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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0033

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Middleton, Arthur
Date: 1779-04-24

To Arthur Middleton

[salute] Sir

Your Favour, of the 4 July 1778,2 I had not the Honour to receive, untill yesterday, which I very much lament because I fear I have lost an opportunity of rendering Some little service to the Commodore in his laudable Enterprise, at least of shewing every Respect in my Power to your Recommendation.
In a Letter, which he did me the Honour to write me, I find he has made several able Propositions to the Ministry in which I heartily wish him success: and in my Answer to him, I have taken the Liberty to { 40 } hint to him some proper Persons to apply to for Assistance in his Negociations.3
The Face of Things at present may not be so favourable to him as We could wish, but as I am well persuaded that the Constancy and Perseverance of the French Court may be depended on, I hope he will be able to convince them that one at least of his Plans, is a wise one, and promises much Utility to the common Cause. I have the Honour to be, with Sincere Respect and Esteem, sir, your obedient humble servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (NjP: de Coppet Coll.); docketed: “John Adams April 24th. 1779.”
1. Presumably an error for St. Nazaire, see JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:359.
2. Middleton's letter (Adams Papers) has not been printed, but Edward Rutledge's letter recommending Alexander Gillon dated 16 July 1778 is in vol. 6:294–295. JA's docketing on the Rutledge letter indicates that he replied on 24 April, but that letter has not been found.
3. JA's reply to Gillon's letter of 17 April (above), has not been found; this brief statement is the only indication of its content.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0034

Author: Dobrée, Peter Frederick
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-04-24

From Peter Frederick Dobrée

I am honoured with your Excellency's Letter of the 15 Instant1 with a List inclosed of several Articles to be bought for your worthy famely. Msr. S——2 is actually making those purchases and as soon as they are ready I will see them neatly packed and send them on board by some safe conveyance. Inclosed a Letter received by this morning Post which I send you agreable to your order. I am much occupied in providing the Warrant and Petty officers with a suit of Cloaths a piece and find it one of the most difficult tasks I have ever undertaken, however I hope soon to have done with them.
As his Excellency Doctor Franklin in his Letter to M. S. is very brief and refers him to you, you will be pleased to write up word if he mentions any thing which he desires to be done. With much respect I have the honour to be Your Excellencys most humble & most obedient Sert
[signed] P. F. Dobrée
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Dobrèe”; in CFA's hand: “24th April”; and in an unknown hand: “1779.”
1. JA's letter of 15 April has not been found. For the goods purchased by JA, see his personal accounts for 20 April (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:340–341).
2. Here and below the references are to J. D. Schweighauser.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0035

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-04-24

From Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

By the enclosed Letter from M. De Sartine1 expressing his Majestys Desire that the Alliance should be retained here a little longer, you will see that I am under a kind of Necessity of disappointing you in your Intentions of making your Passage immediately2 in that Vessel; which would be more unpleasing to me but for these Considerations, that possibly it may be safer for you to go in a Ship where the Crew not being so mixed can be better depended on, where you will not be incommoded by the Misunderstandings subsisting between the Officers and their Captain, and where you will have the Society of the French Ambassador, M. le Chevalier de la Luzerne, who appears to me a most amiable Man and of very sensible and pleasing Conversation. I hope this will in some Measure compensate for the Inconvenience of shifting your Stores from one Ship to the other. And as I shall order the Alliance to l'Orient where the King's Frigate is, that carries the Ambassador, the removal of your Things from one Ship to the other will be more easy. You can even go thither in the Alliance if you chuse it. The Ships in the American Trade which were at Nantes when I offered them the Convoy, of the Alliance, having declined that Offer, and sailed, as I understand, under another and perhaps safer Convoy, makes her immediate Departure for America less necessary; and perhaps she may now make a Cruize in these Seas, for which I understand she will have time; which will be probably more advantageous and therefore more Satisfactory to her People than a direct Return. I hope she may procure us some more Prisoners to exchange the rest of our Countrymen, and at the same time reimburse us the Charges of her Refitting, which you know we stand much in need of.
M. Dumas writes me from the Hague of the 19th “Je sçais [sais] depuis hier, de bonne part que l'Espagne s'est enfin declarée. Cela fera un bon Effet ici, et partout.”3 I hope his Intelligence is good; but nothing of it has yet transpired here.
Inclosed I send you a Cover which I have just received from Martinique, directed to me but containing only a Letter for you. The Cover being unskilfully sealed, over the Seal of your Letter, was so attached to it that I had like to have broken open the one in opening the other. I send you also another Letter which came from Spain.4
I am obliged by your offer of taking Charge of my Dispatches for America. I shall send them down to you by M. De la Luzerne, who is to set off in a few Days.
{ 42 }

[salute] With great Esteem, I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient & most humble Servant

[signed] B Franklin
RCwith one enclosure (Adams Papers); docketed: “Dr Franklin. Ap. 24. ans. Ap. 29. 1779.”
1. The letter, dated 20 April, informed Franklin that since a frigate was being prepared to carry La Luzerne to America, there was no need for the Alliance to go. It was to be sent to Lorient, where it could attend to whatever instructions Franklin might give. JA and his suite would be accorded, with pleasure, passage on the French warship (Adams Papers; JA, Works, 7:94).
In accordance with the letter, Franklin ordered Pierre Landais, captain of the Alliance, to proceed to Lorient to join the squadron forming under the command of John Paul Jones. This force, composed of the Alliance, Bonhomme Richard, Pallas, Vengeance, and Le Cerf—the latter three vessels supplied by the French government and under French commanders with American commissions—was to enter the Irish Sea and undertake landings, using French troops under Lafayette's command, at various points on the coasts of England and Ireland. By mid-May, with the failure of the Spanish mediation and the imminent entry of Spain into the war, the troops and ships intended for the expedition were needed for the much larger effort by France and Spain to effect an invasion of southern England. The squadron was not wasted, however, for after doing escort duty in June and July, it departed Lorient on 14 Aug. to begin the celebrated cruise around the British Isles that ended in the battle between the Bonhomme Richard and the Serapis on 23 Sept. (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:187, 145–146; Louis Gottschalk, Lafayette and the Close of the American Revolution, Chicago, 1942, p. 9–16; Morison, John Paul Jones, p. 186–199).
Lafayette was the principal advocate of the plan for the landings and the addition of the Alliance to the Bonhomme Richard squadron. Benjamin Franklin, responding to Lafayette's proposal, wrote him on 22 March that while it promised great benefits, there were also great dangers and he had “not enough of Knowledge in such matters to presume upon Advising it.” By the following day Lafayette had persuaded Franklin to raise the issue with Vergennes, but while Franklin now approved the plan, he was reluctant to attach the Alliance because of the resulting delay in JA's departure. To overcome this obstacle, Lafayette wrote Sartine on [16–20? April], requesting that a letter be sent to Franklin that could be used after the expedition had departed to justify his attachment of the Alliance to that squadron, for without such a letter Franklin would not give his approval (Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790, ed. Stanley Idzerda and others, 5 vols., Ithaca, N.Y., 1977–1983, 2:243–247, 255). From this request came Sartine's letter of 20 April. The fortunate coincidence of the departure of La Sensible permitted the offer of passage on that vessel and allowed Franklin to send the letter to JA upon its arrival, rather than after Lafayette's expedition had departed. Despite this, the delay was a bitter blow to JA. On the day Franklin's letter was received, JA wrote in his Diary that “this is a cruel disappointment.—To exchange May for July, and the Alliance for another Frigate, is too much” (Diary and Autobiography, 2:363).
JA made no further entries until 7 May, and then on the 12th, he wrote of his suspicions as to the real reason for the delay. He believed it was an effort to collect a force over which John Paul Jones could act as commodore or, at the least, was owing to Franklin's desire to keep JA in France. JA asked whether “the old Conjurer dread[ed] my Voice in Congress? He has some Reason for he has often heard it there, a Terror to evil doers.” He added, “I may be mistaken in these Conjectures, they may be injurious to J. and to F. and therefore I shall not talk about them, but I am determined to put down my Thoughts and see which turns out” (same, 2:369).
JA's suspicion that Franklin had some nefarious motive for transferring the Alliance and thus delaying his return to America was groundless; but the unex• { 43 } plained naval preparations and their sudden cancellation did encourage suspicions in other minds. See letters from Jenings and Arthur Lee of 2 June (below).
2. Franklin inserted this word above the line.
3. Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:64. Translation: I learn since yesterday, from a good source, that Spain has finally declared itself. This will have a good effect here and everywhere.
4. The cover and the enclosed letter have not been identified, but they may have been from William Bingham. The letter from Spain was likely that of 6 March from Robert Montgomery (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0036

Author: Izard, Ralph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-04-24

From Ralph Izard

[salute] Dr. Sr.

I am informed by a Letter from Nantes that the Alliance arrived there the 18th,1 and that she had 250 Men on board; she will therefore probably sail soon. My first Letter to you after your departure from hence2 desired that you would put the Letters addressed to the Committee, and to the Delegates from the State of South Carolina on board of some vessel that would sail before the Alliance. Your last Letter3 mentions nothing about them; and I hope you have kept them yourself, as I look upon that Frigate as the safest conveyance. I take the liberty of enclosing you another Letter for the Committee,4 and beg the favour of you to forward it as well as the others as soon as you arrive. Should you receive dispatches from Congress to keep you in Europe, you will be so good as to give my Letters into the particular care of the Captn. of the Alliance, and request him to forward them to Congress as soon as he arrives. Our Letters from London mention an engagement between Genl. Lincoln, and Genl. Prevost to have been fought, with considerable loss on both sides, without either being able to claim the victory. It does not appear to be certain that there has been any battle. If there has, I hope we have had the advantage, as the Gazette takes no notice of it.5 The Westerly Winds which have prevailed for some time, will I hope soon bring us good news, and compensate for the length of time we have been without any.
I heartily wish you a safe, and agreeable passage, and flatter myself with the hopes of seeing you in America before the expiration of many Months. My Wife offers her Compliments and I am Dr. Sr. Your most obt. hble Servt.
[signed] Ra. Izard
P.S. The enclosed6 is just received from Holland. I hope it may contain a Letter from America with agreeable news. Should that be the case, I should be glad to be informed of it. I wish to know whether it is true that the Alliance has got Two Hundred, and Fifty Men, and when you think she will sail.
RC (Adams Papers); “Mr Izard 24 Ap. 1779.”
{ 44 }
1. On the 18th Capt. Landais arrived at Nantes; the Alliance was at St. Nazaire (from Schweighauser, 19 April, note 2, above).
2. That of 20 March (above).
3. Not found, but probably that of 12 April. See Izard to JA, 18 April (above).
4. Not found.
5. For the battle at Beaufort, S.C., on 3 Feb., see from Arthur Lee, 18 March, note 1 (above). A report from New York, similar to that given here, appeared in the London Chronicle of 17–20 April.
6. Not found.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0037

Author: Lee, Richard Henry
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-04-24

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."

From Richard Henry Lee

Philadelphia, 24 April 1779. Dft (ViU: Lee Papers). printed: The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, ed. James Ballagh, 2 vols., N.Y., 1914 (repr. N.Y., 1970), 2:46–49.
Given its date and its existence only in draft, this reply to John Adams' letter of 5 Aug. 1778 (vol. 6:350–352) probably never reached him. Lee commended Adams for his determination to remain outside the quarrels of the Americans in France and then turned to Silas Deane, whose address he believed would have no lasting effect, for Deane was universally censured. Lee thought the British success in Georgia would be temporary; expected that the Articles of Confederation would soon be ratified; and emphasized the need for a loan, which along with economy and taxation would place the currency on a firm foundation. He enclosed the pamphlet Observations on the American Revolution (Phila., Feb. 1779), consisting of selections from the Journals of the congress compiled by Gouverneur Morris, designed to counteract the falsities of the Carlisle commissioners (Evans, No. 16625; JCC, 15:1452; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:59, note).
Dft (ViU: Lee Papers). printed: (The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, ed. James Ballagh, 2 vols., N.Y., 1914 (repr. N.Y., 1970), 2:46–49).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0038

Author: Williams, Jonathan
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-04-24

From Jonathan Williams

[salute] Dear Sir

I am sorry this Town has fewer Charms for you than a Ship of War,— You surely will have enough of the Sea on your Passage and methinks the Shore, now Nature is putting on her most agreeable Dress, is capable of giving you more pleasure. If you think the Situation of my House pleasant enough, you may be as compleatly Commander of it as you can be of any Frigate in the Service.
You may remember I mentioned to you how far I had interested myself for the Officers who came over in the Flagg. I inclose Doctor Franklins Answer, and one of them comes to you to lay before you how far they necessarily require releif.1 The next Step I think should be to let them go on board Ship directly to avoid any further Expence. But of this you are the best Judge.
Remember me to Jack. I am very respectfully & sincerely Dear Sir Your most obedt. Servt
[signed] Jona. Williams J.
{ 45 }
The Post to day brings nothing certain, as there are some Paragraphs which if true are favourable to us, I send you the Courier de l'Europe. Please to return it after perusal.
RC with one enclosure (Adams Papers).
1. Williams, who was at Nantes to clear up the questions raised by Arthur Lee about his accounts (see Jonathan Williams to Benjamin Franklin and JA, 31 Jan., and notes, above), had apparently discussed with JA his interest in the aid to be given the returned prisoners. He wrote to Benjamin Franklin regarding it on 7 April (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:57), and enclosed an extract of Franklin's reply of 20 April. Franklin expressed his concern about the welfare of the Americans who had been exchanged, but he also noted that limited resources and the difficulty of determining what was due each prisoner placed limits on his ability to provide relief. He hoped that by the time his letter reached Williams, the Americans would be on board the Alliance and referred Williams to JA, to whom authority to deal with the problem had been entrusted and to whom Franklin wrote on 21 April (see JA to Franklin, 13 April, note 4, above). There is no indication if one of the former prisoners came to see JA.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0039

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-04-25

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

I am greatly obliged to You for your favor of the 13 Instant. I am flattered much to find, that my Sentiments meet with your Approbation, the great Part you have taken in the American Question, and your Judgement in it, are such as give You a right to Influence and direct every One interested in the Event.
Be Assured, Sir, it is my Inclination and Duty to Attend to whatever you may think Adviseable in these trying Times, when more is to be done, if possible, than what has been done, and yet I have Many reasons to make me wish your staying here, where I think disinterested Men are more wanted, than in America, and where there are, I am Affraid, but few of true American Hearts. It is Impossible to say, when a Negociation for peace may be Commencd, nor what turn that Negociation may take, but as it is possible, England may first sound the Sentiments of this Court on that Head, the more of Trust and Knowledge, that are here, the better it will be to prevent any Mischievous Consequence.
Secret Negocitions, ought, to be sure, be avoided. And that they may not be too secret, there cannot be too many of those, who are trusted by the Congress Knowing of them, and in particular such as You, who have so just an Idea of the Nature of the Alliance, which demands a strict Observance of Faith between France and America, and by Consequence requires, I think, the Participation of France in every thing offered to America. It is possible, that England, who wishes to detach { 46 } America from France may take Another Course; Her offers will be to America alone, who has Wisdom and Integrity sufficient not to take a determined part, without Communicating with France. This necessarily will produce great Delay, which I think might be avoided, and the Danger too of the whole Negociation, a Momentous business, being entrusted in One Mans Hand, however qualified He may be. If Congress could be induced to give such Instructions, as the Case may require; it Ventured to give Instruction for making the Alliance, why shoud it, not be Able to do the Same for the making a Peace? Such Instructions, we may be assured, will secure its Essential Rights and Interests, in the Plainest Manner, which being Agreed to, and France Acquiescing, a Truce may be immediately made, until the Ratification of the whole is returnd from America. If a Nogociation, is ever to be enterd into, this Seems to me to be the most Expeditious, and that it may be a Safe Way, it will be your part to lay before the Congress all that you have observed in Europe, and the Congress will govern themselves Accordingly, it is for this reason, that tho I regret your going from Hence, I have som Comfort, you may give such Information, as I think is much wanted.
I concur with You in approving the Conduct of Congress, in declaring their Sense of the Alliance and in their Manner of doing it, which has in it something so particular, as makes people here think, there is Something working, which they do not at present comprehend. This Imagination is Comfirmd, in reading what passed in Congress relative to the Cargoes of the Amphitrite, Seine and others.1 Whatever is going on I am rejoicd to find the Eyes of our Country open to everything, that they regard Every Event, that the designs of Party may produce against its Interest and Honour.
Having receivd so favorably One of my productions, I have taken the Liberty of sending to You, by the purser of the Ship Alliance another, printed in the Remembrancer, it is entituld, the 'Spirit and Ressources of G.B. considerd';2 I send it to you, as it may Serve to shew you my Sense of the Iniquity and folly of England, altho it may be ineffectual to shew them to the Eyes of the people themselves. It will be translated here and publishd by Genet.3 I beg you woud Communicate it to my Friend General Gates, to whom I desire to be rememberd with much Esteem, and afterwards Hand it, if you please, to Mr. Carrol of Carrolton.
I beg I may hold a place in your Confidence and share in your Correspondence.
{ 47 }
I pray God to Help you and our Country. I am D Sir Your Most faithful & Obed. Humble Servt
[signed] Edm: Jenings
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “ansd May 4.”; and by CFA, “E. Jennings April 25th 1779.”
1. It is not clear exactly what Jenings, or others in Paris, suspected, but he is referring to the controversy that erupted over statements by Thomas Paine in the Pennsylvania Packet of 2 and 5 Jan., concerning Silas Deane's role in obtaining military aid from France. Paine's assertions came in the course of a longer essay, “Common Sense to the public on Mr. Deane's Essay,” that had begun in the issue of 31 Dec. 1778, and was continued in those of 7 and 9 Jan. Using his position as secretary to the Committee for Foreign Affairs, Paine declared on 2 Jan. that documents in his possession proved that the supplies obtained through Beaumarchais and the fictitious Roderigue, Hortalez & Cie. were “a present” from France, “promised and engaged . . . before he [Deane] ever arrived” in that country, and on the 5th he added that France had “prefaced that alliance with an early and generous friendship.”
The French minister, Conrad Alexandre Gérard, immediately protested and in memorials of 5 and 10 Jan. called for Paine's repudiation by the congress (French texts and English translations, PCC, No. 94, f. 78–81, 83–87). Gérard was disturbed because Paine's statements took on an official character from his position as secretary of the Committee for Foreign Affairs. Moreover, by contradicting assurances given by France to Great Britain before the conclusion of the Franco-American treaties, they lent credibility to British charges that the continuation of the conflict in America and the outbreak of the Anglo-French war were the result of France's early and continued violations of the law and usages of nations. In his memorial of 5 Jan., Gérard declared that he relied “intirely on the Prudence of Congress to take measures agreable to the Situation.” Congress debated the matter off and on for the next four days, but could not resolve the affair. Impatient at the inaction, Gérard renewed his protest in the memorial of 10 Jan., there emphasizing the dangers to the alliance. On 12 Jan. the congress finally resolved to disavow Paine's assertions and declared “that the supplies shipped in the Amphitrite, Seine, and Mercury were not a present, and that his most Christian Majesty . . . did not preface his alliance with any supplies whatever sent to America” (JCC, 13:54–55). The resolution was printed in the Pennsylvania Packet of 16 Jan., the same day that the congress accepted Paine's resignation and ordered him to surrender any public papers in his possession (JCC, 13:75–77).
Gérard succeeded in forcing the congress to excise a diplomatic embarrassment, but in the process he strained the Franco-American alliance. This incident, combined with Gérard's previous actions, such as his apparent agreement with Deane's “address” and open advocacy of Arthur Lee's recall, undermined his credibility. In addition, by siding with the supporters of Silas Deane against his critics, he placed unnecessary obstacles in the way of effective dealings with a sizable congressional bloc on substantive issues during the time remaining to him as minister. The instructions of Gérard's replacement, La Luzerne, warned against intervention on behalf of one faction or another, an admonition that was repeated by JA in conversations with La Luzerne and Barbé-Marbois on the Sensible during JA's return to America (Stinchcombe, Amer. Rev. and the French Alliance, p. 40–47; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:383).
2. This “production” appeared in the form of twelve letters in volume 2 of John Almon's Remembrancer for 1778 (p. 210–227). There Jenings sought to show that the war in America, far from being a cause worthy of the spirit of Englishmen, had engendered corruption and cruelty, and that the resources of Great Britain were inadequate to regain the American colonies.
3. If Edmé Jacques Genet translated and published Jening's piece, it was not in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0040

Author: Izard, Ralph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-04-26

From Ralph Izard

[salute] Dr. Sr.

As I have not been able to procure from Dr. Franklin his reasons in writing for disobeying the order of Congress of 7th May 1778, I have desired Mr. Lee to favour me with a Copy of his Minutes, respecting our conversation on that subject on 12th of January last.1 I enclose them for your perusal, and should be obliged to you if you would attest them. If you find any mistakes, or omissions, you will be so good as to favour me with a state of the conversation. You will be pleased to let Mr. Ford take a Copy of both papers, and return me the originals.2
I enclosed you a Letter two days ago, by the Post, from Holland; it will give me pleasure to learn that it has brought you agreeable news.

[salute] I have the honour to be Dr. Sr. Your most obt. hble Servt.

[signed] Ra. Izard
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Izard Ap. 26. ansd May 13th. 1779.”
1. For this incident, involving Franklin's refusal to honor drafts of Izard and William Lee, see Izard to the Commissioners, 12 Jan., note 1 (above). The enclosed “Minutes” by Arthur Lee have not been found.
2. JA's reply of 13 May, in which the “originals” were presumably enclosed, has not been found, but for some indication of its content see Izard's letter of 21 May (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0041

Author: Schweighauser, John Daniel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-04-26

From J. D. Schweighauser

[salute] Sir

I have the honor of sending you inclose a Letter1 received per this Morning's post and altho I expect to have that of seeing you dayly I have thought proper to send it you per this conveyance as if you are on your way here that it can not miss you on the road.
We have learnt that the french frigate the Surveillante has sent it [in] two English Privateers at L Orient and sunk three others. The Prince of Nassau with four or five Ships is gone to make a descent on Jersey.2 One of the Gentleman who goes down to Mindin3 will deliver you the Bag you ordered for your papers, all the other articles are ready and will be sent when You direct. I shall be happy if you would tell me if you'll take your wine from Mr. Williams and if you'll want any white wine—the Captains Steward is come to me to day and I see that there is but 8 dollars per Month allowed him by Congress4 therefore imagine that he must be cloathed as the seamen who have the same Wages.
{ 49 }
Mrs. Schweighauser and family join me in respectfull Compliments to you and am Sir Your mo: humble & mo: obedient Servant
[signed] J. Dl. Schweighauser
1. Letter not identified. On the 27th Schweighauser hastily wrote again (Adams Papers) to transmit a letter just received from Benjamin Franklin, presumably that of 24 April (above), advising JA that the Alliance would not be returning to America. JA received that letter on the morning of the 28th and immediately set out for Nantes (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:363).
2. The French attack on Jersey occurred on 1 May, when troops led by Charles Henri Nicolas Othon, Prince of Nassau-Siegen, attempted a landing at Owens Bay. The assault was beaten off by the militia and regular troops on the island, and further attempts were forestalled by the arrival of British naval forces (London Chronicle, 4–6, 6–8, 8–11 May; Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale).
3. Pointe du Minden, the Alliance's anchorage, is opposite St. Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire.
4. The rate of pay for seamen is according to the revised scale adopted by the congress on 15 Nov. 1776. The pay for a steward, however, is listed as ten dollars per month (JCC, 6:954).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0042

Author: MacCreery, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-04-28

From William MacCreery

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Letter of 14th Instant1 from Nantes reached me to Day only. It was but very lately that I heared of your having left the Metropolis, and but now of your intentions of going to America.
I have written to Doctor Franklin on the Subject you allude to, and have had the pleasure of an Answer from him, by which I perceive that at Paris they are not well acquainted with the Duties and imposts which clog Some branches of Commerce at this Port, which do not exist in others, from its being a Conquored Province.2 I have given him as much information as my time permitted of: having a large Ship loading here for Baltimore, in which I purpose embarking, I have of late, and am still kept buisey. We expect to Sail about the 10th or 15 of May, will carry 22 Nine and 6 four Pound Guns, and have near one Hundred Men.
I presume you purpose going home in the Alliance, in which, (or indeed in any other) case, I shou'd be very glad to be in Your Company. They talk of a Fleet being to Sail about the time we expect to be ready, which we shall aim at going with, and have no doubt but you will be of it.
We have no News here save what comes from the N. E. which relates to Captures and arrivals favourable to us. I am very happy to find that the Count D'Esg. appears to be in a much better Posture than we { 50 } had reason to expect of late. I sincerely wish you a happy sight of Your Freinds on t'other side the Water, & am very truely and Respectfully Dear Sir Your obt. Servant
[signed] Will MacCreery
1. Not found, but probably an answer to MacCreery's letter of 5 March (above).
2. Bordeaux was in the province of Guyenne, which, with Gascogne, had formed Aquitaine and had come under English rule in the mid-twelfth century. Not until the middle of the fifteenth century, when Charles VII conquered the English possessions in southwest France, did it return to French rule.
MacCreery's letter to Franklin may be that of 6 March. Franklin's reply has not been found, but MacCreery's answer to it, apparently alluded to below, was probably that of 17 April, which supplied information about duties on the export of salt from various ports in France (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:38, 63).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0043

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1779-04-29

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

I had, Yesterday, the Honour of yours of the 24th inclosing a Letter from his Excellency M. de Sartine, expressing his Majestys Desire that the Alliance Should be retained here a little longer.
As my Baggage was on board, and every Appearance promised that We should be under Sail in three or four days for America, in a fine ship and the best Month in the Year, this Intelligence, I confess, is a Disappointment to me. The Alliance has now a very good Crew, and the little Misunderstandings between the officers and their Captain Seem to have Subsided.
The public service, however must not be obstructed for the private Convenience of an Individual, and the Honour of a Passage with the new Ambassador, should be a Compensation to me for the Loss of the prospect of So Speedy a Return home. I cannot but hope, however that the Frigate will go to Some Eastern Port, for I had rather remain here some time longer, or even take my Lott with the Alliance in her Cruise, than go to Chesapeak or even Delaware.
I shall go round to L'orient in the Alliance, and if the Frigate which is to carry the Chevalier de la Luzerne, Sails soon, shall accept with Gratitude to his Majesty, of his obliging offer of a Passage, but I hope that his Excellency, M. De Sartine, will give the necessary orders, for this Purpose to the Frigate, otherwise I may be under an Embarrassment still.
I Sincerely join with you in your Wishes that the Alliance may make Prisoners enough to redeem our brave and honest Countrymen who have So long Suffered in English Prisons, and make Prizes enough to reimburse the Charges of refitting.
{ 51 }
I wish M. Dumas's Information may be well founded, and indeed it Seems to be favoured by a general Expectation from all Quarters.
A Vessell is arrived at Morlait and another at L'orient from Virginia—the latter brings nothing that I can learn, tho some favourable Bruits have been propagated, concerning Affairs in Georgia, as from her. As the former has brought Some Virginia and Philadelphia News-papers, I hope she may have brought, public Dispatches at least some good News. If any of either comes to your Hand proper to be communicated I should be obliged to you, for a share of it.
In a Newspaper of the 1st March, it is said that Mr. Deane has asked Leave of Absence,1 and this is all the material News, that I recollect in it excepting, indeed, G. Maxwells Letter2 giving an Account of the Affair of Elizabeth Town, by which it appears that the English were repulsed, and lost the Cattle and Horses they had taken, and if they had not fled with uncommon Dexterity, they would have been burgoinisès, a technical Term which I hope the Accademie will admit into the Language by lawful Authority.

[salute] I have the Honour, to be with great Respect, sir, your most obedient, humble sert

[signed] John Adams
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Jonh Adams Nantes 29 avril 1779.”
1. JA is referring to information contained in a piece by Thomas Paine signed “Common Sense” that appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet of 2 March. There he wrote that “Mr. Deane now wants to get off the Continent and has applied to Congress for leave of absence,” but Paine questioned whether Deane should be permitted to go in view of his unsettled accounts and the charges made by him. Even before Deane left France he had indicated his intention of returning as early as October or November (Deane to JA, 8 April 1778, vol. 6:10–13). His plans, however, went awry because the congress, in the face of the Deane-Lee controversy, required Deane to appear before it in August and December and refused to make a final determination in the case and thus excuse him from further attendance (JCC, 11:787, 789, 802, 826; 12:1240, 1246, 1247, 1258, 1265). On 11 Sept., Deane, impatient at the delay, began a series of appeals to the president of the congress. The last one previous to Paine's letter was of 22 Feb., asking that he be informed of the congress' demands so that he might fulfill them and then return to France (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:710; 3:57; see also Deane's letters of 22 Sept., 12 Oct., 19, 30 Nov., 4 Dec. 1778, and 21 Jan. 1779 in same, 2:736–738, 761–762, 841–842, 845, 847; 3:29). Deane's pleas for action were to no avail, for not until 6 Aug. 1779 was it resolved that he could “be discharged from any further attendance on Congress” (JCC, 14:930). Deane did not return to France until the summer of 1780, and then as a private citizen. For additional comments on Deane's rumored return, see Jenings to JA, 15 May, and JA to Jenings, 22 May (both below).
2. Brig. Gen. William Maxwell's account of his successful action against a British force that had landed near Elizabeth, N.J., on the morning of 25 Feb. was contained in a letter of 25 Feb. to George Washington. That and a covering letter by George Washington were received by the congress on 1 March, and extracts of both appeared in the Philadelphia papers, including the Pennsylvania { 52 } Gazette of 3 March and the Pennsylvania Packet of 4 March. A letter from Maxwell to Washington of 27 Feb., which was not printed, indicated that the British force had been composed of approximately 1,000 men under the command of Lt. Col. Thomas Sterling, and had as its objective the seizure of Gov. William Livingston at his home near Elizabeth. When it was discovered that Livingston was not there, the British force returned to its boats (PCC, No. 169, V, f. 202–206).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0044

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1779-04-29

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear sir

There is a fatal spell set upon, all Intelligence between This Country and Ours. Two Vessells have arrived, from Virginia one at L'orient the other <from> at Morlaix, and no News.
I have seen four or five News Papers which came by the latter, one of which is a Virginia Paper as late as 12 March.
No News, excepting a Letter from G.W. to Congress containing a Letter from G.M.1 to him concerning the Affair of Elisabeth Town, by which it appears that the English were obliged to take themselves away in great Haste or they would have been burgoined, leaving the Horses, and Cattle they had taken by surprise.
The speculations continue, concerning Paper Money, General Arnold—the Constitution of Pensilvania,—and Our Mightinesses the Commissioners.2
Common sense 1. March says Mr. Deane had asked Leave of Absence,—but thinks it not safe to let him go.3 The Virginia Paper says my Commission is superseded,4 but no more about tittle top, &c.
I fancy, they expect me home—but their Expectation as well as mine I fear is cut off, by the Intelligence I had Yesterday that I am not to go home in the Alliance.
You may well imagine that I am suffering Tortures. But I learned, an heathen Prayer in a heathens Translation in my early Youth, which has often in the Course of Life been of service to me.

Parent of Nature! Master of the World

Wher'eer thy Providence directs, behold

My steps with chearfull Resignation turn

Fate leads the willing, drags the backward on.

Why should I grieve, when grieving I must bear

and take with Guilt, what guiltless I <might>

<must> might share?

Mr. Johnson tells me, and so does Mr. Blodget, that there is a Packet for me from you, in the Diligence which I may expect tomorrow. The { 53 } Tongue, has no Bridle here, by all that I can learn—Slander is unchained. Guarded before me,—it is a great Political Problem which side I am of. I could tell them the secret, at once I am of neither, and another secret too, vizt. that it would be of little Importance which side I was of—indeed they seem to be sensible enough of this, that without taking a side a Man is of no Consequence.
They may possibly live to see, However, that Rashness Rancour, and Tearing one another to Pieces, is not the Way to do any good at all to their Country, nor any lasting Honour or Benefit to themselves.

[salute] Adieu

[signed] J.A.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “His Excellency John Adams Aug. 29 1779.” Jenings' dating of this letter in August, rather than April, was apparently accidental.
1. See JA to Franklin, 29 April, note 2 (above).
2. During this period, the Philadelphia papers were filled with “speculations” concerning paper money, because of its continued depreciation, and Pennsylvania's Constitution of 1776, because of the Assembly's call for a convention to make revisions. Both issues provoked sharp factional controversy. Benedict Arnold's actions as commander of Continental troops in Philadelphia also provoked controversy. Feeling against Arnold, who was charged with misusing his powers for private gain, was heightened by his arrogance and his close relationship with loyalist elements in the city. His marriage to Margaret Shippen, daughter of Edward Shippen, a neutral with loyalist sympathies, merely confirmed popular fears of his Tory connections. The campaign against Arnold ended in his court-martial in Dec. 1779, which directed that he receive an official reprimand from Washington (Robert L. Brunhouse, The Counter-Revolution in Pennsylvania, 1776–1790, Harrisburg, 1942, p. 64–68). The Pennsylvania Packet of 2 March contained a piece by “T G,” attacking Arnold's command of troops in Philadelphia and calling for his removal. Arnold's defense appeared in the issue of 4 March.
“Our Mightinesses the Commissioners” probably refers to the Carlisle Commission and, in particular, to George Johnstone's attempt to bribe Joseph Reed through Mrs. Elizabeth Ferguson. On 24 Feb. and 3 March the Pennsylvania Gazette contained long letters by Reed and William Smith, Provost of the College of Philadelphia, concerning Mrs. Ferguson's role in the affair. See also Carl Van Doren, Secret History of the American Revolution, N.Y., 1941, p. 100–104).
3. See JA to Franklin, 29 April, note 1 (above).
4. JA's reference may be to the Virginia Gazette (Purdie, Clarkson, and Davis) for which no issue of 12 March has been found. The issue of 12 March of the other Virginia Gazette (Dixon and Nicolson) makes no mention of JA being superseded.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0045

Author: Grand, Ferdinand
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-05-03

From Ferdinand Grand

[salute] Sir

Permitt me to express how sorry I have been at not being able to comply sooner with your desires, relative to the Account of the United States, till the 11th of February,1 at which time the Intention of Congress was Known; Some of the Articles that were Kept in suspençe { 54 } were the Obstacles that prevented it. I am however happy to find that the present Letter with the inclosed Account to that time will be able to reach you in Europe; I hope you will find it right, and shall be glad if it is not giving you too much trouble to hear it is come to hand, that both you and your Son are very well, and that your Satisfaction of those Places you have been through Since your leaving Paris, corresponds with the Indulgent Idea you had conceived of our Kingdom by the Metropolis.
There being a great Scarcity of True News at this place, I Shall conclude by craving the favour of being honoured with your Friendship, and of being freely disposed of in any thing I can do for you and Family in this part of the World. Being with True Esteem & Attachment Sir Your most obedient & Most hble. servt.
[signed] F. Grand
My tenderest Love to your Worthy Son if you please.
1. The enclosed accounts, sent in response to a request first acknowledged by Grand in his letter of 16 Feb. (above), have not been found. However, see the Commissioners' Accounts for 30 March to 30 June, 30 June to 8 Aug., 9 Aug. to 12 Nov. 1778 (vol. 6:2–6, 246–247, 359–362), and 12 Nov. 1778 to 11 Feb. 1779 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0046

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1779-05-04

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

Yesterday your favour of 25 of April came to Hand, but my dear sir you flatter me too much when you tell me that the Part I have taken gives me a right to influence and direct. I claim no other Right than that of being heard and having what I have to say considered: but According to present Appearances, even this is not like to be conceded to me. Content, in Gods name, if Persons of greater Abilities, more firmness, more Experience, and more Merit are, to be found in such Plenty, by the united states, either at home or abroad, let them be employed. But I can serve no Cause or Country, with Dishonour. It is not the Constitution of my Mind, if it had been I should never have been here, nor at Paris, nor at Congress.
As to the great Work of Peace, sir, you may depend upon this (if I know any Thing of Congress or the united states, a Point which I begin to doubt) no Peace will ever be made without clear, and positive Instructions from Congress. This is a subject, which in my Apprehension they will reserve to themselves and no Man or Body of Men besides will ever be able to content the People of America, with any { 55 } Peace. The satisfaction of America, and the Preservation of their Union is the great Point, We have to attend to, in making Peace, and I cannot but think it forward, and presumptuous, in any in public Characters, without Commission, or Instructions for this Purpose, to negociate or even confer about it, any farther than to receive Propositions and transmit them to Congress. Private Gentlemen perhaps may indulge themselves in speculations with less danger.
I do not draw the Same Conclusion, with you, from the Resolution of Congress respecting the Cargoes of the Amphitrite &c. They say they have Evidence that those Cargoes were not presents which is true, because an Agent arrived in America before I left it to demand Payment of Congress for the whole
But I have not Time to enlarge at present. My Thoughts have been wholly occupied, of late upon Objects of much less Magnitude, than the Peace of Nations.
I have had enough to do, to make Peace on Board the Alliance, get the Prisoners exchanged and the ship to sea, and the Moment the Business was accomplished, and the Prospect opened before me of sailing, in the pleasantest Month in the Year and the finest frigate in the World, directly home, a positive order arrives, which disarrayes all my schemes.
I dined at Brest on Board the St. Esprit, at the Invitation of her Commander Mr. Hamilton,1 who treated me with perfect Politeness, and there I found an officer, who was constantly humming Tunes to himself and making pathetic Ejaculations to the God of Love. Mr. Hamilton explained me his Case.
This officer two or three Years ago, was married in the East Indies, to a Young Lady of thirteen upon Condition that she should remain in a Convent untill his Return from Europe. This Spring the Annibal on board of which Vessell this officer was had orders to sail for India,—but when every Thing was ready for the Fleet to sail, orders came from Court for the officers and Equipage of the Annibal to shift on Board the St. Esprit, a ship destined to remain in Brest Harbour for the Channel service.
I find myself, since my Disappointment, more disposed to pity this officer, and to chant as he did Oh Dieu des Amours &c.
You may depend upon it, how much soever a Man may pant for Glory, the Prospect of a Battle with Admiral Keppell, or of Captivity in British Prisons is not quite so comfortable to human Nature as that of the Embraces of an agreable family.

[salute] Adieu

[signed] John Adams
{ 56 }
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Adams May 4th 1779.”
1. The Saint Esprit was an 80-gun ship of the line and its captain was a former British naval officer (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 351, 138).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0047

Author: Gordon, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-05-08

From William Gordon

[salute] My dear Sir

We are just returned from visiting your good Lady at Braintree, where I had a complaint exhibited against me for not writing to you, which I mean to answer totidem verbis.2 But before I proceed further must mention, in brief, that news which will be the most important and agreeable of all you will meet with in the letter, viz, that Mrs. Adams and children are well and as chearful as can be expected while you are at such a distance from them. We spent the evening and lay at your villa, and returned immediately after breakfast, having to attend in the afternoon the funeral of Dr. Winthrop, who deceased the last Monday, to the great loss of the College, State and Continent.3 The late General Court died the same day with Dr. Winthrop. Some of their last acts I think are not the most honourable or equitable. I have my eye particularly to that which confiscates the estates real and personal of all absentees that withdrew, without leave, after the 19th. of Apl. 1775 into any parts and places under the acknowledged authority of the king of G B, or into any parts and places within the limits of the united States being in the actual possession of the fleets or armies of the said king; or who before the 19th of Apr. after the arrival of Thos. Gage Esqr. withdrew from their usual places of habitation into the town of Boston with an intention of obtaining his protection and have not returned and been received as subjects of the United States.4 To confiscate the estates of all such absentees without distinction or exception I must deem till I have more light—cruel—cruel—superlative cruel. Besides there is a gross absurdity in the act for the preamble sets forth as the reason for the confiscation, their withdrawing when it had become their indispensible duty to unite in defence of their common freedom, in consequence of the kings having declared the people of the United States to be out of his protection, and levying war against them. Now the king did not declare the people of the United States out of his protection nor levy war against them, till long after the 19th. of Apr. 1775.5 It might have sufficed to have confiscated where absentees had been in arms or had subscribed towards raising wherewithal to subdue us, or had withdrawn after the declaration of Independence. But the State wants money; and individuals who have made a great { 57 } deal of paper money during the war want to buy estates, and turn their nominal riches into real, ere they expire in their possession.
I could get no further on the saturday, and am now in a great hurry, having a journey to Providence before me, in order to pay Genl. Gates a visit. Our currency is our greatest difficulty for the present; and what it will soon come to is hard to say. I wish it was all burnt to ashes, never to rise again. It will not be the true policy of France to attempt dividing the fishery with G B to the exclusion of the Americans.6 Such a manoeuvre will disgust the New Englanders to that degree, that if G B is not downright folly she may take the advantage of such disgust and make it turn much to her own account and equally so to the damage of France. I have wrote you several letters,7 and have received not one from you, while I have heard once and again from Dr. Franklin; but while I consider the interruption to which the present correspondence is liable, and how few letters Your Lady hath received out of the many You have wrote, I suspend all censure. The man8 whom you thought would be governor, I apprehend never will be. He sinks daily; and the world begins to know a little more of him. Would time permit you should have more words; but I am straitened, tho' I got up before I could see to read. Believe me to be with much esteem, Your sincere friend & very humble servant
[signed] William Gordon
It is pritty well over with Deane; he and his colleagues outwitted themselves. Paine hath done or will do for them; for he will tell the truth. I could write you more about them, but it might not be safe.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed by John Thaxter: “Dr G[ordon] May 8.” The bottom of the page has been cut off, resulting in the loss of a portion of the docketing.
1. The date and the docketing in Thaxter's hand are indications that JA did not receive this letter until his return to France in 1780.
2. In so many words.
3. Professor John Winthrop, JA's former teacher and friend, died on 3 May. In AA's letter to JA of 8 June, she paid tribute to his memory (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:200–201).
4. “An Act for Confiscating the Estates of Certain Persons Commonly Called Absentees” was adopted on 30 April. The sentence largely follows the text of the first section of the act (Mass., Province Laws, 5:968–971; Mass., House Jour., 1778–1779, 2d sess., p. 203).
5. Presumably Gordon is referring to the king's proclamation for “Supressing Rebellion and Sedition” of 23 Aug. 1775.
6. Gordon is alluding to the debate then going on in the congress over the American peace ultimata, in which the question of American access to the Newfoundland fisheries was a major issue. He was not alone in his concern about the possibility of an Anglo-French division of the fisheries, for James Lovell wrote Gen. Horatio Gates on 5 April that “two European Powers have fancied that they could claim the Fishery of the Banks and Gulphs of America not only against their european Nations but against all weaker People ever bordering on their Sease” { 58 } (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:142). For a more detailed treatment of the fisheries issue and its implications for JA's appointment to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain, see James Lovell to JA, 27 Sept., note 2 (below).
7. No letters from Gordon since JA's departure from America in Feb. 1778 have been found.
8. Probably a reference to John Hancock. In letters to James Warren on 7 July and to Elbridge Gerry of 9 Dec. 1777, JA had indicated his belief that Hancock sought the governorship (vol. 5:242–243, 352–353).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0048

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-05-10

From Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

I received the honour of yours of the 29th. past from Nantes. I hope you are before this time safely arrived at L'Orient. M. De la Luzerne is making diligent Preparation for his Departure, and you will soon see him. He and the Secretary of the Embassy1 are both very agreable and sensible Men, in whose Conversation you will have a great deal of Pleasure in your Passage. What Port the Ship will be ordered to I have not yet learnt, I suppose that it may be partly left to the Captain's Discretion, as the Winds may happen to serve. It must certainly be most agreable to you to be landed in Boston; as that will give you an earlier Sight of your Family; but as you propose going immediately to Congress, being landed at Philadelphia will have some little Advantage,2 as it saves half your Journey. I shall take care to procure the Order to the Captain from Mr. De Sartine, which you desire; tho' I should suppose showing the Original Letter of that Minister, which you have, would be sufficient. No publick Dispatches are arrived here since you left us. I see by the Virginia Papers that the 6th. of February, being the Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty, was observed with great Festivity by the Congress &c. at Philadelphia.3 From Holland I have just received the Resolution of the States General, of the 26th. past, to Convoy their Trade, notwithstanding Sir Joseph York's Memorial, and to fit out directly 32 Ships of War for that purpose;4 which is good News and may have consequences.

[salute] I have the honour to be, with great Regard, Sir, Your most obedient & most humble Servant.

[signed] B Franklin
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Dr Franklin May 10. ansd 17th. 1779.”
1. François Barbé-Marbois had acted as La Luzerne's secretary during his service at the Court of Bavaria between 1775 and 1778 (Stinchcombe, Amer. Rev. and the French Alliance, p. 77). With his arrival in America, Barbé-Marbois began a long association with American affairs that culminated in the sale of Louisiana in 1804 (see E. Wilson Lyon, The Man Who Sold Louisiana ..., Norman, Okla., 1942). In the course of JA's passage to America on La Sensible in company with La Luzerne and Barbé-Marbois, JA and the latter engaged in extensive conversa• { 59 } tions on American affairs and formed a close and cordial relationship (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:383–384, 386–394386, 386–389, 389–390, 390–392, 392–395, 396–397. For JA's sketch of Barbé-Marbois, see his letter to the president of the congress of 3 Aug. (below).
2. Franklin was mistaken about JA's intentions; see JA's reply of 17 May (below).
3. Franklin is probably referring to the Virginia Gazette (Dixon and Nicolson) of 5 March, which reported that “the cheerfulness which existed in the company upon the happy occasion of their being assembled, was not to be exceeded; and a thousand brilliances alluding to the alliance were uttered.”
4. The memorial of 9 April was a protest against the Dutch failure to contest effectively the French order of January that denied all privileges previously granted to Dutch ships in French ports until measures were taken to protect Dutch trade, particularly in ships timbers and other naval stores, from British warships and privateers. The removal of Amsterdam and Haarlem from the effects of the order, following their protests against the States General's refusal to undertake convoys, led Yorke to warn that continued indifference to French interference in Dutch internal affairs would bring British retaliation. Yorke saw the French order as a ploy to provoke an Anglo-Dutch war by forcing the Netherlands to provide unlimited convoys to protect its French trade in the midst of an Anglo-French naval war, while at the same time demanding that the provisions of the Anglo-Dutch treaties of 1674 establishing naval stores as noncontraband be strictly observed. This was unacceptable to the British because compliance would permit the Dutch, under the guise of neutrality, to supply France with the naval stores that its own merchant fleet was incapable of carrying and that would be otherwise unobtainable. Yorke's memorial was too late, for protests by other cities against the favored treatment of Amsterdam and Haarlem, as well as the absence of action by the States General that would restore all the Dutch cities to an equal footing, led to the secret resolution of 26 April to outfit 32 ships (Miller, Sir Joseph Yorke, p. 76; Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution, p. 125–126; for the text of Yorke's memorial, see vol. 2 of John Almon's Remembrancer for 1778, p. 358–359; or the Annual Register for 1779, p. 425–427; for the French order concerning Dutch ships, see Dumas' letters to the Commissioners of 16 and 19 Jan., above).
Franklin received the news from C. W. F. Dumas in a letter of 3 May (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:72). Dumas presented a more detailed account of the resolution, including the number of ships that each city was to outfit, in a letter to the Committee for Foreign Affairs of 15 May (French text, PCC, No. 93, I, f. 276–279; translation, Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:166–168). There Dumas intimated that the resolution might be less significant than it seemed, for by failing specifically to state that naval stores were to be protected by the convoys, it was unlikely that the resolution would be accepted by France as justification for lifting its restrictions.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0049

Author: Dalton, Tristram
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-05-13

From Tristram Dalton

[salute] Sir

The enclosed Packett to the Honle. Doctor Franklin, contains Papers relating to the Loss of the Brigantine Fair Play, which Vessel was sunk, last Januy., by a Battery, on the Island of Gaudaloupe.1
The Particulars of this unhappy Misfortune, whereby Eighteen Men perished, together with the Steps taken in Consequence, You'll find in these Papers, which I beg the Favor of your perusing—afterward that you'll be so kind as to seal the Packett and deliver it.
{ 60 }
I also enclose a Letter for Yourself, which our good Friend Mr. Gerry has favored me with.
Presuming not only upon the repeated Marks of Friendship which You have heretofore honor'd me with, but upon the natural Desire You have that Justice should be done in all Cases, I take the Freedom to ask your kind Assistance in the Prosecution of this Claim for Indemnification. The Loss is heavy, as You'll see by the Appraisement—but the Disappointment, in having a most promising Cruize broke up, is much greater.
I trust the Court of France will on Application, immediately feel the Propriety of making the Sufferers good.
If it is not taking too much of your Time from public, and by far more important Concerns, shall I beg the Honor of a Line from You?
In every Station of Life, You have my most sincere Wishes for Health, Prosperity, and Happiness, for I am, with the greatest Truth and Regards Sir Your affectionte. hble Servant
[signed] Tristram Dalton
RC (Adams Papers). A second recipient's copy, virtually identical with that printed here, is also in the Adams Papers, presumably because Dalton sent duplicates of this letter and the enclosed packet by another ship.
1. JA did not receive this letter or the enclosed letter of 12 May from Elbridge Gerry (Adams Papers) that Dalton mentions below until he returned to Paris in Feb. 1780. Then he acknowledged both in letters of 23 Feb. (below). Benjamin Franklin, however, did receive the “enclosed packet” of approximately 36 pages, which was accompanied by a covering letter from Dalton to Franklin of 13 May (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:77). The packet contained depositions from the captain and crew of the Fair Play and, according to Gerry's letter to JA of 12 May, letters to Sartine from the governor of Guadeloupe and Conrad Alexandre Gèrard, and to Franklin from the Mass. delegates to the Continental Congress. These last three were probably of 15 Jan., 11 May, and 12 May respectively (same, 2:65, 76; 4:280, 287).
Benjamin Franklin first learned of the loss of the Fair Play from William Bingham's letter of 5 Jan. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers), which enclosed an undated extract of a letter to Sartine from the governor of Guadeloupe and a deposition by the Fair Play's captain, Andrew Giddings. Franklin received Bingham's letter on or about 29 April and wrote to Sartine, who replied on 26 May that the French government would compensate the owners of the vessel. Franklin informed the Committee for Foreign Affairs of this decision in a letter of the same date (Worthington C. Ford, comp., List of the Benjamin Franklin Papers in the Library of Congress, Washington, 1905, p. 67; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:84; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:193–194). The French offer of compensation, which amounted to 15,000 livres, did not end the matter, for the owners believed the payment to be far too little. Correspondence on the matter continued into 1783.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0050

Author: Jones, John Paul
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-05-13

From John Paul Jones

[salute] Sir

You will confer on me a singular Obligation by favoring me with your Opinion and Advice respecting the unhappy misunderstanding { 61 } which I am told prevails on board the Alliance. I ask your advice because, tho I am determined to preserve Order and Disciplin where I command, yet I wish to reprove with moderation and never to punish while there remains a good Alternative. It appears that there is a fault at least in one of the parties, and I wish much to know where the fault lies, for without harmony and general good will among the officers I cannot proceed with a good prospect.
I beseech you to favor me with an Answer as soon as possible.1 When I have the honor of seeing you Ashore I will put into your hands a letter2 which I have received—in the meantime if you require it I will promise to keep your Answer a Secret.
I have the honor to be with sentiments of great respect Sir Your very Obliged very Obedient humble Servant
[signed] Jno. P. Jones
RC (Adams Pacers).
1. Jones, at Lorient preparing for the planned assault on the English and Irish coasts (see Benjamin Franklin to JA, 24 April, note 1, above), lost no time in consulting JA, who had arrived on the previous day in the Alliance (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:369). JA indicated that he continued to hold the opinion expressed in his letter to Benjamin Franklin of 13 April (above) and then stated that “these little unhappinesses appear to me to be so little essential, that I fancy the shortest and surest way to cure them is to get to Sea, and find something else to think of.” (JA to Jones, 13 May, offered for sale by Anderson Galleries, First Editions, Autograph Letters and Manuscripts, cat. 4135, N.Y., 1934, p. 4. The current location of this letter is unknown to the editors.)
2. The letter is unidentified, but Jones may have shown it to JA when the two men dined together on 13 May. JA's Diary entry for that day contains a description of the dinner and a brief character sketch of Jones (Diary and Autobiography, 2:370–371).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0051

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1779-05-14

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

The Day before Yesterday, We arrived here, in two Days from Nantes, all well.
There is a Frigate now turning into this Port, which is said to be Le Sensible, and if this is true, I hope, it will not be a long Time before We get to sea.
The Chevalier de La Luzerne I hope is sensible of the Value of every Moment in the last half of the Month of May towards a Voyage to America. If We wait untill the Middle of June, We May very well chance to have a Passage of Eleven or Twelve Weeks.
In my last Letter I mentioned my Hope that the Chevalier would go to the Northward. It is true that I am much interested in this, but I hope my own share in this Buisiness, did not entirely suggest that Wish. The greatest Concourse of British Men of War is undoubtedly at { 62 } present between the West India Islands and those Parts of America which lie between Rhode Island and Georgia. Captain Jones in a Vessell from Baltimore, whom I saw at his arrival in <Nan> at St. Nazare which was last sunday night in a Passage of Thirty days told me there were three British Frigates cruising in the Mouth of Cheasapeak Bay. As We have had no Arrival from Philadelphia so long there is great Reason to believe that there is more than one Vessell of War of the Line or Frigates cruising in Delaware Bay. Therefore I think the Chance of getting safe into Port, is ten Times greater at Boston than Philadelphia, and I presume the Chevalier, wishes to avoid a Captivity as well as myself, altho in such an unfortunate Case he would probably be treated with more Politeness than I should.
The Transportation of his Baggage by Land, as well as that of Mr. Gerard is a Thing that deserves Attention to be sure—But it had better go by Land, to Boston than by sea to New York. As to Mr. Gerards I presume, he will bring nothing to Europe with him but what is absolutely necessary, as every Thing he has will fetch in America twice as much as would replace it in Europe—and in this Way Insurance and Risque will be avoided.
Mr. Chaumont gave Us the Pleasure of his Company this Morning at Breakfast. His son made Us a Visit before. Both are very well.
I should be obliged to you, if you would present my Compliments to his Lady and Family, and now I have begun with the Ladies, if you think it worthwhile you will oblige me much by making my Compliments acceptable to Madame Bertin, Madame Brillon and Madame Helvetius, Ladies for whose Characters I have a very great Respect.1 I have the Honor to be with great Respect sir your humble servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Jonh Adams L'Orient may 14 1779.”
1. While at Passy, JA had dined and conversed with these women, all friends of Franklin. See JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:94–95, 47–49, 58–59.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0052

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-05-15

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

I have receivd your favor Acknowledging the Receipt of Mine of the 24th of April,1 which seems to have been long while getting to you. I was sorry to hear of your Dissapointment in going in the Alliance, which some people here think woud be better Employed in convoying on the Coast of America the very important fleet now gone then any { 63 } marading Scheme Whatever. I suppose you will Accompany the [new?] Minister, who I hear bears a most Excellent Character.
These are times not to sing to the God of Love, I mean for an American, altho the poor French Officer could not help it. You have much to go through, before you Enjoy even domestic peace and Comfort. You have put your Hand to the plough and must not look back nor do I think ought any of these great Men, who have hitherto laboured in the field, least New Ones come in and spoil the Harvest.
The people of England are amused with the talk of Peace and they Amuse the Spanyards with a supposed Disposition towards it. How long the Court of Spain may be amused I Know it,2 but England is certainly putting herself greatly on her Gaurd; on a Supposition that the delusion will not last long.3 The Dutch have put into Commission 30 Ships to Convoy their Trade, and Sweden has grantd Convoys to the Mediterrean and through the Channel of England.4 These Measures have Affectd the Stocks of England.
I hear that Mr. D has liberty to come over and to settle either His or the public Accounts—his Friends are rejoicd at it.5 I am Sorry to find you hear Nothing from the Congress, their Time must surely be greatly taken up with domestic Matters, not to think of their foreign Affairs and Servants. A Ship from Maryland has lately brought a large Packet to the Count de Vergennes but I Hear of Nothing arriving to our Minister here. I saw Him last Wednesday. He is quite Hearty.
You tell me they are puzzld to Know what Party you Are of, because you are of None. <My Case> The Judgment of me is very different, because I am of None, Each Side thinks I am of the other, and Caution one Another Against me. In Some Humours that I am in, this is a Matter of Laughter, in others of Contempt, but in general of much Concern. So long however as I think I mean well to the Country, I shall think that those, who Abuse me most, are the worst Men and mean the least good to the States. This is the Dictate of Self Complacency, and is a natural Rule of Judgement, and so they must Excuse, the opinion I may form of them in return.
Palliser is acquitted,6 the Court having declard, that his Conduct was in some Cases highly honorable and Exemplary, altho he was Somewhat blameable in not informing the Admiral of his Distress. Thus We see, that however Infamous a Man May be, his Party will Justify and give Him Honor. May America never be so Corrupted and debased.
I Hope your Son is well and affords you the Comfort your Situation requires.
{ 64 }

[salute] I am Dear Sir Your Most Obedient & devotd Hble Sert

[signed] Edm: Jenings
1. JA's letter of 4 May acknowledged Jenings' letter of the 25th, not the 24th of April (both above).
2. Presumably written for “not.”
3. For the deteriorating relations between Spain and Great Britain, see JA to Benjamin Franklin, 13 April, note 2 (above).
4. The decision by Sweden to provide convoys for its vessels was made in March, after Russia had declined to enter into concert with the Northern powers (Sweden and Denmark) to protect neutral trade against British seizures, as originally proposed by Denmark's foreign minister in the fall of 1778 (De Madariaga, Armed Neutrality of 1780, p. 73–86). Together with the action taken by the Netherlands on 26 April (see Franklin to JA, 10 May, above), Sweden's action foreshadowed the Armed Neutrality proposed by Russia in 1780.
5. Jenings' information was erroneous; see JA to Benjamin Franklin, 29 April, note 1 (above).
6. The court-martial or, more accurately, the court of inquiry, since there were no charges against him, of Vice Adm. Hugh Palliser ended on 5 May. Palliser had sought the trial to vindicate his conduct at the battle off Ushant because Adm. Keppel earlier had been acquitted of the charges brought by Palliser (see JA to Francis Dana, 25 Dec. 1778, note 4, above), thus casting doubt on his own reputation and conduct during the battle. Although Palliser was found innocent, his career in the navy was over, and he spent the remainder of his life as governor of Greenwich Hospital (Mackesy, War for America, p. 242–243; for daily proceedings of the trial, see the issues of the London Chronicle from 10–13 April through 4–6 May).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0053

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1779-05-17

To Benjamin Franklin

Your Favour of the 10th. I received the Day before Yesterday, and am glad to hear that the Chevalier is making diligent Preparation for his Departure, for I wish, most impatiently to see him. Every day, now is a great Loss.
In a Letter I wrote a few days ago I mentioned Some Reasons for prefering Boston to Delaware. I think there can be no doubt that there are at least Several Frigates in Delaware River which there will be no Chance of escaping. However, after submitting my Reasons to consideration I shall be very willing to submit to the Decision. As to my going to Congress. I have not taken any Resolution nor made any Promises about it: But upon the whole my prevailing Opinion is that I shall not go, unless I should be ordered, very soon.
The Resolution of the States General, to convoy their Trade and fit out 32 ships of War for that Purpose, has an Appearance of Decision, and I hope will <increase the> have some Tendency to bring the English to Reason. They have given one Symptom of some remaining Justice and Humanity in the late Exchange of Prisoners, which is the only { 65 } Instance of any Appearance of Candor or sincerity; that I can recollect in their Conduct, since the Repeal of the Stamp Act.
We have an odd Report, here of Six ships of the Line, before St. Maloes, which Nobody can account for. Surely it is impossible that Six ships should insult, this Coast so near to Brest.
Private Letters from England by Yesterdays Mail say that the last Proposals of Spain, have been rejected, with ill humour.1
From America, no News can be obtained. Of five Vessells arrived, within a few Weeks, one at Morlaix, one at L'orient one at Nantes and two at Isle, d'aix, not one has brought any Dispatches, nor all together above 4 or 5 News papers. These are all from Cheasapeak.
The Frigate Le Sensible, has been here several days.
The Poor Richard2 appears to be almost ready for sea, and she has a set of very fine officers, but what Character the ship deserves and her Equipage, which is very much mixed, I dont know, But I hope and believe, that the officers will keep them in order.
The Characters you give of the new Ambassador and his secretary, give me much Pleasure. The Name of the latter I have not yet heard. Shall be happy to form an Acquaintance with both, and in an opportunity to shew them the Town of Boston before they go to Philadelphia. It may be Usefull, to see, so large a Part of America, and they will be very sure of a cordial Reception.

