Adams Family Correspondence, volume 4

John Adams to Rector Verheyk

Enclosure: List of Articles


JA to AA, 18 March 1780, in Adams Papers but omitted here, a brief note in which the only significant passage (beyond introducing Petry) is paraphrased by AA at the end of the present paragraph.

JA's note was one of nine he wrote on the same date to friends in Boston and Philadelphia introducing in complimentary terms “Monsieur John Baptiste Petry, Secretary of the Comte de Chatelet elsewhere “Chatelux,” i.e. Chastellux a Marshall of the Camps and Armies of the King of France.” It is somewhat doubtful, however, whether Petry came to America at this time, or at any rate to Boston. He is not mentioned in Chastellux' Travels, and in a letter to JA of 22 Nov., James Warren said he had neither seen nor heard from “the Gentleman ... recommended” ( Warren-Adams Letters , 2:150–151). But a Jean Baptiste Petry served as vice consul of France at Wilmington, N.C., and Charleston, S.C., 1783–1792, and appears as consul in Pennsylvania in 1793 or 1794 and 18evidently stayed until 1798. There have been doubts whether this was the same J. B. Petry who came to America in 1815, upon the restoration of the French monarchy, as consul at New Orleans and who became consul general of France at Washington in 1819. From allusions in JQA's diary entries in Paris during “the hundred days,” when Petry and JQA exchanged visits, it seems clear that it was the same Petry who served in America at such long intervals. See JQA, Diary, 14 Feb., 7, 27 April, 12 May 1815. During JQA's secretaryship of state he and Petry became good friends, and CFA recorded on 24 Dec. 1823 Petry's keen regret upon leaving the United States to take a post in Spain o which he had been ordered (CFA, Diary , 1:20; see also JQA, Diary, Dec. 1823-Jan. 1824, passim). Information on Petry's tours of duty in America has been furnished to the editors by Howard C. Rice Jr., Princeton University Library, who has long collected biographical data on French consular agents in the United States. See also A. P. Nasatir and G. E. Monell, comps., French Consuls in the United States: A Calendar of Their Correspondence in the Archives Nationales, Washington, 1967, p. 553, 567.