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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11


John Temple, Portrait by Gilbert Stuart 451

Portrait by Gilbert Stuart, 1806, after the original by John Trumbull, 1784. Trumbull's portrait of Temple is in the Canajoharie Library and Art Gallery, Canajoharie, New York. Copies by Stuart are at the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.
John Temple was a native Bostonian and a former royal customs official. In 1773 he moved to England, but in 1778 and 1779 he visited the United States in pursuit of a peace settlement based on reconciliation. His actions then, coupled with his previous service to the Crown, raised American suspicions; conversely he was also at odds with the North Ministry, which vilified him in the London press for his support of Americans (vol. 10:418).
In 1781 Temple planned to return to America to make a new effort at peace. To advance this goal he met with John Adams sometime before 16 August. The meeting resulted in Adams' letter of that date to the president of Congress, below, in which he indicated his view that Temple was serious in desiring to serve the United States by ending the war. Adams did not intend his letter to either recommend Temple or endorse his purpose in going to America. For an account of the controversy over Temple's loyalty and intentions that broke out immediately upon his arrival at Boston in late October, and Adams' unintentional role in it, see his letter of 16 August to the president of Congress, note 1, below.
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.