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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 7


Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0194

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1778-12-19

To James Lovell

[salute] Dear Sir

It is unhappy that So many People in America, should perswade themselves that the Ennemy intend to evacuate New York and Rhode Island. This opinion cannot fail to damp their Ardour, and Slacken their Nerves. But you may depend upon it, they mean no such Thing. On the Contrary it is their unalterable Resolution, to maintain the Possession of both, as long as they can. Indeed either without the other would be in a manner useless to them. Without Rhode Island, their Fleet could not remain in the United States, during the Winter—Without New York and the Resources of Provisions from Long Island, Staten Island, and frequent Excursions into the Jerseys, for Depredation, they could not well subsist their Army. It is therefore certain that they will keep both, untill you destroy or captivate them all.
They have it now in Contemplation to fortify New York at a vast Expence and if they do this, they will oblige you to keep a great Army constantly up, Winter and summer at an infinite Expence, without being able to prevent them from making frequent Inroads upon you by Surprise, pillaging, burning and laying Waste.
There have been great Debates in the two Houses of Parliament, concerning the Manifesto of the Commissioners, and the Minorities appear to have a just Sense of its horrid Nature, but it has been Sanctifyed by triumphant Majorities in both, and it is past a doubt, that the Cabinet intend to execute it as far as they shall be able. Burn the sea coast and massacre upon the Frontiers, is now the Cry. This will harrass, distress, exhaust, and at length divide, and then Will conquer for think of it as you will the Hope of Conquest is not yet given up.
{ 291 }
Ministers, Ambassadors, Generals, Admirals are all together by the Ears, in England, accusing, reproaching, and threatning each other.1 No allies their Fleet rotten, Army small, Funds low, gloomy, desponding Stupid, yet all together dont discourage Administration.
There has been no Engagement between the two Fleets, since the first, and I fancy there will not be another, very Soon. The attention of both Nations turns towards the Islands in the West Indies.
You have all the Intelligence from Holland, from the Same Hand which sends it here.2 There is a monarchical, and a Republican Party there, from which division, as their Constitution requires Unanimity We are Safe from their taking Part against Us, but I fear We may infer from it too that they will not take a Part in our favour. Spain is as enigmetical as ever. We are impatiently waiting for Advice of your Determination upon foreign affairs, according to the Bruits propagated here, I expect to be recalled. Wherever I may be, I shall be your Friend.
1. For JA's more detailed comments on these controversies, as well as the debates in Parliament mentioned above, see his letter to Francis Dana of 25 Dec., and notes (below).
2. C. W. F. Dumas.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0195

Author: Schweighauser, John Daniel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-12-19

From J. D. Schweighauser

[salute] Sir

In compliance with your order1 I have made enquiries for a Vessell bound to Boston but have found none—during my search I was told Yesterday that Cap. McNeil was lately arrived and imediately sent to know when he would take your few articles. He told me that it is true he offered it while his Ship laid at L'Orient, but that since that time he had taken-in, goods and Passengers and that he had no room left. I expressed my surprize and represented to him that one hogshead more or less was not an object in such a Ship as his,—but he repeated his refusal—which puts me under the necessity of waiting for another occasion at which time I shall take care to have them shipt in due time. I am most respectfully Sir Your mo. humble & mo. obedient Servant
[signed] J. Dl. Schweighauser
1. JA had written on 8 Dec. (LbC, Adams Papers) to ask Schweighauser to send wine, sugar, and tea to Braintree by the first available ship. JA's letter is largely quoted in the notes to his letter to AA of 9 Dec., informing her of his intention (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:131). Schweighauser had acknowledged JA's request on 12 Dec. (Adams Papers). It is not known whether these goods were actually sent or ever received.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0196-0001

Editorial Note

The Commissioners' letter or memorial to Vergennes of early January 1779 is highly significant. Despite its long dissertation on the evils of the Carlisle Commission's manifesto of 3 October 1778 and its appeal for a French declaration to counter the manifesto's effects, the principal object of the letter was the dispatch of naval reinforcements to America. John Adams later wrote to Elbridge Gerry (11 Sept. 1779, below), that it represented the culmination of Adams' long effort to persuade his colleagues that an appeal to the French government for additional aid was necessary. He had pursued that objective since October, when he engaged in conversations with Ralph Izard and Edmé Jacques Genet on the subject and had been encouraged by the latter, in a letter of 29 October (above), to compose a memorandum that might be submitted to the appropriate ministers.
Adams wrote such a paper (to Genet, 31 Oct., above), but did not send it because, as he stated in his letter to Gerry, he determined that the participation of Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee was needed to give the appeal additional impact. Such unified support was not automatic, particularly in the case of Franklin, because implicit in a request for additional naval forces was a criticism of France's past efforts, an echo of American criticism of Admiral Estaing for his failures at New York and Newport earlier in 1778. For this reason presumably, Adams told Gerry, Lee entered into the project with “zeal,” while Franklin did so with “moderation.” What may have made such a letter more palatable to Franklin was the Carlisle Commission's manifesto, which by December had become an issue, as can be seen in Ralph Izard's letter to Adams of 22 December (below). The manifesto, proposing a change in the character of the war, justified an appeal for more naval aid, which would then not be seen as a criticism of previous French efforts.
{ 293 }
Upon that basis the drafting of the letter began in mid-December. Four drafts have been found, and there may have been a fifth that is not extant. The first draft was by Arthur Lee. According to John Adams in his letter to Gerry, Lee's draft was too short. As a result, Adams wrote in his Letterbook a second, much longer draft, which is printed as No. I. It became the basis for the letter as actually sent. Arthur Lee then copied John Adams' draft, incorporating insertions and deletions made in the course of its composition, thus producing a third draft on which Lee entered his alterations, while Franklin made his revisions in Adams' Letterbook. For a more detailed comment on these three drafts and the possibility that there was another, see the descriptive note to No. I. For a fourth extant draft, see the descriptive note to No. II.
The recipient's copy (No. II) shows the effects of intensive editing, being half as long as Adams' initial draft, with whole paragraphs removed, repositioned, or considerably shortened. Many changes were made for the sake of clarity or to avoid repetition, but protocol was the prime consideration in the decision to direct the letter to Vergennes rather than to Louis XVI. Other changes were of more substance, as for example, those in portions of the memorial that dealt with the French alliance, made to avoid any implication that the Commissioners' memorial was an ultimatum and that the lack of a favorable response to its requests would lessen the attachment of the United States to the alliance.
The Commissioners' letter brought no response from Vergennes beyond his reply of 9 January (below) acknowledging its receipt. Vergennes' decision to ignore the plan probably resulted from three considerations: his belief that French assistance was adequate; a plan, presumably unknown to the Commissioners, to invade England with a combined French and Spanish force in the event that Spain entered the war; and the French navy's size, which prevented any substantial augmentation of its forces in American waters at that time. It is significant that the request for “a powerful Fleet of thirty or forty sail” in Adams' Letterbook draft was scaled down in the recipient's copy to “sending of a powerfull Fleet sufficient to secure a naval superiority” (No. II, note 6).
Despite the lack of a positive response from Vergennes, John Adams did not abandon his belief that the dispatch of additional French ships was a necessity, as is apparent in his letter to Gerry in September 1779, as well as in the letters between him and Lafayette of 21 February and 9 April (both below). The drafts and the resulting letter to Vergennes provide a fascinating glimpse of the Commissioners' efforts to deal with the French government on a most sensitive issue: the amount of material aid to be supplied the United States.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0196-0002

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1778-12-20

I. John Adams' Draft of the Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

<Certain><The> Some late Proceedings of the common Ennemy, are of a Nature so extraordinary, and may if not in some Way or other controuled, produce Consequences so <disagreable>[injurious] not only to <all the belligerent Powers>[France and the United States], but by their Example to other Nations, that We have thought it our Duty, to Submit a few observations upon them, to <the>[your Excellency's] Superior Lights and Judgment <of his Majesty and his Council>.2
The Earl of Carlisle, Sir Henry Clinton and William Eden Esq. his Britannic Majestys Commissioners, appointed for Purposes Sufficiently known, have seen fit on the third day of October 1778 to publish a Manifesto in America, in which, among many other exceptionable Paragraphs (not necessary to be here remembered,) are the following (Words vizt.)
“But if there be any Persons, who divested of mistaken Resentments, and uninfluenced by Selfish Interests, really think that it is for the Benefit of the Colonies to Seperate themselves from Great Britain, and that So Seperated they will find a Constitution more mild, more free, and better calculated for their Prosperity, than that which they heretofore enjoyed, and which We are empowered and disposed to renew and improve; with Such Persons we will not dispute a Position, which Seems to be Sufficiently contradicted by the Experience they have had. But We think it right to leave them fully aware of the Change, which the maintaining Such a Position, must make in the whole Nature and future Conduct of this War; more especially when to this Position is added the PRETENDED Alliance with France. The Policy, as well as the Benevolence of Great Britain, have thus far checked the Extremes of War, when they tended to distress a People Still considered as our Fellow Subjects, and to DESOLATE a Country Shortly to become again a Source of mutual Advantage: But when that Country professes the unnatural Design, not only of estranging herself from Us, but of mortgaging herself and her Resources to our Ennemies, the whole Contest is changed; and the Question is, how far Great Britain may, by every Means in her Power, DESTROY or RENDER USELESS a Connexion contrived for her Ruin and for the Aggrandisement of France. Under Such Circumstances, the Laws of Self Preservation must direct the Conduct of Great Britain, and if the British Collonies are to become an ACCESSION to France, will di• { 295 } rect her to render that ACCESSION of as little avail as possible to her Ennemy.”
The Congress, on the Thirtyeth of October, in a Resolution, a Copy of which We have the Honour to inclose, holding in just abhorrence, the Threats in the British Manifesto, <unanimously determined> declared with great solemnity and perfect Unanimity, that if their Ennemies dared to execute their Manaces and persist in their Plan of Barbarity, that they would take a Vengeance So exemplary, as should deter all others, who might hereafter be under a Temptation to imitate Great Britain.3
Motions have been made in both Houses of the British Parliament, to address the King to disavow the barbarous Clauses in the Manifesto of his Commissioners <,>[;]<and We have read with Pleasure the virtuous Detestation of the wisest and best Men in that Nation against this Measure.> But these Motions have been rejected, by Majorities in both Houses, and the Manifesto Stands, avowed by King Lords and Commons, an eternal Monument of <their Revenge, their> Inhumanity, <their malevolent Passions> and <their anti> unchristian Policy.4
<The Artifice, of representing, that the united States, had mortgaged themselves and their Resources to France—[and that]5 the Connection between the two Countries [was] formed for the Ruin of Great Britain, is very obvious. They know full well, the Americans have made no Mortgages of themselves or their Resources, but for their own Preservation. That the Connection was not made for the Ruin of G.B. or for any Ruin, but for the Independance of the united States, which is but another Word, for their Preservation from Ruin.6 Indeed if the United States had formed an Alliance with France, for the Purposes of ruining Great Britain, it would have been but an Imitation of her Example, a Retaliation—and much more excuseable than her Alliances with Germans Indians, and Negroes for the Ruin of the United States—but.>
<The Artifice of calling that a pretended Alliance, which their own Feelings as well as their Consciences, attested and which the Interests of their Posterity will acknowledge to be a real Alliance, <is too litt> an Artifice so unworthy of any great Character, and much more so of Characters representing Nations and Sovereigns, is however So little important, as scarcely to be worth an observation.>7 That the Aggrandisement of France, would be a Consequence of this Connection, We acknowledge to have foreseen and <all> America would join with Us, <in [ . . . ] from> from her essential Interests as well as her Gratitude in avowing this is Part of the Proclamation. But G.B. must thank her own Injustice Ingratitude and Impolicy for this.
{ 296 }
The Declaration <amounts, to a formal annonciation><of>[announces] a Settled Design, to make their Utmost Exertions in the <horrid> barbarous Work of Conflagration and Massacre.8 There is to be “a Change in the Nature and Conduct of the War.” <We know of no>[A] Change for the Worse <that it is possible for them to make>[must be horrible indeed!]9<unless it be to burn every House they can put fire too, and to murder upon the Spot every Soldier at least if not every Woman and Child that unfortunately shall fall in their Way. Whether Such a Change would be for the Worse is a Point that may be disputed. This would put our People upon their Guard, and prevent their making so many Prisoners as they have, to be destroyed, by the lingering Torments of Hunger Cold, and Disease.>
<They have already burned [burnt] as many of our Towns, as they had Power <to burn>, and <dared> Courage to burn.> They have burned the beautiful Towns of Cha[r]lestown, Falmouth, <Bedford> Norfolk, Kingston, Bedford, and Egg Harbour and German Flatts.10 It is true they left Boston and Philadelphia, unburnt, but in all Probabi[li]ty, it was merely the dread of a Superiour Army, and of immediate Destruction that in these Cases restrained their Hands. Not to mention they have more Secret <treacherous> Friends in Boston <and> Philadelphia and New York than in all America besides.
They have not indeed hitherto murdered upon the Spot, every Woman and Child that unfortunately fell in their Way, nor have they in all Cases refused Quarter to the soldiers that at times have fallen into their Power, tho they have in <Some>[many]. <Yet they have gone great Lengths>[They have also done their utmost] in seducing Negroes and Indians to commit inhuman Bucheries, upon the Inhabitants, <in some Instances> Spearing neither Age nor sex, <or>[nor] Character.
<Alltho they have not in all Cases refused Quarter to the soldiers <they> and sailors <they have made Prisoners>[that have fallen into their hands.] Yet t>[T]hey have done what is perhaps worse [than refusing them quarter]. They have thrust <them>[the prisoners] into such Dungeons, <confined> loaded them <in> with such Irons, exposed them to such lingering Torments of Cold Hunger and Disease, as has probably destroyed greater Numbers than they could have <murdered>[had an Opportunity of murdering], if they had made it a Rule to give no Quarter. Many others they have in a most tyrannical and inhumane Manner compelled by Force, to serve and fight against their Relations and Countrymen, on Board their { 297 } ships<, a>[. A] Destiny to many brave and generous <Men> Minds more terrible than Death itself.
This is not exaggeration, but serious and melancholly Truth<, i>[. I]t is therefore difficult to comprehend, what they mean by a Change in the Nature and Conduct of the War. But there is no doubt to be made that they meant to be understood to threaten something, more cruel, more terrible and more desolating than any Thing they have yet done, greater Extreams of War <than we have yet felt>—Measures that shall distress the People <more>, and desolate the Country more, than any Thing We have yet felt.
All this is to be done to destroy and render Useless, our Connection with France, to prevent Us as an Accession to France, from becoming usefull to her, at least in any great degree.
<Here is a Change indeed of the Principle of the War.>[The object of the war is now entirely changd.] Heretofore their Massacres and Conflagrations, were to reclaim Us to Great Britain. [But] Now <indeed> despairing of that End, despairing of seducing, deceiving and dividing Us, the Sole Principle of their former Policy, and perceiving that We shall be faithfull to our Treaties, and consequently lost to them, their Principle now is by destroying Us to make Us <less usefull>[useless] to France.
<The Language here <is artfull>, Accession to France, is indeed artfull, but So grossly fallacious, that the <lowest> least discerning of the People for whom it was intended cannot be deceived by it. They meant to insinuate that our Connection with France, would make Us for the future an Accession to France in the Same manner, as We were formerly an Accession to Great Britain. They knew otherwise very well, and that the United States are no more an Accession to France, than Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, the Empire or any other Sovereign State in Alliance with her, or than Holland Portugal, Prussia or Russia is an Accession to Great Britain. Yet such are the Artifices that our Ennemies are capable of Using, and such is the Principle upon which our Destruction is to be accomplished if they can effect it.>
This Principle ought to be held in Utter Execration, not only by all Christians, but by all civilized Men and Nations. If it is once admitted as a Principle that Powers at War, have a Right to do whatever, will weaken or terrify an Ennemy, <there is no> or make him less powerfull it is not possible to foresee, where it will end. It would be very easy to burn the great Cities of Europe, and <this would weaken>[and bring infinite calamities on]11 the Nations to whom they belong. The Sav• { 298 } ages, who torture their Prisoners, do it to make themselves terrible <to> And their Ennemies less powerfull in Battle. In short all the Assassonations all the Horrors of the Savage ages,12 all the Desolations that in ancient times have been practiced by the Scourges of Mankind, may be introduced again and justified by this Shocking Principle.
The persevereing Cruelties of our Ennemies, have heretofore more than once exasperated the Minds of the People in America So much, as to excite Apprehensions that they would proceed to Retaliation, which if once commenced might be carried to horrible Extremities; to prevent which the Congress issued an Address exhorting to Forbearance and a farther Tryal by Examples of Generosity and Lenity, to recall their Ennemies to the Practice of Humanity amidst the Calamities of War. In Consequence of which neither the Congress of the united States, nor any of the States apart, have ever exercised or authorized the Exercise of <this> the Right of Retaliation. Their Ennemies however continued their Barbarities, till the issue of War turning against them, put one of their Armies, and <many thousands><Six> Several Thousands of other Prisoners into the Power of the States. From that time, till lately, their Conduct towards those Citizens of the united states, whom they had made Prisoners, was less Stained with atrocious <Insolence and> Inhumanity.13 At least their Cruelties were more disguised, under Professions of Care and Tenderness.
But Since they have found that all the Arts of their Commissioners could neither intimidate nor seduce the Congress nor the People,14 but that both are unalterably determined Not only to maintain their Sovereignty, but their Alliance with France, with perfect Faith, they have become outrageous,15 thrown off all Disguises, and the three Branches of their Government in the Face of all Europe, have avowed the Manifesto, Part of which We have before recited.
Congress, <in order still to restrain their impious Hand> have published their Manifesto in Answer, in order still if possible to restrain their impious Hands.
It is manifestly the Policy of the Common Ennemy, whatever may be their Pretences to disgust the People of America, with their new Alliance, by <convincing>[attempting to convince] them that instead of Sheilding them from future Distresses it has accumulated Additional Calamities upon them.16
Certainly nothing can more become any Character that is both great and good, than to stop the progress of their Cruelties, <and> disappoint their Purpose,17 and vindicate the Rights of human Nature and of all { 299 } Society, <with an> which with such shameless Boldness, are set at open Defyance by this <Savage> Proclamation.
We therefore beg Leave to suggest to Consideration, whether it would not be eligible for his Majesty to interfere, by some Declaration to the Court of London, and to the World, bearing Testimony against this barbarous Mode of War, and giving assurances that he will join the United States in practising Retaliation if G. Britain shall make it necessary.
There is another Measure, however, which would more effectually put a Stop to their new Mode of War, and seems to bid fairer than any other, to bring the whole War to a Speedy Conclusion,18 that of sending immediately to the Coast of America, a powerfull Fleet of Thirty or forty sail, to Secure a naval Superiority over the Ennemy in those Seas. Such a Measure as this, to all human Probability acting in Conjunction with the Armies of the United States, would take and destroy the whole of the British Power both by sea and Land, in that Country. It would put their Wealth and Commerce into the Power of France, and19 reduce her to the Necessity of Suing for Peace.
Upon a naval Superiority in those Seas depend, not only the rich Commerce of their Islands, and the Dominion of the Islands themselves,20 but the supply of the Armies and Fleets with Provisions and every Necessary.
The Ennemy have near four hundred Transport ships, constantly employed in the service of their Fleet and Army in America, passing backwards and forwards from New York and Rhode Island to England, Ireland, Nova Scotia, the West India Islands and other Places. Great Numbers of these would necessarily fall into the Hands of the French Fleet, and as Prizes go to a sure and Speedy Market in the United States. By this Means also great Numbers of Seamen, on board those Transports would fall into french Hands, a loss that England cannot repair.
It is conceived that it would be impossible for G.B. to send So great a Fleet, after the French into that part of the World. Their Men of War, now in Europe are too old too rotten, too ill manned, and their Masts and Yards are of two bad Materials to endure such a Navigation. The Impossibility of the English obtaining Provisions, Artists and Materials of every Kind in that Country, which would be easy for the French, makes it Still clearer that they cannot send so great an Additional Force to America. And furthermore the Fear of Spain's interfering with her powerfull Navy would restrain them. Whereas France has { 300 } little to fear in Europe from them, as the Numbers and Excellence of her Armies are an ample security against the feeble land Forces of Great Britain in Europe.
Such a naval Superiority in the American Seas, would farther, open immediately such Commerce between the United States, and the <West India Islands><<dutch and Spanish but especially the>> French West India Islands, as would be of great Utility to both, would give new Spirits and fresh Vigour to both, would enable our People to supply themselves with those European as well as West India Articles which they now most Want, and to send abroad Such of the Produce of the Country as they can Spare.
The late Speedy Assistance and Reperation of his Majestys Fleet under the Comte D'Estaing at Boston, will shew the Advantages which this Country must enjoy in carrying on a naval War, on a Coast friendly to her and hostile to her Ennemy. And these Advantages we trust will in future be much more Sensible, because the appearance of the Fleet this time was sudden and unexpected, and the last <Season>[Harvests] in that Part of the Country unfavourable.21
It is true that the Comte found a Difficulty in obtaining Bread at Boston. But <<this is no just objection, and>> as this <<Subject>>[Circumstance] may not be perfectly understood We beg Leave to enlarge a little in Explanation of it.
Of all the thirteen united States of America, the Massachusetts Bay alone, has never raised its own Bread. Their Soil or Air is unfavourable for the Culture of Wheat, and their Fisheries and other Branches of Trade, enabled them to import flour and Corn so easily from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, that it has been computed that about fifty-thousand People Inhabitants of the sea Port Towns Boston, Salem, Marblehead and Newbury Port, were annually fed with Corn imported, the Province not producing a sufficient Quantity for its Inhabitants.
Since this War commenced the Inhabitants have raised more grain than before but still not enough and they have supplied the Deficiency partly by Land in Waggons from Connecticutt and the state of New York, and partly by sea from Pensylvania, Maryland And Virginia, by small Vessells, with Skillfull Navigators which all the Vigilance of the British Frigates, has never been able wholly to prevent.
This Year unfortunately the southern States, for good Reasons of State however, had laid a Strict Embargo on Grain, which cutt off entirely this Channell of Supply from Boston. General Burgoines Army near 6000 Men, were at Cambridge, within a League of Boston and { 301 } must be Supplyed with Bread. So that in the Moment when his Majestys fleet arrived in Boston Harbour So great was the real Scarcity of Bread among the Inhabitants, and so great the fears of Famine arising from the sudden Addition of so great a Demand,22 probably a little fomented among Sailors by treacherous Individuals concealed23 as to produce the Insult and Injury, to some of the french Guards which every good Man in Boston laments and abhors. Yet notwithstanding, a sufficient Quantity was brought by Land. And We think it may be depended on that no fleet his Majesty may send, will ever want for Bread in any Part of the United States<.>[, especially if a little previous Notice is given of the Ports they may touch at.]
We beg leave before We close this long Memorial to observe, that altho the ruling Passion of Great Britain towards her Colonies was Contempt it is now most effectually changed towards the United States for another which is much more violent, we mean fear.
They fear the united States in Alliance with France as the most dangerous Rival that has ever risen against them. In the long Train of Consequences of American Independance they see or fancy that they see, <the> Canada, Nova Scotia and the Floridas following the other thirteen—their West India Islands in the Hands of the French—the Americans trading to the East Indies—the French and Americans drawing off their Fisheries both of Cods and Whales—the French obtaining all Kinds of Timber of Construction <and> naval stores, Masts and Yards, cheaper and of better Quality than they. Their Commerce and Consequently finances So diminished that they shall not be able to sustain <its> their Credit at its height, national Bankrupcy, and a Revolution in their Government. Nothing less than these frightfull objects Staring in their Faces could have produced, so <universal> general a Ratification of a Manifesto so outrageous as that We have been considering. And these will stimulate them to Exertions which will probably make more of these fearfull Apprehensions, Realities than would otherwise happen. But these Apprehensions, these Exertions, <and> the Passions they have excited in their own Breasts as well as in the Americans, added to the situation of the two Countries, and the Nature of their Commerce all conspire to induce Us to consider great Britain as likely to be <forever hereafter> for Ages our natural Ennemy, and consequently France as our natural Friend. And as it is obvious to all Europe, that nothing less is at stake in this Contest between France and England, than the Dominion of the Sea, at least the Superiority of naval Power, We do not expect that G.B. will easily give it up, or ever indeed without some decisive Effort, Some capital Stroke on the Part { 302 } of France. Such an Effort and such a Blow is the Measure of Sending a Great Fleet to America, which We have taken the Liberty to propose. With such an Exertion, We see nothing in the Course of human affairs, that can possibly prevent France from obtaining this naval Superiority, without delay. Without it the War may languish for many Years, to the infinite Distress of our Country to the exhausting both of France and England, and the Question at last left to be decided by another War.
We are the more zealous to represent these Things to <<his Majesty>>[your Excellency], as all our Correspondence from England for some Time past has uniformly represented, that the Intention of the Cabinet, is conformable to the Spirit of the Manifesto. That all Parties grow more out of Temper with the Americans, that it is become fashionable, with the Minority as well as with the Majority and the Administration to abuse Us, both in and out of Parliament. That all Parties perceiving that We are forever lost as fellow subjects, join in Speaking of Us, in the bitterest Terms and in heartily wishing We could be well chastised, that great Clamours are raised about our Alliance with France, as an unnatural Combination to ruin them. That Multitudes of Fictions are framed and propagated, to make it believed that the People of America, are weary of the Government of Congress, that there are great Dissentions in our Army, and that nothing is wanting to make the People desert France, and resign their Independance, but a Speedy and powerfull Reinforcement of Clintons Army and a Spirited Exertion of a Fleet with it—to make descents on the sea Coasts, while murdering and desolating Parties are let loose upon the Frontiers of the Carolinas, Virgini[a], Pensylvania, N.J., N.Y. and N. England. And that Very early in the Year, they will carry all these Projects into Execution, as far as they can, unless Spain should soon openly join its fleet to that of France, in which Case it is hardly credible that they should send any more of their Force out of Europe. That Strong Hopes are entertained that Spain will not join—That a pacific Negociation is going on with Spain, to cede Gibralter to her. That their best Politicians think it would be better to give Spain Gibralter than suffer the great Branches of the House of Bourbon to be confederated with America in a War against them. That all their Regiments of Infantry, are to be Sent in February to America to reinforce Gen. Clinton, and their Place supplied, by an Act of Parliament, obliging each Parish in the Kingdom to furnish a certain Number of Men, a Measure that if Ministers move it will certainly take Place.
This whole system, may as we <humbly> conceive be totally de• { 303 } feated, and the <whole> Power of Great Britain now in America, <totally> captivated or destroyed, even without the Interposition of Spain, which however We ardently wish, by the Measure We have proposed of sending thirty or forty ships of War forthwith to America.
There are two other Arguments in favour of this Measure, that We beg Leave to suggest.
The two principal sources of Unhappiness in America, at present, and the two principal Causes of Disputes <[ . . . ] Army, and among the People are> altho all these Controversies are very far from being dangerous, to the Confederation, are the <unhappy>[depreciated] state of their Currency, and the <inconsiderable>[remaining] Number of Persons who secretly wish from Sinister Motives to become again subject to G.B.
The Maintenance of such a Fleet in America, would circulate so much Cash and Bills of Exchange, there as would in a great Measure relieve them from the Evils of a depreciating Currency, and this Money would all return to France for Goods, thereby cementing the Connection and extending the Trade between the two Countries.
And the Appearance of such a Fleet would annihilate Toryism in every state in America.
LbC (Adams Papers). The Letterbook copy is a draft with numerous additions and deletions—in ink by JA and in pencil by Benjamin Franklin—and takes up eight full pages in the Letterbook, making it twice as long as the recipient's copy (No. II). Additions by Franklin are enclosed in double parentheses. JA's deletions are indicated by single angled brackets, while those by Franklin appear in double angled brackets. Where both marked a deletion, it is enclosed in triple angled brackets. The Letterbook copy constitutes the second extant draft, and proceeded from Arthur Lee's earlier, undated, and much shorter draft (MH-H: Lee Papers), with some deletions, on four pages, each approximately half the size of a page in JA's Letterbook. For portions of Lee's draft used by JA, see notes 13–21. A copy of a third draft, dated 20 Dec. 1778, is in PCC, No. 102, III, f. 1–10. It was made by Ludwell Lee, who, at the bottom of the final page, certified it “to be a true copy from the original Letter in possession of the Hble Arthur Lee Esqr.” The “original Letter” has not been found.
The draft in the PCC poses some problems when compared with the Letterbook and recipient's copies in determining when and by whom changes were made. The copy made by Arthur Lee from the Letterbook was clearly a third draft, for Ludwell Lee's copy of it incorporates the changes made by JA in the course of his drafting. It also includes, as interlineations, the changes that appear on the Letterbook copy in Benjamin Franklin's hand, indicating that Lee probably consulted the Letterbook after making his own changes and transferred those by Franklin to his copy. On the final page of Ludwell Lee's draft, however, there is a notation in Arthur Lee's hand stating that “the Paragraphs, parts and words marked were left out in { 304 } the letter that was sent. Those with a mark only, were Dr. Franklin's corrections; those with hooks [parentheses] added, Mr. Lee's.” Despite this, many of the changes that are in Franklin's hand on the Letterbook copy are enclosed in parentheses on the PCC copy, thus raising questions regarding who actually made what changes, a problem that the editors have been unable to resolve. Moreover, when the revisions made on the third draft are compared with those incorporated into the recipient's copy, it is clear that many of the changes were not entered on the draft. This may indicate that there was a later draft, now lost (for a fourth extant draft, see No. II), on which additional changes were indicated or that the unrecorded changes were made by JA when he recopied his draft to produce the final version of the letter. In order to facilitate comparisons between the Letterbook copy and the recipient's copy, major changes marked on the third draft are indicated in the notes that follow. For notes regarding matters of substance referred to in the draft, see No. II.
1. For this date, which is derived from the third extant draft, see the descriptive note.
2. On the third draft this paragraph was reduced in length and put into the form that appears in the recipient's copy.
3. This paragraph was followed by a wide gap, indicating that JA may have intended to add more, perhaps a quotation from the countermanifesto. In addition, on the third draft it and the preceding two paragraphs were marked for deletion, but the form of the single paragraph that replaces them in the recipient's copy was not indicated.
4. On the third draft this paragraph was reduced to a single sentence and put into the form that would appear in the recipient's copy.
5. Franklin's insertion was intended to replace the dash, which was not canceled.
6. To this point this paragraph was interlined in a wide gap between the preceding and succeeding paragraph. The remainder of the paragraph was written in the left margin and marked for insertion at this point.
7. The remainder of this paragraph was interlined. Franklin did not mark the interlined passage for deletion, but his marginal mark here shows some uncertainty. Moreover, JA may have added the interlined passage after Franklin marked his deletion, so it cannot be assumed that Franklin approved of the remainder of the paragraph. In any event, it was not retained in the recipient's copy.
8. In the third draft this and the preceding two paragraphs were marked for deletion, but no substitute language, such as appears in the recipient's copy was indicated.
9. The remainder of this paragraph also appears in the third draft, indicating that it was first canceled after Arthur Lee had copied it.
10. JA added “and German Flatts” above the line.
11. In the Letterbook Franklin's insertion is mostly illegible and has here been supplied from the third draft. It appears that Franklin intended the final word to be “upon” rather than “on.”
12. To this point in the paragraph and through the previous seven paragraphs, all of the changes that were “inserted into the recipient's copy were marked on either the Letterbook copy or the third draft. From this point to the end of the letter, however, except for the canceled passage mentioned in note 22, the third draft, like the Letterbook copy, contains no significant canceled passages or important insertions, despite the fact that over half the remaining material was not included in the recipient's copy.
13. To this point this paragraph is taken, with only a few changes, from Arthur Lee's initial draft.
14. To this point this sentence is taken almost directly from Arthur Lee's draft.
15. “Have become outrageous” is taken from Arthur Lee's draft.
16. This paragraph is taken almost verbatim from Arthur Lee's draft.
17. Including the canceled “and,” the passage beginning “to stop the progress” and continuing to this point is an exact { 305 } quotation from Arthur Lee's draft.
18. The remainder of this sentence was taken, with some changes in word order, from Arthur Lee's draft.
19. The remainder of this sentence was taken from Arthur Lee's draft.
20. To this point this sentence is taken, with minor changes, from Arthur Lee's draft.
21. This paragraph was taken, with only minor changes, from Arthur Lee's draft.
22. To this point this paragraph, as well as the two preceding ones, were inserted in JA's letter to Edme Jacques Genet of [30 Dec. 1778] (below). The substance of the remainder of this paragraph was also included in that letter. In the third draft the text from this point to “and consequently France as our natural Friend. And as” in the second paragraph that follows was marked for omission.
23. From the previous comma, this passage was interlined.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0196-0003

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1779-01-09

II. The Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

Some late Proceedings of the Enemy, have induced us, to submit a few Observations to your Excellency's superior Lights and Judgement.
His Britannic Majesty's Commissioners, in their Manifesto of the 3d of October, have denounced “a Change in the whole Nature and future Conduct of the War,”2 they have declared “that the Policy as well as Benevolence of Great Britain, have thus far checked the Extremes of War,” when they tended to “distress the People, and desolate the Country.” That the whole Contest is changed, that the Laws of self Preservation, must now direct the Conduct of Great Britain, that these Laws, will direct her, to render the United States of as little avail as possible to France, if they are to become an Accession to her. And by every means in her Power, destroy, and render Useless the new Connection contrived for her Ruin.
Motions have been made and supported by the wisest Men in both Houses of Parliament to address the King to disavow these Clauses; But these Motions have been rejected by Majorities in both Houses, so that the Manifesto stands avowed by the three Branches of the Legislature.3
Ministers of States have made in Parliament a Question, concerning the meaning of this Manifesto. But no Man who reads it and knows the History of their past Conduct in this War, can doubt its import.
There is to be “a Change in the Nature and Conduct of the War,”—A change for the worse must be terrible indeed!
They have already burnt the beautiful Towns of Charles Town, Falmouth, Norfolk, Kingston, Bedford, Egg Harbour, and German Flatts,4 besides innumerable single Buildings and smaller Clusters of Houses, wherever their Armies have march'd. It is true, they left Boston and Philadelphia unburnt, but in all probability it was merely the dread of { 306 } a Superior Army, that in those Cases restrained their Hands, not to mention, that burning these Towns would have been the Ruin of the few Secret Friends they have still left, of whom there are more in those Towns than in all America besides.
They have not indeed murdered upon the Spot, every Woman and Child, that fell in their Way, nor have, in all Cases refused Quarter to the Soldiers, that at times have fallen into their Power, tho' they have in many; they have also done their utmost in seducing Negroes and Indians to commit inhuman Butcheries upon the Inhabitants sparing neither Age, Sex, nor Character. Altho they have not in all Cases refused Quarter to Soldiers and Sailors, they have done what is worse than refusing Quarter: they have thurst their Prisoners into such Dungeons, loaded them with Irons, and exposed them to such lingering Torments, of Cold, Hunger and Disease, as have destroyed greater Numbers, than they could have had an Opportunity of murdering, if they had made it a Rule to give no Quarter. Many others they have compelled by Force, to serve and fight on Board their Ships against Fathers, Brothers, Friends and Countrymen, a Destiny to every Sensible Mind more terrible than Death itself.
It is therefore difficult to comprehend, what they mean by a Change in the Conduct of the War; yet there seems to be no Room to doubt that they mean to threaten something more cruel—greater Extremes, Measures that shall distress the People and lay waste the Country, more than any thing they have yet done.
The object of the War is now entirely changed. Heretofore their Massacres and Conflagrations were to divide Us, and reclaim us to Great Britain. Now despareing of that End, and perceiving that we shall be fait[h]ful to our Treaties, their Principle is by destroying us, to make us useless to France.
This Principle ought to be held in Abhorrence, not only by all Christians, but by all civilized Nations. If it is once admitted, that Powers at War, have a Right to do whatever will weaken or terrify an Enemy, it is not possible to foresee where it will end. It would be possible to burn the great Cities in Europe.
The Savages who torture their Prisoners do it to make themselves terrible: in fine all the Horrors of the barbarous Ages may be introduced again and justified.
The Cruelties of our Ennemies, have heretofore, more than once, exasperated the Minds of the People so much, as to excite Apprehensions that they would proceed to Retaliation, which if once commenc'd might be carried to extremities, to prevent which the Congress issued { 307 } an Address,5 exhorting to Forbearance, and a farther Tryal by Examples of Generosity and Lenity, to recall their Ennemies to the Practice of Humanity, amidst the Calamities of War. In consequence of which, neither the Congress, nor any of the States apart, have ever exercised, or authorised the Exercise of the Right of Retaliation.
But now that the Commissioners vested with the Authority of the Nation, have avowed such Principles, and published such Threats, the Congress have by a Resolution of the 30th. of October, solemnly, and unanimously declared that they will retaliate.
Whatever may be the Pretences of the Enemy, it is the manifest Drift of their Policy, to disgust the People of America, with their new Alliance, by attempting to convince them, that instead of shielding them from Distress, it has accumulated, additional Calamities upon them.
Nothing certainly can more become a great and amiable Character, than to disappoint their Purpose, stop the Progress of their Cruelties, and vindicate the Rights of Humanity, which are so much injured by this Manifesto.
We therefore beg leave to suggest to your Excellency's Consideration, whether it would not be adviseable for his Majesty to interfere, by some Declaration to the Court of London, and to the World, bearing his Royal Testimony against this barbarous Mode of War, and giving assurances that he will join the United States in Retaliation, if Great Britain by putting her Threats in Execution should make it necessary.
There is another Measure however, more effectual to controul their Designs, and to bring the War to a speedy Conclusion; that of sending a powerfull Fleet sufficient6 to secure a naval Superiority over them in the American Seas. Such a naval Force, acting in concert with the Armies of the United States, would in all human Probability, take and destroy the whole British Power, in that Part of the World: It would put their Wealth and West Indian7 Commerce into the Power of France, and reduce them to the Necessity of suing for Peace.
Upon their present naval Superiority in those Seas depend, not only the Dominion and the rich Commerce of their Islands, but the supply of their Fleets and Armies with Provisions and every Necessary. They have near 400 Transports, constantly employed in the Service of their Fleet and Army in America, passing from New-York and Rhode Island, to England, Ireland, Nova Scotia and their West India Islands, and if any one Link in this Chain was struck off—if their Supplies from any one of these Places should be intercepted, their Forces could not subsist. Great Numbers of these Vessells would necessarily fall into the { 308 } Hands of the French Fleet, and go as Prizes to a sure Market in the United States: great Numbers of Seamen too would become Prisoners, a Loss that England cannot repair.
It is conceived that it would be impossible for Great Britain to send a very great Fleet after the French, into those Seas. Their Men of War now in Europe are too old too rotten, too ill mann'd, and their Masts are of too bad Materials, to endure such a Navigation; the Impossibility of their obtaining Provisions, Artists and Materials, in that Country, which would be easy for the French, makes it still clearer, that they cannot send a great additional Force, and the Fear of Spains interfering with her powerful Navy would restrain them. Wheras France has nothing to fear in Europe from them, as the Numbers and excellence of her Armies, are an ample Security against the feeble Land Forces of Great Britain.
This Naval Superiority would open such Commerce between the United States and the French West India Islands, as would enable our People to supply themselves with the European and West India Articles they want, to send abroad the Produce of the Country, and by giving fresh Spirits and Vigour8 to Trade, would employ the Paper Currency, the want of which Employ has been one Cause of its Depreciation.
The Maintenance of such a Fleet, in America, would circulate so many, Bills of Exchange, as would likewise in a great Measure relieve them from that Dangerous Evil. And these Bills would all return to France for her Manufactures thereby cementing the Connection and extending the Trade between the two Countries.9
Such a naval Superiority, would contribute very much to extinguish the Hopes of the remaining Number of Persons who secreetly wish from sinister motives to become again subject to Great Britain, and would enable the People of the several States to give such Consistency, and Stability to their Infant Governments, as would contribute greatly to their internal Repose, as well as to the Vigour of their future Operations against the common Enemy.
The late speedy supply and Reparation of his Majesty's Fleet at Boston, will shew the Advantages, which this Country must enjoy, in carrying on a Naval War, on a Coast Friendly to her and hostile to her Ennemy. And these Advantages will in future be more sensible, because the appearance of the Fleet, before was unexpected, and the Harvests in that Part of the Country had been unfavourable.
It is obvious to all Europe, that nothing less is at Stake in the present Contest than the Dominion of the Sea, at least the superiority { 309 } of naval Power, and we cannot expect that Great Britain will ever give it up, without some decisive Effort on the Part of France. With such an Exertion as that of sending a superior Fleet to America, we see nothing in the Course of human Affairs, that can possible prevent France from obtaining such a Naval Superiority without Delay. Without it, the War may languish for Years to the infinite Distress of our Country to the exhausting both of France and England, and the Question left to be decided by another War.
We are the more earnest in representing these Things to your Excellency, as all our Correspondence from England for some time has uniformly represented that the Intention of the Cabinet, is conformable to the Spirit of the Manifesto; that all Parties grow more and more out of Temper with the Americans, that it is become fashionable with the Minority as well as the Majority and Administration to reproach us, both in and out of Parliament, that all Parties join in speaking of Us in the bitterest Terms, and in heartily wishing our Destruction: that great Clamours are raised about our Alliance with France as an unnatural Combination to ruin them. That the Cry is for a speedy and powerful Reinforcement of their Army, and for the activity of their Fleet in making Descents on the Sea Coast, while murdering and desolating Parties are let loose upon the Frontiers of the Carolinas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New-Jersey, New-York and New-England, and that very early in the Year they will carry all these Projects into execution.
This whole System, may as we conceive be defeated and the Power of Great Britain now in America totally subdued (and if their Power is subdued there, it is reduced every where) by the Measure we have the honour to propose. We submit the whole merely as our Opinions to your Excellency's superior Wisdom, & have the honour to be, with the greatest Respect Your Excellency's, most obedient and most humble Servants.
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] Arthur Lee
[signed] John Adams
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7); docketed on the first page: “rep. le <8> 9,” “Les deputès americains demandent que la france oppose des Secours efficases aux [me]nacer que contient le manifeste des deputès anglois en amerique,” and on pages 5, 9, and 13: “[ . . . ] suite avant le 9. Janvr. 1779.” LbC (Adams Papers); this is the fourth extant draft (for three earlier drafts see No. I). Undated and written on a loose sheet folded in half to make four pages, it is very similar to the recipient's copy, with only a few changes by JA and Franklin, some of which are indicated in the notes that follow. It was laid in between pages 1 and 2 of the second ex• { 310 } tant draft (No. I; p. 112 and 113 of the Letterbook) and was filmed immediately following those two pages in the Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 92. At the top of the first page is a notation by CFA: “The American Commissioners to Count de Vergennes first draught Paris 1. January. 1779. Dipl. Correspondence 1.500.” When CFA wrote this note he was unaware that JA's Letterbook contained an earlier draft and concluded that the fourth draft, probably found among JA's loose papers, constituted his first effort. The reference in the notation is to Jared Sparks, ed., Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, 12 vols., Boston, 1829–1830. In 1852 when CFA published this same draft in JA, Works, 7:72–77, he had become aware of the earlier one (No. I) and wrote in a note at the end of the printed letter: “it is proper to state that the original draft of this letter bears the marks of considerable reduction in extent and tone from the hand of Dr. Franklin.”
Two additional copies of the letter to Vergennes, both in John Thaxter's hand and done from the fourth extant draft, can be found in the PCC, No. 85, f. 240–249 and in the Edward Davis Townsend Collection at the Huntington Library. The first is part of the copy made by Thaxter of Lb/JA/4, containing the Commissioners' letters during JA's first mission to France, for transmission to the congress (see Introduction, part 2, John Adams and his Letterbooks). The second, probably made at the same time, was enclosed in JA's letter to Elbridge Gerry of 11 Sept. 1779 (below). On both copies JA wrote in the dateline and the name of the intended recipient and on that in the PCC supplied the Commissioners' names.
1. As previously published in volumes or correspondence edited by Jared Sparks, CFA, and Francis Wharton, this letter has been assigned the date of 1 January 1779. That date, however, was apparently supplied conjecturally by Sparks and then accepted in later editions. The editors have been unable to find supporting evidence for such a date; in fact all of the extant copies of the letter as sent bear only the month and year: January 1779; and Vergennes' reply of 9 Jan. (below) refers to the letter as being undated. Therefore, it has been thought more accurate to date the letter in terms of Vergennes' reply.
2. “Denounce” is used here in the now obscure meaning of “announce” or “promulgate” (OED). For the full text of the passage from which this and later quotations were taken, see No. I. For the manifesto, see Evans, No. 15832.
3. For debates over motions opposing the manifesto offered by Thomas William Coke in the House of Commons on 4 Dec. and by the Marquis of Rockingham in the House of Lords on 7 Dec., as well as a protest signed by 31 members of the House of Lords, see Parliamentary Hist., 19:1388–1402; 20:1–46.
4. Charlestown, Mass.; Falmouth (now Portland), Maine; Norfolk, Va.; Kingston, N.Y.; Bedford (now New Bedford, then part of Dartmouth), Mass.; Egg Harbor, N.J.; German Flats (now Herkimer), N.Y.
5. See JCC, 12:1080–1082.
6. Originally this passage in the fourth draft read “a powerfull Fleet of Thirty or Forty Sail,” as it did in No. I. The deletion of the exact size of the force requested and the substitution of “sufficient” are in Benjamin Franklin's hand.
7. These two words were inserted by Franklin in the Letterbook.
8. The remainder of this sentence was inserted by Franklin in the Letterbook to replace the canceled passage: “would be of great utility to both.”
9. This paragraph is based on the final paragraph of No. I. By the time it was inserted into the fourth extant draft it had undergone considerable changes, none of which were indicated on any of the drafts referred to in No. I. In the fourth draft it read: “The Maintenance of such a Fleet, in America, would circulate so <much Cash and> many Bills of Exchange, as would likewise in a great Mea• { 311 } sure relieve them from <the next> that dangerous Evil. <they have now to fear, a depreciated Currency. This Money> And these Bills would all Return to France for <Goods> her Manufactures, thereby cementing the Connection and extending the Trade between the two Countries.” The insertion of the words “many,” “likewise,” “that dangerous,” and “her Manufactures” was by Franklin. The deletions were marked by both Franklin and JA.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0197

