GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE AND OTHER PAPERS OF THE ADAMS STATESMEN
Cover: Papers of John Adams, Volume 15: June 1783 – January 1784, from Harvard University PressCover: Papers of John Adams, Volume 15 in HARDCOVER

Papers of John Adams, Volume 15

June 1783 – January 1784

On September 3, 1783, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay signed the definitive Anglo–American peace treaty. Adams and his colleagues strived to establish a viable relationship between the new nation and its largest trading partner but were stymied by rising British anti-Americanism.

Adams’s diplomatic efforts were also complicated by domestic turmoil. Americans, in a rehearsal for the later Federalist–Antifederalist conflict over the United States Constitution, were debating the proper relationship between the central government and the states. Adams, a Federalist as early as 1783, argued persuasively for a government that honored its treaties and paid its foreign debts. But when bills far exceeding the funds available for their redemption were sent to Europe, he was forced to undertake a dangerous winter journey to the Netherlands to raise a new loan and save the United States from financial disaster.

None of the founding fathers equals the candor of John Adams’s observations of his eighteenth-century world. His letters, always interesting, reveal with absolute clarity Adams’s positions on the personalities and issues of his times.

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Who We Might Have Been, and Who We Will Become

Who among us hasn’t considered what our lives would be like if we had taken alternate paths, made different decisions? Storytellers of every stripe write of the lives we didn’t have, says Andrew H. Miller, author of On Not Being Someone Else: Tales of Our Unled Lives. As we live through a worldwide pandemic, the ideas of what might have been are even more appealing. Much like the adolescents on the verge of adulthood in Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People, Miller tells us, we wait to see what comes next.