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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0240

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1780-02-25

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

I have this Moment your Letter from Brussells of the 19th of this Month, and I thank You for your kind Congratulations on my safe Arrival. Whether I come in the amiable and blessed Character, as You say You have heard, with the Olive Branch in my Hand, and surrounded with Doves, Lambs and Angels or not, You will learn, in due Time. At present, the common Enemy shews a Picture, of a very different Kind.
I was much disappointed on my Arrival in Paris to find that You had left it, because I had promised myself much pleasure in your Conversation, after two tedious Voyages by Sea, and a Journey by Land, in the dead of Winter, through Spain and France, infinitely more disagreeable than either, and a painful Application at Home for three Months to a difficult Subject, the Formation of a Civil Constitution in the Convention of the Massachusetts.
I left the general and particular Governments in America in great Vigour, and the Spirits of the People very high, and their Temper extreamly firm. The Paper Money gives Trouble and does Injustice to Individuals, but it has little Effect1 upon the public Mind respecting the general Cause. Indeed I percieved no more Symptoms of Doubt of the final Independence of America, than if it had been acknowledged and guaranteed by all the World. The Seizure of the Dutch Ships is a desperate Step indeed, and must touch all the Powers, as well as the Dutch, very sensibly. I should be much obliged to You for a Copy of what You wrote to the Pensioner of Amsterdam upon the Subject.2
One sees the Powers at War in different Lights, when one views them from different Cities, as I have often had Opportunity to experience, and you will have Opportunities of gaining Intelligence from Brussells, that I cannot at Paris, from England especially. You will oblige me therefore very much, and render an useful Service perhaps to our Country, by informing me of all You may learn, concerning the Designs of the English Court, their intended Expeditions, and their { 365 } Force by Sea and Land. As to Thoughts of Peace, they will never have any, while they have any little Successes, as they conduct themselves on a Maxim, diametrically opposite to that of the Romans.3
I am well persuaded, Sir, of your Fidelity and Affection to your Country, as well as of your Abilities to serve it, and have taken the Liberty to mention as much and more too to some Gentlemen in Congress, to whom I transmitted the twelve Letters on the Spirit and Resources of Great Britain.4 I also transmitted your Letter to General Gates, and had a Letter from him, acknowledging the Receipt of it, before he had the pleasure of marching into Newport, and cutting off the British Army from great Quantities of Wood, Forrage, Canon and Merchandizes, which they intended to have carried away with them, not expecting that he would have the Hardiness to take possession of the Town before, they were gone from the Harbour.5

[salute] I am, my dear Sir, your faithful and affectionate Servant.

[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers); docketed: “<A> Mr A Feb 25. 1780.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. In the Letterbook copy, JA first wrote “no Effect,” and then canceled it in favor of “little Effect.”
2. In his reply of 1 March (Adams Papers) Jenings provided the text of his letter of 27 Jan. to van Berckel, the pensionary of Amsterdam.
3. See JA to the president of the congress, 20 Feb. (above).
4. See Jenings to JA , 25 April 1779, and note 2.
5. See Jenings to JA , [ca. 6? ] June, and Gates to JA , 20 Aug. 1779 (both above). Gates was at Newport on 27 Oct. ( DAB ).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0241

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-02-25

To the President of the Congress, No. 9

[salute] Sir

Since my Letter of the twentieth, I have recieved another Letter from his Excellency the Comte de Vergennes dated the 24th. of February, to which I answered this Day; Copies of both Letters are inclosed.
I have also the Honour to inclose a Gazette, and an Application from M. Comyn of Marseilles to be a Consul for the Ports of Provence and Languedoc.1 I know nothing of this Gentleman, but what he says of himself.
By the inclosed Gazette, as well as by many others, Congress will see, of what wonderful Efficacy in pulling down Tyranny, a Committee of Correspondence is likely to be. Ireland have done great things by means of it. England is attempting great things with it, after the Example, of the Americans, who invented it, and first taught its Use: Yet all { 366 } does not seem to produce the proper Gratitude in the Minds of the English towards their Benefactors. However the Glory of the Invention is as certainly ours, as that of Electrical Rods, Hadley's Quadrant, or Inoculation for the Small Pox.2

[salute] I have the Honour to be; with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant,

RC is an unsigned Dupl in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, Misc. Papers, Reel No. 1, f. 39); docketed: “John Adams Feb. 25. 1780” and “dupl No. 9 J. Adams Esqr 25th Feby. 1780 Read May 15. 1780—Publicity of his Embassy.” Intended RC in Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 281); docketed: “No. 9 Feb 25th. 1780 Letter from J Adams recd. Oct 16. Publicity of his Embassy Mr. Comin's Memorial vid Feb. 20 vid March 30.” Tripl , unsigned, in Thaxter's hand (PCC, Misc. Papers, Reel No. 1, f. 29–31); docketed: “No. 9 Tripl : Feb. 25. 1780 Letter from J Adams rec'd. Oct: 16th. 80 Publicity of his Embassy Mr. Comin's memorial.” LbC (Adams Papers); notations: “No. 9” and “recd in congress Oct. 15. Triplicate”; by Thaxter: “March 31st. 1780. The Letters were delivered to M. de la Fayette on board the Hermion Frigate by Dr. Bancroft ie. those <that were delivered> him by Mr. W. Franklin.”; “Feby. 26th. 1780. This day delivered to Mr. A. Lee Triplicates of all the Letters to Congress—also a Triplicate of the Comte De Vergennes Letter of the 24th. of Feby. and the answer to it of the 25th. inclosed in the Triplicate of Number 9., and also a Number of private Letters”; and “Delivered to Mr. W. Franklin, Duplicates of all the Letters to Congress to be by him sent to Dr. Bancroft to carry to Nantes.” The Letterbook notation for 31 March was interlined between the last line of text and the notation for 26 Feb. JA wrote to Edward Bancroft on 26 Feb. ( LbC , Adams Papers), requesting that, since Bancroft was reportedly leaving for Nantes on the following day, he take charge of the packet and, from there or some other port, send it by a safe conveyance to America. Lafayette reached Philadelphia on 15 May with the duplicates, and Lee on or about 16 Oct. with the triplicates. Nothing is known of the route taken by the packet containing the intended recipient's copy and its enclosures, but JA may have sent it with his letter of 25 Feb. to Joseph Gardoqui & Sons (above), who delayed forwarding it, with the result that it did not arrive until 16 Oct.
1. Neither Comyn's letter of [ante 25 Feb.] nor JA 's answer of 25 Feb. ( RC and LbC , Adams Papers) have been printed. In his reply JA promised only to send Comyn's application to the congress.
2. In the Letterbook this paragraph clearly was an afterthought. Written immediately below the formal closing, it was marked for insertion following the paragraph mentioning Comyn's application. JA refers, in addition to Franklin's lightning rods, to: the navigational quadrant named after its English inventor, John Hadley, but also invented, apparently independently and with some improvements, by Thomas Godfrey, a Philadelphian, in 1730; and to the pioneering work of Boston's Zabdiel Boylston, the first American physician to inoculate against smallpox, in 1721. As with Godfrey, Boylston's work followed that of English doctors by a few months, but was developed independently from African and Turkish practices. Boylston was JA 's great-uncle (Raymond Phineas Stearns, Science in the British Colonies of America, Urbana, Ill., 1970, p. 514; DAB ).