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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 7


Descriptive List of Illustrations
Descriptive List of Illustrations

Descriptive List of Illustrations

[Note: for permissions reasons, not all illustrations from the letterpress volumes are available in this digital edition.]

Descriptive List of Illustrations

 

Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Izard, by John Singleton Copley, 1775 68

This large, double portrait of Ralph Izard (1742–1804) and Alice De Lancey Izard (d. 1832) was painted in Rome in early 1775. The Izards, then on a tour of the continent, had met John Singleton Copley at Naples and with him had toured nearby Greek and Roman ruins. The portrait recalls the visit and reflects Copley's interest in artifacts at a time when he was considering doing a painting on a classical subject.
Ralph Izard and Alice De Lancey were married in 1767. He was a native of South Carolina and heir to extensive plantations there. She was the daughter of Peter De Lancey and the niece of James De Lancey, former lieutenant governor and chief justice of New York. John Adams described her in his Autobiography as “a Lady of great beauty and fine Accomplishments as well [as] perfect purity of conduct and Character through Life” (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:70).
In 1778 Ralph Izard was a diplomat without a mission. The Izards had taken up residence in London in 1771, but with the outbreak of the war for independence they traveled to Paris with the intention of returning to America. Those plans were postponed when the congress appointed Izard commissioner to Tuscany in May 1777. Tuscany's refusal to receive a representative of the United States, however, caused Izard to remain at Paris, where he soon joined Arthur and William Lee in their disputes with Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane. Recalled in 1779, Izard returned to America in 1780 and later served as a United States senator ( DAB ; Jules David Prown, John Singleton Copley, 2 vols., Cambridge, 1966, 2:251–252).
Ralph Izard played a brief but important role in John Adams' diplomatic career through a series of exchanges with Adams over the Franco-American treaties signed in February 1778. Izard questioned the suitability of several articles in the treaties and, in several letters written in September and October 1778, placed his objections before Adams. In his written replies Adams was noncommittal, but in conversations preceding the exchange of those letters he was apparently less tactful. As a result, Izard charged Adams with threatening him with the congress' displeasure over his opposition to Articles 11 and 12 of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, an accusation that the congress considered in the spring of 1779, during its inquiry into the conduct of American diplomats in Europe. Outraged that Izard's un• { 10 } supported statement would be considered by the congress, Adams contemplated a public defense, but was dissuaded by James Lovell and Elbridge Gerry from an action that probably would have destroyed his public career (to Izard, 20, 25 September, 2 October 1778; from Ralph Izard, 24, 28 September, 8 October 1778; from Lovell, 13 June and 14 September 1779; from Elbridge Gerry, 29 September 1779, all below).
Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund.
 

The Committee for Foreign Affairs to John Adams, 28 October 1778 170

Signed by Richard Henry Lee and James Lovell on behalf of the Committee for Foreign Affairs, this letter communicated to John Adams the text of a congressional resolution of 22 October 1778 and news of Benjamin Franklin's appointment as minister plenipotentiary to France. The resolution stated “that harmony and good understanding should be cultivated” between the congress' representatives in Europe “and that such confidence and cordiality take place among them as is necessary for the honour and interest of the United States” ( JCC , 12:1053–1054). Benjamin Franklin's appointment made the resolution meaningless insofar as John Adams was concerned, but the letter, which Adams received on 12 February 1779, was important because it constituted his only notification from an official source that his commission had been superseded. Congress' failure to give Adams any new assignment, to thank him for his services, or even explicitly to permit him to return to America prompted him to declare, in a letter of 28 February 1779 to his wife: “the Scaffold is cutt away, and I am left kicking and sprawling in the Mire” ( Adams Family Correspondence , 3:181).
From the original in the Adams Papers.
 

