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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9


Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0296

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1780-07-04

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

After spending the day very happily with a Number of our Countrymen in Commemoration of our glorious Anniversary, I cannot close the Evening more agreably than by conversing with You.
I have three Letters of yours before me—10th—18th—29th—June. The Letter from Clinton was indeed as I am told by some Americans lately arrived, a mere Sport of Wit. I am told it was written by a General Howe, of General Washington's Army. It contained a great deal of Truth and Instruction. But I am Sorry to see our Countrymen imitate the Impositions of their Enemies—it may be best not to let the Name of the Writer go any further.1
I know your feelings have sufferd Tortures for Charlestown: mine have I assure You. I condole most sincerely with Mrs. Izard, Mrs. Lloyd and the other Americans with You, on this disaster. Yet be not dismayed—the English will hold it no longer than they did Boston or Philadelphia. You need not fear any body's giving up a good Government—Americans are not made of such Materials. The Spaniards have taken Mobile, and the English will soon be between two or three Fires. But if they had and were to hold quiet Possession of all the Great Seaport Towns upon the Continent, it would be no Conquest of America, and have very little Tendency that Way. I assure You, Sir, in the Year 1774, when We beheld this War only in Contemplation as a Contingency, as a probable or at least a possible future Event, We expected to lose all our Seaport Towns and laid our Account accordingly. We have done much better in this Respect than We expected.
You ask very properly Quomodo2 evacuate New York? I know of but one Way that is possible—that is make a Bargain, as Howe did with Washington to spare the Town of Boston from the flames, on Condition he would spare the British Troops from the Slaughter. I dont say that W. agreed to this; but Howe certainly offered it. I believe they could not obtain so good a Bargain now.
Mr. Digges has not been in Paris, that I know of, since my Arrival.
The Revolution which Congress have made in their Paper Money, is well recieved in America.

[salute] Adieu

[signed] J[ohn Adams]
RC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers); endorsed: “JA July 4th. 1780.” A piece torn from the manuscript has resulted in the loss of most of the signature.
{ 499 }
1. For the forged dispatch from Sir Henry Clinton to Lord George Germain, see JA's letter of 21 May to C. W. F. Dumas, and note 1 (above). The source of JA's information linking the forgery to “a General Howe, of General Washington's Army” is unknown, but if accurate would seem to implicate Maj. Gen. Robert Howe of North Carolina, then serving under Washington in the northern army (DAB). The editors, however, have found no corroborating evidence connecting Howe with the counterfeit dispatch.
2. That is, in what manner.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0297

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1780-07-05

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dr. sir

In the 116 page of the inclosed Mercury, you will find the Strictures upon Lord G. Germaines nonsense. I dont see them in the English Papers. I suppose no Printer dares insert them. But I Swore they shall be seen, and therefore I beg you to get them inserted in the Leyden or Amsterdam or the Hague Gazette or all three. If it cant be done without pay let them be paid. I will repay in a moment. If these appear, I will send those upon Conways, which have been also printed in the Mercury.
I care more about the sentiments of the rest of Europe, than the English.
RC (Adams Papers;) filmed at 5 June, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 352.
1. The date is clearly an inadvertence because the enclosed copy of the Mercure de France was of 17 June and Jenings replied to this letter on 9 July (below). For JA's replies to the speeches by Lord George Germain and Gen. Henry Seymour Conway on 5 May in the House of Commons mentioned in this letter, see JA's letters of 17 and 28 May to Edmé Jacques Genet (both above). For Genet's publication of them in the Mercure, see notes 1 and 3 to each letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0298

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1780-07-06

To the President of Congress, No. 89

Paris, 6 July 1780. Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 165–171). printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:833– 837.
This letter, received by Congress on 19 Feb. 1781 (JCC, 19:174– 175), includes a list, taken from the Courier de l'Europe of 27 June, of vessels captured or destroyed by all belligerents since the beginning of the war. Lamenting the loss of so many American naval vessels, Adams urged Congress to “give great Attention to their Navy; to the Augmentation of Ships; the Multiplication of Seamen; the Improvement of Discipline and the formation of Officers.” It was necessary that Congress take such action and Americans “cherish their own Navy,” because “no other Nation would grieve very much at the total destruction of it, before the Conclusion of a Peace. I am sorry to say this, but I have heard such Hints as convince me that it is my Duty to put Congress on their Guard, and to intreat them to leave nothing unattempted to put their Marine upon the best footing in their Power.”
Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 165–171). printed: (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:833– 837.)

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0299

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Bondfield, John
Date: 1780-07-07

To John Bondfield

[salute] Sir

I received, yesterday yours of 30 of June. As to taking the ships, for the United States, I have no Commission Instructions or other Authority whatsoever, to do any such Thing: and I presume no other Person in Europe has. I hope in God that no ship will ever be again, built, bought, hired, lent or I had almost Said given to the united states in Europe, nor any ever again put under the Command of any Body in Europe. Experience has given Us severe Lessons. America is the Place to repair the Loss of the Frigates, which was suffered at Charlestown.
I believe, with you, that Carolina will not now be able to pay, this fall, nor next Winter. But I dont at all doubt that it will be able to pay after sometime, and not at all the less able to pay for the late Disaster. Carolina instead of being the poorer, for the Loss of Charlestown for a Time will be vastly richer, and not at all the less disposed I believe to pay this Debt. Those who augur So much Evil to America and so much Power and Glory to England from the temporary transition of Charlestown under its domination will, hereafter see their Mistake. You know, that in this I Speak only as a private Man, in no public Character, and in an affair with which I have no manner of Connection. But if I were in the Place of the House who lent the Money to Mr. Gillon, I should not be all the more anxious about it. I think it is a Pitty but Mr. Gillon should go on with his Enterprize, in which he has been indefatigable, and in which I hope he will Succeed. But whether he does or not I presume Carolina will pay, as soon as they can.
If Mr. De Sartine can be perswaded to leave a few ships of the Line and a few Frigates to winter in America, at Rhode Island, Cheasapeak or Boston—or some in each where they will be infinitely better than in Europe, and Mr. Gillon can get to America you will see such a Revolution both in Trade and in War, as will dissipate all the Fears of your Friends who have lent the Money.

[salute] Adieu

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0300

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1780-07-07

To the President of Congress, No. 90

Paris, 7 July 1780. Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 173–176). LbC with postscript in Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers); { 501 } notation by Thaxter: “Nos. 89 & 90 delivered to Mr. Gridley going to Amsterdam. July 8th. 1780.” printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:837–838.
This letter, received by Congress on 19 Feb. 1781, consists largely of an English translation of the French text of the bill that David Hartley sought unsuccessfully to introduce in the House of Commons on 27 June (see Thomas Digges to JA, 29 June, and note 3, above; David Hartley to JA, 17 July, below; the Descriptive List of Illustrations, vol. 10). John Adams made his translation from the Courier de l'Europe of 30 June because he could not obtain his usual London newspapers. Adams also included the Courier's account of the parliamentary proceedings relating to the bill and its criticism of Hartley for seeking to empower George III to make peace, a power he already had by virtue of being King. Only Parliament's refusal of funds to carry on the war could force him to seek peace. Adams noted that there could be no hope for peace until efforts to seek a reconciliation short of independence were abandoned. He predicted that events in America and the West Indies would soon dampen the elation caused by the capture of Charleston. Finally, Adams noted Sir George Saville's unsuccessful motion to condemn the war in America, made immediately after the defeat of Hartley's motion.
Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 173–176.) LbC with postscript in Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers); notation by Thaxter: “Nos. 89 & 90 delivered to Mr. Gridley going to Amsterdam. July 8th. 1780.” printed: (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:837–838.)

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0301

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1780-07-07

To the President of Congress, No. 91

Paris, 7 July 1780. Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 177–180). printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:839.
This letter, read by Congress on 26 Dec., contains the text of a petition that Amsterdam merchants trading with the West Indies had presented to the States General on 21 June. The merchants noted Britain's violation of the Anglo-Dutch treaty of 1674–1675 by its seizure of Dutch vessels trading between the Dutch and French West Indian colonies. They demanded that the States General dispatch warships to protect the trade and order the Dutch minister in London to make representations so as to stop the seizures and obtain restitution.
Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 177–180.) printed: (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:839.)

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0302

Author: Lee, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-08

From William Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

I have been prevented by indisposition, otherwise shou'd have had the honor of writing to you sooner on a subject which appears to affect the honor of America, of Congress, and of its Agents in Europe. The copy of Genl. Clintons letter that was intercepted which you sent here to Mr. Jenings having afterwards appear'd in most of the public papers,1 there was a formal contradiction of its authenticity first in the Hague Gazette, and inserted in such a manner as to make the World believe that this contradiction came from Sir Joseph Yorke the English Minister. The Leyden Gazette confirm'd in some measure { 502 } this contradiction in which it was follow'd by the Courier du Bas-Rhin, tho' it had before given the letter at length as having been originally publish'd by order of Congress; but after the intelligence of the surrender of Chas. Town, this same Gazetter viz the Courier du Bas-Rhin, in No. 51. of June 24. 1780. positively states that letter to have been a Forgery, and concludes in these injurious terms, “donc il vaut mieux se bien defendre et se bien battre que de supposer des lettres qui ne peuvent abuser le public qu'un moment.”2 You must be sensible of the injury it will bring to America and the cause of Liberty if the World is permited to be impress'd with the Idea that Congress and its Agents are base enough to be guilty of such a mean and pitiful Conduct as to forge and publish the grossest falsehoods, as solid Truths.
Mr. Dumas who is styled by Doctr. Franklin and Mr. Deane the American Agent at the Hague and who is actually paid with the money of America, has a particular connection with the Editor of the Leyden Gazette3 and I have reason to beleive has a correspondence with the Bas-Rhin, therefore one wou'd naturally immagine, as it was his Duty, he wou'd have taken some measures to prevent such a censure on America etc. from spreading farther than in the small circle in which the Hague Gazette circulates. The Bas Rhin Gazette as well as that of Berlin is generally looked on as a Prussian Court Gazette being printed in the Capital of the Prussian Dominions on the Rhin, and I have no doubt if the Prussian Minister at Paris was spoken to on the subject a repetition of such conduct would at least be prevented in the Editor of that Gazette.
As Don Solano has return'd to Cadiz with his Squadron4 leaving only 4 Ships of the line to convoy the fleet to the W. Indias all my pleasing prospects of Peace from the hopes of the Enemy suffering some capital loss there in this campaign, are totally vanish'd; for on the arrival of Graves and Walsingham, who have been permited to go unmolested, the superiority of the Enemy at Sea will be so decided, that France will be fortunate if she looses no more than those islands she has before taken from the English. Hitherto Rodney has only shown his superiority in the art of boasting which is certainly his Forte.
The original Force intended to go under Monsr. Ternay having unhappily been diminish'd one half, no effectual offensive operations can be expected from that expedition, and if 'tis true as 'tis reported, that in the Fall, Monsr. Ternay goes to the W. Indias, the progress of the Enemy Northward from So. Carolina may be greater during the { 503 } fall, winter and spring than most people immagine; when in the course of a campaign or two the 4 Eastern States and France may too late repent, one for supporting and the others for not crushing in the bud the dangerous and alarming designs that began to appear in Philadelphia and Congress 18 Months ago. If it is expected that Monsr. Ternay is to render any effectual service to America, it is most clear to me that he ought to winter in Chesapeak Bay in Virga.; where, with very great ease he may be secure against a very superior force, and prevent any attempt of the enemy for enlarging their quarters Northward from Carolina. If the Court of Versailles shou'd approve of such a plan, orders accordingly cannot be sent out too soon to Monsr. Ternay and if the squadron in the W. Indias is to be reinforced or releiv'd, that shou'd be done with clean and fresh Ships from Europe.
From this you will perceive that a speedy peace is not in my view. Indeed it is not. I know the Enemy too well; they will not seriously think of Peace (tho' they will never cease in their attempts to divide and disunite the parties, which I well know they are endeavoring at now) while they have the least glimmering of hope left; unless it is, on the terms of America again submiting to the British Yoke and France relinquishing the Islands she has taken. Such a Peace I presume will never take place; I am sure it cannot, while America continues united.
It is said that young Mr. Laurens was gone from Carolina to Congress and as Mr. Laurens the elder, has not yet arrived there seems to be too much reason to apprehend his having met with some unhappy accident at Sea.

[salute] Adieu.

