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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0213

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Date: 1780-02-18

To Edmé Jacques Genet

[salute] [Dear Sir]

Whether it is that [the Art of political Lying] is better understood in England than in [any other Country, or] whether it is more practised there than [elsewhere, or whether it] is accidental that they have more Success [in making their Fictions] gain Credit in the World, I know not.
But it is certain that every [Winter, since the] Commencement of the present War with America, [and indeed for some] Years before, they sent out large Quantities of this [Manufacture over] all Europe, and throughout all America: and [what is astonish]ing is, that they { 332 } should still find Numbers [in every Country] ready to take them off their Hands.
Since my Arrival in this City, [I find they have] been this Winter at their old Trade, and have [spread Reports here] and in Holland, and in various other parts of [Europe; and no doubt] they have found means to propagate them in America [too, tending to keep] up the Spirits of their Well wishers and to sink those of [their Opponents.] Such as, that they have made new Contracts with several [German Princes,] by which they are to obtain seven thousand Men to [serve in America.] That they have so skillfully appeased the Troubles in [Ireland, that they] shall even be able to take Advantage of the Military [Associations] there, by depending upon them for the Defence of [the Kingdom, while] they draw from thence ten thousand Regular Troops [for the Service] in America. That they have even concluded a [Treaty with Russia,] by which the Empress is to furnish them with twelve Ships [of the] Line and twenty thousand Men, as some say, and twenty [Ships] of the Line and twelve thousand Men, as others relate. [This] they say, is of the greater Moment, because of an intimate Connection (I know not of what Nature it is) between Russia [and Denmark, by which] the latter will be likely [to be drawn into the War against the] House of Bourbon and America [and Denmark they say has] forty five Ships of the Line.
I know very well that the greatest part of these [Reports is false,] and particularly, what is said of Russia is so contrary [to all that I have] heard for these twelve Months past, of the [Harmony between] Versailles and Petersbourg, that I give no Credit to [it at all: but I] find that all these Reports make Impressions [on some Minds,] and, among the rest, on some Americans.
I therefore beg the favour of You, to inform me [of the exact] Truth in all these Matters, that I may take the [earliest] Opportunity of transmitting the Intelligence to Congress, [where it] is of Importance, that it should be known.1
I was much mortified, when I was the other [day at] Versailles, that I could not have the Honour of paying [my Res]pects to You: but I was so connected with other Gentlemen, [who were] obliged to return to Dinner, that I could not; but I [shall] take the first Opportunity I can get, to wait on You, and [assure] You, that I am with great Respect, Sir, your Friend and humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (Justin G. Turner, Los Angeles, 1958). Dupl in Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 257–260);) docketed: “Copy Feb. 18. 1780 Letter from J Adams to Monsr. Genet recd. May 15 with an answr. { 333 } dated 20th. Feb.” Severe fire damage to the recipient's copy has resulted in the loss of a substantial number of words, which have been supplied in brackets from the duplicate.
1. Using very similar language, JA asked Lafayette for essentially the same information in a letter of this same date ( LbC , Adams Papers). Lafayette replied on the 19th (below).