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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9


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Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0136

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1780-04-28

To Elbridge Gerry

[salute] My dear Friend

Since my Arrival in Europe I have had Reason to be very well Satisfied with my Reception, hitherto, in Spain, in France, and especially among the Americans in Europe. I have received Letters, from various Quarters of warm Congratulations and full of Professions, of Respect and offers of service. Such Letters I have had from Mr. Bondfield at Bordeaux, Mr. Williams and Mr. Johnson, and Mr. Livingston at Nantes, and from Mr. Jennings and Mr. W. Lee at Brussells.
I am much obliged to Mr. Johnson, for his kind Letter,1 and for good Intelligence. He has many Vessells, which arrive in Nantes to his Consignment from Baltimore: I wish that Congress, and Members of Congress, would sometimes send Letters and Newspapers to me that way: as also by another Way, I mean from Boston and Newbury Port, by the Way of Spain, Bilbao or Cadiz for Example, in this Case they should be directed to the Care of some particular Gentleman in those Cities, that he may inclose them, to avoid the enormous Expence of Postage, from America. The postage of large Packetts this Way would be terrible: but single Letters, containing, Articles and Paragraphs cut out from the Newspapers, will have a better Chance of coming soon this Way than any other. I give to Congress such tedious Histories of public affairs that I need not repeat, any of them to you, in my private Letters.
My Mission has been announced with so much Pomp, and there have been so many Speculations about me, that I expected, before this Time, the Gall of the Tories and Refugees, would attacked me, in the English Newspapers. I expected that Parson Bates and Parson Vardel would have been employed, to bespatter me, with their Dirt and Lyes: but You know very well that I am acquainted with these Gentlemen, and perhaps they may think that I am as able to tell a Truth, as well as their Parsons can tell lies.2 And I am persuaded they dread my Truths, more than I do their Lies. Hitherto however they have had the Philosophy, and magnanimity, to treat me with the Contempt I deserve.
If there should be any Representations to you, or in America, concerning me, let me beg you to acquaint me with it, by the surest { 243 } Channells and by several Ways. I have no reasons to Suspect any one in particular, but after, the Scraps, which were laid before the Committee of 13, I should not be surprised, if others should go.3 There is more Guise in Europe, than in America—the bad Passions are stronger, here, by habit, and necessity arising from their Luxury and Intrigues but they are more concealed. One sees the Reasons of the divine Precepts against Hipocrisy more clearly here than there.
There is an American here, of great Learning and Ingenuity, close Application, great Candour and good Judgment, who has been, more than any other, forward in testifying his Affection to me, and his Zeal for the service of his Country. It is Counciller Edmund Jennings a native of Maryland. He lives now at Bruxells. I could wish that his Character was more known in America. I suppose however, that Congress will for the future bestow their Commissions of Importance upon, Persons of whom they have had more Experience. I hope this will generally be the Case, for our greatest misfortunes abroad have arisen from employing Persons who were not known to Congress nor to America, who did not know, at least very lately America, and in whom America had not Sufficient Grounds of Confidence, and who had not sufficient Grounds of Confidence in America. It is a severe Misfortune that the Laurens's are not arrived, nor that I can learn likely to arrive. If they dont come, pray send somebody else.
Adieu.
RC (MHi: Gerry-Knight Coll.); endorsed: “Paris Letter His Excellency J Adams Esq 28th. April 1780 ansd Jany 20 1781” additionally marked: “No Sig.”
1. Of 22 April (above).
2. Rev. Henry Bate (later Sir Henry Bate Dudley) was the editor of the pro-ministry Morning Post ( DNB ). For Rev. John Vardill, formerly a professor at King's (Columbia) College and from 1775 to 1781 a British spy, see vol. 3:55–56.
3. For Congress' “Committee of Thirteen” and its consideration of charges against American diplomats in Europe, including one by Ralph Izard against JA , see James Lovell's letters of 13 June and 14 Sept. 1779 (vol. 8:86–91, 147–152, and index).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0137

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1780-04-28

To the President of Congress, No. 54

Paris, 28 April 1780. RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 508–510). printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:635–639.
In Wharton's printing, the dates for the paragraphs beginning “Hague 23. April” and “Hague 22 April” should be reversed. This long letter, which Congress received on 19 Feb. 1781, was based on newspaper accounts from Hamburg, London, and The Hague. Adams first reported the communication of Russia's declaration of an armed neutrality to the cities of Hamburg, Lübeck, and Bremen. The bulk of the letter consists of the texts of the British Order in Council of 17 April suspending its treaties with the Netherlands (from William Lee, 25 April, { 244 } and note 1, above); two reports by the Dutch province of Groningen, the first calling for convoys for all non-contraband goods and the second recommending that the States General refuse the assistance demanded by Britain under the terms of the Anglo-Dutch treaty of 1674; and the resolution of 13 April by the States of Holland calling for the acceptance of the Russian invitation to join a League of Armed Neutrality. Adams also noted the decision of the Dutch province of Gelderland to call for unlimited convoys and the refusal of the aid demanded by Britain.
Reflecting on these and other events, John Adams predicted the likelihood of Britain becoming involved in a war with the Netherlands, Russia, and the other neutral powers, and observed: “When, where or in what manner, we shall see the Unravelling of the Vast Plot, that is acting in the World, is known only to Providence. Although my Mind has been full twenty Years preparing to expect great Scenes, yet I confess the Wonders of this Revelation exceed all that I ever foresaw or imagined. That our Country so young as it is, so humble as it is, thinking but lately, so meanly of itself should thus Interest the Passions, as well as employ the Reason of all Mankind in its favour, and effect in so short a Space of Time, not only thirteen Revolutions of Government at home, but so compleatly accomplish a Revolution in the system of Europe, and in the Sentiments of every Nation in it, is what no human Wisdom perhaps could foresee.”
RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 508–510). printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:635–639.