Papers of John Adams, volume 10

258 To William Lee, 7 October 1780 JA Lee, William To William Lee, 7 October 1780 Adams, John Lee, William
To William Lee
Dear sir Amsterdam October 7. 1780

The Bearer of this is a young Virginian, Mr. Bowdoin, who has been sometime here and has a good Character. I beg Leave to recommend him to your Attention.

I am in hourly Expectation of hearing of Mr. Laurens, but not without Anxiety for his Safety, as he comes only in a Packet.

The Accounts from our Country, by Way of Spain, France, England and directly to Amsterdam, are very flattering. But the one Thing needfull for a decisive Campaign, a Superiority at sea, is wanting, which takes away all Ground of sanguine Expectations. The English however will be in no very respectable Situation, and they must be much distressed. The Casualties of the Campain, and the severity of Duty will reduce their Numbers, very considerably by sickness, Desertion, and by the sword in occasional skirmishes.

What shall We hear from the West Indies?

The English threw off the Mask so unreservedly, after the reduction of Charlestown, and discovered their ill Will, their wicked Wishes and base designs, So clearly, that the Mortification to them must be double to make Peace now, to what it would have been before.

But why do I talk of Peace? I am So well perswaded, that the K. of England will see all go, rather than make Peace, and see So clearly that the King is now omnipotent, in England, that it is Scarcely worth while ever to mention it.

I have the honour to be with great regard, &c.

LbC (Adams Papers).

From Benjamin Franklin, 8 October 1780 Franklin, Benjamin JA From Benjamin Franklin, 8 October 1780 Franklin, Benjamin Adams, John
From Benjamin Franklin
Sir Passy, Oct. 8. 1780

I received the letter you did me the Honour of writing to me by Mr. Andrews,1 and shall render him every Service I can in his Application.

Your Books and Trunks have been lodged here by Mr. Thaxter, and will be taken care of. They are of no Inconvenience to me.

We begin to be in pain for Mr. Laurens who was to have sailed 3 Days after M. Searle. If that took place, he has been out 10. or 11. 259Weeks. I hope he did not sail so soon, otherwise it would be probable that he is either lost or taken.

I do not just now recollect my having written, as from myself, any Letter to the Grand Pensionary. I drew indeed the Letter that was sent by the Commissioners acquainting him with the Treaty of Commerce, to which we had no Answer.2 But I will search, and If I can find such a one will send you a Copy, with a Copy of the other.

I shall be glad to hear if you are like to make any Progress in the Affair of a Loan, which I understand M. Laurens was charged with. I send you enclosed a Copy of a Vote of Congress, respecting your Salaries.3 I hope you will be able to do without my Assistance. If not, I must furnish you. But I have been obliged to Accept Mr. Neufville's Bills on Account of his Acceptances of those drawn on Mr. Laurens, and I shall with some Difficulty, be able to pay them; tho' these extra Demands often embarras me excedingly.

We hear that the Alliance is arriv'd at Boston.

I beg leave to recommend to your Civilities M. Searle a Member of Congress for Pensilvania, with whose conversation you will be pleased, as he can give you good Information of the State of our Affairs when he left America.

I ought to acquaint you, a governo, as the Merchants Say; that M. Le Comte de V. having taken much amiss some Passages in your Letters to him, sent the whole Correspondence to me, requesting that I would transmit it to Congress.4 I was myself sorry to see those Passages. If they were the Effects merely of Inadvertance, and you do not on Reflection approve of them, perhaps you may think it proper to write something for effacing the Impressions made by them. I do not presume to advise you; but mention it only for your Consideration.

The Vessel is not yet gone, which carries the Papers.

With great Regard, I have the honour to be Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant.

B Franklin

Perhaps the Letter you desire is one I wrote to M. Dumas, who might show it to the G.P.5

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “His Excellency Dr Franklin. 8. Oct. 1780 by Mr Searle.”


Of 29 Sept. (above).


This is the letter of 28 April 1778 from the Commissioners to Pieter van Bleiswyck, the Grand Pensionary of Holland (vol. 6:61–62), but see Franklin's postscript.


This was Congress' resolution of 31 May, requiring Franklin to pay the drafts of JA and Francis Dana for their salaries ( JCC , 17:476). A copy of the resolution is in the Adams Papers.

260 4.

See the letters exchanged by JA and Vergennes in June and July (above). For Vergennes' letter to Franklin of 31 July and Franklin's letter of 9 Aug. to the president of Congress, see Editorial Note, The Dispute with the Comte de Vergennes, 13–29 July (above). For JA's negative response to Franklin's advice, see his reply of 30 Nov. (below). There JA seems to indicate that he did not receive Franklin's letter until the date of his reply, despite the fact that it was carried by James Searle, who arrived in Amsterdam and met with JA on or about 23 Oct. (to Edmund Jenings, 23 Oct., below).


Franklin is referring to his letter of 22 Sept. 1778 to C. W. F. Dumas, for which no recipient's copy has been found. Dumas met with Pieter van Bleiswyck on 22 Oct. 1778 and gave the Grand Pensionary an extract from Franklin's letter. Dumas described his meeting with van Bleiswyck in his letter to the Commissioners of 30 Oct. 1778, and included the passage from Franklin's letter (vol. 7:179–184; see, in particular, note 5).