Adams Family Correspondence, volume 5

John Adams to Richard Cranch, 15 December 1782 JA Cranch, Richard John Adams to Richard Cranch, 15 December 1782 Adams, John Cranch, Richard
John Adams to Richard Cranch
My dear Brother Paris. Decr 15. 1782

Since my Arrival here 26 October, untill the 30 of November, We had a constant Scuffle Morning noon and night about Cod and Haddock on the Grand Bank Deer skins on the Ohio and Pine Trees at Penobscat, and what were worse than all the Refugees.1

The Denouement of the Plott has had in it as much of the sublime and Pathetic as any Part of the Piece. It was comical too as you shall one day know in detail.

I look back with Wonder upon the scenes; and with Gratitude. We shall be afflicted with Disputes about the Refugees, and criticks will pick holes and discover flaws and Blemishes, But We have done the best We could.

My affectionate Remembrance to sister & the Children. Yours

RC (MHi: Cranch Family Papers); endorsed: “Letter from his Exy. J. Adams Decr. 15th. 1782.”

48 1.

The cod and the haddock, the deer skins, and the pine trees are symbolic of the most important issues in the peace negotiations with Great Britain. JA was a staunch advocate of freedom to fish and had made inquiries better to understand the nature of the business and its requirements. He refused to yield on access to the Grand Banks and nearby waters for Americans, although he had to make some concessions on the wording of America's access to fishing along the Newfoundland coast. Another major issue was the western boundary of the United States. From the outset, John Jay had insisted upon the Mississippi River, and JA had strongly supported this position. He was outspoken, too, in pushing the northeastern boundary as far northward as possible in opposition to the British desire to retain a good part of Maine as a source of mast trees. “Refugees” referred to the problem of Britain's attempting to obtain amnesty for loyalists and restitution or indemnification for those who suffered losses of property. For an account of the negotiating positions and concessions, see Morris, Peacemakers , ch. xi, and p. 363–364, 373–380.

JA later included images of the fish, the deer, and the pine tree in a seal designed to commemorate the victory that the Americans had won in the negotiations. Fashioned in 1783, it consisted of thirteen stars arranged to enclose the tree and the deer above a swimming fish. After JQA helped to win similar concessions at the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, JA asked him to have a new seal engraved, adding a phrase from Horace (Epistles, I, vi, 57), arranged to enclose the sea: Piscemur, venemur, ut olim; that is: “Let us fish, let us hunt, as in the past” ( Catalogue of JQA's Books , facing p. 135 and p. 140).

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 15 December 1782 Thaxter, John AA John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 15 December 1782 Thaxter, John Adams, Abigail
John Thaxter to Abigail Adams
Madam Sunday / Paris 15th. Decr. 1782

I intended to have wrote largely by this Opportunity, but have been confined ever since last Sunday night to my Bed and Chamber, with a most violent Cold, a kind of Punishment for Pride and Curiosity. I was last Sunday at Versailles, the day was extremely cold and foggy, much was to be seen, and but little time for the purpose. I drove about without Hat and with thin Shoes all day long, gave up dinner to 'till 6. o Clock in the Evening to gratify Curiosity. After seeing the Court and every thing else worthy Notice, I returned to dinner at the Tavern, and from thence to Paris, sick. I had taken Cold the Evening before at the Italien Comedy, by waiting a long time in a draft of Air for the Carriage, but notwithstanding I must needs go to Versailles next day and increase it. So much for Curiosity and Pride. I hope however to go abroad again in a day or two, for 8. or 9. days punishment for a slight Sin of a day is proportion enough. I never knew what a Cold or a Cough was before.

You will hear by this Opportunity, that the Preliminaries of a Peace between America and England are signed.1 This is a great Event and an important Step towards Peace. It has been announced by the King of G. Britain in his Speech to both Houses of Parliament.2 Thus the Language of “unlimited Submission, America at my Feet,” is changed into the more manly Phrases of the United States, free, sovereign and independent.


Your Counterpart (I dont say your better half) has written You several ways,3 advising You not to venture out in the Spring. He has explained the Reasons, which induced him to alter his Plan.

Duty and Respects where due. My Love to Miss Nabby. I would write to her, if I was able. To Masters Charley and Thommy.

With an invariable Respect, I have the Honor to be Madam &c. JT

RC (Adams Papers).


No other letters from around this date, informing AA of this event, are extant; see JA to AA, 4 Dec., note 3, above.


On 5 Dec.; see Parliamentary Hist. , 23:203–210.


See JA to AA, 4 Dec., above.