Papers of John Adams, volume 7

To Leray de Chaumont, 25 February 1779 JA Chaumont, Jacques Donatien, Leray de To Leray de Chaumont, 25 February 1779 Adams, John Chaumont, Jacques Donatien, Leray de
To Leray de Chaumont
Sir Passy Feb 25. 1779

I have this Moment the Honour of your kind Billet of this Days Date, and I feel myself under great Obligations for the genteel and generous offer of your House, at Blesois: But, if I do not put Dr. Franklin to Inconvenience, which I shall not do long, my Residence at Passy is very agreeable to me.

To a Mind as much Addicted to Retirement, as mine, the Situation you propose would be delicious indeed, provided my Country were at Peace and my Family with me: but, Seperated from my Family, and with an Heart bleeding with the Wounds of its Country, I should be the most miserable Being on Earth, in Retreat and Idleness. To America therefore, in all Events and at all Hazards, I must attempt to go, 427provided I do not receive Counter orders, which I can execute with Honour, and with Some Prospect of Advantage to the public service.

I thank you, sir, and your Agreable Family, for all your Civilities Since my Arrival, at Passy, and I have the Honour to be, with great Respect, your most obedient and most humble servant.

John Adams1

LbC (Adams Papers). MS, French translation by N. M. Gellee (Adams Papers). The translation generally follows the text of the Letterbook copy and may have formed the basis for the letter as sent to Chaumont. The only major difference between the two documents is that the translation omits the final sentence of the second paragraph. For Gellee, see his letter of 15 March to JA (below).


In his reply of 3 March (Adams Papers), Chaumont expressed his regret at JA's departure because of his hope that by delaying he might have been able to serve the American cause in other European courts. On his own initiative, he advised JA to be sure to take formal leave from the French ministers, especially Vergennes.

To James Warren, 25 February 1779 JA Warren, James To James Warren, 25 February 1779 Adams, John Warren, James
To James Warren
Dear sir Passy Feb. 25. 1779

Yours of the I. Jany. was delivered me, by the Marquis de la Fayette. I wish I was as happy as you, in not being obliged to copy my Letters. Sense or Nonsense frivolous or weighty, I must copy every line I write, for I know not what Accusations may be brought against me, grounded on my Letters if I do not. My Letters are lyable to more Misfortunes and foul Play too than yours, and I keep no Clerk, so that original and Copy, must be done with these1 weak Eyes almost blind with reading and writing: yet every Body complains of me for not writing enough, especially my Wife.2

The Address you mention, produced astonishment, here and all over Europe. Yet it Seems to be not discountenanced: rather supported. You have Reason to be confident of Dr. L's Integrity and Fidelity—no Man more faithfull, and his Character must be vindicated or no Mans will be safe. I shall not however enter into this Business. He is able to justify himself and willing. You may tell your Lady however, she was not mistaken in the Character she gave me of him.3

I shall not enter particularly into the Inconveniences, which must result from such an outrageous Measure as that Address. I wish to know, who will correspond with Us or any Body connected with Us, if they are to be thus exposed. What Prince, Minister or State will confide in Us, if Negociations are thus to be laid open? Where is our Secrecy, or a Possibility of it? Is the Confederation annihilated? Is the Union lost? Has Congress so little authority as to be obliged to endure 428this? God forbid. Yet I think the Probability is that he4 will succeed, get the two L's recalled, and himself appointed to some Trust abroad. If this should be the Case what is to become of Us? At least if this is done before they are asked if guilty or not guilty.5 Before they are allowed to defend themselves which I doubt not they can do.

This Publication gave the Ministry a Lift in England, and will hoist the Loan which before laboured. The Capture of St. Lucie, also which is just arrived, will give another Spur. Yet the Discontents in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales ought to be terrible to Administration. They can do not great Things against Us.

