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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-11-24

[November 24 1779.]

November 24 1779. We were on the Grand Bank of Newfound Land, and about this time, We spoke with an American Privateer, The General Lincoln Captain Barnes. He came on board and our Captain supplied him with some Wood and other Articles he wanted. We all wrote Letters by him to our Families.
Since I came on board I found that even the French Officers had heard more News, or at least more Title Tattle than I had. This was the first time that I heard that Envy and Calumny had been busy with the Character of my Friend General Warren and his Family. That his Son had made a great Fortune, by Privateering, by Trade, by purchasing Sailors Shares and by Gambling: That he had won of C, whom Nobody pittied, a great Sum of Money. That he had made great Profits by buying, in great quantities what he knew was wanted for the Navy and then selling it to the Board. That the Agent too had made a great fortune, that his Wife was a Tory and many Anecdotes of her Conversation &c. These Reports which were mentioned as undoubted and notorious Truths gave me great Uneasiness, because, though I gave very little Credit to them, It was not in my Power to contradict them. There are no Appearances remaining I believe of the Great fortunes, and probably the Accusations were greatly exaggerated, if not merely invidious Suspicions. Indeed I had found that the Passions of Envy, Jealousy, hatred and Revenge engendered by Democratical Licentiousness, had encreased in a great degree by the political Competi• { 193 } tions in many other Instances, and was not a little allarmed at the Prospect they opened of still greater Evils.1
1. See Diary entry of 24 Nov. 1779 and note 3 there.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-11-25

[November 25. 1779.]

November 25. 1779. The Wind was fair and the Weather pleasant. We had passed the Grand Bank, and found ourselves on the Easter-most Edge of it. On sounding We found Bottom in thirty fathoms of Water.
The Captain and all his Officers and Passengers were so much alarmed at the increasing danger of the Leak and at the fatiguing Labour of all hands in keeping the Pumps in play, that it was concluded to make for one of the Western Islands as the first Friendly Land We could possibly reach: but We missed them and some day in the beginning of December 1779 We found ourselves, as was supposed within one hundred Leagues of Ferrol or at least of Corunna, to one or the other of which places We determined to direct our Course with all the Sail, the Ship could prudently bare. The Leak which kept two Pumps constantly going, having determined the Captain to put into Spain. This Resolution was a great Embarrassment to me. Whether I should travel by Land to Paris a Journey of twelve or thirteen hundred miles, or Wait for the Frigate to be examined and repaired, which might require a long time? Whether I could get Carriages, Horses, Mules or any other Animals to convey Us? What Accommodations We could get upon the Road? How I could convey the Children, and what the Expences would be? were all questions which I could not answer: nor could I find any Person on board, who was able to give me any satisfactory Information. It was said however by some that the Passage of the Pyranees was very difficult: that there was no regular Stage or Post: that We must purchase Carriages and Horses &c…. I could not help reflecting how much greater these inconveniences had been rendered, and how much more our perplexity if the rest of my Family had been with me. With Ladies and young Children and Additional Servants Male and Female We should have been in more distress on Land than at Sea.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-07

[December 7. 1779. Tuesday.]

December 7. 1779. Tuesday. About Eleven O Clock We discovered Land. Two large Mountains, one sharp and steep, the other large and broad, made their Appearance. We passed three Capes, Finisterre, Tortanes and Veillane. The Chevalier de La Molion gave me some Accajou Nutts. In handling the outside Shell, which has a corrosive Oil in it, in order to come at the meat, I got a little of this juice on my fingers and afterwards inadvertently rubbing my Eyes, I soon found the Lids swelled and inflamed up to my Brows.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0007

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-08

[December 8. 1779. Wednesday.]

December 8. 1779. Wednesday. We got into Ferrol, where We found a Squadron of French Ships of the Line under the Command of the Count De Sade. We went on Board, the General as they called him, that is The Commodore, to make our Compliments. We then went on Shore, visited the Spanish General Don Joseph St. Vincent, and then took a Walk about the Town, saw a great Number of Spanish and French Officers, who all congratulated Us on our narrow Escape and applauded Captain Chavagne for making the first Port. When We returned on board the Sensible We found she had made seven feet of Water in her Hold, within the first hour of her coming to Anchor when the Pumps had been abandoned from the fatigue of every Body worn out by pumping.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0008

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-09

[December 9. 1779. Thursday.]

December 9. 1779. Thursday. Went on Shore with all my Family, and took Lodgings. Dined with the Spanish Lieutenant General of the Marine with twenty four French and Spanish Officers. Don Joseph, though an old Officer had a great deal of Vivacity and good humour as well as Hospitality. The difference between the Faces and Airs of the French and Spanish Officers was more obvious and striking than that of their Uniforms. Gravity and Silence distinguish the latter: Gaiety, Vivacity and Loquacity the former. The Spanish Uniforms were ornamented with a very broad and even Gold Lace, the French with a narrow and scolloped one. The French Wiggs and Hair had several Rows of curls over the Ears: The Spanish only one. The French Bags were small, the Spanish large: Many of the Spaniards had very long hair quieued, reaching down to their hams almost. All the Officers of both Nations had new Cockades, made up of two, a red and a white one in token of the Union of the two Nations.
In the Evening We went to the Comedy or rather the Italian Opera; where We saw many Officers, and very few Ladies. The Musick and dancing were tolerable; but the Actors and Actresses very indifferent, at least it was a dull Entertainment to me. Perhaps it might have been more pleasing, if I had Understood the Italian Language: but all the Knowledge I ever had of this, which was not much, was acquired after that time.
This Evening the French Consul, whose Name was De Tournelle Consul of France at Corunna, arrived at Ferrol, and was introduced to me at my Chamber, by the French Vice Consul. Both made me the politest Offers of Assistance of every Sort. Supped and lay down, but I cannot say I slept or rested, at my Lodgings. We had too many Companions in Bed, in whose Society I never could sleep, much more than if I had been buried in hot embers.
{ [facing 194] } { [facing 195] }

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0009

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-10

[1779 December 10 Fryday.]

1779 December 10 Fryday. Breakfasted for the first time on Spanish Chocolate which fully answered the fame it had acquired in the World. Till that time I had no Idea that any thing that had the Appearance of Chocolate and bore that name could be so delicious and salubrious.
Every Body now congratulated Us, on our safe Arrival at this place. The Leak in the Sensible had increased since she had been at Anchor; and all agreed that We had escaped a very great danger.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0010

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-11

[1779 December 11.]

1779 December 11. I wrote to Congress the following Letter and prepared a Duplicate and Triplicate to go by different Opportunities.

[To the President of Congress]

[salute] Sir

I have the Honour to inform Congress, that on the thirteenth day of November I embarked on Board the French Frigate Le Sensible, and on the fourteenth came on Board The Honourable Francis Dana Esq., the Secretary to my Commission, when We fell down to King Road, and on the fifteenth sailed for France.
A Leak was soon discovered in the Ship, which obliged Us to ply the Pumps. As it seemed a steady Leak, it gave little Alarm at first: but continuing to increase, to such a degree, as to make two Pumps, incessantly necessary night and day, obliging the Passengers to take their turns in common with the Ships People, the Captain judged it necessary to make the first Port he could find….Accordingly on the Seventh day of December, We happily discovered Cape Finisterre, and on the Eighth arrived at the magnificent Spanish Port of Ferrol, where We found a Squadron of French Ships of the Line, the Officers of which think We were very happy in making this Port, as the Frigate, since she has been in Harbour, is found to make Seven or Eight feet of Water in an hour.
The Advice of all the Gentlemen here to me is to make the best of my Way to Paris by Land: As it is the Opinion of many that the Frigate will be condemned. But if not, she certainly will not be ready to sail again from this Port, in less than four or five Weeks. This is unfortunate to me, because by all the information I can obtain, Travelling in this Kingdom is attended with many difficulties and delays, as well as very great expence, there being no regular Posts as in France and no possibility of passing over the mountainous parts of this Country in Carriages.
I find there has been no Engagement in the European Seas, between the English and the combined Fleets of France and Spain, as was reported in America. There has been an epidemic Sickness, on board the French Fleet, which obliged them to return to Brest rather sooner { 196 } than was intended. There are twenty five Spanish Ships of the Line in Brest Harbour with the French. It is reported that Monsieur Du Chaffault is appointed Commander in Chief of the French Fleet and that the Comte D'Orvilliere has retired.
Captain Jones has done another brilliant Action, by taking a Forty four Gun Ship, after an obstinate Engagement, and carried her into the Texell. But I cannot learn the particulars with much Certainty or Exactness.
I have been treated with the utmost Politeness and Attention since my Arrival in this place, both by the Spanish and French Officers, particularly by the Spanish Lieutenant General of the Marine, Don Joseph Saint Vincent, who is Commander in Chief of the Marine, by Monsieur De Sade, the French Chef D'Escadre, and by the French Consul and Vice Consul, who have all obligingly offered me every Assistance in their Power.
I shall endeavour to inform Congress of every Step of my Progress, as I may find Opportunity. I have heard nothing as yet, which makes it probable to me, that I shall have any Thing to do openly and directly, in pursuance of my Commission, very speedily. There is a confused Rumour here of a Mediation of Russia and Holland: but I am persuaded without foundation. It seems to be much more certain that the English continue in their old ill Humour and insolent Language, not-withstanding their Impotence grows every day more apparent. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect and Esteem, Sir your most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams.

[addrLine] His Excellency Samuel Huntington Esqr. President of Congress.1

1. RC (PCC, No. 84, I); in John Thaxter's hand; at head of text: “Duplicate”; unsigned; endorsed in several hands: “No. 1. J. Adams [ . . . ] original by Capt. Trash from Corunna to Newbury Port, Mass. Bay. Duplicate of Decembr. 11th: 1779 Original receivd.—Reed. May 15. 1780—orig read March 27.”

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0011

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-12

[1779 December 12 Sunday.]

1779 December 12 Sunday. Walked about the Town, but there was nothing to be seen, excepting two Churches, and the Arsenals, dry Docks, Fortifications and Ships of War.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0012

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-13

[1779 December 13. Monday.]

1779 December 13. Monday. The great Inconvenience of this Harbour is, the Entrance is so narrow, there is no possibility of going out, but when the Wind is in one Point, that is the South East…. I was surprized to find so important a Place as this is to the Spanish Naval Power, surrounded by Heights which might easily be possessed by an Enemy, and which entirely overlooked and commanded the Town, the Ships, the Arsenals and Docks.
{ 197 }
The Three French Ships of the Line here were the Triomphant of Eighty Guns, M. Le Comte De Sade Chef D'Escadre or General, M. Le Chevalier de Grasse Preville, the Capitaine de Pavilion.
The Souverain of Seventy four Guns, M. Le Chevalier De Glandevesse Captain
The Jason of Sixty four Guns, M. de La Marthonie, Commander.
We dined one day with the Comte De Sade on Board the Triomphant, with all the principal Officers of the Fleet in all the Luxury of the French Navy.
A very fine Turkey was brought upon Table, among every Thing else that Land, Sea or Air could furnish.1 One of the Captains, as soon as he saw it, observed that he never saw one of those Birds on a Table but it excited in him a deep regret for the Abolition of that order of Ecclesiasticks the Jesuits to whom We were he said, indebted for so many Excellent Things, and among the Rest for Turkeys. These Birds he said were never seen or known in Europe till the Jesuits imported them from India. This occasioned much Conversation and some Controversy: but the majority of the Officers appeared to join in this regrett. The Jesuits were represented as the greatest Masters of Science and Litterature: as practising the best System of Education, and as having made the greatest improvements, the happiest Inventions and the greatest discoveries for the Comfort of Life and the Amelioration of Man and Society. Till this time I had thought that although millions of Jesuits, Pharisees and Machiavilians still existed in the World, yet that the Word Jesuit as well as that of Pharisee and Machiavilian, had become so odious in Courts and unpopular with Nations that neither was ever advocated in good Company. I now found my Error, and I afterwards perceived that even the Philosophers were the principal Friends left to the Jesuits.
The French Names Dindon and Poulet D'Inde, indicate that the Fowl was imported from India: But the English Name Turkey and Turkey fowl, seems to imply that the Bird was brought from the Levant. But if I am not mistaken, the English pretend that Sir Walter Raleigh first imported this Luxury from America. These important Questions of Natural History I shall leave to the Investigation and Discussion of those who have nothing else to do, nor any thing of more Taste and Consequence to contemplate.
I was highly entertained however with this Conversation and not a { 198 } little delighted to find that I could so well understand a Conversation so rapid and lively in French.
As the Count De Sade placed me next to himself at Table, his chief and indeed his whole Conversation was with me. He was very inquisitive about every Thing in America, but the Subject which most engaged his Attention was the Commerce and especially the Naval Power of America. This Subject I always found most prevalent in the Minds of all the Naval Gentlemen both of France and Spain. The Count said that no Nation in Europe had such Advantages for Naval Power as America. We had Timber of the best Kinds in the World, our Oaks and Cedars especially the Live Oaks and Red Caedars, which America Possessed in such Abundance, were an Advantage that no Nation ever enjoyed before in such Perfection. That We had inexhaustible Mines of Iron Oar and all the Skill and Apparatus necessary to prepare it, work it and refine it. That our Soil produced Flax and Hemp of good quality, and our Agriculturalists knew how to raise it and preserve it. We have a Maxim among Us in the Marine, said the Count, That with Wood, Hemp and Iron, a Nation may do what it will. And you may do what you will, and you will do what you will. For No Nation has, and No Nation that ever existed ever had such Advantages for raising a formidable Navy in a short time as you have. For to all the Materials you add all the Skill and Art. You have already learned of the English, all the Skill in Naval Architecture and all the Art and Enterprise of Navigation, which was ever possessed by the most commercial and most maritime People that ever existed. In fine his Conversation was in the same Strain with that of Monsieur De Thevenot [Thevenard] at L'Orient, in the Spring of the same Year, but more in detail. As the Count de Sade understood no English and my organs were not very flexible to the French, my part of the Conversation could not be very fluent. I made him however to understand, that I thought our People had so much Employment at home upon their Lands, which would be more comfortable and less hazardous if not more profitable that it would be a long time before they would turn their Attention to a Naval military Power. I must however now confess that I did not then believe that French, Spanish, Dutch and English Emissaries, would obtain so much influence in America as to cast a mist before the Eyes of the People and prevent them from seeing their own Interest and feeling their own Power for seven and twenty Years, to such a degree as to suffer their own Coasts and harbours to be insulted and their Commerce plundered even in the West Indies by Pirates, which a few Frigates might send to their [own?] place. The { 199 } Count presented to me The Chevalier De Grasse, as his Captaine De Pavilion and as the Brother of the Count de Grasse, the Commander in America,2 and as a Gentleman of large and independent Fortune, who had no Occasion to go to Sea but chose to expose himself to the rough Life of a Sea Officer, from pure Zeal for the Kings Service.
1. The following conversation, including that on the important subject of American naval prospects, was recorded in the Autobiography wholly from memory. Compare, or rather contrast, JA's Diary entry of this date.
2. This is with little doubt a mistake of JA's memory; see Diary entry of this date and note.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0013

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-14

[1779 December 14. Tuesday.]

1779 December 14. Tuesday. Walked once more to the Barracks and dry Docks. The Stones with which these Works were constructed, were far inferiour to our Quincy North Common Granite. They were not better than the South Common Stone. We went into the magnificent Church of St. Julien, where We saw Numbers of Devotees upon their Knees, some before the Altar and some before one Statue or Picture and some before another. This kind of Devotion was much more fashionable in Spain than in France.
We had lodged en la Calle de La Madalena, junto coca, en casa de Pepala Botoneca, i.e. in the Street of the Magdalen near the head, in the House of Pepala Botoneca.
I spent several Evenings with the French Consul Monsieur Detournelle, whom I found a well bred and well informed Man. He was well read, and had been conversant with the Writers on the Law of Nations, particularly in the Titles of those Laws relative to Ambassadors and Consuls. He quoted several Writers on the Rights and Duties of Ambassadors and Consuls and some on Ettiquette and the Formalities and Ceremonies required of those Offices. He told me that the Office of French Consuls was regulated by an ordinance of the King, but that some Nations had entered into particular Stipulations with the King. That the Consuls of different Nations were differently treated by the same Nation. That as Consul of France he had always claimed the Priviledges of the most favoured Nation. That he carefully enquired what Priviledges were enjoyed by the Consuls of England, Germany and Italy and demanded the highest Priviledges of the Gentis amicissimae.
The Chief Magistrate of the Town of Ferrol, is The Corregidor. For the Province or Kingdom of Gallicia, there is a Souvereign Court of Justice, which has both civil and criminal Jurisdiction. In all criminal Cases it is without Appeal, but in some civil Cases an Appeal lies to the Council at Madrid. There is no time allowed in criminal Cases for an Application for Pardon, for they execute forthwith. Hanging is the Capital Punishment. They burn sometimes but it is after death. There was lately a Sentence for Parricide. The Law required that the Crimi• { 200 } nal should be headed up in a hogshead, with an Adder, a Toad, a Dog and a Cat and cast into the Sea. But I was much pleased to hear that Spanish humanity had suggested and Spanish Ingenuity invented a Device to avoid some part of the Cruelty and horror of this punishment. They had painted those Animals on the Cask, and the dead body was put into it, without any living Animals to attend it to its watery Grave. The ancient Laws of the Visigoths are still in Use, and these, with the Institutes, Codes, Novelles &c. of Justinian, the Cannon Law and the Ordinances of the King, constitute the Laws of the Kingdom of Gallicia.
The Bread, the Colliflowers, the Cabbages, Apples, Pears, Beef, Pork and Poultry were good. The Fish of several Sorts were good, excellent Eels, Sardines, and other Species, and the Oysters were tolerable, but not equal to ours in America.
I had not seen a Chariot, Coach, Phaeton, Chaise or Sulky, since I had been in the Place, very few Horses and those very small and miserably poor; Mules and Asses were numerous but small. There was no Hay in the Country: The Horses, Mules &c. eat Wheat Straw.
There had been no frost. The Verdure in the Gardens and Fields was fresh. The Weather was so warm that the Inhabitants had no Fires, nor Fire Places, but in their Kitchens. We were told We should have no colder Weather before May which is the coldest Month in the Year. We found however, when We travelled in the Month of January in the Mountains, Frost and Snow and Ice enough. But at this time and in this Neighbourhood of the Sea, Men, Women and Children were seen in the Streets, with naked Legs and feet, standing on the cold Stones in the mud, by the hour together. The Inhabitants of both Sexes have black hair and dark Complexions, with fine black Eyes. Men and Women had long hair ramilied down to their Waists and sometimes down to their Knees.
Though there was little Appearance of Commerce or Industry, except about the Kings Docks and Yards and Works, yet the Town had some Symptoms of Growth and Prosperity. Many new Houses were building of a Stone which comes from the rocky Mountains round about, of which there are many. There were few goods in the Shops, little Show in their Marketts, or on their Exchange. There was a pleasant Walk a little out of Town, between the Exchange and the Barracks.
There were but two Taverns in the Town. Captain Chavagne and his Officers lodged at one, at six Livres each a day. The other was kept by a Native of America, who spoke English and French as well as { 201 } Spanish, and was an obliging Man. Here We could have lodged at a dollar a day each: but where We were We were obliged to give an hundred and twenty nine dollars for six days besides a multitude of other Expences, and besides being kept constantly unhappy by an uneasy Landlady.
Finding that I must reside some Weeks in Spain, either waiting for the Frigate or travelling through the Kingdom, I determined to look a little into the Language. For which purpose I went to a Bookseller and purchased Sobrino's Dictionary in three Volumes in Quarto, The Grammatica Castillana an excellent Spanish Grammar in their own Tongue, and a Lattin Grammar in Spanish. My Friend Captain De Grasse made me a present of a very handsome Grammar of the Spanish Tongue by Sobrino….1 By the help of these Books, the Children as well as the Gentlemen of our little Company were soon employed in learning the Language. To one who understood the Latin it seemed to be easy and some of Us flatter'd ourselves, that in a Month We might be able to read it, and understand the Spaniards as well as be understood by them. But experience taught Us our Error and that a Language is very difficult to acquire especially by Persons in middle Life.
Mr. Linde an Irish Gentleman, and Master of a Mathematical Accademy here, as well as Mr. De Tournelle, says, that the Spanish Nation in general have been of Opinion that the Revolution in America is a bad example to the Spanish Colonies, and dangerous to the Interests of Spain, as the United States if they should become ambitious and be seized with the Spirit of Conquest, might aim at Mexico and Peru. The Consul mentioned the Opinion of Raynalle, that it was not for the Interest of the Powers of Europe, that America should be independent.
To the Irish Gentleman I observed, that Americans hated War: that Agriculture and Commerce were their Objects, and it would be their Interest, as much as that of the Dutch to keep peace with all the World, untill their Country should be filled with People, which could not be for Centuries. That War and the Spirit of Conquest were the most diametrically opposite to their Interests, as they would divert their Attention, Wealth, Industry, Activity, from a certain Source of Prosperity and even Grandeur and Glory, to an uncertain one; nay to one, that it was certain never could be to their Advantage. That the Government of Spain over her Colonies had always been such, that she never could attempt to introduce such fundamental Innovations, as those by which England had provoked and compelled Us to revolt. And the Spanish { 202 } Constitution was such, as could extinguish the first Sparks of discontent, and quell the first risings of the People. That it was amazing to me, that a Writer so well informed as Raynalle, could ever give an Opinion that it was not for the Interest of the Powers of Europe, that America should be independent, when it was so easy to demonstrate, that it was for the Interest of every one of them except England. That they could loose nothing by it, but certainly every one of them would gain something, and many of them a great deal.
Wee can see but a little Way into Futurity….If, in 1807, We look back for seven and twenty Years, and consider what would have been the Consequence to Mexico and Peru and all South America, and all the French and Spanish West India Islands, had the United States remained subject to Great Britain, Mr. Linde and the Consul and the whole Spanish Nation might be convinced, that they owe much to the American Revolution. The English love War as much as We abhor it, and if they had now the American Cities for Places of Arms, the American Harbours for Shelter, American Provisions for Supplies and American Seamen and Soldiers for Reinforcements, by what tenure would France and Spain hold their American Dominions?
1. For two of the works mentioned here see Diary entry of this date and note.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0014

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-15

[1779 December 15. Wednesday.]

