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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0224

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-02-20

To the President of the Congress, No. 7

[salute] Sir

Since my Arrival in Europe I have had the Mortification to see in the public Papers a Series of little Successes which our Enemies have had in the prosecution of the War. The first was a very exaggerated Account in the English Court Gazette of their Successes against the Spaniards in South America. The next was the History of the Repulse of General Lincoln and the Comte D'Estaing at Savannah and raising the Siege of that Post. These were soon followed by the Capture of the Spanish Fleet of Transport Ships by Rodneys Squadron, and the Advantage gained by that Admiral of the Spanish Ships of War, after a most gallant Resistance however, off Gibralter.
These small Triumphs, altho' chiefly of the defensive and negative Kind and a poor Compensation for the Blood and the Millions they are annually wasting, are however, abundantly sufficient to cheer the Spirits of the British Populace, and to banish from the Minds of the Ministry all thoughts of Peace upon reasonable Terms: for the English in the present War set upon a Maxim diametrically opposite to that of the Romans, and never think of Peace upon any Event fortunate to them, but are anxious for it under every great Adversity.
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A report of my Appointment having also been carried to England by the Cartels from Boston and being spread in Europe by various other Ways by Passengers in the Committee,1 by French Passengers in the Sensible, of whom there were a great Number, who had heard of it, in all Companies in America, and by many private Letters; and the English ministerial Writers having made Use of this, as Evidence of a drooping Spirit in America, in Order to favour their Loan of Money, I thought it my best Policy to communicate my Appointment and Powers to the French Court, and ask their Advice, as our good Allies, how to proceed, in the present Emergency. I accordingly wrote to his Excellency the Comte de Vergennes, the Letter of the twelfth of February, Copy of which is inclosed; and recieved his answer of the fifteenth, Copy of which is inclosed; to which I replied in a Letter of the nineteenth, Copy of which is also inclosed. When I shall have recieved his Excellency's Answer, I shall do myself the Honour to inclose that.
If there is any thing in these Letters of mine, which is not conformable to the Views and Sentiments of Congress, I wish to be instructed in it; or if Congress should not concur in Sentiment with his Excellency the Comte, I shall obey their Orders with the utmost Punctuality and Alacrity.
I have ever understood that Congress were first advised to the Measure of appointing a Minister to negotiate Peace, by the French Minister then at Philadelphia, in the Name of the Comte de Vergennes: however this may have been, it cannot be improper, to have some one in Europe, impowered to think and treat of Peace, which some time or other must come.
Since my last, which was of Yesterday's Date, I have had Opportunity to make more particular Inquiries, concerning the pretended Treaty with Russia, and am informed, that the English Ministry did not long since, make a formal Application by their Ambassador to the Empress of Russia, for a Body of Troops and a Number of Ships: but that the Application was opposed with great Spirit and Ability in the Russian Council, particularly by the Minister for foreign Affairs, and rejected in Council with great Unanimity, and that the Harmony between Versailles and Petersbourg remains as perfect as when I left France.2
I have the Honor to be, with very great Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 267–270); docketed: “No. 7 J. Adams Esq Feby 20th. 1780 Duplicate <duplicate?>) Reed May 15. respectg: the Publicity of his Embassy.” LbC (Adams Papers); notations: “recd in congress Oct. 15. Triplicate.”; and by Thaxter: “No. 7.”
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1. Probably JA's misspelling of the name of a French vessel, the Comité, which had reached France from America in early Dec. 1779 (Jean Holker to William Temple Franklin, Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 4:24).
2. On 3 Dec. 1779 Sir James Harris, the British ambassador to Russia, had presented a proposal for an Anglo-Russian alliance. It soon shared the fate of two other such proposals made since his arrival at St. Petersburg in late 1777. By 14 Dec., Catherine II determined, as she had before, that Russia's position vis-à-vis other European powers made such a compact inadvisable (De Madariaga, Armed Neutrality of 1780, p. 121–138).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0225-0001

Author: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-02-20

From Edmé Jacques Genet

[salute] Monsieur

Vous avés craint d'importuner M. le Comte de Vergennes et vous m'avés fait l'honeur de vous addresser à moi1 pour savoir ce que vous devès penser de differens bruits que les anglois se sont attachés à répandre. Je suis infiniment flatté de la marque de confiance que vous avés bien voulu me donner mais j'ai cru devoir mettre votre lettre sous les yeux de ministre. Il m'a chargé de vous assurer que dans toutes les occasions il sera charmé que vous vous addressiés Directement a lui, et que vous le trouverés toujours empressé a vous Satisfaire. Il a remarque comme vous toute l'addresse que nos Ennemis mettent à faire courir de faux bruits et surtout pour faire croire à l'Europe que les américains leur font des avances pour traiter d'un arrangement avec eux. M. le Comte de Vergennes est aussi persuadé du contraire qu'il est assuré qu'il n'a point été négocié de nouveau Traité avec les Princes d'allemagne, et qu'il ne s'y fait des levérs que pour les remplacemens. Il ne juge pas plus fondée la nouvelle sur le Traité avec la Russie ni celle qui regarde la Cour de Dannemark. Il m'a dit que je pouvois avoir l'honeur de vous écrire que tous ces bruits sont faux, et que vous ne risqués rien de les présenter comme tels aux personnes sur qui vous croyés qu'ils auront pû faire quelque impression, Soit en Europe soit en Amérique.
J'ai la plus grande impatience d'avoir l'honeur de vous voir et de vous féliciter sur votre heureux retour. Comme je ne puis que rarement aller à Paris, je souhaite que vos affaires vous permettent de me faire l'honeur de venir chez moi, et accepter mon diner de famille.
J'ai l'honeur d'etre avec un respectueux attachement Monsieur Votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur
[signed] Genet

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0225-0002

Author: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-02-20

Edmé Jacques Genet to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

Hesitating to bother the Count de Vergennes, you have done me the honor of addressing me1 in order to determine what to think of the var• { 348 } ious rumors that the English have taken upon themselves to circulate. I am greatly flattered by this mark of confidence that you have had the goodness to bestow on me, but thought that I should place your letter before the minister. He has directed me to assure you that he will be pleased on all occasions to have you address yourself directly to him and that you will find him always eager to give you satisfaction. He noticed, as did you, our enemies' cunning in setting about to circulate false rumors and, above all, to convince Europe that the Americans had approached them to negotiate a settlement. The Count de Vergennes is as convinced of the opposite as he is assured that no new treaty has been negotiated with the German Princes and that whatever levies have been made are only to provide replacements. Neither does he believe that there is any basis for the news regarding either a treaty with Russia or with the court of Denmark. He told me that I could have the honor of informing you that these rumors are false and that you risk nothing from presenting them as such to those persons on whom you believe they may have made some impression, either in Europe or America.
I am most eager to have the honor of seeing and congratulating you upon your happy return. Since I can only rarely go to Paris, I hope that your affairs will permit you to do me the honor of visiting me and dining with my family.
I have the honor to be, with respectful devotion, Sir, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] Genet
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “M. Genet. 20. Feb. 1780. ansd 24. Feb. 1780.”
1. On 18 Feb. (above).
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.