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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0245

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1780-02-27

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

I received to day, yours of the 22d. That by Mr. Brush I answered as soon as received.2
You cannot oblige me more sir, than by communicating Intelligence from E.
I have been a Witness, these 6 Years, of the annual Reports Spread by England to make it believed in America that the Russians were to interpose, and I have heard a vast deal of it, since my Arrival in Paris, in so much that I have set myself directly to Search out the Truth, and I have as high Authority as any in this Kingdom to assure you, and every other on whom that political Lye has made any Impression whether in Europe or America, that it is false, both with respect to Russia and Denmark.
I did not want this Authority for myself. I was So well persuaded of { 370 } the Interest of Russia, and Denmark and their disposition, before that I was easy.
But, indeed, it would move me, very little, if Russia, and Denmark too were to declare for G.B.—it would instantly determine Powers more momentous than both, to join Bourbon and America.3
I will thank Russia and Denmark with all my soul, however, if they will bring about a Peace, an honest Peace I mean.
There is an Expedition preparing at Brest, to ballance that of Boyle Walsingham, perhaps, so that I am not in pain about that.
Mr. Carmichael, is Secretary to the American Embassy at Madrid. His Residence I know not, but your Letter cant miscarry.
Can you inform me, how many Troops, Walsingham has, how many ships.4 Can you inform me how many regular Troops there are in Ireland? Who are the real Planners, of the late Correspondences and Associations in Ireland, and the real Leaders—and the ostensible. For in Europe, I take it the ostensible Leader is not the real one.
We have an high Story to day, of the Repeal of Poynings Law, of a Declaration of the Independancy of the Irish Legislature, on any others, and forbidding all Appeals from their House of Lords to the English House of Lords—it comes from England.5
What think you? Is there Spunk enough in the Counties to do any Thing? Or will the Cry of Sedition and Rebellion, and the Disgrace of a few Lord Lieutenants,6 frighten them, into Tranquility. Some of them Seem a little in Earnest and they go on, regularly enough, to be sure more Americans.7 The Committee of Correspondence, which my Friend Sam. Adams invented, refined it first and showed its Use, as much as Swift did the Irony, Seems to have the Same wonderful Efficacy. Heaven grant it success. Its Invention will make an Epocha in the History of the Progress of Society, and of the human Understanding.

[salute] I am with much Attachment yours

[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers). LbC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers).
1. The dateline is in John Thaxter's hand; the remainder of the recipient's copy is by JA.
2. Presumably JA is referring to Jenings' letter of 19 Feb., which he had answered on the 25th (both above). Mr. Brush, who apparently carried the letter of the 19th, remains unidentified.
3. Probably Prussia and Austria.
4. In his reply of 5 March (Adams Papers), and in considerable detail, Jenings answered this and other questions posed by JA in this letter.
5. This report was false and, according to JA's letter to AA of 28 Feb., had been supplied by Benjamin Franklin (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:291–292). In the wake of Parliament's grant of a measure of economic independence (see JA to Elbridge Gerry, 23 Feb., note 4, above), there was renewed agitation for legislative independence through the repeal or modi• { 371 } fication of Poyning's Law of 1495 and the Irish Declaratory Act of 1719. The first provided that all previous general statutes that had not specifically been applied to Ireland were to be in force and enabled the Privy Council in England to “initiate, supervise, reject, or amend all bills” enacted or considered by the Irish Parliament. The second formally provided for the British Parliament to legislate for Ireland (Henry Campbell Black, A Law Dictionary Containing Definitions of the Terms and Phrases of American and English jurisprudence Ancient and Modern, 2d edn., St. Paul, Minn., 1910; R. Coupland, The American Revolution and the British Empire, London, 1930, p. 58–59). These efforts came to nothing, and at the time that this letter was written the Irish Parliament had not yet considered the issue. Not until 19 April did Henry Grattan, noted Irish statesman and orator, introduce a resolution calling for legislative independence; after a fifteen-hour debate, the measure was postponed and never revived (DNB; Coupland, American Revolution and the British Empire, p. 125–128; W. E. H. Lecky, A History of England in the Eighteenth Century, 8 vols., N.Y., 1878–1890, 4:550–551).
6. A reference to the removal of Henry Herbert, 10th earl of Pembroke, and Francis Osborne, marquis of Carmarthen (later 5th Duke of Leeds), as lords lieutenant of Wiltshire and the East Riding of York, respectively, because of their refusal to oppose the demands of the county associations. Both were restored to office by the Rockingham ministry in 1782 (DNB). Pembroke, and presumably also Carmarthen, received notice of his dismissal in a letter from Lord Hillsborough of 14 Feb., to which Pembroke replied on the same day. For the two letters, which were widely reprinted, see the London Chronicle of 29 Feb. – 2 March.
7. Thus in both the recipient's copy, where JA interlined “to be sure,” and the Letterbook copy.
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/