1779 December 15. Wednesday. This Morning We arose at five O Clock, went over the Water in a Boat and mounted our Mules, thirteen in Number, and two Mulateers, one of whom went before for a Guide, and the other followed Us, to pick up Stragglers. We rode over very bad roads and very high Mountains where We had the View of a very extensive Country, appearing to be a rich Soil and well cultivated, but there were very few plantations of Trees. We saw some Orange Trees, some Lemmon Trees, many Madeira Nut Trees, and a few, but very few Oaks. We dined at Hog Bridge, about half Way to Corunna upon Provision made by the Consul whose Attention and Politeness as well as that of the Vice Consul at Ferrol had been very conspicuous. We arrived at Corunna about seven O Clock and allighted at an Inn kept by Persons who spoke French. An Officer who spoke English held open the Gate for Us to enter, attended Us to our Lodgings, and then insisted on our visiting the General, who is Governor of the Province, and a Colonel, who commands under him and is military Governor of the Town. These are both Irish Gentlemen; and made many Professions of Friendship to our Cause and Country. The Governor of the Province, told me he had orders from Court to treat all Americans as the best Friends of Spain. They were all very inquisitive about Mr. Jays Mission: to know who he was, where he was born, whether he had ever been a Member of Congress, and Whether President. When { 203 } he embarked—in what Frigate—Where he was destined, whether to France or Spain, and to what Port of France, Brest, L'orient or Nantes.
The General politely invited me to dine. Said that Spaniards made no Compliments but were very sincere. He asked me, when this War would finish? I answered not yet; but when the Kings of France and Spain would take the Resolution to send twenty or thirty more Line of Battle Ships to reinforce the Count D'Estaing and enable him with the Cooperation of Americans to take all the British Forces and Possessions in America.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0015

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-16

[December 16. 1779. Thursday.]

December 16. 1779. Thursday. This Morning the Governor of the Province of Gallicia and the Governor of the Town of Corunna came to my Quarters at the Hotel du grand Amiral, to return the Visits I made them the last Evening. His Excellency repeated his Invitation to me to dine with him the next day with all my Family. He insisted on seeing my Sons. Said I ran a great risque in taking my Children with me: He had once passed very near my Country in an Expedition in a former War, which he had made against the Portuguese; that himself and every Thing in his Power, were at my Service; that he did not speak English…. I knew not how to answer all this politeness, better than by saying that I was engaged in the Study of the Spanish, and hoped that the next time I should have the Honour of seeing his Excellency, I should be able to speak to him in his own Language. At this he smiled and made a low bow, made some further Enquiries concerning American Affairs and took Leave. Mr. Dana and I took a Walk about the Town, to see the Fortifications, the Shipping, the Marketts, Barracks &c.
After dinner Captain Trask and his Mate of a Schooner belonging to the Tracys of Newbury Port, who had been obliged by bad Weather and contrary Winds to put in here from Bilbao, came to visit me and I gave them Letters to Congress as well as to my Family.
Mr. Detournelle came in and We walked with him to see the Tour de Fer, i.e. The Tower of Iron, a very ancient Monument, intended probably for a Light House as it commands a very wide Prospect of the Sea, and descries all Vessells coming from the East and from the West. There is no Record or memorial of the original of it, nor of the Nation by whom it was built. It is conjectured that it was created by the Phenicians. There is a smaller Building near it, by an Inscription on which it appears, that it was built or repaired by the Romans in the time of Augustus Cesar, but this has indubitable Marks of its being a modern Work in comparison of the Grand Tower. This is all of Stone an hundred feet in height. The mortar with which the Stones were cemented { 204 } is as hard as the Stones themselves, and appears to have a large mixture of powdered Stone in it. There was formerly a magnificent Stair Case winding round it in a Spiral from the Ground, to the top of it, and it is said that some General once road in a Coach or on Horseback to the highest Step of the Escalier. But now the Stairs and railings are all taken away and the Stones employed to pave the Streets of Corunna. They are large, square and smooth, and would make beautifull Streets if well laid: but they lie in much irregularity, and with out any order. In going to this monument and returning from it We passed by two noble Windmills very large and all of Stone, which lay in a State of desolation that astonished Us. Neglected and forsaken, falling fast into total Ruin. We anxiously enquired why so fine an Estate was suffered to decay in this manner, and were told that a Law Suit had been depending above forty Years to determine the Tittle disputed between two Claimants and that neither would repair the Buildings till it should be decided to which of them they belonged. Very grievous reproaches were added concerning the Delay of the Law in Spain.
There are in this Little Town Three Convents of Monks and two of Nuns. One of the Nunneries is of Capuchins, a very austere order. The Girls eat no meat, wear no linnen, sleep on the floor, never on a bed, their faces are always covered with a Veil and they never speak to any body.
On this day I wrote the following Letter to Congress and sent it together with the Letters from Ferrol by Captain Trask, but neither were received till the 15th. of October 1780 and then in a Triplicate.1

[To the President of Congress]

[salute] Sir

By the Opportunity of a small Vessel, accidentally in this harbour, bound to Newbury Port, I have the honour to inform Congress, that I have been detained by violent Rains and several Accidents in Ferrol untill Yesterday, when I set out with my Family for this place, and arrived last Evening without any Accident. I waited immediately on the Governor of the Province, and on the Governor of the Town and received many Civilities from both: and particularly from his Excellency the Governor of the Province of Gallicia an Assurance, that he was not only personally disposed to render me every hospitality and Assistance in his Power, but that he had received express orders from { 205 } his Court to treat all Americans that should arrive here, like their best Friends.
These Personages were very inquisitive about American Affairs, particularly the Progress of our Arms and the Operations of the Count D'Estaing; and more particularly still concerning the Appointment of a Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Madrid. They requested his Name, Character, Nativity, Age; whether he was a Member of Congress, and whether he had been President, with many other particulars.
To all these questions I made the best Answers in my Power: and with respect to his Excellency the Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Madrid, I gave them the most exact information, and such a respectable Character as the high Offices he has sustained, and his own personal merit, require.
It is the prevailing Opinion here, that the Court of Madrid is well disposed to enter into a Treaty with the United States, and that the Minister from Congress will be immediately received, American Independence acknowledged, and a Treaty concluded.
The Frigate the Sensible, is found to be in so bad a Condition, that I am advised by every body to go to France by Land.—The Season, the Roads, the Accommodations for travelling are so unfavourable, that it is not expected I can get to Paris in less than thirty days. But if I were to wait for the Frigate it would probably be much longer. I am determined therefore to make the best of my Way by Land. And it is possible that this Journey may prove of some Service to the Public, at least I hope the Public will sustain no loss by it, though it will be tedious and expensive to me.
There are six Battalions of Irish Troops in Spain, in three Regiments, several of whose Officers have visited me, to assure me of their respects to the United States.
I have been this Afternoon to see the Tower de Fer, and the Island of Cezarga which was rendered famous in the Course of the last Summer, by being appointed the Rendezvous of the French and Spanish Fleets. The French Fleet arrived at this Island on the ninth day of June last, but were not joined by the Spanish Fleet from Ferrol untill sometime in July, nor by that from Cadiz till much later; so that the combined Fleets were not able to sail for the English Channel, untill the thirtyeth of July. To prevent a similar inconvenience, another Campaign, there are about five and twenty Spanish Ships of the Line, now in Brest, which are to winter there, and be ready to sail with the French Fleet, the approaching Summer, at the first Opening of the Season. God grant them Success and tryumph!
{ 206 }
Although no Man wishes for Peace more sincerely than I, or would take more pleasure or think himself more highly honoured by being instrumental in bringing it about; yet I confess I see no prospect or hope of it, at least before the End of another Summer. America will be amused with rumours of Peace, and Europe too: but the English are not yet in a temper for it.
The Court of Russia has lately changed its Ambassador at the Court of London, and sometime in the month of October Mr. Simolin, the New Minister Plenipotentiary from the Court of Petersbourg to the Court of London, passed through France in his Way to England and resided about three Weeks in Paris. From this Circumstance a Report has been spread in Europe, that the Court of Russia is about to undertake the Office of Mediator between the belligerent Powers. But from conversation with several Persons of distinction since my Arrival in Spain, particularly with Monsieur Le Comte De Sade the Chef D'Escadre commanding the French Men of War now in Ferrol, I am persuaded, that, if Russia has any thoughts of a Mediation, the Independence of the United States, will be insisted on by her as a Preliminary and Great Britain will feel much more reluctance to agree to this, than to the Cession of Gibraltar, which it is said Spain absolutely insists upon.
I have the honor to be with the greatest respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams

[addrLine] His Excellency Samuel Huntington Esqr. President of Congress.

1. A triplicate of this dispatch, sent later with triplicates of others, was received by Congress on that date, according to a note in JA's letterbook; but the original recipient's copy (PCC, No. 84, I, in Thaxter's hand, signed by JA), is endorsed in Thomson's hand: “No. 2 Letter from J. Adams Corunna Deer. 16. 1779 Read March 27. 1780.” There are trifling variations in wording among the extant texts.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0016

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-17

[1779 December 17. Fryday.]

1779 December 17. Fryday. The Consul conducted me to the Souvereign Court of Justice where We visited three Halls, One of civil Jurisdiction, another of criminal, and a third of both. The Three Youngest Judges sit in the criminal Trybunals. I was introduced to the President and the other Judges, and to the Procureur du Roi, i.e. to the Kings Attorney who treated me with great Ceremony, conducted me into the Place in the Prison into which the Prisoners are brought who have any thing to say to the Judges, waited on me into each of the Three Halls, shewed me the three folio Volumes of the Laws of the Country, which are the ancient Laws of the Goths, Visigoths and Ripuarians incorporated on the Corpus Juris. There are no Seats in the Halls for any Body but the Judges and the Lawyers who are speaking. Every Body stands. The President told me, that on Monday next there would be argued an interesting Cause, invited me to come and hear it, said he would receive me in Character and place me by the Side of himself on the Bench, and when I said I should wish to avoid { 207 } this parade, he said he would order an Officer to shew me a convenient Place to see and hear. Soon after this a Part of an Irish Battalion of Troops was drawn up, before the Court House and made a fine Appearance, but suggested melancholly Reflections that Justice could not be administered without a military force, and that too composed of Forreigners, to protect the Judges.
Dined with Don Pedro Martin Sermenio, The Governor of the Province of Gallicia or rather The Vice Roy of the Kingdom of Gallicia. Mr. Dana, Mr. Thaxter, Mr. Allen were with me. By the Assistance of two Irish Officers, I had much Conversation with the Governor who speaks only Spanish. We sent for our Books of Maps, at their desire and shewed them the Position of New York and Rhode Island and the Possessions of the English there. The Governor was very gay, and Don Patricio O Heir the Governor of the Town, with several other Irish Officers were present. They all advised Us to go by Land, and the Governor offered to procure Us a Guide who spoke French, was perfectly acquainted with the Country, Roads, Inn's and Inhabitants and was the best Man in the Kingdom for the purpose, and one who could the most readily procure Us the Carriages, Horses, Mules and Drivers and best know how to make provision for Us, for We must carry all our Necessaries as well as conveniences with Us. Nothing was to be had upon the road except at a few principal Towns, excepting the Wine of the Country, Bino de Pais, which might be had any where and it was very good and very wholesome, for it was an admirable Diuretic.
After Dinner We went with The Consull to see a Convent of Franciscan Friars. Walked into the Church and all round the Yards and Cells. As We passed by the Cells, “here,” said the Consul, “are the habitations of Jealousy, Envy, Hatred, Revenge, Malice and Intrigue. There is more Intrigue in a Chapter of Monks for the Choice of a Prior, than was employed to bring about the entire revolution in America. A Monk has no Connections nor Affections to soften him, but is wholly delivered up to his Ambition.” I was somewhat surprized at this and asked some questions. The Consull persisted and affirmed that there was no End to the Factions and intrigues among the Monks in Spain.
There were Inscriptions in Latin Verse over all the Cells and generally ingenious and pure in their Morals. I found this universal in all the Monastries, and had a strong Inclination to copy many of them: but generally I had not time. Upon this Occasion having a little Leisure I copied this Inscription over the Cell of a Monk at { 208 } Corunna which by no means breaths the Spirit imputed to them by the Consul.

Si tibi pulchra domus, si splendida mensa, quid inde?

Si Species Auri, atque argenti massa, quid inde?

Si tibi sponsa decens, si sit generosa, quid inde?

Si tibi sint nati; si praedia magna, quid inde?

Si fueris pulcher, fortis, divesve, quid inde?

Longus servorum, si serviat ordo, quid inde?

Si doceas alios in qualibet arte; quid inde?

Si rideat mundus; si prospera cuncta; quid inde?

Si Prior, aut Abbas, si Rex, si Papa; quid inde?

Si rota fortunae, te tollat ad astra; quid inde?

Annis si faelix regnes mille; quid inde?

Tarn cito praeteriunt haec omnia, quae nihil inde.

Sola manet Virtus, qua glorificabimur inde.

Ergo Deo servi; quia sat tibi provenit inde;

Quod fecisses volens in tempore quo morieris

Hoc facies juvenis, dum corpore sanus haberis.

Quod nobis concedas Deus noster, Amen.1

We went and drank Tea with the Consul, The Attorney General of the Province was there, and Mr. Lagoanere, the American Agent, and the Captain of the French Frigate La Belle Poulle.
1. JA made a few small copying errors in transcribing this inscription from his Diary entry of this date.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0017

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-18

[1779 December 18. Saturday.]

1779 December 18. Saturday. Walked all round the Town, the Wharves, Slips &c. on the Water and round the Walls towards the Country. Went to see the Artillery. A number of Stands of Arms, Cannon, Bombs, Balls, Mortars &c. had been packed up for some time. By the last Post, orders arrived to put up five thousands more in the same manner, ready to embark, but nobody knew where, nor for what purpose. We saw the Magazines, Arsenals, Shops &c. of Carpenters, Wheelwrights, Blacksmiths &c. shewn Us by the Commandant of Artillery. But after having seen Brest and Ferrol, I saw nothing worth describing. The Spanish Ships however both here and at Ferrol appeared equal at least both in Materials and Workmanship to any of American, French or English Construction that I had ever seen. If their Prudence in Navigation and the Activity and Intrepidity of their Seamen were proportionally equal to the English they would be a dangerous Enemy.
Went into the Church or Chapel of a Convent, found the Monks { 209 } in great numbers all upon their Knees, chanting their Pray[er]s to the Virgin Mary. It was the Eve of the holy Virgin. The lighted Wax Candles, by their glimmerings upon the Paintings and Gildings made a pretty Appearance and the Musick was good.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0018

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-19

[1779 December 19. Sunday.]

1779 December 19. Sunday. Dined with Monsieur De Tournelle, with all my Family. The Regent, or President of the Souvereign Court of the Kingdom of Gallicia, The Attorney General, the Administrator of the Kings Revenue of Tobacco, the Commandant of the Artillery, Mr. Lagoanere and others were there.
The Entertainment was very sumptuous in all respects, but there was the greatest Profusion and Variety of Wines I ever saw brought to any Table. In Addition to the Wines of France, Bourdeaux, Champaigne, Burgundy, We had Constantin and all the best Wines of Spain red and white. The names and qualities of all of them were given Us, but I remember only the Sherry, Alicanté and Navarre. The Spanish and Irish Gentlemen were very liberal in their Compliments to the Consul on the Excellence of his Wines which they pronounced the oldest and best they had ever seen. The Chief Justice and Attorney General were very gay and very jocular with the Consul and Mr. Lagoanere on his rich and rare Selection of Spanish Wines and archly insinuated that it was a studied Exhibition before the American Minister and a mercantile Speculation. I afterwards was informed that Mr. Detournelle and Mr. Lagoanere had some secret Connection in Trade, which could not be avowed, as an Ordinance of the King of France prohibits Commerce to his Consuls. Mr. Lagoanere avowed that he had procured the Wines.
The Chief Justice and Attorney General were very inquisitive with me about my Birth and Name. They asked very gravely whether I had not been born in Spain? or whether my Father was not a Spaniard? or whether I was not in some Way of Spanish descent? I thought these questions very whimsical and ridiculous, but I determined to keep my Spanish gravity and answered them civilly and candidly that I was born in America, and so was my Father and Grandfather, but my Great Grandfather and Great Great Grandfather came from England, where their Ancestors had lived for any Thing I knew, from the Days of the first Adam. Whether this was a peculiar Kind of Spanish Compliment, like that which was afterwards made me by the Secretary of the Tripoline Ambassador in England when he saw me smoke as gravely and profusely as his Master, who cryed out in rapture “Monsieur vous etes un Turque,” I know not.1 And whether there was any { 210 } foundation for what they said I know not: but they affirmed that there was a very numerous family of that Name in Spain and that in several Provinces there were very ancient, rich and noble Families of the Name of Adams and that they were all remarkable for their Attachment to the Letter S. at the End of Adam. They were so punctillious in this that they took it as an Affront to write their Name without this final Letter and would fight any Man that did it.
These Gentlemen however discovered on other Occasions more Sense and Solidity. They were very solicitous to know our American Forms of Government, and I sent to my Lodgings and presented each of them with a printed Copy of the Report of the Committee of Convention of Massachusetts Bay, made in this Year 1779, as a Specimen of what would probably be nearly the Constitution of that State. They said they would have them translated into Spanish and should be highly entertained by them.
We found the Pork and Bacon, this day, as We had often found them before, most excellent and delicious, which surprized me the more, as I had always thought the Pork in France very indifferent, and occasioned my Inquiry into the manner of raising it. The Chief Justice informed me, that much of it was fatted upon Chesnutts, and much more upon Indian Corn which was much better. That in some Provinces of Spain they had a peculiar kind of Acorns growing upon old pasture Oaks, which were very sweet and produced better Pork than either Chesnuts or Indian Corn. That there were parts of Spain, where they fatted hogs upon Vipers. They commonly cutt off their heads and gave the Bodies to their Swine and they produced better Pork, than Chesnuts, Indian Corn or Acorns. That the Swine were so fond of these Vipers that they would attack them when they would find them alive, put one of their fore feet upon the head and hold it down while they eat the Body, but would not eat the head. That they were so expert at this Art, that they very rarely got stung by them.
These Gentlemen told Us that all kinds of Grain would come from America to a good Market in this Country; even Indian Corn, for they never raised more than their Bread and very rarely enough of that. Pitch, Tar, Turpentine, Timber, Masts &c. would answer. Salt Fish, Sperm Cceti Candles, Rice &c…Indigo and Tobacco came in sufficient quantities from their own Colonies. The Administrator of the Kings Tobacco, said that ten millions Weight was annually consumed in Spain, in smoaking.
{ 211 }
We enquired concerning the manner of raising the Kings Revennue and were told that there were then no Farmers General. That having been tried they were found prejudicial and abolished. That all Taxes were now collected for the King, who appointed Collectors for particular Cities, Towns or other Districts. That Duties were laid both on Exports and Imports, and Taxes upon Land. Upon Inquiry into the manner of raising the Army We were informed, that some were enlisted for a number of Years, others were draughted by Lot for a number of Years, and that a certain number of Years Service intitled the Soldier to several valuable Priviledges and Exemptions but that their pay was small.
The Consul made me a Present of the Droit publique of France, a posthumous Work of the Abby Fleury, composed for the Education of the Princes, and published with Notes by Daragon Professor in the University of Paris.
1. The incident alluded to is told in a justly famous letter JA wrote to Jefferson from London, 17 Feb. 1786 (Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 9:285–288); see also note 2 on JA's Diary entry of 29 March 1786, above.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0019

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-20

[1779 December 20. Monday.]

