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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4


This note contained in document ADMS-04-04-02-0117
2. CA's recent illness is alluded to in John Thaxter to JA, 5 April, above, and in following letters. In his “second autobiography” JA said in explanation of his sending CA home at this time: “My second son, after the departure of his brother, found himself so much alone, that he grew uneasy, and importuned me so tenderly to let him return to America to his mother, that I consented to that, and thus deprived myself of the greatest pleasure I had in life, the society of my children.” JA continued: “On or about the 10th [actually, after various and devious maneuvers by the captain, on the 12th] of August, 1781, the South Carolina, commodore Gillon, put to sea from the Texel, with Mr. Searle, Colonel Trumbull, Major Jackson, Mr. Bromfield, Dr. Waterhouse and Charles Adams on board as passengers.” (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 572.)
The choice of a ship and commander for CA's conveyance home proved unlucky. After leaving the South Carolina in La Coruña in Spain in September, CA sailed home from Bilbao in a different vessel, the Cicero, Captain Hugh Hill, which at length reached its home port of Beverly, Mass., on 21 Jan. 1782. CA arrived in Braintree on the 29th. Not until June 1782 did AA receive any of the mail put aboard the South Carolina for her ten months earlier. See note on Alexander Gillon under Waterhouse to JA, 26 Dec. 1780, above, with references there; and below, letters to JA and to AA from Gillon, Waterhouse, William Jackson, Richard Cranch, Isaac Smith Sr., and Hugh Hill. AA's final word on the whole subject is in her letter to JA, 17 June 1782, also below.
Major William Jackson (1759–1828), under whose particular care JA had placed CA during the voyage, was a Charlestonian who had served under Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln in the latter's southern campaign and had come to Europe with John Laurens' mission to obtain further aid for the American military effort. JA had recently told Pres. Huntington that “Major Jackson has conducted through the whole of his Residence here [in Amsterdam], as far as I have been able to observe, with great Activity and Accuracy in Business, and an exemplary Zeal for the public Service” (27 June 1781, PCC, No. 84, { 171 } III; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:522). Some of the military goods, obtained in the Netherlands, were on board the South Carolina when it sailed surreptitiously from the Texel in August. The erratic conduct of Gillon led to an early and bitter quarrel between him and Jackson; they parted in Spain and afterward fought a duel in America, in which Jackson was wounded; see Jackson's correspondence with JA, Aug.-Dec. 1781, and AA to John Thaxter, 18 July 1782, below. Jackson, who became secretary to Washington when President and afterward surveyor of customs in Philadelphia, is best remembered as secretary of the Federal Convention of 1787 (DAB; JQA, Memoirs, 4:174–175).
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/