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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5

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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0180

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-05-18

John Quincy Adams to John Adams

[salute] Hond. Sir

I have only time to write a few lines for the present as the Post is about to depart. On Saturday the 15th. instant I sailed in the Packet Boat from Hellevoetsluys,2 and had another, long tedious voyage, tho' the weather was so fine as to compensate for it in some measure. I arrived yesterday in the afternoon at Harwich, from which place I came in the Stage Coach here. The Adelphi Hotel, being full, I took my lodging for the present in the Imperial Hotel, Suffolk Street, but I believe, the surest way is to address your Letters to Mr. Johnson,3 or some other house, if you please, as I shall probably stay here but a day or two.
Mr. Fox has at length carried the election for Westminster by a majority of 235. Votes, and all the City was illuminated last evening. But Sir Cecil hopes still, to get the better by the verification of the Votes.4 Parliament met this day for the first Time.

[salute] With my best Respects to Mr. Dumas and Family, I am Your Dutiful Son.

[signed] J. Q. Adams
{ 328 }
1. JA had sent JQA to London to meet AA and AA2 , whom he expected to arrive from Boston on Capt. Callihan's vessel (see JQA to JA , 1 June, below). Why JA expected AA 's arrival with Callihan, however, is far from clear.
None of AA 's letters to JA , written between November 1783 and February 1784 (all above), said anything more explicit about her departure than that she was “putting all our affairs in such a train as that I may be able to leave them in the spring” (3 Jan.), and that she expected to sail for England rather than Holland (11 Feb.). On 13 March, Isaac Smith Sr. wrote JA that Callihan was planning to sail to England in April if he could get a ship ready, and that if Callihan should “get a good Vessell, [I] should Advise Mrs. Adams to go with him” (Adams Papers). On 15 March, however, AA wrote to JA , above, by the same vessel, sailing for Lisbon, that her friend Mr. Jones planned to have a ship ready to sail “the latter end of May,” and she thought it likely that she would embark on it. JA received AA 's letters through January on 5 May (see AA to JA , 15 Dec. 1783, descriptive note); it is not known when he received her February and March letters, or Smith's March letter. Finally, AA 's 12 April letter to JA , above, went to England with Callihan, reaching London about 1 June ( JQA to JA , 1 June, below). No other letters from America which stated that Callihan's ship might take AA to England are known to the editors.
None of this correspondence throws much light on JA 's apparent failure to write AA any letters between that of 25 Jan., above, and 3 July, below; but see his own explanation in JA to JQA , 6 June, below.
2. Hellevoetsluis was a small Dutch port about twenty miles south of The Hague.
3. Joshua Johnson, JQA 's future father-in-law, who had returned to London with his family from Nantes, where JA and JQA had visited them in April 1779. The Johnsons lived in Cooper's Row, Great Tower Hill, when JA and JQA visited them in the fall of 1783 (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:299, and note 1, 357, 3:363; 149; JQA, Diary , 1:203).
4. On 17 May, Charles James Fox, leader of the opposition in the Commons to prime minister William Pitt the younger, who had the enthusiastic backing of George III, defeated the Pittite Sir Cecil Wray, 6126 to 5895, very close to the margin JQA gives here. Wray and his allies contested this election for nearly a year, but Fox was declared the victor in March 1785. In the intervening months, Fox sat in Commons for the tiny borough of Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands, one of the Tain (Northern) Burghs. (Namier and Brooke, House of Commons , 1:336–337, 510–511; 2:455.)

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0181

Author: Gerry, Elbridge
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1784-05-18

Elbridge Gerry to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

By Mr. Bourne,1 who was here last Week, I informed You that our commercial Affairs were arranged, that Mr. Adams Mr. Franklin and Mr. Jefferson were to carry on the Negotiations, that three2 Years would probably be requisite to compleat the Business, and that you may embark for Europe, without Delay, as there is not a possibility of any Departure from the Measures adopted by Congress. Mr. Jefferson proposed when he left Annapolis, to spend about a fortnight at Philadelphia, and afterwards to proceed to Boston: and it is probable, that Colo. Humphreys, formerly an Aid to General Washington will go with him, and that both will take passage from Boston,3 in which Case You will have very agreable Companions.
I have only Time Madam to bid You adeiu, sincerely wishing You { 329 } and such of your Family as may accompany You, a pleasant Passage, and happy Interveiw with our mutual Friend, and assuring You that I am on every Occasion your Friend and most obt servt
[signed] E Gerry
RC (Adams Papers). addressed: “His Excellency John Adams Esqr.”; notation: “to be forwarded by Isaac Smith Esqr of Boston, without Delay to Mrs Adams at Braintree”; further marked: “E Gerry”; franked: “free.” All notations in Gerry's hand. Gerry may have addressed this letter to JA so that the postmaster would not protest the free franking.
1. Shearjashub Bourne, who was in Annapolis to present a memorial to Congress relating to prize money due to him and other Massachusetts naval officers for whom he was acting. This memorial arose out of a legal contest between Massachusetts and New Hampshire over the brig Lusanna that had continued for years, and in which JA had been briefly involved in Dec. 1777. See Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 7:516; JA, Legal Papers , 2:352–395; and JCC , 16:17–21, 38–41, 174–175.
2. In his letter to AA of 7 May (Adams Papers), Gerry wrote two years (see Gerry to AA , 16 April, note 1, above).
3. Jefferson left Annapolis on 11 May, spent the remainder of the month in Philadelphia, and then traveled slowly up the coast, visiting important figures in each city and town, before reaching Boston on 18 June. Too late to arrange a passage on the same ship with AA , who sailed on 20 June, Jefferson continued on to Salem, and then to Portsmouth, N.H., in order to complete his survey of the government and commerce of the northern states, preparatory to assuming his new duties as a commissioner to negotiate commercial treaties. He returned to Boston on 25 June, sailed for Europe on 5 July, and reached Paris on 6 Aug. (Jefferson, Papers , 7:2, 312, 323–349, 364).
Congress named Lt. Col. David Humphreys of Connecticut as secretary to the commissioners on 12 May, and thus began his diplomatic career. Gerry later reported to JA that Benjamin Franklin had wanted William Temple Franklin named secretary to the commissioners, but Congress objected to this nepotism, and felt, too, that the young Franklin might make secret reports on JA to his grandfather (Gerry to JA , 16 June, Adams Papers). Humphreys was warmly recommended to JA by John Trumbull, poet and former law student of JA 's (to JA , 14 June, Adams Papers), and as a poet he was later included among the Connecticut Wits. In the 1790s Humphreys served as a secret intelligence agent in London, Lisbon, and Madrid, then as commissioner to Algiers, and finally as minister to Spain ( DAB ). In 1784 Humphreys accompanied Jefferson from Philadelphia as far as New Haven, but then returned to New York to take the packet boat for France in July, ten days after Jefferson's departure from Boston (Jefferson, Papers , 7:252, 279, 363–364).