1779 December 20. Monday. We went to the Audiencia, where We found the four Judges sitting in their Robes, the Advocates in theirs a little below them, and the Attornies lower down still. We heard a Cause discussed. The Advocates argued sitting, used a great deal of Action with their hands and Arms and spoke with Eagerness. The Language was not wanting in Harmony to the Ear, but the Accent, the Cadence, the Emphasis, in one Word the Power of Oratory seemed to be wanting. The deficiency was however most probably in Us, who were totally ignorant of the Language, understood none of the Arguments and felt none of the Sentiments. I dare say the Arguments at our Bars would appear more insipid and disgusting to them as our Language is less sonorous, and infested with very dissagreable Sibillations.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0020

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-22

[1779 December 22. Wednesday.]

1779 December 22. Wednesday. Drank Tea at Senior Lagoaneres. Saw the Ladies drink Chocolate in the Spanish Fashion. A Servant brought in a Salver, with a number of Tumblers of clean clear Glass full of cold Water, and a Plate of Cakes, which were light Pieces of Sugar. Each Lady took a Tumbler of Water and a piece of Sugar, dipped the Sugar in the Tumbler of Water, eat the one and drank the other. The Servant then brought in another Salver of Cups of hot Chocolate. Each Lady took a Cup and drank it, and then Cakes and Bread and Butter were served. At last Each Lady took another Cup of cold Water and here ended the repast. The Ladies were Seniora Lagoanere, the Lady of the Commandant of Artillery, and another. The Administrator of the Kings Tobacco, The French Consul, and another Gentlman, with Mr. Dana, Mr. Thaxter and myself made the Company.
{ 212 }
Three Spanish Ships of the Line, and two French Frigates came into the harbour this Afternoon; and a Packett from Havannah.
The Administrator gave me a Map of Gibraltar, representing the Lines around it by Land and the Spanish Ships about it by Sea.
The Orders of Ecclesiasticks at Corunna are only Three, The Dominicans, the Franciscans, and the Augustins,1 but the numbers who compose the Fraternities of these religious Houses are a burthen beyond all proportion to the Wealth, Industry and population of this Town. They are Drones enough to devour all the honey of the Hive. There are in addition to these, two Convents of Nuns, those of St. Barbe and the Capuchins. These are a large Addition to the Number of Consumers without producing any Thing. Lord Bacons Virgines Deo dicatse quae nihil parturiunt. They are very industrious however at their Prayrs and devotions that is to say in repeating their Pater Nosters, in counting their Beads, in kissing their Crucifixes, and taking off their hair Shifts to whip and lacerate themselves every day for their Sins, to discipline themselves to greater Spirituality in the Christian Life. Strange! that any reasonable Creatures, any thinking Beings should ever believe that they could recommend themselves to Heaven by making themselves miserable on Earth. Christianity put an End to the Sacrifice of Iphigenias and other Grecian Beauties and it probably will discontinue the Incineration of Widows in Malabar: but it may be made a question whether the Catholick Religion has not retained to this day Cruelties as inhuman and antichristian as those of Antiquity.
I ventured to ask the Attorney General a few Questions concerning the Inquisition. His answers were guarded and cautious as I expected. Nevertheless he answered me civilly and candidly. That the Inquisition in Spain was grown much milder, and had lost much of its Influence. Europe in general was much inlightened and grown more moderate, and the public Opinion in Spain participated of the general Information, and revolted against the Cruelties of the Inquisition.
1. The following reflections are not in JA's Diary.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0021

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-24

[1779 December 24. Fryday.]

1779 December 24. Fryday. Dined on board the Bellepoule with the Officers [of] that Ship and those of the Galatea.1
We had now been about sixteen days in Spain at Ferrol and Corunna and had received Every Politeness We could desire from all the Officers civil and military both of the Army and Navy, and from the French Officers as well as the Spanish; the Climate was warm and salubrious, and the Provisions were plentifull, wholesome and agre• { 213 } able. But the Circumstance which destroyed all my Comfort and materially injured my health was the Want of rest. For the first Eight nights I know not that I slept at all and for the other eight very little. The Universal Sloth and Lazyness of the Inhabitants suffered not only all their Beds but all their Appartments to be infested with innumerable Swarms of Ennemies of all repose. And this torment did not cease at Corunna but persecuted me through the whole Kingdom of Spain to such a degree that I sometimes apprehended I should never live to see France.
We were now provided with a Guide and Horses and Mules and Mulateers and such miserable Carriages as the Country afforded, but at an Expence that in any other Country would have procured Us the best accommodations of every kind.
1. JA's Diary entry for this day ends at this point.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0022

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-25

[1779 December 25. Saturday.]

1779 December 25. Saturday. Christmas. At Eleven O Clock I went to the Palace to take Leave of the Vice Roy and General. Mr. O Heir the Governor of the Town went with me, because he spoke English. His Excellency repeated the thousand obliging things he had said to me when I made my first Visit to him, and afterwards again when I dined with him.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0023

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-26

[1779 December 26. Sunday.]

1779 December 26. Sunday. The General, the Governor, the French Consul and Mr. Lagoanere, had influence enough to procure Us the best Guides, accommodations and Attendants, which the Country afforded, upon Terms very hard for the miserable Things We had, according to a Contract made for Us by Mr. Lagoanere.
Senior Raymon San, the Owner of all the Post Chaises, or Chaises or Calashes or whatever other name they bore and the Horses and Mules that drew them, and the Man with whom Mr. Lagoanere made the Contract.
Senior Eusebio Seberino, the Postillion who drove my Chaise or rather who led my Horses.
Joseph Diaz the Postillion, who drove Mr. Dana and Mr. Thaxter. This was the Writer, and had been educated at St. Iago de Compostella.
Diego Antonio, the Postillion who drove Mr. Allen and Mr. Samuel Cooper Johonnot.
To these were Added two Men on foot Juan Blanco and Bernardo Bria.
At half after two We mounted our Carriages and Mules and rode four Leagues to Betanzos, the ancient Capital of the Kingdom of Gallicia, and the place where the Archives are still kept. The Building in which the records are deposited is a long Square, of Stone without { 214 } any roof and stands over against one of the Churches. There are, in this little place, two Churches and two Convents. The last League of our road to it, was mountainous and rocky, to such a degree as to be very dangerous to Cattle and Carriages as well as Men. Mr. Lagoanere made Us the Compliment to attend Us to this place. The House, the Beds and the People appeared to me too romantick for description, but a tolerable Idea of them may be formed from something which will be said of the next House in which We lodged. I found that our Guide and all our Spanish Attendants thought this and all the other Houses where We dined and lodged were very good Inns.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0024

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-27

[1779 December 27. Monday.]

1779 December 27. Monday.1 We travelled from Betanzos to Castillano. The roads still mountainous and rocky. Neither the Horses nor the Mules could be trusted, in ascending or descending the rocky Steeps of the Mountains in the Carriges without two Men on foot to hold them by their bridles and their heads, and with all our precautions, We broke one of our Axle Trees, early in the day which prevented Us from going more than four Leagues in the whole. The House in Castillano where We lodged was of Stone, two Stories in height. We entered into the Kitchen, where was no floor but the Ground and no Carpet but Straw trodden into mire by Men, Hogs, horses and Mules. In the middle of the Kitchen was a Mound raised a little above the Level of the Ground with Stones and Earth, on which was a fire, with Potts, Kettles, Skillets &c. of the fashion of the Country, over it, and round about it. There was no Chimney filled the room2 and if any of it ascended, it found no other passage to the open Air, but through two holes drilled through the Tyles of the roof, not perpendicularly over the fire, but at Angles of about forty five degrees. On one Side was a flew Oven, very large, black, smoaky and sooty. On the opposite Side of the fire was a Cabbin filled with Straw where I suppose the Patron del Casa, that is, the Master of the House, his Wife and four Chilldren, all lodged and slept together. On the same floor or rather on the same level of Ground, with the Kitchen was the Stable. There was indeed a Door which might have parted the Kitchen from the Stable: but this was always open, and indeed it would have been impossible to see or breath with it shut: and the floor or ground of the Stable, was covered with miry Straw like the Kitchen. I went { 215 } into the Stable and saw it filled on all Sides with Mules belonging to Us and several other Travellers who were obliged to put up, by the Rain. The Smoke filled every part of the Kitchen, Stable, and all other parts of the House, and was so thick that it was very difficult to see or breath. There was a flight of Steps of Stone covered with Mud and Straw, from the Kitchen floor up into a Chamber. On the left hand as you ascended the Stairs, was a Stage, built up about half Way from the Kitchen floor to the Chamber floor. On this Stage was a bed of Straw and on the Straw lay, a fatting hog. Around the Kitchen fire were arranged the Man and Woman of the House, four Children, all the Travellers, Servants, Mulateers &c. Over the Fire was a very large Kettle, like a Pot Ash Kettle, full of Turnips and Onions, very large and very fine boiling for the Food of all the Family of Men and Beasts inhabiting both the Kitchen and the Stable, and the Stage.
The Chamber in which We lodged, had a large quantity, perhaps an hundred Bushells of Indian Corn in Ears, very small however, not half so large as our Corn in America. These Ears were hanging over head upon Poles and pieces of Joist. In one Corner was a large Binn, full of Rape Seed, on the other Side, another full of Oats. In another part of the Chamber lay a few Bushells of Chesnuts. There were two frames for Beds with Straw beds upon them, and a Table in the middle. The Floor I believe had never been washed or swept for an hundred Years. Smoke, Soot and dirt, every where, and in every Thing. There were in the Chamber two Windows or rather Port holes without any glass. There were wooden dors to open and shut before the Windows. If these were shut there was no light and no Ventilator to draw off the unwholesome Air of the Chamber or let in any pure Air from abroad; if they were open We were exposed to all the cold and Vapours, from the external Air. My Inclination and Advice was to keep the Ports open, choosing to encounter the worst Air from abroad rather than be suffocated or poisoned with the Smoke and contaminated Air within.3 In addition to all these Comforts in such a Tavern it was not to be expected that We should escape the Bosom Companions and nocturnal Ennemies, which We had found every where else. Nevertheless, amidst all these horrors I slept better, than I had done before since my Arrival in Spain.
1. A close comparison between the present entry and that of the same date in JA's Diary on which it is directly based, provides an excellent illustration of JA's habit of “writing up,” that is to say, paraphrasing, expanding, and embellishing, passages from his Diary when composing his Autobiography.
2. Thus in MS. JA doubtless meant to write: “There was no Chimney. Smoke filled the room,” &c.
3. On this subject compare JA's account of his dispute with Franklin on the way to Staten Island, in the Autobiography under 9 Sept. 1776; and his observations on fresh air, in his Diary under 21 May 1783.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0025

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-28

[1779 December 28. Tuesday.]

1779 December 28. Tuesday. We went from Castilliana to Baamonde, and found the first part of the Road very bad, but the latter { 216 } part tolerable. The whole Country We had passed hitherto had been very mountainous and rocky. There was here and there a Valley, and now and then a farm that appeared handsomely cultivated. But in general the Mountains were covered with Furze, and not much cultivated. We were astonished to see so few Trees. There was scarce an Oak, Elm, or any other Tree to be seen, except a very few Madeira Nuts and a very few fruit Trees. At Baamonde we were obliged to rest for the day, to procure a new Axle Tree to one of our Calashes. The House where We were, was better than our last nights lodgings. We had a Chamber for seven of Us to lodge in. We laid our beds upon all the Tables and Chairs in the room and the rest on the floor as last night. We had no Smoke and less dirt than last night, though the floor had never been washed I believe since it was laid. The Kitchen and Stable were below as usual but in better order. The Fire was in the middle of the Kitchen: but the Air-holes pierced thro the Tiles of the Roof, drew up the Smoke, so that one might sit at the Fire, without much inconvenience. The Mules, Hogs, fowls and human Inhabitants, however, all lived together below and Cleanliness seemed never to be regarded.
We had three Calashes, in Company. In one of them I rode with my two Children John and Charles: In another went Mr. Dana and Mr. Thaxter: In a third Mr. Allen and Samuel Cooper Johonnot. Our three Servants rode on Mules. Sometimes the three Gentlemen mounted the Mules of the Servants, who took our Places in the Calashes, and were as much worse for the Exchange as We were the better. Sometimes the Children rode upon the Mules. And very frequently We were all obliged to walk as much more safe and agreable than Carriages or Saddles. The Calashes were very clumsy and inconvenient, somewhat resembling those in Use in Boston an hundred years ago. There was some finery about them in brass nails and paint. But the Leather was very old, and had never felt Oil since it was made. The Harness was broken in many places and tied together with twine and cords. The Appearance and the Furniture of the Mules were equally curious. Their Ears, Necks, Backs, Rumps and Tails, were shorn close to the Skinn. They were lean, but very strong and sure footed and seemed to be well shod. The Saddles had large Ears and high Rims or Ridges, all round behind the Rider. They had a breast plate before and a Breech band behind. They had large Wooden Stirrips, made like Boxes in a semicircular form bound round with Iron. In these Wooden Boxes, close at one End and open at the other, you inserted your Foot, { 217 } which is well defended by them from rain and Sloughs. We had magnificent Curb Bridles to two or three of the Mules; the rest were guided by Haltars, and there was an Halter as well as a Curb Bridle to each of the others. There were Wallets or Saddle bags made with Canvas on each mule in which We carried Bread and Cheese, Meat, Knives and Forks, Spoons, Apples and Nutts. Indeed We were obliged to carry on our Mules, in a Waggon that attended Us, or in the Calashes, through the whole of this Journey, our own Beds, Blanketts, Sheets, Pillows; our own provisions of Chocolat, Tea, Sugar, Meat, Wine, Spirits, and every Thing that We wanted. We carried our own Butter, Cheese, and indeed Salt and Pepper too. We got nothing at the Taverns but Fire, Water, and sometimes Salt and Pepper, and sometimes Wine of the Country at a reasonable rate.
I have always regretted that We could not find time to make a Pilgrimage to Saint Iago de Compostella. We were informed, particularly by Mr. Lagoanere, that the Original of this Shrine and Temple of St. Iago was this. A certain Shepherd saw a bright Light there in the night. Afterwards it was revealed to an Archbishop that St. James was buried there. This laid the Foundation of a Church, and they have built an Altar on the Spot where the Shepherd saw the Light. In the time of the Moors, the People made a Vow, that if the Moors should be driven from this Country, they would give a certain portion of the Income of their Lands to Saint James. The Moors were defeated and expelled and it was reported and believed, that Saint James was in the Battle and fought with a drawn Sword at the head of the Spanis[h] Troops, on Horseback. The People, believing that they owed the Victory to the Saint, very chearfully fulfilled their Vows by paying the Tribute. But within a few Years, a Duke of Alva, a desendant of the famous Duke of that name, but probably grown more Philosophical at least less catholick than his Ancestor, has refused to pay for his Estate. This Refusal has given rise to a Lawsuit, which has been carried by appeal to Rome. The Duke attempted to prove that Saint James was never in Spain. The Pope has suspended the Cause, and it is suspected because His Holiness doubts whether it is safe to trust the Dukes Evidence before the Public.
Upon the Supposition that this is the place of the Sepulture of Saint James, there are great numbers of Pilgrims, who visit it, every Year, from France, Spain, Italy and other parts of Europe, many of them on foot.
Saint Iago is called the Capital of Gallicia, because it is the Seat of { 218 } the Archbishop and because Saint James is its Patron: but Corunna is in Fact the Capital as it is the Residence of the Governor, the Audiencia &c. &c.
We travelled this day from Baamonde to Lugo, and passed the River Minho which originates in the Mountains of Asturia, and flows down through Portugal.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0026

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-30

[1779 December 30 Thursday.]

1779 December 30 Thursday. We went to see the Cathedral Church at Lugo which is very rich.—A Youth came to me in the Street, and said he was a Bostonian, a Son of Mr. Thomas Hickling. He went a Privateering in an English Vessell, he said, and was unfortunately taken. Unfortunately inlisted, said I … He wanted to make his fortune he said. Out of your Countrymen and by fighting against your Country? said I.
Two Irish Gentlemen came to pay their respects to me, Michael Meagher Oreilly, and Louis O Brien. These were Irish Officers in the Spanish Service. They invited me with great Earnestness to go to their house and spend the Evening and sup with them: but the Weather was now so cold and we were so fatigued with our uncomfortable Journey that I could not think of going out. We excused ourselves as well as We could, and when Obrien found that We could not go to his house, he sent Us a Meat Pie and a minced Pie and two Bottles of Frontinac Wine, which gave Us a fine Supper.
We went from Lugo to Galliego and arrived in good Season, having made six Leagues and an half from Lugo. The Road was mountainous but not rocky as it had been almost all the Way heretofore. We passed over a large Bridge over a River called Carasedo, which empties itself into the Minho not far from Lugo. I saw nothing but Signs of Poverty and misery among the People: a fertile Country not half cultivated: People ragged and dirty: the Houses universally nothing but mire, Smoke, Soot, fleas and Lice: nothing appeared rich but the Churches, nobody fat but the Clergy. Many of the Villages We passed, were built with Mud filled in between Joists, Nine tenths of them uninhabited and mouldering to dust. Yet in every one of these Scenes of desolation, you would see a splendid Church, and here and there a rosy faced Priest in his proud Canonicals rambling among the rubbish of the Village. The Roads the worst, without exception the worst that were ever travelled, in a Country where it would be easy to make them very good: No Simptoms of Commerce, or even of internal Trafick: No Appearance of Manufactures or Industry.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0027

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-31

[1779 December 31. Fryday.]

1779 December 31. Fryday. We rode from Galliego to Sebrero, seven Leagues. Our Journey was more agreable this day, than usual: { 219 } the Weather was remarkably fair and dry, and the roads not so bad as We had expected. There was the grandest profusion of wild irregular Mountains I ever saw: yet laboured and cultivated to their Summits. The Fields of Grain were all green. We passed a Range of Mountains that were white with Snow, and there were here and there Banks of Snow on the Mountain We passed over: but no Frost at all in the Ground.
We were now on the highest ground of all, and within Musquet Shot of the Line between Gallicia and Leon. The Houses all along our Journey were small and of Stone, except those of mud. Some of them were covered with Tiles of Brick, and some with Tiles [of] Slate, but by far the greater part of them, with Thatch. They interweave a Shrub of which they make brooms, among the Straw, and bind both together with Wyths. These thatched Roofs are very numerous, but universally dirty and smoaky. The People wore broad brimmed hats, or Caps made of Woolen Cloth, like their Coats, Jacketts and small Cloaths, which are made of black Sheeps Wool, without dyeing, and consequently are all of a colour. We were shewn some of the Marragatoes, a peculiar kind of wild wandering People, who were particularly dressed in a greasy leathern Jackett.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0028

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-01

[1780. January 1. Saturday.]

1780. January 1. Saturday. We arrived, from Sebrero, at Villa Franca, seven Leagues. The Road at first was very bad, in many places very steep, Hills with sharp Pitches, and encumbered with ragged rocks. We then came into the Road of Leon, which is made seemingly out of a Rock. It was an excellent road for a League and an half. We then came to a River, and travelled along the Banks of it for some Leagues. This Way was as bad as the other was good; miry, rocky, up and down, untill We came into a new road, about two Legues from Villa Franca. Here again We found a road made entirely by Art, at a great Expence, but it seemed to be made, forever. They <are>were going on with this Work, which is an honor to the Nation, as it shews that Improvements are beginning, and that some Attention is paid to the Ease, Convenience, Utility and Commerce of the People. We were told that the King had lately employed the Officers and Soldiers of his Army upon these Works and intended to pursue them. The Country We travelled over this day was the greatest Curiosity I had ever beheld. The River Barcarel1 flows between two Rows, an uninterrupted succession of Mountains, rising on each hand to a vast hight, which appear the more sublime and awfull Objects, for the strange irregular Shapes of them. Yet they are cultivated up to their highest Summits. { 220 } There were flourishing fields of Grain, on such steep declivities, near the Peaks of these Mountains, that I could not conceive it possible for Horses, Cattle or even Mules to stand upon them to plough them. I know not indeed how Men could stand to dig the Ground with Spades. The Houses had been uniformly the same, through the whole Country hitherto. Common habitations for Men and Beasts. The same smoaky, filthy Dens. Not one decent house had I seen, since I left Corunna.
We passed this day, the Ruins of an ancient Castle of the Moors, on the Summit of one of the steepest, highest, and most rugged of the Mountains.
There are in Villa Franca, three Parish Churches, one Convent of Men and one of Women. There is an old Brick Castle built in Feudal Times when Baron was at War with Baron; a defence against Lances, and Bows and Arrows and no more. Possibly it might ward off musquet Balls.
Here I bought a Mule, Saddle and Bridle for sixty two dollars and an half.
1. Diary: “Barcarcel.” Presumably the Valcarce.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0029

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-02

[1780. January 2. Sunday.]

