A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0146

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1779-10-17

To Elbridge Gerry

[salute] Dear sir

As to the Boundaries of Mass. I have asked Mr. A. about them but he did not recollect them. The Council appointed a Committee,1 within a few days after my Arrival, to ascertain them and did me the Honour to put me upon it, altho not a Member of Either House, with Mr. Bowdoin and Mr. S. A. but we have never met, and now it would be improper. They will appoint a new one I suppose.
As to the Claim to Vermont, the Gen. Court in 1774 appointed Mr. Bowdoin and me a Committee to state their Claim to those Lands. Mr. Bowdoin left it to me, and I Spent most of the Winter in rummaging the Books and Papers, in the Balcony of Dr. Sewals Meeting House, where the New England Library of Mr. Prince was kept, in the Library of Dr. Mather which came down to him, from his father Grandfather and Great Grandfather, and in Johnny Moffats Collection of Papers and Records,2 and wrote a lengthy I cannot say an accurate State of the Massachusetts Claim, a particular Examination of the Claim of New York, and a similar Discussion of that of New Hampshire.3 Mr. Bowdoin revised and reported it, a few Days before Governor Gage removed the General Court to Salem. At Salem it was read in both Houses, but they soon chose Delegates to Congress and were dissolved. The Report was left with the Clerk of the House.4 I have enquired of him, and he cannot find it. There is no other Copy, that I know of. The first rough blotted Draught, was left in my Table Drawer, in my office in Boston, when the Regulars shut up the Town. The Table Papers and all, were carried off, when they left the Town.
There was a Mr. Phelps, an Inhabitant of the Grants, who furnished me, with some Minutes, which he would perhaps produce now. Governor Hutchinson, drew a state of the Massachusetts Claim, much shorter than mine, tho it is well done, which is in a Volume of the Journals of the House which I have in 1762, 3, or 4 I forget which.5 But the Examination of the Claims of N.Y. and N.H. is to be found no where. I hope however that Mr. Adams will find the Report, it cost me much Labour, and if I dont misremember contained much Information, concerning these Questions. If the Report is not found by Mr. Adams, if Phelps is living,6 it is possible, he may have it, or a Copy of it. I will endeavour to point out Some Things to some Gentlemen, that might not readily occur to them, before I go.
My Respects to Dr. Holton and Mr. Partridge. With great Affection, Adieu
[signed] John Adams
{ 209 }
RC (VtU); docketed: “Braintree Letter Hona. John Adams Esqr. Octr. 17. 1779.”
1. No record of this appointment has been found.
2. The library of Rev. Thomas Prince (1687–1758) numbered some 1,500 books and pamphlets and comprised one of the largest in early New England. When he died, it was placed in the Old South Church. Samuel Mather (1706–1785), son of Cotton Mather, had accumulated a library even larger than Prince's (both DAB). “Johnny Moffat” was probably John Moffat (1704?–1777), the nephew and assistant of John Smibert, the painter. After Smibert's death in 1751, Moffat continued as a dealer in paints, canvas, and brushes in the artist's shop on Queen Street (now Court Street), Boston, near JA's law office. Moffat's will indicates that he had a substantial library (Henry Wilder Foote, John Smibert, Cambridge, 1950, p. 34, 68–70, 255–256).
3. See “Report to the General Court on Massachusetts Boundaries,” in vol. 2:22–81.
4. Samuel Adams (Mass., House Jour., 1773–1774. p. [249]).
5. Hutchinson's report, accepted by the House in Dec. 1763, appears in Mass., House Jour., 1763–1764, p. [277–307].
6. Charles Phelps died in 1789.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0147

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: La Luzerne, Anne César, Chevalier de
Date: 1779-10-17

To the Chevalier de La Luzerne

John Adams, thanking La Luzerne for his letter of 29 Sept. (calendared above) congratulating him on his appointment as minister to negotiate the peace, confessed to some diffidence about his ability to undertake so difficult a task. He added, however, that the unanimity with which the congress had acted, after that body had been so long distressed over its foreign affairs and divided in its opinion of most of its diplomats, gave him a deep sense of the honor done him. Adams then expressed his regard for La Luzerne, and his confidence that La Luzerne's negotiations would benefit both allies and strengthen the ties binding them. He closed by thanking La Luzerne for arranging his passage to France on La Sensible, and promised that, as soon as he received his dispatches from congress, he would decide whether to return to Europe on that ship.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0148

