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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0001-0005-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1782-12-04

December 4. Wednesday.

It is proper that I should note here, that in the Beginning of the Year 1780, soon after my Arrival at Paris Mr. Galloways Pamphlets fell into my Hands. I wrote a long Series of Letters to a Friend in Answer to them. That Friend sent them to England: But the Printers dared not to publish them. They remained there untill the last Summer, when they were begun to be printed, and are continued to this day, not being yet quite finished, in Parkers General Advertiser, but with false dates, being dated in the Months of January and February last, under the Title of Letters from a distinguished American. They appear to have been well received and to have contributed somewhat, to unite the Nation in accellerating the Acknowledgment of American Independance, and to convince the nation of the Necessity, of respecting our Alliances and of making Peace.1
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I hope it will be permitted to me or to some other who can do it better, some Ten or fifteen Years hence, to collect together in one View, my little Negotiations in Europe. Fifty Years hence it may be published, perhaps 20.1 will venture to say, however feebly I may have acted my Part or whatever Mistakes I may have committed, yet the Situations I have been in between angry Nations and more angry Factions, have been some of the most singular and interesting that ever happened to any Man. The Fury of Ennemies as well as of Elements, the Subtilty and Arrogance of Allies, and what has been worse than all, the Jealousy, Envy, and little Pranks of Friends and CoPatriots, would form one of the most instructive Lessons in Morals and Politicks, that ever was committed to Paper.2
1. In June 1780 JA acknowledged to Thomas Digges, his secret correspondent in London, the receipt of several parcels of English newspapers, pamphlets, and books; among them were copies of Joseph Galloway's Cool Thoughts on the Consequences to Great Britain of American Independence, London, 1780, and other tracts recently published by the Pennsylvania loyalist in London ( JA to Digges, 22 June 1780, LbC , Adams Papers; JA, Works , 7:203–204, under date of 24 June). Galloway's thesis was that the loss of America would mean the eclipse of Great Britain as a great power, and therefore that the British government and public could not for a moment entertain the idea of a peace with American independence. JA , who then held an exclusive commission to treat for peace and believed that these able pamphlets might influence British policy, at once set himself the task of answering them, particularly the Cool Thoughts. His view was that the conclusion to be drawn from Galloway's arguments was the opposite of what the writer intended: if England stood to lose so much by the separation of America, as Galloway maintained, she would lose vastly more by continuing the war; her best course would be to make a good peace before England and America were both exhausted. See JA to the President of Congress, 16 and 17 June 1780, PCC, No. 84, II; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:787–793, 794–798. The answers that he prepared for publication he sent to Edmund Jenings at Brussels, who transmitted them to a friend in England, but nothing happened concerning them for two years. When peace became imminent, however, the letters began to appear, to JA 's surprise, in Parker's [London] General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer, as “from a Distinguished American,” running from 23 Aug. to 26 Dec. 1782 and with false dates affixed to them, as if they had been written in the first two months of that year instead of nearly two years earlier (photostats in Adams Papers Editorial Files from the British Museum file of the General Advertiser). Some part of the series was reprinted in the Amsterdam Politique Hollandais, but no separate and complete publication of them, such as JA hoped for, has been found, and JA apparently never recovered the originals that would have made such a publication possible. See JA to Jenings, 16, 27 Sept. 1782 (Adams Papers), and JA to Cerisier, 9 June 1783 ( LbC , Adams Papers).
JA 's own copies of two and possibly three of Galloway's pamphlets of 1780, including the Cool Thoughts, with marginal summaries and other markings in JA 's hand, have been identified among the bound tracts in the Boston Athenaeum while the present volume was in the press.
2. On this day JA wrote a letter to Livingston resigning “all my Employments in Europe”; he proposed that Laurens be appointed minister at The Hague and that Dana be joined to the commission to complete and sign the Definitive Treaty ( LbC , Adams Papers; Works , 8:16).