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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9


Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0236

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-06-02

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

I have this day receivd your Excellencys Letter of the 28th.1 Ultimo, which shall be made the proper Use of but its Silent with regard to two others,2 which I had the Honor of addressing to your Excellency, one about Six days Ago, and another about ten, I am under a great Uneasiness for their fate. In particular for one which inclosd a Letter from London, which had in it Something particular—under the Jargon3 of <a supposed> a farm and farmers, my Friend, in whom I have Confidence says He likes farmer Jay very well, but how came it that Hussey, who is a roman Catholick and is related to one Man a Chatholic, shoud have any thing to do in my affairs?4 that He saw Him lately in London, and that He Knows he is sent in Devonshire,5 (Spain) to tear up every thing by the Roots. He says that Hussey is a (fair) plausible man and that his Countenance is fair. Does your Excellency Know any one, that Answers this Description, that has passed through Paris? I have written to London for a clearer description, and Proofs, if possible of the Suggestions.
I am sorry the Letter itself has not come to your Excellency's Hand. I Kept no Copy of it, having desird your Excellency to return me the original with your Opinion on it. I returnd your Excellency The most respectful Thanks of those, to whom Clintons Letter was addressed and wrote of other matters, which I wish had not been stopped.6 Not that I care Whether Friends see it, but I think that all shoud and in particular your Excellency to whom, it properly belongs. This Stopping of Letters is Ungenerous and dangerous. Can your Excellency give me another Address to You? I write this under Cover to Mr. Grand. Pray inquire after those Letters, I put them in the Post myself.

[salute] I am Sir your Excellencys Most devoted & Obedient Hble Sert

[signed] Edm: Jenings
1. Although JA indicates in his letter of 6 June (below) that he had written to Jenings on 28 May, no letter of that date has been found. The missing letter to Jenings may have contained the analysis of Lord George Germain's speech of 5 May that JA sent to Genet on 28 May (above) with a request that Jenings secure its publication in the London papers. That would explain Jenings' promise to make “proper Use” of it as well as the com• { 371 } ments in his letter of 5 May [i.e. June] (below) where he mentions a letter of the 28th and writes at length regarding JA's comments on Germain's speech.
2. These were Jenings' letters of 27 May (above) and 22 May (Adams Papers). For the letter of the 22d and its enclosed letter to Jenings from a “Confidential Friend” in London, see JA's letter to Jenings of 29 May, and notes (above).
3. “Jargon” is apparently used here in the obsolete sense of a code (OED). Both Jenings here and JA in his letter of 29 May seem to indicate that Jenings' correspondent used the word “farmer” to mean John Jay.
4. Jenings' meaning here is unclear and, in the absence of the letter from his friend, probably unknowable. Thomas Hussey was a Catholic priest, but to whom he was related and how that would affect John Jay in Spain remains obscure. For Hussey and his mission to Spain, see JA's letter of the 29th, and note 4 (above).
5. This may be another example of the “Jargon” used by Jenings' correspondent, “Devonshire” being used in place of “Spain.” Another explanation is that it is meant to refer to the ship on which Hussey went to Spain, but, in fact, he sailed on the frigate Milford (Samuel F. Bemis, The Hussey-Cumberland Mission and American Independence, Princeton, 1931, p. 51).
6. This and the following sentence refer to Jenings' letter of 27 May (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0237

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1780-06-04

To the President of Congress, No. 79

Paris, 4 June 1780. RC (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 98–101). printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:762–764.
In this letter, read in Congress on 25 Sept., John Adams provided a digest of newspaper accounts from Cádiz, Toulon, Brest, Paris, Ostend, Leyden, Brussels, and London for the period between 2 May and 3 June. The reports concerned Spanish and French naval operations, efforts of European merchants to trade with America, Dutch efforts to obtain redress from Britain for Fielding's attack on Adm. van Bylandt's convoy, and the general European response to the declaration of an armed neutrality.
RC (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 98–101.) printed : (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:762–764.)

