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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0113-0002

Author: La Vauguyon, Paul François de Quélen de Stuer de Causade, Duc de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-12-30

The Duc de La Vauguyon to John Adams: A Translation

You have desired, sir, that as soon as I should be arrived at Versailles, I should communicate to the Comte de Vergennes the disposition you have to take a step that has been recommended by several well intentioned members of the States of Holland, and that I should give him to understand at the same time the resolution which you have taken to abstain from it, if he disapproves it. That minister charges me to acquaint you that he perceives no inconvenience in the visit which you propose to make to the president of the Assembly of the States General, to the ministers of the republic, and to the deputies of the principal cities of the province of Holland, provided that, without leaving with one or the other any ministerial writing, you confine yourself to demanding of them, whether the memorial which you presented some months ago, has been an object of the delibera• { 168 } tions of their high mightinesses, and what is the answer which you may transmit to the congress of the United States of North America.
I do not yet precisely know, sir, when I shall be able to return to The Hague; but I foresee nothing to prolong my absence beyond the time I at first projected. Receive, sir, fresh assurance of those inviolable sentiments of the most distinguished consideration, with which I have the honor to be your most humble and most obedient servant,
[signed] Le Duc De la vauguyon1
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Le Duke de la Vauguyon 30th. Decr. 1781.”
1. JA published this letter in English in the Boston Patriot of 19 Sept. 1810. He introduced it by stating that
“In the latter end of December, 1781, I concluded to present myself a second time to the president of their high mightinesses, for an answer to my former memorial, and drew up a memorial in English and French; but as I had reason to believe the Duke De La Vauguion and the Comte De Vergennes would not now oppose me, but on the contrary would be pleased by being consulted, I communicated my design to the Duke, who encouraged the project, and I believe went to Versailles, chiefly to consult the Comte on the subject. He soon wrote me, according to his promise, a letter, of which the following is a translation.”
Immediately following the letter JA commented on its effect on his subsequent actions.
“When I received this letter, and indeed before the Duke left the Hague, I had prepared my memorial in English and French; but I had no objection to substituting the Comte De Vergennes’s plan, which I thought however rather too tame and timid. I was therefore determined to consult my own privy council of Dutch patriots, who had never deceived me; who had never concealed from me any danger or difficulty, but who had always communicated to me every information, without exaggeration, which could afford me encouragement or hope. These were unanimously in favor of my memorial and against the Comte De Vergennes’s project. I asked them whether I ought not to strike out the epithet ‘categorical.’ Oh! no. By no means; that is the best word in the whole memorial. Our nation likes such hints: They think them manly. That word will excite more attention than all the rest, and you are sure now of the current in your favor. But if it should do no good, it will certainly do you no harm. We think you have hit the taste of our people.—I took this advice and proceeded as is detailed in my next letter to congress.”
For JA ’s request for a categorical answer to this memorial of 19 April, see the Address to the President of the States General, [ante 9 Jan. 1782] , below.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0114

