Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

Isaac Smith Sr. to John Adams, 6 May 1778 Smith, Isaac Sr. JA Isaac Smith Sr. to John Adams, 6 May 1778 Smith, Isaac Sr. Adams, John
Isaac Smith Sr. to John Adams
John Adams Esqr. Boston May the 6th. 1778

Hopeing this might find you safe Arrived, and haveing an Opportunity by Via Cadiz, thought itt might be Agreeable to let you know your family and friends are well.

A fleet from France is now Arriveing. The Dean Frigate with Young Cushing &c. is att Portsmouth.1 Mr. Dean was landed att the Eastward as you will know as the ship returnd.2—Tryon sent Out part of an Act to Govr. Trumbal. I have inclosed his Answer which is very spirited, and to the purpose, and is much Admired.3

You will probably have heard of the loss of the Alfred, Capt. Hinman, who with the Rawley Agreed to Attack two Ships of much less force—the Rawley haveing as many people as both the british ships. Hinman went to Attack them, According to Agreement, but the Rawley kept her Wind and never went to his Assistance and after engaging both Vessells sometime, he was Obliged to strike. So we go on with Continental ships, by all Accounts itt is a much worse Affair than McNeils.4

A ship of Warr is this day Arrived with duplicates of what Mr. Dean brought. We have Advise from Bilbao to the last of March and was in hopes to have heard of your Arrival.—Hopeing to here of your Arrival soon is the wish of Yr. Most hum. servt.,

Isaac Smith

RC (Adams Papers). For the enclosure (not found), see note 3. French translation, of selected sentences only (Archives Aff. Etr., Paris: Etats-Unis, Corr. pol., vol. 3), bears these notations: “Isaac Smith a John Adams. traduit de l'Anglois Interceptée”; reproduced in Stevens' Facsimiles , No. 822. See descriptive note on Thaxter's letter to JA, preceding; these two letters doubtless came by the same conveyance and may have been captured and recaptured before reaching their recipient.


The Boston Gazette of 4 May reported the arrival at Portsmouth, N.H., of the Continental frigate Deane, Capt. Samuel Nicholson, on 1 May in nine 20weeks from France, bringing a cargo of military supplies from France and a number of passengers, including Thomas, son of Thomas Cushing Sr.


Simeon Deane, bringing copies of the treaties with France to Congress, sailed home on the French frigate La Sensible and arrived at Falmouth (now Portland, Maine), on 13 April (Boston Gazette, 20, 27 April 1778).


Probably Smith enclosed a printed handbill dated at Boston, 27 April: “The following Bills i.e. North's conciliatory bills, together with a Letter from Governor William Tryon to Governor Jonathan Trumbull, and his Answer thereto, came to Hand this Afternoon” (copy in MHi; Ford, Mass. Broadsides , No. 2128).


Hector McNeill (1728–1785), captain in the Continental Navy, commanded the frigate Boston when it was commissioned in 1776. Following an action in July 1777 in which his fellow officer Capt. John Manley, commanding the frigate Hancock, was captured, McNeill was court-martialed and suspended or dismissed from the service, and although subsequently the Continental Congress declined to carry out the sentence, McNeill did not serve again. Manley was acquitted. The trials of both officers were about to come on in Boston when the present letter was written. See Gardner W. Allen's authoritative sketch of McNeill's career, supported by extensive documentation, in MHS, Procs. , 55 (1921–1922):46–152.

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 9 May 1778 Thaxter, John AA John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 9 May 1778 Thaxter, John Adams, Abigail
John Thaxter to Abigail Adams
Madam York Town May 9th. 1778

I have had the pleasure of receiving your agreeable favour of the 9th. of April.

I am so exceedingly hurried in copying the Treaties (which are long beyond bounds) that I have had no time to write you fully. Six Copies of the Treaties are wanted, and it falls to me to make them out, as My Companion is absent. Have you done? Have you done? is the Cry every hour of the day. I am almost tired out. However it is a matter of so much Consequence, that I will persevere.1

I must beg leave to refer you to the inclosed papers for news. I hope to see Philadelphia shortly as Report says the Hessian Troops are embarking for Europe, and the English for the West Indies. I hope it will prove true.

With the greatest Respect I am Madam, your very Humble Servt., J Thaxter Junr.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “May 9.” Enclosed newspapers not found or identified.


The reason for the hurry was, of course, so that the ratifications (which incorporated full texts of the Franco-American treaties concluded in February) could be signed and rushed back to France in a sufficient number of copies to overcome the perils of the sea and British cruisers. See JCC , 11:463–464. One of Thaxter's copies of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and of the text of the ratification, dated 4 May and signed and sealed by Pres. Henry Laurens, is in the Adams Papers under that date. It was sent to the American Commissioners in Paris but evidently found to be not needed because other copies had preceded it.