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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0009-0001-0009

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-12

Feb. 12.

My Mind has been in such a State, since the Appearance of Mr. Deanes Address to the People, as it never was before. I confess it appeared to me like a Dissolution of the Constitution. It should be remembered that it first appeared from London in the English Papers—then in the Courier De L'Europe—and We had not received the Proceedings of Congress upon it. A few days after, Dr. Franklin received from Nantes, some Philadelphia Papers, in which were the Pieces signed Senex and Common Sense,1 and the Account of the Election of the New President Mr. Jay.2 When it was known that Congress had not censured Mr. Deane, for appealing to the People, it was looked upon as the most dangerous Proof that had ever appeared, of the Weakness of Government, and it was thought that the Confederation was wholly lost by some. I confess it appeared terrible to me indeed. It appeared to me that it would wholly loose us the Confidence of the French Court. I did not see how they could ever trust any of Us again—that it would have the worst Effects upon Spain, Holland and in England, besides endangering a civil War in America. In the Agony of my Heart, I expressed myself to one Gentleman Dr. Bancroft, with perhaps too much warmth.
But this Day, Dr. Winship3 arrived here, from Brest, and soon afterwards, the Aid du Camp of Le Marquis de Fayette, with Dispatches, from Congress, by which it appears that Dr. Franklin is sole Plenipotentiary, and of Consequence that I am displaced.
The greatest Relief to my Mind, that I have ever found since the Appearance of the Address. Now Business may be done by Dr. Franklin alone. Before it seemed as if nothing could be done.4
1. Articles in the Pennsylvania Packet, beginning 15 Dec. 1778, for and against Deane; reprinted in Deane Papers , 3:81 ff.
2. Henry Laurens resigned as president, 9 Dec. 1778, on the ground that Congress was not taking proper action on Deane's disrespect to Congress in his recent address to the public. Next day he was succeeded in office by John Jay, a partisan of Deane. See JCC , 12:1202–1206; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 3:528–529; entries of 20, 22 June, below.
3. Amos Windship, Harvard 1771, surgeon on the Alliance (Harvard Univ. Archives; Diary entries in April–May, below).
4. On 14 Sept. 1778 Congress dissolved the American Commission in France by electing Franklin sole minister plenipotentiary, but it did not get around to drawing up his instructions until 26 Oct., and these were not sent until Lafayette sailed for France in the Alliance in January ( JCC , 12:908; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 2:807–809). Before JA had been in Paris six weeks he had warmly recommended that a single minister be placed in charge of American affairs in France (to Samuel Adams, 21 May 1778, NN:Bancroft Coll.; copied into JA 's Autobiography under its date). On 12 Feb., within a few hours of sending off his agitated letter to Vergennes (entry { 354 } of 10–11 Feb., above), he learned of “the new Arrangement,” and in writing Vergennes again, 16 Feb. (as well as in private letters), he expressed satisfaction with what he called Congress' “masterly Measure,” which obviated any need for him to pursue with Vergennes the question of Deane's conduct and its consequences ( LbC , Adams Papers; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:50–51). However, JA 's notification by the Committee of Foreign Affairs did not recall him and gave him no instructions beyond a vague promise that something might follow, and “In the mean Time we hope you will exercise your whole extensive Abilities on the Subject of our Finances” (R. H. Lee and James Lovell to JA , 28 Oct. 1778, Adams Papers; same, 2:814–815).