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John Adams autobiography, part 2, "Travels, and Negotiations," 1777-1778
sheet 11 of 37, 10 - 12 April 1778


Travels
The first moment Dr. Franklin and I happened to be alone, he began to complain to me of the Coolness as he very coolly called it, between the American Ministers. He said there had been disputes between Mr. Deane and Mr. Lee. That Mr. Lee was a Man of an anxious uneasy temper which made it disagreable to do business with him: that he seemed to be one of those Men of whom he had known many in his day, who went on through Life quarrelling with one Person or another till they commonly ended in the loss of their reason. He said Mr. Izard was there too, and joined in close friendship with Mr. Lee. That Mr. Izard was a Man of violent and ungoverned Passions. That each of these had a Number of Americans about him, who were always exciting disputes and propagating Stories that made the Service very disagreable. That Mr. Izard, who as I knew had been appointed a Minister to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, instead of going to Italy remained there with his Lady and Children at Paris, and instead of minding his own Business, and having nothing else to do he spent his time in consultations with Mr. Lee and in interfering with the Business of the Commission to this Court. That they had made strong Objections to the Treaty, and opposed several Articles of it. That neither Mr. Lee nor Mr. Izard were liked by the French. That Mr. William Lee his Brother, who had been appointed to the Court of Vienna, had been lingering in Germany and lost his Papers, that he called upon the Ministers at Paris for considerable Sums of Money, and by his Connection with Lee and Izard and their party, increased the Uneasiness &c. &c. &c.
I heard all this with inward Grief and external patience and Composure. I only answered, that I was personally much a Stranger to Mr. Izard and both the Lees. That I was extreamly sorry to hear of any misunderstanding among the Americans and especially among the public Ministers, that it would not become me to take any part in them. That I ought to think of nothing in such a Case, but Truth and justice, and the means of harmonizing and composing all Parties: But that I foresaw I should have a difficult, dangerous and disagreable part to Act, but I must do my duty as well as I could.


Additions to Sheet 11, p. 1 at A.
When Mr. Lee arrived at my Lodgings in the one Morning, it was proposed that a Letter should be written to Mr. Dumas at the Hague to inform him of my Arrival and my Colleagues proposed that I should write it. I thought it an awkward thing for me to write an Account of myself, and asked Dr. Franklin to write it, after We had considered and agreed upon what should be written, which I thought the more proper as he was the only one of Us who had been acquainted with Mr. Dumas. Accordingly on the tenth of May [April] the Letter was produced in these Words, which I insert at full Length because it was the only public Letter I believe which he wrote while I was with him, in that Commission.

Sir

We received duely your dispatch of the third instant, and approve very much the care and pains you constantly take, in sending Us, the best Intelligence of public Affairs.... We have now the Pleasure of acquainting you that Mr. John Adams, a Member of Congress appointed to succeed Mr. Deane in this Commission, is safely arrived here. He came over, in the Boston, a Frigate of thirty Guns, belonging to the United States. In the passage they met and made prize of a large English Letter of Mark Ship of fourteen Guns, the Martha, bound to New York, on whose Cargo, seventy thousand pounds Sterling was insured in London. It contains Abundance of Necessaries for America, whither she is dispatched, and We hope will get well into one of our Ports.
Mr. Adams acquaints Us, that it had been moved in Congress, to send a Minister to Holland, but, that, although there was the best disposition towards that country, and desire to have and maintain a good Understanding with [illegible their High Mightinesses, and a free commerce with their Subjects, the measure was respectfully postponed for the present, till their Sentiments on it, could be known, from an Apprehension that possibly their connections with England, might make the receiving an American Minister, as yet inconvenient, and, if Holland should have the same good Will towards Us, a little embarrassing. Perhaps, as our Independency begins to wear the Appearance of greater Stability, since our acknowledged Alliance with France, that difficulty may be lessened. Of this We wish youto take would take the most prudent methods privately to inform yourself. It seems clearly to be the Interest of Holland, to share in the rapidly growing Commerce of this young Sister Re

