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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0246

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-02-27

To the President of the Congress, No. 10

[salute] Sir

No. 10.
There are so many Gentleman of Rank going out to America, that there can be no doubt Congress will be fully informed of the State of public Affairs.
Mr. Lee, Mr. Izard, the Marquiss de la Fayette, Mr. Wharton, and many others, are going by different Vessels.
Besides these Monsieur de L'Etombe, who is appointed Consul General of France for the Northern District of America, as Mr. Holker is for the middle, and I have not yet learned who for the Southern, will go soon.1
There is an Armament preparing with the greatest Expedition at Brest, which is to be commanded by Monsieur de Ternay, and to consist of eight or ten Ships of the Line and Frigates. Six of the Line and several Frigates, as it is said, perhaps it is not yet certain nor determined, exactly how many of either, with several thousand Men, all Numbers are mentioned from six to ten thousands, under the General Officers, de la Rochambeau and Jaucourt.2 Whether this Force is destined to the Continent or the West Indies, Time will discover, at present it ought not to be known.
{ 372 }
On the other Hand, I see a Paragraph in a London Paper of the sixteenth of this Month, that the Thunderer, Torbay, Ramilies, Royal Oak, Triumph, and Egmont, are ordered for the West Indies under Captain Walsingham, the Southampton, St. Albans and Winchelsea, which were talked of to go with him, are found unfit for Service, and in so bad a Condition as to be ordered to be paid off.
Thus the French are likely to be drawn into the American Seas in sufficient force, where they have great Advantages in carrying on the War. It is much to be wished that the Spaniards could be drawn into the same Field of Battle,3 for Gibralter must be taken in America, if ever.
There are some Persons, however, who think, that the English will avenge the French, the Spaniards, and above all the Americans, upon one another, and it is certain that Parties in England are working up to a Crisis. The Petitions of the Counties, their numerous Committees of Correspondence, their Hints of Associations have most certainly alarmed the King and his Ministers to a great degree—to such a degree, that for some Time their Conduct was equivocal, giving Hopes at Times to the People, that the Crown would favour the desired Reformation, in the Expenditure of Money. But upon the News of Rodney's Success, they grew bolder, and determined, to exert all the Authority of the Crown, to suppress the Meetings of the People. Accordingly the Cry, of Faction, Sedition and Rebellion was set up in Parliament by the Majority, and the King was advised to dismiss those Lieutenants of Counties, who had favoured the Meetings of the People, Advice which he has certainly taken.
This is a decisive Measure. It will either discourage, and suppress these Meetings, Petitions, Correspondences and Associations altogether; or it will give them greater Force.
By a Debate in the House of Commons on the fourteenth of this Month, one would think that the Nation was really at the Brink of a Civil War.4 Yet I confess, I cannot think that there are any Characters at present, in whom the Nation have sufficient Confidence, to venture themselves any Lengths under their Guidance. And I believe that this spirited Conduct of the King, will defeat the Measures of the Counties, unless indeed in the Course of the next Campaign, his Arms, especially by Sea, should meet with any signal Defeat, which would re-animate perhaps, the People.
But, even supposing the People go on, and succeed so far as to effect a Change in the Ministry: the Question is, whether this would be an Advantage to Us or our Allies? I am myself, very far from being convinced that it would. There are none, of the principal Leaders of the { 373 } People, that avow any fixed Principle, that We can depend upon. None that avow a design of acknowledging our Independence or even of making Peace.
By5 Letters I have recieved from Brussels and Holland since my Arrival,6 I am told that the late desperate Step of the English in seizing the Dutch Ships, has made a great Change in the Minds of the People there, and the Government too, in our Favour. Even the Prince, declares that he has been decieved by the English, and that he will promote unlimited Convoys: that an American Minister is much wished for, who, altho' he might not be yet publickly recieved, would be able to do as much Good as if he was: that Money might be borrowed there, by such a Minister directly from Congress applying directly to solid Dutch Houses. I hope every Hour to hear of Mr. Laurens's arrival.
I have subscribed for the English Papers, but have not yet recieved any, which I am sorry for, because I can get none to inclose. As fast as they come to me I will send them. I have the Honour to inclose another Mercure de France, and to be, with the most perfect Attachment, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, 1, f. 291–294); docketed: “No. 10. Letter from J. Adams Paris Feby 27. 1780 Read May 15.—french & english Armaments preparing for the American Seas Disputes in England no prospect of serious Articles of Peace. Affairs of Holland.” LbC (Adams Papers); notation by Thaxter: “No. 10.”
1. The three consuls were Philippe André Joseph de Létombe at Boston, John (or Jean) Holker the younger at Philadelphia, and Charles François, Chevalier d'Anmours, at Baltimore (JA to AA, 27 Feb. 1780, and note 3, Adams Family Correspondence, 3:286–287). On 29 Feb., Ralph Izard wrote to JA (Adams Papers) concerning a meeting between Izard, JA, and Létombe on the following day. It is not known if the meeting took place.
2. When it sailed on 2 May the fleet under the command of Chevalier de Ternay consisted of seven ships of the line, two frigates, and two smaller warships; it escorted thirty-two transports and cargo ships carrying 5,500 troops under the command of Comte de Rochambeau. The force reached Newport in July (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 190–191). Jaucourt remains unidentified.
3. In the Letterbook the remainder of this sentence reads: “for <in my Opinion> Gibraltar must be taken in America, if ever.”
4. The debate on 14 Feb. was ostensibly over a proposal put forth by Isaac Barré to establish a committee of accounts to oversee public expenditures. This was one of the demands of the county association movement, and the debate largely centered on the propriety of that movement. During the debate George Onslow attacked the Duke of Richmond for his support of the county associations and strongly implied that Richmond was making military preparations to support their demands for reform. As reported in the London Chronicle of 12–15 Feb., Onslow stated at one point that “associations were the commencement of rebellions.” See also Parliamentary Hist., 21:74–83.
5. In the Letterbook this paragraph was written below the formal closing and marked for insertion at this point.
6. These were the letters from Edmund Jenings of 19 Feb. and Alexander Gillon of 14 Feb. (both above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0247

