A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close
-
The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0108

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Rush, Benjamin
Date: 1779-09-19

To Benjamin Rush

[salute] Dear Sir

I had the Pleasure of yours of August 19, by the last Post, and thank you for your kind Congratulations on my Return. You judge right, when you Suppose, that I cannot be idle, but my Industry will probably be directed, in a different manner, in future. My Principles1 are not in Fashion. I may be more usefull here, as you observe, than in the Cabinet of Louis the 16. But let me tell you, that that Cabinet, is of great Importance, and that there ought to be Somebody there, who knows Somewhat of the Affairs of America, as well as Europe, and who will take the Pains to think, and to advise that Cabinet, with all proper Delicacy, in certain Circumstances.
I have little2 to Say about the Time and manner of my being Superceeded. Let those reflect upon them selves, who are disgraced by it, not I. Those who did it, are alone disgraced by it. The Man who can shew a long Series of disinterested Services to his Country, cannot be disgraced even by his Country. If she attempts it, she only brings a Stain upon her own Character and makes his Glory the more illustrious.3
We have Cause to congratulate ourselves, on the favourable Appearance of Affairs in Europe and America. There is not one Symptom in Europe against Us. Yet I must own to you, that I think France and Spain are yet to be convinced, of the true Method of conducting this War. It is not by besieging Gibralter nor invading Ireland, in my humble Opinion, but by sending a clear Superiority of naval Power into the American Seas, by destroying or captivating the British Forces here by Sea and Land, by taking the West India Islands and destroying the British Trade, and by affording Convoys to Commerce between Europe and America, and between America and the french and Spanish Islands, that this War is to be brought to a Speedy Conclusion, happy for Us, and glorious as well as advantageous to our Allies.4
These were the Objects of all my Negotiations, and I dare hazard all, upon the good Policy of them. I fear that these Ideas, will now be forgotten: I cannot but wish that Congress would give positive Instructions to their Minister, nay that they would make a direct Application themselves to their Ally, to this Purpose. Mr. Gerry can shew you, in Confidence, some Papers upon the subject.5
{ 154 }
I have a great Curiosity to know, the History of the political Proceedings, within and out of Doors, last Winter. I confess myself, unable to comprehend it. I am more puzzled at the Conduct of those who ought to have been my Friends than at any Thing else.6 However I have not Lights enough to form a Judgment.
You Speak French So perfectly, and love good Men so much, that I wish you to be acquainted with the Chevalier De la Luzerne, and Mr. Marbois. Those Gentlemen were making Enquiry after a certain Letter, that you was very partial to. I enclose it to you and request you to give it them from me, with my most affectionate and respectfull Compliments.7

[salute] I am with much Affection, your Friend & sert

[signed] John Adams
RC (DLC: photostat of recipient's copy). LbC (Adams Papers).
1. The Letterbook has “Men of my Principles.”
2. The Letterbook has “nothing” deleted in favor of “little.”
3. In the Letterbook, “brings a Stain upon her own Character and” is interlined, and “more illustrious” replaces “greater.”
4. The Letterbook simply has “glorious for our Allies.”
5. In the Letterbook this sentence does not contain the words “in Confidence.” JA is referring to his letter to Elbridge Gerry of 11 Sept. (above) and its enclosures.
6. See Lovell to JA , 13 June, note 8 (above).
7. The remainder of this sentence is not in the Letterbook. Since Rush in his reply (12 Oct., below) refers to a pamphlet that he was to present to La Luzerne, and JA calls it a letter, it may have been JA 's Thoughts on Government, which Rush, writing as “Ludlow,” had made use of in an essay in the Pennsylvania Journal, 28 May 1777, to attack his own state's new unicameral constitution (see vol. 4:69 ).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0109

