Papers of John Adams, volume 7

To Elbridge Gerry, 27 November 1778 JA Gerry, Elbridge To Elbridge Gerry, 27 November 1778 Adams, John Gerry, Elbridge
To Elbridge Gerry
My dear Sir Passy Novr 27. 1778

I have not received a Line, nor heard a Syllable from you Since my Arrival, but I know your incessant Application to things of the first Moment, and therefore presume you have good Reasons.

Our Ennemies are Still in a Delirium: and are pleasing themselves with Hopes that Clinton will be more bloody than How. Nothing is so charming to their Imaginations as Blood and Fire. What an Heart must this People have?

The Two Howes are in a sort of Disgrace, and now Clinton is to do wonders. The Howes have returned, without Laurels, with melicious Tempers bloody Hands, and the pleasing Reflection that their Names are hearafter to be recollected, by all virtuous and humane Men with those of Alva and Grizler.1

I think there should be a Clubb formed in London of all the Sages and Heroes that have returned from America—Bernard, Hutchinson and Train,2 Gage, How, Howe, &c. &c. &c.3 and to be sure Burgoigne. What a respectable society it would be? How entertaining to hear them in Turn recounting their memorable Deeds of Fraud and Violence in America, and their glorious tryumphant success?


You will see by the Papers, which I shall send by this opportunity that there is great Animosity, in Holland vs England. Sir J.——4 it is said flatters the Prince, with Hopes of marrying his Daughter to the Prince of Wales, and the Prospect of having a Daughter Queen of England is too tempting for a Prince to resist. Yet he cannot do great Things, and there is a spirit rising in the Low Countries which will give England Trouble. The situation of that Republic is so defenceless, and they consider England in such a state of Desperation, ready to do any Mad Thing, that I dont expect they will very soon take any decisive Part in our Favour, but the Determination against taking any Part against Us is decisive. They wish America independant. It is their Interest. They wish to see England humbled. She is too overbearing. Yet they are afraid to provoke England, by any open Engagement against her. Yet they have discoverd a manifest solicitude least America should in a Treaty with G. B. agree to exclude the Dutch from some Part of their Trade. And they have Reason for this suspicion.

It is a delicate Thing to negociate with this People, but We have constant Intelligence, from them, and shall watch every favourable Opportunity. Their Purses, their sailors and ships have been employed against Us from the Beginning, and England could not possibly do without them, I cannot therefore but wish, that something may turn up, to awaken the old Batavian Spirit. I am as ever your Friend & sert

John Adams

RC (H. L. Seaver, Mass., 1956); docketed: “Braintree Letter Mr. J. Adams Novr 27 1778.”


See JA to the president of the congress, 20 Sept., and note 2 (above).


Presumably JA means Hutchinson and his followers.


The following five words were interlined for insertion here.


Sir Joseph Yorke.

To James Lovell, 27 November 1778 JA Lovell, James To James Lovell, 27 November 1778 Adams, John Lovell, James
To James Lovell
My dear Sir Passy Novr 27 1778

It is now a Year, Since I left you, and I have heard very Seldom from you, since that Time. I have written as often as I could, but so many Vessells have been taken that I fear you have heard as seldom from me.

There is no News, any where excepting the innumerable Reports circulated in every Part of Europe, by the Emmissaries of England, every one of which I know to be false: they still however find Stockjobbers and other Persons to believe them. These Lyes are calculated to make it believed, that there are great Dissentions between the 237French and Americans, and between the Americans with one another. No Extravagance is too great. Ten Thousands of General Washingtons Army gone over to Clinton. C. D'Estaing making a Procession through the Streets of Boston with the Hoste, and Seizing a Meeting House for a Chappell and the D——knows what.

I Suffer as much for Want of Intelligence from A. as we used to Suffer in Congress for Want of it from Europe.

Mr. D. writes a Gentleman here, that on the 14 of September Congress took up forein Affairs, and determined to have but one Commissioner here.1 If this is the Case I shall be at a Loss, how to conduct myself, unless you recall me. Dr. F. no doubt will be appointed for this Court: if you appoint me for any other, especially that which is mentioned to Me Vienna, it will be more disagreable to me than to be recalled. Because Vienna, is the Court of all Europe, as I conceive at present, the least likely to receive your Agent. I should therefore be reduced to the Necessity of residing at Paris in Idleness, or of travelling to Germany and living there in greater Idleness Still in either Case at a great and useless Expence.

In Time of Peace, nothing would give me greater Pleasure, than travelling: but at present my Heart is too much affected, with the Miseries of this War, for me to take Pleasure in a mere Gratification of Curiosity, or even in a Pursuit of Taste in Arts, or Knowledge in the Sciences.

To return home immediately, Some Persons here say would give offence, and be wrong. To Wait to write for Leave, would be loosing Time, and putting you to Some Expence. However, I will determine nothing untill I know what is done. Remember me with the tenderest affection, and greatest Respect to your Colleagues and all others that deserve it, and believe me your Friend.

LbC (Adams Papers).


Silas Deane's letter to Benjamin Franklin of 15 Sept. ( Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 1:496). For an excerpt from that letter, see JA to AA, 27 Nov., note 4 ( Adams Family Correspondence , 3:123). In his letter to AA, JA also expressed his puzzlement over what the congress expected him to do, assuming that the report of Franklin's appointment was correct.