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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9

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Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0230

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Date: 1780-06-01

To Edmé Jacques Genet

Rodney himself, it seems did all. He fought and beat six Ships. Pray, why did not the Rest of his Fleet beat the rest of the French Fleet over whom they had the Superiority.1
This Way of giving Extracts of Letters only, leaves room to suspect.
But I think, by his own Account, he has nothing to brag of. Three drawn Battles wont maintain the Lordship of the Water.
Drawn Battles wont do.
I hope, however, France and Spain will follow up their Plan—they are in the right way—for God sake let the second Division at Brest be expedited, and from Rochfort too.
Pray can You give me Notice of a safe Conveyance to America? I want to send duplicates of all my dispatches.
LbC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers).
1. In his first letter of 1 June to the president of Congress (No. 75, calendared, below), JA wrote that “this Morning, a Friend at Versailles sent me the English Papers of 26 and 27 May” that included Adm. Rodney's letter of 26 April describing the Battle of Martinique of 17 April. The “Friend” was probably Genet, and this letter serves as an acknowledgment of Genet's kindness, although Genet's covering letter has not been found. JA 's commentary on Rodney's “victory” was repeated in his letter to the president, and { 366 } parallels critical accounts that appeared in London newspapers such as the London Courant of 27 May. See also, Thomas Digges' letter of 26 May, and note 2 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0231

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1780-06-01

To the President of Congress, No. 75

Paris, 1 June 1780. RC (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 86–88). LbC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers); notation by Thaxter: “NB. Nos. 74 & 75 were delivered Como. J. P. Jones on the first of June 1780.” printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:750–751.
In this letter, probably received by Congress on 5 Sept. ( JCC , 17:803), John Adams, using British newspapers of 26 and 27 May as his source (to Genet, 1 June, note 1, above), summarized Rodney's published letter of 26 April, describing the Battle of Martinique on 17 April. Adams included the British line of battle and the casualties suffered by the fleet, but discounted Rodney's victory claim, seeing it instead as another “drawn Battle” that did little to support British claims of naval supremacy. Adams also noted the defeat of Thomas Pownall's motion on 24 May to introduce a bill to end the American war ( Parliamentary Hist. , 21:627—628; to Unknown, 9 June, below); the dispatch of a British warship from Lisbon to warn Rodney of the sailing of a large fleet from Cádiz; and the imminent departure of the Hudson Bay fleet.
RC (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 86–88.) LbC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers); notation by Thaxter: “NB. Nos. 74 & 75 were delivered Como. J. P. Jones on the first of June 1780.” printed: (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:750–751.)

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0232

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1780-06-01

To the President of Congress, No. 76

Paris, 1 June 1780. RC (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 82–85). printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:747–749.
In this letter, read in Congress on 15 Sept., John Adams included the text of resolutions adopted on 11 May at a meeting of the citizens of Dublin. The resolutions commended those active in the struggle for Irish legislative independence and promised to continue the struggle until an independent Irish Parliament, unfettered by Poyning's Law, existed in fact rather than only in the minds of the people. For John Adams the resolutions were the beginning of a “new Epocha” in Irish politics, but he cautioned that success depended “upon the Continuance of the War, for if England should be wise enough to make Peace . . . the Spirit of Ireland, will evaporate.”
RC (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 82–85.) printed: (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:747–749.)

