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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0289

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-06-30

From John Bondfield

[salute] Sir

The loss of Charles Town engages me to lay before you the following Circumstance, Mr. Gillon at his arrival in France finding the greatest part of the Fund sent by the State for his Use taken by the Enemy, in virtue of the power given to take up Money on the Guarantee of the State after sundry efforts in different parts came to Bordeaux and laid open to me his Situation. Disireous to render my Services Useful to the States Unitedly or Seperately I applied to Capital House in this City and obtaind a Loan of Four hundred Thousand Livres reimbursable this Fall and the beginning of next year.1 This being settled he set out for Prussia intending to equip at Stettin and took Bills to the amount above given him by the House on the Kings Banker at Berlin. Not finding at Stettin to correspond with his views he went to Amsterdam taking with him a fresh Credit from the Banker at Berlin on Amsterdam. He has there bought two Capital Ships which are near ready carrying Twenty eight, Thirty Six pounders on One Deck he writes me two of the finest Vessels he ever saw.2
The purport of this detail is by the Loss of Charles Town that State aparently will be unable to comply with the Conditions enterd into by Mr. Gillon. And the Governor Council and Governing powers being all involved in this event, the Guarantee thereby becomes doubtful at least from many Considerations. These Ships are yet in Port. Under the present circumstances permit me to state to you the following plan, supposing Mr. Gillon consenting.
1. That the Ambassador or Ambassadors from the United States take these Ships for the Service of the States.
2. That the Sums advanct for the outfits of these ships in virtue of their Contract with Mr. Gillon be reimburst to them conformable to the Conditions of the Loan.
The loss of the Boston, Providence, &c. before Charles Town makes an Acquitsion of the above Nature indispensable if means admit.
I expect to hear from M. Gillon to morrow but I know no other than the above plan unless they sell the Ships to some foreign State.
{ 491 }
I do not write this as an Official Letter it is to yourself for your private digesting praying your advice I shall not write the Docter on the Subject as the transaction was executed independant of Mr. De Chamont the proposal above may possibly be not approved.
[signed] With respect I am Sr Your very hhb Servt.
[signed] John Bondfield
RC (Adams Papers;) endorsed: “Mr Bondfield 30 June. ansd 7 July 1780.”
1. This is the only letter to JA in which this transaction at Bordeaux is mentioned, nor has any reference to it been found elsewhere. Alexander Gillon's letter to JA of 14 Feb. 1780 (vol. 8:321–327), concerned his efforts to obtain ships for the South Carolina navy, but did not indicate that any funds had been obtained at Bordeaux. That letter, in fact, was largely an appeal for JA's assistance in raising money in the face of obstructions placed in his way by Benjamin Franklin and Leray de Chaumont.
2. The two frigates at Amsterdam were the Indien and another that was unlaunched and unnamed. On 30 May, Gillon obtained a lease for only the first, which he renamed the South Carolina (Louis F. Middlebrook, The Frigate South Carolina, Salem, Mass., 1929, p. 3–4).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0290

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0290-0001

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0290-0001-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-06-30

From the Comte de Vergennes

J'ai reçû, Monsieur, la lettre que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'écrire le 22. de ce mois concernant la resolution du Congrès du 18. mars dernier. Je vous ai déja prévenu que mon intention n'étoit aucunement d'analiser cette resolution en tant qu'elle est relative aux Citoïens des Etats unis, ni d'examiner si les circonstances en légitiment ou non les dispositions. En vous écrivant avec la confiance que j'ai crû devoir à vos lumières et à votre attachement à l'Alliance, je n'ai eû qu'un objet, celui de vous convaincre que les françois ne devoient pas être confondus avec les Américains, et qu'il y auroit une injustice évidente à leur faire éprouver les pertes dont ils sont menacés. Les détails dans les quels vous avez jugé à propos d'entrer, ne m'ont point fait changer de sentiment; mais je pense que toute discution ultérieure entre nous à cet égard seroit superflëe, et je me borne à vous observer que si le Conseil du Roi a considéré la resolution du Congrès sous un faux point de vëe, ainsi que vous le prétendez, M. le chev. de la Luzerne, qui est Sur les lieux, ne manquera pas de l'éclairer, et que le Congrès de son côté, s'il n'adopte pas les representations que ce Ministre est chargé de lui faire, nous communiquera immanquablement les raisons sur les quelles il appuïera son refus: si elles sont bien fondées le Roi les prendra en considération, Sa Majesté ne demandant rien que la plus exacte justice; mais dans le cas contraire Elle renouvellera ses instances { 492 } auprès des Etats-unis, et Elle attendra avec confiance de leur pénétration et de leur Sagesse une décision conforme à sa demande. Sa Majesté se persuade d'autant plus que le Congrès y donnera toute son attention, que cette assemblée, ainsi qu'elle en a souvent renouvellé l'assûrance, aprécie autrement que vous, Monsieur, l'union qui Subsiste entre la france et les Etats-unis, et qu'elle sentira certainement que les françois peuvent mériter quelque préférence sur les autres Nations, qui n'ont aucun Traité avec l'Amérique, et qui n'ont pas même encore reconnu son indépendance.1
J'ai l'honneur d'être très parfaitement, Monsieur, votre très humble et très obéïssant Serviteur,
[signed] De Vergennes

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0290-0001-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-06-30

The Comte de Vergennes to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

I have received, sir, the letter which you did me the honour to write of the 22d of this month concerning Congress' resolution of 18 March. I have already informed you that it was not my intention either to analyze this resolution as it respects the citizens of the United States or to examine whether circumstances authorize the arrangements or not. I had but one objective in writing to you with the confidence which I thought due to your knowledge and your attachment to the Alliance, which was to convince you that the French ought not to be confounded with the Americans, and that this would be an evident injustice by making them sustain the loss with which they are threatened. The details into which you have thought proper to enter have not changed my sentiments, but I think that all further discussion between us on this subject will be needless. I shall only observe that if the King's Council considers, as you pretend, the resolution of Congress in a wrong point of view, the Chevalier de La Luzerne who is on the spot will not fail to clarify the matter, and should Congress not agree with the representations which that Minister is charged to make, it will undoubtedly communicate to us its reasons justifying its refusal. Should they be well founded the King will take them into consideration, His Majesty demanding nothing but the most exact justice. But should they be otherwise, he will renew his request to the United States and will confidently expect, from their penetration and wisdom, a decision conformable to his demand. His Majesty is the more persuaded that Congress will give their whole attention to this business, as this assembly, which has frequently renewed the assurance, values as well as yourself sir the union which subsists between France and the United States and thus they will assuredly perceive that the French deserve a preference before other nations who have no treaty with America and who have not even recognized its independence.1
I have the honor to be very perfectly, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant,
[signed] De Vergennes
{ 493 }
RC (Adams Papers;) endorsed: “M. Le Cte. de Vergennes. 30 June 1780. ansd. July 1.”; notation by CFA: “See Dipl Corresp. vol. 5 p. 232,” [i.e. Jared Sparks, ed., Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution].
1. In this sentence, and even more explicitly in his letter of this date to Benjamin Franklin (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:827), Vergennes expressed his view of the FrancoAmerican relationship. In effect, he declared that Congress, as the junior party to the Franco-American alliance, was obligated to conform to the policies and wishes of the French government and to subordinate its own interests to those of France when necessity required, as it did in regard to the revaluation. For the effect of this statement on JA, see the Editorial Note, 16 June – 1 July 1780 (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.