Author: Izard, Ralph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-12-22

From Ralph Izard

[salute] Sir

A considerable time has elapsed since I had the honour of conversing with you on the subject of the Proclamation, and Manifesto of 3d. Octr. issued by the British Commissioners in America.
Every attempt should be made to prevent their carrying their bloody purposes into execution. The more I think on the subject, the more I am convinced that it would be proper for the Representatives of our Country at this Court, to urge the Ministry to transmit a firm, and spiritted Declaration to the Court of England, setting forth the resolution of the King to retaliate, if any mode of carrying on the war in America should be adopted, but such as can be justified by the custom, and Law of Nations. I was happy to find that you agreed with me in opinion. Mr. Lee was afterwards consulted about it, and approved of the measure; and you both, promised that the business should be entered into immediately.
I have since waited on you at Passy, to request that you would allow of no delay in a matter of so great importance; and I have done the same to Mr. Lee. I can not help expressing to you my astonishment at finding that there has not yet been any Memorial presented to the Ministry on this subject. You have frequently expressed your uneasiness to me at the dissipated life which Dr. Franklin led; and at his inattention to, and almost total neglect of the public business.
For God's sake do not allow his misconduct to operate more to the injury of our cause, than what must arise from absolute necessity. His name would certainly add weight to the application; but should he refuse to concur in it, there can be no impropriety in your applying as an individual, if not as a Commissioner. The distresses of our Country, the sanguinary purposes of both Houses of Parliament, and the alarming preparations making by the enemy, call aloud for every exertion on our part. The cruelties threatened by the Manifesto are declared to be intended to render the accession of America to France “of as little avail as possible to her.”
The Court of France might with propriety reply, that as Jamaica, { 312 } and the other English West India Islands are a great accession of strength to her enemies, the same reason might be supposed to exist, for destroying the property, and extirpating the inhabitants by fire, and sword.
I entreat that you will take in good part what I have said, and written to you on this subject. It can not possibly have proceeded from any other motive but that of an anxiety, <for t> occasioned by the calamities of our Country, and a sincere desire of attempting every thing that seems likely to afford relief to them.
I have the honour to be Sir with esteem Your most obedient humble Servant
[signed] Ra. Izard1
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Hon. Mr Izzard 22 Dec. 1778.”
1. No reply by JA to this letter has been found, but for the application to Vergennes that was its object, see the Commissioners' to Vergennes, [ante 20] Dec. 1778 – [ante 9] Jan. 1779 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0198

Author: Gardner, Shubael
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-22

Shubael Gardner to the Commissioners

Gentlemen you will Excuse all in these From one that is not used to adress in Such undertaking as the present. But Being prompt By your known Com' and abilatys I hope you will Accept my offering as Simple as it may appear.
There has Sundry men Belonging to the united States of North America Ben Brought in here that knowd Not what to Do Being in a friendless place they Being monyless have Enterd into the whalfisherry to Save themselves from a man of war as they Could be protected in that trade, there is I think none in the trade that would have Gone if they Could have Done any thing Else, it was against there wills Soarly as I have hard them Say often. Namely: Benjamin Clark, Elisha Clark; Francis Macy: Paul Pease: John Lock: William Folger.1 I Believe if they with their men Could have the Liberty to Go to America they would with all their harts. Now I have to Inform there is in Denan prison a youth John Blyth by Name Son of John Blyth Taken with Benjm. Clark in Brig Falkland. His father is a Sincear Friend to all Americans which I have provd often Both By Day and night and Likewise all the Family: their has been more then Forty Secreted in the house Sence I have Known it and Some Coming and Goiing Every week. They have hurt themselves in welth by it, But I Truss not in Futer for Sundry men has Experencd their Kindness Namely Benjamin { 313 } Hill Mr. Tuck Harmon Corter David Lyman Mr. Pulsifurd: Doct. Seegar, Matthew Coxdrill Charls Phipping Enoch Buts and Sundry more we have on hand at presant that Lately Broke prison Lately2 and Expect more Daly which will meet the Like as Long as in their powers.
Now Gentlemen if you would Deign to Read this and Give it its proper waight I Should be imboldend to ask one favour for them. Thats to make your intersesion for to Gitt the Lad Cleard from prison and Send him home to them as it may be the means of Sundry others Gitting Clear as well French as Americans which may be usefull for your fellow Citticans for the futer.3
Them that are Friends to America are almost Exosted. I Can Speek for one, But I have Some money in my hands Belonging to America and think it Cant Be applyd Better then by helping the Distressed of my Countrymen.
Gentlemen men I hope you will Excuse all Falts in your Hum Servant
[signed] Shubael Gardner
Capt. Barnard is Now almost Ready to Sail, Capt. Joseph Chace:4 Capt. Jeames McCobbe: Capt. John McCarty are Jest Going From hence to France who Can Give more purticallars than I Can Rite.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “To Honble. Commisioners of the United States of North America in Paris France”; docketed: “Shubael Gardner”; in another hand: “Shubael Gardener Dec. 22. 78.” The editors have supplied several periods in this virtually unpunctuated text.
1. With the exception of Folger, the Commissioners already knew of the involvement of these men and several others in the English whale fishery and had sent the information to Sartine in a letter of 30 Oct. (above). Gardner does not mention it here, but he too was involved in that enterprise, as the Commissioners had learned on 12 Oct. (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:322).
2. Benjamin Hill, Sewall Tuck, Hammon Corter, Dr. George Seger, Matthew Cogshall, and Enoch Butts had all escaped from Forton Prison (William Richard Cutter, “A Yankee Privateersman in Prison in England, 1777–1779,” NEHGR, 33:36–37 [Jan. 1879]). The other three men remain unidentified.
3. No reply has been found.
4. See Joseph Chase's letter of 1 Jan. 1779 regarding the prisoner at Dinant (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0199-0001

Author: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-22

Gabriel de Sartine to the Commissioners

Vous etes sans Doute informés, Messieurs, qu'il arrive souvent dans Les Ports de france des sujets des Etats-Unis qui s'échappent des Prisons d'Angleterre, et comme La plupart de ces Marins se trouvent depourvus des Choses les plus necessaires, plusieurs Commissaires des Ports ou vous n'avez pas d'Agent et qui ont deja fait quelques Avances { 314 } a des sujets des Etats-Unis echappés des Prisons d'Angleterre, me demandent d'etre authorisés a leur fournir Les Objets de premiere necessité, je vous prie Messieurs de me faire connoitre votre Intention sur cet objet et si vous desirez qu'ils soient traités comme Les Prisonniers francois Le sont lorsqu'ils reviennent d'Angleterre.
A légard des Prisonniers que Les Batimens des Etats-Unis pourroient faire sur Les Anglois; par L'Article 15 du Reglement du Roi du 27 7bre dernier,1 il est dit qu'il sera donné des Ordres par sa Majesté pour que Les Prisonniers que Les Corsaires Americains ameneront en france soient conduits, gardés et nourris dans ses Places et Chateaux aux fraix des Etats-Unis. Je me propose de donner des Ordres dans Les Ports afin que ces Prisonniers y soient traités et nourris comme ceux qui ont été fait par Les Batimens de sa Majesté. Vous voudrez bien, Messieurs me faire connoitre si ces Dispositions vous sont agreables, et donner a vos Agens dans Les Differens Ports, Les Ordres que vous Jugerez convenables.
J'ai l'honneur d'etre &c.,
[signed] De Sartine

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0199-0002

Author: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-22

Gabriel de Sartine to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

You are undoubtedly aware, gentlemen, that United States citizens who have escaped from English prisons often arrive in French ports, and since most of these sailors find themselves without articles of first necessity several Commissioners of Ports where you have no agent and who have already made some advances to these escapees request me to authorize them to furnish these objects. I request that you gentlemen, make known to me your intentions concerning this matter and whether you wish them to be treated like French prisoners returning from British jails.
Regarding prisoners that might be taken from the British by American vessels, Article 15 of the King's ordinance of 27 September last,1 states that His Majesty will give orders that prisoners brought to France by American privateers will be escorted, guarded, and fed in his establishments and chateaus at the expense of the United States. I propose to issue orders in the ports so that such prisoners there will be treated and fed as those that have been taken by His Majesty's vessels. Please, gentlemen, inform me whether these arrangements are agreeable to you and give your agents in the different ports the orders you judge appropriate.
I have the honor to be, &c.,
[signed] De Sartine
FC in William Temple Franklin's hand (DLC: Franklin Papers).
1. For the regulations, see Sartine to the Commissioners, 29 July, and references there (vol. 6:334, calendar entry).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0200-0001

Author: Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. (business)
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-24

Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

Nous n'avons reçu que le 15 La Lettre dont vous nous aves honnorés le 6 du Courant;1 nous avons Informés Exactement nôtre Sr. Grand, Actuellement à Paris, de ce qui est Relatif au plaçement des Promesses des Etats Unis de L'Amerique. Il vous en aura sans doute Egalement fait part, tous ce que nous avons pú êcouler Jusqu'a prêsent, de ces Promesses se Reduit à 51. mais nous ne doutons point qu'avec un peu de patiençe nous ne parvenions peu à peu, à plaçer le Reste, et à pouvoir ensuitte agir pour des Objets de Considêration. Il faut pour cela êtablir et mênager le Credit de ces Effets, et Il faut pour ÿ parvenir agir avec Circonspection et avec Reservé, car en voulant forcer les choses nous ne ferions que Reculer, et nuire à l'avenir; Nous vous prions Messieurs, de vouloir bien vous Reposer surtout Nôtre Zêle, et nos soins à contribuër au bien de la chose, et être persuadés que les Intêrets que vous voulés bien nous confier nous occupent et nous attachent autant que les nôtres prôpres.
Nous attendrons les Ordres que vous Jugerés à prôpos de nous donner, pour la disposition de vos fonds en nos mains, pour nous ÿ conformer.
Nous sommes avec un Dêvouëment Respectueux Messieurs Vos tres Humbles & tres Obeissants Serviteurs
[signed] Horneca fizeaux Comp.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0200-0002

Author: Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. (business)
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-24

Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

It was not until the 15th that we received the letter that you honored us with of the 6th instant.1 We have precisely informed Sir Grand, currently in Paris, of that which is relative to the placement of the promissory notes of the United States of America. He undoubtedly will also have told you that all we have been able to place up to now is 51, but we do not doubt that with a little patience we will succeed, little by little, in placing the rest and then be able to proceed to some important business. For this it is necessary to establish and maintain the credit of these notes, and for that it is necessary to proceed with circumspection and reserve. By trying to force these things we would only be taking a step back, thereby jeopardizing the future. We beseech you, gentlemen, to trust above all in our zeal and our attention to the success of the project, and to be persuaded that the interests that you were kind enough to confide to us occupy and engage us as much as our own.
We will await the orders that you will judge appropriate, and to which we will conform, for the disposition of your funds in our hands.
We are with respectful devotion, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servants
[signed] Horneca, Fizeaux & Co.
{ 316 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Mess. Horneca, Fizeau's & Co.”; in another hand: “24 Dec. 1778.”
1. In that letter (LbC, Adams Papers) the Commissioners noted that they had received no “intelligence” concerning the progress of the loan and asked for news so that they could inform their “Constituents, and regulate our Conduct in other Things.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0201

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dana, Francis
Date: 1778-12-25

To Francis Dana

[salute] dear Sir

In Some of the latest Letters from England, We are told, that they grow more and more out of humour with the Americans every day, and that it is the Fashion now of the Minority, as well as the Friends of Administration to abuse them, both in and out of Parliament. In a Particular Mr. Powis Mr. Fox &c. express their Abhorrence of Congress—call them the worst of Tyrants and Say they deserve to be treated as savages for Shamefully violating the Convention of Saratoga. In truth all Parties are disposed to Speak very harshly of them, and heartily wish that they could be well drubbed; as they plainly perceive, they are forever lost, as fellow subjects. A great Clamour is also raised about the Treaty of Alliance, with France, it is called an unnatural Combination to ruin England. That the Minority deserve little Credit for their late Interference about the Commissioners Manifesto, as very few of them acted from any other Motive than Opposition to Ministry.1 That it is not to be conceived with what Strange Fictions Your old Friend the Governor,2 amuses the Members of both Houses. He has let both his Imagination and his Tongue loose. He says that the present General Assembly of Massachusetts Bay is composed of a Majority of Tories, that they are impatient to throw off, the Congress Yoke and conciliate with England. That the several Assemblies of the thirteen States are not considered by a vast Majority of the Inhabitants, as their legal Representatives, because Congress have imposed an Oath of Abjuration, upon all Persons who elect, or shall be elected Members of Assembly, and not a Fifth Part of the People of the thirteen States have taken this Oath. That there are great Dissentions in the American Army, and nothing is wanting to make the Rebells desert France, and throw off their Independance, but a Speedy and powerfull Reinforcement of Clintons Army, and a Spirited Exertion of a Fleet with it; these to make descents on different Parts of the Sea Coast, while Parties3 are let loose upon the Frontiers of the Carolinas, Virginia, Pensylvania, New York, and Massachusetts Bay. That these Measures will be attempted to be carried into Execution early in the Spring, there is not the Smallest doubt, unless the Spaniard shall Soon openly join his { 317 } Fleet with that of the French, in which Case they will not think it prudent to send any more of their Force to North America. That however, Strong hopes are entertained, that the Spaniard will not unite with France. That many of the best informed of their Statesmen are of opinion, that it would be better, at present to give Spain Gibralter, than suffer the great Branches of the House of Bourbon to be confederated, in a War against them. They have ventured even to drop Hints of this Kind to Some of the Leaders in opposition. That their officers and public Affairs, are in an extraordinary Way—their Admirals in the Channell service, are at an irreconcileable Variance. Keppell complaining in the House of Commons against Palliser, and the latter filing a String of Charges in the Admiralty against Keppell. This has produced an order for a Court Martial on the 7th of Jany. and an Act of Parliament, for trying him at Land.4 Lord How unemployed, and disobliged. His Brother, making a positive Charge against one of the Ministers.5 The late Ambassador at the Court of Versailles, suggesting such Information about the Treaty, as must bring on a Serious Enquiry, into the Conduct of another of their Ministers.6 General Keppell has resigned,7 and will not Act under Amherst, that all the great military People freely express their dislike of him, Say that he is all Grimace and possesses no shining military Talents &c. That all the Regiments of Infantry are to be sent in February to America, and their Place to be immediately supplied by new Regiments, to be raised by an Act of Parliament, not yet passed however, obliging each Parish in the Kingdom to furnish a certain Number of Men, a bold Measure, to be sure, but if moved by Ministers, it will go through, as that for the Militia did before.
The Tryal of Keppell, will work up Parties to a Frenzy. Palliser I think would never have ventured upon So daring a step, if he had not assurances of the highest support. Keppell has had a vast Popularity, especially in the Navy. If the Ministry aim at his Life, and it is said that four of the Charges against him, are capital, it is as desperate an Effort as ever they made. Whether they succeed in destroying his Life or not, they will certainly destroy or greatly injure his Reputation. Where all these Things will End, I know not. G. Burgoine had certainly some Colour, when he said that he saw his Country8 under every Symptom of immediate Dissolution. The Proceeding of Palliser is conjectured to be set on by Mr. James Twitcher, who is Supposed to be a favourite, there is in the Nation as vast a Mass of Prejudice, against Twitcher and his Patron as there is in favour of Keppell. What the Effect of all will be Time must discover, but We must be prepared
{ 318 } { 319 }
for the Effect, of all these Fermentations, which may possibly turn upon Us.
I am &c.
1. JA is largely summarizing the proceedings of Parliament from its opening on 26 Nov. through approximately 17 Dec. His observations on the debates and the positions of both the ministry and opposition are essentially correct. Few members of the opposition, with the exception of Edmund Burke, were willing to support independence for the American colonies. Instead, they continued their routine charges of incompetence against the North ministry and, with the Franco-American alliance and the outbreak of war with France, saw the vigorous prosecution of the French war as Britain's primary interest and, to some degree, the best means to win back the American colonies (Parliamentary Hist., 19:1277–1402 passim; 20:1–94 passim; Parliamentary Reg., 11:1–193 passim).
Condemnations of the Continental Congress by both friends and opponents of the ministry appeared frequently during the debates. Charles James Fox, a leader of the opposition and perhaps the leading exponent of the position outlined by JA, declared during the debate over the King's speech and in reference to the treatment of Burgoyne's army: “I think the conduct of the Congress is blameable in the highest, and that they have departed from every principle that ought to bind men” (Parliamentary Reg., 11:10). Others, such as Thomas Powys, were more general and severe in their condemnations. On 4 Dec., while professing opposition to the Carlisle Commission's manifesto, he declared that if the members of the congress were “put to the most exemplary punishment, they should all fall unpitied by him, because they really deserved every severity that could be inflicted on them” (Parliamentary Hist., 19:1393–1394). William Conolly and Archibald MacDonald, the speakers immediately preceding Powys, took the same line. Conolly stated that he would support the manifesto only “if the Congress, that assembly of men who had set every right of nature and humanity at defiance, could be seized and punished according to their deserts,” but he thought they would escape (same, 19:1390–1391). MacDonald, in supporting the manifesto, referred to the Americans' “unnatural alliance” and declared that “by their alliance with France, the natural enemy of our country, they had forfeited all right to clemency” (same, 19:1392–1393).
2. George Johnstone, former governor of West Florida, was seen by many in England as an authority on American affairs. His statements regarding the relative strengths of whigs and tories in America were made in the debates over the King's speech and later during those over the army estimates on 14 Dec. In the first instance he declared that “two thirds of the people of North America wish to return to their ancient connection with Great Britain, and that nothing but a surrounding army, and the diffidence they have in our support, prevented it” (same, 19:1354). On the 14th he stated that discontent was so general in Pennsylvania “that out of 32,000 electors who voted for the first Congress, only 600 and odd had taken the abjuration oath to qualify them to vote for another Congress,” and that in “New England, the Whigs and Tories were so nearly equal in the provincial assembly, that the Whigs had only a majority of two” (same, 20:77).
3. A reference to Britain's expanded use of its Indian allies on the frontier, the prospect of which was a major reason for opposing the Carlisle Commission's manifesto in both houses of Parliament.
4. The Keppel-Palliser affair was the cause celebre of the new session of Parliament. It proved to be an embarrassment to the North ministry because it showed the government's fundamental weakness, the divisions between it and the military and naval officers ordered to carry out its policies, and it highlighted the problems inherent in the involvement of generals and admirals in politics. Ostensibly the affair concerned the men's behavior during the battle off Ushant in July. Many, { 320 } however, recalled the trial and execution of Admiral Byng in 1757 and saw it as an effort by Lord Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty and the “James” or “Jemmy Twitcher” mentioned by JA below, to find a scapegoat in the person of an opposition admiral for his failure to attain a decisive victory.
Keppel complained privately that Palliser had failed to obey his signal to reform the line of battle at Ushant, and thus prevented the British fleet from reengaging the French under Orvilliers. The matter remained private until an open letter by Palliser defending his conduct led Keppel to raise the issue during debates over the naval estimates on 2 Dec. Palliser, considered by many to be the creature of Lord Sandwich, then demanded that Keppel be tried on the capital charges of incompetence in preparing to engage, breaking off the fight prematurely, running away, and failing to pursue the enemy. On 11 Dec. the Admiralty agreed to a court-martial and, because of Keppel's health, the Commons on 17 Dec. and the Lords on the 23d passed a bill permitting the trial to be held on land. The court-martial began at Portsmouth on 7 Jan. and ended on 11 Feb. with Keppel's complete exoneration. The decision was greeted with riotous celebrations, during which the Admiralty, as well as the homes of Palliser, Sandwich, North, and Germain, were attacked (Mackesy, War for America, p. 239–243; Alan Valentine, Lord North, 2 vols., Norman, Okla., 1967, 2:56–59; Parliamentary Hist., 19:1379–1385; 20:91–111; London Chronicle, 22–24 Dec.).
5. Lord Richard Howe had aroused considerable animosity among the government's supporters by not coming directly to London after resigning his command in America and returning to England without notice. With the opening of Parliament, both he and Sir William Howe called for an inquiry into their conduct, and on 4 Dec., during the debate over the Carlisle Commission's manifesto, Sir William charged that the failure of British arms in America resulted from his lack of support from Germain (Gruber, Howe Brothers, p. 325–332; Parliamentary Hist., 19:1394–1395).
6. On 7 Dec. Lord Stormont, former ambassador to France, stated in the House of Lords that he had had early knowledge of the Franco-American commercial treaty of 6 Feb. and had promptly communicated the intelligence to Lord Weymouth, Secretary of State for the Southern Department. Lord Grafton then asked why, if that was the case, Weymouth had denied certain knowledge of the treaty on 5 March (Parliamentary Hist., 20:26–29).
7. Gen. William Keppel, brother of Adm. Keppel, resigned his commission as commander of the militia at Cox Heath Camp on 11 Dec. and was soon involved in the debates over his brother's court-martial (Mackesy, War for America, p. 243–244).
8. The remainder of this sentence is a direct quotation from a speech by Burgoyne during the debate over the King's speech opening Parliament as related in the Parliamentary Hist., 19:1360.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0202

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1778-12-29

The Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

We have been favoured with a Letter signed by many Gentlemen of Nantes and dated the fifteenth of this Month, informing us that most of their Vessels were ready to sail to America, and that others were expected to be ready immediately, so that the Convoy need not wait at all, but might be ordered as soon as Convenience will permit.
These Gentlemen are very desirous of a Convoy through the whole { 321 } Voyage, if it might any Way consist with his Majesty's Service. But if this cannot be granted, they hope for such a Protection at Least as far as to the Westward of the Western Islands.
It is of so much Importance to our Countrymen to be supplied with Goods of various kinds, and especially with warlike Stores, and there are so many belonging to the United States and to the Commonwealth of Virginia as well as to the Individuals now ready to go, that We cannot avoid interesting ourselves with your Excellency that a sufficient Convoy may be appointed, and that as soon as possible to Rendezvous at Nantes.
We have the Honour to be with great Respect Sir Your Excellency's most obedient and most humble Servants
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] Arthur Lee
[signed] John Adams
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 5); docketed: “M. de R. Rep. le 9 Jer. 1779”; and in the left margin: “Convois que demandent les deputés americains pour des expeditions preter á partir.” Joseph Mathias Gérard de Rayneval presumably wrote the reply of 9 Jan. (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0203

Author: Gilbank, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-29

John Gilbank to the Commissioners

[salute] Honourable Gentlemen

Since my last informing you of my having drawn upon you for one thousand Livres in conformity to a prior Letter1 I learn that Mr. Livingstones Ship is arrived and that in about fifteen days hence she will sail, Which Circumstance has induced me to trouble you again to remind you of my Wants and to hint to you what a very disagreable thing it will be not only to me but to the public in general if I am not as I ought put in a Situation to leave this place along with the rest of our Countrymen. The people here in that Case must know the reason which I wou'd wish to keep them ignorant of, as they will have a Strange Idea of a people who are unable (much more UNWILLING) to assist an officer who by the chance of War is unable to avoid applying to their representatives for such Assistance as every Nation in such Cases affords <and> according to the Rank of the person applying; And it will be cold Encouragement for Young Gentlemen to enter into their Service even on the most pressing Emergency, if they are to be exposed to the horrors of Prison and the Contumely of not being able to discharge just and only necessary Debts when within reach of a { 322 } power which ought to protect them, and after escaping in an honorable manner from the hands of an Enemy, especially when the Country they are serving is indebted to them.
If Gentlemen wou'd consider that it is for no advantage to himself that a Young Man wou'd enter into the Army I think they wou'd not hesitate a Moment to assist him to the Utmost of their power in such a situation as I find myself—I have risqued and lost every Connection of my own—and am denied (if to neglect is to deny) the Protection and assistance of the Power for whom I have risqued and lost every thing.
I wou'd wish to conceal matters of this sort from the World to prevent the Evils which will arise therefrom but 'twill be impossible to do it lo[ng]er than the sailing of the Vessel, if I am left unpr[ovid?]ed, in Which Case it will be for Congress to determine whether You are right in refusing or I wrong in asking what I think you ought to accede to and I to receive—Proper and Suitable support according to the Rank I bear in the Army of the united States.
If not too much trouble, be please to ask Mr. Izard if the State of Carolina in his Opinion, shou'd Congress refuse to do it, wou'd not indemnify any Expense you incur on such a head.
Mr. de Sartine if applied to, I am sure will inform you 'tis the practice of all Nations and most justly.
I am sorry to give you the Expence of so much postage, but I can't blame myself as it might have been prevented by a speedy and ingenuous, (not studied and cautious) polite and explicit Answer, as there have some Months passed since our first Correspondence.
I hope to finish a Correspondence disagreable I dare say on both Sides, to me I am sure peculiarly by receiving notice of my draft being duly honoured, by the first post. In Expectation of which I am Honourable Gentlemen Your most obedient humble servant
[signed] Jno. Gilbank
[signed] Chez Madame Boucher a la Fosse
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “Aux Honorables Les Honbles. Messrs. Franklin, Lee et Adams, Ecurs. Ambassadeurs Americains a Paissy ou Chaillot preés de Paris”; docketed: “M. Gilbank”; in another hand: “Gilbank 29 Deer. 78.” A small tear in the MS has resulted in the loss of portions of two words.
1. Gilbank had written on 24 and 26 Dec. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers) to report his draft on the Commissioners. The “prior letter” was presumably that of 15 Dec. (see Gilbank to the Commissioners, 16 Nov., note 3, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0204

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Date: 1778-12-30

To Edmé Jacques Genet

[As many] Gentlemen may apprehend [that one is exposed to a shortage of]2 Provisions, <especially of Bread> in America, from the Difficulty which the French Fleet found at Boston, to obtain a Supply, especially of Bread, I beg Leave to suggest to you, an Observation or two upon that Subject.
It would be Sufficient to Say, that the Comte D'Destaing, did, in Fact obtain, a Sufficient Quantity, altho the Price was Somewhat high, and that a French Fleet may always depend upon a Supply even at Boston, altho it will be dearer, there than in other Parts of the united States.
Of all the thirteen united States of America, the Massachusetts Bay alone, has never raised its own Bread. Their Soil, or Air, is less favourable for the Culture of Wheat, and their Commerce enabled them to import Corn, and Flour, So easily, from Pensilvania, Maryland, and Virginia, that it has been computed that about Fifty thousand People, Inhabitants of the Seaport Towns of Boston, Salem, Newbury Port, and Marblehead, were annually fed with Corn, imported, the Province not producing a Sufficient Quantity for its Inhabitants.3
Since the Commencement of this War, the Inhabitants have raised more Grain, than before, but Still not So much as they wanted, and the Deficiency has been Supplied, partly, by Land, in Waggons, from the States of Connecticutt and New York, and, partly, by Sea, from Pensylvania, Maryland and Virginia by Small Vessells, with Skillfull Navigators, which [all the Vigilance of the British Frigates, has never been able wholly to prevent.]
This Year, the Southern States, for good Reasons of [State however, had] laid an Embargo on Grain, which cutt off, entirely this Channell of Supply from Boston, and rendered the Article of Bread very Scarce and dear, and what added to the Misfortune, was the Demand for General Burgoines Army near Six Thousand Men, who were in Barracks at Cambridge, within a League of Boston. So that in the Moment when the Fleet arrived in their Harbour, So great was the real Scarcity of Bread among the Inhabitants, that the Sudden and unexpected Addition of so large a Demand excited Apprehensions among some of the People of a Famine.
But it may be depended on, that there is no other Part of the united States, but produces more Grain that it consumes. It may also be depended on that even at Boston any Fleet that may be sent there, may { 324 } procure Supplies of Bread, at all Times, paying only the Additional Price of transporting it to that Town by Land.
It was this Scarcity of Bread, which excited or at least gave the Pretence to the Disturbances that happened on the first Arrival of the Fleet.4
[There were in the port several privateers of which, in general, the crews were more or less English, Scottish, and Dutch sailors. There were also some] Deserters, not only from General Burgoines [army, but also from sever]al Corps of Prisoners at discretion of whom there [are]5 upwards of five thousands in the several states, and other Deserters, from the Main Army of the English, and their several Outposts, have at times inlisted on board of Privateers. A Number of Persons, As it is Supposed of this Discription, pretending a Want of Bread, and probably stimulated by secret Ennemies, went to the Bake houses, and began a Bickering, which proceeding from Words to Blows, produced the Disorders which every good Man in Boston abhors.
It is not indeed Surprizing. The Wonder is that there were not more and greater Quarrells. For the Sailors, of every Nation of the Earth, Seem to have a Kind of mixed Passion of Contempt and Hatred towards the sailors of all other Nations. It is the opinion of all who come from Boston that had a British Fleet of the same Size, lain in that Harbour so long in Time of the profoundest Peace and Strictest Friendship between England and America, there would have been more Quarrells and Disturbances between them and the Inhabitants, which is much to the Honour of the French Fleet and its Commander, and is the best of Proofs of Discipline and good order.
Whenever French and Spanish, English and Portuguese Sailors come together, they fight as naturally as Cats and Dogs, or if they chose to be compared to Animals of a nobler Nature, as the Elephant and Rhinoceros. Indeed, the English Sailors, of London and Bristol, and [even those of Salem and Marblehead in America are never found together unless fighting among themselves with fists or clubs. Such is the sailor's nature] and Character. And they [display] their Heroism in this Way, as in contending [among] Cannon Balls.6
I mention these Things for your particular Consideration. Perhaps it would not be prudent, to say any Thing in your Publication, concerning, the Affray at Boston. But you will Use your own Pleasure.7
The affair of Bread at Boston is of Importance to [be] well understood. All other Provisions, especially Beef and Pork, are very plenty there and of good Quality. The Resources of these Articles are inexhaustible in New England. The Cornucopia is there poured out. The { 325 } English intend to render this Resource Useless to France. They may as easily dry up the Ocean. If they were to burn the Town of Boston, which however they must ask leave of a brave and hardy Race of Men to do, this Resource would remain to France undiminished. An Harbour in which all the Fleets of Europe may ride securely, and a Country abounding with Provisions of every Kind excepting Bread, and even enough of that to be had by Land for a little higher Price.
Accept the Respects of your
[signed] John Adams
RC (PWacD: Feinstone Coll., on deposit PPAmP). The tops of all four pages of this letter have been damaged by fire, with the loss of the dateline, salutation, and several lines of text. As a result, except for the dateline and portions of the fifth and sixth paragraphs (see note 3), missing text has been supplied in brackets by reconstructing the English text from the French translation in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique (see notes 1, 2, 5, and 6).
1. This letter probably was written sometime between 20 and 29 Dec. The former date is that of a copy of an early draft (PCC, No. 102, III, f. 1) of the Commissioners' letter to Vergennes of [ante 20] Dec. 1778 – [ante 9] Jan. 1779 (above); drafts of the letter contained several paragraphs on the Boston riots that JA appropriated for this letter, but which were deleted from the Vergennes letter as finally sent (see note 4). The latter date is one day prior to JA's letter to Genet (below), containing additional assurances of the good will of Bostonians toward France and the French fleet which may have been intended to supplement those in the present letter. The time that it would have taken Genet to show JA's letter to Vergennes and then draft his reply of 1 [Jan.] (below) seems to preclude JA's having written after the 29th.
The letter was put to good use. Virtually all of it, without signature, appeared with other letters under the general heading “Extraits de diverses lettres écrites de Boston” in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique (“Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 63, p. xlix, lxiii–lxvii). To justify its inclusion with the other letters and further conceal JA's authorship, the letter was dated 4 Nov., the approximate date of a letter sent from Boston that would arrive in France in time to be included in an issue of Affaires printed in early January.
2. In Affaires this paragraph begins: “Comme plusieurs personnes peuvent croire qu'on est exposé à manquer de.”
3. This and the following three paragraphs are almost identical to corresponding paragraphs in Commissioners to Vergennes, [ante 20] Dec. 1778 – [ante 9] Jan. 1779, No. 1 (above). Words lost through fire damage in the next two paragraphs have, therefore, been supplied from that document in brackets.
4. For the Boston riots, see James Warren to JA, 7 Oct., note 5 and references there (above).
5. In Affaires this paragraph begins: “Il y avoit alors dans le Port plusieurs corsaires dont en général les equipages avoient plus ou moins de Matelots Anglois, Ecossois et Hollandois. Il y avoit aussi quelques déserteurs, non-seulement de l'armée de Burgoyne, mais encore de divers corps de prisonniers sur leur parole, dont le nombre est.”
6. In Affaires the text of this paragraph following Bristol reads: “et en Amérique meme ceux de Salem et de Marblehead ne se sont jamais trouvés ensemble sans se disputer d'adresse à coups de poing ou de gourdin. Telle est la nature et le caractere du Matelot; et il attache autant d'honneur à la bravoure héroïque qu'il montre de cette maniere, que si le canon étoit de la partie.”
7. This paragraph, which did not appear in Affaires, was set off, probably by Genet, by a vertical line placed next to it in the left margin.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0205

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Date: 1778-12-30

To Edmé Jacques Genet

M. Adams is very Sorry, it is not in his Power to Send Monsieur Genet a Copy of the Manifesto of Congress. He lent the only Copy he had to Mr. Lee, who promised, Yesterday, to send a Copy to M. Genet, this Morning. M. A. gave to Monsieur Garnier a Translation of it into French done by a young Gentleman here, which Mr. Garnier has probably sent.1 I have Seen, in a Virginia News Paper, an Answer to the incendiary Manifesto,2 which well deserves a Place in your Pamphlet. I requested it for you. But the Gentleman, who had the only one sent it to England, So that you may expect to find it in the English News Papers.
Several Gentlemen have arrived here, [within] a few Days, from Boston who all give the most agreable Accounts of the Union and Resolution of the People, and particularly of the agreable Impression that the Comte D'Estaing and his Officers and People, have left of themselves, in the Minds of the Inhabitants. They all agree, that no British Fleet in Times of the greatest Security, could have lain there, and communicated so much with the Inhabitants, without exciting [more] Uneasinesses and Disturbance.
With great Respect, your most obedt.
[signed] John Adams
RC (Justin G. Turner, Los Angeles, 1958). Words lost to fire damage are supplied in brackets from a transcript in the Edmond Charles Genet Papers (DLC).
1. In a letter of 26 Dec., Genet had requested a copy of Congress' response to the Carlisle Commission's manifesto, which had been brought to his attention by a “M. Garnier” (RC, Adams Papers; JCC, 12:1080–1082). This was probably Charles Jean Garnier, secretary of the former French ambassador to Great Britain (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:298). Genet printed a translation of the countermanifesto, perhaps that supplied by JA through Garnier, in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique, “Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 62, p. xxiii–xxvii.
2. Probably the reply to the Carlisle Commission's manifesto signed “Americanus” that appeared in the Virginia Gazette of 30 Oct. and was reprinted by John Almon, without signature, in vol. 2 of his Remembrancer for 1778 (London, 1779, p. 133–137). It has not been found in Affaires.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0206-0001

Author: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-01

From Edmé Jacques Genet

[salute] Monsieur

J'ai lu à M. le Comte de Vergennes ce qui concerne M. le Comte d'Estaing, dans le billet dont vous m'avés honoré. Il m'a recommandé d'en faire mention dans mon Journal. Mais ce sera pour le numéro d'après celui qui paroitra demain. J'y ai mis une piece anglois—Signée Fire and Sword2 qui vous amusera.
{ 327 }
Je suis avec respect Monsieur Votre très humble et très obéissant Serviteur,
[signed] Genet
Je veillerai sur la piece de la Virginie dans les papiers anglois.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0206-0002

Author: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-01

Edmé Jacques Genet to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Dear Sir

