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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0129

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-09-01

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

I have not received my Letters of Recall from Holland and therefore must disappoint you and my self. I have requested them anew1 and Suppose I shall receive them about Christmas, but whether I do or not, I shall come home, at latest in the first Spring ships, unless I should receive Some new Commission in Europe, which is not likely. I am unalterably determined not to stay in Holland where I never have any tollerable Health. To break away and come home without Leave, would neither be civil to Congress nor to the states General nor to the statholder, I hope I shall not be obliged to do it, but if I cannot obtain Leave, I must take it. I propose a Tour of three Weeks to England and shall take my son with me, whose Company is the greatest Pleasure of my Life. His Behaviour and close Attention to his studies are very pleasing to me, and promise to produce, a worthy Character.
{ 232 }
I have received Several, very agreable Letters from my Daughter, which I shall answer if I can, as well as yours,2 which always afford me more Intelligence, than I get from any other American source. You may continue to write me under Cover. I am much pleased with your Purchase, and with the Boys Shool and Preceptor.3
Mr. Dana is embarked as I suppose from Petersbourg, and will be soon in Boston, defeated in his Endeavours to serve his Country, by jesuitical Schemes from Passy and other sources,4 from whence have Sprung so many obstacles to the publick Good. Never was a Country, more imposed on by Finesse. Our late Minister of foreign affairs5 appears to have been a mere Puppet danced upon French Wires electrified from Passy. I hope there will be, an End of this Philosophical and political Conjuration, if not, I am determined to get out of its striking Distance. Hitherto, altho it has tossed and tormented me, and prevented me from doing a great Part of the Good I meditated, and am Sure should have accomplished without it: yet it has not totally defeated me. Yet it has defeated me in so many Things and others in so many more, that it is high time to break it up.
I thank the Dr. and Mr. Cranch for their very friendly Letters, but their Speculations into futurity, are not well grounded.6 Give Us Peace in our Day, for there is none that fightest for Us but thou O God, is a Prayer <of the Church of England> which no son of the Church has a better right to offer up than I—and none can make it more sincerely.7

[salute] Adieu, My dearest Friend Adieu, oh when Shall We meet? Next Spring most certainly God Willing.

1. See JA to the president of Congress (Elias Boudinot), 1 Sept. (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:668–669).
2. The only extant previous AA2 letter to JA is that of 10 May, above; AA 's letter was that of 30 June, also above.
3. See AA to JA , 7 May, on AA 's purchase of land; AA to JA , 7 April, on the education of CA and TBA ; and JA 's reply of 14 Aug., all above.
4. Francis Dana left St. Petersburg on 3 Sept. and arrived in Boston on 12 Dec. (W. P. Cresson, Francis Dana: A Puritan Diplomat at the Court of Catherine the Great, N.Y., 1930, p. 317–318; AA to JA , 7 Dec., below). JA 's charge that Benjamin Franklin intrigued against Dana's mission is unfounded, although Vergennes did instruct the French minister to Russia not to support Dana's moves. A number of reasons have been given for Dana's failure to secure recognition of American independence and a commercial treaty with Russia. As an absolute monarch, Catherine II did not look favorably upon a republican revolution against a monarchy. Moreover, Catherine, who was attempting to mediate an end to the war, could hardly as a mediator sign a treaty with the United States. American inexperience in diplomacy hampered Dana. He sought recognition of independence through admission to the League of Armed Neutrality, but membership was not likely to be accorded to a belligerent. Further, Dana resorted to moral arguments rather than to appeals to Russia's self-interest. Finally, he chose to ignore the court tradition of { 233 } distributing bribes. Had Dana followed the practices current at the Russian court and used the greatest skill, he still would have had little chance of success, given Russia's conception of its national interests. See H. W. L. Dana, The Dana Saga, Cambridge, 1941, p. 25–28; Cresson, Francis Dana, p. 183–184; Samuel Flagg Bemis, The Diplomacy of the American Revolution: The Foundations of American Foreign Policy, 1775–1783, N.Y., 1935, p. 164–166; and David M. Griffiths, “American Commercial Diplomacy in Russia, 1780–1783,” WMQ , 3d Ser., 27:379–410 (July 1970).
5. Robert. R. Livingston had left office in June.
6. Dr. Cotton Tufts' letters of 26 June and 5 July (both Adams Papers), and Richard Cranch's letter of 26 June, above. JA refers to Cranch's speculation that Massachusetts would reward JA 's labors by electing him governor.
7. Book of Common Prayer, Morning Prayer, Versicles.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0130

