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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0072

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Date: 1780-03-31

To Arthur Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

I have recieved your's of the 26th, and that of the 15th. of this Month. I inclose a Copy of the Letter You desire.1
Mr. Garnier is gone into the Country, and I have not seen him since I arrived here. Mr. Iz. however has seen him and will give You a satisfactory Account of what he says.2
If I were to apply to the other Gentleman,3 You know what would be the Consequence. It would fly very soon to you know where,4 and I should have only the Credit of meddleing unnecessarily with Disputes, which I have kept out of, as much as I could, and which it is certainly now the public Interest and consequently my Duty to keep out of as much as I can. I had therefore rather be excused. The Gentleman himself would probably give You the same Answer to a Letter from You directly to him, as he would give to me, unless I should use Arts with him, which would be unworthy of You as well as me, and which I cannot use with any Body.
I shall have enough to do to steer my little Bark, among the Rocks and Shoals. I shall have perplexities enough of my own which I cannot avoid, and Dangers too. These I shall meet with a steady Mind, and perhaps none of them will be greater than that which I think my Duty of avoiding things that dont belong to me.
Scarcely ever any Minister executed a Commission for making Peace, without ruining his own Reputation, in a free Government. No Minister that ever existed had a more difficult and dangerous Peace to make, than I have.5 Add to this, we who are and have been in Trusts abroad are all envied. I shall be envied more than any other. To be Minister at the Court of St. James's, is an Object that will tempt Numbers who would not care much about any other. Nothing less than this is the Amount of my present Commission. I was not envied when shipwrecked in the Gulf Stream, nor when chased for forty eight hours by three British Men of War at a time, nor when sailing in a Ship that leaked seven feet of Water in an hour, nor when devoured with Vermin, among Mules and Swine upon the Mountains of Gallicia: but the Idea of my residing in London, and approaching the exalted Steps of the British Throne, I know can never be patiently born by some People.
{ 101 }
The Malice and Madness of the British Court, however, will protect me from this Envy a long Time; perhaps longer than my Constituents will confide to me the Trust. But the Idea of my having such a Trust, the thought that so much Confidence is now placed in me, will naturally stir Passions enough, to make me take Care, how I conduct myself, and particularly to keep out of the Departments of others, and above all from meddling in personal Disputes, that have no Relation to mine.
The Gentleman6 you mention has hitherto been very still, but he has been well recieved, by all that I have learnt.

[salute] Adieu

[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers.) LbC (Adams Papers;) notation by Thaxter: “Delivered Capt. Landais 1st of April 1780. Hotel de Valois Rue Richelieu.” For an explanation of how this letter came to be in the Adams Papers, see Arthur Lee to JA, 10 Oct. 1778, descriptive note (vol. 7:127–128).
1. The enclosure has not been found, but see Lee's letter of the 15th, and note 1 (above).
2. This and the following paragraph refer to Lee's dispute with William Carmichael. See Lee's letters of 15 March, note 2 (above), and 12 April (below).
3. Ferdinand Grand.
4. Probably Benjamin Franklin.
5. The remainder of this paragraph and all of that which follows do not appear in this letter as edited by Jared Sparks (Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, 12 vols., Boston, 1829–1830, 4:448–449), CFA (JA, Works, 7:142), and Francis Wharton (Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:584). JA's statement is the first indication that he saw his commission as establishing him as the likely American minister to Great Britain and that the opening of negotiations for treaties of peace and commerce would confirm him as such in fact.
6. Conrad Alexandre Gérard.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0073

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Allen, Jeremiah
Date: 1780-04-02

To Jeremiah Allen

[salute] Dear Sir

Last night I received yours of the 27 of March from Libourne, which gave me great Pleasure, and relieved my Mind from a Burthen as I had been under Anxiety least you should have been sick, as I had made many Enquiries after you, and could hear nothing, not even where you was. Mr Thaxter never received your letter.
The Report you mention is but one of a Million lies, that are circulated by Artfull People for various Purposes. I have had particular Reasons for concealing my public Character hitherto, but you knew it sufficiently before you came from America, altho you never knew it from me. But I have now no longer any Reasons for secreting my Mission. I have the Honour to be, a Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States of America vested with full Powers, to treat and agree, with the Ambassadors or Plenipotentiaries of France England, { 102 } or any other states whom it may concern, relating to the Reestablishment of Peace1 and have had the Honour, in this Character to be presented to the King and Royal Family at Versailles. There is no other Person in Europe who can make a Peace on behalf of America, and you may be assured, and so may all who enquire of you, that I have not made Peace, and that I shall not and cannot make Peace untill France <and England> shall do the same.2 You may assure them too that Congress have not, because England has never empowerd any body to treat with them, and if she had or should,3 congress could not make Peace without France. You will make a discreet Use of this Letter. Direct for me, a l'hotel de Valois Ruë de Richelieu, a Paris. Pray write me, the Productions, Manufactures, Commerce and Remarkables of the Place where you are.
I hope soon to have the Pleasure of seeing you in Paris, and showing you some of its Curiosities. I am with great Regard, sir your most obt. servant.
1. The remainder of this sentence was interlined for insertion at this point.
2. A reference to Art. 8 of the Franco-American treaty of alliance, which prohibited either party from concluding a separate peace (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:38–39).
3. Comma supplied.
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.