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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


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Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0062

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-06

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

I did Myself the pleasure of writing to You by the Secretary of the Count de la Luzerne, inclosing a Letter to Genl. Gates and sending a Remembrancer.2 I was in Hopes of sending to You by the same Opportunity 4 Parliamentary Registers containing the Papers, which have passed between the Howes Burgoyne and the Ministry,3 but having lent them to Mr. Genet coud not get them back [with] time Enough to Send them, but when I receive <them,> will immediately transmit them to You. These Papers and the Examination of the Officers, returnd from America, have made a great Impression on the Nation and the House of Commons. They shew the Absurdity of the American War in So Strong a light, that it is universally said in England, that Lord North and the Bedford faction are now inclined to Peace. In Consequence of which there are great divisions in the Councils of England. Ld. G. Germaine however continues his Malignant folly and Cowardice and will persist for4 perhaps He is supp[orte]d by a man of Equal Malignity, folly and Cowardice.
I have heard these Matters above a fortnight Ago, without attending to them Much, but they are repeated Again by the last Post in a Strong Manner. I have heard too strong reports of the favorable Intentions of Spain towards France, and it is certain that the people of England suspect her Immediate Declaration. Mr. Burk had said in the House of { 75 } Commons that the Mediation of Spain is broke off and the Ministry did not deny it.5 Arbuthnots fleet saild the 11th Ultimo.6 It said here that a Packet7 has been received from America of a late date at Passy, the Contents of which is Kept a profound Secret from the Americans at Paris. The Vessel arrivd in Holland and Saild from Annapolis in Maryland the 23 April. By other letters by the same Ship, it is reported that Mr. Deanes Party gains ground and is determind to Sacrifice Mr. A. Lee. The English Minister has <heard?> had Accounts from the W Indies which do not please, those Which France has receivd on the other Hand are Agreable.
I wrote to You a Letter,8 directd for you as this is, to the Care of Mr. Moylan. I shall be glad to hear they are receivd and that you are well.

[salute] I am Dear Sir Yours Most Faithfully

[signed] Edm: Jenings
P.S. It is said there are such great Divisions in Congress as that the Minority has seceded.
Lord North having last Week opend his 3d Budget it now appears the Ministry must raise Twenty Millions this Year.9
It is probable the Parliament will Either offer other Terms to America before it rises, or give the King Powers to make Peace with America.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur Monsieur John Adams, au Soin de Monsieur Moylan a L Orient”; docketed: “Mr Jennings June 16. 1779.” Filmed under the date of 16 June (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 350).
1. The date as written by Jenings appears to be “16,” but as JA noted in his reply of 12 June (below), the letter could not have been written then. JA thought that it was probably written on the 10th, which also seems too late. It is unlikely that Jenings' letter could have been carried the approximately three hundred miles from Paris to Lorient in only two days; an examination of contemporary letters sent from Paris indicates that they took from four to ten days. This fact, together with Jenings' mention of the introduction of Lord North's third budget “last week” — an event that occurred on 31 May — raises the possibility that Jenings inadvertently placed a “I” before the “6,” suggesting a more likely date of 6 June.
2. The letter referred to has not been identified, but it was probably part of the packet that Jenings intended Barbé-Marbois to carry (Jenings to JA , 2 June, above). JA received the Remembrancer, but he did not receive the letter to Gates until later ( JA to Jenings, 8, 12 June; Gates to JA of 20 Aug., all below).
3. The four issues of the Parliamentary Register mentioned by Jenings were probably Nos. 66, 67, 68, and 69. The papers were those submitted by the North ministry on 18 Feb. in response to a motion of the 17th by Sir William Howe that all letters between himself and Lord George Germain from Aug. 1775 to Nov. 1778 be placed before the House of Commons ( Parliamentary Reg. , 11:253–480).
The submission of the papers was the first step in the attempt by Sir William and Lord Richard Howe, in which Gen. John Burgoyne soon joined, to obtain an inquiry into the conduct of the war in order to justify their actions in America and respond to attacks upon them by the ministry. After considerable parliamentary maneuvering, an agreement was reached to consider the papers and examine wit• { 76 } nesses. The inquiry extended from 22 April until 29 June. The witnesses to whose testimony Jenings refers later in this paragraph were probably those called by the Howes on 6, 11, and 18 May, and those supporting Burgoyne, called on 20 and 27 May (Gruber, Howe Brothers , p. 337–350; for the testimony, see Parliamentary Reg. , 13:1–32, 33–63, 91–99, 124–150, 152–177).
In the end the inquiry was inconclusive. The ministry was embarrassed, but its majority held, and no resolutions either approving the conduct of the Howe brothers or condemning that of the ministry, particularly Lord George Germain, were passed. Certainly the inquiry did nothing to incline either Lord North or the Bedford faction, one of the main supports of the North government, toward peace.
4. The “for” is written over an illegible word, and the exact sense of the passage is uncertain, but Jenings probably means that Germain had the support of George III.
5. Edmund Burke twice declared during debate over the budget on 31 May, that the mediation had failed, reportedly stating in the second instance that “all negotiation is at an end, that Spain is openly leagued with France. The noble lord [North] knows it. I call upon him to contradict me; if he does not, I shall take it for granted” ( Parliamentary Hist. , 20:826–827). The London Chronicle of 29 May – 1 June reported, “the Minister was silent.”
6. See Ralph Izard to JA , 21 May, note 2 (above).
7. Possibly that referred to as coming by way of St. Eustatius and Holland (Franklin to James Lovell, 2 June, and to John Jay, 9 June, Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:199–200, 215–216).
8. That of 2 June (above).
9. Lord North reopened the budget on 31 May. The estimate of £20,000,000 was by David Hartley of the opposition; North put the amount at approximately £15,200,000 ( Parliamentary Hist. , 20:818–820).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0063

