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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0153

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1779-10-20

To the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

Mr. Schweighauser of Nantes, who is a Native of Switzerland, observing me, as I was, one Day at his House, looking with some Attention, upon a Stamp, of the heroic Deed of William Tell,1 asked me to take a few of them to America, as a Present from him, which I agreed to do, with Pleasure. He, accordingly Sent, on Board the Frigate a Box, containing as he told me, one Stamp for each of the thirteen states neatly framed and glazed, which he desired me to present to Congress as a Small token of his Respect. The Box, has never been opened, but I hope the Pictures are safe; and with Permission of Congress I will deliver it to the Navy Board, in Boston, to be by them transmitted to the Delegates from the several states, or to their order. I have the Honour to be with great Respect, sir your most obedient servant
[signed] John Adams
{ 220 }
RC (PCC, No. 84, I, 101–104); docketed: “Letter from J. Adams Esqr. Dated Braintree Octr. 20th. 1779 read Nov. 1. Picture of Tell from Mr. Schweighauser.” The JCC (15:1231) indicates that a letter of this date was read on 1 Nov., but the letter described there is JA's letter of the 21st (below), which according to its docketing was also read on 1 November.
1. The 18th century produced a number of copper engravings of Tell shooting the apple off his son's head. The editors have been unable to establish which engraving JA may have seen and helped bring to the United States.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0154

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: UNKNOWN
Date: 1779-10-20

To Unknown

[salute] Sir

I expect to return to Europe, very soon, and should be very happy to carry with me such Intelligence as may be of Use, to the common Cause, particularly, respecting the Numbers and real Force of our Enemies in this Country. I know not where to apply with so much Probability of success, as to you sir, who must have made this a constant Object of Attention and Enquiry and who have undoubtedly the best Opportunities of, learning the real strength of the Enemy at New York, R. Is., Georgia, Hallifax, Canada and the West India Islands. It would be of great Use to such Gentlemen as Represent the United states in Europe to be possessed of this Information, as well as the real strength and Numbers of our Army from Time to Time.
I therefore have taken the1
1. The unfinished letter may have been intended for George Washington.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0155

Author: President of Congress
Author: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-20

From the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

I have the honour to transmit you herewith enclosed Two Commissions wherein you are Authorized and appointed Minister Plenipotentiary from these United States to Negotiate Treaties of Peace and Commerce with Great Brittain; Accompanied with instructions in each Case, for your government in the Execution of those Several Commissions.1
For your further Information and benefit, are enclosed Copies of the Instructions to the honble. Ben. Franklin and John Jay Esqr. our Ministers Plenipotentiary at the Courts of Versailes and Madrid.2
Also two Acts of Congress of the 4th and 15th Instant Ascertaining your Salary and making provision for your Subsistance on your Arrival in France.3
{ 221 }
The nature and Importance of the Trust committed to your charge, will, I perswade my self engage your Immediate Attention and induce you to undertake the Service, and Embark for France without loss of time.
Wishing you a prosperous Voyage and Success in your Embassy I have the honour to be with Sentiments of the highest Esteem & Regard—Your humble Servant
[signed] Saml. Huntington President
P.S The honbe. Frances Dana Esqr. is appointed your Secretary.
RC (Adams Papers); with eight enclosures.
1. The two commissions, approved on 4 Oct. but dated 29 Sept., and the first and secondtwo sets of instructions, adopted on 14 Aug. but dated 16 Oct., are calendared (above).
2. Franklin's instruction as received from Huntington was undated, but, using another copy in his possession, JA copied it into his Autobiography under the date of 16 Oct. (Diary and Autobiography, 4:185–187). The instruction, adopted on 14 Aug., noted that recognition of American rights to the Newfoundland fishery was to be a provision in an Anglo-American commercial treaty rather than a peace ultimatum. The reason for this, although not stated, was that France had refused to make any commitment regarding the fishery in the Treaty of Alliance and thus would not agree to continue the war to obtain recognition of America's fishing rights in the peace treaty. Franklin was, therefore, ordered to seek an additional article to the alliance, providing that if Britain disturbed either party in the exercise of its rights to the Newfoundland fishery the other would join in a war to protect and preserve those rights. It was a futile effort from the beginning, but see JA's comments on the instruction in his Autobiography (same, 4:187 ).
Jay's instructions for negotiating a treaty with Spain are printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:352–353, 374–375.
3. The text of the two resolutions is in JCC, 15:1145, 1179–1180.
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/