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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0204

Author: Montgomery, Robert
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-02-05

From Robert Montgomery

[salute] Sir

When I was Advised of your Arrival at Corunia I had the Pleasing hopes that Your Destination Was the Court of Madrid and Accordingly porposed myself the happiness of Paying you my devoirs there in the month of Aprile. I Also Presumed on taking the Liberty of Writing My Banker in that City Messr. Peter Casamayor & Co. to Make you a Tender of their Services in my Behalf, and to Supply you with the Money you Might have Occation for in Case you Should Chuse to Accept of it for my Account, however Since I have been deprived of the Pleasure of Seing you this Spring I hope this Will Come to hand with My Sincerest Congratulations On your Safe Arrival at Paris.
You will no dout have Learn'd that the English have Thrown Suckers into Gibralter.1 It was unfortunet that Cordova had gone into porte befor those fell in with Langara's Squadron and is to be feard that this Blow will Prolonge the War At Least on this side the Atlantic. His Excellency Benjamin Franklin Esqr. Will Probably have Informd you the Trouble I have Given him in My Particular.2 On the Declaration of the War the Kings Attorney And Governor's Asessor here Insisted I Should Retire With the English Merchants Who had been Established here Notwithstanding they had Always Considered And Acknowledged Me an American Since My first Coming to the Place being yearly Enrold on the List of foraign Merchants as Such, however those became Quiet on geting What they Wanted a little Money, And I have Since Partly by Means of Mr. Franklin and Partly { 319 } { 320 } by My freinds At Madrid Obtain'd an Order from his Majesty to the Governour of this Place to Consider and Protect me as a freind and Not to Cause Nor Suffer me Any farther Molestation Whatever. I Am under Infinit Obligations in this Perticular to Dr. Barnardo del Campo Secretary to the Counsil of State and Also to the Minister the Count de Florida Blanca.
Since I had the Pleasure of Seing you I have been Remarkably Successful in Comerce and Only Wish to have it in My Power to be of Service to you or Any freind in this Quarter and have the Honour to be With the Greatest Sincerity Sir Your Most Obedient Most humble Servent
[signed] Robt Montgomery
Since Writing the Above I have Advice that Mr. Jay is Arrived at Cadiz, as Plenipotentiary to this Court. I Am Not Aquaint With this Gentleman And Should Much Esteem the favour of your Giving Me A line to him. It Would Make Me Happy to be Able to Render him Any Service here.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed by John Thaxter: “Mr. Robt. Montgomery 5th. Feby. 1780.”
1. That is, gave succor to Gibraltar. On 16 Jan. 1780, Adm. Sir George Rodney soundly defeated a Spanish squadron commanded by Adm. Don Juan de Langara. In the action Langara was captured and seven of the eleven ships of the line under his command were either taken or destroyed. Despite the presence of a large fleet of French and Spanish ships of the line at Cadiz under the command of Adm. Cordoba, Rodney's victory gave him control of the approaches to Gibraltar, thus the beleaguered garrison received the food that it needed to withstand and prolong the seige (Mahan, Navies in the War of Amer. Independence , p. 122–127).
2. For Montgomery's problems with the Spanish government and his applications to Benjamin Franklin, see his letter to JA of 6 July 1779 (above), and Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 2:101, 109, 129, 133, 165.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0205

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1780-02-12

To the Comte de Vergennes

Paris, 12 February 1780. printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:243–245
With this letter John Adams formally notified Vergennes of his mission. Stating that he had been appointed to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain, he explained, so far as he knew it, the origins of the congress' action. He declared that his efforts would be consistent with American obligations to France and that “it is my own determination to take no steps of consequence in pursuance of my Commission, without consulting his Majesty's Ministers.” He asked Vergennes whether he should inform the British government of his arrival, commissions, and readiness to undertake negotiations when circumstances permitted; publish, to a greater extent than in the Journals of the congress, the nature of his mission; or “remain upon the reserve” { 321 } as he had done since he had arrived in Europe. Adams pledged that any British proposals to him would be reported to Vergennes, and he asked that any proposals made to France relating to American interests be disclosed to him. Finally, he requested permission to reside in France as either a public or private person, according to Vergennes' view of what was most advisable.
Although this letter was carefully phrased in the most polite and respectful language, it introduced several of the major themes that informed the antagonistic relationship between Adams and Vergennes during Adams' second diplomatic mission. Adams recognized his anomalous position in France as a minister with no official standing, charged with negotiating treaties with an enemy that showed no desire for peace and was pressing its naval war against France and Spain. Vergennes' distrust of Adams, fostered by reports placing him in an anti-French faction, was increased by this letter, as was his fear that Adams intended to undercut French and Spanish interests by initiating negotiations. For the progress of the Adams-Vergennes relationship, see the letters exchanged by the two men of 15, 19, 24, and 25 Feb. (all calendared below).