I read to Count Vergennes that which concerns the Count d'Estaing in the note with which you honored me. He recommended that I mention it in my journal. But it will have to appear in the number after that which will appear tomorrow. I have also included an English piece—signed Fire and Sword,2 which should amuse you.
I am, with respect, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant,
[signed] Genet
I am keeping an eye out for the piece from Virginia in the British papers.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “m. adams député du Congrez a Passy”; docketed: “M. Genet”; by CFA: “1779.”
1. Undoubtedly written in January, as it is a reply to JA's letter of [ante 30 Dec.] as well as that of 30 Dec. (both above).
2. Presumably the satirical piece published by Genet in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique under the heading: “Conseils aux Ministres Anglois pour donner à la proclamation ou manifeste du 3 Octobre encore plus d'efficacité”; and the signature: “Le Fer & le Feu” (“Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 62, p. xxvii–xxxi). It listed monetary rewards as incentives for carrying out the Carlisle Commission's manifesto of 3 Oct. (Richard Henry Lee to JA, 29 Oct. 1778, note 4, above). Among them were £5,000 for burning a town of 1,000 houses, £30 for the scalp of a member of congress, and £5,000 for the scalp of General Washington.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0207

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-01

From James Warren

[salute] My Dear Sir

I keep no Copies of Letters and therefore am Unable to refer to the dates or the Contents. I know I have wrote you many and some of them very Lengthy. The Contents may be of no great Consequence whether they are lost or received. How many you have wrote me, you can best tell, only one has yett reached me. I have been now ten days from the Capital, and therefore Unable to give you such Intelligence as I might if there. However I beleive you will not get much from there at this Time Nothing very Remarkable haveing taken place the last three weeks I was at Boston. The Papers that will be sent by the Navy Board by this Good Oppertunity and your Friend the Marquiss Fayate will give you every thing you can wish to know from here.1 The principal Subject of Conversation seems to be a Letter lately published by Mr. Deane Attacking with great Freedom the Character and Conduct of Doctr. Lee, and Indeed that of his whole Family.2 This Letter { 328 } if neither Elegant or Nervous, is Calculated to Command the Attention, and fix the prejudices of the People and is designed to strike deep, as neither Congress or Individuals that Compose it are spared.
It is no difficult Matter to Engage the prejudices of the people in a Country where Jealousy is Excited on the Slightest Surmise.
Whether the Author has sufficient Grounds for his Charges against Doctr. Lee, and for his Complaints against Congress, or whether this is a political dust he designs to avail himself of, you can better tell in France than I can here. If Dr. Lee and his Connections are guilty of Treachery or any Misconduct I hope they will be discovered and they punished, but I must own at present I doubt it, and Some People think the Author might as well have bent his Attention to clear himself from some Insinuations not much to his Advantage. However let Matters be as they May this has a Tendency to Lessen the Confidence of the People in <their> Congress, and to Create Factions that may Injure the Common Cause. The Tories have by such means a full Swing for their Arts, which they Improve to the greatest Advantage. I say Nothing to you of the State of our Currency and other difficulties we have to Struggle with. The Enemy still retain N York and R Island. The French and English Squadrons are supposed to be gone to the West Indies, from whence we Expect great Events. Mrs. Adams writes you by this opportunity. Your pretty Daughter is here on a Winter's Visit to Mrs. Warren. She is very well, and wont own that she is not happy. I am with every Wish for Your Happiness Your Friend & Servt
[signed] J Warren
1. Lafayette carried the official notification of Franklin's appointment as the minister plenipotentiary to France, and letters from AA to JA of 13 and 27 Dec. and presumably that to JQA of 15 Dec. 1778 (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:135–138, 139–141; see also James Lovell to JA, 24 Oct., note 3, above).
2. For JA's reaction to the attack on the Lees and their loyalty to the American cause in Silas Deane's address, “To the Free and Virtuous Citizens of America,” first printed in the Pennsylvania Packet of 5 Dec. 1778 and then reprinted in the Boston Independent Chronicle of 31 Dec., see his letter to Vergennes of 11 Feb. 1779 (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0208

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-01

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

I have the Honor to pay my most respectful Compliments of Season wishing prosperity to all your undertakings.
We are without any Arrivals since I had the Honor to write you the 5th Ultimo. By Letters from Nantes I am inform'd the Chasseur is { 329 } | view Loaded and all is ready for the other Ship which contrary winds have detaind near two Months at Isl of Rhé not more than 24 hours sail from Nantes.1 I rejoice to learn a Convoy is appointed as we may thereby promise ourselves more protection than merchant Ships could otherways give to each other. The continued advices of Captures has Stagnated all private expeditions. Premiums out or home are at 60 P Cent which absorbs the Capital. I have the Honor to be respectfully Sirs Your very hhb Servant
[signed] John Bondfield
Loss's sustained at this [port?] since January 1778
Ships going or coming from the West Indies taken   48  
Ships going or coming from the United States   56  
 lost on the Coast of America and the Islands   31  
  135  
Most of them ships from 200 to 500 tons.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble. Benjn. Franklin, Arthur Lee & John Adams Commissrs. from Congress at Paris”; docketed: “J. Bondfield 1 Jan. 79. to Commrs.”
1. The Chasseur and the Governor Livingston (see Bondfield's letter of 9 Jan., below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0209

Author: Chase, Joseph
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-01

Joseph Chase to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentelmen

These are to Request you to give your asistance To Benjamin Clark, William Folger, John Locke, Frances Macy, John Headon, Thorndrick Chase, Reuben Chase, John <B>2 and <a> Numbers of others, Americans Now Prisoners in Different Prisons in France Dinant Mayenne3 in Britange &c. which I Think are as good Subjects as any America has as I know thay given Numbers of donations to asist the Americans in England Such as has got out of fourtune Prison and Else whare and done all that is in there power to get them To France. And I am Very Certain that they would be Very glad to go in the American Service as I know the greatest part of them has been obliged to go in the English Service being First Taken by and ceeped on Bord of Man of War and gard Ships for a number of months. Some longer Some Shorter.
If you will be So kind as to get them Clear of Prison you Much Oblige your Humble Servant
[signed] Joseph Chase
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Mr Chases Request concerning Americans”; in another hand: “M. Chases Request concerg. Americans.”
1. An inadvertance caused by the change to a new year.
2. Together with Caleb Gardner and Ecobud Clark, mentioned by Chase in a letter of 8 Feb. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers), the men listed here had all been involved in the English whale fishery. John Blyth, the last listed, whose surname Chase begins and then crosses out, and Clark, Folger, Lock, and Macy were all known { 330 } to the Commissioners. Chase renewed his plea, particularly for the release of his brother, Reuben Chase, in his letter of 8 Feb. No reply to this letter has been found, nor is there any indication that the Commissioners took any action on Chase's request.
3. Dinan is in Brittany, but Mayenne, where the prisoners were presumably housed in the castle for which it is noted, is in the old province of Maine.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0210-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-01

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

De retour ici Mardi au soir, j'allai voir notre Ami. Il me dit qu'il n'y avoit encore rien de fait, mais que, malgré tout ce qui se pourroit passer encore le lendemain, les choses finalement iroient bien. Je compris son idée. Il me dit aussi, que le crédit excessif de Sir J. Y. auprès d'un grand personnage se manifestoit de plus en plus; et qu'il n'y avoit plus moyen de douter, que ce dernier n'eût des engagemens secrets avec son Cousin.1
Je fus le lendemain mercredi après diner chez Mr. l'Ambassadeur de F——. Pendant qu'il avoit été faire un tour de Promenade, l'Agent des E. Généraux avoit porté chez lui la réponse au Mémoire. On lui dit de revenir. Son Excellence, qui s'attendoit déjà au contenu, me dit qu'il la renverroit: et il le fit.2 Il me dit aussi, qu'il avoit toute prête la Déclaration, par laquelle les sujets de l'Etat sont exclus du Reglement du Roi en faveur des Neutres, et privés des faveurs dont ils jouissent dans ses ports; et que cette Déclaration sera bientôt notifiée et publique.
G——F——pense, que cette affaire fera autant de bien aux Anti-Anglois, que la prise de Bergopzoom3 leur fit de mal il y a passé 30 ans; et que le temps viendra où les autres devront avoir recours à celui-ci, pour faire lever l'anathême, que leur complaisance pour——4 leur attirera présentement.
Mercredi au soir je fus chez notre Ami. Il ne put me donner qu'un instant. La réponse des Et. Généraux au Mémoire de la France est la même que celle prise à la pluralité par les Et. d'hollande, à quelques additions près, qui ne disent rien. Les Députés n'ont pas même consulté leurs Provinces respectives là-dessus: autre coup porté à la Constitution. L'un de ces Messieurs, avec qui j'ai eu occasion d'en discourir, m'a dit pour toute excuse, ce n'est pas la premiere fois que nous l'avonsfait. Je lui ai repliqué, qu'une fille de joie peut en dire tout autant. J'ai vu une Lettre, de très-bonne main de l'une de ces provinces, où l'on fait des censures et reproches graves de cette façon d'agir. La Frise est celle de toutes qui peut le moins se passer du Commerce de la France.
{ 331 }
Il y a aujourdhui grand Concert à l'Hôtel de France. La Cour y est. Mr. l'Ambassadeur fait le rebours de se qui se pratique au théatre; il commence par le divertissement, et finira par la tragédie. On se flatte néanmoins ici, qu'il ne se pressera pas, parce qu'on a fait sousentendre que l'on avoit convoqué toutes les Amirautés, pour délibérer plus amplement sur les convois. Mais on n'a pas dit, ce que pourtant tout le monde sait, qu'on a envoyé la réponse, qu'il a refusé de recevoir, à Mr. de Berkenrode5 à Paris, pour tâcher de l'y faire agréer: peine perdue.
Notre Ami est fortuné. Il a, dans tout ceci, le plus beau rôle à remplir, et il en viendra à bout à sa gloire. Il marche à grands pas sur les traces des jadis grands hommes de la Republique. D'un autre côté, le Mémoire de France est venu admirablement à propos seconder la fermeté de la grande Ville. Je ne doute pas, Messieurs, que la suite ne vous fasse voir l'importance de ce qui se passe ici, et combien les démarches du Serviteur des E. U. ici, auxquelles vous avez concouru, ont été utiles à l'affaire.
Nous venons de recevoir d'Angleterre la confirmation du retour de leurs Commissaires: l'expédition de Campblell contre la Caroline échouée.6 Byron sorti de N. York avec 15 Vaisseaux, battu de la tempête le 2 Nov., rentré à Rhode-Island avec 10 délabrés; le Sommerset de 64 canons et le Cornwall de 74 péris; le Bedford traîné démâté à N. York; le Culloden revenu en mauvais état en Angleterre: D'Estain, sorti de Boston le 4 poursuivant Hotham et Grant, ou allant conquérir peut-être les Isles Angloises, &c. Il y a si longtemps, Messieurs, que vous ne me donnez plus des nouvelles de l'Amérique, que je dois bien vous parler de celles que l'ennemi nous en donne.
Mr. l'Ambassadeur attendra jusque vers le milieu de ce mois que les Etats d'hollande se soient rassemblés; et alors, s'ils ne se mettent pas parfaitement en regle, il frappera le grand coup.
On me mande de Hambourg du 29 Xbre., que le bruit court, que le Prince Henri se démettra du Commandement de l'Armée, qui sera conféré au Prince de Prusse;7 mais que cela mérite confirmation: que le Prince Repnin est à Breslau,8 où il reçoit de grands honneurs: que c'est-là que se font présentement les Plans d'Opérations pour la Campagne prochaine: que les Russes feront diversion en Hongrie: que c'est pour la communication avec leur Corps que le Roi9 veut maintenir ses Postes dans la Haute-Silesie: qu'il est en bonne santé et gai: qu'on travaille à deux nouveaux Traités de Commerce, l'un entre les Cours de { 332 } Berlin et de Saxe, l'autre entre celles de Berlin et Petersbourg: Qu'il n'y a nulle apparence à la paix en Allemagne.
Dieu la donne glorieuse et fertile en bénédictions aux Et. U. C'est mon voeu de tous les jours. Puissions-nous, Messieurs, Vous et moi, célébrer ensemble dans le cours de cette nouvelle année cet heureux évenement.
Je suis avec un très-grand respect, Messieurs, Votre très-humble et très-obéissant serviteur
[signed] D

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0210-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-01

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

Upon returning here, Tuesday evening, I went to see our friend. He told me that nothing had been decided yet, but that, in spite of all that might still happen tomorrow, things would end well. I knew what he meant. He also told me that Sir Joseph Yorke's excessive influence on an important person manifested itself more and more, and that there was no doubt that the latter had made secret arrangements with his cousin.1
After dinner on the following day, Wednesday, I visited the French ambassador. While he was out walking, the States General's answer to the memorandum was delivered by its agent, who was told to return. His Excellency, who already knew its content, told me that he would reject it and did so.2 He also told me that he had in readiness the declaration by which the citizens of the state are to be excluded from the King's regulation in favor of neutrals and deprived of the privileges they enjoy in his ports, and that the declaration will soon be made official and public.
The Grand Facteur thinks that this affair will benefit the anti-British party as much as the taking of Bergen-op-Zoom3 harmed them thirty years ago, and that the time will come when the others will have to have recourse to the latter in order to lift the opprobrium which their catering to []4 has brought upon them.
Wednesday evening I went to see our friend. He could spare me only a moment. The States General's response to the French memorandum is the same as that taken in the plurality by the States of Holland, with a few minor, meaningless additions. The members did not even consult their respective provinces on the matter: another blow to the constitution. One of these gentlemen, with whom I had the opportunity to speak, told me, as the only excuse, that this is not the first time that we have acted in this manner. I replied that a prostitute could say the same. I have seen a letter from a very important official of one of the provinces in which he censures and reproaches such behavior. Friesland is the one province that can least do without French trade.
Today, there is a big concert at the French embassy. The Court is { 333 } there. The ambassador is doing the reverse of what is done in the theater: he begins with the entertainment and will end with the tragedy. People here flatter themselves, however, that he will not proceed too urgently, because it is understood that all the Admiralties have been summoned to deliberate more extensively on the matter of convoys. What is not openly said, but known by all, is that they have sent the response, which the ambassador refused to receive, to Mr. de Berkenrode5 in Paris in order to seek agreement there: but in vain.
Our friend is lucky. He has in all this played a prestigious role and will achieve glory in the end. He is following in the footsteps of the Republic's great men of old. On the other hand, the French memorandum was very timely in promoting the resolve of the great city. I do not doubt, gentlemen, that the events which will follow will show you the importance of what passes here, and how much the démarches of the servant of the United States, in which you have concurred, have proved useful in this affair.
We have just received confirmation from England of the return of their Commissioners. Campbell's expedition against Carolina failed.6 Byron sailed from New York with 15 vessels, was hit by a storm on 2 November, and returned to Rhode Island with 10 cripples; the Somerset of 64 guns and the Cornwall of 74 were lost, the Bedford towed dismasted to New York, and the Culloden returned to England in poor condition. D'Estaing sailed from Boston on the 4th in pursuit of Hotham and Grant, or perhaps to conquer the English islands, &c. It has been so long, gentlemen, since you have given me any news from America, that I am reduced to telling you what I hear from the enemy.
The French ambassador will wait until about the middle of the month when the States of Holland will reconvene, and then, if they do not place themselves in perfect compliance with the regulation, he will carry out his threat.
From Hamburg, the 29th of December, I am informed that there is a rumor, which needs confirmation, that Prince Henry will step down from the command of the army, which will then be conferred upon the Prince of Prussia;7 that Prince Repnin is in Breslau,8 where the operational plans for the next campaign are being made, and is receiving high honors; that the Russians will create a diversion in Hungary; that it is for communication with their army that the King9 wishes to maintain his posts in Upper Silesia; that he is in both good health and spirits. Also, that two new treaties of commerce are being worked on, one between the Courts of Berlin and Saxony, the other between those of Berlin and Petersburg; and that there is no sign of peace in Germany.
May God bestow glorious and fruitful benedictions upon the United States. This is my daily wish. May we, gentlemen, you and I, celebrate together, in the course of this year, this happy event.
{ 334 }
I am, with a very great respect gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] D
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plenipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amérique à Passy”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “M. Dumas 1. Janry. 79.”
1. That is, the Stadholder, William V of Orange, had made secret arrangements with his cousin, George III. In extracts from this and other letters to the Commissioners that he enclosed in his letter to the Committee for Foreign Affairs of 7 Jan. (PCC, No. 93, I, f. 255), Dumas replaced “son Cousin” with “la Cour de Lond.”
2. La Vauguyon rejected the answer on 30 Dec., the same day that it was adopted by the States General in the form of a secret resolution (Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution, p. 117).
3. Located in the southwestern corner of the Netherlands, the fortress of Bergen-op-Zoom was taken by the French in 1747 (Cambridge Modern Hist., 6:248).
4. In the extracts from this letter sent to the Committee for Foreign Affairs, Dumas replaced the blank with “la Cour de L.”
5. The effort by Mattheus Lestevenon van Berkenrode, Dutch ambassador to France, to present to Vergennes the States General's response to La Vauguyon's mémoire was unsuccessful. On 5 Jan., Berkenrode informed the States General that Vergennes had refused to accept the answer, requested that it be withdrawn, and advised that in the future the States General negotiate with La Vauguyon (Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution, p. 120). In fact, the only acceptable reply would be one declaring unequivocably the determination of the United Provinces to protect its vessels, particularly those carrying ships' timbers, through the use of convoys.
6. Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell's objective was Georgia rather than the Carolinas. Leaving New York at the end of Nov., Campbell captured Savannah on 29 Dec. and shortly thereafter, following the arrival of additional troops from Florida under the command of Gen. Augustine Prevost, all of Georgia was in British hands (Ward, War of the Revolution, 2:679–681; Mackesy, War for America, p. 234).
7. The change in command from Prince Henry of Prussia to his nephew, Prince Frederick William (later Frederick William II), did not take place.
8. Prince Nicolai Vasilievich Repnin had arrived at Breslau on 20 Dec. with powers to mediate between Austria and Prussia. In May he signed the Treaty of Teschen ending the War for the Bavarian Succession (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale).
9. Frederick II, or Frederick the Great of Prussia.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0211

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Date: 1779-01-02

The Commissioners to Gabriel de Sartine

[salute] Sir

We had the Honour of receiving your Excellency's Letter of the 22d, and are much obliged to you for the Interest you take in what concerns the unhappy Prisoners who may escape from England. We have not been inattentive to that Subject. There are Persons who Supply them at Bourdeaux, Brest, l'Orient, Nantes and Dunkirk. A Gentleman at Calais1 has voluntarily done this service for which We have directed him to draw upon us for his disbursements; And We Shall as readily discharge what may have been disbursed by your Commissaries when We have their Accounts.
{ 335 }
As there is very little Probability of any Prisoners coming to other Ports, We will not give your Excellency the Trouble you are so good as to offer to take.
The Regulation your Excellency proposes relative to the Prisoners We may take from the Enemy and bring into the Ports of France, is entirely agreeable to us; and We shall direct our Agents accordingly who will readily deliver such Prisoners to the Persons your Excellency may appoint to receive them, having already requested us to procure written <Answers> Orders2 from you, without which your Commissaries were unwilling to take Charge of them.3
We have the Honour to be4
LbC in Arthur Lee's hand (Adams Papers).
1. James Leveux (see James Smith to the Commissioners, 15 Nov. 1778, above).
2. Benjamin Franklin substituted “Orders” for “Answers.”
3. This whole paragraph was bracketed in the left margin; it is not known by whom, or for what purpose.
4. In his reply of 13 Jan. (MS, in French, PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 181; English translation, Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:22), Sartine agreed that measures had been taken regarding American prisoners in most French ports, but noted that the Commissioners apparently had neglected to provide for those entering the ports of Normandy and asked that this omission be corrected. He then stated that the requested accounts were forthcoming and that orders had been sent to all French ports for the reception of English prisoners brought in by Americans.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0212

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1779-01-03

To James Lovell

[salute] Sir

I Suffer So much Uneasiness, on Account of the State of Things here, that I cannot fail to communicate my Anxieties, so [to?] some one in Congress, <which you may>
We are very much Straightened for Funds, and you send Us no supplies, and yet you draw upon Us, from America from the West Indies, and from many other Quarters. We are continually exposed to the <Insolen> Reproaches, and the Insolence of American Prisoners who escape from England, Ireland, Scotland, Jersy, Guernsy because We do not furnish them with as much Money as they want. We lend them more than We can afford and yet We [are] obliged to pay away large Sums of Money for Purposes less necessary.
It is a delicate subject that I am about to touch, and I suppose Gentlemen will think hard of it, but my duty to the public demands of me that I should State Facts for your Information, and for the Information of all others to whom you may think proper to communicate them.
The three Commissioners at this Court, in the Article of their Ex• { 336 } pences merely1 consumed ten Thousand Pounds Sterling, in the first Year. The Commissioner to the Empire last Feby. received two thousand Pounds sterling, and on the 4 of December drew on Us for one Thousand more. The Commissioner, to the Grand Duke had Two Thousand Pounds Sterling in February and two days ago told me, he must draw for more. So that at the most moderate Computation, you will have three thousand Pounds each to pay for five Commissioners, whereas in my Opinion, one Commissioner is all that is wanted, and he might live upon three Thousand Pounds. But then you must appoint Consuls to manage the Commercial Business. Twelve thousand Pounds a Year would go a great Way in, relieving the Wants of our Countrymen, suffering in Prison or escaping from it. Besides the Waste of Money, We are accumulating a Debt here which will be a heavy Load, <and> give great Discontent and excite great Clamours hereafter.
Reports are propagated here, that Congress are about sending out a greater Number of Commissioners, and all I suppose must draw, Upon Passy. If this should be the Case it is my duty to tell you, that their Bills and ours both, will in my opinion be protested. It will be impossible they should be paid.
With both the Commissioners, that to Vienna and that to Tuscany, I have a good Understanding, and think them honourable and worthy Men. But there is not in my opinion any Probability of their being received, and therefore their Missions are totally Useless.
My opinion and Advice therefore is, to recall, every Commissioner, You have in the World, excepting one to this Court and one to Spain. And appoint Consuls or Commercial Agents at Nantes and Bourdeaux.
Recall me, and Leave Dr. F. here alone, but then you must take from him, all Money Matters all commercial and maritime matters. His Character, has excited such an Enthusiasm, that it would do us great Harm to recall him—and one alone is enough.2
LbC (Adams Papers); notation following the close: “Feb. 13 1779. The foregoing Letter was never sent nor copied, the Account of the Commissioners Expences, upon further Deliberation having been found too inaccurate and much exagerated.”
1. JA may have been using an obsolete definition of “merely” to mean “absolutely” or “completely.”
2. Although not sent, this letter reflected JA's long held views concerning the expense of maintaining three Commissioners at the French Court and the need for consuls. See, for example, his letters to Samuel Adams, 21 May 1778, and to the Committee of Commerce, 24 May 1778 (vol. 6:144–145, 150, calendar entries; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:106–108, 111–112).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0213

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Date: 1779-01-04

To Edmé Jacques Genet

[The resolve] of Congress of the 10 October, [that]2 you have inserted in your No. 62 is another Forgery.3 It has internal Marks of it enough.
1. Congress are not so much allarmed. They know the Ennemy have not the Power, tho they very well know they have the Will to do the Mischief.
2. Congress, would never recommend the building of such Hutts. There are Houses enough in the Country to receive the Inhabitants of the Towns, even in Case of such an Extremity.
3. Congress would never recommend the Burning the Houses of the Tories. They would sooner banish or Harry them and confiscate their Houses to carry on the War.
[A simple glance is sufficient] to any Man who knows [the country]4 and the Congress to perceive Marks of the Beast, in such ridiculous Fictions. Yet they impose of British Mobs, Ministers and Members of Parliament.5
[signed] John Adams
RC (CLjC). This letter was translated into French and printed in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique (“Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 63, p. lxxxiii). Fire damage at the top of the page has resulted in the loss of the salutation, dateline, and several words. As a result, except for the salutation which is not reproduced in Affaires, the dateline and other missing portions have been supplied in brackets by reconstructing the English text from the French translation in Affaires.
1. In Affaires the dateline read: “De P.*** le 4 Janvier 1779.”
2. In Affaires this paragraph begins “L'arrête du Congrès du 10 Octobre que.”
3. Printed on pages xxii and xxiii of cahier 62, the fictitious resolve noted an expected final British attempt at the destruction of American towns and directed Americans living in threatened areas to build huts at thirty miles distance and, if the attack came, to destroy all tory property. In the reply to this letter and his apology for being duped (cahier 63, lxxx–lxxxii), Genet gave as the source for the resolution a New York gazette, probably Rivington's Royal Gazette because the Courier de l'Europe of 22 Dec., cited in Genet's apology, contains the “resolve” of 10 Oct., the congress' countermanifesto of 30 Oct., and a reply to the latter by a loyalist writer; and all appeared under a heading that implied they were from the Royal Gazette of 18 Nov. The London Chronicle of 17–19 Dec. carried the same pieces with the same heading. The countermanifesto and the answer were printed in the Royal Gazette of 18 Nov., but the spurious resolve was not, nor did it appear in the other paper, Hugh Gaines' New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury. The resolve, therefore, was probably taken by Genet from an English newspaper that cited Rivington and was fabricated in England, not America. Further evidence of the resolve's wide circulation in Europe and its evident authenticity in the minds of those who read it can be seen in its appearance in the Gazette de Leide of 5 Jan.
4. In Affaires this sentence begins “Il suffit d'un simple coup d'oeil à toute personne connoissant le pays.”
{ 338 }
5. In this sentence JA's probable meaning is obscured by his use of “impose of.” The “of” may have been an inadvertence for “on,” but he meant “to obtrude or 'put' (a thing) upon (a person) by false representations; to palm or pass off” (OED). JA means that an effort is being made to impose false rumors or statements on the British people and politicians regarding the policy of the congress on the conduct of the war. Genet's French translation of the paragraph in Affaires is clearer than the sentence as JA wrote it. It reads: “Cependant elles reussissent a merveille pour tromper le vulgaire Anglois, les Ministres et les Membres du Parlement.” Translation: Yet they succeed to perfection in deceiving the British mob, ministers, and members of Parliament.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0214

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Schweighauser, John Daniel
Date: 1779-01-04

The Commissioners to J. D. Schweighauser

[salute] Sir

We are honoured with yours <of> without a date.1 We wrote you on the Second of this Month2 to which We refer. We have written to Mr. Gilbank several Times that We could furnish him with no more Money, and that We should protest his Bills. If he will not believe Us, When the Bills arrive if they ever do, which We hope they will not, our <Protest> Refusal and the consequent Protest Will Convince him. We have been trifled with too much by that Gentleman, and hope We shall be so no more.
We have made the most pressing application in our Power to <Mr. De Sartine,> the Ministry, for the Convoy, and hope to suceed, but have not yet an Answer. We approve of [y]our Tenderness to the Prisoners. We wish to hear whether you have recovered the Cargoe of the Therese.
1. Not found.
2. Not printed, but see Benjamin Gunnison to the Commissioners, 14 Dec. 1778, and note 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0215

Author: Cooper, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-04

From Samuel Cooper

[salute] My dear Sir

Four days ago I received the Favor of your Letter of Aug: 12th.,2 and it gave me the highest Pleasure to hear you were well. The Marquiss de la Fayette will do me the Honour to take the Charge of this Letter who carries with him the Esteem and Affection of the Army and the States. His Intrepidity and Discretion, his Conduct in the Field, in Council, and in all private Circles have gained him an uncommon Reputation. He has done our Country no small Service, and reflected no little Honour upon his own with which at this trying Season we are so happy as to be allied.
{ 339 }
You will know before this reaches you the Affairs of the Count d'Estaing, who is in my Opinion an Officer of great Ability and Merit, and accomplished every Thing that human Prudence and Fortitude could effect in his Circumstances. The Winds and Weather were against him; and tho he felt his Disappointments most sensibly, he commanded himself greatly upon every trying Occasion, and conducted with equal Wisdom and Resolution. He did every Thing in his Power for the Service on which he was sent, and tho not equal to what would have been done, had he arrived sooner, it was yet much. I had the Pleasure of spending a day, not long before he left us with your good Lady and a Number of the Count's Officers at Col. Quincy's in Braintree.3 All admired the good Order, and polite Behavior of the Officers of the Fleet of which the Count gave the Example as well as the <Orders> Injunction.
You will see by our Papers that Mr. Deane has opened a public Contest here. He attacks the Family of the Lee's—and is supported by a Number of Pens. Common Sense4 defends them—Congress seem to be divided upon this Point5—I have had no Letters from any of our Friends there, and know little more than the public Papers. As Mr. Deane is to have an Hearing before Congress,6<of> which he complains he has been denied, the Matter may perhaps be stopped, and7 the Discussions in the Papers cease. At present we form no Judgement here, and take no Side, waiting for further Information and the Decision of that Body.8 We must expect Altercations and Divisions of this Kind, and perhaps by awakening in the People a more particular Attention to our public Affairs, they may produce common Good.
Our Enemies still keep a Garrison in New York and Rhode Island, and the Count it is supposed is now in the West Indies. Byron has been torn to Pieces with Storms, and wasted by Sickness, and was not able to follow the Count till six or seven Weeks after his Departure; The latter had all the Appearance of a good Season off, having escaped by Detention here, the Storm that shatter'd Byron's Fleet, and obliged him to repair from this Coast to Newport, in Order to refit9—Referring you to the Papers, that go by this Opportunity, and to the Marquiss for Details of News, I am, my dear Sir, with the warmest Respect and Attachment, Your most humble servant
[signed] Saml: Cooper
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Dr Cooper”; in another hand: “4 Jan'y 1779.”
1. Under this date, with the heading “Lettre de M. Samuel Cooper (Pasteur de la principale Eglise de Boston) à M. *** à P——y,” and with some alterations (see notes 5, 7, 8, and 9), this letter was printed in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique (“Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 65, p. clxxvii–clxxix). It, together with letters { 340 } from Samuel Adams of 25 Oct. and Richard Henry Lee of 29 Oct. 1778 (both above), was sent with JA's letter to Edmé Jacques Genet of [ca. 14 Feb.] (below).
2. Vol. 6:367–368.
3. It is impossible to determine when Cooper was in company with AA at Col. Josiah Quincy's house, but for her meetings with Estaing and other French officers, see her letters to JA of [21] and [25 Oct. 1778], and that from Isaac Smith Sr. to JA of 9 Nov. 1778 (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:108–111, 117–118).
4. In a series of articles in the Pennsylvania Packet (15, 29, 31 Dec. 1778, and 2, 5, 7, 9 Jan. 1779), Thomas Paine answered Deane's address “To the Free and Virtuous Citizens of America,” which had appeared in the Packet of 5 Dec. 1778.
5. In Affaires Cooper's comments on the newspaper controversy, beginning with “He attacks the Family” and proceeding to “this Point,” were omitted.
6. The date of Deane's hearing was to have been 7 Dec. 1778; but on that day, because of the uproar over his address, he was ordered to put his report in writing. On 22, 23, and 31 Dec., Deane read his account before the congress, which then informed him that he would be notified of further orders. Although Deane was not again called before the congress, it was not until 20 Aug. 1779 that he was released from attending it (JCC, 12:1192, 1200–1201, 1265–1266; 13:930).
7. The preceding fourteen words were omitted from the translation in Affaires.
8. This sentence was omitted from the translation in Affaires.
9. In Affaires the remainder of this paragraph and the signature were omitted and there the printed letter ends as follows: “Si la lenteur de sa marche, qui l'a fait arriver en Amerique deux jours trop tard, a été contraire à ses desseins, en revanche nous avons bien lieu de nous féliciter des circonstances qui ont fait retarder son depart de deux jours. Voila comme la Providence sait nous faire adorer la profondeur de ses desseins.” Translation: If the slowness of his passage, which made him arrive in America two days too late, was contrary to his plans, in compensation we have good reason to congratulate ourselves for the circumstances that delayed his departure by two days. See how Providence makes us worship the profundity of His designs.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0216

Author: Boylston, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-05

From John Boylston

[salute] Dear Sir

When I wrote you Per G. Tailer1 requesting the favour of your Advice and Assistance in procuring him a speedy return to America I did not thereby mean your assistance in any pecuniary Advance but only your recommendation to him of the first good oppertunity for his return to his Native home, as I suspect many Such Juvenile, Volatile, and capricious Subjects, have been and may be to you and your Worthy Colleague2 very troublesome. Let the said G. T. for this reason know that no Bill on me will be paid of his draft.
Adieu; my sincerest and best wishes attend you,
[signed] J. B.3
1. No previous letter from Boylston has been found, but William, or Guillaume, Taylor had served as John Hancock's secretary while he was president of the congress. He had sailed from Boston for France on 26 July 1778, bearing packets from the congress for the Commissioners and possibly also letters to JA from AA (PCC, No. 79, I, f. 236–237; No. 37, f. 119; Adams Family Correspondence, 3:59,62). That Boylston wrote regarding him seems to indicate that the vessel on { 341 } which he sailed was captured. Except for a letter of reference by the Commissioners dated 18 Dec. 1778 (LbC, Adams Papers), no previous reference to Taylor has been found in the Commissioners' correspondence.
2. Undoubtedly Benjamin Franklin; see Boylston's letter of 6 Feb. (below).
3. John Boylston was a first cousin of JA's mother. He had gone to England in 1771 and, despite indications that in 1778 he considered returning to America, remained there until his death in 1795. For additional information on Boylston, particularly his sympathy for the American cause, see Adams Family Correspondence, 4:201.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0217

Author: MacCreery, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-05

From William MacCreery

[salute] Sir

Meerly for want of something agreeable or interesting to communicate to you, It is now a very long time since I had the pleasure of paying you my respects. But as I have taken the liberty on a former occasion, to trouble you on the Subject of our Commercial Interests in this Country, I beg leave to mention to you some more particulars relating to it, which at this Port we find very irksome, and which I really think, only want bare mentioning to be removed.
The first, and at present the greatest, is our inability to Load Salt here, without paying the old established Duty thereon, which amounts to a meer prohibition,1 so that Vessels which wou'd take in Salt for ballast, finding it too much to pay the Duty, and by far too expensive to touch at St. Martin's for it, are obliged to carry Sand. In this manner hath many Vessels, half loaded with useless Earth, gone to America from hence, to the great detriment of the Owners, and disapointment of the expecting Poor People in America, who no doubt built hopes on supplys coming to them by those Vessels. We have also found that it wou'd have been cheaper to pay Freight for Salt from St. Martin's here, (provided there was no charge of duty) than to send Vessels thither to take it, even supposing they loaded Salt entirely, for the Port-Charges, loss of time, and other incidental expences, come allways very Heavey on such traffic.
There is another circumstance which I shall take leave to point out to you, and which I wou'd be glad to have set to rights as soon as may be. In our Treaty of Freindship and Commerce, I think it is stipulated, that in regard to Dutys and imposts in the Ports of France, We shall be on as favourable a footing as any Power Whatever.2 But unfortunatly, hitherto, either from mistake, or oversight, Our Vessels have been put down in the Custom-house Books, etrangers. And in place of paying Three and an half Per Cent, We are obliged to pay Six Per Cent on most Goods, and in some cases, the difference is much more to our { 342 } prejudice. Now as custom is very apt to establish a thing into a Law, I shou'd be glad to have this matter placed on a clear footing as soon as may be, for altho' that from the smallness of our Trade to this Place at present, the difference seems triffling, it may in future become a matter of very great importance to the Trading part of America directly, and to every part of it indirectly. The Hambourghers I beleive are on as favourable a footing in point of Trade with this Country, as most others. Therefore, were it expressly fix'd that we shou'd be dealt by in the same manner, We shou'd Know at once what our right was, and when we were aggrieved. But I must confess that I am not able to enlighten you much upon this Subject, having no great opportunity of procuring Knowlege in it myself, but what I Know I thought my Duty to communicate. Shou'd Yourself and Honorable Colleagues think proper to mention these matters at Court, I have no doubt you wou'd readily procure the releif desired by us here, in which I sincerely wish you Success.
I had lately an Account of the arrival at Baltimore, of the Brigantine Saratoga,3 which I expedited from Nantes last Augt. She had coarse Goods on board to the amount of £100,000 Tournois which woud cloath a great many of our Countrymen. I hope to see her, Daily, and that she will be the messenger of Good News, which shall be very happy to Communicate to you being allways with the greatest Respect Sir Your much obliged and very Obedient Servant
[signed] Will MacCreery
RC (Adams Papers); docketed by JA and others: “Mr. McCreery 5th Jany. 7th 1779.” The name, month, and year are by JA, the “5th” by CFA, correcting the earlier notation of “7th,” which is in an unknown hand. Both days' dates are added above the line, with the “7th” probably being a misreading of the dateline abbreviation Jany, where the “y,” written as a superscript, looks much like a “7.”
1. The issue of duties on salt at Bordeaux had been raised in John Bondfield's letter to the Commissioners of 16 July 1778 (PPAmP: Franklin Papers). Bondfield wrote that a quintal of salt loaded at St. Martin on the Ile de Ré, an island off La Rochelle, cost approximately 23 sous. Foreign vessels paid a duty of 3 sous, 9 deniers per quintal. This duty was a concession to promote the exportation of salt from the Ile de Ré and had been extended to exportations from Nantes, but not from Bordeaux. At Bordeaux salt cost one and a half times what it did at the Ile de Ré, approximately 35 sous per quintal; but the duty paid by foreign ships was more than eleven times greater, 41 sous, 9 denier per quintal, than that paid at the Ile de Ré or Nantes. According to Bondfield's figures, 720 quintals of salt cost approximately 950 livres at the Ile de Ré or Nantes, but 4,332 livres at Bordeaux. The difference resulted, in addition to the higher cost and increased duties, from the fact that at Ile de Ré or at Nantes a single payment equal to the duty was required, whereas at Bordeaux a sum equal to double the actual duty was deposited with the authorities. The Commissioners apparently took no action regarding the Bondfield letter, and there is no indication that MacCreery was any { 343 } more successful.
2. Articles 2 through 5 of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce granted the United States most-favored-nation status and defined its application to Franco-American trade (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:5–7). Compare MacCreery's complaints with those voiced in the letter from John Lloyd and others to the Commissioners of 7 Jan. (below).
3. For the Saratoga, a Continental privateer out of Baltimore (PCC, No. 196, XIV), see MacCreery's letters to JA of 4 and 25 July 1778 (vol. 6:258, 316).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0218

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Date: 1779-01-07

The Commissioners to Gabriel de Sartine

[salute] Sir

We have the Honour to inclose to your Excellency two Memorials1 concerning a French2 Vessell retaken from an English Privateer by An American Privateer the Hampden commanded by Captain Pickering.
As there is nothing in either of the Treaties between his Majesty and the united States, respecting such Rescues and Recaptures the Laws of each State must govern the Cases of the Vessells carried into it, <and no La> untill Some new Regulation Shall take Place <and>. The Sale was made before the new Regulations took place and we apprehend that3 no Law or Ordinance can justly be made to have a Retrospect or a Retroactive Effect.
We beg the favor of your Excellency to order what appears to you just in this particular case.
1. Presumably these were the petitions, of which this letter gives the substance, from D'Albert de Riou, a Brest merchant, of 23 Oct., and from Riou and Capt. Thomas Pickering of 23 Dec. 1778 (both PPAmP: Franklin Papers). The controversy centered on La Constance, a French vessel taken by a Guernsey privateer on 29 Sept. and recaptured by Pickering and the Hampden on 2 Oct. Because it had been in the enemy's hands for more than 24 hours, La Constance was a legal prize to the American captors under the terms of the Marine Ordinance of 1681. Basing their actions on that ordinance and past practice, Pickering went before the admiralty clerk within 24 hours of his arrival at Brest on 6 Oct. and presented the circumstances of the capture. As a result, the admiralty judges determined La Constance to be a good prize. Pickering then entered into an agreement with Riou for its disposal, and made payments to the crew in anticipation of the sale. However, on 22 Oct. the regulations for the disposal of prizes and prisoners that had been issued on 27 Sept. were registered at Brest. This caused the admiralty judges to reconsider their decision in the case of La Constance and to decide that it should come under the provisions of the new regulations. This meant that the evidence in the case would have to be presented again and a new determination made of the legitimacy of the capture, but, because the prize had already been sold, such a course would have resulted in long delays and litigation. Therefore, the petitioners desired the Commissioners to obtain from the Ministry of Marine an order exempting La Constance from the provisions of the new regulations. Pickering wrote again, to Benjamin Franklin on 28 Jan., concerning the case (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:16). Nothing is known of its outcome since no reply by Sartine has been found. For the French regulations concerning recaptures, see Sartine to the Commissioners, 16 Sept. 1778, above; and for the regulations of 27 Sept. 1778, { 344 } see Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:684–687.
2. This word was interlined for insertion at this point.
3. The preceding fourteen words were interlined by Benjamin Franklin for insertion at this point.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0219

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Date: 1779-01-07

The Commissioners to Gabriel de Sartine

[salute] Sir

Your Excellency did Us the Honour to inform Us, sometime ago, that in order to obtain the Liberty of Americans, taken on board of English Vessells by his Majestys ships it was necessary, that We should inform your Excellency, that they had been made Prisoners by the English and forced into their service.1
We accordingly request the Liberty of William Berry, William Keating, John Williams, Abraham Fairman, Robert Boughoss [Bongass], John Hanlen [Handly], James White, all Prisoners in Dinant Castle. These Persons, have most of them been in the American service by sea or Land, and all have been taken Prisoners by the English and forced into their service, as they affirm and We believe.2
There is another Person Prisoner in Granville, whose Name is Jonathan Akin who was taken Prisoner by <the> an English Frigate, and imprisoned for some Time at Portsmouth.
1. Sartine to the Commissioners, 14 Nov. 1778 (above).
2. For the memorial of 21 Oct. 1778 signed by Berry, Keating, Williams, Fairman, Bongass, and Handly, see the Commissioners to Sartine, 12 Oct. 1778, note 8 (above). No previous mention of James White or Jonathan Akin has been found. Presumably this letter resulted in the release of the men, but no reply from Sartine has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0220