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Date: 1780-02-28

To Samuel Adams

[salute] Dear Sir

The Marquiss, who loves Us, will deliver You this. He will tell You every thing.
Arbuthnot, Rodney and Walsingham are to be pitted against de la Motte Piquet, Guichen and Ternay in the West Indies. So that I hope, You will be pretty quiet. Prepare however to co-operate and rout them out of the Continent if possible. Above all let me beg of You to encourage Privateering.
The French will be superior in the American Seas this Campaign, or I am misinformed, and I have it from good Authority. Oh that Spain could be persuaded that Gilbralter is to be conquered in America. It is certainly true, and I believe only there. I have written You by Mr. Lee1 who goes in the Alliance, and took my Pen now, only to give the Marquiss a Letter to put into your Hands.

[salute] Your Friend in great Haste.

[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (NN: George Bancroft Coll.); docketed: “Letter from J A Paris 28 Feb. 1780.”
1. On 23 Feb. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0248

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cooper, Samuel
Date: 1780-02-28

To Samuel Cooper

[salute] dear sir

This will be delived you by the Marquis your Friend. Your Grandson is well and very contented. He has seen the World, to be sure,—such a Part of it, that none of the rest can ever be superlatively disagreable to him hereafter.
Spain is a fine Country—or as my Parson Bryant said of Hezekias, he would be the best Man in the World if he had no Religion,1 so I can say that Spain would be one of the finest Countries if it had no Religion nor Government.
But enough of this: I was treated with great Distinction there in Honour of my Country but this could not make good Roads, nor comfortable Taverns. Windows and Chimneys, are necessary to this.
I have written by the Alliance, concerning your Grandsons Expences,2 which were very high: but he has seen the World.
Instead of Wishing and hoping for Peace, my dear Countrymen must qualify themselves for War, and learn the Value of Liberty by the Dearness of its Purchase. The Foundations of lasting Prosperity are laid in great military Talents and Virtues. Every sigh for Peace, untill it { 375 } can be obtained with Honour, is unmanly. If our Enemies Can be Obstinate and desperate in a wicked and disgracful Cause, surely We can be determined and persevering in the most just, the most honourable, and the most glorious Cause that ever was undertaken by Men. I am with-great Affection &c
1. On Rev. Lemuel Briant, his use of this expression in a different context, and JA's reaction to it, see JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:262, and JA, Works, 10:254.
2. For JA's letter to Gabriel Johonnot of 23 Feb., not printed, see his letter of the same date to Samuel Cooper, note 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0249

