John Quincy Adams, son of John and Abigail Adams, served as the sixth President of the United States from 1825 to 1829. A member of multiple political parties over the years, he also served as a diplomat, a Senator, and a Representative.

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Today is President George Washington’s birthday. One way of recognizing Washington’s genius in forming our Republic is by contrasting it with the bloody and failed French Revolution, a revolution allegedly undertaken on behalf of the purest of pure democracies. You can examine that failed Revolution itself here. This presentation on the French Revolution was one of a series of classes which Bob Ingraham provided on the genius of our first president and our Constitution.

In the post below, Kathy Magraw examines this period from the perspective of another of our greatest presidents, John Quincy Adams.

There has always been a war between the concept of a republic on the one hand, and, on the other, the two extremes of monarchy and of pure democracy. The men and women who came to America in search of freedom, Founding Fathers like Benjamin Franklin, who guided the crafting of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, knew all too well that a republic could not flourish in Europe in the clutches of the oligarchy.

They also knew that pure democracy (of the Joe Biden and Thomas Jefferson type) would readily lead to mob rule guided by the rapacious elite oligarchy which constituted, then and now, the British monetary empire. They also enforced American neutrality in Europe’s continuous oligarchical wars—with both Britain and France repeatedly seeking to involve the young Republic in those wars to weaken and subjugate it. Would that our present mad Washington utopians, intent on escalating a European war up the nuclear ladder, would heed that lesson before it is too late.

“Our Constitution is a constitution based on principle,” a “system of law based on discoverable universal principle, not a merely positive law,” wrote then-presidential candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. in his July 26, 2002 statement, “The Electable LaRouche.”

LaRouche emphasized: “Under our Constitution, contrary to the governments premised upon parliamentary systems, the responsibility for the sovereign state lies entirely within the institution of the Presidency,” accountable “to the law-making body, the Congress, and to the Federal Court, and, in a different way, to the Federal states.”

With the signing of the Constitution, President George Washington, moved to a new battlefield, initially less sanguinary, but no less a matter of life and death. An initial skirmish involved the first department organized within the executive branch, the Department of State. Its first Secretaries, Thomas Jefferson, and Edmund Randolph, worked an agenda directly contrary to Washington’s foreign policy intentions. Barely had the signatures on the Constitution dried when France, at best a pragmatic supporter of our American Revolution, descended into an orgy of mob rule and bloody terror. Under the banner of Liberty, Fraternity, Equality, the French sought not a republic, but a pure democracy. To them, the executive or President was just a thinly disguised monarch.

The opening salvo in a war of pamphlets came in 1790 with Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. Thomas Paine replied with his Rights of Man in early 1791, which he dedicated to George Washington. It found its way to a printer in America with an attached letter from then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. That was in May. By June, a series began to appear in the widely-circulated Columbian Centinel of Boston by “Publicola.” Many speculated that they were being penned by Vice President John Adams. In fact, they were coming from the not-quite 24-year-old John Quincy Adams. Paine, allied with the increasingly traitorous Jefferson and Madison, argued in support of the French Revolution and in favor of pure democracy and states’ rights against the national Constitution. Here is how Publicola began his response:

“. . . While the friends of humanity have rejoiced at the emancipation of so many millions of their fellow creatures, they have waited with anxious expectation to see upon what foundations they would attempt to establish their newly-acquired liberty…. Among the publications which have appeared upon the subject, two pamphlets…one written by Mr. Burke, which is one continued invective upon almost all the proceedings of the (French) National Assembly since the revolution, and which passes a severe and indiscriminating censure upon almost all their transactions; The other the production of Mr. Paine, containing a defense of the Assembly, and approving everything they have done, with applause as undistinguishing as is the censure of Mr. Burke. We are told that the copy from which an edition of this work was reprinted at Philadelphia, was furnished by the Secretary of State, and was accompanied by a letter, from which the following extract has been published in most of our newspapers. ‘I am extremely pleased to find that it is to be re-printed here, and that something is at length to be publicly said, against the political heresies which have sprung up among us. I have no doubt our citizens will rally a second time round the standard of Common Sense’.”

Against Jefferson’s official sanction for Paine’s panegyric to the French Revolution, Publicola wrote: “I confess, Sir, I am somewhat at a loss to determine, what this very respectable gentleman means by political heresies. Does he consider this pamphlet of Mr. Paine’s as the canonical book of political scripture? As containing the true doctrine of popular infallibility, from which it would be heretical to depart in one single point?” If so, “let us at least examine what it contains.”

Publicola proceeded to conduct a two-month campaign in the pages of the Columbian Centinel, defending those very principles of the US Constitution that Paine considered inferior to the productions of the French Assembly. The partisans of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison frantically responded to each of the nearly dozen articles by Publicola, charging that Publicola was attempting to build up his system of monarchy and aristocracy. Publicola concludes his series with a request that “those only who read them would judge upon their principles; and I am well persuaded, that the candour of the public will not take misrepresentation for reason, nor invective for argument.”

At the time, France was heading to war with its neighbors, and, in February 1793, declared war on the British and the Dutch. Few, if any, neutral nations remained in Europe. Not surprisingly, there were those in America who thought the young nation should stand with France against Britain (or vice versa), and take sides in a battle being waged several thousand miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

President George Washington thought differently and, on April 22, issued the Proclamation of Neutrality. Two days later, there appears in the Columbian Centinel the first of three letters from John Quincy Adams, this time writing as “Marcellus.” He argued for a rigid adherence to a system of neutrality, while reviewing the arguments for and against. “ ‘Whatsoever,’ says the Saviour of mankind, ‘you would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.’ Let us therefore be cautious to do nothing contrary to the rights of others, and we shall continue to enjoy and to deserve the blessings of freedom.”

