A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 7


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0162

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1778-11-28

Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Gentlemen

Your Letter1 informing me of the Alteration of your Intention, not having reached my House till some time after the Hour you had appointed for setting out for Versailles, I was gone before it arrived. I informed Count Vergennes, that you were coming, and we waited till 5' O'Clock under no small Embarressment, especially myself, to conceive what detained you.
Count Vergennes says, that as there was such bad Management last year in dispatching our Ships, as to detain the Convoy Six Weeks; he wishes we would write him, when the Ships, for which we now desire a Convoy, will certainly be ready to sail, and he will do all in his Power to obtain what we desire.2
I have the honor to be with the greatest Respect Gentlemen, Your Mos. Ob Servt.
[signed] Arthur Lee
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Hon. A. Lee Nov. 28. 1778.”
1. In JA 's hand and docketed by the kitchen boy who received it, the one-sentence letter, dated “Friday Morning” [27 Nov.], asked “that the Journey to Versailles may be postponed to Sunday at 8 O Clock in the Morning for several particular Reasons besides the bad Weather” (NNPM).
2. Vergennes' request led the Commissioners to write to J. D. Schweighauser and the other merchants at Nantes ( LbC , Adams Papers), who had written to both Sartine and the Commissioners on 7 Nov. (above). The Letterbook copy, which served as the draft, is dated 27 Nov., probably erroneously in view of the { 240 } present letter. Arthur Lee's copy in his letterbook is dated 28 Nov., Lee having placed an “8” over the original “7” (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 128).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0163-0001

Author: Quillau, M
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-11-29

From M. Quillau

[salute] Monsieur

Je viens de voir Monsieur Dubourg à qui je dois l'honneur et l'avantage d'être Connu de vous, qui m'a dit que vous m'avies écrit au sujet de Livres que vous voulies vous procurer. Il faut que la personne que vous aves chargée de votre lettre, ne se soit point acquittée de sa Commission, Car je n'ai reçu aucune lettre de votre part. Si elle me fut parvenue, vous deves etre persuadé que j'aurois mis toute la diligence possible pour executer ce dont vous me chargies par cette Lettre. Aussitot que par une nouvelle lettre; vous m'aures instruit des Livres que vous souhaiter avoir, je m'empresserai à vous les faire parvenir le plus promptement possible.1
J'ay l'honneur d'etre avec Respect, Monsieur, Votre très-humble et très-obeissant serviteur
[signed] Quillau

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0163-0002

Author: Quillau, M
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-11-29

Quillau to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

I have just seen Mr. Dubourg, to whom I owe the honor and pleasure of being known to you. He told me that you had written me concerning some books you would like to procure. The person to whom you gave the letter must not have carried out his commission, for I never received any letter from you. If it had reached me, you can be assured that I would, with the utmost diligence, have undertaken to carry out your request in that letter. As soon as I receive a new letter with your instructions as to what books you wish to have, I will hasten to send them as soon as possible.1
I have the honor to be with respect, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] Quillau
1. Neither JA 's letter nor any reply to this one has been found. JA had dealt with Quillau earlier, having paid him 192 livres on 30 June and 170 livres on 9 July (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:331). There is, however, no evidence of any later transactions and, indeed, JA 's personal accounts indicate that most of his book purchases were made from the longestablished firm of Paris booksellers, C. and J. Hochereau (same, 2:327, 331–336, 343, 435–438).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0164

Author: Smith, James
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11

James Smith to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

Your very extraordinary letter of the 17 of Novr.1 I have received and acknowledge myself Obliged to you for the representation of my Case to his Excellency the Count De Vergennes.
{ 241 }
You say you do not think you can consistantly Grant my request unless I previously Subscribe the decliration and take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America and that when I comply with this condition you will then give the Customary Passport to Calis. If this Customary Passport shall be sufficient to obviate all impediments to my passage to Dover I can understand the Consistency of these expressions otherwise I am at a loss to guess your meaning. I could have no Objection to take the Oaths of Allegiance when I arrive in America But I submit it to your farther Consideration whether this is the proper time and place for such a Measure to a person in my circumstances. The active part I have taken upon every occasion to manifest my Atatchment to the interest of my country through out the whole of this controvercy is no equivocal proof of my sincerity and I am not a little surprised that you should make my taking the Oath of Allegiance a condition when you must be sensible how fatal that measure might prove to my Liberty and even Life should it transpire in England before I could finish my private business. What a happy opportunity would a discovery of this kind Afford a wicked Abandoned Ministry to wrack their vengance upon me whose conduct has rendered him Obnoxious by every effort to oppose them within the compass of his Abilities. Is this the reward of Public Virtue? And Shall the Official Guardians of our lives furnish the very means of our distruction without any one possible benefit to our country.
I have attentivly perused all the public acts of the Congress and I do not find that they insist upon imposing the Oath of Allegiance upon any person going to England. It is not there that our Enemies can do us mischief. To suspect a mans fidelity with out assigning reasons and insist upon this condition at the time the necessity of his Affairs Oblige him to go amongst his Enemies is a Species of Cruelty and Abandoned profligacy which for the honor of human nature I cannot suppose you intentionally Guilty. You certainly did not consider the consequences of such a proceedure and I am obliged from the respect I owe the commission and for the honour of my Country not to Suppose from any misunderstanding between us that you mean any thing more by this extraordinary propo[s]al than to manifest an inconsiderate Zeal for the Cause of our Country. Did you tender the Oath of Allegiance to Doctor Bancroft Mr. Austin and Mr. Williams whose connection with the British minister you was acquainted with.2 Without any disparagement to the Characters of those worthy Gentlemen why am I to be suspected more than others. Had you entrusted me with the secrets of Goverment upon which the interests and welfare of our Country depended this conduct would be justifiable. If any thing has been { 242 } wispered to my prejudice which has given any just grounds of Suspicion and thereby abused your private Confidence, Let him bring his Charges openly. Let me be confronted before witnesses. Let him come from his lurking hole, assume the Character of a Generous open Enemy, and not secretly Stab me in the dark like a private Assassin.
When I wrote that I was willing to give the most Solemn Assurances of my affection and duty to my Country, could it be supposed that I meant to expose myself to the wispers of secret Enemies and the Rage of a Merciless disapointed and consequently inveterate Administration. It must have occurred to you from a moments reflection that I could only mean such assurances as were binding upon a man of honor and yet would not subject me to the laws of England. When I requested a Passport I intended to pay you the usual compliments payed to the public Ministers of my Country. It gives me pain to remind you that the power werewith you are invested was never given to distress or indanger the Lives and liberties of your Countrymen and I sincerely wish for the honor of the Commission that you may be able to explain your selves in such a manner as to wipe away the foul imputations and suspicions which such behaviour may make you liable to in the opinion of the World, and that private resentment has no share in this transaction. Whatever be your determination I beg you will be speedy in your resolutions as my private affairs are suffering by my absence.3 I beg leave to Subscribe my self Gentlemen Your much injured Countryman and Humble Servt.
[signed] James Smith
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed on the last page: “Dr. Smith”; on the first page by William Temple Franklin: “Dr. Smith.”
1. Not printed; but see Smith to the Commissioners, 15 Nov., note 4 (above).
2. Edward Bancroft and Jonathan Williams had been residents in England before the war, and Bancroft and Jonathan Loring Austin had been there in 1777 and 1778 respectively. Any connection with a specific “minister,” however, remains speculative.
3. No reply from the Commissioners has been found, nor is there any evidence that Smith ever took the oath of allegiance.