[salute] I have the Honour to be, with great Respect, sir Your most obedient servant

[signed] John Adams
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Jonh Adams L'orient 17 May 1779.”
1. See JA to Franklin, 13 April, note 2 (above).
2. That is, the Bonhomme Richard.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0054

Author: Schweighauser, John Daniel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-05-18

From J. D. Schweighauser

[salute] Sir

I hope you are ere now safely arrived at L Orient and that you have found all the arrangements made for your passage to America to your Satisfaction, which I shall be happy to learn, particularly as it is wispered here that the Alliance's destination is again changed and that she is to go strait to Boston, I sincerely wish it for you persuaded how much more agreable it will be to take your passage in her than in another.
I received your Letter of the 5 Instant by which you propose settling the small accounts of articles bought for Mrs. Adams with Mr. Pu• { 66 } chelberg and receiving from him the money you may want which I note accordingly.1
Mrs. Schweighauser Mr. Dobreé and family join me in most respectfull Compliments to you.

[salute] I have the honor to be most devotedly Your mo obedient & mo humble Servant.

[signed] J. Dl. Schweighauser
1. No letter of 5 May has been found, nor have the items purchased by JA been identified, but see his personal accounts for the period (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:340–341). The accounts indicate that on 22 May, JA received 2,930.16. livres from Schweighauser and Puchelberg.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0055

Author: Izard, Ralph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-05-21

From Ralph Izard

[salute] Dear Sir

I have received your favour of 13th. May,1 on the subject of Dr. Franklin's conduct on the 12th. of last January, for which I thank you. I should have been glad if you had gone more fully into it; perhaps however it is unnecessary, as the principal fact is established.
I can have no objection to your communicating our correspondence on this subject to Dr. Franklin; but you will be good enough to excuse my declining to write to him about it. In your presence, and Mr. Lee's he promised to send me a Copy of the Letter which you refused to sign. He afterwards gave me the same promise under his hand, which I shewed you at Passy. He has not however thought proper to pay the least regard to either of these engagements. I wish therefore to trouble him as little as possible with my Letters. I have had the pleasure of frequently seeing the Chevalier de la Luzerne, and M. de Marbois, the Secretary of the Embassy, and congratulate you on your prospect of having such agreeable companions in your Voyage. They appear to me to be very worthy, sensible men; and I am very happy in thinking that they will give universal satisfaction to our Countrymen both in, and out of Congress. I am extremely desirous of returning to my native Country, and it will give me great pleasure if my next Dispatches from Congress should put it into my power to do it. The last Post from London brought nothing new. No account had been received of the sailing of Admiral Arbuthnot's Squadron,2 who was still in Torbay; so that I hope M. la Motte Picquet, who sailed from the neighbourhood of la Rochelle on the 10th. with the American Ships under his Convoy will not meet with him. My Wife desires her Compliments, and I am Dr. Sr. Your most obt. hble Servt.
[signed] Ra. Izard
{ 67 }
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Izzard 21. May 1779.”
1. Not found, but see Izard's letter to the Commissioners of 12 Jan., note 1 (above).
2. Adm. Marriot Arbuthnot had been scheduled to sail for America in April, but, delayed by bad weather and the French attack on Jersey, did not set out until 24 May, and then as commander of a convoy of 215 ships carrying reinforcements and supplies to America (Mackesy, War for America, p. 260–261).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0056

Author: Schweighauser, John Daniel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-05-22

From J. D. Schweighauser

[salute] Sir

I am honoured with your favor of the 2 Instant in compliance to which I have wrote to Cap Landais for Mr. T. Greenleaf's passage.2
Inclose you will find the note of Sundry Articles which Mrs. Schweighauser has bought for Mrs. Adams amounting to 1730:16 which she hopes will meet with her approbation. This small Sum you will please to pay either to Mr. Odea or Messrs. Puchelberg & Co. at L Orient if convenient and if you had occasion on the other hand for Money I will write by tomorrows post to the latter to furnish it to you.
I am with much respect Sir Your mo humble obt. Servant
[signed] <J. Dl. Schw> Schweighauser
1. The date is derived from an entry in JA's personal accounts, dated 22 May (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:341). There JA wrote that he “drew an order on Dr. Franklin in favour of Mr. Schweighauser” for 2,930.16. livres. This money, supplied by Puchelberg & Co., was for the goods valued at 1,730.16. livres, mentioned in this letter, and an advance of 1,200 livres that JA drew for expenses. JA enclosed the order in a letter to Schweighauser of 22 May (not found), which Schweighauser acknowledged with his “most Sincere thanks” on the 27th (Adams Papers).
2. JA's letter of 2 May has not been found, but for Thomas Greenleaf, see his letter to JA of 16 July 1778, note 3 (vol. 6:294).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0057

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1779-05-22

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dr. sir

Yours of the 15 reached me, Yesterday. I am waiting here in anxious Expectation of the new Minister, with whom, it is said I am to embark. It would give me Pleasure to form an Acquaintance with this Gentleman, because his Character is good, and because, it would give me an opportunity of convincing him of the Importance of keeping himself disconnected with Parties. Not only the Benefits of the Alliance, but the Duration of the Confederacy of the states depends, upon the Neutrality of the French Court, in our internal Disputes.
The Object of the Armament that is fitting out, here, is a Secret of { 68 } state. Who is to be at the Expence of it? Who directs it? Who is [to]1 have the Benefit of it?2
I must Sing a little to the God of Love, let War and Politicks say what they will. Surely I may be allowed to hum a Tune to him, when I am not permitted to pay him any other Kind of Worship. This I may do without looking back, which I shall never do, whoever holds the Plough. As to your Idea of the great Men, there is not much in it. It is a great People, <with little Masters?> that does great Things. They will always find Instrument[s] to employ that will answer their Ends. I am more and more convinced that every great Character in the World is a Bubble, and an Imposture, from Mahomet down to Governor Johnstone. It is made up of little Tricks and low Devices.
I thank you for the news from Holland and Sweeden. Every Article of News is important to me here, where nothing is to be learnd. I never felt the Want of it so much.
Mr. Ds. Permission to come over, to settle, his or the public Accounts is another Mistery.3 A new Device for Sliding into a public Character. Why permitted to do this? Is he to be a public Man? in public Pay? Why permitted to do what is his Duty? and was his Duty, to have done before? What Accounts are to settle? I am weary of these misterious Artifices. If he had been ordered to lay his Accounts, before Congress, without delay or as soon as he could get his Papers from France, and censured for leaving them there I should have understood this very well. I am convinced that a Construction will be put upon this that Congress never intended. And that he means to draw Consequences from it that they did not think of. Will Dr. F. pay Mr. Ds. Expences, who refused to pay Mr. Izards, and Mr. W. Lees?
With all my Professions of Neutrality and Impartiality I confess myself wholly against this Man. He will not have my Vote, to be in any very important office. His narrow Capacity and his immeasurable Vanity, to go no farther make such a Composition, as will not soon have my Confidence. With all this He has subtelty and Intrigue enough to do our affairs much Harm, if he comes to France. He has formd Connections in Trade, with some House or Houses or other in almost every State from G. to N.H. as I am informed. He has also formed very extensive Connections in the maritime Towns in France. These grasping Genius's are the Curse of human Kind. This Mans Conduct in particular has done our Cause in my humble opinion incredible Injuries. To his extravagant Projects, all the Disputes and Quarrells about our foreign affairs, are to be imputed. To him it is chiefly owing that Americans are tearing one anothers Characters in Pieces in this Coun• { 69 } try, mutually labouring to make each other appear to be Knaves. And a great Part of the World, here, is now complaisant enough to take Us all at our Words.
For my own Part, instead of permitting Mr. D to come, I wish Congress had positively ordered Mr. L. to Spain, Mr. Izard to Tuscany and Dr. F. to attend wholly to his Negociations at Court.
If mercantile and maritime matters and the Disposition of all Money but his own salary, is not taken from the Minister, America will be ruined in Reputation as well as Credit very soon.
A Consul should be appointed at Nantes, with a Power of Deputation. This Consul, in Person or by Deputy should have the management of all our Commercial Concerns and the Direction of all the Vessells of War, and be made without Mercy to lay his Accounts before Congress once in two Months.
This is the substance of my system for American affairs in France. I beg your sentiments upon it, and your Reasons against any Part that you may disapprove, for I am open to Conviction.
The great Difficulty will be to find a proper Person for a Consul, I wish you would mention if you think of any.
This is writing freely to be sure, but you will make no improper Use of it, and the Times certainly demand a free Communication of Sentiments.

[salute] Adieu

Your Remembrancer is not yet arrived.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed by Jenings: “J Adams Esqr. Rcd. May 29. 1779.” and “J Adams Esqr May <1>22. 1779”; possibly in another hand: “John Adams Esqr May 29 1779.” LbC (Adams Papers). It is the first Letterbook copy to be entered in Lb/JA/5 since JA's letter to John Boylston of 5 March (above).
1. Supplied from the Letterbook copy.
2. See Benjamin Franklin to JA, 24 April, note 1 (above).
3. See JA to Benjamin Franklin, 29 April, note 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0058

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-02

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

I am much honored by the open and Confidential Manner, in which you have written to me; in return to which, I must assure you, that I heartily Concur with You in your Sentiments of the Necessity of the french Courts holding a Most liberal and neutral Conduct, and that it will do so, I look upon the New Appointment,1 to be an Earnest. I am to have the Honour of meeting the Gentleman, who is going out, to• { 70 } morrow at Dinner. I have heard such Accounts of Him, that I Shall go much prejudiced in his favor. Your Opinion of the Necessity of appointing different Men for the Mercantile Maritime and Money Matters are just. At present the Power of the Minister2 is vast indeed, too much for any Man, and in Case of Accidents, the whole depending on one life, maybe highly detrimental to the States for want of a Successor or Chargé des Affaires on the Spot.
When you was informd that Mr. D was coming over, you ought to be informed it was not much Credited by me, it was however positively assertd by one of his friends. But when I asked the Question of another, I was convincd there was little foundation for it. You show me the Impropriety of the permission. The Narrow Capacity, the Immeasurable Vanity, together with the Intrigue and Subtility of the Man, must make Him most dangerous. But I must tell you He is in the highest Repute here—His bust was placed in your Apartments immediately as you Quitted them.3
The Questions you Ask, as to the intended Expedition occurred to every one. Some others might be Asked? Who advised the Sending french Troops to any part of America? And who contested that the Alliance, which surely ought to have attended the American Ships out, when left by the french Men of war, on their own most Dangerous Coasts? but to these and other Questions, the Answer is now given. The Expedition is totally Laid Aside; so that you may yet go in your favorite Vessel.4
I Know the Difficulty of recommending Men who may be proper to discharge the public business, but I think I can with Ease and pleasure recommend Mr. Joshua Johnson,5 now residing at Nantes, to be Consul there. He is the Brother of the Govr. of Maryland, and is at present charged with the particulars Commission of that State. But is there not at present a Commercial Agent or Consul there already?
I was preventd sending to You by the last Post. I have since I wrote the foregoing seen the Minister who Answered my Expectation. He sets out tomorrow for L Orient. He goes by the Way of Orleans I believe to visit Choiseul.6 I shall beg the favor of his Secretary to deliver a Packet to You—of Which I Shall be obliged to you for the Delivery in America. They Talk in England and Here of Spain taking a part. The Jamaica fleet is arrived.
I beg you remember me to your Son and Mr. Ford7 who I Hope goes with You. You all go with my best Wishes.

[salute] I am Dear Sir Your Most Obt Humble Servt

[signed] Edm: Jenings
{ 71 }
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur Monsieur Jean Adams. au Soin de Monsieur Moylan á L Orient.”; docketed by CFA: “E. Jennings. June 2d. 1779.”
1. Chevalier de la Luzerne.
2. Benjamin Franklin.
3. This bust of Silas Deane has not been located.
4. See Benjamin Franklin to JA, 24 April, note 1 (above).
5. Johnson, whose daughter Louisa Catherine married JQA in 1797, had first met JA on 12 April 1778 at Paris. While at Nantes in April 1779, JA spoke with him about trade and the appointment of consuls (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:299, 357–359, 363; for a sketch of Johnson, see same, 2:300).
6. La Luzerne apparently meant to visit Etienne François de Choiseul-Stainville, Duc de Choiseul, Vergennes' predecessor as foreign minister from 1758 to 1770. La Luzerne reached Lorient on either 10 or 11 June (JA to the president of the congress, 3 Aug., below; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:380). Barbé-Marbois had arrived a few days earlier (JA to Arthur Lee, 9 June, below).
7. Hezekiah Ford did not return to America with JA (JA to Arthur Lee, 9 June, below).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0059

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-02

From Arthur Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

Either my Letter to you of the 29th. March miscarried or you are in my debt. The inclosed MS which belongs to you was seald to go by Mr. Ford and was omitted by mistake.1
This will be delivered to you by the Chevalier de la Luzerne and M. de Marbois, whom you will find to be Gentlemen worthy of the important trusts they fill. I am much obliged to you for your kindness to Mr. Ford, and hope you will take him with you, if he shoud prefer it to going by Bourdeaux. I usd every argument in my power to prevail on Dr. Franklin to let the Alliance persue her first destination, and convoy the fleet after Piquet had left them. But my application was in vain, and the answer was that the Capt. had assurd him she was not mannd. This was on the 3d. of May.2
I have been told that accounts have been transmitted from Nantes to Passy, of your having spoke very freely there of the conduct of Dr. Franklin. I beleive this may be relied on, I think it proper you shoud know it.
The declarations of Holland and the Nothern powers against the right of England to stop their Merchant vessels, and arming to support their rights, are the most favorable events that have lately happend. Not a syllable from Congress, nor any news from England. Mr. Paine is displaced.3 I have seen the paper which gave rise to it which is more in favor of the french than truth will justify and in so much it merited censure. We have hazarded our lives and fortunes to some purpose if { 72 } the factious nod of a foreign Minister can subject a deserving man to punishment in the most open violation of truth and justice. You must correct these proceedings.
Remember me to my young friend and accept of my good wishes for prosperity to you both.

[salute] I have the honor to be with great esteem Dear Sir, yr. most Obedt Servt.

[signed] A. Lee
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “H. A. Lee. 2. June ansd. 9th.”; in CFA's hand: “1779.”
1. No reply by JA to Lee's letter of 29 March (above) has been found. See, however, JA's letter to Lee of 9 June (below). Neither the manuscript mentioned by Lee nor a pamphlet referred to by JA in his letter of the 9th have been identified.
2. Lee is referring to Franklin's reply of 3 May to his of the 2d (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:153–154; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:71). In a letter of 6 May, Lee renewed his plea that the Alliance convoy the ships to America, but it was not until 15 May, when he met with Franklin, that Lee was told that he had received no reply because the ships had already sailed and thus there was nothing to be done (same, 2:72; PCC, No. 102, III, f. 25–26). For Franklin's real reason for refusing, see his letter to JA of 24 April, note 1 (above).
3. That is, Thomas Paine had resigned under pressure because of the controversy over his statements regarding French aid (Edmund Jenings to JA, 25 April, note 1, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0060

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-05

From Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

The Chevalier de La Luzerne sat out Yesterday for L'Orient, and will be with you perhaps before this comes to hand. You will find him a very agreable sensible Man, and a hearty Friend to the Cause of America.
As you may land in Boston and are not certain of going directly to Philada. I have put under his Care my Dispatches for Congress, and request yours for those to New England.
Mr. Bondfield has drawn on me for 18,000 Livres on Account of the Canon. I cannot find the Agreement that was made with him for that Article. If you have it and can easily get at it, be so good as to send it to me or a Copy of it.1
Mr. Schweighauser in a late Account charges a Commission of Five Per Cent, on the simple Delivery of two Cargoes of Tobacco out of the Ship into the hands of the Officer of the Farmers General, all attending Expences separately charged; and to make the Commission rise the higher, he has valued the Tobaccos at 90 Livres, the Price it now sells at in the Ports, and not at 40 Livres, which it was to be delivered at by our Contract; by this means the Commission on those two Cargoes comes to 630 £ sterling. Thinking this an exorbitant Demand, I got a { 73 } Friend to enquire of the Merchants upon Change2 what was the Custom in such Cases, and received the following Answer. “I have spoken to more than ten Merchants, who all have told me unanimously, that One Per Cent was not only the general Custom, but as high as could be claimed being half Commission: For if there had been a Sale in the Case, it would have been two Per Cent. which is the general Usage in the Trade and not 5 Per Cent.” I have wrote to M. Schweighauser that I objected to that Article of his Account, but he seems not disposed to give it up. I find myself too little acquainted with Mercantile Business to be a Match for these People, which makes me more and more desire to see Consuls appointed in the Ports, who might take it off my Hands, and I wish, if you are of Opinion it would be right, that you would press it upon Congress.3 My Grandson desires I would present you his affectionate Respects, and joins with me in heartily wishing you and our young Friend a prosperous Voyage and happy Meeting with your Friends and Family. I shall take care to present your Respects to the good Ladies you mention. All goes well here: Countenances begin to brighten, and the contrary in England (according to our last Advices) from the Aprehension of certain Event, which may God prosper. I am with great Esteem and Respect, Sir, Your most obedt & most humble Servant.
[signed] B Franklin
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Dr Franklin June 5. 1779.”
1. The contract has not been found, but it presumably was that for the purchase of 56 cannon for the ship of the line America. In a letter of 9 Jan. (above), Bondfield had informed the Commissioners that the first payment of 24,000 livres was due in February.
2. That is, upon the Paris exchange or bourse.
3. Schweighauser's account concerned the tobacco that had arrived on the brigantine Baltimore, but his report, the letter from Franklin's friend concerning customary charges, and Franklin's letter to Schweighauser protesting his commission have not been found. The protest, however, did have an effect, for Schweighauser reduced his commission from 5 to 2½ percent (Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, DNA:RG 39 [Microfilm], f. 103).
In his letter of 26 May to the Committee for Foreign Affairs, Franklin gave an almost identical description of the Schweighauser matter and also his desire that consuls be appointed (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:191). Franklin's reference to consuls, there and in this letter, is interesting, for it is in accord with JA's view of Franklin's inability to manage commercial affairs satisfactorily and the need to take them out of his hands, expressed in several earlier letters.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0061

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-05

From Arthur Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

By advices from America since my last to you, my Enemies are determind to impeach my attachment to our Country and <our> her cause, per fas et per nefas.1 This makes it necessary for me to request { 74 } of you, your opinion on that point, from the knowlege you have had of my conduct while we acted together in Commission. The Calumnies of wicked men, can only be refuted by the testimony of those who are honest and competent, and it is necessary for me to desire this of you least any accident, which God forbid, shoud befal you on the voyage.2
Late Letters from Charles town say they are all in good spirits there.3 No other news.

[salute] I have the honor to be Dear Sir, with the greatest esteem yr. most Obedt. Humb. Servt

[signed] Arthur Lee
1. Justly or unjustly.
2. See JA's reply of 9 June (below).
3. The letters mentioned by Lee cannot be identified, but they may have referred to the threat posed to Charleston by the British occupation of Georgia and perhaps more particularly by the movement into South Carolina of British troops under the command of Gen. Augustine Prevost. The immediate danger of an attack ended when Prevost withdrew from the approaches to Charleston on 12 May (Ward, War of the Revolution, 2:684–685).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0062

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-06

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

I did Myself the pleasure of writing to You by the Secretary of the Count de la Luzerne, inclosing a Letter to Genl. Gates and sending a Remembrancer.2 I was in Hopes of sending to You by the same Opportunity 4 Parliamentary Registers containing the Papers, which have passed between the Howes Burgoyne and the Ministry,3 but having lent them to Mr. Genet coud not get them back [with] time Enough to Send them, but when I receive <them,> will immediately transmit them to You. These Papers and the Examination of the Officers, returnd from America, have made a great Impression on the Nation and the House of Commons. They shew the Absurdity of the American War in So Strong a light, that it is universally said in England, that Lord North and the Bedford faction are now inclined to Peace. In Consequence of which there are great divisions in the Councils of England. Ld. G. Germaine however continues his Malignant folly and Cowardice and will persist for4 perhaps He is supp[orte]d by a man of Equal Malignity, folly and Cowardice.
I have heard these Matters above a fortnight Ago, without attending to them Much, but they are repeated Again by the last Post in a Strong Manner. I have heard too strong reports of the favorable Intentions of Spain towards France, and it is certain that the people of England suspect her Immediate Declaration. Mr. Burk had said in the House of { 75 } Commons that the Mediation of Spain is broke off and the Ministry did not deny it.5 Arbuthnots fleet saild the 11th Ultimo.6 It said here that a Packet7 has been received from America of a late date at Passy, the Contents of which is Kept a profound Secret from the Americans at Paris. The Vessel arrivd in Holland and Saild from Annapolis in Maryland the 23 April. By other letters by the same Ship, it is reported that Mr. Deanes Party gains ground and is determind to Sacrifice Mr. A. Lee. The English Minister has <heard?> had Accounts from the W Indies which do not please, those Which France has receivd on the other Hand are Agreable.
I wrote to You a Letter,8 directd for you as this is, to the Care of Mr. Moylan. I shall be glad to hear they are receivd and that you are well.

[salute] I am Dear Sir Yours Most Faithfully

[signed] Edm: Jenings
P.S. It is said there are such great Divisions in Congress as that the Minority has seceded.
Lord North having last Week opend his 3d Budget it now appears the Ministry must raise Twenty Millions this Year.9
It is probable the Parliament will Either offer other Terms to America before it rises, or give the King Powers to make Peace with America.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur Monsieur John Adams, au Soin de Monsieur Moylan a L Orient”; docketed: “Mr Jennings June 16. 1779.” Filmed under the date of 16 June (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 350).
1. The date as written by Jenings appears to be “16,” but as JA noted in his reply of 12 June (below), the letter could not have been written then. JA thought that it was probably written on the 10th, which also seems too late. It is unlikely that Jenings' letter could have been carried the approximately three hundred miles from Paris to Lorient in only two days; an examination of contemporary letters sent from Paris indicates that they took from four to ten days. This fact, together with Jenings' mention of the introduction of Lord North's third budget “last week” — an event that occurred on 31 May — raises the possibility that Jenings inadvertently placed a “I” before the “6,” suggesting a more likely date of 6 June.
2. The letter referred to has not been identified, but it was probably part of the packet that Jenings intended Barbé-Marbois to carry (Jenings to JA, 2 June, above). JA received the Remembrancer, but he did not receive the letter to Gates until later (JA to Jenings, 8, 12 June; Gates to JA of 20 Aug., all below).
3. The four issues of the Parliamentary Register mentioned by Jenings were probably Nos. 66, 67, 68, and 69. The papers were those submitted by the North ministry on 18 Feb. in response to a motion of the 17th by Sir William Howe that all letters between himself and Lord George Germain from Aug. 1775 to Nov. 1778 be placed before the House of Commons (Parliamentary Reg., 11:253–480).
The submission of the papers was the first step in the attempt by Sir William and Lord Richard Howe, in which Gen. John Burgoyne soon joined, to obtain an inquiry into the conduct of the war in order to justify their actions in America and respond to attacks upon them by the ministry. After considerable parliamentary maneuvering, an agreement was reached to consider the papers and examine wit• { 76 } nesses. The inquiry extended from 22 April until 29 June. The witnesses to whose testimony Jenings refers later in this paragraph were probably those called by the Howes on 6, 11, and 18 May, and those supporting Burgoyne, called on 20 and 27 May (Gruber, Howe Brothers, p. 337–350; for the testimony, see Parliamentary Reg., 13:1–32, 33–63, 91–99, 124–150, 152–177).
In the end the inquiry was inconclusive. The ministry was embarrassed, but its majority held, and no resolutions either approving the conduct of the Howe brothers or condemning that of the ministry, particularly Lord George Germain, were passed. Certainly the inquiry did nothing to incline either Lord North or the Bedford faction, one of the main supports of the North government, toward peace.
4. The “for” is written over an illegible word, and the exact sense of the passage is uncertain, but Jenings probably means that Germain had the support of George III.
5. Edmund Burke twice declared during debate over the budget on 31 May, that the mediation had failed, reportedly stating in the second instance that “all negotiation is at an end, that Spain is openly leagued with France. The noble lord [North] knows it. I call upon him to contradict me; if he does not, I shall take it for granted” (Parliamentary Hist., 20:826–827). The London Chronicle of 29 May – 1 June reported, “the Minister was silent.”
6. See Ralph Izard to JA, 21 May, note 2 (above).
7. Possibly that referred to as coming by way of St. Eustatius and Holland (Franklin to James Lovell, 2 June, and to John Jay, 9 June, Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:199–200, 215–216).
8. That of 2 June (above).
9. Lord North reopened the budget on 31 May. The estimate of £20,000,000 was by David Hartley of the opposition; North put the amount at approximately £15,200,000 (Parliamentary Hist., 20:818–820).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0063

Author: Austin, Jonathan Loring
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-07

From Jonathan Loring Austin

[salute] Honble. Sir

I have the Honor to acquaint you that I arrived here the 29th Ultimo via St. Eustatia, sufficiently tired with the tedious Rout I have taken since I left Paris. I was much disappointed in not embarking directly from Holland to America. All my Persuasions with the Dutch, to send out a Vessel for this Continent, proved fruitless; when I had no other Resource left but to come out by the Way of the West Indies, and had embarked, was detained fifty days in the Texel for a Wind, and then followed a passage of 45 days; my Patience was pretty well put to the Test, instead of revisiting my native Shore in two Months, as I flatter'd myself when I left Passy, triple the time had elaps'd before I set foot in Virginia; often Sir did I wish myself by your Fire side, affording you any little Assistance in your important Business, but it was then too late.
On my Arrival at 'Statia I expected to be detained several Months, on Account of Business, and therefore forwarded by a Vessel, recommended as sailing very fast, and deliver'd to the Care a Gentleman in the Continental Service who went Passenger, your Letter for Congress { 77 } and all other Letters for Friends, enclosing them to the president of Congress.1 The Vessel was unfortunately taken and the Letters lost.
On my Arrival in Philada. I deliver'd a Memorial to Congress respecting my time and Services, in going over with Dispatches to France and my Employment while there; agreeable to the Mode I had the Honor of mentioning to you, Congress unanimously as I was informed granted the prayer of the Memorial, and referr'd the Matter to the Treasury Board for some Gratuity, who thought it best to refer it to the Council of this State, before whom it at present lays.2
You will doubtless receive from Congress and others by this Opportunity all the News worthy notice. It would have afforded me the greatest pleasure and I must confess I fully expected to see the same Virtue Firmness and Stability, which first calld forth the noble Exertions of my Countrymen in this glorious Cause still animating them not only respecting what more immediately regarded the War, but in all other political points the necessary Attendants of it; I don't mean to intimate that we have grown so sluggish and heavy, or have so far lost our first principles, or are even so tired with the War as tamely to see our Country become a prey to our Invaders, no Sir. Our Virtue is still most conspicuous in this Respect, and our Armies are formidable, not-withstanding the Depreciation of our Currency, but even if this was annihilated the determined Union that prevails in this Instance will rouse a sufficient Force to repel our Foes. The present Campaign its probable, from the first British Onset will be carried on with Vigor, they have lately sent a Party to Virginia and there got footing in Portsmouth3 from which place expect to be soon informed of Ravages commited, but we are now a little inured to such Depredations, which rather exasperate than intimidate and the Name of a Briton has here become a proverb for Cruelty. It may however shortly return on their own Heads. They also still remain in the unfavorable Climate of Georgia, and expect soon to hear they are attempting Descents in N England. What Steps Genl. Washington will take in Consequence of these Manoeuvres you will soon be acquainted with, its probable he will give a good Account of them. I must beg leave to refer your Honor to the enclosed News papers for further particulars, as I have many Letters to write by this Vessel which will sail to morrow.
You may remember Sir I alway mentiond Mr. D with Respect when I was in France, and setting aside his commercial Transactions to which I was ever a Stranger I shall always speak of him respectfully. I am sorry he has since his Arrival upon the Continent adopted such a Mode in order to vindicate his Character and to bring others before the { 78 } public Scrutiny, herein he has acted very impolitic and has blown up a Blast which he will not easily extinguish.——4 have been greatly divided in this unfortunate Dispute, hope it will terminate [in?] the general Good.
I shall with Permission do myself the Honor of writing you from time to time what is transacting in this part of the World and shall think myself particularly noticed to receive a Line from you now and then. Give me Leave Sir, before I finish this Letter to ask if You Dr. F. or Mr. L. are agreeably furnished with Secretarys. I am enduced to be thus free, as I am not certain but I shall take another Voyage to France, and if there is any Employment in this or any other way that you should think worthy my Acceptance, I should esteem it an Honor if you'd inform me of it, or intimate it to Congress.
I have a little Tea for Mrs. A——which I shall wait on her with and deliver her, as soon as my Baggage arrives in Town. Please to present my most respectfull Compliments to Dr. Franklin and Dr. Lee. Being with perfect Respect & Attachment Honble. Sir Your most Obedient & very humble Servant,
[signed] J. Loring Austin5
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Son Excellence Monsieur Adams Ministre plenipotentiare de l'Amerique a Passy pres Paris”; docketed: “J. L. Austin. 7. June 1779.”
1. Probably JA's letter to the president of the congress of 20 Sept. 1778 (above); see note 3 to that letter, and Austin to the Commissioners, 19 Sept. 1778 (above).
2. Austin's memorial was received by the congress on 10 May and reported upon on the 13th (PCC, No. 41, I, f. 39; JCC, 14:567, 581–582). On 8 June the Massachusetts Council resolved to recommend to the congress that the Commissioners in Europe be directed to discharge the advances obtained by Austin in the course of his mission (Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass. E1, Reel No. 11, Unit I, p. 406–407). The congress approved the Council's recommendation on 26 June (JCC, 14:776).
3. On 10 May, 1,800 troops under Maj. Gen. Edward Mathew had landed at Portsmouth, Va., and, in the course of the next few days and without losing a man, destroyed or captured an estimated £2,000,000 worth of property and merchandise (Ward, War of the Revolution, 2:867).
4. Presumably the congress.
5. JA received this letter when he returned to Paris in 1780, but no reply has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0064

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1779-06-08

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear sir

Yours of the Second of this Month, was brought to me, but this Moment, and I am happy to find that I agree in so many Points with you.
The Armament that has been fitting out here, has been a Mystery, as almost every Thing else has.1 I never was informed, of the intended { 79 } strength, the Number of ships or Troops, or who was to command— or where they were to go. I never asked any Questions. I chose to be ignorant—determined in order to do as little Mischief as possible, to be as silent as possible. For, whatever may be Said of me, I certainly do not abound with Envy, nor am I capable of endeavouring to obstruct or embarrass any public Measure, by drawing a Party after me, to make my self important. If I had there has been ample opportunities at Nantes Brest and L'orient.
There is a Phenomenon here however, that surprises me, altho I have not talked <much> about here, I may mention it to you. Here are two french Gentlemen very agreable ones too dressed in American Uniforms, and I have been told I know not how truly that the american Minister has given them, Commissions as Captains in the Navy. I have not dared to Speak upon this subject but to Jones and Landais, because I knew it would <throw it into a Flame> excite great Discontents if not throw all into a Flame, because it is contrary to a possitive Instruction of Congress.2
Am surprized to learn that the Expedition is totaly laid aside. On fait et defait — on mande et contramande — on range et derange — et c'est toujours ainsi ici,3 Said a French Gentleman to me two or three days ago. And if he had Said it, of the Management of our American affairs, <in France> here I would have sworn for him that every Word of it was true.
I am wearyed to death, with the oscillations of our Politicks, and <I am> every Hour more and more convinced that Chaumont and Bancroft will have the entire Guidance of our Affairs, unless the system is wholly altered, and I am sure I have not Faith enough in the Head of the former or the Heart of the latter, to be willing to trust them with my share in this great Interest. Some Machinery will be set on foot to procure a Letter from a Minister of State, to be an Excuse or give a Colour for schemes that nobody will be able to develope or penetrate.4
You Say I may still go home in my favourite Frigate, but you are mistaken. She is ordered on a Cruise and my Baggage is on board the Sensible, which as <she is> she appears to me to be a dull Sailor, and has but 28 Guns, gives me at least a fair Chance of <meeti> rencountering an English Frigate of superiour Force <being a Wit[ness?]> taking a share in a <sublime> Battle, and being carried Captive to Hallifax or N. York, which would put it out of my Power to do <Mischief> good or harm, for some Years, <unless> as a Random shot, might do for ever. Either of these Suppositions would give Pleasure to <some> many People, and pain to very few. I am very confident, that neither Case { 80 } would make me unhappier than I have been for a Year past, and therefore I am not much distressed at the <Cont> Presage.
Dont misunderstand this. It was not Versailles Paris, France — French Dress, Cookery, or Gallantry that made me unhappy, <for I [ . . . ]> but my own Countrymen.
I have at last received, the Remembrancer, you was so kind as to send me and have read with great Pleasure “the Spirit and Resources of G. Britain considered in twelve Letters.” I shall preserve this Pamphlet and the other5 with great Care. I hope the Author will continue his Speculations for a Writer with such Talents and such a Temper cannot fail to do much service to the Public.
I had heard of the Advancement of the Bust. It deserves it—it has merited it, by zealous and successful services to that House—it, or a Noddle as little respectable in my Estimation, by imposing upon honest Men6 erected the present system, as ill digested <and contrived> for the public service, as it is flattering to a Pride that was otherwise and before two much flattered.7
<I am not dead Mr. <Johnson> Jennings, nor have I lost my own Feeling or my Love to my Country. And if I can preserve my Head from Balls and Captivity that Voice <And that Pen> which has been heard heretofore very often and sometimes with Indulgence, shall be heard again. I will not always see the Honour and Interest of my Country, intrigued away and her most solid Characters immolated at the shrine of Moloch and be Silent.>
I had the Pleasure of Some Acquaintance with Mr. Johnson, and of receiving many Civilities from him, at Nantes, and agree with you in thinking him a Sensible, worthy Man, indeed I do not know at present, where to find a Person, more Suitable, but it is a subject that deserves, what our Ld. Coke calls a great deal of Sad Consideration.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “not sent.”
1. For the “Armament,” see Benjamin Franklin to JA, 24 April, note 1 (above).
2. Although JA may have seen only two, there were three French officers at Lorient who had received captain's commissions in apparent violation of a resolution of 9 May 1778 directing the Commissioners not to recommend “any foreign sea officers, nor give any of them the least expectation of being employed as captains in the navy of the United States” (JCC, 11:485). They were Brulôt de Cottineau de Kerloguen of the Pallas, Philippe Nicolas Ricot of the Vengeance, and Joseph Varage of Le Cerf. The three men, all French naval officers, and their ships had been sent to Lorient to join the squadron being formed by John Paul Jones (Morison, John Paul Jones, p. 190–191; Allen, Naval Hist. of the Amer. Revolution, 2:714).
3. One makes and unmakes — one orders and cancels — one sets and upsets — and it is always so here.
4. JA may be referring to Sartine's letter of 20 April to Benjamin Franklin asking that the Alliance be sent to Lorient (from Benjamin Franklin, 24 April, note 1, { 81 } above), or he might be thinking of Sartine's letter of 5 July 1778 to the Commissioners, requesting that John Paul Jones be permitted to remain in Paris for consultations concerning an unspecified mission (vol. 6:265).
5. For the “other” pamphlet, see Edmund Jenings to JA, 10 March, note 7 (above).
6. The previous five words were written above the line for insertion here.
7. As mentioned in Jenings' letter of the 2d (above), the bust of Silas Deane. By “zealous and successful services to that House” JA may mean Deane's financial dealings with Leray de Chaumont, the owner of the Commissioners' house at Passy.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0065

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Date: 1779-06-09

To Arthur Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Favours of June 2d and 5th are now before me: that of 29 March, I have answered if I ever received it, for I have answered every one received from you, but not having my Papers at Hand cannot be particular. Thank you for the Manuscript and the Pamphlet.1
Am happy to hear from you and from all others, so agreable a Character of the Chevalier de la Luzerne, and M. de Marbois the last of whom I have had the Pleasure to see. Wish it was in my Power to do more for M. Ford, and to take him with me but the Frigate will be so crouded, I fear it will be impossible. The Declarations of the northern Powers against the Right of England to Stop their Merchant Vessels, and arming to support their Rights are important Events. The displacing of Mr. Paine is a disagreable and alarming one.
It is with no small Astonishment, that I learn by your Letter of the fifth, that by Advices from America Since your last to me your Ennemies are determined to impeach your Attachment to our Country and her Cause. Your Request that I would give my Opinion on that subject, from the Knowledge I have had of your Conduct, while We acted in Commission together can meet with no Objection from me.
But I hope I need not inform you, that my Opinion upon this Point is no secret, at Versailles, Paris, Nantes or Elsewhere. Inclosed is Copy of a Letter, I did myself the Honour to write his Excellency the Comte de Vergennes sometime ago, which for any Thing I know is communicated to all the Court: But the answer Shews that it was received.2 I had my Reasons then for keeping it to myself, which exist now no more. I would transcribe the whole Correspondence, if it was in my Power but I have not time, and it is Sufficient to Say that it was conducted by his Excellency, with the most obliging Politeness. It is my Duty now to furnish you with a Copy, least any Accident may befall me, which is by no Means improbable. I thought then and am con• { 82 } firmed in that Opinion more and more, that it was my Duty, to communicate my Sentiments at Court, upon that very extraordinary occasion, and from Regard to my own Reputation, I am very glad you have given me an Opportunity of furnishing you with Evidence, that I did this Part of my duty so far forth. The Letter was written, sent to Versailles and received by his Excellency, before the Arrival of the Marquis de la Fayette, his Aid de Camp or Dr. Winship, that is before the News reached Passy, of the new Arrangement.
But least that Letter should not be Sufficient, I shall inclose another Certificate,3 not without an heartfelt Grief and Indignation, that Malice should have been so daring and so barbarous, as to make either such a Letter or such a Certificate from me, either necessary, or even pardonable. Your Hint that I must correct Some Things that are amiss, extorts from me, an involuntary Sigh. I shall be in a situation critical and difficult without Example. My own Character at stake from various Quarters, and without any Thing to support me, but Truth and Innocence and you need not be informed that these are not always Sufficient. I have little Expectation of doing good: God grant I may do no Harm. I shall not designedly. But I suppose Congress intend to examine me as a Witness, and I must tell the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth, as far as I know it. If the Task should end here, I should not be much embarrassed, but if they proceed to demand of me, Opinions and Judgments of Men and Things, as there is Reason to expect they will, altho I hope they will not, what will be the Consequence?
Upon the whole, Truth must be my shield, and if the shafts of interested Malice, can pierce through this, they shall pierce me. I have the Honour to be with Esteem and Respect, sir your most obedient humble servant.
[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers); docketed by JQA: “Recd from R. H. Lee 24 July 1828.” For an explanation of how this letter came to be in the Adams Papers, see JA to Arthur Lee, 10 Oct. 1778, descriptive note (above).
1. Neither item has been found; see Lee's letter of 2 June, note 1 (above).
2. JA's letter of 11 Feb. to Vergennes was answered on the 13th (both above). The copy of JA's letter to Vergennes, enclosed in this letter, was, in turn, submitted by Lee to the congress as an enclosure in his letter to the president of the congress of 17 Oct. 1780 (PCC, No. 83, II, f. 306–308, 302–303). The copy bears the notation: “Copied from my Letter Book, at L'orient June 9. 1779 By John Adams.” A few days later, JA decided to send a copy of Vergennes' reply of 13 Feb. to Lee; see JA to Lee, 13 June (below).
3. See JA to Lee, 10 June (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0066

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Date: 1779-06-10

To Arthur Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

I have the Honour of your Letter from Paris of the fifth of this Month, in which you inform me that by Advices from America, your Ennemies are determined to impeach your Attachment to our Country and her Cause, and in which you request my Opinion on that Point from the Knowledge I have had of your Conduct, while We acted together in Commission.
At the Same Time that I lament the Necessity of giving my Testimony to a Point, that ought to be so well established in every Part of the World, I have great Pleasure in declaring, that from my first Knowledge of your Fame to this Hour, I have never entertained one Moments Suspicion of your Attachment to our Country or her Cause, but on the contrary through the whole Course of that Period, which I think is more than ten Years I have seen frequent Proofs of your Fidelity and Zeal in it often times at a great Expence of Labour and Care at least, and at great Hazard. And particularly, through the Space of Time I had the Honour to serve with you, in Commission, I never Saw nor heard any Thing which gave me the least suspicion of the sincerity, Fidelity, or Zeal of your Devotion to the sovereignty of the united States, but on the contrary constant Evidence of a warm Affection for their Honour, Dignity and Prosperity. I have the Honour to be with great Esteem and Respect, sir Your most obedient and most humble servant.
[signed] John Adams1
RC (PCC, No. 83, II, f. 314–317); docketed: “June 10. 1779 J Adams to A Lee.”
1. This letter was enclosed in JA's letter to Lee of 9 June (above) and was submitted as an enclosure in Arthur Lee's letter to the president of the congress of 17 Oct. 1780 (PCC, No. 83, II, f. 302–303).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0067

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1779-06-12

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

This Moment I received yours of the 16 as it is dated, but I suppose was the 10.2 You cannot imagine how much I am obliged to you for this Letter and the other of the second, and the <Parliamentary> Remembrancer.3 I have read the 12 Letters and am charmed with their Spirit—hope the Author will continue, for his Abilities and Temper must be of great service to our Country.
Ld. N. is probably, at his old insidious Game, of taking Advantage of { 84 } certain Disputes, in order to propose Terms. But his Lord ship may make himself easy, for if Congress should never meet again the Seperate states, would be two much for him. Your Letter for Gen. Gates have not received nor any other Letter from you, which I have not answered, but the two mentioned above, which contain Matters of such vast Importance that I cannot enlarge upon them at present.4

[salute] I am, dear sir, yours

[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “John Adams Esqr. Recd. June 17. 1779.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. In his Letterbook copy, perhaps thinking of Jenings' dating of his letter, JA wrote “L'orient June 1<6>2. 1779.”
2. Now dated [ca. 6] June (above). See note 1 there.
3. In his Letterbook, from the preceding comma, JA wrote “<with> and the <Parliamentary Register> Remembrancer.”
4. JA had responded at length to Jenings' letter of 2 June on 8 June (above), but then decided not to send it.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0068

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Date: 1779-06-13

To Arthur Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

Since my Letter to you of the 9th. looking over the Answer to the Letter inclosed in it, I find it, of more importance than I was aware, and least it should be lost with me, I now inclose you a Copy of it.1 It will be Evidence, <of some> against some Misrepresentations, which have been made, and may be repeated, as injurious to the French Court as to you. I have the Honour to be, with great Esteem and Respect, sir, your humble servant.
LbC (Adams Papers). This is the last Letterbook copy entered by JA in Lb/JA/5 before he sailed for America.
1. This is Vergennes' answer of 13 Feb. to JA's letter of 11 Feb. (both above). For the copy made by JA and Lee's use of it see the descriptive note to Vergennes' letter of 13 Feb.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0069-0001

Author: Chaumont, Jacques Donatien, Leray de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-13

From Leray de Chaumont

[salute] Monsieur

Vous m'avez permis de vous charger de m'acheter des terres en Amerique du produit de 32. grosses caisses de thés, que j'ai chargées dans le navire la Betsi, et comme vous m'avez fait l'honneur de me dire que vous n'êtiez pas negociant, je prie mon ami M. Holker de pourvoir à la vente de ces thés et de vous en remettre le montant pour l'employer en acquisition de terres en prférant celles à proximité des provinces, où vous fixerez votre sejour.1 Je desire que ces terres soyent { 85 } plantés de bois propres à la mature des vaisseaux et à la proximité des rivieres navigables ou d'autres bois propres à la construction des vaisseaux, et dont les transports soyent faciles par eau, les charrois par terre sont ruineux. Je crois, Monsieur, que les terres qui produisent les bois de mature, sont moins propres à la culture, que celles qui produisent les bois de chesne et d'hêtre. J'ai l'honneur de vous faire cette observation, parcequ'il faut prevoir les terns ou ces terres seront cultivées. Je ne cherche pas des établissemens de maisons faites sur ces terreins; mais je ne serois pas faché qu'il y en cut assez pour loger des pasteurs, parceque je crois que l'éducation des bestiaux dois précéder l'agriculture, et peut être jugerez vous à propos d'employer une partie des fonds, que vous remettra M. Holker, à peupler de bestiaux les terres, que vous voudrez bien acheter pour mon compte. L'accroissement des troupeaux pourra faire mon premier bénéfice, et ensuite le terns viendra, où l'activité de la marine americaine fera valoir les bois, ensuite la culture amenera la population, et ma posterité se ressentira du bonheur, que j'aurai eû de vous connoitre. Je vous prie de ne pas vous attacher à aucune des observations, que j'ai l'honneur de vous faire, si elles ne cadrent pas à ceque vous croirez plus avantageux pour moi. Je m'en rapporte entierement à vous, en vous priant de considerer que je crois qu'il est avantageux d'acquerir des terres, avant que la paix sois concluë.
J'ai l'honneur d'être très parfaitement, Monsieur, Votre très humble et très obéïssant Serviteur
[signed] Leray de Chaumont

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0069-0002

Author: Chaumont, Jacques Donatien, Leray de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-13

Leray de Chaumont to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

You have permitted me to entrust you with the purchase of land in America with the proceeds from the 32 large chests of tea which I loaded on the ship Betsy and, as you have had the honor to inform me that you were not a merchant, I have asked my friend Mr. Holker to undertake the sale of the tea and remit to you the proceeds to be expended in the acquisition of land, preferably close to the provinces where you will reside.1 I would like these lands to be planted with trees fit for masts or other timber suitable for ship building and near to navigable rivers to facilitate transport by water, since transport by land is ruinous. I think, sir, that lands which produce trees for masts are less fit for cultivation than those which produce oak and beech trees. I have the honor to make this observation because it is important to plan for the time when these lands will be cultivated. I do not seek land with houses already built on it, but I would not be unhappy if there were enough to house shepherds, for I think that the raising of livestock must precede agriculture and you might judge it proper to use part of the { 86 } funds that Mr. Holker will remit to stock the land with animals that you would purchase on my behalf. The increase of the herds could produce my first profit and, in the times to come when the activity of the American marine will make the trees valuable, the cultivation will lead to settlement and my descendants will enjoy the good fortune that I have had in knowing you. Please do not feel bound by any of the observations that I have had the honor to make if they do not agree with what you think would be more advantageous to me. I leave it entirely to you, asking only that you consider that I am of the opinion that it would be advantageous to acquire the lands before the peace is concluded.
I have the honor to be very perfectly, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant,
[signed] Leray de Chaumont
1. Chaumont's project never came to fruition because the Betsy was captured on its voyage to America (JA to Chaumont, 5 Oct., below). With this letter in the Adams Papers is another of 13 June from Chaumont to John Holker, French consul at Philadelphia, directing him to sell the tea and remit the proceeds to JA. This letter was not sent on to Holker, presumably because JA decided that, with the loss of the Betsy, it was unnecessary.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0070

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-13

From James Lovell


[salute] Dear Sir

I shall not look through the Notes in my Almanac to see whether I have written to you 22 or 24 times; I shall go upon the easier Task of acknowledging all those I have had from you vizt. Decr. 6 1778 recd. Feb 16th. 79 answered the 17th. — Sepr. 26th. 1778 recd. March 4th. 79 answd. Apr 28th.1
Three months ago Mr. G communicated to us that Spain was mediating, and that we ought to take speedy, decisive Measures for Peace.2 London Gazettes told us the first part; and it appears strange that neither Doctr. F. Mr. L. nor you have hinted this matter to us lately if you did not avow it authoritatively. We have some wise men here who are sure they could fish out all the Court Secrets. In the various Attempts to pull down A L to make way for some one to go from hence “who knows all the present Circumstances of America” and therefore could negotiate properly, your want of Ability to give us Information such as we wish or fancy can be had is said to spring from the Suspicions of the french Court respecting One of you; and Some thing like an Attempt to dictate to us a Choice has been seen here. An Extract of a Letter from the Count de V——s has been quoted Je crains Mr. A L et ses entoures;3 and we are tempted to think that { 87 } therefore the Communication before mentioned came through Mr. G——But this is different from what was once the Conduct; for Mr. Deane tells us that he was directed to tell Doctr. F what he did not chuse to tell Mr. Lee, or, as he wishes to have it believed, which he was forbidden to tell him. I am persuaded Doctr. F would not readily disgust the french Court in such a Point. If there is any Seriousness in the Business, I suppose the Court stood upon the Punctilio of not having the Compliment of a Minister Plenipotentiary returned at that Time.4
Mr. Lees Enemies have produced nothing but Innuendoes to procure his Removal, while they dare not deny his Integrity and Abilities in our Service. Mr. Deane says the Lees are not fit for Transactions with a “gallant” Nation. But doubtless those Men who want his place would be very gallant indeed on certain Points in Negotiation. The eastern States are charged with wanting what they have no Right to and what is of “no Interest to the southern States.” Plenty are these local Sentiments lately; and R. H. L. with H. L——ns are squinted at as two monsters on the other side of Susquehanna who pursue points in which the southern States have no Interest.5 Would France or England reason thus on the Fishery? I expect however that we shall coalesce in a few days upon what may be Ultimata ready for some future day of Pacification, when Britain shall be restored to her Senses. She is quite wild and foolish yet in my Opinion.
You will be scarcely able by our motly Journals to understand what we are about. Why did I vote for your name to be inserted Apr 20 page 10?6 A Majority against me had before resolved that the Names should be added, — that Doctr. Franklins should be inserted but did not proceed by Yeas and Nays therefore I was entrapped not having my Nay7 appear on Doctr. F cou'd I say nay to Deane the Causa malorum and as it was not mutual Suspicions &c. I could not exclude you who was suspected and stigmatized in the Report of the Committee,8 tho' more to the disgrace of Mr. Izard than yourself, if there was any disgrace in the Circumstance of his imagining that your Connection with the Eaters and Distillers of Molasses had warped your Judgement against the Interest of other Parts of the Continent.9 Mr. Izard has good Testimony to his many estimable Qualities but his best Friends say he is irascible even when he has not a Fit of the Gout as he unfortunately had when he was writing of Doctr. Franklin,10 and proba[bly] too when he made his Strictures upon your Opinion of the 11th. and 12th. Articles.11
Every Appearance is that you will not be passed over without honor• { 88 } able Notice when the Report receives its finishing Discussion. My own settled opinion of you leads me the more readily to think there is no Plot concealed under the Professions in your Favor which have fallen from Men lately whose general Conduct is of a Kind to make me cry timeo Danaos vel dona ferentes.12
Within a few days only have I gained Possession of that Box which you left in charge to Miss Sprout.13 I took the easiest Method of conveying the few Things which were in it to your Lady. I sealed all the Papers in neat Packets, and sent them by an Express which was going in an Escort to Boston with Money. The other Articles go in Mr. S. A's Chest Tomorrow. Thus for my Pains I get the Use of your Box till I go home myself next Winter. The 2 Vols. of Herodotus I sent to the Library.
I firmly believe that your Friend Lincoln has got compleat Success over the southern Enemy. He will receive Permission to return hither just in the hours of Glory so that he may attend to his Wound which was greatly irritated by his Expedition to Carolina. This Night is the 14th. since we first had the News of his Victory via New Providence. Confirmation is come from several Quarters, but still we have not an Express.14
Tucker has sent in a twenty four gun Ship15 this Afternoon which did not fire a Shot at him before striking. He is at the Capes with the Confederacy, one of the finest Frigates in any Service as is said by Voyagers.