Author: Lloyd, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-07

John Lloyd and Others to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

Having been induced to believe, and to expect, in consequence of The Treaty of Alliance, Friendship, and Commerce, entered into, by, and between, His most Christian Majesty, and, The Honorable Congress, of The United States of America; That every possible encouragement, and protection would be readily granted, to our Commercial intercourse, with this Kingdom. We presumed, under that confidence to address Monsieur de Sartine, the Minister of the Marine, and Your Honors,1 to solicit a protection for a respectable number of Vessels, destined with very valuable, and consequential Cargoes, to different States. The Minister did us the honour to acknowledge immediately, { 345 } the receipt of our letter, but, was pleased to refuse, a compliance with our request. Notwithstanding which, we flattered ourselves, that by the means of your interest, and by the exertion of your influence, at the Court of Versailles, we should obtain it. With that hope, we have waited for Your Honors, explicit information; although we must confess, that it has not been without anxiety, and impatience, as our own, and our Vessels detention, are attended with many disagreeable circumstances, and destructive consequences: insomuch, that we should in future, even prefer the risque of capture, to any reliance upon an application for protection.
The American Merchants, and Adventurers carry on their Commerce at present, to this Kingdom, under so many disadvantages, that we presume, to think, they ought to have every possible assistance, and attention, and without it is given, and granted to them, we are very apprehensive, that they will be soon discouraged from pursuing of it.
As we have been induced to say, thus much, Permit us to inform Your Honors, that we are very desirous, to know, What are the particular privileges, benefits, and exemptions to which we are intitled, by virtue of the Treaty of Commerce? As hitherto, we have not found any difference, in the mode of conducting our business, for the same imposts are exacted, which were required, when our Vessels first entered this Port.
We take the liberty farther to observe, that we think it is essentially requisite, that the Import, and Export Duties for which the Americans are to be held liable to the payment of, should be precisely ascertained, and the same made publick by authority, as well to prevent imposition as for the Merchants government, and satisfaction.
There are several of us, on the point of embarking for different States, we are therefore solicitous to have Your Honors information, respecting these particulars, that we may carry to America certain intelligence relative thereto, and from the best authority.
We are, with all due respect Your Honors Most Obedt. and most Hble Servts.
[signed] John Lloyd
[signed] William Blake
[signed] M Livingston
[signed] Laurence Brooke
[signed] Alexr. Dick
[signed] H Thompson
[signed] Jno. Gilbank
[signed] Jno. Ross
[signed] Cha: Ogilvie
[signed] Jos. Wharton
[signed] Danl. Blake
[signed] J. P. Whitall
[signed] Phil Rd. Fendall
[signed] Matthew Mease
[signed] Robert Brooke
[signed] Jas. Grahame
{ 346 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “From several American Gentlemen at Nantes Jan 7. 1779.”
1. See the letters from J. D. Schweighauser and others to the Commissioners of 7 Nov. and 15 Dec. 1778(both above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0221

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-09

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

I had the Honor to pay my respects to you the 1st. Instant since which am without any of your Commands. The Convoy for the French Islands left this yesterday and with them three small Cutters for the States of America. We have a Vessel from Edenton arrived at Bayonne sail'd in October of course no News only Tobacco is at ten pounds that Currency the hundred weight by which the Traders in making returns at this day sink great part of their Capital, there is no forming any conjectures to what hight the price of Goods will get to. They are at Present above all conceiption and that Owing to too great an emission of Paper as the motives which produced the quantity are no longer there being more than is nessessary for all emergencies. Could a plan be put in practice to reduce the quantity there might be a prospect of its retaking a Substantial value, its present State is hurtful and affects the Credit in Europe. I saw a return a few days past from Martinico transmitted to a Merchant at this City of the present Circulating Currency in the United States amount Seven hundred Million of Livres, tho' the sum is incredible yet allowing the prices giving for every Article say near 20 for I taking therefore 19/20ths. from the Sum will make 35 million of livres or one and half Million Sterling a sum that its very probable may exist. The grand difficulty lays how to sink the 19/20ths. and thereby reduce the Current Circulation to its true Standard, it is to be done with ease provided Funds could be raised on this side the Water to support the operation. In the Present Course Forreigners reaping the high Price by their Sales throwing their Stock so accumulated into the Funds of the States become Creditors of Consiquence. Interest paying to them is a dead blank and if management is not timely observed they may become holders of so much as to draw the attention of their respective Goverments who may at an unseasonable Period form a National Debt of it and demand a reimburssment difficult to perform. I am informd Purchases have been made of Continental Paper to very considerable amount at great discompt by Men of the first distinction in the Kingdom who Act not from Momentary Views and from these Circumstances I form my remarks of the danger that { 347 } may attend heavy debts due contracted to Forreigners in the present reduced State of the Paper Credit.
From the above digressions permit me to go a little farther. France is now borrowing 40 million of livres. The Loan its said is filld with a considerable Surplus. Has France sufficient confidence in the States that independent of the Sums advanct by convention will she advance a further Sum on the same plan as borrowd for themselves say on Annuities at 8 1/2 and 10 Per Cent could a Capital of two Million be granted and the Money appropriated to the purpose of sinking the Continental Paper not for paying the Interest to Forreigners which tho' a most favorable plan for giving it Credit in reality only encreases the debt. I dare engage with two Million Livres Capital to sink thirty Million of Paper, This continued for few Years would so change the face of the Country that no difficulty would succeed to execute every Publick Operation dependant on the Funds without any new Emissions.
Certain Operations are now on Foot that will bring if successful America in debt to France many Millions and if continued must in the end Create a debt that America will find difficult to Cancel. Should the Publick Creditors be neither Landholders nor yet Inhabitants the Natives must be Rackt with Taxes to discharge debts not revertable amongst them but entirely detatcht and reversable in the State to whom the debt is due and that contracted by an advance of 20 for I on the Capital.
Two young Men Arrived this morning by a dutchmen from Weymouth, they were taken by an English Privateer. The One had a ball thro his thigh the other in the Shoulder. Their situation dont permit them to perform any Labourious service. I shall get them a Passage so soon as oppertunity offers to America being destitute of Money or Credit I shall be assistant to them as far as required. Some allowance in Circumstances of this Nature should be granted.
The first payment for the fifty six pieces Cannon1 now Carting [Casting?] by your order is payable in February. Twenty four Thousand Livres for which I shall when wanted Pass my drafts on you. By Letters from Nantes I have the Satisfaction to find the Governor Livingston and the Chasseur were advanct in their Loading and would be ready to Sail when order'd. I was informd a Convoy was appointed. Mr. Livingston writes me it is uncertain. I pray your advices on this head that we may pursue such measures as will be most Seasonable. The Retardment by Contrary Winds have greatly broke in upon our plans, it was intended the ships at this day should have been on the { 348 } Coast of America. I have the Honer to be with due Respect Sirs Your most Obedient Humble Servant
[signed] John Bondfield
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble. Benjamin Franklin Arthur Lee, John Adams Esqrs. Commissioners from Congress a Paris”; docketed, not by JA: “John Bondfield Bordeaux 9. Jr. 1779”; in another hand: “M. Bondfield Jany. 9 1779.” Part of the first and all of the third paragraphs are without punctuation; the editors have inserted several commas and periods.
1. The cannon were for the ship of the line America; see Bondfield to the Commissioners, 12 Sept. and note 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0222-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-09

The Comte de Vergennes to the Commissioners

J'ai reçu, Messieurs, la Lettre, Sans datte, que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'ecrire.1 Ne doutez pas que nous ne prenions son contenu en Consideration, Selon que les Circumstances le permettront: Vous en avez un sûr garant dans l'interet Sincere que le Roi prend à la prosperité des Etats-Unis. J'ai l'honneur d'etre tres parfaitement, Messieurs, vôtre très humble et tres obeissant Serviteur
[signed] De Vergennes

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0222-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-09

The Comte de Vergennes to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

I have received, gentlemen, the undated letter that you did me the honor to write.1 Rest assured that we will, as much as circumstances will permit, take its contents into consideration. You may rely on the sincere interest that the King takes in the prosperity of the United States. I have the honor to be very perfectly, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] De Vergennes
1. That this is the letter of [ante 9] Jan. (printed under the date [ante 20] Dec. 1778 – [ante 9] Jan. 1779, above), is indicated by the notation in the left margin of the draft: “[Atten]tion que le Roi donnera [à la] mesures contennu [à] le manifeste du deputés [Ang]lois en amerique.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0223-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-09

The Comte de Vergennes to the Commissioners

J'ai communiqué á M. de Sartine, Messieurs, la Lettre,1 par la quelle vous demandez qu'il soit donné escorte aux Batimens en partance qui Sont destinés pour les Ports des Etats Unis. Ce Ministre vient de me repondré qu'il n'est point possible d'accorder cette Escorte pour toute { 349 } la traversée, mais que les Batimens en question seront conduits jusqu'aux parages qui pourront les mettre a l'Abri des insultes des Corsaires Ennemies. Je vous prie en Consequence, Messieurs de vouloir bien m'indiquer les Ports ou se trouvent les Batiments qui sont prêts a faire voile pour l'Amerique Septentrionale afin que M. de Sartine puisse donner des ordres pour les Convois.2 J'ai l'honneur d'étre tres parfaitement, Messieurs, votre tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur3
[signed] De Vergennes

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0223-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-09

The Comte de Vergennes to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

I have communicated to M. Sartine, gentlemen, the letter1 in which you request that an escort be provided for the vessels about to sail, which are bound for ports in the United States. This minister has just replied that it is not possible to provide an escort for the entire crossing, but the vessels in question will be conducted to waters where they can be safe from the attacks of enemy privateers. Therefore, gentlemen, would you be so kind as to indicate to me the ports where these ships, which are about to sail for North America, can be found so that M. Sartine may give orders for the convoys.2 I have the honor to be very perfectly, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant3
[signed] De Vergennes
1. Of 29 Dec. (above).
2. For the Commissioners' reply of 13 Jan., see the Commissioners to Vergennes, 24 Jan., and note 3 (below).
3. This letter is the last entered in Lb/JA/6 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 94). For information about this Letterbook, see Introduction, part 2, John Adams and his Letterbooks.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0224-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-12

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

Les Et. d'Hollande se rassemblent demain. Notre Ami arrive ce soir; et je vais lui souhaitter bon succès. L'on est de plus en plus embarrassé ici. Au lieu d'agréer la Réponse au Memoire, envoyée comme je vous l'ai marqué à Mr. De Berkenrode, Mr. l'Ambassadeur a reçu un Exprès de sa Cour, dont nous saurons <bientôt> le Message en même temps que le Résultat des Délibérations des Etats d'Hollande. En attendant je vous transcrirrai ici la Note explicative du dit Mémoire, remise par Mr. l'Ambassadeur le 196 Xbre au Grand Pensionnaire, et dont S. E. m'a fait donner copie.
“Le Roi, déterminé à se procurer une entiere certitude des Résolutions ultérieures des Etats Généraux, se flatte que L. H. P. s'explique• { 350 } ront d'une maniere nette et précise sur les caracteres de la parfaite neutralité dont Sa Maj. se persuade qu'elles ne veulent pas s'écarter. Elle s'attend qu'elles conserveront au pavillon des Provinces-Unies toute la liberté qui leur appartient comme une suite de leur indépendance, et à leur Commerce toute l'intégrité que le Droit des Gens lui assure, et que les Traités lui confirment. Mais cette liberté deviendroit illusoire, et cette intégrité seroit altérée, si L. h. p. ne la maintiennent pas par une protection convenable, et si elles consentent à priver leurs sujets des convois, sans lesquels ils ne peuvent jouir, dans toute leur étendue, des Droits qui leur sont acquis, et qu'ils réclament. Une Résolution, de quelque nature qu'elle soit, dont l'effet les frustreroit d'une protection aussi légitime, soit pour toutes les branches de leur Commerce en général, soit en particulier pour celle des provisions navales de toute espece, seroit regardée, dans les circonstances présentes, comme un acte de partialité, dérogatoire aux principes d'une absolue neutralité, et entraîneroit inévitablement les consequences annoncées dans le Mémoire qui à été remis à L. H. P. C'est notamment sur cet objet essentiel, et sur l'intention ultérieure d'observer une neutralité ainsi caractérisée, que le Roi demande à L. H. P. une réponse claire et précise.”
L'Assemblée d'aujourd'hui s'est bornée à de simples formalités. Je sai de très-bonne part, qu'Amsterdam aura la permission de commercer aux Isles françhises en Amérique, tant directement, que par voie de St. Eust. et Cur. et j'ai été autorisé d'en avertir certaines maisons amies, pour qu'elles puissent spéculer d'avance là-dessus.
On vouloit résoudre aujourd'hui, à la pluralité, un délai de 4 mois encore quant aux Convois pour les Bois de Construction. Pour le coup, Harlem s'est rangé absolument, et sans réserve, du côté d'Amsterdam; et Alcmar a pris la chose ad referendum: ce qui a beaucoup déplu à un grand personnage présent: le G—— P——se récrioit aussi beaucoup sur cela, et vouloit engager les Députés de cette Ville à accéder au sentimens de la pluralité; mais ils ont allégué les ordres de leur ville, pour s'en excuser. Ceci est cause que la Résolution ne pourra être prise que la semaine prochaine. Elle sera telle, néanmoins, que la Cour de France la regardera comme dérogatoire à la parfaite neutralité; car la pluralité l'emportera toujours; mais alors Amsterdam, Harlem, et peutêtre Alcmar, protesteront, &c.
Vous voyez, Messieurs, que l'opposition non seulement se soutient, { 351 } mais gagne du terrein; cette opposition n'étoit presque rien il y a 6 mois; c'étoit un foible roseau, qui ne se soutenoit qu'en pliant lorsque Borée souffloit: aujourdhui c'est un corps solide et robuste, bien appuyé, qui résiste à tous les efforts du Parti Anglois, qui les rompt, et qui parviendra enfin à l'emporter sur ce parti, et rendre à la republique son ancienne dignité.
Les <Anglois> Rois de la Mer ont été mal étrennés le jour de l'an par leur sujette: leur flotte pour N. York est presque entierement détruite; et le rivage françois et flamand est couvert de leurs débris.1 Dieu donne à l'Amérique la paix la plus glorieuse, et à vous, Messieurs, d'être longtemps les joyeux temoins de sa prospérité; ce sera ma joie aussi tant que je vivrai. Je suis avec un trés grand respect Messieurs, Votre trés humble et trés obéissant serviteur
[signed] Dumas

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0224-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-12

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

The States of Holland reassemble tomorrow. Our friend arrives tonight, and I will wish him great success. People here are more and more perplexed. Instead of agreeing to the response to the memorandum, which as I mentioned was sent to M. Berkenrode, the [French] Ambassador received an express from his court, the contents of which we will <soon> learn at the same time as the results of the deliberations of the States of Holland. In the meantime, I will transcribe here the explanatory note to the memorandum presented to the Grand Pensionary by the Ambassador on 19 December, and of which His Excellency gave me a copy.
“The King, determined to obtain complete assurances regarding the future resolutions of the States General, flatters himself that Their High Mightinesses will explain themselves, in a clear and precise manner, on the character of the perfect neutrality from which His Majesty persuades himself that they do not wish to deviate. He expects that they will maintain under the flag of the United Provinces all of the liberties vested in them as a result of their independence; and for their trade, the complete integrity assured them by the law of nations and confirmed by their treaties. However, this liberty could be illusory and its integrity altered if Their High Mightinesses did not maintain it by an adequate protection and decided to deprive their subjects of the convoys, without which they cannot enjoy, to their fullest extent, the rights which they have acquired and which they claim. A resolution, of whatever nature, whose effect would be to frustrate so legitimate a protection, either of all branches of their commerce in general or that in all kinds of naval stores in particular, would be regarded in the present circumstances as an act of partiality, derogatory to the principles of absolute neutrality, and thus would inevitably bring about the consequences set forth in the { 352 } memorandum which has been delivered to Their High Mightinesses. It is particularly on this essential point and on the subsequent intention to observe a neutrality so characterized that the King requests from Their High Mightinesses a clear and precise response.”
Today's assembly dealt with simple formalities. I know from a good source that Amsterdam will have permission to trade with the French Islands in America, either directly or by way of St. Eustatius and Curaçao; and I have been authorized to convey this information to certain friendly houses so that they can speculate in advance.
Today the assembly sought to resolve, by a plurality, upon a fourmonth delay in regard to convoys for ships' timber. For the moment Haarlem has ranged itself absolutely and without reservation on the side of Amsterdam; and Alkmaar submitted the matter ad referendum, thus greatly displeasing an important personage who was present. The Grand Pensionary, himself, also protested and sought to induce the delegates of that town to accede to the judgment of the plurality, but they have cited the orders of their town in excusing themselves. This is the reason that the resolution will not be adopted until next week. It will be such, however, that the Court of France will regard it as being derogatory to perfect neutrality, for the plurality always prevails; but then Amsterdam, Harlem, and maybe Alkmaar, will protest, etc.
You see, gentlemen, that the opposition is not only powerful, but gains in strength. Six months ago it was virtually nothing; a feeble reed, which survived only by bending whenever the north wind blew. Today it is a force, solid, robust, and well founded, which resists, disrupts, and in the end will prevail over all the efforts of the English party and return to the Republic its former dignity.
On New Year's Day the <English> Kings of the Sea were ill-rewarded by their vassal. Their fleet bound for New York was almost completely destroyed, and the French and Flemish coasts were strewn with its debris.1 May God give America the most glorious peace, and to you, gentlemen, at long last the joyous evidence of his prosperity, which will also be my greatest joy as long as I live. I am, with great respect, gentlemen, your very humble, and very obedient servant
[signed] Dumas
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amérique à Passy”; docketed by Arthur Lee: “opend by A Lee Esqr”; and in another hand: “Dumas 12 Jan 79.”
1. Dumas' report is similar to an item from Calais in the Gazette de Leide of 15 Jan. There it was reported that a force of naval and merchant ships, presumably bound for America and which had gathered in the Downs off the east coast of Kent, had been forced by the storm that struck England and the continent on the night of 31 Dec. and the morning of 1 Jan. to cut their cables and run before the wind, resulting in the loss of many vessels. Although there are numerous reports concerning the storm in the British press—see, for example, issues of the { 353 } London Chronicle from 31 Dec. 1778 – 1 Jan. 1779 through 16–19 Jan. 1779—no specific reference has been found of extensive damage to a fleet bound for America.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0225

Author: Izard, Ralph
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-12

Ralph Izard to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

I had the honor of writing to you, on the 2d. instant informing you that the credit which I had received from the Commissioners was exhausted, and that I shoud be obligd to you if you woud let me know whether it was most agreable to you to renew it, or that I shoud draw on you for what money I might have occasion for.1 As this matter appeard to require no great deliberation, I expected to have been favord with an immediate Answer. I find myself in arrear with the Banker to the amount of 2 or 3000 Livres and think it proper that the Account shoud be settled. I have therefore drawn on you for 500 Louis dores payable to his order, and you will be pleasd either to accept it immediately or inform me that you will not do it, that there may be no time lost in laying the matter before Congress. I have the honor to be Gentlemen yr. most Obedt. Hbl. Servt.
[signed] Signd. Ra. Izard
LbC in Arthur Lee's hand (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 179–180).
1. Izard's letter of 2 Jan. 1778 [1779] (PPAmP: Franklin Papers) with its request for 12,000 livres and that made by William Lee in a letter of 9 Dec. (above) for 24,000 livres, together provide a glimpse of the animosities existing among the Americans in Europe, for Benjamin Franklin refused to agree to either demand. In Feb. 1778 Izard and Lee had each been given 2,000 louis d'or—the French equivalent of the British guinea—or 48,000 livres to defray their expenses at the courts to which they had been commissioned by the congress: Izard to Florence, Lee to Berlin and Vienna (Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, DNA:RG 39 [Microfilm], f. 64, 65). Ralph Izard never went to Florence and William Lee was at Vienna and Berlin for only a short time in mid-1778—and then to no effect.
Izard and Lee based their new requests on a congressional resolution of 7 May 1778, which permitted them to draw on the Commissioners in France for their expenses (JCC, 11:473). Despite this authorization, Franklin was adamant in his refusal and defended his position in letters to the Committee for Foreign Affairs of 15 Jan. (incomplete MS) and 26 May (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:24–25, 190). Franklin believed that since neither man had carried out his mission as the congress had intended and thus had not incurred the expenses that the initial advance of 48,000 livres had been intended to defray, neither should expect any more money from the Commissioners.
On 4 Jan., Franklin drafted a reply from the Commissioners to Izard's letter of the 2d, which was never sent because his colleagues apparently refused to sign it. There, in terms that could equally be applied to William Lee, Franklin was even more explicit about his refusal than in his letters to the Committee for Foreign Affairs. After presenting a detailed picture of the Commissioners' finances on which there were so many competing demands, Franklin wrote: “we hope you will not insist on our giving you a farther credit with our banker, with whom we are daily in danger of having no farther { 354 } credit ourselves.” Because the Commissioners were in such severe straits, and Izard had not accomplished his mission, Franklin continued: “we should rather hope that you would be willing to reimburse us the sum we have advanced to you” (same, 3:10–11).
On the 12th Izard went to Passy to discuss his demand and probably to deliver the present letter. Franklin remained adamant in his refusal but, according to later letters from Izard, promised to provide a copy of the draft letter of 4 Jan. containing his reasons for refusing so that Izard might submit it to the congress if he wished. There is no evidence that Franklin ever fulfilled this obligation (Izard to Franklin, 20 Jan., Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:10; Izard to the Committee for Foreign Affairs, 28 Jan., Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:33–34; see also Izard to JA, 26 April and 21 May, both below).
Franklin's refusal to honor their demands did not mean that Izard and Lee were denied the money. Arthur Lee and JA apparently believed that the resolution of 7 May 1778 left them no recourse and on 12 Jan. approved Izard's draft, as they had that of William Lee on 8 Jan. (see letters of 13 Jan. from Arthur Lee and JA to William Lee, below, and to Ralph Izard, LbC, Adams Papers; and the Commissioners' Accounts, 12 Nov. 1778–11 Feb. 1779, entries for 8 and 12, above). Although he was paid, Izard continued to press the matter, presumably in an effort to embarrass Franklin, but nothing came of it. His protest to the Committee for Foreign Affairs of 28 Jan. did not reach the congress until 27 July, more than a month after he and William Lee had been recalled (JCC, 14:892, 700–701, 703–704).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0226

Author: Adams, John
Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Lee, William
Date: 1779-01-13

Arthur Lee and John Adams to William Lee

[salute] Sir

The Letter which you did Us the Honour to write Us on the 15 December, We have received. As We have heard nothing further of the Congress in Germany, which you inform Us was talked of, We presume that no such Measure will take Place.
However, whether there be a Congress or not, We cannot comply with the Terms of the Gentleman you mention, nor Advise him to take any Steps in the Business.
We have also the Honour of your Letter of the 9th december, informing Us of your draught upon Us, for Twenty four Thousand Livres, at one Months date payable to Mr. Grand. The Bill of Exchange itself has also been presented to Us, and accepted. We have the Honour to be &C.1
1. Although this Letterbook copy does not indicate the signatories of the letter as finally sent, it may be assumed that Benjamin Franklin did not sign it. The opinions expressed in the first two paragraphs may well reflect the thinking of the three Commissioners, but the final paragraph does not. An entry for 8 Jan. in the Commissioners' accounts for the period from 12 Nov. 1778 to 11 Feb. 1779 (above) indicates that only Arthur Lee and JA approved Lee's draft, Benjamin Franklin being adamant in his refusal to supply William Lee with additional funds (Ralph Izard to the Commissioners, 12 Jan., note 1, above). For the same reasons it can be assumed that only Arthur Lee and JA signed the letter to Ralph Izard of this same date (LbC, Adams Papers) approving his draft on the Commissioners.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0227

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Lloyd, John
Date: 1779-01-13

The Commissioners to John Lloyd and Others

[salute] Gentlemen

We had Yesterday the Honour of your Letter of the seventh of this Month, and at the same Time that of a Letter from his Excellency the Comte De <Sartine> Vergennes,1 Copy of which We inclose. We have this Day written to his Excellency, requesting, that the Convoy may be sent without delay to Nantes, where the Vessells are waiting for it.2
We are very sorry, that the Kings service will not Admit, of a Convoy for the Vessells now Ready at Nantes, quite to America, <but We have made Use of several Applications> for which favour We have made several Applications, But We hope the Convoy will go beyond the Western Islands.
We have answered every Letter We have received upon this subject, on the same day on which We received it, or on the next day, and We have transmitted to you, every Intimation We have received concerning it from the Minister, either the same day or the <next> day following.
You desire to be informed what Particular Priviledges, Benefits and Exemptions, you are intitled to, by Virtue of the Treaty of Commerce? To which We answer that the Citizens of the United states are not intituled to any Priviledges, Benefits or Exemptions, but such as are stipulated in the Treaty of Commerce. This Treaty is public, and has been printed perhaps in every News Paper in Europe. We send you however an authentic Copy enclos'd.3
Our Countrymen, We suppose are Treated in Relation to duties of Import and Export like other Nations the most favoured4 in Friendship with France, <and like French subjects>. But it is extreamly difficult to obtain any Alterations or particular Exemptions in our favour, as the whole affair of Duties and Finances in this Kingdom5 is a system which it is not easy to alter. If however you will be so good as to state to Us the Duties you have paid, We will lay it before the Minister, and endeavour to obtain the Satisfaction you desire.6
<Notwithstanding which> Several Branches of American Trade might be carried on with this Kingdom, to more Advantage than any other Country of Europe, and7 a little Patience <however> and Perseverance, will insure you and your Posterity forever, the Right of trading to all the Countries of the World, and of preferring such as shall give you the best Terms, instead of being compelled like slaves to carry all the produce of8 Your Industry to one selfish <Land> Nation, and to <bring> purchase9 all you wanted from one little Spot. That the Year 1779 may produce you such a Blessing, and that you may all arrive { 356 } safely in our Country, and be there ready to enjoy it, is the Wish of, Gentlemen your Countrymen and most obedient humble servants10
1. Vergennes' second letter of 9 Jan., reporting Sartine's position (above).
2. This sentence was interlined for insertion here, indicating that this letter was drafted before the Commissioners' letter to Vergennes (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7). The Commissioners informed Vergennes that the vessels in question were at Nantes and hoped that the convoy would be ordered immediately. In his reply of 20 Jan. (same), Vergennes indicated that the information on the ships at Nantes had been sent to Sartine for action by him. See also the Commissioners to Vergennes, 24 Jan. (below).
3. This sentence was added by Benjamin Franklin.
4. The preceding three words were interlined for insertion here.
5. The preceding three words were interlined for insertion here by Benjamin Franklin.
6. This sentence was interlined for insertion here.
7. Inserted, in place of “however,” to join the two sentences.
8. The preceding three words were interlined by Benjamin Franklin for insertion here.
9. This word was interlined by Benjamin Franklin for insertion here.
10. lmmediately below the closing was a list of those who had signed the letter to the Commissioners from John Lloyd and others of 7 Jan. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0228

Author: Cushing, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-14

From Thomas Cushing

[salute] Dear Sir

Permit me to Introduce to your Acquaintance Mr. Samuel Bradford son of Capt. John Bradford a young Gentleman bound to France upon Bussiness. I recommed him to your Freindly Notice, any Advice you may give him and any civilities you may shew him shall be gratefully Acknowledged.
The British Troops have not as yet left New York or Rhode Island and whether they design to Evacuate there Places this Winter is at present uncertain. Admiral Byron has lately Sailed with his Squadron from Rhode Island in pursuit of Count D Estaing, who, it is Conjectured, left this Place for the West Indies the fourth of November last, we Expect there will be warm work in those parts this Winter. About six or seven thousand Troops, it is said, are left at New York and about as many at Rhode Island. Congress are Consulting, as you will doubtless be advised, upon measures to give Stability and Credit to our Currency. I hope they will be directed to such determinations as are Wise proper and Effectual and that no partial narrow Contracted veiws will Govern in the adjustment of a Matter of such Importance.
Mr. Deans Publication, which you will meet with in our late Papers, has occasioned much Concern and anxiety among thinking People here. They wish Congress by an Early attention to him and by thor• { 357 } oughly examining into what he had to offer with respect to the Conduct of our affairs on Your Side the Water had prevented his Publishing. However Congress have Agreed to give him a full hearing and I hope will with the utmost Candour and Impartiality thoroughly examine into Matters and so Remove all Difficulties. I should be Glad to hear from you as often as your Engagements will permit upon the State of Affairs in Europe.
I am with truth & Sincerity Your Freind and humble Servt
[signed] Thomas Cushing
1. A space was left for the day of the month; the supplied date is derived from the sailing of the frigate Alliance, which carried both Bradford and this letter, on 14 Jan. (Dict. Amer. Fighting Ships; William Smith to AA, Adams Family Correspondence, 3:143). Immediately above the year, in CFA's hand, is the notation: “should be 1779.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0229-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-16

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

Je sais que vous avez reçu mes Lettres des 2 et 8 Dec. J'ai eu l'honneur depuis de vous en écrire 3 autres, du 18–24 Dec., 1–3 Janv., et 12–15 Janv.
Hier 15 au soir, au moment où j'avois expédié ma derniere, Mr. l'Ambassadeur me fit chercher, pour aller confirmer de sa part à notre Ami, que ce matin il présenteroit un Mémoire au Président de L. H. P. avec le nouveau reglement du Roi, qui exclut le Commerce et la Navigation de la Republique des faveurs dont la France laisse jouir les neutres sur mer et dans ses Ports, et les conserve au Pavilion seul d'Amsterdam;1 et qu'après cela il iroit (quoique centre l'usage) faire la tournée des Hôtels de toutes les Villes d'Hollande, et témoigner à leurs Pensionaires respectifs le regret et la répugnance avec laquelle le Roi se verra forcé par elles-mêmes à publier le dit reglement.
J'attendis à l'hôtel jusqu'à 2 h. après minuit, pour rendre à Mr. l'Ambassadeur, qui soupoit ailleurs, la réponse de notre Ami. Il expédia la même nuit un Exprès é sa Cour; et je me tiens prêt, ce matin, à aller rapporter de sa part à notre Ami, la maniere dont tout se sera passé.
Ce matin Mr. l'Ambassadeur, après avoir présenté son Mémoire, &c. au Président de LL. h: P. a fait sa ronde, pour en donner connoissance au Grand Pensionnaire d'Holl. et au Greffier de L. h. P., puis aux Pensionaires des Villes de Dort, Amsterdam, La Brille et Rotterdam. Il { 358 } a été près de deux heures avec les Députés de cette derniere Ville. Il a témoigné à tous le regret du Roi, d'avoir dû leur retirer ses faveurs, et en laisser jouir Amsterdam seul. Tous ont témoigné plus de mécontentement de cette distinction, que de la privation, et d'en craindre je ne sai quelles funestes suites. Ils prétendoient que c'étoit une chose sans exemple, et contre leur Constitution, de trailer avec une Ville seule. Mr. l'Ambassadeur leur a repliqué que c'étoit mal voir; qu'il n'y avoit ni Traité ni Convention quelconque entre la France et Amsterdam; qu'on laissoit tout simplement celle-ci continuer de jouir de ce dont elle jouissoit auparavant; et que la Republique devroit, au contraire, être bien aise de ce que, par le moyen de cette ville, elle ne perdoit pas tout. La Semaine prochaine il verra les Pensionaires des autres Villes.
Du reste, j'ai opinion que tout ceci s'arrangera encore à l'amiable que la Republique, voyant combien la chose est sérieuse, prendra le parti de donner satisfaction à la France.
Je n'ai fait que rendre compte aujourdhui à Mr. l'Ambassadeur, de l'entretien que j'eus hier avec notre ami. Je dois retourner demain chez Mr. l'Ambassadeur qui aura alors quelque commission à me donner. Je ne vous dis, Messieurs, que l'essentiel des choses, et vous épargne le détail de mes allées et venues, et des messages dont je suis chargé réciproquement. Après le résultat, qui seul est interessant, le récit des minuties, par lesquelles il a fallu passer avant d'y parvenir, seroit superflu et ennuyant. Je vous dirai seulement, que mon entremise sauve l'éclat que feroient des entrevues trop frequentes, qu'on ne manqueroit pas d'épier.
Il n'y a rien de nouveau aujourd'hui. Demain les Etats d'Hollande se rassembleront, et nous saurons le parti qu'aura pris Almar, et quelle resolution aura pris la Province. Je suis avec un très-grand respect, Messieurs Votre très-humble et tres obeissant serviteur2
[signed] Dumas

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0229-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-16

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

I know that you received my letters of 2 and 8 December. Since then, I have had the honor of writing you three more, dated 18–24 December, 1–3 January, and 12–15 January.
Yesterday, the 15th, in the evening, just as I was sending off my last, the French Ambassador sought me out in order to have me meet with our friend to confirm, on the Ambassador's behalf, that this morning he will present a mémoire to the President of Their High Mightinesses together with the King's new order excluding the commerce and naviga• { 359 } tion of the Republic, excepting only that under the flag of Amsterdam, from the favors that France permits neutrals to enjoy at sea and in its ports1 and will, although it is contrary to custom, afterwards make the rounds of the town halls of all the towns of Holland in order to express to their respective pensionaries the regret and repugnance of the King at being forced by them to issue the said order.
I waited at the Embassy until two in the morning to give the Ambassador, who was dining elsewhere, our friend's answer. The same night he sent an express to his Court, and this morning I hold myself in readiness to report, on his behalf, to our friend on what happened.
This morning the Ambassador, after presenting his memorandum, &c., to the President of Their High Mightinesses, made his rounds to inform the Grand Pensionary of Holland, the greffier of Their High Mightinesses, and the Pensionaries of the towns of Dordrecht, Amsterdam, La Brille, and Rotterdam. He spent nearly two hours with the deputies of this last town. He expressed to everyone the King's regret at having to rescind, except in the case of Amsterdam, his favors. All expressed their displeasure, more at this discrimination than the deprivation, and seemed to fear I know not what bad consequences. They claimed that it was unprecedented and contrary to their constitution to treat with only one town. The Ambassador replied that this was untrue, that there was no treaty or convention whatsoever between France and Amsterdam, and that it was being permitted continued possession of what it already enjoyed and, to the contrary, the Republic should deem itself lucky that, thanks to Amsterdam, it did not lose everything. Next week he will see the Pensionaries of the other towns.
As to the rest, I think that all this will resolve itself quite amicably and that the Republic, seeing how serious this is, will decide to give full satisfaction to France.
I did nothing today but give an account to the Ambassador of yesterday's meeting with our friend. Tomorrow I am to meet again with the Ambassador, who will then have some message to give me. I will tell you, gentlemen, only the essentials and spare you the details of my comings and goings and the messages with which I am charged as a result. After the outcome, the only interesting part, an account of the minutia by which it was achieved would be superfluous and boring. I will say only that my intervention avoids the sensation that would result from too frequent visits which one would not want noticed.
There was nothing new today. Tomorrow the States of Holland will reassemble, and we will learn of Alkmaar's decision and the resolution adopted by the Province. I am with very great respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant2
[signed] Dumas
{ 360 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amerique à Passy”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “16 Jan. 1779 Dumas to the Commrs.” LbC (Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague, Eerste Afdeling, Dumas Papers, vol. 1).
1. That is, the Netherlands, except for Amsterdam, was to be excluded from the privileges granted neutral ships under article I of the regulation of 26 July 1778 (see Dumas to the Commissioners, 10 Nov., note 3, above). For the French text of the new regulation, which was dated 14 Jan. but was to go into effect on the 26th, see Martens, ed., Recueil des principaux traités d'alliance, 4:xxx; for English translations, see vol. 2 of Almon's Remembrancer for 1778, p. 357–358, or the Annual Register of 1779, p. 423–425. According to the regulation, Amsterdam was excluded because of its vigorous efforts to force the Republic to obtain British assurances that the Dutch flag would be respected as that of a sovereign state and that Dutch commerce would enjoy the freedom guaranteed by the dictates of its treaties and the law of nations.
2. This paragraph does not appear in Dumas' Letterbook. There, under 18 Jan., is only the notation: “Expedie celle-ci par voie de Rotterdam” (Sent by way of Rotterdam). For an explanation of this, see the paragraph dated 24 Jan. in Dumas' letter of the 19th (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0230-0001

Author: La Blancherie, Pahin Champlain de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-18

From Pahin Champlain de La Blancherie, with a Contemporary Translation

[salute] Monsieur

J'ay l'honneur de vous envoyer les details relatifs a l'Etablissement de la correspondance generale sur les sciences et les arts que j'ay preparé depuis quatre ans, et dirigé particulierement depuis le comencement de l'année derniere; la consistence qu'il a acquise d'abort par la recomandation de l'academie des sciences, et ensuite par des temoignages recues de la protection de Leurs Majestés, me font esperes que vous voudrés bien, Monsieur, contribuer au succès de cette entreprise par tous les moyens qui dependront de vous, et principalement en honnorant de votre presence, l'assemblée ordinaire des sçavants des artistes et des etrangers distingués qui en font partie; et surtout celle de mecredi prochain, la premiere aprés les vacances d'automne.
J'ose vous demander cette grace au nom des sea van ts et des artistes empressés de vous rendre juge de leurs travaux, et protecteur de leurs talens; je ne serai pas moins flatté qu'Eux, Monsieur, de pouvoir vous rapporter une partie de ma gloire et de mes succès.
Je suis avec un Respect infini Monsieur Votre très humble et très obeissant Serviteur
[signed] La Blancherie1

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0230-0002

Author: La Blancherie, Pahin Champlain de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-18

Pahin Champlain de La Blancherie to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

I have the Honour to send you some Particulars relative to the establishment of a general Correspondence upon Sciences and Arts { 361 } which I have prepared, four years since, and particularly directed since the Beginning of the last year. The Consistency which it has acquired firstly by the Recommendation of the Academy of Sciences, and since by many Proofs of the Protection of their Majesty's, make me hope, Sir, that you will be so good as to contribute to the success of this enterprize by all the Means in your Power, and particularly, in honouring with your Presence, the Assembly of the Learned, the Artists, and the distinguished Strangers who are a Part of it; and above all, that of Wednesday next, the first after the Vacancies [holidays] of Autumn.
I take the Liberty of begging this favour, in the name of the Learned and Artists, who desire to have you a Judge of their Labours, and protector of their Talents. I Will not be Less flatter'd, Sir, than they, to be able to pay you the Hommage of my Glory and of my Successes.
I am with an infinite Respect, Sir &c.
[signed] de la Blancherie1
RC and translation (Adams Papers).
1. There is no indication that JA responded to this invitation from Pahin Champlain de La Blancherie, who, between 1778 and 1788, sought to create an international center for the promotion of relations between learned men. In pursuit of this goal he established a “Salon de correspondance,” where meetings could be held at no charge, and a periodical, Nouvettes de la République des Lettres et des Arts, to which JA subscribed in 1782 (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale; Jefferson, Papers, 12:99, 317).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0231

Author: Price, Richard
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-18

Richard Price to the Commissioners

Dr. Price returns his best thanks to the Honourable Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee, and John Adams Esquires, for conveying to him the resolution of Congress of the 6th. of October last, by which he is invited to become a member of the united States, and to give his assistance in regulating their Finances.1 It is not possible for him to express the Sense he has of the honour which this resolution does him, and the Satisfaction with which he reflects on the favourable opinion of him which has occasioned it. But he knows himself not to be Sufficiently qualified for giving Such assistance; and he is So connected in this country, and also advancing So fast into the evening of life, that he cannot think of a removal. He requests the favour of the honourable Commissioners to transmit this reply to Congress, with assurances that Dr. Price feels the warmest gratitude for the notice taken of him, and that he looks to the American States as now the hope, and likely Soon to become the refuge of mankind.2
RC (PHi: Franklin Papers).
{ 362 }
1. Richard Price of Newington Green was a dissenting minister and friend of Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Priestly, and later JA. His strong support of the American cause in pamphlets and sermons, as well as his writings on extinguishing the national debt, led congress to seek his assistance in putting its finances in order (DNB). In their letter of 7 Dec. 1778 (CtY: Franklin Papers), the Commissioners had transmitted the congress' resolution and offered to pay Price's expenses to America. Benjamin Franklin informed the congress of Price's refusal in his letter to the Committee for Foreign Affairs of 26 May (PCC, No. 82, I, f. 135).
2. For an elaboration of the sentiments expressed here, as well as Price's compliments to Franklin and JA, see a copy of his letter to Arthur Lee of this date in PCC, No. 102, II, f. 362–365.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0232-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-19

