A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 7

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0042

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Izard, Ralph
Date: 1778-09-20

To Ralph Izard

[salute] Dear Sir

You have once or twice mentioned to me, in Conversation, certain Expressions in the Treaty,1 relative to the Fishery, on the Banks of Newfoundland, which you apprehend, may be hereafter liable to different Constructions, and become the subject of Controversy, if not the Cause of War, but as it is very posible I may not have perfectly comprehended your Meaning, I should be much obliged to you if you would state it in Writing, together with the Historical Facts, which are fresh in your Memory for the Illustration of it.
{ 57 }
If I understood you, your apprehension arises from the Tenth Article of the Treaty “That the United States, their Citizens and Inhabitants shall never disturb the Subjects of the most Christian King, in the Enjoyment and Exercise of the right of Fishing on the Banks of Newfoundland, nor in the indefinite and exclusive Right, which belongs to them on that Part of the Coast of that Island which is designed by the Treaty of Utrecht, nor in the rights, relative to all, and each of the Isles, which belong to his most Christian Majesty, the whole comformable to the true Sense of the Treaties of Utrecht and Paris.”
“Les Etats Unis, leurs Citoyens et habitans ne troubleront jamais les Sujets du Roi tres Chretien, dans la Jouissance et Exercise du droit de peche Sur le bancs de terre neuve, non plus que dans la Jouissance indifinie et exclusive que leur apartient Sur la partie des Cotes de cette isle designè dans le Traitè d'Utrecht, ni dans les Droits relatifs a toutes et chacun des Isles qu'apartiennent a Sa majestè tres Chretienne le tout conformement au veritable sens des Traites d'Utrecht et de Paris.”
You mentioned to me the Names of two Places, from the one of which to the other, the French formerly claimed a right to fish, and to exclude all other Nations, and that such a Right was claimed in the Negociations of the last Peace, and you was apprehensive that such a Claim, might in future Times be revived.
I should be very happy to receive your Sentiments fully upon this subject as it is no doubt of Importance, to Us all. I am with much Esteem and Affection, your Friend and humble sert.
1. The Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:3–34).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0043

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Laurens, Henry
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1778-09-20

To the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

I have the Honour to inclose, the latest Gazettes, which contain all the News of Europe. The News from America by the Way of London, which is contained in the Courier de L'Europe of the fifteenth instant, has raised our Expectations and encreased our Anxiety.1 We are not without Apprehensions that the Compte D'Estaing, may fall in with the combined Fleets of How and Biron.
The English are beginning to elevate their Heads a little; and to renew their old insolent Language, both in Coffeehouses and in daily Papers. The Refugees from America, unable to bear the Thought of being excluded forever [from] that Country, and still less that of soliciting for Pardon from their injured Countrymen, and returning to see { 58 } established Principles, which they detest and Forms of Government against which they have ever combatted, are said to be indefatigable, in instilling hopes into the King and Ministers, that by persevering another Campaign, and sending Twenty thousand more Men to America, the People will be worn out and glad to Petition for Dependance upon them. They flatter themselves and others with hopes that Spain, will remain Neuter, and that by intriguing in France, they can get the French Ministry changed, and then that they shall have little Trouble from this Quarter. Nothing can be more whimsical, more groundless, or ridiculous than all this. Yet it is said to amuse and please the credulous Multitude in that devoted Island.
Those who pretend to know the Bosoms of the Persons highest in Power in that Kingdom, say, that they delight themselves with the Thought, that if it is not in their Power to reduce America, once more to their Yoke yet they are able to harrass, to distress, and to render miserable those whom they cannot subdue. That they have some little Compunction at the Thought that they shall be ranked in History with the Phillips and Alvas, the Alberts and Grislers2 of this World but this instead of producing Repentance and Reformation as it ought, engenders nothing but Rage, Envy and Revenge.
This Revenge however, is impotent. Their Marine and their Finances, are in so bad Condition, that it is with infinite difficulty they can cope with France alone even at sea: and it seems to be the Intention of Providence, that they shall be permitted to go on with their Cruelties, just long enough to wean the affection of every American Heart, and make room for Connections between Us and other Nations, who have not the Ties of Language of Acquaintance and of Custom to bind Us. I am, with the most perfect Respect, sir your most obedient humble servant.3
1. The Courier de l'Europe, to which JA had subscribed on 18 July, was a French-language newspaper, published in London, with a wide circulation on the Continent (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:331). The issue of 15 Sept. noted the arrival of dispatches, their content unknown, from Lord Howe, the appearance of part of Byron's fleet at New York, and the departure of Estaing's fleet from Sandy Hook. It also contained Washington's letter of 1 July to the president of the congress reporting on the Battle of Monmouth.
2. Philip II of Spain ordered the Duke of Alva to suppress the religious revolt in the Netherlands in 1567. Albert I of Austria directed his bailiff in Switzerland, Herman Gessler, to put down the nationalist revolt that, according to tradition, was led by William Tell. For JA's earlier reference to these same characters, see Adams Family Correspondence, 2:225.
3. The existence of this letter only as a Letterbook copy and its absence from the PCC make it likely that it was never received. It was probably that described by Jonathan Loring Austin as “your Letter for Congress,” which he carried with him { 59 } on his voyage to St. Eustatius, where he transferred it to another ship that was later captured (from Austin, 7 June 1779, 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, 2018.