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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 6

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0150

Author: Archer, Henry Waldegrave
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-06-14

H. Archer to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

I presume to trouble you with the communication of my design to enter into the army, and becoming a citizen of the united States. Though a native of England, I feel myself quite attached to America, and firmly persuaded that I shall carry thither dispositions entirely consonant to its welfare, and that my affection to her will not be the less in being only a Son by adoption. From infancy, I considered myself a member of the British Empire at large, including the Colonies of North America. Warped by no blind partiality, or local attachment, while their union with the Parent State subsisted, I wished equally for the happiness of the whole. Upon their division my predilection is strong for that part, where the free principles of the ancient constitution are likely to be most vigorous and lasting. Upon the first rise of the dissentions between them, dissentions, that reflect as much honor on the one as infamy on the other side; from my own observations of things, confirmed by the opinions, and conversation of those I most esteemed, I decided, that the opposition of the Americans was sanctified by justice, as well as recommended by good policy; in the progress I admired the wisdom with which this opposition was conducted, applauded the firmness with which it was supported, and rejoiced at the success with which it has been attended. Ambitious of military fame, and of military distinction, it was not consistent with my Notions to engage in the Army of the King of Great Britain; where the former of these, was not to be acquired at all, as even Valour in the support of Tyranny, and Injustice is reproachful, nor the latter, but by interest, and the too frequent <exercise> Sacrifice of virtuous principles. An immediate entrance into his Service would have obliged me to war against my conscience, and against those, whom I ardently wish to prevail. Nor is it by any means eligible for me to defer entering into the British Service till the War with America is ended, for besides the loss of time, and delay of preferment, there are more powerful discouragements. I have too much reason to believe that the Military pro• { 206 } fession, even hereafter, will not be very honorable in Great Britain. From the degeneracy of the People, the corruption of their Representatives, and the wickedness of those in power, the Army may probably become, before a distant period the devoted instruments of despotic sway, and like the disgraceful Pretorian Bands ready to sell their services to such as would supply their debaucheries with the most profusion, and such as were most ready to favor their rapaciousness and violence. On the contrary, in the service of the united States, I shall during the present contest, bear arms in a cause my conscience approves, and which reflects honor on its humble supporters, and where there is reason to believe, that should my services be required in future, it will be on the side of justice, liberty, and Glory, and where in short the disciplined Soldier, and the free Citizen are not incompatible.
I cannot indeed boast of being much qualified to make my services welcome, or important, but this I can promise, that the small qualification I do possess, or may acquire shall be exerted on every occasion to the utmost. I have been some time at the Royal Academy at Chelsea, endeavouring to attain a knowledge of military affairs. As soon as I was of age, I left it, and disposed of as much of my property as amounted to about five hundred pounds. With what I have left of that, I wish to take the quickest opportunity of getting to America, and entering into one of the Regiments of Horse. I shall be glad to serve first as a Volunteer at my own expence with a view of giving such proofs of my zeal and unfeigned attachment to America as may entitle me to some notice. You may perhaps be inclined to think there was no occasion to trouble you with my design. I was induced to do it, by these, among other reasons, Your approbation and Patronage would be extremely satisfactory and encouraging; and as I must necessarily have passed thro' Paris, I was desirous of paying my respects to you, who deservedly possess so high a trust from the united States, which if I had failed to do, it might there, suggest a suspicion that I was afraid you might have known or discovered something to my disadvantage. At the same time, I was in hopes you would be kind enough to give me your advice and assistance about the most expeditious method of arriving in America. I propose doing myself the honor of waiting on you next Tuesday in company with Monsr. le Baron de Ridberg, till which I postpone mentioning other particulars. I have the honor to be with the { 207 } greatest and most unfeigned Esteem, Gentlemen, Your very hble & obt. Sert.
[signed] H. Archer1
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “To Their Excellencies B. Franklin A. Lee J. Adams Ministers Plenipotentiary of the united States. Passy.”; docketed in an unknown hand: “Archer.”
1. Probably Henry Waldegrave Archer, who was appointed cornet of light dragoons on 1 Jan. 1779 and ended the war as a captain, thus attaining his goal of serving in the American army (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 73). On 4 Aug. 1779 Archer wrote to the congress giving his thanks for the honor, a brevet appointment as captain, bestowed him on 26 July following the American victory at the Battle of Stony Point, news of which he carried to the congress (PCC, No. 78, 1, f. 291; JCC, 14:890; see also Ward, War of the Revolution, 2:906, note 18). When Archer left France for America he carried letters from JA to Samuel Adams of 21 May; to Isaac Smith Sr. of 17 June (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:106–108, 139–140); and to AA of 16 June (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:44, and note 2). In a letter to JA and Benjamin Franklin (PHi: Franklin MSS) that was undated, but almost certainly done shortly after 16 June, Archer thanked the two men for their assistance and particularly for their “recommendatory letters.”

