Papers of John Adams, volume 11

To Edmund Jenings, 31 January 1781 JA Jenings, Edmund To Edmund Jenings, 31 January 1781 Adams, John Jenings, Edmund
To Edmund Jenings
Am. Jan. 31. 1781 Dear Sir

Your Favour of 24 is received. I wish that Madrid would put an End to Husseys and Cumberlands Masquerades. They do no good, if they do no harm.

I think it is pretty certain that the English Ministry, are Seeking a Connection with the Emperor, but as there is nothing to be gotten 90by a Connection with them but broken Bones if he has as much Sense as he is reputed to have, he will rather choose to sleep in a whole Skin.

The Duke of Brunswick Wolfenbuttle is not a Lille, but at the Hague.

Your Reasoning to Shew the Policy, the Justice and necessity of acknowledging American Independence, is conclusive to all the maritime Powers, and it is probable they are all Sensible of it. But whoever does it must have War with England, and this Startles them all. They choose to arrange Matters in such a system that all may go to War at once, if any do. And this takes time.

But if the armed Neutrality were all at War, against England, the Question is, whether they would all acknowledge our Independance? To be sure they all mean it, it is their Interest! and it is a part of their System!1 But Such is the Caution, the Timidity, and the Sloth, that I expect they would put it off. They will say We will treat you like Friends, but it is time enough. We dont know what may happen. Wait for the general Conferences of Pacification. Then We will take your affairs into Consideration.

I think however that Congress, should send a Minister to each of the Maritime Courts, or at least one Authorized to treat with all of them. Whether they will do it or not I cant Say. I fear they will be much divided about their foreign affairs.

By the Treaty France has agreed to join America, in proposing to other Powers, to acknowledge our Independancy.2 If Congress or any Minister of Congress properly authorized were to propose this to France she could not and would not refuse it. Why it has not been done I know not. The Unfortunate Division about foreign affairs, will account for many Things. I hope however that Something or other will turn up to make them more unanimous. If Mr. L. and I. do not find the Majority of their opinion, in one Point, their Information may make Gentlemen more of a Mind in many others.3

Have you read the Vie privee de Louis 15. It is just published here in 4 Volumes. I have devoured it, with the Utmost Greediness. History, Romance, or Libel, it is very entertaining and instructive. It is the greatest Compliment to America that ever was made. When We see the Distress the Ruin, the Humiliation and Debasement, of the French Nation and Monarchy, up to the very Moment, when America, was Severed from Great Britain and began to cultivate a good Understanding with France, when We see that from the Same 91Moment France began to revive, and has been increasing in Reputation, Wealth Commerce, and Power, ever since and her flourishing and prosperous Condition at this day, America, ought to appear in her own Eyes as well as those of the French and then rest of the World, as a nation and Country whose Friendship and Alliance is worth cultivating. I dont mean by this however to diminish the Glory of the present Monarch whose Wisdom has taken Advantage of the Benefits which Providence offered to him.

Adieu John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “His Excellency. John Adams Esqr. Jany. 31. 1781.”


The preceding eight words were interlined.


JA refers to Art. 10 of the Franco-American Treaty of Alliance (Miller, ed., Treaties , 2:39), the implementation of which he took up with the Duc de La Vauguyon, the French ambassador to the Netherlands, in a letter of 19 Feb., below.


This reference to Arthur Lee and Ralph Izard, severe critics of Benjamin Franklin who had recently returned to America, is unclear. JA presumably means that because Franklin was the proper person to propose widening the Franco-American alliance, their strictures on Franklin's conduct might move members of Congress to demand that he be more assertive. If this was JA's hope, he was doomed to disappointment. By 1781 changes in membership and the growing influence of the French minister, the Chevalier de La Luzerne, had largely dissolved congressional divisions over the proper course of American foreign policy in Europe. For additional information, see Commissions and Instructions for Mediation and Peace, 15 June, Editorial Note, below.