publick [Republic]
, and, as in the Love of Liberty, and bravery in the defence of it, she has been our great Example, We hope Circumstances and Constitutions in many respects so similar, may produce mutual benevolence: and that the unfavourable impressions made on the minds of some in America, by the rigour, with which Supplies of Arms and Ammunition were refused them in their distress may soon be worn off and obliterated, by a friendly Intercourse and reciprocal good offices.
When Mr. Adams left America, which was about the middle of February, our Affairs were daily improving, our Troops well supplied with Arms and Provisions, and in good order, and the Army of General Buorgoine, being detained for Breaches of the Capitulation, We had in our hands, above ten thousand Prisoners of the Enemy. We are Sir your most obedient Servants.
The within Letter to you is so written that you may shew it, on Occasion. We send inclosed a proposed draught draft of a Letter to the Grand Pensionary, but as We are unacquainted with forms, and may not exactly have hit your idea, with regard to the matter and expression, We wish you would consult with our Friend upon it, and return it, with the necessary corrections.
P.S. The Letters you mention coming to you from England, are from Mr. William Lee and you will be so good as to forward them, with his name circumscribed and inclosed to Messieurs Frederic Goutard and Fils, Banquiers a Frankfort sur la Maine.
A. M. Dumas
The draft of a Letter to the Grand Pensionary was in these Words.

Sir

We have the honor of acquainting your Excellency, that the United States of North America, being now an independent Power, and acknowledged as such by this Court, a Treaty of Amity and Commerce, is compleated between France and the said States, of which We shall speedily send your Excellency a Copy, to be communicated if you think proper, to their High Mightinesses, for whom the United States have the greatest respect and the strongest desire, that a good Understanding may be cultivated and a mutually beneficial commerce established, between the People of the two nations, which, as will be seen, there is nothing in the above

mentioned Treaty to prevent or impede. We have the Honor to be, with great respect, your Excellencys &c.
I thought it most proper that this Letter should be signed by Mr. Franklin and Lee but as they insisted upon it, We all signed it.
It so happened or had been so contrived, that We Were invited to dine at Monsieur Brillons, a Family in which Mr. Franklin was very intimate, and in which he spent much of his Time. Here We met a large Company of both Sexes and among them were Monsieur Le Vailliant and his Lady. Madam Brillion was one of the most beautiful Women in France,

a great Mistress of Musick, as were her two little Daughters. The Dinner was Luxury, as usual in that Country. A large Cake was brought in with three flaggs flying. On one of them "Pride subdued": on another "Hc dies, in qua fit Congressus, exultemus et potemus in e." Mr. Brillon was a rough kind of Country Squire. His Lady all softness, sweetness and politeness. I saw a Woman in Company, as a Companion of Madam Brillon who dined with her at Table, and was considered as one of the Family. She was very plain and clumzy. When I afterwards learnedboth from Dr. Franklin and his Grandson, and from many other Persons, that this Woman was the Amie of Mr. Brillion and that Madam Brillion consoled herself by the Amitie of Mr. Le Vailliant, I was astonished that these People could live together in such apparent Friendship and indeed without cutting each others throats. But I did not know the World. I soon saw and heard so much of these Things in other Families and among allmost all the great People of the Kingdom that I found it was a thing of course. It was universally understood and Nobody lost any reputation by it. Yet I must say that I never knew an Instance of it, without perceiving that all their Complaisancy was  [illegible external and ostensibleonly: a mere conformity to the fashion: and that internally there was so far from being any real friendship or conjugal Affection that their minds and hearts were full of jealousy, Envy, revenge and rancour. In short that it was deadly poison to all the calm felicity of Life. There were none of the delightful Enjoyments of conscious Innocence and mutual Confidence. It was mere brutal pleasure.
At Mr. Chaumonts in the Evening where We were invited to Supper, Two Gentlemen came in and advised me to go to Versailles, the next day. One of them was the Secretary of the Count de Noailles, the late French Ambassador in London. This Gentleman informed me that the Count De Vergennes had expressed to him his Surprize that I had not been to Court. They had been informed by the Police of my Arrival in Paris and had accidentally heard of my dining in Company at one place and another, but when any question was asked them concerning me, they could give no Answer. He supposed I was waiting to get me a french Coat, but he should be glad to see me in my American Coat.
Went to Versailles with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Lee, visited the Secretary of State for foreign Affairs, the Count de Vergennes and was politely received. He hoped I should stay long enough in France, to acquire the French Language perfectly .... Assured me that every Thing should be done to make France agreable to me. Hoped the Treaty would be agreable, and the

