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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0083

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dana, Francis
Date: 1781-02-08

To Francis Dana

[salute] Dear Sir

I had yesterday the Pleasure of receiving two Letters from you, one dated Feb. 1. and one without a date, but I suppose written the day before.1 With these I received the Packetts, but there are in them no Letters from my Wife. The Resolution of Congress of the 12 of December, gives me great Pleasure, as it proves that We had the good Fortune to be possessed of the true Principles of Congress and to enter fully into their Views in the Resolutions of last March respecting the Paper Money: but I cannot recollect what were the two Papers, in the Duplicate, more than in the original, there is no minute in the Book to shew.2
I assure you Sir I have not had more Satisfaction in the Resolution, than in the affectionate manner in which Mr. Lovel and you, have communicated it to me. I am prepared in my own mind to receive from Congress Resolutions of a different Nature, but of these We will Say nothing untill We see them.
I must beg you to send me a Key to the Cyphers; the Letter is wholly unintelligible to me for want of one. I see by the Journals, that We are authorized to acceed to the Principles of the Empress of Russia but I find no Commission for that Purpose nor any Resolution of Congress authenticated by the Secretary or the Committee.3 Will you talk with D D ||Benjamin Franklin|| and Fun ||James Searle||, about what is proper, to be done?
All Accounts from all Parts of America shew that a great Spirit reigns tryumphant. A Vigour an Elasticity, Appears in all Parts not with standing the Croaking of Sullivan Pickering, and Francisco ||Silas Deane||.4 The last has been here and gone away without doing me the Honour of a Visit. Rodney and Vaughans Repulse is a grand Stroke a ballance for 5 or 6 Jersey affairs.5 All Things, in all Quarters conspire to shew that the English will have their fill of glorious War. Gillon's hour of Sailing is uncertain, not for a long time I fear. Do you learn any Thing of Davis's Arrival, or Capture, or loss?6 If I had a Commission, as Minister here, I verily believe I would borrow Money, without it, no Man ever will, in any considerable quantity.
1. Of [31 Jan.] , above.
2. JA refers to the duplicate of his letter of 26 June 1780 to the president of Congress and to the notations in his Letterbook regarding the dispatch of the duplicate, as well as the original and triplicate of that letter. For the documents enclosed with the three copies of the letter, the dates on which each reached { 127 } Congress, and the notations in JA 's Letterbook, see the letter of 26 June, the descriptive note, and note 8 (vol. 9:477–479).
3. JA had not yet received Congress' resolution of 5 Oct. 1780 ( JCC , 18:905–906), a copy of which the president of Congress enclosed with his letter of 1 Jan., above. See also JA 's letter to Dumas of [ 8 Feb. ], and note 2, below.
4. JA is referring to the complaints and/or pessimism of the three men regarding the conduct of the war: Deane in his conversations with Dana at Paris (from Dana, 1 and [31] Jan., both above); Timothy Pickering in a letter of 20 Nov. 1780 to Gov. Trumbull of Connecticut; and John Sullivan in a letter of 19 Nov. to the officers of the New Hampshire Line. In the cases of Pickering and Sullivan, JA had presumably seen their letters, which had been intercepted and published in the London newspapers (London Chronicle, 27–30 Jan.; see also Jenings' letter of 5 Feb., and note 3, above).
5. Rodney's repulse at St. Vincent more than made up for the defeat of the French effort to invade the island of Jersey (from Francis Dana, [31 Jan.] , above; from Thomas Digges, [9 Jan.] , calendared above).
6. For Capt. Edward Davis of the Dolphin, with whom JA had sent letters and merchandize to AA , see vol. 10:75.

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0084

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Date: 1781-02-08

To C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] Dear Sir

Thus you See that I began the Mischief, and I assure you I am ready to finish it, if properly invited, and a very little Invitation will do. I am extreamly pleased with the Modesty of the Resolutions of Congress upon the subject, and not less so with the sublime Language in which a young poetical Genius, first expressed his Feelings in his Motion. This Motion and the Resolution set off, one another.2
Pray sir, give me your Opinion whether it is adviseable for me to take any steps in the Business at present. I think it will be proper to publish it, and if you are of the same opinion you will oblige me, by having the whole Extract printed as it is,3 because I am very ambitious of the Honour of haveing occasioned such fine Compliments to the Empress, and the Display of so much honest4 Wisdom in Congress.5
We have an Abundance of News from America, all which you will see in the Papers, as soon as you will receive this. All's well still in America.
With great Respect, your humble sert.
[signed] John Adams
RC and enclosure (DLC: Dumas Papers); endorsed: “Amst. 8e. fevr. 1781 Mr. J. Adams.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. This date is taken from the Letterbook copy.
2. JA refers to the enclosure entitled “Extracts from the printed Journal of Congress.” The five extracts, dated 1, 2, and 26 Sept., and 4 and 5 Oct. 1780, traced the deliberations of Congress from the arrival of JA 's letter of 10 April (vol. 9:121–126), containing the text of Catherine II's declaration of armed neutrality, to the adoption of resolutions permitting the United States to accede to the armed neutrality ( JCC , 17:798, 802; 18:864–866, 899, 905–906). The “young poetical Genius” referred to at the end of the paragraph was probably Robert R. Livingston. His motion on 26 Sept. declared that “the acts of a sovereign who promotes the happiness of her subjects and extends her views to the welfare of nations, who forms laws for a vast empire and corrects the great code of the world, claim the earliest { 128 } attention of a rising republick.” Livingston's motion led directly to the resolution of 5 Oct., instructing the Board of Admiralty to formulate instructions for armed vessels “conformable to the principles contained in the said declaration.” On 27 Nov. 1780, Congress approved regulations that committed the U.S. to observe the principle that free ships make free goods with regard to neutral nations with whom it had no treaty as opposed to its previous practice, sanctioned by the law of nations, of seizing enemy property wherever found.
3. The remainder of this sentence is interlined.
4. The Letterbook reads “Simple.”
5. JA took the extracts that he sent Dumas directly from the printed journals of Congress that Francis Dana had sent with his letter of 1 Feb., above. A French translation of the relevant passages from the journals appeared in the Gazette de Leyde of 13 February. For Dumas' actions on this matter and information concerning an earlier Dutch publication of the resolution of Congress, see his reply of 9 Feb., below.