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-01-02

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

I have the Honor of receiving your Excellencys Letter of the 26th Ult. An american Gentleman passing through this Town had deliverd to me before the 1st volume du politique Hollandois, for which I humbly thank your Excellency, as I must do for your Intention to send me the second Vol. but as I have taken in all the numbers thereof and shall continue to have them as they come out, I must beg your Excellency not to give yourself that trouble. I have reced too the Pamplet relative to the Taxes of France and England,1 { 169 } which I have read with Attention and as I think it ought to be seen by others, I have put it into the Hands of a Friend here, to be made Known in his way. I think it will operate among the Capitalists here, as I doubt not it has done in Holland. I do not Know whether your Excellency has recd Mr Hollis’s Book.2 The volume of the Politique Hollandais, destined for that Gentleman shall be sent Him.
I have several publications from England for your Excellency which shall be conveyed to you by the first opportunity.
I think your Excellencys has been somewhat amused of late by the debate in the English Parliament.
The Ministry seem too much puzzled and too much divided among themselves to speak out. The meetings of the Counties and the State of Ireland will Confound them more. I trust that the french Fleet has escaped the fury of late winds, and then its operation may serve to bring them at last to their Senses. The English Minister here thinks that Barbadoes is taken. It will be a Happy Event to the Inhabitants, who I find have been tyrannizd over by their Governor Cunningham.3
I have lately recd the following extract from London.
“There is a Scheme now in Agitation, and I have no doubt, but it will be adopted by the minister, of encouraging the Growth of Tobo. in this Country.4 Some of the Produce of last Year I have seen, the Sort is Excellent and in a quantity to the value of £7000 worth is sold privately.
“the Plan
“Every Tobo Ground to be entered as the Hop Grounds are, and a Duty of 6d pr pd to be collected by the officers of Excise.
“If exported then 5d draw back to be allowed in that Case it will be sold by the Grower from 1 1/2 to 2d pr pd and yield a better profit than wheat or any other grain.
“The above £7000 worth was grown from 100 Acres only you are not to look on this as a visionary and impracticabl Scheme, but to make immediate Use of it as authentic.
“It is calculated that this Scheme will bring one Million and in time £1750,000 pr Ann. calculating on the constant demand, that is 30000 HHdds for home Consumption and 60,000 for exportation.”
Many observations might and have been made on this Scheme. One is that it shows the English begin to think that they have no more to do with the tobacco States, and are therefore wisely en• { 170 } deavouring to live without them. If they once imagine the rest of the States are no longer Necessary to them they may perhaps be induced to part with them without reluctance or delay.
I Know not whether your Excellency has seen the inclosed Letter.5 If not it is perhaps worthy of your Excellencys perusal. If your Excellency has seen it, and have no occasion to Keep it, I should be glad your Excellency would return it to me.
I have receivd to day a Letter from Mr Ridley a Gentleman of Maryland, who tells me, that He had thoughts of going to England with an order to endeavour to procure the exchange of Mr Lawrens and a general one for our prisoners, but it has been thought adviseable that He should not trust Himself in the Hands of the English. Perhaps Mr Deans Son has the Commission, as Mr Lee tells me that He certainly went to England about a month ago.6 His Father who is at Ghent conducted Him to Ostend.
I think I informed your Excellency that the Abbê Raynal resided here. If your Excellency has any Commands to Him, I should be proud to deliver them, as it will serve me as an Introduction to Him.
I Hope your Excellencys Health will be soon established in the most perfect manner.
Does your Excellency Know why Mr Jefferson does not arrive?
I Know not whether it appears to your Excellency, that Cornwallis has violated the Capitulation in sending the Virginia and other Traytors to n York in the Bonetta sloop.7

[salute] I am with the greatest Respect Sir your Excellencys most Faithful & Obedient Humble Servt

[signed] Edm: Jenings
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mr. Jenings 2d. Jany. 1782.”
1. Not identified.
2. Thomas Brand Hollis sent JA a set of Francis Blackburne, Memoirs of Thomas Hollis, 2 vols., London, 1780, via Edward Bridgen, but the volumes miscarried (from Bridgen, 13 July 1781, vol. 11:417–418). Jenings ultimately sent JA his own copy of the work (from Jenings, 29 May, Adams Papers).
3. Barbados was not taken. The island’s lower house had sent a memorial to the king to protest the actions of Gov. Cunningham and the upper house in “Establishing new and oppressive fees to be paid to the Secretary of the Island, for the use of the Governor, upon all writs, orders, processes, and papers issued by him, or in his name, in the Courts of Justice, Ordinary, Council, as Commander in Chief.” In the view of the London Courant, this indicated that the “baneful Scotch system of despotism and rapine, which made the colonies in America revolt from the other country, is securely exercised in the Island of Barbadoes.” For the memorial and extensive editorial commentary, see the London Courant of 6 and 7 December.
4. The source of this plan has not been found.
5. Not identified.
6. Matthew Ridley had been at Paris since early December on a mission to raise a loan for Maryland. On 13 Dec. Benjamin Franklin proposed giving Ridley powers to exchange Henry Laurens for Gen. Burgoyne and enter into a general exchange of all American prisoners in England. Franklin prepared the { 171 } papers necessary for the mission, but on the 26th Ridley informed Franklin that he believed it too risky for him to go to England (MHi: Matthew Ridley Diaries). Jesse Deane, son of Silas Deane, did not replace Ridley.
7. The Bonetta sloop was the British vessel designated in the articles of capitulation to carry the news of Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown to Gen. Clinton at New York. The Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser of 17 Dec. 1781 reported that “the Loyalists captured at York Town, with Lord Cornwallis, were put on board a sloop, and sent to New York, where they all arrived in perfect safety.” In fact, the captain of the Bonetta, Ralph Dundas, was criticized severely for refusing passage to Loyalists seeking to escape from Yorktown (Davies, ed., Docs. of the Amer. Rev. , 1770–1783, 19:207–208, 209, 234, 241, 247, 268, 275).