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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0275-0001

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1780-06-20

To the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

Last Evening I received the Letter, an Extract of which I have the honour to inclose. It is from Mr. Gerry, a Member of Congress who has been a Member of their Treasury Board from the beginning of the year 1776.1
It is much to be regretted that the Congress did not publish their Resolution to pay off the Loan Office Certificates, according to the value of Money, at the time of their being respectively issued, with their Resolutions of the 18th. of March, because this I think wou'd have prevented the alarm that has been spread in Europe.2 It will be found that almost all the Interest that European Merchants or others have in our Funds lies in those Certificates: And that almost all the paper Bills now in Possession of their Factors in America, have been received within a few Months, immediately before the 18th. of March, and consequently received at a depreciation of forty for one, at least, perhaps at a much greater.
Altho some Europeans may have considerable sums in Loan Office Certificates, yet I have Reason to believe that the whole will be found much less than is imagined. They have realized their property generally as they went along. Some may have purchased Land, others have purchased Bills of Exchange, others have purchased the produce of the Country which they have exported to St. Eustatia, to the French West India Islands, and to Europe. I have the Honor to be with the { 450 } | view greatest Respect and Esteem Your Excellencys most obedient and most humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams
RC in Francis Dana's hand (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 12). With the recipient's copy in the archives is a French translation, entitled: “Lettre de M. Adams a M. le Comte de Vergennes en date du 20 Juin 1780”; and bearing the note: “M. Adams cherche àprouver que la derniére operation de finance du Congrès a peut etre que tres peu prejudiciable aux Commerçants Européans.”
1. This was Elbridge Gerry's letter of 5 May (above).
2. Although Gerry's letter implied that the resolution regarding loan certificates was adopted on 18 March, in fact it was not voted on until 18 April and proceeded from Congress' consideration of a report on the redemption of loan office certificates presented on 25 March ( JCC , 16:374–375, 287–288).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0276

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1780-06-20

To the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

I have just now received Some Newspapers and Journals,1 which I think it my Duty to inclose without Loss of Time to your Excellency.
The Account from Charlestown in the Newspapers does not favour the Report of Clinton's Defeat.2 The Journals of the ninth and twenty fifth of February, show what measures Congress have taken for raising and subsisting an Army of thirty five thousand Men. Your Excellency will See, that they are obliged to do it without Money.3
I have the Honor to be, with great Respect, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient Servant.
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 12); endorsed: “M. Adams envoye le Journal du Congrès et une gazette de Pensilvanie qui contient l'extrait d'une lettre de Charlestown. au 1er. fevrier au 27. avril.” The marks appearing before the dates were inserted above “Journal” and “Gazette” respectively, for which see notes 3 and 2.
1. These were probably enclosed with James Lovell's letter of 4 May, which likely arrived with Elbridge Gerry's letter of 5 May, an extract of which JA enclosed with his first letter of 20 June to Vergennes (all above). Gerry indicated that Lovell was sending newspapers and journals and JA mentioned them in his reply to Lovell of 24 June (below).
2. The newspaper referred to in the endorsement, and which accompanies this letter in the French Archives, is the Pennsylvania Gazette of 27 April. It contains a letter from Charleston that chronicles the slow, steady progress of Clinton's forces as they prepared to lay siege to the city, but says nothing of any decisive measures by the defenders to repel the invaders.
3. The printed Journal (not found), mentioned here and in the endorsement, probably covered the period from 1 through 29 February. On 9 and 25 Feb., Congress considered the means by which it could obtain the men and supplies necessary to maintain an army in the field. As JA notes, Congress was “obliged to do it without money,” crediting each state's contribution to the taxes it owed or standing requisitions for supplies. Any balancing of accounts requiring the payment of specie would take place at some later, unspecified date ( JCC , 16:143–151, 196–201).
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