Papers of John Adams, volume 7

To James Lovell, 19 December 1778 JA Lovell, James To James Lovell, 19 December 1778 Adams, John Lovell, James
To James Lovell
Dear Sir Passy Decr 19 1778

It is unhappy that So many People in America, should perswade themselves that the Ennemy intend to evacuate New York and Rhode Island. This opinion cannot fail to damp their Ardour, and Slacken their Nerves. But you may depend upon it, they mean no such Thing. On the Contrary it is their unalterable Resolution, to maintain the Possession of both, as long as they can. Indeed either without the other would be in a manner useless to them. Without Rhode Island, their Fleet could not remain in the United States, during the Winter—Without New York and the Resources of Provisions from Long Island, Staten Island, and frequent Excursions into the Jerseys, for Depredation, they could not well subsist their Army. It is therefore certain that they will keep both, untill you destroy or captivate them all.

They have it now in Contemplation to fortify New York at a vast Expence and if they do this, they will oblige you to keep a great Army constantly up, Winter and summer at an infinite Expence, without being able to prevent them from making frequent Inroads upon you by Surprise, pillaging, burning and laying Waste.

There have been great Debates in the two Houses of Parliament, concerning the Manifesto of the Commissioners, and the Minorities appear to have a just Sense of its horrid Nature, but it has been Sanctifyed by triumphant Majorities in both, and it is past a doubt, that the Cabinet intend to execute it as far as they shall be able. Burn the sea coast and massacre upon the Frontiers, is now the Cry. This will harrass, distress, exhaust, and at length divide, and then Will conquer for think of it as you will the Hope of Conquest is not yet given up.


Ministers, Ambassadors, Generals, Admirals are all together by the Ears, in England, accusing, reproaching, and threatning each other.1 No allies their Fleet rotten, Army small, Funds low, gloomy, desponding Stupid, yet all together dont discourage Administration.

There has been no Engagement between the two Fleets, since the first, and I fancy there will not be another, very Soon. The attention of both Nations turns towards the Islands in the West Indies.

You have all the Intelligence from Holland, from the Same Hand which sends it here.2 There is a monarchical, and a Republican Party there, from which division, as their Constitution requires Unanimity We are Safe from their taking Part against Us, but I fear We may infer from it too that they will not take a Part in our favour. Spain is as enigmetical as ever. We are impatiently waiting for Advice of your Determination upon foreign affairs, according to the Bruits propagated here, I expect to be recalled. Wherever I may be, I shall be your Friend.

LbC (Adams Papers).


For JA's more detailed comments on these controversies, as well as the debates in Parliament mentioned above, see his letter to Francis Dana of 25 Dec., and notes (below).


C. W. F. Dumas.

From J. D. Schweighauser, 19 December 1778 Schweighauser, John Daniel JA From J. D. Schweighauser, 19 December 1778 Schweighauser, John Daniel Adams, John
From J. D. Schweighauser
Sir Nantz 19 December 1778

In compliance with your order1 I have made enquiries for a Vessell bound to Boston but have found none—during my search I was told Yesterday that Cap. McNeil was lately arrived and imediately sent to know when he would take your few articles. He told me that it is true he offered it while his Ship laid at L'Orient, but that since that time he had taken-in, goods and Passengers and that he had no room left. I expressed my surprize and represented to him that one hogshead more or less was not an object in such a Ship as his,—but he repeated his refusal—which puts me under the necessity of waiting for another occasion at which time I shall take care to have them shipt in due time. I am most respectfully Sir Your mo. humble & mo. obedient Servant

J. Dl. Schweighauser

RC (Adams Papers).


JA had written on 8 Dec. (LbC, Adams Papers) to ask Schweighauser to send wine, sugar, and tea to Braintree by the first available ship. JA's letter is largely quoted in the notes to his letter to AA of 9 Dec., informing her of his intention ( Adams Family Correspondence , 3:131). Schweighauser had acknowledged JA's request on 12 Dec. (Adams Papers). It is not known whether these goods were actually sent or ever received.