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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0178

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1781-12-18

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest friend

I have Letters from Mr. Dana and his young Attendant, at St. Petersbourg. Both well and in good Spirits. Letters to Mrs. D. and to you go by Captn. Troubridge and by Dr. Dexter.
I have no certain News, as yet of Charles's Sailing from Bilbao, but I presume he is sailed. You will have suffered great Anxiety on his Account, but I pray he may arrive safe. I acted for the best when I consented he should go in Gillon, little expecting that he would be landed in Spain again. Keep him to his studies and send him to Colledge, where I wish his Brother John was.
My Health is feeble, but better than it was. I am busy, enough, yet not to much perceptible Purpose as yet. There is no Prospect at all of Peace. Let our People take Care of their Trade and Privateers, next year. They have not much of a Land War to fear.
General Washington, has struck the most sublime stroke of all in that Article of the Capitulation, which reserves the Tories for Tryal by their Peers. This has struck Toryism dumb and dead. I expect that all the Rancour of the Refugees will be poured out upon Cornwallis for it.1
Our Ennemies now really stand in a ridiculous Light. They feel it but cannot take the Resolution to be wise.
The Romans never saw but one caudine Forks in their whole History. Americans have shewn the Britains two, in one War.—But they must do more. Remember, you never will have Peace, while the Britains have a Company of Soldiers at Liberty, within the United States. New York must be taken, or you will never have Peace.—All in good time.
The British Army Estimates are the same as last Year, the Navy less by several ships of the Line. What can these People hope for.
I fancy the southern states will hold their Heads very high. They have a right. They will scarcely be overrun again I believe, even in the hasty manner of Cornwallis. Burgoine dont seem to be affronted that his Nose is out of Joint. He is in good Spirits. Experience has convinced him.—So I hope it has Cornwallis, that the American War is { 266 } impracticable. The flour, the Choice of the British Army was with him.
The K[ing] of Eng[land] consoles his People under all their Disgraces, Disasters, and dismal Prospects, by telling them that they are brave and free. It is a pity for him that he did not allow the Americans to be so Seven Years ago. But the great designs of Providence must be accomplished. Great Indeed! The Progres of Society, will be accellerated by Centuries by this Rev[olution]. The Emperor of Germany is adopting as fast as he can American Ideas of Toleration and religious Liberty, and it will become the fashionable system of all Europe very soon. Light Spreads from the day Spring in the West, and may it shine more and more until the perfect day.
Duty to Parents, Love to Brothers, sisters and Children. It is not in the Power of Worlds2 to express the Tenderness with which I bid you farewell.
“Article X [of the Articles of Capitulation at Yorktown, 19 Oct. 1781]. Natives or inhabitants of different parts of this country, at present in York or Gloucester, are not to be punished for having joined the British army.
“This article cannot be assented to, being altogether of civil resort.” (Washington, Writings, ed. Sparks, 8:535.)
Cornwallis' acceptance of the Allies' negative of this article, thereby abandoning the loyalists with the British army “to the power of an inveterate, implacable enemy” (to use Sir Henry Clinton's words), outraged George III and became one of the issues in the bitter controversy between Cornwallis and Clinton. See Benjamin Franklin Stevens, ed., The Campaign in Virginia, 1781 ..., London, 1888, 1:44, 199 ff.; 2:202; William B. Willcox, ed., The American Rebellion: Sir Henry Clinton's Narrative of His Campaigns, 1775–1782, New Haven, 1954, p. 352–353, 582–583, 592–594, 597–598.
2. Thus in MS.

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0179

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cranch, Richard
Date: 1781-12-18

John Adams to Richard Cranch

[salute] My dear Brother

I send you a Volume of Politics. A Second Volume will be ready in 6 or 7 Weeks.—You will hear more about this Paper, in time.1
I have received several kind Letters from you. Pray continue to write me, altho you should be disappointed of my Answers. I have noted your Desire, in one of them and have taken such measures as I could, but fear you have received nothing as yet, although some have been sent.2 Little can be done in this Way. This Country begins to think seriously of Us but they must think a long time, you know.
There is no Prospect of Peace. Let our Country men look to their Trade and Privateers, for I suspect the English will strain every Nerve, to hurt them in this Way finding so many Caudine Forks in { 267 } the Land War. The English are amuzing the Dutch with insidious Proposals of a seperate Peace. But I am perswaded no such Thing can take Place. A Quadruple Alliance would be much more for the Honour and Interest of this Rep[ublic] but whether they will think so time must discover.
The Emperor has acceeded to the armed Neutrality: so that all the Powers of the World, are either at War with England or pledged to be Neutral. The King of Prussia acceeded sometime ago.
The Brit[ish] Ministry seem to give over the Ideas of Conquest. By their Speeches in Parliament, their Hopes are extinct. Yet perhaps this may be a feint. It is impossible however, that they should do much. The People are meeting and making a Bustle, but all will evaperate in a few frothy Speeches, and fruitless Remonstrances.
Our Allies have at last found the true Method of obtaining Tryumphs. If they pursue the Plan the War will be easy.
The British Navy will be much weaker next year than this. Their Army is not proposed to be stronger, and they will not find it in fact, near so strong.
Let Dr. Cooper read the Politique Hollandais, and tell him that I will send him his sermon and the Governors Speech and the Massachusetts Constitution, translated into Dutch, as soon as I can. The Translation is published with an elegant Comparison between the Mass[achusetts] Constitution and that of this Rep[ublic].3

[salute] Remember me to every Body.

[signed] Your affectionate Brother
RC (MHi: Washburn Collection); endorsed: “Letter from Bror. Adams Decr. 18th. 1781 (from Amsterdam).” For the accompanying “Volume” see note 1.
1. Evidently the “Volume” sent was the first volume of Le politique hollandais, issued at Amsterdam late in 1781 and mentioned by name in the last paragraph of this letter. The editor of this proFrench, pro-American, anti-Orangist weekly periodical was JA's friend A. M. Cerisier, identified above in this volume; for a fuller account of him and his journal, see JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:453–454.
2. See Cranch to JA, 22 June and 3 Nov., both above.
3. JA alludes to a collection of documents relative to the American Revolution translated and edited pseudonymously by the Patriot writer and clergyman Francis Adrian Van der Kemp (1752–1829), on whom see further, JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:456. Entitled Verzameling der Stukken tot de dertien Vereenigde Staeten van Noord-Amerika betrekkelijk, Leyden, 1781, it contained among other things (in part furnished by JA) a text of the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780; Rev. Samuel Cooper's Sermon Preached ... October 25, 1780, Boston, 1780; and Governor John Hancock's speech at the opening of the first session of the Massachusetts legislature under the new constitution, 31 Oct. 1780. JA's copies are in MB (Catalogue of JA's Library, p. 255). See also Van der Kemp to JA, 26 Nov., and Jean Luzac to JA, 10 Dec. 1781, both in Adams Papers; and Van der Kemp, Autobiography, p. 44–45, 214.
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, 2018.