complained to the British, they said, ``Oh, we don't countenance that, that's not official.'' But when this Nichols would return to London, bringing Indian chiefs with him, they would give him rewards and decorations, and one of these so-called Indian prophets, a British stooge, the Prophet Francis, went back to Florida in a British officer's redcoat uniform.
Adams found the papers of the two Brits whom General Jackson had executed, papers showing that they were part of this Nichols operation. He sent a blistering letter to the Spanish. He was the only member of President Monroe's cabinet to stand up in defense of this attack that we had carried out against British terrorism. And, he rallied the government to stand up for it. He told the Spanish, don't allow yourselves to be used by the British, who are trying to massacre Americans and burn down our country, using your territory. That's the issue, it's a problem of the British.
The result was that Adams negotiated a treaty: Spain ceded Florida to us and, for the first time, the United States was defined as stretching out to the Pacific Ocean. This was the ``Adams-Onis Treaty'' of 1819 (Figure 2).
On July 4, 1821, John Quincy Adams gave a shocking speech, very famous at the time, which is only available in rare-book rooms today. A fierce attack on the British Empire, it celebrated America's nationhood as a victory over British oppression, and a model for other nations. He read the Declaration of Independence in the House of Representatives chamber, and he said of the Revolution:
``In a conflict [of] seven years, the history of the war by which you maintained that Declaration, became the history of the civilized world.... It was the first solemn declaration by a nation of the only legitimate foundation of civil government. It was the cornerstone of a new fabric, destined to cover the surface of the globe. It demolished at a stroke, the lawfulness of all governments founded upon conquest. It swept away all the rubbish of accumulated centuries of servitude. From the day of this Declaration, the people of North America were no longer the fragment of a distant empire, imploring justice and mercy from an inexorable master in another hemisphere. [Dr. Mahathir, you have a friend here--AHC].... They were a nation, asserting as of right, and maintaining by war, its own existence. A nation was born in a day.... It stands, and must for ever stand, alone, a beacon on the summit of the mountain, to which all the inhabitants of the earth may turn their eyes for a genial and saving light ... a light of salvation and redemption to the oppressed.''This anti-British speech was declared ``tasteless'' by the Boston Brahmins. In the accompanying discussion in this period, Adams said that the British Empire, such as in India, must ultimately fall, and that the United States itself must never have colonies.
This rallied Americans for the issuance of the President's message, of which Adams was the principal author. This message to Congress, which became known as the ``Monroe Doctrine,'' was written out by President Monroe in his Loudoun County, Virginia home 175 years ago this year.
President Monroe's message said that there was not going to be any new colonization of the Western Hemisphere. We will abstain from wars of the European powers, except when our rights are invaded. We're not going to get trapped in some kind of British geopolitics in that way. And, there must be no European interference with, or control over, the independent states of the Western Hemisphere. The principle would include, that you can't loan somebody money, and then when they can't pay for some reason, you have the right to run their country. No. You don't have control like that, because these are independent states. That's what the Monroe Doctrine is about.
Under the Monroe Doctrine, a de facto government is for us the legitimate government. Peace and friendship with all states; no vendettas, no demonizing, no sanctions against 100 countries.
Adams was the rock of resistance to the British. Monroe, even after issuing the Doctrine, confided to Adams, maybe we should just tell the British that the attitude taken in the message was essentially founded on the proposition made by British Prime Minister George Canning to us. John Quincy Adams said no, this has nothing to do with the British. This is our independent statement of policy, whether we are able to enforce this militarily or not--because we were quite weak.
British Prime Minister Canning had refused America's request--Adams's request--to immediately recognize the states of Ibero-America, of South America. Yet, Canning took credit for the independence of the South American countries, and for the Monroe Doctrine! He said in 1826: ``I called the new world into existence to redress the balance of the old.''
In the 1940s, Walter Lippmann wrote a lie, that the British and the United States had a secret agreement, that the Monroe Doctrine was joint policy.
Franklin D. Roosevelt corrected Lippmann, and said that there was no treaty, that there was no unwritten agreement, in his speech of Dec. 29, 1940.
So, here is John Quincy Adams being groomed for the Presidency, which his office was used for at that time. (Obviously, today, you wouldn't want to do that with Madeleine Albright.) As one of his last acts as Secretary of State, he brought the Marquis de Lafayette back to America, to be on tour and, recalling the Revolution Lafayette had aided, to help organize a resurgence of American nationalism. And, among the party with Lafayette, Friedrich List was brought in to work on a nationalist offensive that they put together.
