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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0014

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-04-30

John Thaxter to John Adams

[salute] Sir

I should have done myself the honor of addressing you before this, had I been so fortunate as to have known of opportunities previous to { 18 } their passing. I have a prospect of sending this soon, and gladly embrace the opportunity.
Ld. North's propositions have occasioned much speculation here. Congress have expressed their opinion of them in their resolutions, which will doubtless have a good effect.1
Delusion and Division (the two old objects) appear to be the design of his lordship. As far as I have been able to see, neither the one nor the other will take place. The people at large are possessed of too much penetration to be gulled by the chicanery of him or his venal master.
The Olive Branch seems to be held out, but Sir, it rests upon the Sword. Admirals and Generals are sent to treat.2
In short, the Ability and Inability, the Hopes and Fears of his Lordship are uttered in the same breath.
Mr. L[ovell] will send you the papers containing the propositions and the observations of Congress. His exertions in the Common Cause and indefatigable Industry render him very useful. He is an excellent man.
I have the pleasure to inform that Mrs. A. and family are well. Agreeably to your directions I write her often. Every thing that I am allowed to mention I transmit to her.3 I think my[self] honoured by the Correspondence.
Please to remember [me] to Master John. I should have wrote to him, but the absence of my Companion occasions double duty, and leaves me scarcely time to write to a friend.
I shall [be] very happy in hearing of your safe arrival in France as also my friend John.

[salute] I have the honor to be with the greatest respect, your very Humle. Servt.,

[signed] J Thaxter Jur.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr. Thaxter”; docketed in an unidentified hand. French translation of first 5 paragraphs only (Archives Aff. Etr., Paris: Etats-Unis, Corr. pol., vol. 3) bears these notations: “Thaxter A Adams. Traduit de l'Anglois. Interceptée.” Unless RC had first been captured by the British and then recovered by the French, it is not easy to explain the term “Interceptée.” Or did the French authorities secretly inspect the American Commissioners' mail? On the other hand it would have been characteristic of JA to volunteer to the French ministry this earliest report on the reception in America of “Ld. North's propositions,” and this may, alternatively, explain the existence and location of the French version. (See also descriptive note on Isaac Smith Sr. to JA , following.) JA replied to the present letter—saying he had received it “by the Saratoga” with a “Packett of Newspapers”—in a letter dated from Passy, 10 July ( LbC , Adams Papers); his reply is not included in the present volume because already printed in his Diary and Autobiography, 4:156.
{ 19 }
1. North's conciliatory proposals and bills of 19–20 Feb. were considered and unanimously rejected by Congress on 22 April ( JCC , 10:374–380). On 24 April they were printed, with Congress' resolutions, in Penna. Gazette.
2. A misleading rumor that was widely circulated; see Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 3:198. The members of the Carlisle conciliatory commission who came over to treat on the basis of North's proposals were not “Admirals and Generals.”
3. Thus on this same day Thaxter began a longer letter to AA , which he continued on 3 May and which is not printed here, reporting much the same news but adding that “A Treaty of friendship and Alliance [with France] is closed. . . . They have treated with us upon the footing of equality. It was finished the 8th of Feby.” (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0015

Author: Smith, Isaac Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-05-06

Isaac Smith Sr. to John Adams

[salute] John Adams Esqr.

Hopeing this might find you safe Arrived, and haveing an Opportunity by Via Cadiz, thought itt might be Agreeable to let you know your family and friends are well.
A fleet from France is now Arriveing. The Dean Frigate with Young Cushing &c. is att Portsmouth.1 Mr. Dean was landed att the Eastward as you will know as the ship returnd.2—Tryon sent Out part of an Act to Govr. Trumbal. I have inclosed his Answer which is very spirited, and to the purpose, and is much Admired.3
You will probably have heard of the loss of the Alfred, Capt. Hinman, who with the Rawley Agreed to Attack two Ships of much less force—the Rawley haveing as many people as both the british ships. Hinman went to Attack them, According to Agreement, but the Rawley kept her Wind and never went to his Assistance and after engaging both Vessells sometime, he was Obliged to strike. So we go on with Continental ships, by all Accounts itt is a much worse Affair than McNeils.4
A ship of Warr is this day Arrived with duplicates of what Mr. Dean brought. We have Advise from Bilbao to the last of March and was in hopes to have heard of your Arrival.—Hopeing to here of your Arrival soon is the wish of Yr. Most hum. servt.,
[signed] Isaac Smith
RC (Adams Papers). For the enclosure (not found), see note 3. French translation, of selected sentences only (Archives Aff. Etr., Paris: Etats-Unis, Corr. pol., vol. 3), bears these notations: “Isaac Smith a John Adams. traduit de l'Anglois Interceptée”; reproduced in Stevens' Facsimiles , No. 822. See descriptive note on Thaxter's letter to JA , preceding; these two letters doubtless came by the same conveyance and may have been captured and recaptured before reaching their recipient.
1. The Boston Gazette of 4 May reported the arrival at Portsmouth, N.H., of the Continental frigate Deane, Capt. Samuel Nicholson, on 1 May in nine { 20 } weeks from France, bringing a cargo of military supplies from France and a number of passengers, including Thomas, son of Thomas Cushing Sr.
2. Simeon Deane, bringing copies of the treaties with France to Congress, sailed home on the French frigate La Sensible and arrived at Falmouth (now Portland, Maine), on 13 April (Boston Gazette, 20, 27 April 1778).
3. Probably Smith enclosed a printed handbill dated at Boston, 27 April: “The following Bills [i.e. North's conciliatory bills], together with a Letter from Governor [William] Tryon to Governor [Jonathan] Trumbull, and his Answer thereto, came to Hand this Afternoon” (copy in MHi; Ford, Mass. Broadsides , No. 2128).
4. Hector McNeill (1728–1785), captain in the Continental Navy, commanded the frigate Boston when it was commissioned in 1776. Following an action in July 1777 in which his fellow officer Capt. John Manley, commanding the frigate Hancock, was captured, McNeill was court-martialed and suspended or dismissed from the service, and although subsequently the Continental Congress declined to carry out the sentence, McNeill did not serve again. Manley was acquitted. The trials of both officers were about to come on in Boston when the present letter was written. See Gardner W. Allen's authoritative sketch of McNeill's career, supported by extensive documentation, in MHS, Procs. , 55 (1921–1922):46–152.