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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0051

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1779-05-14

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

The Day before Yesterday, We arrived here, in two Days from Nantes, all well.
There is a Frigate now turning into this Port, which is said to be Le Sensible, and if this is true, I hope, it will not be a long Time before We get to sea.
The Chevalier de La Luzerne I hope is sensible of the Value of every Moment in the last half of the Month of May towards a Voyage to America. If We wait untill the Middle of June, We May very well chance to have a Passage of Eleven or Twelve Weeks.
In my last Letter I mentioned my Hope that the Chevalier would go to the Northward. It is true that I am much interested in this, but I hope my own share in this Buisiness, did not entirely suggest that Wish. The greatest Concourse of British Men of War is undoubtedly at { 62 } present between the West India Islands and those Parts of America which lie between Rhode Island and Georgia. Captain Jones in a Vessell from Baltimore, whom I saw at his arrival in <Nan> at St. Nazare which was last sunday night in a Passage of Thirty days told me there were three British Frigates cruising in the Mouth of Cheasapeak Bay. As We have had no Arrival from Philadelphia so long there is great Reason to believe that there is more than one Vessell of War of the Line or Frigates cruising in Delaware Bay. Therefore I think the Chance of getting safe into Port, is ten Times greater at Boston than Philadelphia, and I presume the Chevalier, wishes to avoid a Captivity as well as myself, altho in such an unfortunate Case he would probably be treated with more Politeness than I should.
The Transportation of his Baggage by Land, as well as that of Mr. Gerard is a Thing that deserves Attention to be sure—But it had better go by Land, to Boston than by sea to New York. As to Mr. Gerards I presume, he will bring nothing to Europe with him but what is absolutely necessary, as every Thing he has will fetch in America twice as much as would replace it in Europe—and in this Way Insurance and Risque will be avoided.
Mr. Chaumont gave Us the Pleasure of his Company this Morning at Breakfast. His son made Us a Visit before. Both are very well.
I should be obliged to you, if you would present my Compliments to his Lady and Family, and now I have begun with the Ladies, if you think it worthwhile you will oblige me much by making my Compliments acceptable to Madame Bertin, Madame Brillon and Madame Helvetius, Ladies for whose Characters I have a very great Respect.1 I have the Honor to be with great Respect sir your humble servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Jonh Adams L'Orient may 14 1779.”
1. While at Passy, JA had dined and conversed with these women, all friends of Franklin. See JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:94–95, 47–49 , 58–59.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0052

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-05-15

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

I have receivd your favor Acknowledging the Receipt of Mine of the 24th of April,1 which seems to have been long while getting to you. I was sorry to hear of your Dissapointment in going in the Alliance, which some people here think woud be better Employed in convoying on the Coast of America the very important fleet now gone then any { 63 } marading Scheme Whatever. I suppose you will Accompany the [new?] Minister, who I hear bears a most Excellent Character.
These are times not to sing to the God of Love, I mean for an American, altho the poor French Officer could not help it. You have much to go through, before you Enjoy even domestic peace and Comfort. You have put your Hand to the plough and must not look back nor do I think ought any of these great Men, who have hitherto laboured in the field, least New Ones come in and spoil the Harvest.
The people of England are amused with the talk of Peace and they Amuse the Spanyards with a supposed Disposition towards it. How long the Court of Spain may be amused I Know it,2 but England is certainly putting herself greatly on her Gaurd; on a Supposition that the delusion will not last long.3 The Dutch have put into Commission 30 Ships to Convoy their Trade, and Sweden has grantd Convoys to the Mediterrean and through the Channel of England.4 These Measures have Affectd the Stocks of England.
I hear that Mr. D has liberty to come over and to settle either His or the public Accounts—his Friends are rejoicd at it.5 I am Sorry to find you hear Nothing from the Congress, their Time must surely be greatly taken up with domestic Matters, not to think of their foreign Affairs and Servants. A Ship from Maryland has lately brought a large Packet to the Count de Vergennes but I Hear of Nothing arriving to our Minister here. I saw Him last Wednesday. He is quite Hearty.
You tell me they are puzzld to Know what Party you Are of, because you are of None. <My Case> The Judgment of me is very different, because I am of None, Each Side thinks I am of the other, and Caution one Another Against me. In Some Humours that I am in, this is a Matter of Laughter, in others of Contempt, but in general of much Concern. So long however as I think I mean well to the Country, I shall think that those, who Abuse me most, are the worst Men and mean the least good to the States. This is the Dictate of Self Complacency, and is a natural Rule of Judgement, and so they must Excuse, the opinion I may form of them in return.
Palliser is acquitted,6 the Court having declard, that his Conduct was in some Cases highly honorable and Exemplary, altho he was Somewhat blameable in not informing the Admiral of his Distress. Thus We see, that however Infamous a Man May be, his Party will Justify and give Him Honor. May America never be so Corrupted and debased.
I Hope your Son is well and affords you the Comfort your Situation requires.
{ 64 }

[salute] I am Dear Sir Your Most Obedient & devotd Hble Sert

[signed] Edm: Jenings
1. JA 's letter of 4 May acknowledged Jenings' letter of the 25th, not the 24th of April (both above).
2. Presumably written for “not.”
3. For the deteriorating relations between Spain and Great Britain, see JA to Benjamin Franklin, 13 April, note 2 (above).
4. The decision by Sweden to provide convoys for its vessels was made in March, after Russia had declined to enter into concert with the Northern powers (Sweden and Denmark) to protect neutral trade against British seizures, as originally proposed by Denmark's foreign minister in the fall of 1778 (De Madariaga, Armed Neutrality of 1780 , p. 73–86). Together with the action taken by the Netherlands on 26 April (see Franklin to JA , 10 May, above), Sweden's action foreshadowed the Armed Neutrality proposed by Russia in 1780.
5. Jenings' information was erroneous; see JA to Benjamin Franklin, 29 April, note 1 (above).
6. The court-martial or, more accurately, the court of inquiry, since there were no charges against him, of Vice Adm. Hugh Palliser ended on 5 May. Palliser had sought the trial to vindicate his conduct at the battle off Ushant because Adm. Keppel earlier had been acquitted of the charges brought by Palliser (see JA to Francis Dana, 25 Dec. 1778, note 4, above), thus casting doubt on his own reputation and conduct during the battle. Although Palliser was found innocent, his career in the navy was over, and he spent the remainder of his life as governor of Greenwich Hospital (Mackesy, War for America , p. 242–243; for daily proceedings of the trial, see the issues of the London Chronicle from 10–13 April through 4–6 May).