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0233

Author: Pierce, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-06-01

From Benjamin Pierce

[salute] May it pleas Your Excelence,

To take into consideration the repeated pettitions of the people on board the contintall ship Alliance, that has Been sent to Dr. Franklyn,2 and never been attended to, concerning the wages and prise Money being paid in Europe, I mean for the last Cruise, which was at least 6 Months, which the men Insist upon prior to their weighing anchor, the officers allso have this day petition'd him on the same occation as allso have the men, But theirs will no arrive till a week { 367 } after the officers. There is universall dizsattisfaction among the people and they desired me to Beg of Your Excellence to Interfear In the Matter, they allso are unwilling to depart without their commander, P. Landeis Esqr. who in their vew has done nothing that is deserving the scandall which is laid, upon him, and for my own part I am sattisfied that on the 23 of Septr. the Richard must have struck or sunk had not the Alliance left the Scarbrough and went to her Ascistance.3 On the whole it is my reall opinion had things been order'd according to his plan, that the two ships would have been taken With less damage done them and less Bloud shed, and at last the Richard have been saved, But had I been aware of haveing a strainge commander I had went home with Mesr. Addams and Hill,4 But willing to Do all in my for my native Boston, I was willing to Do all in my power at the same time to serve the continent, But matters have Been much confused, since you left us, We feell the loss of Captn. Landais in the government of the ship. Not one sermon has been suffer'd to be preach'd since he left us. The Rev. Mr. Watkin5 desires his respects to be paid to Your Excellence and wishes for liberty to perform duty as usuall, I hope this will find Your Excellence In health and am glad to hear that Mrs. Addams is well, and hope Your Excellence Will take the presant Matter In consideration and shall Remain most excellent sir your most obet. most Humble sert.
[signed] Benjan: Pierce6
N.B. pleas to Direct an answer to be left for Me with the Hon: Captn. Landais In L'orient.
[signed] Mr. Buckleys Respects.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “recd June 6. and gave a Rect for it. John Adams.”
1. This letter was an effort to draw JA into the controversy between the officers and crew of the frigate Alliance and its appointed captain, John Paul Jones. Their dispute originally concerned wages and prize money, but by the date of this letter, owing to the machinations of Arthur Lee and Pierre Landais, it centered on the replacement of Jones by Landais. In his reply of 10 June (below), JA cited his lack of authority and refused to intervene, referring Pierce instead to Benjamin Franklin, who steadfastly upheld Jones' right to command. By the time JA 's letter reached Pierce, however, Landais, in defiance of Franklin had taken control of the Alliance and would soon sail it to America (Morison, John Paul Jones , p. 274, 293–295). See also letters from Arthur Lee of 26 March, and John Bondfield of 12 April (both above); as well as Pierre Landais' letter to JA of 14 June and JA 's reply of the 20th (both below).
2. For petitions of the officers and crew of the Alliance, variously dated from 12 April to 7 June, see Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 4:428, 429, 430.
3. Accounts of the battle between the Bonhomme Richard and the Serapis generally agree that Landais and the Alliance did not come to Jones' aid, but rather sought to avoid involvement in the battle. In fact, reports indicated that the Alliance fired several broadsides into the Bonhomme Richard. Writing on 3 Oct. 1779 from Texel in the Netherlands, John Paul Jones reported to Benjamin Franklin on the Bonhomme Richard expedition and charged Landais with failure to follow orders, { 368 } firing into the Bonhomme Richard, failure to support the Bonhomme Richard, and failure to pursue the enemy. Landais, who was called to Paris to face a court of inquiry into his conduct, replied to the charges in a letter of 30 Dec. 1779 to Benjamin Franklin (John Henry Sherburne, Life and Character of John Paul Jones, N.Y., 1851, p. 108–123; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 2:185; Morison, John Paul Jones , p. 235, 259). Doubting his authority to conduct such an inquiry, Benjamin Franklin made no judgment regarding Landais' conduct when he sent the minutes of the inquiry to Congress with his letter of 4 March (PCC, No. 82, I, f. 199–210). The minutes are in the Franklin Papers ( Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 4:496).
4. Probably Joseph Adams and Stephen Hill, who informed Benjamin Franklin of their resignations as officers of the Alliance in a letter of 8 June 1779 (same, 4:421). Hill sailed for America with JA on La Sensible later the same month (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:382).
5. In early May 1779, JA had attended a service performed by Rev. John Watkins on the deck of the Alliance (same, 2:366).
6. Benjamin Pierce was likely a petty officer on the Alliance, while John Buckley, mentioned in the postscript, served as the frigate's 2d lieutenant (Calendar of the John Paul Jones Papers, Washington, 1903, p. 218). JA probably met both men as he waited to return to America in 1779.