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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 4

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[To Patrick Henry]

[addrLine] To Governor Henry of Virginia

[salute] Dear Sir

I had the honour of a Letter from you, some time ago,5 which I have never had an Opportunity of answering 'till now.
Immediately after the Receipt of it, I went with Mr. Arthur Lee to Versailles in order to obtain the Articles you wrote for. It gave me pleasure to do any thing in my Power to serve the State of Virginia or its worthy Governor: but my Assistance was not necessary, as Mr. Lee sollicited the Business with great Spirit and with good Success as he will inform you.
We have received Yesterday, by two Vessells, the Saratoga and the Spy, very agreable Accounts from America.…. The Ratification of the Treaty, with such perfect Unanimity, and in such handsome terms, is very agreable here, and will be so in other parts of Europe.
The Resolutions of Congress for detaining General Burgoine's Army, those upon the conciliatory Bills, and their late Address to the People, are exceedingly admired and applauded all over Europe.
{ 154 }
Hostilities having commenced between France and England, without any formal declaration of War, it is this day said that the Brest Fleet has put to Sea.…. If they meet Keppell there will be a sublime Battle. But if Keppell should beat D'Orvilliers, which one would think however to be impossible, as the French Fleet is certainly superiour in number, fuller manned, in better repair and in higher Spirits, Britain would not be much the better for it. For their Fleet will be disabled, their Seamen destroyed, losses which they cannot repair. Whereas Spain remains to bring up the rear: and France is better able to repair her losses. It is a Connection with America, which must in future decide the Ballance of maritime Power, in Europe.
What Events will take place in America, is uncertain. D'Estaing's Fleet is there before now: but what he will do, time must discover. Byron is twenty or thirty days behind him. But I think it is probable, that some part of the American Seas, will also have the honour of a magnificent Sea fight, for the first time.
The English Papers received this day, announce the Evacuation of Philadelphia. But it is not perfectly understood, how the Army could march through the Jersies without molestation. Surely America will not suffer that remnant of an Army to plague them much longer.
The same Papers affirm that a Committee of Congress is appointed to treat or confer, with the Commissioners from London, and mention the names, but We can conceive here, of no Use for such a Conference, but to ask the question, Have you Power and Will to acknowledge the Sovereignty of our States? The Answer must be, No.
I should esteem myself, at all times honoured, by a Letter from You. The Anxiety here, for Intelligence from America is indeed surprizing. Indeed Sir, you would be flattered with the Attention that is shown to our States, and with the high Eulogiums, that are every where bestowed, by learned and ingenious Men, upon our Constitutions, our Laws, our Wisdom, Valour and Universal Virtue. Partial as I am to my Country, and dearly as I love it, I cannot but say that I think they do Us, rather more honour than We deserve. But We are Combattants for Liberty, and it is a fashionable Saying in this Country, that every Man who combats for Liberty is adorable. There is more Liberality of Sentiment in every part of Europe, except England, but especially in France, than former Ages have known, and it will increase every day.

[salute] I am &c.

[signed] John Adams

[addrLine] Patrick Henry Esqr. Governor of Virginia.

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/