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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0009

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Date: 1780-03-04

To Samuel Adams

[salute] Dear Sir

This will be delivered to you by Mr. Izard, who goes out in the Alliance, with Mr. Lee, Mr. Wharton, Mr. Brown1 and others. He will wait on you of Course, and will be able to give you, good Information concerning the Intentions of the English and their military Preparations by sea and Land: and those of the French and Spaniards, at the same Time.
He will also give his Opinion very freely concerning American and other Characters here as well as Measures. In many Things his opinions may be just, but in some and those not a few I am sure they are wrong.
The great Principle, in which I have differed from him, is this, in the Mode of treating with this Court. He has been always of opinion that it was good Policy, and necessary to hold an high Language to this Court. To represent to them, the danger of our being <conquered> subdued if they did not do this and the other Thing for Us, in order to obtain Money and other Aids from them. He is confident they would not have dared to refuse Us Any Thing.
Altho no Man in America or in the World, was earlier convinced than I was, that it was the Interest of France and Spain to support the Independence of America, and that they would Support it, and no Man is more sensible than I am of the Necessity they are under to support Us, yet I am not and never was of Opinion that we could with Truth or with good Policy, assume the Style of Menace, and threaten them with returning again to G. B. and joining against France and Spain—even tell them that We should be subdued, because I never believed this myself, and the Court here would not have believd it from Us.
The Court here have many Difficulties to manage as well as we, and it is a delicate and hazardous Thing, to push Things in this Country. Things are not to be negotiated here, as they are with the { 14 } People in America, even the Tories in America, or as with the People of England.
There is a Frankness however that ought to be used with the Ministry, and a Candor, with which the Truth may be and has been communicated: but there is a <roughness> harshness, that would not fail to ruin, in my opinion the fairest Negotiation in this Country.2
We are anxious to hear from you having nothing since the Beg. of Decr. and very little since We left you.
Your Fred & Sert,
LbC (Adams Papers;) notation: “not sent. the Copy burnt.”
1. These were Arthur Lee, Samuel Wharton of Philadelphia, and Joseph Brown Jr. of Charleston (Morison, John Paul Jones, p. 273; Adams Family Correspondence, 3:302).
2. Neither this letter nor another of the same date to James Lovell (below) was sent because of JA's reservations about the propriety of his criticism of Ralph Izard and its possible consequences for the conduct of American diplomacy (see JA to Lovell, 16 March, below). JA's views in this letter regarding Izard's unsuitability as a diplomat are an expansion of earlier criticisms (vol. 7:420; 8:165, 205–207, 210–211) and are probably not much different from those held by Benjamin Franklin toward Izard. However, in view of JA's later actions, notably his exchanges with Vergennes in June and July, JA's criticism of Izard should be compared with Franklin's criticism of JA in Franklin's letter of 9 Aug. to the president of Congress (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:22–23; but see also Editorial Note, The Dispute with the Comte de Vergennes, 13–29 July, below).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0010

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1780-03-04

To James Lovell

[salute] My Dear Friend

This will be deliverd you by Mr. Izard, who I Suppose, will lay open to you many Things relative to the State of our Affairs here. I Suppose, by what he has said, <in plain English,> that he will make a direct Complaint against Dr. F. I dont know this, but only by the Inferences that I draw. I Suppose Dr. F. and all his Friends here will expect this, from what has passed between them. My Situation here, will naturally make all the Drs Friends jealous of me, least I should be set up as his Successor. And this will make my situation delicate and disagreeable. I assure you, altho I have no Expectation of having any Thing to do, in Consequence of my present Powers, yet I have no Ambition to be the Drs successor. It is a Place of too much Envy, and too much difficulty, for any body to be happy in.
What the Congress will think proper to do with me, I know not. To keep me here, will cost them a great deal of Money, and I shall be able to do them no other service, except sending them Intelligence and now and then perhaps throwing in a Hint of Advice, for there is no Hope or Thought of Peace. I will send you, all the Information I { 15 } can. Let this remain between you and me, and believe me with an affectionate attachment, yours &c.1
LbC (Adams Papers;) notation: “not sent the Copy burnt.”
1. For JA's decision not to send this letter, see his letters to Samuel Adams of 4 March, note 2 (above); and to Lovell of 16 March (below).
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.