1780. January 2. Sunday. We rode from Villa Franca, da el Bierzo Rio P[uen]te, passed through several Villages, and over Rivers and Bridges; We passed also Campo de Narraya, Cacabelos Rio P[uente] and arrived at Ponferrada where We dined. The Country grew smoother.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0030

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-03

[1780. January 3. Monday.]

1780. January 3. Monday. We rode to Astorga. We passed through the Town and Country of the Marragattoes. The Town is small and stands on a brook in a great Plain. As We went into Astorga, We met Coaches and genteel People.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0031

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-04

[1780. January 4. Tuesday.]

1780. January 4. Tuesday. At Astorga, We found clean Beds and no fleas for the first time since We had been in Spain. Walked twice round the Walls of the City, which are very ancient. We saw the Road to Leon and Bayonne and the road to Madrid. There is a pleasant Prospect of the Country from the Walls. Saw the Market of Vegetables. The Onions and Turnips were the largest and finest I ever saw. The Cabbages, Carrots &c. appeared very good. Saw the Markett of Fuel, which consisted of Wood, Coal, Turf and Brush. Numbers of the Marragatto Women attended the Market with their Vendibles. These were as fine as any of our American Indian Squaws and a great deal more filthy. Their Ornaments consisted of Crucifixes, Beads, Chains, Earrings and Finger Rings, in Silver, brass or glass, about their Necks and Arms.
We went to see the Cathedral Church which is the most magnifi• { 221 } cent I had yet seen in Spain. Saw the Parliament House, or Casa del Cieudad, where the Corregidor and City Magistrates assemble, to deliberate, and to execute the orders of the King. Some of the Spaniards brought me the Gazette of Madrid of the 24th of December, in which was this Article.

Coruña 15 de Diciembre

Hoy mismo han llegado á esta Plaza el Cabellero Juan Adams Miembro del Congreso Americano, y su Ministro Plenipotentiario, á la Corte de Paris, y Mr. Deane [i.e. Dana] Secretario de Embaxada quienes salieron de Boston el 15 de Noviembre Ultimo á bordo de la Fregata Francesa de Guerra la Sensible que entro en el Ferrol el dia 8 del corriente. Trahe la Noticia de que habiendo los Ingleses evacuado a Rhode Island y retirado todas sus Tropes a Nueva York. Los Americanos tomaron Possession de todos los Puestos evacuados.
This Afternoon a genteel Spaniard came to my Lodgings to offer me, all Sorts of Services and good Offices, and to enquire if I wanted any kind of Assistance or if I wanted Cash. Said he had received a Letter from Mr. Lagoanere at Corunna desiring him to afford me every Aid in his Power, and to furnish me with Money if I wanted it. I thanked him and desired him to thank Mr. Lagoanere, but to assure him that I wanted nothing and that I had got so far on my Journey very well.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0032

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-05

[1780 January 5. Wednesday.]

1780 January 5. Wednesday. We rode from Astorga to Leon, Eight Leagues. This was one great Plain, and the road through it was very fine. We saw large Herds of Cattle and immense flocks of Sheep. The Sheep were of an handsome Size, and their fleeces of Wool thick, long and extreamly fine. The Soil appeared to be rather thin and barren. We passed several small Villages, the vast range of Asturias Mountains all covered with Snow on our left hand. The Weather was cold, but otherwise very pleasant. We met with a good deal of Frost and Ice in the Road. Our Mules found more difficulty to keep their Steps firm upon the Ice over the Sloughs than they had among the roughest Rocks in the Mountains. We passed the Bridge over the River Orbigo, which in the Spring when swelled with the freshetts of melted Snow from the Mountains of Asturias, is a very great River. Leon, which We entered in the night, had the Appearance of a large City.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0033

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-06

[1780 January 6. Thursday.]

1780 January 6. Thursday. We went to see the Cathedral Church at Leon which though magnificent, is not equal to that at Astorga, if { 222 } it is to that at Lugo. It was the day of the Feast of the King and We happened to be at the celebration of High Mass. We saw the Procession of the Bishop and of all the Canons, in rich habits of Silk, Velvet, Silver and gold. The Bishop as he turned the Corners of the Church spred out his hand to the People, in token of his Apostolical Benediction; and those, in token of their profound gratitude for the heavenly Blessing prostrated themselves on their Knees as he passed. Our Guide told Us We must do the same. But I contented myself with a Bow. The Eagle Eye of the Bishop did not fail to observe an Upright figure amidst the Crowd of prostrate Adorers: but no doubt perceiving in my Countenance and Air, but especially in my dress something that was not Spanish, he concluded I was some travelling Heretick and did not think it worth while to exert his Authority to bend my stiff Knees. His Eyes followed me so long that I thought I saw in his Countenance a reproof like this “You are not only a Heretick but you are not a Gentleman, for a Gentleman would have respected the Religion of the Country and its Usages so far as to have conformed externally to a Ceremony that cost so little.”
We were conducted to see the Council Chamber of the Bishop and Chapter, hung round with Crimson Damask. The Seats all round the Chamber of crimson Velvet. This room and another, smaller one, where the Bishop sometimes took aside some of the Cannons, were very elegant.
We went to see the Casa del Cieudad: and the Castle of King Alphonsus which We were informed was Nineteen hundred and thirty six years old. It is of Stone and the Workmanship of it, very neat.
But there is in this City no Appearance of Commerce, Manufactures or Industry. The Houses are low, built of Brick and Mud and Pebble Stones from the neighbouring Fields. There was no Market worth notice. Nothing looked either rich or chearfull but the Churches and Churchmen. There was a Statue of Charles the fifth in the Cathedral Church, but very badly done, as were all the Statues and Paintings I had seen in all the Churches, for which reason among others I have taken no notice of them. Indeed it would be endless to describe all the Images of Angells and Statues of Saints who have been canonized not so much for their moral and social Virtues or their Christian Graces as for their Superstition and Enthusiasm, or what is worse for their pious frauds in the Service of the Sovereign Pontiffs. Besides I saw among them no Sculpture or Painting that was worthy of Observation or Remembrance.
There is here an Institution for the Education of noble Youths in { 223 } Mathematicks and Philosophy, which they call the School of Saint Mark.
We dined at Leon, and got into our Carriages and upon our Mules, about one O Clock, to proceed on our Journey. We passed the new Bridge of Leon, which is a beautifull Piece of Work, all of Stone. The River which comes down from the Mountains of Asturias, was not then very large, but in the Spring when the Snows melt upon the Mountains, it is swelled by the Freshets to a very great Size. This River also runs down into the Kingdom of Portugal. Not long afterwards We passed another Bridge over a River which the Peasants told me to call Rio y Puente de Biliarente. This River also comes from the Asturian Mountains and flows into Portugal. We passed through several Villages, in every one of which We saw the Young People, Men and Women dancing the Fandango. One of the young Women beats an Instrument, somewhat like a Section of a Drum, covered with Parchment. She sings as well as beats on her drum, and the Company dance, with [a] Pair of Clackers in the hand of every Man and Woman. The Clackers are two Pieces of Wood, cutt handsomely enough, which they have the Art to rattle in their hands to the time of the Drum. They had all, Males and Females, wooden Shoes, in the Spanish fashion, that is mounted on Stilts. We stopped once, to take a view of one of these Companies. An old Man in the House before which the Festival was celebrating in the open Air, as he stood at the Door looking at the Dance, perceived Us and came out with a Bottle of Wine and a Tumbler, which he filled to the brim and held up to me, as I sat upon my Mule, with such an Air of Exultation and generous Hospitality, that I drank off the whole Glass in Complaisance to his good humour, though I had afterwards reason to repent it, for the Wine was very sour. I directed our Guide to give him something and be sure to pay him well for his Wine.
We stopped at night at a Village called Mansillas, through which runs another large River from the Asturias, stretching down to Portugal. A great Stone Bridge over it, appeared to have been half carried away by the Water in some Freshett. Mansillas was once a Walled City. The Towers were yet standing all round the Town; and the Ruins and Fragments of the Wall, and the Appearance of a Foss around it still remain. The Towers were all made of small round Stones, not larger than two hands, which is the only kind of Stone to be had here. They are bound together by the ancient Cement which is as hard and as durable as the Stones themselves. We went upon the Top of one of the Towers, from whence We had a full View of the { 224 } Town, which appeared to be gone to decay, though there were four or five Churches here still.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0034

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-07

[1780 January 7. Fryday.]

1780 January 7. Fryday. From Mansillas We rode to San Juan Segun.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0035

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-08

[1780 January 8 Saturday.]

1780 January 8 Saturday. We rode from San Juan Segun to Paredise de Nava. At the distance of every League, We had passed through a Village built altogether of Mud and Straw. They have no timber nor Wood nor brick nor Stone. These Villages all appear going to decay and crumbling to dust. Can this be the ancient Kingdom of Leon? Nevertheless every Village has Churches and Convents enough in it, to ruin it, and the whole Country round about it; even if they had nothing to pay to the King, or the Landlords. But all three together Church, State and Nobility exhaust the Labour and Spirits of the People to such a degree, that I had no Idea of the Possibility of deeper Wretchedness. Ignorance more than Wickedness has produced this deplorable State of Things, Ignorance of the true Policy which encourages Agriculture, Manufactures and Commerce. The Selfishness and Lazyness of Courtiers and Nobles, have no doubt been the Cause of this Ignorance: and the blind Superstition of the Church has cooperated with all the other causes and increased them. There were in this little Village four Parish Churches and two Convents one of Monks and one of Nuns, both of the order of St. Francis.
The Parish Churches and their Curates are supported here, by the Tythes paid by the People. They pay every tenth pound of Wool; every tenth part of Wine, Grain, Honey; in short, every tenth part of every thing. The good Curates sometimes aleviate the Severity of this, by Compositions or Modus's. The Convents are supported by the Incomes of their Estates and foundations. But one would think this would require the Produce of the whole Country.
Nothing seems to be considered as the good of the People but their Religion. The Archbishop is said to have power to do every Thing for the good of the People. But when you enquire what he does or what he has power to do for the happiness of the People? to alleviate their burdens? or increase their Enjoyments? You are told he does nothing of all this, nor has power to do any thing. All his Power, to do every thing for the good of the People, consists in that of making new Parishes, and altering old ones at his Pleasure. We were told there were but four Archbishopricks in Spain. The Splendor of these Establishments may be conceived from that of Saint Iago whose Archbishop has one hundred and Eighty thousand Ducats a Year, in Rent. The War which then prevailed between France and Spain on one { 225 } Side and England on the other, was said to be popular in Spain. The Clergy, the Religious Houses and other Communities had offered to grant large Sums of Money to the King for the Support of it. The English had become terrible to them, partly perhaps because English Sentiments of Liberty and Tolleration, had begun to creep in among the People and might threaten to become dangerous to the Wealth and Domination of the Clergy; and partly because their South American Dominions were too much in danger from the English and North America united.
From Astorga to this place Paredise de Nava, the Face of the Country was a great plain, and a striking Contrast to all the rest of the Country We had passed from Ferrol. But there was little Appearance [of] Improvement, Industry or Cultivation. Scarcely any Trees. No Forrest, Timber or fruit Trees. No Fences except a few Mud Walls for Sheep folds. This night We reached Sellada el Camino.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0036

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-11

[1780 January 11. Tuesday.]

1780 January 11. Tuesday. We arrived at Burgos, from Sellada el Caminos, four Leagues. We had fog, rain, and Snow all the Way, very chilly and raw. When We arrived at the Tavern, We found no Chimney, though my Servant who went out to examine all the other public houses reported this to be the best. A Brazier, or Pan of Coals in a Chamber, without a Chimney and without Windows except Port holes, was all the heat We could procure. Uncomfortable however as We were, We went out to see the Cathedral which was ancient and very large. The whole Building was supported by four grand Pillars the largest I ever had seen. Round the great Altar were represented our Saviour, from the Scene of his Agony in the Garden, when an Angel presents to him the Cup, to his Crucifixion between two Thieves, his descent from the Cross, and his Ascention into Heaven. The Chappells round the great Altar were the largest I had ever seen. Round the Altar these several Stages were represented. 1. The Agony in the Garden. 2. Carrying the Cross. 3. The Crucifixion between two Thieves. 4. The Descent from the Cross. 5. The Ascention into Heaven.
There was no Archbishop at Burgos, there had been one, who made the fifth in the Kingdom: but the King had abolished this Archbishoprick and there remained but four. There was also a Chappell of Saint Iago.
We went into three Booksellers Shops to search for a Map or Chart of Spain, but could find none, except a very small and erroneous one in a Compendio of History of Spain.
For more than twenty Years I had been almost continually engaged { 226 } in Journeys and Voyages and had often undergone severe Tryals, as I thought; great hardships, cold, rain, Snow, heat, fatigue, bad rest, indifferent nourishment, want of Sleep &c. &c. &c. But I had never experienced any Thing like this Journey. If it were now left to my Choice to perform my first Voyage to Europe with all its horrors, or this Journey through Spain, I should prefer the former. Every Individual Person in Company had a violent Cold, and were all of Us in danger of fevers. We went along the Road, sneezing and coughing, in all that uncomfortable Weather, and with our uncomfor[t]able Cavalry and Carriages, in very bad roads, and indeed were all of Us fitter for an Hospital than for Travellers with the best Accommodations on the most pleasant Roads. All the Servants in Company, were dull, discouraged and inactive, besides the total Ignorance of any Language in which they could converse with the People. The Children were sick. Mr. Thaxter was not much better, and as he understood neither Spanish nor French, he had enough to do to take care of himself.1 In short I was in a deplorable Situation. I knew not what to do nor where to go. In my whole Life my Patience was never so near being totally exhausted.
With much difficulty We obtained Information of our future rout. From Burgos We were to go to Monasterio, four Leagues, from thence to Berebiesca, four more; from thence to Santa Maria del Courbo, two; from thence to Courbo, one; thence to Pancourbo, two; and here the Road Parts to Vitoria and to Bilbao. So that We had thirteen Leagues to go to the parting of the Roads.
This famous City of Burgos, the ancient Capital of the renouned Kingdom of Castile and once an Archbishoprick, dissappointed me very much. The Squares, public Buildings, Fountains and Walks are said to have been once very remarkable. But after I had taken some Walks about the Town, my Expectations were not answered. A River runs directly through the Town, the River Aranzon [Arlanzón], I believe they call it, and this in a City is always an agreable Circumstance. There is a great number of Bridges over the River. There is a Mountain too or rather a Hill upon which a part of the Town stands, and upon the Top of which are the Ruins of an Ancient Castle.
There were some few Trades and a little Appearance of Business here; but the principal Occupation was Religion. Upon my expressing some Curiosity to [know?]2 the Number of Religious Houses in Burgos, which appeared to me to be enough to devour a whole Country for { 227 } | view an hundred miles round, our, Guide went out and procured me the following Information.
Combentos de Fraires.
Franciscos   1  
La Trinidad   1  
Benitos   1  
Augustinos   2  
Dominicos   1  
Mercenarios   1  
Carmelitos   1  
Combentos de Monjas.
Sta. Dorothea Augustinas   1  
Sta. Franciscas   2  
Carmelitas   1  
Augustinas   1  
Trinitarias   1  
Bernardas   2  
Benitas   1  
Calatrabas   1  
Sn. II de fonso   1  
Cathedral y St. Iago de la Capilla    
St. Nicolas    
Sn. Roman    
La Blanca    
Sn. Martin    
Sn. Pedro    
Sn. Cosmes    
Sn. Lesmes    
Sn. Esteban    
Sn. Gil    
De Monjas   10  
Fraires   8  
Parroquias   15  
As the sum total is not conformable to the List I suppose the Monk who furnished our guide with it, omitted the names of two or three in the Enumeration. But what an Army of Ecclesiasticks is this for so small a Town as Burgos.
1. JA's comment on Thaxter in his Diary entry of this date is considerably more pointed.
2. Word omitted in MS.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0037

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-12

[1780. January 12. Thursday.]

1780. January 12. Thursday. We passed through several Villages, rode along the Side of a River; the Country more hilly than it had been for some time past, but it had a naked and poor appearance. We arrived at Bribiesca. Here there are two Convents one of Men, the other of Women, both Franciscans, and two Parish Churches. The Tavern was a large House and there were twelve good beds in it for Lodgers: Yet no Chimneys nor Windows, and the same indelicacy, the same Smoke and dirt as in all other Inns on the Journey. Yet they gave Us clean Sheets. The Kitchen was like all other Spanish Kitchens the greatest Curiosity and the most odious Object in the World. They are all very much alike.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0038

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-13

[1780. January 13. Thursday.]

1780. January 13. Thursday. We rode from Bribiesca to Pancourbo { 228 } | view where We dined. We passed through Courbo, which is a little Village, with half a dozen other small Villages in Sight, in every one of which is a Church. Pancourbo is at the beginning of the Rocks. There is the Appearance of an ancient Carriage Road up the steepest part of the Rocks. We passed between two Rows of Mountains consisting wholly of Rocks, the most lofty and craggy Precipices, I ever saw. These Rocky Mountains made the Boundary between the ancient Castile and Biscay. Pancourbo is the last Village in Old Castile. At Puente de la Rada, We were stopped by a Number of Officers and asked, if We had a Passport. When I produced my Passport from the Governor of Gallicia, they read it, with much respect, and let Us pass. We travelled four good Leagues this Afternoon and arrived at Ezpexo. Here We foundthe best public House, We had yet seen. The Neighbourhood of Biscay seemed to have had some Influence here; yet the Kitchen was Spanish like all others and their was neither Chimney nor Window in the House.
There was not a Tavern We had seen, but was filled with Religious Prints and Images, not indeed in the exquisite Style of Art of the ancient Greek and Roman Penates, but of very coarse and vulgar Workmanship. There were two beds in a Chamber, at the head of each of which was a Delph Vessell, for holy Water, Agua Santa, or Agua Benita. At the head of each also was a decent Cross about Nine Inches long, with an Image of Jesus Christ in some Metal, Tin, Bell-metal or Pewter, upon it. On the Wall was a Picture of the Virgin of Mount Carmel, or Virgo Maria de Monte Carmelo, and a great number of other Pictures, which I had not patience to enumerate.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0039

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-14

[1780 January 14. Fryday.]

1780 January 14. Fryday. We rode from Ezpexo to Orduña, four Leagues. The Road had been made by Art, all the Way, at a great expence: but the descent of the Mountains of Orduna was a great Curiosity. Those Mountains are chiefly Rocks of a vast height: but a Road has been blown out of the Rocks, from the Pinnacles of the Mountains, quite down into the Valley. After winding round and round the mountain, with the Road for a long distance, and observing the Marks of the Drills remaining in the Rocks all the Way, the Road came at last to a steep Pitch, where the only possible Method of making a passable Road for any Carriage, to go down or come up was by Serpentineing it thus
graphic here { 229 }
There is a fertile and well cultivated Valley at the Feet of these Mountains, in the Center of which is the Village of Orduna. In this narrow Space they have crouded two Convents one of Fraires and the other of Monjas. We saw the lazy Drones of Franciscans at the Windows of their Cells, as We passed. Att the bottom of the mountains We had a small Toll to pay, towards the Support of the Road. The Administrator sent to search our Trunks, but I sent him my Passport which produced a polite Message by his Clerk, that he had seen my Name in the Gazette; that he was very glad I was arrived; wished me Success and Prosperity; and desired to know if I wanted any thing, or if he could be any Way usefull to me? I returned in Answer to the Message that I was very much obliged by his Civility, and thanked him for his polite Attention; but that I wanted nothing.
In the Afternoon, We followed the Road, which pursues the Course of a little River, which originates in the Mountains of Orduña, and rode down between two Rows of Mountains to Lugiando, where We put up for the night four Leagues from Bilbao. In Lugiando, in the Lordship of Biscay, so near to Bilbao, where the King had no Officers, and the Grandees of Spain very little Land, where the Government was in a Biennial Parliament, I expected better fare, but We were disappointed and found the House as dirty and uncomfortable as almost any We had seen.
In the Course of this day and the day before We had seen great Numbers of Mules loaded with Merchandizes from Bilbao. The Mules and their Drivers looked well, in Comparison with those We had seen before. Their Burthens were Salt Fish, Sardines, Cod, and a sort of fish that We saw here, very plenty, called Besugo. The Mules carry also, Horse Shoes, ready made in Bilbao to be sold in various parts of the Kingdom. But what an Idea does this give of the State of Manufactures in a Country, when Horse Shoes must be carried many hundreds of miles upon the backs of Mules, to be sold for the Supply of the Farriers?
The Mountains of Biscay, of Bilbao, of Orduña, and Pancourbo, for by all these names are they called, are the most remarkable of any We had seen. Phillip the fifth made the first Carriage Road, through those of Pancourbo: The present King had done the most to those of Orduña.
The Mountains in Spain are the most irregular, misshapen Objects in Nature. They Resemble a tumbling Sea. Some are upright upon their Bases: others inclined to the North, the South, the East and the West in various Angles with the Horison. Some, under which We { 230 } passed, projected over the Road and over our heads for hundreds of Yards, and will one day fall like that lately in Switzerland and bury all under them in an instant. It was a vexatious Sight to see the beautiful, fertile and well cultivated Valley, almost the only Spot We had yet seen in Biscay capable of cultivation, devoured by so many hives of Drones. We had hoped that there was enough of the Spirit of Liberty in Biscay, which they presumed to call a Republick, to have dissipated some of this tyrannical Superstition. But our hopes were all disappointed.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0040

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-15

[1780. January 15. Saturday.]

