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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0152

Author: Austin, Jonathan Loring
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-10-23

From Jonathan Loring Austin

[salute] Sir

I was duly honored with your Favor of the 2d Instant.1 Mr. Thaxter having left Paris, I applied to Mr. Grand for the twenty Louis d'ors which I received, and shall invest them in Calicoes and ship on Board the Mars as directed. In this Vessel I think to take passage myself, mortified and disappointed in all my Attempts to execute the Commission I am entrusted with, I cannot flatter myself a longer Residence here will prove more favorable to my Wishes, the Enquiries I have made and the constant Attention I have paid to the Business, convince me that future Applications will only serve to renew my Chagrin, increase my Anxiety, and terminate ineffectually; besides, my Situation since I left America has been very disagreable, more so perhaps than any who have left it on the same Errand—without Money, without a Line of Credit, or a single Remittance.
{ 302 }
The Impracticability of obtaining the Loan, has led me for some time to turn my Attention to procure, if possible the Cloathing, many of the Obstacles which occur'd in the first I experienc'd in the last Attempt, and tho' I have represented the Ability of our State in every advantageous light, yet my Rhetorick has not been sufficiently powerfull to impress the least Confidence, or procure a warm Garment for a poor Soldier. Had I been furnished with anything to work with, had I brought out with me sufficient to pay for one third of the Goods wanted, or had the Mars been loaded with some sort of Cargo its probable a small Advance would have procur'd a part, if not all the Cloathing.
On my leaving America, I was determined to prosecute the Business with the utmost Attention, in hopes of accomplishing it, tho' I have failed in my Attempts, yet I rest satisfied my Exertions have not been wanting. I have not taken it for granted, (agreeable to my Friends predictions) it could not be effected, 'till I had made every Trial. As your Excellency is well acquainted with the Steps I have taken in the Business, permit me to request a Letter from you to our General Assembly upon the Subject, with your Sentiments relative to my proceedings and whether you would advise me to return by this Ship or wait here in hopes of a more favorable Moment.2
I am with the greatest Respect Your Excellencys Most Obedient & very humble Servant
[signed] Jon: Loring Austin
PS. Please to direct to me to the Care of Mr. Williams.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr J. L. Austin October 23d 1780.”
1. JA wrote to Austin on 2 Oct. ( LbC , Adams Papers), requesting him to send AA calicoes valued at 20 louis d'or, the funds to be obtained from John Thaxter or Henry Grand. In a letter of 13 Oct. (Adams Papers), Grand informed JA that Austin had received the money on the 12th, and on 30 Nov. (Adams Papers), Austin wrote to inform JA that the goods had been put aboard the Mars. The Mars reached Boston at the end of Feb. 1781 ( Adams Family Correspondence , 4:84).
2. For Austin's commission to raise a European loan, which authorized JA and Francis Dana to act in Austin's absence, and the dispatch of the Mars, see the General Court's letter of 22 July to JA and Dana, and note 1 (above). For JA 's views regarding the prospects for Austin's mission, see his reply of 13 Nov. (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0153

Author: Rush, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-10-23

From Benjamin Rush

[salute] Dear Sir

The discovery of Arnold's treachery, and the new Bennington Affair1 in the South, have given fresh hopes and Spirits to the Whigs. We had forgotten former deliverances under our late losses and mortifica• { 303 } tions. But we now find that providence is on our Side, and that our independance is as secure as the everlasting mountains. We have discovered at last that God means that we should live only from hand to mouth, to keep us more dependant upon his power and goodness.
Our Citizens are not wholly corrupted—our Officers are experienced, and our soldiers are brave. We want nothing but wisdom in our Congress to collect and direct properly the Strength of our country. The representation of Pensylvania in Assembly which had degenerated to a very low degree, has improved considerably at the last election. Our men of education and ancient influence begin to take part in our governments so that we hope soon to see the Spirit, Union and dignity of 1775 revived among us.
Our friends in Europe have nothing to fear from any thing that can now happen to us. If our Stock of Virtue should ever fail us—there are certain passions in human Nature which will form as effectual barriers against British power as our Virtue did in the beginning of the controversy. There is pride and ambition eno' in certain individuals of your Acquaintance to rescue this country from the dominion of King George, if the people Should ever incline to submit to it. But the latter is impossible. Our Streets ring with nothing but the execrations of Arnold whose treachery had for its Object the Subjugation and conquest of America.2
Your Old friend Gates is now suffering not for his defeat at Camden, but for taking General Burgoyne, a persecution from a faction in Congress.3 His Officers acquit him. They say he did his duty and deserved praise. He is to be tried for his misfortune, at a time when he is deploring the loss of his only Son (a most promising youth) who died a few weeks ago.
With respectful Compts to Mr Dana I am my Dear Sir yours most Affectionately
[signed] Benjn. Rush
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Honble: John Adams Esqr: at Passy near Paris Capt: Bell”; endorsed by Francis Dana: “Dr. Rush's Letter”; docketed by CFA : “October 23d 1780.”
1. Rush likely refers to the Battle of King's Mountain on 7 Oct., news of which reached Philadelphia about the date of this letter. At King's Mountain, Maj. Patrick Ferguson and 1,000 loyalist militiamen were confronted by 1,400 backcountry riflemen. In the resulting battle, Ferguson died and 300 militiamen were killed or wounded and the remaining 700 taken prisoner. This victory over a large force detached from the main British army appeared similar to Gen. John Stark's victory at the Battle of Bennington. Since Bennington helped to seal the fate of Burgoyne's army in 1777, Rush hoped that King's Mountain would do the same for Cornwallis' forces in 1780 (Mackesy, War for America , p. 345).
2. Rush may have been thinking in particular of the parade on 30 Sept., the centerpiece of which was a float designed by Charles Willson Peale on which a two-faced effigy of { 304 } Arnold was drawn through the streets of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania Gazette, 4 Oct.; Charles Coleman Sellers, Benedict Arnold: The Proud Warrior, N.Y., 1930, p. 246).
3. Presumably Rush means that Gates' victory at Saratoga raised unrealistic hopes for his command of the southern army and thus his defeat at Camden brought a backlash, magnified by the unreasonable expectations. On 5 Oct., Congress ordered Washington to convene a court of inquiry into Gates' conduct and appoint a new commander until its completion. While Nathanael Greene was named to replace Gates, the inquiry never took place. It remained a possibility, however, until the order was rescinded in Aug. 1782 ( JCC , 18:906; 23:466; DAB ).