A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close
-
The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0029

Author: Searle, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-01-14

Code Used in Correspondence between John Adams, Francis Dana, and James Searle

Mr. Dana and J. Searle Cyphers2
AZ. Congress
Francisco—Deane
Macedon—Alexander3
RR—Bancroft
X—Williams
D.D—Franklin
D.D.J—Franklin Junr.
SS—Foulke
Missa—Jay
Merry—Carmichael
Snapo—Chamont
Adventure—Beaumarchis
Renardo—Gerard
Angelica—Vergenes
De Novo—De Castres
Grex—States General
Grego—Stadholder
Steady—Mr. Adams
Funn—J. Searle
Dortje—Regency of Ams.
<N> Knobb—Van Berkle
Swivel Eye J. D. Neufville
V—Arthur Lee
Brux—Mr. Izard
Indiana—Gillon
{ 48 } | view { 49 }
Discardo—Sartin
Fornicatio—Sr. Jos. Yorke
Additions.
Nestor—Dumas
MS in James Searle's hand (Adams Papers); endorsed in an unidentified hand: “Cyphers. Dana & JS”; filmed with Ciphers and Cipher Keys, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 602.
1. This date derives from Dana's letter of 1 Jan. and JA 's endorsement on that letter (descriptive note, and note 4, above). The letter of 1 Jan. was the first in which Dana used the code. He stated that James Searle, who was then at Amsterdam, would supply JA with a key. JA indicated in his endorsement that he replied to Dana's letter on 14 Jan. (not found), making it likely that he received it either on 14 Jan. or on the previous evening when he returned from a tour of the principal cities of the province of Holland (to the president of Congress, 14 Jan.; to C. W. F. Dumas, 14 Jan., both above). Since the manuscript is in Searle's hand, and he arrived in Brussels on 15 Jan., on his way back to Paris (from William Lee, 17 Jan., below), it seems likely that Searle wrote out the key for JA on or about 14 Jan. before he left Amsterdam.
2. Although attributed to Dana and Searle, the code probably originated with C. W. F. Dumas who used the code word for Congress as early as Oct. 1779 (Weber, Codes and Ciphers , p. 63–64).
3. Possibly William Alexander Jr., an intimate of Franklin who lived in the village of Auteuil, next to Passy. Alexander's daughter, Mariamne, was married to Jonathan Williams (vol. 8:170).
{ 49 }