A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0096

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-04-12

From John Bondfield

[salute] Sir

I am honord with your obliging and interesting favors of the 2 Instant. The arrival of our two Ships the Governor Livngston and Mary Fearen from Virginia at Nantes obliged me to repair to this Town to see to the discharge and disposal of their Cargoes and the reequiptment of the Ships. This has prevented my replies in the course you had a right to expect, as your Letters were forwarded to me and only came to hand last Post. I have given Orders to forward by the Turgotine1 one hhd of the best vin de lafitt and as it will be { 128 } | view some days after its arrival before it will be in a proper State to draw off I have order a Case of fifty Bottles to be also forwarded that will be fit for emediate Use. There are as many various qualities of Wines in the presses of Bordeaux as there are parishes. Each have their peculiar tact [tack?], flavor and the Country to which their consumption is particularly preferd them. The most esteemed for private Use of the first second and third qualitys are:2
Vin de Segeur ou lafit sells in peaceable times 2000″ [livres] per Ton
Chatteau Magot   }     from 800 a 1200″  
St. Julien    
Medoc comprehending various qualities     400 a 800″  
Vin Blanc—   de Bersac   }     360″ a 400″  
de La Grave    
The above are the qualities fit for private Use rated as new wines. The price encreases in proportion to age from 20 to 50 per Cent.
A Ton comprehends four hogsheds, each hogshed two hundred and fifty Bottles. This I supose is in substance what you desire to be informd of. If any further explainations I shall most chearfully enter into a further detail.
I have heard of the reports you mention to have been propagated, but always treated them as many others of the like Nature; as the fanthome of a discontented individual, raised purely without other intent than to give vente to a passion, created by the loss of a Ship or other incedant occurence. In this Kingdom are many State Jobbers who lay out and patch up as their imaginations suggest without either ground or probability and without even a single Correspondent. I have rarely far to travel before I find the source of most reports, and emediately give the Credit due the distributer which at Bordeaux are pretty well known to me.
I wrote you 2 March under Cover to our freind A L. as he left Paris about that time. I suppose the Letter must have been sent after him and he has omitted to forward it to you if got to his hand.3
By advices from Lorient I learn Cap Jones has difficulty with his Officers and men who all Unitedly require a settlement of Prizes taken during their former Cruizes. LeRay de Chaumont holds them at short allowance. So long as that Man has the management of the American affairs there will raise perpetually difficulties. His private { 129 } undertakings involves him in difficulties and causes him to blend them independent to become subservient to his momentary cravings. I sincerely pity Mess Lee and Izard who are forced [to] pay attendance to his pleasure, they must wait at Lorient til it suits his conveniences to settle the Seamens Claims.4 I should have been glad our terms Suited Mr. De Chaumont for the transport of the Publick Goods by our Ships as we could have easily and Agreably accomodated them Gentlemen in One of them. Our offers were rejected, and the Goods bought by Mr. Ross three years past with many others may posibly remain some time before they get forwarded.5 With due respect I have the Honor to be Sr. your very hhb Servant
[signed] John Bondfield
My Compliments if you please to Mr. Dana.
1. A public transportation system for the conveyance of freight and official dispatches within France established in 1775 by Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, controller-general of finances (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale).
2. Compare Bondfield's comments regarding the wines of Bordeaux with those by B. de Cabarrus Jeune in his letter of 8 April (above).
3. This letter has not been found and apparently never reached JA (to Bondfield, 25 April, below).
4. For Le Ray de Chaumont and the Alliance, see Arthur Lee to JA, 26 March, and note 2 (above).
5. In 1778 John Ross, a Philadelphia merchant and sometime European agent of Willing, Morris & Co., had been involved in a bitter dispute with the American Commissioners over his accounts and their obligation to reimburse him for supplies purchased under orders from the Secret Committee of Trade (see vols. 6 and 7; Papers of Robert Morris, ed. E. James Ferguson and John C. Catanzariti, Pittsburgh, 1973– , 1:169). It is not known when or if the goods referred to by Bondfield were sent to America.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0097

