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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0152

Author: Digges, Thomas
Author: Russell, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-05-02

From Thomas Digges

[salute] Dr Sir

You will have read, before this can reach you, the Gazette account of the Chas. Town Expedition; which is universally esteemed here rather a disagreeable account for Government, and plainly indicative of very great doubts if Clinton will succeed or not.2 I am perswaded by all I can hear He will be a second time disgraced and baffled in his attempts on that place.
A parcell containing Pamphlets and papers to the amount of 3. 5. 9d was lately forwarded to you via Ostend3 directed to M Francis Bowens Merchant there, who has orders to forward them on in the safest and best manner he can. He is made acquainted with the contents of the box, and has direction to forward in like manner to you any other parcell which may reach his hands (with or without any accompanying letter) markd A. It may be not be improper for you to write Him a line how and by what conveyances He is to forward you any thing else in future.4 My motive for sending you the whole of the Courants is because that paper contains every petition, address, Remonstrance, County meetings &c. &c. that are agitated in this Country, and is of itself a history of all the movements of the people as to obtain a reform in the Constitution.
The English Papers ie the Londn. Evg. [Post]5 and London Packet, will be sent on with the Courant in future until I have your orders to stop them; which, you had better do when you can fix a mode with the Paris post office how to get them by Post. A small paper parcell of other Pamphlets and the News papers will be forwarded you about this day week.
There are accounts in the City today that the Jason Man of War and her Convoy about 15 sail transports (which is given out were bound up the North Seas to bring the Hessian recruits said to be 1500 Men to England) have been met by two french frigates and dispersd, several of the transports are put into Scarborough, the others and the Man of War still missing and supposd to be taken.6
Genl. Conways motion relative to Ama. was put off today for some future period, Hartleys stands for fryday the substance of which you will have in the Genl. Advertiser of the 1st of May.7 Some deviltry has got into Conways head for He seems to think there is yet a door open for Peace with Ama. short of Independence, than which nothing can be so falacious and absurd. How the Devil he can inbibe such notions { 262 } I cannot think, but I am told He is much in the circle of a Scotch acquaintance and some times talks to Refugees such as Mr. Galloway, Allen8 &c. I cannot account for it otherways than that He is looking up to the Command of the Army.
I should be glad, when you see and read the Debates upon those motions to know what you think thereof. I am on all occasions Your Obedt. Servant
[signed] Wm Russell
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Flanders A Monsieur Monsieur Ferdinando Raymond San Negotiant Chez Monsr. Hocherau Libraire pont neuf Paris” docketed by CFA: “W.S.C. 2 May 1780.”
1. A borough of London.
2. This was an extract from a letter of 9 March from Clinton that appeared in the London Gazette of 1 May and which was reprinted in other London papers. That it was seen as “a disagreeable account” was probably owing to Clinton's reports of his losses during the fleet's stormy passage, the formidable defenses thrown up by the defenders, and, in a postscript, the arrival of 2,000 troops to reinforce the rebel army.
3. For the contents of this package sent on 25 April, see the list enclosed with Digges' letter of 8 June (below).
4. JA did so on 5 May (below), but in reference to Digges' letter of 28 April (above).
5. See Digges' letter of 28 April (above).
6. The London Courant of 3 May reported that three French privateers had attacked the frigate Jason and its nine-ship convoy, taking one transport and damaging the frigate.
7. On 1 May David Hartley declared in the House of Commons that he intended to introduce three motions concerning the war in America. The first sought a declaration that hostilities against America were enormously expensive, futile, and ruinous to the empire; the second proposed an address to the King, requiring a change of ministry, reconciliation with America, and a united military campaign against France and Spain; and the third called for passage of a bill appointing commissioners with sufficient powers to settle the American dispute. Hartley was followed immediately by Gen. Henry Seymour Conway who indicated his desire to introduce a bill for reconciliation. It was Conway's bill, however, that was introduced and debated on 5 May. Hartley's proposals in the form of resolutions were not introduced until 11 May, and his bill to end the war did not appear until 27 June (Parliamentary Reg., 17:606, 650–670, 696, 753; for Hartley's “Bill for Conciliation” of 27 June, see the Descriptive List of Illustrations, vol. 10, below). For Conway's bill and the progress of Hartley's proposals, together with JA's comments thereon, see JA's letters of 13 May to Thomas Digges, [17 May] to Edmé Jacques Genet, and 7 July, No. 90, to the president of Congress (all below).
8. Probably Andrew Allen, son of former chief justice of Pennsylvania William Allen (DAB).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0153