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0151

Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Date: 1778-06-15

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

The Commissioners to Sartine

Passy, 15 June 1778. printed:JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:135–137. The Commissioners, in answer to Sartine's letter of 6 June, indicated their reasons for refusing the drafts drawn on them by Bersolle, and, by implication and tone, their displeasure at Sartine's interference in the Commission's affairs. The Commissioners further noted that it was highly irregular for merchants or naval captains to make drafts without prior approval and that the continuance of such practices would deprive the Commissioners of control over expenses and might ultimately result in their bankruptcy. The Commissioners declared their willingness to pay for goods supplied to John Paul Jones from the royal magazines, agreed that restitution should be made for goods stolen from the Lord Chatham by Jones' crew, and reported their decision to send Lt. Simpson to America for trial. In addition, the Commissioners requested that the sale of the Lord Chatham and other prizes be expedited so as to provide funds for the Commissioners to defray the cost of keeping ships in port and for the captors to purchase necessities. Finally, the Commissioners acquiesced in the naming of Botsen, about whom they knew little, for possible employment by the French as a pilot on the American coast.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0152

Author: Sayre, Stephen
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-06-15

From Stephen Sayre

[salute] Sir

As my information is only from the public papers, I am left in uncertainty whether I am writing to Mr. John, or Mr. Samuel { 208 } Adams. Some Letters have pass'd between the latter Gentleman and myself, on the subject of American Controversy. As I ask only for a short reply, on a matter of simple justice; I trust I shall not be disappointed, tho I am ignorant as to which of those great Characters I write.1
You cannot be a stranger to the circumstance of my having attended Mr. Lee to Berlin, at the public expence. I thought it somewhat hard, to be told at Berlin, which was done in clear and express terms, that I should be no longer consider'd in that service, or expect the least support from the Commissioners, whether I return'd to Paris with Mr. Lee, or not—at the same time I don't say they acted unjustly.
As a private Gentleman, having no expectation given me that the most humiliating attendance at Paris could give me any Employment, I chose to remain at Berlin, where I could live more at ease and at less expence. Having wrote to my friends in Congress from Paris, by all the Ships sent by the Commissioners from the month of April 1777, to September or October—I waited with impatience for Answers. Think then, how great must be my astonishment, to learn, that tho' the Commissioners had many Letters sent to their care for me, they have neither sent them, or given me any reasons why they with'old them. Surely this is a ground of complaint, and a conduct that sets all conjecture at difiance.
I am willing to suppose some strange accidents may have concur'd to disappoint me. I could wish, that urgent national business were an Apology for neglecting an individual, tho' intitled to some decent attention, from the highest Characters. I have a right to some reply, as a private man—my whole public conduct makes it a matter of indispensable justice.
Of you, Dear Sir, I request the high favour, to learn the Cause, and to state it to me with candour. If you suffer any arguments to dissuade you from a reply, which [I?] may expect from your own feelings, you will thereby condemn me before I am heard.
Let me add one word of congratulation on the glory acquired by the United States of America, and that I am with great esteem and respect your [ . . . ][obe]dient & very humble Servant
[signed] Stephen Sayre
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “To the honorable—Adams Esqr Member of the American Congress now at Paris”; docketed: “Mr. Stephen Sayres Letter. 15. June 1778 from Copenhagen.”; in an unknown hand: { 209 } “Stephen Sayre Amsterdam”; passage in an unknown hand and apparently done considerably later than the other entries: “tous les françois aiment M. franklin ils admirent ses talents ils respectent ses vertus tous les americains partagent ces sentiments avec M. franklin.” The reference in the second docketing to “Amsterdam” is unclear because Sayre was apparently not in that city until mid–1779 (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 14:212).
1. Stephen Sayre, Princeton B.A. and Harvard M.A., had at various times been a merchant, London banker, pamphleteer, and Sheriff of London. In 1775 he had been imprisoned in the Tower of London on charges of high treason, against which he had been successfully defended by Arthur Lee, and was the self-described chief founder of the Society of Supporters of the Bill of Rights (same, 14:204–211). In this last capacity he had written to JA on 15 Oct. 1773 to notify him of his election to membership in the Society (vol. 1:353–354)
The present letter, apparently not acted on by either JA or the Commissioners, shows Sayre in another role: freelance diplomat. It reflects the split that had developed between him and Arthur Lee when he served as Lee's secretary during the ill-fated Berlin mission in 1777 to secure recognition for the United States. When the mission failed and Lee returned to Paris, Sayre claimed without authorization to be an official American agent in Berlin. Apparently this pose was maintained during the time Sayre spent in Copenhagen and Stockholm, from Dec. 1777 through early 1779, attempting to promote, according to his later statements, a league of armed neutrals. By mid–1779 the Commissioners, particularly Franklin, had disavowed his activities and referred him to the congress for the compensation he sought (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 14:210–212; DAB).
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.