[salute] I wish you every Happiness being Sir Your affectionate humb Servant

[signed] J L
A Letter from Col. Warren received this Evening left him well 12 days ago.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Lovel. June 13. 79 Mediation of Spain Suggested by Mr Gerard the French Minister. The first hint of an Appointment of a Minister to treat of Peace.” JA did not receive the letter until he returned to Paris in 1780. Lovell, however, did send a partial copy of this letter together with extracts from the committee report of 24 March and Ralph Izard's letter of 12 Sept. 1778 as enclosures in his letter to JA of 14 Sept. 1779 (all below). That letter of 14 Sept. and its enclosures should be consulted in conjunction with this letter. This is because Lovell refers in this letter to the documents from which the extracts were taken and the copy differs in some respects from the version sent to France, most notably in the inclusion of full names rather than initials and the omission of information that was either known to JA or no longer relevant by 14 Sept.
1. Lovell is referring to the total number of letters written since his correspondence with JA began on 14 Nov. 1777 (vol. 5:328). Including this letter, the Adams Papers contain twenty-two letters from Lovell, six of which were written to { 89 } JA in France. In the same period the Adams Papers Editorial Files indicate that there are thirteen extant letters from JA to Lovell, nine of them written from France. Lovell also acknowledged receipt of a letter of 14 May, which has not been found (Lovell to JA, 31 Aug., below).
2. In accordance with his instructions from Vergennes of 26 Oct. 1778, Conrad Alexandre Gérard had on 9 Feb., for the first time, informed the congress of the Spanish offer to mediate between France and Great Britain and requested that the congress develop a set of peace ultimata for use in possible negotiations (Gérard to the president of the congress, 9 Feb., Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:40–41; Gérard, Despatches and Instructions, p. 355–362). The “private audience,” in which Gérard explained in some detail the French view of what would be desirable in the way of ultimata, took place on 15 Feb., and its substance was recorded in a memorandum by William Henry Drayton (JCC, 13:184; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:69–71). Gérard analyzed the political situation in Great Britain and noted Britain's unsuccessful efforts to secure allies in her struggle with America. In the French view it was an appropriate time for the United States to moderate its terms for peace; British recognition of independence would alone be sufficiently debilitating. Gérard discussed the position of Spain, most notably its opposition to the territorial claims of the United States and to free navigation of the Mississippi River, and disclosed its desire to regain possession of the Floridas and its willingness to pay the United States a subsidy to mount an expedition against the Floridas on condition that the conquered territory be returned to Spain.
Ostensibly a proposal to promote a quicker and easier peace, Gérard's message was in fact an attempt to limit American objectives in order to bring them more into line with the aims of France, particularly that of bringing Spain into the war. On 9 Feb., Gérard did not disclose those portions of his instructions in which Vergennes indicated his opposition to any effort by the United States to conquer Canada or obtain a share of the Newfoundland fishery. The French position on such acquisitions became clear only with Gérard's letter of 22 May to the president of the congress in which he declared that France was committed only to the achievement of American independence and would not continue the war for objectives not specifically mentioned in the Franco-American treaties (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:175–178).
On 23 Feb. a draft set of peace objectives was reported to the congress. For the next six months, largely because of sectional differences and the difficulty of reconciling French and American objectives, an often acrimonious debate raged, culminating on 14 Aug. in the adoption of instructions to a yet unnamed commissioner charged with negotiating treaties of peace and commerce with Britain (JCC, 13:239–244; 14:956–966; see also Gregg L. Lint, “Preparing for Peace,” in Ronald Hoffman and Peter Albert, eds., Peace and the Peace Makers, Charlottesville, Va., 1986, p. 30–51).
3. On 30 April, William Paca rose to give the congress significant evidence on the unsuitability of Arthur Lee as a representative of the United States abroad. A long statement signed by Paca and William Henry Drayton was read by the secretary and placed in the Journal over the objection of Samuel Adams. Paca and Drayton had approached Gérard for information on Lee's early reception in Madrid and the opinion of the French court about him. Gérard furnished the letter from Vergennes, which contained the sentence quoted by Lovell here (26 Oct. 1778, in Gérard, Despatches and Instructions, p. 358). Paca and Drayton thought that it was incontestable that Lee was “disgustful to those Courts, unconciliatory to their subjects, and prejudicial to the honor and interests of the said States” (JCC, 14:534–537).
4. Lovell's comments about the representations of Gérard concerning the Spanish mediation and the absence of any intelligence from the Commissioners regarding the mediation or the true intentions of France and Spain are significant. See JA's letter to Elbridge Gerry of 5 Dec. 1778, and note 2 (above). Although it is clear that neither man fully understood the implications of his remarks, together the two letters indicate that Adams and Lovell were moving toward an under• { 90 } standing of the French decision to shift the focus of Franco-American relations from substantive dealings with American representatives in Europe to efforts by its diplomats in America to influence the congress directly.
5. Richard Henry Lee and Henry Laurens supported the position that fishing rights were an essential part of the peace ultimata, to the disgust of many Southern delegates. In the spring of 1779 North Carolina delegates threatened that their state would withhold needed defensive help from South Carolina, on the grounds that Laurens, by his vote in making peace conditional on fishing rights, must believe that his state could carry on by itself a war for more than the country's original objective — independence (JCC, 13:348–352; 14:680–683; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:129–130; see also note 2, above).
6. Lovell is referring to the Journals of Congress, 19–24 April 1779, Phila., 1779 (Evans, No. 16590), but his page reference is wrong. The roll call on the inclusion of Arthur Lee is on page 10; that regarding JA is on page 12.
7. In the copy enclosed with Lovell's letter of 14 Sept. (below), the remainder of this paragraph is substantially different and the following paragraphs are omitted.
8. On 20 Jan. a committee consisting of one member from each state was appointed to consider “the conduct of the late and present commissioners of these states in Europe,” its creation prompted by a letter from Silas Deane. Elbridge Gerry represented Massachusetts (JCC, 13:93).
The committee's report, made on 24 March, was accompanied by statements of charges, together with their sources, that had been made against Deane, Arthur Lee, Franklin, Ralph Izard, JA, and William Lee. Although the report itself enumerated the names of the commissioners and their assignments, Arts. 3 and 4 of the report, which mentioned complaints against them and “suspicions and animosities” among them, referred only to “the said Commissioners” (same, 13:363–368).
The congress debated the report off and on over several weeks until 20 April, when the key issue became whose names should be specifically included in Art. 4 of the report. Gerry sought to have the phrase “some of” inserted before “late and present” Commissioners, but his motion lost. Then, without a vote count, the congress agreed to insert Franklin's name as one of those among whom “suspicions and animosities” had arisen. Following the vote, the congress, signifying its decision by yeas and nays in each case, added the names of all the other Commissioners except JA. New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia voted to include JA, but New York, Pennsylvania, and North and South Carolina were firmly opposed, and Massachusetts' vote (as well as Rhode Island's) was divided, Samuel Adams and Lovell voting to include his name; thus the attempt to include JA in the final resolve failed. Adams and Lovell then tried, unsuccessfully, to postpone any vote on the clause as amended to include the names of the five Commissioners (same, 13:479–487). Naturally, JA was astonished that his two friends voted to have his name included.
9. See the extracts from the committee report of 24 March 1779 and Ralph Izard's letter of 12 Sept. 1778, both enclosed with Lovell's letter of 14 Sept. (below).
10. The third and final charge against Franklin, that he “is not the proper person to be trusted with the management of the affairs of America, that he is haughty and self sufficient, and not guided by principles of virtue or honor,” was derived from Izard's letter of 28 June 1778 to the president of the congress (JCC, 13:367; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:629–632). Ironically, the evidence for the single charge against Izard, that “the greater part of his time has been spent in altercations with Mr. Franklin, and writing letters to Congress replete with criminations of Mr. Franklin and Mr. Deane,” was provided by his own letters (JCC, 13:367).
11. That is, the original Articles 11 and 12 of the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce that were later deleted. See the extract from Izard's letter of 12 Sept. 1778 to the president of the congress, enclosed in Lovell's letter of 14 Sept. 1779, and references in note 12 to that letter (below).
12. “I fear the Greeks even bearing gifts” (Virgil, Aeneid, II, 49). Lovell's { 91 } Latin text is slightly inaccurate.
13. On 26 Sept. 1777, a few days after JA had begun to board with the family of Rev. James Sproat in Philadelphia, the British had occupied the city. The Sproats apparently then moved to New Jersey. After JA returned to Braintree in Nov. 1777, he requested Gerry to have his chest forwarded from the Sproats. Lovell took over this responsibility, but for some time he could not locate the Sproat family (vol. 5:366, 404–406). For the progress and eventual success of Lovell's effort, see Adams Family Correspondence, 3:58, 121–122, 198, 426.
14. On 30 May, Capt. Newton Cannon of the Lady Washington, arriving in Philadelphia, brought news that around Purysburg, S.C., Gen. Lincoln had bested the British, who suffered 1,400 casualties. Cannon's sources were the captains of several British ships. Then a letter of 5 June from Baltimore to a member of the congress offered congratulations on the American victory, which included the capture of 700 of the enemy. This news reportedly came from a Capt. Johnson, who, on his way from St. Eustatius, stopped in Hampton, Va., where an express had arrived describing the victory (Pennsylvania Gazette, 2 and 9 June). See also Arthur Lee to JA, 18 March, note 1 (above); and Jonathan Loring Austin to JA, 7 July, note 5 (below).
15. Samuel Tucker of the frigate Boston, then cruising with the frigate Confederacy off the Virginia capes, took the privateer Poole on 10 June (Pennsylvania Gazette, 16 June 1779).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0071

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-13

From James Warren

[salute] My Dear Sir

The Providence Frigate, and a Packet have been long held in readiness to proceed to France. The first is now ordered to Another Service and we have yet no Orders for the last. This is to go by A small private Vessel Accidentally met with. I dare say you Experience in Common with us the Inconveniencies of the little Intercourse between Europe and America, and wish with the same Anxiety to hear from here that we often do from Europe, we seldom hear what is Acting on your Great Stage, and when we do it is very general, that Great preperations still Continue to be made in France, and Spain and of Numbers of prizes Carried into their Ports without any declaration of War &c.
With regard to us I presume the many Letters you will have by this oppertunity will give you better Information than my Time, and other Circumstances will admit off. The Campaigne is now fully Opened, at least on the side of the Enemy, and seems to be Carrying on with more vigour, and in a different Manner from former ones. They early made a descent on Georgia with a Considerable Force, where they have supported themselves much longer than was at <present> first Expected.1 And if the Climate dont do more for us than the Exertions and military prowess of the Southern States, I fear they will penetrate as far as Charlestown, tho we have no late Intelligence on which to Ground any perticular Accounts of the State of things in that quarter. A Strong detachment of the Army from New York with such Naval Force as they were able to Muster have made A Sudden Attack upon Virginia, { 92 } destroyed Portsmouth in that State, and done Considerable Other damage,2 and as suddenly returned and gone up the North River, where they still remain fortifying some places, and Endeavouring to possess themselves of Others.
This Military finess gives us reason to Apprehend they may next play the same Game some where else, and perhaps some parts of the Eastern States may be the Objects of the next Maneuvre. We are therefore prepareing for them. But the State of our Currency, and the selfish Avaricious Spirit prevailing here, have almost Extinguished the remains of Patriotism you left, Created Innumerable difficulties and rendered our Exertions Languid. However Means are takeing, and I hope will be Effectual, to rouse the People to A Sense of their true <danger> Interest, and to Excite them again vigorously to Unite in repelling the Common danger. Near 3000 Men are now raising here to Join the Army as soon as possible and our Militia are all ordered to be held in readiness at a Minutes warning.
But our greatest difficulties are the Amazeing depreciation of our Money and the Scarcity of provisions especially Bread. You may form some Idea of them from the price of Board in this Town from 45 to 50 dollars per week, and of the first from the prices of Molasses 8 dollars gallo. tho' plenty here and every thing in the same or greater proportion. Bohea Tea 40 dollars per lb. &c. and of the last from the prices of Indian Corn 40 dollars per bushel, and meat from 6/ to 8/ per lb. All European Goods are also Excessive high. If the Subject was not serious and Malancholy, it would be Laughable to hear the rates of Gauze and other Geugaws, and to see the Eagerness with which they are purchased, and to Observe the Vanity, Folly, and Extravagance which Infects all ranks of People in their Dress, and Liveing. Every Bodys Invention has been strained to find A remedy without Success. Taxation seems to be the only one, and to that we have got pretty well reconciled. The General Assembly freely granted A Tax of £1000000, last winter that is now Collecting with little grumbling, or difficulty. We have already this Session without much debate, voted Another of £2,800,000, part of which is to discharge 6 Million of dollars, our proportion of 45. Million required of the several States by Congress.3 So you will Understand that we deal in our Millions as well as Britain, and raise them as easily. It would require A volume to give you A minute detail of our Situation the above Sketch must suffice for the present. If you Ask where our Army is I answer I beleive the Main Body are in the Jersies. If you Ask what they are doing, I Can't Tell.
With regard to our Naval Affairs you may Expect I should speak { 93 } with more precision as I am still drudgeing at the Navy Board for a morsel of Bread, while others, and among them fellows who would have Cleaned my Shoes five Years ago have Amassed fortunes, and are rideing in Chariots. Were you to be set down here you could not realize what you would see. You would think you was upon Enchanted Ground in A World turned Topsy Turvy, beyond the description of Hogarths humourous pencile of Churchills Satyr.4 But to take up my thread.
The French Squadron has made such a diversion in the West Indies, that we have been but little troubled with their [i.e. British] frigates, and Indeed they have but very few Ships on these Stations. Our frigates and privateers have succeeded Accordingly and made many prizes, and among Others taken several privateers and Vessels of Force as you will see by the Papers we send by this Vessel.
Adams, Gerry, Lovel, and Holten are still at Congress. Mr. Adams has been unwell, and is Expected here every day. He is returned A Member for this Town, and is Chose A Councellor so he has his Option of two Seats which he will take I dont know. Mr. Dana returned last August, and has remained ever Since and I beleive will not go Again. H——k has been once but was gone but about six weeks: he tarried at Congress but about 2 weeks. The air of Philadelphia did not suit him on A Common Seat.5 He returned for better Health. He is now Speaker of our House and A Sine Cure delegate of Congress. The last serves as a feather among others in his Cap, to decorate an Illustrious Speaker. Mr. Edwards was Chose last Winter, has resigned. Genl. Ward is Chose in his room. Whether he will go I cant say.6 Your Friend and Servant who is now a Member of the House7 might have been Chose, but prevented it, and promoted the other.
The Letters I forward from your good Lady will Inform you of her Welfare.8 I can only Add that I am as I ever was Your Assured Friend and Humble Servt
[signed] J Warren
Do let me know what you are, a Plenipo, A Commissioner or what that I may address properly, be you which of them you may. You are <the> An Object of Envy. There is A Combination <of> Political and Commercial that would supplant you and all your Brethren in Europe if they could. They wish to be Able to Establish their Aristocratic Principles and to make their fortunes at the same time. This Party neither like the political principles, or Manners of N England, and at the same time they fear them. You know them. Part of their policy therefore is to reduce their [i.e. New England's ]Trade, and Consequently their power and Influence. What would more Effectually do that then by { 94 } Ceding all right and Claim to the fishery to get a Peace, rather than see us flourish. They would be Content that America should never be a Maritime Power. I want to say more on this Subject, but I think I wont. If our Allies should fall into their views, they must dismiss all Expectations of Trade from us. We shall have Nothing to give them.
Your Predecessor9 has made a great racket here, and blew up a flame that I Apprehended Mischeif from, but the poor Man is <punished> fallen by his own devises, and the Characters of the Lees are Established. If I had A good memory I should quote a Text from the Book of Proverbs applicable to this matter.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Warren June 13. 1779”; by John Thaxter: “Answd. 16th March 1780.”
1. See Edmund Jenings to JA, 10 March, note 6 (above).
2. See Jonathan Loring Austin to JA, 7 June, note 3 (above).
3. In an Address to the inhabitants of the United States adopted by the congress on 26 May, the people were told that a tax of $45,000,000 in addition to the $15,000,000 assessed in January was necessary to carry on the war. The proportion for each state for this new tax, payable by 1 Jan. 1780, was equivalent to that assigned earlier (JCC, 14:652; 13:28). See also Jonathan Loring Austin to JA, note 2 (above).
4. Charles Churchill (1731–1764) was a follower of John Wilkes and satirist of a host of political and cultural figures of the period (DNB).
5. Hancock formerly was president of the congress.
6. Timothy Edwards was elected in Oct. 1778; his resignation was accepted by the General Court on 2 June. He never served and his successor, Artemas Ward, did not take his seat in 1779 (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:liii).
7. Left out in the spring elections of 1778, Warren was returned to the House the following year (Mass., Province Laws, 20:421; 21:5).
8. Since Warren refers to “Letters,” he probably sent both AA's letter of 8 June and one of 11 June from Richard Cranch, who intended to send his by the same vessel (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:199–204).
9. Silas Deane.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0072

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-15

From Arthur Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

Desirous as I am of returning you my thanks for the very honorable proof you have given me of your esteem;1 I cannot wish that this may find you in Port. I am not under the least apprehensions of their2 succeeding for any time against us personally; but I am afraid they will injure the public and introduce a system of faction and corruption which it will be very difficult to change. For me the best thing they can do is to force me back to my profession, in which I am sure of being independent; and if I had been at liberty I shoud have accompanied you most surely. There is nothing I woud more willingly give them, than my place; and I know there are various ways of serving { 95 } one's Country, nor is there any among them more perillous and painful than this. I am sacrifising my time, with my interest and opportunities in my own Country, to a service that certainly deserves every sacrifise we can make, but which shoud reward it at least with confidence and thanks. However I am clear that a firm and prudent conduct on the part of the real friends to their Country, will defeat a faction which, as I apprehend, has deeper designs than is imagind. You will find M. de la Luzerne and the Secretary of the Embassy most worthy and agreable men. Remember me to all our friends at Boston and Congress and be assured I am, dear Sir, Yr. sincere friend and very Humbl. Servt.
[signed] A. Lee
P.S. Every thing looks well from Spain.
1. See JA to Lee, 10 June (above).
2. Lee's enemies in America.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0073

Author: Livingston, Muscoe
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-17

From Muscoe Livingston

[salute] Dear Sir

Inclos'd is four letters which you was So obliging, as [to] tell Me you would take care of; the Letter for the Governor1 I will be thankfull to you, to deliver him, Should you have an opportunity Soon after your Arrival.
The other three, to be put into the post office. I most Sincerely wish you, a Safe and happy passage to America, and there be the happy instrument of Relieving us, from Much Mischief that Must follow, a continuanc of our preasent planns in this Country.
I have Mentioned to the Governor My intention of Staying here, untill I hear from My Freinds, and that, if any litle thing Should offer, wherein I can Render My Country any Service in this or any other Country that I shall be happy to have the Opportunity, of doing it; Should any thing therefore offer, I will beg leave to Solicit your Friendship Joined to his; and I beg leave to Assure You that it Shall be My Study to Merit your attention.

[salute] I am With Great Respect Dear Sir Your Most Ob H sr

[signed] M Livingston2
1. Possibly a letter to Gov. William Livingston of New Jersey, who forwarded to the congress on 27 Aug. a letter from Muscoé Livingston (JCC, 15:1075).
2. On Livingston, see John Bondfield to the Commissioners, 13 Oct. 1778, note 5 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0074

Author: Montgomery, Robert
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-07-06

From Robert Montgomery

[salute] Dr Sir

I had the honour of adressing your Excellency the 26th Ultimo1 advising that by the officious impertinence of the asesor to this Governour, I had been Arrested and my house Embargoed notwithstanding I had presented my Certifycate and Passport, given by the Plenipotenciarys of the united States Residing at Paris, and allso proved that I had always Subscribed a subject of those States, in the Anual lists taken of foreign Merchants Established here which Confirm. But on my Representing the facts to the Conde de Ricla Minester of war at Madrid, He immediately dispatched a Courier Extrordinary with a Sever Repimand to the Governour, and orders to suport the Americans and Protect them as friends and Allies, so that I have been Redressed with honour and all the Expedition Possible.
The Express came down in 40 hours, which by the Regular Post is 4 days. Wishing you every hapiness and Sucess I am Very Truly Dr Sir your Excelly most obedt & most humble Servt
[signed] Robt. Montgomery
1. Not found.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0075

Author: Austin, Jonathan Loring
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-07-07

From Jonathan Loring Austin

[salute] Honble. Sir

When Individuals emerge from Difficulties, and by a happy turn of Fortune, suddenly find their Circumstances, not only bettered, but their future prospects very promising, the Gloom of Sorrow, which before clouded their Brows, is removed, and Joy and Gladness resume the place. Its thus with our Country at this happy Period. The Letter herewith, which is a Copy of my last,1 was a Representation of our lax Situation on my Arrival here, the Virtue which calld forth the Efforts of Americans when threatned with Chains, that Virtue which had lain so long dormant, revives afresh. The spirited and timely Address from Congress to the People of this Continent2 (which I had the Honor of enclosing you per Capt. Thompson) calld up a Blush, and roused them from their Lethargy; Self Interest was before this the Idol; Monopoly and Oppression advanced with rapid Strides; the Necessaries of Life (tho' no ways scarce) were at exorbitant prices; and the Money was esteemed of little more value than the Paper upon which it was stamped. This Address awakened the nominal rich, whose Fortunes { 97 } appeared only ideal, the Farmer adopted the Sentiment, and those in a lower Sphere of Life were forward to remedy the Evil.—At Philada. the combined Effort of all Ranks began. Massachusetts, or rather this Town approved their plan,3 and in a few days a Stop was put to the extravagant Rise of all Sorts of Merchandize, and the Money visibly grew <better> in greater Credit, instead of thirty paper Dollars given frequently for a hard one they were last week offerd for ten and refused. Every kind of Merchandize on my Arrival4 was esteemed better than our Money, at almost any price, Goods have now fell 25 per Cent or more, and the proprietors would be glad to have paper Money for them.
In the midst of these Efforts, providence as it were approving our Resolutions, and to add Firmness and Stability to the proceedings, blessed us with the agreeable News that the British Troops had received a Check at South Carolina.5 I have now the Honor as well as Satisfaction of congratulating you and all Friends upon this signal Success, which in its Consequences may have a happier Tendency than the great News I had the Honor of carrying to France.6 I enclose you all the papers which mention this glorious Event, from the first Rumor here, to the authenticated Account; and hope this Affair in Conjunction with the Resolutions of the Merchants Traders &c.7 will discover to Great Britain the Folly of her Conduct, and demonstrate to her and to the whole World, that while America continues virtuous she is invincible.

[salute] I have the Honor to be with all Respect and Attachment Sir Your most Obedient & very humble Servant

[signed] Jon Loring Austin
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “J. L. Austin. July 7. 1779.” Enclosures not found.
1. That of 7 June (above).
2. Austin probably enclosed the Address with his letter of 7 June. The Address of 26 May is in JCC, 14:649–657; Independent Chronicle, 17 June; and Evans, No. 16636. This congressional exhortation to the people admitted that too much paper money had been issued, but put a part of the blame for constantly rising prices on monopolizers, and urged the people to act through their state governments to control hoarding. The larger theme was that the people must cooperate in bringing about change; the congress could not act alone.
3. The people of Philadelphia, gathered on 25 May at the State House yard, were addressed by Gen. Roberdeau on the subject of monopolizers and rising prices. Resolutions were passed and committees appointed in a plan to publicize the extent of rising prices and to shame merchants into reducing excessive demands. The meeting also moved to look into corruption in the spending of public money and sought a like program throughout the United States (Independent Chronicle, 10 June). The town of Boston responded to the congressional appeal by passing resolutions in a meeting whose minutes have not been preserved, but which was held on 17 June (Boston Record Commissioners, 26th Report, p. 70). Reportedly, several Massachusetts counties reacted favorably to the Philadelphia example (Inde• { 98 } pendent Chronicle, 1 July).
4. Austin arrived on 29 May.
5. The Independent Chronicle of 24 June carried four highly exaggerated reports of a battle at Charleston in mid-May: two from Baltimore, one from Smith's Clove, N.Y., and one from a ship arrived in Beverly. All claimed severe losses for the British, ranging from 700 to 1,500 casualties. All agreed that the British were caught between the forces of Gens. Lincoln and Moultrie and likely to suffer total defeat. The victory was further confirmed by a South Carolinian arriving in Philadelphia. A dispatch from Lincoln himself was said to claim 1,400 casualties and 700 prisoners captured (Independent Chronicle, 1 July). Actually, British Gen. Prevost had avoided a major engagement by withdrawing from the Charleston area when he discovered that he was between two armies. A significant engagement between Lincoln and Prevost did not occur until June, when the American losses were greater than the British (Ward, War of the Revolution, 2:685–687; Howard Peckham, ed., The Toll of Independence, Chicago, 1974, p. 60–61). See also James Lovell to JA, 13 June, note 14 (above).
6. That is, news of the American victory at Saratoga (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:300).
7. On 16 June, Boston merchants resolved that no increase should be made in prices of commodities above then existing levels and that by 15 July prices would not exceed those of 1 May. Boston's merchants expected future monthly reductions, provided merchants in other Massachusetts towns agreed. They also voted to stop acquiring gold and silver and to expose those who demanded hard money (Independent Chronicle, 17 June).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0076

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-07-29

From James Warren

[salute] My Dear Sir

I am Told that in the few Letters which have been received from you here you Complain greatly that your Friends dont write to you oftner, and that you seldom hear from America. I easily Conceive such A Situation painful, and have Contributed my Mite to prevent it by writeing by every good Opportunity and long Letters too, for I know that People in high Stations have their Curiosity as well as others, and if they Assume Brevity themselves in their Letters, they Love to have Matters in detail from others. Upon this Principle I filled a large Sheet which went six weeks ago1 per Capt. Thompson in A little flying Schooner, which I dare say will run Clear and deliver you the Letter in safety, and make it Unnecessary to be lengthy in this. Our Spirits have been Alternately raised and depressed by the Accounts we have had at different Times from South Carolina. Sometimes the British Army has been wholly routed, and destroyed, and at others were advancing with A prospect of Carrying Charlestown. In Short the Accounts both here and at Philadelphia have been Interrupted, Confused and Uncertain.2 I dont learn that Congress ever get any regular Official Accounts. I had a Letter from Mr. Lovel of the 18th. Instant, in which he gives such Accounts as they had received from Transient Persons, from which Compared with each Other he dared only to Infer that we might Expect good Tideing from thence. I now hear A Vessel arrived at New London in A short passage, says the Britons had reached their { 99 } Shipping and Embarked. I don't Understand how it is that these fellows can prowl about A Country for six Months, with an army of Continentals and Militia all round them, and then get off without much loss.
Genl. Sullivan is gone into the Woods with about 5000 Men,3 (An Expedition I have no great Opinion of) while the Enemy have been ravageing the C[o]asts of Connecticut and Burning their Towns &c &c,4 According to the true Spirit of Magnanimity, and Humanity of the Plan Expressed by their Commissioners. If there be no Check to their proceedings it seems to me this is their Plan of Operation, for the present Campaigne. If it be Infamous for its Barbarism, or Contemptible for its Malicious Littleness, British Historians and Poets may reconcile it if they Can to their Boasted national Politeness and Magnanimity, or which is more probable deny the facts. The last we hear of them is at Rhode Island. What Town is the object of the next Expedition is Uncertain. I suppose they will soon work themselves out of Stock on that Side <unless> and must come round the Cape to find new Objects to glut their Cruelty and revenge.
You will find by the Papers that a Detachment from Genl. Washington'[s] Army under Genl. Wayne has shewn what the Spirit of Enterprise may do if Exerted.5
We Just hear that Count D. Estaing has gained a great Naval Victory in the West Indies.6 I wish it may prove true. If it does probably some of their Ships will be sent this way, to avoid Hurricanes, and Assist us.
Our Continental Ships as well as Privateers have been very Successfull. Many Prizes are sent in. We are now Engaged in An Expedition against the Enemy, who have made a Lodgment at Penobscot.7 About 20 Sail of Armed Vessels of different forces, Sailed about 10 days ago to Join 1600 Troops Assembled at the Eastward. If the Enemy do not draw of[f] their Force, or reinforce them they are stupid indeed. If they do the last, our Fleet may be in danger, and A Capital Loss may Ensue. I gave you an Account in my last of the deplorable State of our Currency, since which an Alarm of danger from that quarter has become so general, as to form Associations of Merchants and a pretty general Convention of delegates from the several Towns at Concord. I have some Expectations from these measures, whether they sprung from Fear, or a resolute Fortitude, from self Interest, or genuine Patriotism. You will see their several proceedings in the Papers.8
In September we are to have A Convention at Cambridge to form A Constitution of Government.9
This is to go by the Mercury Packet Capt. Samson, who Carries dis• { 100 } patches of Congress. What they Contain I dont know. I hope some Honourable Appointment for You. I have felt some resentment lately for your detention in Europe without being in A public Active Character and Station. I am however Assured by Mr. Adams that A great Majority of Congress have very favourable Sentiments and designs with regard to you.
There goes Passenger in this Packet Mr. Elkanah Watson10 A Young Gentleman I am told of very good Character. He is Son of Capt. Watson of this Town, and a remote relation of Mine. He has lived and served his Time with John Browne of Providence, and I suppose is now in pursuit of Commercial plans. He Intends to go to Paris, and seems to be possessed of A Laudable Ambition to be taken Notice of by Gentlemen of distinction. You will therefore by some Attention to him Cherish a good Principle in the Mind of a Youth and oblige Your Friend and Humbe. Servt.
[signed] J Warren
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in an unknown hand: “Gen Warren”; by CFA: “July 29th 1779.”
1. Warren's letter of 13 June (above).
2. Conflicting reports, ranging from claims of a serious defeat for the British to one claiming that sickness prevented the forces of Prevost and Lincoln from clashing, appeared in successive weeks (Independent Chronicle, 15, 22, and 29 July).
3. During John Sullivan's extensive raiding in the country of the Six Nations in the summer of 1779, he claimed to have burned forty Indian towns along with their crops and orchards. Notable for the savagery of its assaults, the expedition killed or captured few of the enemy and thus did not afford the protection to the frontier settlements that had been intended (Ward, War of the Revolution, 2:638–645).
4. In early July the British, under the command of Gen. Tryon, burned New Haven, Fairfield, and Norwalk (Independent Chronicle, 15 July).
5. On 15 July, Anthony Wayne, commanding a brigade of four specially chosen regiments, mounted an attack on the fort at Stony Point, N.Y., a stronghold recently taken from the Americans and considerably strengthened by the British. The fort and its counterpart on the east side of the Hudson River, at Verplanck's Point, formed the gateway connecting the upper and lower Hudson Valley. British possession threatened both the ferry in the vicinity and West Point to the north. Marching under the tightest discipline, Wayne's force cut its way through two abatis, assaulted the fort, and took it in hand-to-hand fighting. The British suffered nearly 600 casualties in killed, wounded, and captured; the Americans, 100. Apart from the boost to morale that the American victory provided, the capture of the fort had no lasting result. Washington decided that it could not be maintained, and the British later recaptured it. The congress awarded Wayne a gold medal and two of his officers silver ones (Ward, War of the Revolution, 2:596–603; Howard Peckham, ed., The Toll of Independence, Chicago, 1974, p. 62). A brief account appeared in the Independent Chronicle for 22 July.
6. There were reports of the capture of the West Indian island of St. Vincent by Estaing in June, but the fullest report, made by William Bingham, Continental agent at Martinique, plainly implied that Adm. Byron's departure had made the capture possible (Independent Chronicle, 22 and 29 July; see Mackesy, War for America, p. 272–273).
7. For the Penobscot Expedition, see William Vernon Sr. to JA, 10 April, note 4 (above).
{ 101 }
8. The Independent Chronicle of 29 July carried the names of the delegates from the towns of the state, the resolutions that were passed, and an address to the people. The towns were more responsive in choosing delegates than many of them were in electing representatives to the General Court. This convention set maximum prices for “Merchandize and Country Produce” and resolved to regard as enemies to the country those who ignored the price list. It also condemned the selling of gold and silver and the demanding and receiving of either in business transactions.
9. The convention met for its first session on 1 Sept. See Report of a Constitution, [ca. 28–31 Oct.] (below).
10. Elkanah Watson Jr., having recently completed his apprenticeship with the Providence merchant John Brown, was setting off for France to begin his long and successful mercantile career (DAB). He was to carry this letter, one of the same date from Mercy Otis Warren (below), and possibly others from AA and Robert Treat Paine. According to Watson, all were intended as recommendations when he sought JA's aid in establishing himself in Europe. Mercy Warren's letter, however, does not mention Watson, and the letters from AA and Paine, if they existed, have not been found. In any event, JA's return to America caused Watson to leave the letters with James Warren rather than take them to France (Watson to JA, 10 March 1780, Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0077

Author: Warren, Mercy Otis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-07-29

From Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Sir

This Morning your Vigalent and invariable Friend wrote you a long letter which makes it unnecessary for me to take up my pen nor should I have done it by this opportunity but in Compliance with the Wishes of Him who is so partial as to think it in my power to Contribute to the Entertainment of a Gentleman who (from Interest, from Vanity and from more Noble principles)1 has such a Multitude of Correspondents. There is such Variety of Genius occasionally Exerted in this way that were it not for the adverse Circumstances which prevents a safe passage you would have little Cause to Complain that you was Forgotten on this side the Atlantic. Your Head would be Replete with Inteligence and your Cabinet Crouded with Epistolary Lumber, among which if you had Leasure to Retrospect you would find several unanswered from a Lady who makes no Claim to a Reply but from your politeness and Friendship.2 Neither of which will I suspect or Censure till assured in some Future paragraph that you have not time to answer letters but when the Interest of the public or the Indispensable Duties of private Life Require it.
Certain I am did all political, Military, and Gubenatorial observations which are Designed for your perusal, Reach the Gardens of Passy, You would be willing to unbend a little, by indulging to the Familiar style of Female Compotition.
But as most of them have been lost Through Fear, Misfortune, Accident or Treachery, I imagine the Avidity is still kept up, and that you { 102 } open Every paquet with Expectation and desire to Investigate the Plans of statsmen, and survey the Martial Opperations of the Heros of a Country, whose Honour and Happiness you have so much at Heart.3
And though no one is better qualifyed to penetrate the Arcana of American politics than yourself, yet I think you must be surprized at the inconsistency of Character which appears in some, And at a Loss (if not for the stimulus that provoked, yet)4 for the Influance which Carryed into Execution Certain Resolves which have been painful to the best, and a Rich Repast to the Worst Men that Disgrace your Native land.5
How much longer shall we be Embarassed and Distressed by the selfish insiduous arts of Gamblers Courtiers And stock Jobbers among ourselves, while a Mercyless Foe is laying waste our Borders, Burning our Defenceless Cities, and Murdering the Innocent of all ages and Ranks.
The spirit of party has Entered into all our Departments. The Deanites, that is to say the Voteries of pleasure, or the Men of Taste and Refinement make no inconsiderable Figure. Some Deify the phantom Fashion: whether she appears in a French, or British, or American Dress; while others Worship only at the shrine of Plutus.6 Yet the old Republicans, (a solitary few) with Decent solemnity and Confidence: still persevere. Their Hands unstained by Bribes: Though poverty stares them in the Face. Their Hearts unshaken by the Levity, the Luxery, the Caprice or Whim, the Folly or ingratitude, of the times. When we survey the picture we Cannot but sigh with a late Celebrated writer. “Alas! for poor Human Nature.”7
On my way from Boston I lodged a week since, at the Foot of Pens Hill. The Family There are well, and as Happy as possible in the absence of a Tender Husband, And a kind Father. More perticular accounts you will doubtless have by this Conveyance from the Mistress of the Mansion. There I had the pleasure of seing your signature to several short letters8 which lead us to hope our Calamities will be shortned, or Rather not increased.
As from a long Friendship with Him, and a perticular Intimacy with His lady, I feel myself sensibly touched by the Death of Dr. Winthrop. I Cannot but mingle a simpathetic tear on this occasion with you, and His philosopic Friend at Passy. Both of whom, so highly Esteemed, and were so intimetely acquainted with His Virtues, in His literary, patriotic, and Christian Character.
I fear it will be long before Harvard sees a successor that will fill the Chair of the professor with Equal Honour and Ability.
{ 103 }
Let me assure you sir, when I began this I designed but one page but you are so well acquainted with the loquacity of the sex that you will Easily beleive I Check my own inclinations when at the Bottom of the Third I subscribe the Name of your sincere Friend and Humble servant
[signed] Marcia Warren
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in an unknown hand: “Mrs Warren”; by CFA: “July 29th 1779.” Tr (MHi: Mercy Warren Letterbook). For a description of the Letterbook, see Mercy Otis Warren to JA, 15 Oct. 1778, descriptive note (above).
1. Closing parenthesis supplied.
2. The editors know of only two letters from Mercy Warren since JA left for Europe, those of 15 Oct. and 15 Dec. 1778 (above). JA answered the first on 18 Dec. 1778 (above), but no reply to the second has been found, although he apparently wrote one; see JA to Mercy Warren, [post 3 Aug. 1779] (below).
3. In the transcript “a Country” is changed to “your Country” and the final clause is omitted. This omission may be significant in light of the later hard feelings that developed between Mercy Warren and JA.
4. Closing parenthesis supplied.
5. In the transcript the paragraph that immediately follows was placed after “Alas! for poor Human Nature,” forming the last sentence of the second paragraph below. The first two sentences of that paragraph were attached to the end of this one.
6. The Greek and Roman god of riches.
7. In the transcript, after this paragraph as revised (see note 5), there is the following passage: “Dark and inscrutable are the ways of providence: yet only so to us short sighted mortals. I forbear to draw aside the curtain, or indulge a wish to look forward to the blood stained field, to the revolutions of goverment, the convulsions of nature, and the mighty shocks both in the moral, political, and natural world, that are yet to take place, and which are but a combination of incidents to compleat the peice, which for ought we know may be the admiration and astonishment of wondering worlds, that revolve around this little ball, and may be taught by the example of man, to avoid every deviation from the centre of perfection.” Despite the fact that this paragraph does not appear in the recipient's copy, the similarity of its style to Mercy Warren's may indicate that it was part of a draft not extant. In any case, in the transcript it was followed by two paragraphs, the first commenting on the death of Professor Winthrop and the second recounting Mercy's visit to AA, a reversal of the order in the recipient's copy.
8. Probably JA's letters of 30 Dec. 1778, 1 Jan., and 9 Feb., which AA only received in late July. She received no later letters from JA before his return in August (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:214–2163:214–215, 216).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0078

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1779-08-03

To the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

On the Twenty Eighth1 of February, I had the Honour of writing to Congress, informing them of my Intention of returning home, in Consequence of the new Commission which Superceded mine: on the first of March, I had again the Honour of writing Some <interesting> Information concerning the unprecedented Interest which the british Government are obliged to give for the Loan of Money, for the Service of the present Year: on the Eighth of March I took my Leave of the { 104 } American Minister and left Paris for Nantes, in Expectation of there meeting the Alliance, and Sailing in her for America, in a few Weeks: Upon my Arrival at Nantes, I learned that the Alliance was Still at Brest, and so embarrassed with near forty Prisoners who were Supposed to have been concerned in a Conspiracy to carry her to England, and with other Difficulties that it was uncertain when she would be ready. The Agent at Nantes, at this Time receiving a Letter, from his Excellency Dr. Franklin, desiring him to consult me about the Direction of the Alliance, I thought it would expedite the public Service, for me to make a Journey to Brest (about two hundred miles,) which I under took accordingly and arrived at that Port, without Loss of Time. There, after an2 Attendance of some Weeks, and much Negociation with Commandants, Intendants and Agents all Things were prepared for the Frigate to Sail for Nantes with about an hundred British Prisoners, to be there exchanged for a like Number of American Prisoners arrived there from England in a Cartel. I returned to Nantes,3 and the Alliance in a few Days arrived in the River. The Prisoners were exchanged, about Sixty inlisted in the Alliance and the rest in the Poor Richard, Captain Jones.4 After accommodating all the Difficulties, with the British Prisoners, the American Prisoners, the Officers and Crew of the Alliance, and Supplying all their necessary Wants Captain Landais having orders to Sail for America, and every Thing ready to proceed to sea in a few Days, received unexpected orders, from the Minister Plenipotentiary to proceed to L'orient, and wait there for further orders. I had the Honour of a Letter at the same Time from his Excellency,5 inclosing one from the Minister of the Marine, by which I learn'd, that the King had been graciously pleased to grant me a Passage, on Board the Frigate, which was to carry his Majestys new Minister Plenipotentiary to the united States, that the Frigate was at L'orient and that the Minister would be there in a few Days. I went in the Alliance from Nantes to L'orient, where6 after some Time the Frigate the Sensible arrived, but his Excellency the Chevalier de La Luzerne did not arrive untill the Tenth of June. On the Seventeenth of June, and not before, I had the Pleasure to be under Sail, and on the third of August arrived in Nantasket Road.7
I have entered into this Detail of Disappointments,8 to justify my self for not returning Sooner, and to shew that it was not my fault, that I was not at Home, in Eight Weeks from the first authentic Information, that I had nothing further to do in France.
There is nothing remaining for me to do, but to Settle my Accounts with Congress: but as Part of my Accounts are in Conjunction, with
{ 105 } { 106 }
my late Colleague, with whom I lived in the Same House, during my Residence, in Paris, I am not able to judge, whether Congress will choose to receive my Accounts alone, or to wait untill the other Commissioners shall exhibit theirs, So as to have the whole together under one View, in order to do equal Justice to all. I am ready, however to render all the Account in my Power, either jointly or Separately, whenever Congress shall order it, and I shall wait their Directions accordingly.
It is not in my Power, having been so long from Paris,9 to give Congress any News of Importance, except that the Brest Fleet under the Comte D'Orvilliere, was at sea the Beginning of June, that Admiral Arbuthnot was at Plymouth the thirty first of May,10 and that there was an universal Perswasion arrizing from Letters from Paris and London, that Spain had decided against the English. The Chevalier de La Luzerne, however will be able to give Congress Satisfactory Information upon this Head.
I ought not to conclude this Letter, without expressing my Obligations to Captain Chevagne and the other Officers of the Sensible, for their Civilities in the Course of my Passage home, and the Pleasure I have had in the Conversation of his Excellency the new Minister Plenipotentiary from our August Ally, and the Secretary to the Embassy Monsieur Marbois.
The Chevalier de la Luzerne, is Knight of the order of St. John of Jerusalem, of an ancient and a noble Family connected by Blood, with many Characters of principal Name in the Kingdom; a Grandson of the celebrated Chancellor De la Moignon; a Nephew of Monsieur Malesherbes, perhaps Still more famous, as first President of the Court of Aids, and as a Minister of State; a Brother of the Comte de la Luzerne, and of the Bishop of Langres, one of the three Dukes and Peers, who had the Honour to assist in the Consecration of the King; a near Relation of the Marishall de Broglie, and the Comte his Brother, and of many other important Personages in that Country. Nor is his personal Character less respectable than his Connections. As he is possessed of much usefull Information of all kinds, and particularly of the political System of Europe, obtained in his late Embassy in Bavaria; and of the justest Sentiments of the mutual Interests of his Country and ours, and of the Utility to both of that Alliance, which so happily unites them, and at the Same Time divested of all Personal and Party Attachments and Aversions, Congress and their Constituents, I flatter myself will have much Satisfaction in his Negotiations,11 as well as in those of the Secretary to the Embassy, Monsieur Marbois who was also { 107 } Secretary to the Embassy, in Bavaria and is a Counsellor of the Parliament of Metz, a Gentleman whose Abilities, Application and Disposition12 cannot fail to make him usefull in the momentous Office he Sustains.13 I have the Honour to be with great Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 61); docketed: “Letter from J Adams Braintree Aug. 3. 1779 Read Aug 20. — Referred to the board of Treasury who are directed to take order thereon [passed?] 26h Aug. 1779.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. An error; the letter was dated 27 Feb. (above). In an unidentified hand, the word “seventh” is underlined and written above “Eighth.” It was obviously done by someone at the congress who checked the earlier letter.
2. In the Letter-book copy JA wrote “a tedious,” then replaced it with “an.”
3. The Letterbook adds “by Land.”
4. The Letterbook has after “Jones” the following: “or <not> being officers, not inclining to inlist att all.”
5. From Benjamin Franklin; 24 April (above).
6. The Letterbook has “where <I found neither Fr[igate?]>.”
7. The Letterbook has “Boston Harbor.”
8. The Letterbook has “Embarrassements and Dissappointments.”
9. Crossed out in the Letterbook after “Paris”: “wandering from one seaport to another in a Country where little authentic Intelligence of public Affairs is to be obtained.”
10. The information about Adm. Marriot Arbuthnot is not included in the Letterbook. In July a combined fleet of French and Spanish vessels sought to capture Portsmouth and its arsenal. The attempt was a dismal failure (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 150–154).
11. For “much Satisfaction in his Negotiations” the Letterbook originally had “Reason to rejoice in his appointment.”
12. The Letterbook has “shining Abilities and <Activity>, <indefatigible> Application, and <amiable> Disposition.”
13. After “Sustains,” the Letterbook adds the following: “As these Gentlemen have, been employed before, in the Negotiations for the King in <several Countries of Europe> a very critical Conjuncture of Affairs in Bavaria, Congress will derive much Information from their Knowledge of the political Affairs of <that Quarter of the World> Europe.” JA may have intended to cross out this last sentence in the Letterbook, for most of its substance is given in the recipient's copy where he enumerates the qualities of La Luzerne. The reference to La Luzerne's experience in Bavaria as a source of his understanding of the European political system is interlined in the Letterbook.
For JA's later and different opinion of both La Luzerne and Marbois, see his comments in the Boston Patriot of 21 Aug. 1811 (JA, Works, 1:671–674).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0079

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, Mercy Otis
Date: 1779-08-03

To Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Madam

A few days ago, I was favoured with your obliging Letter of 29 July, and am much obliged to the Gentleman who perswaded you to write, as well as to you, for complying with his Desire.
I shall never have So many Correspondents as to make me neglect the Letters of a Lady, whose Character I revere so much and whose Correspondence I prize so highly. I have had the Pleasure of two Let• { 108 } ters, at Passy,2 both of which I very punctually answerd, and should have answered all if they had been an hundred.
In Truth Madam, I had very little Intelligence from America during my Absence. Your Frie[n]d, was as usual my best Correspondent, among the Gentlemen From Congress I could obtain no Intelligence at all.
If I comprehend the Resolves you mention, I am not at a Loss for the Influence, that obtained them. A factious Demagogue, disappointed in his Views of Ambition and Avarice, assisted by, a numerous Band of mercantile Speculators in Contract with him, on both side the Water, with a factious, foreign Minister, Consul, and Vice Consull3 have forced up into Vegetation those Hotbed Plants, by the best opinion I can form.
I fear, Madam, We shall be much longer, distressed by Gamblers and stockjobbers. I can see no End to it. Yet sometimes Things are ordered better than We can foresee.
The Follies and Frivolities of our Countrymen, are too Serious to be ridiculous. Time however, and the Perseverance of the few who now, disapprove them, may produce a Cure. We shall find, by and by, that those who corrupt our symplicity, will be restrained. The Government, influenced chiefly by the Yeomanry will, after a little while, take Care of the Coxcombs and Coquettes.
Our Calamities, I think, will not be greatly increased, altho they may be prolonged.
I join with you, most sincerely, Madam, in deploring the Loss of our great and excellent Friend Dr. Winthrop, for whose Name and Character I shall ever entertain the highest Veneration. The University, the State and the Republick of Letters, have all Cause to lament the Death of this able and amiable Man.

[salute] I am with great Respect, & Esteem,

[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “His Excelly. Jno. Adams Without date”; in another hand: “J Adams Esqr. <1776> 1780.”
1. The first sentence indicates that JA wrote this letter within a few days of his return to America on 3 Aug.
2. See Mercy Warren's letter to JA of 29 July, note 2 (above).
3. That is, Silas Deane, Conrad Alexandre Gérard, and probably Jean Holker and Martin Oster. The latter two were the French consul and vice consul for the port of Philadelphia.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0080

