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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8

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 Deane had asked Leave of Absence,—but thinks it not safe to let him go.3 The Virginia Paper says my Commission is superseded,4 but no more about tittle top, &c.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).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.