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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0107

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Knox, Henry
Date: 1779-09-19

To Henry Knox

[salute] Dear Sir

I have had the Honour of your Letter of the 4th of this Month, and I thank you for your obliging Congratulations on my Return, which gives me Happiness, whatever Passions or Reasonings produced it.
You have Cause to thank Heaven, that the state of Europe is so favourable. It is Scarcely possible it should be more so. France is already elevated to the highest Degree of Reputation and England depressed to almost the lowest of Contempt in Consequence of this Revolution. [It] is1 Under Heaven the general Wisdom of the present Reign in France and the universal Depravation and Folly, of that of England and2 the general Ability of American Councils and, Arms, that have done it. Washingtons Negotiations have done more in Europe, than all our Ambassadors, but Gates was the successfull Minister that brought the Treaty to a Crisis at the particular Time when it was done. By mentioning these Names in particular I dont mean to exclude, a Multitude of other Officers who had a proportional share in the Work, more especially the American Artillery and its worthy Commander.3
This is very free and very saucy — so that you must not say much about it, but believe me, with Affection & Respect, your Frid & sert
I have no Expectation of going to Congress, and therefore must wait for the Pleasure of seeing you, untill you make a Visit, this Way, which I hope will be soon.
1. The preceding two words are interlined; the word “It,” or perhaps “T,” is illegible.
{ 153 }
2. The preceding five words are interlined.
3. Knox himself.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0108

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Rush, Benjamin
Date: 1779-09-19

To Benjamin Rush

[salute] Dear Sir

I had the Pleasure of yours of August 19, by the last Post, and thank you for your kind Congratulations on my Return. You judge right, when you Suppose, that I cannot be idle, but my Industry will probably be directed, in a different manner, in future. My Principles1 are not in Fashion. I may be more usefull here, as you observe, than in the Cabinet of Louis the 16. But let me tell you, that that Cabinet, is of great Importance, and that there ought to be Somebody there, who knows Somewhat of the Affairs of America, as well as Europe, and who will take the Pains to think, and to advise that Cabinet, with all proper Delicacy, in certain Circumstances.
I have little2 to Say about the Time and manner of my being Superceeded. Let those reflect upon them selves, who are disgraced by it, not I. Those who did it, are alone disgraced by it. The Man who can shew a long Series of disinterested Services to his Country, cannot be disgraced even by his Country. If she attempts it, she only brings a Stain upon her own Character and makes his Glory the more illustrious.3
We have Cause to congratulate ourselves, on the favourable Appearance of Affairs in Europe and America. There is not one Symptom in Europe against Us. Yet I must own to you, that I think France and Spain are yet to be convinced, of the true Method of conducting this War. It is not by besieging Gibralter nor invading Ireland, in my humble Opinion, but by sending a clear Superiority of naval Power into the American Seas, by destroying or captivating the British Forces here by Sea and Land, by taking the West India Islands and destroying the British Trade, and by affording Convoys to Commerce between Europe and America, and between America and the french and Spanish Islands, that this War is to be brought to a Speedy Conclusion, happy for Us, and glorious as well as advantageous to our Allies.4
These were the Objects of all my Negotiations, and I dare hazard all, upon the good Policy of them. I fear that these Ideas, will now be forgotten: I cannot but wish that Congress would give positive Instructions to their Minister, nay that they would make a direct Application themselves to their Ally, to this Purpose. Mr. Gerry can shew you, in Confidence, some Papers upon the subject.5
{ 154 }
I have a great Curiosity to know, the History of the political Proceedings, within and out of Doors, last Winter. I confess myself, unable to comprehend it. I am more puzzled at the Conduct of those who ought to have been my Friends than at any Thing else.6 However I have not Lights enough to form a Judgment.
You Speak French So perfectly, and love good Men so much, that I wish you to be acquainted with the Chevalier De la Luzerne, and Mr. Marbois. Those Gentlemen were making Enquiry after a certain Letter, that you was very partial to. I enclose it to you and request you to give it them from me, with my most affectionate and respectfull Compliments.7

[salute] I am with much Affection, your Friend & sert

[signed] John Adams
RC (DLC: photostat of recipient's copy). LbC (Adams Papers).
1. The Letterbook has “Men of my Principles.”
2. The Letterbook has “nothing” deleted in favor of “little.”
3. In the Letterbook, “brings a Stain upon her own Character and” is interlined, and “more illustrious” replaces “greater.”
4. The Letterbook simply has “glorious for our Allies.”
5. In the Letterbook this sentence does not contain the words “in Confidence.” JA is referring to his letter to Elbridge Gerry of 11 Sept. (above) and its enclosures.
6. See Lovell to JA, 13 June, note 8 (above).
7. The remainder of this sentence is not in the Letterbook. Since Rush in his reply (12 Oct., below) refers to a pamphlet that he was to present to La Luzerne, and JA calls it a letter, it may have been JA's Thoughts on Government, which Rush, writing as “Ludlow,” had made use of in an essay in the Pennsylvania Journal, 28 May 1777, to attack his own state's new unicameral constitution (see vol. 4:69 ).
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/