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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 7


Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0157

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Date: 1778-11-27

To Samuel Adams

[salute] My dear sir

Yesterday the B. Parliament met. The 2d of Decr., We shall have the Speech. We hope to make Inferences from it of the Intentions of Spain, as well as Great B.1
Among the innumerable Falshoods that the English Emmissaries propagate every Year, to keep up the Spirits of stockjobbers and others, one has constantly been that Russia will take a Part with them. This is repeated lately. But I have taken some Pains to inform myself, and I think you may depend upon it, that there is an Understanding between this Court and that of Russia, and this last has taken an Engagement with the former, not to assist England in any Way. There is also a good Understanding with Prussia. In short England has not and cannot obtain a Single Ally in all Europe.
Nobody pretends to penetrate the Mysteries of Spanish Councils: but the late order from Court to take the Names of all foreign Merchants in the Kingdom, and the other to admit all armed Vessells to bring in their Prizes condemn and sell them in the Ports of the Kingdom are considered as preparatory Steps, and the Edict of the K. of the two Sicilies, the eldest son of the K. of Spain2 to admit the American Flagg into his Ports, is looked upon as an unequivocal Indication of the Designs of Spain.
The French Marine has hitherto shewn itself in every Encounter equal at least to the British, in the Bravery and Skill both of officers and Men: But the French Merchants have not exerted themselves in Privateering so much as the English, and have not had so much success.
What Reinforcement will be sent to the Comte D'Estaing, I cannot say: But of one Thing I am sure that the only wise Method of conducting the War would be to send a clear superiority of naval Force to America, an opinion which has been suggested and will be urged where it ought.
What Shall I say on the subject of Money? We can get no Answer from Mr. B. ——3 respecting the Contract. I shudder for fear, our Army should not be well supplied in the approaching Winter. But can { 235 } do no more than has been done. And knowing what they have done and suffered I am at no Loss what th[ey] will do and suffer. But I should be happier if I was more sure they would be warm.
Crossing the ocean does not cure a Man of his Anxiety. But We are contending for as great an Object as ever Men had in View, and great Difficulties and Dangers, will lay the Foundation of a free and flourishing People broad and deep, in great Virtues and Abilities. I am my dear sir, your Friend and servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (NN: George Bancroft Collection); docketed: “From J Adams Esq Passy Novr 27. 1778 Copied & Asd.” Despite the docketing, no reply to this letter has been found.
1. JA's reference is to George III's speech of 26 Nov. opening the session, the newspaper account of which he presumably expected to reach Paris by 2 Dec., but which in fact was delivered to him on the evening of the 1st (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:125). In it the King strongly attacked France's unprovoked entry into the war, noted the mixed success of his war measures, regretted the failure of the Carlisle Commission, and promised renewed efforts to achieve victory and restore peace. Although Spain was not mentioned by name, George III did state that “the great armaments of other powers ... must necessarily engage our attention” (Parliamentary Hist., 19:1277–1279).
2. SeeCommissioners to the president of the congress, 7 Nov., and note 12 (above).
3. Beaumarchais.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0158

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1778-11-27

To Elbridge Gerry

[salute] My dear Sir

I have not received a Line, nor heard a Syllable from you Since my Arrival, but I know your incessant Application to things of the first Moment, and therefore presume you have good Reasons.
Our Ennemies are Still in a Delirium: and are pleasing themselves with Hopes that Clinton will be more bloody than How. Nothing is so charming to their Imaginations as Blood and Fire. What an Heart must this People have?
The Two Howes are in a sort of Disgrace, and now Clinton is to do wonders. The Howes have returned, without Laurels, with melicious Tempers bloody Hands, and the pleasing Reflection that their Names are hearafter to be recollected, by all virtuous and humane Men with those of Alva and Grizler.1
I think there should be a Clubb formed in London of all the Sages and Heroes that have returned from America—Bernard, Hutchinson and Train,2 Gage, How, Howe, &c. &c. &c.3 and to be sure Burgoigne. What a respectable society it would be? How entertaining to hear them in Turn recounting their memorable Deeds of Fraud and Violence in America, and their glorious tryumphant success?
{ 236 }
You will see by the Papers, which I shall send by this opportunity that there is great Animosity, in Holland vs England. Sir J.——4 it is said flatters the Prince, with Hopes of marrying his Daughter to the Prince of Wales, and the Prospect of having a Daughter Queen of England is too tempting for a Prince to resist. Yet he cannot do great Things, and there is a spirit rising in the Low Countries which will give England Trouble. The situation of that Republic is so defenceless, and they consider England in such a state of Desperation, ready to do any Mad Thing, that I dont expect they will very soon take any decisive Part in our Favour, but the Determination against taking any Part against Us is decisive. They wish America independant. It is their Interest. They wish to see England humbled. She is too overbearing. Yet they are afraid to provoke England, by any open Engagement against her. Yet they have discoverd a manifest solicitude least America should in a Treaty with G. B. agree to exclude the Dutch from some Part of their Trade. And they have Reason for this suspicion.
It is a delicate Thing to negociate with this People, but We have constant Intelligence, from them, and shall watch every favourable Opportunity. Their Purses, their sailors and ships have been employed against Us from the Beginning, and England could not possibly do without them, I cannot therefore but wish, that something may turn up, to awaken the old Batavian Spirit. I am as ever your Friend & sert
[signed] John Adams
RC (H. L. Seaver, Mass., 1956); docketed: “Braintree Letter Mr. J. Adams Novr 27 1778.”
1. See JA to the president of the congress, 20 Sept., and note 2 (above).
2. Presumably JA means Hutchinson and his followers.
3. The following five words were interlined for insertion here.
4. Sir Joseph Yorke.
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, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/