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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0229

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-02-22

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

I did myself the Honor of writing to You, two days Ago1 by Mr. Brusch, to congratulate you on your Safe Arrival in Europe, and to Assure you of my Disposition and wish to Execute whatever Commands, you may lay on me here or Elsewhere.
As I Know your Attention to whatever may affect our Country, I take the Liberty of making an Extract out of a Letter I receivd yesterday from England, from the well instructd Correspondent, who gave Information of the intentd irruption into Connecticut, which unfortunately took place last year, of which I gave you Notice before you left Europe.2 He had written to me last Novr. of Englands Endeavouring to draw Russia into the War, and of the Backwardness then showed to enter into the business. He writes to me now in these Words.
“When I trod on Russian Ground, I had every reason to think, that my footing was firm and certain; I have not yet passed over the same kind of Soil, but my trusty Guide (acquainted with the Country to an Inch) bids me prepare for another Road. He is a Speculative Politician, what, said He, if the Czarina should be on the point of Changing her Mind, and hitherto refusing now grant Succour to England. If Lord North, having procurd an Immense Sum for the renewal of the East India Charter,3 shoud succesfully bribe the Court of Petersburgh with a great part of it, into an offensive and defensive Alliance, if the same spirited Statesman shoud procure similar Treaties from Russia and Denmark, if?”—He was proceeding, when I asked Him, whether these Courts woud not first Attempt to Negociate a Peace for England, certainly, He replied, I should think so. At this Moment the face of my Whimsical Casuist became more open, and I fanced that Truths were seald on his Lips.
I find that the Expedition under Boyle Walsingham from Ireland is to the West Indias.4
I should be glad Sir you would give me Mr. Carmichaels Address at Madrid. I fancy He has Letters for me.

[salute] I am Dear Sir Your Most Obedient & faithful Hlbe Servt

[signed] Edm: Jenings
1. Actually dated 19 Feb. (above).
2. None of the extant letters received from Jenings before JA's departure for America in June 1779 mention a planned attack on Connecticut, but see index under “Connecticut” and references there.
3. Any British plans to use “an Immense Sum” gained from the renewal of the East India Company's charter, which expired in 1780, to bribe Russia or for { 353 } any other purpose were based on wishful thinking. During his presentation of the budget in 1779, Lord North had alluded to the company's charter and the use of the sums that might be realized from its renewal to balance expenditures. But his statements were premature; opposition from the company and its supporters to the ministry's proposals for a new charter made renewal in 1779 or 1780 impossible. As a result, North could obtain only an extension of the charter; it was not renewed until 1784 (Lucy S. Sutherland, The East India Company in Eighteenth-Century Politics, Oxford, 1952, p. 343–344, see also index under statutes; Parliamentary Hist., 20:160, 167).
4. This force, consisting of five ships of the line and two smaller vessels and intended to reinforce Rodney's fleet in the West Indies, was commanded by Como. Robert Boyle-Walsingham, originally of Ireland, but then a member of Parliament from Knaresborough in Yorkshire. Although Boyle-Walsingham received his sailing orders in March, he was windbound at Torbay until June, and in October he was lost in a hurricane with his flagship, the Thunderer (Lewis Namier and John Brooke, eds., History of Commons, 1754–1790, 3 vols., London, 1964, 3:603–605; Mackesy, War for America, p. 327–329; W. M. James, British Navy in Adversity, London, 1926, p. 440).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0230