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Knox, Henry
Date: 1780-02-28

To Henry Knox

[salute] Dear sir

Your Friend the Marquis, with whom I have sometimes had the Honour to drink your Health after that of General Washington, will deliver you this. His Love of Glory is not diminished, nor his affection for America, as you see by his Return. He has been indefatigable in endeavours to promote the Welfare and Comfort of our Army, as well as to support their Honour and Character, and has had success in both.
He has had a share in convincing this Court of the Policy and Necessity of transferring their Exertions into the American seas and I hope, he will in time assist in bringing Spain into the same system. But Time is necessary to bring Nations to comprehend new systems of Policy, and every Body has some time or other an Opportunity of throwing in Light. France and Spain are not yet habituated to reasoning Upon the new Connection, nor are they yet Sensible of all the Advantages they might derive from it in the Prosecution of the War. France however is more convinced of it this Year than last. But I have not time to say more except that I am as usual your Frd

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0250

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1780-02-28

To James Warren

[salute] Dear Sir

I have written so fully to Congress and to particular Friends before, and have so little Time now, that I have little more to do than make up a Letter, for the Bearer to deliver You.
{ 376 }
The Marquiss de la Fayette is going to Boston in a Frigate, and surely he wants no Recommendation of mine—his own Merit and his Fame are enough. He has been the same Friend to Us here that he was in America. He has been very assiduous to procure Cloaths and Arms for our Army, and to promote our Interest in every other Way, within his Circle.
I can tell You nothing from Madrid as yet. But I hope Mr. Jay will succeed.
England may possibly try to get Russia and Denmark to negotiate for Peace, but She will not succeed, because She will not consent to such Terms as every American holds indispensible. Holland is very angry, but does not resent. She has been very ill treated, but cannot avenge herself. I beg that every Word I say to You about Peace, may be kept secret, because, I shall write to Congress upon that Subject all that is proper for me to say to any Body in America.
I have written You by the Alliance,1 which will sail soon. Landais is at Paris. Jones goes in the Alliance. Your Son is on Board, by2 this Time enured, I suppose, to the Sea, and to War. We have not yet learned who are our Delegates this Year, nor how the Constitution goes on.
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (DNA: RG 217, First Auditor's Accounts, Misc. Treasury Accounts, Account No. 99166); docketed: “Mr J Adams Feby. 1780.”
1. JA's letter to Warren of 23 Feb. (above).
2. At the top of the first page of the letter James Warren wrote: “See last paragraph.” A line was drawn in the left margin beside this paragraph and the preceding six words referring to Warren's son James Jr. were underlined.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0251-0001

Author: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-02-28

From Edmé Jacques Genet

[salute] Monsieur

J'ai écrit à Ostende pour les deux gazettes en question. En attendant je continuerai à vous en prêter des miennes, toujours le plutôt qu'il Sera possible. Je Suis charmé de Savoir que mr. votre fils est de retour en bonne Santé à Passy. Quelque jour de ce printems il faut que vous me l'envoyés avec Mr Cooper's grand child, et mr. votre autre fils. Je leur ferai voir Versailles, et je ferai en sorte qu'ils S'en retournent Satisfaits. Mon fils ne pourra point les recevoir: il part pour l'allemagne dans 4. jours et y restera un an. Mais a Son retour il aura l'honeur de faire leur connoissance. Je vous remercie des Souhaits que vous voulés { 377 } | view bien faire pour lui.—Je vous fais mes remerciemens De votre Excellent projet de constitution pour votre patrie. Je l'ai parcouru rapidement: il me paroit propre à prevenir toutes difficultés. Je le ferai traduire pour le publier tel qu'il est, et on y ajoutera les changemens, en bien ou en mal, qui auront été faits, et dont je vous prierai de me donner connoissance. Voici ci joint la liste des Constitutions qui me manquent. Je vous Serai obligé de tâcher de me les procurer.1 J'ai l'honeur d'etre avec un inviolable attachement Monsieur Votre trés humble et très obéissan[t] serviteur
[signed] Genet
Constitutions demandées par Mr Genet
New Hampshire      
Connecticut   }   if the former ones, he has them.2  
Rhode Island  
N. Carolina      