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

Ma derniere étoit du 16–18 de ce mois. Aujourd'hui, contre toute attente, et à notre grande surprise, il ne s'est rien passé du tout à l'Assemblée d'Hollande, si ce n'est qu'on y a lu le dernier Mémoire de Mr. l'Ambassadeur, mais on n'a rien mis en délibération. J'ai été aujourdhui 5 fois chez Mr. l'Ambassadeur, autant de fois chez notre ami (une fois au bout de la ville, où il dînoit). J'ai écrit ce billet au premier. “Demain il y a besogne des Amirautés d'Hollande. Je le tiens de trèsbonne part. Je conjecture que c'est la cause de l'inaction d'aujourd'hui et qu'il y aura un nouveau préavis. Je passerai ce soir encore où votre Exc. sait.” Je lui avois écrit celui-ci le 15. “On compte, et l'on est persuadé, que S. E. ne fera mention nulle part du secret confié des Déliberations d'hier, des 4 mois;1 puisque la résolution n'en étant pas encore prise, on demanderoit, qui vous l'a dit? et que, d'ailleurs, la raison du délai de répondre au Mémoire suffit, pour n'avoir besoin d'alléguer qu'elle seule, &c.” Tous les autres détails de mes messages seroient aussi tédieux à lire qu'à écrire. Les 2 pensionaires d'Amsterdam, après avoir rendu compte le 16 à leur ville de la visite ministérielle de Mr. l'Ambassadeur, ont reçu la réponse, et iront demain matin la rendre publiquement à Mr. l'Ambassadeur chez lui. Celui-ci n'attend que la Résolution finale des Etats d'hollande, qui sera prise après-demain, pour l'envoyer par un Exprès à sa Cour.
Les deux Pensionaires d'Amsterdam sont allés ce matin de la part de leur ville chez Mr. l'Ambassadeur, rendre grace, et dire qu'Elle espere, que Sa Maj. voudra bien ne pas priver les autres Confédérés des faveurs qu'Elle veut bien lui conserver. Delà ils sont allés chez le Grand Pensionnaire lui donner connoissance de cette démarche. Au lieu des Aigres mines et des altercations auxquelles ils s'attendoient, tant à { 363 } l'Assemblée des Etats aujourd'hui, qu'ailleurs, ils ont été agréablement surpris de se voir traités par-tout avec beaucoup d'égards. Ceux des autres Villes, et notamment de Rotterdam, recherchent leur intercession pour leurs Villes. <Mr> Des Marchands de Rotterdam sont venus implorer la protection de Mrs. D'Amsterdam, qui les ont renvoyés, comme de raison, à leurs propres Magistrats. Mr. l'Ambassadeur, de son côté, a été notifier ce matin au Grand Pensionnaire, d'abord de bouche, et puis, à sa requisition, par une note en forme de Lettre que le Roi a fixé le 26 Janvier, pour publier son nouveau reglement, s'il ne reçoit pas d'ici-là une réponse telle qu'il l'a demandée. L'Ambassadeur et notre Ami ont actuellement ensemble une entrevue secrete, que je leur ai ménagée. J'attends le jour de demain avec la derniere impatience. J'ai dit à notre Ami, que j'espere, lorsque nous aurons amené à bonne fin l'importante affaire du jour, que nous reprendrons celle de notre projet; il m'a dit, assurément.
Rien n'est fait encore. L'Avis de l'Amirauté, proposé aujourd'hui aux Etats d'Hollande, est en contradiction avec lui-même. Ils annullent, à la verité, leur fameuse résolution du 18e Nov., quant à la restriction des Convois (d'où l'on vouloit exclure alors les bois de Construction). Mais ils voudroient suspendre la résolution à prendre quant à l'extension de ces Convois, jusqu'aux temps où ils regleroient leurs équipages. Ce n'est que pousser le temps par les épaules; c'est l'hydre de Lerne, à laquelle il recroît d'autres têtes, à la place de celles qui ont été abattues: Car on est d'accord sur tout le reste. Il n'y eut hier qu'altercations et rproches, auxquels ceux d'Amsterdam ont répondu avec autant de modération et de décense, que de fermeté. Tout a été renvoyé <aujourdhui> à demain; et si l'on veut décider l'affaire à la pluralité, Amsterdam protestera encore. Je n'ai fait que courir toute la journée; et j'ai fini par ménager encore une entrevue cette nuit. G—— F——m'avoit envoyé ce billet à 3 heures. “Mr. D—— est prié de vouloir bien aller où il sait bien, à l'heure où doit finir l'Assemblée, et de venir ensuite faire rapport de ce qu'il aura appris.” J'avois prévenu ses desirs; et je sortois de là en rencontrant le porteur de billet.
Encore rien de fait à l'Assemblée d'Hollande. Mr. le Grand Pensionnaire avoit proposé un Plan de résolution, qu'Amsterdam n'a pu agréer, parce qu'il y a des termes qui ont paru captieux, et dont on pourroit faire l'explication auprés de la Cour de L—— d'une toute autre maniere qu'auprés de celle de France. La principale est celle-ci: on { 364 } voudroit suspendre la Résolution, pour l'extension des Convois, jusqu'au 26, jour où l'Amirauté doit régler les Equipages et Armemens. Or cette extension ne signifieroit auprés de l'une des Puissances que la force des Convois; auprés de l'autre, la suspension de convoyer les bois de construction. Ceux de Harlem ont donc proposé des Amendemens.2 Si tous y acquiescent, on pourroit prendre demain une Résolution unanime, qui contenteroit peut-être la France. Quand notre Ami m'a raconté ces ambiguités, je l'ai bien fait rire par la comparaison des chats, qui tombent toujours sur leurs pattes: il l'a trouvée trés-juste.
Encore irrésolus. Toutes les villes, cependant, sont d'accord avec Amsterdam sur le plan proposé par Harlem. Mais un grand personnage, avec la Majorité de la Noblesse, dispute encore sur les termes. En attendant, un Courier s'expédie aujourd'hui à Paris, pour obtenir, s'il est possible, un dernier délai d'une semaine, par complaisance pour Amsterdam, qui a fortement intercédé. Reste à savoir si ce Courier pourra arriver à temps d'ici au 26. Ce qui est sûr, c'est que, s'ils ne prennent pas ici le bon parti dans la semaine, le 4 du mois prochain le nouveau reglement sera promulgué en France sans plus de renvoi.
Je fais partir la présente, comme la précédente, sous couvert d'un ami à Rotterdam; où elle sera mise à la poste. J'en use ainsi pour dépayser les curieux indiscrets. Je suis avec un trés grand respect, Messieurs Votre trés humble et trés obeissant serviteur
[signed] D
Amsterdam a déclaré aujourd'hui qu'elle restera ferme et inebranlable, et ne se laissera ni forcer ni tromper. Expression bien forte.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0232-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-19

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

My last was of the 16–18 of this month. Contrary to our expectations and to our great surprise, nothing happened today at the Assembly of Holland. There were no deliberations, only the reading of the Ambassador's latest memorandum. Today I have had five meetings with the Ambassador, and as many with our friend (once at the edge of town where he was dining). To the Ambassador I wrote the following note: “Tomorrow there will be work for the Admiralties of Holland. I have this from a very good source and surmise that this is the reason for today's inaction and will produce a new preliminary advisory. I will return this evening to Your Excellency knows where.” On the 15th I had written him the following: “One expects and is persuaded that His Excellency will disclose nothing concerning the secret—the four month's delay—confided from yesterday's deliberations1 because, since the resolution { 365 } has not yet been adopted, he would be asked: Who told you so? Moreover, the reason for the delay in responding to the memorandum is sufficient to have no need to unburden oneself, &c.” All the other details of my messages would be as tedious to read as to write. Amsterdam's two pensionaries, having on the 16th rendered their town an account of the Ambassador's official visit, have received its response and tomorrow morning will present it officially to the Ambassador. He awaits only the final resolution of the States of Holland, which will be adopted the day after tomorrow, in order to send it by an express to his Court.
This morning, on behalf of their town, Amsterdam's two pensionaries went to the Ambassador to pay their respects and state that the town of Amsterdam hopes that His Majesty would be kind enough not to deprive the other towns of the confederation of the favors which he is willing to retain for it. They had already gone to the Grand Pensionary to inform him of their démarche. Instead of the bitter looks and altercations for which they had prepared themselves, when at the Assembly of States and elsewhere today, they were pleasantly surprised to be treated everywhere with much respect. The representatives of the other towns, notably Rotterdam, seek Amsterdam's intercession on their towns' behalf. <Mr> Some Rotterdam merchants have gone so far as to beg the protection of the gentlemen of Amsterdam, who, with reason, sent them to their own magistrates. For his part, the Ambassador this morning informed the Grand Pensionary orally and then, at his request, by letter that the King had chosen 26 January to promulgate his new regulation, if by then he had not received a response such as he had requested. The Ambassador and our friend are at present having a secret conference arranged by me. I await tomorrow with the greatest impatience. To our friend I expressed my hope that, once we have brought this important affair to a satisfactory conclusion, we will be able to resume our old project; he agreed.
Nothing has yet been done. The Admiralty's advisory, proposed today to the States of Holland, contradicts itself. In fact, they are rescinding their famous resolution of 18 November with regard to the limitation of convoys (from which they would then exclude ships timbers), but would suspend the pending resolution concerning the extension of these convoys until such time as they would have assigned their crews. This is only playing for time. It is like the Hydra of Lerna, whose heads keep growing back to replace those chopped off, for everything else had been agreed upon. Yesterday there were only disputes and recriminations to which the gentlemen from Amsterdam responded with as much moderation and decency as firmness. Everything has been delayed <today> until tomorrow and if the matter should be decided by a plurality, Amsterdam will protest again. I have made the rounds all day and finished by arranging another meeting tonight. At 3 P.M. the Grand Facteur sent { 366 } me the following note: “When the Assembly adjourns, Mr. Dumas will kindly go to the place that he knows well and report back to me on what he has learned.” I anticipated his wishes, and was just leaving there when I ran into his messenger.
Again nothing has been done in the Assembly of Holland. The Grand Pensionary proposed a solution to which Amsterdam could not agree because some of its terms seemed specious and subject to differing interpretations by the Courts of London and France. The essential point is this: the resolution for the extension of the convoys would be suspended until the 26th, when the Admiralty would assign crews and ships. But to one of the powers this extension would indicate only the strength of the convoy and to the other only the suspension of the carrying of ships timbers. Consequently, Haarlem's representatives have proposed some amendments.2 If everyone agrees, a unanimous resolution, which might satisfy France, could be adopted tomorrow. When our friend recounted these ambiguities, I amused him greatly by comparing the situation to that of cats who always land on their feet. He found it very appropriate.
Again indecision. All the towns agree, however, with Amsterdam on the plan proposed by Haarlem. But an important personage, with a majority of the nobles, still disputes its terms. Meanwhile, today a messenger was sent to Paris to secure, if possible, a final delay of one week out of consideration for Amsterdam, which strongly interceded. It remains to be seen whether this messenger will be able to get there by the 26th. What is certain is that, if they do not take the correct course here during that week, on the 4th of next month the new regulation will be promulgated in France without further delay.
I am sending this letter, as I did the preceding, under cover of a friend from Rotterdam, where it will be taken and posted. I do this to confuse the curious gossipers. I am, with very great respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] D
Today Amsterdam declared that it would remain firm and resolute, permitting itself to be neither coerced nor deceived. A very strong statement.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amerique à Passy”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Dumas Jan 19. 79.”
1. See the entry for 14 Jan. in Dumas' letter to the Commissioners of the 12th (above).
2. Haarlem's support for Amsterdam's position was significant. It indicated that France's policy of seeking to force the towns and thus the provincial states of Holland to support its demand for unlimited convoys was succeeding. In pursuit of that goal France agreed to delay the publication and execution of the new regulations until 8 Feb., as requested by the { 367 } States General and noted by Dumas in his entry for 23 Jan. When the postponement produced no results the regulations were published, but their execution was again delayed, this time until 1 March. In the meantime, as a reward for its support of unlimited convoys and to increase the pressure on the other towns, Haarlem was excluded from the effect of the regulations, as Amsterdam had been previously (Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution, p. 120–123).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0233

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-20

Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Gentlemen

My fever not being yet sufficiently removd to permit me to come to you; I write to you to submit the absolute necessity there is of informing the Minister without delay of the State of our Finances and that the Supply we have askd is immediately necessary. It is possible they may wait for such information before they put the intention we are told they have of supplying us in execution. We wrote them we shoud pay the Bills drawn by order of Congress as long as our funds lasted; and they will naturally expect to be advisd, when these are so nearly exhausted, as to demand a farther supply.2
I have the honor to be with great respect Gentlemen Yr. most Obedt. Humble Servt.
[signed] Arthur Lee
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Hon. A. Lee Jan 20. 1770.”
1. This date can be read as either the 20th or the 26th. It seems likely, however, that William Temple Franklin would have docketed the letter soon after it arrived. Moreover, Lee's letter to Benjamin Franklin and JA of the 22d (below) indicates that he was already ill on the 20th. On the other hand, if the letter was of the 26th, it probably resulted from a conversation on that date between Lee and Abbé Raimondo Niccoli, secretary of the legation from Tuscany. According to Lee's journal for the 26th, the minister advised “representing the condition of the United States as desperate, unless France would exert herself, especially in furnishing money” (R. H. Lee, Arthur Lee, 1:407).
2. The Commissioners had written to Vergennes on 7 Dec. (above) concerning additional loans from the French government. No letter by the three Commissioners in response to this request by Lee has been found, and no further money was received from France until June, when a payment of 250,000 livres was made (Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, DNA:RG 39 [Microfilm], f. 107).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0234

Author: Gilbank, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-21

John Gilbank to the Commissioners

[salute] Honble. Gentlemen

Last Tuesday Week Mr. Dobrie informed me of an Additional mortification I had received by your refusing to accept my Bill, adding at same time that you informed him You had wrote to me; Since which time I have, without Effect, been waiting for your letter.1 It is to be lamented that such a Fatality should attend your Correspondence as to { 368 } subject your Answers to miscarriage or some other Cause whereby they in general are prevented from reaching the hands of the persons they are addressed to.
I can't however forbear to remind you that without being supplied I cannot go and how to procure such Supply but from you I don't know. There is one method yet by which I may raise the money I want and to which no Scantiness of Funds on your part can be put in Opposition—That is—to indorse a Bill drawn by me upon the president of Congress; No reason, I think can be urged for a refusal of this proposition, As it is every days practice in every nation, And it is well known to you that Ambassadors of every Country never hesitate to indorse their officers Bills.
If this mode, a most disadvantageous one to me, shou'd meet your refusal also, I am afraid it will be attributed in general to an absolute resolution in you not to regard the protection or care what becomes of any officer in the Service of the United States2 (Except some particulars who have received better Treatment.)
No Blame, or at most a little inattention, can be imputed to the honble. the Congress in not having given direct Orders for your proceeding in such Cases, As they certainly look upon it as part of your duty of Course, to give the necessary protection and supply to every one who has the honour to bear a Commission in the Service of America. And I am certain when they shall know that you have omitted it they will give you positive instructions on that head.
Tho' they may not all of them, as some Gentleman may have, laboured for fifteen or twenty years past to bring about this revolution, Yet I dare venture to say they know the interest of their Country too well to neglect any means for the protection of any of its subjects or suffer any one to be treated with Contempt who has a right to require their Assistance. At least I may venture to assure myself they wou'd politely have answered every decent and respectful letter which they received, And which I can't with Justice avoid observing You have most cruelly neglected.
Whatever may be your Determination I hope you will favour me with an answer and shall be glad if it may be any means of taking away the discontent which I am sorry to observe too generally prevails here.
If you shoud imagine that I take too great a Liberty in complaining to you of neglect and inattention—I beg leave to observe that 'tis the privilege and right of every one who thinks himself injured by any one who for the present may be out of the reach (tho' perhaps not always) of other resentment; and that an easy way is open to prevent like Complaints in future.
{ 369 }
I have the honour to be with due respect Honble. Gentlemen Your most obedt. and hble. Servant
[signed] Jno. Gilbank
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honourable Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee and Jno. Adams, Esqrs. Commissioners deputed from the United States of North America at Paissy near Paris”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Gilbank 26 Janr. 1779”; and twice in another hand: “Answerd Janr 2<5>6. 1779” and “Gilbank ansr 26 Janr. 1779.”
1. The only letter from the Commissioners to Gilbank that has been found previous to this date is that of 10 Nov. 1778, in reply to a letter of 6 Oct. that has not been found (see Gilbank to the Commissioners, 4 Nov. and note 1, above). No letter to Peter Frederick Dobrée concerning Gilbank has been found, but since Dobrée was J. D. Schweighauser's son-in-law, the letter was probably that of 4 Jan. from the Commissioners to Schweighauser (above).
2. In their one-sentence reply of 26 Jan. (LbC, Adams Papers), the Commissioners declared: “We assure you that we cannot indorse your bills, as you propose.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0235

Author: Lloyd, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-21

John Lloyd and Others to the Commissioners

[salute] Honourable Gentlemen

We had the honour to receive your letter of the 13th of this month in due course, and are thankful for Your Honours polite attention to us.
We are obliged for the transmission of the Copy of the letter which Your Honours received from His Excellency The Count de Vergennes, and with pleasure observe, that in consequence an application had been made to His Excellency, to request, that the Convoy might be sent here without delay.
It is with concern We inform Your Honours, that the weather has been, and still continues so very severe, as to prevent any navigation upon the River, and that We have been obliged for the preservation of our Vessels to lay them on Shore, but so sudden and unexpected was the appearance of the Ice, that we could not do it before they had received more or less damage, and which We are sorry to say cannot be repaired until after the River opens. We flatter ourselves, that the injuries which they have sustained will not be found so considerable, but that they may be refitted in a few days, and which shall be done with all possible dispatch, as soon as the weather permits.
We are sorry, that the King's Service will not admit of a Convoy for our Vessels, quite to America. Your Honours repeated applications for that purpose, merit our grateful thanks. We however hope, and flatter ourselves, that we shall be protected beyond the Western Islands.
We are obliged to Your Honours, for the authentick Copy of the Treaty of Commerce, it being the only one we have seen. Your Honours will be pleased to excuse our saying, that we are surprised you { 370 } should observe to us: “That it has been printed perhaps in every News paper in Europe.” Certainly Your Honours cannot imagine, that We who are so materially interested ought to give faith to such a mode of communicating a transaction of so great, and so important a nature.
The Treaty having been finally, and formally ratifyed We presume to request, that Your Honours will be so obliging as to let us know What Port, or Ports, is, or are, made free, pursuant to the 30th Article?
As the risque of falling into the hands of the Barbary Corsairs, is, a circumstance that gives us serious concern, We should be glad to receive an acceptable information respecting the consequences of the gracious promises contained in the 8th Article, and We pray Your Honours to favour us with your advice, how we ought to proceed, to protect ourselves, and properties, from their violence, and depredations. We did not intend that any expression in our letter should induce Your Honours to think, that we complained of impositions. But, we beg leave to observe, that the Subjects of France can readily, and precisely obtain a certain account of the Imposts, which they are liable to pay, in each of the United States, and it is a knowledge, that we think essential for conducting with satisfaction a Commercial intercourse between the two Countries. However, if the System of Duties and Finances in this Kingdom, is such, as will not permit any alteration, we must submit.
We agree with Your Honours that several branches of American Trade might be carried on with this Kingdom, to more advantage than any other Country of Europe.
With respect to the great, and noble object of our present Contest, Your Honours may be confident, that Patience and Perseverance, shall on our parts never be wanting to obtain it, and We heartily concur in wishing, that the present Year may produce to us the blessing, we have in prospect.
We request that Your Honours will accept our thanks for your friendly wishes, and be assured, that We are with due respect Honourable Gentlemen Your Countrymen and most Obedt. Servants
[signed] John Lloyd
[signed] Danl. Blake
[signed] Phil Rd. Fendall
[signed] Jno. Ross
[signed] Jos. Wharton
[signed] Laurence Brooke
[signed] Robert Brooke
[signed] William Blake
[signed] H Thompson
[signed] Matthew Mease
[signed] Cha: Ogilvie
{ 371 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “concerning a Convoy Ansr. 26 Janr. 1779” and “Answer'd 2<5>6 Jan. 1779.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0236

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-22

Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Gentlem.

M. Monthieu calld on me yesterday, but I was too ill to see him. I suppose it was to urge the payment of his demand, which I am by no means yet satisfyd is due.1 The Papers he has given in, instead of vouching <it>, render it suspected. The only true and sufficient Voucher is the receit which Mr. Williams did give, or ought to have given to M. Peltier de Doyer at the time he sa<id>ys he deliverd to him the goods chargd to the Public. It is impossible that men one year engaged in Merchandize, coud have faild the one asking and the other giving a Receit for goods really deliverd. It is to no purpose to remark the contradictions and defects of the Papers given in. They are abundant, but the want of the necessary and usual receit gives such an appearance to the business that I cannot think myself justifiable in giving my consent to pay the demand. I am only sorry that I have consented to the payment of so much already on the faith of a man who had no receit to shew.2
I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect and esteem &c. &c.
[signed] A L.
P.S. The delivery of Mr. Williams's receit is the more necessary, as it is that only which shoud satisfy us, that the Articles deliverd were for the public and make Mr. Williams accountable for them, as having been receivd by him for the public use. The evidence Mr. Peltier has given in to us, says only, that he delivered certain Articles to Mr. Williams, but not to whose use nor with any mark or numbers, nor has it any date of year, month, day or place. We know perfectly well that Mr. Williams was shipping goods for himself and others as well as for the Public. It might therefore be true that M. Peltier did deliver such goods, but it will not enable us to determine for which of these uses they were deliverd. Neither does Mr. Williams in his Letter say that what he receivd was for the public use, nor does he specify what he has receivd, so as to render himself liable for the re-delivery.
N.B. M. Montieu had assurd us that he had the receit and woud send it to us.
Tr (ViU: Lee Papers); notation at the head of the letter: “LetterBook N. 4. p. 203. Honble. B. Franklin & John Adams”; at the foot of the letter: “L'Orient 15th. May 1780 Examined with the Letter book & found to be { 372 } a true copy. John G. Frazier Joseph Brown Junr.” The letterbook has not been found. The transcript, made when Lee was awaiting passage to America, probably was prepared to support his case against the charges made by Silas Deane.
1. John Joseph Montieu's demand concerned his contract of 6 Aug. 1777 with Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane. Under its terms he was to supply 6,000 uniforms, 12,000 pairs of stockings, 100,000 pounds of copper, 22,000 pounds of copper sheeting and nails, 20,000 pounds of English tin, and 4,000,000 flints at a cost of 456,300 livres (PCC, No. 83, II, f. 387–390). The merchandise reportedly was received and then shipped by Jonathan Williams from Nantes on the Duchesse de Grammont, which sailed on 7 April and arrived in Portsmouth, N.H., on 20 June 1778 (Misc. Papers of the Continental Congress, Reel No. 5, f. 445–446, 449–452; PCC, No. 102, II, f. 357; Williams to the Commissioners, 14 April 1778, Franklin, Papers, 26:286).
To support Montieu as well as to absolve himself from any liability in the matter, Williams wrote to him on 23 Dec. 1778 and enclosed documents that Montieu then submitted to the Commissioners in support of his claim. These were Williams' letter of the 23d, in which he acknowledged receiving the goods from Peltier du Doyer; an undated receipt from Doyer stating that he had received the merchandise from Montieu and delivered it to Williams; and a statement by John Langdon, dated 30 June 1778, stating that the supplies had been received at Portsmouth.
The documents were probably first submitted to Benjamin Franklin who, in a letter written before 28 Dec. (RC, with Lee's reply attached, MH-H: Lee Papers), noted that the receipts had been submitted and that Montieu (and by implication he also) “earnestly requests that his Accounts may be finished.” When Lee did not reply, Franklin and JA, in a letter to him dated “Monday 3/4 after 11. Clock” [28 Dec.], wrote: “Monthieu is here, and being bound to Nantes is desirous of settling his accounts [and] beg Mr. Lee to come, directly if he can, and bring any of Mr. Monthieus Papers if he has any” (CtY: Franklin Papers). Lee's response to the first letter is dated 2 Jan.; no reply to the second letter has been found.
By 30 Dec., Arthur Lee had examined the documents submitted by Montieu. In a report of that date Lee took the same position regarding his claim as in the present letter, although in more detail, notably regarding the lack of information on the numbers, weights, and quality of the goods received, the date of Williams' letter to Montieu, and the absence of a receipt made out by Williams at the time the merchandise was received from Peltier du Doyer (PCC, No. 102, II, f. 358–360). It is not known whether Lee showed his report to either Franklin or JA, but in his reply of 2 Jan. to Franklin's letter of [ante 28 Dec.] he reiterated the objections contained in his report and then or later added the following to his letterbook copy of it: “Dr. Franklin who was always urging us to pay M. Monthieu's demand without farther examination and whose importunity prevaild upon us to pay him a considerable part, upon his promise to send us Mr. Williams's Receit; was perfectly satisfyd with the above pretence of receits” (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 136). Lee's objections were ultimately without effect, for in the end Montieu was paid 426,300 livres (the stockings apparently not received) by the departments of Clothing and Military Stores (Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, DNA:RG 39 [Microfilm], f. 335).
2. The last payment to Montieu was on 11 Nov. 1778, for 150,713 livres (vol. 6:362), and that had been authorized by Franklin and JA. However, neither that entry nor the one in the Foreign Ledgers (f. 14) indicates whether or not it was part of the money owed him under the terms of the contract of 6 Aug. 1777.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0237

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-22

From Benjamin Franklin, with an Appended Memorandum

Dr. Franklin presents Compliments to Mr. Adams, and requests that all the Public Papers may be sent him by the Bearer.2 Dr. Franklin will undertake to keep them in order; and will at any time chearfully look for and furnish Mr. Adams with any Paper he may have occasion for.
Mr. Adams on receit of this put all the Public Papers, then in his Possession, into the hands of W T Franklin.
Dft (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Notes between Mr Adams & me (BF) about the Papers. Jan. 22. 1779.” The initials in parentheses were presumably a later addition.
1. This date was written in the space between the draft to JA and Benjamin Franklin's memorandum, in a different hand.
2. For the consequences of JA's transfer of the Commission's papers to Franklin, see Jonathan Williams' letter of 31 Jan. to Benjamin Franklin and JA (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0238

Author: Niles, Robert
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-22

Robert Niles to the Commissioners

[salute] Honourable Gentlemen

On my arival here Mr. Dobree told me he was informed By a line from you1 that I had Said that I was taken By a Privateer that belonged partly to his father2—and Desired me to give him in Wrighting What the Captain Said. But as it is a matter that Concerns my Country and You being part of the legislative body of my Country To Whom I am accountable for my Conduct—I told Him I Rather Chose to leave it With you and if you thought Proper to give a Coppy or the original I Should be Content. I Shall now Relate Matters in such a Manner as if Called upon I Shall be Ready and Willing To make oath to the truth of them. Viz. Capt. de lagarde Of the mars Cutter Privateer belonging to Jersey Accidentally Said Mr. Dobree of Guernsey was one of His owners. On his mentioning the name of Dobree I Asked if he had a Son in Nants—He answered yes. I then Told him I knew the young gentleman and that he had married A Daughter of Mr. Scheiwghauser3 in Nants. He answered Yes he is married Some where there. I then told him I Should Acquaint the Commissioners of it as Soon as I arived in France. These Gentlemen are undenyable facts. I have the honour To be your most Obedient humbl Servt
[signed] Robt Niles
I have heard Capt. de le gard of the Mars Cutter say when interogated by Capt. Niles that Mr. Dobree was part owner of his Pr[i]vateer { 374 } and that the said Mr. Dobree had a son in France which I believe he said remained in Nantes.
[signed] Saml. Brehon4
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble Commissioners of The united States of america at Paris”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Capt Niles about Dobrée's Concern in Enemy's Privateers 22. Jany. 1779.”; stamped: “NANT[ES].”
1. Not found.
2. For Peter Frederick Dobree and his father, Thomas, see vol. 6:366–367, and Richard Grinnell to the Commissioners, 15 Sept. 1778 (above).
3. Thus in MS.
4. Brehon remains unidentified.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0239

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-23

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

The 9th Instant I had the honor to pay my respects to you and to request your information tutching the Convoy we Solicited for the Ships at Nantes.
I meet with some difficulty in expediting of our Ships. They being American property must of course be furnishd with American Pass's. I have to request you will favor me with your Pass's by return of Post1 for the following; Vessels otherways met at Sea are subjected to be taken by our Own Ships as well as by the Enemy.
(The Brig Molly. 120 Tons) a Prize taken from the English bought at Rochelle.
(The Ship Le Chasseur 250 tons) a Prize taken from the English bought at Rochelle.
(The Ship Mary Fearon 350 tons) a Prize taken from the English bought at Lorient.
(The Ship Governor Livingston 500 tons) a Prize taken from the English bought at Rochelle. For this Ship we have your Commission of Letter of Marque that may serve the Place of a Pass tho every Vessel belonging to America clear'd out in France ought to have one from you to serve instead of Register no Court or office being yet establish'd to grant the latter. These four Vessels are the Sole Property of James Price, William Haywood and John Bondfield.
Letters from Cadiz mention the Capture of an American Vessel sent into Gibralter having on board Tobacco and Rice. He reports an engagement betwixt Comte d'Estaing and an English Fleet the latter end of November but no pert [particular?] Circumstances.2
{ 375 } | view
Letters from Martinico mentions their Ports being blockt up by English Cruizers. That they dayly expected the Arrival of Cte. D'Estaing. We are without other Inteligence. The Arrival of a Vessel at Morlaix from the States you will have been duely Advised.3 With due Respect I have the Honor to be Sirs Your most Obedient Humble Servant
[signed] John Bondfield
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble Benj Franklin Arthur Lee John Adams Esqrs. Commissionairs du Congrés a Paris”; docketed: “Mr Bondfield ans. Jany 30th. 1779.”
1. The Commissioners enclosed passes in their reply of 30 Jan. and informed him that they had no precise information concerning the convoy (LbC, Adams Papers). Bondfield acknowledged their letter on 9 Feb. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers).
2. A false report.
3. Probably the Morris (see Benjamin Gunnison to the Commissioners, 14 Dec. 1778, and note 1, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0240

Author: Lee, William
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-23

William Lee to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

In consequence of directions to me from the State of Virginia, to endeavour to obtain from the French Ministry a quantity of Canon, arms and ammunition, for the use of that State,1 I applyed accordingly to Count de Vergennes, when his Excellency replyed, that was a business in the department of the Secretary at War, and that he tho't it best to get you to apply to Prince Mont Barry for them: accordingly I am now to request that you will endeavor to procure these articles, of which a List will follow this, for the State of Virginia, which will not only be a service to that State, but of an essential benefit to the common cause of America.
The State is willing to engage to pay for these things, as soon as ever circumstances will permit it, to send their Commodities to Europe for that purpose. I have no doubt of your willingness to render the State this Service and if you are fortunate enough to succeed, on your informing me at what Ports in France these articles can be most conveniently deliver'd, I will endeavour to have them convey'd to Virginia.
I have the Honour to be with the Highest Consideration Gentlemen Your most Obedt. & most Humble Servt.
[signed] W. Lee
A List of Canon &c. wanted by the State of Virginia
16 Iron Canon   —of 36 lb. ball.      
20 Do. Do.   —of 24 lb. Do.      
16 Brass Do.   —of 24 lb. Do.      
{ 376 } | view
50 Rounds of grape shot   }   for each <size> of the canon  
30 Do. Chain and Double headed Do.  
Carriages, Rammers, Ladles, and all the necessary apparatus for the above Canon      
2 Brass Mortars of 10 Inches bore      
200 Shells for Do.      
6 Brass 5 Inch Howitzers      
2 Do.—8 Inch Do.      
11 Do.—5 1/2 Inch Do.      
100 Shells for each Howitzer, with fusils, match Stuff, carriages and every thing compleat      
20,000 Stand of Fusils with Bayonets compleat.      
30 Tons of best Canon powder.      
20 Ditto of Do. for Fusils.      
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “To The Honourable Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee & John Adams Esqires Commissioners from the United States of America, to the Court of Versailles at Paris”; docketed, probably by William Temple Franklin: “Wm Lee Jany. 23 1779.”
1. On 19 May 1778 the Council of Virginia requested Patrick Henry to order William Lee, the state's agent, to procure the arms and ammunition needed to fortify Yorktown. No action was taken on Lee's request to the Commissioners. In a reply to Lee's renewed request of 30 March, Franklin denied having seen the original and asked whether the supplies had not already been obtained by Arthur Lee. Not until 17 June, in reply to yet another letter from Lee, did Franklin state, in terms indicating his lukewarm support for the project, that he had applied to the French government. The matter apparently ended on 1 Sept., when Lee, having heard nothing more, informed Franklin that he should take no further action (H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Official Letters of the Governors of the State of Virginia, 3 vols., Richmond, 1926–1929, 1:276; Letters of William Lee, ed. Worthington C. Ford, 3 vols., Brooklyn, 1891, 2:611–614; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:91, 136; Lee Family Papers, Microfilm, Reel 6, f. 197–198). For accounts by Lee of his own and his brother's efforts to procure arms, see his letters to Benjamin Franklin of 27 June 1779 and to Thomas Jefferson of 24 Sept. 1779 and 15 Aug. 1780 (Letters of William Lee, 3:695–696; Jefferson, Papers, 3:90–93, 551).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0241

Author: Williams, Jonathan
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-23

Jonathan Williams to the Commissioners

[salute] Honourable Gentlemen

I had the honour of writing you December 12 1778 inclosing a Letter from Messrs. Horneca Fitzeau & Co.1 relative to 13 Bales cases and Barrells marked illustration No. 1 to 13 which are the property of Mr. Simeon Dean and which were delivered to Mr. Schweighauser on a supposition that they belonged to the commissioners as mentioned in my said Letter.2 I have not had the honour of an answer on this Subject.
I now inclose you Mr. Schweighauser's receipt3 for the goods I delivered him the first article of which is the Bales cases &ca. above { 377 } mentioned. I hear that one of these Cases still remains in Mr. Schweighausers possession. I therefore request you to give orders for it to be returned to me and to direct Messrs. Horneca Fitzeau and Co. to replace the others here.
I have also the Honour to inclose you Mr. Schweighausers receipt4 for the magazine and its appartenances. I should long since have forwarded these receipts, but waited for the delivery of the remainder of the Gunstocks. This is now done and the man who furnished them demands his money which I must pay agreeable to my Contract, but Mr. Schweighauser declines giving me a receipt for them, for what reason I can't conceive, but I suppose he has writen to you on the Subject. I beg you will please to give him the necessary Directions that I may pay the man his money and finish the affair.
I delivered from the magazine to Mr. Montieu ships sundry articles agreeable to the inclosed note5 charged at the estimated prices, as that Gentleman chooses to settle the matter with you I have taken it from the account and beg you to settle it with him accordingly.
I have the honour to be with great respect Honourable Gentlemen Your most obedient & most humble Servant.
[signed] Jona. Williams
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Mr. Jona. Williams ansd. Feb. 9. 1779”; by William Temple Franklin: “F. 11. Jany. 1779 Mr. Williams Letter.” The meaning of “F. 11” is unclear.
1. Neither Williams' letter of 12 Dec. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers) nor the enclosed letter from Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. of 26 Nov. (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 173–175) is printed here, but in this and the following paragraph Williams provides an accurate summary of their contents. In his letter of 12 Dec., he said that it was Ferdinand Grand who had informed him that the thirteen cases, with the other goods, all belonged to the Commissioners; this was the basis of Williams' “supposition” of their ownership. Of particular interest was Williams' request in that letter, alluded to here, that the Commissioners pay for the mistake.
2. For an inventory of the goods, which comprised 2 bales and I case of cloth and 8 cases and 2 barrels of medicine, see Benjamin Franklin to Horneca, Fizeaux & Co., 20 April 1778 (PU: Franklin Papers).
3. Not found.
4. Not found, but see Schweighauser to the Commissioners, 26 Sept. 1778, and note 2 (above).
5. Not found.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0242

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1779-01-24

The Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes

We had the honor of receiving your Excellency's Letter of the 20th. enclosing M. de Sartine's Answer, relative to the Convoy which we requested of your Excellency, for the Ships now assembled at Nantes.1
We are totally at a loss to understand what Mr. de Sartine writes of four Vessels mentioned by us, as ready to sail and a Convoy having { 378 } sailed with two of them. We never mentioned any thing concerning those four Vessels, nor has the appointment of a Convoy been announced to us, nor to those who have apply'd through us; and consequently they remain in Expectation of an Answer, and of a favorable one, thro' his Majesty's goodness and our application. We therefore apprehend that Mr. de Sartine is under some misinformation upon the Subject.
On the 29th. of December we had the honor of writing to your Excellency that “We had received a Letter signed by many Gentlemen at Nantes and dated the 15th of the Month informing us that most of their Vessels were ready to sail to America, and that others were expected to be ready immediately, so that the Convoy might be ordered as soon as convenience woud permit. That they were desireous of a Convoy quite to America if consistent with his Majesty's Service, or at least to the westward of the Western Islands. That it was of so much importance to our Countrymen to be supply'd with goods of various kinds, and especially with Warlike Stores, and there are so many belonging to the United States and to the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as to Individuals now ready to go, that we cannot avoid interesting ourselves with your Excellency that a sufficient Convoy may be appointed, and that as soon as possible to rendez-vous at Nantes.”2
On the 9th. of this Month your Excellency wrote us, desiring to know at what port the Vessels for which we sollicited a Convoy were collected.
To this we replyed on the 15th.3—“Those Vessels are at Nantes, where they wait for the Convoy, which we hope may be ordered immediately, as a Letter we received yesterday from a large number of Gentlemen at Nantes, informs us that many Vessels with valuable Cargoes have been waiting a considerable time for the Convoy.”
We are since well informed that the Number of Vessels is about fifteen. Your Excellency will perceive by these proceedings, that from the middle of last Month to this Time, the Gentlemen who have apply'd thro' us for a Convoy, and among whom are some as respectable as any in our Country, have been waiting at a considerable Expence, in Expectation of their request being granted. They had so full a Confidence, that such an Application woud be successful, if made, that they for sometime imputed their disappointment to our Neglect.
We therefore beseech your Excellency that as Strong a Convoy as can be spared, either quite thro', or to the westward of the western Islands, may be granted immediately; as we conceive the supplies that are to go are of very great Importance to the United States; and that they will certainly fall into the Enemy's hands, if unprotected.
{ 379 }
We have the honor to be, with much Respect, yr. Excellency's Mo. Obt. & Very humble Servts.
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] Arthur Lee
[signed] John Adams
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7); docketed: “M. de R. [rela]tif aux convois demandés pour expediés en amerique. nouvelles à ce Sujet.”
1. Neither Vergennes' letter of the 20th (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7) nor the enclosed letter of 18 Jan. from Sartine to Vergennes (extract, PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 186) has been printed, but in his letter Sartine stated that two American ships were to have met a French frigate at the Ile d'Aix on 2 Jan. and that if four American vessels remained at Nantes, they would have to wait for another convoy.
2. The portion of the letter of 29 Dec. 1778 (above) that here is within quotation marks is, in part, a paraphrase of the actual text.
3. An inadvertence; the Commissioners' reply, which has not been printed, was dated the 13th (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7). The passage taken from that letter is an exact quotation.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0243

Author: Gillon, Alexander
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-25

Alexander Gillon to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

Permit me to embrace this earliest opportunity of acquainting you of my arrival here this day from Our Continent, Via Havana, were I embark'd in A Spanish Vessel for Spain the 17 Novr. last, and on the 19th. Instant fell in with A Small Fleet from here under the Command of Count de Grace,1 (Cape Finisterre bearing E S E about 50 Leagues) who immediately with his Usual Politeness, offer'd me this Frigate Le Fortunée Capn. Marigny, to conduct me here or to Land me at the first convenient place if met with contrary winds. This friendly offer I accepted, because I tho't it wou'd be forwarding the business I am sent on, and it is with very great pleasure I assure you, that I received every attention from Capn. Marigny and his officers, also from the Gentlemen in the above Fleet, and that I esteem their Politeness as A proof of the friendship of their Nation for Ours. I have some Letters for your Excellencies, but as I conceive them to be introductory ones,2 I propose myself the happiness of presenting them to you soon, as I only go to Nantes, to be inform'd what property there is arrivd in Europe belonging to the State of South Carolina, and to give directions about its disposal. This business with the few days I propose tarrying here, will make it the 6th. Feby. ere I can leave Nantes, which admits time for any Letters of yours to Reach me there, under cover to Messrs. H. Q. Chaurand freres, if any of your Excellencies will Condescend to favour me with a Reply hereto; if so, you will Much Oblige me in communicating to me any interesting intelligence, you may have Received from { 380 } our Continent Since the 23d. July last,3 as it was then I set out for France, but A long detention at the Havana, and allmost continual contrary winds the different passages, has caus'd my thus long Journey. I am with all due Respect Your Excellencies Most Obedt. hble. Servt.
[signed] A. Gillon
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “Mr. Gillon answd. Feb. 2. 79.”
1. Count de Grasse had sailed with four ships of the line from Brest on 14 Jan. for the West Indies, where he arrived on 19 Feb. (Charles Lee Lewis, Admiral de Grasse, Annapolis, 1945, p. 73).
2. For several of these letters, as well as an account of Gillon and his mission, see Edward Rutledge to JA, 16 July 1778, and note 1 (vol. 6:294–295).
3. In their reply of 2 Feb., Benjamin Franklin and JA congratulated Gillon on his arrival, but stated that they had no news from America since November and nothing interesting since Estaing's departure from Boston (LbC, Adams Papers; PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 149).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0244