1780. January 15. Saturday. We followed the Road, by the Side of the River between two Rows of Mountains, untill We opened upon Bilbao. We saw the Sugar Loaf sometime before, i.e. a Mountain in the Shape of a Piramid which they call a Sugar Loaf.
The Town of Bilbao, which they call The Republick of Bilbao, is surrounded with Mountains. The Tavern at which We allighted was tolerable, for Spain, situated between a Church and Monastry. We were entertained with the Musick of the Convent from our first Arrival.
Soon after our Arrival Captain Babson and Captain Lovat made Us a Visit. Lovat was bound for America, by the first Wind, and Babson was soon to follow him; both in Letters of Mark. These opportunities to write to America were not to be neglected.
We took a walk down the River which We found pleasant enough; and while We were absent on our Walk, Mr. Gardoqui and Son came to visit me.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0041

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-16

[1780 January 16. Sunday.]

1780 January 16. Sunday. Reposed and wrote.

[To the President of Congress]

[salute] Sir

I have the honour to inform Congress, that last night1 I arrived in this place.
At Ferrol and Corunna, I was advised by all the Friends of America to undertake a Journey by Land. The Consul of France, and Mr. Lagoenere, a Gentleman who has acted for some time as an American Agent at Corunna, very obligingly offered me all the Assistance in their Power, and accordingly used their utmost dilligence to procure me the necessary Mules and Carriages, for the transportation of the small Number of Persons in company with me, and the small quantity of Baggage, which We found it indispensibly necessary to take with Us, having left more than two thirds of what We had with Us to take { 231 } the chance of a Passage by Sea, to France. From the Eighth day of December, when We arrived at Ferrol, to the twenty sixth of the same month, when We sat off, from Corunna, We were detained by the violent Rains, and the impossibility of getting Accommodations for travelling.... All our Beds and Provisions We were obliged to carry with Us.—We travelled through the ancient Kingdoms of Gallicia, Leon, The Old Castile and Biscay, and although We made the best of our Way, without loss of time, We found it impossible to go more than eight Leagues a day, and sometimes not more than four. The Roads and Inns are inconvenient to a degree that I should blush to describe, and the Pains We suffered for want of Fire, in a cold Season of the Year, in a country where there are no Chimnies, gave Us all such violent Colds, that I was under great Apprehensions of our being seized with Fevers.
As We were so near Madrid, within about forty Leagues, I ballanced some time in my own mind, whether to go to that fine City. But considering that this would lengthen our Journey near an hundred Leagues; the severe Season of the Year, and above all the political Situation that I might be in, my Country not being yet acknowledged as a Sovereign State, by any formal Act of that court; and it being known that another Gentleman had a Commission to that Court, and expected soon to arrive, I thought it, upon the whole, the least hazardous to the Public Interest, to avoid that Route.
It may be of some Use to my Countrymen to transmit a few Observations upon the Country I have passed through, because it appears to me, that a Commerce extreamly advantageous to both Countries may be opened between Us and Spain as soon as our Independence shall be acknowledged by that Power, at least as soon as We shall obtain the great Object of all our Wishes, Peace.
The Province of Gallicia is one of the largest in Spain, and said to be one of the best peopled. Corunna is in effect the Principal City; although St. Iago, in respect to its Patron Saint, or more probably to the Archbishop, who resides there, is, in name, The Capital. This Province, one of those of which the antient Crown of Castile was formed, is washed by the Ocean for more than seventy Leagues, from Ribadeo on the Frontiers of Asturias, to the mouth of the River Minho, which seperates it from Portugal. This Coast, which is divided by Cape Finisterre, is provided on both Sides of the Cape, with Ports equally safe and convenient, which Nature seems to have prepared, around this Cape, an Object oftentimes so necessary to be made by Navigators, both at their departure from Europe and at their return, as { 232 } so many Assylums both from the Apprehensions and the Consequences of Storms. The most known of these Ports are Ribadeo, Ferrol, Corunna and Camarinas, to the Eastward of Cape Finisterre: Corcubion, Muros, Pontevedra, Vigo, to the Westward, all proper to receive Vessels of the first rate, especially Ferrol and Vigo. The first, the most considerable Department of the Marine of Spain, is embellished with every Thing, that Art, and the Treasures profusely spent upon it for thirty Years past, could add to its happy Situation. Vigo, represented to be one of the most beautifull Ports in the World, is another Department of the Marine, more extensive and proper for such an Establishment than Ferrol itself. Besides these Ports, there is a Multitude of Harbours and Bays round Cape Finisterre, which afford a safe and convenient Shelter to Merchant Vessells.
With all these Advantages for foreign Commerce, this Province has but very little, but what is passive. It receives from abroad some Objects of daily Consumption, some of Luxury, some of convenience, and some even of the first necessity. At present it offers little for exportation to foreign Countries. The Sardine of its coast, the famous fish which it furnishes to all Spain; the Cattle which it fattens for the provision of Madrid; a few coarse linnens, which are its only Manufacture, and are well esteemed, are the Objects of its active Commerce, and form its ballance with the other Provinces. The Wine and the Grain, the chief productions of its Lands, seldom suffice for its consumption and never go beyond it.
The Liberty of Commerce with the Windward Islands, granted by the Court, within a few Years, and the particular Establishment of Couriers or Packet Boats to South America, in the Port of Corunna, have opened the Ports of that part of the new World to this Province, and although without Manufactures herself, or any of those Productions proper for America, she renders to foreign Hands the product of those which she receives from them and carries thither. In this Circulation of so many Treasures, she enriches herself with parts which she detaches from the whole.
The Civil Government of this Province is formed by a Superiour Tribunal called The Audience; to which an Appeal lies from all the subaltern Jurisdictions, public and private. This Court hears and determines as Souvereign and without Appeal all civil Affairs of a less Value than a Thousand Ducats or three thousand Livres. Appeals, in those which exceed that value are carried to the Chancery of Valladolid, or to the Council of Castile. Although Justice is gratis, on the Part of the Judges, who are paid by the Government, it is said to be { 233 } not the less costly, tedious or vexatious. It may not be useless to observe that the Criminal Chamber, whose decrees extend to the punishment of Death and are executed without any Application to the King, or any other Authority, is composed only of three Judges, and these Three are the youngest of the whole Tribunal; and this order is generally followed in Spain, in the Composition of their Criminal Tribunals, altho' no one pretends to conjecture the Motive of so singular a Reverse of the natural order of Things. The Administration of the Royal Police, belongs also to the Audience, and forms the third Chamber into which this Tribunal is divided.
All the Military Authority, and the Government of the Troops in this Department, is in the Hands of the Captain General of the Province. There is not any one under him, who has even the Title of Commandant.... But in case of his Death or Absence, he is succeeded by the General Officer the most ancient in the Province. To this Title of Captain General, is added commonly that of President of the Audience, a Prerogative, which by uniting in his hands, the civil Authority to all that of his Place, gives him a Power the most absolute and unlimited.
The Inspection General and all the Oeconomy of the Affairs of the King in the Province, belongs to the Intendant. The different Branches of the Public Revennue are all administered by Officers appointed by the King, as in the rest of the Kingdom, and there are no Farmers General as in France. Their Product is about twenty six Millions of Reals, or six millions five hundred thousand Livres, the Expence of Collection being deducted. The Expences of the Administration, including the Maintenance of three Regiments of Infantry, scattered about in different Places, do not exceed two Millions five hundred thousand Livres. The overplus goes into the Dry Docks, Arsenals, and Fortifications of Ferrol, to the Support of which, this Sum is far from being sufficient.
Such is in general The Government, Military, Political and Civil of this Province, and very nearly of all the others, except Biscay, Guipuscua and Alaba.
There is not in this Province any particular Jurisdiction for Commerce; but there is a Tribunal, under the Name of The Judge Conservator of Strangers, which takes Cognizance of all their Causes, civil and criminal, except the Case of Contraband. At this day the Judge Conservator of Strangers is the Governor of the Province himself, and the Appeals from his Judgment are carried directly to the Council of War, which is said to be a prescious Priviledge, by the form { 234 } and Brevity of Proceedure, compared with the expensive and insupportable delays of the ordinary Jurisdictions.
I cannot but think, that, if some measures could be taken, to convince the Court, that it is their Interest to take off the vast duties, with which Commerce is overloaded in this Part, fifteen per Cent being to be paid upon all Commodities exported and2 upon all imported; and if the rigid Prohibition of Tobacco could be relaxed or repealed, several of the Productions of America would find a good Market here, and a Commerce opened, that would put a new Face upon this Province, and be profitable to America too. The Conveniency of such a Number of excellent Ports would be a vast Advantage, which Bilbao cannot have, as her Harbour is neither safe nor convenient, besides its being so much further down the stormy, turbulent Gulph of Biscay. Yet Biscay, which is now commonly used to comprehend Biscay proper, the principal City of which is Bilbao, though Orduna is the Capital, Guipuscoa the Capital of which is Saint Sebastian, and Alaba the Capital of which is Vitoria, three free Provinces whose Laws the Kings of Spain have hitherto been sworn to observe inviolate, have attracted almost the whole of the American Trade, because the King has no Custom House, nor Officers here, and there are no Duties to be paid.
It may seem surprising, to hear of free Provinces in Spain: But such is the Fact, that the High and independent Spirit of the People, so essentially different from the other Provinces, that a Traveller perceives it even in their Countenances, their Dress, their Air, and ordinary manner of Speech, has induced the Spanish Nation and their Kings to respect the Ancient Liberties of these People, so far that each Monarch, at his Accession to the Throne, has taken an Oath, to observe the Laws of Biscay.
The Government here, is therefore diametrically opposite to that of Gallicia, and the other Provinces. The King of Spain has never assumed any higher Title than that of Lord of Biscay. He has no Troops of any Sort in the Lordship, nor is there any standing Army; instead of which every Man is obliged to serve in the Militia. The King has no Custom House Officers, nor other Revenue Officers, nor other Officer whatsoever in the Lordship, except a Corregidor, and lately a Commissary of the Marine. This last is considered as an Encroachment and a Grievance; and the Authority of the Corregidor is very small as their lies an { 235 } Appeal from his Judgment to another Tribunal, that of the Two Deputy Generals, who are biennially elected by the People. Few of the Grandees of Spain have any considerable Estates here. The Duke de Medina Cceli and the Duke of Berwick have some Lands here, of no great Value. The Lands generally belong to the Inhabitants and Possessors, who hold them of no Lord, but the King of Spain who is Lord of Biscay.
There is a Board of Trade here, which is annually constituted by the Merchants of the Place, partly by Lot and partly by Election, which decides all Controversies arising in Trade, and all the Affairs of Strangers. They have never admitted any foreign Consul to reside here, although it has been sollicited by Holland, England and France.
It is not at all surprizing that a Constitution, in its nature so favourable to commerce, should have succeeded.
In travelling through the Provinces of Leon and Castile, and observing the numerous Flocks of Sheep, with the most beautifull Fleeces of Wool in the World, I could not but wish, that some communication might be opened, by which the United States of America might be furnished with this necessary Article, from this Country. There are few of our Articles of Exportation, but might be sent to the Spanish Markett to Advantage. Rice, Pitch, Tar, Turpentine, Tobacco, Wheat, Flour, Ship timber, Masts, Yards, Bowsprits and Salt Fish, might be supplied to Spain at an Advantage, and in return she might furnish Us, with Wine, Oyl, Fruits, some Silks, some Linnens perhaps, and with any quantity of Wool, which is now exported to foreign Countries for Manufacture, and might as well be sent to Us, but above all, with Silver and Gold. It must be a work of time, of a freer intercourse between the two Nations, and of future Negotiations to ripen these Hints into a Plan, that may be beneficial to both. The System of Revenue, which it is dangerous and difficult to alter in Spain as well as in all other Countries of Europe, will be the principal Objection.
I have collected together with some difficulty a few Gazettes, which I have the honor to transmit to Congress, from which all the News may be collected, that I have been able to learn. Congress will easily perceive the Eagerness, with which the belligerent Powers are bent on War, without manifesting the least disposition for Peace, and most of all Great Britain, whose ostentatious display of trifling Successes, and weak Exultation in them, shews that nothing can divert her from her furious course.—But she is exhausting and sinking her Forces every day, without gaining any lasting or solid Advantage. And she has reason to fear, from the combined Fleets of France and Spain, { 236 } under such enterprizing, experienced and approved Officers as D'Estaing and Duchauffault, the entire ruin of her Commerce and Navy, in the course of a Campaign or two more.
[signed] John Adams

[addrLine] His Excellency Samuel Huntington Esq. President of Congress.3

1. Here JA inadvertently omitted the phrase “and not before” in copying from his letterbook.
2. In LbCJA left a short blank space following this word, as if he meant to ascertain the duty levied on imports and supply it here. But no blank was left in RC (see the following note).
3. LbC is a draft, written in detached parts, with the several parts marked by symbols to indicate their final order. RC (PCC, No. 84,1), in Thaxter's hand, with a formal leavetaking and signature added by JA, is endorsed by Thomson: “No. 3 Letter from John Adams Bilbao Jany. 16 1780 Read April 7.”
This is the first of the remarkable series of dispatches reporting on the political, diplomatic, commercial, military, and naval affairs of most of the nations of western Europe, often accompanied by newspapers and copies of innumerable documents, with which JA nearly overwhelmed Congress during the first months of his second mission to Europe.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0042

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-17

[1780 January 17. Monday.]

1780 January 17. Monday. We dined with the two Messieurs Gardoqui, and a Nephew of theirs. The American Captains Babson, Lovat and Wickes dined with Us. I spoke to Mr. Gardoqui in behalf of Fifteen American Seamen, who had been Prisoners in Portugal, and he consented to furnish them Cloaths. I assured him that although I had no express and possitive Authority to interfere, I had no doubt that Congress would do all in their Power to repay him. This was afterwards done to his Satisfaction.
After Dinner the Gentlemen accompanied Us to the Parish Church over against Mr. Gardoqui's house, and then to the Old Parish Church of St. Iago, which is certainly known to have been standing in the Year 1300.... The High Altar appears to be very ancient, and wrought in wooden Figures, with very neat Work. The Choir and the Sacristie &c. like all others in the large Churches. We then went to the Chamber of the Board of Trade. This is a curious Institution. Annually on a certain day in the Beginning of January, all the Merchants of Bilbao meet, write their Names on a Ball or Ballot, which are put into a Box, from whence four are drawn by Lott. These four nominate a certain Number of Councillors or Senators.
This Board of Trade, in the first place, endeavours to persuade all Merchants between whom any Controversy has arisen, to agree, but if they cannot succeed Application must be made to the Board by Petition in Writing. It is then heard and determined, subject however to an Appeal, I know not where. This Board has successfully opposed the Reception of Consuls from all Nations. The Chamber is hung round with Pictures of the present King and Queen of Spain, the late King and Queen, the Royal Exchange of London, the Exchange of Amsterdam and the Exchange of Antwerp &c.
{ 237 }
There is an Academy, at Bergara, for the Education of the Youth of Biscay, Guipuscoa and Alava.
In the Spring Freshes, We were told, the Water is deep enough upon the Exchange and in the Streets for Vessells of an hundred Tons burthen, to float.
A Mr. Maroni, an Irish Gentleman, residing here as a Merchant, came to visit me. He told Us he had a Daughter in a Nunnery here: but it seemed by his conversation to be an incurable Grief to him: He appeared to have buried her in a more afflicting Sense than if she had been in her grave.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0043

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-18

[1780 January 18. Tuesday.]

1780 January 18. Tuesday. We spent the Day in perambulating the Town. We visited the Wharves upon the River, went through the Marketts, which We found plentifully furnished with Fruits and Vegetables, Cabbages, Turnips, Onions, Beets and Carrots, Apples, Pairs, Raisins, Figgs and Nutts. We went as far as the Gate, where We had entered the Town, then turned up the Mountain by the Stone Stairs, where We saw some fine Gardens, with verdure and Vegetation. On our return We took a view of a Book Sellers Stall, but as this Country, though it gloried in its Liberty was not the Region of Litterature, We found nothing very curious or worth mentioning. We then walked in Succession, through every Street in the Town. After this, meeting The Messieurs Gardoquis, they went with Us to shew Us the trading part of the Citizens. They conducted Us to a Number of Shops, of Glass, China, Trinketts, Toys and Cutlary. We found nothing to give Us any great Idea of Bilboa or Biscay as a commercial Country, though there were several Shops and Stores, pretty large and full of Merchandizes.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0044

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-19

[1780 January 19. Wednesday.]

1780 January 19. Wednesday. By particular invitation We went down the River on a Visit to the Rambler a Letter of Mark of Eighteen Guns, belonging to Mr. Andrew Cabot of Beverly, Captain Lovat Commander, and the Phoenix a Brigg of fourteen Guns belonging to Messieurs Traceys of Newbury Port, Captain Babson Commander. We were honoured with two Salutes of thirteen Guns each by Babson and one by Lovat. We dined at the Tavern on Shore and had an agreable Day. We were conducted to see a new Packett of the King on the Stocks, and his new Rope walks which were two hundred and ten Fathoms long.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0045

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-20

[1780 January 20th Thursday.]

1780 January 20th Thursday.1 Although We endeavoured in Bil• { 238 } bao to take as much Exercise as possible and to amuse ourselves as well as We could, and although the Attention and Hospitality of the House of Gardoqui had done every Thing in their Power to oblige Us, Our Residence in this place was nevertheless very far from being comfortable. We were all sick with violent Colds and Coughs, some of the Servants and Children were so ill that We lived under gloomy Apprehensions, of being detained a long time and perhaps loosing some of our Company. The Houses here as well as every where else were without Chimneys, fires or Windows, and We could find none of those Comforts and Conveniences to which We had been all accustomed from the Cradle, nor any of that sweet and quiet repose in Sleep upon which health and happiness so much depend. On the twentieth, however We summoned Resolution enough to take our departure from Bilbao, and passing over a mountainous Country and very bad roads arrived at the River or rather the Brook that divides Spain from France. The Houses in Biscay and Guipuscua appeared to be larger and more convenient than those in Gallicia, Castile or Leon, but the public Houses were much the same. In the last house in Spain We found one Chimney which was the only one We saw since We left that in the House of Mr. Detournelle the French Consul in Corunna.2 In our Course We saw a few Villages and particularly Fontarabbia at a distance. We reached St. John De Luz, the first Village in France, and there We dined. And never was a Captive escaped from Prison more delighted than I was, for every Thing here was clean, sweet and comfortable in Comparison of any Thing We had found in any part of Spain.
1. This and the following four entries (through 30 Jan.) are wholly retrospective, there being no entries in JA's Diary between 19 and 31 Jan. 1780.They are also the first entries in Part Three of the Autobiography included in CFA's edition, he having up to this point printed the original Diary entries for the voyage on the Sensible and the journey through Spain without drawing upon JA's occasional recollections and added comments in “Peace.”
2. Since JA made so much of the subject of chimneys, or rather the want of them, in Spain, it may be pointed out that on 24 Jan. he wrote from Bayonne to Joseph Gardoqui & Sons: “I assure you We discovered two or three fine Chimneys, besides that which you mentioned to us, which contributed not a little to our Health and Comfort” (LbC, Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0046

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-23

[1780 January 23.]