[signed] W. Lee
RC (Adams Papers;) endorsed: “Mr W. Lee July 8. ansd 20”; in CFA's hand: “1780.”
1. JA enclosed the forged letter from Clinton to Lord George Germain in his letter to Edmund Jenings of 30 May (Adams Papers, enclosure not found). For a brief publication history of the Clinton letter, see JA's letter of 21 May to C. W. F. Dumas, note 1 (above).
2. Therefore it [Congress] has determined upon on such letters as this, which cannot deceive the public for a moment, to better advance its war effort.
3. Jean Luzac.
4. A false report.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0303

Author: Lynch, Mark
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-08

From Mark Lynch

[salute] Sir

I have the favor to acquaint you that pursuant to the directions of Philip Mazzei Esqr. I have Sent you by the Diligence that parted { 504 } hence this morning for Paris, a Small case to your adress containing 7 Vol. in 4to. which Said friend left with me at his departure from this place. I have given Said case in the care of a young Man, Mr. John Kirwan, who is going to the Irish college of Paris, he brings it as part of his own effects, otherwise it coud not go by the Diligence, which carries none but what belongs to Such as go in it. And as he was obliged to pay the carriage here, you will be pleased to Reimburse him 6 Livers 15s for carriage of Said case from hence to Paris. I Shall be obliged to you to own me the receipt of these books, and Shall also esteem your mentioning if Mr. Mazzei be parted from Paris. By the last letter I had from him, he Says he intended setting out for Italy the 27 Ultimo.1
I presume to benefit of this opportunity to make you a tender of my best Service here, where I am a Resident in trade these 28 years. I Sincerely wish it may be agreable to you, and Shoud be extremely happy in having frequent occasions of demonstrating to you how truely and Respectfully I am Sir Your Excellency's most humble & most obedient Servant
[signed] M: Lynch
1. The books sent by Lynch have not been identified. JA wrote a brief reply, dated 28 July (LbC, Adams Papers), to thank Lynch for his efforts and confirm Mazzei's departure for Italy. No further letters between the two men have been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0304

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-09

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

I had the Honor of receiving yesterday Your Excellency Letters of the 4th and 5th of this Month, and to day Another of the 6th.1 I think myself particularly honored, that your Excellency shoud Advert to me at the close of the Day of the great Anniversary of public Liberty—I shoud have been happy at being present at the Commemoration of that Important Event, however I must content myself with wishing and praying for its perfect Completion.
The Observations on Lord George Germaines and Conways Speeches have been inserted in the general Advertizer under the fittest Title that I Know. They were signed Probus. I suppose your Excellency has seen them by this Time and I trust you Approve of the Liberties, which I took with them, but which I had not taken but with your Excellencys Leave.2 The Letter to Mr. Wythe and the Constitution of the Massachusetts Goverment are sent to London and recommended to a particular Friend. I have not yet heard of their { 505 } Receipt. Your character of Mr. Dana shall be sent by the next Post.3 I had the pleasure of Seeing your Observations on Conways and Germaines Speeches translated in the Mercure de Paris which I have an Opportunity of reading here every Week. They go constantly into Holland, where I trust every thing relative to America—is read—but they are too long to be inserted in their little News Papers, except in a very curtaild and disadvantageous Manner. The Dutch people in general have but little Inclination, or indeed Time to Spare from their Traffic, and the English from their Dissipation to take up a long detail of Matter and reasoning. Short Paragraphs Strike one and the other Most. I found it so in England before I left it, and complied with the public Taste accordingly and was sensible of the Effect.
I beg your Excellency to send me the proposed Letters in Answer to the present Writings and Sentiments in England. I shall be honored by them, and will take the Utmost Care thereof. I have seen some of the Arguments, on which your Excellency has made most just remarks. I have long since Observed, that Nothing comes from England, which does not make against either the Constitution or Government—its folly exceeds if possible its Knavery. As Your Excellency writes your Letters on your proposed Subjects, would it not be worth the while to get them translated into French and sent to the Princes of the different Courts of Europe and a few others transmitted to the Leading men in Holland, that all may see, that the Reasons given by England for the Continuance of the War operate Strongly on their part to oppose her designs in doing it. In England I am convinced no reasoning will do—Nothing but the Sharpest Misfortunes and Misery can give the Sense of feeling. However, Nothing Shall be wanting on my part to instruct that infatuated Country through you of the folly Madness and Wickedness of its present System.
The Blow at Charles Town, coming unexpectedly was a severe one but surely cannot dismay any one, who has the least Principle in this glorious Contest. If it had not taken place, the Ennemy must have been immediately Confounded. At present his Cowardly Insolence is at the Heigth; but it will serve to plunge Him into deeper disgrace and Misery, as it incites Him to continue the War against the Interests of all the World. It is true I felt severely for a Moment, but you, Sir, know Lord Chathams supposed Idea and my real One, that a Patriot can never despair, He may be afflicted at the Vices, and be ashamed of the follies of Mankind, but will ever be steady in his Maxim, Nil desperandum de Republica.4 So long as America is true to Herself { 506 } She is Safe. When she is not, She will fall and that too deservedly. I mind not the fallacies and Falshoods of Lord George Germaine about Dissentions, but I have seen a Paragraph signed by Genl. Wayne and four other Officers, which gives me Concern, they declare, they will not Associate with any one who has ever been against the Independancy of America, however respectable his Character may be. I Know not what this Means, does your Excellency.5 I am happy to find, that America is contented With the new Regulation with respect to the Currency—England depends much on disagreements on that Head. Your Excellency speaking of Charles Town, says the Consumed Charles Town6—has it suffered any Conflagration since the Siege?
It is said here, that Mr. Fitzherbert, the English resident, has receivd an Account that Rodney has had an Engagement with Monsr. Guichen, and has crippled six of his Ships, and that He afterwards saild to Barbadoes, which was attacked by a Spanish Squadron.
Mrs. Izard desires her respectful Complts to your Excellency.

[salute] I am Sir, your Excellencys Most obedient & faithful Hble Servt.

[signed] Edm: Jenings
RC (Adams Papers;) endorsed: “Mr. Jennings. July 9. ansd. 14th.”; in CFA's hand: “1780.”
1. The letter of the 6th has not been found, but for some indication of its contents, see notes 3 and 6.
2. JA's replies to the speeches by Lord George Germain and Gen. Henry Seymour Conway in the House of Commons on 5 May were sent in his letters to Jenings of 28 May (not found, but see Jenings' letter of 2 June, note 1, above) and 30 May (Adams Papers). For the replies themselves, first published in the Mercure de France, see JA's letters of 17 and 28 May to Edmé Jacques Genet (both above). Unfortunately the issues of the London General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer in which JA's pieces appeared, over the signature “Probus,” have not been found, thus the nature of Jenings' alterations cannot be determined.
3. This sentence and the preceding two sentences, as well as the paragraph that follows may refer to the missing letter of 6 July. The letters of 4 and 5 July do not mention Thoughts on Government, the Massachusetts Constitution, Francis Dana, or JA's “proposed Letters.” The last named probably refers to JA's reworking of Thomas Pownall's Memorial or his replies to Joseph Galloway's Cool Thoughts; no sketch of Dana has been found. For JA's answers to Pownall and Galloway, see Jenings' letters of 15, 21, and 27 July (all below).
4. Never despair for the republic.
5. This statement resulted from a meeting of officers in Philadelphia on 5 April and was signed by Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne, Col. Walter Stewart, Lt. Col. John Stewart, and Maj. Henry Lee. It was printed in the Pennsylvania Packet of 6 April and Rivington's Royal Gazette of 26 April; no printing in a London newspaper has been found. Jenings' description of the declaration's content is accurate, but see JA's explanation of its purpose in his reply of 14 July (below).
6. This reference was apparently in the letter of 6 July that has not been found, but see JA's letter of 14 July (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0305

Author: Adams, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-10

From Samuel Adams

[salute] My dear Sir

I wrote to you several Times when I was at Boston, and receivd your Favor by the Marquis de la Fayette. Another, to which you referrd me, has not yet come to hand.1 This Letter will be deliverd to you by Mr. Searl,2 a Member of Congress for the State of Pennsylvania. He will be better able to inform you of the State of things here, than I can, who3 after twelve Months Absence from this City, returned but a few days ago. The People of Massachusetts have at length agreed to the Form of a civil Constitution, in Nothing varying from a Copy which I sent to you by a Son of our Friend General Warren.4 This great Business was carried through with much good Humour among the People, and even in Berkshire, where some Persons led us to expect it would meet with many Obstructions. Never was a good Constitution more wanted than at this Juncture. Among other more lasting Advantages, I hope that in Consequence of it, the Part which that State must take in the War, will be conducted with greater Attention and better Effect. Who is to be the first Man, will be determind in September, when, if our Newspapers rightly inform us, the new Government is to take Place. The Burden will fall on the Shoulders of one of two Gentlemen whom you know.5 May Heaven lead the People to the wisest Choice. The first chosen Governor may probably have it in his Power to do more good or more Hurt than any of his Successors.
The french Fleet is not yet arrived. Perhaps their long Passage may turn out for the best. An earlier Arrival might have found us not altogether prepared to cooperate with them to the best Advantage. I now think we shall be ready to joyn them. One would think the Exertion which America might make with such Aid, would rid us of British Barbarians. I hope this will be a vigorous and an effective Campaign. I left Massachusetts exceedingly active in filling up their Battalions by Drafts, besides raising 4000 Militia for the Service.
Mr. Laurens arrived here from the Southward a few Days past. He will speedily embark for Holland to prosecute a Business which you are not unacquainted with.

[salute] Adieu my dear Sir, yr affectionate Friend,

[signed] S A
{ 508 }
1. Lafayette carried JA's letter of 28 February. In it JA indicated that he had entrusted a letter of 23 Feb. to Arthur Lee (vol. 8:374, 353). As of 10 July, however, Lee had not yet sailed for America.
2. James Searle, former member of Congress from Pennsylvania, carried this and several other letters from individuals and the Committee for Foreign Affairs. Among these were letters of introduction from James Lovell and Joseph Reed of 10 July and Samuel Huntington of the 12th (all Adams Papers). The Committee for Foreign Affairs wrote three letters, two dated 11 July and a third dated the 12th. The Committee's first letter of 11 July reported the arrival, on 10 July, of JA's second letter of 3 April and his first, second, and thirdthree letters of 4 April to the president of Congress (all calendared, above; JCC, 17:595). Only a triplicate is in the Adams Papers, with postscripts dated 1 Aug. and 28 Oct.; it was probably sent with the Committee's letter of 28 Oct. (below). The first postscript reported the arrival of seven letters carried by Ralph Izard dated 20, 24 (2), 26, 27, 28, and 29 March (the first letter of 24 March is printed, the others calendared, above; JCC, 17:685). The second postscript noted that JA's letters through 10 June had arrived in September. The Committee's second letter of 11 July (Adams Papers) was a covering letter for JA's commission of 20 June to negotiate a Dutch loan (above). The letter of 12 July (Adams Papers) described the bills of exchange issued by Congress that JA might be called upon to honor. For the letters from James Lovell and the Committee for Foreign Affairs that are not printed, see Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates, 15:421, 423–424, 435–436; 16:282; for that of Joseph Reed, see Penna. Archives, 1st ser., 8:399. Searle presumably also carried William Churchill Houston's letter of 11 July (below).
3. JA sent this letter as an enclosure in his letter to Jean Luzac of 20 Sept. (Adams Papers). Luzac translated and printed the text from this point, with the greeting and dateline, in the Gazette de Leyde of 29 September.
4. This copy was sent with Winslow Warren, but was lost when his ship was captured on its passage to Europe. See Mercy Otis Warren's letter of 8 May, note 1 (above).
5. John Hancock and James Bowdoin. Both Samuel Adams and JA supported Bowdoin.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0306

Author: Houston, William Churchill
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-11

From William Churchill Houston

[salute] Sir

The principal military Event which has taken Place for some considerable Time past, is the Fall of Charlestown, the Capital of South Carolina. No very material Circumstances can, as yet, be added to those officially published, and which the several American Prints have given you, and the British still earlier. The Intelligence from the Southward being overland is very tedious in it's Passage; and besides this, after the Capitulation the Enemy interposed every Means by dilatory and frivolous Pretences, by what Candour will, in my Opinion, decide to be a Breach of the Spirit of their Engagements, to delay the Dispatches General Lincoln had stipulated should be sent to Congress. This is in their usual Stile; and we have daily Accounts of Cases in which they pay no Sort of regard to their Promises sacredly pledged in Favour of the Citizens. Rapines, Violences and Abuses of every Kind are committed without Reserve, and with very little Discrimination. Their Conduct is of a Piece with what they have held in every similar Instance, uninfluenced by any Principles of Honour, { 509 } Truth, Humanity or even Policy. In the Hour of Debility and Want of Preparation to oppose them, they have overun a considerable Part of the State of South Carolina; but as General Gates is collecting a Force to oppose them, and as their Cruelties and Oppressions will probably soon work up the Spirits of the People to Fury and Desperation, they will be expelled from the Country.
It seems to be the Ordination of Providence, and, though the Sufferings are severe, it seems to be the Interest of the Union, that each State, in its' Turn should be vexed with their Depredations and Barbarities. It operates an amazing Change in the Temper and Sentiments of the People, and fixes them in a rooted and resolute Determination to risque the Extremes of Destruction in Preference before Submission. It is clear and undisputed Experience, that in those States where they have made Progress, and from which they have been driven with Arms, or obliged to relinquish with Shame and Disappointment, the Flame of Liberty and Patriotism burns with more Strength and Brightness, and the Exertions of the People are most deciding and irresistible.
Every Person who has attended to the Course of our Revolution knows the Meaning of what in Words is a Paradox, that “our Misfortunes are our Safety.” The Capture of Charlestown is much to be regretted when we reflect that our Soldiers will be starved and scourged into the Enemy's Service; that the Citizens must suffer Pillagings, Conflagrations and Brutality, but it is obvious to every one that it will promote, under the Favour of Heaven, the general Cause. It has awaked a Spirit superiour to any Thing I have seen since the year 1775 and 6, a Spirit that is fast pervading the whole Comunity, a Spirit which enlivens and encreases every Day.
Cornwallis commands to the Southward with between four and five Thousand Men; Clinton has brought back to New-York a Number somewhat larger; and at the Date of this they are encamped from Philipse's on the North-river across the Country above King's-bridge. When the News of the Fall of Charlestown arrived, and the Troops were returning from thence, they came out with much Confidence and Triumph into New-Jersey, setting Fire to the Country as they passed.2 The disaffected strengthened their Expectations of Despondence and Submission among the Militia, and Desertions from the regular Troops. In every Respect they were more disappointed, than perhaps they have ever been since the Commencement of the War. Scarce a Man deserted, or Citizen adhered to them, both regulars and Militia, particularly the latter, fought them with the most des• { 510 } perate internecine Fury. The Vengeance due to their former Baseness and Barbarities cannot be forgotten. Manet alta Mente repostum.3
Considering the Disaster we have met with on a general Scale, we are not in the least dejected by it. We are more apprehensive of the Effect it will have on your Side of the Water, where such Things strike much more forcibly than here. Hope you will take the necessary Steps to prevent any unnecessary unfavourable Impressions.
Nothing but a better Supply of Money is wanting to give decisive Vigour to the War; and if we cannot get it we are not going to give up a good Cause for Want of it, however essential it may be thought.

