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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


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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).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0053

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1779-05-17

To Benjamin Franklin

Your Favour of the 10th. I received the Day before Yesterday, and am glad to hear that the Chevalier is making diligent Preparation for his Departure, for I wish, most impatiently to see him. Every day, now is a great Loss.
In a Letter I wrote a few days ago I mentioned Some Reasons for prefering Boston to Delaware. I think there can be no doubt that there are at least Several Frigates in Delaware River which there will be no Chance of escaping. However, after submitting my Reasons to consideration I shall be very willing to submit to the Decision. As to my going to Congress. I have not taken any Resolution nor made any Promises about it: But upon the whole my prevailing Opinion is that I shall not go, unless I should be ordered, very soon.
The Resolution of the States General, to convoy their Trade and fit out 32 ships of War for that Purpose, has an Appearance of Decision, and I hope will <increase the> have some Tendency to bring the English to Reason. They have given one Symptom of some remaining Justice and Humanity in the late Exchange of Prisoners, which is the only { 65 } Instance of any Appearance of Candor or sincerity; that I can recollect in their Conduct, since the Repeal of the Stamp Act.
We have an odd Report, here of Six ships of the Line, before St. Maloes, which Nobody can account for. Surely it is impossible that Six ships should insult, this Coast so near to Brest.
Private Letters from England by Yesterdays Mail say that the last Proposals of Spain, have been rejected, with ill humour.1
From America, no News can be obtained. Of five Vessells arrived, within a few Weeks, one at Morlaix, one at L'orient one at Nantes and two at Isle, d'aix, not one has brought any Dispatches, nor all together above 4 or 5 News papers. These are all from Cheasapeak.
The Frigate Le Sensible, has been here several days.
The Poor Richard2 appears to be almost ready for sea, and she has a set of very fine officers, but what Character the ship deserves and her Equipage, which is very much mixed, I dont know, But I hope and believe, that the officers will keep them in order.
The Characters you give of the new Ambassador and his secretary, give me much Pleasure. The Name of the latter I have not yet heard. Shall be happy to form an Acquaintance with both, and in an opportunity to shew them the Town of Boston before they go to Philadelphia. It may be Usefull, to see, so large a Part of America, and they will be very sure of a cordial Reception.

[salute] I have the Honour to be, with great Respect, sir Your most obedient servant

[signed] John Adams
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Jonh Adams L'orient 17 May 1779.”
1. See JA to Franklin, 13 April, note 2 (above).
2. That is, the Bonhomme Richard.