A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0008-0003-0009

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1778-04-09

1778 April 9. Thursday.

This Morning the Bells, and Carriages, and various Cries in the Street make Noise enough, yet the City was very still last Night towards the Morning.
{ 297 }
Le Hotell de Valois, en Rue de Richlieu, is the Name of the House and Street where I now am. Went to Passy, in a Coach, with Dr. Noel, and my Son.
Dr. Franklin presented to me the Compliments of Mr. Turgot, lately Comptroller of the Finances, and his Invitation to dine with him.1 Went with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Lee and dined in Company with the Dutchess D'Anville, the Mother of the Duke De Rochefoucault, and twenty of the great People of France.—It is in vain to Attempt a Description of the Magnificence of the House, Gardens, Library, Furniture, or the Entertainment of the Table. Mr. Turgot has the Appearance of a grave, sensible and amiable Man. Came home and supped with Dr. Franklin on Cheese and Beer.2
1. Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de l'Aulne (1727–1781), French statesman and philosophe (Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Générale). It was a letter of Turgot's to Richard Price, concerning the new American state constitutions, written in 1778 and published in Price's Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution, London, 1784, that prompted JA to write a gigantic rebuttal entitled JA, Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, London, 1787–1788; 3 vols. The personal and intellectual relations of JA and Turgot have been described, and JA's marginalia on Turgot's letter of 1778 printed, in Haraszti, JA and the Prophets of Progress, ch. 8, “Turgot's Attack on the American Constitutions.” On the more immediate origins of JA's Defence see note on entry of 29 [i.e. 28] July 1786, below.
2. This is the only intimation in the Diary that JA and JQA had joined Franklin's already numerous household in Passy, but a memorandum in JA's copy of the American Commissioners' accounts, 1777–1779 (in Lb/JA/35, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 123), dated “Passi September 27 1778,” states: “I arrived at Paris in the Evening of the 8th of April, and the next Morning, waited on Dr. Franklin at Passi, where I have resided from that Time.”
Franklin's lodgings were in a separate building on the extensive grounds of the Hôtel de Valentinois, named for a former owner but acquired in 1776 by M. Le Ray de Chaumont (see next entry in this Diary), on the heights of Passy close to the Bois de Boulogne and overlooking the Seine and Paris to the east. The once semirural suburb of Passy is now engulfed by Paris, and blocks of apartments shut off the view that Franklin and his colleagues enjoyed; but see a plan of “Franklin's Passy,” with explanatory text, in Bernard Faÿ, Franklin, the Apostle of Modern Times, Boston, 1929, facing p. 452, and a detail from an 18th-century map of the neighborhood in Howard C. Rice Jr., The Adams Family in Auteuil, 1784–1785, Boston, 1956. A contemporary description of the Valentinois gardens will be found in Dezallier, Environs de Paris, 1779, p. 16–18. The building occupied by Franklin and his entourage and by JA in succession to Silas Deane was variously called the “pavilion,” the “basse cour,” and the “petit hôtel”; a tablet now marks its site on a building at the corner of Rue Reynouard and Rue Singer. The American headquarters at Passy have been described by nearly all of Franklin's biographers, but perhaps in most detail by John Bigelow (who as American minister in Paris at one time hoped to acquire the site for a United States legation), in an article entitled “Franklin's Home and Host in France,” Century Mag., 35:741–754 (March 1888). The “petit hôtel” survived until at least 1866.
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/