John Quincy Adams was President of the United States from 1825 to 1829. His Presidency was a brilliant success. He was operating under terrible conditions of political warfare and sabotage, which continue to the present day. But read any history book, read any encyclopedia article, read anything about this period--his Presidency was a ``failure,'' they claim. Why?
``The great object of ... civil government is the improvement of the condition of those who are parties to the social compact, and no government ... can accomplish [its] lawful ends ... [but] as it improves the conditions of those over whom it is established. Roads and canals, by multiplying and facilitating the communications and intercourse between distant regions and multitudes of men, are among the most important means of improvement....''He said that people and nations in Europe are beginning to take up this ``internal improvement,'' to conquer nature with infrastructure building. And, ``while foreign nations less blessed with ... freedom ... than ourselves are advancing with gigantic strides in the career of public improvement, were we to slumber in indolence or fold up our arms and proclaim to the world that we are palsied by the will of our constituents, would it not be to cast away the bounties of Providence and doom ourselves to perpetual inferiority?''
In groundbreaking ceremonies for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, Adams said:
``At the creation of man, male and female, the Lord of the universe, their Maker, blessed them, and said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it. To subdue the earth was, therefore, one of the first duties assigned to man at his creation; and now, in his fallen condition, it remains among the most excellent of his occupations. To subdue the earth is pre-eminently the purpose of this undertaking.... [We pray for] this joint effort of our great community, ... that He would make it one of His chosen instruments for the preservation, prosperity, and perpetuity of our Union.''
As Graham Lowry has shown [in an accompanying presentation to the conference], we had a continual effort along the lines of an American System, of deliberate use of whatever powers we had to develop the country. National powers, the powers of the nationalists operating every way they could. But we now had in place a number of weapons, and a leadership at this point, allowing us to bring off this miracle, of transforming the United States from an esentially backward, agrarian country, into a modern industrialized nation.
First of all, President John Quincy Adams assigned the United States Army to begin developing the railroads of the country. We had no trains, no railroads, no tracks, no nothing: There wasn't such a thing. He assigned the Army engineers of West Point to make the surveys, the plans, and the designs for railroads. Eventually, 60 railroads were planned in that way.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, chartered in 1827, was the first of these to which Adams assigned Army engineers. One of the men on this job was the officer George Washington Whistler, who later went to Russia. These were mostly privately owned companies, financed by government. They got money from state governments, from city governments, and Federal land grants also, later on.
Adams's protègès, William Seward and Edward Everett, became governors of New York and Massachusetts, respectively, and built the great railroads there, using state funds and U.S. Army engineers.
(Think about the pitiful whining of Newt Gingrich, that we cannot build anything in America, we can't do anything, because our tradition is not to have government get involved in enterprises! Think this over, clearly.)
The Bank of the United States at this time was led by the very close personal friend of John Quincy Adams, the Greek scholar Nicholas Biddle, who marketed the railroad bonds that were issued. Our nation's bank marketed those bonds, in a whole complex of government-led activities, with private cooperation, to build up the country.
The Erie Canal was finished in the year John Quincy Adams became President, 1825, as a state government project. President Adams now launched a new era of canal-building.
Figure 3 shows all the land grants for transportation in this country, until 1853. Before 1823, there were none. In 1823, under President Monroe, about 100,000 acres of Federal land was donated to the states, for them to sell to settlers, and use the money from the land sale to build roads. Under President John Quincy Adams, the U.S. government suddenly in 1827 gave 2 million acres to the states, including Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, to build canals, and a substantial amount for road-building. The next year, about another 1 million acres of land was granted.
How are you going to finance these constructions? You can sell land. The government used every method possible, because you had a lot of free-trade crazies running around saying nothing should be done. So, you use every method you can to get this done. And, we also had substantial work for river improvements, clearing those snags in the rivers, so we could get through the Ohio and travel westward.
These canals linked up with the Erie Canal. They brought settlers to the Midwest, who built agriculture and industry. This created New York City as a great metropolis, with this trade that was mostly flowing into New York. It also created Chicago. Trace the shipment line out there to Lake Michigan. You have a canal built from Chicago, then only a little dump, to the Illinois River, that connected to St. Louis on the Mississippi River.
So, all of a sudden, you have a system of canals linking up a whole new vast area.
The second feature of the canals, which is crucial to understand, is that inside Pennsylvania, canals were built primarily for the purpose of getting coal out of the mines, down to Philadelphia for manufacturing, and to go by sea to Boston, New York, and other cities to build up industry; these Pennsylvania canals also helped integrate eastern Ohio into the Pennsylvania industrial machine.