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0251-0002

Author: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-02-28

Edmé Jacques Genet to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

I have written to Ostend for the two gazettes in question. In the meantime, I will continue, always as soon as possible, to lend you mine. I am very happy to hear that your son has returned in good health to Passy. Some day this spring you should send me him, together with Mr. Cooper's grand child and your other son. I will show them Versailles and ensure they return satisfied. My son will be unable to receive them, as he is leaving for Germany in four days and will remain there a year. But on his return, he will have the honor of making their acquaintance. I thank you for the good wishes you sent him. I thank you also for your excellent project for a constitution for your state. I scanned it quickly and it appeared to me well suited to prevent all difficulties. I will have it translated in order to publish it as it is, and then add the changes that will be made, for better or worse, and of which you will undertake to inform me. Please find enclosed the list of the constitutions that I lack. I will be obliged if you would try to obtain them for me.1 I have the honor to be, with an unshakable attachment, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] Genet
Constitutions requested by Genet
New Hampshire      
Connecticut   }   if the former ones, he has them.2  
Rhode Island  
N. Carolina      
{ 378 }
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mr. J. Adams Hotel de Valois rue de Richelieu”; docketed: “M. Genet. 28. Feb. 1780. ansd. 29.”
1. JA did so in his letter of 29 Feb. to the president of the congress (calendared, below). There he stated that Genet had “already translated and published the Constitutions of New York, New Jersey, Pensylvania, Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina.”
2. This sentence is in Genet's hand.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0252

Author: Moylan, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-02-28

From James Moylan

[salute] Dear sir

I received your much esteem'd letter of the 22d. with the memorandums it inclosed of the articles you wish to send to Boston by the Alliance. Captain Jones, on my application to him to permit those goods to be loaded on his vessel, immediately consented and told me he wou'd write you by this post,1 in consequence of which I shall prepair them and distinguish the property as you direct.
In Mrs. Adams's memorandum is mention'd half a Dozen: Damask Table Cloaths. Those, are not to be purchased in this Kingdom without the Napkins, say twelve to every Table cloath, and this, which the French call a sett, cost from 120 to 250 livres according to their quality. I shou'd be glad of your advice what is to be don in this case as well as to Know what colour'd velvet is meant in Mr. P. B. Adams's list and the Delph and stone ware in that of Mrs. Adams's and what quantity. You will have full time for this explination as I shall lay in the other goods in the mean time.2

[salute] I remain with much respect Dear sir Your most obedient & humble Servant

[signed] James Moylan
P.S. This letter gos under cover to my Banker as you forgot to mention the street and as I Know there are more than one Hotel de Valois in Paris.
1. Jones' letter of 28 Feb. is not printed, but see JA's letter to Jones of 22 Feb., note 3 (above).
2. JA replied on 6 March (LbC, Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0253

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Date: 1780-02-29

To Edmé Jacques Genet

[salute] [Dear sir]

I have this Moment your[s of the 28. I] thank You, Sir, for your kind Invitation to my [three Sons,] to come some time in the Spring, and spend a day [at Ver]sailles, which will be very agreeable to them, and [to me.]
{ 379 }
I am happy to find that the [Report of] the Committee has your Approbation; and shall [be very g]lad to see it translated and printed as it is. [Every] Attempt of this kind may be worth preserving, and [will be a] Gratification at least to Posterity to see the gradual [Pro]gress of Society, and the slow March of the human Un[der]standing in the Science of Government.
On the Moment of the Receipt of your Letter I have written to Congress, requesting their Aid in procuring the Constitutions of Georgia and of North Carolina.1 That of the Massachusetts is at present accord[ing] to their late2 Charter: that of New Hampshire is the same.3 As soon as the Massachusetts shall have established a [new one, New Hampshire will follow their Example, and I shall undoubtedly have Copies of them as soon as they can cross the sea, and] I will send them without [Loss of time to you.]
Rhode Island and Connecticut ha[ve made no Alte]rations in their Governments, but proceed [according to] their Charters, which You already have.
The Convention of the Massachusetts[, had receive]d the Report of the Committee which I sen[t you and] had considered and agreed to the Declaration of [Rights wi]th very little Alteration, before I took my Lea[ve of them.] They then adjourned to the first of January. [I was ver]y happy to observe the Temperance, Wisdom and [Firm]ness of this Assembly, and hope they will accomplis[h their] great Work with Success. I assure You, it was [mo]re comfortable building Constitutions of Governmen[t at] Cambridge, than sailing in a leaky Ship, or4 climb[ing] over the Mountains, or lodging in the Chimneyless [and] Windowless Taverns of Galicia, Leon, Castile or [ev]en Biscay and Guipuscoa. Yet I shall look back with equal pleasure upon both, if they contribute [to lay the Foundations of a free and prosperous People.]