The only Ennemy, of any great Consequence which is left to Us is our Currency. TAXATION and (ECONOMY, must be the Cry in America. A Depreciation and Appreciation Law must be made. The People will not Succumble to G.B. if our the Bills depreciate, untill a Thousand Dollars, must be given for a silver shilling. They will not Succumbe to G.B. if our regular Army, was wholly disbanded.

For even then the English could not make an Excursion into the Country, from under the Guns of their Men of War, without Militia Men enough turning out to knock them in the Head. The Consumption of British soldiers and sailors in the West Indies is like to be such that you need not fear, any great force, with you. The Tories must now Act against every light of Conscience, for they know that we cannot now succumbe to G.B. without having France and Spain upon their our Backs.

What C.6 will do with the Paper I dont know, but they had better, by a Vote annihilate it all, or call it in to be burned, infinitely, and go over the same ground again ten times than that G. B. should prevail. Burn it all with my good Will. My share shall go to the Flames with the Utmost cheerfulness. Call it all in, in a Loan if you will, but then dont let it stand at Sterling Standard to be redeemed. This would be greater Injustice than to burn it all.

This vile Paper discourages and disheartens the Whiggs, and emboldens the Tories, more than it ought. Blow it away, any way. Many have a Prejudice, that our Independance is connected with it. Convince both sides that our Independance dont depend upon that. That our Plate, our stocks7 and all shall go rather than our sovereignty depend upon it. It is worth them all and more, nay our Houses and Farms into the Bargain.

Our Remedy is so simple, that I am astonished, there should be the least Hesitation about it, in the Mind of the most ignorant and mean of the People.


Taxation alone, is amply Sufficient to carry on our share of the War in future. I am Sure that the 13 states can raise Money enough if they will to bear all their future Expences as they rise. If the People are so blind, blockish and stupid, as not to see it and be willing for it—it is a Pity.

But the Delirium that rages,8 is enough to discourage every Man of Virtue and Honour—The Foppery9—the Avarice—the Ambition—the Vanity—the Rage—the Fury—is enough to induce every Man of sense and Virtue to abandon such an execrable Race, to their own Perdition. And if they could be ruined alone it would be just. There is Cause to fear that our Countrymen10 and Women, after having astonished the Universe by their Wisdom and Virtue, will become a Spectacle of Contempt and Derision to the foolish and wicked, and of Grief and shame to the wise among Mankind, and all this in the Space of a few Years.

I see so much Corruption, wherever I cast my Eyes. I see the virtuous few Struggling against it, with so little success, that a Retreat infinitely less Splendid than that of Pythagoras—at the Head of a little school, to teach a few Children the Elements of Knowledge would be a kind of Heaven to me.

I have the Honour to be reduced to a private Citizen and if I could remain there without an eternal Clamour, no Consideration in the World should induce me ever again to rise out of it. But you know the Noise—the Lyes—the slanders—the stupid Groans and Lamentations, that would be raised at such a Resolution.

However let them groan and hiss and curse as they will, I will never be again11 with my own Consent the sport of wise Men nor Fools.

RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mr. J. Adams Feby. 79.” LbC (Adams Papers).


In the Letterbook JA wrote and then crossed out “Fingers.”


For AA's complaint, see JA to AA, 19 Feb. ( Adams Family Correspondence , 3:173).


No mention by Mercy Otis Warren of Arthur Lee's character has been found.


In the Letterbook JA first wrote “Mr. Deane,” then canceled “Deane” and inserted “D.,” and finally crossed out “Mr. D.” and settled on “he.”


In the Letterbook an “!” follows “not guilty.”


The Letterbook has “Congress.”


In the Letterbook JA writes “That your Plate your Buckles your Cattle.”


In the Letterbook “in every Department” follows “rages.”


In the Letterbook “the Frippery” follows “the Foppery.”


In the Letterbook this sentence begins “For my own Part, I fear, that my Countrymen,” and JA interlined “there is Cause to” and “our” over his deletions.


In the Letterbook the following four words were interlined.