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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0129

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-09-01

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

I have not received my Letters of Recall from Holland and therefore must disappoint you and my self. I have requested them anew1 and Suppose I shall receive them about Christmas, but whether I do or not, I shall come home, at latest in the first Spring ships, unless I should receive Some new Commission in Europe, which is not likely. I am unalterably determined not to stay in Holland where I never have any tollerable Health. To break away and come home without Leave, would neither be civil to Congress nor to the states General nor to the statholder, I hope I shall not be obliged to do it, but if I cannot obtain Leave, I must take it. I propose a Tour of three Weeks to England and shall take my son with me, whose Company is the greatest Pleasure of my Life. His Behaviour and close Attention to his studies are very pleasing to me, and promise to produce, a worthy Character.
{ 232 }
I have received Several, very agreable Letters from my Daughter, which I shall answer if I can, as well as yours,2 which always afford me more Intelligence, than I get from any other American source. You may continue to write me under Cover. I am much pleased with your Purchase, and with the Boys Shool and Preceptor.3
Mr. Dana is embarked as I suppose from Petersbourg, and will be soon in Boston, defeated in his Endeavours to serve his Country, by jesuitical Schemes from Passy and other sources,4 from whence have Sprung so many obstacles to the publick Good. Never was a Country, more imposed on by Finesse. Our late Minister of foreign affairs5 appears to have been a mere Puppet danced upon French Wires electrified from Passy. I hope there will be, an End of this Philosophical and political Conjuration, if not, I am determined to get out of its striking Distance. Hitherto, altho it has tossed and tormented me, and prevented me from doing a great Part of the Good I meditated, and am Sure should have accomplished without it: yet it has not totally defeated me. Yet it has defeated me in so many Things and others in so many more, that it is high time to break it up.
I thank the Dr. and Mr. Cranch for their very friendly Letters, but their Speculations into futurity, are not well grounded.6 Give Us Peace in our Day, for there is none that fightest for Us but thou O God, is a Prayer <of the Church of England> which no son of the Church has a better right to offer up than I—and none can make it more sincerely.7

[salute] Adieu, My dearest Friend Adieu, oh when Shall We meet? Next Spring most certainly God Willing.

1. See JA to the president of Congress (Elias Boudinot), 1 Sept. (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:668–669).
2. The only extant previous AA2 letter to JA is that of 10 May, above; AA's letter was that of 30 June, also above.
3. See AA to JA, 7 May, on AA's purchase of land; AA to JA, 7 April, on the education of CA and TBA; and JA's reply of 14 Aug., all above.
4. Francis Dana left St. Petersburg on 3 Sept. and arrived in Boston on 12 Dec. (W. P. Cresson, Francis Dana: A Puritan Diplomat at the Court of Catherine the Great, N.Y., 1930, p. 317–318; AA to JA, 7 Dec., below). JA's charge that Benjamin Franklin intrigued against Dana's mission is unfounded, although Vergennes did instruct the French minister to Russia not to support Dana's moves. A number of reasons have been given for Dana's failure to secure recognition of American independence and a commercial treaty with Russia. As an absolute monarch, Catherine II did not look favorably upon a republican revolution against a monarchy. Moreover, Catherine, who was attempting to mediate an end to the war, could hardly as a mediator sign a treaty with the United States. American inexperience in diplomacy hampered Dana. He sought recognition of independence through admission to the League of Armed Neutrality, but membership was not likely to be accorded to a belligerent. Further, Dana resorted to moral arguments rather than to appeals to Russia's self-interest. Finally, he chose to ignore the court tradition of { 233 } distributing bribes. Had Dana followed the practices current at the Russian court and used the greatest skill, he still would have had little chance of success, given Russia's conception of its national interests. See H. W. L. Dana, The Dana Saga, Cambridge, 1941, p. 25–28; Cresson, Francis Dana, p. 183–184; Samuel Flagg Bemis, The Diplomacy of the American Revolution: The Foundations of American Foreign Policy, 1775–1783, N.Y., 1935, p. 164–166; and David M. Griffiths, “American Commercial Diplomacy in Russia, 1780–1783,” WMQ, 3d Ser., 27:379–410 (July 1970).
5. Robert. R. Livingston had left office in June.
6. Dr. Cotton Tufts' letters of 26 June and 5 July (both Adams Papers), and Richard Cranch's letter of 26 June, above. JA refers to Cranch's speculation that Massachusetts would reward JA's labors by electing him governor.
7. Book of Common Prayer, Morning Prayer, Versicles.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/