Before the Erie Canal, it cost in the range of $90 to send one ton of something 300 miles in the U.S.A. (Figure 5). So, you could not live in Ohio and have a farm, because there were no roads and no canals, and you wouldn't want to have a farm if you couldn't produce more than your own family eats. If you are to produce a surplus, you have to send it somewhere. You couldn't sell a crop, if only you and a few other hermits are living within range of your shipments. In those days it cost about $50 to send one ton from Buffalo down to the Hudson River and on to New York City.
After the Erie Canal was built, from the 1830s to the 1850s, it cost only $5 to send that same ton 300 miles. So, you could have farms. They could send their crops to the huge market in the east, they got good prices, and they could also get machines transported in cheaply. After the railroads were built, by the mid-1850s, it cost $3 to send one ton 300 miles. This was a revolution.
We now have settlers west of the mountain barrier, becoming a substantial proportion of the new population of the United States. We have the west tied to the north and the east, and not to the south. They don't have to send their output southward down the Mississippi River to get it to the outside world. So, they are not tied to what became the Confederacy, not tied to the slaveowners. They're not tied to the power that was used as a sledgehammer against the development of the country, namely, the slave power. This is crucial.
At the same time, anthracite coal production was suddenly started up in Pennsylvania. None had been produced before this point. What happened? We built these canals at state expense, and it was now only 1 cent a ton to move that coal. So, they poured it out, into factories. They started building iron forges, protected by the government from foreign competition. And, we thus started building iron mills. We didn't do it before that.
In the early 1830s, the free traders got control and they lowered the tariff. What happened to iron production? It stagnated, then fell. In 1842, Henry Clay, in the Senate, restores the higher tariff, and iron production shoots up, because we have protection for our industry again. Then, the free traders get control, they lower the tariff, and you see iron stagnating and falling and fluctuating, never developing again.
Until, Abraham Lincoln comes in during the 1860s and raises tariffs through the roof! You want to buy British steel? You'll have to mortgage your children. That's how we finally got steel mills built.
This group, of Adams, Mathew Carey, and Nicholas Biddle, had a political partner named Friedrich List. He went to Europe in 1830, and started the nation of Germany. It was along the same principles, that is, by setting up a tariff unity of the German principalities, and shutting out British free trade, partially shutting out British products. List started the development of railroads in Germany. He was a former German political leader and economist, he came here and worked on strategy with our nationalists, then went back as an American agent to be the master organizer in creating Germany as a nation.
George Washington Whistler, the Army engineer whom John Quincy Adams had assigned to build America's first railroad, went to Russia and built Russia's first railroad, from St. Petersburg to Moscow.
There were supposedly ``failures'' of John Quincy Adams. He was going to have a conference in Panama, with all the states of South America and Mexico. But the British-led southern secessionists then agitating against Adams sabotaged this hemispheric conference. Yet, this initiative laid the groundwork for what came in later with James Blaine (Secretary of State), and with Franklin Roosevelt; this idea of the absolute friendship and partiality of the United States for the republics to the south.
Adams proposed that the government would build an astronomical observatory. This was laughed at. But his work in these areas, including creating the Smithsonian Institution, helped set up the government base for science in America. John Kennedy, whose program got us to the moon, focussed quite a bit on the integrity and pioneering spirit of John Quincy Adams.
In January 1826, Adams introduced a bill to create a U.S. naval academy. It was passed by the Senate, defeated in the House. In February 1827, he introduced a bill for a naval expedition to explore the South Seas and Antarctica; it passed the House, and failed in the Senate. But these things he originated were successfully pushed through not long after, by his faction.
Defeated for re-election to the Presidency in 1828, he went into Congress.
John Quincy Adams was depicted in a recent movie, Amistad. And, he fought the slave power. In particular, he risked everything to fight a gag order, beginning in 1838, that forbade any discussion by Congressmen of slavery or its abolition. He was in Congress for 18 years after he was President. His leadership laid the ground for Lincoln's fight, and for the victory of the United States as a great nation.
Former President Adams, and future President Lincoln, worked together in 1848 as members of the House of Representatives, to expose the fraud of the U.S. war against Mexico. The fraud was the dirty deal the slavery-spreading James K. Polk administration made with the British Empire. Polk gave the British half of the Pacific northwest coast--what is now British Columbia, in exchange for British backing for an aggressive war against Mexico. As President, John Quincy Adams had tried to buy Texas from Mexico. And, we might have been able to buy California. Adams was the greatest promoter of America's westward expansion to complete the continental republic, especially at the expense of empires. But, to take land by force from a neighbor republic, is simply to attack our own side in the world republic-versus-empire battle. Adams and Lincoln knew that the war against Mexico would lead toward civil war in the United States. In the end, Lincoln was elected President to settle the question.
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