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Lloyd, John
Date: 1779-01-26

The Commissioners to John Lloyd and Others

[salute] Gentlemen

We had Yesterday the Honour of your Letter of the Twenty first of this Month.
You desire to know what Port or Ports, is or are made free, pursuant to the Treaty? We believe that none have as yet been determined on. At present all the Ports of France, are open, to American Vessells of all Denominations, and we are at present rather doubtful whether it would be politick in Us to apply1 to have any Distinction made. If the Appointment of free Ports would, relieve Us from the payment of Duties, of Import or Export, We should apply immediately. But as We apprehend, this Advantage would not be the Consequence. The Limits of the free Port would be prescribed, and the same Duties must be paid upon removing Goods within or without those Limits as are now paid upon Imports and Exports. Goods however might be, brought into Such free Ports from abroad and there landed and stored for a Time, and then exported without paying Duties, but whether this would be any great Advantage to our Trade, at present you are better Judges than We. We should be glad of your Advice upon this Head, and if you think of any Advantages, of considerable Moment that would arise We shall be always ready to apply, for such an Appointment.
We are sorry it is not in our Power to give you any acceptable Information respecting the <Eighth> Article of the Treaty which relates to the Barbary Corsaires. All We can Say is, that We have applied to the Ministry upon this Head, some Months ago, and received Satisfactory Expressions of the Disposition of this Government to do every { 381 } Thing which is stipulated in that Article of the Treaty. But Some Things remain to be determined by Congress, to whom We have written upon the subject and We must necessaryly wait their Instructions.2
There are two Enquiries to be made, vizt. which of all the Nations who now Trade with France is the most favoured, and what Duties are paid by that Nation. These Duties, and these only, We suppose, We are to pay, and as soon as Circumstances will permit, (two of Us having been for a fortnight very ill, and one of Us continuing so)3 We shall apply to the Ministry for an Ecclaircissement upon this Head, which We will endeavour to communicate to you, as soon as We shall obtain it.4
We have received an Answer to our last Application for a Convoy from their Excellencies the Comte De Vergennes and M. De Sartine, but the Answers convinced Us that M. De Sartine was Under Some Misinformation or Misunderstanding relative to the Business, which obliged Us to write again.5 As soon as We shall be honoured with an Answer, We will communicate the Result of it to you. Mean Time, We have the Honour to be with great Respect, Gentlemen, your most obedient humble servants6
1. The preceding four words were interlined for insertion here.
2. The correspondence between the Commissioners and Vergennes concerning Art. 8 was dated 28 Aug. (vol. 6:403), 27 Sept., and 1 Oct. 1778 (both above). The Commissioners had written to the president of the congress concerning the article on 7 Nov. (above).
3. Lee, as is indicated by his letter to Benjamin Franklin and JA of 20 Jan. (above), had been suffering from a fever, while JA had had a severe cold (JA to AA, 18 and 19 Jan., Adams Family Correspondence, 3:149–150).
4. No letter by the three Commissioners on this subject has been found.
5. For the Vergennes and Sartine letters, see the Commissioners to Vergennes, 24 Jan., and note 1 (above).
6. There follows a list of all those, except Robert Brooke, who had signed the Lloyd letter of 21 Jan. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0245-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-27

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

Enfin j'ai la satisfaction de pouvoir vous apprendre, que les choses ont tourné au gré d'Amsterdam. Hier les Etats d'Hollande prirent la Résolution d'annuller celle du 18e. Nov. passé, qui exceptoit des Convois les Bois de construction, et de protéger leur Commerce dans toute l'extension que lui assurent les Traités; suspendant, du reste, toute délibération ultérieure sur cette matiere, jusqu'à-ce que les Amirautés de toutes les Provinces, actuellement occupées à régler les armemens et { 382 } équipages avec L. H. P., aient fini leur besogne. Quant à la réponse à donner à Mr. l'Ambassadeur de France, ce sera demain que l'Assemblée provinciale devra s'en occuper. Après quoi elle se séparera; et notre Ami partira après-demain. Je ne suis plus en peine de cette réponse. Reste à savoir si elle n'arrivera pas trop tard en France. Car je sai de bonne part, que L. H. P. ont reçu des Lettres là-dessus de leur Ambassadeur à Paris, qui doivent les inquiéter. Il y a vu le nouveau Reglement tout imprimé. Quoiqu'il en soit, il est toujours sûr, que ce qui vient d'arriver ici est une victoire signalée sur l'influence Angloise.
Je profiterai de l'inaction où l'on sera ici pendant quelques semaines, pour expédier des paquets en Amérique pour le Congrès.
Les Papiers Anglois du 9, 12, 14 &c. de ce mois manquent par toute la Republique. On les retient en Angleterre, nous ne savons pourquoi. Ce ne sera donc pas ma faute, si ceux que je suis accoutumé d'envoyer au Congrès manquent, ou sont retardés. En attendant, il aura toujours la suite des Papiers de Leide et du Bas-Rhin.
L'Assemblée d'Hollande siegera encore demain et samedi. Aujourd'hui il ne s'y est rien fait d'important. Demain l'on y résoudra la réponse à la France; mais, comme je l'ai dit, il n'y aura point de difficulté là-dessus. Les Etats-Généraux ont pris aujourd'hui la même résolution que prirent les Etats d'hollande le 26.1 Voilà ce que j'ai appris de notre Ami, et rapporté à Mr. l'Ambassadeur un moment après que l'Assemblée s'est séparée.
Contre toute apparence, on n'a rien résolu aujourdhui. La réponse proposée par l'Amirauté, étoit si obscure et si ambigue, qu'Amsterdam a averti qu'elle protesteroit à nouveaux fraix: qu'il n'y avoit qu'à communiquer tout uniment à la France la Résolution de 26e. courant par laquelle la Republique révoque celle du 18 Nov., qui avoit déplu à la France, et embrasse la plus exacte neutralité. On n'a point voulu suivre cet avis; et l'on a de nouveau prolongé l'Assemblée jusqu'à Mardi ou Mercredi prochain. On voudroit nous tromper, dit notre ami, mais on n'y réussira pas.
Je suis avec un vrai respect, Messieurs, Votre très-humble et trés-obeissant serviteur
[signed] D2

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0245-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-27

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

Finally I have the pleasure to inform you that things have turned out to Amsterdam's liking. Yesterday the States of Holland resolved to annul the resolution of 18 November, which excepted ships timbers from the { 383 } convoys, to protect their commerce to the fullest extent guaranteed by the treaties, and, moreover, to suspend any further deliberation on this matter until the Admiralties of all the provinces, now busy with Their High Mightinesses assigning ships and crews, have finished their task. As to the response to be given to the French Ambassador, the Provincial Assembly will occupy itself with that tomorrow, after which it will adjourn, and our friend will leave the following day. I no longer am concerned about the answer. It remains to be seen whether the message will not arrive in France too late, for I learn from a good source that Their High Mightinesses have received letters on the subject from their ambassador in Paris, which must worry them. There he has seen the new regulation already in print. Regardless of what happens, it is certain that what has happened here marks a signal victory over the English influence.
I will take advantage of the several weeks' lull here to send some packets to America for the congress.
The British newspapers of 9, 12, 14, &c. of this month cannot be found in the Republic. They are being held back in England, we know not why. It will not, therefore, be my fault if those that I usually send to the congress are missing or late. In the meantime, it will still have the rest of the papers from Leiden and the Lower Rhine.
The Assembly of Holland will sit again tomorrow and Saturday. Today it did nothing of importance. Tomorrow it will decide on the answer to France, but, as I have said, there will be no difficulty regarding it. Today the States General adopted the same resolution as that passed by the States of Holland on the 26th.1 I learned this from our friend and reported to the Ambassador shortly after the Assembly adjourned.
Contrary to all expectations, nothing was decided today. The response proposed by the Admiralty was so abstruse and ambiguous that Amsterdam warned that she would protest anew, and that all that was needed was to communicate unanimously to France the resolution of the 26th, by which the Republic revokes that of 18 November which had so displeased France, and embrace the most exact neutrality. They would not follow this advice and again prolonged the Assembly until next Tuesday or Wednesday. They would deceive us, said our friend, but they will not succeed.
I am with true respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] D2
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amérique à Passy”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Dumas 29 Janv. 79.”
1. The States General's resolution was less significant than it seemed. Convoy protection was to be extended to vessels carrying ships timbers, but only when the Republic's resources were adequate to do so, a solution that was unacceptable to France (Bemis, Diplomacy of the Amer. Revolution, p. 142).
{ 384 }
2. This is the final letter addressed to the Commissioners by Dumas before Benjamin Franklin officially became the sole American representative at the French Court. In January 1779 the Netherlands was no closer to formulating a policy amenable to both Britain and France that would also preserve its rights as a neutral trader than it had been when the issue of unlimited convoys first arose. In the months that followed, the competing pressures of the two belligerents caused a continuation of the indecision that had characterized the deliberations of the States General. Britain, through Sir Joseph Yorke, adamantly refused to relax its orders regarding the seizure of Dutch vessels carrying naval stores, particularly ships timbers, but even more significant was its request, after Spain entered the war in June 1779, that the Netherlands supply the aid (6,000 troops and 20 warships) required by the Anglo-Dutch alliance of 1678, which had been renewed by later treaties (Charles Jenkinson, Collection of all the Treaties of Peace, Alliance, and Commerce, between Great-Britain and other Powers, 3 vols., London, 1785, 1:214). That demand, like the French insistence on unlimited convoys, required a clear choice between the belligerents and a commitment of resources that the republic was unwilling and unable to make. France's ambassador, La Vauguyon, continued his efforts to obtain unlimited convoys, using trade discrimination in favor of those cities supporting the French position in the States of Holland and before the States General as his major weapon. Ultimately Yorke's arrogance, coupled with the British seizures of Dutch ships and the financial losses to merchants from the duties levied in French ports, produced growing opposition to the Stadholder and a weakening of the English party. On 24 April 1780, following the British interception of a Dutch convoy on 31 Dec. 1779 and renunciation of all treaty obligations to the Netherlands on 17 April because of the Dutch refusal to provide aid under the alliance of 1678, the States General finally resolved to provide unlimited convoys.
French diplomacy won a clear victory. It had further isolated Britain, but at great cost to the Dutch Republic. Although France removed all restrictions on Dutch ships in its ports, neither the French nor the Netherlands' navy was strong enough to protect the Dutch merchant fleet, and thus it suffered great losses. In an effort to protect its trade, the Netherlands joined the League of Armed Neutrality, a decision that, by the end of 1780, brought war with England. For detailed accounts of events in the Netherlands in 1779 and 1780, see Bemis, Diplomacy of the Amer. Revolution, p. 142–163; Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution, chaps. 5–6; F. P. Renaut, La neutralité Hollandaise durant la guerre d'Amérique, Paris, 1924, chaps. 8–9, 12–15.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0246

Author: Lloyd, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-28

John Lloyd and Others to the Commissioners

The Memorial of several of the American Gentlemen, Merchants, and Commanders of Vessels at Nantes, whose names are underwritten—
Sheweth—
That, the Merchants of America, during the War, are at an inconceivable expence in fitting out their Vessels—in navigating, and insuring them—and often the prospect of repayment, and adequate profit, is destroyed by detention, through accident, or misconduct:
In the Port of Nantes there are many American vessels, which probably will be prevented sailing with the Convoy, by the unjust conduct { 385 } of the Seamen, and the want of a proper Officer to adjust the disputes between American Captains, and their Sailors; At this time, Seamen, knowing there is no power to oblige them to a conformity with their engagements, have abandoned the Vessels, after receiving two months advance, to navigate them back to America—have entered on board french Vessels—have insulted their Officers openly, and are forming combinations to incite all their Brethren, to follow their own atrocious, and most dishonorable behaviour.
Your Memorialists, desirous, if possible, to prevent unnecessary trouble to your Honours, applied by deputation to the Commissary of Marine, of this Port, to grant them relief: They are happy in paying a tribute to his Zeal to serve America but found he had no power to liquidate the Disputes alluded to; and in consequence referred them to you.
That by the 29th. Article of the Treaty of Friendship, and Commerce, They observe that Consuls, Vice Consuls, Agents, and Commissaries are to be appointed in the respective Ports of each Dominion; and your Memorialists having understood that Mr. Schweighauser was invested with the name of American Agent for Nantes, made application also to him, but were informed he had no Authority to redress the grievances they complain of.
Your Memorialists, therefore convinced of the propriety of the said Article of the Treaty, request your Honors that Consuls may be appointed, as soon as the exigency of Public Affairs will admit of it—and in the meantime, that your Honors will nominate some Officer, or Officers with competent powers to take cognizance of the present differences, and for the prevention of future ones; for your Memorialists have apprehensions, and they believe many instances may be adduced, of persons who find it their Interest to foment Quarrels, in order to gain by the Parties, and that your Honors may be satisfyed of the truth of these Complaints, They beg leave to refer you to the enclosed grievous Case of Josiah Darrell Commander of the Brig Polly, belonging to the State of South Carolina;1 a Case by no means singular, because others of a similar nature, they could transmit were it necessary.
Your Memorialists, sensible of the important Business which daily commands your attention, have reluctantly addressed your Honors; but as a free Commerce, is one of the main objects, and pursuits of America, and as the removal of embarrassments from it, is, They apprehend, worthy your consideration, and within your Controul, They are induced to lay before you the preceding Representation of Impediments and Grievances and to solicit your Redress.
{ 386 }
[signed] John Lloyd
[signed] Danl. Blake
[signed] William Blake
[signed] Phil Rd. Fendall
[signed] Jos Wharton
[signed] Jno. Ross
[signed] H Thompson
[signed] Jno: Gilbank
[signed] Cha: Ogilvie
[signed] Wm. Robison
[signed] Matthew Mease
[signed] F. Speak
[signed] Charles Jenkins
[signed] Josiah Darrell
[signed] John Joyner
[signed] Stephen Johnson
[signed] Robert Brooke
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed by William Temple Franklin: “From several Gentlemen at Nantes. 28 Janv. 1779.”
1. Josiah Darrell's account (PPAmP: Franklin Papers) was dated 25 Jan. and complained about the desertion of five of his crew members to French privateers and his involvement in five lawsuits, particularly that which resulted in a judgment ordering him to pay the debts of his sailors.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0247

Author: Williams, Jonathan
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-31

Jonathan Williams to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Honourable Gentlemen

I am well informed that two Indorsements have been made on the Accounts1 I have had the Honour to present to the Commissioners, one of which contains Accusations as injurious to my Reputation as they are false and malignant. The first of these Indorsements is on my Account dated Sept. 10 1778 and is written in the following Words.—
“N B The Order from B Franklin and John Adams Esqrs. to the public Banker for the Payment of all Mr. Williams's Demands is dated the 10th July,2 yet he charges a Louis d'or a Day from that Time to the 11th of August, besides the whole Charge being such as was never heard of before.”
(signed)
[signed] A Lee
The Charge here mentioned appears to me reasonable, and is by no Means unprecedented. I left Nantes by Order of the Commissioners to lay my Accounts before them—I was a long Time in Paris for the sole Purpose of having them settled, and I returned as soon as I thought myself justifiable in so doing. Five Louis Per Day is certainly not an Object for a Merchants Absence from his Business.
The second Indorsement contains Accusations of a most criminal and atrocious Nature, and which if true would deservedly brand me { 387 } with the Name of Villain; but I trust in God my Character (hitherto unimpeached) will stand the piercing Eye of Justice, and this Appelation be elsewhere more effectualy applied.
On the Back of my Accounts settled May 30. 1778 is thus written.—
“I have examined the within Accounts, the Articles of which may be distinguished into such as are without Orders or manifestly unjust, or plainly exorbitant, or altogether unsatisfactory for want of Names, or Dates, or Receipts, or any other Voucher whatsoever. Being also perfectly satisfied from his own Accounts that Mr. Williams has now and has long had in his Hands upwards of an hundred thousand Livres belonging to the Public, and which have not been employed to the Public Use, or by Order of those who were entrusted with the Public Money, I do refuse to concur in passing these Accounts or allowing the Balance demanded and do protest against such Use of the Public Money.”
[signed] signed A Lee3
This violent Attack on what is most dear and valuable to an honest Man was so privately made, that I am indebted to Accident only for the Knowlege of it. He who can deliberately massacre the Reputation of an other, must not only be lost to the exquisite Feelings of Humanity in himself, but must delight in glutting his Soul with the Carnage of Characters.
The Accusation of my Transactions being without Authority, is an Affront to the Characters of Doctor Franklin and Mr. Dean for I have their express Orders to support me in them—but if I had not, would the sending Cloathing for thirty thousand american Troops be considered as a Crime—That my Charges are “exorbitant” I deny, and I pledge myself to prove that the whole Profit issueing to me from the Public Business for eighteen Months, and for shipping Supplies to the Amount of near three Millions two hundred thousand Livres (of which only about two hundred thousand Livres were taken) does not exceed an averaged Commission of one and a quarter Per Cent. Compare this, Gentlemen, with the common Charges on American Business in Nantes, and you will find that if five Per Cent was to be charged only on the Sale of three Cargoes of Tobacco (and this is the usual Charge) it would more than equal all the Reward of all my Services. In short the being usefull to my Country and the Establishment of my Reputation, have been Considerations with me superior to any Emolument, as is evinced by the moderate Commission I charged.
{ 388 }
Mr. Lees Assertion that I have upwards of an hundred thousand Livres Public Money in my Hands, I have Charity to think he does not believe to be a Fact; and surely the Protest is an Insult on you who have approved my Drafts for the Money which is here said to be used for private Purposes.
My Character, Gentlemen has been too long wounded by Mr. Lee—my Accounts too long unsettled, and as it is my Intention to depart soon to America, I humbly conjure you to fix on some Method whereby my Reputation can be vindicated from such unjust Slanders, or my Conduct publicly reprehended and condemned. To this Purpose as the major Part of the Public Debts under my management were contracted in and near Nantes, and as the Persons live in this Neighbourhood, I earnestly request you to order an Examination of my Accounts. There are here several Gentlemen of Character Residents of America who are well versed in commercial Transactions—permit me to mention their Names—Mr. William Blake, Mr. Daniel Blake, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Fendall, Mr. Wharton, Mr. Ridley, Mr. Ross, Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Oglivie. Choose if you please, all these Gentlemen to scrutinize my Charges and Vouchers, or refer them to any three of them, and I will recall every Allowance for my Services, whether under the Name of Commission, or otherwise, and for these as well as for the whole of my Accounts, I will abide by their Decision.4
It is Justice I want;—Justice is my Due—and it is equaly indifferent to me who are my Judges, so that Honesty and Impartiality are the Umpires.
I have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect Honourable Gentlemen Your most obedient & most humble Servant
[signed] Jona. Williams
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “Jonathan Williams about his Accts.”; in another hand, a crossed out calculation adding: “£387.18. 9,” “. 6. 5,” and “. 7,” with an incomplete total of “[.]1.”
1. The accounts to which williams refers comprised two groups: the first settled through 30 May 1778; the second through 10 Sept. 1778. What is apparently a duplicate of the first group, for it does not contain Lee's endorsement, is in the Lee Papers (ViU). The second group has not been found, but see Williams to the Commissioners, 22 Sept. 1778 (above). The fate of the specific set of accounts on which Lee entered his endorsements and returned to the Commissioners' archive at Passy is unknown.
As is indicated on the second endorsement copied by Williams in this letter, Lee apparently examined the accounts and made his entries in Oct. 1778. According to Lee, he returned the accounts to Passy, presumably to the Commissioners' papers that were in JA's custody (Lee to Franklin, 16 March, PCC, No. 83, I, f. 341–342). There they lay until Franklin received Arthur Lee's letter of 22 Jan. (above) concerning the Williams-Montieu accounts and was moved, on the same day, to write to JA (above) to ask { 389 } for the “public papers” in his possession. In a letter to Arthur Lee on 27 March, Franklin explained both his request for the papers and the reason that the accounts had gone so long unnoticed: “It was not till lately that, being pressed by M. Monthieu for a settlement of his accounts, and finding that they had a reference to Mr. Williams, I got those from Mr. Adams. They were put up in a paper case, which covered the note you had made upon them, and that case was fastened with wax. This prevented the notes being before seen either by myself or by Mr. Adams, among whose papers you had left those accounts” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:101).
JA delivered the papers to William Temple Franklin, who probably undertook the examination, for it was he who informed Jonathan Williams, in a letter not found, of Arthur Lee's endorsements (Williams to Temple Franklin, 28 Jan., Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 4:14). JA was as displeased with the endorsements and Lee's apparent effort to conceal them as were Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Williams. In his letter to Lee of 27 March, Franklin wrote: “Mr. Adams spoke in strong terms of your having no right to enter notes upon papers without our consent or knowledge, and talked of making a counter entry, in which he would have shown that your assertion of our having 'given an order for the payment of all Mr. Williams' demands' was not conformable to truth nor the express terms of the order (that of 10 July to Ferdinand Grand, vol. 6:277–278), but his attention being taken up with what related to his departure, was probably the cause of his omitting to make the entry” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:101–102).
So far as Lee was concerned, the present letter may have been the last straw. (Williams sent him a copy on 8 March [ViU: Lee Papers, with an attached note by Hezekiah Ford; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 4:283]). Although Lee had written the congress in the past, criticizing Williams' dubious accounting practices, on 23 April he composed a 46-page “Memorial” (PCC, No. 83, II, f. 176–222), which was later published as Observations on Certain Commercial Transactions in France (Phila., 1780; Evans, No. 16819). There Lee, using portions of his correspondence with Williams and Franklin, sought to support his charges of wrongdoing, including those in the two endorsements, and to refute Williams' defense. In doing so, he bitterly attacked Benjamin Franklin's acquiescence in his nephew's activities.
2. See vol. 6:277–278.
3. Williams gives only the last half of the endorsement. The first half, containing some details of Williams' reparation of arms at Nantes, can be found in Lee's “Memorial” (f. 197–198).
4. In a letter of 13 March (MH-H: Lee Papers) Franklin stated that, as a consequence of the charges made in the endorsement of 6 Oct., he had decided to have the accounts carefully examined and asked Lee to inform him of any other charges against Williams. He also expressed regret that Lee had informed neither him nor JA of the endorsement at the time that it was made, so that the matter could have been resolved then. On 16 March, Franklin wrote to Williams to inform him of this decision and added J. D. Schweighauser to the list of disinterested referees proposed by Williams (Edward E. Hale and Edward E. Hale Jr., Franklin in France, 2 vols., Boston, 1887–1888, 1:283–284).
Although the exact makeup of the panel cannot be determined with certainty (see Hezekiah Ford's note on the copy of this letter of 31 Jan. sent to Lee by Williams, ViU: Lee Papers), it apparently met and, from Williams' point of view, exonerated him (Williams to JA, 1 Feb. 1780, below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0248

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Lloyd, John
Date: 1779-02-01

The Commissioners to John Lloyd and Others

[salute] Gentlemen

We have this Moment the Honour of your Letter of the Twenty Eighth of last Month, and shall give the earliest Attention to its im• { 390 } portant Contents, but We are unhappy to think that it is not in our Power to give effectual Relief.
By the Treaty Consuls &c. are to be appointed, in the respective Ports,1 But the Power of appointing, Such important officers is wholly with the Congress—they have not delegated it to Us, and it is not probable that they will delegate it at all, at least it is our Opinion that so important a Trust, would not be so safe in any other Hands, as in theirs. We therefore cannot presume to appoint any such officers. Indeed We have not Power to appoint any officers, but Agents to execute <our> any Orders We may have occasion to send to the seaports. Excepting that Congress, Some few days before they received the News of the Treaty passed a Resolution impowering Us to appoint commercial Agents for the united States.2 But Supposing, that this Resolution would not have been passed if they had then been apprized of the Treaty, and expecting that soon after the Ratification of the Treaty they would, appoint Consuls, We have as yet done nothing in Consequence of that Resolution.
We have long since written to Congress advising and requesting that Consuls might be appointed, and We have expected every day for Some Months, Intelligence of such appointments.
There is nothing therefore remains in our Power to do, at present for your Relief, but to lay your Letter, And the other Representation which accompanied it, before the Ministry, which We will do without Loss of Time,3 and request their Advice upon it, and their Interposition in your favour as far as they shall judge it consistent with their Characters to interfere. We have the Honour to be, with very great Respect, Gentn. your most humble servants4
1. Art. 29 of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce provided for the appointment of consuls and lesser commercial functionaries, but stated that their functions would “be regulated by a particular agreement” (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:26). France appointed a vice-consul for Philadelphia in Sept. 1778 and named consuls for Maryland and South Carolina in October and November, but the United States did not name its first consul until 14 Nov. 1780, when the congress elected William Palfrey to be consul in France (JCC, 12:948, 1066, 1098; 18:1018). Not until 14 Nov. 1788 did the United States sign a consular convention with France, thus fully implementing Art. 29 (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:228–241).
2. The resolution concerning commercial agents was adopted on 9 Feb. 1778 (JCC, 10:139), while the Commissioners' letter concerning the resolution and the appointment of consuls, referred to in the following paragraph, was dated 20 July (vol. 6:306–307, calendar entry; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:168–170).
3. The memorial of 28 Jan. and the enclosed statement of 25 Jan. by Josiah Darrell were sent to Sartine on either 1 or 2 Feb. (LbC, Adams Papers; Arthur Lee's LbC, PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 149).
4. Immediately following the closing was a list of those who had signed the letter of 28 Jan.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0249

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-02-02

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

Captain Jason Laurence belonging to the Schooner General Arnold Arrived here Yesterday by a dutch Ship being put on board by a Jersey Privateer that took the Schooner the 1 Decr. fifteen Leagues from Belle Isle.
He informs me the Vessel belonged to Genl. Arnold that she was the first that had been Launcht at Phila. since the recovery.1 He left that City the 4 Novr. had on board Packets from Congress for you and many Letters and Packets and for Account of the Owner 84 hhds. Tobacco and three Thousand Pounds sterling in Bills of Exchange drawn by order of Congress on you, all which he destroyd when taken.
Greater Unanimity than ever in the State of <Philadelphia> Pensilvania and Spirrit in Philadelphia. The three Frigates set on fire by the Enemy being only on One Side Burnt they had got them upon the Stocks and repairing them with deligence.2 When he left Port they had not receiv'd one Vessel from Europe but as he past the Capes he met a small french Brig from this Port going in. All European Goods were scarce and are dear Salt seven pounds ten Shilling the Bushell. He was unacquainted with the State of Affairs to the Southward and to the Eastward all appeard to him as favorable as situations would admit. He knew of no other vessel at Philadelphia destind emediately this way but understood many were preparing at Cheasapeak Bay.
The English Privateers are Numerous off this Bay. A vessel belonging to Bayonne in the Space of three degrees chased and was chased by upwards of Thirty—Two she took. Four stout frigates sent amongst them would make a clear Coast very shortly. We hope our Ships will be so escorted as to put them out of Danger. We are as well as the Publick deeply concernd not being able to get ensured, our Interest and the little we have got done is at 60 Per Cent.
I have the Honor to be with due Respect Sirs Your most Obedient Humble serviteur
[signed] John Bondfield
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “To the Honble. Benjm. Franklin, Arthur Lee, John Adams Esqrs. Commissioners from Congress Paris”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “John Bondfield Bordeaux Feb 2d. 1779.”
1. That is, since the reoccupation of Philadelphia by the American forces after Gen. William Howe abandoned it in June 1778.
2. Only two frigates, the Washington and the Effingham, were burned. For them and their fate, see William Vernon Sr. to JA, 17 Dec., note 5 and references there (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0250

Author: Lloyd, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-02-04

John Lloyd to the Commissioners

The Letter which Your Honors have been pleased under date of the 26th of last month, to address to several American Gentlemen, came duly to hand.
Although I am not authorized to reply to it, nevertheless I should think, there would be a failure in the points of respect, and politeness, if the receipt of it, was not acknowledged. The reason why it is not done jointly, I believe proceeds from the Gentlemens being disinclined to give any advice, upon the head of the Free Ports. The subject is important, and as the Commerce of all the States is interested therein, I imagine they apprehend that they might be justly censured by their Countrymen should they presume to say what Your Honors ought to do in the matter.
The weather is become very moderate, and I hope in the course of a few days the River will be so free of Ice, as to permit the Vessels to be got ready for Sea.
With great respect I have the honor to be Your Honors Most Obedt. Serv,
[signed] John Lloyd
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “Merchts. Nantes about Free Ports.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0251

Author: Boylston, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-06

From John Boylston

[salute] Dear Sir

Least it might possibly have escap'd the joynt notice of you and your Most worthy Colleague Doctr. Fr——k——d I tho't it most needful to inform you that from publick reports as also private opinions the Friends of A——m——a have but too much reason to fear that you have about you insidious and dangerous Parricides in the Persons of Freres Lee Men who readily adopt any Measures which may promote their own interest tho' derogatory to that of their parent Country whose In——d——ce intirely depends on a Harmony and Unity of Sentiment.1
Self preservation being the first Law and it being necessary to eat to live I heartily wish that no person whose indigent circumstances may expose them to corruption or Stock Gambling, may be in any manner employ'd by <you> C——ng——ss during the continuance of this present dispute.
Pray be pleas'd to acquaint G. Tailer that I advise him to return home by the very first opportunity for as poverty is shun'd as contagious he will not find a single friend when reduc'd to a single shilling. { 393 } When I wrote you my wishes to assist him I meant with your advice only.2 My best wishes attend you and your most worthy—being with great esteem Dr. Sr.
1. Boylston is referring to Silas Deane's charges against the Lees in his address “To the Free and Virtuous Citizens of America,” which appeared serially in the 26–28 and 28–30 Jan. issues of the London Chronicle; an extract was printed in the Courier de l'Europe of 2 Feb.
2. For William Taylor see Boylston's letter of 5 Jan. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0252-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-02-06

The Comte de Vergennes to the Commissioners

J'ai communiqué à M. de Sartine, Messieurs, la lettre que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'écrire le 24. du mois dernier. Ce Ministre vient de me répondre, qu'il n'est point possible de vous promettre qu'il Sera donné des escortes particuliéres aux batiments destinés pour les Etats-unis jusques aux ports de l'amérique Septentrionale ni même jusques audelà du méridien des Açores; mais que vos bâtiments Seront conduits avec ceux appartenants aux Sujets de Sa Majesté jusques aux parages où ils auront peu à craindre des Corsaires. Si ceux qui Sont actuëllement en armement à Nantes ayant destination pour <l'Amérique> les Etats-unis, descendent promptement la rivíere, ils Seront conduits à l'ile d'aix dans le courant de ce mois, et ils Seront escortés jusques audelà des Caps, et plus loin encore, c'est-à-dire pendant tout le tems qu'ils voudront Suivre la route du convoi des bâtiments Francois destinés pour les iles de l'Amérique.1

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0252-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-02-06

The Comte de Vergennes to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

I have communicated to M. Sartine, gentlemen, the letter that you did me the honor to write on the 24th of last month. This minister has replied that it is not now possible to promise you that he will provide special escorts for the vessels bound for the United States all the way to the North American ports, nor even beyond the meridian of the Azores, but that your vessels will be escorted, with those belonging to his Majesty's subjects, to waters where they will have little to fear from privateers. Those vessels which are presently being prepared at Nantes and are bound for <America> the United States and can promptly go down the river, will be escorted to the Isle of Aix this month, and will be escorted beyond the Capes, and even farther; that is to say, as long as they wish to follow the same route as the convoy of French vessels bound for the American islands.1
{ 394 }
Dft (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7); notation in the left margin of the first page: “convois dont peuvent profiter les batiments qui Sont à Nantes, destinés pour les Etats unis.”
1. The recipient's copy of this letter was likely enclosed to John Lloyd and others in a letter dated 9 Feb. 1778 [i.e. 1779] (LbC, Adams Papers). A copy, not found, of what may have been Sartine's reply to Vergennes or a separate letter to the Commissioners concerning convoys, was enclosed in a covering letter of 11 Feb. to John Lloyd and others (LbC, Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0253

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-07

Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Gentlemen

To a written Letter,1 one of you was civil enough to return me a verbal answer, that Doctor Bancroft was appointed to transact business for us in England, and that his instructions shoud be sent to me.
Why you shoud think that in the choice of a person to represent us, I shoud have no voice; I am at a loss to conceive.
The notorious character of Dr. Bancroft as a Stockjobber is perfectly known to you. The dishonor of his transactions in that way, having been visited upon the Commissioners you also know.2 His living in open defiance of decency and religion you are no strangers to;3 nor to his enmity against me, and the constant means he employs to calumniate my character. You know also that he is the creature and Agent of that Mr. Deane, who has just publishd a most false and scandalous libel against Congress and some of their Servants; which, in the opinion of all persons of honor whom I have heard speak of it, is likely to injure the affairs of the United States in Europe, and greatly disgrace our national character.
For these reasons I shoud have imagind that Dr. Bancroft woud have been the last person in the World you woud have chosen to represent us, or to vest with public Confidence. There are, most certainly in Paris, Americans of untainted Reputation and undoubted abilities, who I am sure woud be willing to undertake any Commission from us for the service of their Country.
I have farther to inform you as one of your Colleagues, that I have evidence in my possession, which makes me consider Dr. Bancroft as a Criminal with regard to the United States, and that I shall have him chargd as such, whenever he goes within their jurisdiction.4
If after consideration of these Reasons, and of this information, you shoud still be of opinion he is a proper person to represent us; you will give me leave by this letter to dissent from, and wash my hands of, his appointment.
{ 395 }
I have the honor to be, with the greatest esteem & respect, Gentlemen Your most obedient Humble Servant
[signed] Arthur Lee
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers).
1. In a brief letter written earlier this day, Lee had demanded to know whether it was true that Dr. Edward Bancroft was being sent to England on a mission (to Franklin and JA, 7 Feb., PPAmP: Franklin Papers). Also on this date Bancroft wrote to inform Lee that he had been requested by Franklin and JA to go to England to facilitate the exchange of American prisoners, and asked that Lee send him those portions of Lee's letter that pertained to him (MH-H: Lee Papers).
2. See Lee's letter to the Committee of Correspondence of 26 April 1778 (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:562), as well as Muscoe Livingston's signed statement of 11 April 1778 (PCC, No. 83, II, f. 49) declaring that he had seen evidence that Bancroft had used his knowledge that a Franco-American treaty would be signed in Feb. 1778 to speculate on the London market.
3. A reference to Bancroft's mistress. For more information on him, see vol. 6:14, note 3; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:71–74, and note 4.
4. Presumably a reference to Lee's suspicion that Bancroft was a British spy and to which he referred in the letter to the Committee of Correspondence of 26 April 1778 and elsewhere.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0254

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-08

Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Gentlemen

Having not seen the Letter of Mr. Williams to which one of those sent me is an Answer I cannot form any judgment of it.1
As there are no marks mentiond by which Mr. Deanes claim to any of the Goods in the possession of the public Agent can be ascertaind—as all the Goods in question, were, when receivd, declard to be on account of the public; and as I perceive in the Banker's Accounts very large Sums of public money paid for Goods purchasd in Holland, which Goods I am satisfyd these are; I cannot think it consistent with my duty to concur in delivering them to any person upon so indefinite a claim.
I have the honor to be, with the greatest esteem & respect, Gentlemen Yr. most Obedt. Humbl. Servt.
[signed] Arthur Lee
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers).
1. Lee is writing about the answer to be given Jonathan Williams' letter of 23 Jan. (above), but in this paragraph he is referring to Williams' letter to Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. (not found). Their reply, dated 26 Nov., was enclosed in Williams' letter to the Commissioners of the 23d (see note 1 there), and apparently sent on to Lee by Franklin or JA.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0255

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1779-02-09

The Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

It is now near six Months that Capt. McNeil, of the Mifflin Privateer from America, has been embarras'd with a Process on Account of { 396 } a French Ship, which he retook from the English after she had been three Days in their Possession. The Laws of France are clear with regard to the Validity of this Prize, and our Captains have Orders, contained in their Commissions, to submit their Prizes to the Laws of the Country into which they carry them, and they ought undoubtedly to regulate their own Conduct by those Laws, without any regard to the Laws of America, relating to this Matter, which may be different in every one of the United States, and therefore too Uncertain to be made the Rule for Judgement in the Courts here.1 But <if> the Persons reclaiming this Prize, insist, among other Reasons, which seem no better founded, that their Cause should be judged by the Laws of Capt. McNeils Country, because more favourable for them. We believe that no Americans in France will ever think of claiming here any Advantage by virtue of the Laws of their own Country, and it seems not just to put those Laws in force against them in France, when it may be done to their Detriment. The Vexation of these kind of Processes, and the Slowness and length of these expensive Proceedings before a Decision can be obtained, discourage our armed Vessels, and have tended to impress them with an Opinion, that their Operations against the English cannot be carried on to Advantage in the European Seas.
We therefore request your Excellency to join your Sollicitations with those we have had the Honor to make to M. De Sartine, that these Processes may be more speedily determined, and that the Americans in France may be treated in these Respects, on the same Footing with the Subjects of his Majesty. Of which we shall be glad to give Information to the Congress, that so, some Popular Prejudices occasioned by these Affairs, may be effectually removed, and the American armed Ships be encouraged to return and cruize again upon the Coasts of England.
We have the honor to be, with the greatest Consideration & Respect, Your Excellency's, most obedient & most humble Servants.2
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] Arthur Lee
[signed] John Adams
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7); docketed: “M. de R. rep le 16 fev. [Les?] deputés americains Se [... ment] du retard qu'eprouve le [... ment?] du procès entre le Srr. [Mc]Neal Capne. du Corsaire le [Gener]al Mifflin et le Srr. Risteaux.”
1. For the respective laws regarding recaptures, see Sartine to the Commissioners, 16 Sept. 1778, and notes (above).
2. In his reply of 16 Feb. (Dft, Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7), Vergennes stated that the Commissioners' letter had been sent to Sartine for his consideration. The case, however, dragged { 397 } on for at least another year. In a letter dated 17 Jan. but without a year given, Daniel Marc Antoine Chardon, Procurer Général près du Conseil des Prises, informed Franklin that the McNeill case had been tried and settled in his favor. An editorially supplied date of 1779 is in error (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:9).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0256

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Williams, Jonathan
Date: 1779-02-09

The Commissioners to Jonathan Williams

[salute] Sir

We have received your Letters of the 12 Decr.1 and 23 of January. In the first You propose that We should write to Messrs. Horneca and Fitzeaux to pass the Amount of the Goods you mention to our Debit. In that of 23 of January, you propose that one of the Cases Still remaining in Mr. Schweighausers Hands should be delivered to you, and that We should give orders to Mess. Horneca &c. to replace the others, at Nantes.
As this Business was brought upon Us, by Accident or Mistake, without our Knowledge or Consent, it appears to Us that the Public ought not to be put to any extraordinary Expence or Risque about it. But still it is our Desire that Justice may be done, and therefore We think that the most equitable Way will be, for Us to give orders that these Goods be delivered to Mr. Deane in America, if they arrive there, and then they will be his Loss if they do not.
If this is agreable to you, We will readily give orders that the Case which remains in Mr. Schweighausers Hands be delivered to you and the others delive[re]d to Mr. Simeon Deane or his order in America.2
We are &c.
1. Not printed, but see Williams' letter of 23 Jan. (above).
2. The Commissioners here are seeking the middle ground between Arthur Lee's position in his letter of 8 Feb. (above) and Benjamin Franklin's in the unsent letter to Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. of 9 Feb. Franklin, acceding to Williams' wishes, requested that Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. charge the Commissioners' account for the goods mistakenly sent to the congress (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 3:517). Because JA's Letterbook copy is a draft, he may well have devised this compromise to obtain the signatures of both his colleagues. He may or may not have been successful, but see Lee to Franklin and JA of 10 Feb., and note 1 (below).
Apparently the issue remained unsettled. In his reply of 20 Feb., Williams noted that the solution proposed was impracticable because the goods had either been used up at Nantes or had long since arrived in America, and again he proposed that the goods be paid for by the Commissioners (PPAmP: Franklin Papers). In his answer of 16 March, Franklin informed Williams that he had shown his letter to JA, “who found the proposition reasonable” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:83–84). Thus on 20 April, Franklin wrote to Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. and, except for “case No. 3,” ordered them to replace the goods “at the risque and expence of the United States” (PU: Franklin Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0257

Author: Pringle, John Julius
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-02-09