1780 January 23. We arrived at Bayonne. Here We paid off our Spanish Guide with all his Train of Horses, Calashes, Waggon, Mules, and Servants. To do them Justice they had always shewn a disposition to assist and befriend Us to the Utmost of their Power, and We had no cause to complain of any improper Behaviour in any of them. I was obliged to sell my Mule, for which I was very sorry, as he was an excellent Animal and had served me very well. I sold him for what he cost me. We purchased a Post Chaise and hired some others for our Jour• { 239 } ney. I made my Visit to the Governor and received his in return.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0047

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-25

[1780 January 25.]

1780 January 25. We commenced our Journey to Bourdeaux. There is so much heath and uncultivated Land, and so many desolate Places, between Bayonne and Bourdeaux, that the Journey could not be very pleasant. It is a Region where one might expect to meet Robbers, but the Police of France was so vigilant and decisive that nothing of that kind was heard of at that time in any part of France. The Road in general was better because it was smoother than in any of the great paved Roads of the Kingdom. We found the Entertainment at all the Inns comfortable, the Horses and Carriages as alert and convenient as they are commonly in France, and I was too happy to be very anxious to make Observations on Minor Things.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0048

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-29

[1780 January 29. Saturday.]

1780 January 29. Saturday. We arrived at Bourdeaux. We had met Couriers and received Letters on the Road, inviting Us to alight at all the principal Inns in Bourdeaux. The Reputation of entertaining the American Ambassador, must have been the motive to all this Zeal, for our Number was so small, that the profit to be made of Us could not be great. As all the public Houses were alike unknown to me, I ordered our Postilion to drive Us to the best house in the City and left it to his Judgment to determine.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0049

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-30

[1780 January 30.]

1780 January 30. We dined at the Hotel D'Angleterre, at the Invitation of Mr. Bondfield, in Company with Sir Robert Finlay, Mr. Le Texier and others. In the Evening We went to the Comedy where We saw Amphitrion and Cartouche.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0050

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-31

[1780 January 31. Monday.]

1780 January 31. Monday. We dined at the Hotel D'Angleterre, again with Mr. Maccarty, Mr. Delap, Mr. Bondfield &c. at the Invitation of Sir Robert Finlay. Mr. Le Texier I found still entertained his Doubts and Scruples about the Success of the American Cause. Instead of entering into serious Argument with him, I treated his dismal forebodings with so much Levity, that he seemed to be hurt, as if he thought I was exposing him to ridicule. Perceiving this I desisted and only observed that I was perfectly satisfyed with our Prospects and [a] few Years if not months would shew that the American Cause stood upon firm Foundations. The Conversation at this as at all other such dinners, was upon commonplace Topicks and not worth Remembrance. Towards Evening Mr. Gabarus [Cabarrus] came in with the News of a Blow struck by Rodney upon the Spaniards off Gibraltar.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0051

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-02-01

[1780 Feb. 1. Tuesday.]

1780 Feb. 1. Tuesday. We spent the day in rambling about the Town viewing the principal Public Places, the Remains of Roman Antiquities, Vaubans Chateau Trompette &c. But as I had seen these before in April 1778 and as every Man who has been in Bourdeaux { 240 } has seen them and every Man who shall travel to that City may see them, I shall not stay to give any Account of them. I heard a great deal concerning the manners and Morals of Bourdeaux which convinced me there was little difference from Paris.

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0052

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-02-02

[1780 Feb. 2. Wednesday.]

1780 Feb. 2. Wednesday. We took Post [for] Paris and on

Docno: ADMS-01-04-02-0002-0053

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1780-02-04 - 1780-03-21

[4 February–21 March 1780]

1780 Feb. 4. Fryday We arrived at Coué. We passed by Angouleme and encircled almost the whole Town. It stands on a high Hill and is walled all round. A fine healthy, Airy Situation, with several Streams of Water below it and fine interval Lands. The River Charente runs by it. The Lands from Bourdeaux to Angouleme, are chiefly cultivated with Vines, which afford but a poor Prospect in the Winter. In some Places Wheat was sown and Vines planted in alternate Ridges. Great Numbers of the Vineyards are in a Soil that has the greatest Appearance of Poverty. It is a red Loom intermixed with so many Pebbles and small Stones of a reddish Colour that it looks more like an heap of Stones or a dry gravel, than like a Soil where there is Earth enough for the Vines to take root. Other Vineyards are in a black Sand, intermixed with a few small Stones. Others are in fine, black, fat and mellow Mould. The numerous Groves, Parks and Forrests in this Country, form a striking Contrast with Spain, where the whole Country looks like a Bird deprived of its Feathers, every Tree, Bush and Shrub, being pared away.
We lodged at Coué, and in the Night it rained and froze at the same time, untill the Roads were become a glare Ice. The Postillions informed Us, it was impossible for their Horses, which in this Country are never frosted, to travel.
As this was the second time I travelled this road from Bourdeaux to Paris I shall pass over the remainder of the Journey.1 On the fifteenth of Feb. I wrote to Congress

[To the President of Congress]

[salute] Sir

I have the honor to inform Congress, that on the ninth of this Month, I had the good fortune to arrive in this City from Ferrol, where I arrived on the Eighth of December with Mr. Dana, Mr. Thaxter and the rest of the Company in tollerable health, after a Journey of near four hundred Leagues in the dead of Winter, through bad roads and worse Accommodations of every kind. We lost no time more than was indispensable to restore our health, which was several times much affected and in great danger: yet We were more than twice as long in { 241 } making the Journey by Land, as We had been in crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
The next Morning after our Arrival in Paris, Mr. Dana and my self went out to Passy and spent the day with His Excellency Dr. Franklin, who did Us the honour the next day to accompany Us to Versailles, where We had the honour to wait on their Excellencies the Comte De Vergennes, Mr. De Sartine and the Comte De Maurepas, with each of whom We had the honour of a short Conference, upon the State of Public Affairs. It is sufficient for me at present to say in general, that I never heard the French Ministry so frank, explicit and decided, as each of these were, in the Course of this Conversation, in their declarations to pursue the War with vigour and afford effectual Aid to the United States. I learned with great Satisfaction, that they are sending under Convoy Cloathing and Arms for fifteen thousand Men to America: that seventeen Ships of the Line are already gone to the West Indies under Monsieur De Guichen, and that five or six more at least are to follow in Addition to ten or twelve they have already there.
I asked Permission of the Comte De Vergennes to write to him, on the Subject of my Mission, to which he chearfully and politely agreed. I have accordingly written to his Excellency and shall forward Copies of my Letter and of his Answer as soon as it may be safe to do so.2
The English are to borrow twelve Millions this Year, and it is said the Loan is filled up. They have thrown a Sop to Ireland, but have not appeased her Rage. They give out exactly such Threats, as they did last Year, and every other Year, of terrible Preparations: but Congress knows perfectly well how those Menaces have been accomplished. They will not be more fully executed next year than the last; and if France and Spain should throw more of their Force, expecially by Sea, into America the next Year, America will have no essential Injury to fear.
I have learned, since my Arrival at Paris, with the highest pleasure, the Arrival of Mr. Jay, Mr. Gerard and Mr. Carmichael at Cadiz, for whose Safety We had been under very great Apprehensions. I have now very sanguine hopes that a solid Treaty will soon be concluded with Spain; hopes which every Thing I saw and heard in that Country seemed to favour.
The Allyance Frigate, now under the Command of Captain Jones, with Captain Cunningham on board, is arrived at Corunna, where She is to be careened; after which She is to return to L'orient, and { 242 } from thence to go to America, as I am informed by Dr. Franklin.
Mr. Arthur Lee and Mr. Izzard are still in Paris, under many difficulties in procuring a Passage home. Mr. William Lee is at Brussells. Mr. Izzard has been to Holland to obtain a Passage from thence, but unfortunately missed his Opportunity and returned disappointed.

[salute] I have the Honor to be &c.

[signed] John Adams.

[addrLine] His Excellency Samuel Huntington Esqr. President of Congress.3

The first insinuation of the Propriety, Expediency, and necessity of appointing a Minister Plenipotentiary to reside in Europe, ready to negotiate a Peace whenever he might be invited to it, was made to Congress, a year before this time by Mr. Gerard the French Minister at Philadelphia by the Authority of the Count De Vergennes. But Congress had neglected it, whether from a general Opinion that the time had not yet arrived when there was a necessity for it, or whether from the difficulty of agreeing on the Minister, I know not.4 The Suggestion was renewed by the Chevalier De La Luzerne, upon his Arrival in Philadelphia. In both Cases it was the Expectation of the French Ministry that Dr. Franklin would be elected.5 In this respect Con• { 243 } gress disappointed them. In another point too, that is in the Commission to make a Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain Congress had gone farther than the French Ministry intended. Alone as I was in both Commissions, and feeling the whole Weight of the Trust reposed in me, I determined to proceed with the utmost Caution, deliberation and Prudence; to do nothing which should excite the smallest Jealousy in the French Court, or give our Ennemies the English the least Advantage of The United States or their Allies. But something appeared to be incumbent on me to do. Accordingly I began by writing to the Count De Vergennes the following Letter.

[To the Comte de Vergennes]

[salute] Sir

Having obtained Permission from your Excellency, Yesterday when I did myself the honour to wait on you at Versailles, to write on the Subject of my Mission, I have now the honour to acquaint you, that on the twenty ninth day of September last, The Congress of the United States of America did me the honour to elect me their Minister Plenipotentiary, to negotiate a Peace with Great Britain, and also to negotiate a Treaty of Commerce with that Kingdom, and the Honourable Francis Dana Esqr. a Member of Congress, and of the Council of Massachusetts Bay, Secretary to both Commissions.
As I was not at Congress, when this Transaction took place, I am not able to inform your Excellency, very particularly of the Rise and Progress of it. But from Conversation with Gentlemen at Boston, who { 244 } were Members of Congress and from private Letters I learned in general, that it was not the Result of any sudden deliberation, or the Effect of any particular Event of War, prosperous or adverse: but a Measure that had been more than a Year under consideration, and finally adopted, upon this principle, that as it was uncertain at what time the belligerent Powers might be disposed to treat of Peace, which could not be concluded, without a Minister from the United States, it would save a great deal of time, for this Power to have a Minister in Europe, fully authorized to treat, and in concert with Ministers from the other Powers at War, to conclude a Peace with Great Britain, and a Treaty of Commerce consistent with that already made with his Most Christian Majesty, and such others as might be made with other Powers.
I am persuaded, it is the Intention of my Constituents and of all America, and I am sure it is my own determination, to take no Steps of Consequence in pursuance of my Commissions, without consulting his Majestys Ministers. And as various Conjectures have been and may be made concerning the nature of my Appointment and Powers, and as it may be expected by some that I should take some measures for announcing these to the Public, or at least to the Court of London, I beg the favour of your Excellencys Opinion and Advice upon these questions.
1.Whether, in the present Circumstances of Things, it is prudent, for me to acquaint the British Ministry, that I am arrived here, and have such Commissions, and that I shall be ready to treat, whenever the belligerent Powers shall be inclined to treat.
2.Whether it is prudent for me to publish, in any manner, more than the Journals of Congress may have already done, the Nature of my Mission?
3.Or whether, to remain, upon the Reserve, as I have hitherto done, since my Arrival in Europe?
If any Propositions should be made to me, directly or indirectly, from the British Ministry, I shall not fail to communicate them, without Loss of Time, to your Excellency: and I beg the favour of your Excellency, as I am the only Person in Europe, who has Authority to treat of Peace, that if any Propositions on the Part of Great Britain, should be made to his Majestys Ministers, that they may be communicated to me, at least as far as they may relate to the Interests of the United States.
Although I am not confined by my Commissions, nor Instructions, nor by any intimation from Congress, to reside in one place in Europe { 245 } rather than another; Yet my own Inclinations, as well as those of the Public, would be most gratified, and the public Service most promoted by my residing here. I must therefore request his Majestys Protection and permission to reside in this Kingdom for some time, either with or without assuming any Public Character, as your Excellency may think most adviseable. I have the Honour to be &c.
[signed] John Adams

[addrLine] His Excellency The Comte De Vergennes.6

I shall insert here the Answer of the Count de Vergennes, although it is not exactly in the order of Dates. It was in French, and the following is a litteral Translation of it.7

[From the Comte de Vergennes]

I have received, Sir, the Letter, which you did me, the honor to write me, on the twelfth of this month. I think, that before I resolve the different Points on which you consult me, it is convenient to wait for the Arrival of Mr. Gerard, because he is probably the Bearer of your Instructions8 and he will certainly, have it in his Power to give me Explanations, concerning the Nature and Extent of your Commission; but in the mean time, I am of Opinion, that it is the part of Prudence, to conceal your eventual Character and above all to take the necessary Precautions, that the Object of your Commission remain unknown to the Court of London. Moreover, Sir, you may be assured, that The King sees you with Pleasure, in his Dominions, that you shall constantly enjoy his Protection, and the Prerogatives of the Law of Nations, and that I, in particular, will exert myself to give you Proofs of my Confidence, as well as of the Sentiments with which I have the honour to be, most perfectly, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant.
[signed] De Vergennes

[addrLine] M. Adams.

I request the Reader, to read attentively the foregoing Letter from the Count de Vergennes and make his own Observation upon it, before he reads mine, and then say whether I had reasons for the following Reflections which presented themselves irresistably to mind at that time, and which I have ever since thought and still think well founded.
{ 246 }
1. The Instructions of a Sovereign to his Ambassador, are a Secret, and a confidential Communication between them: a sacred Deposit, committed by the Master to the Servant, which the latter is under the strongest tyes of honour, fidelity and Conscience to preserve inviolate, untill he has express Permission or Injunction to reveal it.9
2. The Count De Vergennes had been employed in several Embassies, and he had sent and in the Name of his Master instructed many Ambassadors. In short his Life had been spent in Diplomatic Courses. He could not therefore be ignorant of the sacred Nature of Instructions, or the Obligations of Ambassadors to keep them to themselves.
3. The Count de Vergennes had been so long in the habit of Intrigues to obtain the Instructions from foreign Courts to their Ambassadors, and probably paying for them very dear, that he had forgotten that the Practice was not lawfull.
4. The Count De Vergennes had probably instructed Mr. Gerard, by some means or other to penetrate into the Secrets of Congress and obtain from some of the Members or some of the Secretaries or Clerks, Copies of the most confidential Communications between Congress and their Ministers.
5. The Count De Vergennes expected that Mr. Gerard had succeeded, and would soon arrive with the Trophies of his Success. Of this Success, however, I have doubts. Mr. Jay with whom Mr. Gerard went to Europe in the same Ship can tell the World, if he will, as he has told me, the Arts and Importunities even to rudeness and ill manners, which he employed with Mr. Jay to obtain his Instructions. If he had been successfull in Pensilvania in obtaining Instructions he would not have been so zealous to procure a duplicate Copy from Mr. Jay.
6. The Count De Vergennes might imagine that I was so little read { 247 } in the Law of Nations and the Negotiations of Ambassadors, and had so little Experience in the World, or to Use one of his own Expressions on another Occasion, so much Bonhommie, that upon the Intimation in his Letter, I would in all Simplicity and Naivete, send him a Copy of my Instructions.
7. Some allarming Ideas were excited by the Consideration that my Sovereign was an Assembly of more than fifty members, and fifty incorruptible Men all capable of containing a Secret, was not always to be expected. For the honor of that Congress however it is but Justice to say that I believe their Secrets were as well kept as Secrets ever were by any Government in the World.
8. The Nature of my Instructions, with which I was not at all satisfied and was consequently more determined to keep from the French as well as English and other Courts. The Articles of my Instructions relative to the Boundaries of the United States and to the Fisheries were by no means agreable to me, and I had already reasons enough to suspect and indeed to believe, that the French Court, at least that the Count De Vergence, would wish me to go to the utmost Extent of my Instructions in relinquishing the Fisheries and in contracting the Boundaries of the United States; whereas on the contrary it was my unalterable Determination to insist on the Fisheries and on an ample Extention of our Boundaries, as long as my Instructions would justify me: I foresaw that if these Instructions were communicated to the French, they would have it in their Power, in case of a negotiation to impart them to the British Ambassador and encourage him to insist on his part on terms that would greatly embarrass me and ultimately injure my Country in very essential Points.
The order of Dates would have required the Insertion of the following Letters, before.

[From Gabriel de Sartine]

I have received the Letter, which you did me, the honour to write me, on the sixth of October last.10
I was well persuaded that Mr. De Chavagne would endeavour, to procure for you, on board his Ship, every gratification in his Power. In this respect he has complied with the communications I made to him of the Intentions of the King.
It is with pleasure that I have learned, that having been charged by Congress with an important Mission, you have been able to take Advantage, a second time of the Frigate the Sensible, to return to France.
{ 248 }
I have the Honour to be, with the most perfect Consideration, Sir, your most humble and most obedient Servant.
[signed] De Sartine

[addrLine] Mr. John Adams.11

[To Gabriel de Sartine]

[salute] Sir

It was not, untill my Arrival at Passy, that I had the honor of your Excellencys Letter of the thirty first of December last.
When his Majestys Intentions of granting me a Passage to America were communicated to me, I had little expectation of returning in the same Frigate: But The Congress having honoured me, with a fresh Mission to Europe, Their Excellencies the late and present Ministers from his Majesty to the United States, concurred in a Proposal to Congress and a requisition to the Commander of the Frigate to afford me a Passage, in her Voyage home, to which Captain Chavagne agreed, with particular marks of Politeness to me, Mr. Dana and the others who accompanied me.
I have again the pleasure to express to your Excellency, the Obligations I am under to the Captain and all the Officers of the Sensible, for their goodness to me and mine. But it is more particularly my Duty to express again my Thanks to his Majesty for this fresh favour; to Mr. Gerard and the Chevalier De La Luzerne who procured it for me; and to your Excellency for your Approbation of it. I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, your Excellencys most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams

[addrLine] His Excellency Mr. De Sartine12

[To Jonathan Williams]

[salute] Dear Sir

Since my Arrival at Paris, I had the pleasure of your Letter of the first of this month. I thank you, Sir, for your kind Congratulations on my Arrival, and am glad to learn that the Letters I forwarded to you went safe.
When I left Boston, which was on the thirteenth of November, our public Affairs in the military Line13 wore a very favourable Aspect. The News of General Lincoln's being in possession of Georgia, by the Aid of the Count D'Estaing, was expected every moment, and great preparations were making by General Washington to cooperate with { 249 } that great Officer in the Reduction of New York. You are sufficiently informed of the Reverses, which have taken place, since. But by Letters I have since received from Boston, the Misfortune of Georgia, seems not to have made any great Sensation. The People of America are so habituated to disappointment in the Events of War, that they have learned Philosophy enough to bear them very steadily.
In the civil Way, the Settlement of foreign Affairs, which had given the People the greatest Anxiety, seemed to give general Satisfaction: how long it will last will depend upon Contingencies.
I was told by a Member of Congress from New Hampshire, that your Accounts had been received by Congress, but I did not learn that they had been decided on.
Mr. Johnson, to whom and Family please to present my respects, is appointed to examine and certify his Opinion, of all public Accounts in France.14 The Award of your Arbitrators, I should be glad to see, and shall ask a Sight of it, the first leisure Opportunity.
Your Resolution to harbour no Enmity, and to be of no Party is amiable. Parties, in some degree or other, are common to all Countries, Nations and Governments: and although they may not be more real or more inveterate in free Governments than in others, yet they are more open, more public and make more noise. I fear it must be confessed that there has been a virulence of Party Spirit, in the foreign Affairs of the United States, which has injured worthy Characters on both Sides, and done Us much harm. I think therefore that it is the Duty of every good American to take up the same resolution with you, to be concerned in no personal disputes, or Party Animosities, at least any farther than they mix themselves unavoidably with the public Cause and Interest, from which they sometimes make themselves inseperable. I shall be pleased with the continuance of the same agreable Acquaintance, which has ever subsisted between Us, and wish you to believe me, with esteem your Friend and humble Servant
[signed] John Adams.

[addrLine] Jonathan Williams Esqr. at Nantes

[To Isaac Smith]

[salute] Dear Sir

I have the pleasure to inclose to you, two Letters, from your Friends at Boston, who are all well except Mr. Gray your Brother, who is not probably now living, as he was supposed to be in the last Stage of a Consumption. I shall be glad of an Opportunity of sending Letters { 250 } from you to your Family, or from them to you, and to hear of your Welfare.