And to those who would appeal to the Treaty of 1778 with France, it was the French Republic (and not the French King) which had declared war against all the naval powers of Europe. “We cannot take a part with the French Republic, without uniting all the rest of Europe against us; which upon every rational calculation of probability, would be dooming ourselves to inevitable ruin and destruction.”

To Quincy Adams, the natural state of all nations, with respect to one another, is a state of peace. In 1821, as Secretary of State, he made the declaration of Republican foreign policy for which he is famous: “[America] goes not go abroad seeking monsters to destroy. . . [America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace.”

France thought that it could bully the United States into relinquishing its neutrality. It sent Edmond-Charles Genet—Citizen Genet—as its Ambassador. He was charged with securing US assistance in defending France’s Caribbean colonies, advance payment on America’s debts, a new commercial treaty, and implementation of the 1778 treaty agreement allowing attacks on British merchant shipping using ships based in American ports. Arriving in Charleston, SC on April 8, 1793, he didn’t travel to the US Capital to present his credentials to the President. Instead, he organized privateering commissions with the consent of South Carolina Governor William Moultrie and organized a militia of American volunteers to fight Spain in Florida. He finally made his way to Philadelphia in May where he was advised that his actions were in violation of US neutrality and that France’s requests were essentially nonstarters. Undeterred, Citizen Genet proceeded to organize another privateer and took his case directly to the public, violating diplomatic protocol.

In October, as the United States prepared to ask France to recall its Ambassador, an English craft was seized in US waters by a French privateer who sailed it into Boston harbor. A US Marshal attempted to assume control of the vessel but was stopped by the Lieutenant of the French frigate La Concord, then anchored in the harbor. Twelve armed French marines took control of the English vessel and sailed it into the proximity of the frigate, while the French Vice Consul Antoine Charbonet Duplaine informed the Marshall that the French privateer prize master would hold the vessel. The US Marshal gained control of the vessel only when the French frigate sailed off. In response, George Washington revoked the Vice Consul’s authorization to act as Vice Consul.

The French Consul in Boston protested. Citizen Genet declared that Washington had overstepped the authority of the Constitution. He claimed that the President could only recognize the credentials of a diplomat, not dismiss the diplomat. Again, he went public while arguing his case to the “sovereign state of Massachusetts,” which he said had Constitutional priority over the President.

On November 30, 1793, John Quincy Adams entered the fray again, this time under the pen of “Columbus” in the pages of the Columbian Centinel. With biting humor, he dissects each point made by Citizen Genet. “To divide in order to govern,” writes Columbus, “has been one of the favorite maxims of political villainy, ever since the relative stations of tyrant and slave have been the fashion of the world. Every public measure of the French Minister, since the profession of his resolution to appeal, may be traced to the policy of arming one part of America against the other.”

Americans “had delegated to the Congress of the United States the power to regulate their commercial intercourse with foreign nations. They had delegated to the President the power of negotiating with the ministers of foreign power, and with the concurrence of the Senate, to make treaties with them. They had specially directed their President in the Constitution, which defined his authority and prescribed his duties, to ‘take care, that the laws be faithfully executed:’…”

Yet, Citizen Genet and his partisans raised a protest against the revocation of Duplaine’s authority, Columbus continued. Genet endeavored to support his failing influence by connecting himself with a particular party of American citizens, separate from the whole body of the people, “a party professing republican sanctity beyond the rest of their fellow-citizens, and scarcely endeavoring to disguise sentiments, hostile to the national government of the country.” Columbus describes coercion of an American jury deliberation, the slanderous targeting of citizens, the founding of “democratic societies,” and the threat of assassination, including printed caricatures circulating in Philadelphia depicting the President of the Union and a Judge of the Supreme Court with a guillotine suspended over their heads, as attributable to the French Ambassador Genet.

Columbus righteously defends President Washington. “When the Americans, were rudely called upon to pronounce upon the conduct of the patriot, whose disinterested virtues and superior talents had been employed in their service through all the vicissitudes of fortune; whose generous magnanimity had supported them in the most distressing moments of national depression; whose expanded patriotism had participated with rapture in the most blissful scenes of national exultation; the glory of their war, and the ornament of their peace; when a beardless foreigner, whose name was scarcely enrolled upon the catalogue of Liberty; a petulant stripling, whose commission from a friendly power was his only title to their respect, and whose only merit was his country, presumed to place himself in opposition to the father of their country, and to call for their approbation to support his claims, they viewed the application as an indignity offered to themselves, and…rejected the arrogant pretensions of the foreigner, with pointed indignation.”

Within a month Citizen Genet was recalled to France by the new government of Robespierre. President Washington very graciously granted asylum to Genet, who feared for his life if he returned.

Washington made an effort to discover who was the man behind the Columbus letters and, in 1794, nominated the 27-year-old John Quincy Adams to be Ambassador to the Netherlands, thus launching him on an illustrious political career as diplomat, Senator, the 6th US President, and Representative from his district in Massachusetts. Old Man Eloquent, as he would come to be known, would be the irreplaceable link between Washington and Abraham Lincoln, whose own brief foray to the House of Representatives overlapped Quincy Adams’ final year.