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Jay, John
Date: 1779-08-04

To the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

At the Close of the Service, on which Congress have done me the Honour to Send me, it may not be amiss to Submit a few Reflections { 109 } to their Consideration on the general State of Affairs in Europe, So far as they relate to the Interests of the united States.1 As the Time approaches, when our Relations, with the most considerable States in Europe, will multiply, and assume a greater Stability, they deserve the Attention of Americans in general, but especially of those composing their Supream Council.
France deserves the first Place, among those Powers with which our Connections will be the most intimate. And it is with Pleasure, that I am able to assure Congress, that from the Observations I have made during my Residence in that Kingdom, I have the Strongest Reasons to believe, that their august Ally, his Ministers and Nation, are possessed of the fullest Perswasion of the Justice of our Cause, of the great Importance of our Independance to their Interests, and the firmest Resolution, to preserve the Faith of Treaties inviolate, and to cultivate our Friendship with Sincerity and Zeal. This of the more Consequence to Us, as this Power, enjoys in Europe at this Hour, an Influence, which it has not before experienced, for many Years.2
Men, are So sensible of a constant Tendency, in others, to Excesses, that a Signal Superiority of Power, never appears, without exciting Jealousies, and Efforts to reduce it. Thus when Spain, under Charles the fifth and his successor, made herself dangerous, a great Part of Europe, united against her; assisted in Severing the united Provinces from her; and by degrees greatly diminished her Power. Thus when France, under Louis the fourteenth, indulged the Spirit of Conquest too far, a great Part of Mankind, united their Forces against her, with such success, as to involve her in a Train of Misfortunes, out of which she never immerged, before the present Reign. The English, in their Turn, by means of their Commerce, and extensive settlements abroad, arose to a Degree of Oppulence, and naval Power, which excited more extravagant Passions in her own Breast, and more tyrannical Exertions of her Influence than appeared in either of the other Cases. The Consequence has been Similar, but more remarkable. Europe Seems to be more universally and Sincerely united in the Desire of reducing her, than they ever were in any former Instance. This is the true Cause, why the French Court never made War, with so universal a Popularity among their own subjects, So general an Approbation of other Courts, and such unanimous Wishes among all Nations for her Success, as at this Time.
The Personal Character of the King, his declared Patronage of Morals and Oeconomy, and the great strokes of Wisdom, which have marked the Commencement of his Reign; The active Spring that has been given to Commerce, by the Division of the British Empire and { 110 } our new Connections with his subjects; all these Causes, together with the two Treaties of Peace, which have been lately signed under his Auspices and his Mediation, have given to this Power a Reputation,3 which the last Reign had lost her.
The first of these Treaties, has determined those Controversies, which had for a long Time divided Russia and the Port,4 and the Parties have been equally Satisfyed with the Conditions of their Reconciliation, a Circumstance the more honourable for the french Ministry, and the Chevalier de St. Priest their Ambassador at Constantinople, as it is uncommon. The ancient Confidence of the Porte in the Court of Versailles has revived and the Coolness, or rather Enmity, which had divided France and Russia for near Twenty Years, gives Place to a Friendship, which is at this Time in all its fervour, and will probably be durable, as these Powers, have no Interest to annoy each other, but, on the contrary, are able to assist each other in a manner, the most efficacious.
The Peace of Germany, Signed at Teschen, the thirteenth of last May, has not equally Satisfyed the Belligerent Powers, who were, on the one Part the Emperor,5 and on the other the King of Prussia, and the Elector of Saxony, his Ally. From the Multitude of Writings, which have appeared before and during this War, in which the Causes, the Motives, and the Right of it are discussed, it appears, that in 1768 [i.e. 1778], at the Extinction of one of the Branches of the House of Bavaria, which has been Seperated from its Trunk for near five Centuries, the House of Austria, thought itself able, and Priests and Lawyers, among their own subjects, were complaisant enough to tell her she had a Right, to put herself, in Possession of the best Part of the Patrimony, of the extinguished Line. The King of Prussia, to whose Interests this Augmentation of Power, would have been dangerous, has crowned an illustrious Reign, by displaying all the Resources of military Genius, and profound Policy, in Opposition to it. While he contended in the Field, France negotiated, and the Work begun by his Arms, was compleated by the Cabinet of Versailles.6 The Palatine House of Bavaria, the Duke of Deux Ponts, and particularly the Elector of Saxony, have obtained all that they could reasonably demand, and the Empire has preserved its Ballance of Power, in Spight of the Ambition of its Head: the King of Prussia, has covered himself with Glory, to which he put the last finishing stroke, by not demanding any Compensation for the Expences of the War: All Parties have been Satisfied, except the Emperor, who7 has disordered his Finances; ruined his Kingdom of Bohemia; with immense Forces, has not obtained any { 111 } Advantage over his Adversary and consequently has destroyed among his own Troops the opinion they had of their Superiority; and in fine, has sustained the Loss the most sensible for a young Prince, just beginning to Reign, the Reputation of Justice and Moderation. It is the Influence, the Address, and Ability of the french Ministry, joined to the Firmness of Russia, which have compleated the Work: and Louis the Sixteenth has restored in Germany, to the Nation over which he reigns, that Reputation, which his Grand father had lost. The Merit of the Chevalier de la Luzerne, who was Ambassador, in Bavaria during the Transaction of this Business, and that of Mr. Marbois the Secretary to that Embassy, in accomplishing an Affair of Such Importance, which was rendered peculiarly delicate, by the late Family Connection, between the Courts of Vienna and Versailles8 was probably a Motive for sending them now to America, a Mission of no less importance, and no less Delicacy. It is not probable, however, that they could have succeeded so soon, if England could have afforded Subsidies to the Emperor.
The Revolution in America, in which, the French King has taken an earlier and a greater Part, than any other Sovereign in Europe, has operated so as to conciliate to him, a Consideration,9 that is universal. The new Minister, will give to Congress, Information the most precise in this Respect and touching the Part, which Spain is taking at this Time, for which Reason I shall refrain from entering into it, and content myself with observing That all these Considerations ought to induce Us to cherish the Alliance of France; and that every good Citizen of the United States ought to endeavour to destroy the Remains of those Prejudices, which our ancient Rulers have endeavoured to inspire into Us. That We have nothing to fear, and much to hope from France, while We conduct Ourselves with good sense, and Firmness, and that We cannot take too much Pains to multiply the Commercial Relations, and Strengthen the political Connections between the two Nations:10 Provided Always, that We preserve Prudence and Resolution enough, to receive implicitly, no Advice whatsoever, but to judge always for ourselves; and to guard Ourselves against those Principles in Government, and those Manners, which are So opposite to our own Constitution, and to our Characters, as a young People, called by Providence to the most honourable and important of all Duties, that of forming Establishments for a great Nation and a new World.11
In the opinion of Some, the Power, with which We shall one Day, have a Relation the most immediate, next to that of France, is Great Britain. But it ought to be considered that this Power, looses every Day { 112 } her Consideration, and runs towards her Ruin. Her Riches in which her Power consisted, she has lost with Us, and never can regain. With Us, she has lost her Mediterranean Trade, her Affrican Trade, her German and Holland Trade, her Ally Portugal, her Ally Russia, and her natural Ally the House of Austria; at least by being unable to protect these as she once did, she can obtain no succour from them. In short, one Branch of Commerce has been lopped off, after another; and one political Interest Sacrificed after another, that she resembles the melancholly Spectacle of a great wide Spreading Tree that has been girdled at the Root.12 Her Endeavours to regain these Advantages, will continually keep alive in her Breast the most malevolent Passions towards Us. Her Envy, her Jealousy, and Resentment, will never leave Us, while We are, what We must unavoidably be, her Rivals, in the Fisheries, in various other Branches of Commerce, and even in naval Power. If Peace should unhappily be made, leaving Canada, Nova Scotia, the Floridas, or any of them, in her Hands, Jealousies, and Controversies will be perpetually arrising. The Degree therefore of Intercourse,13 with this Nation, which will ever again take Place, may justly be considered as problematical, or rather the Probability is that it will never be so great as some Persons imagine. Moreover, I think that every Citizen, in the present Circumstances, who respects his Country, and the Engagements she has taken ought to abstain from the Foresight of a Return of Friendship, between Us and the English, and Act as if, it never was to be.
But it is lawful to consider that which will probably be formed between the Hollanders and Us. The Similitude of Manners, of Religion and in Some Respects of Constitution; the Analogy, between the Means, by which the two Republicks arrived at Independancy; but above all the Attractions of commercial Interests, will infallibly draw them together. This Connection will not probably shew itself, in a public Manner before14 a Peace, or a near Prospect of Peace. Too many Motives of Fear or Interest place the Hollanders in a Dependance on England, to suffer her to connect herself openly, with Us, at present.15 Nevertheless, if the King of Prussia could be induced to take Us by the Hand, his great Influence, in the united Provinces, might contribute greatly to conciliate their Friendship for Us. Loans of Money, and the operations of commercial Agents or Societies, will be the first Threads of our Connections with this Power.
From the Essays, and Inquirys, of your Commissioners at Paris, it appears that Some Money, may be borrowed there; and from the Success of Several Enterprizes by Way of St. Eustatia, it Seems, that the { 113 } Trade, between the two Countries is likely to increase,16 and possibly Congress may think it expedient to send a Minister there. If they shall, it will be proper to give him a discretionary Power, to produce his Commission, or not, as he shall find it likely to suceed: to give him full Powers and clear Instructions concerning the Borrowing of Money: and the Man himself, above all, should have consummate Prudence; of a Caution and Discretion that will be Proof, against every Tryal.
If Congress could find any certain Means, of paying the Interest, annually in Europe, commercial and pecuniary Connections would Strengthen themselves, from day to day: and if the Fall of the Credit of England should terminate in Bankruptcy, the seven united Provinces having nothing further to dissemble, would be zealous for17 a Part of those rich Benefits which our Commerce offers to the maritime Powers; and by an early Treaty with Us, Secure those Advantages, from which they have already discovered strong symptoms of a Fear of being excluded, by Delays. It is Scarcely necessary to observe to Congress, that Holland has lost her Influence, in Europe to such a Degree, that there is little other Regard for her remaining, but that of a prodigal Heir, for a rich Usurer, who lends him Money, at an high Interest. The State, which is poor, and in Debt, has no political Stability: Their Army is very small, and their Navy less. The immense Riches of Individuals, may possibly be, in some future Time, the great Misfortune of the Nation, because her Means of Defence, are not proportioned to the Temptation which is held out, for some necessitious, avaricious and formidable Neighbour to invade her.
The active Commerce of Spain, is very inconsiderable: of her passive Commerce, We shall not fail to have a Part. The Vicinity of this Power, her Forces, her Resources, ought to make Us, attentive to her Conduct. But if We may judge of the future by the Past, I should hope, that We have nothing from it, to fear. The Genius and the Interest of the Nation, inclines it to repose. She cannot determine upon War, but in the last Extremity, and even then, she Sighs, for Peace. She is not possessed of the Spirit of Conquest, and We have Reason to congratulate ourselves that We have her, for the nearest, and the principal Neighbour. Her Conduct towards Us, at this Time, will perhaps appear equivocal and indecisive: her Determinations appear to be solely, the Fruit of the Negotiations of the Court of Versailles: But it ought to be considered, that she has not had Motives so pressing, as those of France to take in Hand our Defence.18 Whether she has an Eye upon the Florida's, or what other Terms she may expect from Congress, they are, no doubt, better informed than I am. To their { 114 } Wisdom it must be submitted to give her satisfaction, if her Terms are moderate and her offers, in Proportion. This Conduct, may conciliate her Affection and shorten delays, a Point of great Importance, as the present Moment appears to be decisive.
Portugal,19 under the Administration of the Marquis de Pombal, broke Some of the shackles, by which she was held to England. But the Treaty, by which a permanent Friendship, is established, between the Crowns of Spain and Portugal,20 was made in 1777, an Event that the English deplore, as the greatest Evil, next to the irrecoverable Loss of the Colonies, arising from this War: because they will, now, no longer [be] able to play off Portugal against Spain, in order to draw away her Attention as well as her Forces, as in former Times. But as Portugal has not known how to deliver herself, entirely from the Influence of England, We shall have little to hope from her: on the other Hand, Such is her internal Weakness, that We have absolutely, nothing to fear. We shall necessarily have Commerce with her, but whether she will ever have the Courage to sacrifice the Friendship of England for the sake of it, is uncertain.
It would be endless to consider that infinite Number of little sovereignties, into which Germany is divided; and develope all their political Interests: This Task is as much beyond my Knowledge, as it would be useless to Congress, who will have few Relations, friendly, or hostile, with this Country, excepting in two Branches of Commerce, that of Merchandises and that of Soldiers. The latter infamous and detestible as it is, has been established between a Nation, once generous, humane and brave,21 and certain Princes as avaricious of Money, as they are prodigal of the Blood of their subjects: And such is the Scarcity of Cash, and the Avidity for it, in Germany, and so little are the Rights of Humanity understood or respected, that sellers will probably be found as long as Buyers. America will never be found in either Class.
The states of Germany, with which We may have Commerce of an honourable Kind, are, the House of Austria; one of the most powerfull in Europe. She possesses, very few Countries, however near the Sea. Ostend is the principal City, where she might have established a Trade of Some Consequence, if the Jealousy of the maritime Powers, had not constantly opposed it. France, Spain, Holland and England, <are> have been all agreed in this opposition, and the Treaty of Utrecht, ratified more than once by subsequent Treaties, have so shackled22 this Port, that it will be impossible to open a direct Trade to it, without some new Treaty,23 which, possibly may not be very distant. England may possibly make a new Treaty with Austria and agree to Priviledges for { 115 } this Port, in order to draw away Advantages of American Trade from France and Spain, and to such a Treaty Holland may possibly, acquiesce, if not acceed.
The Port of Triest, enjoys a Liberty, without Limits, and the Court of Vienna is anxious to make its Commerce flourish. Situated however as it is, at the Bottom of the Gulph of Triest, the remotest Part of the Gulph of Venice, tedious and difficult as the Navigation of those seas is, We could make little Use of it, at any Time, and none at all, while this War continues.24 This Court would seize with Eagerness, the Advantages that are presented to her by the Independance of America, but an Interest more powerfull restrains her, and altho She is certainly attentive to this Revolution, there is Reason to believe she will be one of the last Powers to acknowledge our Independance. She is so far from being rich that she is destitute of the Means of making War, without subsidies as is proved by the Peace which has lately been made. She has Occasion for the Succours of France or of England, to put in Motion her numerous Armies. She conceives easily, that the Loss of Resources and of Credit of the English, has dissabled them to pay the enormous subsidies, which in former Times they have poured out into the Austrian Coffers. She sees therefore, with a Secret Mortification, that she shall be hereafter more at the Mercy of France, who may choose her Ally, and prefer at her Pleasure, either Austria or Prussia, while neither Vienna nor Berlin, will be able, as in Times past, to choose between Paris and London, Since the latter has lost her past oppulence and pecuniary Ressources.
It is our Duty to remark these great Changes in the system of Mankind which have already happened in Consequence of the American War. The Allienation of Portugal from England, the Peace of Germany and that between Petersbourg and Constantinople, by all which Events England has lost and France gained Such a superiority of Influence and Power, are owing entirely to the blind Diversion of that Policy and Wealth which the English might have still enjoyed, from the Objects of their true Interest and Honour to the ruinous American War.25
The Court of Berlin, flatters herself, that the Connections, which have heretofore so long united France and Prussia, will renew themselves sooner or later. This system is more natural, than that which subsists at this Day. The King of Prussia, may then wait without Anxiety, the Consequences of the present Revolution, because it tends to increase the Ressources of his natural Ally.26 The jealousy between the Emperor and the King of Prussia, and that between the Houses of { 116 } Bourbon and Austria, are a natural Tye between France and Prussia. The Rivalry between France and Great Britain, is another Motive too natural and too permanent for the former to suffer the King of Prussia to be long the Ally of the latter.27 One of the favourite Projects of Prussia, that of rendering the Port of Embden a Place of flourishing Trade, interests him more powerfully in our Independance. Silesia, one of his best Provinces, has already felt the Influence of it, and, sensible of the Force that Empires derive from Commerce, he is earnestly desirous to see it introduced between America and his states, which gives ground to believe, that as Austria will be one of the last, so Prussia, will be one of the first to acknowledge our Independance, an Opinion, which is rendered more probable, by the Answer which was given by the Compte De Schulemberg, to Mr. A. Lee.28 And the Influence of the King of Prussia in the United Provinces, which is greater than that of any other Power, arising from his great military Force, the Vicinity of his Dominion and his near Relation to the stadholder, and the Prince of Brunswick, is an additional Motive with Us to cultivate his Friendship.29
The Electorate of Saxony, with a fruitful soil, contains a numerous and industrious People, and most of the Commerce, between the East and West of Europe passes through it. The Fairs of Leipzic, have drawn considerable Advantages for these four Years from our Trade. This Power will see with Pleasure, the Moment which shall put the last Hand to our Independance.
The Rest of Germany, excepting Hamborough and Bremen, has no Means of opening a direct Commerce with Us. With the latter, We can have no Connection at present, in the former all the maritime Commerce of the lower Germany, is transacted. Here We shall have Occasion soon to establish an Agent or Consul.
Poland, depopulated by War, and a vicious Government, reduced by a shamefull Treaty to two thirds of her ancient Dominion;30 destitute of Industry and Manufactures, even of the first Necessity; has no Occasion for the Productions of America. Dantzic sees her ancient Prosperity diminish every day. There is therefore little Probability of Commerce, and less of any political Connection between that Nation and Us.
Russia,31 Sweeden and Denmark, comprehended under the Denomination of the Northern Powers, have been thought by some to be interested in our Return to the Domination of Great Britain. Whether they consider themselves in this Light or not, their late Declarations against the Right of England to interrupt their Navigation,32 and their { 117 } Arming for the Protection of their Commerce, on the Ocean and even in the English Channel, are unequivocal Proofs of their Opinion concerning the Right, in our Contest, and of their Intentions not to interfere against Us. It is very true that the Objects of Commerce, which they produce, are in many Respects the Same, with those of America, yet if We consider that We shall have Occasion to purchase from them large Quantities of Hemp and Sail Cloth, and that our Productions of Timber, Pitch, Tar and Turpentine, are less profitable with Us, without Bounties, than some other Branches of Labour, it is not probable that We shall lower the Price of these Articles, in Europe so much as some Conjecture, and consequently our increased Demand upon those Countries for several Articles will be more than a Compensation to them, for the small Loss they may sustain, by a trifling Reduction in the Price of those Articles. It is not probable that the Courts of Petersbourg Stockholm and Copenhagen, have viewed with perfect Indifference the present Revolution. <Yet> If they have been apprehensive of being hurt by it in some Respects, which however I think must have been a Mistaken Apprehension,33 Yet the Motive of humbling the Pride of the English, who have endeavoured to exercise their Domination even over the northern Seas, and to render the Sweedish and Danish Flagg, dependant on theirs, has prevailed over all others, and they are considered in Europe, as having given their Testimony against the English in this War.
Italy, a Country which declines every day, from its ancient Prosperity offers few Objects to our Speculations. The Priviledges of the Port of Leghorn, nevertheless, may render it usefull to our ships, when our Independance shall be acknowledged by Great Britain. If We once flattered ourselves, that the Court of Vienna might receive an American Minister, We were equally in Error respecting the Court of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, where an Austrian Prince reigns, who receives all his Directions from Vienna in such a manner, that he will probably never receive any Person in a public Character, untill the Chief of his House, shall have set him the Example.
The King of the two Sicilies, is in the Same Dependance on the Court of Madrid, and We may depend upon it, he will conform himself to all that she shall suggest to him. This Prince has already ordered the Ports of his Dominions to be open to American Vessells public and private, and has ordered his Ambassador at Paris to apply to your Commissioners for a Description of the American Flagg, that our Vessells might be known and receive no Molestation, upon their Appearance, in his Harbours.34
{ 118 }
The Court of Rome, attached to ancient Customs, will be one of the last to acknowledge our Independance, if We were to solicit for it. But Congress will probably never send a Minister to his Holiness35 who can do them no service, upon Condition of receiving a Catholic Legate or Nuncio in Return, or in other Words an ecclesiastical Tyrant, which it is to be hoped the united States will be too wise ever to admit into their Territories.
The States of the King of Sardinia, are poor and their Commerce is very small. The little Port of Villa Franca, will probably See few American Vessells, nor will there be any close Relations either commercial or political between this Prince and Us.
The Republic of Genoa, is Scarcely known at this Day, in Europe but by those Powers, who borrow Money. It is possible that some Small Sums might be obtained here, if Congress could fall upon Means of insuring a punctual Payment of Interest in Europe.
Venice heretofore so powerfull, is reduced to a very inconsiderable Commerce, and is in an entire state of Decay.
Switzerland is another Lender of Money, but neither her Position nor her Commerce, can Occasion any near Relation with Us.
Whether there is any Thing in these Remarks, worth the Trouble of reading them, I shall submit to the Wisdom of Congress, and subscribe my self with the highest Consideration, Your most obedient and most humble servant.36
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 69); docketed: “Letter from J Adams Braintree Aug. 4. 1779 State of European powers Read Aug 20.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. Some years later JA explained to Mercy Otis Warren that this letter's materials “had been collected in Europe and on the passage, and committed to writing” before his arrival at Boston on 3 Aug. JA drafted the full text in his Letterbook, leaving increasingly generous spaces between sections as he proceeded so that he could add sentences later, which he did in some cases (JA to Mercy Otis Warren, 28 July 1807, MHS, Colls., 5th ser., 4:374–375).
2. Added to the sentence in the Letterbook is a final clause: “a Felicity which arises from several Causes.”
3. After “Reputation” the Letterbook has “and a Stability.”
4. When it seemed that renewed war between the Ottoman Empire and Russia over control of the Crimea might break out, Comte de Saint-Priest more than once warned that the Porte (the imperial government of Turkey) was ill-prepared. Austria added her voice as well. On 21 March the Porte signed the convention of Ainali-Kavak, which reaffirmed the Crimea's independence, agreed upon in the Treaty of Kutschuk-Kainordji in 1774, but gave to the Sultan some face-saving concessions (M. S. Anderson, The Eastern Question, 1774–1923, London, 1966, p. 6–7).
5. Joseph II, of the Holy Roman Empire, was the son of Maria Theresa and co-regent with her over the Hapsburgs' Austrian and Hungarian domain.
6. On 15 Jan. 1778 the Hapsburgs had signed an agreement with the Elector of Palatine, heir to the childless and deceased Elector of Bavaria, that ceded Bavaria to the Austrian house in return for certain concessions. The agreement ignored the rights of the heir presumptive, Duke Charles II of Zweibrücken-Birken• { 119 } feld (Duke of Deux Ponts), to the Elector Palatine. Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia, in his own interest, supported the claims of Duke Charles II.
Frederick's and Joseph's armies faced each other across the Elbe River, but actually there was little fighting because neither side wanted to take any great risks. Maria Theresa, fearful of war, sought to have France and Russia mediate. Given France's obligations in the war against Great Britain, it welcomed peace. Negotiations were greatly encouraged by the peace signed between Russia and the Porte in March 1779, for the easing of trouble with the Ottomans left Russia free to aid Prussia against Austria (Cambridge Modern Hist., 6:630–633).
7. After “who” in the Letterbook, JA interlined “deprived of the Subsidies of England or of France.”
8. Marie Antoinette, a daughter of Maria Theresa, had married Louis XVI in 1770.
9. The Letterbook has “Consideration and Respect.”
10. The Letterbook reads “Connections which now bind that nation to Us.”
11. The Letterbook reads “and <almost> a new World.”
12. This and the preceding sentence were written in the margin of the Letterbook, their place in the text indicated with a mark.
13. The Letterbook has “of Intimacy and of Intercourse.”
14. The Letterbook has “before a certain Laps of Time” in place of the phrase about peace. Not until April 1782 did the Dutch recognize the independence of the United States.
15. The Letterbook adds “otherwise than in a clandestine manner” to this sentence. The following sentence was written at the bottom of the Letterbook page, with its place in the text indicated by a mark.
16. Some idea of the extent of trade of this small Dutch West Indian island is suggested by contemporary reports. A Dutch rear admiral stationed at St. Eustatius for thirteen months, 1778–1779, reported that 3,182 ships sailed from the island. Another reporter claimed that 12,000 hogsheads of tobacco and 1,500,000 ounces of indigo came from North America in exchange for European goods. Military supplies flowed to the colonies from St. Eustatius beginning in 1774 and continued at a high level despite British protests (J. Franklin Jameson, “St. Eustatius in the American Revolution,” AHR, 8:686–687 [July 1903]).
17. The Letterbook reads “would <make Haste> be zealous to unite themselves with Us, and to take.”
18. Following “Defence,” the Letterbook continues: “against the English. It is much to be wished that the Event <will> may justify the opinion that is entertained of her pacific Disposition. <In the mean Time, We ought to endeavour to give her Satisfaction> To their Wisdom.” The sentence about the Floridas does not appear in the Letterbook.
19. The Letterbook begins this paragraph: “It is not necessary to Say many things of Portugal. Under the Administration of.”
20. The treaty signed at San Ildefonso on 1 Oct. 1777 was really a preliminary to the treaty establishing amity and a defensive alliance signed on 24 March 1778, and was particularly important to Spain's calculations regarding a potential war with Britain (Cambridge Modern Hist., 6:375).
21. The Letterbook reads “between <the generous the brave, the humane English> a Nation once generous, humane and brave.”
22. The Letterbook reads “the Letter and Spirit of the Treaty of Utrecht . . . are thought to have so shackled.”
23. The Letterbook reads “without a <Revolution> new Treaty.”
24. This sentence on the unfavorable location of Trieste was interlined in the Letterbook.
25. The Letterbook reads “<the disgraceful,> the ruinous, <the barbarous> American War.”
26. JA did not anticipate the drain that the American Revolution would put on the resources of France.
27. This and the preceding sentence were interlined in the Letterbook.
28. JA probably refers to the letter of 16 Jan. 1778 from Baron von Schulenberg, the Prussian minister of war, in which he said in part: “his majesty wishes that your generous efforts may be crowned with success ... he will not hesitate to acknowledge your independence whenever France, which is more interested in the event of this contest, shall set the exam• { 120 } ple” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:473). Actually, Frederick saw the Revolution as an opportunity to build up his country's trade while Britain and France were waging war. He did not recognize American independence until Britain did.
29. The substance of this sentence, minus the reference to the Prince of Brunswick, was inserted at the end of the paragraph in the Letterbook.
30. The first partition of Poland was engineered by Prussia, Russia, and Austria in Feb. 1772 (Cambridge Modern Hist., 6:357).
31. In the Letterbook JA wrote, and then canceled: “Russia, Sweeden and Denmark, may be placed in a different Point of sight.”
32. See Edmund Jenings to JA, 15 May, note 4 (above).
33. The “if” clause was not included in the Letterbook.
34. See Domenico Caracciolo to the Commissioners, 8 Oct. 1778, and the Commissioners' reply of the 9th (both above).
35. The Letterbook has “a Pope” for “his Holiness.”
36. This final paragraph is not in the Letterbook.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0081-0001

Author: La Luzerne, Anne César, Chevalier de
Author: French Minister to the U.S.
Author: Barbé-Marbois, François de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-08-07

From the Chevalier de La Luzerne and François Barbé-Marbois

Le Chevalier de la Luzerne et m. de marbois sont bien sensibles au souvenir de Monsieur Adams1 et ont appris avec bien de plaisir que son indisposition n'avait point eu de suites.
Le Docteur Cooper ne prechera point aujourd'hui: M. le Chevalier de la Luzerne espere avoir une autre occasion de l'entendre.
M. de marbois a pris des arrangemens avec M. Cushin pour assister aujourd'hui à un autre sermon.
Nous esperons avoir l'honneur de voir aujourd'hui Monsieur Adams ou chez lui ou sur la Fregatte ou nous allons diner.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0081-0002

Author: La Luzerne, Anne César, Chevalier de
Author: French Minister to the U.S.
Author: Barbé-Marbois, François de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-08-07

Chevalier de La Luzerne to John Adams: A Translation

The Chevalier de la Luzerne and M. Marbois are very moved by the remembrance from Mr. Adams1 and learned with a great deal of pleasure that his indisposition has had no serious consequences.
Dr. Cooper will not preach today: M. le Chevalier de la Luzerne hopes to have another opportunity to hear him.
M. de Marbois has made arrangements with M. Cushing to attend another sermon today.
We hope to have the honor of seeing Mr. Adams today either at his home or on board the frigate where we shall dine.
RC (DSI: Hull Coll.); addressed: “A Monsieur Monsieur John [Adams]”; docketed by John Thaxter: “Card Chevr. d. la Luzerne”; in an unidentified hand: “1779”; by CFA: “August 7th.”
1. Not found.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0082

Author: Braintree, town of
Author: Thayer, Ebenezer Jr.
Date: 1779-08-10

John Adams' Credentials to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention

The Inhabitants of the Town of Braintree, being Legally Assembled on the Ninth day of August instant, pursuant to Legall Warrants, made choice of the Honble. John Adams Esqr. to Represent them in a State Convention, appointed to be convened and held at Cambridge on the first day of September next, for the purpose of Framing a New Constitution.1
[signed] Attest Ebenr. Thayer junr Town Cler[k]
MS (M-Ar: vol. 160, p. 190); docketed: “Braintree.”
1. This attestation of JA's election to the forthcoming state constitutional convention is on the verso of the broadside of 15 June calling for the election of convention delegates from each of the towns entitled to representation in the General Court. Elected by freemen 21 years and over who were inhabitants of a town, the delegates could equal in number the representatives proportioned to each town according to a formula adopted in 1776 (Mass., Province Laws, 5:502–503).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0083

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1779-08-13

To James Lovell

[salute] My dear Sir

Since I have had Opportunity to converse, a little in this Country, and to read a few Gazettes, I find that Questions have been agitated here in the Newspapers, and in private Circles, as well as in Congress, concerning his Excellency the Comte De Vergennes and Mr. A. Lee which seem to make it necessary, that I should Send the inclosed Copies.1 You can judge better than I, whether it will be of any public Utility to lay them before Congress. My first Letter and his Excellencys Answer, I can see no Objection to laying before Congress: But as the rest contain little besides mutual Compliments, perhaps it will be as well to conceal them. I submit the whole, however, to your Discretion, and am with much Esteem, your Friend
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 85); docketed: “Aug. 13. 1779 Hon. J Adams to James Lovell recd. 30 answd. 31st. with a Correspondence between Mr. Adams and Count de Vergennes concerning Mr. Deane's Publication of Decr. 5th. 78, Mr. Arthur Lee's Character and Mr. Adams Conduct in France. read in Congress and laid on the Table by Mr. Lovell Sepr. 27th. 1779.”
1. JA's letters to Vergennes of 11, 16, and 27 Feb., and Vergennes' replies of 13 and 21 Feb. (all above). JA also sent copies on this day to Samuel Adams, saying that he had “been asked a Thousand Questions which may all be answered by { 122 } the inclosed Copies” and telling Adams that he had transmitted copies to Lovell (NN: Bancroft Coll.). All the letters were laid on the table by Lovell the same day for inspection by the members, although the Journal for 27 Sept. makes no mention of the fact.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0084

Author: Rush, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-08-19

From Benjamin Rush

[salute] My Dear sir

The same Opinion of your Abilities and Zeal for our country which made me rejoice in your accepting of an embassy to France, leads me to rejoice with most of your countrymen in your Safe return to your native Shores. I am sure you cannot be idle nor unconcerned 'till the Vessel in which our All is embarked is safely moored. We stand in greater Need than ever of men of your principles. You may be much more useful here than you could have been in the cabinet of Lewis 16th. I reprobate the time and manner in which you were recalled. But I have seen — and felt too much of the indelicacy of the Congress to their faithful Servants to be surprised at their behaviour to you.1 It is to be hoped that2 All is for the best. And that all will end well.
I beg leave now to Acknowledge the receipt of two letters from you, the One just before you sailed from Boston and the Other dated at Passy in France. The last contained intelligence of an interesting nature which I published,3 and which the conduct of the Court of Britain has proved to be true. I was not unmindful of you in your Absence— But had the misfortune of hearing that a very long and particular letter which I wrote to you last winter4 was thrown into the Sea to prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy. I would have wrote a second and a third time, but knowing Something of the cabals of Congress respecting their commissioners, I was afraid my letters would have reached Paris while you were on your passage to America.
I congratulate you upon the present favourable complexion of our Affairs both in Europe and in this Country. Divine providence has saved us in Spite of all that we have done to ruin Ourselves. It would require a Volume to give a history of the political proceedings within and out of doors last winter in our city. The Continental money is now breathing its last among us. Our committees have added their illegal and unconstitutional Violence to the ignorance and negligence of the Congress in order to destroy it.5 Nine tenths of our Contracts now are in gold and silver—Sterling money — or the produce of the Country. The laws of the state prohibiting the circulation of hard money are as much trambled on as the regulations of our committees.
{ 123 }
With best compts. to Mrs. Adams I am my Dear sir your sincere and Affectionate friend
[signed] Benjn. Rush
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Honble. John Adams Esqr. at Braintree near Boston”; franked: “free E Gerry”; docketed: “Dr. Rush Aug 19. 1779.”
1. Rush is probably lamenting here the failure of the congress to act upon his recommendations for improving hospital service, which led finally to his resignation as physician general in Jan. 1778 (vol. 5:318–319; Benjamin Rush, Letters, 1:199–200).
2. The previous six words in this sentence and “that” in the following sentence were interlined.
3. Those of 8 Feb. 1778 (vol. 5:402) and 6 Dec. 1778 (above, and see note 4).
4. Presumably that of 27 Oct. 1778 (above).
5. A reference to popular committee actions to curb price rises and stop the monopolization of goods as a way to protect the currency. In Pennsylvania these efforts were mounted by those who supported the state's extremely democratic constitution. Rush was a vigorous opponent of that document (Robert L. Brunhouse, The Counter-Revolution in Pennsylvania, 1776–1790, Harrisburg, 1942, p. 68–72). As “Leonidas” in the Pennsylvania Packet, 3 July 1779, Rush lectured the congress on the shortcomings of its fiscal policies (Benjamin Rush, Letters, 1:229–237).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0085

Author: Gates, Horatio
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-08-20

From Horatio Gates

[salute] Sir

Had I not expected you here before this Time, on your Way to Philadelphia, where I conceived your safe and speedy Arrival must be anxiously wished for by all Patriots, you would, long since, have received a congratulatory Letter from me. It would have been congratulatory indeed; for, whatever Station you maybe in, I firmly believe, Sir, you will prove eminently useful to your Country. Your Return will render abortive many Machinations against her.
I stand indebted to your Kindness for the Receipt of a very sensible Letter, signed Jean Clement, dated Paris the 2nd of June last, the Writer of which informs me that, should I not recollect his Hand-writing, you will explain the Particulars. I should be glad to know from you, whether Counsellor Edmund Jennings, of Maryland, be the Writer.2
Believe, Dear Sir, that it will be a singular Happiness to me, if ever I can give you Proofs of the affectionate Respect of Your most obedient humble Servant
[signed] Horatio Gates
RC (Adams Papers); the addressee's name, inscribed at the bottom of the letter, is given inadvertently as “Honourable Samuel Adams.”
1. On 22 Oct. 1778, the congress had appointed Gates as commander of the eastern district (JCC, 12:1038).
2. For Jenings' use of the pseudonym Jean Clement, see his letters to JA of 10 March, and note 12, and [ca. 6?] June (both above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0086

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-08-20

From James Lovell

[salute] Dear, respected Sir

I am to acknowledge the Receipt of your Favors of Decr. 19, Feb. 191 and Feb. 20 the 1st. on the 16th, the two latter yesterday by Mr. Partridge.2 I ought also to profess myself obliged by your long Letter this day read in Congress dated at Braintree.3
I am quite pleased with finding I had formed a just Opinion of the several Character mentioned in these your Letters to me;4 And should have readily consented to more than seperating the joint Officers, if any Thing would have answered the Purpose of some here but a downright disgracing of them.
By Conversation with Mr. S. A. my Scrawls to Portia and a Resolve or two lately sent her you will find the Stage we are at respecting the Business which has caused you Uneasiness while abroad.5
Mr. D—— is discharged from further Attendance, here; and has an Allowance for the Time he has been disgracing us and betraying us to disgrace ourselves. But he is not yet done. He expects to be paid for going again to France after his Papers and for the Time necessary to settlement of his Accounts. That Business relative to you mentioned in one of your public Letters read Today6 is referred to the Treasury. Be assured you have not an Enemy amongst us; but whether you will hear properly from this quarter hangs on Tomorrow or the next day or the next, &c.
Though my Heart would be more at Ease if you was in Europe than it is at Present in regard to probable Negociations; yet, I must, in a decided Case, congratulate you on your safe Arrival among your Relations. I presume your little Secretary7 is with you; and I hope he is in Health, with the whole Circle of your beloved ones.
The Bearer is 24 Hours earlier upon me than I expected; so that I take up my Pen only that he may not go without a visible Assurance of being with a continued sincere Esteem Sir, your obliged Friend and humble Servant
[signed] Jas. Lovell
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Honorable John Adams Esqr. Braintree”; docketed: “Mr. Lovell Aug. 20. 1779,” and, in JA's later hand, “relative to Mr. Deane.”
1. This is likely the letter that JA, in his Letterbook, dated 13 Feb. (above). It was not unusual for JA to draft a letter in his Letterbook and delay sending it. But see Elbridge Gerry to JA, 24 Aug., note 1 (below).
2. George Partridge, elected to the congress from Massachusetts in June (JCC, 14:980; Adams Family Correspondence, 3:208, note 5).
3. That of 4 Aug. (above).
4. Arthur Lee, Izard, Silas Deane, and Franklin (JA to Lovell, 20 Feb., above).
5. Lovell wrote to AA on 16 and 19 { 125 } July and 9 and 11 Aug. (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:211–213, 219–223). In his letter of 9 Aug. he sent copies of two resolutions passed on 6 Aug., setting salaries for the American Commissioners and making provision for examination of their accounts (JCC, 14:928–929).
6. That of 3 Aug. (above), which expresses JA's willingness to submit his accounts.
7. JQA.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0087

Author: Gerry, Elbridge
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-08-24

From Elbridge Gerry

[salute] My dear Friend

I have only Time by this Days post to express the pleasure I feel on the News of your safe Arrival to your Family and Friends, and the prospect of an agreable and early Interveiw with You. The Letters to me which You mention in your's to Mr. Lovell1 never came to Hand, or I should certainly have acknowledged the Receipt of them; altho I have been under the Necessity of giving up my most agreable Correspondent<s>. I am much informed by your sensible Letter to Congress, which has been justly admired as an accurate History of the Relations, Inclinations, Interests, and Dependencies, of the several Powers of Europe; and I fully agree with You in your private History of Men and Things. Many of our Friends, by a Discovery of their personal Attachments and other impolitic Measures, must now be sensible that they have in great Measure defeated their honorable Intentions of supporting patriotism and Integrity, and developing Conduct which from present appearances, is disgraceful to our Country and the Cause in which We are engaged: but not approving their policy, I presume that I must not expect their Confidence. Your Letter relative to Expences is referred to the Board of Treasury, and will be answered by the next post.2 Pray make my Compliments to Mrs. Adams, and inform me what she will say, if I should again think it my Duty to promote your Appointment to an Embassy in Europe; she cannot justly impute it to the Want of tender Feelings, which married Ladies will rarely allow to Batchelors, When she is truly informed of my Impatience to join your sacred order.3 However I shall never wish to see any of my Friends in important offices under Congress untill they have adopted a Resolution, that no <Member> person shall be appointed to any office of profit of the united States, during the Time of or within twelve Months after his being a Member of Congress.4 I remain sir in Haste with the sincerest Esteem your Friend and very huml. sert.
[signed] E Gerry
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Hona. John Adams Esq at Boston”; franked: “free E Gerry”; docketed: “Mr. Gerry”; by CFA: “August 24th 1779.”
{ 126 }
1. No extant letter from JA to Lovell refers to letters written to Gerry. It could be that a letter of 19 Feb., of which no Letterbook copy exists, but which Lovell said that he received, contains the reference or it may have been in a postscript to a letter for which there is no extant recipient's copy.
2. For the reply from the Board of Treasury, see JA's letter to Gerry of 20 Sept., note 1 (below).
3. Gerry did not marry until 1786, but for an earlier courtship, see Adams Family Correspondence2:94–95.
4. On 25 Sept., Gerry seconded a motion in the congress barring the appointment to an office of profit of any member of the congress. After an unsuccessful attempt to extend the bar for nine months after a member retired, the original motion lost (JCC, 15:1105–1107).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0088

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-08-24

From James Lovell

[salute] Dear Sir

I am much chagrined at not having a Line about you by last Post. I did not expect one from you. You are so sick of Party abroad that you would not venture to have any thing to do with Individualities, here. Every Line that I read from France, like as yours have done, confirms me in an Approbation of the part I have taken all along through the contests of many months back relative to our Commissioners at foreign Courts. We have now in our different Committees Vouchers sufficient to prove that Mr. A Lee has been greatly abused——greatly provoked——and, in that Predicament, has conducted so as to give his Enemies an Advantage in some points. I hope his Brothers, who are both now out of Congress, will publish several peices, which have lately passed through my Hands; particularly a Letter to Carter Braxton being strictures upon one of his intercepted at Sea.1
I send you three Gazettes which I beg you will inclose to A L, with or without a Letter as you please.2 The Navy Board will forward them by the Vessels which go from Boston. It will be a Satisfaction to him to see that the Falsehood and Malice of the Address of Decr. 5–78; is appearing more and more daily here.
Mr. D——, by a late Application to have his Pay during a Return to France and settlement of our Business which he was forced to leave by our Order of Decr. 8–77, in a very loose condition, has put us upon a fair occasion of doing Justice to ourselves for the Abuses which he has gone into of our over Lenity months ago. I will send you the little foolish part of the vexatious Report of the Committee of 13 which related to you.3 It will show the Spirit of that Committee as well as Izards overheat.
I am persuaded that Watchmen of Integrity are necessary for us abroad; but I would not chuse to emply4Jealousy or Suspicion for such Ends; they never see truly all round. I am in hope that a Treaty of { 127 } Alliance will shortly be formed with Spain, and I am sure that then Mr. L will think he can resign with honor. He would now appear to do it thro fear or thro pet.

[salute] Yr. affectionate humble Servant

[signed] James Lovell
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Lovell Aug. 24. 1779,” and, in JA's later hand, “Mr. Deane's public Address. Mr. Izzards Petulance &c.”
1. A reference to Arthur Lee's letter of 22 May, which answered the charges in Carter Braxton's intercepted letter of 26 Dec. 1778 to John Ross, extracts from which appeared in Rivington's Royal Gazette of 3 Feb. There Braxton had asserted that the Lees were “actuated by . . . base principles” and were “full of ... artifice and intrigue,” and expressed the hope that Deane might help to reveal their true character. Lee's long and angry reply, finally published in the Virginia Gazette (Dixon, Hunter, Nicolson) of 9 Oct., virtually accused Braxton of treason.
2. See Lovell to JA, 31 Aug., postscript, and JA to Lovell, 10 Sept. (both below).
3. See enclosures in Lovell to JA, 14 Sept. (below).
4. Either an obsolete form of “imply” (OED), or “employ.”

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0089

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1779-08-27

To Elbridge Gerry?

[salute] My dear Sir

I have written, many Times to you, Since I left you, but have never received one Line, except that which accompanied my Commission, which I received at the Same Time.1
Are you of the Board of Treasury Still?2 If you are, I believe I must transmit to you my Accounts and Vouchers, and beg the favour of you to get them passed. I wish to have this Affair off my Mind, which will then be at Ease. If there is a Ballance due to me, I have abandoned my Family and Affairs, so long that I have Occasion enough for it. If the Ballance is due from me, I must pay it, if able, if not I must borrow it.
This will go, I Suppose by the new Plenipo. or the new secretary, who are good Sort of Men. You will be pleased I fancy with their Conversation. They are Sensible Folk, and of Rank.
I am about to assist in the Formation of a new Constitution—a Subject which has been, out of my Head, so long, that I have forgotten, most of the Reflections I ever had about it. Cant you give Us, a few Hints? Your Children, are to have the Benefit of the good, and the Injury of the Evil, that may be in it, as well as mine. You are therefore as much bound as I, to help lay the foundation stones, because you have, or ought to have, as many Children as I.
Seems to me, you wise folks, have managed foreign Affairs, some what curiously, but deep and humble Submission, becomes Us foolish ones.
Dont you intend to Appoint a secretary to the new Commission at { 128 } Versailles? Dont you intend to appoint Consuls, or a Consull to manage, maritime and commercial Affairs? If you dont there will be, more Trouble for you, e'er long.
Dft (Adams Papers); docketed in an unknown hand: “J Adams to Elbridge Gerry Aug 27th 1779.” The letter's presence in the Adams Papers suggests that it was not sent; there is no Letterbook copy.
1. The editors know of letters from JA to Gerry of 9 July (vol. 6:273, calendar entry; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:149–150), 27 Nov., and 5 Dec. 1778 (both above). If this letter is to Gerry, JA refers to Gerry's letter of 3 Dec. 1777, but Gerry also wrote on 8 Dec. 1777 and 25 Jan. 1778 (vol. 5:343–344, 349–350, 394–398). All of those letters, however, were received before JA left America in Feb. 1778. The only letter known to have been written to JA by Gerry while JA was in France was dated 12 May 1779 (Adams Papers), and was not received until JA returned to Paris in 1780. For that letter, see Tristram Dalton to JA, 13 May (above, and note 1) and JA's reply to Gerry of 23 Feb. 1780 (below).
2. Gerry had not served on the Board since 1776, according to standing committee lists compiled by Worthington C. Ford for 1777, 1778, and 1779 in JCC.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0090

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-08-31

From James Lovell

[salute] Dear Sir

I yesterday received yours of May 14 from L'Orient1 and Aug. 13th. from Braintree with several valuable Papers. I hope to be able to write shortly to you on those Topics which are the Subject of your Correspondence with de Vergennes. At present, as I have been for several days past, I am engaged in a severe wrestling Match with a Chap who has laid many on their Backs here lately. He is known in the Country you have just arrived from by the name of Trépas. I must own he appears to gain upon me particularly Today, tho I follow the advice of Sr. Jas. Jay and two other Gentlemen my Colleague Holten and Mr. Peabody of New Hampshire.2 I give none of this History to my Family. And I desire you will use it only as an apology to you for saying no more now.
[signed] James Lovell
I now send Papers which in my last I desired you to forward to A L.3
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Lovell 31. Aug. 1779.”
1. Not found.
2. Despite the the usual translation of trépas, in a poetical sense, as death, Lovell meant that he had been ill. Sir James Jay was the older brother of John and had been knighted in 1763 by George III when he offered the King the governors' address from King's (now Columbia) College. Jay, Samuel Holten, and Nathaniel Peabody were all physicians (DAB).
3. See Lovell to JA, 24 Aug. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0091

Author: Chase, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-03

From Samuel Chase

[salute] Dear Sir

I most cordially congratulate You on Your safe Arrival to your Country, Family and Friends. I was honoured with a letter from You last Winter,1 which I should have answered, but what was worthy of your Notice or conveying Information could not with Prudence be intrusted to Paper without a Cypher. Our political Climate has been greatly changed since I had the Pleasure of Seeing You last in Philadelphia. The Spirit of Discord and Faction has gone forth. Intrigue and Cabal has found a Way into our Great-Council-Fire. If I should meet You at Philadelphia, I may be more explicit; in the mean Time if I can render You any Services be pleased to lay your Commands. I shall only add that each Party will endeavor to join You to their Interest. I think your Honor and Character will be more safe, by rejecting both. I doubt not You will excuse this free but sincere advice. I am encouraged to this freedom from your kind and friendly letter from Paris.
A Sloop called the Porpas is arrived at this City from Amsterdam. Tho' embarked in the Commercial World, I have no other Connection with the Owners, than Friendship. I perceive there are a Number of Crates of Earthen and Stone Ware (I beleive 25) shipped to You. If You incline to dispose of them here, I wish You would give Me the preference of the Purchase. I will give You as much as any one. The highest price given here for European Goods, a sorted Cargo, was 70 for 1—that [is] 70£/ Conti: for what cost 1£/ Sterling. I presume Articles so liable to break, would not bring or be worth so much as Cloths, Linen &c. &c.
If You will let Me know what price You will take, I will pay You in Philadelphia, or I will procure a Draft on Boston. You will inclose your order for Delivery, if I elect to take them at your Price. If You should not chuse to sell them here, I shall be glad to render You any Services respecting the Conveyance of them where You may please to order them. By our Laws the purchaser from You can retail them at no more than 30 per Cent.2
I beg to be remembered to Mr. Hancock and my other Friends in Boston.
Accept my best Wishes for your Health and Happiness, and beleive Me to be Dear Sir, Your Affectionate and Obedient Servant
[signed] Saml. Chase
{ 130 }
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Chase”; by CFA: “Septr. 3d 1779.” On the blank fourth page of Chase's letter is the draft of JA's reply of 23 Sept. (below).
1. Not found.
2. “An act for the more effectual preventing forestalling and engrossing” (Session Laws, 1779, Ch. XVII, Laws of Maryland, Annapolis, [1779], Evans, No. 16333).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0092

Author: Knox, Henry
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-04

From Henry Knox

[salute] Dear Sir

To the numerous congratulations which you have received on your safe arrival in America, permit me to add my tribute, and to felicitate you on your safe return to your Family, friends and Country, and event which I am certain gives you true pleasure and happiness, whatever motives produc'd it, Whether Faction, Ambition, or—as I am a very bad Statesman—true policy in order to procure proper information of the politics of Europe.1
Thank Heaven and the ability and Industry of some-body The State of Europe appears to be such as will in proper time effectually confirm That Peace, Liberty and Safety which America has been so long sighing for.
If it is your design to pass through Camp to Congress I pray you to make me so happy as to take up your residence with me for the time you shall be in Camp.

[salute] I am Dear sir with great Respect and Affection Your Humble Servt.

[signed] H Knox
1. The second dash in this sentence is supplied.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0093

Author: President of Congress
Author: Jay, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-07

From the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

On the 20th. August last I had the Pleasure of recieving and communicating to Congress your Favors of the 3d. and 4th. of that month. Be pleased to accept my Congratulations on your safe Return to your Family and Country. Yours of the 27 Feby. and 1st. March last came to Hand about ten Days ago. An Expectation of having Commands from Congress to transmit, induced me to delay writing 'till now.
I have the Honor to be Sir with great Respect & Esteem Your most obedient and h'ble Servant
[signed] John Jay
RC (Adams Papers). On the reverse side JA wrote out a copy (or draft) of his reply to Jay of 23 Sept. (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0094

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Belton, Jonas
Date: 1779-09-10

To Jonas Belton

[salute] Sir

I have received your Letter of the 14 of August,1 and have the Pleasure in Answer to it, to inform you, that I Saw your son, Several Times in France, and in particular, Some time in the Month of February, or Beginning of March last, at Dr. Franklins House, consulting with him about Some of his Philosophical or mechanical Inventions or Projections. He was in good Health. I thank you, Sir, for your complaisant Congratulations, on my Return to my native Country, and am &c.
LbC (Adams Papers); directed to: “Mr. Jonas Belton of Groton New London County, Connecticutt.”
1. Not found. Capt. Jonas Belton, whose military title came from his service in the Connecticut militia in the 1750s, kept a tavern west of Center Groton (Connecticut Colonial Records, 9:241, 422; 10:263; Charles R. Stark, Groton, Conn., 1705–1905, Stonington, Conn., 1922, p. 134, 402). His son was Joseph Belton; see vol. 6:37, and J. D. Schweighauser and others to the Commissioners, 7 Nov. 1778 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0095

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1779-09-10

To Elbridge Gerry

[salute] My dear Friend

I received by last Post your obliging Letter of 24 of August. The sight of your Hand Writing, gave me more Pleasure than you are aware. I would send you Copies of my Letters to you, if they were not out of Date at this Time. Thank you for your Compliment on my Letter to Congress. It is a long dull story; but I think Several Things appear from it, that are of great Importance. It appears that the general Arrangement of Interests and Designs in Europe, is more favourable for Us, than even the most Sanguine of Us could have expected. That We have no Reason to fear that England will be able to form one Alliance against Us. That if she should, that one will be the House of Austria, notwithstanding there is an excellent Austrian Princess on the Throne of France, in which Case Prussia and Russia too, would join France and Us. That Prussia and Holland should be cultivated, and what perhaps is of as much Importance as all the rest, it appears from it that France has already derived the most solid and essential Advantages from our Seperation from G. Britain, and Alliance with her; that she will continue to desire still greater Benefits, and therefore, that We may rely on her Friendship, without Sacrificing any essential Right or Interest, from a servile Complaisance to her, much less to the low Intrigues of a few Hucksters.
I have done your Message to Portia: she desires me to tell you that { 132 } there is great Encouragement1 to undertake Embassies to Europe—and that she is very happy to hear of so certain a Sign of Grace, as your Impatience to join, our Sacred Order.
Your Resolution, that no Person shall be appointed to any office within twelve Months of his being a Member of Congress may be too much. I should rather prefer a Resolution, never to appoint any Man abroad that they do not personally know. Yet I think that Resolutions so universal, had better be avoided in either Case.
You have Several very great Men, by all Relation, who have joined you, since I left you.2 No doubt they are thought Superiour to others who have gone before them. If they are both in Abilities and Virtues I wish them success.
I have a great Desire to see the Journals, at before and after my appointment to go to France—and all the Journals. I should be greatly obliged to you for them. I should also be very happy to be informed by what Majority I was chosen and who was for and against and who else in Nomination. I never heard, a Word on the subject, and have very particular Reasons for enquiring.3 Pray dont forget again to write to your old and sincere Friend
[signed] John Adams
Thank you for voting me clear of Suspicions &c. dishonourable to the states. I have a Bone to pick with Adams and Lovel for their Votes on that Occasion.4
RC (CtNhHi, Oct. 1956). LbC (Adams Papers).
1. “Encouragement” is underlined in the Letterbook copy.
2. Among the numerous men who had begun their service in the congress after JA left in the late fall of 1777, he probably was thinking of those like Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer (Md.), John Fell (N.J.), James Searle (Va.), and William Henry Drayton (S.C.). All four were wealthy and prominent in their own states; they had been active patriots and held important public offices (all in DAB).
3. The previous seven words are not in the Letterbook copy. For Gerry's reply to these questions, see his letter of 29 Sept., and notes 3–5 (below).
4. JA is referring to the congress' resolution of 20 April regarding the conflicts between Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, Arthur Lee, Ralph Izard, and William Lee. See Lovell to JA, 13 June, note 8 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0096

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Laurens, Henry
Date: 1779-09-10

To Henry Laurens

[salute] My dear Sir

I had the Pleasure of a very agreable private Letter from you, while in Paris, which I answerd, having executed your Orders, as soon as received. Whether you received my Answer I dont know.1
I have had a Stormy Voyage, but not more so than the Scaene you have been in, at Land. I wish I may have escaped with as much Hon• { 133 } our, as you have done:2 but have little Reason to believe it, for I can assure you, without a Compliment, that no Character Stands better, in Europe, than that of President Lawrence except with a few Stockjobbers and Monopolizers, for these last are in Europe as well as America, and neither of these Tribes dare Say any Thing against it.
I long to embrace you a la francoise, but I fear it will be Some Years before I Shall have that Pleasure, unless you will do this Part of the Continent the Honour of a Visit, which would be much for your Health, and give great Pleasure to the People this Way but to none more than your affectionate Friend and very humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
I left Commodore Gillon, and the Captains Robinson and Painter,3 with their under Officers at L'orient, intending home as soon as they could get a Passage, having not succeeded so well as I could wish. These are worthy Officers and deserve as well as if they had succeeded better. You have no doubt Letters from them which make it unnecessary for me to be more particular.
RC (J. W. P. Frost, Maine, 1975.)
1. Laurens wrote on 19 May and JA replied on 27 July 1778 (vol. 6:137, 322–323).
2. A reference to Laurens' resignation as president of the congress on 9 Dec. 1778 (see JA to the president of the congress, 27 Feb., above).
3. Like Gillon, William Robertson was commissioned in the South Carolina navy; Painter, who has not been identified, probably had a similar commission (Charles Oscar Paullin, The Navy of the American Revolution, Cleveland, 1906, p. 435).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0097

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1779-09-10

To James Lovell

[salute] My dear Sir

By the last Post, I had the Pleasure of yours of August 20 and 24. It was not for Want of Affection, that I did not write particularly to you and to many other Gentlemen, but from Want of Time. And since my Arrival to this Time, I have been obliged to go to Boston, Cambridge &c., so often, my good old Town of Braintree having taken it into their Heads, upon my Arrival, to put me into the Convention, that I have not been able to write, excepting on the 13 of Aug. inclosing some Copies of Letters which I wish to hear you have received.
You tell me, that you send me three Gazettes, which you desire me to inclose to A. Lee: but I find but two Gazettes and in neither of them is there a Word relative to the subject You mention.
You say too, that you will send me, a Part of the Report of a Com• { 134 } mittee of 13 relative to me. But in the Journal you inclose, 19th to 24 July, there is nothing like it.
In a late Letter of yours to W. You quote a Letter to H. which says that I did not succeed extravagantly in France, because I attached myself to L. the Madman.1 Does Congress receive such Evidence as this? Anonimous Letters, from Frenchmen to Frenchmen? or even from Americans to Americans?2 do they encourage this? Do they expose the Characters of their servants so much? Do they encourage foreign <Ministers and> Consuls or even Ministers to attack the Characters of their Ministers abroad with such Weapons?3 Do they permit, foreign Ministers, and even Consuls, or commercial agents to become Partisans for or against Persons or systems? Mr. H's Master will not encourage him in it, I am well perswaded? and Mr. Holker May depend upon it, his Master or rather his Masters' Master4 shall know it, if he does <not conduct himself better> make himself busy in Party Matters. I wish to know whether this letter was from Monthieu or Chaumont, or from whom? If the Latter, I shall make you laugh: if the former, Swear. I hope it was from neither.
However, I hope my Countrymen, will believe the King, whose sentiments of me and my Conduct, are certified to me, by the Comte De Vergennes in the Letters I inclosed to you the 13 of August, rather sooner, than the anonimous Correspondent of Mr. H. The Chevalier de la Luzerne, and Mr. Marbois, will inform you, if you ask them, what my Character was in France, although I am perswaded, they will never be Party Men. I know they dare not, for they have positive Instructions against it from the King.5
In your Letter of the 20th, you assure me in strong Terms that “I have not an Enemy, amongst you.”6 I am very Sure, there is no Man there who has any just Cause, to be my personal Enemy: But I think there must be many, in political Opposition to me. By the Hint you give of Iz's over heat, I dont know what to guess. Is it possible that Iz. should have written, to my Disadvantage? It is very true, that I thought him, sometimes <indiscreet and> imprudent, and that I uniformly and firmly refused to have any Concern in the Dispute between him and F. either before or after my Arrival in France: But I always told him this and my Reasons for it, so frankly and I always preserved with him and he with me, So friendly a personal Acquaintance, that altho I am very sensible he thinks I ought to have inserted myself more in their Quarrells, yet I think it is impossible, he should have written against me. However I thought him too hot, and therefore it is very probable he thought me too cool. Reasonable Men will judge. <I never, can sufficiently.>
{ 135 }
I never heard in my Life, of any Misunderstanding among any of the Commissioners, that I can recollect, untill my Arrival at Bourdeaux. I had not been on shore an Hour before I learn'd it. When I arrived at Paris I found that it had arrived to a great Hight. Each Party endeavoured, to get me to inquire into the subjects of their Quarrells, and to join them. But I refused to have any Thing to do with their personal7 Disputes, and determined to treat every one of them as the Representative of the united states, to endeavour to cool and soften their Animosities as far as I could, and in all public Questions, impartially to give my Judgment according to Justice and good Policy. These Maxims, I invariably pursued, and I could challenge any of them, of any side to say that I ever deviated from them.
If you recollect, what has been done—that I was struck, in an instant <out of political Existence> in the sight of all Europe and America out of political Existence, that the scaffold, was cutt away, and I left sprawling in the mire,8 that not a Word was said to me—that I was neither desired nor directed to Stay or go—that I was never impowerd to draw a farthing of Money, to subsist me in Europe or even to pay the Expences of my Journey to a seaport—nor for my Passage home. That Dr. F. was not even authorized to advance a shilling for me. That he is Strictly culpable for doing it, altho he genteelly ran the risque.9 That the World was left to conjecture, what had brought upon me this Vengeance of my sovereign: whether it was for Gambling in the stocks: whether it was for forming commercial Combinations for my private Interest in all the seaport Towns in France, and in all the states of America; or whether it was for Treason against my Country, or Selling her Interest for Bribes. And all this after, I had undertaken to obey the Commands of Congress, at many Hazards of my Life and Liberty, Commands unsolicited by me, and given when I was absent: I think you must reconsider your Opinion concerning my Friends and Enemies in Congress. However, I shall not whine to Congress much less storm in News Papers, concerning the personal Treatment of me—unless I should be driven to the Necessity of a candid Appeal to the World. This would oblige me to lay open So many Things and Characters that had better be concealed that such Necessity must be very evident before I shall venture upon it.10 I dont dread however, for myself, nor much for the publick, taking Mr. D in his own Way but I should go a little deeper than Mr. <P. did> Paine did.11 But it is a melancholly Consideration, and of <no promising> a very dangerous and destructive Tendency, that so many Characters, as meritorious as any that ever served this Continent, should be immolated not to Divinities but to a Gang of Pedlars. Write me, when you can & believe me your F.
{ 136 }
I thank you, for your kind Attention to my dear Portia, in my Absence, but your Rogueries are so bewitching that I should, have some hesitation about trusting you nearer together, than Philadelphia and <Boston> Braintree.
1. In a letter to James Warren of 13 Aug., Lovell quoted an extract from a letter in French dated 7 Dec. 1778, which was laid on the table in the congress by Gouverneur Morris on 3 May. Because John Holker, agent of France for its marine, supplied the fragment, Lovell concluded that the French letter was to him. As translated by Lovell the extract read, “Mr. J. Adams the Deputy does not succeed here further than is reasonable: He appears to be intirely devoted to Mr. Lee, who, as you know, is a sort of mad-man” (Warren-Adams Letters, 2:117–118).
2. The previous six words are interlined.
3. The phrase “with such Weapons” and the sentence that follows are interlined.
4. The previous five words are interlined.
5. The previous two sentences are interlined.
6. The opening quotation mark is supplied. JA changed only the pronouns.
7. This word is interlined.
8. The passages “in the sight of all Europe and America” and “that the scaffold ... in the mire” are interlined. Compare this passage with that in JA's letter to AA of 28 Feb. (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:181).
9. This sentence is interlined, and the long one following it is written lengthwise along the margin, its place in the text indicated with a mark.
10. This sentence and the clause beginning with “unless” which precedes it are interlined.
11. This sentence is written in the bottom margin, its place in the text indicated with a mark. For Paine's attack on Deane, see Edmund Jenings to JA, 25 April, note 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0098

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Marchant, Henry
Date: 1779-09-10