[salute] I am, Sir with great Respect your obedt. hble. servant

[signed] Wm. Churchill Houston
RC (Adams Papers;) endorsed: “Mr Houston. recd. 16 and answered 17 Sept. 1780.”
1. On 20 Sept. JA wrote to Jean Luzac (LbC, Adams Papers), enclosing this letter and offering it for publication in the Gazette de Leyde. Luzac returned the letter without using it.
2. Houston is referring to the British forays into New Jersey on 7 and 23 June. On both occasions three to five thousand troops, mostly Germans commanded by Lt. Gen. Wilhelm von Knyphausen, sought to proceed down the road from Elizabethtown through Connecticut Farms to Springfield. In the first attack the village of Connecticut Farms was burned, but determined resistance by the New Jersey militia and reports of the imminent arrival of reinforcements from Washington's army compelled Knyphausen to retreat without reaching Springfield. In the second attack Knyphausen's troops captured and burned Springfield, but the militia and regular troops under Gen. Nathanael Greene again forced Knyphausen to retreat without achieving anything of substance (Leonard Lundin, Cockpit of the Revolution, Princeton, 1940, p. 426–434; Howard H. Peckham, ed., Toll of Independence, Chicago, 1974, p. 71, 72).
3. It remains deeply embedded in the mind.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0307

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-11

From James Warren

[salute] My dear Sir

My last Letters went by my Son Winslow who left this place about three weeks ago for Amsterdam and I hope will soon be Able to deliver them to you at Paris.1
At that Time I flattered myself that we should be Able to hold Charlestown, but you will find before this reaches you that the Enemy have got it, with the four Continental Ships that were ordered there last Novemr.2 This is a great reduction of our Navy and seems to be occasioned more by ill policy, than the fortune of War. It was certainly a very odd Measure to Shut up those Ships in a place where they could not possibly do any service and where probably they would be lost. The Loss of Charlestown at first seemed to have disagreeable Effects. It produced some degree of dejection, but those Effects were { 511 } soon changed for more Agreable ones. It has done more good than hurt. It has waked us from a profound Sleep, and roused every Man to Action. We shall now have a fine Army and they will be supplied and when our Allies Arrive (who by the way we yet hear Nothing more of than that they sailed the 2d: May) I dare say we shall Beat the Britons, though flushed with Victory over the Capital of a Country, which had not public Spirit enough in the midst of plenty to supply provisions for those that would fight or Courage <enough> to fight themselves. The Spirit of 75 seems to be revived. Our Papers which will be sent you will give an Account of a Brilliant Action on our side in which a few Continental Troops, and a few of the brave Jersey Militia Beat back and drove out of that Country an Army of British Savages with a loss of 7 or 800 killed and wounded.3 We have no other News. As to our Navy the Confederacy is at Philadelphia, the Deane and Trumbull are here. The latter repairing <after> her Injurys suffered by a Noble and well Conducted Action with a Ship of superior force.4 The Alliance laying in France tho' Exceedingly wanted here. Our New Constitution is Established, and is to Operate on the last Wednesday in October. The Election of Govr. Leut. Govr. and Senate to be made on the begining of Sept. Mr. B[owdoin] has again come into public Life that he may with the greater Advantage stand as a Candidate in Competition with H[ancock] for the highest honor and rank in this State. Who will Carry the Election is very uncertain. I dont Envy either of them their feelings. The Vanity of one of them will Sting like an Adder if it is disappointed, and the Advancements made by the Other if they dont succeed will hurt his Modest pride. The upper Counties will be for H. The Interest of the Other will lay in the lower ones. I dont hear who is to be the Leut. or any thing about it, only that an Interest is making for C[ushing] in the Town. If H is Cheif, why will not C. make an Excellent second. The old General Court will have one short Sessions more and then Die, and give place to a New one. One of my last gave you an Account of the proceedings of this State with regard to Money.5 Notwithstanding which it has Continued to depreciate till it got to 75 and 80 for one. There is no Accounting for it, or reasoning about it. It is progressive, retrograde, Eccentric, regular or irregular Just as the D—l will have it and No Body not even Coll. Quincey can tell why. It seems Just now to make a pause and if there is any reasoning about it I think it will in the Course of a Month return to about forty. Would you wish to hear anything of the Husbandry of the Country, I have already told you in a former Letter that we had a most horrible { 512 } winter.6 The Spring and former part of the Summer were very dry. The whole Country has suffered by droughts and some parts of it very severely. We have lately had fine rains, but they came too late for Hay and a full Crop of English Corn. I dont remember that you ever Mentioned to me your Friend the Abbe Reynal' History of the East and West Indies. I told you before that I was Exceedingly pleased with it. I like it the better because it Contains many fine reflections on Agriculture and the dignity and Advantages of it.
I shall write Nothing about your good Family as Mrs. Adams will write by this very good Opportunity herself,7 and Capt. Samson will take the best Care of all Letters to you. Please to make my regards to Mr. Dana, and remember me to Mr. Thaxter, and your two Sons, and beleive me to be with Great Sincerity Your Friend & Humbl. Servt.
[signed] J. Warren
Mr. Gerry has returned from Congress. Mr. Adams and Genl. Ward are gone. Mr. Partridge is also returned.
1. These letters were lost when Winslow Warren was captured on his voyage to Europe, but see Mercy Otis Warren's letter of 8 May, note 1 (above). In fact, the last extant letter from James Warren to JA is that of 29 July 1779, which JA received upon his return to America in early Aug. 1779 (vol. 8:98–100). The last letter from James Warren to which JA had replied was that of 13 June 1779 (vol. 8:91–94), which JA received upon returning to Paris in 1780 and which he answered on 16 March (above).
2. These were the frigates Boston, Providence, and Queen of France; and the sloop Ranger. The Queen of France had been sunk to obstruct passage of British ships, the other three vessels were captured and taken into the Royal Navy (Allen, Naval Hist. of the Amer. Revolution, p. 495, 497).
3. See William Churchill Houston's letter of 11 July, note 2 (above).
4. For an account of the Trumbull's battle with the British privateer Watt on 1 June, see the letter from William Vernon Sr. of 22 July (below).
5. Not found, but see note 1.
6. Not found, but see note 1. For a report on the harsh winter in Massachusetts, see Cotton Tufts' letter of 25 July in Adams Family Correspondence, 3:383–386.
7. As indicated by the endorsement on AA's letter of 16 July, Capt. Simeon Sampson probably carried AA's letters of 5, 16, and 24 July (same, 3:370–373, 375–377, and 381–382).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0308

Author: Digges, Thomas
Author: Church, William Singleton
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-12

From Thomas Digges

[salute] Dr. Sir

I put on board a vessel which saild yesterday, the Books mentiond in the margin.1 I thought the Treaties might be servicable to You, and I mention the other particular pamphlets that you may prove whether all I send by that conveyance will come to hand. I have not heard from You since the letter ordering me to stop the sending the Papers { 513 } via Ostend.2 There has been nothing material in the news way to inform you of since I inclosed a Gazette of the Chs. Town business.3 If I were to attempt to describe the folly and torrent of exultation about the taking that place it would fill pages; You, who do not Know this Country and the folly of its people, can have no Idea of it.4 The language of 1775 about unconditional submission is nothing to what You now hear. This people are absolutely mad with Exultation, and look upon America as much theirs as they do the Isles of Guernsey and Jersey. There is no standing against the Torrent; all reasonings upon the matter are vain. The Language comes from the Court, and gets thro the nobles and better people down to the lower and so on to the City; where the folly is not less obvious. Stocks have risen in consequence of it about five per Cent and every body is buying. The universal cry is, that America is again ours; we have beat the French fleet and remain masters of the Seas in the West Indies; (I wonder they do not claim dominion over the air) Rodney is certainly to intercept and take the Spanish Squadron; Mons. De Terneys fleet is thought an easy and sure prey to that of Adml. Graves; The Channel fleet is to continue blocking up the port of Brest, and prevent any junction of Ships from Cadiz &ce. &ce. Turning towards America they now say that No. Carolina will be certainly theirs, a body of Troops with arms and amunition for 2,000 of the back settlers have been sent there by invitation of the People; That Virga. will also be theirs, having sent Deputies to Ches. Town from the Back settlements praying to be aided by the British soldiery. If this is effected a fig say they for the northern Colonies tho they even boast too of having a considerable body of the Connecticut people in the Interest of Government. News of the taking Mobile came this day thro the Spanish papers but this is reckond nothing. The junction of the French and Spanish fleets in the Wt. Indies would be reckond nothing; the taking Antigua, St. Kitts or other Islands, nay even beating the invincible fleet of Rodney, woud all be reckond nothing; since we have got (as they express it) all the Southern Colonies. Such folly was never seen, the joy of the King and Court is visible to every one, and I do realy believe they had rather hear of such another massacre as that of Tarltons5 against the Virginians on the Borders of North Carolina or the hearing that Colony had submitted, then the distruction of the whole french and Spanish fleet in the West Indies. It is inconceivable how implacably bent the first man here seems to be for the reduction of America. You may depend that every nerve will { 514 } be straind to get more Men and to send more Ships to Ama., nothing but some disastrous news to put them again in the Dumps will prevent the ministry acting vigorously as they possibly can do against America. Everything will be risqued to carry on that war; and without France does assist Her Allies, with a small fleet to continue on the Coast, and thereby prevent the easy transportation of British soldiers from Place to place, that much mischief will be done. They brag here of more troops being engagd in Germany by General Faucit6 and that 4,000 are to be sent out the 1st. of Augt. next or between that and the 20th. with 4 sail of the Line and some frigates. The N York fleet is yet detaind about 60 sail, and notwithstanding all their passing of Graves's superiority over De Terney, I believe they will not let it sail till they hear on a certainty where Terney is gone—they certainly apprehend it is gone towards N York.
A fleet of 20 or 30 West India Men are also ready to sail and a few East India Men most likely the whole may go together soon after the return of the Channel Fleet which is now expected dayly to return to Torbay. News is come today that the Channel fleet is spread so as to extend a considerable way to intercept a homeward bound french St. Domingo fleet, three of which have been already taken by Adm Geary and sent to Plymouth.
Much has been put forth and very industriously too about a secret negotiation with Spain by a Mr. Cumberland and an Irish friar of the name of Hussy—both of whom I know.7 I believe nothing of it; as Cumberland took his family abroad for the purpose of cutting a little in His Expences, He being supposed much behind hand in the world. The Fryar was Part of the Household to the late Spanish Ambassador and has been once to Madrid and back hither since the Ambassador took his leave. This storey has helpd to raise the Stocks; but I believe some late maneuvres of Sr. Jo. Yorke with the Dutch, has helpd them up more either than that or the late news from America. We are all anxious here to know whether the Dutch and Russians will act spiritedly or otherways in the protection of their Commerce. The line of conduct of Portugal most likely will be guided by these powers. I know every Corner of that Country well and am not unacquainted at its Court from having resided there three or four years. Should affairs so turn out that any person, I do not mean in a capital but subordinate way, should be wanted I am ready and willing to go there, for I am sure I could do it to the material service of my Country, either by encouraging adventure from thence or in other more substantial { 515 } services. There is not a merchantile man of any eminence in the Country that I do not personally know.
I am with the highest Esteem Sir Yr. obedt. Servt. W S. C—h
PS Books Sent.
The 2 Vols. of Treaties from 1688 to 1771.8 Westminr. Magazine for June 1780.9 Remembrancer containing an Account of the Riots10—2 Sermons on a fast day during the late War.11 Legal mode for suppressing Riots12—Considerations on the late Disturbances (by Burke).13 Tumulte De Londres14—also three small Pamphlets publishd gratis.
RC (PCC, No. 78, V, f. 487–490;) addressed: “A Monsieur Monsr. Ferdinando Raymond San Negote. Chez Monsieur Hocherau, Libraire Pont Neuf Paris”; endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mr. W. S. Church. 12th. July 1780. Recd. 24th.” Francis Dana probably enclosed this letter with his of 10 Aug. to the president of Congress (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:28–29).
1. See postscript and notes there.
2. Of [6–7? June] (above).
3. No letter from Digges enclosing a “Gazette,” probably the London Gazette of 16 June announcing the surrender of Charleston, has been found. Digges may be referring to his letter of 23 June, which he had noted in his letter of 29 June (above), but which has not been found.
4. The following account is largely a digest of reports in the London newspapers, particularly those supporting the government, for the period from 23 June to 12 July. Digges' description of the attitude toward the American war and the victory at Charleston expressed in those accounts is quite accurate. See, in particular, the London Morning Post and Daily Advertiser for that period.
5. On 29 May, at Waxhaws, S.C., Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton's cavalry destroyed a force of continental infantry and horse commanded by Col. Abraham Buford. The battle, notable for the savagery of Tarleton's onslaught, resulted in the American force of 380 men suffering 113 killed, 150 wounded, and 53 captured as opposed to Tarleton's own losses of 5 killed and 12 wounded out of a force of 270 (Howard H. Peckham, Toll of Independence, Chicago, 1974, p. 70–71). For Tarleton's report of the incident, see, for example, the London Courant of 6 July.
6. For the activities of Maj. Gen. Sir William Fawcett, see JA's letter of 18 March to James Warren, and note 2 (above).
7. A report on the activities of Rev. Thomas Hussey and Richard Cumberland in Spain appeared in the London newspapers of 12 July. For the report as sent by JA to Congress, see his letter of 23 July, No. 99 (below).
8. John Almon, comp., A Collection of all the Treaties of Peace, Alliance and Commerce between Great Britain and Other Powers, from the Revolution in 1688, to the Present Time, 2 vols., London, 1772, which is in JA's library at the Boston Public Library (Catalogue of JA's Library).
9. The Westminster Magazine for June 1780 contained accounts of the Gordon Riots.
10. The account of the Gordon Riots comprised the first 16 pages of John Almon's second volume of The Remembrancer for 1780.
11. This is probably Francis Blackburne, Two Sermons Preached on a Fast Day, During the Late War with France, London, 1778.
12. William Jones, An Inquiry into the Legal Mode of Suppressing Riots, with a Constitutional Plan of Future Defense, London, 1780.
13. Digges' identification of Edmund Burke as the author of the pamphlet is erroneous. It was done anonymously by Thomas Lewis Obeirne, and entitled Considerations on the Late Disturbances, by a Consistent Whig, London, 1780.
14. The author of Tumulte de Londres, commencé le 2me Juin, 1780, London, 1780, has not been identified. The pamphlet was advertised for sale in the London Courant of 6 July.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0309-0001