[salute] Your humble Servant

[signed] John Adams

[addrLine] Revd. Isaac Smith15

[To Joseph Palmer]

[salute] Sir

I have the pleasure of inclosing two Letters from your Friends at Braintree to you, and one from Mr. Cranch to a Relation of his. It gave me pleasure to hear of your safe Arrival in Europe, And I shall be happy in an Opportunity of conveying any Letters to your Friends. I am, Sir, your most obedient Servant
[signed] John Adams

[addrLine] Mr. Joseph Palmer.16

Whether it was consistent with the Character of a great or an honourable Statesman or not, to give me, so early and so just cause of Jealousy of his Intentions, those of the Count De Vergennes were too manifest to be mistaken in his Letter of the 15th of February. His Aim was plainly to obtain from me Copies not only of my Commissions but of my most secret and confidential Instructions. I was determined to express however no Surprize, but to comply with his Wishes as far as I could with honour and Safety and no farther. I wrote him the following Letter.

[To the Comte de Vergennes]

[salute] Sir

I have received the Letter which your Excellency did me the honour to write me, on the fifteenth of this month, and least I should not have explained sufficiently, in my Letter of the twelfth, the Nature and Extent of my Commissions, I have now the Honour to inclose, attested Copies of both, as well as of that to Mr. Dana.17
With regard to my Instructions, I presume your Excellency will not judge it proper, that I should communicate them, any further than to assure you as I do in the fullest manner, that they contain nothing, { 251 } inconsistent with the Letter or Spirit of the Treaties between his Majesty and The United States, or the most perfect friendship between France and America, but on the contrary the clearest orders to cultivate both.
I have hitherto conducted, according to your Advice, having never communicated to any Person, since my Arrival in Europe, the nature of my Mission, excepting to your Excellency and Dr. Franklin, to whom it was indeed communicated by a Resolution of Congress, and to him in confidence.
I shall continue to conceal, as far as may depend upon me, my actual Character: but I ought to observe to your Excellency, that my Appointment was as notorious in America as that of Mr. Jay or Dr. Franklin before my departure, so that it is probably already known to the Court of London, although they have not regular Evidence of it. I mention this least some Persons might charge me with publishing, what I certainly did not publish.
I thank your Excellency for the Assurances, of his Majestys Protection and of your Confidence, which it shall be my Study and Endeavour at all times to deserve. I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, your Excellencys most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams

[addrLine] His Excellency the Comte De Vergennes.18

To this Letter I received an Answer of which the following is a litteral Translation.19

[From the Comte de Vergennes]

I have received, Sir, the Letter which you did me the honor to write me on the nineteenth of this month. Your Full Powers, of which you have been so good as to send me a Copy, are perfectly conformable to the Account which Mr. Gerard had written me of them, and they leave Us nothing to desire, either in their form or Substance. I think there is no inconvenience, in informing the Public of the principal Object of your Mission, I mean to speak of the future Pacification.It will be, indeed announced in the Gazette of France, when that shall make mention of your Presentation to the King and Royal Family: { 252 } And it will depend upon you to give to your eventual Character, a greater Publicity, by causing it to be inserted in the public Papers of Holland. I should only desire, that you would be so good as to communicate to me the Article, before you send it. As to the Full Power, which authorizes you to negotiate a Treaty of Commerce with the Court of London, 1 think it will be prudent, to make no communication of it to any Person whatsoever, and to take all possible Precautions, that the English Ministry may not have any Knowledge of it prematurely. You will surely perceive, of yourself, the Motives which induce me, to advise you to this Precaution, and it would be superfluous in me to explain them.
As to what relates to your Instructions, Sir, I am certain, that they have for their essential and invariable Basis, the Treaties subsisting between the King and the United States; Mr. Gerard has assured the King of this in the most positive manner, and his Majesty renders too much Justice to the Rectitude of Congress, and to the Stability of Sentiments, which it has hitherto manifested, to have ever had, and for ever to have, the smallest doubt in this respect.20 This manner of thinking, Sir, will convince you, that We have no Necessity to see your Instructions, to estimate their Principles and their disposition relative to Great Britain.

[salute] I have the Honour to be, most perfectly, Sir your most humble and most obedient Servant

[signed] De Vergennes

[addrLine] Mr. Adams.

I again request the particular Attention of the Reader to this Letter. The Count evades ingeniously enough his improper Attempt to draw out my Instructions, from their concealment. But his Anxiety to have my Commission to negotiate a Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain, concealed, excited some Surprize and some perplexity. I was not clear that I suspected his true Motives. The United States were clearly, at as full Liberty to negotiate concerning Commerce as concerning Peace. In both they must be governed by their Treaties with France. But not in one more than the other. However Time brought to light, what I but imperfectly suspected. The Count meditated at that time no doubt, what he soon carried into Execution with too much Success, his Intrigues with Congress at Philadelphia, to get my Commission to negotiate a Treaty of Commerce, annulled, without renewing it to the five Commissioners whom they afterwards appointed to negotiate { 253 } Peace.21 It was intended to keep Us embroiled with England as much and as long as possible, even after a Peace. It had that Effect for Eleven Years. The United States never had Spirit, decision and Independence, to remove this Obstacle to a friendly Understanding with England till 1794, when Mr. Jay sacrificed, and Mr. Washington diminished his Popularity by a Treaty which excited the insolent Rage of France without a Colour of Justice. The Members of Congress, who suffered themselves to become the Instruments of the Count, and His Minister the Chevalier De La Luzerne and his Secretary Mr. Marbois, in this humiliating and pernicious Measure of annihilating the Power of negotiating on Commerce, I am not able to enumerate very exactly. I have heard mentioned Mr. Livingston, Mr. Madison and Dr. Witherspoon. Those who are disposed to investigate this Subject are at Liberty to do it. If it would diminish the disposition which has long prevailed and still prevails in too many Individuals to sacrifice the honor and Interest of their country to their Complaisance to France, it would answer a good Purpose.
I thought it most prudent at present to conform to the Counts Advice, although it was not in this particular satisfactory to me, and wrote him accordingly. Although I could not perceive any candid, equitable or honourable Motives for concealing one of my Commissions more than the other, I did not think proper to tell him so.

[To the Comte de Vergennes]

[salute] Sir

I had last Evening the Honour of your Excellencys Letter of Yesterdays Date, and shall conform myself to your Advice.
I shall esteem myself highly honoured by a Presentation to the King and Royal Family, and shall wait your Excellencys Directions concerning the time of it. I shall not think myself at Liberty to make any publication of my Powers to treat of Peace, untill it shall have been announced in the Gazette; after which I shall transmit to your Excellency any Paragraph which may be thought proper to publish in the Gazettes of Holland, and take your Advice upon it, before it is sent. My other Powers shall be concealed, according to your Advice; and I shall have the honour, to pay my respects to your Excellency very { 254 } soon at Versailles. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams

[addrLine] His Excellency the Comte De Vergennes.22

Having waited from the 25 of February to the 21. of March, without learning any Thing further on the Subject I wrote to the Count again.

[To the Comte de Vergennes]

In the Letter which you did me the honour to write me, on the twenty fourth of February, Your Excellency proposed that the principal Object of my Mission [remainder missing]23
1. For the arrival of the party in Paris and the events that immediately followed, see note on JA's Diary entry of 5 Feb. 1780.
2. This exchange of letters is printed below||: see JA to Vergennes, 12, 19, and 25 Feb., and Vergennes to JA, 15 and 24 Feb||.
3. LbC is a draft. RC (PCC, No. 84, I), in Thaxter's hand, signed by JA, is endorsed in several hands: “No. 4 J. Adams Esqr. Paris Feby. 15th: 1780 Read May 15.—arrival in France—interesting News—” Several trifling variations in wording among the three texts have been disregarded here.
4. This is somewhat disingenuous, or else JA's memory failed him badly. Gérard's proposal was in a communication to Congress dated 9 Feb. 1779 and sprang from the possibility that Spain's current efforts to mediate between Great Britain and France might succeed and thus bring on an early peace negotiation or at least a long truce ( Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:39–40). The delay in appointing a peace commissioner was owing (1) to the inability of Congress over a period of seven months to agree on minimum American peace requirements (and hence on instructions to such a commissioner when he should be appointed), and (2) to the seesaw struggle between sectional factions in Congress over who should have this appointment and the coordinate appointment to Spain. Most of Gérard's activity in Philadelphia and most of his correspondence with Vergennes in 1779 were concerned with these matters. See JA, Diary, 13 Nov. 1779, note 1, and references there.
5. As early as 25 Dec. 1778 Vergennes reported to Gérard a conversation he had held with Franklin to ascertain “s'il avoit des pleins pouvoirs éventiiels pour traiter avec la Cour de Londres.” He had found Franklin did not have such powers. “Cependant M. franklin a pensé et je l'ai pensé comme lui, qu'il pourroit signé des traités et des conventions sub spe rati surtout y étant autorisé par nous.” Since a negotiation might possibly begin very soon, not allowing time for the determinations of Congress, Vergennes went on, “je suis d'avis qu'il seroit d'autant plus utile que le Congrés lui envoyàt à tout évenément des pleins pouvoirs qui l'autoriseroient à prendre part aux négotiations que pourrons entamer avec L'ang[leter]re” (Gérard, Despatches and Instructions, p. 451). In replying, 14 May, Gérard was obliged to tell Vergennes that such a proposal was hopeless. “Ce ministre [Franklin] vous a parlé en homme eclairé et dont les vües sont aussi justes qu'étendues; mais tous ses compatriotes ne lui ressemblent pas.... Son credit n'est plus tel qu'il puisse le sauver. On ne l'a confirmé dans son poste, que parce que cela faisoit planche pour M. [Arthur] Lée et si celui ci tombe, comme cela est probable, on pourra bien revenir a la premiere resolution de rappeller M. francklin” (same, p. 643). And again, 18 July: “Je ne dois pas vous dissimuler qu'aucun des deux partis n'a dans le Docteur Franklin la confiance que ses lumieres et sa probité meritent” (same, p. 794).
In the exceedingly complex maneuvers preceding and accompanying the elections in late September, though there was one proposal to join Franklin and JA together in the peace commission, in the end only a single ballot, that of John Dickinson, was cast for Franklin, and since Franklin had not been nominated, the vote of eleven states was considered unanimous for JA (Gérard to Vergennes, 25–27 Sept., same p. 895; Henry Laurens' Notes of Proceedings, Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:438; Lovell to JA, 28 Sept., and Gerry to JA, 29 Sept., both in Adams Papers, Burnett, p. 450, 454; JCC, 15:1103–1113).
It is not a little ironical that Gérard could observe to Vergennes immediately after JA's election: “Vos lettres, Mgr., à M. Adams ont produit des impressions très favorables sur lui” (letter of 25–27 Sept., Despatches and Instructions, p. 895). These letters were undoubtedly copies of JA's exchange with Vergennes, 11 and 13 Feb. 1779, introduced into the discussion of candidates by James Lovell; see Lovell to R. H. Lee, 27 Sept., Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:443, and JA's Diary entry of 10–11 Feb. 1779.
6. LbC is a draft with some corrections, none of them of consequence. RC (Archives Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. pol., Etats-Unis, vol. 11) is in Thaxter's hand, signed by JA. Verbal differences among the several texts are negligible.
7. RC (Adams Papers) is in a clerk's hand, signed by Vergennes, and endorsed by JA. But JA's translation was undoubtedly made from a copy of the French text that he had earlier recorded in a letterbook entitled “Peace. Correspondence with Vergennes & others” (Lb/JA/11).
8. Emphasis added by JA.
9. Actually the French minister in Philadelphia had not only instigated Congress' new measures relative to foreign affairs but had had the largest part in framing the instructions to the proposed peace commissioner. Gérard had constantly consulted with members of Congress while the debates on foreign affairs were in progress, furnished those who were favorably disposed toward France with arguments, and repeatedly memorialized Congress at Vergennes' express orders to explain just what the French government demanded. On the very day that they were adopted by Congress (14 Aug.), Gérard sent his principal a summary of the contents of both sets of the instructions that were eventually issued to JA, prefacing his summary with the remarkable statement that “Elles m'ont été communiquees avant d'etre portées au Congrés” (Despatches and Instructions, p. 847). His summary was perfectly accurate except for one item that is not to be found in the instructions for either peace or commerce. In respect to France, Gérard said, “le plenipotentiare lui communiquera ses instructions” (same, p. 848).
10. JA to Sartine, 6 Oct. 1779.LbC is in Adams Papers; printed in JA, Works, 7:117.
11. RC (Adams Papers) is in a clerk's hand, signed by Sartine. JA doubtless made his translation from a copy he had recorded earlier in Lb/JA/11.
12. LbC is a draft with corrections too minor to require indication here.
13. Preceding four words are inserted from LbC; they were inadvertently omitted by JA in transcribing this letter.
14. Johnson was appointed to this service on 29 Sept. 1779 (JCC, 15:1126), but he found it too thorny a task and soon resigned.
15. Isaac Smith Jr. (1749–1829), Harvard 1767, AA's first cousin; he left America for England on the eve of the Revolution but returned in 1784 and served, among other things, as librarian of Harvard College, 1787–1791 (JQA, Life in a New England Town, p. 20, note; Smith's correspondence with various members of the Adams family, in Adams Papers). “Mr. Gray your Brother” was Edward Gray, who had married Isaac's sister Mary. The enclosed letters have not been identified.
16. Joseph Palmer, nephew of Gen. Joseph Palmer of Germantown in Braintree; he had just graduated from Harvard and was returning to his home near Plymouth, England (Gen. Joseph Palmer to Benjamin Franklin, 3 Aug., 12 Nov. 1779, summarized in Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:124, 168). The enclosed letters have not been identified.
17. JA's commissions are printed at the beginning of Part Three of his Autobiography, p. 178–179180 and 179–180, above.
18. LbC is a draft with minor revisions. RC (Archives Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. pol., Etats-Unis, vol. 11) is in Thaxter's hand, signed by JA; above the text is the notation: “M. De Rayneval,” to whom it was obviously referred.
19. RC (Adams Papers) is in a clerk's hand, signed by Vergennes, and endorsed by JA. JA's translation is from a copy he had entered in Lb/JA/11. The passages in italics were underscored by JA when he wrote the translation into his Autobiography.
20. RC: “... et sa Mté. rend trop de justice a la droiture du Congres et a la stabilité des sentiments qu'il a manifestés jusqu'à présent, pour avoir jamais eû, et pour avoir jamais le moindre doute à cet egard.”
21. On Congress' revocation, 12 July 1781, of JA's commission to negotiate a treaty of commerce with Great Britain, see Diary entry of 12 Jan. 1783 and note 1, with references there. The background and circumstances of this action remain even yet somewhat obscure. But it should be pointed out that it followed, rather than preceded, the joining of four other commissioners with JA in the negotiation for peace, under new instructions, 15 June 1781; see Diary entry of April 1782, note 1.
22. LbC is a draft. RC (Archives Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. pol., Etats-Unis, vol. 11) is in Thaxter's hand, signed by JA. Textual variations among the several texts are negligible.
23. LbC (of the complete letter) is a draft with several revisions and after-thoughts interlined and added; the text as revised is printed in JA, Works, 3:266–267. RC (Archives Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. pol., Etats-Unis, vol. 11) is in Thaxter's hand, signed by JA|| (JA to Vergennes, 21 Mar. 1780)||. JA went on to remind Vergennes that in his letter of 24 Feb. the Foreign Minister had stated that an announcement of JA's peace commission would appear in the Gazette de France after his formal presentation at court; this presentation had taken place on 7 March, “but no notice has been taken of it in the Gazette of France. Whether this omission is accidental, or whether it is owing to any alteration in your Excellency's sentiments, I am not able to determine.” Vergennes waited nine days before replying, then calmly explained that a notice in the Gazette de France would be, he now realized, an irregularity, and attached a one-sentence draft of an announcement that would be inserted, instead, in the Mercure de France (an unofficial journal, the political news in which was controlled by the French government); see Vergennes to JA, 30 March, Adams Papers; translation in JA, Works, 7:139.



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John Adams' Life and Public Service, 1735-1826

