At the height of the war scare with France, John Adams writes to his son, Thomas, then accompanying Adams’s oldest son, John Quincy, who had just been commissioned Minister to Prussia, a neutral power in the ongoing war between France and Britain. He encourages discretion Thomas's correspondence, given the tense nature of European diplomacy and the seeming imminence of war between France and the United States.
"I am almost afraid to ask you any questions about the Religion, the Government the Policy or the Morals or Manners of that or any other Country at present, least in your answers you should indulge in Speculations which might, if your Letters should be intercepted, give offence. But the Architecture, Painting Statuary in short the fine arts and the belles letters surely may be discanted on with Safety. The agriculture too will be pleasing, the roads, the internal commerce &c. … We are all in Suspence. We are without news from Europe. We learn that General Buonaparte has been at Paris and is gone to the Congress. But we know no more.
"If nothing happens, of a very serious nature to prevent it, I shall go to Quincy as soon as Congress rises, which will be, in June I suppose, and stay till the Fall.—You may write however to any part of America and your Letters will come to me by the post."
Like any father, the President urges his son to take advantage of his position in Berlin: "You will now make yourself master of the German language and literature, which I hope will one day be useful to you. Mr Regal represented your situation as very desireable. Alass! That worthy Man is no more. He has left in the minds of all his acquaintance, as pleasing Impressions as any gentleman from any part of Europe ever did in America." Adams is eager to have Thomas return home, but implies he must remain on duty until a suitable secretary can be found to assist John Quincy.
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