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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0139-0001

Author: Gerry, Elbridge
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-09-18

Elbridge Gerry to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

I embrace the Oppertunity by Mr. Guild, of informing You, that Mr. Adams was well the 27th. of July,1 and that by a Letter to the Minister of France of the 29th,2 the Dutch Negotiation with the British was finished, by which one great Obstacle to the definitive Treaty is removed.
Inclosed is an Extract of an official Letter from Doctor F—to Mr. Livingston Secretary of foreign affairs dated July 22d., which is calculated to give a private Stab to the Reputation of our Friend; at least it appears so to me.3 By the Doctors Observation that by writing the Letter “he hazzarded a mortal Enmity,” I think it evident, he did not intend the Letter should be seen by Mr. Adams's particular Friends, { 251 } but that Mr. Livingston should make a prudent Use of it to multiply Mr. Adams' Enemies. Mr. L. could easily do this, by not communicating to Congress the paragraph: but being now out of Office,4 the Doctor's Craft is apparent. You will please to keep the Matter a profound Secret, excepting to Mr. Adams, General Warren and Lady; and let the Channel of Communication be likewise a secret. My Compliments to Miss Adams, and all our Friends in your Quarter, and be assured I remain with the highest Esteem Madam your very hum ser
[signed] E Gerry
RC with enclosure (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs Adams at Braintree favd. by Mr. Guild.” The enclosure is in Gerry's hand. AA had Royall Tyler make a copy of it and sent it to JA with her letter of 15 Dec., below (see note 3 there).
1. Gerry may be referring to the letter of 27 July from Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens to R. R. Livingston that described the progress of the definitive peace treaty and noted that JA had “gone to Holland for three weeks” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:600). Gerry was a member of a committee to consider that and other letters from American diplomats in Europe, but there is no mention of the letter of the 27th until 25 Sept. ( JCC , 25:617).
2. The preceding three words were interlined and an alternative reading of the date is the “27th,” but no letter of either the “27th” or the “29th” to the Chevalier de La Luzerne has been identified. Elbridge Gerry, however was a member of a committee appointed on 18 Sept. to meet with La Luzerne. At the meeting, probably on the 18th, the French minister related the contents of a letter from the Comte de Vergennes of 21 July, in which the foreign minister commented on the progress of the various peace treaties, including that between Britain and the Netherlands. Not mentioned by Gerry was Vergennes' criticism of the American negotiators for pursuing tactics which he believed had delayed the definitive treaty ( JCC , 25:588–589).
3. AA received this letter, with the extract from Franklin's letter, before 15 Oct. ( AA to Gerry, below), but she did not send a copy of the extract to JA until she wrote him on 15 Dec., below. In her December letter she explains her delay.
4. Congress accepted Livingston's resignation as secretary of foreign affairs on 4 June ( JCC , 24:382). Gerry read Franklin's 22 July letter because he was one of five congressmen appointed to report on the dispatches of America's foreign ministers ( JCC , 25:587–588).