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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 4

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.