Editorial Note

The eight letters exchanged by John Adams and the Comte de Vergennes between 13 and 29 July provide a resounding climax to Adams' diplomatic efforts at Paris in 1780. Together they constitute one of the most controversial episodes in John Adams' diplomatic career and reveal much about his views of both the Franco-American alliance and negotiations with Great Britain.
The controversy played out in July superficially resembles the dispute in June over Congress' revaluation of the currency, but the two episodes differ in both origin and significance. Ultimately, Adams' opposition to Vergennes' demand that the revaluation be modified in favor of Frenchmen won him a commendation from Congress. The positions of Adams and Vergennes in regard to the revaluation were irreconcilable, but their letters in June did not raise fundamental questions about the viability of the Franco-American alliance. The situation in July was quite different, for then, with no apparent provocation, Adams initiated a correspondence over the nature and adequacy of French aid, and the exercise of his commissions to negotiate Anglo-American peace and commercial treaties. The exchange left no doubt that Adams saw a sharp divergence between the objectives of France and the United States in continuing the war and concluding a peace.
The confrontation opened with John Adams' letter of 13 July (below) on a topic that had concerned him for a long time: French assistance to the United States, particularly the disposition of French naval forces in American waters. The American Commissioners' letter to Vergennes of [ante 9 January 1779] (vol. 7:305–311) on the subject had been largely Adams' work and he had discussed the issue at considerable length in letters written after his return to America in 1779. But he had not raised the issue in any previous letter to Vergennes in 1780.
Adams' letter of the 13th indicated his belief that, while the naval dimension held the key to victory, France lacked a viable strategy for winning the naval war against Britain. In eighteen manuscript pages Adams sought to remedy the situation and to provide France with a plan that would make the most effective use of the resources committed. In his reply of 20 July (below), Vergennes did not deal directly with the substantive issues raised by Adams, but rather reassured him that France was doing all in its power to bring about victory and that statements to the contrary were false and served only to open divisions between the allies. In his letter of the 21st (below), Adams seemed to accept Vergennes' reassurances, but on the 27th (below) he reopened the matter with renewed vigor, declaring that the fleet under Ternay's command at Rhode Island was insufficient to achieve naval { 517 } superiority and thus could not decisively affect Britain's prosecution of the war.
John Adams' comments regarding French aid were divisive because they raised an issue that plagues all wartime alliances, namely the magnitude and effectiveness of each ally's contribution to final victory. In view of the situation that existed in the American theater of operations, Adams' criticism of French policy had merit, but it was, at the very least, impolitic, coming as it did from a person with no official diplomatic status in France and directed toward the only nation willing to give any form of aid to the United States. Although Adams' unsolicited criticism may have angered Vergennes, it could be and was ignored, for Adams had no power to impose his views on France.
John Adams' letter of 17 July (below), however, was far more disturbing to Vergennes because Adams proposed to take direct action under the terms of his commissions. Adams' exercise of his plenipotentiary powers had been discussed, and apparently settled, in letters exchanged with Vergennes in February and March, but in his letter of the 17th, Adams reopened the issue. He denied the validity of Vergennes' reasoning, in his letter of 24 February (vol. 8:362–363), in prohibiting him from officially notifying the British government of his presence with powers to negotiate Anglo-American peace and commercial treaties. Not only was Vergennes' position wrong, Adams argued, it was in direct opposition to American interests. Adams believed that disclosure would force the British government to clarify its position on negotiations, encourage those in Great Britain who wanted peace, dispel rumors that France enjoyed exclusive privileges under the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, and take advantage of the forces that were tearing at the fabric of British society. Moreover, Adams saw little difference between what Spain was doing in its negotiations with Richard Cumberland and what he proposed.
The arrival of John Adams' letter provoked in Vergennes an anger that was as intense as it was understandable. The letter was a monument to ingratitude at the very moment that a French fleet and army were arriving in America, the dispatch of which constituted the single most costly endeavor yet undertaken by France in the war. Moreover, Adams' proposal to explore possible peace negotiations came as Spain appeared to waver in its commitment to the war, thus raising the specter of France, abandoned by its allies, fighting Britain alone. The depth of Vergennes' concern is evident from his lengthy reply of 25 July (below) in which he undertook a point by point rebuttal of the issues raised in the letter of the 17th, making it clear that he believed Adams' reasoning to be both absurd and dangerous.
If Vergennes believed that his letter would end the discussion, he was disappointed, for Adams continued it in his letter of 26 July (below). In a gesture to Vergennes, Adams indicated that he would place the matter before Congress and await its instructions before taking any action. But he also declared that the American people were unwilling to continue the war indefinitely in pursuit of objectives of concern only to France. At some point { 518 } there would be pressure for peace and it was the anticipation of this that Adams believed justified the proposals made in his letter of the 17th. The conflict ended three days later with Vergennes' letter of 29 July (below), in which he declared that he would have no further correspondence with John Adams on matters concerning Franco-American relations, but by then Adams had already left Paris for Amsterdam.
The central question concerning the exchange between John Adams and the Comte de Vergennes in July is why did it occur? One element in Adams' decision to confront Vergennes may have been his impending departure for the Netherlands. Such a conclusion is supported by his letters of 26 and 27 July (both below), which do resemble the parting shots of a man who planned no further dealings with the French foreign minister. When the debate opened on 13 July, however, there was no sign that Adams planned anything more than the brief visit to the Netherlands that he had contemplated since early March and of which he had informed Vergennes earlier in July (to Edmund Jenings, 12 March; to Vergennes, 2 July, note 1, both above; to the president of Congress, 23 July, No. 99, and note 2, below). Moreover, only on 12 September did Adams indicate his plan to reside permanently at Amsterdam (to Francis Dana, 12 Sept., below). It seems unlikely, therefore, that his decision to visit the Netherlands was Adams' only or even his principal reason for confronting Vergennes in July.
Of more significance in provoking the exchange was Adams' effort, also undertaken in June and July, to persuade the British people and their government that Britain's interests required an immediate peace. Adams' peace initiative proceeded from his reading of Thomas Pownall's Memorial and Adams' letters to Vergennes in July show the influence of the Memorial. Moreover, in their use of Pownall's arguments, the letters parallel Adams' answer to Joseph Galloway's Cool Thoughts, leading to the conclusion that Adams may have come to see Vergennes' opposition to direct Anglo-American negotiations in much the same light as he saw Galloway's. It was no coincidence, therefore, that Adams' debate with Vergennes over the sufficiency of French aid and the exercise of his plenipotentiary powers began at almost the same time he sent Edmund Jenings the manuscripts of his Translation of Pownall's Memorial and his answer to Galloway.
The content of the letters to Vergennes was determined by Adams' desire that his peace initiative be more than a private, literary undertaking, which required that questions concerning French aid and Adams' exercise of his powers be settled. Peace negotiations were unlikely so long as the war remained a stalemate, a situation that Adams believed would continue until France provided additional aid and deployed its military and naval forces more effectively in the American theater of operations. Adams was also aware that he could not undertake official negotiations without at least the tacit support of his French ally. It seems clear, therefore, that Adams' decision to confront Vergennes in July was due largely to his determination to make one final attempt to create the conditions under which his peace initiative might succeed.
{ 519 }
Whatever John Adams intended, the issues raised in his correspondence with Vergennes did not disappear, but were referred to Congress for its consideration. Although Adams had agreed, in his letter of 26 July, to send the correspondence to Congress, Vergennes was not disposed to rely on Adams' promise. On 31 July Vergennes wrote to Benjamin Franklin and requested that he send the enclosed correspondence to Congress. He declared that Franklin would discover in Adams' letters “opinions and a turn which do not correspond either with the manner in which I explained myself to him or with the intimate connection which subsists between the king and the United States.” By seeing the letters Congress could determine whether Adams had “that conciliating spirit which is necessary for the important and delicate business with which he is intrusted” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:18–19).
Franklin wrote to the president of Congress on 9 August. There he noted both the offense given Vergennes and the French court by Adams' letters and Vergennes' refusal to correspond further with him. Citing the inherent difficulties in having two ministers at the same court with different views regarding the proper conduct of business, Franklin observed that Louis XVI should be encouraged to reflect on his “generous benevolence . . . by our thankful acknowledgments, and that such an expression of gratitude is not only our duty, but our interest.” John Adams, however, thought that more “stoutness and a greater air of independence and boldness in our demands will procure us more ample assistance” (same, 4:22–23). But Franklin may have been uncomfortable in the role assigned him by Vergennes, for in a letter to Adams of 8 October (below), he indicated that he had not yet sent off the copies of the July letters and suggested that Adams might be able to rectify the situation by apologizing to the foreign minister. Adams did not follow Franklin's advice.
Benjamin Franklin's letter of 9 August, together with the enclosed correspondence, reached Philadelphia on 19 February 1781 (JCC, 19:174), but by then Congress had already reacted to copies sent at Adams' direction. On 26 December, the correspondence reached Congress as enclosures in Francis Dana's letter of 24 August, and a committee was immediately appointed to consider Adams' letters of 17 and 26 July and Vergennes' of the 25th (same, 18:1194). On 10 January 1781 the committee reported out a draft letter to John Adams which Congress promptly adopted and sent under that date (same, 19:41–42). The letter stated that Congress assumed that Adams' letters to Vergennes concerning the communication of his commissions flowed from his zeal, but that it believed that Vergennes' objections to such an undertaking were “well founded.” Adams was advised to be more circumspect in regard to his evaluations of the prospects for peace derived from his analysis of the vagaries of British politics and society.
The multiple copies of the Adams-Vergennes correspondence sent to Congress can be confusing. Individual items, although numbered, were not kept with their covering letters or distributed in a consistent way through the Papers of the Continental Congress (see PCC, No. 84, II and Misc. { 520 } Papers, Reel No. 1). Moreover, Vergennes sent Franklin the recipient's copies of John Adams' letters so that, instead of being in the Archives of the French Foreign Ministry, they are in the Papers of the Continental Congress, and it is from that source that the copies printed in this volume are taken.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0309-0002

