A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0190

Author: Adams, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-01-13

From Samuel Adams

[salute] My dear Sir

I gladly embrace the first opportunity I have had of writing to you since you left this Country. Mr. Jona. Loring Austin is the Bearer of this Letter. He is appoint[ed] by the General Assembly to negociate an Affair in Europe which will be communicated to you by a Letter written to you by the President of the Council and signd in their Name.1 The Measure is the favorite offspring of the House of Representatives, and was adopted by many Members of the Council, I wish it may succeed to their Expectation.
The Assembly has been sitting five or six Weeks, and it is probable will rise tomorrow. Among other things, they have passed an Act for { 307 } securing to their own officers and Soldiers in the Army of the United States, a Compensation for the Depreciation of their pay.2 It is done in a Mode agreable to a Committee of Officers from the Army, so that there is no Doubt but the Rest of the Officers and the Soldiers will be satisfied with it. Money has been sent to the Army to inlist those whose three years are expired, and who may be inclind to continue in the Service. And we are well assured that great Numbers have engagd, so that there is a good Prospect of our States Batallions being well filled. Indeed there is all imaginable Reason to expect that the General will be furnished in the Spring3 with an Army better disciplined than even those which have proved their Superiority to the Enemy in several Campaigns. The more they are inured to actual Service, the more perfect they will be in Discipline; and the Courage of a Soldier in the Time of Action, in a great Measure [arises] from a Confidence in his military Knowledge. What Events may take place in the Spring we cannot certainly predict. An Army we know will be necessary, either to fight the Enemy, or to give Assurance and Stability to the skillful Negociator of Peace. The Plan you mentiond to me as having been proposd by you to Monsr. —— the last October was a twelvemonth,4 if it could be fully accomplishd, might in one of the ways above mentioned or the other, secure to us the Objects which I know your heart is much set upon as well as mine. Independence is a mere Charm, unless by Arts or by Arms we secure to our selves those Advantages we may not have the Fortitude to assert it as we ought, but by which alone we shall be enabled, under God, to maintain it. You have the Parchments and for my self I confide both in your Wisdom and Integrity.
You will see by the inclosd Paper that our Convention is adjournd. The Roads thro the Country are so blockd up by incessant and heavy Snows, that it has been impracticable for the Members to attend. It is proposd to keep it alive by short Adjournments till a sufficient Number shall arrive to proceed to the Business.5 Those among us who can rember the year 1717 say there has not been so much Snow on the Ground since that Time.
Mr. L informs me that Colo. Laurens the younger has declind going to Europe.6 “The little Gentleman”7 (he will pardon me the Joke) will, if he recollects, help <you> us to guess who will probably obtain the next choice.
The Delegates in Congress for the last year are again chosen excepting General Ward in the Room of Mr. Dana. I own it is not becoming an old Man to be mutable—and yet I am intimately acquainted with one who took his Leave of his good Friends in Philadelphia with al• { 308 } most as much Formality as if he was on his dying Bed soon after resolving to visit them once more. In your horrid Catalogue of evil Dispositions with which Age is infested we do not find Vanity. This perhaps may be common to the old and the young, tho I confess it is the more pardonable in the latter. It is difficult for a Man in years to perswade himself to believe a mortifying Truth that the Powers of his Mind whether they have been greater or less, are diminishd.
Pray assure Mr. Dana of my affectionate Regards, and Colo. Laurens if you meet with him. I am informd he is gone or going to Europe. My old patriotick Friend Mr. A L[ee], I am perswaded is before this time on his Passage to America. But if not, let him know that the Hopes of seeing him at Philadelphia is a strong Inducement to me, otherwise against my Inclination, to visit Philadelphia once more.
A Letter from Genl. Heath dated at Head Quarters Decr. 21 says “the health and Spirits of the Troops are not to be parralled. The Enemy at N Y are undoubtedly embarking a large Body of Troops from 8 to 10,000—they would have saild before this Time but have been under Apprehension that the Coast was not clear. Their Destination is said to be to the Southward but some say to the W.I. most probably both.”8
FC (NN: Samuel Adams Papers); notation: “Letter from Honl. Sal. Adams to John Adams Jany 13 1780.” No evidence has been found that JA ever received this letter.
1. See the letter immediately following.
2. The act to compensate Massachusetts' soldiers for the depreciation of military pay was passed on 13 Jan. to make good on a resolution to such effect passed on 6 Feb. 1779 (Mass., Province Laws, 5:1133–1137; 20:587–588; see also 21:262, 338).
3. Adams interlined “in the Spring.”
4. That is, JA's plan to increase the French naval presence in American waters, which he had suggested to Edmé Jacques Genet in Oct. 1778 (Genet to JA, 29 Oct. 1778).
5. The constitutional convention adjourned from 11 Nov. 1779 until 5 Jan. Short adjournments after that postponed the opening for substantial business until the 27th (Journal of the Convention, p. 48, 51–55)
6. John Laurens' letter to the congress declining the appointment was dated 6 Dec. 1779 (JCC, 15:1366).
7. JQA.
8. This is an exact quotation from Heath's letter to Gen. Artemas Ward of 21 Dec. 1779 (MHi: Heath Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0191

Author: Massachusetts Council
Author: Powell, Jeremiah
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: Dana, Francis
Date: 1780-01-13

Massachusetts Council to John Adams and Francis Dana

[salute] Gentlemen

The General Assembly having for many Reasons, and for purposes appearing to Them advantagious, taken the Resolution to negociate a { 309 } Loan of One hundred and fifty Thousand Pounds Sterling in Europe,1 to be conducted agreeable to the enclosed Instructions given to the Agent Jonathan Loring Austin Esqr. appointed for that purpose.2
The Success of this undertaking is important to This State, and We Wish to guard against every Event that may take place to defeat it. The Consequences in Case of his Death or Captivity, we design to guard against, by this Application to you. If he arrives he will want the Assistance of your Advice and Influence. If he does not, We beg you to undertake, and transact this Business (if consistent with your present Character and Engagements) otherwise appoint some suitable Person for that purpose—That the Expectations of this State be not disappointed, for which we consider this Letter as vesting either of you with sufficient Powers.

[salute] I am, In the Name & behalf of the Genl. Assembly With great Esteem, Gentn. Your most Obedt hble Servt

[signed] Jer: Powell Presidt
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Hon'ble John Adams & Francis Dana Esqrs. Paris”; notation: “(Public Service)”; docketed by John Thaxter: “President Powell to Mr. Adams & Mr. Dana 13th. Jany. 1780. Respecting a Loan for Massachusetts.”
1. Twenty thousand pounds were to be used to clothe the troops needed to fulfill Massachusetts' quota for the Continental Army. An additional sum, not to exceed twenty thousand pounds, was to be spent on goods suitable for the Massachusetts market, both purchases to be sent in the ship Protector. The remaining amount of the loan was to be held for drawing bills of exchange against or for future purchase of goods (Mass., Province Laws, 21:326–327).
2. The enclosure has not been found, but Austin's instructions are in same, 21:346–348. Austin was appointed on 11 Jan., and immediately set out for Europe, but was captured by a Jersey privateer, taken to England, and thrown into prison. He was soon released and by May was at Paris where he lodged with Francis Dana. It proving impossible to raise the needed loan, Austin returned to America in the fall of 1781 (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 16:306).
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.