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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 6

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0247

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1778-07-26

To James Lovell

[salute] My dear Friend

Your favours of May 16 and 251 by Captain Barnes reached me Yesterday. These with those by Niles from Connecticut and those by the Saratoga from Baltimore are all that I have received from you or from any Body at Congress, which gives me Pain, because your other Letters must have miscarried, and I hold your Letters in so high Esteem that I cannot be willing to loose one.
The Robbery of Folgiers Packet, by all that I can learn must have been committed by a Traitor who made his Escape to England. But Dr. F. and Mr. L. who were acquainted with this Transaction, will I suppose, devellope the Mistery as far as they are able. One of these Gentlemen has some other Suspicions, but I believe, the Fugitive to England was the only Thief.2
Mr. D. whom you mention is no doubt with you before now, but if the Count D'Estang has not been able to strike a decisive Blow before the Arrival of Biron, I should fear that some Misfortune has befallen, since the Junction of Biron and How. We are however anxious to know, the naval Maneuvres in America, as well as those of the Armies. Mr. D. complains of ill treatment, and claims great Merit, for his services. I shall not add to the ill treatment, nor depreciate the Merit: but it will never do for Congress to dread the Resentment of their servants. I have heard a great deal in this Country concerning his Conduct— great Panegyricks and <rough Cen> harsh Censures. But I believe he has nither the extravagant Merit, that some Persons ascribe to him, nor the gross faults to answer for, which some others impute, or suspect. I believe he was a dilligent servant of the Public, and rendered it useful service. His Living was expensive: but whether he made the vast Profit to himself that Some Persons suspect, I know not, or whether any Profit at all. One thing I know that my family will feel that I shall not imitate him in this faculty if it really was his. For which Reason I wish Congress would determine, what Allowance We shall have for our Time, that I might know whether my Family can live upon it or not.
Extravagant Claims of Merit are always to be suspected. General Gates was the ablest Negociator you ever had in Europe, and next to him General Washingtons attack upon the Enemy at Germantown. I dont know indeed whether this last affair had { 319 } not more Influence upon the European Mind than that of Saratoga—altho the Attempt was unsuccessfull, the military Gentlemen in Europe considerd it, as the most decisive Proof that America would finally succeed.3
And you may depend upon it, altho Your Agents in Europe were to plead with the Tongues of Men and Angells, although they had the Talents and the Experience of Mazarine, or the Integrity of D'ossat,4 your Army in America, would have more success than they.
I foresee there will be Diversities of sentiment concerning this Gentleman, and perhaps warm Debates—perhaps there will be as much as there has been about a General in the Northern Department.5 All that I request is that I may not be drawn into the Dispute. Europe has not charms enough for me, to wish to stay here, to the Exclusion of abler Negociators, much less at the Expence of Heats and Divisions in Congress. How well united you were in the Choice of me I never was informed, and how soon attempts may be made to displace me I know not. But one thing I beg of my Friends, and one only that if any Attempt of that Kind should be made, they would give me up, rather than continue my Residence at the Expence of Debates in Congress, and by the favour of small Majorities.
If I were capable of Speculating in English Funds, or of conducting private Trade, I might find opportunities here to make a private Profit, and might have Inducements from private Considerations to continue here: But this will never be my Case. And I am very well perswaded that Congress will never grant me So much for my services here as I could earn by my Profession in Boston, to which I will return with submission to old Ocean, old Boreas, and British Men of War, the Moment I am released from this station. I wish however that Congress would determine what allowance they will make, that honest Men may not be made, nor suspected to be otherwise. As to the public, I am fully perswaded, that its Interests are not at all concerned in my Residence here, as there is a great Plenty of Persons quite as well qualified.
If I had Leisure my Friend to write you Descriptions of Cities of Villages of Gardens, of Groves, Parks, Forests, Buildings, Churches Palaces, Equipage Furniture, Gold, silver, Marble, lacce, Velvet, silk and Alabaster I could give you Pictures more charming than any Thing in Philadelphia: But yet I must con• { 320 } fess that I am so much of Mrs. Climers Mind that I would rather live there than here. My <most> affectionate Respects to that worthy Lady and her sister, to Mr. Clymer her son and to the Children, and especially to the General,6 whom I shall ever love for his integrity his firmness and his Love to his Country.
Dont forget to make my Respects to the Gentlemen who were formerly my Colleagues but are so no longer, as I learn my Constituents in the Massachusetts have displaced me from the Delegation. My Respects to Dr. Holten.
1. For the letter here designated as being of 25 May, see Lovell to JA, [May] (above).
2. The “Traitor” was Joseph Hynson, the sea captain who had actually stolen the dispatches, while the “other Suspicions” were those of Arthur Lee, probably in regard to William Carmichael, but Lee may have disclosed to JA his suspicions of Jacques Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont, the Commissioners' landlord at Passy (Lewis Einstein, Divided Loyalties, Boston, 1933, p. 63–64, 67, 71; Lee to the Committee of Correspondence, 14 April, Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:550–552; Lee to James Lovell, 3 June, R. H. Lee, Arthur Lee, 2:141–142).
3. For an assessment of the impact of the Battle of Germantown that largely agrees with JA's, see Orville T. Murphy, “The Battle of Germantown and the Franco-American Alliance of 1778,” PMHB, 82:55–64 (Jan. 1958).
4. Arnaud d'Ossat (1536–1604), cardinal and French diplomat (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale).
5. Gen. Philip Schuyler and the controversy that raged around him from his appointment as commander of the Northern Department to his acquittal by court martial in Oct. 1778 (DAB).
6. Brig. Gen. Roberdeau.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0248