Alliance lasting. Although the Treaty had gone somewhat farther than the System I had always advocated in Congress and further than my judgment could yet perfectly approve, it was now too late to make any Objections, and I answered that I thought the Treaty liberal and generous, as indeed it was upon the whole, and that I doubted not of its speedy ratification. I communicated to him the resolution of Congress respecting the Suspension of Burgoins embarkation, which he read through and pronounced "Fort bon." We were then conducted to the Count Maurepas, the Prime Minister or the Kings Mentor, as he was often called. I was presented to him by Dr. Franklin as his New Colleague, and again politely received. This Gentleman was near fourscore Years of Age, with a fresh rosy Countenance, and apparently in better health and greater Vigour than Dr. Franklin himself. He had been dismissed from Office and exiled to his Lands by Lewis the fifteenth in 1748 and in his retirement if not before had obtained the Reputation of a Patriot, for which reason he had been recalled to Court by Lewis 16th, and placed at the head of Affairs.
I was then shewn the Pallace Castle of Versailles, and We happened to be present when the King passed through the Apartments to Council. His Majesty seeing my Colleagues, smiled and passed on. I was then shewn the Gallery, the Royal Appartments and the Kings Bed Chamber. The Magnificence of these Sc nes, the Statues, the Paintings, the furniture, it may easily be supposed appeared to me sublime, or as the French more commonly phrase it, superb. We then returnedto Passy, went into the City and dined with the Count where was the Count de Noailles, his Secretary and twenty or thirty others of the Grandees of France. After Dinner We went to see the Royal Hospital of Invalids, the Chapell of which was enriched and adorned with every Thing that most costly marble, and all the Arts of Architecture, Statuary and painting could at that time furnish in France. It was a monument of the jealousy of Lewis the fourteenth, to emulate the Glory of Saint Pauls Church in London. After this We went a L'Ecole militaire, to the military School, went into the Chapell and Hall of Council. Here We saw the Statues of Conde, Turenne, Luxembourg and Saxe. Returned to Passy and drank Tea with Madam Brillion, who entertained Us again with her Musick and agreable conversation. She recommended to me Voyage Picturesque de Paris and lent me the Book.
Although my Ignorance of the Language was very inconvenient and humiliating to me, yet I thought

the Attentions which had been shewn me from my first landing at Bourdeaux by the People in Authority of all ranks, and by the principal Merchants, and since my Arrival at the Capital by the Ministers of State and others of the first consideration, had been very remarkable and portended much good to our Country. They manifested as I thought, in what estimation the new Alliance with America was held.
In the Course of the last Week, particularly on fryday, I was visited by a Number of American Gentlemen.Sir James Jay of New York, Brother of the then Chief justice, who has since been President of Congress, Governor of the State, Ambassador abroad and Chief Justice of the United States, but is now in 1806 like so many others of our first and best Men in the Post of honor a private Station.... Mr. Joshua Johnson of Maryland Brother of my Friend Thomas Johnson, in some former Years Member of Congress with me, and at that time Governor of Maryland. Mr. Ralph Izzard of South Carolina, Dr. Bancroft, Mr. Livingston from Jamaica, Mr. Jonathan Loring Austin from Boston, Mr. Amiel from Boston. Mr. Johnson had been established in London in a lucrative Trade but finding a War approaching, and coinciding with his native Country in Principle and sympathizing in her feelings he had come over with his Family, that is his Wife and a Number of small Children, to France in his Way to America. He removed in a few days to Nantes, where finding some Encouragements in Commerce, and dreading the difficulties and dangers of a Voyage to America with a young family he remained during the War. One of his Children was destined to be my daughter.Sir James Jay embarked soon for America but returned in a year or two to Europe, went to Holland and came again to Paris. Mr. Austin I received as my private Secretary. Congress had entrusted their Ministers with a few blank Commissions in the Navy: and We soon appointed Mr. Livingston and Mr. Amiel Lieutenants.Livingston served some time under Captain Tucker and Amiel under Captain Jones. I am not certain whether Dr. Smith was among these. But such a Person came over to France with his Wife about that time and gave Dr. Franklin a great deal of Vexation, Mr. Lee not a little, to me he was always complaisant. Yet in 1800 he furnished Mr. Wood in New York with a part of the Billingsgate which composed his History of my Administration. Smith said he was honourably descended, his Father having been a Councillor in the Province of New York as his Brother William has also been. I am sorry that I shall be obliged to say something more of this Man hereafter.
I had the honor to dine with the Prince de Tingry Duke de Beaumont, one of the four Captains of the Kings Guards at Versailles.


Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 2, "Travels, and Negotiations," 1777-1778, sheet 11 of 37 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams autobiography, part 2, "Travels, and Negotiations," 1777-1778. Part 2 is comprised of 37 sheets and 7 insertions; 164 pages total. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Butterfield, L.H., ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. Vol. 4 Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1961.
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