Author: Austin, Jonathan Loring
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-07

From Jonathan Loring Austin

[salute] Honble. Sir

I have the Honor to acquaint you that I arrived here the 29th Ultimo via St. Eustatia, sufficiently tired with the tedious Rout I have taken since I left Paris. I was much disappointed in not embarking directly from Holland to America. All my Persuasions with the Dutch, to send out a Vessel for this Continent, proved fruitless; when I had no other Resource left but to come out by the Way of the West Indies, and had embarked, was detained fifty days in the Texel for a Wind, and then followed a passage of 45 days; my Patience was pretty well put to the Test, instead of revisiting my native Shore in two Months, as I flatter'd myself when I left Passy, triple the time had elaps'd before I set foot in Virginia; often Sir did I wish myself by your Fire side, affording you any little Assistance in your important Business, but it was then too late.
On my Arrival at 'Statia I expected to be detained several Months, on Account of Business, and therefore forwarded by a Vessel, recommended as sailing very fast, and deliver'd to the Care a Gentleman in the Continental Service who went Passenger, your Letter for Congress { 77 } and all other Letters for Friends, enclosing them to the president of Congress.1 The Vessel was unfortunately taken and the Letters lost.
On my Arrival in Philada. I deliver'd a Memorial to Congress respecting my time and Services, in going over with Dispatches to France and my Employment while there; agreeable to the Mode I had the Honor of mentioning to you, Congress unanimously as I was informed granted the prayer of the Memorial, and referr'd the Matter to the Treasury Board for some Gratuity, who thought it best to refer it to the Council of this State, before whom it at present lays.2
You will doubtless receive from Congress and others by this Opportunity all the News worthy notice. It would have afforded me the greatest pleasure and I must confess I fully expected to see the same Virtue Firmness and Stability, which first calld forth the noble Exertions of my Countrymen in this glorious Cause still animating them not only respecting what more immediately regarded the War, but in all other political points the necessary Attendants of it; I don't mean to intimate that we have grown so sluggish and heavy, or have so far lost our first principles, or are even so tired with the War as tamely to see our Country become a prey to our Invaders, no Sir. Our Virtue is still most conspicuous in this Respect, and our Armies are formidable, not-withstanding the Depreciation of our Currency, but even if this was annihilated the determined Union that prevails in this Instance will rouse a sufficient Force to repel our Foes. The present Campaign its probable, from the first British Onset will be carried on with Vigor, they have lately sent a Party to Virginia and there got footing in Portsmouth3 from which place expect to be soon informed of Ravages commited, but we are now a little inured to such Depredations, which rather exasperate than intimidate and the Name of a Briton has here become a proverb for Cruelty. It may however shortly return on their own Heads. They also still remain in the unfavorable Climate of Georgia, and expect soon to hear they are attempting Descents in N England. What Steps Genl. Washington will take in Consequence of these Manoeuvres you will soon be acquainted with, its probable he will give a good Account of them. I must beg leave to refer your Honor to the enclosed News papers for further particulars, as I have many Letters to write by this Vessel which will sail to morrow.
You may remember Sir I alway mentiond Mr. D with Respect when I was in France, and setting aside his commercial Transactions to which I was ever a Stranger I shall always speak of him respectfully. I am sorry he has since his Arrival upon the Continent adopted such a Mode in order to vindicate his Character and to bring others before the { 78 } public Scrutiny, herein he has acted very impolitic and has blown up a Blast which he will not easily extinguish.——4 have been greatly divided in this unfortunate Dispute, hope it will terminate [in?] the general Good.
I shall with Permission do myself the Honor of writing you from time to time what is transacting in this part of the World and shall think myself particularly noticed to receive a Line from you now and then. Give me Leave Sir, before I finish this Letter to ask if You Dr. F. or Mr. L. are agreeably furnished with Secretarys. I am enduced to be thus free, as I am not certain but I shall take another Voyage to France, and if there is any Employment in this or any other way that you should think worthy my Acceptance, I should esteem it an Honor if you'd inform me of it, or intimate it to Congress.
I have a little Tea for Mrs. A——which I shall wait on her with and deliver her, as soon as my Baggage arrives in Town. Please to present my most respectfull Compliments to Dr. Franklin and Dr. Lee. Being with perfect Respect & Attachment Honble. Sir Your most Obedient & very humble Servant,
[signed] J. Loring Austin5
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Son Excellence Monsieur Adams Ministre plenipotentiare de l'Amerique a Passy pres Paris”; docketed: “J. L. Austin. 7. June 1779.”
1. Probably JA 's letter to the president of the congress of 20 Sept. 1778 (above); see note 3 to that letter, and Austin to the Commissioners, 19 Sept. 1778 (above).
2. Austin's memorial was received by the congress on 10 May and reported upon on the 13th (PCC, No. 41, I, f. 39; JCC , 14:567, 581–582). On 8 June the Massachusetts Council resolved to recommend to the congress that the Commissioners in Europe be directed to discharge the advances obtained by Austin in the course of his mission (Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass. E1, Reel No. 11, Unit I, p. 406–407). The congress approved the Council's recommendation on 26 June ( JCC , 14:776).
3. On 10 May, 1,800 troops under Maj. Gen. Edward Mathew had landed at Portsmouth, Va., and, in the course of the next few days and without losing a man, destroyed or captured an estimated £2,000,000 worth of property and merchandise (Ward, War of the Revolution , 2:867).
4. Presumably the congress.
5. JA received this letter when he returned to Paris in 1780, but no reply has been found.