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-04-12

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

I Congratulate your Excellency, on the Russian Memorial; on its face, it promises much, (as it has something, that tends to a general Coalition). Surely the Independance of America is essential to the freedom of Commerce, I wish it was generally thought so; however the Invitation to Sweden, Denmark, Portugal and Holland leads to an immediate formidable Confederacy against the overgrown, and consequently insolent Power of England.
I congratulate your Excellency too that Nothing was heard, in Maryland, of Clinton with his 8000 Men the 2d of March, I trust we shall hear no more of Him.
I received yesterday a Letter from Mr Joshua Johnson at Nantes, wherein He expresses an Earnest desire of being permitted to Lay { 130 } before you such Information, as may come to his Knowledge, and have your Correspondence and Confidence. Give me leave Sir, to recommend Him to your Excellency, as a Gentleman highly worthy of both. He has accepted, from a Sense of Duty to our Country, the painful and invidious Business of Auditing the public Accounts, and promises a Strict and faithful Discharge of that important Office.1 This I am sure will be most pleasing to You, and serve to recommend him better to your Notice, than All I can say; it is Sometime Since He Signified his Acceptance of the Employment, but has not receivd an Answer. He tells me, that Congress has said, that they intend to draw bills at 6 Months Sight for £200,000 Sterling, the buyer to pay 25000 Currency for £1000 Sterling, and to lend Congress £25000 more, which is to go in the Sinking fund, and for which they are to receive 6 per Cent Interest.2
He tells me too, that the State of Maryland, having some Money in the English Funds, have named Mr Carmichael, Mr Williams, Mr R B LLoyd, Himself and me as fit persons, out of whom His Excellency Mr Franklin is to chuse one to sell and receive and transmit the same, for which He is to have 2 1/2 per Cent.3 I am much pleasd with the Notice, that my Native Country has taken of me, and therefor, altho I am not ambitious of the Employment I shall think it my Duty in Obedience to the State to accept it if the Choice falls on me, (of which I am told there is little probability) however I must first beg your Advice and directions, Should his Excellency nominate me and you shoud approve of my Acceptance, I shall be obligd to you to make known to Him my present Residence.
Mr Carmichael writes from Madrid, that He is much satisfied with the Frankness of those, with whom He treats. He wishes my Correspondence and Every information, for altho He has written several Letters to Paris within these six weeks, He has received no Answer.
I had proposed to have gone to Boulogne, for my Baggage left there last Summer before this, as I took the Liberty of Informing your Excellency, but shall now stay here, until I have the Honor of receiving your Direction, whether it will be necessary for me to Attend yours and his Excellencys Mr Franklins Command at Paris.

[salute] I have the Honor to be with the greatest Respect your Excellencys Most Obedient and Faithful Servt.

[signed] Edm: Jenings
RC (Adams Papers;) endorsed: “Mr. Jennings recd & ansd. Ap. 15. 1780.”
1. For Johnson, a merchant and JQA's future father-in-law, see JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:300. Johnson was nominated on 28 Sept. 1779, along with Jenings and a “Mr. Labouchere,” to examine the public accounts and was elected by Congress the next day { 131 } (JCC, 15:1114–1115, 1126).
2. Johnson was referring to Congress' resolutions of 23 Nov. 1779 directing that £100,000 sterling in bills of exchange be drawn on John Jay in Spain and a like sum on Henry Laurens in the Netherlands, “payable at six months sight” and sold “at the current rate of exchange.” The details of the required loan of an amount equal to the purchase price of the bills of exchange were finally set on 27 Dec. (JCC, 15:1299–1300, 1315–1316, 1326–1327, 1404– 1405, 1412–1413). Although Congress prepared the bills for sale, most were never used because of the unlikelihood that sufficient funds would be available for payment in either Spain or the Netherlands (E. James Ferguson, Power of the Purse, Williamsburg, 1961, p. 55–56).
3. In Nov. 1779 the Maryland Assembly, seeking to obtain funds for the redemption of its bills of credit, authorized Benjamin Franklin (or John Jay, in Franklin's absence) to order the pre-Revolutionary trustees of Maryland's stock in the Bank of England, resident in Britain, to sell the stock and transfer the funds to a bank in Paris or Amsterdam. If the trustees refused, Franklin was to appoint a trustee from among the five men named by Jenings in his letter. The new trustee would then go to London and through some unspecified means take control of the state's funds. JA later discussed the matter with Franklin and on 30 April forwarded to Jenings the substance of the legislation (Adams Papers). As events transpired, the pre-war trustees refused to act and Franklin apparently named William Carmichael as trustee, but he never took up his post. Maryland did not finally obtain access to its funds until 1806, after much negotiation and litigation (Kathryn L. Behrens, Paper Money in Maryland, 1727–1789, in Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, Baltimore, 1923, Ser. 41, No. 1, p. 88–94; Archives of Maryland, Baltimore, 1883– , 43:50–51).
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.