To Henry Marchant

[salute] My dear Sir

A few Days before I Sailed from America, I had the Pleasure of a Letter from you, on the subject of a Law for Confiscations,1 but my Engagements in a new Scaene of Adventures, made it impossible to attend to the subject, or answer the Letter. And Since, my Peregrination, not having received any Letters from you, and being occupied in a manner you may well imagine, I have not I confess done my Duty to you.
I believe the Scaene of Affairs you have been in, has been as disagreable as mine. I fancy We both deserve Commisseration, and shall have it—from Posterity, and from those of the present Generation, who may be in Similar Circumstances, if any such there can be. Yet I confess I am of old Dr. Cutlers2 Mind “I hate to be pitied.”
I had the inexpressible Pleasure, of finding on my Arrival my own Family and all my Connections in perfect Health—a fine Season, which promised Abundance of every Necessary for the People; our military and political Affairs in a much better Condition than I ex• { 137 } pected, and infinitely less of Discontent and ill Humour, among all Sorts of People than I left when I went away.
I joyfully congratulate you on the fair Prospect of Affairs, that lies all around Us, except the affair of our Currency. But as this neither kills nor Wounds, nor starves any body, I do not suffer it to darken the scaene very much. We shall blunder along through, with tolerable Comfort, I think, the remainder of the Voyage.
Our maritime Power, has become an astonishing Thing. The Destruction of Thirty Eight Vessells at Penobscott is scarcely felt, and near 30 Privateers I am told have sailed since the Embargo.3 Wonders have been done this Year and greater will be done next. Poor Britania! I feel that kind of Compassion for thee, that I have sometimes felt, for an habitual Drunkard, who knew that he was ruining soul, Body and Estate, yet could not resolve to keep the Cup from his Lips.
I took my Pen, only to pay my Respects to you; to ask your further Correspondence and to assure you that I am your Frid & sert
[signed] John Adams
1. That of 22 Dec. 1777 (vol. 5:363). When he wrote, Marchant, like JA, had just left the congress. He returned to the congress in the summer of 1778 and served until the end of Nov. 1779 (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 3:lx; 4:lxii).
2. Perhaps Rev. Timothy Cutler, Harvard 1701, Congregational apostate and early Anglican leader in Boston (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 5:45–67).
3. The clause about privateers is interlined; JA appears to have first written “40 Privateers,” and then heavily written a “3” over the “4.” Presumably a large number of privateers sailed because their crews were the more readily obtainable as a result of congressional action on embargoes. See John Bondfield to the Commissioners, 3 Oct. 1778 (above). A number of states had embargoes on provisions, which served a twofold purpose. Keeping needed food supplies within a state helped hold down prices (Pennsylvania Archives, Phila. and Harrisburg, 1852–1935; 119 vols. in 123, 1st ser., 7:588) and also kept such supplies out of the clutches of British warships. Such embargoes could cause temporary hardship elsewhere; earlier in the year both Rhode Island and Massachusetts turned to the congress for help in acquiring food supplies from states with embargoes (JCC, 13:130, 152, 257, 449). On 11 Aug. the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council sought the advice of the congress on whether to extend the state's embargo past 1 Sept., when it was scheduled to expire (Pennsylvania Colonial Records, 1683–1790;, Phila. and Harrisburg, 1851–1853; 16 vols., 12:70–71;). The first committee report on Pennsylvania's query recommended that all states end their embargoes by 1 Oct., but the congress voted to recommit the report. On 21 Aug., the congress voted to recommend extension of all embargoes to 1 Jan. 1780 and urged the inclusion of a specified list of grains and meat products and the adoption of an embargo by every state. At the same time it called for an end to restrictions on inland trade. A later attempt to return to the 1 Oct. expiration date, as first recommended, was defeated (JCC, 14:953–954; 986–987; 15:1036–1037). An additional reason for success in privateering was the presence of French naval forces in the West Indies, which drew British frigates away from the North American coast (see James Warren to JA, 13 June, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0099

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Jay, John
Date: 1779-09-10

To the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

Looking over the printed Journals of Congress of the fifteenth day of last April, I find in the Report of the Committee, appointed to take into Consideration the foreign Affairs of these united States, and also the Conduct of the late and present Commissioners of these States; the two following Articles.
“1. That it appears to them that Dr. Franklin, is Plenipotentiary, for these States at the Court of France, Dr. A. Lee Commissioner for the Court of Spain, Mr. William Lee Commissioner for the Courts of Vienna and Berlin, Mr. Ralph Izard Commissioner for the Court of Tuscany: that Mr. J. Adams was appointed one of the Commissioners at the Court of France in the Place of Mr. Deane, who had been appointed a joint Commissioner with Dr. Franklin and Dr. A. Lee, but that the Said Commission of Mr. Adams is Superseeded by the Plenipotentiary Commission to Dr. Franklin.
“3d. That in the Course of their Examination and Enquiry, they find many Complaints against the Said Commissioners, and the political and commercial Agency of Mr. Deane which Complaints, with the Evidence in Support thereof are herewith delivered, and to which the Committee beg Leave to refer.”
The Word “Said” in the third Article refers to the Commissioners mentioned in the first, and as my Name, is among them, I learn from hence, that there were Some Complaints2 against me, and that the Evidence in Support of them was delivered in to Congress by the Committee.3
I therefore pray, that I may be favoured4 with Copies of those Complaints and Evidences,5 and the Names of my Accusers and the Witnesses against me, that I may take such Measures, as may be in my Power to justify myself to Congress. I have the Honour to be with great Respect, Sir your most obedient and most humble servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 89); docketed: “John Adams Esq 10th. Sepr. 1779 Read 29.” LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “<not sent> sent.”
1. The Letterbook has an original date of “August 17” crossed out and “September 10” substituted. Since the Letterbook copy comes after a series of letters written in August, it is likely that JA intended to enter a letter on 17 Aug. and then changed his mind. When he wrote this letter, the first of eight dated 10 Sept. entered in the Letterbook, he placed it on the same page, which was blank except for the date of 17 August.
2. The Letterbook reads: “that there were <many Complaints or to Speak more certainly> Some Complaints <[ . . . ]t>.”
3. At this point in the Letterbook, the following paragraph is crossed out: “As, { 139 } the Recall of Mr Deane, was made, by Congress, when I was absent and as I had the honour of being elected and to receive a Commission from Congress, without the smallest solicitation, or indeed the least Expectation, or Desire when I was five hundred Miles distant at least. As I readily undertook this arduous office and have executed it, <to the entire satisfaction of the August sovereign to whom I was sent> through many Hazards of my life and Liberty, to the <entire> particular satisfaction of that August Sovereign to whom I was sent, I think I have a Claim upon the Justice of my Country that, my Reputation may not be permitted to be Stained, unless I deserve it.” In the margins at the bottom of the page opposite the first part of the paragraph and again at the top of the next page opposite the second part of the paragraph is the word “erased.”
4. The Letterbook has: “I therefore humbly request that Congress would favour me.”
5. See enclosures in James Lovell to JA, 14 Sept. (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0100

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Roberdeau, Daniel
Date: 1779-09-10

To Daniel Roberdeau

[salute] My dear Friend

I have not the less Affection for you, not the less pleasing Remembrance of the social Hours at York Town, for not having written since my Departure. Whatever may be thought of it, I have been very busy, and about such Objects and in such scaenes, as left me no Heart to write, except upon necessary Business. If you have ever suspected that I have not thought of you often enough, you have no greater Complaint against me than my Wife and Children, and as I have been so happy as to make this matter up with them, I dont despair of succeeding with you. How does Mrs. Clymer and Miss Betsy, your son and Daughters.1 These I suppose are grown beyond my Knowledge. I am sure my own Children are in a manner. I shall see them all I hope some time or other. But whether I do or not I wish them all the Prosperity, that you can reasonably desire for them. My affectionate Respects to them all.
But above all I wish you Joy of your happy Marriage, since I left you and desire you would present my best Respects to Mrs. Roberdeau.2
These pleasing Family scaenes make me forget, the turbulent political ones in which, We have both been tossed. I think however that the worst is past, and this is a Consolation for all.
As you Speak French, so well, you will of Course have much Conversation with the Chevalier de La Luzerne and Mr. Marbois. I should be obliged to you, if you will present my Compliments to them. If I am not much deceived you will find them worthy of their Places, and of particular Respect. They will neither propagate Irreligion nor Immorality, nor Corruption, nor Servility nor bad Policy—unless they should be changed.
{ 140 }

[salute] I am with great Esteem and Respect, sir your Frd & most obedient sert

1. On the Roberdeau family, see Adams Family Correspondence, 2:352–353.
2. Roberdeau, whose first wife died in the winter of 1777, had married Jane Milligan on 2 Dec. 1778 (DAB).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0101

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Rush, Benjamin
Date: 1779-09-10

To Benjamin Rush

[salute] My dear Friend

I am indebted to you, for more Letters than I can repay at present. But declaring myself a Bankrupt, You must except of a few shillings in the Pound. Indeed I suspect the Debt is greater than I know of. I saw in the Courier de L'Europe, Part of a Letter from you to Dr. Dubourg,1 which was intercepted, in which you refer him to me for a long Letter you wrote me upon our military affairs &c. But this Letter nor any other from you never reached me in France.2
I was sensibly afflicted at this Loss, for there are no Letters, I prize more than yours, because none are to me more instructive, and in Europe I was terribly tormented for Want of Information from this Country.
How goes on your Government? When I arrived I found the Massachusetts, in Sober Earnest, endeavouring at last to frame a Constitution. The People have done themselves Honour in chosing a great Number of the most respectable Men, into the Convention, and there has been hitherto great Harmony among them. My native Town of Braintree did me the Honour to choose me, into this society of Worthies, upon my first Arrival, and although I foresee I shall have a laborious Piece of Business of it; yet I am much pleased with the Opportunity of having a share in this great Work. Yet it is impossible for Us to acquire any Honour, as so many fine Examples have been so recently set Us; altho We shall deserve some degree of Disgrace if We fall much short of them. It will not be easy to please this People: But I hope We shall succeed—if We do not, I dont know what will be the Consequence.
We must send to Europe, or to the other states for what I know for a set of Legislators. My best Respects to your agreable Family, and all our Friends in Philadelphia, and believe me your Frid & sert.
1. For Jacques Barbeu Dubourg, who was well known to Franklin and had been a correspondent of Rush, see Benjamin Rush, Letters, 1:77, note 1. Rush's { 141 } letter to Dubourg was dated 10 Nov. 1778 and appeared in the Courier de l'Europe of 23 March 1779. The letter to JA that Rush mentioned to Dubourg was almost certainly that of 27 Oct. 1778 (above), which dealt largely with military affairs.
2. “Nor any other from you” and “in France” are interlined.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0102

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1779-09-11

To Elbridge Gerry

[salute] Dear Sir

Early last Fall, in Conversation with Several Gentlemen, who are acquainted with Ministers of State, I laboured to convince them of the Policy and Necessity of sending Strong Reinforcements to the Compte D'Estaing. Mr. Chaumont particularly, coming into my Chamber, one Morning in his Way to Versailles, I begged him to mention it to the Compte De Vergennes, and Mr. De Sartine and endeavoured to possess him with my Reasons. On his Return he told me he had done it, and that they had hearkened to him attentively. About the same Time I had a long Conversation with Mr. Garnier, late secretary to the French Embassy in England, who told me soon afterwards that he had been to Versailles on Purpose to <re>present my Reasoning to the Ministry and that they had heard him, with Pleasure. Soon afterwards I met Mr. Genet, who is the first Comis1 of the Office of foreign Affairs, at Mr. Izards. I began a Conversation with him, upon the same subject, and entered into the Reasons at large. Both these Gentlemen, I mean Genet and Izard appeared pleased with the Conversation. A few days afterwards I had a Letter from Genet,2 in which he informed me, that he had been impressed upon Reflection on what I had said to him, with such a sense of its Importance, that he had waited on Mr. De Sartine, and the Compte De Vergennes, the next Morning to propose it to them, that he had been very patiently heard by them, and desired to state his Reasons in Writing, in order to which he desired my Assistance. Upon considering the matter, I thought, that if I should enter into a Correspondence with a Comis, upon this subject alone, instead of proposing it, to my Colleagues, and joining with them, it would not have so much Weight, at Court; it would excite Jealousies in my Colleagues, and be against the Maxim by which I had invariably conducted My self, to do nothing with out consulting them.
Instead therefore of answering Genets Letter,3 I applied my self to get my Colleagues to join me, in a direct Application to Court. I proposed it to them. Mr. Lee entered into it with Zeal, Dr. F. with Moderation. I desired Mr. Lee to draw up, a Letter. He did, it was a very handsome one, but short. I told him I thought We had better be more { 142 } particular, in our Reasons. He agreed, and desired me to attempt a Draught. I took a Time, and wrote a Treatise, which I shewed my Colleagues. They said that the Observations were very well, but too long for a Minister of State to read. I thought so too, and desired Dr. F. to take the Letter Book as he had an happy faculty of Writing shortly and clearly, and make a Draught. He took the Book, and after some short time, returned it with a few Corrections to my Treatise, saying that upon reading it again he thought it would do very well, and that it was not worth while to make a new Draught. However I thought the Length of it, would weaken it, and it was too hastily and incorrectly written. I therefore undertook to make a new Draught, Copy of which I send you. It was agreed to by my Colleagues, signed by all three of Us,4 sent to Court, and answered by the Compte De Vergennes, that it contained Matters of great Importance, and should be considered in due time.5
Whether these Negotiations had any Influence at Court, I cant say, but it is certain that the Compte De Grass, was sent in December, with one Reinforcement to the Compte D'Estaing, and Mr. De la Motte Piquet, in the spring with another, besides some other scattering ships, and if the Compte D'Estaing is now upon this Coast, this fact may be another Commentary on the Letter.
On the first Arrival of the Marquis De la Fayette in Paris, I made him a Visit and finding him alone, had two Hours Conversation with him, in which I entered into all these Things, and had the Pleasure to find him well acquainted with our Affairs, and heartily disposed to serve Us. He told me, he would represent every one, of my Arguments as from himself to the Ministry, which was what I desired, because I knew that his Character was so high and he was so beloved at Court, that he would be always there, and constantly in Conversation on our affairs. The next Morning however, fearing he might forget, or not be perfectly possessed of my Meaning, I wrote him the Letter,6 Copy of which is inclosed, which he has since told me in Conversation he approved in every Part, and would represent at Court, and by his answer to my Letter,7 a little before I sailed, he told me, he had been constantly representing and had in some Measure succeeded.
I send these Things to you in Confidence—you will not expose me. I would not appear to arrogate to my self what belongs to others, nor would I wish to be thought by you and my other Friends to have been idle and Useless. As to being idle the public Letter Book, which is almost all in my Hand Writing, will sufficiently shew that I was not so.
You can have no adequate Idea of the Difficulty We had in doing { 143 } Business, while We acted together. But although it was become necessary to appoint one Minister alone at that Court, it is still necessary to go farther, to appoint a secretary to the Commission, and to give the Management of all maritime and commercial Affairs to a Consul, to reside at Nantes. There is a Gentleman in Paris, whose Name I will venture to mention to you, Edmund Jennings Esqr., Councillor at Law of Maryland. This Gentleman appears to me, to have Such Abilities, such extensive Knowledge, and so much Candor and Moderation, that I cannot but think he would be very usefull as secretary to the Commission. And I would fain hope he would accept it. He is not upon bad Terms with F. nor too much an Idolater of him, which is exactly the Character that a Secretary to the Commission ought to have, in Relation to the Minister. There are Gentlemen in Congress who know him. Mr. D's Wish is to have Dr. Bancroft made Secretary. If this should happen, America ought to retire and weep. F's Desire, no doubt would be to have his Grandson, but he is too young and too nearly connected. I rely upon your Discretion to make Use of this Letter only for the public Good, and am with great Affection your Frd
[signed] John Adams
RC (NjHi); docketed: “Braintree Letter Hona. J Adams Esq. Sep 11 2 Inclosures 1779.” For the enclosures, see notes 4 and 6.
1. That is, clerk.
2. That of 29 Oct. 1778 (above).
3. In his Letterbook JA did draft a reply to Genet, dated 31 Oct. (above), but he did not send it.
4. Commissioners to Vergennes, [ante 20] Dec. 1778–[ante 9] Jan. 1779, No. II, and descriptive note (above). The enclosure is now in the Edward Davis Townsend Collection at the Huntington Library.
5. Vergennes to the Commissioners, 9 Jan. (above).
6. JA to Lafayette, 21 Feb., and descriptive note (above). The enclosure is now in the collections of the New-York Historical Society.
7. Lafayette to JA, 9 April (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0103

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1779-09-11

To James Warren

[salute] My dear Friend

I was told in Boston that Mr. Avery and Mr. Wendell had been proposed for Judges of the Inferior Court for the County of Suffolk, in the Room of my Friend Pemberton.1 I said not a Word, but since I have been at home, I have reflected upon this and altho these Gentlemen have amiable Characters I cannot think them So well qualified for this Place as Mr. Cranch, whose great Natural Abilities, and whose late Application to the study of the Law and to public affairs, made him occur to my Mind.2 It is the first Time of my whole Life, that I recollect that I ever proposed a Relation of mine, for a Place,3 and I cer• { 144 } tainly should not have done it in this Case, if he had not been, entirely without my Knowledge untill my Arrival, been brought into public View. If you think as I do, that the public will be as faithfully and ably served by such an Appointment, as by any other, and will mention it to Mr. Sever,4 who is acquainted with him, perhaps it may be proposed in Council. There is but one objection that I know of, and that is, he is my Brother. This may be enough. <My most>

[salute] In haste yours

[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “The Honourable James Warren Esqr of the Continental Navy Board Boston”; docketed: “Mr. J Adams. Lettr. Sepr. 1779.”
1. Neither John Avery nor Oliver Wendell was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Samuel Pemberton (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 14:384–389; 13:367–374; 11:161–162).
2. Richard Cranch, married to AA's sister Mary, was then a member of the House of Representatives (Mass., Province Laws, 21:4). Cranch was named to the common pleas court in 1780 (William T. Davis, History of the Judiciary of Massachusetts, Boston, 1900, p. 151).
3. In a letter of 2 May 1775, JA hinted to Joseph Palmer “in Behalf of [his] Brothers, if Either of them should have an Inclination to engage in the Army” (vol. 3:1, and note 7).
4. William Sever was then a Council member (Mass., Province Laws, 21:3).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0104

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Whipple, William
Date: 1779-09-11

To William Whipple

[salute] My old Friend

How do ye? Here I am, after, escaping storms, thunder, lightning, the Gulph Stream British Squadrons, Cannon Balls, and what is ten Thousand Times worse than all of them the Neglect and Contempt of Congress. Dont you think me a Philosopher, to pronounce these Words Neglect and Contempt with so much Deliberation Patience and Tranquility?
When Dr. Fs new Commission arrived, there was much Pains taken to perswade me to stay. Dr. F. advised me to take a Journey to Geneva, others to Amsterdam. Mr. Chaumont offered me, his House in the Country during the War.1 Dr. Bancroft the confidential Friend of F. D. and C. told me, he had a Letter from Charmichael, in which he was told that the Gentlemen of that side of the House,2 intended to send me to Spain, in the Room of Lee. The Marquis de la Fayette told me that Mr. G. Morris told him, that they intended to send me to Spain.3 By Letters from R. H. Lee and Lovell and S. Adams, I was told they intended to send me to Holland.4
Although it was flattering enough to me to find, that both sides professed to be willing to employ me somewhere, yet I knew very well it { 145 } would be so long before they would be able to agree and determine the Place, that I thought it my Duty to return home, that they might have Time enough to deliberate upon it, rather than stay there, eating public Bread without doing any Thing to earn it5 in a situation both painfull and ridiculous like that of Ariel wedged by the Waiste in the middle of a rifted Oak.6
I have been conning over your Journals, but cannot yet comprehend many Things. You must have had many Things and much Information that I am a stranger to, I think. Quere whether I am not nearly enough like a Member of Congress to be intrusted with Some of your secrets, not such as you are enjoyned to keep so, but others. When you return call and see me.

[salute] Your Frid & most obt sert

[signed] John Adams
1. See Chaumont to JA, 25 Feb. (above).
2. That is, those supporting Silas Deane.
3. This sentence was written at the bottom of the letter, its place in the text indicated with a mark.
4. See letters from Richard Henry Lee and Samuel Adams of 29 and 25 Oct. 1778 respectively (both above). No letter from James Lovell mentioning Holland has been found. All three were supporters of Arthur Lee and would not have wanted to give Lee's commission to Spain to JA.
5. The phrase “eating public Bread . . . to earn it” is interlined.
6. JA alludes to Shakespeare's The Tempest, Act I, scene ii, lines 274–279, but Ariel was imprisoned in “a cloven pine.”

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0105

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Massachusetts Council
Date: 1779-09-13

To the Massachusetts Council

[salute] May it please your Honours

While I resided at Paris, I had an opportunity of procuring from London, exact Information, concerning the British Whale Fishery on the Coast of Brazil, which I beg Leave to communicate to your Honours, that if any Advantage can be made of it, the Opportunity may not be lost.1
The English, the last Year and the Year before, carried on, this Fishery to very great Advantage, off of the River Plate, in South America in the Latitude Thirty five South and from thence to Forty, just on the Edge of Soundings, off and on, about the Longitude Sixty five, from London. They had Seventeen Vessells in this Fishery, which all Sailed from London, in the Months of September and October. All the Officers and Men, are Americans.
The Names of the Captains are Aaron Sheffield of Newport,[]Goldsmith and Richard Holmes from Long Island, John Chadwick, Francis May, Reuben May, John Meader, Jonathan Meader, Elisha Clark, Benjamin Clark, William Ray, Paul Pease, Bunker Fitch, Reu• { 146 } ben Fitch, Zebbeda Coffin, and another Coffin,[]Delano, Andrew Swain, William Ray, all of Nantuckett, John Lock, Cape Cod. Four or five of these Vessells went to Greenland. The Fleet Sails to Greenland, yearly, the last of February, or the Beginning of March.
There was published, the Year before last, in the English Newspapers, and the Same Imposture was repeated last Year, and no doubt will be renewed this, a Letter from the Lords of the Admiralty to Mr. Dennis De Berdt in Colman Street, informing him, that a Convoy should be appointed to the Brazil Fleet. But this, I had certain Information, was a Forgery calculated merely to deceive American Privateers, and that no Convoy was appointed, or did go with that Fleet, either last Year, or the Year before.
For the Destruction or Captivity of a Fishery so entirely defenceless, for not one of the Vessells has any Arms, a single Frigate or Privateer of Twenty four, or even of Twenty Guns, would be sufficient. The Beginning of December, would be the best Time to proceed from hence, because the Frigate would then find, the Whaling Vessells nearly loaded. The Cargoes of these Vessells, consisting of Bone and Oyl, will be very valuable, and at least four hundred and fifty of the best kind of Seamen, would be taken out of the Hands of the English, and might be gained into the American service to act against the Ennemy. Most of the Officers and Men wish well to this Country, and would gladly be in its service, if they could be delivered, from that they are engaged in. Whenever an English Man of War, or Privateer, has taken an American Vessell, they have given to the Whalemen among the Crew, by order of Government, their Choice, either to go on Board a Man of War, and fight against their Country or go into the Whale Fishery; such Numbers have chosen the latter as have made up the Crews of these seventeen Vessells.
I thought it my Duty to communicate this Intelligence to your Honours, that if So profitable a Branch of Commerce, and so valuable a Nursery of Seamen, can be taken from the English it may be done. This state has a peculiar Right and Interest to undertake the Enterprise, as almost the whole Fleet, belongs to it.
I have the Honour to be, with the highest Consideration, your Honours most obedient & most humble servant
[signed] John Adams2
Read and sent down
[signed] John Avery D Secy.
Read—and the House being first enjoined secresy on the subject matter thereof—Orderd That the Honbl. General Warren, and Mr. { 147 } [Caleb] Davis of Boston, with such as the Honble. Board shall join be a Committee to consider the same—and report what is proper to be done thereon.
Sent up for Concurrence
[signed] John Hancock Spkr.
Read and Concurred and Moses Gill Eqr. is joined.
[signed] John Avery D Secy.
RC (M-Ar: vol. 210, p. 216–218A); docketed: “Letter from Honbl. John Adams & Report thereon” and “Resolve on a Letter from Honbl John Adams Letter to transmit the same to the Honble Congress October 6th. 1779.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. JA copied the following four paragraphs virtually verbatim, even retaining the blank spaces for Goldsmith and Delano in place of their first names, from his Letterbook copy of Benjamin Franklin's and his letter to Sartine of 30 Oct. 1778 (above), which in turn follows the text of JA's Diary entry of 8 Oct. (Diary and Autobiography, 2:319–320).
2. A note in JA's hand at the bottom of the Letterbook copy reads: “on the 19 Oct. 1779 wrote the same to Congress, concerning this Fishery.” See PCC, No. 84, I, f. 97. JA's letter, with “an extract from the proceedings of the general court,” arrived in the congress on 1 Nov. It was read but not referred to a committee for action (JCC, 15:1231). Apart from changes made necessary by its being sent to the congress, the letter was little altered. JA omitted the statement that he procured his information from London on whaling off Brazil and that it was “exact.” In concluding, he mentioned his unsuccessful effort with his colleagues in Paris to persuade the French to take action. He also mentioned his appeal to the Massachusetts Council but noted, correctly as it turned out, that after the disastrous Penobscot Expedition, the state was unlikely to act.
3. A mistake for the 14th.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0106-0001

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-14

From James Lovell

[salute] Dear Sir

Your favor of Aug. 4 came yesterday to hand with the Pamphlets.1 If the Chevalier does not take his Bias at Bethlehem or Easton where he is to be documented 2 or 3 days,2 I shall continue in the hopes which your good Judgement has inspired.
We have indeed had a stormy Time; and some Villains, I guess wanted to get hold of the Helm and the main Stays at a critical Moment.
We are going to tell S[pain] she may have the Fl[orid]as before she asks, and we shall be too bashful even to tell her we wish to get at the hundred of thousands of Acres of Virginia freely in Boats by that River on whose Banks they lay.3
The dull letter4 you mention has been received, and I believe wished never to have been written, by the poor Drudges in the Secretary's Office who are called upon for Copies by every lazy Member, and I assure you that is more than the sanctified Number 13.5
{ 148 }
It would have been better for W H D if he had been of the Class; but he did, as does another whose broken Constitution is at this minute wishing pen and ink banished from his Sight for a Month.6
I have sent the Journals to your Family and shall continue the Numbers as they come out. By way of small politics; I send the Copy of a rough Copy in part of Something I sent you when we were stumbling in the dark about Ultimata.7
RC (Adams Papers); with three enclosures. The enclosures were filmed under the date of 13 June and appear immediately after the recipient's copy of James Lovell's letter to JA of that date (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 350). The first enclosure, designated “No. 1” and docketed “Mr Lovel June 13. 1779 'Je crains M. A. L. et ses entours.' Vergennes,” is not identical to the recipient's copy of 13 June (above), and the annotation pertaining to matters common to both documents is not repeated here. As a result, the two versions should be compared. The second enclosure, designated “No. 2” and docketed “Izard,” was copied from the committee's report of 24 March (PCC, No. 25, I, f. 101; JCC, 13:363–368). The passage is written on the verso of a piece of paper cut from the address page of a letter by George Washington, probably to the president of the congress, and bears the words “His Ex” and “Go. Was,” the first portion of Washington's signature endorsing the letter. The third enclosure, designated “No. 3,” labeled “Copy,” and docketed “Izard,” comprises less than two pages of Izard's full letter of this date, which is approximately seven and one-half pages long (PCC, No. 89, I, f. 90–97; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:710–714).
1. No letter of 4 Aug. from JA to Lovell has been found.
2. Bethlehem and Easton, Penna., were on a common route to Philadelphia from New England, and Lovell may have feared that Gérard would meet La Luzerne there and, in the process of documenting or instructing him, would communicate his bias for Deane. In fact, Gérard and La Luzerne met at Bristol, Penna.
3. The instructions to the American Peace Commissioner adopted on 14 Aug. provided as one of the ultimata that the western boundary of the United States would be the Mississippi River, thus taking in the vast claims by Virginia and other states. Such an ultimatum had also appeared in the draft committee report of 23 Feb. on the objects to be pursued in any peace negotiations. There an additional ultimatum had provided “that free commerce be allowed to the subjects of the United States with some port or ports below the southern boundary of the said states.” The draft document also provided that if Britain ceded Florida to the United States it could be receded to Spain “for an adequate compensation” (JCC, 14:956–960; 13:239–244).
The instructions of 14 Aug. mentioned neither a port on the Mississippi nor the ultimate disposition of Florida. Instead, those questions were dealt with in instructions to the American minister charged with negotiating a treaty with Spain, which were being considered when Lovell wrote. Adopted on 29 Sept., the instructions provided that Spain, should it accede to the Franco-American alliance, would not be precluded from obtaining Florida and, indeed, that if Florida were conquered, the United States would guarantee Spain's possession, “provided always, that the United States shall enjoy the free navigation of the River Mississippi into and from the sea.” In addition, the minister was directed to “endeavour to obtain some convenient port or ports” on the Mississippi below the southern border: the 31st parallel (same, 15:1118–1120). Lovell, however, still thought that acquiring port rights should be an ultimatum in a Spanish treaty. Without a port or ports to which the produce of the western lands could be taken for shipment and through which they could be supplied, the acquisition of those lands in a peace treaty was of doubtful value.
The instructions of 29 Sept., intended to allay Spanish fears regarding American intentions toward Spanish possessions in North America, came to nothing. The United States, in Art. 8 of the peace treaty of 1783, gained the same right that Britain had acquired in Art. 7 of the definitive Anglo-French peace treaty ending the Seven Years' War: to navigate the Mississippi from its source to the sea. But Spain's acquisition of the Floridas in 1783 gave it control of both banks of the Mississippi below the 31st parallel, and thus a strong legal position for denying free passage to the sea. Not until Pinckney's treaty of 1795 did Spain agree to permit American vessels to navigate the Mississippi through its territory and make the concession meaningful by allowing American citizens to land goods at New Orleans or some other place within its territory (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:155, 321–322, 337; Samuel Flagg Bemis, Pinckney's Treaty, Baltimore, 1926, p. 1–4, 42, 51–55)
4. JA to the president of the congress, 4 Aug. (above).
5. The reference is to the demand for more copies than one for each state of JA's long letter of 4 Aug. on political conditions in the various European states (above).
6. William Henry Drayton, delegate from S.C., had died on 4 Sept. (Samuel Holten's Diary, Burnett, ed., Letters, 4:401). Lovell means that it would have been better for Drayton if he had not written so much (i.e. been lazy), “but he did, as does another” (i.e. Lovell). Lovell had also been ill, but recovered to live a long life.
7. That is, Lovell copied his letter to JA of 13 June (above), which JA did not receive until his return to Europe in 1780.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0106-0002

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-06-13

Enclosure: James Lovell to John Adams


[salute] Dear Sir

I shall not look through my Almanac to see whether I have written to you 22 or 24 Letters, I shall go upon the easier task of acknowledging all I have had from you—Decr. 6 1778 received Feb. 16 1779 answered 17th. and Sepr. 26. 1778 received Mar 4 1779 answered Apr. 28th.
3 months ago Mr. Gerard communicated to us in a private audience that Spain was mediating and that we ought to take speedy measures for Peace. London Gazettes tell the same. It has seemed astonishing that neither Doctr. Franklin Mr. Lee nor you should hint this, if you did not give it authoritatively. And we have some wise men here who are sure they could fish out all the Court Secrets. In the various attempts to pull down A Lee, to make way for some one to go from hence who knows all the present Circumstances of America and therefore could negotiate properly, your (the Commissioners)1 want of Ability to give us Information such as we wish for or fancy can be obtained, is said to spring from the Suspicions of the french Court respecting one of you: And something like an attempt to dictate a Choice here has been made. An Extract of a Letter from Count de Vergennes has been quoted “Je crains Mr. Ar. Lee et ses entours”: and it is said that therefore the Communication before mentioned came through Mr. Gerard. But this is inconsistent with what is alledged in other Cases. Mr. Deane was directed to tell Doctr. Franklin certain things, which he did not chuse to tell Doctr. Lee; or, as he wishes to have it believed, which he was forbidden to tell him. I am persuaded Doctr. Franklin would not readily blab any matter to Mr. Lee which the Court might confidentially tell him. But it may be said the Doctr. was perhaps at that period only on a par with Mr. Lee and you so that he could not officially convey the news of a Negociation from France to us without consulting Mr. Lee. It has been attempted to persuade us that Spain is disgusted with Mr. Lee. If more than Innuendoes had been adduced, we should have made a new appointment, perhaps; tho it is a very delicate matter. Mr. { 149 } Deane says the Lees are unfit to deal with a “gallant” nation. To tell you the plain Truth of the matter, I believe the men who want to get his place in Negociation would be very gallant on certain Points. The eastern States are charged with wanting what they have no right to, and what is of “no interest to the southern States.” Plenty are these local Sentiments lately and R H Lee and Mr. Laurens are squinted at as two monsters on the other Side of the Susquehanna, who can be found to pursue points in which the Southern States have “no interest.” I expect, however, that we shall in a few days be able to join in some Ultimata for Peace to be ready at the moment when Britain shall come to her Senses. She is quite wild and foolish yet, in my opinion.
You will be able by our motly Journals and my Comments from Time to Time to understand what we are about. For instance you will know when I tell you why I voted to have your name inserted April 20th. page 10. A majority against me had resolved 1st. that the names should be added, 2dly. that Doctr. Franklin's should be inserted, but did not proceed by yeas and nays, therefore I was entrapped not having my nay to show in the first I was forced to go through uniformly; it being as true that Suspicions and Animosities had been minuted by the Committee respecting you as respecting the rest; for the Report did not say mutual Suspicions &c. It was calculated to open the Door for several new Elections.2
RC (Adams Papers); with three enclosures. The enclosures were filmed under the date of 13 June and appear immediately after the recipient's copy of James Lovell's letter to JA of that date (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 350). The first enclosure, designated “No. 1” and docketed “Mr Lovel June 13. 1779 'Je crains M. A. L. et ses entours.' Vergennes,” is not identical to the recipient's copy of 13 June (above), and the annotation pertaining to matters common to both documents is not repeated here. As a result, the two versions should be compared. The second enclosure, designated “No. 2” and docketed “Izard,” was copied from the committee's report of 24 March (PCC, No. 25, I, f. 101; JCC, 13:363–368). The passage is written on the verso of a piece of paper cut from the address page of a letter by George Washington, probably to the president of the congress, and bears the words “His Ex” and “Go. Was,” the first portion of Washington's signature endorsing the letter. The third enclosure, designated “No. 3,” labeled “Copy,” and docketed “Izard,” comprises less than two pages of Izard's full letter of this date, which is approximately seven and one-half pages long (PCC, No. 89, I, f. 90–97; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:710–714).
1. The two words in parentheses were interlined for insertion here.
2. In the recipient's copy of 13 June this paragraph is much longer and provides detailed information regarding the charge against JA and Izard's letter to the president of congress. The omission of that material here probably results from the inclusion of the two extracts, which made such a detailed treatment redundant, and probably thus indicates that the extracts were not included with the original letter sent to France.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0106-0003

Author: Continental Congress, Foreign Affairs Committee
Date: 1779-03-24

Enclosure: Extract from a Foreign Affairs Committee Report

[salute] Charge

That Mr. John Adams threatned Mr. Izard with the Displeasure of Congress in his opposing the 11th. and 12th. Articles of the Treaty of Commerce; and, that the said Mr. John Adams entertained Expectations that Congress would be inattentive to the Interests of nine States of America to gratify the Eaters and Distillers of Melasses.
Evidence. Mr. Izards Letter to the President 12th. Sepr. 1778.
RC (Adams Papers); with three enclosures. The enclosures were filmed under the date of 13 June and appear immediately after the recipient's copy of James Lovell's letter to JA of that date (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 350). The first enclosure, designated “No. 1” and docketed “Mr Lovel June 13. 1779 'Je crains M. A. L. et ses entours.' Vergennes,” is not identical to the recipient's copy of 13 June (above), and the annotation pertaining to matters common to both documents is not repeated here. As a result, the two versions should be compared. The second enclosure, designated “No. 2” and docketed “Izard,” was copied from the committee's report of 24 March (PCC, No. 25, I, f. 101; JCC, 13:363–368). The passage is written on the verso of a piece of paper cut from the address page of a letter by George Washington, probably to the president of the congress, and bears the words “His Ex” and “Go. Was,” the first portion of Washington's signature endorsing the letter. The third enclosure, designated “No. 3,” labeled “Copy,” and docketed “Izard,” comprises less than two pages of Izard's full letter of this date, which is approximately seven and one-half pages long (PCC, No. 89, I, f. 90–97; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:710–714).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0106-0004

Author: Izard, Ralph
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Jay, John
Date: 1778-09-12

Enclosure: Ralph Izard to President of the Congress

The Melasses business would certainly have proved the source of continual disputes, if it had not been altered;1 but the mischief which might have been expected from that is beyond <doubt> comparison less than what is pointed out in my letter to Mr. Lee of 18th. May.2 My apprehensions on this subject were communicated to the Commissioners at this Court; but I am sorry to say that they made no impression upon them. Mr. Lee alone seemed to think it possible I might be { 150 } right; the other two Gentlemen were perfectly satisfied. Dr. Franklin's usual consciousness of infallibility was apparent; and Mr. Adams insinuated that the business of the Treaties was put intirely into the hands of the Commissioners at this Court, and nobody else had any right to give their opinions about them; that he understood I had objected to the 11th. and 12th. Articles in the Treaty of Commerce, respecting Melasses, but he believed I should find myself greatly mistaken in that matter; that he did not doubt but these Articles would be extremely popular in Congress and that they would be very angry when they were informed that I had objected to them. I answered that I was sensible the Conclusion of the Treaties was committed solely to the Gentlemen he mentioned; but that the principles in which I had been educated militated against the other part of his Opinion; that I had thought it my duty to oppose the proceedings of the King and Parliament of Great Britain when they were injurious to my Country; that the same motives had occasioned my opposition to the articles in question; that I had submitted my objections to the Treaty to the President and hoped that he would make them known to Congress; that if they thought I had done wrong, I should of Course be informed of it by him; that I should in that case look upon myself to be no longer fit to be employed, when my opinion differed so totally from that of my Employers, and should request the favor of the President to procure the Leave of Congress for me to return to my own Country. I have had the Satisfaction however, of finding that Mr. Adams as well as his Countrymen Doctr. Franklin and Mr. Deane have been mistaken in their Expectation that Congress would be inattentive to the Interests of nine States of America, to gratify the Eaters and Distillers of Melasses.
RC (Adams Papers); with three enclosures. The enclosures were filmed under the date of 13 June and appear immediately after the recipient's copy of James Lovell's letter to JA of that date (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 350). The first enclosure, designated “No. 1” and docketed “Mr Lovel June 13. 1779 'Je crains M. A. L. et ses entours.' Vergennes,” is not identical to the recipient's copy of 13 June (above), and the annotation pertaining to matters common to both documents is not repeated here. As a result, the two versions should be compared. The second enclosure, designated “No. 2” and docketed “Izard,” was copied from the committee's report of 24 March (PCC, No. 25, I, f. 101; JCC, 13:363–368). The passage is written on the verso of a piece of paper cut from the address page of a letter by George Washington, probably to the president of the congress, and bears the words “His Ex” and “Go. Was,” the first portion of Washington's signature endorsing the letter. The third enclosure, designated “No. 3,” labeled “Copy,” and docketed “Izard,” comprises less than two pages of Izard's full letter of { 151 } this date, which is approximately seven and one-half pages long (PCC, No. 89, I, f. 90–97; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:710–714).
The content of all or some notes that appeared on pages 151 and 152 in the printed volume has been moved to the ends of the preceding documents: James Lovell to John Adams, 14 Sept. 1779 and 13 June 1779.
{ 152 }
1. The “Melasses business” stemmed from the controversy surrounding Arts. 11 and 12 in the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce as originally negotiated, but which were later deleted. For Ralph Izard's, as well as Arthur Lee's, earlier objections to the two articles and a detailed examination of the reasons for their deletion, see the Committee for Foreign Affairs to the Commissioners, 14 May 1778, and note 4; and the Commissioners' reply of 29 July, and note 1 (vol. 6:116–120, 332).
2. Arthur Lee, who had been appointed Commissioner to the Court at Madrid, never received Izard's letter, which was largely devoted to his concern that provisions of the Franco-American Treaty of Alliance might prevent the United States from acquiring the Floridas (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:586–588).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0107

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Knox, Henry
Date: 1779-09-19

To Henry Knox

[salute] Dear Sir

I have had the Honour of your Letter of the 4th of this Month, and I thank you for your obliging Congratulations on my Return, which gives me Happiness, whatever Passions or Reasonings produced it.
You have Cause to thank Heaven, that the state of Europe is so favourable. It is Scarcely possible it should be more so. France is already elevated to the highest Degree of Reputation and England depressed to almost the lowest of Contempt in Consequence of this Revolution. [It] is1 Under Heaven the general Wisdom of the present Reign in France and the universal Depravation and Folly, of that of England and2 the general Ability of American Councils and, Arms, that have done it. Washingtons Negotiations have done more in Europe, than all our Ambassadors, but Gates was the successfull Minister that brought the Treaty to a Crisis at the particular Time when it was done. By mentioning these Names in particular I dont mean to exclude, a Multitude of other Officers who had a proportional share in the Work, more especially the American Artillery and its worthy Commander.3
This is very free and very saucy — so that you must not say much about it, but believe me, with Affection & Respect, your Frid & sert
I have no Expectation of going to Congress, and therefore must wait for the Pleasure of seeing you, untill you make a Visit, this Way, which I hope will be soon.
1. The preceding two words are interlined; the word “It,” or perhaps “T,” is illegible.
{ 153 }
2. The preceding five words are interlined.
3. Knox himself.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0108

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Rush, Benjamin
Date: 1779-09-19

To Benjamin Rush

[salute] Dear Sir

I had the Pleasure of yours of August 19, by the last Post, and thank you for your kind Congratulations on my Return. You judge right, when you Suppose, that I cannot be idle, but my Industry will probably be directed, in a different manner, in future. My Principles1 are not in Fashion. I may be more usefull here, as you observe, than in the Cabinet of Louis the 16. But let me tell you, that that Cabinet, is of great Importance, and that there ought to be Somebody there, who knows Somewhat of the Affairs of America, as well as Europe, and who will take the Pains to think, and to advise that Cabinet, with all proper Delicacy, in certain Circumstances.
I have little2 to Say about the Time and manner of my being Superceeded. Let those reflect upon them selves, who are disgraced by it, not I. Those who did it, are alone disgraced by it. The Man who can shew a long Series of disinterested Services to his Country, cannot be disgraced even by his Country. If she attempts it, she only brings a Stain upon her own Character and makes his Glory the more illustrious.3
We have Cause to congratulate ourselves, on the favourable Appearance of Affairs in Europe and America. There is not one Symptom in Europe against Us. Yet I must own to you, that I think France and Spain are yet to be convinced, of the true Method of conducting this War. It is not by besieging Gibralter nor invading Ireland, in my humble Opinion, but by sending a clear Superiority of naval Power into the American Seas, by destroying or captivating the British Forces here by Sea and Land, by taking the West India Islands and destroying the British Trade, and by affording Convoys to Commerce between Europe and America, and between America and the french and Spanish Islands, that this War is to be brought to a Speedy Conclusion, happy for Us, and glorious as well as advantageous to our Allies.4
These were the Objects of all my Negotiations, and I dare hazard all, upon the good Policy of them. I fear that these Ideas, will now be forgotten: I cannot but wish that Congress would give positive Instructions to their Minister, nay that they would make a direct Application themselves to their Ally, to this Purpose. Mr. Gerry can shew you, in Confidence, some Papers upon the subject.5
{ 154 }
I have a great Curiosity to know, the History of the political Proceedings, within and out of Doors, last Winter. I confess myself, unable to comprehend it. I am more puzzled at the Conduct of those who ought to have been my Friends than at any Thing else.6 However I have not Lights enough to form a Judgment.
You Speak French So perfectly, and love good Men so much, that I wish you to be acquainted with the Chevalier De la Luzerne, and Mr. Marbois. Those Gentlemen were making Enquiry after a certain Letter, that you was very partial to. I enclose it to you and request you to give it them from me, with my most affectionate and respectfull Compliments.7

[salute] I am with much Affection, your Friend & sert

[signed] John Adams
RC (DLC: photostat of recipient's copy). LbC (Adams Papers).
1. The Letterbook has “Men of my Principles.”
2. The Letterbook has “nothing” deleted in favor of “little.”
3. In the Letterbook, “brings a Stain upon her own Character and” is interlined, and “more illustrious” replaces “greater.”
4. The Letterbook simply has “glorious for our Allies.”
5. In the Letterbook this sentence does not contain the words “in Confidence.” JA is referring to his letter to Elbridge Gerry of 11 Sept. (above) and its enclosures.
6. See Lovell to JA, 13 June, note 8 (above).
7. The remainder of this sentence is not in the Letterbook. Since Rush in his reply (12 Oct., below) refers to a pamphlet that he was to present to La Luzerne, and JA calls it a letter, it may have been JA's Thoughts on Government, which Rush, writing as “Ludlow,” had made use of in an essay in the Pennsylvania Journal, 28 May 1777, to attack his own state's new unicameral constitution (see vol. 4:69).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0109

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-19

To the Board of Treasury

[salute] Gentlemen

By the last Post, I had the Honour of a Letter, from your secretary, inclosing, by your order Copy of the Resolutions of Congress of the Sixth of August relative to the Allowance to the late Commissioners, and their Accounts, together with the Resolution of your Honourable Board of the 26 of August, requesting me to inclose my Accounts and Vouchers to the Board of Treasury, that they may take order thereon.1
I have the Honour to transmit, by my worthy Friend, Mr. Lowell,2 my Accounts in the first Place, the Account of Monies drawn for by Dr. Franklin and me jointly, and the Expenditure of them. These Monies from the Time of my Arrival at Passy the 9 of April 1778, to the End of August following, were received by Mr. Franklin, and the Account kept by him of the Expenditure. The Account marked A, is a Copy of the Account he gave me,3 but he never shewed me, any of the { 155 } Vouchers, and I never compared them, So that Mr. Franklin, <is> I suppose holds himself4 accountable for them.
From the first of October, untill the new Commission arrived, the Account was kept by me. At the End of each Month, I carried My Account and Vouchers in to Dr. Franklin. We looked them over together and signed the Account, except the last, when Dr. Franklin being so ill of the Gout and I being engaged in settling my Affairs in order to come away, it was omitted. However I transmit the Vouchers, for all the Time that the Account was kept by me, but I have one Request to make, with respect to these but more especially with respect to my private Vouchers, which is that when the Honourable Board have made the Use of them they intend they would deliver them to Mr. Gerry to be returned to me, being necessary for the security of my Reputation as well as against new Demands of Payment. The Account thus kept by me, and signed monthly by my Colleague and myself, is marked B.5 The large Articles of Family Expences and Postage of Letters, are here inserted only in the large. Dr. Franklin has the original Books of Account of all these Particulars, with other Receipts in them.
The Accounts marked C,6 is my private Account of Monies received by me Singly, and includes, what Money I received of the Navy Board at Boston, before my Departure, what I received of the Continental Agents, at Bourdeaux, Nantes, L'orient &c. what I received of Mr. Franklin, out of the Monies drawn for jointly and what I received of Mr. Grand the Banker, either with my own Hand or by draughts upon him, the Amount of all which, exclusive of a Draught for Mr. Deanes Furniture is[]7 Livres.
The Account, marked D, is a particular Account of all my Expences, the Amount of which is[]8
This includes, the Expenc of all my Journeys, from Bourdeaux to Paris, from Paris to Nantes from Nantes to Brest, from Brest Back again to Nantes, the Expences of Cloathing, for my self and servants, and in general all my particular Expences of every kind. During the Time that the joint Account was kept by Mr. Franklin, the Honourable Board will see that Mr. Franklin paid all those Articles, out of joint stock which I was paying for out of my particular. The Effect to the public is the Same, but it was necessary to make the Observation in order to explain the Articles.
The Honourable Board will also see, in this Account of mine, several Articles for Books. I found myself in France, ill versed in the Language, the Literature, the Science, the Laws, Customs and Manners of that Country, and had the Mortification to find my Colleagues, very { 156 } little better informed than myself, vain as this may seem.9 I found also that Dr. Franklin, Mr. Deane and Mr. Lee, had expended considerable sums for Books, and this appeared to me, one of the most necessary, and Usefull Ways in which Money had ever been Spent in that Country. I therefore did not hesitate to expend the <small> sums, mentioned in this Account in this Way, in the Purchase of such a Collection of Books, as were calculated to qualify me for Conversation and for Business, especially the science of Negotiation. Accordingly the Books are a Collection, of Books concerning the french Language and Criticism, concerning french History, Laws, Customs and Manners, but àbove all a large Collection of Books on the public Right of Europe, and the Letters and Memoirs of those Ambassadors and public Ministers who had acquired the fairest Fame and done the greatest services to their Countries in this Way.10
The Honourable Board will judge whether this is a “reasonable Expence” and whether it ought, or ought not to be deducted from the Allowance. I shall <not be dissatisfied if it is.> submit to their Judgment with entire Satisfaction.11
All the Articles in, both Accounts, which were for my Son, will no doubt be deducted from the Allowance. Yet I ought to observe, that Mr. Izard and Mr. William Lee, have supported their <whole large> Families, Dr. Franklin has two Grandsons and Mr. A. Lee a Nephew. Mr. Deane two Brothers, and afterwards a son, all that I desire is that I may, be treated like the others.12
I departed from my own House the 13 of February 1778, and happily arrived at it again the 2d of August 1779. How far the Hon. Board will judge the Resolution of Congress, allowing 3 Months after the Recall, applicable to me, I dont know. Indeed whether I am recalled to this Moment, I dont know. All I desire is, a reasonable Compensation for the Time I was actually in the service, and this was in fact from the day that I received my Commission, which was in Decr. 1777, for from that Day I was obliged to avoid all engagements in private Business, and to devote my self to the Preparation for my Voyage as much as at any Time after.13
I shall send by this Opportunity all the Vouchers I have. When I was making Journeys from Place to Place, it was impossible for me, to take Receipts of Postilions, Tavernkeepers, and twenty other sorts of People for small sums, but I presume, no Man will say his Expences have been or could be less than mine.14 The United states have no House Rent, or Hire of Chariots, or Horses or Horsemen, or servants, or furniture of Houses to pay for me. None of these Things except the { 157 } | view servant who went with me, were ever added to the public Expences on my Account. There are two or three small sums in the Account paid to Mr. Austin, for services while he acted as my Secretary, perhaps six Weeks, which is all the Expence, the public bore for secretaries to me. I dont mention this as a Virtue or Merit, for I am convinced it was an Error, and I would never advise any other Gentleman to follow my Example in these particulars.
I was obliged to be at some Expence for Bedding, on Board the Sensible in my Passage home, as the Board will see.
I submit the whole to the Consideration of the Board, only requesting that I may be informed, what Articles are allowed in the settlement of my Account, under the Head of reasonable Expences and what are not.

