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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 7

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0173

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Rush, Benjamin
Date: 1778-12-06

To Benjamin Rush

[salute] Dr Sir

I had the Pleasure of a Letter from you,1 a few days before I Sailed from Boston, which I have never been able to answer.
I think I find more to do here; more Difficulty to do right and at the Same Time give Satisfaction, than I did, you know where.2
We Suffer here extreamly for Want of Intelligence from America, as We did there, and as I fear you do still for Want of it from Europe.
We have very imperfect Information concerning the State of the Army especially its Health, which you used to have the Goodness to inform me of sometimes. I hope it is better than it was heretofore.
I should be very happy to hear from you as often as you can, and to know the state of the Hospital as well as Army in General, and every Thing that relates to Government or War. There is a periodical Pamphlet in French under the Title of the <Courier de L'Europe>3 Affairs D'Angleterre & De L'Amerique, in which Intelligence and Letters from America are published, for the Information of the People in Europe.
I have a Strong Curiosity to know, the Artifices, and Subterfuges, with which the Tories still keep alive each others Hopes. When England has not and cannot get an ally, and many Nations are preparing to league themselves against her. When her Merchants are breaking, her Manufacturers Starving, and they are obliged to take them into public Pay, under the Name of Militia, to prevent their Picking Pocketts, robbing on the High Ways, and plundering in Companies all before them.
I have but one Peace of Advice to give. I never had any other. “Be not deceived.” Tho B. is in a deplorable Situation, the Administration { 254 } will neither Acknowledge our Independance nor withdraw their Troops. You must kill, Starve or take them all.4 Your Frid & sert.
[signed] John Adams
RC (CtY: Franklin Papers). LbC (Adams Papers).
1. JA's reference is probably to Rush's letter of 22 Jan, which was received on 6 Feb., rather than to Rush's letter of 8 Feb. The letter of the 8th could not have arrived before JA sailed for France, and there is no evidence that AA forwarded it. JA, however, had answered the letter of 22 Jan. on 8 Feb., thus making his statement in the present letter confusing (Benjamin Rush, Letters, 1:190–192, 199–200; vol. 5:402–404). It is possible that JA forgot that he had replied on 8 Feb.
2. Presumably in the congress.
3. This cancellation does not appear in the Letterbook copy, indicating that it was made from the recipient's copy and was not a draft as was often the case.
4. Through Rush's efforts this final paragraph, with minor changes, was printed in the Pennsylvania Packet, 25 March 1779, as an “Extract of a letter from an American Gentleman in a high position at the Court of France, dated Passy (near Paris) Dec. 6th” (Rush to JA, 19 Aug. 1779, below). It was widely reprinted, see for example the Virginia Gazette (Dixon and Nicholson), 9 April; the Connecticut Courant, 20 April; and the Boston Gazette, 26 April 1779.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0174

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sherman, Roger
Date: 1778-12-06

To Roger Sherman

[salute] Dear Sir

From the long Series of arduous services, in which We have acted together, I have had Experience enough of your accurate Judgment, in Cases of Difficulty, to wish very often that I could have the Benefit of it here.
To me it appears that there will be no more cordial Friendship, nor for many Years to come any long Peace, between G. B. and America, and therefore the French Alliance is and will be an important Barrier to Us, and ought to be cultivated with perfect Faith and much Tenderness. But Still it is a delicate and dangerous Connection. There is Danger to the Simplicity of our Manners and to the Principles of our Constitution, and there may be dangers that too much will be demanded of Us.
There is Danger that the People and their Representatives, may have too much Timidity in their Conduct towards this Power, and that your Ministers here may have too much Diffidence of themselves and too much Complaisance for the Court. There is Danger, that French Councils and Emmissaries and Correspondents, may have too much Influence in our Deliberations.
I hope that this Court will not interfere, by Attaching themselves to Persons, Parties, or Measures in America. It would be ill Policy, but no Court is always directed by sound Policy, and We cannot be too much { 255 } upon our Guard. Some Americans, will naturally endeavour to avail themselves of the Aid of the French Influence, to raise their Reputations, to extend their Influence, to strengthen their Parties, and in short to promote the Purposes of private Ambition and Interest. But these Things must be guarded against. I wish for a Letter from you, as often as you can, and that you would believe me your Frnd.1
1. Assuming that this letter was sent (no recipient's copy has been found), it is remarkable for two reasons: it is the first letter in which JA clearly stated his apprehensions about the French alliance; and it was to Roger Sherman, whom JA knew well from having served with him on important committees at the congress, but who, according to the Adams Papers Editorial Files, had no previous correspondence with JA. One can only speculate on JA's reasons for unburdening himself to Sherman, rather than to one of his intimates, but it may have been owing to Sherman's standing in the congress, as well as to JA's high regard for him. JA described Sherman to AA in a letter of 16 March 1777 as “an old Puritan, as honest as an Angell and as <stanch as a blood Hound> firm <as a Rock> in the Cause of American Independence, as Mount Atlass” (Adams Family Correspondence, 2:176).
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.