Saturday, May 14, 2016
Adams was especially incensed by the British insistence on granting Indians permanent territorial rights. "To condemn vast regions of territory to perpetual barrenness and solitude," Adams shot back, "that a few hundred savages might find wild beasts to hunt upon it, was a species of game law that a nation descended from Britons would never endure. And was impossible. It was opposing a feather to a torrent." Adams was actually comparing the relationship between America's settlers and it indigenous population to that between British gentry and poachers on their land. This was ingenious, preposterous, and grotesque - though Clay, Bayard, and Gallatin would have said no less. In any case, Adams never doubted that Providence intended the European settlers of America to spread across, and dominate, the continent - a principle that would later be called Manifest Destiny.
-James Traub, John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit. The context: Adams, Clay, Bayard, and Gallatin are in Ghent, Belgium negotiating with the British for the cessation of what we call the War of 1812.