Benjamin Franklin, by Joseph Siffred Duplessis, 1778 283

This is the “Fur Collar” portrait of Benjamin Franklin that was commissioned by his friend and landlord, Leray de Chaumont. It appears in its original frame, surmounted by a wreath of oak and bay leaves, below which is a rattlesnake lying on a branch of laurel to the left and an olive branch to the right. At the bottom is a liberty cap, a lion skin, the club of Hercules, and a scroll on which is inscribed the single word VIR, which in Latin means a “man of character.” It is the best executed and most famous French painting of Benjamin Franklin, portraying him as he appeared during John Adams' first mission to France, when the two men lived together at Passy (Charles Coleman Sellers, Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture, New Haven, 1962, p. 247–249). The letters and Adams' Diary entries for the period from his arrival in France in April 1778 to his departure in June 1779 indicate that the two men lived harmoniously, collaborating closely on the Commissioners' business. Although sometimes critical of Franklin's conduct of business, Adams recorded anecdotes and occasionally made { 11 } observations about Franklin at his own expense. Writing to Mercy Otis Warren on 18 December 1778, Adams observed that “the Ladies of this Country Madam have an unaccountable passion for old Age, whereas our Country women you know Madam have rather a Complaisance for youth if I remember right. This is rather unlucky for me for I have nothing to do but wish that I was seventy years old [Franklin was seventy-two in 1778] and when I get back I shall be obliged to wish myself back again to 25.” The view of Franklin presented in these letters and Diary entries is in sharp contrast to the much darker, and far better known portrayal in John Adams' Autobiography, which was strongly shaped by events during Adams' second diplomatic mission, particularly those surrounding the peace negotiations in 1782 and 1783.
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931. The Friedsam Collection.
 

The Fate of Palliser and Sandwich, 1779 318

One result of the indecisive battle off Ushant on 27 July 1778 between the British fleet under Adm. Augustus Keppel and the French fleet under the Comte D'Orvilliers was the court-martial of Keppel. The trial, which began on 7 January and ended on 11 February 1779 with Keppel's complete vindication, was politically charged because many believed that it was an effort by Lord North, through his First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Sandwich, to place the blame for the failure to achieve a decisive victory on an admiral who was also a member of the parliamentary opposition (to Francis Dana, 25 December 1778, note 4, below).
This cartoon celebrates Keppel's acquittal and reflects the popular mood. Vice Adm. Hugh Palliser, Keppel's second in command, who had brought the charges, and Sandwich (“Jemmy Twitcher”) hang from a gallows under the Latin phrase meaning “all's well that ends well.” Labels attached to Palliser refer to his ship, the Formidable, and his charges (“5 Lies”) against Keppel; the “LogBook” hanging from his feet denotes the fact that the Formidable's logbook was found to have been altered. The wine glass attached to Sandwich's vest and the cross hanging from his waist refer to his dissolute life and, more particularly, to his membership in the notorious brotherhood of Medmenham Abbey, a club of aristocrats who met to engage in blasphemous and debauched revels. The “Essay on Woman” had been used by Sandwich in prosecuting his former friend John Wilkes before the House of Lords in 1763. The box or book labeled “£400,000 Sunk” may refer to Sandwich's administration of the admiralty. Below Sandwich, grieving his fate, is a courtesan or “Kitty” ( OED ).
Hailing the fate of Palliser and Sandwich, and representing the people of Britain and the men of the fleet, are Neptune and a group of sailors in a ship's-boat. Above the sailors the flag carries a popular slogan and the Latin words meaning “although you plunge it in the deep, it comes forth more splendid still.” Above it all are Lord North, shown as the orchestrator of the affair, and the devil who { 12 } declares that “the Gibbet has got their Bodies my Boy their Hearts & Souls are mine.” The book labeled “the Art of Financing” refers to North's problems in raising money to carry on the war. The passage at the bottom of the cartoon is from Samuel Butler's Hudibras, part 3, canto 2, lines 995-998. There the lines refer to the regicides of Charles I (British Museum, Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires, comp. Mary Dorothy George, [London], 1935, 5:No. 5537; DNB ).
Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum, London.