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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


This note contained in document ADMS-01-02-02-0010-0002-0002
1. In the MS a single blank leaf separates the present entry and the next, which is dated 27 July 1780, the day on which JA set out from Paris with JQA and CA for Amsterdam. The Adams party had arrived in Paris from Bordeaux in the evening of 9 February. (Dana's Journal, 1779–1780, MHi, furnishes details on the last leg of their long journey; JQA kept no diary between 31 Jan. and 25 July 1780.) In Paris they stopped at the Hotel de Valois in the Rue de Richelieu, though from entries recording payments of rent in the personal accounts that follow it appears that they took a separate house attached to the hotel. This remained JA's headquarters until he left Paris in July. JQA, CA, and young Johonnot were placed in a pension academy in Passy conducted by one Pechigny, to whom payments are also recorded in the accounts that follow. Unsatisfactory as they may be in lieu of a regularly kept diary, the accounts tell us a good deal about JA's daily activities, especially his book buying. But for his attempts to discharge his public mission and to be otherwise useful, one must turn to his Autobiography (which does not, however, go beyond March) and to his correspondence. There one may see with what assiduity he read the news from all quarters of Europe and reported it to Congress. Late in May he told a friend in Philadelphia: “I have written more to Congress, since my Arrival in Paris, than they ever received from Europe put it all together since the Revolution [began]” (to Elbridge Gerry, 23 May, CtY). This may be literally true. He filled one letterbook after another; for weeks on end he wrote almost daily dispatches, on some days addressing two, three, and even four letters to Samuel Huntington, filling them with documents copied in extenso from French, British, and Dutch newspapers. Prevented by Vergennes from publicly announcing any part of his mission until the end of March, JA undertook to improve both his own time and European opinion of the American cause by concocting paragraphs and articles for publication in whatever journals would print them. The elder Genet had discontinued his Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amerique (see note on entry of 3 March 1779, above), but he had ready access to the new political supplement of the venerable Mercure de France, which served as a continuation of the Affaires, and for several months JA happily fed American propaganda to it. One of his contributions, explaining and defending Congress' recent fiscal measures, had momentous { 435 } effects, altering the coolness with which Vergennes had viewed JA for some time into anger and hostility, complicating JA's relations with Franklin, and rendering his position in Paris highly uncomfortable. The story is too long to tell here, but it is well summarized by CFA in JA's Works, 1:314 ff., see also the relevant documents in same, 7:188–203, 211–214; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:827, 844; 4:18–19.
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/