John Julius Pringle to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

Having heard that it is your intention to dispatch some person to England to negotiate an Exchange of Prisoners,1 I presume to offer you my services on that occasion. Having ever professed the purest attachment to the Cause and Interests of my Country, and ready to embrace every opportunity within my power of demonstrating it, the present will be extremely agreeable to me. If therefore no person should offer more able or likely to give entire satisfaction in the discharge of this commission, I shall think myself highly honoured and obliged if you will be pleased to intrust it to me, pledging myself for the prompt and faithful discharge of it, and shall be happy to defray myself the Expences I may incur on account of it.
I have the honour to be Gentlemen, Your most obedt. hble. Servt.
[signed] J. J. Pringle
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “To The Honourable, B. Franklin A. Lee J. Adams Esquires American Plenipotentiaries at Passy.”
1. Pringle presumably had heard of the Commissioners' “intention” from Arthur Lee, who saw him as an alternative to Edward Bancroft, the original choice of Franklin and JA (Lee to Franklin and JA, 7 Feb., above). Lee forwarded Pringle's letter with his own to Franklin and JA of 9 Feb., endorsed Pringle as a gentleman “unexceptionable as to character and ability,” and hoped he would meet with Franklin's and JA's approval (PPAmP: Franklin Papers). Although Pringle's offer was accepted by Lee and JA on 12 Feb. (below), it is not known whether he went to England.
At the outbreak of the Revolution, John Julius Pringle of South Carolina was a member of the Middle Temple in London, but soon went to France, where he served as Ralph Izard's secretary in 1778 and 1779. In 1781 he returned to South Carolina, where he became active in state politics (DAB).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0258

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: Jones, John Paul
Date: 1779-02-10

Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to John Paul Jones

[salute] Sir

As your Separation from the Ranger, and the Appointment of Lieutenant Simpson to the Command of her, will be liable to Misinterpretations and Misrepresentations by Persons who are unacquainted with the real Causes of those Facts.
We hereby certify, that your leaving the Ranger was by our Consent, at the express Request of his Excellency Monsieur De Sartine, who informed Us that he had occasion to employ you in some public Service. That Lieut. Simpson, was appointed to the Command of the Ranger with your Consent, after having consented to release him from an Arrest, under which you had put him.
{ 399 }
That your leaving the Ranger in our Opinion ought not and cannot be any Injury to your Rank or Character, in the Service of the United States; and that your Commission in their Navy continues in full Force.1
We have the honor to be Sir, Your most obedient humble Servants
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] John Adams2
RC (PCC, No. 168, f. 229–231); docketed: “Certificate letter from their Excellencies B. Franklin & J. Adams Esqrs. dated Passy Feby. 10th. 1779. No. 5.”
1. For Jones' earlier complaint of false reports about his replacement by Thomas Simpson as captain of the Ranger, see his letter to the Commissioners of 15 Aug. (vol. 6:372–373). This letter, intended to put to rest those damaging reports that had persisted during the fall and winter as Jones awaited a new command, may have received its immediate impetus from Sartine's appointment of Jones to command the Duc de Duras, i.e. Bonhomme Richard, on 4 Feb. (PCC, No. 168, f. 279–281).
2. For the absence of Arthur Lee's signature, see his letter to Benjamin Franklin and JA, 10 Feb. (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0259

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Schweighauser, John Daniel
Date: 1779-02-10

Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to J. D. Schweighauser

[salute] Sir

Capt. Jones has represented to us his Desire and Intention of returning to the Countess of Selkirk, some Plate which his People took from her house.1
We apprehend that Congress would not disapprove of this Measure, as far as it should depend upon them; and We therefore consent on the Part of the United States that this Plate should be return'd. This Consent is to be understood to extend no farther than to the share to which the U.S. may be suppos'd to have a Claim. The Claim of the Officers and Men, Cap. Jones must be responsible to them for. This Plate in the whole is represented to be worth about 100 Guineas.2
LbC in the hand of William Temple Franklin (Adams Papers).
1. The Selkirk plate had been taken on 23 April 1778, when Jones raided St. Mary's Isle on the coast of Scotland during the Ranger's expedition in the Irish Sea. For an account of the raid, see Jones to the Commissioners, 27 May 1778, and note 1 (vol. 6:159–167). Jones' offer to return the silver, made in a letter to the Countess of Selkirk, dated 8 May 1778, was rejected by the Earl of Selkirk in a letter of 9 June to Jones, which he never received (Morison, John Paul Jones, p. 148–150, 151–154). When Benjamin Franklin learned of the contents of the Earl's letter, he informed Jones, in a letter of 24 Feb., that the booty would not be accepted if it came from his hands (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:61). The affair ended when, after the war and at considerable expense to himself, Jones successfully returned the plate (Morison, John Paul Jones, p. 154–155).
2. At the bottom of his letterbook copy of this letter, Arthur Lee wrote: “not signd by A. Lee” (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 152).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0260

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-10

Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Gentlemen

I perceive by the letter you have sent me that Mr. Deane's claim is ascertaind by marks, and therefore have signd the letter.1 But I think enquiry shoud be made after those goods which were bought with the public Money in Holland, and which those now given up were supposd to be.
I am unwilling to sign the Letter to Capn. Jones, because it does not contain the whole of the facts on that Subject, and gives an opinion which in my humble judgment belongs to Congress only to give after an examination into the whole of that officers conduct.2
I have proposd to Capn. Jones that we shoud certify upon His commission, that it is still in force and he remains in the american Service.3 This as I conceive will relieve us from what may be hereafter embarrassing the entering into a question which will probably come before a proper Court of enquiry; and at the same time will silence those who report he is dismissd from the american Service.
I have to complain to you, that I have receivd a very indecent Letter from Dr. Bancroft telling me of my having made “By letter a direct and personal opposition to his appointment”—and demanding to have a Copy of my letter to you, “that he may judge whether my particular opposition to him arises from a regard for the public Good, or from personal Enmity.” That <the> A communication of the dissent of any particular Commissioner to the person affected by it, cannot but have the effect of exposing that Commissioner to the abuse and malevolence of that Individual, you must be sensible; and that such communications must put an end to all confidence among the Commissioners, and make it impossible to carry on the business of the public.4
I have the honor to be Gentlemen your Mo. obt. Hble. Sert.
[signed] Arthur Lee
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble. B. Franklin & John Adams Esqr. Ministers plenipotentiary at Passi.”
1. Lee is referring to Williams' letter of 23 Jan., which mentioned the numbers on the packages belonging to Simeon Deane, and apparently to the reply of the Commissioners to that letter of 9 Feb. (both above). The decision to print the reply as being from the Commissioners is based on Lee's statement here that he “signd the letter,” and on Jonathan Williams' reply, directed to the Commissioners, of 20 Feb. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers). At the foot of Lee's letterbook copy of the response, however, is the note: “not sign'd by A L.” (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 151–152). Since the recipient's copy of the letter has not been found, it is impossible to determine whether Lee did sign the letter.
2. That is, Benjamin Franklin and JA to Jones, 10 Feb. (above). At the bottom of his letterbook copy of that letter Lee { 401 } wrote “not signd by A Lee” and added: “See Jones's letter contradicting this dated Augt. 18. 1778” (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 152–153). This note referred to the second and third paragraphs of the letter to Jones of 10 Feb. Jones' letter may be that directed to Abraham Whipple, which is also in the letterbook, where Jones called for a court-martial for Thomas Simpson with whose conduct “I have been and am unsatisfied and who is now under suspicion of Disobedience of my written order” (same, f. 50). Lee may have believed that in their letter of the 10th Franklin and JA were giving official approval of what he saw as Jones' hypocrisy.
3. An interesting sidelight to this affair is Jones' statement in his journal of 1782 that Lee “was willing to sign but I did not wish him to, for reasons which I explained to Dr. Franklin, and which the Doctor communicated to Mr. Adams; the said reasons being obviously quite satisfactory to both those most eminent gentlemen” (quoted in Augustus C. Buell, Paul Jones: Founder of the American Navy, 2 vols., N.Y., 1902, 1:140). Considering Lee's statements in both the present letter and in his note to his copy of the Franklin-JA letter of 10 Feb., Jones' recollection seems questionable.
4. Lee's quotations from Bancroft's letter of 9 Feb. are almost exact (MH-H: Lee Papers). Lee assumed that Bancroft received his information from one of Lee's colleagues, probably Franklin; but, in a letter of 13 Feb., Bancroft informed Lee that “the information which produced my Letter to you, was given to me by your honorable Colleagues, and first by Mr. Adams” (CtY: Franklin Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0261

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1779-02-11

To the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

As Your Excellency reads English perfectly well, my first Request is, that you would do me the Favour to read this, without a Translation after which I Submit it to your Excellency to make what Use of it, you shall think proper.
I have hitherto avoided, in my Single Capacity, giving your Excellency, any trouble, by Letter, or Conversation: but the present Emergency demands that I should ask the favour to explain my Sentiments, either by Letter, or in Person. If you will permit a personal Interview, I am persuaded, I can make myself understood: if you prefer a Correspondence, I will lay open my Heart in Writing, before your Excellency.
It is the Address to the People, in America, under the Name of Mr. Silas Deane, that has occasioned, this Boldness, in me.1 It is to me, the most unexpected, and unforeseen Event that has happened. I hope, your Excellency, will not conclude from thence, that I despair of the Commonwealth. Far otherwise. I know that the Body of the People, in the united States stand immoveable against Great Britain: and I hope that this Address of Mr. Deane, (altho it will occasion much Trouble to Individuals) will produce no final Detriment to the common Cause: but on the contrary, that it will occasion, so thorough an Investigation of Several Things, as will correct many Abuses.
{ 402 }
It is my indispensible Duty, upon this Occasion to inform your Excellency, without consulting either of my Colleagues,2 that the Honourable Arthur Lee was as long ago as 1770, appointed by the House of Representatives of the Massachusetts Bay, of which I had then the Honour to be a Member, their Agent at the Court of London, in Case of the Death or Absence of Dr. Franklin. This honourable Testimony, was given to Mr. Lee, by an Assembly, in which he had no natural Interest, on Account of his inflexible Attachment to the American Cause, and the Abilities of which he had given many Proofs in its Defence. From that Time, to the Year 1774, he held a constant Correspondence, with several of those Gentlemen, who stood foremost in the Massachusetts Bay, against the Innovations, and illegal Encroachments of Great Britain. This Correspondence I had an opportunity of Seeing, and I assure, your Excellency, from my own Knowledge, that it breathed, the most inflexible Attachment, and the most ardent zeal in the Cause of his Country. From September 1774 to November 1777, I had the Honour to be in Congress and the opportunity to See his Letters to Congress, to their Committees, and to Several of their Individual Members.
That through the whole of both these Periods, he communicated, the most constant, and certain Intelligence, which was received from any Individual within my Knowledge. And since I have had the Honour to be joined with him here, I have ever found in him the same Fidelity and Zeal, and have not a Glimmering of Suspicion, that he ever maintained an improper Correspondence in England or held any Conference or Negociation with any body from thence, without communicating it to your Excellency and to his Colleagues. I am confident therefore, that every Insinuation and Suspicion against him, of Infidelity to the united States or to their Engagements with his Majesty is false and groundless,3 and that they will assuredly be proved to be so <, to the Utter Shame and Confusion of all those, who have rashly published them to the World, and particularly of Mr. Deane>.4
The two Honourable Brothers of Mr. Lee, who are Members of Congress,5 I have long and intimately known. And of my own Knowledge I can say, that no Men have discovered more Zeal, in Support of the Sovereignty of the united States, and in promoting, from the Beginning a Friendship and Alliance with France. And there is nothing of which I am more firmly perswaded, than that every Insinuation that is thrown out6 to the Disadvantage, of the two M. Lees, in Congress, is groundless.
{ 403 }
It would be too tedious, to enter, at present, into a more particular Consideration of that Address, I shall therefore conclude this Letter, already too long, by assuring your Excellency, that I am with the most entire Consideration, your most obedient and most humble Servant7
[signed] John Adams
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7); docketed: “rece. le 13 fev. M. Adams Se plaint de l'apel au Peuple publié par M. Silas Deanne.” Dftprinted: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:347–350. The draft is approximately one-third longer than either the recipient's copy or the Letterbook copy (see below) because JA made numerous deletions in the drafting process. It should be compared with the RC as printed here. The recipient's copy and the Letterbook copy contain some text that does not appear in the draft. LbC (Adams Papers); notations: “Sent by a Comis, early in the Morning of the 12. Feb. 1779” and “The next Day after the above Letter was written, and within a few Hours after it was Sent, Dr Winship arrived and not long after him the Aid du Camp of the Marquiss De la Fayette, with Letters, and with Dispatches from Congress, a Letter among the rest to Me, from Messrs. Lee and Lovell of the Committee of foreign affairs [28 Oct. 1778 (above)] acquainting me, with the new Commission to Dr. Franklin, <and>.” Compare this passage with the second paragraph of JA's Diary entry for 12 Feb. (Diary and Autobiography, 2:353).
1. The recipient's copy is more reasoned and focused than the draft, but from both it is clear that JA's chief motive for writing was concern over the implications for the conduct of American foreign policy raised by Silas Deane's address “To the Free and Virtuous Citizens of America” (Pennsylvania Packet, 5 Dec. 1778). In his Diary entry of 8 Feb., JA called it “one of the most wicked and abominable Productions that ever sprung from an human Heart” and described Silas Deane as “a wild boar, that ought to be hunted down for the Benefit of Mankind,” the only alternatives being “the Ruin of Mr. Deane, or the Ruin of his Country” (Diary and Autobiography, 2:345). The depth of JA's anger owed to his belief that such an appeal by a private person over the head of the congress, combined with that body's refusal to censure its author, appeared “like a Dissolution of the Constitution,” well calculated to create in the European mind a perception of the American government as being weak and untrustworthy (same, 2:353). More specifically, the address dramatically called into question the fundamental support of the congress, or significant elements within it, for the French alliance and the war effort as well as its competence to appoint its own representatives.
Although he never showed this letter to him, JA writes in his Diary that he explained to Franklin on 8 Feb. why such an approach to Vergennes seemed to him necessary. It was imperative to know what the chief ministers of the French government thought of Deane's conduct because “if they, and their Representatives in America, were determined to countenance and support by their Influence such Men and Measures in America, it was no matter how soon the Alliance was broke” (same, 2:345). When Deane left France in 1778 he had received testimonials to his conduct from various French officials, including Louis XVI and Vergennes, as well as from Benjamin Franklin, who described him as “an able and faithfull Negotiator” (same, 2:352). JA hoped to convince Vergennes that Franklin had been deceived, but he also wanted to know if the French testimonials indicated support for the views expressed in Deane's address, for then it would indicate, at least in JA's mind, a desire to dictate the foreign policy of another sovereign state.
Had Deane simply criticized congress' foreign policy, it is unlikely that JA's re• { 404 } sponse would have been construed as a defense of Arthur Lee's conduct as a Commissioner. No one with whom JA dealt during his first mission is treated more harshly in his Diary than Arthur Lee. On 9 Feb., JA wrote that Lee, “whom I have allowed to be honest, has such a bitter, such a Sour in him, and so few of the nice feelings, that G[od] knows what will be the Consequence to himself and to others.” He had “Confidence in no body,” believing “all Men selfish—And, no Man honest or sincere. This, I fear, is his Creed, from what I have heard him say. I have often in Conversation disputed with him, on this Point.” Finally, Lee “with his privy Council, are evermore, contriving” and “their Contrivances, render many Measures more difficult” (same, 2:346–347). Arthur Lee's reputation became part of the assault on the address because Deane had cast doubt on Lee's loyalty (and that of his brothers William, Richard Henry, and Francis Lightfoot), and on his legitimacy as an appointed executor of the policies set down by the congress. Such “a Contempt of Congress committed in the City where they set, and the Publication of such Accusations in the Face of the Universe, so false and groundless as the most heinous of them appeared to me, ... made too by a Man who had been in high Trust, against two others, who were still so, ... ought to unite every honest and wise Man against him” (same, 2:345). Clearly JA felt compelled to remove any doubts about the authority of the congress or the credibility of its representatives; in so doing, he defended Arthur Lee the Commissioner, not Arthur Lee the man.
2. In fact, as the Diary entry quoted in note 1 indicates, JA had informed Benjamin Franklin of his intention to approach Vergennes regarding Deane's address. In the draft, however, he stated that he had not shown nor did he intend to show his letter to either of his colleagues because Franklin had allied himself with Deane against Lee. In regard to Franklin, JA held to his plan, but he did provide Lee with a copy on 9 June, eight days before JA sailed from France, in response to Lee's appeal for a testimonial to his loyalty contained in a letter of 5 June (below).
3. At this point the Letterbook copy originally read “are groundless,” but the “are” is canceled and “is false and” is interlined for insertion.
4. This passage, so thoroughly canceled in the recipient's copy that it cannot be read independently of another version, is also heavily canceled in the Letterbook, indicating that JA decided that it was inappropriate after the recipient's copy was completed. The final five words, however, are also deleted in the draft. Moreover, in the draft the words “and particularly of Mr. Deane” are followed by a further canceled passage: “who has been so forsaken by his Discretion as to have published to the World many such Insinuations.”
5. Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee.
6. At this point the paragraph in the draft continues with “of Mr. R. H. Lees holding improper Intercourse with a Dr. Berkenhout, is a cruel and an infamous Calumny.” The entire paragraph is then canceled. Dr. John Berkenout was a British agent who had known Arthur Lee in London and met Richard Henry Lee when he came to America in 1778. JA's assertions, explicit in the draft and more veiled in the recipient's copy, regarding Richard Henry Lee's conduct, are accurate.
7. This paragraph does not appear in the draft.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0262

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Date: 1779-02-12

To Arthur Lee

[salute] Sir

We duly received the Letter which you did us the honor of writing on the 9th. of Feb.1 accompanyed with a Letter from Mr. Pringle, herewith you have the Draught of an Answer to that Gentleman,2 which you are requested, if you approve of it to subscribe and forward. As { 405 } Mr. Lee is best acquainted with the Places, Persons and Officers to which Mr. Pringle must apply—it is requested of Mr. Lee to make a Draught of Instructions, for Mr. Pringle, which Mr. Adams will subscribe, if he approves them, as he doubts not he shall.3
I have the honor to be &ca.
(signed)
[signed] John Adams4
LbC in William Temple Franklin's hand (Adams Papers). This is the last letter to be recorded in Lb/JA/4, which contains letters written by the Commissioners during JA's first mission.
1. Not printed here, but see Pringle's letter of the 9th (above).
2. Lee and JA to Pringle, 12 Feb. (below).
3. No instructions to Pringle have been found, but see the letter to Pringle immediately following.
4. Although this letter was signed only by JA, it is clear that he was speaking also for Benjamin Franklin. Franklin probably was unwilling to sign because of Lee's severe criticism of the original appointment of Edward Bancroft in his letter of 7 Feb. to Franklin and JA (above). That neither JA nor Franklin was pleased by the appointment of Pringle in place of Edward Bancroft can be surmised from both the tone of the letter and the implication that Pringle's instructions would be the work of Arthur Lee, not Franklin or JA.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0263

Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Pringle, John Julius
Date: 1779-02-12

Arthur Lee and John Adams to John Julius Pringle

[salute] Sir

We have received your Letter of Feb. 9. offering your Services to the public by going to England to negotiate an Exchange of Prisoners. We have considered this Subject and judging it necessary to send some Person upon this Business, We have determined to accept of your Proposition, and We desire you to prepare yourself for the Journey, with all convenient Dispatch. Your Instructions shall be prepared immediately.1
We are Sir your humble Servants
[signed] Arthur Lee
signed only
John Adams
LbC in William Temple Franklin's hand (Adams Papers). This letter was enclosed in the preceding letter from JA to Lee and appears before that letter in JA's Letterbook.
1. This letter may be considered the last official act by Arthur Lee and JA as members of the joint commission to the French court. Benjamin Franklin's official notification of his appointment as minister plenipotentiary arrived on 12 Feb., presumably after this letter had been drafted and sent (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:353). Franklin did not go forward with Pringle's appointment, reverting instead to his plan to name Edward Bancroft as agent. But Bancroft apparently did not go to England either. According to David Hartley, to whom Franklin had written concerning a safe conduct for Bancroft, the British ministry saw no need for an American agent in England to expedite the exchange, In any event, the first shipload of American prisoners reached France on 1 April (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., { 406 } 2:35; Catherine Prelinger, “Benjamin Franklin and the American Prisoners of War in England during the American Revolution,” WMQ, 3d ser., 32:275–276 [April 1975]).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0264

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-13

To the Committee for Foreign Affairs

[salute] Gentlemen

I had Yesterday, the Honour of your Favour of the 28 Octr. inclosing a Resolution of Congress of the 22 of the same Month, to which I Shall give all the Attention in my Power.2 I have great Satisfaction in the Reflection, that I have hitherto endeavoured3 with much Sincerity, to conform to the Spirit of it.
What you recommend to me, viz. to communicate to the Ministers of other Courts, Such Intelligence as I may receive, will not in future be so much in my Power.4 But as far as I can while I Stay in Europe, I Shall endeavour to comply. Indeed it is a long Time that we have had no Intelligence to communicate. Three Vessells we know have been taken, each of which had many Letters, and two of them public Dispatches. One that Sailed from Philadelphia 4 Nov. another 24. and one from Boston the 20. And We fear that many others are lost. The Dispatches in all these were Sunk, and the Letters too.
It would be agreable to me, indeed, if I were able to throw any Light on the Subject of Finances: As to a Loan in Europe all has been done which was in our Power to do but without the desired Effect. (Economy and Taxation, comprehend all the Resources, I can think of.
We expect the Honour of a Visit from the Marquiss de la Fayette this Morning,5 whom We Shall receive with Gratitude, for his gallant and glorious Exertions, in one of the best Causes in which an Hero ever fought.
Accept of my Thanks for your kind Wishes for my Happiness,6 and believe me to be your affectionate Friend
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 37–40; docketed: “Letter from J Adams Passy Feby 13. 1779 Read Aug 20.”) LbC (Adams Papers).
1. This letter, and those of the same date to Richard Henry Lee and James Lovell (both below), are the first by JA following the arrival on 12 Feb. of the official notification of the congress' decision to dissolve the Joint Commission.
2. For the resolution of 22 Oct. 1778, calling for harmony among American diplomats in Europe, see the Committee's letter of 28 Oct., and note 1 (above).
3. In the Letterbook the remainder of this sentence reads “with <great> much Sincerity <and Anxiety> to conform to this Spirit of <this Resolution> it.”
4. In the Letterbook this sentence continues “<as I am now out of Employment.>
5. There is a canceled closing at this point in the Letterbook where JA intended to end the letter. The comments on Lafayette, which are interlined, were { 407 } an afterthought.
6. From this point in the Letterbook the closing reads “and believe me to be, <with great Sincerity,> your affectionate Friend.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0265

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, Richard Henry
Date: 1779-02-13

To Richard Henry Lee

[salute] My dear Sir

I am much obliged to you for your kind Congratulations on my Arrival, and agreable Accommodation at Paris. I assure you, Sir, I have no Objection to the “Splendid Gayety of a magnificent Court,”1 in a Country, where2 Manners, Habits and the Constitution of the <Country> Government make it necessary, which I hope however, will never be the Case in America.
He must be of a Strange Disposition, indeed, who cannot be happy at Paris, where he may have his Choice, of all the Pleasures, Amusements and Studies,3 which human Life affords.
You hint that I may be Soon desired to visit Holland, and that you imagine this would be more agreable to me. In this you are mistaken. Either would be agreable to me, if I were able to do any good in it: but there are others, who are able to do more. I hope, and I fancy I shall not be desired to make this Visit, because I think it is time for me to go home, if I can get there. The Character I sustain, at present, that of a private Citizen, best becomes me, and is most agreable to me.
Congress have done wisely, in my poor Opinion, in confiding, their political affairs, at this Court to one.4 But then I think it will be necessary to appoint Consuls or other Persons to manage maritime and commercial Affaires which I presume, they mean to do. The Care of these Things is inconsistent with your Ministers Character, and the Burthen of them is too weighty for his Forces.
I feel myself honoured, by your Assurance, that my sentiments in my Letter to our Friend are conformable to yours, and that they prevail.5 And in the Sincerity of my Heart I assure you, that no Intelligence I ever heard relieved my Mind from a greater Burthen, than that which informed me I was a private Citizen.6
Keppell is acquitted,7 amidst the greatest Rejoicings, ever known. The Mob have at last become violent and pulled to Pieces Sandwichs and Palisser's Houses. Edinborough also is in Tumults about the Roman Catholics. In short the English Government seems to be in a fair Way, instead of burning your Houses and massacring your Children to be obliged to call home her Troops to save their own from the Mob.
{ 408 }
What shall I say to you, my Friend concerning a certain vicious and illiberal Address to the virtuous and free? Is it possible it should have made an Impression? Is that vain Man capable of thinking himself a Match for his Antagonist? And of weighing his Parts, his Learning, his services in the scale against the other? What Bounds can be set to the Presumption of the human Heart? But I must hasten to subscribe myself your Friend & servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (Mrs. Stephen Keiley, Massachusetts, 1976). LbC (Adams Papers).
1. Closing quotation marks have been supplied. The quotation is from Lee's letter of 29 Oct. 1778 (above).
2. In the Letterbook this word is followed by <Time.>
3. In the Letterbook this sentence originally ended <that can render human Life agreable>.
4. In the Letterbook this word is followed by <Gentleman.>
5. In the Letterbook this paragraph reads, to this point, as follows: <“It may be imagined by some that I must be in an awkward situation, and that I may be thought to be disgraced. They are mistaken. I feel no Disgrace, on the contrary I must be destitute of the sentiment of Glory, if I did not feel myself> honoured, when you tell me that my sentiments, in my Letter to <Mr. Adams,> our Friend are perfectly conformable to your own, and when our common Friend Mr. Lovell tells me that my Ideas, of distributing the Gentlemen abroad, were the prevalent Ideas at Philadelphia, and will be carried into Effect.” JA is referring to his letter of 21 May to Samuel Adams (vol. 6:144–145, calendar entry; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:106–108) and that from James Lovell of 24 Oct. 1778 (above).
6. The paragraph reflects JA's public pronouncements on being superseded as a Commissioner. While he may have been relieved at his release from the burdens of the office, he expressed the unhappiness he felt at his situation two weeks later in a letter to AA: “The Scaffold is cutt away, and I am left kicking and sprawling in the Mire, I think. It is hardly a state of Disgrace that I am in but rather of total Neglect and Contempt” (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:181).
7. The reference here to Keppel's acquittal and later to the Edinburgh riots indicate that this and the following paragraph were composed sometime after the rest of the letter, probably around 20 Feb. (see the last paragraph of JA to Samuel Adams, 14 Feb., below). This is indicated by a canceled closing before the paragraphs in the Letterbook and, more significantly, by the fact that JA could hardly have known of Keppel's acquittal and its accompanying disorders or of the Edinburgh riots as early as the 13th. The court-martial did not end until 11 Feb., and the riots in Edinburgh against repealing the penal laws against Catholics, which began on 2 Feb., were not reported in the London papers until about 9 Feb. (JA to Francis Dana, 25 Dec. 1778, and note 4, above; London Chronicle, 6–9, 11–13 Feb.).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0266

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1779-02-13

To James Lovell

[salute] My dear Sir

Yours of the 24 Oct. is before me. I have received several Letters from you <every one of> which I have answered, and written you many more. But so many Vessells have been taken, that I fear many have miscarried.
{ 409 }
We have been totally in the dark about every Thing at Philadelphia, for a very long Space of Time, yet private Persons learnt all—untill <the Address of Mr. Deane to the People,> a certain Address appeared in the English News papers and in the Courier de L'Europe.2 You must imagine, for I cant describe the Situation that this threw Us into. But on the Arrival of the Dispatches by the Alliance, We have much Relief, and I hope the sensation, will wear off, without any lasting ill Consequence. But for three or four days, I confess, I felt more fears for the Public than I ever felt before.3
As to Finances, I am quite unequal, at this Distance to form any Opinion. Dr. Price most politely declines, on Account of Age, and Connections.4 As to loaning so much as you mention, I cant see the End of it—it is too vast an Object for me. Cannot much be done in the Way of Œconomy, to lessen Expences. Cannot Taxes be raised to help along? You say I am against Debts abroad. You heard my sentiments in Congress upon that Head, but I assure you, I have not presumed, to Act in Conformity to those sentiments in opposition to those of Congress, I have done all in my Power, to accomplish their Views. But the state of our Currency it appears to me, and what they hear in Europe from all Parts of America of the Course of Exchange, discourages and will discourage. They cant see through our System, and altho very well disposed towards Us, are afraid to risque their Interest. I am now accountable only to myself for my opinions, being a private Citizen, and therefore I tell you plainly you must recommend Depreciation and Appreciation Laws, or our Currency will be good for nothing. And you must tax to the quick.5
The States of Europe, seemed, not long since to be universally friendly to Us, and England without the Hope of an Ally. I hope no late Intelligence, has altered or will alter this Disposition. The English are so artful in framing and industrious in propagating Suspicions, that It may be necessary to say to you, that I am fully perswaded, of the firmness of this Court, in our Support. Their Preparations by sea, are very great, and already in my opinion considering the state of ships and Number of Seamen Superiour to the English altho the Number of Ships is not so great.6 We expect News from the C. D'Estaing, every Hour. I am with great Affection your Friend
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “sent.”
1. No extant letters by James Lovell mention receiving a letter of 13 Feb. He does indicate in his letter to JA of 20 Aug. (below), however, that he had received one of 19 Feb., for which no Letterbook or recipient's copy has been found. JA may not have copied this letter from his Letterbook until 19 Feb., not an { 410 } unusual practice, but it is quite possible that the letter was never received. See Lovell's letter of 20 Aug., and note 1, and that from Elbridge Gerry of 24 Aug., and note 1 (below).
2. See John Boylston to JA, 6 Feb., note 1 (above).
3. See JA's Diary entries for 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13 Feb. (Diary and Autobiography, 2:345–347, 352–354).
4. See Price to the Commissioners, 18 Jan. (above).
5. This sentence was interlined, as was at least a portion of the one immediately preceding it. It is impossible to determine precisely how much of that sentence was an addition to the original text.
6. The preceding nine words were interlined.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0267-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-13

From the Comte de Vergennes, with a Contemporary Translation

J'ai recû Monsieur, la lettre que vous m'avés fait l'honneur de m'Ecrire Le 11. de Ce mois, et Conformement a vos desirs je n'ai point appellé le Secours d'un traducteur pour prendre Connoissance de Son Contenû. Je ne suis pas moins peiné que vous Monsieur, de l'appel au peuple d'amerique que M. Silas Deane a Publié. Il ne m'apartient pas de qualifiér Cette demarche; C'est a vos souvrains respectifs d'en jugér et de prononcér Sur les differens qui peuvent S'Etre Elevés entre Mrs. Leurs Commissaires. La façon dont on vous a traités ici ensemble et Séparément, a dû vous Convaincre que Si nous avons pû Etre instruits de vos Contestations nous n'y Sommes entrés pour rien, et L'Estime personnelle que nous avons cherché a faire remarquér a chacun de Mrs. Les Commissaires fait preuve que nous n'avons point adopté les preventions qu'on Semble vouloir inspirér a l'amerique et dont Le fondement nous est inconnû ici; quoi que Cette desagreable discussion nous Soit Etrangere et que nous devions a tout Egard nous l'abstenir d'y entrér, je n'en Serai pas moins charmé de Vous voir Monsieur; Le jour qui vous Conviendra Sera le mien, je vous prie Seulement de me prevenir a l'avance de Celui que vous aurés choisi.
J ai l'honneur d'Etre avec une Veritable Consideration Monsieur, Votre tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur,
[signed] De Vergennes

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0267-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-13

The Comte de Vergennes to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

I have received the letter which you did me the honor of writing to me the 11th. instant and agreable to your desire I have not submitted its contents to the inspection of a Translator. I am no less hurt than yourself Sir at the Appeal which Mr. Silas Deane has made to the people of America. It does not belong to me to qualify this step. Your re• { 411 } spective sovereigns must judge of the measure and decide the differences which have arisen between their Commissioners. The manner in which you have been treated here conjointly and separately, must have convinced you that if we even had been informed of your disputes we should have paid no regard to them, and the personal esteem which we have endeavoured to show each of the Commissioners is a proof that we have not adopted the prejudices with which they have endeavoured to inspire America the foundation of which is unknown to us; altho' this disagreable discusion is strange to us, and it becomes us by all means to refrain from taking part therein, I shall nevertheless be delighted to see you sir, whatever day you fix will be agreable to me, I only request you to acquaint me beforehand with the time you shall choose. I have the honor to be with true regard Sir Yr. mo. he. & mo. ob Servt.
[signed] (signed) De Vergennes
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “M. Le Comte De Vergennes ans. Feb. 16. 1779.” LbC (Adams Papers); notation at the head of the letter: “about Six o Clock, in the Evening of the 15 of February being Monday I received, in my Chamber, the following Letter, in these Words, viz”; and at the foot: “This Letter was inclosed in a Cover, inscribed with these Words. A Monsieur, Monsieur, Adams l'un des Deputes des Congres de l'Amerique Septentrionale. a Passy. De Vergennes.” Copy in JA's hand with contemporary translation by John Pintard (PCC, No. 83, II, f. 310–312). The copy was sent to Arthur Lee with JA's letter of 13 June (below). Lee then obtained the translation and enclosed it and JA's copy in his letter to the president of the congress of 17 Oct. 1780, which was read on 19 Oct. (PCC, No. 83, II, f. 302–303; JCC, 18:951). At the bottom of the copy, JA entered the same notation that appears at the foot of the LbC.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0268

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Date: 1779-02-14

To Samuel Adams

[salute] My dear Sir

The Marquiss de la Fayette did me, the Honour of a Visit, Yesterday, and delivered me, your Favour of the 25. of October. I am not sorry, as Things have been ordered, that mine of May 241 did not reach you till 24 Octr. because as the new Arrangement was previously made, it cannot be said that I had any Hand in accomplishing it. Yet I am glad the Letter has arrived because it will shew that the new system is quite agreable to me, i.e. the appointment of a single Minister here. Believe me Sir, it was become very necessary. How Congress will dispose of me, I dont know. If it is intended that I shall return, this will be very agreable to me: and I think this the most probable opinion, because Congress resolved soon after the 5 of december, to begin and go through, foreign affairs.2 The Alliance sailed the 14 Jan. and there is { 412 } no Resolution arrived here respecting me. I think therefore it is my duty to return, and that is my present determination, but whether I shall go to Amsterdam and thence to St. Eustatia, or to Spain and thence, home, or in a French Man of War to Martinico or any other Way I know not. I have not decided.
Some Hint that I am to go to Holland—others to Spain—the last implies the Removal of Mr. Lee, which would give me much Paine. I think him an able and faithfull Man. Yet what the Determination, may be upon the Complaint, if it is decided before he answers I know not.3 This is a subject that I cannot write nor talk about. I would not have such another Sensation to be made a Prince. I confess I expected the most dismal Consequences, from it, because I thought it would render Business and Confidence between Us three, wholly impracticable. That it would destroy all Confidence between this Court and Us—that it would sta[r]tle Spain4—and allienate many in Holland. That it would encourage Ministry in England and disconcert opposition so much that they would even be able to make another vigorous Campaign, besides all the Evils it would produce among you.
But the arrival of Dr. F's Commission has relieved me from many of these Fears. This Court has Confidence in him alone: but I think they were cautious even of him when he had two Colleagues, to whom he was obliged to communicate every Thing, one of whom was upon as ill terms with him as with Mr. Deane. I have had a Kind of a Task here as my dear Brother Lovel expresses himself.5 Determined to be the Partisan of neither; yet the Friend of both as far as the service would Admit, I am fully perswaded that leaving the Dr. here alone, in a political Capacity only, is right and that Mr. Lee is an honest and faithfull Man.
You say that France should be our Pole Star in Case War should take Place. I was I confess, surprized at this Expression. Was not War sufficiently declared in the King of Englands Speech, and in the answers of both Houses, and in the Recall of Ambassadors, and in actual Hostilities in most Parts of the World?
I think there never will be any other Declaration of War—Yet there is in fact as compleat a War as ever existed, and it will continue, for you may depend upon it, the King of France is immoveably fixed in our support, and so are his Ministers. Every suspicion of a wavering Disposition in this Court, concerning the support of our Independance is groundless—is ridiculous—is impossible. You may remember that several Years ago, several Gentlemen were obliged to reason in order to shew that American Independance was the Interest of France.6 Since { 413 } my Arrival here, I never yet found one Man, nor heard of more than one who doubted it. If the Voice of Popularity is any Thing, I assure you that this Voice was never so unanimous in America, in favour of our Independance as it is here. It is so much so that if the Court were to depart from its present system in this Respect, it is my clear opinion it would make this Nation very unhappy, and the Court too. But I repeat that the Court is as fixed as the Nation, and this Union in sentiment arises out of such Principles in Nature, as without a Miracle, cannot alter. Common sense in America supported Independance, Common sense in France supports the Alliance and will support it to the last—nay the Common sense of Europe supports the Common sense of France. By the Way my Love to Mr. P. and tell him, I cant agree with him perfectly in his Ideas about natural Ennemies.7 It is because England is the natural Ennemy of France, that America in her present situation is her natural Friend—at least this is one Cause altho there are many others, some of them more glorious for human Nature.
France Scarcely ever made a War before that was popular in Europe. Now there is not a state that I can hear of, but applauds her, and wishes her success. And in Point of Finance—and naval strength—in skill and Bravery of Officers, she seems to be superiour to England. You may be suprized at my saying naval strength. Yet if you consider, the wretched state of the British Navy, as to Masts, Yards, Rigging, and Men you will not wonder altho their Number of Ships may be superiour.
I therefore think that all is safe. We may have further Trouble and Tryals of our Patience. But Trouble is to you and me familiar, and I begin to think it necessary for my Health, for without it I should soon grow so fat as to go off in an Apoplexy.
There is one Thing, in one of my Letters to you exaggerated—the Expences of the Commissioners. I had been here but a short time and wrote according to the best guess I could make, from what I had heard. But I now think I put it too high.8 With much Affection yours
[signed] John Adams
There is not the least appearance of the Embarkation of Troops, for America nor any Intelligence of Transports taken up. The national Discontent is very great, and Tumults, have arisen in Edinborough and in London.9 According to present Appearances, they will have Occasion for so many of their Troops to keep their Populace in fear, as to { 414 } be able to spare few for America. Their Proclamations are all alike from Burgoines to those of the Commissioners.10 The Weaker they are the more they puff.
RC (NN: George Bancroft Collection). LbC (Adams Papers).
1. JA is repeating Samuel Adams' inadvertence in his letter of 25 Oct. The letter referred to is that of 21 May 1778 (vol. 6:144–145, calendar entry; JA, Diary and Autobiography, DJA04Q224:106–108).
2. As it appears in the recipient's copy this sentence is somewhat cryptic because JA made a significant change when he copied it from his Letterbook. In the Letterbook the passage reads, “if it is intended that I shall return, this will be very agreable to me. And I think that this is the most probable opinion, because Mr. Deane's Address, was the 5 december, Congress soon after resolved to enter on foreign affairs and go through them.” Thus JA is referring to the resolution of 7 Dec. by which the congress ordered Silas Deane to report “as soon as may be, his agency of their affairs in Europe” (JCC, 12:1200–1201).
3. The final ten words of this sentence do not appear in the Letterbook. There this sentence reads, “yet what the Determination will be upon the Complaint of Mr. Deane, I cannot say.”
4. In the Letterbook this passage reads, “that it would Startle Spain <from the Thoughts of engaging>.”
5. A reference to James Lovell's letter to JA of 24 Oct. 1778 (above).
6. In the Letterbook this sentence reads, “you may remember that several Years ago, I was obliged or thought myself so more than once to Use my feable Endeavours to shew that American Independance, was the Interest of France.” The words “or thought myself so” were interlined.
7. In the Letterbook the “P.” is expanded to “Paine.” In their “Manifesto” of 3 Oct. 1778 (Evans, No. 15832), the members of the Carlisle Commission called France the natural enemy of both Great Britain and America. In the sixth number of “The American Crisis,” dated 20 Oct., Thomas Paine replied that no such principle existed in nature, and that nations became “friends or enemies as the change of temper, or the cast of interest inclines” (Life and Works of Thomas Paine, ed. William M. Van der Weyde, 10 vols., New Rochelle, N.Y., 1925, 3:57–59). That number of “The American Crisis” had been translated and printed in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amerique, “Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 62, p. ii–xxi.
8. Presumably a reference to his letter of 21 May 1778 (see note 1, above).
9. For these disturbances, see JA to Richard Henry Lee, 13 Feb., and note 7 (above).
10. That is, the proclamations by General Burgoyne on 22 June 1777 and the Carlisle Commission on 3 Oct. 1778. Burgoyne's, in particular, was the object of ridicule and evoked several parodies. Among other things, he had declared in very bombastic rhetoric that “I have but to give stretch to the Indian forces under my direction (and they amount to thousands) to overtake the hardened enemies of Great Britain and America” (F. J. Huddleston, Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne, Indianapolis, 1927, p. 144–152).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0269