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1780-07-13

To the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

By the Treaty of Alliance of the sixth of February2 1778, his Majesty and the United States agreed, in Case of War, to join their Councils and Efforts against the Enterprises of the common Enemy: to make it a common Cause, and aid each other mutually with their good Offices, their Councils and their Forces, according to the Exigences of Conjunctures, and each of the contracting Parties, in the manner it may judge most proper, is to make all the Efforts in its Power against the common Enemy.3
I have cited these Clauses from the Treaty, not as foundations of any demand, that I have to make, because they are neither proper to support any demand, nor have I Authority to make any if they were: but as an Apology for the Liberty I take of requesting your Excellency's Attention to a few Observations upon the present Conjuncture of Affairs.
It is certain from the best Intelligence from London, as well as from the debates in Parliament on the several Motions which have been made for a pacification, that the British Ministry are inflexibly determined to pursue the War another Campaign in America, to send more Troops and Ships there, if they possibly can obtain them, and to put to the hazard not only, the national Credit, but their maritime Power, and even their political Existence, rather than give up their designs of domination over America; and indeed this is not at all to be wondered at, that the Ministers and the Nation, who have so far lost their Justice, their Humanity and Policy, as to deliberately form and pursue the plan of4 changing the foundations of the Laws and Government of thirteen Colonies, and reducing them to Slavery; and who have pursued this object with such sanguinary Fury for so many Years, should persist so as to bury themselves in the Ruins of the Empire, rather than fail of their purpose, when it is plain they consider, and, that not without Reason, the same Ruin in the Independence of America and her Connections with France.
The Conduct of Monsieur Le Comte de Guichen; on the seventeenth of April, and the fifteenth and nineteenth of May, in the West { 521 } Indies,5 does great honor to the national Bravery, as well as their Science in naval Tacticks, and shews that there is no Cause to fear that the Enemy will obtain any Advantage there. Yet nothing has yet been done on either Side that seems decisive.
The Advantages which Spain has gained in West Florida, and particularly of late at Mobile, and the probability that they will succeed in acquiring both the Floridas, shews that the English are on the losing hand in that quarter: but it is not the loss of both the Floridas, nor of all their West India Islands, in my Opinion, that will induce them to make Peace, and acknowledge the Independence of America in Alliance with France. They will see every posession they have beyond their Island lopped off, one after another, before they will do this.
I pretend not to know, to what part of America Monsieur de Ternay, and Monsieur de Rochambeau are destined; but to whatever part it is, whether Canada, Nova Scotia, New York, Carolina or Georgia, I have no hopes of any thing decisive from their Operations, altho' they should be instructed to co-operate with General Washington. If they should be destined against Canada or Nova Scotia, they may succeed: but this success will not be decisive. If they are intended against New York, I have no hopes of their Success. The Naval Force is not sufficient to command the Seas. Admiral Graves, added to the Ships before at New York, will be superiour; and I shall venture to give my Opinion that without a Superiority of naval Force, clear and indisputable,6 New York will never be taken. It is so situated, it is so fortified, it is garrisoned with Troops so accustomed to War, and so imbittered and inflamed by cruel passions carefully nursed up in their Breasts by their King and their Generals, and it is universally regarded by them a Post of such essential Importance, that I confess I should dispair of Success against it, with an Army twice as numerous as that of the Generals Washington and Rochambeau united, while the English are Masters of the Seas, or even while they have there an Equality of naval Power.
Most People in Europe have wondered at the Inactivity of the American Army for these two Years past, but it is merely from Want of Knowledge or Attention. The true Cause of it is; the English have confined themselves to their strong holds in Sea port Towns, and have been sheltered from all Attacks and Insults there by the Guns of their Men of War, and forever will be so, while they have the Superiority at Sea. If our Army had been three times as numerous as it was, it must have remained inactive, without a Fleet to co-operate with it; { 522 } for an Attack upon New York, without a Fleet, would have been only sacrificing the Lives of thousands of brave Men, without a possibility of succeeding.
Had the English two Years ago marched into the Country from Philadelphia, instead of retreating7 back with precipitation to New York, Europe would have heard more of the Exertions of the American Army: so much more, that in my serious Opinion, You would have heard of its total destruction.8 As it was, they were closely pursued, attacked, and if not beaten, yet they had much the worst of the Action;9 for besides their loss in killed, wounded, and in those who perished under the fatigue and heat of the day, not less than five hundred deserted from them and their desertions would have multiplied in every unsuccessful Engagement within the Country. If the last Year the British Army10 had marched out into the Country, instead of remaining under Cover of their Men of War, I am equally clear that they would have been ruined.11 The English ever since the Alliance have been fearfully apprehensive of an Attack upon their strong holds on the Sea Coast by the French. This it was induced them to retreat from Philadelphia to New York, and this has kept them almost wholly confined to that Garrison, the last Year.
I mention this, merely to wipe off the Imputation said to result from the Inactivity of our Army, since the Alliance, by shewing the true Cause of it; that it proceeds not from any Change of Sentiment in the Americans, but from the Change of the mode of prosecuting the War on the part of our Enemies.12
I am, however, clearly of Opinion, and I know it to be the general Sense of America, that the English, both in North America and the West India Islands, have been for these Two Years past absolutely in the Power of their Enemies, and that they are so now, and will continue to be so, in such a degree, that nothing will be wanting but attention to their situation, and a judicious application of the Forces of the Allies, to accomplish the entire Reduction of their Power in America. In order to shew this, let me beg your Excellency's Attention to a few Remarks upon the Situation of the English; and upon the Method of applying the force of the Allies so as to reduce them.
The English are in possession of Canada, a Province vastly extensive, and in which there is a great Number of Posts, at a great distance from each other, necessary to be maintained among a People too, who are by no means attached to them, but who would readily afford all the Assistance in their Power to the united forces of France and of the United States, and who would join them in considerable { 523 } Numbers. In this whole Province, the English have not, comprehending the Garrisons of all their Posts, more than four thousand Men.
The English are in possession of Nova Scotia. They have in Hallifax and the other Parts of the Province, and at Penobscot about three thousand Men. But the People of this Province, being descendants and Emigrants from New England chiefly, are discontented with British Government, and desirous of joining the United States.
They are in Possession of New York Island, Long Island and Staten Island, where they have in all of regular British Troops, perhaps[]13 Thousand Men. The Militia and Volunteers &c., of whom they make such an ostentatious display in the dispatches of their Generals, and in the Gazette of St. James's, are of very little Consideration. Their Numbers are much exaggerated. It is Force, and Fear and Policy, that enrolls the greatest part of them.14 There are perhaps fifteen thousand Inhabitants of the City. These, together with the Army and Navy, are fed and supplied with provisions and stores and fuel, and their Cattle and Horses with forage brought by Sea from Quebec, Hallifax, Ireland, and the West India Islands, except the small Quantity which they draw from Long Island and Staten Island.
They are now in Possession of Charlestown in South Carolina and Savannah in Georgia. Their Armies and Navies in these places, as well as the Inhabitants, must be chiefly supplied by Sea in the same manner.
They are still perhaps in possession of St. Augustine in East Florida and Pensacola in the West. From these places they have drawn of late Years great supplies of Lumber and Provisions for their West India Islands. The Number of Troops in Georgia and Carolina may amount to[]15 Thousands.
They are in Possession of Jamaica, Barbadoes, Antigua, St. Christophers, and St. Lucie and other Islands. These draw Supplies of Provisions and Lumber &c., from Quebec, Hallifax, Pensacola, and Augustine, that is from the Floridas. The Number of Troops they have in each Island, I am not able to ascertain: but certainly they are not strong in any of them. And the Climate in the West Indies and in Georgia and Carolina, is making a rapid Consumption of their Men.
From this Sketch it will be easily seen, what a great Number of Posts they have to sustain, how these are mutually connected with and dependent on each other, and that their Existence in all of them depends upon their Superiority at Sea, and that to carry on the Intercourse and Communication between these various places, a vast Number of Transports, Provision Vessels and Merchant Ships, are { 524 } necessary. This is so much the fact, that the English Nation has now little Navigation left but what is employed in maintaining the Communication of these places with one another and with Europe. Here then it is that the English Commerce and Navy is vulnerable, and this it is which clearly points out to their Enemies, the only sure and certain Way of reducing their Power in that quarter of the World; and if it is reduced there, it is brought into a narrow Compass every where.
The Policy and Necessity of keeping always a superiour Fleet both in the West India Islands and on the Coast of the Continent of North America, is from all this very obvious. The English are so sensible of this, that they dread it as the greatest Evil that can befal them. The Appearance of the Count D'Estaing upon the Coast of North America never failed to throw the English into the utmost Terror and Consternation.16
The Appearance of a French Fleet upon our Coasts has repeatedly compelled, and ever must compel the English to call off from their Cruises, all their Frigates, and other Ships, and to assemble them at New York for their Security, and the defence of that place. These are among the happy Effects of such a measure. The Communication of the United States, not only with each other, but with the West Indies, with France, and all other parts of Europe, with which they have any Concern, is immediately opened, and they are thereby easily furnished, in all parts, with every thing fitting and necessary to carry on the War with the greatest Vigour. His Majesty's Fleets and Armies will be amply and much more cheaply supplied, and his Subjects will reap, in Common with the Inhabitants of the United States, the benefits of this free Commerce. It will give free Sea-Room to the few Frigates belonging to Congress, and the several States, to cruise for the Merchant Ships, Provision Vessels and Transports of the Enemy. It gives Opportunity also to the Privateers to do the same. There are at this day, notwithstanding the dreadful Sacrifices made at Charlestown and Penobscot, Sacrifices the Necessity of which would have been entirely prevented by a few ships of the line,17 the Continental Frigates, the Confederacy, which is arrived at Philadelphia, the Alliance which will soon be there, the Trumbll, the Deane, the Bourbon, and also a Ship of fifty six Guns, which is nearly ready for Sea. The State of Massachusetts has two Frigates18 and several smaller Vessels. There are besides these now in being, belonging to Newbury Port, Beverly, Salem, Marblehead, Portsmouth, Boston and Rhode Island about forty Privateers. There are several belonging to Philadelphia. { 525 } If a French Fleet should constantly remain upon that Coast, the Number of these Privateers would be doubled in a very few Months. What Havock then must these armed Vessels make, especially if a few French Frigates should be also ordered to cruise for Prizes, among the Provision Vessels, Merchant Ships and Transports passing and repassing to and from America and the West Indies to Europe, and to and from America and the West Indies, and to and from Quebec, Nova Scotia, New York, Charlestown, Savannah and the Floridas. Such depredations have several Times been made by our Cruisers alone, as to reduce the English at New York to very great distress: and it would be very easy to reduce them in this Way, to such Misery, as to oblige them to surrender at discretion.
I therefore beg leave to submit it to your Excellency's Consideration, whether there is any possible Way, that a Marine Force can be employed against the English, so much to the advantage of France, and the disadvantage of England, as in this Way: and whether upon the principles of French Interest and Policy alone, even without taking into Consideration that of the United States, a Fleet ought not to be constantly kept in North America. The Advantages they will there have, in Artists,19 Supplies, Accommodations &c. above the English are obvious.20
But the Question will arise, where shall they winter? I answer they may winter with perfect Security and Advantage, either at Boston, Rhode Island, Delaware or Cheasapeak Bay.
Another Question will arise, whether they should all winter together in one Port, or be seperated to several Ports?
I apprehend, however, that it would be most prudent to leave it to the discretion of the Commander in Chief of the Squadron, to keep the Squadron together, or to detach parts of it, according to the Exigences of the Service, advising with Congress, or with the Chevalier de la Luzerne, from time to time.
Two Ships of the Line with three Frigates stationed at Boston, with orders to cruise occasionally for the protection of French and American Trade and the Annoyance of the Enemy: the same Number at Rhode Island with the same Orders—the same Number at Delaware River with similar Orders and a like Number in Cheasapeak Bay with like Orders, which would make eight Ships of the Line and twelve Frigates, I have a moral Certainty would in one Year reduce the Power of the English in North America to absolute Annihilation without striking a Blow at Land. Those Ships would make a diversion of an equal Force of the English from the West India Islands, so that they { 526 } would be in that respect as usefully employed for his Majesty there as any where. Eight Ships of the Line and twelve Frigates stationed together at Rhode Island, with Orders to cruise for the same purposes would do the same thing.
Which plan would be best I dare not undertake to say. But until further informed, and instructed by Congress, I should think however, that the best plan would be to station the Fleet for the Winter, either in Delaware, or Cheasapeak Bay: and as the War has lately turned to the Southward, I am most inclined to think that Cheasapeak Bay would be the most proper.
But, in all Events, I beg leave to intreat in the most earnest manner that a powerful Fleet may be ordered to winter somewhere in North America. By this means I think there is a moral Certainty that the English will be ruined there; whereas if Dependence is had upon the Assault and Attack of their strong holds, without the most absolute Command of the Sea, I fear it will end in Disappointment and Disgrace.21
There is the more urgent Reason for laying these Considerations before your Excellency, because there is a proportion of the People in America, who wish to return to the domination of Great Britain, many of whom are sensible and artful Men. They take Notice of every Circumstance of the Conduct of France, and represent it in such a Light, as they think will throw a prejudice against the Alliance into the Minds of the People. They represent the Affair of Rhode Island and of Savannah and some other things, as proofs that the Court of France do not mean to give any effectual Aid to America, but only to play off her Strength against that of Britain, and thus exhaust <her> both. The Refugees in England concur with them in these Representations, and the Ministry, and the Members of Parliament in their public Speeches represent the same thing. Even Mr. Hartley, who is more for Peace than any Man in that Kingdom, in a printed Letter to the Inhabitants of the County of York, says, “it is our duty to unravel by Negotiation, the Combination of Powers now acting against Us”: and he says further in express Words, that “it is apparent to all the World, that France might long ago have put an End to that part of the War, which has been most distressing to America, if they had chosen so to do.” He must mean here the War of their Frigates and Privateers upon our Trade. “Let the whole System of France be considered,” says he, “from the beginning down to the late Retreat from Savannah, and I think it is impossible to put any other Construction upon it, but this, viz, that it has always been the deliberate { 527 } Intention and Object of France, for purposes of their own, to encourage the Continuation of the War in America, in hopes of exhausting the Strength and Resources of this Country, and of depressing the rising Power of America.”22 This is not only the Language of Mr. Hartley, but the general Language of Newspapers and Pamphlets, and, I am well informed, of Conversation, in England. These are very industriously sent to America, through various Channels which cannot be stopped, by Laws, Art, or Power.
The body of the People have great Confidence in the sincerity of France; but if these contrary Opinions should be suffered to gain ground, as they most assuredly will, if something is not done to prevent it; when all the World sees and declares as they do, that it is the best Policy of France, if She considered her own Interest alone in the Conduct of the War, to keep a superiour naval Force upon the Coast of the Continent of North America; I leave your Excellency to judge, what a melancholy effect it will have upon our Affairs. There is no Event, in my Opinion, which would have so direct a tendency to give force and extent to Opinions so dangerous to both Nations, as the calling off from the Continent your Naval Force, during the Winter, and not keeping a Superiority there through the Year. I scruple not to give it as my opinion, that it will disunite, weaken and distress Us more than, We should have been disunited, weakened or distressed, if the Alliance had never been made.
The United States of America are a great and powerful People, whatever European Statesmen may think of them. If We take into our Estimate, the Numbers and Character of her People, the Extent, Variety, and Fertility of her Soil, her Commerce, and her Skill and Materials for Ship building, and her Seamen, excepting France, Spain, England, the Emperor and Russia, there is not a State in Europe so powerful. Breaking off such a Nation as this from the English so suddenly, and uniting it so closely with France, is one of the most extraordinary Events that ever happened among Mankind. The prejudices of Nations in favor of themselves and against all other Nations, which spring from self-love, and are often nurtured by Policy for unworthy purposes, and which have certainly been ever cultivated by the English with the utmost Care, in the Minds of the Americans, as well as of the People of every other Part of their dominions, certainly deserve the Attention of the wisest Statesmen, and as they are not to be eradicated in a Moment, they require to be managed with some delicacy. It is too often said in France, where the Prejudice against the English has not been fostered into so much Rancour, { 528 } because France never had so much to fear from England, as England has from France, That “the Americans and the English are the same thing,” not to make it appear that there are some Remnants of Prejudices against Americans among the French: and it must be confessed there are some in America against France. It is really astonishing however, that there are so few, and it is the Interest and Duty of both, to lessen them as fast as possible, and to avoid with the nicest Care every colourable Cause of reviving any part of them.23
I beg your Excellency to excuse this Trouble, because the State of things in North America, has really become alarming, and this merely for Want of a few French Men of War upon that Coast, and to believe me to be, with the greatest Respect Sir, your Excellency's most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, Misc. Papers, Reel No. 1, f. 63–81); endorsed on the first page: “M. de R.,” “Rep.”; with an additional notation: “No. 6.”; docketed by Congress: “N 6. John Adams to Ct Vergennes July 13th 1780.” For the presence of this copy in the PCC, see The Dispute with the Comte de Vergennes, 13–29 July, Editorial Note (above). LbC partly in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers). MS fragment (Adams Papers), filmed at 7 Feb. 1780 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 351).
1. This letter should be compared with earlier ones from the Commissioners to Vergennes, [ante 20] Dec. 1778 – [ante 9] Jan. 1779, and from JA to the Marquis de Lafayette of 21 Feb. 1779 (vol. 7:292–311, 421–423); see also vol. 8:index, Adams, John: Military Interests, Naval matters. JA sent a virtually identical copy of this letter, in Jonathan Loring Austin's hand, to the Minister of Marine, Gabriel de Sartine (Arch. de la Marine, Paris, Campagnes B4, vol. 182), but no reply to that letter has been found.
2. In the Letterbook JA wrote “April,” which John Thaxter canceled and replaced with “Feby.”
3. This paragraph includes portions of the preamble, Art. I, and Art. III of the FrancoAmerican Treaty of Alliance (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:36, 37).
4. At this point in the Letterbook JA wrote and then canceled “enslaving.”
5. For the battle between Guichen and Rodney off Martinique on 17 April, see vol. 8:337, 360; and JA's letter of 14 May to John Bondfield, note 1 (above). For their encounters on 14 and 19 May, see Thomas Digges' letter of 29 June, note 2 (above).
6. In the Letterbook the preceding three words are canceled and do not appear in the letter sent to Sartine.
7. In the Letterbook, John Thaxter inserted this word in place of JA's “sulking.”
8. At this point in the Letterbook the letter “b” appears, indicating the corresponding passage at the end of the Letterbook copy for insertion at this point. The inserted passage comprised all of the following sentence. The insertions “b” through “e” are in Thaxter's hand, but see note 21.
9. This was the Battle of Monmouth on 28 June 1778.
10. In the copy sent to Sartine, “British Army” was replaced by “Enemy.”
11. In the Letterbook the remainder of this paragraph reads “c. (Had it not been for the Alliance between France and America however, there is every Reason to believe they would have had the Presumption or desperation to have marched into the Country from Philadelphia, in 1778 and from N. York in 1779. So that this Alliance, may be reasonably conjectured to have been the Cause, why the Ennemy in the United States have not been defeated.) <. . . by giving scope to our Privateers and more freedom to our Troops it has been of great Advantage.> d.” The letter “c” indicates the passage at the end of the Letterbook copy that comprises the following two sentences in the recipient's copy. It seems likely that originally they were to be followed { 529 } by the two sentences that are enclosed in parentheses in the Letterbook, but which were subsequently deleted.
12. The letter “d” indicates the passage at the end of the Letterbook copy that comprises all of the following paragraph, but may originally have been intended to replace the heavily canceled sentence in the Letterbook. In any event it seems likely that JA determined to insert passages “c” and “d” and to delete the final sentence before he decided to delete the two sentences now set off in parentheses. Certainly the removal of those two sentences was necessary if JA was not to be seen as echoing, explicitly rather than implicitly, the statements of David Hartley regarding the Franco-American alliance and the continuation of the war that he quotes later in the letter.
13. Left blank. In July 1780, the garrison at New York reportedly comprised 20,048 troops, of which 14,285 were fit for duty (Mackesy, War for America, p. 346).
14. At this point in the Letterbook, set off in parentheses, presumably for deletion, is the following passage: “The English themselves have So little Confidence in them, that they exercise them in the day time, with only Pieces of Wood in their Musquets for Flints, that they take their arms from them every night, and pile them up in the magazines, and they never trust them with Powder and their officers have frequently been heard to say, that the greatest Part of them ought to be in Prison.” JA's reason for deleting this passage is unknown, but for his previous use of this description of the loyalist troops at New York, see “Letters from a Distinguished American,” [ante 14–22 July], No. II, below).
15. Left blank. In July 1780, the British reportedly had 8,439 troops in South Carolina and Georgia, of which 6,129 were fit for duty (Mackesy, War for America, p. 346).
16. In the Letterbook the text continues “(Even the Appearance of the Kings Frigate the Sensible in Boston Harbour, was some Protection to Us.)
“e. (The first Consequence of the Appearance of a french Fleet upon the Coast, is, the English are obliged to call off from their Cruises all their Frigates and other ships, and assemble them at New York in order to defend that.)”. The letter “e” indicates the passage at the end of the Letterbook copy which comprises the first four sentences of the following paragraph.
17. JA inserted the words “Sacrifices the Necessity . . . ships of the line.” The passage does not appear in the letter sent to Sartine.
18. At this point in the Letterbook is the canceled passage “one frigate of 22 Guns the Protector.” At the time of this letter Massachusetts had only two major warships, the frigate Protector and the ship Mars (Charles O. Paullin, Navy of the American Revolution, Cleveland, 1906, p. 342).
19. At this point in the Letterbook is the canceled passage “protecting the French Trade,” but see note 20.
20. In the Letterbook the paragraph continues “(The Protection they will afford to the supplies to his Majestys fleets armies and subjects in his Colonies is equally obvious, and to the Trade both of his subjects and allies.).”
21. The remainder of the Letterbook copy is in John Thaxter's hand and was copied from a manuscript in JA's hand (see descriptive note), bearing the notation “f,” and consisting of four folio pages, one and a quarter of which contain text. JA's designation of the manuscript as “f,” thus placing it in sequence with the other textual insertions, may indicate that he originally intended to end the letter at this point. The portion of the text copied from the manuscript is immediately followed by the passages marked “b,” “c,” “d,” and “e,” which were intended for insertion in the text. No character “a” or passage “a” has been found.
22. The quotations are from David Hartley's letter of 21 March 1780 that was published in Two Letters from D. Hartley, Esq. M.P. Addressed to the Committee of the County of York, London, 1780. For JA's earlier criticism of these statements, some of which he repeats here, see his letter of 18 April to the president of Congress, No. 48 (above).
23. The manuscript ends at this point, but the closing paragraph is in the Letterbook.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0310-0001