[salute] I have the Honour to be, with great Respect to the honourable Board, their most obedient & most humble servant

LbC (Adams Papers). Enclosuers not found.
1. For this letter, dated 2 Sept. (Adams Papers), see JA to Elbridge Gerry, 20 Sept., and note 1 (below).
2. See JA to John Lowell, 21 Sept. (below).
3. See Household Accounts, 9 April–24 Aug. 1778 (vol. 6:16–20).
4. The previous four words are interlined.
5. See Household Accounts, 1 Oct. 1778–23 Feb. 1779 (above).
6. See the listing of personal expenditures in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:325–344. See also the editorial comment on these expenses in Adams Family Correspondence, 3:221–222.
7. Left blank in the Letterbook. Adding the figures given in the Diary, and excluding the 4,294 livres for Deane's furniture, the total is 28,357 livres, virtually that given by JA (28,355. 3. 3) in the account following this letter (see note 8).
8. Left blank in the Letterbook. Although the accounts that JA submitted, which were marked A-D, have not been found, Account D is probably that following this letter, which gives the total of expenses as 13,855.16. o livres.
9. The last five words of the sentence are interlined.
10. The phrases “acquired the fairest Fame and” and “to their Countries” are interlined.
11. The committee that reported on JA's accounts recommended allowing his expenditures for books (JCC, 15:1383).
12. The committee on JA's accounts held that neither congressional authorization nor custom justified reimbursement for money spent on a son's education (same).
13. JA figured the total as twenty months' service, from early Dec. 1777 to early Aug. 1779; see the “Account of John Adams” immediately following this letter.
14. The rest of the paragraph was written after the closing, its place in the text indicated with a mark.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0110

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-19

Account of John Adams with the United States

The United states of America to John Adams Cr  
By the Total of Monies received1   28,355:   3:   3  
{ 158 } | view
The United states of America to John Adams Dr  
To the Total of my Expences   13,855:   16:   0  
To twenty Month's allowance at the Rate of 11,428 Livres per Annum2   19,046:   0:   0  
  32901:   16:   0  
  28355:   03:   3  
  Ballance   4546:   12:   9  
To Expences at Boston, upon the public Business and Postage of Letters, in my public Capacity since my Return   48      
  Ballance due to me.   4594:   12:   9  
Errors excepted
[signed] John Adams
Upon the Revision of my Accounts I find that of Monies received, somewhat larger than I had imagined and that of Expences, a good deal less. By attempting to keep a <particular> minute Account, I must have forgotten and omitted many Articles, to my own Disadvantage, but this is the fault of no one, but myself, and the loss must be mine.
If the Honourable Board do not approve of this state, they will make what alterations they judge right. It is very probable there may be Errors in Casting and otherwise. The Business of keeping Accounts is a very dull Occupation to me, and that of transcribing them and casting anew, Still more so. I confess I have not Patience for it. The Board will correct it as they think just. If they Adjudge me in Debt the Ballance shall be paid to their order on demand.
[signed] John Adams
MS in JA's hand (Adams Papers); docketed: “Accounts”; with the following summary beside the docketing:
Total of Monies received   28,355:   3:   3  
Total of Expences   13,855:   16:   0  
  14,699:   7:   3  
For Twenty Months service at 11,428 Liv. per Month   19,046:   0:   0  
  4346:   12   9  
There are two errors in this summary. First, the correct difference between money received and the total paid is 14,499. 7. 3, which would leave the proper balance owing to JA (before postage expense) of 4,546.12. 9 (which JA gives correctly in the full account on the inside page; see text above). Second, the salary figure allotted was per year, not per month. Filmed under Aug. 1779 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 350), this is presum• { 159 } ably a copy of Account D, enclosed with JA to the Board of Treasury, 19 Sept. (above).
1. This figure agrees with the total of the amounts recorded in JA's Diary as received, less an amount of 4,294 livres for Deane's furniture. See JA to the Board of Treasury, 19 Sept., note 7 (above).
2. For the derivation of this figure, see JA to Elbridge Gerry, 20 Sept., note 1 (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0111

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1779-09-20

To Elbridge Gerry

[salute] My dear sir

I have transmitted my Account to the Board of Treasury, according to their Directions together with my Vouchers, and have desired that these last may be delivered to you after the Board should have done with them. I must beg the favour of you to receive them and transmit them to me by a safe Hand.
I see that Congress have allowed to their Commissioners, one half of what they voted in the Beginning of Things to give the secretary to the Commission, not half, I suppose of what I could very honourably have earned at Home in my Profession—not half to be sure of what, some Gentlemen of the Bar, have actually earned since my departure. As Congress have been so moderate in the Salary, I presume they dont intend to be stingy in the Article of Expences.1
If I had known before I left France, of even this Allowance, I could have made a very honourable as well as handsome Advantage of it: but nothing being settled I did not dare to run the Risque, as I knew not what Temper or Principles prevailed.
I have received, a sum in the whole, over and above my Expences, part of it is gone to Jersey and Guernsy2 and part is by me in Cash and part is foolishly spent in a manner I am ashamed to tell.3 It was necessary to take some Cash with me, in order to bear my Expences in Case of Captivity or in Case of landing at Philadelphia, Virginia or South Carolina as might have been my fortune.4 If I could have brought it hence in Goods, it would have been happy for my family, but this I could not do because I must come home in a French Frigate, which was so incumbered with Passengers and their Baggage that I had not the Confidence to add to the Cargo more than was indispensible. In short I have been very, genteely <duped> bubbled, as every other modest and virtuous Man is like to be.
What is the Reason that you and I cannot Speculate in Change Ally, that We cannot trumpet our own Praises, that We cannot avail ourselves of our public Characters to get private Credit in Trade, and make Fame and Fortune like other Men? I begin to believe that We { 160 } had better leave it to those who can.5 This is the Way to get Popularity and Power. This is the Way I find to obtain the Confidence of the People. This is the only Way in which they will suffer any Man to do them good.
You said something to me in one of your Letters which I did not understand. That you had not approved of the Policy of some and therefore did not expect their Confidence. I dont know whose Confidence is meant here.6 It will be a long Time before you will loose mine, I believe. You must depart from those fair, honourable, virtuous, benevolent and publik Spirited Principles, or you must loose that Sagacity and Judgment, which I ever found in you, before my Confidence in you will be lost or diminished. What your Conduct has been in Congress since I parted from you, I know not, but some of your Votes that I have seen were more consistent with Truth, Justice and sound Policy, than others that I see in the same Page. Pray let me know a little of these Things, and believe me, with unabated Affection your Frid.
1. On 6 Aug. the congress had resolved “that an allowance of 11,428 livres tournois per annum, be made to the several commissioners of the United States in Europe for their services, besides their reasonable expenses respectively” (JCC, 14:928). JA received this resolution and another by the Treasury Board of 26 Aug., ordering that it be sent to him, as enclosures in a letter of 2 Sept. from Robert Troup, secretary of the Board of Treasury, which also asked him to submit his accounts (Adams Papers). It was from the resolution of 6 Aug. that JA derived the figure given for his annual salary in his accounts printed under the date of [ca. 19 Sept.] (above). JA's complaint concerned the apparent incongruity between the congress' action in 1779 and that taken in 1776. When the Commissioners were first appointed the congress did not set a precise salary, but rather, in a resolution on 28 Sept. 1776 that was postponed and may not have been acted on later, declared “that the Commissioners should live in such stile and manner at the court of France, as they may find suitable and necessary to support the dignity of their public character” and “that besides the actual expences of the commissioners, a handsome allowance be made to each of them as compensation for their time, trouble, risque and service.” At the same time a salary of £1,000 per year was proposed for the Commissioners' secretary (JCC, 5:833–834). These resolves, even if not formally adopted, were considered while JA was at the congress, and he presumably would have assumed that the salary allowed the Commissioners would be higher than that of their secretary. However, £1,000 was equal to approximately 24,000 livres, a far cry from the 11,428 livres allowed in 1779, thus explaining JA's anger at the miserliness of the congress.
2. JA may be referring to money he furnished to Americans imprisoned on these islands who escaped or were exchanged, but he may also be speaking of goods sent by him to America that were captured by the islands' notorious privateers. See, for instance, his letters to AA of 26 July 1778, and note 2, and 6 Nov. 1778, in Adams Family Correspondence, 3:66–67, 114–116.
3. The clause beginning with “and part is foolishly spent” is interlined.
4. “My fortune” is interlined as a replacement for “the case,” perhaps because JA had already used “case” twice in the sentence.
{ 161 }
5. The remainder of this paragraph is squeezed in, in smaller writing, before the next paragraph.
6. JA refers to Gerry's letter of 24 Aug. (above). Gerry did not specifically resolve JA's uncertainty in his reply of 12 Oct., but felt he had generally enlightened JA in his long letter of 29 Sept. (both below).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0112

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: McKean, Thomas
Date: 1779-09-20

To Thomas McKean

[salute] My dear sir

It is a long Time, Since I had the Pleasure to see you, but my Esteem is not at all diminished. None of Us have any Thing to boast of in these Times, in Respect to the Happiness of Life. You have been in disagreable Scaenes no doubt—mine have been much worse than I expected.
I never heard of any Jealousy, Envy or Malevolence, among our Commissioners, at Paris, untill my Arrival at Bourdeaux. Judge of my surprise, Grief and Mortification, then, when I heard at Bourdeaux, and found on my Arrival at Paris, the Heat and Fury to which it had arisen. Both Sides most earnestly besieged me, in order to get me to join their Party, but I Saw the only Part a Man who had either Conscience or Honour could take, in my Situation, was to join neither. Accordingly I invariably and firmly refused to have any Thing to do with their Disputes, before my Arrival, or after it, any farther than they might, unavoidably be intermixed, with the public Questions, in which my Office obliged me to give an Opinion, and then to give it impartially for the public Good. I accordingly lived, not only in Peace but in Friendship to all Appearance, with both Sides. If there was any Animosity, in either against me, personally, it was very artfully concealed from me, and certainly never had any just Cause.1 Since my Arrival here, I am informed that I have been honoured with a little of the Ill humour of both sides, and I beg your Assistance in Congress, that I may be informed of the Particulars as I have requested.2
Congress have done the only Thing that could dissolve the Charm that is left one alone. An opposition in Parliament, in an Assembly, in a senate, in Congress is highly usefull and necessary to ballance Individuals, Bodies, and Interests one against another, to bring the Truth to Light and Justice to prevail. But an opposition in a foreign Embassy in the Circumstances of this Country and of Europe, is Ruin. There can be no secrecy, no Confidence, where such an opposition takes Place, much less where there now are Such infernal Quarrells, as were between my Colleagues. It would be better to employ a single Man of sense, even although he should be as selfish and interested as is possible consistent with Fealty to his Country, than three virtuous Men of { 162 } greater Abilities, any two of whom should be at open Variance with each other. It would be better to employ a single Stockjobber, or Monopolizer. It <would be> is better still no doubt to employ one Man of Virtue and Ability.
I presume Congress intend to appoint a secretary to the Commission, and Consuls for the Management of Commercial and maritime matters. It is highly necessary. Franklin is a Wit and a <droll> Humourist, I know. He may be a Philosopher, for what I know, but he is not a sufficient Statesman, he knows too little of American Affairs or the Politicks of Europe, and takes too little Pains to inform himself of Either. He is too old, too infirm3 too indolent and dissipated, to be sufficient for the Discharge of all the important Duties of Ambassador, Secretary, Admiral, Commercial Agent, Board of War, Board of Treasury, Commissary of Prisoners, &c. &c. &c. as he is at present in that Department, besides an immense Correspondence, and Acquaintance, each of which would be enough for the whole Time of the most active Man in the Vigour of Youth.
Yet such is his Name on both Sides the Water, that it is best, perhaps that he should be left there. But a secretary and Consuls should be appointed to do the Business, or it will not be done, or if done it will not be done by him, but by busy People who insinuate themselves into his Confidence without either such Heads or Hearts as Congress should trust.
I took my Pen, chiefly to pay my Respects to you, but it ran insensibly into Politicks, in which the public is so much Interested, that I will neither blot, nor alter.4

[salute] I am, with great Esteem and Respect sir, your most obedient servant

[signed] John Adams
RC (PHi: McKean Papers); docketed: “Lre.—Honble. John Adams. Braintree. Septr. 20th. 1779. No. 19.” LbC (Adams Papers). Illegible canceled words have been supplied from the Letterbook.
1. In the Letterbook, the preceding seven words are interlined. Earlier in the sentence JA also interlined “personally” and substituted the word “artfully” for “hypocritically.” Compare JA's account here of the conflict between the Commissioners with that in his letter to James Lovell of 10 Sept. (above).
2. See JA's letters of 10 Sept. to Elbridge Gerry, the president of the congress, and James Lovell (above).
3. The word “infirm” is taken from the Letterbook, for it is illegible in the recipient's copy, where it is interlined. This whole passage on Franklin's inability to fulfill all his functions was labored over in the Letterbook, as is evident from interlining, the addition of a sentence written in the margin, and clauses of another written out of order. In one sentence the original phrasing is even harsher on Franklin: “He knows <very> too little of American Affairs, <and less> of the Politics of Europe and takes <very> too little Pains to inform himself of either.”
4. In place of this paragraph, the Let• { 163 } terbook has “I write plainly, but confidentially. I write to you, because I believe you have not been heated with any of the personal Disputes between or Concerning the Commissioners.”

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0113

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Holker, John
Date: 1779-09-21

To John Holker

[salute] Sir

A Day or two before my Embarkation at L'orient, Mr. Chaumont came to me and told me that he had shipped a Quantity of Tea, for Boston, and that he wished to lay out, the Proceeds of it, in Land, desired Permission to consign it to me and that I would, purchase Land for him with the Money.
I told him that I was not a Merchant, and should not be likely to sell his Tea to Advantage, but that As I had an extensive Acquaintance in the Massachusetts, I might possibly be of service to him in a Purchase of Land, and that I would readily do him any service, in that Way, in my Power. In Consequence of this Conversation he sent me, forth-with, an open Letter to you, desiring you to sell the Tea, and let me have the Money to buy him the Land. The enclosed is a Copy of this Letter.1
I have waited long in hopes of the Betsys Arrival, but there is now no Room to doubt that she is taken or lost.2
I shall preserve the original Letter, for the sake of clearing up, Mr. Chaumonts Character, because there are Insinuations in these Parts, that Mr. Chaumont is suspected to have written a Letter to you, an Extract of which was laid before Congress, purporting that I had not suceeded in France, very well.3 How far I have suceeded, I can appeal to your Sovereign, and his Ministers, and as long as I keep this Letter, to Mr. Chaumont himself, who I think, from this Letter and several others that I have in my Possession must be innocent of that Extract. You will oblige me exceedingly, by informing me, who the Writer was.4 At the very time, when I was employed in France, in giving Extracts to your Father of my Letters, in which your Character was mentioned with Honour, and upon all Occasions in Conversation, endeavouring to support your Interest, You, it seems, was engaged in furnishing Extracts against me. Both of Us might be very honestly employed, but which of Us was the most generously employed and the most politically for the Union and Interest of the Allies, must be judged of, by our sovereigns, unless I have other Reparation for what I deem an Injury. I have the Honour to be, with great Respect, sir your most obedient humble servant
[signed] John Adams
{ 164 }
LbC (Adams Papers); directed to: “M. Holker, Agent <General de la Marine> of the Marine of France, et Consul at Philadelphia.” A signed copy of this letter (Charles Hamilton, sale No. 33, 1969) reportedly bears a notation by JA: “My letter to Mr. Holker, not sent.” This letter's query about a letter from Chaumont commenting on JA's success as a Commissioner is probably enough to explain why it was not sent, but the reason for its absence from the Adams Papers is unknown.
1. See Chaumont to JA, 13 June, and note 1 (above).
2. See JA to Chaumont, 5 Oct. (below).
3. See JA to James Lovell, 10 Sept., note 1 (above).
4. From this point up to the closing sentence, the text was written at the bottom of the letter, its place in the main body indicated with a mark.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0114

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1779-09-21

To James Lovell

[salute] My dear Sir

In one of your late Letters, you hope that a Treaty with Spain, will Soon be made.1 I wish I knew your Intelligence, which is undoubtedly better than mine: I have suspected, for I can call it no more than suspicion, that Spain intended to wait untill the Negotiation for Peace.
In another you Say, you should be easier in your Mind, if I were in Europe, when you consider what Negotiations are likely to take Place.2 I wish you had told me, what you mean. Have you any Prospect of Negotiation with England? I am told you have been making a Plan of a Treaty of Peace.3 Is it finished? Can you communicate it to me? Have France and Spain put you upon determining the Terms on which you will make Peace, at this early Hour, and are you to be bound by these Terms three Years hence, or even next Year. Should you be obliged to spend additional Millions, to devote more thousands of lives, to expose more Towns to the Flames, are you after this to make Peace on the same Terms you would now, even although you should gain Advantages decisive in the mean Time?
Let me beg of you to send me, all the Journals as they come out. I have a great Curiosity to know what Compliments you have paid or will pay to the late Minister.4 No doubt Pains will be taken to get Compliments, Thanks, Certificates of even Impartiality or even an Address for what I know, for there is no bounds to some Peoples Modesty. Cant you certify Holkers Impartiality, too?
Pray inform me, from whom is Holkers Commission? Is it from G[érard]? I have ever understood he had none from the King. Pray from whom is Valenais Commission?5
You hope A. Lee will soon make a Treaty with Spain. Whether he does or not, if he continues in Commission to that Court, pray order { 165 } him to Spain, positively. He will do no good, at Paris believe me. I respect his past services, I know his Attachment to America, and I believe his Integrity. But I know his Prejudices, and his Passions, <his selfish>. His Countenance is disgusting, his Air, is not pleasing, his Manners are not engaging, his Temper is harsh sour and fierie, and his Judgment of Men and Things is often wrong. Virtue itself is said to be not always amiable.
Isard, is still worse—do you know an Ambassador, we once sent into Canada who negotiated every thing into total Confusion.6 Such another is this.
I believe such a Group of Characters as Lees,7 Isard and Deane, never were before selected out for Ambassadors. I declare if it was a new Thing, I never could in Conscience give my Vote for either. Three more imprudent Men I dont know. I dread the Consequence of Lee's going to Spain. He will be watched. He will be provoked, and he cannot govern himself. Yet the most perfect Reserve, the most perfect Prudence, will be necessary in that Nation, and the most profound Admiration of that Court. If there is not more Dissonance, from that Quarter I shall be happily disappointed.
I am determined not to conceal from you, any of my Apprehensions, lest more Disgrace should come upon Us, in Consequence of my silence. I have been silent perhaps too long already.
1. Lovell to JA, 24 Aug. (above).
2. Lovell to JA, 20 Aug. (above).
3. As early as 17 June the congress formally appointed a committee to prepare a commission for “the minister who may be appointed to negotiate a peace,” and on 14 Aug. the instructions for the peace commissioner, to whose duties had been added the negotiation of an Anglo-American commercial treaty, were adopted, thus ending the debate over peace ultimata that had begun in February (JCC, 14:744, 956–966; see also Lovell to JA, 13 June, note 2, above).
4. JA may have originally intended to end his letter with this sentence, because two lines below, in the left margin, appears “<Mr. Lovell>.” The following sentence is written neatly around this deletion.
Gerard's farewell speech to the full congress was given on 17 Sept., a response being returned by the president (JCC, 15:1065, 1072–1074). They were as complimentary as JA had imagined they would be.
5. For earlier questions about Holker's status, see the Committee for Foreign Affairs to the Commissioners, 21 June 1778 (vol. 6:227–228), and the Commissioners' reply of 17 Sept. 1778 (above). Holker's commission of 15 July 1778 to be consul for Pennsylvania as well as Joseph de Valnais' of 21 Jan. 1779 to be consul at Boston were signed by Gérard (PCC, No. 128, f. 7; No. 167, f. 367).
6. Probably Samuel Chase, who accompanied Franklin, Charles Carroll, and Father John Carroll to Canada in April 1776. JA had been a good friend of Chase until Chase, in July-Aug. 1776, made the mistake of blaming New England troops for the failure in Canada (vol. 4:26–29, 450, 451).
7. JA added an “s” to Lee to include William Lee.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0115

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lowell, John
Date: 1779-09-21

To John Lowell

[salute] My dear sir

I am uncertain whether you said you should sett off for Philadelphia on Wednesday or Thursday, which obliges me to send an Express to Town to day as I fear you may be gone before I can get into Town tomorrow.
The two Packetts in brown Paper contain all My Accounts and Vouchers, which I am ordered to transmit to the <Navy> Treasury Board, and I dare not trust them by an Hand less friendly and carefull than yours. I am sorry to give you the Trouble of such large Packetts, but it will be doing me an essential service, if you will be so good as to take them. I wish you a pleasant Journey. My most affectionate Respects, to all enquiring Friends at Philadelphia. I am, your Fried & sert
[signed] John Adams
RC (DLC: photostat of recipient's copy); docketed: “Mr. J Adams Septr. 79.”

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0116

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-21

From James Lovell

[salute] My dear Sir

By a Letter from one of the most lovely of Women in your Quarter of the Continent, I find you are engaged about a governmental Constitution for Massachusetts Bay.1 And by another Letter from a Friend of a different Sex I find that, after a free and full Discussion of Principles you have determined to constitute a free Republick.2 From the unanimous Result of your past Deliberations I am led to hope that the Report of the Committee of 313 will happily meet with an unanimous Acceptation.
I take you now out to the Practice of the Humility which you profess in one of your Letters written in France.4 I want you to read think and judge in Support, if you can honestly, of that very Congress which has been so “——what shall I call it? in regard to you.”5 I think the Remarks or Observations in the last Pages of the Pamphlet, now sent for the Exercise of your Genius and Humility, are very good.6 Brother Dana has now and then appeared to me to dissent from my Ideas of the necessary Powers to be with the Arbiter of Peace and War in Admiralty Concerns. You will oblige me by conversing with him after you have read what I now send.
I can not repeat to you what I have scrawled to S A respecting the State of the Business which concerns the Honor of A Lee for whom you performed a capital Act of Justice on the 11th. of February.7 I { 167 } have taken up my Pen at a Table, while Congress in Committee of the whole is inventing Ways to get money, after having resolved to stop the Press.
The Tragedy will soon be over if the States will not instantly supply us with Monies for greater Expences than ever were before known for supporting an Army.
Having been very ill I find myself hurt by the Addition of private friendly Correspondence to what lays upon me alone of a public Kind just at this Moment of the sailing of Mr. Gerard.8 By Moment I mean no more or less than 24 uncertain hours. He may go this Afternoon or not till Tomorrow. Don't you inform the Enemy. It is a Secret that has only been known to every body in this City 8 or 9 Days.

[salute] Your most affectionate humb Servt

[signed] J L
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Lovell 21. Sept. 1779.”
1. No recent letter from AA to Lovell has been found. Her last known letter to him was that of 28 July (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:214–215).
2. On 3 Sept. the convention unanimously resolved “That the Government, to be framed by this Convention, shall be a free Republic” (Journal of the Convention, p. 24). Lovell's correspondent remains unidentified.
3. Also on 3 Sept., the convention turned the drafting task over to a committee comprised of 26 delegates chosen by all the counties with representatives present; 4 delegates were elected at large. Although the convention intended a committee of 31, no one was available to represent Dukes and Nantucket counties taken together as one (Journal of the Convention, p. 26–30).
4. The letter to which Lovell refers cannot be identified with any certainty.
5. An index hand in the margin calls attention to a note at the bottom of the page: “For Explanation of the Blank consult my lovely Correspondent Portia.” No letter by either Lovell or AA has been found, however, in which such a quotation appears.
6. The pamphlet has not been identified.
7. That is, JA's letter to Vergennes of that date, a copy of which, along with others, he had sent to Lovell (JA to Lovell, 13 Aug., above).
8. Gérard did not sail for another month, and then it was on the frigate Confederacy in company with John Jay (Morris, Peacemakers, p. 1).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0117

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Chase, Samuel
Date: 1779-09-23

To Samuel Chase

[salute] Dear Sir

I had yesterday the Pleasure of your kind Letter of the 2d1 of this Month. I should not have sat down in so much Haste as I am in at present, even to acknowledge the Receipt of it, if it was not for the Extraordinary Intelligence it contains, of some Merchandizes shipped to me from Amsterdam, in the sloop Porpus. There must be some Mistake in this, as I knew nothing of it. I never heard nor dreamed of a sloop Porpus, nor of any Goods of any Kind shipped or to be shipped to me from Amsterdam. If there is not Some other Person of the same { 168 } Name, for whom they were intended, Somebody must have made Use of mine by Mistake or by Malice.
I thank, you, sir, for your friendly Advice. I have had and Still have an Opinion of my own, but I have been joined to no Faction, nor attached to any Party, farther than that Party was supported by Justice and by Truth, which are the only foundations, according to my Creed of sound Policy. I am, sir, with much Respect & Esteem, sir your most obedient servant
Dft (Adams Papers). The draft is on the blank fourth page of Chase's letter to JA of 3 Sept. (above).
1. Chase's letter is clearly dated the 3d.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0118

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Jay, John
Date: 1779-09-23

To the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

I had Yesterday the Honour of your Letter of the Seventh of this Month. I thank you, sir, for your obliging Congratulations on my Return to my Family and Country.
The Reason why my Letters of the 27th of February and the 1st of March arrived so late, was, that they were delivered at the Time of their Date to Gentlemen, then bound to the seaport who expected to sail directly for America but were disappointed of Passages untill the Vessells Sailed under the Convoy of the Sensible. I have not my Letter Book here, but I dont remember that they contained any Thing of much Consequence, so that I suppose the Inconvenience of their late Arrival, was not much.
You will be pleased to make my most respectfull Compliments to the Members of Congress, and believe me to be with great Respect and Esteem, sir your most obedient humble servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 93); docketed: “Letter from J. Adams Sept 23. 1779 Read Octr. 4.”

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0119

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-24

From Arthur Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

I cannot omit this opportunity of congratulating you, on your being again in the bosom of those you love; after delays so many and so mortifying. I have signifyd my hope to our firm friend,1 that you will be immediately sent to Congress as a Member, where I hope you and M. de la Luzerne will be able to put a stop to those unworthy proceedings, { 169 } by which little and malignant Spirits joind with the bad ambition of some, and the hearted enmity to our cause in others, are endeavoring to found their own fortunes on the disgrace and ruin of the public.
It is whispered to me here, that D'Estaing's destination, after beating Byron, was to You;2 and that N. York must be taken by this time. God send it may be so, for with that all their other holds must fall, and peace be restord to our harrassd Country. All the fleets are in their Harbours, to avoid the storms of the Aequinox. Next month they will be out again, that of Spain and France 65 in number, that of England 45. The invasion is still talkt of, for next month. The Alliance after losing three months, is at length in the irish channel, on a cruise with Jones. We have not yet heard of their doing any thing. I wrote in the most pressing terms to Dr. Franklin, the 1st. of May, to let her convoy the american Ships, then at Brest, and especially the Supplies for the public and for Virginia. The answer was; She is not mannd.3 Mr. Izard and I, have since endeavord in vain to have her and Jones's squadron sent to the assistance of Carolina,4 and then to sweep our Coast of the enemy's Cruisers. The answer was, Jones's squadron belongs to others, and is not under my direction; I have only lent them the Alliance.
The Council at Passy, is composd of the same honorable Members as when you left it; with the re-inforcement of Saml. Wharton, Saml. Petrie, and the Alexanders, by a marriage concluded between one of the Daughters and Jonathan Williams. This august and natural family compact, with those respectable Allies, will I hope promote the public as well as private Interests.5 One advantage is pretty sure—Pultney and Johnstone will be silencd about the approbation given before Alexander to the terms of the british Commissioners.
Mr. Izard and my Brother are deliberating on their return, in which they find great difficulties.
May I ask to be presented to Mrs. Adams, and some other female Patriots of your acquaintance; in whose Society, I have no doubt you feel more than a compensation for all your sufferings. My young friend, I hope, will not forget that I have an affection for him, and high expectations from his genius and application.

[salute] Farewell

[signed] A.L.
RC (Adams Papers). Tripl, signed by Lee, but not in his hand (Adams Papers).
1. Samuel Adams. See Lee's letterbook copy of his letter to Adams of 19 Sept. in PCC, No. 102, III, f. 91–94.
2. The fleets of Byron and Estaing fought in the West Indies in July, and the British suffered heavy damage. Although not technically defeated, the British failed to take Grenada from French control. Estaing, despite his orders to return to Europe, heeded the pleas of { 170 } Americans to come to their aid in the South, where the British had seized Georgia. His siege of Savannah in cooperation with American troops was an expensive and discouraging failure (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 160–161).
3. For Lee's appeals to Franklin, see his letter to JA of 2 June and note 2 (above).
4. The triplicate has “S. Carolina.”
5. To this point the paragraph was quoted virtually verbatim by AA in a letter of 28 Feb. 1780 to Mercy Otis Warren. Lee's letter was not received until February, well after JA had returned to Europe (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:281, 288). Samuel Wharton was a Philadelphia merchant and friend of Franklin; Samuel Petrie was an English lawyer who associated with Franklin (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., index and 4:26, 82). Mariamne Alexander, one of the daughters of William Alexander Jr., married Williams. Her father, of Scottish origin, was well known to Franklin in England prior to the Revolution. In 1776 he took up residence in France, where he became a secret agent for Sir William Pulteney, who earlier had sought to obtain peace through talks with Franklin (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:62, note 6note 1 and references there).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0120

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-27

From James Lovell

Not knowing, my dear Sir, how certain Things now in agitation may this day be terminated here, I chuse to state, at this time, some Proceedings two days old, that I may not be thought to give them a Gloss in the Stile of an After-Prophet turned Historian or Painter.
For a Ground Work I refer you to the Report of the Committee of 13 with its consequent Yeas and Nays, which is certainly now in your Hands in print;1 and also to what you must have some how or other come to the Knowledge of, respecting a long Struggle about Cod and Hadock;2 and further, to your own Reading and Judgment concerning the parliamentary Propriety of appointing a Man to carry into effect by all the Powers of skilful Negociation, a Measure to which he has been opposed Tooth and Nail in the whole preparatory Progress of it.3 Nor can I omit to call to your mind what I already must have written either to you or the lovely Portia,—that the Lentor4of Proceedings here should account for the appearances of Injustice done you by an Assembly, 9/10ths of which profess, and probably have, an Esteem for you.
Two Things are to be transacted with Britain, a Major and consequent Minor,5 as soon as her Madness and Folly begin to subside. But only one Agent is to manage them. The Commissions are drawn and Instructions also. The Blanks are to be filled. Doctr. F—— was nominated, out of order. This led one Man to suggest that he should find himself obliged when such a Nomination should again be attempted, and done in order to follow it with the Nomination of Doctr. L—as a much more suitable Character, which he would endeavor to make plain { 171 } by various Testimonies in his Possession part known and part yet unknown to the Assembly.6 A Question was then moved by a Gentleman in that Company named Mathews and seconded by one named Lovell7 that no Member, while there acting, or for nine Months after, should be elected to a place for which he or another for him received8 &c.—by Yeas and Nays the nine months part was lost and the other part by the previous Question.
J Adams was nominated by Mr. Laurens and J Jay by Mer[iwether] Smith. Adjurned to meet on the next day (Sunday) at 10 oClock, met; baloted; 5 for J A, 4 for J J, 3 could not agree. On a 2d Tryal 6 for J A, 5 for J J; one could not agree. The mover of the motion above not being likely to consent with his Colleague to carry it into effect, The Baloting was postponed.9
It had been frequently pressed on the Members to order some Resolves now on the Table, and but very lately passed (respecting Points on which the Temper of Spain towards us greatly depends) to be forwarded to the Commissioner at that Court, as Answers to the Questions which he hinted to us in 6 days after the Treaties with France, again on the 2d of Apr., again plainly and urgently for our Answer on Augst. 27, again more urgently on Oct. 19, again on Decr. 5th. &c. &c.10 A cut and dried Commission such as must pass hereafter was produced moved for and seconded out of order. A Motion was then made and seconded for chusing a Minister plenipotentiary to do exactly what a Commissioner is now fully authorised to do; as much so, exactly, as were the 3 at the Court of France. The Pretence for this was the accepted 2d. Paragraph of a Report, vid Apr. 15th that Ministers plenipotentiary were only necessary at Versailles and Madrid.11 The Spirit and Intent of which Paragraph lay in the word only and not in a technical use of Ministers as setled by France and us on the Arrival of Mr. Gerard. Some good and not young Men, on this question, saw not the Trap under the Chaff.12 Who could deny that we have assented to additional parade and expence in a Minister above a Commissioner? Who could deny that two Persons would be on pay, for a time, <together> at once, to do the same business? Who could deny that A. Lee's compleat Vindications were on the Table of Congress? This last Matter and all characterising was said to be untimely, as much as in a question about creating a Quarter Master General when we had a Quarter Master; for that A Lee stood as fair for nomination to the new Commission as any Man else, and then we should be allowed full Liberty to speak to Character. A majority can thus kill but it requires seven to make alive. But seven thus killed.13 For, Mr. Laurens tho' he spoke against the Question voted for it, and then nominated A Lee. This last act of { 172 } | view his in such a desperate case does not make up for depriving a much injured man of the advantage of showing that he was artfully knocked down by six upon a presumption that seven could not be found to assist in recovering him from the Violence of the Blow.14 Mr. J Adams was also nominated for Spain by Mr. Paca, Mr. J Jay by Mr. Mercer of Virga. <Mr. [ . . . ]>15
This Accomodation Scheme had been proposed in Whispers early in the Morning, to provide places for the two nominated the day before.16 One to have a Post of the highest honor, and the other to take the Post of a Man murdered on purpose to make Room.
Are not these doings a compleat Appendix to the Report of the Committee of 13 and the proceedings thereon months ago? Look at the Names. ≡ Here I must join in an old Exclamation of F[rancis] L[ightfoot] L[ee] when he had seen a whole day wasted. “What d——d dirty Work is this of Politicks!”
I will now state the votes, Remarking that, being Sunday, Mr. McKean was able to attend; but your sworn Friend the Farmer will alone finish it.17 N Yk. is represented by Mr. Jay and Mr. Lewis, not by one. N Jersey by Mr. Fell and Mr. Houston. Contt. by Mr. Huntingdon or Mr. Root.18
1st. Ballot   2d. Ballot   1st.   2d  
JA   JA   JJ   JJ  
N H   "   N Yk   "  
Mass   "   Maryl.   "  
R Is   "   Virg   "  
Contt.   "   Nth. Car.   "  
Delaw.   "   4   N Jers.  
5   Pens     5  
Vote. For a Minister for Sp——    
Yea   divid   Nay  
   Contt.   R Is   N. H.  
   N Yk   Pens   Mas:  
   N Jersey   2   Del.  
   Maryl     3  
   Nth C      
   Sth C      
{ 173 }
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Lovel 27. Septr. 1779 Ballots for Ministers to Spain and for Peace.”
1. See Lovell to JA, 13 June, note 8; Lovell to JA, 24 Aug.; and JA to Lovell and to Gerry, 10 Sept. (all above).
2. Debates on fishing continued throughout the summer to 14 Aug., when the congress agreed on a statement dealing with the fisheries and placed it not in the instructions for negotiating peace but in those for securing a commercial treaty. Thus disagreement over fishing rights would not delay the signing of a peace treaty. The successful campaign to get JA chosen negotiator for peace and commerce with Britain assured strong advocacy for the fishery interests (JCC, 13:241–242, 14:963–966; and see index to JCC; Stinchcombe, Amer. Rev. and the French Alliance, p. 66–76).
3. Evidently John Jay.
4. Slowness (OED).
5. A treaty of peace and a commercial treaty.
6. The “testimonies” probably included the correspondence between Vergennes and JA defending the character of Arthur Lee, and which Lovell formally presented in the congress on this day, 27 Sept.; see JA to Lovell, 13 Aug., note 1 (above), and Lovell to JA, 28 Sept. (first letter), and note 2 (below). Lovell himself was probably the “one Man” who threatened to nominate Arthur Lee (see Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:446, note 5).
7. John Mathews of S.C. made this motion. The Journal states that Gerry, not Lovell, seconded it (JCC, 15:1105–1106). Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:431–432, note 3, discusses this discrepancy.
8. Lovell is paraphrasing the motion as reported in the Journal. There it continues from this point “any salary, fees, or emolument of any kind” (JCC, 15:1105).
9. That is, Mathews would not support Laurens' nomination of JA. See Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:442.
10. Letters from Arthur Lee repeatedly mentioned what Spain would desire as a price for support and requested the congress' instructions on the matter. The letter in August should have been dated the 31st (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:492, 536, 699, 801, 850). On the debates regarding concessions that America might make to Spain, see Lovell to JA, 14 Sept., note 3 (above).
11. JCC, 13:456.
12. The motion by Meriwether Smith and William Paca to make the American representative to the Spanish court a minister plenipotentiary, thus equaling the status of Franklin at the French court, was a maneuver to oust Arthur Lee, who held the lower rank of commissioner to that country, without actually having to vote for his recall (same, 15:1109). Thus when, on 13 Oct., Lee's letter of 31 May was received, asking that he be recalled, Lovell moved and the congress resolved “that Mr. A. Lee be informed of Mr. Jay's appointment, and that, agreeably to his request, he is at liberty to return to America” (same, 15:1165–1166). When JA was appointed to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain, he too was given the rank of minister plenipotentiary (same, 15:1113).
13. Seven states voted to create a minister plenipotentiary to Spain (same, 15:1109–1110).
14. Presumably Lovell means that Laurens, by voting for the question even though he was a supporter of Lee, made it possible for Lee's opponents to insure his defeat by getting a minister plenipotentiary substituted for a commissioner. If Laurens had voted against the question, South Carolina's vote would have been divided and thus not counted.
15. The deleted name is too heavily struck out to be read. Laurens, a partisan of JA, called Paca's nomination of JA an example of divide and conquer, for Adams' supporters included a number who also supported Lee. The actual vote, however, produced only one vote for Lee and the rest for Jay, with three states not counted because divided (Laurens' “Notes of Proceedings,” Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:437–438).
16. That is, JA and John Jay.
17. John Dickinson, whom JA had made an enemy by calling him a “piddling Genius” (vol. 3:89), would do the voting for Delaware when McKean would be unable to attend the congress the next day. The third Delaware delegate was not in attendance during these votes (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:l–li).
{ 174 } | view
18. That is, Connecticut, unlike New York and New Jersey, permitted its vote to be cast by a single member. See Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:447–448, note 12.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0121

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-28

From James Lovell


[salute] Dear Sir

Yesterday in Whispers the proposal was made to send JA to Spain, the Baloting for that business being first called for. But Conecttt. and Pensylvania discovered a total abhorrence of the Consequences in the second Balot; therefore the Plan was dropped; and the Balots were N Hamp A Lee, R Is. Pensyl Sth. Car. no Vote.
For the 2 other Commissions J A the only Nomination. All the States but one for Doctor. Frankling. If this was not the Pidler it might be the Oddity of Virginia.1   My Colleagues Connectt.   }J Jay  
N. Yk  
N Jersey  
N Car.  
Prior to the Choice for Spain I produced your two first Letters as appertaining to the only one point which had ever appeared incontestible against A L, Je crains Mr. Lee et ses Entours.2 For the Minister disavowing on Feb. 13th. his having adopted Prejudices such as were attempted to be inspired in America; And proving his Disavowal by an Appeal to his Conduct to you “ensemble et séparément” shows either that he meant only avec ses Entours, or that he felt convinced he had been drawn into unjust doubts, and intended to show double Confidence in future.
The whole Members even Jay praise “my Perseverance” but he says “in Friendship to Arthur.” Time will show whether it has not been to prevent Congress from an Act of Injustice, and to maintain the Sacredness of the Approbation or Disapprobation of our united Supremacy; which is what the <Officer> Servant of Republicks should look up to rather than to Salaries and Perquisites, which the Levity of Monarchies makes their Servants catch while they can, without striving to deserve them. I am freed from a Load. For I have long practiced upon David's Rule. Away with Sackloth and Ashes when evitables become inevitable.3 J J desires me to be as true to him “only while he continues { 175 } to do honestly.” That I most assuredly will, and to every Name that the public Choice shall fall on. But I cannot forget the past so far as not to think that, if S Deane is not stone blind he may now see from what Source he got his Fund of Advice towards Measures apparently his own.
Carmichael, Houston and Mr. Jays Brother Livingston are talked of as secretaries to the Embassies.4 Gerry tells me Dana may be induced to go with you.5
And now, my very dear Sir, as to the main Point. America ought not to pardon you if you put its Peace to the Hazard of a second Ballot; As an Individual I swear I never will. And, as to Portia, if I can by my utmost Industry find out that only one Tear or even a Sigh comes from her, I will burn all her past Letters, much as I now regard them; and if I should ever again speak or write to her, she may expect I shall call her Daphne or Cloe or even Lais. I will allow her a little <Sorrow> Regret if she will not let it amount to a Sigh, while she considers with me that you cannot be here to manage the Vermont Cause. You must give all possible Information to Massachusets Government through [an] able Man or Committee before you go from thence or hence.6
I have tired all my Pens yesterday and Today in conversing with those I love southward and eastward.
Heaven protect you
[signed] J L
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Lovell 28 Septr. 1779 Ballots for Ministers for Peace and for Spain.” Some mutilation along the edges.
1. Elbridge Gerry also thought that it was John Dickinson, Delaware's only delegate in attendance on this date, who voted for Franklin, who had not been nominated, making his vote out of order (Gerry to JA, 29 Sept., below; Lovell to JA, 27 Sept., note 17, above). Casting such a vote was also the sort of thing Meriwether Smith of Virginia might have done. Smith was notorious for being odd and was sometimes called Dogberry or the Fiddle (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:260–261, notes 1 and 2).
2. See Lovell to JA, 13 June and note 3 there. JA's “two first letters” that Lovell produced were JA's letter to Vergennes of 11 Feb. and Vergennes' reply of 13 Feb. (both above), copies of which JA had sent to Lovell with his letter of 13 Aug. (above). Both letters defended Lee's character.
3. 2 Samuel 12:15–23.
4. William Carmichael and William C. Houston were members from Maryland and New Jersey, respectively. Henry Brockholst Livingston was Jay's brother-in-law (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:lii, lvi, 444).
5. This paragraph was apparently written after the letter was completed. The first sentence is crowded into the space between the paragraphs preceding and following it, while the second sentence is written in the left margin.
6. The issue of Vermont had been before the congress for some months. JA was something of an expert on the conflicting claims of Massachusetts, New York, and New Hampshire to land west of the Connecticut River (see “Report to the General Court on Massachusetts Boundaries,” [March-May 1774], vol. 2:22–81).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0122

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-28

From James Lovell


Mr. Jay having resigned the Chair on account of other public Engagements, the Honble. Mr. Huntingdon was Elected President of Congress. Tomorrow, will be chosen Secretaries for
France     Spain     and the Negociator  
Peter Scull   {   Mr. Carmichael   {   Jno. Trumbull1  
  by     by     by  
Mr. Atlee   Mr. Hewes   Mr. Laurens  
Col. John Lawrence2     Mr. Searle     Jona. Trumbull3  
  by       by       by  
Mr. Gerry     Mr. Armstrong     Mr. Holton  
        Hble. Francis Dana  
        Mr. Peabody  
By authority from A.L, some time dormant, a Suit will be commenced instantly against D——e for Defamation.4
Your Favor from Passi Novr. 27. 1778 reached me this day, said to be by Capt. Jno. Brown. Your Situation as therein described was more strongly painted in your Letter of the 10th. of this month received also Today. I mean in that part of it which was intended to make me “reconsider my Opinion concerning your Friends and Enemies in Congress.” Shall I do as you wish me according to our Rules and Orders? I consent. We vote to reconsider we make no ammendment but we are not obliged to put a Question again upon the Proposition, it stands in as much force as ever.
But tho I do not go into the Conclusions you supposed I ought to make, I shall pursue what I had undertaken and in part accomplished before the tardy Post came in. You shall know not only that you are to have a Skipper, but a Purser also. The first shall know his ubi and quando the second his quantum and his unde derivetur. A Committee is appointed for the Purpose, Laurens Gerry and somebody else.5
There seems to be an Infinity of Good Humour in Consequence of the late Elections. I suppose if C——l succeeds on <This day> The morrow we shall go on swimming in the smooth Pool of Complacency.
{ 177 }
The Chance is for him against his present single Competition.6 I am not distressed about the Event tho I think I have seen full Proof of an Instance or two of radical Disingenuity in him.
Suffer me now, dear Sir to assume the Freedom of giving you some Advice. Your Honor is among my very interesting Concerns. Having in preremptory Language declared my Opinion of your duty to accept, I will most ingeniously tell you every Objection against it in my Mind, and then advise you how to lessen the force of those objections. You will have decided ultimata and negotiable propositions to carry with you. The whole world knows that the latter are almost totally dependent upon antecedent Secresy. But such has been the Servility of some here that I have little doubt of the Knowledge of our Transactions having been regularly conveyed to our Ally already.7 This is not a fatal Circumstance, As both He and the Mediational Powers must, of Custom and Necessity, be made more or less acquainted with them by you. But there have been at Times such Declarations of the Right of the Delegates of a sovereign independent State to convey to their State matters respecting its Salvation, tho ordered, here, to be on secret Journals that I have little Scruple of the whole of our Proceedings being known to <Virginia New York Sth. Carolina as well as to Drayton Jay and Smith> several States as well as to all their Delegates. In your Answer therefor of Acceptance, I advise you to hint delicately the Disadvantages which you are entitled to apprehend from the Nature of the Constitution of the Supremacy which prepares your Instructions, the Risque you foresee of your own Discretion being inpreached in Consequence of the Want of it in some one or many others, and, at best, of your Abilities as a Negociator being evidenced in fine only by the bare Execution of the strictly defined Parts of the Business proposed to you. You may conclude your Acceptance with saying as many fine Things about your Integrity as the vainest Rascal on Earth coud do, and I promise you, a Syllable of what you utter on that Topic will not be disbelieved by The Delegates In Congress Of The United States Of America.
Should the State of Mass. incline to keep me here, at a most enormous Expence to them, tho to the Starvation of my Family, I will be as true to you as to John Jay. And I assure you I herein make a bigger Promise than your Observations upon the general Run of the Children of Adam will at first lead you to imagine.
I will aim to know possitively the author of the Letter respecting Monsieur l'Ami d'un Fol.8 I will deliver to Dr. Rush and Genl. Roberdeau your Letters to them.
And now, then, (as G Morris elegantly begins his Paragraphs) my { 178 } esteemed Friend, having tried your Eyes almost as much as you do every Body's, I have mended my Pen and enlarged my Alphabetic Conveyancers, for the sole Purpose of advising you to do often the same, especially when writing to public Bodies.9
[signed] J L
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Lovel septr. 27. & 28 Ballots for Secretaries. L'Ami d'un Fol”; and in an unknown hand: “1779.”
1. Probably John Trumbull (b. 1756, soldier, painter, and youngest son of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull of Conn.; he was seeking a congressional appointment about this time (DAB).
2. John Laurens, son of Henry Laurens.
3. Jonathan Trumbull Jr. (b. 1740), soldier and elder son of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull (DAB).
4. Setting this sentence off from the rest of the text are, in the left margin, four short parallel lines above and two short parallel lines below the sentence.
5. Lovell's meaning in this paragraph is unclear and, in view of JA's reply of 17 Oct. (below), it is questionable whether even he understood what Lovell was trying to say. In the order that they appear the Latin words translate as: where, when, how much, and whence derived. Thus one explanation may be that, in responding to JA's letters of 27 Nov. 1778 and 10 Sept. 1779 (both above), Lovell was indicating his intention to insure JA's independence from Benjamin Franklin in regard to both direction and compensation. Lovell's first objective was realized since JA's commissions came directly from the congress and allowed him to act independently. Regarding the second, despite Lovell's efforts noted in his letter of 1 Oct. (below), both JA and John Jay were to receive their funds from Benjamin Franklin upon their arrival in Europe (Lovell to JA, 19 Oct., and note 2, below). The issue of compensation continued to concern JA, as can be seen by his letters to the president of the congress of 17 Feb. and to James Lovell of 29 Feb. 1780 (both below). Further confusing the situation is the fact that no three-man committee with Gerry and Laurens as members was created on 28 Sept., or on any other date in 1779, but see Gerry's letters of 29 Sept. and 12 Oct. (both below).
6. Armstrong withdrew Searle's name, leaving Carmichael unopposed; Dana and John Laurens were also chosen (JCC, 15:1115, 1127–1128).
7. The instructions for the minister plenipotentiary to negotiate peace and a commercial treaty with Great Britain had been adopted by the congress on 14 Aug. (same, 14:956–962). In a dispatch of the same date Gérard sent Vergennes a summary of the instructions (Gérard, Despatches and Instructions, p. 846–850).
8. See JA to Lovell, 10 Sept., note 1 (above). Above and below this paragraph in the left margin are double parallel lines.
9. This paragraph is written in a much clearer and quite different-looking hand from the whole preceding text, in part because of Lovell's new pen point.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0123

Author: Barbé-Marbois, François de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-29

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."

From François Barbé-Marbois

printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:174 (JA's English translation); for the French text, see JA, Works, 7:116–117.
Barbé-Marbois was touched that the American people had chosen a peace negotiator who was unprejudiced and without passion except for the welfare of his country. He hoped that John Adams would again take his son John Quincy Adams to Europe so that the young man could learn to value France and ready himself for future service to his country. He ended by observing that France was perceiving more each day the value of its alliance with America.
printed: (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:174 (JA's English translation); for the French text, see JA, Works, 7:116–117).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0124

Author: Gerry, Elbridge
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-29

From Elbridge Gerry

[salute] My dear Mr. Adams

It is with the greatest pleasure, that I inform You of the late Arrangement of our foreign affairs, in which You are appointed to negotiate the Treaties with G Britain and our Friend Mr. Dana to be your Secretary. Mr. Jay is to negotiate with Spain, Mr. Carmichael to be his Secretary, and Colo. John Laurens, Son of the late president Laurens, to be Secretary to Doctor Franklin.
I shall not be able at this Time to give You a History of the proceedings of Congress, relative to their foreign Affairs; the Embarrassments Difficulties and Delays attending this Business, in Consequence of the Disputes between the late Commissioners, have exceeded every thing of the Kind, which I have before met with: so far have some of their Friends in Congress been influenced by Attachments and prejudice, as to render it impossible to preserve their Friendship and Confidence, and at the same Time to act with becoming Freedom and Independence.
I flatter myself that You will not hesitate a Moment, at accepting the highest office of Honor and Trust, under the united States, when elected thereto by the Voice of eleven States. Indeed it may be called unanimous, as there was only a single Vote for Doctor Franklin, who was not in Nomination, and it was said to have been put in by Delaware, at that Time represented by your old Friend Mr. D[ickinso]n. Great Exertions were made to send You to Spain, and Mr. Jay on the other Embassy, but the Opposition of your Friends produced from the Gentlemen in Favour of Mr. Jay, a proposal of Accomodation, in Consequence whereof he was appointed by eight States. The Appointment of Mr. Dana is in my humble Opinion of the next Importance, and should he accept it, he may1 stand Candidate for the next Vacancy in Europe.
It is almost Time to acknowledge the Receipt of your esteemed Favours of the 27th of Novr. 1778, and of the 10th and 11th Instant. The first is of so early a Date as not to require an Answer; and a prudent Use shall be made of the last. Agreable to your Request in the other, I transmit by the Bearer Mr. []2 the Journals of Congress to the present Time, as far as they are printed, those for 1778 are now in the press. With Respect to the Circumstances of your first Appointment, It was in Consequence of a Nomination which I ventured to make, after having endeavoured to discover your Sentiments on the Subject. I remember You was more reserved than I tho't You ought to have been, and two of your Collegues then in York Town, to whom I proposed { 180 } the Matter, objected to it, as not being agreable to You. When the Nomination was made, if I rightly remember, the one that remained in Congress after You left it,3 expressed his Doubts on the Occasion, but being determined to try the Experiment, I informed the House that I had communicated to You my Design of Nomination, and that, altho You was very silent on the Affair, I was fully persuaded You would not decline the Duty. This fixed the Matter in the Minds of your Friends. Mr. R. Livingston was nominated by New York,4 and by recurring to the printed Journals, You will find the Voters in your Favour distinguished by Dots, Volo. 3d, page 547.5 It is some Time since this Transaction happened, and I may be mistaken in some points, but I further recollect, that in conferring with You, I mentioned my former Intention of nominating You in the Fall of the Year 1776, and that Mr. R H Lee told me, You had informed him, that You would not accept the Appointment if made, which last Circumstance, not being remembered by You, was an additional Argument in my Mind for pushing your Election at York Town.
I conceived myself bound by every principle of Honour, Integrity, and policy, to “vote You clear of Suspicion &c. dishonorable to the States.” When the Question was proposed for inserting your Name in that Resolution, I opposed it as unjust, And the inclosed Copy of the futile Charge against You, and Evidence to support it, will I think warrant my Conduct. If unjust, then surely it was impolitick, as your future Usefulness would have been destroyed for a Time, at least I conceived it so, and was therefore bound in Honor not to sport with your Character. I mean not however to thro' a Reflection on the Conduct of Gentlemen of a different Opinion, they probably6 had a different View of the Subject, and may be highly commendable for a Measure, which it would have been criminal in me to have adopted.7 While I am on this Subject, give me Leave to observe, that your Letter to Congress, desiring a Copy of the Charges against You was yesterday read,8 on which I moved the House to comply with your Request; but It was objected to from several Quarters as an improper Measure, since the House had almost unanimously, by your late Appointment, rejected the Charge, and had in the first Instance cleared You of the Animosities subsisting amongst the other Commissioners. It was also said, that the Admission of Weight in the Charge, was dishonorable to the House, which in that Case would have been in Duty bound to postpone Your Appointment, untill You were acquitted of the Charge. The Objections were agreable to my Mind and I withdrew the Motion, at the same Time informing the House, that I should furnish You with the papers requested.
{ 181 }
Upon the Whole, I am of Opinion, that in the Esteem of Congress, your Character is as high as any Gentleman's in America. That as much is obtained in the Arrangement and Determinations of our foreign Affairs as could be expected. That if Matters had been driven further, We should have been more deeply involved in Animosities and Dissention, and have put a total Stop to our foreign Negotiations. That in Consequence thereof, We must, on the Return of Monsr. Gerard, have sunk in the Esteem of our Ally, of the Court of Spain, and of all Europe. That Doctor Franklin ought to be recalled.9That however some late Measures may not be equal to our Wishes, It becomes our indispensible Duty to support them with Vigour, and to listen no more to Insinuations without Evidence to support them. That an able, upright, firm Friend to America, is greatly injured in Doctor Lee, as well by the Impolicy of some of10 his11 Friends, as by the undeserved Reproach of his Enemies. But that his Usefulness being destroyed, had it been practicable to have continued him in office, he could not have served with Satisfaction to himself, or Advantage to the publick. I have been well informed that Hints have been thrown out here, relative to my Votes for recalling Doctor Lee, which I do not relish: I have however suppressed my Feelings, because it is extremely injurious to the publick Interest, to have their Servants involved in Disputes with each other. I shall return prepared to justify my Conduct in every point, and should any Attempts be made to misrepresent it, I shall be under the Necessity of shewing, that it has been ever directed in Congress by disinterested publick Motives; that it has been always free from Views, of extending my personal Interest or Influence, or of supporting private Attachments; and I think I can answer for the policy of the Measures which I have adopted. Perhaps You may think this deviating from Delicacy, but conscious of the Rectitude of my Intentions, I cannot bear the Breath of Reflection. I voted for the Recall of all the Commissioners included in the Resolution of the 20th of April last,12 as an indispensible Obligation arising from the Resolution itself, and also, as a preliminary Measure for fully enquiring into the Conduct of those Gentlemen, that the Character of each may be fairly known, and represented to the publick. The States divided on Doctor Lee and he was continued in Office, contrary in my Opinion to every principle of Government, where a Majority is to rule. This happened by the Mode in which the Question was put, “shall he be recalled,” instead of “shall he be continued.” In the latter Case a Division would have lost the Question, and he would have been recalled, which the States who were against him being apprized of, conceived the Matter as it stood, both unreasonable and unfair. After Congress had finished their In• { 182 } structions, relative to negotiations, a Question arose, who should execute them? Reference being then made to a Resolution of the 15th of April last, “That Ministers plenipotentiary for these States, are only necessary for the present, at the Courts of Versailes and Madrid,” a Motion was made, “That a Minister plenipotentiary in Leiu of a Commissioner be appointed to negotiate a Treaty of Alliance, and Amity and Commerce, between the united States of America, and his catholic Majesty,” and the Question was carried as follows, six Ayes, one no, and four divided. Massachusetts was amongst the latter, Mr. Holton and myself, aye, Mr. Lovell and Mr. Partridge, no.13 I tho't it necessary to agree to this Imposition, as it was consonant to the Resolution of the 15th of April; as it would give the States a fair Oppertunity of electing their Minister; and thereby of correcting the Error mentioned—as a Decision of the Question in the negative would have postponed a Negotiation with Spain,—and for some14 Reasons before mentioned, and others with which I shall not15 trouble You. To convince You of the Necessity of this last Measure, I need only inform You, that before the Resolution was proposed, Congress endeavoured to appoint a Minister to negotiate the peace, and failed in the Attempt,16 there being six States for Yourself, five for Mr. Jay, and one divided. Those who were for Mr. Jay, then declared, they would never alter their Votes, unless they had a fair Oppertunity of electing a Minister for Spain, and accomodating Matters to the Sense of a Majority of the States, which was prevented by the Failure of a Vote of the States when divided.
One Word with respect to your Instructions, pray give me your Opinion on the Boundaries of Massachusetts Bay,17 and if any thing is amiss, Mr. Samuel Adams, if he thinks it expedient, may inform the State thereof, that they may give Directions for having it rectified in Congress.
Cannot You attend to the Settlement of the Vermont Affair on the first of Feby. next, agreable to certain Resolutions sent to Massachusetts,18 which by her Delegates has claimed a Right to the Jurisdiction of those Lands.
I should not have troubled You with such a Volume of small politics, did I not conceive it impracticable19 to weary the patience of a great politician. My best Respects to Portia, her Irony is by sovereign power turned into Fact.20 I wish that our Friend General Warren may peruse this Letter, and no other person at present, as it may otherwise by the Cause of my commencing Disputes, which I wish to avoid. Brother Dana may correct my Information relative to your first Election. Adeiu my dear Friend with Assurace of Sincerity in your very huml Sert21
[signed] E Gerry
{ 183 }
Is not Caution necessary in sending Letters or papers, which on certain Occasions ought not to be communicated? It sometimes happens that one Friend is nearly sacrificed to support another.22
I was on a Commitee which reported £3000 ster' per Year for each of the Ministers and £1000 ster per Annum for each of their Secretaries, the Salary to begin and end as prescribed by a former Resolution relative to the Commissioners; but I expect a Reduction of the first Sum will be made by some of our patriots,—and am in Favour of £2500 sterling for the first and half that Sum for the Secretaries.23
RC (Adams Papers); with two enclosures, both in a clerk's hand and not printed here: the charge against JA reported by a congressional committee on 24 March; the full text of Ralph Izard's letter to the president of the congress, 12 Sept. 1778 (for both, see enclosures with James Lovell's letter of 14 Sept., above). The second enclosure was docketed: “Mr. Izard 12 Sept 1778”; and by CFA: “See Mr Sparks' Diplom. Correspond. Volume 2d. p 434.” Dft (MHi: Gerry-Knight Coll.); docketed: “Copy of a Letter to Mr. J Adams Sepr. 29 1779.” Significant differences between the recipient's copy and the draft are noted below.
1. The draft substituted “may” for “will.”
2. Left blank in both the recipient's copy and the draft.
3. James Lovell. Samuel Adams left Philadelphia with JA on 11 Nov. 1777, and, until Francis Dana's arrival six days later, only Gerry and Lovell were in attendance (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:267; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 2:li-lii).
4. No mention of Robert R. Livingston's nomination has been found. According to Henry Laurens, the men nominated besides Adams on 21 Nov. 1777 were Dana, James Wilson, Joseph Reed, the Marquis de Lafayette, and R. H. Lee. Lafayette's name was apparently withdrawn, and Lee declined nomination (JCC, 9:947, note; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 2:569).
5. This is the Journals of Congress, vol. 3, Phila., 1779. The copy referred to by Gerry is now in JA's library at the Boston Public Library (Catalogue of JA's Library). Because there was no recorded roll call for JA's election as Commissioner on 28 Nov. 1777, Gerry made his marks beside a roll call of the same date on another matter that appears on p. 347. As indicated by Gerry, JA won six states: New Hampshire (Folsom), Massachusetts (Dana, Gerry, and Lovell), Rhode Island (Ellery), Connecticut (Dyer, Law, and Williams), Pennsylvania (Morris, Roberdeau, and Clingan), and Virginia (R. H. Lee, F. L. Lee, and Harvie). The delegations of New York (Duane and Duer), Maryland (Smith and Rumsey), North Carolina (Penn and Harnett), and Georgia (Langworthy), and Jones of Virginia were in the minority. Gerry placed dots beside Laurens and South Carolina, but at the bottom of the page he wrote “N.B. So. Carolina did not vote on the above Occasion, but was represented by Mr Laurens.”
6. In the draft “may” is crossed out before “probably.”
7. To this point in the paragraph Gerry refers to the resolution of 20 April that cited Franklin, Deane, Izard, and Arthur and William Lee for improper conduct, and he quotes JA's reference to that resolution in the postscript to his letter of 10 Sept. (above). For “the futile charge” and the “evidence,” see the enclosures to James Lovell's letter of 14 Sept. (above). The “Gentlemen of a different Opinion” from Gerry in regard to having JA's name included in the resolution were James Lovell and Samuel Adams. For Lovell's explanation of his action, see his letter of 13 June, and note 8 (above).
8. To the president of the congress, 10 Sept. (above).
9. This sentence was interlined in the draft.
10. In the draft the preceding two words were interlined.
11. At this point in the recipient's copy { 184 } is a symbol “#” to refer JA to the following note written by Gerry in the left margin: “I am informed, and I think from the best Authority, that a Resignation of Mr. Lee's, conceived in Terms that would do Honor to any Man on Earth, has been in the Hands of <his> a Friend of his in Congress, and suppressed two Months, by which Means he has been prevented from avoiding a Supersedence.” In the draft the symbol follows “friends.”
12. On 21 April the congress decided to vote separately for the recall of each of the Commissioners named in the vote of 20 April. Gerry voted to recall Franklin (22 April), Arthur Lee (3 May), and Ralph Izard and William Lee (8 June). Gerry's Massachusetts colleagues opposed each recall, and only the motions affecting Izard and William Lee were passed (JCC, 13:490; 14:542, 700–701, 703–704).
13. Gerry seconded the motion to add “in lieu of a commissioner” as an amendment (JCC, 15:1112–1113). For a confirmation of his reason given immediately below, see Lovell to JA, [1 Oct.] (below).
14. In the draft “some” was substituted for “many.”
15. In the draft Gerry wrote “at present” after “shall not,” but then deleted it.
16. The draft originally read: “before the Resolution was adopted, Yourself and Mr J were in Nomination to negotiate the peace, and Congress could not agree in an Appointment.”
17. JA's instructions of 16 Oct. ||regarging peace and commercial treaties|| and his commissions of 29 Sept. (all calendared below) were sent to him in a letter of 20 Oct. from the president of the congress (below). Since the instructions described the boundaries that JA was to secure for the United States, Gerry wanted the Massachusetts boundaries verified.
18. The resolutions, passed in congress on 24 Sept., were also sent to New Hampshire and New York. In essence, the action would have given congress the power to hear the disputes and make decisions according to the methods prescribed in the Articles of Confederation, although that document had not yet been accepted by all the states. The congress, after the states had taken suitable legislative action, was to begin its hearings on 1 Feb. 1780 JCC, 15:1096–1099).
19. The draft has “impossible.”
20. See AA's message for Gerry in JA's letter of 10 Sept. (above).
21. In the draft this paragraph was written in the margin with the following postscript: “NB I shall direct my long Letter to the Honorable, His Excellency John Adams Esqr.”
22. In the draft this paragraph was written along the margin of page six with many deletions and substitutions. Along the margin of page seven is another draft of the same paragraph, probably written before the text on page six, which was entirely crossed out with many words made illegible.
23. The final paragraph is not found in the draft. Gerry was named with John Mathews and Jesse Root on 28 Sept. The committee reported the next day, but the congress postponed action and then recommitted the report on 1 Oct. As Gerry suspected would happen, the ministers' salaries were set finally, on 4 Oct., at £2,500, but the committee report recommending £1,000 for secretaries was let stand (JCC, 15:1118, 1128, 1135, 1143–1145).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0125

Author: La Luzerne, Anne César, Chevalier de
Author: French Minister to the U.S.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-29

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."