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Date: 1779-02-14

To Edmé Jacques Genet

I have the Honour to transmit you, three Letters, received by the Marquiss de la Fayette. I send you the Letters from Mr. Adams and Mr. Lee that you may know their Sentiments. All that is said of <Mr.> me, in both these Letters I hope you will omit. They are only Compliments, and I fancy Mistakes. What is said also, of General Sullivan in { 415 } Mr. Adams's Letter should also be omitted. And what is said in Mr. Lees Letter concerning our Currency, ought to be omitted also. With great Respect,
[signed] John Adams
You will be so good as to return these Letters, when you have made your Use of them.2
RC (Justin G. Turner, Los Angeles, 1958). The top edge of the MS, which probably contained the dateline and salutation, is fire damaged.
1. The date is derived from JA's letter to Samuel Adams of 14 Feb. (above), which mentions the visit by Lafayette to Passy on the previous day.
2. The three letters sent by JA were from Samuel Adams, 25 Oct. 1778; Richard Henry Lee, 29 Oct. 1778; and Samuel Cooper, 4 Jan. 1779 (all above). Genet translated and printed them, with the omissions requested by JA, in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amerique, “Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 65, p. clxxii–clxxix. The letters were returned with an undated note (Adams Papers; now dated [post 14 Feb. 1779], it was filmed under the date of [July 1778?], Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 349). In that note Genet mentioned the constitution of New York, which he had apparently received from JA, and informed him that it had already been printed in Affaires. No letter from JA to Genet enclosing that document has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0270

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Grand, Ferdinand
Date: 1779-02-16

To Ferdinand Grand

[salute] Sir

As I Shall soon have an opportunity of rendering an Account of my Short Stewardship, I must beg the Favour of you, to let Some of your People, make out a list of those Sums of Money, which I have drawn for and received seperately—another of those which Dr. Franklin and I have drawn for jointly—and thirdly an Account of those sums, which all of Us have drawn for together. I dont know indeed but it will be best to draw out the whole Account, from my Arrival the 9th of April, to the Twelfth of February the Day of the Arrival of Dr. Franklins new Commission. It will be no doubt expected by Congress, that I should be provided with Such an Account, and you must be rewarded for the Trouble of making it out. I am, with much Esteem and Respect your Friend & humble servant1
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “not sent.”
1. If JA did not send this letter, it was probably because he met Grand at Passy and made his request orally. Grand's letter of [17? Feb. 1779] (below) makes it clear that JA asked him for the required accounts.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0271

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Date: 1779-02-16

To Gabriel de Sartine

[salute] Sir

By the late Appointment of <Dr. Franklin to be> a Minister plenipotentiary at this Court, I am left at Liberty to return to my own Coun• { 416 } try, as it does not appear that Congress, have any further Service for me to do in Europe. I therefore wish to return, as Soon as possible. But the English have heard So much of me, in Times past that I should be very loth to be exposed to their Goodwill. If it is in your Excellencys Intention therefore to Send any Man of War to any Part of the united States, I would ask the Favour of a Passage for myself, my little son and a servant.1 I have the Honour to be, with the highest Consideration, &c
1. Because he did not know when a French vessel would be dispatched to an American port, Sartine recommended in his reply of 28 Feb. that JA take passage on the continental frigate Alliance, which had carried Lafayette and Benjamin Franklin's new commission to France and was under orders to prepare for an immediate return to the United States (Adams Papers; French text printed in JA, Works, 7:88–89).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0272

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1779-02-16

To the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

Last Evening, I had the Honour of your Letter of the thirteenth of this Month, in answer to mine of the Eleventh.
I thank your Excellency, for the Politeness, with which you have agreed to my Proposition of a Conference upon the Subject of Mr. Deanes Address, to the People of the united States.
At the Time, when my Letter of the Eleventh, was written and Sent to your Excellency, there were three Commissioners here, Representatives of Congress, between whom it appeared to me, Mr. Deanes Address had a tendency to destroy all Confidence, as well as between your Excellency and them, for which Reason I thought it my Duty,1 to endeavour by a Conference with your Excellency, to lessen those Evils as far as should be in my Power.
But, within a few Hours, after my Letter, of the Eleventh was Sent,2 the Arrival of the Aid de Camp, of the Marquiss de la Fayette, with Dispatches from Congress to Dr. Franklin, and from their Committee of foreign Affairs, to me, informing me of the new Arrangement, by which Dr. Franklin, is constituted Minister plenipotentiary, here, and I am restored to the Character of a private Citizen; so wholly changed the Scene, and the Characters here, that I now think I have no right to do, what, if I had continued in the Character of a Commissioner here, I should have thought it my indispensible Duty to do.
This masterly Measure,3 which has my most hearty Approbation, and of the Necessity of which I was fully convinced before I had been { 417 } two Months in Europe has taken away the Possibility of those Dissentions which I so much apprehended.
I Shall not, therefore give your Excellency, any further,4 than to take an early Opportunity of paying my Respects in order to take Leave, and to assure you, that I Shall leave this Kingdom, with the most entire Confidence in his Majestys Benevolence to the united States, and inviolable Adherence to the Treaties,5 between the two Powers; with a Similar Confidence, in the good Disposition of his Majestys Ministers of State, and of this Nation towards Us: and with an Heart impressed with gratitude, for the many Civilities6 which I have received, in the Short Space of Time that I have resided here, at Court, in the City, and in the Country, and particularly, from your Excellency. I have the Honour to be, with the highest Consideration, your Excellencys, most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7); docketed: “M. de Reyneval M. Adams rep. le 21 fev. il fait part de la nomination de M. franklin en qualite de Ministre Plenipotentiaire du Congres.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. The Letterbook has “indispensible” crossed out before “Duty.”
2. JA's letter of the 11th was sent on the morning of the 12th (see JA's letter to Vergennes of 11 Feb., descriptive note, above).
3. In the Letterbook “of Congress” follows “Measure.”
4. In the Letterbook “Trouble” follows “further.”
5. The Letterbook originally read “to the Faith of the Treaties.”
6. After “gratitude” the Letterbook reads “<for that Candour and sincerity, that Politeness and Civility> for the many Civilities.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0273

Author: Williams, Jonathan
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-16

From Jonathan Williams III

[salute] Dear Sir

I arrived at Brest last Wednesday, in twenty five days Passage from Boston,1 and had the Pleasure of spending a day with Mrs. Adams the week before, at Braintree; She was then well and wrote the inclosed for my Care.2
Mrs. Adams had occasion for some solid Coin to answer some particular Purposes and I had it in my Power to afford her ten Guineas, for which She gave me the inclosed Bill;3 I know not what Apology to make for presenting this Draught; but it gives me an Oppertunity of Assuring You, that I feel a particular Gratitude for your Attention to me, and I shall be anxious Sir till I have it in my Power to make you full Compensation for your Patronage.
I have made this Voyage in part for my Health, and to enter into { 418 } some more active Scenes of Life, I have been long confined in America, with Nervous Disorders, attented with Convulsions, but am now much recovered. I think I have received a Signal Advantage from the Voyage.
There is nothing New of public Moment that I can acquaint you with; Mr. Benjamin Andrews lost his Life two or three days before I left Boston, in a very tragical Manner, Mr. Hitchborn cleaning a Pistol by accident, in scraping with his Penknife, some Rust that had contracted near the touch hole communicated a spark of Fire, and shott the Pistol off, the Ball pierced his Temple and he died without a Struggle, in the presence of his Lady.4
I find my Father's Situation is not the better for his Attendance upon the Virtuous Ministry of Great Brittain.5
I inclose you Sir the last Gazette, and have the Honour to be with the utmost Respect Your most Obedient & much obliged Servant
[signed] Jon Williams third
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Jon. Williams 3d.”; by CFA: “Feby. 16. 1779.”
1. Jonathan Williams, JA's former law clerk and cousin of the Jonathan Williams who had served as the commercial agent at Nantes until May 1778, came to France for his health, but died soon after his return to America in 1780 (vol. 2:104; 6:153; JA, Legal Papers, 1:cxiii).
3. See AA's letter of 2 Jan. for an account of the circumstances under which the loan was made and the difficulty of obtaining hard currency. JA paid Williams 240 livres on 15 March (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:339).
4. The accidental death of Boston merchant Benjamin Andrews occurred on 9 Jan. According to the newspaper account, Benjamin Hichborn, after cleaning the pistol, handed it to Andrews who “grasp'd it in such a Manner as brought his Thumb upon the Trigger, (which happened to have no Guard) and it instantly discharged its Contents into his Head near his Temple.” Hichborn married the widow a year later (Boston Gazette, 11 Jan. 1779; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 17:39).
5. This was John Williams, former inspector general of the Customs at Boston. See his letter to JA of 27 June 1778 (vol. 6:235–236).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0274

Author: Grand, Ferdinand
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-17

From Ferdinand Grand

Mr. Grand has the honour of paying his respects to the Honorable Mr. Adams and begs leave to observe to him that the général Account he requires Since his arrival untill Mr. Franklin's new Commission would not agree with all those he has furnishd in that Interval and which being a Series of Accounts united together would be in Contradiction with that required.
It is not possible to dissect in this manner the général Accounts by { 419 } making particular ones without being exposed to several inconveniencies, besides the Accounts that à Merchant furnishes must agrée with thosè thàt may have been already furnishd and his books, which it is not possible to do with the Account Mr. Adams desires, but this difficulty can be raised and Mr. Adams' intentions equally fulfilld by furnishing Copies of the général Accounts and observing to distinguish by Mr. Adams' name those Articles that <the> He has authorised by his Signature from those where he is not mentiond which will form a compleat Account, both General and Particular.2
1. The letter is dated from JA's letter to Grand of 16 Feb. (above), which was a Tuesday.
2. Grand, apologizing for the delay, sent the accounts with his letter of 3 May (below). These accounts have not been found, but see the other accounts printed in vols. 6 and 7.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0275

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1779-02-20

To James Lovell

[salute] My dear Friend

I set down Simply to acknowledge over again the Receipt
1777 Decr I
8
21
1778 Jany. 20.
Ap. 29.
May 15.
16
Sept 25
3 others which accompanied some of the others without dates
Oct. 24
of the Letters from you whose dates are in the Margin.1 These have been answerd, and I have wrote you at other Times. But there is a terrible Waste of Letters in the Sea.
I cannot lay aside my Pen without Saying, that the Accusations before Congress, against the Messrs. Lees and <others> and I know not who besides distress me, beyond Measure. I fear it will perpetuate Altercation, without bringing any great Truths to light for the Benefit of the Public. I have Sighed and mourn'd, and wept, for that Intemperance of Passions, which I very early discovered here, without being able to Soften or to cool it in the least degree. I wish I could draw the Portrait of every Character here, as it appears in my Eyes: But this would be imprudent, and if it should be known would do public Mischief, full enough of which has been done already by Indiscretion.
Our old incidental Agent,2 is an honest Man: faithfull and zealous in our Cause: but there is an Acrimony in his Temper—There is a Jealousy—there is an Obstinacy, and a Want of Candor at times, and an Affectation of Secrecy the Fruit of Jealousy, which renders him disagreable often to his Friends, makes him Ennemies, and gives them infinite Advantages over him.
{ 420 }
That he has had great Provocations here I never doubted, and Since the Appearance of the Address less than ever.
There is another Character here,3 exceedingly respectable in Fortune, Education, Travel, Honour, Integrity, Love of his Country and Zeal in its Cause: But Tacitus would say his Passions are always strong, often violent: and he has not Experience in public Life.
These two Gentlemen, have been very intimate, and have encouraged no doubt each other and often irritated. Another Thing I think that other Gentleman ought not to have been here. He should have been in Italy or in America, or being here, I really think he ought not to have interfered, so much. This is simply my opinion—I may be wrong. That Gentleman thought he was doing his Duty I am clear. But of this I am perswaded that if he had been in Italy Things would never have gone to the Lengths they have.
On the other Hand most of the old Connections of the Dr. and Mr. D.4 were filled with Prejudices against those two Gentlemen—one Party was striving to get the better of the other, to lessen its Reputation and diminish its Authority.
In this Chaos I found Things and have been tossed in it.
On the other Hand, there was a Monopoly of Reputation here, and an Indecency in displaying it, which did great Injustice to the real Merit of others, that I do not wonder was resented. There was an Indolence—there was a Dissipation—which gave just Occasion of Complaint—there was a Complaisance to interested Adventurers. There was an Intimacy, with stock jobbers, there was an Acquaintance with Persons from England, which gave just Occasion of Jealousy, however innocent the intentions were. I have learnd that total silence is enough to procure a Character for Prudence, whatever Indiscretions a Man may commit.
In this state of Things Congress have had the Wisdom and the Fortitude to do the only Thing, which could be done for putting Matters on a better Footing. But this will last a very little while, if Money matters are not seperated from political.
Some other Thing must be done. Some Resolution must be passed forbidding every Man, in the most positive Terms who has any Connection with your Minister here, from having any Connection with English Stocks, Insurances, &c and forbidding all Correspondence with them. There is in England a Practice of making Insurances on political Events, which has interested the whole Alley5 in American Politicks, and has thrown all into Distraction.
I have been wholly without Information of what was passing in { 421 } Congress and indeed in America, especially in Philadelphia. My Friends I know have been engaged in doing the public Business, not in Strengthening the Hands of Individuals or Parties here. But Bushells of Letters, have come to Adventurers here, containing Information more exact in Some things, and not so true in others as they might.
1. The first seven letters listed are printed in vols. 5 and 6. Also printed there are letters of [post 17] and 30 Dec. 1777; 1 and 13 Jan.; 8, 10, and []Feb.; []May; and 8 June 1778. No letter dated 25 Sept. has been found, but that of 24 Oct. is printed above.
2. Arthur Lee.
3. Ralph Izard.
4. Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane.
5. London's stockbrokers or, as JA would put it, stockjobbers, did business in 'Change or more properly Exchange Alley, Cornhill. In 1773 New Jonathan's Coffee-house, the principal meeting place of the brokers in the alley, was renamed “The Stock Exchange” (Wheatley, London Past and Present, 1:348–349; 3:315).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0276

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de
Date: 1779-02-21

To the Marquis de Lafayette

[salute] My dear Marquiss

The Conversation with which you honoured me last Evening,1 has induced me, to give you the Trouble of this Letter upon the same subject.
It is certain that a Loan of Money, is very much wanted, to redeem the Redundancy of our Paper Bills, and without it, it is impossible to foresee what will be the Consequence to their Credit, and therefore every service that may be rendered, in order to obtain it from this Kingdom, from Spain or Holland, will be a most essential and acceptable service.
But without some other Exertions, even a Loan, perhaps would be but a temporary Relief: with them a smaller Loan might suffice.
You know perfectly well, that the Ennemy in America, is at present very weak and in great Distress in every Part. They are weak in Canada—weak in Hallifax—weak in Rhode Island—weak at New York <and> weak in the Floridas, and weak in every one of the West India Islands.
An Strong2 Armament of Ships of the Line, with Five thousand Troops, directed against Hallifax, Rhode Island or New York, must infallibly succeed. So it must against The Floridas. So it must against Canada, or any one of the West India Islands.
You are very sensible that, in this state of Weakness, the British Possessions in America depend upon each other for reciprocal support. The Troops and ships derive such supplies of Provisions, from Canada and Nova Scotia, that if these Places or either of them was lost it { 422 } would be difficult, if not impossible for the others to subsist. The West India Islands derive such supplies from the Floridas, that if they were lost, the others could scarcely subsist. Their Fleets and Armies, in Canada Hallifax, Rhode Island, New York, and the Floridas receive supplies of Rum Sugar, Molasses &c. from the West India Islands without which they could scarcely subsist. Every Part of their Possessions in America, both on the Continent and in the Islands receive constant supplies from, Europe, from England Scotland and Ireland, without which they must fall. You perceive therefore that their Dominions in America at present form such a Chain that the Links mutually support each other, in such a Manner that if one or two were taken away the whole, or at least the greatest Part must fall.
In this state of Things then the obvious Policy is, to send a strong Squadron of Ships of the Line, to co-operate with the Count D'Estaing and the American Army in some Expedition directed against New York Rhode Island or Hallifax or perhaps all of them in Course—five or six Thousand Troops, would be quite enough. Above all it is indispensably necessary to keep a clear superiority of naval Power both on the Coast of the Continent and in the West India Islands. This, together with French and American Privateers, would make such Havock among the Ennemies Transports passing from one of their Possessions to another as must ruin their Affairs.
The French have a great Advantage in carrying on this Kind of War, in America at present. The British ships are badly manned and in bad Repair. They cannot send them into the American seas without the Utmost Terror for their own Coasts—and when they are in America, they have not such Advantages for supplies of Provisions, naval stores and so forth as the French.
The Devastation that was made among their ships of the Line Frigates Transports and Traders in the American seas the last summer, shews how much more might be done, if a stronger Force was sent there.3
As long as the Ennemy keep Possession of New York and Rhode Island so long it will be necessary for Us to keep up large Armies to watch their Motions and defend the Country against them, which will oblige Us to emit more Paper and still farther encrease the Depreciation.
Now as long as they maintain the Dominion of those Seas, their Troops will be protected by the Cannon of their ships, and We could not dislodge them, with any Army however large—<and> at least We could not keep those Places.
But if their Force was captivated in those Places, as it might easily { 423 } be by a sea Force cooperating with the land Forces, We might reduce our Army, and innumerable other Articles of Expence. We need not emit any more Paper, and that already out, would depreciate no further.
I should be happy to have further Conversation with you, sir upon those subjects or to explain any Thing by Letter, which may be in my Power.
With the highest sentiments of Esteem and Respect, I have the Honour to be, sir your most obedient and most humble servant
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “sent—and recd. as the Marquis told me 27 feb.” A copy (NHi), the first twelve lines of which are in JA's hand and the rest in John Thaxter's hand, was later made from the Letterbook copy and enclosed in JA's letter to Elbridge Gerry of 11 Sept. (below). Another copy, entirely in Thaxter's hand, was sent as an enclosure (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 107–110) in JA's letter of 21 Oct. to the president of the congress (below).
1. JA described the conversation with Lafayette in his letter to Elbridge Gerry of 11 Sept. (below). Certainly JA's proposal fit in well with Lafayette's plan for a Franco-American attack on Canada, which he pressed on the French government. Despite Lafayette's efforts, the plan was rejected for financial reasons as well as the doubtful benefit to France of additional American conquests (Louis Gottschalk, Lafayette and the Close of the American Revolution, Chicago, 1942, p. 7–9).
2. “Strong” was interlined for insertion.
3. The following three paragraphs were written below the closing and marked for insertion at this point.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0277-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-21

From the Comte de Vergennes

J'ai reçû, Monsieur, la lettre que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'écrire le 16. de ce mois.1 Quoique vous Soïez désormais Sans caractère public en France, Soïez persuadé que l'estime et la considération que vous vous êtes acquises à juste titre n'ont aucunement diminüé, et je me flatte, Monsieur, que vous ne me priverez point du plaisir de vous en assûrer de bouche, et d'être en même tems l'interprête des Sentimens de bienvéillance dont le Roi vous honore; Ils sont la suite du contentement particulier qu'a Sa Majesté de la sage conduite que vous avez tenüe pendant toute la durée de votre commission, ainsi que du Zèle que vous avez constamment déploié tant pour la cause de votre patrie, que pour le maintien de l'Alliance qui l'attache à Sa Majesté.
J'ai l'honneur d'être très parfaitement, Monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur
[signed] De Vergennes

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0277-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-21

The Comte de Vergennes to John Adams: A Translation

I have received, sir, the letter that you did me the honor to write me the 16th of this month.1 Although in the future you will be without of• { 424 } ficial status in France, rest assured that the esteem and consideration you justly earned has not in any way diminished, and I flatter myself, sir, that you will not deprive me of the pleasure of communicating this to you in person and being, at the same time, the bearer of the feelings of good will with which the King honors you. These are the results of the special satisfaction His Majesty has derived from the wise conduct that you have held to throughout the tenure of your commission, as well as from the zeal with which you have constantly furthered the cause of your nation, while strengthening the alliance that ties it to His Majesty.
I have the honor to be very sincerely, Sir, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] Vergennes
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “M. Le Comte de Vergennes.”
1. From this point, except for the closing sentence, translations of this letter were printed on 27 April 1780 in the London Courant and Westminster Chronicle and Parker's General Advertiser, both organs of the anti-North opposition. They followed a translation of the announcement in the Mercure de France, 5 April 1780, of JA's mission to negotiate the peace and of his presentation at the French court on 7 March 1780. JA sent both items to William Singleton Church [i.e. Thomas Digges] in a letter of 15 April 1780, asking that Digges have them published in the English papers because “it is of Importance, that I should, in my present situation be known to be faithfull to our Allies and Alliances, and in good Understanding with this Court” (LbC, Adams Papers). The two items were later reprinted in vol. 2 of John Almon's Remembrancer for 1780, but there Vergennes' letter was given the date of 21 Feb. 1780. The error is curious, for Almon was also connected with the London Courant and there had printed the letter under its correct date.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0278

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cushing, Thomas
Date: 1779-02-24

To Thomas Cushing

[salute] Dear sir

This Evening I had the Honour of your Letter by Mr. Bradford.1 When that young Gentleman shall arrive, he shall be treated with all the Civility in my Power, and the best Advice that I am able to give him, shall be at his service.
I fancy, sir, they exaggerate the Number of Troops both at N.Y. and R.I. [I] am persuaded there are not four Thousand Men at either.
We have just received News from the W. Indies that Hotham has taken St. Lucie and D'Estaing gone to the Grenades.2
The Publication you mention gave as much Anxiety here as with you. What Reason there could be for printing an Accusation which might have been delivered to the President or secretary, and must have been read, is past the Comprehension of any Body here. And how it is possible that a Constitution3 can exist, when an Individual can hold its highest Authority in so much Contempt, is inconceivable to every Body. You will find every Insinuation against the Fidelity of a certain { 425 } Gentleman here, groundless. It is his Fidelity and Zeal that have made him, some of his Ennemies, perhaps the most of them. And his Character must be vindicated from all false Imputations, or no Man will be safe, in the public service.
Affairs here are in a better situation than they were, because the new Arrangement, has removed the Possibility of those Dissentions, which were and would have continued to be the Consequences of that Publication. But other Regulations must be made, or Things will not remain long in good order.
Great Britain is in a State of Fermentation and Confusion, that disconcerts their Councils and weakens their Efforts, and this will probably increase. Yet the News from the W. In. as well as Mr. Deanes Address will assist them, and you may rely upon it, they will never leave N.Y. nor R.I. till they are compelled. I thank you, sir, for your Letters, all of which I have answered, and wish a Continuance of your Favours, being with great Respect, your Friend and humble servant
[signed] J.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “sent.”
1. That of [ante 14 Jan. 1779] (above).
2. On 10 Dec. a convoy commanded by Como. William Hotham and carrying 5,000 troops under Gen. James Grant arrived at Barbados, thereby strengthening the forces under the command of Adm. Samuel Barrington and permitting him to attack St. Lucia, which he did successfully on 13 Dec. On the following day Estaing appeared with 7,000 troops and a much superior naval force. Superior tactics, however, enabled Barrington to withstand Estaing's effort to destroy his fleet and retake the island. Estaing then retired to Martinique, leaving St. Lucia in British hands, where it remained for the duration of the war, providing an important outpost only thirty miles from Martinique. Not until July did a force under Estaing capture Grenada (Mackesy, War for America, p. 229–232; Mahan, Navies in the War of Amer. Independence, p. 100–105).
3. By “Constitution” JA means the government established by a constitution, in this case the Articles of Confederation, and by “its highest Authority,” the Continental Congress. JA refers to Deane's address in the same sense as “a Dissolution of the Constitution” in his Diary entry for 12 Feb. (Diary and Autobiography, 2:353). For an examination of the concerns regarding the address expressed in this letter, see JA to Vergennes, 11 Feb., note 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0279-0001

Author: Chaumont, Jacques Donatien, Leray de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-25

From Leray de Chaumont

[salute] Monsieur

D'après Le desir que vous avez temoigné hier devant moy de Retourner a L'amerique et Les inconvenients d'estre pris en Chemin et Conduit Chez vos ennemis J'ay Jugé que Le Sejour de Passi ne vous plairoit peutestre pas, et si vous aimiez mieux habiter unne franche Campagne. J'ay dans le Blesois1 unne terre meublée que Je n'habite pas, Je vous offre avec plaisir de vous en Laisser le Maistre tant que la { 426 } guerre durera.2 Vous y trouverez touttes Les Choses Necessaires a la vie et mesme a meilleur Compte quicy. Je vous prie, Monsieur, de Regarder cet offre de ma part Comme un homage que je Rends a vos vertus.
J'ay L'honneur d'estre tres parfaittement Monsieur vostre tres humble et tres obeissant serv
[signed] Leray de Chaumont

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0279-0002

Author: Chaumont, Jacques Donatien, Leray de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-25

Jacques Donatien Leray Chaumont de to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

In regard to your desire, expressed to me yesterday, of returning to America and the dangers of being captured and made prisoner by your enemies, I have been thinking that your continuance at Passy might not suit you, and that you might prefer to live inexpensively in the country. I have in the Blesois1 a property that I do not occupy and I offer, with pleasure, to leave you the master of it as long as the war lasts.2 You will find there all the necessities of life even cheaper than here. I ask you, sir, to regard my offer as a testimony that I render to your virtues.
I have the honor to be very perfectly, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] Leray de Chaumont
1. The Blésois or Blaisois was an old county, about one hundred miles south-southwest of Paris, midway between Orleans and Tours. (Larousse, Grand dictionnaire universel).
2. In the course of reading this sentence JA underlined and copied into the left margin the words “Blesois,” “une terre,” and “guerre.” He probably did so because the words were particularly difficult to read and he wished to produce a correct copy in his Letterbook. There “unne terre” appears as he copied it in the margin rather than as it is in the recipient's copy.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0280

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Chaumont, Jacques Donatien, Leray de
Date: 1779-02-25

To Leray de Chaumont

[salute] Sir

I have this Moment the Honour of your kind Billet of this Days Date, and I feel myself under great Obligations for the genteel and generous offer of your House, at Blesois: But, if I do not put Dr. Franklin to Inconvenience, which I shall not do long, my Residence at Passy is very agreeable to me.
To a Mind as much Addicted to Retirement, as mine, the Situation you propose would be delicious indeed, provided my Country were at Peace and my Family with me: but, Seperated from my Family, and with an Heart bleeding with the Wounds of its Country, I should be the most miserable Being on Earth, in Retreat and Idleness. To America therefore, in all Events and at all Hazards, I must attempt to go, { 427 } provided I do not receive Counter orders, which I can execute with Honour, and with Some Prospect of Advantage to the public service.
I thank you, sir, and your Agreable Family, for all your Civilities Since my Arrival, at Passy, and I have the Honour to be, with great Respect, your most obedient and most humble servant.
[signed] John Adams1
LbC (Adams Papers). MS, French translation by N. M. Gellee (Adams Papers). The translation generally follows the text of the Letterbook copy and may have formed the basis for the letter as sent to Chaumont. The only major difference between the two documents is that the translation omits the final sentence of the second paragraph. For Gellee, see his letter of 15 March to JA (below).
1. In his reply of 3 March (Adams Papers), Chaumont expressed his regret at JA's departure because of his hope that by delaying he might have been able to serve the American cause in other European courts. On his own initiative, he advised JA to be sure to take formal leave from the French ministers, especially Vergennes.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0281

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1779-02-25

To James Warren

[salute] Dear sir

Yours of the I. Jany. was delivered me, by the Marquis de la Fayette. I wish I was as happy as you, in not being obliged to copy my Letters. Sense or Nonsense frivolous or weighty, I must copy every line I write, for I know not what Accusations may be brought against me, grounded on my Letters if I do not. My Letters are lyable to more Misfortunes and foul Play too than yours, and I keep no Clerk, so that original and Copy, must be done with these1 weak Eyes almost blind with reading and writing: yet every Body complains of me for not writing enough, especially my Wife.2
The Address you mention, produced astonishment, here and all over Europe. Yet it Seems to be not discountenanced: rather supported. You have Reason to be confident of Dr. L's Integrity and Fidelity—no Man more faithfull, and his Character must be vindicated or no Mans will be safe. I shall not however enter into this Business. He is able to justify himself and willing. You may tell your Lady however, she was not mistaken in the Character she gave me of him.3
I shall not enter particularly into the Inconveniences, which must result from such an outrageous Measure as that Address. I wish to know, who will correspond with Us or any Body connected with Us, if they are to be thus exposed. What Prince, Minister or State will confide in Us, if Negociations are thus to be laid open? Where is our Secrecy, or a Possibility of it? Is the Confederation annihilated? Is the Union lost? Has Congress so little authority as to be obliged to endure { 428 } this? God forbid. Yet I think the Probability is that he4 will succeed, get the two L's recalled, and himself appointed to some Trust abroad. If this should be the Case what is to become of Us? At least if this is done before they are asked if guilty or not guilty.5 Before they are allowed to defend themselves which I doubt not they can do.
This Publication gave the Ministry a Lift in England, and will hoist the Loan which before laboured. The Capture of St. Lucie, also which is just arrived, will give another Spur. Yet the Discontents in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales ought to be terrible to Administration. They can do not great Things against Us.
The only Ennemy, of any great Consequence which is left to Us is our Currency. TAXATION and (ECONOMY, must be the Cry in America. A Depreciation and Appreciation Law must be made. The People will not Succumble to G.B. if <our> the Bills depreciate, untill a Thousand Dollars, must be given for a silver shilling. They will not Succumbe to G.B. if our regular Army, was wholly disbanded.
For even then the English could not make an Excursion into the Country, from under the Guns of their Men of War, without Militia Men enough turning out to knock them in the Head. The Consumption of British soldiers and sailors in the West Indies is like to be such that you need not fear, any great force, with you. The Tories must now Act against every light of Conscience, for they know that we cannot now succumbe to G.B. without having France and Spain upon <their> our Backs.
What C.6 will do with the Paper I dont know, but they had better, by a Vote annihilate it all, or call it in to be burned, infinitely, and go over the same ground again ten times than that G. B. should prevail. Burn it all with my good Will. My share shall go to the Flames with the Utmost cheerfulness. Call it all in, in a Loan if you will, but then dont let it stand at Sterling Standard to be redeemed. This would be greater Injustice than to burn it all.
This vile Paper discourages and disheartens the Whiggs, and emboldens the Tories, more than it ought. Blow it away, any way. Many have a Prejudice, that our Independance is connected with it. Convince both sides that our Independance dont depend upon that. That our Plate, our stocks7 and all shall go rather than our sovereignty depend upon it. It is worth them all and more, nay our Houses and Farms into the Bargain.
Our Remedy is so simple, that I am astonished, there should be the least Hesitation about it, in the Mind of the most ignorant and mean of the People.
{ 429 }
Taxation alone, is amply Sufficient to carry on our share of the War in future. I am Sure that the 13 states can raise Money enough if they will to bear all their future Expences as they rise. If the People are so blind, blockish and stupid, as not to see it and be willing for it—it is a Pity.
But the Delirium that rages,8 is enough to discourage every Man of Virtue and Honour—The Foppery9—the Avarice—the Ambition—the Vanity—the Rage—the Fury—is enough to induce every Man of sense and Virtue to abandon such an execrable Race, to their own Perdition. And if they could be ruined alone it would be just. There is Cause to fear that our Countrymen10 and Women, after having astonished the Universe by their Wisdom and Virtue, will become a Spectacle of Contempt and Derision to the foolish and wicked, and of Grief and shame to the wise among Mankind, and all this in the Space of a few Years.
I see so much Corruption, wherever I cast my Eyes. I see the virtuous few Struggling against it, with so little success, that a Retreat infinitely less Splendid than that of Pythagoras—at the Head of a little school, to teach a few Children the Elements of Knowledge would be a kind of Heaven to me.
I have the Honour to be reduced to a private Citizen and if I could remain there without an eternal Clamour, no Consideration in the World should induce me ever again to rise out of it. But you know the Noise—the Lyes—the slanders—the stupid Groans and Lamentations, that would be raised at such a Resolution.
However let them groan and hiss and curse as they will, I will never be again11 with my own Consent the sport of wise Men nor Fools.
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mr. J. Adams Feby. 79.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. In the Letterbook JA wrote and then crossed out “Fingers.”
2. For AA's complaint, see JA to AA, 19 Feb. (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:173).
3. No mention by Mercy Otis Warren of Arthur Lee's character has been found.
4. In the Letterbook JA first wrote “Mr. Deane,” then canceled “Deane” and inserted “D.,” and finally crossed out “Mr. D.” and settled on “he.”
5. In the Letterbook an “!” follows “not guilty.”
6. The Letterbook has “Congress.”
7. In the Letterbook JA writes “That your Plate <your Buckles> your Cattle.”
8. In the Letterbook “<in every Department>” follows “rages.”
9. In the Letterbook “<the Frippery>” follows “the Foppery.”
10. In the Letterbook this sentence begins “<For my own Part, I> fear, that <my> Countrymen,” and JA interlined “there is Cause to” and “our” over his deletions.
11. In the Letterbook the following four words were interlined.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0282

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jay, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1779-02-27

To the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

By the new Arrangement, which was brought by the Marquis de la Fayette I find myself restored to the Character of a private Citizen.
The Appointment of a single Minister, at the Court of Versailles was not unexpected to me, because I had not been two Months in Europe, before I was convinced of the Policy, and indeed of the Necessity of such a Measure. But I ever entertained hopes that when the News of Such an Alteration Should arrive the Path of my own Duty, would have been made plain to me by the Directions of Congress either to return home or go elsewhere.1 But as no Information we have received from Congress, has expressed their Intentions, concerning me, I am obliged to collect them by Implication, according to the best of my Understanding: And as the Election of the new Minister Plenipotentiary, was on the fourteenth of September, and the Alliance, Sailed from Boston the fourteenth of January, and in this Space of four Months no Notice appears to have been taken of me, I think the only Inference that can be made is, that Congress have no farther Service for me, on this Side the Water, and that all my Duties are on the other. I have accordingly given Notice to his Excellency M. De Sartine, and to his Excellency the Minister Plenipotentiary here of my Intentions to return,2 which I Shall do by the first Frigate which Sails for any Part of the united States, unless I Should receive Counter orders in the mean time. In a Matter of so much Uncertainty, I hope I shall not incur the Disapprobation3 of Congress, even if I should not judge aright of their Intentions, which it is my Desire, as well as my Duty to observe, as far as I can know them.4
By the Papers enclosed with this Congress will perceive, the discontented and tumultuous State of the three Kingdoms of England Scotland and Ireland, which is So great, and So rapidly increasing, that the united States, will have little to fear, from Reinforcements of their Ennemies, the ensuing Campaign. All their Forces will be necessary, to keep in order their own riotous Populace, and to replace those, which are daily consuming in the West Indies. There is however no Prospect of their evacuating either New York, or Rhode Island. The Possession of those Places, is So indispensible, for the Preservation of their West India and other Trade, as well as of their other Dominions in America that nothing but the last Necessity, will induce them to give them up.
The greatest Source of Danger and Unhappiness to the States then, probably will be, a depreciating Currency. The Prospect of a Loan in { 431 } Europe, after every Measure, that has been, or could be taken, I think it my Duty to say frankly to congress, is very unpromising. The Causes of this are very obvious, and cannot be removed. The State of our Currency itself, and the Course of Exchange, would be Sufficient to discourage Such a Loan, if there was no other Obstruction: but there are many others. There are more Borrowers in Europe than Lenders, and the British Loan itself, will not be made this Year, at a less Interest than Seven and an Half Per Cent.5
I See no Hope of Relief, but from Taxation and (Economy: And these I flatter myself, will be found Sufficient, if the People are once convinced of the Necessity of them. When a People are contending not only for the greatest Object, that any People ever had in View, but for Security from the greatest Evil that any Nation ever had, to dread (for there is at this Hour no Medium between unlimited submission to Parliament, and entire Sovereignty)6 they must be destitute of sense as well as Virtue, if they are not willing to pay Sufficient Sums, annually to defray the necessary Expence of their Defence in future, Supported as they are by So powerfull an Ally, and by the Prospect of Others, against a Kingdom already exhausted, without any ally at all, or a Possibility of obtaining one.
As this is the first Time, I have had the Honour to address myself to Congress, Since We received the News, of your Excellencys Appointment to the Chair, you will please to accept of my Congratulations on that Event.7 I have the Honour to be with the highest Consideration, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 53–56); docketed: “Letter from John Adams Esq Passy 27 Feby. 1779 Read Septr. 1.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. In the Letterbook JA wrote “to return home, <to remain here> or to go elsewhere.”
2. To Sartine, 16 Feb. (above).
3. In the Letterbook the preceding six words were interlined over the canceled passage “<to have the approbation>.”
4. Compare JA's reaction to his replacement and the failure of the Congress to send him new orders in this letter, with that in his first letter of 28 Feb. to AA (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:181–182).
5. For the British loan as finally concluded and JA's analysis of it, see JA's letters of 28 Feb. to Samuel Cooper and 1 March to the president of the congress (both below).
6. In the Letterbook JA completed the clause in parentheses with “notwithstanding all the insidious Professions of Reconciliation.”
7. On 10 Dec. 1778 the congress chose John Jay to replace Henry Laurens, who had resigned on the previous day. Considerably upset by the publication of Silas Deane's Address of 5 Dec., Laurens sought to have a committee appointed to consider what he called the “groundless and unwarrantable insinuations and intimations respecting the conduct” of the congress. When parliamentary maneuvers prevented his motion from being put to a vote, and the congress resolved that Deane should put into writing his report on the handling of the agency, Laurens abruptly resigned, setting forth his reasons in an impassioned speech (JCC, 12:1202–1206).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0283

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1779-02-27

To the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

I have received the Letter, which your Excellency did me, the Honour, to write me, on the twenty first of this Month. This Testimony, from your Excellency, of those indulgent Sentiments with which his Majesty, is pleased to honour my Sincere Intentions, cannot fail to be preserved by me and my Posterity as a most precious Monument, and what, is of infinitely more importance, it cannot fail to give great Satisfaction to my Country, to find that a Servant of theirs, who has been honoured with no small Share of their Confidence, in the most dangerous Times and most critical Circumstances, has been so happy as not to forfeit the Confidence of their illustrious Ally. I have the Honour, to be, with the highest Consideration, your Excellencys most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7); docketed: “M. de Rayneval.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0284

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cooper, Samuel
Date: 1779-02-28

To Samuel Cooper

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Letter by the Marquis de la Fayette I have received and it contained So handsome a Testimony to the Merit of that gallant young Nobleman, as well as so many judicious observations on other subjects that I have ventured to permit it to be translated and published.1
The Complaint against the Family of Lee's, is a very extraordinary Thing indeed. I am no Idolater of that Family or any other: but I believe their greatest fault is having more Men of <exalted> Merit in it, than any other Family. And if that Family fails the American Cause, or grows unpopular among their fellow Citizens, I know not what Family or what Person, will stand the Test.
There is Reason however to be upon our Guard, against the Power of a Family of so much Merit: and if the Complaint had only been, that one of the Family, was Minister at the Courts of Versailles and Madrid: another at Vienna and Berlin I would have joined in that with all my Heart. But this, to my certain Knowledge was not the fault of the Family. But partly owing to accident and partly because, other Gentlemen refused or declined to undertake, so dangerous a Voyage, and so difficult a service.
If the Complaint had been confined to the Want of Figure, Dignity and Address I should have left the discussion of such important Questions, to those, who think so much of them, and these might have de• { 433 } termined whether the Complainers or Complainees have Most to boast of, in this Kind.
If the Complaint, had been confined to the subjects of Temper, <and Politeness> I should not have thought it worth while to consider long, in order to determine, which was the most inconvenient to the state <too much> a little too much Asperity, or a little too much good Nature—a little to much Acid, or a little too much Oil.
But when the Complaint becomes so outrageous, as to throw about the World insinuations of Infidelity and Breach of Trust against some of the most faithful and inflexible Men in the Community, it becomes the Cause of every virtuous Man <in the Community>, and such injured Characters must be vindicated or the state undone.
The Publication of this Address to the Universe instead of making it, in Writing to Congress, was a Measure beyond all Example, dangerous and destructive. But enough of this. Good I hope will come out of it, and Lessons will be learn'd from it. Lessons of Moderation are so much wanted that I, even I, am obliged to become a Preacher of that great Virtue. But with as little success, as most other Preachers. So much for ourselves, now for our Ennemies.
Keppells Tryal, has wrought up Parties to a great Heat in England. Tumults and Discontents are very general throughout the three Kingdoms. The two Houses with many Members of opposition in both Houses, seem to be Arranging themselves for Warm Work and Impeachments, are talked of and expected. Whether Paliser will have a Tryal is uncertain—if he should this will probably compleat the Rage and Distraction. Lord Norths Loan has laboured a long time, <and nothing is yet done in it. It witt not suceed this Year for less than seven and half Per Cent.> it was settled the 23d. at 3 Per Cent for Perpetuity—an Annuity of 3 3/4 Per Cent for 29 Years, and seven Lottery Ticketts for every Thousand Pounds—The Tickett is 10£, but always gains 2 or 3 per Ticket before the Drawing,2 and every Year the War continues, the Interest must be greater, and the Expense greater. Almost all Parties seem to say freely that the Kingdom is undone—yet none of them have sense and spirit enough to propose the only Means, for preventing the Ruin they apprehend. Their Conquest of St. Lucie, will only be a grave to their Troops—of whom they have none to spare.
1. See Cooper's letter of 4 Jan., and note 1 (above).
2. The words from the end of the canceled passage to this point were interlined. Lord North announced the conclusion of a loan to the House of Commons on 24 Feb. (Parliamentary Hist., 20:158). For JA's more detailed analysis of the loan's terms, see his letter of 1 March to the president of the congress (below).
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/