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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 7

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0105

Author: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-10-24

To Edmé Jacques Genet

[Last]1 night I was favoured with yours of the 24[th], [and nothing wou]ld give me greater Pleasure, than to be able to furnish you with any Observations or Intelligence, which might be to your Purpose.
With Regard to the Cartouch Boxes and other Arms of G. Burgoines Army, I can add nothing to what the Congress have said in their Resolutions upon the Report of their Committee on the 8 of Jany. 1778, which has been published already in the Affaires De l'Angleterre et de L'Amerique, and is found in the 9th volume from Page 294 to Page 302.2
The Congress mentioned the Cartouch Boxes, I suppose because they were mentioned by their General Gates in his Official Return: But they might have gone further, for the Truth was, that all the Arms were rendered unfit for service, either by driving over them loaded Carts, or breaking their Locks, in short every Thing in their Power was done by them to injure and destroy their Arms, contrary to the Faith of { 155 } the Convention, and there was a great Uneasiness about it, through the Country.
But it was not this Breach of the Convention alone, that induced Congress to detain the Army. It was a Discovery of the Intention of the Ennemy, to join Burgoignes Troupes to Howes instead of sending them to <the>[ . . . ] Europe.
This Intention was collected from various Considerations.
[1. It was known that the principle favored by the British Court was that, not only was it permitted, but, as good policy, it was even obligatory to deceive the rebels by promises and en]gagements which they never intended to keep. [This maxim] was formally taught in a certain Book, which was [much in] fashion at the British Court, and which the King himself [was] known to be very fond of.3
2. G. Burgoine himself, took care to declare under his Hand in several Letters that the Convention was broke on the Part of the Americans and altho that General had not even a plausible Colour for this opinion, yet the Declaration of it was sufficient Evidence of his Intention to consider himself as discharged from the Convention and consequently at Liberty to go to New York or Rhode Island if he could get there.
3. G. Burgoines Refusal to permit the Names, Age, and Description of his officers and Men to be taken, according to the Resolution of Congress, by which Measure alone, those Persons could be detected and brought to Punishment in Case they, had again served in America contrary to the Treaty, could be considered in no other Light than a Determination to withhold that sort of Evidence.
4. The Number of Transports sent to Rhode Island, might possibly have conveyed that Army to Rhode Island,4 but was altogether insufficient to transport them and their Baggage to Europe.
5. It was well known, that the British Army in America, had too Scanty an allowance of Provisions, to be able to Spare a sufficient Quantity to carry that Army home to Europe.
[But there is yet another point that should not be ignored. This is, that under the Saratoga Convention General Bourgoyne's army was obligated to pay for the provisions to] be furnished them by the Americans, [and the congress has]5 very wisely and justly resolved that they should not embark untill this Debt should be paid.
But there has been no offer of Payment.
What the British Commissioners have to do with this affair, is another Question? It is not included in their Commission.
Congress have resolved that the Army shall not embark untill the { 156 } Convention shall be ratified by the Court, that is by the King. But the King has not ratified it, nor has he empowered his Commissioners to ratify it.
But Governor Johnstone conscious of the Part he had acted, and feeling himself the Scorn of the Universe, for his Prevarications and Tergiversations, was impotent under it and makes this awkward Effort, to make a Noise in order to drown the Hisses of Mankind which had been justly excited against himself.6
As to the Situation of Gen. Burgoines Army, it was lodged in Cambridge Medford and Charlestown in Comfortable Barracks, and plentifully Supplied with Provisions. They were under a Guard of a Thousand Men of the Militia—and had no other Restraint laid upon them than was consistent with the Convention, and than their own turbulent and riotous Disposition made necessary.
It appears by the late Papers, that they are removed, I think to Rutland and other interiour Parts of the Country, where they can be better provided for, and under less Temptation to Disorder.7
[The assertions of George Johnstone concerning the treaty and the approval given by Dr. Franklin to the system of reconciliation, refer to events before my arrival] in this Country. But from what [I have heard] concerning the Treaty and from what I have known of [Dr. Frank]lin's sentiments for three or four years past, they are so [atrocious]ly false,8 that it will be easy, to set those Matters right in the Eyes of the World, which I suppose Dr. F. will do.
As you have observed it will not be proper to make Use of my Name upon this Occasion, and I dont know that you can make any Use of any of these Observations. If you can they are at your service.