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0238

Author: Jay, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-06-04

From John Jay

[salute] Dear Sir

There is a Destinction between Ceremony and Attention which is not always observed tho often useful. <I> Of the <latter> former I hope there will be little <of V> between us, of the latter much. Public as well as personal Considerations dictate this Conduct, on my Part, and I am happy to find by your favor of the 15 <Inst.> Ultimo, that you <approve it in the same Light> mean not to be punctilious.
The Hints contained in your Letter1 correspond <very> much with my own Sentiments and I shall endeavour to <render them more> diffuse them, <but. . .>. This Court seems to have great Respect for the old adage “festina lente”2—at least as applied to our Independance.
The Count D Florida Blanca has hitherto pleased me, I have found in him a Degree of Frankness and Candor which indicates Probity, <as w> his Reputation for Talents is high. The acknoledgment of our { 372 } Independence is retarded by Delays which in my opinion ought not to affect it. The Influence of that Measure on the Sentiments and Conduct of our Enemy as well as the neutral Nations makes it an object very important to the common Cause, I cannot think its Suspension is necessary in the adjustment of the Articles of Treaty. They might with equal [Hands?] be settled afterwards. As America is and will be independent, in Fact, <([. . .]is of great Consequence. America will never purchase such Acknowledgement of any Nation by Terms she would not otherwise accede to. Things not names are her objects.> the being so in name can [be] of no real moment to her individualy, but Britain derives Hopes <prejudiciall> from the Hesitation of Spain very injurious to the common Cause, and I am a little surprized that the Policy of destroying these Hopes does not appear more evident. If the Delay proceeds from <such> Expectations that they may affect the Terms of Treaty, it is not probable that they will be realized. <She> America is to be <won> attached by Candor Generosity Confidence and good offices, <not> a contrary Conduct will not conciliate or persuade.
But whatever may be the Cause of the mistakes on this Subjects I must do them the Justice to say that <this Court> the general Assurances given me by Count D. F B. argue a very friendly Disposition in the Court towards us and I hope Facts will prove them to have been sincere. They certainly must be convinced that the Power of the united States added to that of Britain and under her Direction, would enable <the latter> her to give Law to the Western World, and that Spanish America and the Islands would then be at her Mercy. Our Country is at present so well disposed to Spain and such cordial Enemies to Britain that it would be a Pity this Disposition should not be cherished. Now is the time for France and Spain to gain the Affections of that extensive Country—such another opportunity may never offer. France has acted wisely,—I wish similar Counsels may prevail here. Would it not be a little extraordinary <that> if Britain should be before Spain in acknowledging our Independence.3 If she had any Wisdom left she would do it. She may yet have a lucid Interval tho she has been very long out of her Senses. Spain will be our Neighbour. We both have Territory enought to prevent our coveting each others and I should be happy to see that perfect Amity and cordial affection established between us, which would insure perpetual Peace and Harmony <between us> to both. I cannot write you particulars but nothing here appears to be certain as yet. I shall in all my Letters advise Congress to rely principally on themselves, { 373 } to fight out their own Cause as they began it with Spirit, and not to rely too much on the Expectation of Events which may never happen.
Have you received any late Letters from America. Mrs. Jay received one from her Sister of the 10 April, which mentions several <that had> having been sent to me by the Way of France. I hear of many Letters but recieve scarce any.

[salute] I am Dear Sir Your most obt. Servt.

[signed] JJ.
P.S. my Compliments to Mr. Dana.
Dft (NNC). John Jay worked over this draft very carefully, making numerous revisions and in the process deleting approximately thirty-five lines of text. Most of the deleted material cannot be read and the points at which it occurs have not been indicated. In his letter of 17 July (below), John Jay indicates that he sent this letter, but the absence of a copy in the Adams Papers probably indicates that it was not received. No reply by JA has been found.
1. Possibly JA's letter of 15 May (above), mentioned in the first paragraph, but see also his letter of 13 May (above).
2. That is, to make haste slowly.
3. A prophetic statement. Spain did not officially recognize the United States until 23 Aug. 1783 when William Carmichael, the chargé d'affaires at Madrid, was presented at the Spanish court. This was only ten days before the signing of the definitive Anglo-American peace treaty and almost nine months after Britain had recognized American independence in the preliminary peace treaty (William Carmichael to the secretary for Foreign Affairs, 30 Aug. 1783, Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:663–667).
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, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/