Papers of John Adams, volume 8

From the Comte de Vergennes, 24 February 1780 Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de JA From the Comte de Vergennes, 24 February 1780 Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de Adams, John
From the Comte de Vergennes
Versailles, 24 February 1780.

printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:251–252

Replying to John Adams' letter of 19 Feb. (calendared above), Vergennes noted that Adams' account of his commissions agreed with that of Conrad Alexander Gérard and that the most important aspect of his mission, the negotiation of a peace treaty, would be announced in the Gazette de France. Adams might also publicize the peace commission in the Dutch papers, but should first send Vergennes a copy of any such article. Regarding Adams' commission to negotiate an Anglo-American commercial treaty, Vergennes advised him not to disclose it to anyone and in particular to do everything possible to prevent the British ministry from learning of it. Finally, Vergennes declared that since he was certain that Adams' instructions were in conformity with the Franco-American treaties, there was no need for him to see them.

Years later Adams analyzed Vergennes' motives for offering him the 363advice in this letter. He noted that although he had seen no reason “for concealing one of my Commissions more than the other,” he had thought it prudent to follow Vergennes' counsel. He believed, however, that the letter was early evidence of Vergennes' determination to have the commission to negotiate a commercial treaty annulled. According to Adams, Vergennes' success in that undertaking indicated that it was France's policy “to keep Us embroiled with England as much and as long as possible, even after a Peace” (same, 4:252–253).

printed : (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:251–252).

To Joseph Gardoqui & Sons, 25 February 1780 JA Gardoqui, Joseph, & Sons (business) To Joseph Gardoqui & Sons, 25 February 1780 Adams, John Gardoqui, Joseph, & Sons (business)
To Joseph Gardoqui & Sons
Gentlemen Paris Hotel de Valois Feb. 25. 1780

I have not had opportunity, Since my Arrival at Paris, to pay my Respects to you, and to inform you, that We all happily arrived, on the 9th. of this Month. We have now a little Leisure to look back upon the Scenes we have passed thro Since our Arrival in Europe, and I assure you, that I reflect upon none with more Pleasure than those at Bilbao.

I find that Vessels arrive oftener, there and at Cadiz than in France, from our Part of America, and I believe I must now and then trouble you with a Letter to send Congress,1 from your Port, and request my Friends in America to write me, by the Same Channel,2 as Intelligence between the two Countries is So much wanted, and is So often interrupted.

Mr. Dana informs me that you sent a few Things to my Family by Captain Babson.3 But these will go but a little Way in the support of a large Family, even if they arrive Safe, which is very uncertain. I have therefore to request your House to Send Duplicates of the Same Things, by the next Vessell that goes to Mr. Isaac Smith of Boston, or Mr. Jackson or Tracy, or indeed any other good Man in the Massachusetts Bay, directed in the Same manner, provided you think that the Season of the Year, the Sailing of the Vessell and the Character of the Master is such as to give a fair Chance of Arriving safe. I would not Send any Thing in a wrong Season, by a dull Sailor or an absurd Captain. If you will send such Duplicates, and then Triplicates, by the next opportunity which you may think equally good, and draw upon me, for the Money, in Paris your Bills shall be punctually paid.4

Pray inform me the News of Mr. Jay, and his Reception at Madrid. I am &c.

LbC (Adams Papers).


See JA's letter to the president of the congress of this date, descriptive note (below).


See JA to John Jay, 22 Feb., note 1 (above).


JA had not yet received the letter 364from Gardoqui & Sons of 19 Feb. (above), informing him of the goods sent in Capt. Babson's vessel. When that letter was received on 1 March, JA immediately wrote to the firm with additional instructions (LbC, Adams Papers).


JA originally intended to end his letter at this point, for immediately following this sentence is his usual stylized closing, which has been canceled.