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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0131

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Chaumont, Jacques Donatien, Leray de
Date: 1779-10-05

To Leray de Chaumont

[salute] Sir

As the Sensible is expected to sail in a few days, it is proper that I should embrace the Opportunity to inform you, of your Misfortune in the Loss of the Betsy and all your Effects which were on Board of her.1 Somewhere near the grand Bank of Newfoundland, in a very foggy Night she fell in with a British sloop of War, which conducted her to Newfoundland. We missed her in the Morning, and were a long time anxious least some Misfortune had befallen her worse than Captivity. But a few days ago, a Cartel from Hallifax brought to Boston, Captain Cazneau, and the other Persons, on Board who have given the foregoing Account of their Disaster.
It is proper that I should inform you that wild Lands are now taxed in this state, and perhaps in all the others, to such a Degree that perhaps you would be discouraged from the Purchase, as these Produce no immediate Profit to answer the Demand. You however, will judge for yourself.
We have had our Spirits elevated here, by Rumours of the Count D'Estaing upon our Coast: But have nothing certain. We are anxiously waiting for Intelligence from Europe, from whence We expect to hear of great Events.
I wish Somebody or other would convince the Courts of France and Spain that their true Interest lies, in transferring more of their Exertions into the American Seas. A clear decided Superiority of naval Power, in the West Indies and on the Coast of North America, has such Advantages for conducting this War to a Speedy, successfull and glorious Conclusion, that I cannot but wonder that any other Policy is thought of. Perhaps I may be too selfish or too patriotic in this sentiment to be a good Ally. But I think I can demonstrate the Position upon French and Spanish Principles Simply. Is it not their Interest to conduct the War, in that manner which will the Soonest depress the Power of their Ennemies and increase their own. If the British Power in N. America and the West India Islands were broken, what have they left? Every other Advantage which France and Spain can justly { 192 } wish, will follow of Course. But I will not tease you with my Small Politicks. My Respects to your agreable Family, and to Dr. Franklin, and to all Passy. I am, with much Respect, your most obedient servant
[signed] John Adams
1. See Chaumont to JA, 13 June (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0132

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Date: 1779-10-06

To Gabriel de Sartine

[salute] Sir

The Sensible intending to Sail in a few Days, it is my Duty to embrace the Opportunity of acknowledging my Obligations to his Majesty and to your Excellency, for the Favour of a Passage, in this Frigate, which was rendered the more honourable and agreable to me, by the Company of his Excellency the Chevalier De la Luzerne and Mr. Marbois, two Characters that I have every Reason to believe, will be peculiarly usefull and acceptable in this Country.
Your Excellency will permit me, also to express my Obligations to Captain Chavagne and the other Officers of the Frigate for their Civilities, as these Gentlemen upon all Occasions discovered a particular Attention and solicitude, to render all the Circumstances of the Voyage as agreable as possible to me, and the other Passangers, as well as to protect the Merchant Vessells under their Convoy.
I hope and believe they have neither seen nor heard any Thing here, among the People of this Country, but what has a Tendency to give them a favourable Opinion of their Allies. I have the Honour to be with the highest Consideration, your Excellencys, most obedient and most humble servant

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0133

Author: Lee, Richard Henry
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-08

From Richard Henry Lee

[salute] My dear Sir

I congratulate you most sincerely on your safe return to your family and your country. I hope you found the former in good health, and the latter I am very sensible will be at all times benefitted by the assistance of so able a Citizen, and the more especially at this time, when the most important of all sublunary things is under consideration, the establishing of government. Independent of general principles of philan• { 193 } thropy I feel myself much interested in the establishment of a wise and free republic in Massachusetts Bay, where yet I hope to finish the remainder of my days. The hasty, unpersevering, aristocratic genius of the south suits not my disposition, and is inconsistent with my ideas of what must constitute social happiness and security. It is not long since I received your favor of Feb. 13 from Paris.1 So far as immediate personal ease and happiness is the object, it is beyond doubt that the life of a private Citizen is more desirable than any public character whatever, and such especially as call us far from home. But my friend we must consider that individual happiness flows from the general felicity, and that the security of the whole is the safety of particulars. What must become of the American cause and character, if her councils at home and abroad are to be filled and conducted by half Tories, weak, ambitious, avaricious, and wicked men? These considerations induce me to wish that you may not give up the thoughts of public service until our affairs are better settled. I wish with all my heart that the Chevalier de la Luzerne and Monsr. de Marbois had originally came here. I do assure you that it would greatly have benefitted the cause of the Alliance and the United States. Such scenes of wicked intrigue have been exhibited as I never expected would take place in America until maturity of times and luxury with its concomitant train of vices had ripened us for destruction. You will no doubt be fully informed by others concerning the proceedings of a faction dangerous to our country and very disgraceful also.
I had written thus far and stopped, having no opportunity of immediate conveyance, when my friends from Philadelphia informed me of the crowning work of more than a years intrigue—that malice is at last glutted even to satiety.2 It seems however, that the party have been under a necessity of suffering one proper man to be employed, and I am well pleased to see, even the wicked sometimes compelled to do right. I heartily wish you success in your negotiation, and that when you secure one valuable point for us (the fishery) that you will not less exert yourself for another very important object, the free navigation of Mississippi, provided guilty Britain should remain in possession of the Floridas. I totally despair of the navigation from any other advocation. Before this reaches Boston you will no doubt have heard of Count D'Esteings arrival on our coast. Should fortune favor us, with this aid we may expect to remove our unprincipled enemies from N. York and R. Island.3 To this if we can add Nova Scotia, we may be pretty indif• { 194 } ferent about the future operations of Great Britain. I shall be at all times happy to hear from you, and in return will furnish you with such intelligence as this part of the world produces.

[salute] With singular esteem and affection I am dear Sir most sincerely yours

[signed] Richard Henry Lee
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Honorable John Adams in Boston favored by Colo. Loyeaute”; docketed: “Richd. Hen. Lee. Octr. 8. 1779 ansd. March 15. 1780” and “R. H. Lee. Chantilly Oct. 8. 1779 recd on Board Le Sencible. Novr. 14th. 1779. just about to sail”; and by CFA: “ansd. March 15th 1780. The answer to this Letter is published in the life of R. H. Lee by his grandson Volume 2d. p 137.”
1. In addition to his letter to Lee, JA wrote to the Committee for Foreign Affairs, of which Lee was a member (both above).
2. The maneuvers leading to the displacement of Arthur Lee through the appointment of John Jay as minister to Spain.
3. Despite the fact that Estaing's efforts at Savannah proved ineffectual, the British abandoned Newport on hearing of his arrival (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 162).
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.