Author: Addenet, M.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-13

From M. Addenet

[salute] Monsieur

La premiere feuille de ma traduction est bien avancée, et dès que { 530 } j'aurai La Suite je ne vous ferai pas attendre. Mais je souhaiterois avoir votre extrait Complet. Il seroit essentiel que je L'eusse, afin de mettre de La Liaison et de La Concordance: autrement Le style en souffriroit. Si votre Copie est achevée, je vous prie de vouloir bien me La faire passer.1
Je Suis avec un profond respect, Monsieur, Votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur
[signed] Addenet
Ma demeure est rue transnonain maison de Monsieur Blondel.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0310-0002

Author: Addenet, M.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-13

M. Addenet to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

The first portion of my translation is well advanced and as soon as I have the rest I will be able to complete the task. But I need to have the complete extract. It is essential in order to tie it together coherently, otherwise the style will suffer. If your copy is completed, please have the goodness to send it to me.1
I am with profound respect, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant.
[signed] Addenet
My residence is on Rue Transnonain at the house of Monsieur Blondel.
RC (Adams Papers;) endorsed: “Monsieur Adenet 13 July. 1780. Ruë Transnonain maison de monsieur Blondel a Paris.”; in CFA's hand: “1780.”
1. Addenet, whom Edmé Jacques Genet recommended in his letter of 13 June (above), was doing a French translation of JA's reworking of Thomas Pownall's Memorial, which would be published at Amsterdam in November under the title of Pensées sur la révolution de l'Amérique-Unie. See A Translation of Thomas Pownall's Memorial, 19 April – [ca. 14 July] (above). Addenet sent an additional progress report on 23 July (Adams Papers). For the delivery of the finished translation, see his letter of 30 July, and note 1 (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0311

Author: Rush, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-13

From Benjamin Rush

[salute] Dear Sir

The reduction—I will not say loss of Charlestown has produced a new Era in the politicks of America—Such as you and I saw—and felt—and admired in the years 1775 and 76. Our republic cannot exist long in prosperity. We require adversity, and appear to possess most of the republican Spirit when most depressed. The papers will inform you of the exploits of our governments—of our citizens—of our Soldiers—and even of our ladies. If there is a single philosopher in the cabinet of St. James's he will advise immediately to make peace with America. “The Romans govern the world (said Cato) but the women govern the Romans.” The women of America have at last become principals { 531 } in the glorious American Controversy. Their opinions alone and their transcendent influence in Society and families must lead us on to Success and victory. My dear wife who You know in the beginning of the war had all the timidity of her Sex as to the issue of the war, and the fate of her husband, was One of the ladies employed to sollicit benefactions for the Army. She distinguished herself by her Zeal and Address in this business, and is now so thouroughly enlisted in the cause of her country, that She reproaches me with lukewarmness. Mr. Searle will inform you of what is going forward within doors. His zeal and integrity in the service of America and of Pensylvania in particular entitle him to the good offices and regard of all the friends of liberty on your side the water.

[salute] Adieu—From my dear friend yours most Sincerely

[signed] Benjn. Rush
1. On 20 Sept. JA wrote to Jean Luzac (LbC, Adams Papers), enclosing this letter and offering it for publication in the Gazette de Leyde. Luzac returned the letter without using it, probably because he had already published a piece concerning the activities of the Philadelphia women in the issue of 15 September.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0312-0001