I am with great Esteem, your most obedient servant
[signed] John Adams
I think G. Johnstones Declaration may be fairly considered as full Proof of his having employed the Lady to offer, the Ten Thousand Guineas to Mr. Reed, and the best office in the Kings Gift, as well as of his having written the Letters to Mr. Reed and Mr. Morris. In his answer he does not deny it—which probably he would not have failed to do, if he had not been conscious that the Ladys Testimony, and perhaps that of oth[ers] could be added to that of Mr. Reed.9
To what a fatal Degree, has this Gangreene of Corruption, arisen in British Hearts! There seems to be no Character left, in any Part of the Government, or the Army, or the Navy. Lord Howe, General How, even Admiral Keppell, all in their Turns have abandoned their Friends, their Party and their professed Principles and suffered them• { 157 } selves to be made the Tools of an Administration and a system10 which they professed to detest, for the sake of Emolument and Command and G. Johnstone in his Turn, not only throws himself into the Arms of this Administration, but descends to become the Instrument of the meanest and vilest of their dirty work.
RC (Justin G. Turner, Los Angeles, 1958). With the exception of the first paragraph, the two paragraphs preceding JA's signature, and the signature, this letter was translated into French and printed in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Améique (“Lettres,” vol. 12, cahier 58, p. ccxl–ccxlvi). The tops of all four pages of this letter have been damaged by fire, with the loss of the date line, salutation, several lines of text, and various words. As a result, except in the first paragraph (see note 1), the missing portions have been supplied in brackets by reconstructing the English text from the French translation in Affaires (see notes 3, 5, and 8).
1. The missing words in tnis paragraph have been supplied from an incomplete transcript in the Edmond Charles Genet Papers (DLC).
2. In resolutions of 22 Nov., 19 and 27 Dec. 1777, and 8 Jan. 1778, the congress had prohibited the embarkation of Burgoyne's army until the Saratoga Convention had been ratified by Great Britain. Ostensibly it acted because of violations of the convention, which were outlined in several reports to the congress and included the failure of the troops to surrender their equipment in good condition (JCC, 9:948–951, 1036–1037, 1059–1064; 10:29–35); but actually the congress feared that when the soldiers reached England they would be used to replace garrison troops that would then be sent to America. Although JA had left the congress before the victory at Saratoga, he was kept fully informed of its deliberations over the fate of Burgoyne's army. JA's “Observations” on Burgoyne and his captured forces appear to be largely drawn from the letters that he had received during that period. See letters from Samuel Cooper of 22 and 24 Oct. 1777; from James Lovell of 18 Nov., 1 and 21 Dec. 1777, and 1 Jan. 1778; and from Henry Laurens of 15 Jan. 1778 (vol. 5:319–320, 321–322, 330–331, 340–341, 361–363, 379–380, 388–390).
3. In Affaires the paragraph reads: “Premierement, on savoit que le principe favori de la Cour de la Grande-Bretagne etoit que, non-seulement il etoit permis, mais qu'on devoit meme, en bonne politique, tromper des rebelles par des promesses et des engagemens qu'on pourroit se dispenser de tenir. Cette maxime avoit été enseignee dans un certain livre qui a été fort en vogue á la Cour d'Angleterre, et qu'on savoit avoir beaucoup plu aû Roi lui-même.”
4. That is, from the point of embarkation at Boston to Rhode Island.
5. In Affaires the paragraph to this point reads: “Mais il y a encore un autre point qu'il ne faut pas oublier; c'est que, par la convention de Saratoga, l'armee du General Burgoyne devoit payer les provisions qui lui seroient fournies par les Americains, et le Congres a ete.”
6. For Johnstone's declaration of 26 Aug., see Genet's letter of 24 Oct., and note 1 (above).
7. Although the Saratoga Convention provided that the troops be kept near Boston in order not to delay their embarkation, on 11 Sept. the congress authorized their removal to various parts of Massachusetts, and on 16 Oct. to Virginia (JCC, 12:902, 1016).
8. In Affaires the paragraph to this point reads: “Les assertions de George Johnstone concernant le Traite et l'approbation donnee par le Docteur Franklin au systeme de conciliation, se rapportent a des faits anterieurs a mon arrivee en Europe: mais suivant ce que j'ai oui-dire du Traite et d'apres la connoissance que j'ai des sentimens du Docteur Franklin depuis trois ou quatre ans, ce sont des faussetes si atroces.”
9. In its declaration of 11 Aug., the congress reported on letters of 11 April and 16 June from Johnstone to Joseph { 158 } Reed and Robert Morris, offering bribes for their influence in favor of the Carlisle Commission, and also on Reed's meeting with Elizabeth Ferguson, wife of a British commissary of prisoners, in which she relayed Johnstone's offer (JCC, 11:770–773; see also Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:616–617; Joseph Reed, Remarks on Governor Johnstone's Speech, Phila., 1779, p. 9–12, 16–21, 39–57).
10. The preceding three words were interlined for insertion here.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0106