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-19

To the Board of Treasury

[salute] Gentlemen

By the last Post, I had the Honour of a Letter, from your secretary, inclosing, by your order Copy of the Resolutions of Congress of the Sixth of August relative to the Allowance to the late Commissioners, and their Accounts, together with the Resolution of your Honourable Board of the 26 of August, requesting me to inclose my Accounts and Vouchers to the Board of Treasury, that they may take order thereon.1
I have the Honour to transmit, by my worthy Friend, Mr. Lowell,2 my Accounts in the first Place, the Account of Monies drawn for by Dr. Franklin and me jointly, and the Expenditure of them. These Monies from the Time of my Arrival at Passy the 9 of April 1778, to the End of August following, were received by Mr. Franklin, and the Account kept by him of the Expenditure. The Account marked A, is a Copy of the Account he gave me,3 but he never shewed me, any of the { 155 } Vouchers, and I never compared them, So that Mr. Franklin, <is> I suppose holds himself4 accountable for them.
From the first of October, untill the new Commission arrived, the Account was kept by me. At the End of each Month, I carried My Account and Vouchers in to Dr. Franklin. We looked them over together and signed the Account, except the last, when Dr. Franklin being so ill of the Gout and I being engaged in settling my Affairs in order to come away, it was omitted. However I transmit the Vouchers, for all the Time that the Account was kept by me, but I have one Request to make, with respect to these but more especially with respect to my private Vouchers, which is that when the Honourable Board have made the Use of them they intend they would deliver them to Mr. Gerry to be returned to me, being necessary for the security of my Reputation as well as against new Demands of Payment. The Account thus kept by me, and signed monthly by my Colleague and myself, is marked B.5 The large Articles of Family Expences and Postage of Letters, are here inserted only in the large. Dr. Franklin has the original Books of Account of all these Particulars, with other Receipts in them.
The Accounts marked C,6 is my private Account of Monies received by me Singly, and includes, what Money I received of the Navy Board at Boston, before my Departure, what I received of the Continental Agents, at Bourdeaux, Nantes, L'orient &c. what I received of Mr. Franklin, out of the Monies drawn for jointly and what I received of Mr. Grand the Banker, either with my own Hand or by draughts upon him, the Amount of all which, exclusive of a Draught for Mr. Deanes Furniture is[] 7 Livres.
The Account, marked D, is a particular Account of all my Expences, the Amount of which is[] 8
This includes, the Expenc of all my Journeys, from Bourdeaux to Paris, from Paris to Nantes from Nantes to Brest, from Brest Back again to Nantes, the Expences of Cloathing, for my self and servants, and in general all my particular Expences of every kind. During the Time that the joint Account was kept by Mr. Franklin, the Honourable Board will see that Mr. Franklin paid all those Articles, out of joint stock which I was paying for out of my particular. The Effect to the public is the Same, but it was necessary to make the Observation in order to explain the Articles.
The Honourable Board will also see, in this Account of mine, several Articles for Books. I found myself in France, ill versed in the Language, the Literature, the Science, the Laws, Customs and Manners of that Country, and had the Mortification to find my Colleagues, very { 156 } little better informed than myself, vain as this may seem.9 I found also that Dr. Franklin, Mr. Deane and Mr. Lee, had expended considerable sums for Books, and this appeared to me, one of the most necessary, and Usefull Ways in which Money had ever been Spent in that Country. I therefore did not hesitate to expend the <small> sums, mentioned in this Account in this Way, in the Purchase of such a Collection of Books, as were calculated to qualify me for Conversation and for Business, especially the science of Negotiation. Accordingly the Books are a Collection, of Books concerning the french Language and Criticism, concerning french History, Laws, Customs and Manners, but àbove all a large Collection of Books on the public Right of Europe, and the Letters and Memoirs of those Ambassadors and public Ministers who had acquired the fairest Fame and done the greatest services to their Countries in this Way.10
The Honourable Board will judge whether this is a “reasonable Expence” and whether it ought, or ought not to be deducted from the Allowance. I shall <not be dissatisfied if it is.> submit to their Judgment with entire Satisfaction.11
All the Articles in, both Accounts, which were for my Son, will no doubt be deducted from the Allowance. Yet I ought to observe, that Mr. Izard and Mr. William Lee, have supported their <whole large> Families, Dr. Franklin has two Grandsons and Mr. A. Lee a Nephew. Mr. Deane two Brothers, and afterwards a son, all that I desire is that I may, be treated like the others.12
I departed from my own House the 13 of February 1778, and happily arrived at it again the 2d of August 1779. How far the Hon. Board will judge the Resolution of Congress, allowing 3 Months after the Recall, applicable to me, I dont know. Indeed whether I am recalled to this Moment, I dont know. All I desire is, a reasonable Compensation for the Time I was actually in the service, and this was in fact from the day that I received my Commission, which was in Decr. 1777, for from that Day I was obliged to avoid all engagements in private Business, and to devote my self to the Preparation for my Voyage as much as at any Time after.13
I shall send by this Opportunity all the Vouchers I have. When I was making Journeys from Place to Place, it was impossible for me, to take Receipts of Postilions, Tavernkeepers, and twenty other sorts of People for small sums, but I presume, no Man will say his Expences have been or could be less than mine.14 The United states have no House Rent, or Hire of Chariots, or Horses or Horsemen, or servants, or furniture of Houses to pay for me. None of these Things except the { 157 } | view servant who went with me, were ever added to the public Expences on my Account. There are two or three small sums in the Account paid to Mr. Austin, for services while he acted as my Secretary, perhaps six Weeks, which is all the Expence, the public bore for secretaries to me. I dont mention this as a Virtue or Merit, for I am convinced it was an Error, and I would never advise any other Gentleman to follow my Example in these particulars.
I was obliged to be at some Expence for Bedding, on Board the Sensible in my Passage home, as the Board will see.
I submit the whole to the Consideration of the Board, only requesting that I may be informed, what Articles are allowed in the settlement of my Account, under the Head of reasonable Expences and what are not.

[salute] I have the Honour to be, with great Respect to the honourable Board, their most obedient & most humble servant

LbC (Adams Papers). Enclosuers not found.
1. For this letter, dated 2 Sept. (Adams Papers), see JA to Elbridge Gerry, 20 Sept., and note 1 (below).
2. See JA to John Lowell, 21 Sept. (below).
3. See Household Accounts, 9 April–24 Aug. 1778 (vol. 6:16–20).
4. The previous four words are interlined.
5. See Household Accounts, 1 Oct. 1778–23 Feb. 1779 (above).
6. See the listing of personal expenditures in JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:325–344. See also the editorial comment on these expenses in Adams Family Correspondence , 3:221–222.
7. Left blank in the Letterbook. Adding the figures given in the Diary, and excluding the 4,294 livres for Deane's furniture, the total is 28,357 livres, virtually that given by JA (28,355. 3. 3) in the account following this letter (see note 8).
8. Left blank in the Letterbook. Although the accounts that JA submitted, which were marked A-D, have not been found, Account D is probably that following this letter, which gives the total of expenses as 13,855.16. o livres.
9. The last five words of the sentence are interlined.
10. The phrases “acquired the fairest Fame and” and “to their Countries” are interlined.
11. The committee that reported on JA 's accounts recommended allowing his expenditures for books ( JCC , 15:1383).
12. The committee on JA 's accounts held that neither congressional authorization nor custom justified reimbursement for money spent on a son's education (same).
13. JA figured the total as twenty months' service, from early Dec. 1777 to early Aug. 1779; see the “Account of John Adams” immediately following this letter.
14. The rest of the paragraph was written after the closing, its place in the text indicated with a mark.