Editorial Note

On 22 July, John Adams sent Edmund Jenings the final portion of his reply to Joseph Galloway's Cool Thoughts (London, 1780 [i.e. 1779]). Specifically, { 532 } his reply was to the three sections of that pamphlet setting down Galloway's views “On the Consequences to Great Britain of American Independence”; “On the Expence of Great Britain in the Settlement and Defence of the American Colonies”; and “On the Value and Importance of the American Colonies and the West Indies to the British Empire” (see No. I, note 1, below). In an accompanying note, Adams declared that “I have done with this Pamphlet, but I have 20 more as full of Nonsense—would you advise me to go on? or is it worth while to print these or any part of them” (Adams Papers).
In his reply to Cool Thoughts, Adams sought to convince the British public that peace, based on the acknowledgment of American independence, was in Britain's self-interest. His arguments reiterated several points contained in his replies to speeches in Parliament by Henry Seymour Conway and Lord George Germain (to Edmé Jacques Genet, 17 and 28 May, both above), and in his revision of Thomas Pownall's Memorial (London, 1780; A Translation of Thomas Pownall's Memorial, 19 April – [ca. 14 July], above). But his response to Galloway was not published so expeditiously as those other productions. Not until 1782, from August through December, was the reply published by Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer in London, and then it was under the title of “Letters from a Distinguished American.”
Understanding Adams' motives for writing the letters in 1780, and the reason for their publication in 1782 is important for analyzing the development of his vision of the basis upon which an Anglo-American peace could be established, the future of Anglo-American and Franco-American relations, and the long-term direction of American foreign policy.
Joseph Galloway dominated pre-revolutionary Pennsylvania politics. An able lawyer from a prominent family, Galloway was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1756 and, except for the year 1764– 1765, served continuously until 1775, holding the office of speaker from 1766 to 1774. In the Assembly he was allied with Benjamin Franklin in efforts to overturn the proprietorship and transform Pennsylvania into a royal colony. Whether intentional or not, Galloway's choice of a title for his 1780 pamphlet recalls that alliance, for in 1764, when both men were engaged in a pamphlet war against the proprietorship, Franklin published a piece entitled Cool Thoughts on the Present Situation of our Public Affairs (Evans, No. 9664; Franklin, Papers, 11:153–173).
In 1774, hoping to prevent radical elements from provoking an irreversible rupture with Britain, Galloway obtained election to the First Continental Congress. John Adams met Galloway there and described him as a “sensible and learned but cold Speaker”; more significant was Adams' association of Galloway's conception of the proper Anglo-American relationship in 1774 with Thomas Hutchinson's approach in 1764, on the eve of the Stamp Act crisis (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:150, 119). Adams' perception of this connection may explain his immediate attribution to Hutchinson of a role in writing Cool Thoughts (No. I, below) and, after learning of his death, his { 533 } inclusion of a lengthy appraisal of Hutchinson's life (No. VII, below), as well as his enthusiasm for undertaking a rebuttal of Cool Thoughts.
Galloway's major contribution at the First Continental Congress was his “Plan of Union.” The “Plan,” ultimately tabled and expunged from the minutes, provided for an American legislature to govern the colonies, with legislation originating either there or in the British Parliament, but with the approval of both required for enactment. The defeat of his plan and Congress' adoption of more radical measures, led Galloway to refuse election to the Second Continental Congress. In 1776 he crossed the British lines to join Gen. William Howe in New Jersey, and in 1777 he joined the British invasion of Pennsylvania. In December 1777, Howe appointed Galloway superintendent-general of Philadelphia, in effect the civil governor of that occupied city. Galloway accompanied Howe's army when it evacuated Philadelphia in June 1778 to return to New York, and in October he sailed for England, never to return. But he did not abandon his hope for an imperial constitution, and between 1774 and 1788 he produced no less than seven constitutional plans, with those done after 1774 predicated on the military conquest of the colonies (Julian Boyd, Anglo-American Union, Phila., 1941).
By the late 1770s, Galloway believed that the incompetence of British commanders and a lack of resolve in London had unduly delayed military victory. In 1779, first in testimony before the Parliament and later in pamphlets attacking the Howe brothers, he sharply criticized British efforts to subdue the Americans (DAB; DNB). By 1780, Galloway was the most prominent loyalist refugee supporting the military conquest of the colonies and it was this fixation on a military solution that produced his Cool Thoughts.
Cool Thoughts was ostensibly an objective analysis of the effect of American independence on British economic and political power, but its real purpose was to counter the arguments of such men as Josiah Tucker, the Dean of Gloucester (to Genet, 9 May, note 1, above), and Thomas Pownall, member of Parliament and former governor of Massachusetts (A Translation of Thomas Pownall's Memorial, 19 April – [ca. 14 July], above). Both Tucker and Pownall believed that Britain would profit from American independence because it could then enjoy the economic benefits derived from the colonies without the expense of governing and protecting them. Galloway dismissed such arguments as heresy, declaring that rather than reaping any economic or political benefits from the loss of its American empire, Britain would be so weakened as to be in danger of foreign conquest.
John Adams believed that Galloway's arguments were both absurd and dangerous because they played to the illusions of the North ministry and of many members of Parliament who believed that the war could be settled short of complete American independence. In fact, it was the very absurdity of Galloway's arguments that led Adams to see Cool Thoughts as the perfect vehicle upon which to base an American manifesto regarding the war and the future of Anglo-American relations.
In his reply, Adams noted repeatedly that Galloway's arguments justifying { 534 } Britain's efforts to retain its colonies were equally valid as reasons for the United States and its allies to continue their resistance, and he asserted that every disaster that Galloway foresaw Britain suffering from American independence could be avoided by making peace. Where Galloway demanded that Britain serve its self-interest by continuing the war to victory and reimposing the mercantilist navigation acts, John Adams called on Britain to serve its self-interest by granting independence and forging a new commercial relationship based on free trade. Where Galloway saw America as the perpetual tool of France in its rivalry with England, Adams foresaw American neutrality in future European wars. Where Galloway saw American independence resulting in a weakened Britain, unable to compete with or resist its foreign enemies, Adams anticipated a stronger Britain, once again engaged in the familiar channels of Anglo-American trade. And where Galloway thought a military victory possible, Adams deemed such an outcome doubtful and, if achieved, then pyrrhic.
John Adams' arguments in his reply to Galloway were heavily influenced by those in Thomas Pownall's Memorial. By the time that he began his response to Galloway, Adams had had ample time to consider his reworking of the Memorial, which he had sent to the president of Congress in a long letter of 19 April, and was in the process of composing his Translation of the Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe upon the Present State of Affairs Between the Old and New World into Common Sense and Intelligible English, which would be published in French at Amsterdam in 1780 and in English at London in 1781 (A Translation of Thomas Pownall's Memorial, 19 April – [ca. 14 July], Nos. I and II, above). Pownall's Memorial was itself a repudiation of Galloway and those who shared his views, and its influence on the “Letters from a Distinguished American” is clear. But there are significant differences in style and content between the Memorial, Adams' Translation, and his “Letters.”
Pownall's Memorial appealed to Adams because it emphasized the identity of American and British interests in ending the war. Adams' revisions of Pownall's arguments were directed at making this coincidence of interests even clearer, while leaving no doubt as to the actual position of the United States vis-à-vis Britain and the rest of the world. Cool Thoughts took the opposite position, that American and British interests were fundamentally opposed, and Adams saw it as essentially a policy statement by the North ministry written by its loyalist lackeys. Thus his reply to Galloway, while it followed the lines set down in the Memorial and the Translation, was far more polemical and much more explicit about the future course of American policy and the impact of a peace settlement on that policy.
This is most evident in John Adams' treatment of the future Franco-American relationship. In both the Memorial and Adams' Translation, statements about the future neutrality of the United States merely implied that the Franco-American alliance, but not the commercial treaty, would lapse with the end of the war. In the fifth “Letter,” however, Adams states explicitly that “this treaty [the Franco-American alliance] lasts no longer than this
{ 535 } { 536 }
war” (No. V, and note 3, below). This declaration was presumably intended to remove a major obstacle to peace: the fear that Britain was to be faced for all time to come by a tripartite alliance of the United States, France, and Spain. But this statement, which does not appear in the corresponding section of the Adams letter of 16 June to the president of Congress (No. 84, above), was a remarkable assertion for Adams to make in 1780, particularly in a piece intended for publication, because it contradicted all previous statements of American policy and the language of the treaty itself.
Had the reply to Galloway been published in 1780, as John Adams clearly intended, it is doubtful that his identity would have remained secret. In that event the “Letters,” with their emphasis on the identity of British and American interests in making peace and the statement regarding the French alliance, could only have been seen as a direct American initiative to open peace negotiations. It would appear that, at least in 1780, John Adams' commitment to the continuance of the war under the terms of the French alliance extended only to the point at which Britain was forced to acknowledge American independence and begin peace negotiations.
It is significant that on the same day, 16 June, on which he wrote his first letter to the president of Congress regarding Cool Thoughts (No. 84, above), John Adams also wrote to the Comte de Vergennes. That letter began an acrimonious exchange over Congress' revaluation of its currency on 18 March, the adequacy of French aid to the United States, the proper FrancoAmerican relationship, and the opening of negotiations with Britain. This debate, which had been building towards a climax since Adams' arrival at Paris in February, ended only with Vergennes' letter of 29 July, the last communication between the two men for nearly a year (The Revaluation Controversy, 16 June – 1 July; The Dispute with the Comte de Vergennes, 13–29 July, both above).
Adams could have had few illusions about the prospects for success of any peace overtures to Britain in 1780, but his reply to Cool Thoughts does seem to be an effort to circumvent Vergennes' objections to any effort by Adams to exercise his powers to negotiate a peace treaty. It may well reveal the degree to which the conflict with Vergennes was convincing Adams that there was a sharp divergence of French and American interests in a negotiated peace, and that France was the major obstacle to achieving it. Adams' brief covering notes to Jenings of 8 and 22 July (Adams Papers) suggest that his Translation of Thomas Pownall's Memorial and his “Letters” were intended as companion pieces, part of a peace offensive, undertaken unilaterally in the face of French objections, that died in the face of British intransigence and the failure of the “Letters” to reach their intended audience.
John Adams received Joseph Galloway's Cool Thoughts as part of a package of newspapers and pamphlets sent by Thomas Digges (8 June, enclosure, above) which he acknowledged in a letter to Digges of 28 June (below). The pamphlet apparently arrived on or about 16 June, for in one letter of that date and two on the 17th, Adams undertook to inform Congress of the pamphlet and his views regarding it (Nos. 84, 85, and 86, all above). { 537 } But he did not then inform Congress of any plans to publish a reply to Galloway, and did not begin the first of his “Letters from a Distinguished American” until almost a month later, on or about 14 July (No. I, and note 1, below). The three letters sent to Congress each dealt with a separate section of Cool Thoughts and served as the basis for the individual “Letters” dealing with that section. Thus the first six “Letters” were based on the letter of 16 June to Congress which dealt with the first part of Cool Thoughts: “On the Consequences to Great Britain of American Independence” (Nos. I through VI, below); the next four were drawn from the first letter of 17 June, which concerned the second section: “On the Expence of Great Britain in the Settlement and Defence of the American Colonies” (Nos. VII through X, below); while the second letter of 17 June served as the basis for the first unpublished letter and pertained to the third section: “On the Value and Importance of the American Colonies and the West Indies to the British Empire” (No. XI, below). Only the final unpublished letter (No. XII, below) was neither derived from one of the letters to Congress nor intended as a response to Galloway, but rather was a critique of George III's speech closing Parliament on 8 July (Parliamentary Hist., 21:766–769). Adams probably received this text on or about 22 July, the date of a letter to the president of Congress concerning the speech (No. 98, calendared, below).
The letters to Congress mirror the organization of Galloway's pamphlet, and determine the content of Adams' “Letters” replying to Galloway. Adams selected, in consecutive order, the passages from Cool Thoughts upon which he wished to comment; the only significant differences between the quotations used in the letters to the president of Congress and those in the published “Letters” being occasional changes in format. But in the “Letters” Adams adds a much lengthier commentary, which makes the “Letters from a Distinguished American” more than three times as long as the letters to the president of Congress.
A comparison of the location and order of the quotations in the letters to Congress and in the “Letters” intended for publication strongly suggests that the “Letters” were not printed in the General Advertiser in the order in which they were written. The editors see no compelling reason to publish the letters in the order of their appearance in the General Advertiser, which seems only to reflect their ordering and dating in 1782, probably by Edmund Jenings. As published here, the letters are placed in the order in which Adams presumably wrote them. The order of their publication is indicated in arabic numerals in their titles, below.
The “Letters,” which John Adams sent to Edmund Jenings as enclosures in his letters of 14 (below) and 22 July (Adams Papers), apparently comprised forty-three folio pages of text (No. I, and note 1; Nos. XI and XII, descriptive notes, below). Jenings acknowledged receipt of the second installment on 27 July (below), noting that the “Letters” were so important “that I shall be careful to whom, they are trusted, and therefore may perhaps wait a little while, before I find a Convenient Opportunity.” Six weeks later, on 14 September, Jenings wrote that “the Translation of Pownal and the { 538 } other papers are got safe to my Friends Hands and He is preparing to publish them together and then proposes to retail it out in the News Papers” (below). If by “other papers” Jenings meant the “Letters,” then his friend's preparations were considerably delayed—for nearly two years.
Not until 11 February 1781, however, did Adams write to Jenings to inquire “what is become of the Remarks upon Galloway?” (Adams Papers). No reply has been found, and Adams did not inquire after his “Letters” again until 17 July 1782, when he added that “since they are not worth printing, in London I would have them published here in French” (Adams Papers). On 11 August, Jenings replied that “the Person to whom I sent some time ago the answer to Galloway is very idle or very busy,” for “I have written to him several times to publish it” (Adams Papers). Finally, on 22 August 1782, Jenings announced that the letters would soon appear in the General Advertiser (Adams Papers).
Jenings' letter of 11 August 1782 provides his only explanation for the delay in publication, and it explains very little. Nowhere does Jenings indicate why the “Letters” were not published in 1780 or 1781. In his letter of 11 August, he appears to be as perplexed as Adams about the holdup in publication, and seems to indicate that he had sent the manuscript off long before. That would accord with his letter of 14 September 1780. But did Jenings, in fact, send the “Letters” off to London in 1780 or did he wait until sometime after the fall of the North ministry in March 1782? Notations in Jenings' hand on the final, undated and unpublished “Letter” (No. XII, descriptive note, and note 5, below) and a reference in the sixth published “Letter” (No. V, and note 9, below) seem to show that he began, but did not complete, work on the manuscript in the fall of 1780, resumed his editing at the end of 1781 or the beginning of 1782, and finished only after the North ministry had fallen.
One can only conjecture why the “Letters from a Distinguished American” were not printed in 1780 or 1781. It may be that Jenings' explanation in his letter of 11 August 1782, that his friend in London had been “very idle or very busy,” is correct. But it seems incredible that such idleness or business would extend over a period of almost two years. An alternative explanation might be that when Jenings received the manuscript in July 1780, Britain was in political turmoil owing to the capture of Charleston, the Gordon Riots, and the impending parliamentary elections. Jenings or his London printer may have thought that it was not a propitious time to publish a series of letters intended to bring about Anglo-American negotiations. Jenings may even have wished to spare John Adams the consequences of a diplomatic indiscretion if his authorship became known.
Yet none of these conjectures explain why such circumstances or considerations did not also apply with regard to Adams' other efforts during this period. John Adams' replies to the speeches by Conway and Germain were published at London in late June or early July, and his Translation appeared in early January 1781 (from Edmund Jenings, 9 July, above; A Translation of Thomas Pownall's Memorial, 19 April – [ca. 14 July], Editorial Note, above). A quite different explanation, even more conjectural than the rest, would { 539 } assign the delay to ministerial influence exerted through either Jenings or his printer, for the appearance of John Adams' reply to Cool Thoughts could not have been pleasing to the North ministry.
There is no similar uncertainty concerning the reasons for the “Letters'” publication in 1782. In Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer of 16 August 1782 a letter, perhaps by Jenings, announced the forthcoming publication of the “Letters” and indicated that they were intended to counter any plans by the newly instituted Shelburne ministry to seek an Anglo-American peace settlement that would leave the United States short of complete independence (see No. I, note 2, below). The “Letters from a Distinguished American” would make it clear that any such solution was both unacceptable to the Americans and contrary to British interests.
The publication of the “Letters” for that purpose made them part of the final peace process, which resulted in the signing of a preliminary peace treaty on 30 November 1782, a far different role for the essays than Adams had contemplated in 1780. Then Adams had intended his reply to Galloway to be seen as the work of an Englishman who, by pointing out the fallacies of Galloway's arguments and their contravention of British self-interest, sought to influence the policies of his own country. The changed circumstances of 1782 required either Jenings or the printer to introduce the “Letters” in a new fashion.
The introductory letter in the General Advertiser of 16 August implied that the “Letters” had been written just prior to the fall of the North ministry in March, and thus they were dated in late January and early February 1782. The dateline also indicated that they originated at Paris, a likely location for the American who wrote the “Letters.” This was particularly so since he was a “Distinguished American,” who by implication was not simply a representative of the Continental Congress, but one of its peace negotiators. This might have led one to conclude that the author was Benjamin Franklin, for John Adams was at Amsterdam in early 1782, but there is no evidence that Jenings, or whoever provided the date and location, intended anything more than a generic “Distinguished American.” Whatever the reason for dating the “Letters” at Paris in early 1782, they took on the status of an official policy statement of the reasons dictating an immediate commencement of Anglo-American peace negotiations as well as an assessment of the Anglo-American relationship that could be expected to result from those negotiations.
Writing to Jenings on 16 and 27 September 1782 (both Adams Papers), shortly after he received the first of the published letters, John Adams indicated that he was happy that they were finally printed, but he expressed concern over the editorial changes. Although the essays were done “with the Design of being printed as written by a Briton,” the readers were told that they were the work of an American. The retention of Adams' original pronouns to indicate British authorship in nearly every passage would probably lead to the conclusion that the essays were the work of “a Penitent Refugee,” rather than a true partisan of the American cause. Adams also wondered at { 540 } the new date lines, believing that “they ought to have more Weight for having been written two years and an half ago.”
Taken together, the “Letters from a Distinguished American,” Adams' Translation, and several other pieces published in the London newspapers constitute a peace offensive intended to bring the British government to the bargaining table in 1780. A peace offensive undertaken, however, without Congress' knowledge or consent. Adams did not inform Congress of his contributions to the London papers in 1780 or of the 1781 publication of the Translation. It learned of the “Letters from a Distinguished American” only from an entry in Adams' “Peace Journal” for 4 December 1782, indicating their appearance in the General Advertiser, and his letter of 9 June 1783 to Robert R. Livingston that noted the publication of portions of the “Letters” in Antoine Marie Cerisier's Le politique hollandais (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:88–89; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:477–478). Adams' disclosure of the “Letters'” publication in newspapers that Congress was unlikely to receive, may indicate his desire to take credit for furthering the peace process. But it also reflects Adams' integrity and determination to deal forthrightly with Congress regardless of the consequences. In any case, Congress already had the three letters written in June 1780 that served as the basis for the printed reply to Galloway.
In any event, Adams' peace offensive was stillborn when the Translation did not appear until early 1781 and the “Letters” not until 1782. Had they been published promptly, however, they would probably not have achieved their objective because the “Letters,” and the other productions of Adams' pen, were based on an analysis of the British political and economic situation that, while generally accurate, underestimated the ability or willingness of the North ministry to carry on the war. Britain was becoming increasingly isolated and its long-term economic prospects were endangered by a continuation of the war, but in 1780 this was not enough to bring about Anglo-American negotiations.
By August 1782, when the first of the “Letters” appeared, the North ministry had fallen, the outlook of the new British leadership was quite different, and negotiations were in the offing. In that context, the “Letters” were more appropriate to the situation existing in August 1782 than that prevailing in 1780, and consequently were capable of exerting greater influence than they would have earlier, although the extent to which they did have influence is unclear. Nevertheless, one is left to conclude, in the absence of any wholly satisfactory explanation for the long publication delay, that if peace negotiations had not been imminent and such men as Jenings not doubtful of the Shelburne ministry's willingness to grant full independence, the “Letters from a Distinguished American” might never have appeared.
The publication history of the “Letters” is a short one. Of the letters to Congress of 16 and 17 June that formed the basis for the “Letters,” only that of the 16th and the first letter of the 17th have been published previously. Jared Sparks included them in his collection (Diplomatic Correspondence { 541 } of the American Revolution, 12 vols., Boston, 1829–1830, 5:190–200, 201–207), as did Francis Wharton in his (Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:787–793, 794–798), but Charles Francis Adams omitted them from his Life and Works of John Adams. As to the “Letters” themselves, there were no additional European printings after their appearance in Politique Hollandais, and no American edition until 1978 when James H. Hutson compiled and edited Letters from a Distinguished American, the first edition to include both the published and unpublished “Letters.” In these volumes the editors have sought to present all of the material relevant to the drafting and publication of the “Letters” and to place them in their historical context.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0312-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-14
Date: 1782-01-17

