Papers of John Adams, volume 12

To Benjamin Franklin, 26 November 1781 JA Franklin, Benjamin To Benjamin Franklin, 26 November 1781 Adams, John Franklin, Benjamin
To Benjamin Franklin
Amsterdam Novr 26th. 1781 Sir

I presume You have a Copy from Congress of their Instructions to me of the 16th. of August: but as it is possible it may be otherwise, I 84have inclosed one. I have communicated them to the Duke de la Vauguion, who says they are très bien vues, très bien combinées. I shall do nothing in the business, without communicating it beforehand to him, with the most entire Confidence, and recieving his Approbation and Advice. He informs me, that he has not yet recieved any Instructions from his Court respecting it. These Instructions have arrived in a very proper time to counteract another insidious trick of the British Ministry, in agreing to the mediation of Russia for a seperate Peace with Holland.1

With unfeigned Joy I congratulate your Excellency on the glorious News of the surrender of Cornwallis, to the Arms of the Allies. How easy a thing would it be to bring this War to an happy Conclusion, if Spain and Holland would adopt the System of France, and cooperate in it with the same Honor and Sincerity? There is nothing wanting but a constant naval Superiority in the West Indies and on the Coast of the United States, to obtain Triumphs upon Triumphs over the English, in all quarters of the Globe. The Allies now carry on the War in America, with an infinite Advantage over the English, whose Infatuation nevertheless will continue to make them exhaust themselves there, to the neglect of all their possessions in other parts of the World.

I have the honor to inclose to your Excellency some proposals made to me by the House of Ingraham and Bromfield respecting the Continental Goods.2 These are two Merchants from Boston, who have established a House here. They are industrious Men, and I believe well capable of performing what they propose, which is submitted to your Excellency. With great Respect I have the Honour to be, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant3

J. Adams

RC in John Thaxter’s hand (PPAmP:Franklin Papers); endorsed: “John Adams Novr. 26. 1781.”


For Britain’s acceptance of Russia’s mediation, see JA’s letter of 13 Dec. to the president of Congress, calendared below.


Not found.


The closing and the signature are in JA’s hand.

To John Jay, 26 November 1781 JA Jay, John To John Jay, 26 November 1781 Adams, John Jay, John
To John Jay
Amsterdam Novr. 26th. 1781 Sir

By the last Post, I recieved from L’Orient a sett of fresh Instructions from Congress, dated the 16th. of August, and with the more 85 enjoined to open a Correspondence with your Excellency, upon the subject of them.

I presume You have Copy by the same Vessel; but as it is possible it may have been omitted, I shall venture to inclose a Copy, and hope it may pass unopened. I have communicated it to the French Ambassador here, who says it is “très bien vû: très bien combiné.” I shall take no Step in it, without his Knowledge and Approbation. I shall hope for your Excellency’s Communications as soon as convenient.

The Dutch have an Inclination to ally themselves to France1 and America; but they have many whimsical Fears, and are much2 embarrassed with party quarrels. In time I hope they will agree better with one another, and see their true Interests more clearly. This Measure of Congress is very well timed.

I congratulate You on the glorious News of the surrender of Cornwallis. Some are of Opinion it will produce a Congress at Vienna; but I cannot be of that sentiment. The English must have many more humiliations, before they will agree to meet Us upon equal terms, or upon any terms, that We can approve.

What is the true principle of the Policy of Spain, in delaying so long to declare themselves explicitly?3 Her delay has a bad effect here.

Mr. Dana has been gone northward these four months; but I have no Letters from him. Whether the Post is unfaithful, or whether he chooses to be talked about as little as possible at present, which I rather suspect, I dont know.

My Respects to Mr. Carmichael, and to your Family, if You please.

With great Esteem and Respect I have the Honour to be, Sir your most obedient and most humble Servant4 J. Adams

RC in John Thaxter’s hand (NNC:John Jay Papers); endorsed: “John Adams 26 Novr 1781 Recd. 11 Decr 1781 ansd 15 Do.” LbC (Adams Papers).


In the Letterbook JA canceled “Spain.”


In the Letterbook JA canceled “divided.”


In the Letterbook JA canceled “is she afraid that America, will.”


The closing and the signature are in JA’s hand.