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1779-10-17

To James Lovell

And What, my dear sir, shall I say to your Favours of the 27. and 28 of september, which came by the last Post? The Unanimity of my Election surprises me, as much, as the Delicacy Importance, and Danger, of the Trust distresses me. The appointment of Mr. Dana to be the Secretary, pleases me more than my own to be Minister, Commissioner, Negotiator, call it what you will. I have communicated to him, your Letters in Confidence and all other Material Intelligence I had, and hope he will not decline, but you know the Peculiarities of { 210 } his situation,1 and if he should refuse, I hope you will not force your Name out of Nomination again, altho you have not been absent 9 Months.2 I did not suppose that such Characters would be wishing to go, as secretaries, because I did not know your Place, other wise I should not have mentioned Mr. Jennings to Mr. Gerry3 for one to Dr. F. Your Mastery of the Language and your Indefatigability would make you infinitely Useful in any of these Departments.
I rejoice that you produced my Letter to the C. Vergennes and his Answer before the Choice because it contained a Testimony in favor of Mr. L. which was his due.4 I am, very much affected at his Recall, because I know his Merit, and therefore I am glad I was not placed in his stead, because suspicions would have arisen and Reflections would have been cast upon me, as having favoured his Removal in order to make room, which I certainly did not.
I am infinitely obliged to you for these Letters, and for that received the Post before last, but I really tremble for your Health.5 Let me intreat you, for the sake of our Country to take care of this. I am a tolerable Boguer,6 but if I was to apply myself as you do, I should soon, go to study Politicks in another Sphere.
Yet I am so selfish as to beg the Continuance of your favours to me, and I pledge myself to you, I will not be in debt, any more than may be made by the intrinsic difference in the Value of the Letters, which will be unavoidable.
Thank you, for the Extract of Mr. Izs. Letter. I am not a little surprized at its Contents. It was written I see, to his Friend, and I suppose intended in Confidence. I am fully perswaded, he did not intend that the whole should have been laid before Congress. I utterly deny that I ever used to him any such Language, as the indecent Paragraph that closes what he Says. about me. Indeed that is manifistly his own Inference, and in his own Words, from what he says he had heard me Say, and draws the same from what Dr. F. and Mr. D. had said upon the same subject.
I further deny that I ever threatned him with the Displeasure of Congress, for writing his Opinion concerning those Articles to Congress, or for suggesting them to the Commissioners.
But to enter into all the Conversations that have passed between Mr. Iz and me, respecting those Articles, and many other Points, in order to give a full and fair Representation of those Conversations would fill a small Volume.7 Yet there never was any Angry, or rude Conversation between him and me, that I can recollect. I lived with him on good Terms, visited him and he me—dined with his family, and his family with me, and I ever told him, and repeated it often, that I should be { 211 } always obliged to him for his Advice, Opinions and sentiments upon any American subject, and that I should always give it its due Weight, altho I did not think myself bound to follow it, any farther than it seemed to me to be just.
As Congress has declined giving me, the Charges vs. me, by their Authority, and have upon the whole acquitted me, with so much Splendor, it would look like a Littleness of soul in me, to make myself anxious or give them any further Trouble about it. And as I have in general so good an opinion of Mr. Izs. Attachment to his Country, and of his Honour, I shall not think myself bound to take any further Notice of this Fruit of his Inexperience in public Life, this peevish Ebullition8 of the Rashness of his Temper. I have written a few other Observations to Gerry on the same subject. You and he will compare these with them, for your private satisfaction, but be sure that they are not exposed where they will do harm to the public to Mr. Iz. or me unnecessarily.9
If I should go abroad cant you send me 20 or 30 compleat setts of the Journals. They are much wanted in Europe. A sett of them is a genteel present—and perhaps would <give> do me <more Re[spect?]> and the public more service than you are aware. If Congress, or some Committee would order it, I should be very glad.
1. See JA to Gerry, 17 Oct. (first letter) and note 1 (above); and JA to Henry Marchant, 25 Oct. and note 1 (below).
2. See Gerry to JA, 24 Aug. and note 4; and JA to Gerry, 10 Sept. (both above).
3. In JA to Gerry, 11 Sept. (above).
4. See Lovell to JA, 28 Sept. (first letter) and note 2 (above).
5. “These Letters” are presumably Lovell to JA, 27 Sept., and 28 Sept. (first and second letterstwo letters), referred to at the head of this letter (all three above). “That received the Post before last” is Lovell to JA, 14 Sept. (above), with its important enclosures. Lovell had mentioned his bad health in his letter of 14 Sept., and in his letters of 31 Aug. and 21 Sept. (both above), which JA must have received by this date.
6. Possibly from “bogue,” to take part in or (later) to work (Dict. of Americanisms).
7. JA altered “Volumes” to “a small Volume.”
8. A boiling over, as of the passions (OED).
9. The two final sentences of the paragraph were squeezed into the text after the initial draft was completed. In the Letterbook this letter appears before the first letter of this date to Gerry.
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/