[salute] [I am with sincere Affection yours]

[signed] [John Adams]5
RC in John Thaxter's hand (Justin G. Turner, Los Angeles, 1958). LbC (Adams Papers). Fire damage to the recipient's copy has resulted in the loss of a substantial number of words, which have been supplied from the Letterbook copy.
1. In his letter to the president of the congress of this date (calendared, below), JA wrote: “there is so great a Curiosity throughout all Europe to see our new Constitutions; and those already published in the Languages of Europe have done Us so much Honor, that I thought I should be excuseable, in making a direct Request to Congress for their Assistance in procuring those, which Mr. Genet still desires.”
2. In the Letterbook copy, a draft, JA deleted “old” in favor of “late.”
3. JA was in error; New Hampshire was governed under its unusually concise constitution of 5 Jan. 1776. In 1784 New { 380 } Hampshire inaugurated a much more elaborate constitution based on the Massachusetts model (Thorpe, ed., Federal and State Constitutions, 4:2451–2470).
4. In the Letterbook copy JA interlined “sailing in a leaky ship or.”
5. The signature is supplied. Although it has been lost from the recipient's copy and does not appear on the Letterbook copy, there can be little doubt that JA signed the letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0254

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1780-02-29

To James Lovell

[salute] My dear Friend

I cannot let the Marquis go off, without a Line to you. He took leave of the King a few days ago, in the Uniform of an American Major General, and attracted the Eyes of the whole Court more than ever. He had on no doubt his American Sword2 which is indeed a Beauty, and which he shews with great Pleasure, upon proper Occasions. The workmanship is exquisite, and there are Emblems on it, representing him, in all the most remarkable Situations he has been in in America. He goes out in a Frigate of the King the Hermione from Rochfort, he carries with him Cloaths enough for the Army to make him welcome to them, if they had not known him before.
I must break off. Yours
[signed] J. Adams
Excuse one hint more about orders to draw upon you know whom,3 without which We shall be ridiculous.
1. On this date JA wrote an almost identical letter to Elbridge Gerry (LbC, Adams Papers).
2. On 21 Oct. 1778 the congress resolved that Benjamin Franklin “be directed to cause an elegant sword, with proper devices, to be made and presented, in the name of the United States, to the Marquis de la Fayette” (JCC, 12:1035). Franklin presented the sword in Aug. 1779 (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:134).
3. That is, to draw upon Benjamin Franklin; see JA to the president of the congress, 17 Feb., and note 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0255

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-02-29

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

To the President of the Congress, No. 11

RC in John Thaxter's hand PCC, No. 84, I, f. 295; docketed: “No. 11 J. Adams Esqr Feby. 29th. 1780 the Gazette mentioned, not inclosd. Read May 15th. requests the Constitutions of each State particularly Georgia & North Carolina.” LbC Adams Papers; notations: “Recd in congress Oct. 15. Triplicate.”; by Thaxter: “No. 11.”
Responding to a request from Edmé Jacques Genet, John Adams asked for copies of American constitutions. See Genet's letter of 28 Feb. and Adams' reply of 29. Feb (both above).
RCin John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 295); docketed: “No. 11 J. Adams Esqr Feby. 29th. 1780 the Gazette mentioned, not inclosd. Read May 15th. requests the Constitutions of each State particularly Georgia & North Carolina.” LbC (Adams Papers); notations: “Recd in congress Oct. 15. Triplicate.”; by Thaxter: “No. 11.” printed: (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:527.)
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.