1735   Oct. 30 (Oct. 19, O.S.):   Born in the North Precinct of Braintree (which in 1792 was taken off and named Quincy), Mass.  
1740's     Attends Mrs. Belcher's and Joseph Cleverly's schools in Braintree.  
1750–1751     Attends Joseph Marsh's school in Braintree.  
1751     Enrolls in Harvard College.  
1755   July:   Graduates A.B.  
1755   Aug.:   Begins to keep school in Worcester, Mass.  
1755   Nov. 18:   Begins his Diary.  
1756   Aug.:   Signs contract to read law with James Putnam for two years.  
1758   July:   Attends Harvard commencement and receives M.A.  
1758   Oct.:   Returns from Worcester to live in Braintree.  
1758   Oct.–Dec.:   Tries (and loses) first case as a practicing lawyer (Field v. Lambert) before Colonel and Justice Josiah Quincy in Braintree.  
1758   Nov.:   Admitted to the Suffolk bar, Jeremiah Gridley serving as his sponsor, and begins to practice in the Inferior Court of Common Pleas.  
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1760     Drafts essays on appointment of new chief justice and on evils of licensed houses.  
1761   Feb.:   Records arguments in Superior Court of Judicature on writs of assistance.  
1761   May:   Upon the death of his father, inherits Braintree property (later known as the John Quincy Adams Birthplace).  
1761   Nov.:   Admitted to practice in the Superior Court of Judicature.  
1762   Spring:   Begins serving on town committees and traveling the Inferior and Superior Court circuits. His circuit riding continues for fourteen years.  
1762   Aug.:   Admitted barrister in the Superior Court of Judicature.  
1762   Oct.:   His surviving courtship correspondence with Abigail, daughter of Rev. William Smith of Weymouth, begins.  
1763   June–July:   His first known newspaper contributions, signed “Humphrey Ploughjogger,” are published in the Boston Evening Post and Boston Gazette.  
1764   April–May:   Inoculated in Boston for the smallpox.  
1764   Oct. 25:   Marries Abigail Smith (AA) and brings her to live in the house inherited from his father.  
1765   Jan.:   Joins a lawyers' “sodality” in Boston for the study of legal history and theory.  
1765   March:   Elected surveyor of highways in Braintree.  
1765   June:   Travels the eastern court circuit to Maine for the first time.  
1765   July 14:   His 1st daughter, Abigail 2d (AA2), is born.  
1765   Aug.–Oct.:   Publishes “A Dissertation of Canon and Feudal Law” in installments in the Boston Gazette.  
1765   Sept.:   Composes the Braintree Instructions denouncing the Stamp Act.  
1765   Dec:   Named of counsel for Boston to plead for reopening of the courts.  
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1766   Jan.:   Publishes three letters, signed “Clarendon,” in the Boston Gazette on the British constitution and American rights.  
1766   March:   Elected a Braintree selectman.  
1766   July:   Becomes active in the improvement of professional practice of the law through the Suffolk bar association.  
1767   July 11:   His 1st son, John Quincy (JQA), is born.  
1768   March:   Declines to stand again for Braintree selectman.  
1768   April:   Moves to the “White House” in Brattle Square, Boston.  
1768   June:   Writes instructions for the Boston representatives to the General Court protesting the seizure of Hancock's sloop Liberty.  
1768   Dec. 28:   His 2d daughter, Susanna (d. 4 Feb. 1770), is born.  
1768   Winter:   Successfully defends John Hancock in admiralty court against charges of smuggling in connection with the sloop Liberty.  
1769   Spring:   Moves to Cold (or Cole) Lane, Boston.  
1769   May:   Writes instructions for the Boston representatives to the General Court protesting the presence of British troops and the growing power of admiralty courts.  
1769   May–June:   Successfully defends Michael Corbet and three other sailors in admiralty court for the killing of Lt. Panton of the British Navy.  
1769   Aug.:   Takes two law clerks (Austin and Tudor) into his Boston office because of his expanding legal business.  
1769   Sept.:   Engaged by James Otis as co-counsel following the Robinson affray; case concluded in Otis” favor, July 1771.  
1770   Jan.:   Begins serving as clerk of the Suffolk bar association.  
1770   March:   Agrees to defend Capt. Thomas Preston, officer commanding the British soldiers in the “Boston Massacre.”  
1770   May 29:   His 2d son, Charles (CA), is born.  
1770   June:   Elected a representative to the General Court from Boston;serves until April 1771.  
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1770   Oct.–Nov.:   Successfully defends Preston and the soldiers in the “Boston Massacre” trials. Moves during this year to “another House in Brattle Square.”  
1771   April:   Moves back to Braintree.  
1771   June:   Travels to Connecticut for his health and takes the mineral waters at Stafford Springs.  
1772   Spring:   Writes and presumably delivers a patriotic oration at Brain-tree at the request of the town.  
1772   Sept. 15:   His 3d son, Thomas Boylston (TBA), is born.  
1772   Nov.:   Moves to Queen Street (later Court Street) in Boston and maintains his law office there until the outbreak of hostilities.  
1772   Dec.:   Successfully defends Ansell Nickerson in admiralty court against charges of murder; case concluded in July-Aug. 1773.  
1773   Jan.–Feb.:   Publishes articles in the Boston Gazette answering William Brattle and opposing crown salaries to Superior Court judges.  
1773   May:   Elected by the House a member of the Council but is negatived by Hutchinson.  
1774   Feb.:   Buys his father's homestead (later known as the John Adams Birthplace) from his brother Peter Boylston Adams.  
1774   March:   Furnishes legal authorities for impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Peter Oliver. About the same time drafts report for General Court on Massachusetts” northern and western territorial claims.  
1774   May:   Elected by the House a member of the Council but is negatived by Gage.  
1774   June:   Elected a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress; moves his family to Braintree.  
1774   June–July:   Travels “for the tenth and last time on the Eastern Circuit” in Maine, and parts with his loyalist friend Jonathan Sewall at Falmouth (Portland).  
1774   Aug.:   Travels from Boston to Philadelphia with the Massachusetts delegation to the Continental Congress.  
1774   Sept.–Oct.:   Attends first Continental Congress.  
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1774   Oct.–Nov.:   Returns from Philadelphia to Braintree.  
1774   Nov.–Dec.:   Attends first Provincial Congress in Cambridge as a member from Braintree.  
1774   Dec.:   Reelected to Continental Congress.  
1775   Jan.–April:   Publishes essays signed “Novanglus” in the Boston Gazette in answer to Daniel Leonard's “Massachusettensis” articles.  
1775   March:   Elected a selectman of Braintree.  
1775   April–May:   Travels from Braintree to Philadelphia.  
1775   May–July:   Attends second Continental Congress; proposes George Washington as commander in chief.  
1775   July:   Elected by the House a member of the Council; resigns in April 1776.  
1775   July:   Writes letters to AA and James Warren ridiculing John Dickinson's conciliatory views; the letters are intercepted and published by the British in August and produce a great sensation.  
1775   Aug.:   Returns from Philadelphia to Braintree, attends the Massachusetts Council in Watertown, and is reelected to Continental Congress.  
1775   Aug.–Sept.:   Travels from Boston to Philadelphia.  
1775   Sept.–Dec.:   Attends Continental Congress and plays a principal part in the measures leading to the establishment of an American navy, including the composition and publication of Rules for the Regulation of the Navy of the United Colonies of North-America.  
1775   Oct.:   Appointed Chief Justice of Massachusetts; resigns in Feb. 1777 without ever serving.  
1775   Dec:   Obtains leave from Congress and returns from Philadelphia to Braintree, attends the Massachusetts Council in Watertown, visits the army headquarters in Cambridge, and is reelected to Continental Congress.  
1776   Jan.:   Drafts proclamation for the General Court to be read at the opening of courts of justice and town meetings.  
1776   Jan.–Feb.:   Travels from Braintree to Philadelphia.  
1776   Feb.–Oct.:   Attends Continental Congress.  
1776   March–April:   Writes Thoughts on Government, which is “put ... under Types” by R. H. Lee and widely used in state constitution making.  
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1776   May:   Advocates establishment of new state governments and writes preamble to the resolution of 15 May recommending such action to the states.  
1776   June:   Appointed president of the newly formed Continental Board of War and Ordnance.  
1776   June–July:   Appointed to committee to draft a declaration of independence and makes the principal speech in favor of the resolution for independence.  
1776   June–Sept.:   Drafts a “Plan of Treaties” and instructions to the first American Commissioners to France.  
1776   Sept.:   Journeys to Staten Island with Benjamin Franklin and Edward Rutledge to confer with Admiral Lord Howe.  
1776   Oct.:   Obtains leave from Congress and returns from Philadelphia to Braintree.  
1776   Nov.:   Reelected to Continental Congress.  
1777   Jan.:   Travels from Braintree to attend Continental Congress sitting in Baltimore.  
1777   March:   Travels to Philadelphia when Congress adjourns to that city.  
1777   March–Sept.:   Attends Congress and continues to preside over the Board of War and Ordnance.  
1777   July 11:   His 3d daughter, Elizabeth, is stillborn.  
1777   Sept.:   Leaves Philadelphia upon the adjournment of Congress after the battle of Brandywine and travels to York via Trenton, Easton, Bethlehem, and Reading.  
1777   Nov.:   Obtains leave from Congress, returns to Braintree, and resumes his law practice, traveling to Portsmouth in December to defend the owners of the Lusanna. Elected by Congress a joint commissioner (with Franklin and Arthur Lee) to France, replacing Silas Deane; commission dissolved Sept. 1778, with Franklin named sole minister.  
1778   Feb.–March:   Sails with JQA from Quincy Bay aboard the Continental frigate Boston to Bordeaux.  
1778   April:   Joins Franklin's household at the Hotel de Valentinois in Passy.  
1778   May:   Received in first audience by Louis XVI of France.  
1779   Feb.:   Exchanges letters with Vergennes on the conduct of Silas Deane and in defense of Arthur Lee, and learns immediately thereafter he has been relieved of his joint commission.  
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1779   March:   Takes leave of the French court.  
1779   March–June:   In Nantes, Brest, Lorient, Saint Nazaire, and on board the Alliance arranging for the exchange of prisoners of war and awaiting passage to America.  
1779   June–Aug.:   Sails from Lorient to Boston with La Luzerne aboard the French frigate La Sensible.  
1779   Aug.:   Proposes founding the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, incorporated May 1780.  
1779   Aug.–Nov.:   Elected to represent Braintree in convention to frame a new state constitution; attends the convention and drafts The Report of a Constitution ... for the Commonwealth of Massa chusetts which is adopted, after some amendments, by the voters of Massachusetts in 1780.  
1779   Sept.:   Elected minister by Congress to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain; commissions revoked June–July 1781.  
1779   Nov.–Dec.:   Sails with JQA and CA from Boston aboard La Sensible to Ferrol, Spain.  
1779   Dec.–Jan.:   Travels across northern Spain.  
1780   Jan.–Feb.:   Travels from Bayonne to Paris and takes up residence at the Hôtel de Valois in Rue de Richelieu.  
1780   June:   Commissioned an agent by Congress to negotiate a Dutch loan.  
1780   July–Aug.:   Travels from Paris to Amsterdam, before learning of his commission, to explore the possibility of Dutch financial aid to the United States. Remains in the Netherlands until July 1781.  
1780   Dec.–Jan.:   Elected minister by Congress to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce with the Netherlands.  
1781   March–May:   Drafts, submits, and prints a memorial to the States General urging Dutch recognition of American sovereignty.  
1781   June:   Elected by Congress first among five joint commissioners (JA, Franklin, Jay, Laurens, and Jefferson) to treat for peace with Great Britain.  
1781   July:   Returns to Paris to discuss with Vergennes the proposed peace mediation of the Russian and Austrian courts; rejects Vergennes' proposals and returns to Amsterdam, where he remains until Oct. 1782.  
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1781   July–Aug.:   JQA leaves Amsterdam for St. Petersburg as private secretary to Francis Dana; CA begins his return voyage to America.  
1781   Aug.:   JA awarded in absentia LL.D. by Harvard College.  
1782   Jan.–March:   Presses for recognition at The Hague.  
1782   April:   Recognized by the States General as minister plenipotentiary to the Netherlands and granted an audience by the Stadholder, Willem V.  
1782   May:   Takes up residence at the Hotel des Etats-Unis at The Hague, purchased as the first American legation building in Europe.  
1782   June:   Contracts with a syndicate of Amsterdam bankers for the first Dutch loan to the United States, 5,000,000 guilders.  
1782   Oct. 8:   Signs at The Hague a treaty of amity and commerce with the Netherlands.  
1782   Oct.:   Travels from The Hague to Paris.  
1782   Oct.–Nov.:   Assists in negotiating and with his fellow commissioners signs at Versailles, 30 Nov., the Preliminary Treaty between the United States and Great Britain. Remains in Paris.  
1783   April:   JA, Franklin, and Jay begin conferences with David Hartley on terms of the Definitive Treaty.  
1783   July:   Travels to The Hague to meet JQA, recently returned from St. Petersburg.  
1783   Aug.:   Returns to Paris with JQA.  
1783   Sept. 3:   Signs with his fellow commissioners the Definitive Treaty with Great Britain in Paris.  
1783   Sept.:   Moves to Thomas Barclay's residence at Auteuil with a serious fever.  
1783   Oct.:   Travels with JQA from Auteuil to London.  
1783   Nov.–Dec.:   Visits Parliament and the sights of London, and journeys to Bath.  
1784   Jan.:   Crosses the North Sea to Amsterdam and executes a contract for a second Dutch loan as an emergency measure to save the credit of the United States.  
1784   May–June:   Elected by Congress a joint commissioner, with Franklin and Jefferson, to negotiate treaties of amity and commerce with twenty-three European and African powers.  
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1784   June–July:   AA and AA2 sail from Boston to England aboard the Active and meet JQA in London.  
1784   Aug.:   JA arrives in London from the Netherlands and joins his family; they travel to Paris and settle in Auteuil. The commissioners begin their deliberations, which continue until JA returns to London in May and Franklin leaves for America in July 1785.  
1785   Feb.:   Elected by Congress first American minister to the Court of St. James's; in March, Jefferson is named minister to Versailles in succession to Franklin.  
1785   May:   JQA leaves France for America and Harvard College; JA, AA, and AA2 leave Auteuil for London.  
1785   June 1:   JA is granted an audience with George III, and a dramatic conversation takes place.  
1785   June:   Leases first United States legation in London, now No. 9 Grosvenor Square.  
1785   Aug.:   Signs in London a treaty of amity and commerce with Prussia, Franklin having earlier signed at Passy and Jefferson at Paris.  
1786   March–April:   Visited by Jefferson in London to negotiate commercial treaties with Tripoli, Portugal, and Great Britain. JA and Jefferson tour English countryseats together.  
1786   June 11:   AA2 marries William Stephens Smith (WSS) at the London legation.  
1786   July:   JA takes an excursion to The Hyde and Braintree in Essex with AA, AA2, and WSS.  
1786   Aug.–Sept.:   Visits the Netherlands with AA to exchange ratifications of the treaty with Prussia and to observe the constitutional reforms of the Dutch Patriots.  
1787   Jan.:   Publishes in London the first volume of A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America; a second follows in September and a third in 1788.  
1787   May–June:   Journeys to Amsterdam and executes a contract for a third Dutch loan to the United States.  
1787   July–Aug.:   Takes excursion to the west of England with his family.  
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1787   July–Sept.:   Arranges for the purchase of the Vassall-Borland house in Braintree in preparation for his return from Europe.  
1787   Oct.:   At his own request is recalled by Congress from London, his mission to the Netherlands, and his joint mission (with Jefferson) to the Barbary Powers; recall effective in Feb. 1788.  
1788   Feb. 20:   Granted final audience with George III.  
1788   Feb.–March:   Travels from London to The Hague to take leave of the Stadholder and the States General. At Jefferson's request JA contracts for a fourth Dutch loan to the United States.  
1788   March–April:   Returns to London and sets off with AA for the Isle of Wight.  
1788   April–June:   Sails with AA from Portland Harbor aboard the Lucretia to Boston.  
1788   June:   Elected a member of the Massachusetts delegation to the First Congresslast sitting of the Continental Congress; did not serve.  
1788   June–Dec.:   Stays in Braintree unpacking books, settling his new residence, and looking after his fields.  
1789   March–April:   Elected Vice President by 34 out of 69 votes.  
1789   April:   Travels from Braintree to New York City, the seat of government, and establishes his residence at Richmond Hill.  
1789   April–Sept.:   Presides over the Senate in 1st session of First Congress.  
1789   Oct.–Nov.:   Returns from New York to Braintree between sessions of Congress.  
1789   Nov.–Dec.:   Travels from Braintree to New York.  
1790   Jan.–Aug.:   Presides over the Senate in 2d session of First Congress.  
1790   April:   Begins publication of his “Discourses on Davila” in Fenno's Gazette of the United States; continued until April 1791.  
1790   Sept.:   Travels from New York to Philadelphia and back; leases Bush Hill for his new residence.  
1790   Nov.:   Moves with AA to Philadelphia, the new seat of government.  
1790   Dec–March:   Presides over the Senate in 3d session of First Congress.  
1791   May:   Elected president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; serves until 1813.  
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1791   May–Aug.:   Becomes involved in a dispute with Jefferson growing out of the latter's endorsement of Paine's Rights of Man and subsequent attacks on Paine and Jefferson by JQA in his “Publicola” papers printed in the Columbian Centinel.  
1791   May–Oct.:   Returns to Braintree with AA between sessions of Congress.  
1791   Oct.–April:   Presides over the Senate in 1st session of Second Congress.  
1792   April–May:   Travels with AA from Philadelphia to Quincy.  
1792   Nov.–Dec.:   Returns to Philadelphia alone.  
1792   Dec–March:   Presides over the Senate in 2d session of Second Congress.  
1793   Feb.:   Reelected Vice President by 77 out of 132 votes.  
1793   March:   Travels from Philadelphia to Quincy.  
1793   Nov.:   Returns to Philadelphia alone.  
1793   Dec–May:   Presides over the Senate in 1st session of Third Congress.  
1794   May:   JQA appointed by Washington minister resident to the Netherlands.  
1794   May–June:   JA travels from Philadelphia to Quincy.  
1794   Nov.:   Returns to Philadelphia.  
1794   Nov.–Feb.:   Presides over the Senate in 2d session of Third Congress.  
1795   Feb.:   Travels from Philadelphia to Quincy.  
1795   May–June:   Returns to Philadelphia, AA accompanying him as far as New York.  
1795   June:   Presides over a special session of the Senate called to ratify Jay's Treaty.  
1795   June–July:   Travels from Philadelphia to Quincy.  
1795   Aug. 29:   CA marries Sarah Smith (sister of WSS) in New York.  
1795   Nov.–Dec:   JA returns to Philadelphia.  
1795   Dec–May:   Presides over the Senate in 1st session of Fourth Congress.  
1796   May:   Travels from Philadelphia to Quincy.  
1796   May–Nov.:   Spends the summer at the Old House in Quincy making farm improvements recorded in a renewed diary.  
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1796   Nov.–Dec.:   Returns to Philadelphia.  
1796   Dec:   Elected President of the United States with 71 out of 139 votes, running against Thomas Jefferson, who became Vice President.  
1796   Dec.–Feb.:   Presides over the Senate in id session of Fourth Congress.  
1797   March 4:   Delivers his Inaugural Address and takes office as President.  
1797   April 17:   His mother, Susanna (Boylston) Adams Hall, dies.  
1797   April–May:   AA travels from Quincy to Philadelphia to join JA; they occupy the executive mansion (the former house of Richard Penn).  
1797   May–July:   Calls a special session of Congress to deal with the French crisis; appoints the 1st peace mission to France (Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, John Marshall, and Elbridge Gerry).  
1797   June:   Appoints JQA minister plenipotentiary to Prussia.  
1797   July:   Travels with AA from Philadelphia to Quincy.  
1797   July 26:   JQA marries Louisa Catherine Johnson (LCA) in London.  
1797   Oct–Nov.:   JA returns with AA from Quincy to Philadelphia.  
1797   Nov.:   Delivers his First Annual Message to Congress, which is largely devoted to the crisis in Franco-American relations.  
1798   March:   Delivers message to Congress on the dispatches from the American envoys to France; declares the existence of a state of quasi-war.  
1798   April:   Releases and publishes the XYZ dispatches at the request of the House of Representatives.  
1798   Spring–Fall:   Receives and answers scores of petitions and resolutions of loyalty; a number of them are published as A Selection of the Patriotic Addresses, to the President of the United States.  
1798   May–June:   Recommends and oversees the adoption of measures for establishing the Navy Department and creating a “provisional army” of ten thousand men.  
1798   June:   Appoints George Washington commander in chief.  
1798   June–July:   Signs into law the Alien and Sedition Acts.  
1798   July–Aug.:   Travels with AA from Philadelphia to Quincy; AA is taken seriously ill.  
1798   Nov.:   Returns to Philadelphia alone.  
1798   Dec.:   Delivers Second Annual Message to Congress revealing a more conciliatory disposition, and suggests the appointment of a new mission to France.  
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1799   Feb.:   Appoints the 2d peace mission to France (William Vans Murray, Oliver Ellsworth, and Patrick Henry, the last being replaced by William Davie).  
1799   March:   Travels from Philadelphia to Quincy.  
1799   Oct.:   Travels to Trenton to meet his cabinet; precipitates a cabinet crisis by his order of 16 Oct. dispatching the commissioners to France.  
1799   Oct.–Nov.:   AA travels from Quincy to Philadelphia and joins JA there.  
1799   Dec.:   Delivers Third Annual Message to Congress urging peace and reconstruction and an end of civil disturbances. Federalist caucus supports JA for reelection.  
1800   May:   Dismisses James McHenry and Timothy Pickering from his cabinet. A second Federalist caucus reaffirms the choice of JA and C. C. Pinckney as the party's Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates. AA returns to Quincy.  
1800   May–June:   Travels from Philadelphia to Washington to inspect the new seat of government.  
1800   June:   Returns to Quincy, where, under AA's orders, the east wing has recently been added to the Old House.  
1800   Aug.–Sept:   Alexander Hamilton attacks JA's administration in his Letter ... concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq.  
1800   Sept.–Oct:   Convention with France concluded at Mortefontaine by JA's 2d mission to France, ending the quasi-war and the Franco-American alliance of 1778; news of this arrives too late to affect the national election.  
1800   Oct.–Nov.:   Travels from Quincy to Washington; AA follows; and they are the first occupants of the still unfinished President's House.  
1800   Nov. 30:   His son CA dies in New York City.  
1800   Dec:   Defeated for reelection to the Presidency, winning only 65 votes against 73 won by both Jefferson and Burr.  
1801   Jan.:   Extends the influence of the federal judiciary through the appointment of many new judges. Appoints John Marshall chief justice of the Supreme Court. Reports the successful conclusion of the Convention with France.  
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1801   Feb.:   Instructs John Marshall to prepare letters recalling JQA from Prussia.  
1801   March:   Travels from Washington to Quincy, leaving early on the morning of Jefferson's inauguration.  
1801   Sept.–Nov.:   JQA and LCA return from Berlin to Quincy.  
1802   Oct.:   JA begins writing his Autobiography, Part One, “John Adams”; completed in June 1805.  
1803     JQA elected United States senator; serves until 1808.  
1805   Feb.:   JA resumes his correspondence with Benjamin Rush.  
1805   May 16:   TBA marries Ann Harrod of Haverhill, Mass.  
1805     JA publishes collected edition of Discourses on Davila.  
1806   Dec.:   Begins Part Two of his Autobiography, “Travels, and Negotiations”; completed early in 1807.  
1807     Writes Part Three of his Autobiography, “Peac”; breaks it off when he begins his controversy with Mercy Otis Warren about her History in July.  
1809   April:   Begins his documented letters of reminiscence in the Boston Patriot (his “second autobiography”), continued until May 1812.  
1809   April–May:   Publishes four letters in the Boston Patriot, soon afterward issued in pamphlet form under the title The Inadmissible Principles, of the King of England's Proclamation, of October 16, 1 1807 Considered.  
1809   June:   JQA appointed by Madison minister plenipotentiary to Russia, and sails in August with LCA and their son Charles Francis (CFA).  
1812   Jan.:   JA resumes, through the intercession of Benjamin Rush, his correspondence with Thomas Jefferson.  
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1813   Aug. 14:   His daughter AA2 dies at the Old House.  
1814   April:   JQA leaves St. Petersburg for Ghent to join other American commissioners in negotiations for peace with Great Britain, concluded in December.  
1815   Feb.:   JQA appointed by Madison minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain; serves in London from May 1815 to June 1817.  
1817   March:   JQA appointed by Monroe secretary of state.  
1817   Aug.:   JQA and his family return to the Old House in Quincy before going into residence in Washington.  
1818   Oct. 28:   AA dies at the Old House.  
1819     JA publishes collected edition of Novanglus and Massachusettensis.  
1820   Nov.–Dec.:   Attends sessions of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention as Quincy delegate; proposes that the Bill of Rights be amended so as to remove all religious restrictions.  
1822   June–Aug.:   Gives to the town of Quincy various tracts of granitebearing land, profits from which are to be used to build a church and an academy, and also his library, to be placed in the academy.  
1824   Dec:   In the national election JQA receives 84 electoral votes, a minority, and in the House vote-off, 9 Feb. 1825, he is elected President of the United States.  
1826   July 4:   JA dies at the Old House during the jubilee celebration of national independence, a few hours after Thomas Jefferson's death at Monticello in Virginia.  
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.