From the Chevalier de La Luzerne

printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:173–174 (JA's English translation); for the French text, see JA, Works, 7:115.
Praising John Adams for “moderation and Equity,” La Luzerne assured him that the appointment as minister to negotiate the peace would be as widely approved in Europe as in America and offered passage to France on the frigate La Sensible.
printed: (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:173–174 (JA's English translation); for the French text, see JA, Works, 7:115).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0126

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-09-29

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."

John Adams' Commissions to Conclude Treaties of Peace and Commerce with Great Britain

printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:178–180; illustration of the peace commission facing 4:194.
Although both documents were dated 29 September, two days after Adams' appointment as minister plenipotentiary to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce, their final form was not agreed to until 4 October, when the decision was also made to backdate them to 29 September JCC, 15:1113, 1141, 1143. The commissions named John Adams as the congress' authorized representative with full powers to negotiate and conclude treaties of peace and commerce. They were sent to Adams as enclosures in the letter from the president of the congress of 20 October (below). Adams' instructions regarding the Anglo-American peace and commercial treaties were dated 16 October (calendared below).
printed: (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:178–180; illustration of the peace commission facing 4:194.)

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0127

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-01

From James Lovell

The Resolve of the 26th. of Sepr. for appointing a Minister plenipotentiary for Spain was reconsidered on the 27th. and the words in lieu of a Commissioner were added, by the Urgency of Brother Gerry least our State should appear to be against an Alliance with Spain. On this Mass: was divided and Sth. Carolina.1 All the rest stood as the day before.
On the 28th. Order for Tomorrow for appointing Secretaries and a Person to examine accounts in Europe agreable to the Resolve of Augst. 6th.
The Nominations you know except in the last Case Mr. Joshua Johnston2 Brother to Gov. Johnston of Maryland.
A Committee to draught a Commission for Spain and Commissions for the Secretaries.
Another Committee to report Salaries. Mathews Gerry Root3
Carmichael for Spain. Mr. Searles name being previously withdrawn. I wish therefore you would blot it from my former letter as it is blotted from our Journals.4
Mr. Dana for Peace
Col. John Laurens, for France
Mr. Joshua Johnstone for Accounts
Committee reported Salaries
{ 186 }
Report of the Committee recommitted upon my Suggestions as to unde derivetur.5
Your Return in the Frigate which brought you must be more agreable than even one of ours with a new set of Faces. If Dana does not consent, The answer should be immediate. For though I do not think the Door for your Business is yet opening, the Delay of the Frigate is to be considered, not withstanding Mr. G——d has kept ours more than two Months.6
I wish heartily I could render you such Service as I think Dana can. It is tripping no Man to become your Secretary though in a former Case I should have been charged with putting my foot against the faithful Bancroft.7
Pray miss no possible Chance to inform A L of what has happened. It may reach him before an Authenticated account by Mr. Jay; and be a warning to take his Measures. I wa[nt] him immediately here to see his Suit8 which was commenced 3 or 4 days ago. He can have no Accounts to cause Delay. And as he has Power to borrow Money; he cannot be obliged to apply to F——. I will suggest the Thought of empowering you to make sure of a Loan if possible. I am persuaded the English would many of them seize the Opportunity of serving Us and themselves all under one.
You will have a decent Commission this Time. I wish I could see your old one; as do the Secretary and Mr. Laurens between whom there have been formal Proceedings in doors respecting some Indecencies of the former.9

[salute] Yr. affectte

[signed] J L
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Lovell Octr. 1. 1779.”
1. Lovell and George Partridge voted “no”; Holten supported Gerry. For South Carolina, Laurens voted “no”; Mathews, “ay” (JCC, 15:1112–1113).
2. Edmund Jenings had recommended Johnson to JA as a possible consul (Jenings to JA, 2 June, above).
3. See Elbridge Gerry to JA, 29 Sept., and note 23 (above).
4. See Lovell's second letter to JA of 28 Sept. (above). JA did not blot out James Searle's name.
5. For an earlier reference to salaries and their “unde derivetur,” see Lovell to JA, 28 Sept. (second letter), note 5 (above).
6. On the delays of the frigate Confederacy, which was to carry Gérard back to France, as well as Jay to Spain, see the summation in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:385, note 3.
7. For JA's opinion of Bancroft as a possible secretary, see JA to Gerry, 11 Sept. (above).
8. Lee's suit against Silas Deane for libel (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:423–424, note 9).
9. On the controversy between Charles Thomson and Henry Laurens, see Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 4:392, 397–399, 401–408. Their dispute over the physical state of JA's first commission appears on p. 398 and p. 405. Soon after JA's first commission was issued, Lovell noted that it had been misdated by the { 187 } secretary Charles Thomson, but Thomson, as well as President Henry Laurens and others, thought the mistake was “of no consequence” (Lovell to JA, [post 17 Dec. 1777], vol. 5:356; see also the commission as printed, and as an illustration in vol. 5:333–335). JA commented on the physical condition of the commission in his reply to Lovell of 25 Oct., and he complained about Arthur Lee's name preceding his in that document in his letter of 18 Oct. to Elbridge Gerry (both below).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0128

Author: Marchant, Henry L.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-02

From Henry Marchant

[salute] Dear Sir

By the last Post I was highly gratified by your kind and very polite Favour of the 10th. of Sepr. The Notice and Recollection of my former Letter sufficiently convinces me that You have not forgot an old Friend. In your Absence I had frequent Temptations to write You; but I was affraid of being amongst the Number of troublesome and useless Correspondants.
We have finished Our foreign Affairs that mostly pressed upon Us. Your Appointment will convince You, that however aukward your Situation has been, it was not from any Alteration of Sentiment towards you since your first Appointment as one of Our Commissioners at Paris. I must hope, however urksome the Task, you will once more be induced to quit the Rank of a Citizen to become a Servant of the Publick. We must all look back at Our first setting out; and take Spirit from those Principles which first annimated Our Souls; and while we lament that torpid, base degeneracy, which hath seised too many, we must not suffer Ourselves to faint, or repine at Our Burthens. Mr. Dana is appointed Secretary; I rather wish for, than expect his Acceptance, yet I will hope that every Obstacle will give Way to the good of his Country.
If Mr. Dana goes he will be ready there should another Minister be wanted thro' Death, Sickness or otherwise. I shall rejoice to hear of your safe Arrival at Paris; And shall esteem myself truely happy in your Correspondance; for with great Esteem I am your, sincere Friend & Servt.
[signed] H. L. Marchant
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Marchant”; and by CFA: “October 2d 1779.”

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0129

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1779-10-04

To James Lovell

[salute] My dear Sir

I have heard much of your Deliberations concerning a Peace—and you drop Hints to me, of Apprehensions of Negotiations in Europe. I hate these Innuendoes—pray Speak out, and tell me what you mean.1 { 188 } Do you verily expect Peace? Do you seriously expect Negotiations for Peace?
What is at stake for Britania? What will be the Consequence to her of American Independence? Is not the Empire of the Sea at stake? Do you think that Britain had not rather loose, her West India Islands, and the Remainder of her Colonies in America by War, than by Peace? Do you think she can bear the Thought of being rivalled in Commerce and in naval Power by Us? But I am grown too easy to think, So I will save my self the Trouble of Writing and you that of reading, Stuff, and send you a little Sense in harmonious Numbers from Thompson, who Speaks the Soul of every Englishman. Britannia sings to her Sons.2
LbC (Adams Papers). The recipient is not named, but the first paragraph indicates that JA is writing to James Lovell.
1. See JA to Lovell, 21 Sept., note 3 (above).
2. The rest of the letter consists of lines 166–299 (end) from James Thomson's Britannia, published originally in 1729, which alerts the British to defend liberty from the plague of luxury and protect their far-flung trade as the basis of their power.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0130

Author: Laurens, Henry
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-04

From Henry Laurens

[salute] My Dear Sir

The receipt and perusal of your favour of 10th Ultimo afforded me a very high satisfaction—the answer with which you honored my Letter of May 1778. has not yet reached me.1
From the earliest intelligence of your return to America I felt a strong disposition to wait on you with a line or two of sincere congratulation on your happy return to your family and American freinds, but there were certain irresistible pullbacks to the intended operation. I am not addicted to commonplace Ceremony and I perceived it extremely difficult to compose a palatable address, of blended gratulation and condolence to an exaustorated fellow-Citizen who had deserved well of his Country and who at the same time stood in the most awkward situation that an honest susceptible mind can be reduced to. Sent, without his own desire and probably inconsistently with his Interest and inclination, on an ambassy beyond the Atlantic—kept unemployed—and in the course of a few Months virtually dismissed without censure or applause and without the least intimation when, or in what manner he was to return and report his proceedings—from these and other considerations I found myself constrained to wait future events—these, tho' a little clumsily brought forth, have happened as I wished, and { 189 } now My Dear Sir, I not only congratulate you on a safe return but I have another opportunity of rejoicing with my Country Men on the judicious choice which Congress have made in their late election of a Minister Plenepotentiary to treat—in due time be it understood—with his Britanic Majesty on Peace and Commerce. The determination of Congress in this instance, will be grateful to the People of these States and may expiate the queernesses of some of the queerest fellows that ever were invested with rays of sovereignty.
Let me intreat you Sir, for my Country's sake, to accept the appointment without hesitation or retrospection, you know “whereof we are made.” Wisdom and Patriotism forbid exceptions on account of past circumstances. I speak in pure truth and sincerity and will not risque offence by uttering a word respecting your fitness or peculiar or exclusive fitness for the important Office, but I will venture to add, it is necessary you should accept and stand ready to execute it, your determination to do so, will make the true freinds of American Independence happy, and will abate their apprehensions, from incompetency or negligence in other quarters—not that I beleive you will be directly the object of negotiation, the Pride of our haughty Enemy will lead him to manoevre by mediation and my Ideas teach me to suppose, you are for some time to remain behind the Curtain, but the moment cannot be far distant, according to present appearances, when you will step on the Stage and act a part, productive of substantial good to your Country, of honorable fame to yourself and to your posterity. My prayers and good wishes for your success will be accompanied by the utmost exertions of my feeble powers to insure it.
I pay no regard to the slanders of stock jobbers, Monopolizers nor any of the various tribes and Classes of the Enemies of our Peace. It gives me some satisfaction however to know that better Men think well of me, but I draw an infinitely more solid consolation from this knowledge, that I have uniformly striven to persevere faithfully and disinterestedly in the service of my Country; this well founded assurance will in every event, however untoward, calm the mind and secure that Peace which neither the great nor the little World can give, or rob me of. I have, now, no hope of embracing you corporeally, on this or the other Continent to which you are going, but as a good Citizen and fellow labourer in the common Cause, my Heart will embrace you at whatever distance we may be from each other, be this as it shall happen, should we be permitted to come within reach, I tell you plainly and I know you will not be dipleased, I shall prefer shaking hands in the old American stile.
{ 190 }
Should I be detained in Congress the ensuing Winter I mean to ask leave in the Spring to visit Massachusets and New Hampshire as one of the last of my terrestrial peregrinations; that journey finished—I hope the times will give me leave to withdraw and learn to die, a science I most devoutly wish to enter upon with a sedulousness which the present day prohibits.
Commodore G's ill success in France may possibly abate a little of his fervor for accomplishing every thing by the force of his own powers, his expences being fruitless will make no inconsiderable deduction from our Carolina finances and I am sorry to hear that when he returns to Charles Town he will be asked unpleasant questions respecting his general conduct and Don Juan de Miralles complains heavily of one of his transactions at Havanna,2 these are things of no immediate concern to you, nor would it be instructive to say, 'tis difficult to judge of Man from appearances.
I wish I had time to speak of the awful state of our national debt and Credit, the field is too wide for the Compass of a Letter, but beleive me Sir, while we are decorating our fabric we are censurably careless of the foundation. Censure if ever it comes, will not light wholly on those whom the pious Duffield3 calls “the great Council of these States.” Each State at too late a day will find cause to apply blame to itself. We are at this moment on the brink of a precipice and what I have long dreaded and often intimated to my freinds, seems to be breaking forth a convulsion among the People. Yesterday produced a bloody scene in the streets of this City, the particulars you will probably learn from other freinds—and from circumstances which have come to my knowledge this Morning there are grounds for apprehending much more confusion.4 The Enemy has been industriously sapping our fort and we gazing and frolicing. Peradventure we, meaning every State, may improve the present alarm to good purpose—but what shall we do by and by and not far distant, for quieting an hungry and naked Army. Shall we call forth a grand Convention in Aid of the great Council? This may become absolutely necessary.
I will presume on your kindness and freindship to trouble you by the next Post with a Packet for my freinds in Europe and no further in the mean time but to subscribe with great truth, Dear sir, Your faithful, obliged and affectionate freind & servant
[signed] Henry Laurens
RC (Adams Papers); docketed by JQA: “H. Laurens. 4. Octr. 1779.”
1. JA replied to Laurens' letter of 19 May on 27 July 1778 (vol. 6:137, 322–323).
2. Alexander Gillon began his journey to France from Havana (D. E. Huger-Smith, “Commodore Alexander Gillon and the Frigate South Carolina,” S.C. Hist. { 191 } and Geneal. Mag., 9:194–195 [Oct. 1908]). Miralles was the unofficial Spanish representative in Philadelphia.
3. Rev. George Duffield was appointed chaplain by the congress on 1 Oct. 1777 (JCC, 8:756).
4. The attack by local militiamen on the home of James Wilson occurred on 4 Oct., indicating that Laurens finished this letter on 5 Oct. See Benjamin Rush to JA, 12 Oct., note 4 (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0131

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Chaumont, Jacques Donatien, Leray de
Date: 1779-10-05

To Leray de Chaumont

[salute] Sir

As the Sensible is expected to sail in a few days, it is proper that I should embrace the Opportunity to inform you, of your Misfortune in the Loss of the Betsy and all your Effects which were on Board of her.1 Somewhere near the grand Bank of Newfoundland, in a very foggy Night she fell in with a British sloop of War, which conducted her to Newfoundland. We missed her in the Morning, and were a long time anxious least some Misfortune had befallen her worse than Captivity. But a few days ago, a Cartel from Hallifax brought to Boston, Captain Cazneau, and the other Persons, on Board who have given the foregoing Account of their Disaster.
It is proper that I should inform you that wild Lands are now taxed in this state, and perhaps in all the others, to such a Degree that perhaps you would be discouraged from the Purchase, as these Produce no immediate Profit to answer the Demand. You however, will judge for yourself.
We have had our Spirits elevated here, by Rumours of the Count D'Estaing upon our Coast: But have nothing certain. We are anxiously waiting for Intelligence from Europe, from whence We expect to hear of great Events.
I wish Somebody or other would convince the Courts of France and Spain that their true Interest lies, in transferring more of their Exertions into the American Seas. A clear decided Superiority of naval Power, in the West Indies and on the Coast of North America, has such Advantages for conducting this War to a Speedy, successfull and glorious Conclusion, that I cannot but wonder that any other Policy is thought of. Perhaps I may be too selfish or too patriotic in this sentiment to be a good Ally. But I think I can demonstrate the Position upon French and Spanish Principles Simply. Is it not their Interest to conduct the War, in that manner which will the Soonest depress the Power of their Ennemies and increase their own. If the British Power in N. America and the West India Islands were broken, what have they left? Every other Advantage which France and Spain can justly { 192 } wish, will follow of Course. But I will not tease you with my Small Politicks. My Respects to your agreable Family, and to Dr. Franklin, and to all Passy. I am, with much Respect, your most obedient servant
[signed] John Adams
1. See Chaumont to JA, 13 June (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0132

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Date: 1779-10-06

To Gabriel de Sartine

[salute] Sir

The Sensible intending to Sail in a few Days, it is my Duty to embrace the Opportunity of acknowledging my Obligations to his Majesty and to your Excellency, for the Favour of a Passage, in this Frigate, which was rendered the more honourable and agreable to me, by the Company of his Excellency the Chevalier De la Luzerne and Mr. Marbois, two Characters that I have every Reason to believe, will be peculiarly usefull and acceptable in this Country.
Your Excellency will permit me, also to express my Obligations to Captain Chavagne and the other Officers of the Frigate for their Civilities, as these Gentlemen upon all Occasions discovered a particular Attention and solicitude, to render all the Circumstances of the Voyage as agreable as possible to me, and the other Passangers, as well as to protect the Merchant Vessells under their Convoy.
I hope and believe they have neither seen nor heard any Thing here, among the People of this Country, but what has a Tendency to give them a favourable Opinion of their Allies. I have the Honour to be with the highest Consideration, your Excellencys, most obedient and most humble servant

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0133

Author: Lee, Richard Henry
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-08

From Richard Henry Lee

[salute] My dear Sir

I congratulate you most sincerely on your safe return to your family and your country. I hope you found the former in good health, and the latter I am very sensible will be at all times benefitted by the assistance of so able a Citizen, and the more especially at this time, when the most important of all sublunary things is under consideration, the establishing of government. Independent of general principles of philan• { 193 } thropy I feel myself much interested in the establishment of a wise and free republic in Massachusetts Bay, where yet I hope to finish the remainder of my days. The hasty, unpersevering, aristocratic genius of the south suits not my disposition, and is inconsistent with my ideas of what must constitute social happiness and security. It is not long since I received your favor of Feb. 13 from Paris.1 So far as immediate personal ease and happiness is the object, it is beyond doubt that the life of a private Citizen is more desirable than any public character whatever, and such especially as call us far from home. But my friend we must consider that individual happiness flows from the general felicity, and that the security of the whole is the safety of particulars. What must become of the American cause and character, if her councils at home and abroad are to be filled and conducted by half Tories, weak, ambitious, avaricious, and wicked men? These considerations induce me to wish that you may not give up the thoughts of public service until our affairs are better settled. I wish with all my heart that the Chevalier de la Luzerne and Monsr. de Marbois had originally came here. I do assure you that it would greatly have benefitted the cause of the Alliance and the United States. Such scenes of wicked intrigue have been exhibited as I never expected would take place in America until maturity of times and luxury with its concomitant train of vices had ripened us for destruction. You will no doubt be fully informed by others concerning the proceedings of a faction dangerous to our country and very disgraceful also.
I had written thus far and stopped, having no opportunity of immediate conveyance, when my friends from Philadelphia informed me of the crowning work of more than a years intrigue—that malice is at last glutted even to satiety.2 It seems however, that the party have been under a necessity of suffering one proper man to be employed, and I am well pleased to see, even the wicked sometimes compelled to do right. I heartily wish you success in your negotiation, and that when you secure one valuable point for us (the fishery) that you will not less exert yourself for another very important object, the free navigation of Mississippi, provided guilty Britain should remain in possession of the Floridas. I totally despair of the navigation from any other advocation. Before this reaches Boston you will no doubt have heard of Count D'Esteings arrival on our coast. Should fortune favor us, with this aid we may expect to remove our unprincipled enemies from N. York and R. Island.3 To this if we can add Nova Scotia, we may be pretty indif• { 194 } ferent about the future operations of Great Britain. I shall be at all times happy to hear from you, and in return will furnish you with such intelligence as this part of the world produces.

[salute] With singular esteem and affection I am dear Sir most sincerely yours

[signed] Richard Henry Lee
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Honorable John Adams in Boston favored by Colo. Loyeaute”; docketed: “Richd. Hen. Lee. Octr. 8. 1779 ansd. March 15. 1780” and “R. H. Lee. Chantilly Oct. 8. 1779 recd on Board Le Sencible. Novr. 14th. 1779. just about to sail”; and by CFA: “ansd. March 15th 1780. The answer to this Letter is published in the life of R. H. Lee by his grandson Volume 2d. p 137.”
1. In addition to his letter to Lee, JA wrote to the Committee for Foreign Affairs, of which Lee was a member (both above).
2. The maneuvers leading to the displacement of Arthur Lee through the appointment of John Jay as minister to Spain.
3. Despite the fact that Estaing's efforts at Savannah proved ineffectual, the British abandoned Newport on hearing of his arrival (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 162).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0134

Author: Knox, Henry
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-10

From Henry Knox

[salute] Dear Sir

I received your obliging favor of the 19th last month by Mr. Lowell, for which I thank you.
Mr. Gerard has been to Camp, and has return'd to Philadelphia, to embark on board of the Confederacy for France, on board of the same Ship Mr. Jay and his Family embark. Mr. Gerard made us happy, politically so I mean, by informing us of your appointment as sole Minister plenipotentiary for the purpose of negociating a peace, and that you were to embark on board the frigate le sensible for France, to reside in Paris, untill an opportunity for so desirable an event should present itself.
Heaven send you a safe passage and a speedy opportunity of exercising your abilities in bringing the War to an Isue, and presenting to your Country the object of their wishes and prayers, Peace, Liberty and Safety.
I have taken the liberty to enclose a packet for Mr. Jonathan Williams in France, in which there is a Letter for my Brother1 who I expect is in France. Should you see him previous to seeing Mr. Williams I shall be much obliged by your breaking open the packet and taking out the Letter for my brother.

[salute] I am Dear sir with the highest Respect Your most Obedient Humble servt

[signed] H Knox
{ 195 }
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “General Knox.”
1. William Knox, who had gone to Europe earlier in 1779 (Thomas Morgan Griffiths, Major General Henry Knox and the Last Heirs to Montpelier, Monmouth, Maine, 1965, p. 8–9).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0135

Author: Gellée, Nicolas Maurice
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-11

From Nicolas Maurice Gellée

[salute] Dear Sir

I hope this Letter will reach you safe at Home amongst your Family and Friends. Supposing you are no less famish'd for News from this Side of the Atlantic than we are for American ones, I'll tell you the State of Affairs in Europe is almost the same as when you left it. Spain, tho' she is declared, four Months ago, seems as yet unconcerned about your Independance. The joint Fleets of France and Spain amounting to 66 Vessels of the Line have cruized during two Months, without any Success against Sir Charles Hardy who brought his 45 Sails back to Portsmouth, a single one, the Ardent of 64 Guns having been taken on Account of its Crew refusing the Service. It was reported that Count d'Orvilliers who had recently lost his daughter and his Son, was so troubled with Grief, he missed two fine Occasions of engaging a Battle. Others said that it was not the Fault of Count d'Orvilliers but of the Wind. Such was the Language held in France. The British Marine Officers in general, and Sir Lockart Ross in particular were so much roused when Sir Charles Hardy gave the Signal to get away from the French Fleet, he was obliged to shew his Instructions wherein it was recommended to him not to venture. The Bulk of the People in England look'd upon that Conduct as shameful and tarnishing the British Name; So that an equal Discontent prevailed in both Countries. But the few prudent People think that this Campaign being inactive was on one Side of much Advantage to Great Britain as it gives her Leisure to display her whole Strength and Ressources; And, on the other, no less detrimental to France, as it renders fruitless the enormous Expences incurred by the Preparatives of a Descent designed to be made in England and which did not take Place. However, Count d'Orvilliers is recalled and Count Du Chaffault appointed his Successor.1 Both Fleets are again to set at Sea immediately. Gibraltar is invested by a Spanish Army.
Reports are spread of an Alliance to be made this Winter between England and Russia, in Case no decisive Event shall take Place before the Return of the respective Fleets.
Captain Jones gives much Trouble to the English. He undertook { 196 } lately to make himself Master of the Fleet coming from the Baltic. The Convoy consisting of two Ships of War (the one of 40 Guns and of the best of the British Navy) surrendered to him, but he missed the others.2 Two strong Squadrons have been sent after him. He took during his Cruize a vast Number of Ships; And his own Benefit amounts to no less than 15,000 Pounds sterling.
I heard with much Concern of the Destruction of the American Squadron at Penobscot. I hope Sir G. Collier shall account for it to Count d'Estaing, and the British Barbary be retaliated as it deserves.
Lately after your Departure, strange Reports were spread, I don't know from what Quarter they came, about you and Mr. Samuel Adams. It was said and printed he headed a Conspiration contriv'd to surrender Boston to the English; And that you were gone to London, having, during your Station in France, entertained an illicit Correspondence with the British Ministry. I endeavoured to shew the Absurdity of this Latter Assertion, the more as you did embark in the same Ship with Chevalier de la Luzerne. But you know the People in this Country are very ignorant of American Affairs, And ill designing <People> Men are not at a Loss to indulge their Malignity.3 Had I kept a Copy of Count de Vergennes's last Letter to you, I think there was truely an Occasion it should have been made Use of.
You see by the Date of this Letter I dwell no more at Passy. Early in June, perceiving that since the Commission was dissolved, I was no more in the Confidence, and young Mr. Franklin took upon himself the sole interessant Business, I desired a Conference with Dr. Franklin, in Order to know the true Motive of that Change. He told me that I could see the Business was not, for the Present, so considerable as it had hitherto been; that there was no Scope for my Talents; that the Change I complained of did not arise of any Mistrust; But that, as far as he saw, one Secretary was now sufficient. In the mean Time, he desired me very politely to stay there on the same footing, untill I had provided for another Station of greater Trust and Emolument; But I did not think proper to remain a Burthen to the Public, being almost unuseful in the Business, and I retired to my Family whence I send you these Lines.
I will however, in my private Capacity of a sincere Well-wisher to the American Cause, communicate an Observation, which cannot have escap'd your Perspicacity. You had many Occasions to remark that the Subjects of the United States being quite ignorant of French Customs and Manners was a spring of frequent Altercations and Law-Suits; even that the extensive Signification of the fourth Article of the Treaty { 197 } of Commerce had not been attended to when redacted.4 I had, long ago, begun an Explanation of it which I thought the more necessary as the Subjects of the United States are thereby intitled to many Privileges they did not as yet enjoy. If you think such an Explanation as well as an Idea of the Rights and Duties established in the various Parts of Europe, might [make?] me instrumental to the Congress in their Conduct not only with France, but also in the Redaction of the Treaties to be made with the other European Powers, indicate a safe Occasion, and I'll send the whole to you, as the most Part is already done.
The Abbe's are very well and remember you very tenderly. I wrote to you in July, inclosing a Letter from them5 and your remaining News-Papers; But I apprehend the Bearer has been taken in the Voyage.
Tho' I don't know of Mistress Adams, but by her Letters, please to present my Respects to her and my Compliments to your Son.

[salute] With the more respectful Attachment, I have the Honor to be Dear Sir Your most obedient & most humble Servt.

[signed] N M Gellée
1. Largely as a result of Spain's wishes, France and Spain had made plans to invade England in the vicinity of Falmouth, but first they had to find and defeat the English under Hardy. The difficulties that the would-be invaders confronted are set forth in detail by Jonathan Dull in French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 150–158. Comte d'Orvilliers was not recalled but resigned for personal reasons (same, p. 164).
2. In the famous sea battle on 23 Sept. between John Paul Jones' Bonhomme Richard and the Serapis, Jones captured the Serapis but lost his own ship. The timber convoy from the Baltic escaped (Morison, John Paul Jones, ch. 13).
3. To this point the paragraph was quoted by AA virtually verbatim, though with some rearrangement of material, in her letter of 28 Feb. 1780 to Mercy Otis Warren; it is referred to in AA to JA, 26 Feb. 1780, and in AA to Elbridge Gerry, 13 March 1780 (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:288, 281–283, 298–299).
4. Arts. 3 and 4 of the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce were reciprocal grants of most-favored-nation status in trade between the two nations (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:5–6).
5. Neither this letter nor the enclosure from Abbés Arnoux and Chalut has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0136

Author: Gerry, Elbridge
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-12

From Elbridge Gerry

[salute] My dear sir

I have received from Mr. Lowell your Accounts and Vouchers, and shall deliver them to the Board of Treasury; how far they will be able to comply with the proposition of returning the latter, which is contrary to their usual Practice, I am unable to say, but will use my best Endeavours to accomplish it.
{ 198 }
Having lately explained to You some Matters, relative to our internal political Manoeuvres, It is needless to trouble You farther on that Subject. I must however acknowledge, that your good Opinion is flattering to the person who is so happy as to enjoy it, and at the same Time that it exceeds his Merit, it cannot fail of increasing his Desires of deserving it.
I mentioned in my last,1 that Doctor Bancroft and Sir James Jay will probably be nominated, if Mr. Dana declines his Appointment, to the office of Secretary; since which the Powers thereof are enlarged with the Commission of Charge D'Affairs, in Case of the Absence or Death of the principal,2 and the office is so desirable as to be sought, by others of Influence and abilities. It is uncertain therefore, who will succeed in the new Appointment, and it is for the Interest of the publick, to prevail with Mr. Dana, if he has any Doubts, to annul them on this Occasion, and accept the office.
I am happy to find that the State of Massachusetts has your Assistance in forming a Constitution, and am informed, that You are clearly in Favour of giving to the Governor a negative Power, in legislative Matters.3 This is a great Question, and I am fully persuaded that You have traced it, to its original principles, compared it with the Circumstances of the Times, weighed with Accuracy the Advantages and Disadvantages resulting from each Determination thereof, and finally decided in favour of the proposition, but granting, that upon a general Scale, the Measure is wise, yet is there not too much Reason to apprehend from it, great Injuries, and that the Community will be endangered, thereby? And may not this be prevented by giving to the Governor a negative, only so far as the proceedings of the Legislature may affect the <[security?]> powers of the Executive? Indeed I have but little Time to attend to such Matters, and well knowing your Sentiments to have been on all Occasions against arbitrary and dangerous powers, I am not much concerned about the Event. One Maxim however, in Matters of Government I think to be just, that the Officers are generally best, whose powers are least subject to Abuse. I remain sir with the warmest Sentiments of Friendship and Esteem your very huml sert.
[signed] E Gerry
The Salary of a Minister is fixed at £2500 sterl. and of his Secretary at £1000.
Your Appointment I think ought not to be divulged at present, but find that [it] is generally known, and as generally approved.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Gerry Octr. 12”; and by CFA: “1779.”
{ 199 }
1. Gerry's letter of 4 Oct. has not been found, but is acknowledged by JA in his reply of 25 Oct. (below).
2. For the duties of the secretaries as stated in a draft commission approved by the congress on 9 Oct., see JCC, 15:1159–1160.
3. Gerry's source for this information is not known, but it was likely a member of Massachusetts' constitutional convention, and perhaps of the committee of thirty members appointed to draft the document. JA did indeed favor an absolute veto power for the governor; see Report of a Committee, ante 28 Oct.[ca. 28–31 October] (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0137

Author: Lowell, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-12

From John Lowell

[salute] Dear Sir

I have but a few Minutes in which I can write, and I cannot devote one of them to any other, than the main Purpose of this Letter. You must accept the Appointment which Congress has lately made you, a more important and more critical one never fell in your Way. Every restraining Motive must be forgotten or banished. Your Choice was unanimous, save one Vote, yet, there are not a few, who wish you, being appointed, may refuse, that the Election from another Quarter may take Place, and no other New England Man will be chosen, the Interest of America requires, blind as some People are to it, that a New England Man should negotiate a Peace. Our Friends in NE. ought and <shall> will, if the Provision is not adequate, make it so: they ought not to expect you will go on sacrifising your whole little Fortune to their Good, but if they are so ungratefull, I think you will yet do it. I have ventured on the Friendship I feel for you and I flatter, myself you have for me, to add this Weight to a Scale which I hope will preponderate without. I am told that even an Hesitation or Delay may be dangerous. You have every Wish that I can form for your Success and Happiness, I am your Friend & Servt.
[signed] J Lowell

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0138

Author: Rush, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-12

From Benjamin Rush

[salute] My Dear friend

Accept of my thanks for your early and puntual Attention to my letter.1 I have ever thought myself honoured in your friendship, and shall be happy at all times in cultivating a correspondence with you.
In your first letter2 you enquire after the state of our goverment. The best answer I can give to your Question, is that I am Afraid to commit my Opinion of men and measures in our state to writing. I often think of, and sometimes mention to friends that I can trust, a { 200 } Speech of yours the first time you saw a printed copy of the constitution of Pensylvania. “Good God! (said you) the people of Pensylvania in two years will be glad to petition the crown of Britain for reconcilliation in order to be delivered from the tyranny of their constitution.”3 The perfection of goverment consists in providing restraints against the tyranny of rulers on the one hand, and the licentiousness of the people on the other. By our constitution we are exposed to all the miseries of both without a single remedy for either. You will hear from some Other Quarters of an insurrection <among> in our city. The objects of the Mob were unknown or confusedly understood. They were enraged chiefly by liquor. Their leaders abandoned them—and sheltered themselves under their Offices. A battle ensued at the house of Col: Wilson whose only crime was having plead in some cases for the tories. Our Streets for the first time were Stained with fraternal blood. Seven were killed, and 19 wounded.4 Among the former was a Captain Robt: Campbell who had lost an arm in fighting against the enemies of our country on Staten Island under Genl. Sullivan. He fell in defending Wilson's house. He was a <brave, and> most acomplished Officer and gentleman. Since this melancholy Affair we have had a calm in our city. But Every face wears the marks of fear and dejection. We look over our Shoulders, and then whisper when we complain to each Other in the Streets of the times. I feel the slave stealing upon me every day. O! liberty—liberty I have worshipped thee as a Substance, but——A patient calls for me in a hurry, and Obliges me to conclude myself your most Affectionate friend & Hble servt.
[signed] Benjn. Rush
PS: I have been so very busy for these two past5 that I have not paid a single visit to any body but to Sick people. I shall not fail of waiting upon the Chevr. De la Luserne and his Secretary, and presenting your compliments and pamphflet to him. I am devoted to the French Alliance. You may see my tho'ts upon this Subject in a piece signed Leonidas published about 2 months ago in Dunlap's paper.6 I perfectly agree with you in your plan of prosecuting the War. Congratulations upon your new, and most honourable embassy!
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Dr. Rush Octr. 12. 1779.”
1. JA to Rush, 19 Sept., in answer to Rush's letter of 19 Aug. (both above).
2. That of 10 Sept. (above).
3. This document was signed on 28 Sept. 1776, and immediately printed, so JA's comment must date from that time. JA's objections to the Pennsylvania constitution are not known in detail, but included its unicameralism and lack of a single and powerful executive.
4. The battle at “Fort Wilson,” occurred on 4 Oct., at James Wilson's home in Philadelphia. Local militiamen who supported Pennsylvania's radical constitution and price controls fought with Wilson's friends and political allies, who { 201 } opposed the constitution and all price controls. A host of conflicting accounts of the event's causes and casualties was generated, and major disagreements about the battle remain. A full modern account is John K. Alexander, “The Fort Wilson Incident of 1779: A Case Study of the Revolutionary Crowd,” WMQ, 3d ser., 31:589–612 (Oct. 1974).
5. The unit of time was inadvertently omitted.
6. “To the Freemen of North America, On the French Alliance,” in the Pennsylvania Packet, 24 Aug. (see Benjamin Rush, Letters, 1:241, note 7).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0139

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-14

From James Lovell

[salute] Dear Sir

I inclose to you the decent Fashion in which we1 it was yesterday opinioned to let the World know Mr. Lee has a Successor.2 Pray strive by Mr. Issac Smith's Knowledge of the Sailing of Vessels to let Arthur get the paper before his Foes.
The 3 Ministers are to have per An: £2500 sterling. Their Secretaries £1000 in full of Services and Expences. To commence at Outset and finish in 3 months after a Recall being notified. So that they may get home as they can But will by seperate Resolution be provided for out.3
The funds are to be settled by a recommitment. I judge the Report will get only the addition of order to the Commercial Committee of Produce or Bills to be deposited subject to the Officers Draughts. But I have hinted your being Authorized to obtain a Loan as the others are. And I think you will readily obtain more than Pocket Money from either truly whig Englishmen or such as are desirous of buying our good Graces in America that they may afterwards pluck us in the Way of Commerce.

[salute] Adieu Dear Sir yrs.

[signed] J L
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Lovell.” Originally filmed under the date [Sept. 1779] in Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 350.
1. Thus in MS.
2. For Lovell's motion of 13 Oct., regarding Arthur Lee and to which he refers, see his letter to JA of 27 Sept., note 12 (above). The enclosure was probably Lovell's letter to Lee notifying him of Jay's appointment and conveying a copy of the congressional resolution (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:377–378).
3. Presumably Lovell means that the congress would arrange for passage on a ship when the ministers were bound for their posts.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0140

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-14

From James Lovell

[salute] Dear Sir

I inclose to you a Peice of Intelligence1 perhaps altogether new. The uti possidetis offered by Spain will appear alarming perhaps to some { 202 } but we are told She acted upon full Knowledge that King George the 3d of England had sworn in his Cabinet that he would not acknowledge our Independence. Spain at least knew that we would never enter into any commercial Treaty without a total relinquishment of the 13 States by Britain: I am glad her offer was rejected. I own I do not like such Experiments.
I do not see how you and the others lately elected to Missions from hence will get immediate Supply but by the Way of Doctr. F—— to whom a Promise will be made of speedy Repayment and also of the Establishment of Funds directly for the Purpose of supporting all Embassies from the United States. I will give you an Account of the Decision upon a Report to be made Tomorrow morning.

[salute] Yrs. affectionately

[signed] J L
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Honorable John Adams Boston”; docketed: “Mr Lovell Octr. 14. 1779.”
1. Exposé des motifs de la conduite du Roi Très-Chrétien, relativement à l'Angleterre, Accompagné d'un pareil Exposé de ceux qui ont déterminé le Roi notre Maître dans le parti qu'il a pris à l'égard de la même Puissance was published both in Paris and, with a slightly different title, in Madrid in 1779. Both were French translations of the Spanish Manifesto published in Madrid in 1779. A copy of the Exposé, as reprinted in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique (“Letters,” vol. 15, cahier 78, p. cxliii–ccx) is among JA's books (Catalogue of JA's Library). English translations of the component parts of the publication, entitled respectively the French and Spanish manifestos, were published in the Remembrancer and Annual Register for 1779 and also appeared in the London newspapers (for example, the London Chronicle for 22–24 July, 30 Sept. – 2 Oct., and 2–5 Oct.). The Spanish ultimatum, the terms of which are indicated in the Spanish (section 21) and French manifestos, provided that each belligerent would continue to hold the territory in its possession at the time that the truce was declared, a provision for uti possedetis that would have left large chunks of American territory in British hands. In fact, nothing that Spain proposed was in the American interest. The French manifesto appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet of 6 Nov. and Boston's Independent Chronicle of 25 Nov. No American printing of the Spanish manifesto has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0141

Author: Kalb, Johann
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-15

From Johann Kalb

[salute] Sir

I heard with a great deal of pleasure your happy return to Boston and your appointment by Congress as plenipotentiary for the next Peace, they could not commit Such an important Trust to abler hands than yours. I wish with all my heart you may have the earliest opportunity of going to work, and to Settle all matters to the greatest honor Glory and happiness for the United States and yourself.
The Chevr. de la Colombe1 having been in Marquess de la Fayette's family while he Staid in our army, and a Supernumerary aid de Camp { 203 } to me this Campaign, But his father desiring him to come home, I request the Favour of you to admit as a Passenger into the Same Frigate you are to Sail in. The Count de la Luzerne hath favoured him with a letter for Monsr. de Chavannes2 to the Same purpose.
I wish you most Sincerely, a Speedy and happy Passage, a lasting health and Success in all your undertakings.
With great Esteem and Respect I have the honor to be Dear Sir Your most obedient and very humble Servant
[signed] The Baron de Kalb
P.S. Would you do me the favour of forwarding the inclosed by Some other Vessel then your own in case Chev. de la Colombe is to Sail in your Company (he having one for Made. de Kalb of the Same contents,) or to convey it yourself if Chv. de la Colombe was not to Sail with you.
1. La Colombe had been commissioned a lieutenant on 1 Dec. 1776 and was promoted to captain on 15 Nov. 1777 (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 166).
2. Bidé de Chavagnes, captain of La Sensible on which JA was to sail.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0142

Author: President of Congress
Author: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-16

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."

John Adams' Instructions Respecting a Peace Treaty with Great Britain

Philadelphia, 16 October 1779. printedJA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:181–183.
Although dated 16 October, the instructions had been adopted on 14 August (JCC, 14:956–960). Controversy over who was to be named to negotiate the peace treaty and who was to undertake the mission to Spain had delayed their being copied for transmission to John Adams. The sine qua non of the instructions was that no negotiations could take place unless the British government agreed to negotiate with Adams as the representative of an independent, sovereign state. Adams was also required to ensure that the peace treaty did not conflict with the existing French alliance and that the western boundary was the Mississippi River. Although the cession of Canada and Nova Scotia to the United States and a guarantee of American fishing rights were listed as desirable objects in a peace treaty, John Adams was not to consider them as ultimata in the negotiations. Finally, Adams could agree to a truce during the negotiations so long as all British forces were withdrawn from the United States. See also John Adams' commission, dated 29 September, to negotiate an Anglo-American peace treaty (calendared above), and the index for additional information regarding the formulation of the instructions and the controversy surrounding them. John Adams received the instructions as an enclosure in the letter of 20 October from the president of the congress (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0143

Author: President of Congress
Author: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-16

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."

John Adams' Instructions Respecting a Commercial Treaty with Great Britain

Philadelphia, 16 October 1779. printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:183–184.
Like those for the peace treaty (calendared above), these instructions had been adopted on 14 August (JCC, 14:960–962), but because of controversy within the congress their copying for transmission to Adams had been delayed and they bore the date of 16 October. Adams was required to ensure that nothing in an Anglo-American commercial treaty conflicted with the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce and that such a treaty be established on principles of equity and reciprocity. Moreover, no treaty was to be concluded that did not explicitly guarantee American fishing rights on the banks of Newfoundland. This requirement resulted from the controversy that had surrounded efforts to make such a guarantee an ultimatum for the peace negotiations, which was resolved only when it was agreed to compromise and make fishing rights a sine qua non in any commercial negotiations. See also John Adams' commission, dated 29 September, to negotiate an Anglo-American commercial treaty (calendared above), and the index for additional information on the formulation of the instructions and the controversy surrounding them. Adams received the instructions as an enclosure in the letter of 20 October from the president of the congress (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0144

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Barbé-Marbois, François de
Date: 1779-10-17

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 François Barbé-Marbois

Braintree, 17 October 1779. printedJA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:176–177.
John Adams, after thanking Barbé-Marbois for his letter of 29 Sept. (calendared above) congratulating him on his new appointment, said that John Quincy Adams probably would not be accompanying him on his new mission to Europe. He then noted the “agreable hours” he had spent with Barbé-Marbois and expressed the hope that all would go well in Philadelphia. Finally, Adams offered to carry any dispatches and private letters that might be awaiting passage to France.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0145

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1779-10-17

To Elbridge Gerry

[salute] My dear Gerry

I am infinitely obliged to you for your Favour of 29 of september and for the Journals. These are so much wanted in Europe, that if I should go there, there is nothing of so small Expence that I so much wish as 20 or 30 setts of them. They are an handsome Present. Cant Congress or some Committee order them to me.
The Appointment of Mr. Dana is as unexpected as my own. No { 205 } Man could be found better qualified or disposed. I hope he will accept. I had an Hours Conversation with him Yesterday on the subject. You know his objections arising from his Connections but they must1 be overcome. But if he should decline for Gods sake dont give me a Man, that will necessarily hate me, or that I must necessarily hate. If Lovel would accept,2 his Knowledge of French and his incessant Application, would do great Things. I should never quarrell with him nor he with me, because both aiming at the same object, and thinking much alike of the Means of Attaining it, We should have no Cause of Difference, and whenever we differed in sentiment it would be with Temper and Candor.
If it was possible for human Nature, in my situation in Paris to keep itself clear of Suspicions and Animosities, injurious or dishonourable to the States, I was innocent of them. It is true, I had an opinion of my own of Men and Things, and by this opinion I guided my Judgment and gave my Voice: But that I ever did join in any Party Schemes, give aid to any Faction or Cabal, propagate any Jealousies, foment or encourage any Animosities, or harbour or conceive any suspicions, that were not forced upon me, by Mens Words and Actions, I utterly deny. I am too well acquainted however with the Nicety of your Situation in Congress at that Time, and with the Difficulty of forming a Judgment upon Scraps of Evidence to harbour any Resentment against the Gentlemen, whose Names, will stand in this Case in the View of Posterity, against me, against Truth and against Justice. Several of them were and are still I am fully perswaded my Sincere Friends and among the Foremost Friends of their Country. But I must confess that the Sight of Such Names on that Side of the Page, frightened me when I saw them, and tingled a little in my Veins.3
Mr. Izs. Letter contains Several Things of Importance, but that Part of it which respects me, is not fairly, because not fully represented. I apprehend he does not mean to say that I said, “that Congress would be inattentive to the Interest of nine states to gratify the Eaters &c.”4 I declare I never said any such Thing, nor had such a Thought in my Heart. I knew too much of the Sense and the Justice of Congress to suppose it. I should myself have detested it as much as any of them. Besides I never used any such invidious Language to Mr. Izard. I take this Part of his Letter to be a Specimen of Mr. Izs. Wit and Humour, a kind of funny Exultation to his Friend, in Confidence, for having judged so much better of the Interest of our Country than I did, and penetrated So much deeper than I had, into the Hearts of Congress.5
It would fill a Volume to detail all the Conversations between this { 206 } Gentleman and me. I shall just hint at a few Heads. I was surprised and chagrined to hear, on my Arrival in France, of the Disputes between Dr. F. and Mr. L. and Mr. I.—had I known of them before I sailed, I would not have gone, at least not upon such a Footing as I did. Finding them rooted and ineradicable, I determined with my self, to have nothing to do with any disputes which happened before my Arrival, and I fairly informed both sides of this my Resolution, and that I came there believing them all Friends to their Country and to me, and would treat them all as such, unless they compelled me to do otherwise.
Mr. Iz. however, would not let me alone, but often repeated his Request of my Opinions concerning several Points. One was, whether the Commissioners at Passy were not bound by a Resolution of Congress to communicate to him the proposed Terms of the Treaty before it was signed. Another was whether it was his Duty to go to Tuscany. Another was concerning the 11. and 12 Articles. Another was concerning the Articles concerning the Fishery &c. These Conversations were between him and me.6 At Sometimes I endeavoured to perswade him to excuse me, at others I rhodomontaded it, with him, and endeavoured to divert him from it, in that Way. But he would not give it up, and finally insisted so much upon it, that I told him frankly, on the first Point that I thought the Commissioners were not obliged to communicate the Treaty proposed to him, before it was signed. That Congress never intended it. On the second Point that I thought it was his Duty to be in Tuscany not in Paris. At Tuscany he might gain Intelligence or borrow Money, but at Paris he could do nothing but what was expected from others. On the 3d Point that I did not consider the 11. and 12 Articles in so important a light, as he seemed to do, that I had no Reason to think from any thing I had heard in Congress that they would be unpopular there. And that upon the whole I did not think that when Congress came to be informed, that he risided in Paris instead of going to Tuscany, that he insisted so much upon the Commissioners informing him of the Treaty before it was signed, which I was perswaded they never intended, and that he made so much dispute about the 11. and 12 Articles, which I had no Reason to think they would be so much afraid of, as he said he was, I did not think that Congress would approve of his Conduct. I will not Say that I never added that I believed Congress would be very angry with him, but I do not recollect the time and Place of my Using so strong Expressions, nor indeed my Using them at all. Yet as Mr. Iz. affirms I did, I have no doubt7 it is true, because I fully believe him to be a Man of Honour, and incapable of saying designedly the Thing that is not.
{ 207 }
There is indeed another Point, in which I dealt very freely with Mr. Iz. between him and me, and upon this Head I might tell him as a faithfull Friend that I believe Congress would be very angry with him, and that is the Freedom of his Expressions about the French at times, which appeared to me, very impolitic and dangerous, but as this is a very delicate Point, I beg that you would keep this to yourself as much as possible and indeed the rest of this Letter, excepting that you may shew as much of it as you will to Lovell.8 I have so full a Perswasion of Mr. Izards good Principles and Affections and of his general good Character, that I would not injure his Reputation for my right Hand, and am extreamly sorry that this Clause in his Letter has laid me under the Necessity of Saying thus much.
Cannot Something be done, to protect the Characters of your servants abroad from Slander, and to restrain the Malice which will eternally abuse them if there is not. Would it not be well for Congress to enjoin it upon their servants abroad, never to say any Thing in any of their Letters public or private to the Disadvantage of each others Characters or Conduct, without giving Notice before hand to the Party to be accused. And for Congress to resolve that they will not proceed to consider Complaints or Accusations, untill the Party has Notice and Opportunity to justify himself. There is so much of a Party Spirit among those who are connected with our Affairs abroad, that if something is not done, you will be forever teised with Charges, and the best Characters will suffer.9 With great Affection your Friend
[signed] John Adams
RC (IHi); docketed: “Massts. Letter Hona. J Adams Esqr. Octr 17. 1779.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. In the Letterbook “they must” was substituted for “I hope they will.” On Dana's “Connections,” see JA to Henry Marchant, 25 Oct., and note 1 (below). Dana, however, also had reservations about the nature of the position; see Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 15:206–207.
2. Comma supplied from Letterbook.
3. JA, here and in the following paragraph, is referring to the enclosures (not printed) in Gerry's letter of 29 Sept. (above). See the descriptive note to that letter as well as James Lovell's letters to JA of 13 June and 14 Sept. (both above).
4. Opening quotation marks supplied from Letterbook.
5. Compare this evaluation of Izard's comment in the letter to Henry Laurens with that in JA's letter to James Lovell of 19 Feb. 1780 (below), after he had had an opportunity to question Izard about the letter.
6. Although JA refers to conversations, a number of letters were exchanged dealing with the views of the two men on treaty language. See JA to Izard, 20, 25 Sept., and 2 Oct. 1778 and Izard to JA, 24, 28 Sept., and 8 Oct. 1778 (all above).
7. In the Letterbook “it is most pro[bable]” is deleted in favor of “I have no doubt.”
8. The exception that concludes the sentence is not in the Letterbook.
9. This final paragraph was an after-thought, squeezed into the Letterbook after the subscription “Mr. Gerry” had been entered, and the dateline for another letter of 17 Oct. to La Luzerne (below), had been written.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0146

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1779-10-17

To Elbridge Gerry

[salute] Dear sir

As to the Boundaries of Mass. I have asked Mr. A. about them but he did not recollect them. The Council appointed a Committee,1 within a few days after my Arrival, to ascertain them and did me the Honour to put me upon it, altho not a Member of Either House, with Mr. Bowdoin and Mr. S. A. but we have never met, and now it would be improper. They will appoint a new one I suppose.
As to the Claim to Vermont, the Gen. Court in 1774 appointed Mr. Bowdoin and me a Committee to state their Claim to those Lands. Mr. Bowdoin left it to me, and I Spent most of the Winter in rummaging the Books and Papers, in the Balcony of Dr. Sewals Meeting House, where the New England Library of Mr. Prince was kept, in the Library of Dr. Mather which came down to him, from his father Grandfather and Great Grandfather, and in Johnny Moffats Collection of Papers and Records,2 and wrote a lengthy I cannot say an accurate State of the Massachusetts Claim, a particular Examination of the Claim of New York, and a similar Discussion of that of New Hampshire.3 Mr. Bowdoin revised and reported it, a few Days before Governor Gage removed the General Court to Salem. At Salem it was read in both Houses, but they soon chose Delegates to Congress and were dissolved. The Report was left with the Clerk of the House.4 I have enquired of him, and he cannot find it. There is no other Copy, that I know of. The first rough blotted Draught, was left in my Table Drawer, in my office in Boston, when the Regulars shut up the Town. The Table Papers and all, were carried off, when they left the Town.
There was a Mr. Phelps, an Inhabitant of the Grants, who furnished me, with some Minutes, which he would perhaps produce now. Governor Hutchinson, drew a state of the Massachusetts Claim, much shorter than mine, tho it is well done, which is in a Volume of the Journals of the House which I have in 1762, 3, or 4 I forget which.5 But the Examination of the Claims of N.Y. and N.H. is to be found no where. I hope however that Mr. Adams will find the Report, it cost me much Labour, and if I dont misremember contained much Information, concerning these Questions. If the Report is not found by Mr. Adams, if Phelps is living,6 it is possible, he may have it, or a Copy of it. I will endeavour to point out Some Things to some Gentlemen, that might not readily occur to them, before I go.
My Respects to Dr. Holton and Mr. Partridge. With great Affection, Adieu
[signed] John Adams
{ 209 }
RC (VtU); docketed: “Braintree Letter Hona. John Adams Esqr. Octr. 17. 1779.”
1. No record of this appointment has been found.
2. The library of Rev. Thomas Prince (1687–1758) numbered some 1,500 books and pamphlets and comprised one of the largest in early New England. When he died, it was placed in the Old South Church. Samuel Mather (1706–1785), son of Cotton Mather, had accumulated a library even larger than Prince's (both DAB). “Johnny Moffat” was probably John Moffat (1704?–1777), the nephew and assistant of John Smibert, the painter. After Smibert's death in 1751, Moffat continued as a dealer in paints, canvas, and brushes in the artist's shop on Queen Street (now Court Street), Boston, near JA's law office. Moffat's will indicates that he had a substantial library (Henry Wilder Foote, John Smibert, Cambridge, 1950, p. 34, 68–70, 255–256).
3. See “Report to the General Court on Massachusetts Boundaries,” in vol. 2:22–81.
4. Samuel Adams (Mass., House Jour., 1773–1774. p. [249]).
5. Hutchinson's report, accepted by the House in Dec. 1763, appears in Mass., House Jour., 1763–1764, p. [277–307].
6. Charles Phelps died in 1789.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0147

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: La Luzerne, Anne César, Chevalier de
Date: 1779-10-17

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 Chevalier de La Luzerne

John Adams, thanking La Luzerne for his letter of 29 Sept. (calendared above) congratulating him on his appointment as minister to negotiate the peace, confessed to some diffidence about his ability to undertake so difficult a task. He added, however, that the unanimity with which the congress had acted, after that body had been so long distressed over its foreign affairs and divided in its opinion of most of its diplomats, gave him a deep sense of the honor done him. Adams then expressed his regard for La Luzerne, and his confidence that La Luzerne's negotiations would benefit both allies and strengthen the ties binding them. He closed by thanking La Luzerne for arranging his passage to France on La Sensible, and promised that, as soon as he received his dispatches from congress, he would decide whether to return to Europe on that ship.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0148

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1779-10-17

To James Lovell

And What, my dear sir, shall I say to your Favours of the 27. and 28 of september, which came by the last Post? The Unanimity of my Election surprises me, as much, as the Delicacy Importance, and Danger, of the Trust distresses me. The appointment of Mr. Dana to be the Secretary, pleases me more than my own to be Minister, Commissioner, Negotiator, call it what you will. I have communicated to him, your Letters in Confidence and all other Material Intelligence I had, and hope he will not decline, but you know the Peculiarities of { 210 } his situation,1 and if he should refuse, I hope you will not force your Name out of Nomination again, altho you have not been absent 9 Months.2 I did not suppose that such Characters would be wishing to go, as secretaries, because I did not know your Place, other wise I should not have mentioned Mr. Jennings to Mr. Gerry3 for one to Dr. F. Your Mastery of the Language and your Indefatigability would make you infinitely Useful in any of these Departments.
I rejoice that you produced my Letter to the C. Vergennes and his Answer before the Choice because it contained a Testimony in favor of Mr. L. which was his due.4 I am, very much affected at his Recall, because I know his Merit, and therefore I am glad I was not placed in his stead, because suspicions would have arisen and Reflections would have been cast upon me, as having favoured his Removal in order to make room, which I certainly did not.
I am infinitely obliged to you for these Letters, and for that received the Post before last, but I really tremble for your Health.5 Let me intreat you, for the sake of our Country to take care of this. I am a tolerable Boguer,6 but if I was to apply myself as you do, I should soon, go to study Politicks in another Sphere.
Yet I am so selfish as to beg the Continuance of your favours to me, and I pledge myself to you, I will not be in debt, any more than may be made by the intrinsic difference in the Value of the Letters, which will be unavoidable.
Thank you, for the Extract of Mr. Izs. Letter. I am not a little surprized at its Contents. It was written I see, to his Friend, and I suppose intended in Confidence. I am fully perswaded, he did not intend that the whole should have been laid before Congress. I utterly deny that I ever used to him any such Language, as the indecent Paragraph that closes what he Says. about me. Indeed that is manifistly his own Inference, and in his own Words, from what he says he had heard me Say, and draws the same from what Dr. F. and Mr. D. had said upon the same subject.
I further deny that I ever threatned him with the Displeasure of Congress, for writing his Opinion concerning those Articles to Congress, or for suggesting them to the Commissioners.
But to enter into all the Conversations that have passed between Mr. Iz and me, respecting those Articles, and many other Points, in order to give a full and fair Representation of those Conversations would fill a small Volume.7 Yet there never was any Angry, or rude Conversation between him and me, that I can recollect. I lived with him on good Terms, visited him and he me—dined with his family, and his family with me, and I ever told him, and repeated it often, that I should be { 211 } always obliged to him for his Advice, Opinions and sentiments upon any American subject, and that I should always give it its due Weight, altho I did not think myself bound to follow it, any farther than it seemed to me to be just.
As Congress has declined giving me, the Charges vs. me, by their Authority, and have upon the whole acquitted me, with so much Splendor, it would look like a Littleness of soul in me, to make myself anxious or give them any further Trouble about it. And as I have in general so good an opinion of Mr. Izs. Attachment to his Country, and of his Honour, I shall not think myself bound to take any further Notice of this Fruit of his Inexperience in public Life, this peevish Ebullition8 of the Rashness of his Temper. I have written a few other Observations to Gerry on the same subject. You and he will compare these with them, for your private satisfaction, but be sure that they are not exposed where they will do harm to the public to Mr. Iz. or me unnecessarily.9
If I should go abroad cant you send me 20 or 30 compleat setts of the Journals. They are much wanted in Europe. A sett of them is a genteel present—and perhaps would <give> do me <more Re[spect?]> and the public more service than you are aware. If Congress, or some Committee would order it, I should be very glad.
1. See JA to Gerry, 17 Oct. (first letter) and note 1 (above); and JA to Henry Marchant, 25 Oct. and note 1 (below).
2. See Gerry to JA, 24 Aug. and note 4; and JA to Gerry, 10 Sept. (both above).
3. In JA to Gerry, 11 Sept. (above).
4. See Lovell to JA, 28 Sept. (first letter) and note 2 (above).
5. “These Letters” are presumably Lovell to JA, 27 Sept., and 28 Sept. (first and second letterstwo letters), referred to at the head of this letter (all three above). “That received the Post before last” is Lovell to JA, 14 Sept. (above), with its important enclosures. Lovell had mentioned his bad health in his letter of 14 Sept., and in his letters of 31 Aug. and 21 Sept. (both above), which JA must have received by this date.
6. Possibly from “bogue,” to take part in or (later) to work (Dict. of Americanisms).
7. JA altered “Volumes” to “a small Volume.”
8. A boiling over, as of the passions (OED).
9. The two final sentences of the paragraph were squeezed into the text after the initial draft was completed. In the Letterbook this letter appears before the first letter of this date to Gerry.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0149

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1779-10-18

To Elbridge Gerry

Secret as the Grave.