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-09-04

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

I have the Satisfaction to inform you that the definitive Treaties were all Signed yesterday, and the Preliminaries with Holland were Signed the day before.1 Ours is a Simple Repetition of the provisional Treaty. So We have negotiated here, these Six Months for nothing. We could do no better Situated as We were. To day We dined with Mr. Hartley and drank Tea with the Duchess of Manchester. Thus you see We are very good Friends, quite free, easy and Social.
Now I dont Know what to do with my self. I wish I knew more of the Intentions of Congress. The Leave to come home which Mr. Lee promised you is not arrived, and I cannot go with Decorum without Leave, and the Loan, an important matter would Suffer.2 I believe upon the whole I Shall wait, untill We hear from Congress of their Reception of the definitive Treaty, when no doubt they will Send me their Orders. I Shall have a gloomy Winter at the Hague, but a Tour to London of two or three Weeks and the Company of my Friend your Son, will relieve me a good deal. This Boy is a cordial to me.
I Suppose that our foreign affairs will be wholly new modelled, on the Receipt of the definitive Treaty. Some Say We shall all be recalled, and Consuls only appointed. Others Think that Ministers will be continued, or new ones Sent to Versailles, London, the Hague and Madrid. Others that Ministers will be sent to the two Empires. But all is uncertain.
I Shall make you a Small Remittance by Mr. Thaxter. I Shall make Mr. John, my Secretary. He has acted in that Capacity, some Weeks and done very well.3
I Shall not be able to find Time to write to many of my Friends by this opportunity although it is so good a one.
Mr. Dana will be home before me. I envy him. But he will do great { 234 } good. He is a thoroughly Sensible Man, and entirely well principled. No Man knows our foreign affairs, and difficulties better than he. I have no Patience at the insidious Manoeuvres by which he has been defeated.
Dr. Franklin has fallen down again with the Gout and Gravel.4 He is better, and has been to Versailles and Paris, but he breaks visibly. Mr. Laurens, has a Brother declining, So that he will go to the south of France, untill he knows his Brother's Fate.5 I Shall go to Holland and Stay some time. I may be called to Paris again, and may take a Tour to England. Write me, prudently, by any Way. If my Health was firm, I could bear the Uncertainties of Life better. Tell Mrs. Warren I am already quite enough exhausted to retire. If I could, perfectly obey the Precept, “Fret not thy self, because of evil Doers,”6 I might wear a little longer. But I forget it sometimes. Mr. Jay has been my Comforter. We have compared Notes, and they agree. I love him so well that I know not what I should do in Europe without him: Yet how many times have I disputed Sharply with him in Congress!7 I always thought him however an honest Man. He is a virtuous and religious Man. He has a Conscience, and has been persecuted, accordingly, as all conscientious Men are. Dont suspect me of Cant. I am not addicted to it. He and I have Tales to tell, dismal Tales: But it will be most for his Happiness and mine to forget them. So let them be forgotten. If the publick Good should not absolutely require them to be told.
But I am wandering from my favourite Point which is the Recollection of my fervent affection for my Dearest Friend and the Dear Pledges of her Love.
1. These were the peace treaties between the United States and Great Britain, between France and Great Britain, and between Spain and Great Britain, all 3 Sept., and the preliminary treaty between the Netherlands and Great Britain, 2 September. The Anglo-American treaty was signed at Paris; all the others were signed at Versailles.
2. JA interlined “and the Loan . . . would Suffer.”
3. See JA to AA , 7 Sept., and note 8, below.
4. Visible urinary crystals or painful urination ( OED ).
5. Henry Laurens, still in England as late as 16 Sept., would soon visit his younger brother, James, who had suffered from poor health for a number of years. James died in Feb. 1784 in Vigan, France. Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:693, 699; David Duncan Wallace, The Life of Henry Laurens, N.Y., 1915, p. 226, 418.
6. Psalms 37:1.
7. JA 's congressional disagreements with John Jay ran back to 1774, when Jay favored Joseph Galloway's Plan of Union and urged the colonies to pay the British East India Company for the property destroyed in the Boston Tea Party, but the two were often in agreement, especially concerning independence in 1776. See JA, Papers , 2:149; 4:71, 99–100, 219, 238; and JA, Diary and Autobiography , vol. 4.