Papers of John Adams, volume 8

From James Lovell, 1 October 1779 Lovell, James JA From James Lovell, 1 October 1779 Lovell, James Adams, John
From James Lovell
1 October 1779

The Resolve of the 26th. of Sepr. for appointing a Minister plenipotentiary for Spain was reconsidered on the 27th. and the words in lieu of a Commissioner were added, by the Urgency of Brother Gerry least our State should appear to be against an Alliance with Spain. On this Mass: was divided and Sth. Carolina.1 All the rest stood as the day before.

On the 28th. Order for Tomorrow for appointing Secretaries and a Person to examine accounts in Europe agreable to the Resolve of Augst. 6th.

The Nominations you know except in the last Case Mr. Joshua Johnston2 Brother to Gov. Johnston of Maryland.

A Committee to draught a Commission for Spain and Commissions for the Secretaries.

Another Committee to report Salaries. Mathews Gerry Root3


Carmichael for Spain. Mr. Searles name being previously withdrawn. I wish therefore you would blot it from my former letter as it is blotted from our Journals.4

Mr. Dana for Peace

Col. John Laurens, for France

Mr. Joshua Johnstone for Accounts

Committee reported Salaries

186 Oct. 1

Report of the Committee recommitted upon my Suggestions as to unde derivetur.5

Your Return in the Frigate which brought you must be more agreable than even one of ours with a new set of Faces. If Dana does not consent, The answer should be immediate. For though I do not think the Door for your Business is yet opening, the Delay of the Frigate is to be considered, not withstanding Mr. G——d has kept ours more than two Months.6

I wish heartily I could render you such Service as I think Dana can. It is tripping no Man to become your Secretary though in a former Case I should have been charged with putting my foot against the faithful Bancroft.7

Pray miss no possible Chance to inform A L of what has happened. It may reach him before an Authenticated account by Mr. Jay; and be a warning to take his Measures. I want him immediately here to see his Suit8 which was commenced 3 or 4 days ago. He can have no Accounts to cause Delay. And as he has Power to borrow Money; he cannot be obliged to apply to F——. I will suggest the Thought of empowering you to make sure of a Loan if possible. I am persuaded the English would many of them seize the Opportunity of serving Us and themselves all under one.

You will have a decent Commission this Time. I wish I could see your old one; as do the Secretary and Mr. Laurens between whom there have been formal Proceedings in doors respecting some Indecencies of the former.9

Yr. affectte J L

RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Lovell Octr. 1. 1779.”


Lovell and George Partridge voted “no”; Holten supported Gerry. For South Carolina, Laurens voted “no”; Mathews, “ay” ( JCC , 15:1112–1113).


Edmund Jenings had recommended Johnson to JA as a possible consul (Jenings to JA, 2 June, above).


See Elbridge Gerry to JA, 29 Sept., and note 23 (above).


See Lovell's second letter to JA of 28 Sept. (above). JA did not blot out James Searle's name.


For an earlier reference to salaries and their “unde derivetur,” see Lovell to JA, 28 Sept. (second letter), note 5 (above).


On the delays of the frigate Confederacy, which was to carry Gérard back to France, as well as Jay to Spain, see the summation in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 4:385, note 3.


For JA's opinion of Bancroft as a possible secretary, see JA to Gerry, 11 Sept. (above).


Lee's suit against Silas Deane for libel (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 4:423–424, note 9).


On the controversy between Charles Thomson and Henry Laurens, see Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 4:392, 397–399, 401–408. Their dispute over the physical state of JA's first commission appears on p. 398 and p. 405. Soon after JA's first commission was issued, Lovell noted that it had been misdated by the 187secretary Charles Thomson, but Thomson, as well as President Henry Laurens and others, thought the mistake was “of no consequence” (Lovell to JA, post 17 Dec. 1777 , vol. 5:356; see also the commission as printed, and as an illustration in vol. 5:333–335). JA commented on the physical condition of the commission in his reply to Lovell of 25 Oct., and he complained about Arthur Lee's name preceding his in that document in his letter of 18 Oct. to Elbridge Gerry (both below).

From Henry Marchant, 2 October 1779 Marchant, Henry L. JA From Henry Marchant, 2 October 1779 Marchant, Henry L. Adams, John
From Henry Marchant
Dear Sir Philadelphia Octr. 2d. 1779

By the last Post I was highly gratified by your kind and very polite Favour of the 10th. of Sepr. The Notice and Recollection of my former Letter sufficiently convinces me that You have not forgot an old Friend. In your Absence I had frequent Temptations to write You; but I was affraid of being amongst the Number of troublesome and useless Correspondants.

We have finished Our foreign Affairs that mostly pressed upon Us. Your Appointment will convince You, that however aukward your Situation has been, it was not from any Alteration of Sentiment towards you since your first Appointment as one of Our Commissioners at Paris. I must hope, however urksome the Task, you will once more be induced to quit the Rank of a Citizen to become a Servant of the Publick. We must all look back at Our first setting out; and take Spirit from those Principles which first annimated Our Souls; and while we lament that torpid, base degeneracy, which hath seised too many, we must not suffer Ourselves to faint, or repine at Our Burthens. Mr. Dana is appointed Secretary; I rather wish for, than expect his Acceptance, yet I will hope that every Obstacle will give Way to the good of his Country.

If Mr. Dana goes he will be ready there should another Minister be wanted thro' Death, Sickness or otherwise. I shall rejoice to hear of your safe Arrival at Paris; And shall esteem myself truely happy in your Correspondance; for with great Esteem I am your, sincere Friend & Servt.

H. L. Marchant

RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Marchant”; and by CFA: “October 2d 1779.”

To James Lovell, 4 October 1779 JA Lovell, James To James Lovell, 4 October 1779 Adams, John Lovell, James
To James Lovell
My dear Sir Braintree Oct. 4. 1779

I have heard much of your Deliberations concerning a Peace—and you drop Hints to me, of Apprehensions of Negotiations in Europe. I hate these Innuendoes—pray Speak out, and tell me what you mean.1 188Do you verily expect Peace? Do you seriously expect Negotiations for Peace?

What is at stake for Britania? What will be the Consequence to her of American Independence? Is not the Empire of the Sea at stake? Do you think that Britain had not rather loose, her West India Islands, and the Remainder of her Colonies in America by War, than by Peace? Do you think she can bear the Thought of being rivalled in Commerce and in naval Power by Us? But I am grown too easy to think, So I will save my self the Trouble of Writing and you that of reading, Stuff, and send you a little Sense in harmonious Numbers from Thompson, who Speaks the Soul of every Englishman. Britannia sings to her Sons.2

LbC (Adams Papers). The recipient is not named, but the first paragraph indicates that JA is writing to James Lovell.


See JA to Lovell, 21 Sept., note 3 (above).


The rest of the letter consists of lines 166–299 (end) from James Thomson's Britannia, published originally in 1729, which alerts the British to defend liberty from the plague of luxury and protect their far-flung trade as the basis of their power.