Papers of John Adams, volume 11

From John Thaxter, 9 February 1781 Thaxter, John JA From John Thaxter, 9 February 1781 Thaxter, John Adams, John
From John Thaxter
Sir Leyden 9th. Feby. 1781

I had the honour of yours of Yesterday a few Moments past.1 I was happy to learn, that the News from our Country is agreable. The Extract from Charlestown furnishes another instance of English Barbarism—another Trait of Despair.2

The Resolution Thanks you mentioned were very justly deserved, and an Acknowledgment that ought not to have been omitted. There is another Correspondence, which has an equal Claim to thanks, and I am confident will meet with them.3 Testimonies of this kind ought to produce some Twinges somewhere.

I pray You to accept of my best Thanks, Sir, for your kindness in offering to answer any Draughts of mine for Money. I ought to be fully persuaded of that, as I am. The Reason of my requesting Mr. Dana to do it was, that he was to make a payment to the same Person. viz Mr. Williams of Nantes.

Will You give me Leave to add my Request to that of Mr. Luzac for the American Papers, if convenient. He wishes much to see them.

The Letter You inclosed was from Mr. Charles Warren, Son of your Friend the General, dated the 3d. of November. He mentions that Mrs. A. and Family were then well. This is a Stroke of Madam W's. Policy, in setting her Son to write to me. He is an amiable young Gentlemen—and the Letter is so exceedingly complimentary, that I find myself ensnared, and shall be obliged to place an Answer under the Eyes of a good tho' I hope not a severe Judge.

Dr. Waterhouse4 desires his Respects and is much obliged by your Information respecting the Time of Hayden's sailing.5


The Young Gentlemen are well. Ils travaillent avec beaucoup d'ardeur, et ils avancent très bien.6 They desire their Duty.

I have the Honour to be, with perfect Respect, Sir, your most humble Servt.

J. Thaxter

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed in an unknown hand: “Mr. Thaxter 9th Feb. 1781.”


Not found.


Thaxter may be referring to an item appearing in the Gazette de Leyde of 9 February. An extract from a letter dated 26 Nov. 1780 at Charleston described an attack against a British garrison at Augusta, Ga., by Georgia and South Carolina militiamen led by Col. Elijah Clark and Lt. Col. James McCall. The attack began on 14 Sept. and ended on the 18th when British reinforcements arrived from Ninety Six, S.C. According to the letter, the British then hanged 13 American prisoners and turned a number of others over to their Indian allies (The Toll of Independence: Engagements and Battle Casualties of the American Revolution, ed. Howard H. Peckham, Chicago, 1974, p. 75).


That is, JA's correspondence with the Comte de Vergennes in July 1780 about the exercise of his commissions to negotiate Anglo-American treaties of peace and commerce. For that correspondence, see The Dispute with the Comte de Vergennes, 13–29 July 1780, and references there (vol. 9:516–520); for Congress' criticism of JA's position therein, see the letter of 10 Jan. from the president of Congress, above.


Thaxter, JQA, and CA were living with Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse. For a sketch of Waterhouse, detailing his lengthy and often intimate relationship with the Adamses, see Adams Family Correspondence , 4:32–34.


It is not known exactly when Capt. William Haydon of the Juno sailed, but he carried letters and merchandize between AA and JA in 1781 ( Adams Family Correspondence , 4:94, 133–134, 240, 241).


That is, they work with great enthusiasm and make excellent progress. On 11 Feb. Thaxter wrote to inform JA that on 29 Jan. CA had been accepted as a student at the University of Leyden, as JQA had been earlier ( Adams Family Correspondence , 4:79–80).

From Jonathan Williams, 9 February 1781 Williams, Jonathan JA From Jonathan Williams, 9 February 1781 Williams, Jonathan Adams, John
From Jonathan Williams
Dear Sir Nantes Feb. 9. 1781

Capt. Charles Jenkins of the Brig Sally arrived here this morning to my address, he left Rhode Island on the 12 Jan and reports that affairs were in the same State, the English Fleet in Gardiners Bay and the French in Rhode Island and both armies in Winter Quarters. By this Vessell I received the inclosed Letter which I take the earliest Opportunity to forward.1

Were I to attempt to make an Apology for my long Silence I should do it awkwardly for I confess I have not been so attentive to you as I ought to have been and I freely ask your Pardon. I trust you will forgive me and accept of my Future attention as an atonement. I assure you however that for these last six Weeks I have not enjoyed an hours Tranquility on account of Mrs. Williams's situation Illness and I am sure you have too often experienced the Anxiety of such a Situation to think it strange that even the most Important Correspondence should be neglected.2 I hope I shall be soon relieved from this 138uneasiness as Mrs. Williams is much better tho' not yet out of her Bed.

I am sorry the Wine came in so bad a Condition to Orleans. It went away from me in good Order but I suspect the Boatman is a Rogue.3 I have not yet drawn for it because I have not heard of your Reception of the Wine I sent from Bordeaux and I wished to make but one affair of it.

I am with great Respect & Esteem Dear Sir Your most obedt Servant Jona Williams

RC (Adams Papers).


This letter has not been identified.


Mariamne Alexander Williams was recovering from the birth of their daughter Christine on 29 Dec. 1780 (Franklin, Papers , 34:224). Williams' last known letter to JA was dated 14 Sept. 1780 (Adams Papers).


From the reference to the wine at Orléans it is clear that Williams is replying to JA's letter of 13 Nov. (LbC, Adams Papers) in which JA reported that the wine sent by Williams had arrived at Orléans “in a Condition unfit to go forward, and Some of it gone.” See also JA's letter to Henry Grand of 3 Nov. 1780 and Grand's reply of 24 Nov. (vol. 10:323, 369–370).