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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


This note contained in document ADMS-04-03-02-0099
4.
“Congress yesterday chose you to be their Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of France, and You will very soon receive their Letters, and Credentials. I am very happy on the Occasion, and the more so on Account of the Unanimity with which I learn it was carried; what other arrangements will take place I know not, nor do I much Interest myself on the Subject.” (Silas Deane to Benjamin Franklin, Phila., 15 Sept. 1778, PPAmP.)
For the election on 14 Sept. of Franklin as sole minister to France, which dissolved the Franklin-Lee-Adams commission, see JCC, 12:908. The vote is not recorded. A committee of five was at the same time appointed to prepare Franklin's letter of credence and instructions. The instructions as drafted led to debate, were not adopted until 26 Oct., were not sent until Lafayette sailed from Boston for France in mid-January, and were not received in Paris until almost mid-February (same, 12:1035–1038, 1039–1042, 1064; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:807–809; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:353–354).
It was JA in the first place who had suggested, within a few weeks of his arrival in France, that trying to do business through three diplomatic representatives in Paris was a serious mistake when “one alone would be obliged to no greater Expence, and would be quite sufficient for all the Business of a Public Minister” (to Samuel Adams, 21 May 1778, JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:107). But in appointing Franklin, Congress neither recalled JA nor gave him notice of what further was expected of him beyond saying that something more on this score would follow, and that “In the mean Time we hope you will exercise your whole extensive Abilities on the Subject of our Finances” (R. H. Lee and James Lovell, for the Committee for Foreign Affairs, to JA, 28 Oct. 1778, Adams Papers; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:814–815).
On the very day he wrote the present letter to AA, JA wrote Lovell imploring him to hasten Congress' determination of what was to be done with him:
[I]f you appoint me for any other [diplomatic post], especially that which is mentioned to me, Vienna, it will be more disagreable to me than to be recalled. Because Vienna is the Court of all Europe, as I conceive at present, the least likely to receive your Agent. I should { 124 } therefore be reduced to the Necessity of residing at Paris in Idleness, or of travelling to Germany and living there in greater Idleness still, in either Case at a great and useless Expence.
“In Time of Peace, nothing would give me greater Pleasure, than travelling: but at present my Heart is too much affected, with the Miseries of this War, for me to take Pleasure in a mere Gratification of Curiosity, or even in a Pursuit of Taste in Arts, or Knowledge in the Sciences.
“To return home immediately, some Persons here say would give Offence, and be wrong. To wait to write for Leave, would be loosing Time, and putting you to some Expence.—However, I will determine nothing untill I know what is done.” (LbC, Adams Papers.)
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/