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Date: 1780-02-23

To Samuel Adams

[salute] Dear Sir

You will see by the public Papers, that your Committee of Correspondence is making greater progress in the World, and doing greater things in the political World than the Electrical Rod ever did in the Physical.1 Ireland2 and England have adopted it, but mean Plagiaries as they are, they do not acknowledge who was the Inventor of it.
Mr. Lee and Mr. Izard will go with this Letter in the Alliance, and probably go to Boston. They will be able to inform You of every thing of a public Nature, much better than I can do, as I have scarcely had Opportunity to look about me as Yet. They will give You few Hopes of Peace, at least very speedily.
The Associations of Counties and Committees of Correspondence in England, are very ominous to our old Acquaintances, the Refugees, as they attack unmerited Pensions in the first place—but they must do greater things than distressing these Gentry. They must necessarily produce great Commotions in the Nation. The Speakers of these Meetings go great Lengths, some of them openly justifying and applauding the Americans, and others even applauding France and Spain for stepping in to our Assistance.3
The Court here seems determined more than ever, to pursue the War with Vigour, especially by Sea, and above all in the American Seas. They have already sent seventeen Ships of the Line under M. de Guichen to reinforce M. de la Motte Piquette, and seven others are preparing at Brest. They are sending out Cloathing and Arms for fifteen thousand Men for our Army, and seem confident that the next { 354 } Campaign will be better than the last. I hope the Spirit of Privateering among Us will increase, because I think this is the Way, in which we can do the most Service to the Common Cause.
I hope You will be so good as to inform me of what passes, particularly what progress the Convention makes in the Constitution. I assure You it is more comfortable making Constitutions in the dead of Winter at Cambridge or Boston, than sailing in a leaky Ship, or climbing on foot or upon Mules over the Mountains of Gallicia and the Pyranees. My Respects to Mrs. A. and Miss H.,4 and believe me your Friend and Servant.
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (NN: George Bancroft Collection); docketed: “Paris Feb 23 1780.”
1. See JA to Elbridge Gerry of this date, and note 3; and JA to the president of the congress, 25 Feb. (both below).
2. For events in Ireland, see the letter to Gerry of this date, and note 4 (below).
3. Led by Rev. Christopher Wyvill, the county association movement began formally with a meeting in Yorkshire on 30 Dec. 1779. By the Yorkshire association's next meeting, on 28 March 1780, Parliament had received 39 petitions from similar groups in various counties, cities, and towns. Although the associations were linked by committees of correspondence and many of their petitions expressed opposition to the continuation of the war, they were only indirectly emulating the earlier American example and indicating sympathy for the American cause. The primary motivation for most of the petitioners was the war's great cost, which was inflicting hardships on merchants and landholders, and a desire for parliamentary reform. In pursuit of these objectives the petitioners proposed solutions ranging from the relatively conservative, in the outlying counties, to the quite radical, espoused by the Westminster association.
The association movement was able to generate considerable popular support; at its height it was estimated that up to one-fifth of the very limited electorate had signed petitions. Numerous bills were brought before Parliament, the most significant being that, “For the better Regulation of His Majesty's Civil Establishments, and of certain public Offices; for the Limitation of Pensions, and the Suppression of sundry useless, expensive, and inconvenient Places; and for applying the Monies saved thereby to the Public Service,” which was introduced by Edmund Burke on 11 Feb. 1780. Initially Burke's bill enjoyed some success, the high point being the passage of the section abolishing the Board of Trade by a margin of eight votes on 13 March. Eventually, though, the ministry was able to force the withdrawal of the entire bill, thus dooming any chances for success that the association movement may have had in 1780. The character of its supporters, however, gave legitimacy to the movement for parliamentary reform, and by 1782 their dissatisfaction was a significant force in the fall of the North ministry (Ian R. Christie, Wilkes, Wyvill and Reform, London, 1962, p. 68–99; Dora Mae Clark, British Opinion and the American Revolution, New Haven, 1930, p. 143–151; Allen Valentine, Lord North, 2 vols., Norman, Okla., 1967, 2:191–201; Colin Bonwick, English Radicals and the American Revolution, Chapel Hill, 1977, p. 131–143; see also Almon's Remembrancer for 1780, which contains the proceedings of many local meetings). JA offered a more detailed but less optimistic analysis of the association movement in his letter to the president of the congress of 27 Feb. (below).
4. Hannah Adams, Samuel Adams' daughter by his first marriage.
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.