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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 7


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).
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/