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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0138

Author: Rush, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-12

From Benjamin Rush

[salute] My Dear friend

Accept of my thanks for your early and puntual Attention to my letter.1 I have ever thought myself honoured in your friendship, and shall be happy at all times in cultivating a correspondence with you.
In your first letter2 you enquire after the state of our goverment. The best answer I can give to your Question, is that I am Afraid to commit my Opinion of men and measures in our state to writing. I often think of, and sometimes mention to friends that I can trust, a { 200 } Speech of yours the first time you saw a printed copy of the constitution of Pensylvania. “Good God! (said you) the people of Pensylvania in two years will be glad to petition the crown of Britain for reconcilliation in order to be delivered from the tyranny of their constitution.”3 The perfection of goverment consists in providing restraints against the tyranny of rulers on the one hand, and the licentiousness of the people on the other. By our constitution we are exposed to all the miseries of both without a single remedy for either. You will hear from some Other Quarters of an insurrection <among> in our city. The objects of the Mob were unknown or confusedly understood. They were enraged chiefly by liquor. Their leaders abandoned them—and sheltered themselves under their Offices. A battle ensued at the house of Col: Wilson whose only crime was having plead in some cases for the tories. Our Streets for the first time were Stained with fraternal blood. Seven were killed, and 19 wounded.4 Among the former was a Captain Robt: Campbell who had lost an arm in fighting against the enemies of our country on Staten Island under Genl. Sullivan. He fell in defending Wilson's house. He was a <brave, and> most acomplished Officer and gentleman. Since this melancholy Affair we have had a calm in our city. But Every face wears the marks of fear and dejection. We look over our Shoulders, and then whisper when we complain to each Other in the Streets of the times. I feel the slave stealing upon me every day. O! liberty—liberty I have worshipped thee as a Substance, but——A patient calls for me in a hurry, and Obliges me to conclude myself your most Affectionate friend & Hble servt.
[signed] Benjn. Rush
PS: I have been so very busy for these two past5 that I have not paid a single visit to any body but to Sick people. I shall not fail of waiting upon the Chevr. De la Luserne and his Secretary, and presenting your compliments and pamphflet to him. I am devoted to the French Alliance. You may see my tho'ts upon this Subject in a piece signed Leonidas published about 2 months ago in Dunlap's paper.6 I perfectly agree with you in your plan of prosecuting the War. Congratulations upon your new, and most honourable embassy!
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Dr. Rush Octr. 12. 1779.”
1. JA to Rush, 19 Sept., in answer to Rush's letter of 19 Aug. (both above).
2. That of 10 Sept. (above).
3. This document was signed on 28 Sept. 1776, and immediately printed, so JA 's comment must date from that time. JA 's objections to the Pennsylvania constitution are not known in detail, but included its unicameralism and lack of a single and powerful executive.
4. The battle at “Fort Wilson,” occurred on 4 Oct., at James Wilson's home in Philadelphia. Local militiamen who supported Pennsylvania's radical constitution and price controls fought with Wilson's friends and political allies, who { 201 } opposed the constitution and all price controls. A host of conflicting accounts of the event's causes and casualties was generated, and major disagreements about the battle remain. A full modern account is John K. Alexander, “The Fort Wilson Incident of 1779: A Case Study of the Revolutionary Crowd,” WMQ , 3d ser., 31:589–612 (Oct. 1974).
5. The unit of time was inadvertently omitted.
6. “To the Freemen of North America, On the French Alliance,” in the Pennsylvania Packet, 24 Aug. (see Benjamin Rush, Letters , 1:241, note 7).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0139

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-14

From James Lovell

[salute] Dear Sir

I inclose to you the decent Fashion in which we1 it was yesterday opinioned to let the World know Mr. Lee has a Successor.2 Pray strive by Mr. Issac Smith's Knowledge of the Sailing of Vessels to let Arthur get the paper before his Foes.
The 3 Ministers are to have per An: £2500 sterling. Their Secretaries £1000 in full of Services and Expences. To commence at Outset and finish in 3 months after a Recall being notified. So that they may get home as they can But will by seperate Resolution be provided for out.3
The funds are to be settled by a recommitment. I judge the Report will get only the addition of order to the Commercial Committee of Produce or Bills to be deposited subject to the Officers Draughts. But I have hinted your being Authorized to obtain a Loan as the others are. And I think you will readily obtain more than Pocket Money from either truly whig Englishmen or such as are desirous of buying our good Graces in America that they may afterwards pluck us in the Way of Commerce.

[salute] Adieu Dear Sir yrs.

[signed] J L
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Lovell.” Originally filmed under the date [Sept. 1779] in Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 350.
1. Thus in MS .
2. For Lovell's motion of 13 Oct., regarding Arthur Lee and to which he refers, see his letter to JA of 27 Sept., note 12 (above). The enclosure was probably Lovell's letter to Lee notifying him of Jay's appointment and conveying a copy of the congressional resolution (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:377–378).
3. Presumably Lovell means that the congress would arrange for passage on a ship when the ministers were bound for their posts.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0140

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-14

From James Lovell

[salute] Dear Sir

I inclose to you a Peice of Intelligence1 perhaps altogether new. The uti possidetis offered by Spain will appear alarming perhaps to some { 202 } but we are told She acted upon full Knowledge that King George the 3d of England had sworn in his Cabinet that he would not acknowledge our Independence. Spain at least knew that we would never enter into any commercial Treaty without a total relinquishment of the 13 States by Britain: I am glad her offer was rejected. I own I do not like such Experiments.
I do not see how you and the others lately elected to Missions from hence will get immediate Supply but by the Way of Doctr. F—— to whom a Promise will be made of speedy Repayment and also of the Establishment of Funds directly for the Purpose of supporting all Embassies from the United States. I will give you an Account of the Decision upon a Report to be made Tomorrow morning.

[salute] Yrs. affectionately

[signed] J L
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Honorable John Adams Boston”; docketed: “Mr Lovell Octr. 14. 1779.”
1. Exposé des motifs de la conduite du Roi Très-Chrétien, relativement à l'Angleterre, Accompagné d'un pareil Exposé de ceux qui ont déterminé le Roi notre Maître dans le parti qu'il a pris à l'égard de la même Puissance was published both in Paris and, with a slightly different title, in Madrid in 1779. Both were French translations of the Spanish Manifesto published in Madrid in 1779. A copy of the Exposé, as reprinted in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique (“Letters,” vol. 15, cahier 78, p. cxliii–ccx) is among JA 's books ( Catalogue of JA 's Library ). English translations of the component parts of the publication, entitled respectively the French and Spanish manifestos, were published in the Remembrancer and Annual Register for 1779 and also appeared in the London newspapers (for example, the London Chronicle for 22–24 July, 30 Sept. – 2 Oct., and 2–5 Oct.). The Spanish ultimatum, the terms of which are indicated in the Spanish (section 21) and French manifestos, provided that each belligerent would continue to hold the territory in its possession at the time that the truce was declared, a provision for uti possedetis that would have left large chunks of American territory in British hands. In fact, nothing that Spain proposed was in the American interest. The French manifesto appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet of 6 Nov. and Boston's Independent Chronicle of 25 Nov. No American printing of the Spanish manifesto has been found.