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-05-02

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

I have receivd your Excellencys Letters of the 22d and 26th of last Month, I find myself much honord by both. I took the Liberty of writing to you on the 24th inclosing therein News Paper from England. The Paper receivd was sent immediately to be made as public as possible.1 The Benevolence of Spain and the Gratitude of America cannot be made too public; they will shew the ground of Union is Solid, for they will shew an Excellent Disposition in both Parties to maintain it.
{ 263 }
I have sent for the Treatise on the Admiralty Laws, I well remember the Agitation of the Question of free Bottoms making free Goods, during the last War. The writings on the Subject were Voluminous, I read many of the best, and One of the worst, written and given me by Sir James Marriot, the present Judge of the Admiralty.2 Upon the whole I was of Opinion, (altho with all my English prejudices About me, for I had them then) that the contrary doctrine was false, and that the ground of the English System was that of convenience and force. Natural Law and the combined force of Europe will I trust now totally defeat this insulting and dangerous procedure of the Common Ennemy.
The last resolutions of the States General are clear and Manly. They give us room to expect much if England persists in her Plan. Has your Excellency seen Linguets last Number of his Annales politiques &c. it treats of the present State of Affairs, it may had at Paris.3
I congratulate your Excellency on the total defeat of the Opposition, their Mad Virtue is checked in Parliament, and other proceedings must now be taken, if England would Escape that Pit, which She had diggd for others. I agree with your Excellency, that Slight Matter will give Occasion to the burst of Civil War—the whole is inflameable and there are many more appearances of internal Tumult, than those remarkd by Lord Clarendon in his Unhappy Time,4 but then there are also more Probability of Success on the part of the Crown then in his days, for the King has much more Influence and force.
I most sincerely concur with your Excellency in Opinion with respect to England. Her Conduct will be during this Mans Life Malicious to Us, and she will ever after be our rival in Trade, and our natural and enragd Ennemy. We must therefore be ever distrustful of Her, the American Alliance with France is for the Interest and Honor of Both. I trust it will ever be Kept up with the Utmost Liberallity; I assure your Excellency it has ever been my opinion, that every suspicion and doubt of it ought to be discountenancd, and I have done it on more Occasions than One, and that too with some Warmth, for I know nothing more dangerous to Friendship of every Sort, than harbouring Jealousies, and even hearing Insinuations against those, we have a natural Affection to or with whom we have an Interest and Duty to be well with. You know Too that it has always been my opinion, that there cannot be too great a Shew, or indeed I ought rather to say too much real Candour and Openess towards our great and good Ally. On the Contrary it is the Sistem of England to bring { 264 } on a distrust of One that she may ruin both. I Hope both will be wisher than to give into her Snares!
It is said, that Parliament will be soon prorogued and dissolved in October and another Chosen in a Hurry. Hartly seems fearful that he shall not be supportd in his Motions, this may bring Conway and Pownal to make theirs. I wish some one woud do it, that we might get at the present sense of the Minister.
I am Anxious to hear what has been done and is now doing at Charles Town and N York. There will be much Blood Spilt in both Places.
I sent the Dialogue5 to a Friend in England. He has thought proper to publish it. I take the Liberty of sending the first part to your Excellency.

[salute] I am Sir with the greatest Respect Your Excellencys Most Faithful & Obd Hble Servt

[signed] Edm: Jenings
1. A reference to JA's account of his journey through Spain, which he had enclosed in his letter of 19 April (above, for its publication, see note 2).
2. This was Sir James Marriott, judge of the court of admiralty from 1778 to 1799 (DNB). Jenings likely is referring to Marriott's The Case of the Dutch Ships, Considered, London, 1758, in which he defended British seizures of neutral ships bound to enemy ports and denied any basis under the law of nations for the doctrine that free ships made free goods. For Marriott's ruling in the case of a Dutch ship seized from the van Bylandt convoy in late Dec. 1779, in which he took essentially the same position, see JA's letter of 6 April to the president of Congress (No. 37, calendared, above).
3. Simon Nicolas Henri Linguet was a brilliant but eccentric lawyer, journalist, and author. During a self-imposed exile in England and in various places in continental Europe, he began the publication of the Annales politiques, civiles et littéraires du dix-huitième siècle, 19 vols., London, 1777–1792 (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale). The specific issue of the Annales to which Jenings refers has not been found, but for JA's evaluation of Linguet, see his letter of 15 May to Jenings, and notes 1 and 2 (below).
4. Edward Hyde, 1st earl of Clarendon, was a trusted advisor of both Charles I and Charles II. A strong royalist, he was an equally ardent supporter of rule according to constitutional principles, but was unwilling to adapt his policies to the changed circumstances brought on by the civil war (DNB). Jenings probably refers to Clarendon's views as expressed in his personal narrative of the events in which he participated, his History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, Begun in the Year 1641, 3 vols., London, 1702–1704. In 1766, JA adopted “Clarendon” as a pseudonym in a newspaper controversy over the Stamp Act (“Clarendon to Pym,” 13–27 Jan. 1766, vol. 1:155–170).
5. No printed version of Jenings' “Dialogue,” whether as a newspaper piece or a separate pamphlet, has been found, but for an extract from the work, see Jenings' letter of 5 March, and note 9 (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.