Author: Adams, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-10-25

From Samuel Adams

[salute] My dear Sir

Your Favor of the 24th2 of May did not reach my hand till yesterday. The Gentleman who brought it, Mr. Archer, tells me he had a Passage of Eleven Weeks. I will show him the Respect due to the Character you give him, and properly regard such future Recommendations as may come from you.
I suppose you have been fully and officially informd of the State of our military Affairs since the Enemy evacuated this City and met with a Drubbing at Monmouth. And as publick Letters will doubtless be forwarded by this Conveyance, it is needless for me to give you a particular Detail of what has happend since. By those Letters you will be informd that Dr. Franklin is appointed Minister Plenipotentiary at Versailes. It is not yet determind how you will be disposd of; but as Congress entertain great Expectations from your Services, you may depend upon Employment being allotted for you somewhere.3 The critical Situation of the Powers of Europe in general, renders it somewhat difficult for us to determine, to which of them to make our Addresses at present. Every Cabinet I suppose is busily engagd in making the necessary Arrangements and preparing for the opening a Campaign, if War should take Place. In this Case, I should think France must be our Pole Star, while it continues,4 and our Connections must be formd with hers. In the mean time however, Holland, whose Policy is always to be at Peace, may be open for a Negociation; and in my opinion, we ought to take the earliest opportunity to tempt her.
The two main Armies at and near New York have been quiet since the Enemy retreated to that City. We have made another Expedition against Rhode Island. Our Arms were not disgracd, though we did not succeed to our Wishes. Genl. S. behavd as usual with Bravery; but some will have it that there is a Mixture of Imprudence in every thing he does. He promisd himself to share with Gates in the Glory of Victory, and as an officer of Spirit, no doubt he felt vexed with the Disappointment;5 but he was too sanguine in my opinion, when he expected that the Count D Estaing would remain there, in the Circumstances { 159 } which he was thrown into by a violent Storm he met with when in Pursuit of Lord Howe. This unforeseen and unavoidable Accident left him too much inferior to the British Squadron to run the Risque with any Degree of Prudence. It was a Misfortune which we all regret, but must bear. Knowing the high Temper of the People of my native Town, I, immediately upon hearing it, wrote to some of the principal Men6 to prevent Blame being cast on the Count for leaving Rhode Island; a Disposition which I apprehended the artful Tories (for such there are even there) would encourage with a View of discrediting our new and happy Alliance, in the Minds of injudicious Whigs. I am happy to be informd that the Count and his officers, and indeed every french Gentlemen is treated there with the highest Marks of Respect and Friendship.
For some Weeks past there have been Reports here that the Enemies Troops at N York were about to embark, as they gave out on a grand Expedition, and we are now assured that Sixteen Sail of the line and about one hundred and fifty Transports put to Sea on Tuesday the 20th Instant. Various are the Conjectures of their Destination. Whether to Boston, South Carolina or the West Indies, a few Days will decide. The Count D Estaing has sufficiently securd his Ships in Case of an Attack on them; and if they land their Troops with Intent to march them to Boston, it is my opinion they will repent of their Expedition. It appears to me most probable that the Troops are bound to the West Indies, and that the Ships of War, after having convoyd them to a certain Latitude will return for the Protection of the Garrisons which I suppose are to be left at Newport and New York. The Enemy will be loth to quit the small Portion of Land they possess within the United States; for though they must despair of subduing us by Arms, it will be necessary for them to oblige us to continue the Expence of large Armies in order to nonplus us in the Art of financiering. This may be a Method of carrying on the Contest, the most puzzling to us; but I trust we shall disappoint them.
The Marquis De la Fayette whose extraordinary Merit is fully known to you, does me the Honor of taking the Care of this Letter, and will deliver it to you.7
I am, my dear Sir, with the greatest Sincerity Your affectionate
[signed] Saml Adams
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. S. Adams”; by CFA: “25th”; in another hand: “Oct 1778.”
1. Under this date and the heading “Lettre de Samuel Adams (a) à M. ***, á P—y,” this letter was printed in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique { 160 } (“Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 65, p. clxxii–clxxv). JA sent the letter, together with letters from Richard Henry Lee of 29 Oct. and Samuel Cooper of 4 Jan. 1779 (both below) to Edmé Jacques Genet. The alterations in this letter as printed in Affaires (see notes 3, 5, and 7), as well as those in the printed versions of the letters from Lee and Cooper, resulted from suggestions JA made in his covering letter to Genet of [ca. 14 Feb. 1779] (below).
2. An inadvertance for the 21st; see vol. 6:144–145, calendar entry; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:106–108.
3. The preceding two sentences were omitted from the translation in Affaires.
4. That is, while the preparations for a possible war in Europe continued, the relations of the United States with the contending powers should be guided by French policy.
5. In Affaires the reference to Gates was omitted. Samuel Adams is apparently saying that Gen. John Sullivan had hoped to emulate, in Rhode Island, Gates' victory at Saratoga. It was these high expectations, in Adams' mind, that led Sullivan to make his imprudent remarks concerning Estaing's failure to return to support his effort against Newport (Ward, War of the Revolution, 2:593).
6. See his letters to James Warren of 12 Sept., Samuel Phillips Savage of 14 Sept., and an unknown correspondent of 21 Sept. (Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates, 10:619–621, 636–637, 677–678).
7. The remainder of the letter was omitted from the translation in Affaires.
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.