[salute] Mon cher Ami

Looking over your Letter1 again, I find several Things unanswered. I should be Sorry to think that Mr. D. was the only vote against me. I had rather believe it was Some other State, than that this Gentleman { 212 } voted vs. from a personal Pique founded on so futile an Affair, So innocently intended and so unlukily divulged, as the only semblance of anything personal between me and him. In public Questions I never differed from that Gentleman in my Opinion, without carrying my Point, except in the 2d Petition, and Time has discovered that in this as well as all others, in which I differd from him I was right and he wrong. I had not then and never had since any personal Ill will or Dislike to that Gentleman, nor by the unluky Expression did I mean to express that he had not great Ingenuity, and a good Heart. But his Connections, or preconcieved Opinions at that time appeard to me to have drawn him from that great, masterly and daring System, that the Times appeared to me to make indispensible, and he had Influence enough at that time with one state S.C to carry the Point by a bare Majority, to the great Injury of the Cause, in my Anxiety and Mortification upon that Occasion to a bosom friend in Confidence, my Passions broke out into that ridiculous Expression, which I was then and have been ever since very sorry for—enough of this however.2
I thank you for the History of my first Appointment, which gives me much Satisfaction, as a Gentleman Mr. B. Deane, wrote something by me to Dr. B, from Mr. Hancock which had given me some Uneasiness3—that Mr. H. told him he was extreamly sorry Mr. D. was recalled—that Congress did not do it—that it was done after the Members were withdrawn and Congress very thin. But I find I was appointed by seven states, which is enough to remove this Imputation. I am glad I was absent, and more glad still that Mr. S. Adams was so—and more glad than all the rest that he was against my going.4 I have my Reasons. You know, if any Man knows, and I Swear that no human Being knows the Contrary, that I never solicited, this nor any other Employment abroad. If I had not refused to be nominated when F., D. and Lee were first appointed, it would have been because the four New England states, Virginia, Georgia, and I believe New Jersey, could not have made a Vote. But I refused as a whole Clubb knows, and insisted on Deane, and A. Lee. In F[ranklin] we all then agreed. If I had not declined when W. Lee and Is[ard] were appointed and when R. H. Lee nominated me, I believe there is no doubt I should have been chosen. But in Truth I was never very desirous of exposing myself, to the sea and the Ennemy, and had too much Diffidence of my own Qualifications to solicit this Honour. I have great Reason to believe, however, that I should have been nominated and appointed <20> at different times,5 that I can recollect if it had not been for my Name sake. His motives are easier guessed than expressed. So much for this. { 213 } But altho I have never before solicited, suffrages, I will now begin. I suspect that I shall go to France and live there, without much Negociation with England for some time, not in Idleness I promise you, for I am now as confident that I can render important services to my Country in Europe as I once was diffident of it. My Request is, that in Case there should be no Business to do as Negotiator with England, and in Case you should send to Holland or Prussia, that you would employ me to one of those Places, without any Additional salary, or Emoluments unless it should Occasion Additional Expences to be allowed by Congress. Or if there should be a Vacancy, in France or Spain, that I may fill it up—unless you think it is necessary that I should attend only to England and wait her Motions, in which Case I shall be content. I said before and repeat, that I dont mean to have double salaries or any Additional Emoluments. But I hate to live upon the public Bread without earning it, with the sweat of my Brow.
I must confess myself, very nearly of your Opinion in all the Articles of your Political Creed excepting as to the Recall of Dr. Franklin. I know as well as Dr. L. or Mr. Iz. every Thing that is to be said for this Measure, but his Name is so great in Europe and America and the People have rested upon him in their own Minds so long, however erroneously, it would take so much Time and Pains to let the People into the Grounds, Reasons and Motives of it, that I have ever hitherto hesitated at it.
The Recall of Dr. Lee and Mr. Izard, will give them Opportunity and Provocation, I suppose to go great Lengths in laying open foreign Affairs. And if they are restrained by that Delicacy Moderation and Discretion which ought to characterize, foreign Ministers from these Infant States, I shall be happy.
My dear Friend, there has been a kind of Fatality that has attended, the Representation of the Mass, from the Beginning. Her Delegates never stood by one another, <nor it has seemed> like those of other States. There is a Jealousy if not an Envy, you know against her, which has appeared to me to endeavour to take Advantages against her, and her Advocates. I could mention innumerable Instances. In little Things this appears as well as in great. Let me mention some that are Personal to myself, in perfect Confidence to you insisting at the same time that you never shew this Letter to any living Being.
Silas Deane is but of Yesterday and of Nothing in this Cause in Comparison of me. I was known in Europe and <vastly> celebrated as a Writer, in this Controversy vs. G.B more than fourteen Years ago. S. Ds Name was never heard in it, six years ago. I had been elected every { 214 } Year with all most Unanimous Votes by a great state, D. was left out by an almost unanimous Vote by a middling state. In the first Commission S.D. was arranged before A. Lee. But when my Commission was made out, I was placed after A. Lee.6 Lee was a young student in Law, after being a Phicician and a Preceptor to Ld. Shelbournes Children, just beginning to open Cases at the Bar under the Auspices of Mr. Dunning.7 I had been a Barrister at Law from the year 1761, had been in the fullest <and most important> Practice for fifteen Years at the Bar; had been Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Bay, by an unanimous Vote of Council to my Commission,8 had been in Congress from the Beginning, had been President of the Board of War from its Creation, had been long a Member and sometime President of your Committee of Appeals in maritime Causes, had been upon that Committee which laid the foundation of the Navy, and been on allmost all the Committees for establishing disciplining and healing the Army, had been on the Committee for declaring Independency, and that for preparing a Treaty with France, a Measure that you know I was forced, with your Aid to push aganst all the great Folks in Congress, even the deified Franklin. Yet I was placed in the Commission after Mr. Lee.9
Is it possible, sir that the Massachusetts Bay, should ever be respected, or her Rights respected if the Men she most respects are thus to be slighted.
Is it possible that Congress should be respected, if she suffers those Men upon whom she has as her Records show most depended from the Beginning, those Men who have formed and disciplined her Navy and Army, who have supported her Independance, who have promoted and formed her Alliances,10 thus to be postponed.11
In the present Instance, Mr. Jay is made Minister Plenipotentiary, I Commissioner.12 This no doubt is done to give Mr. Jay Rank of me, and a Title above me, in order to maintain the superiority of New York above the Massachusetts Bay. Mr. Jays Name was never heard till 1774, mine was well known in Politicks in 1764.
These Things are of more Importance in Europe than here to the Public, but these13 are of too much here. If the Mass. is to be made the Butt and Sport in this Manner you will soon see it abandoned by all Men of Spirit, or you will see it, break the Union, for myself I care <very>14 Nothing at all, for my Children I care but little for these Things, but for the public I care much. It is really important that Congress should not dishonour their own Members, it is really important that the Delegates of Mass Bay should support each other['s] Honour and Characters,15 which never can be done if such little { 215 } stigmas are suffered to be fixed upon them, so unjustly. It is really important that Congress should not dishonour, the Man in one Moment upon whom they confer in the same Moment the most important Commission for ought I know which they ever issued.16 I could return to my Practice at the Bar, and make Fortunes for my Children and be happier, and really more respected, than I can in the hazardous, tormenting Employments into which they have always put me. I can be easy, even under the Marks of Disgrace they put upon me, but they may depend upon it they either mistake their own Interest in putting me into these Employments, or in putting these Brands upon me—one or the other.
I am not at all Surprized at your Impatience under the Reflections you mention. I had heard an hint of them, with great Regret. But I am sure, they must be unjust, and that they have made no Impressions here. You stand on sure ground that of eternal Justice and Truth in the Vote about me, and are very far from being chargeable with a Fault in the other Votes, altho I cannot say I should have voted with you in every one of them, I mean for recalling F. and L. Yet there are so many weighty Arguments for them that I cannot blame you.
It has been reported in Europe that Mr. Deane laid before Congress, a Testimony from the King of France in his own Hand Writing, highly in favour of Mr. Deane. This was so extraordinary, so out of all the Rules of the Court and Maxims of the Monarchy that it was disbelieved. I wish you would inform me of the Fact, and send me a Copy, if there is such an original.17
LbC (Adams Papers). According to AA, this letter was never sent (Adams Family Correspondence, 4:192–193).
1. That of 29 Sept. (above).
2. John Dickinson was the author and chief supporter of the second petition to George III that the congress agreed to on 5 July 1775, but which went unanswered by the King (JCC, 2:127, 158–162). For JA's opinion of the petition, his disagreement with Dickinson, and the genesis of his reference to Dickinson as a “piddling genius” in his letter of 24 July 1775 to James Warren, see JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:316–317; and vol. 3:89–93 and notes there.
3. The passage is unclear but apparently JA is referring to a letter from Hancock to Silas Deane which contained the substance of what follows—Hancock's regret over Deane's recall and his assertion that JA was elected a commissioner by a congress “very thin.” See JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:145. Possibly Barnabas Deane, Silas' brother, used Hancock's expression of support in a letter to Edward Bancroft which was sent in care of JA.
4. This is the only mention the editors have found that Samuel Adams opposed JA's going to France in 1778.
5. “At” and “different” are interlined separately, suggesting that JA first wrote “20 times,” then “20 different times,” and finally “at different times.” The various congressional appointments of Franklin, Deane, Arthur Lee, William Lee, and Ralph Izard, on 26 Sept. and 22 Oct. 1776, and 1 Jan., and 1, 7, and 9 May 1777, make JA's exaggeration more understandable (see Edmund C. Burnett, The Continental Congress, N.Y., 1941, p. { 216 } 208–211).
6. See commission in vol. 5:333.
7. John Dunning (1731–1783), known by reputation to JA from at least 1775 (vol. 2:412), was one of England's most eminent lawyers and a supporter of the Wilkite free speech and petition movements. In 1782 he became a close advisor to Lord Shelburne in the latter's ministry (DNB).
8. JA never served in this position and resigned in Feb. 1777 (vol. 5:79).
9. JA might also have argued that, according to the Journals (21, 28 Nov. 1777), he had been appointed a Commissioner “in place of” and “in the room of” Silas Deane and, therefore, should have occupied Deane's position in the precedence of Commissioners as established in the original commission of 30 Sept. 1776 (JCC, 9:947, 975; 5:833).
10. To this point this paragraph was quoted in AA to Gerry, 4 Aug. 1781, but AA concluded the sentence: “to be slandered and disgraced” (Adams Family Correspondence, 4:192).
11. Or possibly “postposed” (now archaic). Both words have as a secondary meaning: “to place in an inferior position” (OED).
12. JA was mistaken. His commission, dated 29 Sept., named him minister plenipotentiary, but it was not sent to him until it was enclosed in the letter of 20 Oct. from the president of the congress (below).
13. Or possibly “there.” AA changes the word to “they” in her letter to Gerry (Adams Family Correspondence, 4:192).
14. The appearance of the text suggests that JA began to write “very little.”
15. To this point in the paragraph AA quoted these sentences virtually verbatim in her letter to Gerry (same, 4:192).
16. The rest of this paragraph was quoted virtually verbatim by AA in letters to both James Lovell and Gerry (same, 4:185, 192–193).
17. This final paragraph was an after-thought, written in after the subscription “Mr Gerry” had been crossed out.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0150

Author: Massachusetts Council
Date: 1779-10-18

Resolution of the Massachusetts Council

Ordered that the honourable John Adams Esqr. have the Loan of one Qto: vol: entitled “All the Memorials of the Courts of Great-Britain and France, since the peace of Aix la Chapelle, relative to the limits of the Terrotories of both Crowns in North America &c.”1 now belonging to the Library in the Council Chamber, to be returned by him into said Library so soon as he shall have done with the same.2
[signed] Attest, Jno. Avery D Sey.
MS (M-Ar: vol. 175, p. 651a); docketed: “Order permitg. Honble: John Adams Esqr. to have the Loan of one Qto: vol: of the Mems. of the Courts & [of] Gt. Britain & France since the peace of Aix la Chapelle Octr. 18th. 1779.”
1. This was: Great Britain, Commissioners for Adjusting the Boundaries for the British and French Possessions in America, All the Memorials of the Courts of Great Britain and France, Since the Peace of Aix la Chapelle, Relative to the Limits of the Territories of Both Crowns in North America; and the Right to the Neutral Islands in the West Indies (The Hague, 1756).
2. JA's earliest acknowledgment that he had learned of his appointment was on 17 Oct. (letters ||to Gerry, La Luzerne, and Lovell|| of that date, above); thus he lost little time in seeking to prepare himself for his new mission.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0151

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-19

From James Lovell

[salute] Dear Sir

I begin to be very impatient at not hearing from you; and this not barely from the Number of days elapsed since my Information of Sepr. 28 &c. &c. but from the Opinion dropped by Mr. Lowell that we should not be able to obtain your Consent again to trust us here. It is the Desire of many that you should execute an intermediate Negociation with Holland, and you are named but others think it would be proper to make a distinct Appointment. This will be attended to on Thursday.1
Mr. Gerard went on Board the Confederacy Yesterday with Mr. J. J his Wife and other Passengers: I fear that the Gentleman who carries such Comfort with him will find Embarrassment the Consequence. 2500 per Annum will not support Introductions to the Queen of Spain if I am rightly informed.
By the Way, There is a Circumstance which you ought to know. Such is the State of our Finances that Doctr. F—— is desired to furnish 2000 Luis drs. immediately to the 2 Ministers and their Secretaries or rather 3 Secretaries to be divided,2 and his is promised immediate Replacement by the commercial Committee as well an Investment of Funds for the whole Support of the Embassies. I think from what I have seen of commercial Punctuality here, that I would not trust myself without Letters of Credit from private Persons to serve in an Emergency rising from public Negligence or Disappointment.
I have meditated myself into a sort of Capability of Chagrin at not having a Chance of voyaging with you: For you are to observe I will not consent to conclude you will not venture once more.

[salute] You affectionate humble Servant

[signed] J L3
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Honorable John Adams Braintree or Boston”; docketed: “Mr. Lovell. Octr. 19. 1779.”
1. On 18 Oct., Gouverneur Morris nominated JA; Henry Laurens and Woodbury Langdon were also nominated. At the same time a three-man committee was chosen to draw up instructions. On the 21st, the congress chose Laurens to negotiate a Dutch loan (JCC, 15:1186, 1198).
2. On 16 Oct. the congress sent instructions to Franklin to supply 2,000 louis d'or (48,000 livres) to the new ministers plenipotentiary and their secretaries. The third secretary was John Laurens, chosen by the congress to serve Franklin (same, 15:1183; see also Commissioners' Accounts, 9 Aug.–12 Nov. 1778, entry for 14 Aug., vol. 6:359).
3. Following the signature, Lovell wrote: “Seal and send to the Navy Board the enclosed to go by two Opportunities.” This letter appears to have been sent with John Mathews' letter of 17 Oct. to the Boston Navy Board, requesting that body to ask JA about the supplies he would need for himself and his “family”—his traveling companions and his servants—and to provide him with those supplies on board the ship he was to take to France (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0152

Author: Rush, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-10-19

From Benjamin Rush

[salute] My Dear friend

I cannot help troubling you with a second Answer to your letters1 on purpose to congratulate you upon the Success of your Schemes for prosecuting the war in the Southern states. Count D'Estang has done wonders. He will be acknowledged by posterity as one of the deliverers of our country. We have just heard that he is safely arrived with all the trophies of his American conquests off the Capes of Virginia. The joy of the Whigs among us is great, and for a while we have forgotten the distresses of our late convulsion<s> in the prospect of the speedy deliverance of our country from the Oppression of Great Britain. The Spirit of our militia is up, and we talk of nothing but of fea[s]ting upon the Spoils of our enemies in New York. Monsr. Gerard with Mr. Jay and their respective Suites sailed this day. I envy them the transports they must feel in announcing the joyful tidings of America being freed, to the French Court. Alas! poor Great Britain! Methinks She must now feel the “utmost exacerbation of human misery” if I may be allowed to borrow a strong expression from Dr. Johnson. Some of our tories say they wait only for Great Britain to acknowledge our independance to induce them to change their political conduct, But if she perseveres in carrying on the war Another year, I am much mistaken if it will not be a desideratum on the other side the water for the united states to acknowledge the independance of Great Britain previous to a negociation. I rejoice most devoutly in all the calamities that impend that devoted country, and pray that the manifestations of the divine Vengance upon her may deter individuals and nations from imitating her crimes as long as the world shall endure, and thus the sufferings of that abandoned people will eventually add to the quantity of human happiness.
Our Congress it is said are more united than they have been for these two years past. Their late Appointments give universal satisfaction. The Whigs out of doors commit their liberties and indepandance in a negociation for peace with full confidence to you. Has Mr. Dana consented to act as Secretary to your embassy. You must be happy with him. He appears to be an honest man, and well acquainted with the true interests of America.
I had not had time nor room in my former letters to inform you that soon After you sailed from this country I resigned my commission of physician General to the hospitals of the united States in consequence of the neglect with which the Congress treated my complaints of Dr. Shippen's malpractices.2 I have ever since lived a most unrepublican life—wholly devoted to my family and my patients. Dr. Morgan (who { 219 } suffered so unjustly from Dr. Shippen's misrepresentations of his conduct as Director General) has impeached him of maladmi[ni]stration in his Office. His witnesses are numerous, and his proofs of the Doctor's peculation so irrefragable, that I have no doubt of his being broken. In any of the European Armies he would be hanged. From the time I Accepted of my commission till the time of my resignation which was not quite a year he murdered 4500 of our countrymen by his inhumanity and injustice. This will be proved before his Court martial. He has amassed a princely fortune by selling wine and Other hospital Stores out of the hospital magazines.3

[salute] With most respectful Compts. to Mrs. Adams in which my dear Mrs. Rush joins I am my Dr. sir yours—yours—yours—

[signed] B Rush
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Dr. Rush Octr. 19. 1779.”
1. JA's letters of 10 and 19 Sept. Rush's first reply was of 12 Oct. (all above).
2. Rush resigned on 30 Jan. 1778, two weeks before JA sailed for France, but his letter of 8 Feb. informing JA of his action presumably did not arrive in time. For Rush's previous criticisms of Shippen, see his letters to JA of 21 Oct. 1777, 22 Jan., and 8 Feb. 1778 (vol. 5:316–319, 394, 406; Benjamin Rush, Letters, 1:190–192, 199–200).
3. Dr. John Morgan gathered evidence and initiated the charges leading to Dr. William Shippen Jr.'s court-martial. The trial began on 14 March 1780 and continued intermittently until 27 June. In his testimony at the trial, Rush repeated the charges contained in this letter, but the proceedings ultimately came to nothing. Shippen was returned to his position and continued to serve until his resignation in 1781 (Rush to Morgan, [June? 1779], and notes; Rush to Mrs. Rush, 17 March 1780, and notes, Benjamin Rush, Letters, 1:225–229, 247–249).

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.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0156

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1779-10-21

To the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

So many Advantages might be derived to the united States in the Conduct of the War; in furnishing the Army and Navy; in augmenting the Value, or at least in preventing the further Depreciation of their Currency; in lowering the Prices of Goods; in Supplying the Wants of the People and in preventing Murmurs and Discontents, that I have ever thought it, of very great Importance, in some Way or other to procure Convoys to their Trade, to and from the West India Islands and Europe.
France and Spain, have such Advantages of England, in carrying on the War, in the American Seas, and would receive such Assistance from our Commerce, Privateers and growing Navy, that I have ever thought it a main Principle of their Policy to maintain a constant and decided Superiority of Naval Power, in the West Indies and upon the Coasts of this Continent.
{ 222 }
I would therefore with due Defference to the Superiour Wisdom of Congress, beg Leave to submit to their Consideration, whether it would not be expedient for them, either by a direct Representation1 from themselves to the French and Spanish Courts, or by Instructions to their Plenipotentiary Ministers, to endeavour to convince those Courts, that their true Interest lies, in adopting this Plan. It is certainly their Interest reasoning upon French and Spanish Principles, simply, to conduct this War, in such a manner, as has a tendency, in the shortest Time, and with the least Expence to diminish the Power of their Ennemies, and increase their own. Now, I would submit it to Congress, whether it may not be easily demonstrated, that these Ends may be obtained, the most easily, in this Way. A Representation from Congress, either directly or by Instructions to their Ministers, shewing what Assistance, in Provisions, Artists, Materials, Vessells of War, Privateers, Land Armies, or in any other Way, France and Spain might depend upon receiving from these states either for Money, or as the Exertions of an Ally,2 would have great Weight.
Much has been already Said to the French Ministry, upon these subjects and not wholly without Effect: Yet much more may be said, to greater Advantage and perhaps to better Purpose, for they are extreamly well disposed to do what can be made to appear to them, for the Advantage of the common Cause.
I have the Honour to inclose Some Papers on this subject. One, is a Letter from the Commissioners, to his Excellency the Comte De Vergennes, which he received the Beginning of January last. The other is a Letter from me to the Marquis de la Fayette, in February, with his Answer.3

[salute] I have the Honour to be, with great Respect, your Excellencys, most obedient servant

[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, I, 105–106/2); docketed: “Letter from Hon John Adams Esqr. Dated Braintree 21st Octr. 1779. read Novr. 1 4 Papers inclosed No. 1 Commissioners Letter to Ct. de Vergennes No. 2 JA to the Marqs. de Fayette No. 3 Marqs. in Answer No. 4 JA to the Presd of Congress Oct. 19–79.” JA's letter of 19 Oct. to the president of the congress is not printed, but see JA to the Massachusetts Council, 13 Sept., and note 2 (above). LbC (Adams Papers).
1. For “Representation” the Letterbook has “Application.”
2. The Letterbook copy does not have “either for Money or as the Exertions of an Ally.”
3. For the first letter, which Vergennes acknowledged on 9 Jan., see the Commissioners to Vergennes, [ante 20] Dec. 1778 – [ante 9] Jan. 1779 (above). JA's letter to Lafayette is that of 21 Feb.; the marquis replied on 9 April (both above). In the JCC the receipt and description of these enclosures is garbled (15:1231).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0157

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1779-10-25

To Elbridge Gerry

[salute] Dear Sir

Yours of the 4. is before me.1 Mr. Dana, I think will accept. I have no personal Objection to either of the Gentlemen you mention.2 You know more of the political Character of one of them, than I do. With the other I never had any personal Misunderstanding. He has Abilities and he has had his Merit. But he has been in the Center of Disputes so much, that you must have learned perhaps more of his public Conduct than I have done, certainly enough to determine your Judgment.3 Mr. D and the D[octo]r are much attached to him; Mr. L. and Mr.[], much against him.4 He has formerly written some Things well on the American Question. In France he wrote one good Thing. But he has had Connections in Change Alley, which in my Opinion ought to be renounced forever by him, if he is appointed to any Place, because I have no Imagination that any Thing can be concealed from Ld North, that is written to any one in Change Alley. I mention nothing of Religion nor Morals, for in these Respects, I suppose Objections are no stronger, than against others, whom it would be Blasphemy to Attack.5 I mention these Things in Confidence.
Pray let me know, what is become of my Accounts and Vouchers; and whether there are any Objections to, or Speculations about them.

[salute] Adieu

[signed] John Adams
RC (DLC, photostat in Gerry Papers). LbC (Adams Papers.)
1. Gerry's letter of 4 Oct. has not been found, but see his letter of 12 Oct. (above).
2. According to Gerry's letter of 12 Oct., these were Sir James Jay, John Jay's brother, and Dr. Edward Bancroft. With the exception of the sentence immediately following, the remainder of this letter deals with Bancroft, who is described in terms similar to those used by JA in his Autobiography. There he indicates that the “one good Thing” that Bancroft wrote in France, which has not been otherwise identified, appeared in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique (Diary and Autobiography, 4:71–74).
3. In the Letterbook JA first ended his letter at this point. He then extended it through the sentence discussing “Change Alley,” and then again through “I mention these Things in Confidence.” Finally, he added the query about accounts and vouchers.
4. Silas Deane, Franklin, Arthur Lee, and probably Ralph Izard are intended here. In the Letterbook, immediately after the blank space left in place of the fourth name, “bitter” was lined out in favor of “much.”
5. That is, Franklin.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0158

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Laurens, Henry
Date: 1779-10-25

To Henry Laurens

[salute] My dear Sir

Your Favour of the fourth of the Month, gave me great Pleasure. But I am afraid that you and Some others of my Friends felt more for { 224 } me, in the Aukward Situation, you mention, than I did for myself, 'tho I cannot Say, I was wholly insensible. I could not help laughing a little at the figure I cutt, to be sure. I could compare it, to nothing, but Shakespeares Idea of Ariel, wedged by the Waist, in the Middle of a rifted Oak,1 for I was Sufficiently Sensible that it was owing to an unhappy Division in Congress, and Pains enough were taken to inform me, that one Side were for Sending me to Spain, and the other to Holland, So that I was flattered to find that neither Side had any decisive Objection against trusting me, and that the apparent Question was only, where? But I assure you, that all my Sprawling, Wriggling, and brandishing my Legs and Arms in the Air,2 like Ariel, never gave me half the Pain, that the Picture of Congress in my Imagination at that time, excited. When I saw a certain Appeal to the People;3 that no Animadversion was made on it; that you resigned &c., Congress appeared to me to resemble a Picture in the Gallery of the C. De Vergennes and I trembled for the Union and safety of the states.
The Picture represents a Coach, with four Horses, running down a steep Mountain, and rushing on to the middle of a very high Bridge, over a large River. The Foundations of the whole Bridge, give Way, in a Moment, and the Carriage, the Horses, the Timbers, Stones and all, in a Chaos are falling through the Air down to the Water. The Horror of the Horses, the Coachman, the Footmen, the Gentlemen and Ladies in the Carriage, is Strongly painted in their Countenances and Gestures, as well as the Simpathy and Terror of others in Boats upon the River and many others on shore, on each side of the River.4
That I was sent without any solicitation of mine, directly or indirectly, is certainly true; and I had such formidable Ideas of the Sea and of British Men of War, Such Diffidence of my own Qualifications to do service in that Way, and Such Uncertainty of the Reception I should meet, that I had little Inclination to Adventure. That I went against my pecuniary5 Interest is most certainly so, for I never yet served the public without loosing Money by it. I was not however, as you suppose kept unimployed. I had Business enough to do, as I could easily convince you. There is a great Field of Business there and I could easily shew you that I did my share of it. There is so much to do, and So much difficulty to do it well, that I rejoice with all my Heart to find a Gentleman, of such Abilities, Principles and Activity, as Coll. Laurens, without a Compliment, undoubtedly is, appointed to assist in it. I most Sincerely hope for his Friendship and an entire Harmony, with him, for which Reason, I should be very happy in his Company in { 225 } the Passage, or in an Interview with him, as Soon as possible, in Europe. He will be, in a delicate situation, but not so much so, as I was, and plain sense, honest Intentions, and common Civility, will I think be sufficient to secure him and do much good.
Your kind Compliments on my Safe Return, and most honourable Re-Election, are very obliging.
I have received no Commission, nor Instructions, nor any particular Information of the Plan, but from the Advice and Information from you and Several others of my Friends at Philadelphia, and here,6 I shall make no Hesitation to say, that notwithstanding the Delicacy, and Danger of this Commission, I suppose, I shall accept it,7 without Hesitation, and trust Events to Heaven as I have been long used to do.
It is a Misfortune to me, to be deprived of the Pleasure of shaking Hands with you, at the Foot of Pens Hill, Eleven miles from Boston, where there lives a Lady, however, who desires me to present her best Respects, and ask the Favour of a Visit, when you come to Boston, that She may have an opportunity of Seeing a Gentleman, whose unshaken Constancy, does so much Honour and Such essential Service to his Country.
The Convulsions at Philadelphia, are very affecting and alarming but not entirely unexpected to me. The state of Parties and the Nature of their Government, have a long time given me disagreable Apprehensions. But I hope they will find some Remedy.
Methods will be found to feed the Army, but I know of none to cloath it, without Convoys to trade, which Congress, I think would do well to undertake, and perswade France and Spain, to undertake as soon as possible.
Your Packetts for your Friends in Europe, will give me Pleasure, and shall be forwarded with Care and dispatch. With great Truth and Regard, I am, sir, your Friend and servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (ScHi); docketed: “John Adams Esquire 25 October 1779 Rcd 8th. Novem.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. See JA to William Whipple, 11 Sept., and note 6 (above).
2. Compare the image in JA to AA, 28 Feb., in Adams Family Correspondence, 3:181.
3. That of Silas Deane, dated 5 Dec. 1778. The congress' failure to condemn this address caused Laurens to resign the presidency of that body.
4. This painting has not been identified.
5. “Pecuniary” was interlined, and “Money,” at the end of this sentence, does not appear in the Letterbook draft copy.
6. In the Letterbook JA does not set off “and here” from “Philadelphia,” suggesting that “here” modifies “my Friends,” and is not an introductory phrase to his statement of intent.
7. In the Letterbook JA interlined “not-withstanding the Delicacy and Danger of this Commission.”

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0159

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1779-10-25

To James Lovell

Mr. Joshua Johnson, is a Merchant settled with his Lady and Family at Nantes. I was honoured with many of his Civilities in that City, and with a good deal of his Conversation. He is a sensible genteel Man has a good Character, and I believe is as well qualified, for the service you mention1 as any <Man> American now in Europe: His affections sentiments and Acquaintances are, supposed to be on a particular side:2 but I believe his Conduct has been, prudent and unexceptionable.
The french Frigate would be as agreable a Conveyance for me as I wish; I should be very sorry to delay her. I dont expect to have much direct Negotiation, for some time, but I do expect a great deal of indirect, roundabout, and very ridiculous Manoeuv[r]ing. If I go at all I had rather go without delay, because I hate a state of suspence—and in my present situation I can engage in no other Business public or private. I was running fast into my old <Business> Profession, but this will put total stop to it, for being uncertain when I shall go, I cannot undertake any Mans Business and give him my Word to go through with it.
If Dana should not go, you will find that, Bancroft will be set up—but I think you would certainly carry it, and you may depend upon it, no Man would make me happier. Dana however will accept. He spent yesterday with me, and I am persuaded he will go.
I will inform A. L[ee]. by the 1st Opportunity. He cannot be delayed. He not only had Power to borrow Money, but has I believe considerable sums in his Hands from Spain. Spain has sent him <to my Knowledge> from Time to Time large sums, and she will continue to supply Mr. Jay, so that he will have no Trouble. I shall be in a different Predicament. You are mistaken about the English. There is no Money to be got there. Small sums may be borrowed in France or in Amsterdam, so that I wish to be furnished with full Powers to borrow. But I beg one favour more, and that is for an order to draw in Case of Necessity and in Case other Resources fail on Dr. Franklin, or on the Banker of the United States3 for a sum not exceeding My salary Yearly, and also for a Resolution of Congress, or a Letter from the Commercial Committee requesting the Continental Agents, in Europe and America, to furnish me Aids and supplies of Cash &c.,4 and to the Captains of all American Frigates, to <assist me> afford me a Passage out or home upon demand, so as not to interfere with other orders they may have however, or prevent their Cruising,5 I to pay for my { 227 } Passage to Congress, or be accountable for it. Mr. Dana should have the same Resolution of Congress and Letter from the Commercial and Marine Committee, one from each for each of Us. And perhaps the same to Mr. Jay and Mr. Charmichael.6 I hope I shall find the Funds provided for me sufficient, but if I should not I may be in the Utmost distress and bring upon my self and you <great> Disgrace. Franklin will supply me, and so will any Agent in France, if they have a Resolution of Congress, or even a Letter from the Commercial Committee.
I dont know what Indecencies you mean in my Commission. I have looked it up, and have it before me.7 It is on a large sheet of Paper, written very well all in the Hand Writing of our much respected Secretary. Signed by, President Laurens. Sealed with his seal, and attested by the Secretary. It is not upon Vellum, nor Parchment it is true, and the Paper is not the best, but I believe as good as any We had at that Time. Upon the whole I think it a very decent, respectable and Honourable <Condition> Commission. It was treated with great Respect at Versailles, and I see no Reason to object to it. Pray let me know what the Question is about it?
1. See Lovell to JA, [1 Oct.] (above).
2. JA probably alludes to the fact that Johnson had lived in London for several years before the Revolution as a factor for an Annapolis firm, and that his wife, Catherine Nuth, was English, so that his English connections were fresher than his American ones.
3. JA interlined “and in Case other Resources fail,” and “or on the Banker of the United States.” For the congress' orders to Franklin to assist the new ministers plenipotentiary, see JCC, 15:1183.
4. JA interlined “and supplies of Cash &c.”
5. The remainder of this sentence was interlined.
6. JA interlined this sentence.
7. See Lovell to JA, [1 Oct.], note 8 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0160

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Marchant, Henry
Date: 1779-10-25

To Henry Marchant

[salute] Dear sir

I have the Pleasure of yours of Octr. 2. Give me leave to assure you that, I never received a troublesome or useless Letter from America, during my Absence. We had enough such from many Parts of Europe to be sure—but none from America, and I should have thought myself under particular Obligations to you, for your Correspondence. If I should be so happy as to go with Mr. Dana, as I flatter myself I shall, I shall depend upon your constant Advice to him or me or both, to both the more agreable. We shall want it.
I assure you notwithstanding the Aukwardness of the situation you { 228 } hint at, I did not find the Rank of a Citizen either so inconvenient or so dishonourable, as to wish very impatiently to advance out of it. I have ever considered the service of the Public as a Duty, a real Duty, but this service may be performed by the Citizen as well as by the senator, or the Consul, the General or the Ambassador. It is easier performed, in the first Character than in any, and with the least Risque and Anxiety.
I would fain hope there is not so much of that Degeneracy you hint at, in Reality, as some Appearances indicate. The Misfortune is that ten vicious Persons in a society of an hundred are able to defeat very often the virtuous Intentions and Efforts of the other Ninety. But this will not always last. The national Character will work its Effects in Time.
Mr. Dana's Appointment makes me very happy, and his Acceptance will make me more so. I have no doubt of it, myself, from the Conversations I have had. The Judge1 will be the greatest Obstacle, but I dont intend to take any Denial, of the Judge, whom I have undertaken to convert or perswade.
Where is the Comte D'Estaing. He must come here this Year or next, or both. You must sett some Springs and Wheels in Motion to get him along, and to get him reinforced from Time to Time.2 We must have a superiour naval Force in the West Indies and on the Coast of this Continent. England will never be brought to her senses untill this Plan is adopted. Get Convoys to Trade, and a superiour naval Power in the American seas, and all will be easy, I think. I am with great Esteem, yor frid & sert
1. Edmund Trowbridge, distinguished jurist and uncle of Francis Dana, who was to be his heir (DAB).
2. It is likely that JA was addressing Marchant simply as a member of the congress, for his two standing committee assignments—Appeals and Treasury—would have given him no particular responsibility for promoting greater naval activity (JCC, 15:1445, 1447).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0161-0001

Editorial Note

Of the eleven states that adopted constitutions during the Revolutionary period, Massachusetts, ratifying its document in 1780, was the last. { 229 } (Connecticut and Rhode Island, both with corporate charters that granted broad autonomous powers, did not revise their organic law until the nineteenth century.) The General Court had drafted a constitution which it presented to the towns in 1778, but they overwhelmingly rejected it for a variety of reasons, ranging from its lack of a bill of rights to its being written and presented for approval in dangerous times when many voters were away on military service. A few towns asserted that a constitution ought to be drafted by a convention specially chosen for that sole purpose, on the grounds that constitutional law should be superior to mere acts of legislation. Nearly everyone was agreed, even in 1778, that any constitution must have the approval of the people. Responding to these objections, Massachusetts perfected the modern constitutional convention and ratification procedure that has since been used almost exclusively in framing organic law in the United States. In taking this final step, Massachusetts built on the constitutional traditions of Pennsylvania and Delaware, whose 1776 constitutions were drawn up by special conventions that were distinct from the established legislatures of those states, but whose work was not submitted to the voters for approval (J. Paul Selsam, The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, A Study in Revolutionary Democracy, Phila., 1936, p. 162–164, 211–212; John A. Monroe, Colonial Delaware, A History, N.Y., 1978, p. 253).
Massachusetts not only refined the American system of constitution-making, but produced the longest and most detailed constitution of the Revolutionary era. This document contributed several important principles that were adopted by other states as they revised their constitutions as well as by the framers of the United States Constitution. Most of these principles were espoused and articulated by John Adams, who played the key role in drafting a constitution that has lasted to the present day, although it has acquired more than one hundred amendments. The Massachusetts Constitution, with its provision for a strong, independent executive, instituted a true check-and-balance system. The other early state constitutions concentrated power in the hands of legislatures, which in most instances elected their chief executives. Pennsylvania provided for no governor at all, and New York's independently elected governor had to share his limited veto power with others and exercised more restricted appointive powers than were provided in Massachusetts. Nearly all of the states had sought to create an independent judiciary in their 1776–1777 constitutions by prescribing tenure during good behavior, but John Adams had already played a crucial role in establishing this principle through his Thoughts on Government (1776), which strongly influenced the drafting of several of those early constitutions (vol. 4:65–93).
The Massachusetts Constitutional Convention met in Cambridge on 1 September 1779. Each town had been authorized to choose as many delegates as it was entitled by law to send to the General Court, but the franchise was opened without regard to property holdings to “every { 230 } Freeman, Inhabitant of [a] town, who is twenty one years of age” (Journal of the Convention, p. 6). According to the official journal, over three hundred delegates were chosen. Comparison of the delegate list with the roster of representatives to the General Court reveals that towns generally sent far more men to the convention than they sent to the House, a sign perhaps that the task ahead was viewed as serious indeed. The main business during the week-long first session was to name a drafting committee made up of representatives from each county, totaling twenty-seven men, plus four members chosen at large. The actual number selected, however, was only thirty because the two island counties, Dukes and Nantucket, together entitled to one committeeman, sent no delegates to Cambridge. After organizing this committee, the convention adjourned to 28 October, when a full draft constitution was to be presented for consideration.
The drafting committee, meeting in Boston on 13 September, named a subcommittee, comprised of James Bowdoin, the convention's president, Samuel Adams, and John Adams, to do the preliminary work. The subcommittee turned the writing of a draft over to John Adams. According to an account he wrote in 1812, Adams' fellow subcommittee members took exception to only “one Line of no consequence” in his completed draft, and this he deleted. The full drafting committee, again according to Adams, substituted a qualified executive veto for the absolute veto that Adams favored and struck out the governor's power to appoint militia officers (JA to William D. Williamson, 25 Feb. 1812, MeHi). Adams' memory was faulty for both these changes were made by the full convention. The committee's printed Report of a Constitution (the document that follows) includes neither of these alterations.
The only contemporary clue we have to changes made by the full committee is furnished in two letters, both written by Adams while the convention was meeting in its second session. In answer to Elbridge Gerry's plea that an executive veto be limited to any attempt by the legislature to “affect the powers of the Executive” (to JA, 12 Oct., above), Adams replied, “I am clear for Three Branches, in the Legislature, and the Committee have reported as much, tho aukwardly expressed” (4 Nov., below). On the same day he wrote to Benjamin Rush: “If the Committee had boldly made the Legislature consist of three Branches, I should have been better pleased” (also below). What Adams meant was that the unqualified veto of the governor made him in effect a third branch, giving him the critical checking power that a “Reservoir of Wisdom” should have over the legislators, who comprised a reservoir of liberty (to Gerry, 4 Nov.). Despite the absolute veto that the Report of a Constitution gives to the governor, it specifically declares, in Chapter II, Section I, Article I, that “The department of legislation shall be formed by two branches.”
John Adams' remarks to Gerry and Rush are the only evidence known to the editors which suggests that his draft was significantly altered by { 231 } the committee before it was printed and offered to the convention. He did disclaim authorship of Article III of the Declaration of Rights, which provided tax support for religion, and we know from other sources that Chapter VI, Section I, which protected the interests of Harvard College, was largely drafted by a committee appointed by that institution (JA to William D. Williamson; JA, Works, 4:258, note 2). But until contrary evidence appears, we can only assume that Adams' draft, with the exceptions noted, was largely that of the printed Report.
In stating that the committee's draft was virtually Adams' own, it should be understood that it was not all original. John Adams was pleased to have a role in designing a new constitution, which he had long urged his political colleagues in Massachusetts to do, but he recognized that it was “impossible for Us to acquire any Honour, as so many fine Examples have been so recently set Us” (JA to Benjamin Rush, 10 Sept., above). Adams borrowed liberally from these examples. Formal bills of rights had been written for the constitutions of five of the original states in 1776—Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and North Carolina—and for Vermont in 1777, and several states without such formal bills included similar rights in their descriptions of governmental agents and their powers (Thorpe, ed., Federal and State Constitutions; Max Farrand, “The Delaware Bill of Rights of 1776,” AHR, 3:641–649 [July 1898]). In drafting Massachusetts' Declaration of Rights, Adams was greatly influenced by the order of listing and some of the language found in Pennsylvania's declaration. Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware also offered several ideas. All of the states had before them the great state papers of English history—Magna Charta and its revision, the Great Charter of 1225, the Petition of Right (1628), the Bill of Rights (1689), and the Act of Settlement (1701). In drafting the Frame of Government, Adams drew upon the Massachusetts Charter of 1691, his own Thoughts on Government, and even the rejected Constitution of 1778 for some of his language.
If Adams borrowed, he also made significant contributions of his own. The true check-and-balance system, originally described by him in Thoughts on Government, with its independent executive and independent judiciary, has already been mentioned. Less often noticed by historians has been Adams' organization of the Frame of Government into chapters, sections, and articles, which makes the Massachusetts Constitution much easier to read and refer to than the simple consecutive listing of articles or sections that characterizes every other early state constitution. This major innovation was incorporated into the New Hampshire constitution (1784) and the United States Constitution. Adams also changed the basis of representation in the House from the number of voters to the number of ratable polls, which included, with some exceptions, all free males sixteen years of age and above. This change would allow counting for representation purposes those who were too young or who had too little property to vote, but who had to
{ 232 } | view { 233 }
pay a tax or have their father or master pay it for them. Thereby apprentices and grown sons still living on the family farm would become part of the population that Adams thought the representative body should reflect.
Adams himself was pleased with the convention's acceptance without change of his second section under Chapter VI, “The Encouragement of Literature, &c.,” which spelled out in broad terms a positive role for government in promoting education, science, and the arts in both public and private institutions. One immediate object that he had in mind as he drafted this section was an academy of men interested in the arts and the natural sciences, and especially the natural history of America, that would be based in Massachusetts and would rival the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia and emulate the great academies of England and France. He had suggested founding such an academy to Samuel Cooper in August 1779, shortly after his return to America, and the hint was soon taken up (JA to Benjamin Waterhouse, 7 Aug. 1805, MHi). In 1780 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts chartered the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Three less conspicuous innovations deserve mention. Taking language from the 1691 charter, Adams detailed the powers of the legislature far more specifically than was done in other early state constitutions. He also called for limits on the legislative power to suspend habeas corpus. Only Georgia among the other states had even mentioned this important right, and Georgia did not address the problem of suspension. The power of the General Court in this area became one of the most hotly debated issues in the convention; a twelve-month time limit for suspension was added to Adams' article, but some delegates were greatly disappointed that the convention did not further limit this suspensive power. Finally, Adams gave the governor and Council and the Senate power to request a judicial opinion upon important questions of law. The convention extended this power to the House as well, while confining the right to give such an opinion to the Supreme Judicial Court. This legislative power was not found in the other state constitutions.
The number and significance of the alterations that the convention made in Adams' draft are greater than usually realized and need passing mention if only to place his authorship in proper perspective. As noted above, Adams himself singled out as particularly important, if unfortunate, two revisions: the two-thirds legislative vote that could override a governor's veto, which New York had employed in 1777 and which was adopted in the United States Constitution; and the election of officers by members of the militia in preference to appointment by the governor. The convention also rejected Adams' proposed rotation in the office of governor, a feature common to nearly all of the 1776 constitutions. This clause would have prevented a man from serving more than five one-year terms out of seven. The explicit requirement that major { 234 } officeholders be Christians was limited by the convention to the governor and his lieutenant, but the oath of office for councilors and legislators required swearing or affirming a belief in the truth of the Christian religion. In addition, the convention broadened Adams' proposed property qualifications for legislators to include personal property as well as freeholds of stated value. And in the Declaration of Rights the convention dropped the reference to the right of free speech which Adams had copied from the Pennsylvania declaration, although the delegates retained liberty of the press. They also provided for compensation when private property was taken for public purposes.
Some of the convention's additions corrected Adams' oversights. For example, he neglected to provide for the House the right to judge the qualifications of its members, and for the Senate, a quorum. He made no provision for amendments, although he was quite aware that any constitution would require them. One of the convention's more significant additions was the inclusion of a definition of town inhabitancy that was in line with traditional practices, which were designed to keep indigent and disorderly outsiders from claiming to be inhabitants of a town. And the convention was far more specific than Adams in guarding against plural officeholding, an abuse much complained about in the provincial period.
Finally, the convention rejected Adams' scheme of allowing towns with too few ratable polls for representation in the House to associate with larger towns in jointly choosing a representative, a device Adams had adapted from the Constitution of 1778. Small towns themselves felt that in associating, their influence would be lost; they wanted every town to have at least one representative, regardless of size. The convention, however, would yield no more than making provision for travel pay out of the public treasury to encourage small and poor towns already enjoying a right to representation to continue to send a member to the House.
The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 occupies a central position both in America's constitutional tradition and in John Adams' thought. The long months of drafting, revision, and ratification greatly refined America's constitution-making procedure, and prepared the way for the United States Constitution. In its principles and its structure, Massachusetts' document was the culmination of that process of turning away from legislative-centered government to embrace a system of checks and balances, strong, popularly elected executives, and independent judiciaries. This tradition, advanced so effectively by Adams himself in Thoughts on Government, had gradually gained momentum, particularly with the adoption of New York's constitution of 1777. After 1780, Americans faced a clear choice between Pennsylvania's legislative-centered form of government and the tripartite Massachusetts model, a choice resolved in Massachusetts' favor with the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1787–1788.
For John Adams, too, Massachusetts' new constitution marked both a { 235 } culmination and a turning point. As political thought and organic law, Adams' Report of a Constitution summarized nearly two decades of reading, thinking, and writing about balanced constitutions and just, durable governments. Its sources were varied, ranging from Greek, Roman, and British political thinkers whom Adams had long admired, especially James Harrington, to his own published writings and a wide range of American constitutions. These last-named included documents that Adams revered, like the Massachusetts Charter of 1691, and those he thought serviceable, like the Virginia and Maryland constitutions of 1776 and Massachusetts' own rejected Constitution of 1778, but also those of which he was highly critical, notably Pennsylvania's Constitution of 1776. John Adams left no doubt in his correspondence that he thought the American constitutional tradition was vigorous and healthy, and he believed that America's best constitutions were far superior to those in operation in Europe, as he would argue at great length in his Defence of the Constitutions of the United States (1787–1788).
At the same time, however, Adams was disappointed that the convention proved unreceptive to his absolute executive veto. Writing to Elbridge Gerry, he declared that without this power the executive, a sound government's “Reservoir of Wisdom,” would be run down by an aggressive legislature “like a Hare before the Hunters” (4 Nov., below). This disappointment seems to foreshadow the decline of John Adams' political optimism and of his receptivity to further constitutional innovation, as well as his growing concern that aristocracies in all forms threatened the vitality of balanced republican government. And his mounting anxiety over this concern would soon color his political thought so strongly that by the late 1780s he had moved out of the mainstream of America's still evolving constitutional tradition, a tradition to which he had contributed so much. What he left behind was America's most carefully balanced state constitution, the last great practical statement of the classical British commonwealth tradition and, not incidentally, the oldest functioning written constitution in the English-speaking world.
John Adams wrote the substance of the Report of a Constitution between 13 September and mid-October 1779, largely in Braintree, and presented it for revision to his subcommittee colleagues, and then to the full drafting committee, in mid- and late October. He presumably attended the full drafting committee sessions in October, and probably the full convention sessions of 28–30 October and 1–3 November as well. His attendance in the week after 4 November, when his correspondence resumes and he was preparing to sail again for Europe, seems less likely. No manuscript notes, rough drafts, or finished copies of Adams' text, or any detailed references to the committee sessions, are known to the editors.
The Report of a Constitution was distributed to the convention delegates in two parts. The first fifteen pages, through the end of the Declaration of Rights, were passed out to the members on order of the convention on Friday morning, 29 October. The entire pamphlet of fifty { 236 } pages, upon which the text below is based, was distributed on Monday, 1 November. Only the Library of Congress is known to have a copy of the fifteen-page first section, lacking the portion of the Frame of Government which begins on the bottom half of page fifteen. Copies of the complete pamphlet survive in several libraries and archives, often with annotations made by the delegates who first received them. When Adams departed for Europe on 15 November, he took with him several copies of the Report, which he gave to various acquaintances and officials in France and Holland, and even to some in England. He arranged for the Report to be printed in London and Paris in the spring of 1780, and later that year he had the adopted constitution printed in England, France, and the Netherlands (JA to Edmé Jacques Genet, 26 Feb., below; Thomas Digges to JA, 14 April 1780, Adams Papers; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:413; Adams Family Correspondence, 3:228, 349; 4:267). His preliminary version of the Massachusetts Constitution provoked much interest and admiration abroad.
The annotation below indicates specific sources that Adams drew upon, as well as all major alterations to the Report made by the convention. Most minor changes of phrasing are not noted. And since the focus is on John Adams, only occasional account is taken of the debates in the convention, of the proposals that failed, or of the sharpness of division in the votes on some provisions. For a fuller description of the convention's work, see Robert J. Taylor, “Construction of the Massachusetts Constitution,” Amer. Antiq. Soc., Procs., 90 (1980):317–346. The Massachusetts Charter of 1691 and the Revolutionary-era constitutions of all the states can be found in Thorpe, ed., Federal and State Constitutions; volume three gives the Massachusetts texts. For the rejected Constitution of 1778, see Robert J. Taylor, ed., Massachusetts, Colony to Commonwealth, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1961, p. 51–58.

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0161-0002

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1779-10-28 - 1779-10-31

The Report of a Constitution or Form of Government for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The report of
or form of
for the
of Massachusetts:

Agreed upon by the Committee—to be laid before the Convention of delegates, assembled at cambridge, on the First Day of September, A. D. 1779; and continued by Adjournment to the Twenty-eighth Day of October following.
{ 237 }
TO the Honorable the Convention of Delegates from the several Towns in the State of Massachusetts, appointed for the forming a new Constitution of Government for the said State.
Your Committee, in Pursuance of your Instructions, have prepared the Draught of a new Constitution of Government for this State; and now make Report of it: which is respectfully laid before you, in the following Pages, for your Consideration and Correction.
In the Name of the Committee,
[signed] James Bowdoin, Chairman.

A Constitution or Form of Government for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

THE end of the institution, maintenance and administration of government, is to secure the existence of the body-politic; to protect it; and to furnish the individuals who compose it, with the power of enjoying, in safety and tranquility, their natural rights, and the blessings of life: And whenever these great objects are not obtained, the people have a right to alter the government, and to take measures necessary for their safety, happiness and prosperity.2
The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals: It is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good. It is the duty of the people, therefore, in framing a Constitution of Government, to provide for an equitable mode of making law