A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9

Search for a response to this letter.
{ 328 }

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0205

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Date: 1780-05-20

To Edmé Jacques Genet

[Tha]nks for this Paper.1 Ld George Gordon I think will be the Oliver Cromwell, after all. He seems the only Man of Common sense, and he begins with Religion. Burke, Barry, Fox, Conway, &c and all the rest appear but small Boys to Lord George.
RC (Private owner, 1972). Fire damage has resulted in the loss of the first word and possibly the greeting, although the absence of a closing and signature suggests that it was a hastily written note, lacking the usual formalities. Genet is nowhere mentioned, but the note appears to be one of the letters from JA to Genet that suffered varying degrees of fire damage.
1. The paper mentioned by JA has not been identified, but it may have been the Gazette de La Haye from which JA obtained the text of Conway's speech of 5 May introducing his bill intended to end the American war that JA sent to the president of Congress in his second letter of 20 May (No. 70, calendared, below). The paper presumably also contained the speech of 5 May by Lord George Gordon, opposition member and leader of the Protestant Association, who within a few weeks would stand accused of fomenting the riots that swept London in early June. For the riots and Gordon's role in them, see Thomas Digges' letter of 8 June, and note 8 (below); for the speeches in response to Conway's bill, see JA 's first letter of 20 May to the president of Congress (No. 69, calendared, below). Gordon rose both to second and to criticize Conway's motion, saying that because it lacked any provision for granting independence to the colonies, Conway's plan would fail, and thus share the fate of all previous efforts to end the American war ( Parliamentary Hist. , 21:578–579). JA may have seen Gordon as the one opposition member willing to face reality and follow the only possible path to an Anglo-American peace.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0206

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1780-05-20

To the President of Congress, No. 69

Paris, 20 May 1780. RC in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 57–62). printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:693–696.
In this letter, read in Congress on 11 Sept., John Adams reported on the speeches supporting and opposing Gen. Conway's bill of 5 May for ending the American war. Conway's own speech and JA 's reaction to it were included in a second letter of this date (No. 70, calendared, below). Adams began by summarizing the speech of Robert, Earl Nugent, a former opponent of conciliation, who now supported Conway's bill. Although Adams was willing to concede that Nugent, like Conway and others, had finally accepted the impossibility of winning the American war, he believed that they had not accepted the reality of an altered world in which Great Britain was in decline and the United States in the ascendancy. He then reported the pro-ministry speech of William Eden, which he found witty and empty. Speeches by other members of the opposition, such as Lord George Gordon, Henry Cruger, and Thomas Pitt, ridiculing the ministry's refusal to acknowledge American independence and calling for its resignation, led Adams to note the opposition's “Hunger for the Loaves and Fishes” of office and their lack of a sincere interest in peace, but see his comments regarding Gordon in his note to { 329 } Edmé Jacques Genet of 20 May (above). Adams reserved his sharpest criticism for the speech by Lord George Germain opposing Conway's bill. Germain, he wrote, indulged in absurdities by stating as fact that the misery of the American people would soon put an end to congressional tyranny and prompt the states to come to terms. Adams soon greatly expanded this criticism of Germain's speech, including it in his letters of 28 May to Edmé Jacques Genet (below) and of 2 June to the president of Congress (No. 77, calendared, below). In a postscript, Adams reported that Denmark had acceded to the armed neutrality, and on 28 April had urged Sweden to do the same. Sweden was expected to announce its accession shortly.
RC in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 57–62). printed: (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:693–696.)