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1778-07-26

To James Warren

[salute] My dear Sir

Yours of [7] June by Captain Barnes fortunately reached me, Yesterday. I was much Surprised, you may well imagine at its Contents. But I Suppose, the Cause of their not electing you to the Council, must have been your Engagements in the Navy Board.
I am unhappy to learn by the Newspapers, that our Constitution is likely to occasion much Altercation in the State, but notwithstanding all our Dissentions, there is a Mass of Prudence, and Integrity among our People, that will finally conduct them into the right Way.
I wish now that I had accepted of your polite offer of your son. It is however I presume for his Interest, because, he may pursue Business there to much better Profit. If Mr. Austin should leave me, I should have occasion for a Clerk, which would afford a { 321 } young Gentleman, a decent subsistence and no more. The Frigates, the Merchandise, the Negociations and the vast Correspondence, we have, render a Clerk, indispensably necessary for each of the Commissioners, and for some of them more than one. <If your Son will accept of so humble an Employment,>.
Mr. Hancock Mr. Adams, and my respectable successor Dr. Holten, are gone to Congress, but you dont mention Mr. Paine.1 Where is he? Earning Twenty thousand dollars a year at the Bar? If he is I wish him Joy, and hope in Time to arrive at some Post of the same Honour and Profit. Dana I suppose is earning Thirty thousands. Upon my Word I think these Gentry ought to through their rich Profits into Hotchpotch with a poor Brother at Passi.
Where is the Spirit and the Genius of America? To suffer the feeble Remnants of <your> our Ennemis, in Philadelphia and Rhode Island, to come out with such Insolence, and burn Houses and Vessells, without Retaliation, is intollerable.
Will it ever do to think of Peace, while G. Britain has Canada, Nova Scotia and the Floridas, or any of them? Such a Peace will be but short. We shall have perpetual Wars with Britain while she has a foot of Ground in America. But if the belligerant Powers should be exhausted, so as to think of Peace, leaving Canada in the Hands of Britain, which I hope they will not, the Boundaries of Canada, must be ascertained, and of the Floridas too.
I believe I can tell you a Piece of News. The Cabinet at London, have determined to send to their Commissioners in America Instructions to offer you Independance, provided you will make Peace with them Seperate from France, and make a Commercial Treaty with them, by which they may retain something like their late Monopoly.
They certainly think that Americans are not Men of Honour. They believe them capable of violating their first Treaty, their first solemn sacred Faith, within a few Moments of its unanimous Ratification. Is it because they have seen, or heard any Thing like this Perfidy in Americans, or is it because they feel themselves capable of such Conduct and infer from thence that all other Men, are equally so?
Is there a Man in America, who would not run all hazards, who would not suffer the last Extremity rather than stain the first Page of our History with so foul a Breach of Faith? Is there { 322 } who would confess and prove to the World that America has no Honour, no Conscience, no faith, no Pride, for the sake of avoiding the Evils of War?
But where and how did the King and Council obtain Authority to make Such an offer? They have no such Power. Parliament alone can do it.
But they mean no such Thing. They mean only to seduce soldiers to Desertion. They mean only to draw in Congress or some public Body to break their Faith with France and to do some Act which shall forfeit the Confidence of all Mankind, and then they think they can manage America. Their object in this Piece of Policy as in all their others towards America, appears to me to be to seduce, to deceive, and to divide. They must however <at length> be brought to mingle some sincerity with their Policy, before they will succeed. I am as ever, yours
1. Robert Treat Paine, attorney general of Massachusetts, did not attend the congress during 1778, while Francis Dana, mentioned later in the paragraph, served for a few days in January and from at least 24 March until 11 Aug. (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 3:liv).
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.