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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 13


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0241

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dana, Francis
Date: 1782-10-10

To Francis Dana

[salute] Dear Sir

I have recd your Favour of Sept. 5/16. if my Son can find a good oppertunity to come, I should be glad to see him. But should not be willing to trust him with every Companion. He is too young for such a Journey, unless in Company with a prudent Man.
Mr ||John Adams|| has a Letter from Mr ||John Jay|| of 28. Ult. informing him, that Yesterday, Mr Oswald recd a Commission to treat of Peace with the Commissioners of the United States of America.1 This is communicated as a Secret, therefore no Notice is to be taken of ||John Adams|| or ||John Jay|| in mentioning it. ||John Jay|| presses ||John Adams|| to come to him, and he thinks of going in 10 days.
On the 8th the Treaty of Commerce and Convention, concerning Recaptures was Signed.
You want to know whether a Categoric answer was demanded against advice. No. It was advised by Several Members of the States and by the Ambassader.2 It was not done, untill We had written to the C. de V. and obtained his opinion that he did not see any Inconvenience in going Simply to the States, and asking them what answer I Should transmit to Congress. However when he came to read { 523 } the Words Demand, Requisition, and Categoric Answer, he was Shocked, as the Ambassador himself told me. These Words were my own, but I did not venture them without the Advice of some good Friends in the States, and to all Appearance these Words contained the electric fluid, which produced the Shock. I was, however, at that Time so well known, that it was presumed, I Should make the Demand, although the Advice had been against it, as I certainly should have done, Supported as I was by the opinion of Members of the states. Take the Merit and the glory, of a Measure you cannot prevent, or at least a Share in it, although you dislike it, is a Maxim with most Politicians; and under certain Limitations is a lawfull Maxim. We must be very ignorant of our Friends not to know, that it is one of their Rules. And there are many Occasions upon which We, if at Liberty might take Advantage of it, by taking Measures upon ourselves which they cannot oppenly oppose, but must appear to favour.

[salute] My dear friend Adieu

RC (private owner, 1994;) endorsed: “Mr: Adams's Letter Dated Octr: 10th. 1782. Recd:—21st.—O.S.” In this letter JA used the code that Dana sent to him in Sept. 1781 to encode several names, and they have been decoded from that source (vol. 11:480–481).
1. This is a paraphrase of the first line of Jay's letter (Adams Papers).
2. This is JA's demand that the States General respond to his 19 April 1781 memorial, which he presented on 9 Jan. 1782. For JA's address and his account of its presentation, see vol. 12:175, 186–191.
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/