From Francis Dana, 31 January 1781 Dana, Francis JA From Francis Dana, 31 January 1781 Dana, Francis Adams, John
From Francis Dana
31 January 1781 1 Dear Sir

I write you at present principally to communicate the following intellegence from Martinique. It is just given to me by our good Friends the two Abbés,2 who tell me it may be depended on, as they had it from Mr. Neckar's Office.

22d. Decr. La Martinique

La derniere Convoi parti du Ferrol, est arrivé ici le 14. Xbre. il manque peu de batiments—Le 4 Vaisseaux venue de St. Doming. sous les ordres de Monsr. Le Chevr. D'Albert St. Hippolite sont arriveé a St. Pierre.

L'Amiral Rodney a attaqué la nuit du 16 en 17 St. Vincent. Il avait à terre 4000 hommes compris les Troupes de Marine. Le debarquement s'est fait dans la matineé du 16. Les Anglais ont eté répoussé avèc perte et obligés de se rembarquer. M. de Blanch le Lande Lt. Colonel du Regiment de Viennois3 a defendu cette Isle contré l'amiral Rodney et le general Vaughan. Il avait pris depuis 2 jours le comman-92dement de cette Isle. Les Carribes se sont comporté avèc beaucoup de Valeur.

Cette novelle a eté aporteé par la Frigate la Carèq Cérès commandeé par le Baron de Bouvebelles Bonbelles capitaine de Vaisseaux arrivé à Rochfort le 27. Janv. 1781.4

I have desired Mr. Grand to transfer from my Account to your Credit 2658.16.10 Livrs. the amount of the Note I gave you just before I left Holland; and to advise you of it, which when he shall do, you will please to cancel my Note.5 I have received Mr. Thaxter's two Letters.6 Your bills are lodged as you desired with Mr. Grand. Please to tell Mr. Thaxter I am ready to answer his drafts for the sums he mentions, as soon as he will draw upon me for them, or any others he may have occasion for. I have heard nothing about either of them here.

Mr. Searle is now with me, and desired to be particularly remembered to you, and to assure you he is daily more and more convinced of the baneful effects of Francisco's Silas Deane's conversation. He is gone with his clerk for Holland, I believe by the way of Ostend.7 I beg you to present my regards not only to all our Countrymen with you, who merit them, but to all our good Friends of Holland.

I am, Dear Sir, with the most sincere respect & attachment Your most obedient humble Servant and much obliged Friend


RC (Adams Papers); filmed at January 1781, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 354.


This date is derived from Dana's letter of 1 Feb., below.


For Abbés Arnoux and Chalut, friends from JA's residence in France and occasional correspondents, see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:59.


“Viennois” here and “Bonbelles” in the next paragraph are written in an unknown hand.


Translation: 22 December, Martinique.

The last convoy to leave Ferrol arrived here on 14 December, lacking only the four vessels bound for St. Domingue under the command of the Chev. D'Albert St. Hippolite, which have arrived at St. Pierre.

Admiral Rodney attacked St. Vincent on the night of 16–17 December, disembarking the 4,000 men constituting his landing force. The landing was made on the morning of the 16th. The English have been repulsed with losses and obliged to reembark. M. de Blanchelande, Lt. Colonel of the Viennois Regiment, has defended this island against Admiral Rodney and General Vaughan. He took command of this island only two days before. The Caribbeans have conducted themselves with much valor.

This news was brought by the frigate Cérès commanded by Baron de Bonbelles, Capitaine de Vaisseaux, which arrived at Rochefort on 27 January 1781.


See Henry Grand's letter of 29 Jan., above.


Neither of John Thaxter's letters have been found.


Silas Deane left Paris for the Netherlands on or about 23 Jan. and returned on 21 Feb. (Papers of Silas Deane, 1774–1790 [N.Y. Hist. Soc., Colls., vols. 19–23], 5 vols., N.Y., 1887– 1891, 4:276, 290). JA's letter of 4 Feb. to James Searle, below, seems to indicate that Deane was traveling with his close friend Dr. Edward Bancroft (vol. 6:14).