I. “Letters from a Distinguished American,” No. 1

[salute] SIR

I Have not till lately obtained a sight of a number of Pamphlets, ascribed indeed to Mr. Galloway but containing the mention of such circumstances, as convince me that they were written in concert between the American Refugees and the British Ministry. In some of them I perceive apparently unequivocal traces of the hand of the late Governor Hutchinson. I have read them with surprize, because it seems to me, that if their professed intention had been to convince America, that it is both her interest and duty to support her Sovereignty and her Alliances, and the interest and duty of all the maritime powers of Europe to support her in them, the writers could not have taken methods more effectual.
The Author of the “Cool Thoughts on the Consequences of American Independence” observes, that “an offensive and defensive alliance between France and America will naturally coincide with their several views and interests, as soon as American Independence shall be acknowledged by the powers in Europe. America will naturally wish, while she is rising from her infant state into opulence and power, to cover her dominions under the protection of France; and France will find new resources of strength in American commerce, armies, and naval force. The recovery of America, from the disasters and distresses of war, will be rapid and sudden; very unlike an old country, whose population is full, and whose cultivation, commerce, and strength have arrived at their height. The multiplication of her numbers, and the increase of her power, will surpass all expectation. If her sudden growth has already exceeded the most sanguine ideas, it is certain, that the increase of her strength, when supported and assisted by France, and pushed forward by the powerful motives, { 542 } arising from her separate interest, her own preservation, and the prospect of her own rising glory and importance among nations, will far out-run any idea we have had of her late population.”3
It is pleasing to see the irresistible force of truth operating upon the minds even of the most inveterate and disingenuous of the enemies of America. It was impossible to deny, that the alliance between France and the United States is natural, and founded on their mutual interests. It was impossible to deny, that the resurrection of America from the distresses of this war will be sudden and surprizing. But is this an argument for England to continue the war? Will the resurrection of England out of the ruins of this war be sudden? If she continues it much longer, will she ever arise again? The present and future state of Great Britain, then, are decisive arguments (if reason could be heard) for making peace immediately: while the present and future state of America are arguments equally unanswerable for America to continue the war, until her Independence shall be acknowledged by all the world. It is equally an argument for France and Spain, and Holland, to exert themselves to support American Independence, because, by this means they will effectually secure her gratitude and good will: they will bind the connections between them closer, and the sudden rise of America out of her distresses into affluence and power, will enable her to repay those nations whatever debts may be contracted, and to become an able ally to defend them in case of need against their enemies; or, if the true American system of policy should be peace and neutrality, as no doubt it will, they will derive such commerce and naval supplies from America for ever, hereafter, as will secure them the freedom of the seas. This is also a powerful motive for all the maritime nations of Europe to favour and support American Independence. It is the true interest of all the maritime nations, that America should have a free trade with all of them, and that she should be neutral in all their wars. Every body now throughout the world sees, that a renewal of the English monopoly of the American trade, would establish an absolute tyranny upon the ocean, and that every other ship that sails would hold its liberty at the mercy of these Lordly Islanders. If the French or Spaniards were to obtain a monopoly of this trade, it would give them a superiority over all the other commercial nations, which would be dangerous to the freedom of navigators. It is obviously then the interest and duty of all the maritime powers to keep the American trade open and free to all, and to be sure to prevent its being monopolized by any one nation whatever. Another inference that may { 543 } fairly and must [ . . . ]4 America will suddenly arise out of the distresses of the war to affluence and power, is this:—That all the monied men in Europe ought to transfer as fast as possible their stocks from British to American funds: For as it is certain, that England will not suddenly rise out of the disasters of the war, and it is at least dubious whether she will ever rise out of them; the interest neither of the capitalist, nor the speculator, is safe in the English funds; whereas, what ever money may be lent to America, is safe and sure, both for the principal and interest, and it will become easier every day for America to pay both.
Thus it appears, that Mr. Galloway is involuntarily forced to lay open truths, which supports her credit, and unites the interests of all the world in her favour against Great Britain.
This writer goes on: “Nor will it be the interest of America to check the ambition of France, while confined to Europe. Her distance, and the safety arising from it, will render her regardless of the fate of nations, on this side of the Atlantic, as soon as her own strength shall be established. The prosperity or ruin of kingdoms, from whose power she can have nothing to fear, and whose assistance she can never want, will be matters of equal indifference. She can wish for no other connection with Europe, than that of commerce; and this will be better secured in the hands of an ally, than in those with whom she holds other connections; so that it will be of little moment to her, whether Great Britain, Spain, Holland, Germany, or Russia, shall be ruled by one or more Monarchs.”5
Here again it is manifest, that this gentleman clearly sees her true interest and political system, in relation to Europe, and the true interest and political system of all Europe towards America.—Both consist in two words, peace and commerce.—It can never, after the conclusion of this war, and the final establishment of the independence of America, be her interest to go to war with any nation of Europe; and it can never be the interest of any one of the maritime powers to go to war with her, unless we should except Great Britain, and there is no sufficient reason, perhaps, for excepting her.—It is not improbable, however, that the selfish, unsocial, tyrannical spirit, which has hitherto dictated to her the maxim of making war with every nation, that has commerce and a considerable marine, may still prompt her to endeavour to destroy the navy of America. If it should, however, she will not succeed, and will only ruin herself by it.
But if it will not be the interest of America to go to war with any power of Europe, it will certainly be her interest to trade with every { 544 } power of Europe, because the greater number and variety of markets are open to her, the greater will be the demand for her productions, the greater quantity of them she will sell, and she will obtain so much a better price, and the cheaper and easier will she obtain the commodities of the growth, production and manufacture of Europe that she wants. On the contrary, if it is not the interest of any nation of Europe to go to war with her, it will be the interest of every one of them to trade with her, because she has commodities that every one of them wants, and every one of them has commodities that she wants; so that a barter may be carried on advantageous on all sides; and, besides this, every maritime power in Europe must endeavour to have a share in American commerce, in order to maintain her share of the commerce of Europe, to maintain her marine upon a proportional footing, and maintain her rank among the other maritime powers.
This observation then, instead of being an argument for any one to continue the war, is a very forcible one to shew the danger to the other powers of Europe, arising from the former connection between America and England; and also to shew, that the other maritime powers ought to interfere in assisting America to maintain her independence, and also to maintain her true system of neutrality in future, that the blessings of her commerce may be open to all. As to the idea of the ambition of France, for universal monarchy, it is a chimera, fit to amuse the madness of Britains, which in this moment catches at any thing, however extravagant, to plague and harass herself with. But it is fit for the rest of the world to smile at.—Universal Monarchy at land is impracticable; but universal Monarchy at sea has been well nigh established, and would before this moment have been perfected, if Great Britain and America had continued united. France can never entertain an hope of it, unless the fury of Great Britain should be assisted by the folly, the indolence, and inactivity of the other maritime powers, so as to drive the American commerce wholly into the hands of France, which is not to be supposed; but, on the contrary, every trading nation will, no doubt, demand a share in American trade, and will consequently augment their riches and naval power in proportion.

[salute] ADIEU

MS not found. Reprinted from (Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer, 23 Aug. 1782.) This letter is based on paragraphs 1 through 4 of JA's letter of 16 June to the president of Congress, No. 84, and note 3 (above).
1. These dates are derived from JA's letters of 14 and 22 July to Edmund Jenings (below and Adams Papers, respectively). The first, according to Jenings' reply of 21 July (below), { 545 } contained the first two “Letters from a Distinguished American.” In the second letter, JA indicated that he was done with the pamphlet and was sending off the remaining “Letters,” the arrival of which Jenings acknowledged in his reply of 27 July (below). Additional support for assigning these dates to JA's authorship of the “Letters” comes from his letter of 17 July to the Comte de Vergennes (below). JA's reply to Galloway emphasized that Britain's vital interests demanded an immediate peace and that the United States was ready to open negotiations. Compare that with JA's conviction, expressed in his letter to Vergennes, that it was time to approach the British ministry regarding peace and that such an initiative had a reasonable chance for success because of the growing realization of the British people that peace was in Britain's interest.
2. In the General Advertiser of 23 Aug., this letter was introduced by the following passage: “The following are the copies of Letters from a distinguished AMERICAN, occasioned by the perusal of 'Cool Thoughts on American Independence.'” In the General Advertiser of 16 Aug. 1782, however, there had been a much more detailed announcement, in the form of a letter, of the “Letters” forthcoming publication. The author, presumably Edmund Jenings, noted that the letters, which were “of no common cast,” had been written prior to the fall of the North ministry in March 1782 in the hope of persuading North to open peace negotiations. The writer then pointed to the recent assumption of power by Lord Shelburne that “has rendered it a matter of considerable doubt whether the frantic struggle to preclude America from the acquisition of peace, and from the enjoyment of independence, will not be speedily revived, must give particular propriety to the publication of these letters. They are written by an American pre-eminent in virtue, experience, and understanding; and of such consequence, at this moment in Europe, that I dare affirm (and I would pledge my life upon the truth of the assertion) that when the Minister of this country shall step forward upon an open, just, and honourable ground, with propositions for a fair and lasting peace, he will find him one of the most willing and one of the most able to accelerate its accomplishment.”
The 16 Aug. letter justifies the publication of the “Letters from a Distinguished American” in mid-1782 and relates them directly to the peace process, but does not fully explain the apprehensions of those wishing to see substantive negotiations begin at once. The fall of the North ministry in March 1782 and its replacement by a new government under the Marquis of Rockingham brought preparations for the inevitable peace negotiations. A rivalry soon developed, however, between Lord Shelburne and Charles James Fox over who would direct the negotiations and resulted in both men sending agents to France to open talks with Benjamin Franklin. This posed a problem because Shelburne had long favored some sort of Anglo-American union that would leave the Americans short of independence, while Fox had consistently favored independence. Rockingham's death in July 1782 brought a new ministry controlled by Shelburne, and Fox's departure from the cabinet. Since Shelburne would now preside over the negotiations there was concern, unwarranted as it turned out, that he would return to the old shibboleth of reconciliation (Morris, Peacemakers, p. 257–286). The “Letters from a Distinguished American” thus were intended to convince Shelburne that such a course was impossible.
3. This quotation comprises two paragraphs in JA's 16 June letter to the president of Congress (No. 84, above). It is from p. 11–12 of Galloway's Cool Thoughts.
4. Almost a full line of text has been lost here because of damage to the newspaper page.
5. Cool Thoughts, p. 12–13.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0312-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-14
Date: 1782-01-28

II. “Letters from a Distinguished American,” No. 2

[salute] SIR

Every American will agree with the writer on the consequence of American Independence, that the United States, when their Independence shall be no longer disputed, can wish for no other { 546 } connection with Europe than that of commerce. No good American would wish to involve his country in the labyrinths of European negotiations, or in the iniquities of their wars. America will wish to be a common blessing to all the nations of Europe, without injuring any; and such will be her demand for the productions of each of them, that each one will derive material advantages in the increase of the means of subsistence, and consequent population, from supplying her wants. Each of them wants her commodities in exchange, and no one of them can reasonably wish to cramp the growth, and prevent the happiness of the human species in both worlds, by confining the advantages of this commerce to itself.
It is equally clear, that this commerce will be better secured by her own wisdom, than by the domination of any European power; and safer in the hands of an ally than a master. But it is amazing that this man's malice against his native country should have suffered such important truths in her favour to escape him. It shews that he knows not how to conduct the cause he has patronised, and that he is as wrong headed, as he is malicious and insidious.
“The new states are, and will continue the allies of France, our natural enemy, unless reduced.”1 England ought to consider, whether all attempts to reduce the new States have not a tendency to rivet the alliance with France, and to drive the States to the necessity of forming closer connections with her than they have now; to make all America too the natural enemy of England for ever; to drive her to more rigorous renunciations of British trade; nay, to a final and total prohibition of it; to enter into engagements with France, Spain, Holland, and other maritime powers, to this effect. It ought to be considered, whether, the new States will not become soon the allies of Spain too, and continue so for ever, If this war is pursued much farther. As to reducing these States, the idea of it, at this day, is fit only for ridicule and contempt. It is derided in every town in America. This country will never again be in quiet and continual possession of one State of the thirteen, not even of Georgia. South Carolina, where we are melting into disease and death that army which ought to be defending the West India Islands, will never be ours a single month; no, not for an hour.
This writer goes on, “The far greater part of the people wish and hope for an union with this country.”2 It is not possible to conceive any thing more barefacedly false than this. A Germain, or a Conway3 may be excused, on account of ignorance and misinformation; but this man knows better than he says. But having forfeited his life to { 547 } the laws of his country, and by the black catalogue of his crimes, rendered himself unpardonable, he has vowed to revenge himself, not like Coriolanus, by his sword, but by misrepresentations.4
But he adds, “the greater part of the people are ready to unite with the King's forces, in reducing the power of their tyrants,”5 by which he means, no doubt, the Congress and the new government. Nothing can shew the complection of this assertion better than to recollect the orders which are constantly given by the Commanding Officers in New York, which are published in the newspapers. They dare not trust the Provincials and Volunteers, and Militia, &c. as they call them, of whom such an ostentatious parade is made in the dispatches of Commanding Officers and Court Gazettes. They exercise them in the day time with bits of wood in their musquets for flints; they take the arms from them every night, and pile them in the magazines; and they forbid them to be trusted with any quantity of powder. The truth is, the only consequence that the Commanders of the English troops have found, in giving arms and cloathing and ammunition to any of the inhabitants, whenever they have been, has been to cloath, arm, and supply their expences. General Burgoyne found it so in New England, and New York. General Howe found it so in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware; and Sir Henry Clinton and Earl Cornwallis found it so in Georgia and South Carolina. What encouragement could have been given that has not? Is exemption from plunder encouragement? Forbid plunder, and half your army will desert; nay, for the provisions, horses, cattle, you take, you enrich the country with English guineas, and enable the people to buy arms, ammunition, cloathing, and every thing they want from your own soldiers. By large bounties, and by commissions, a few banditti, who have no honour nor principle to bind them to any country, or any cause, may be collected, but these would betray their new masters the first opportunity, and will be very few in number. The great body of the people in every state revere the Congress, more sincerely, than British soldiers revere their . . . .6 They reverence it as the voice of their country, the guardians of its right, and the voice of God; and they esteem their Independence and alliance with France, as the two greatest blessings which Providence ever yet bestowed upon the new world. They think them equal blessings to Europe in general, as to America; and are universally of opinion, that a Council of Statesmen consulting for their good, and the good of mankind, could not have devised a plan, so much for their honour, interest, liberty and happiness, as that which has been derived, by the folly and imprudence of { 548 } Great Britain. He goes on, “the treachery of this country, in not exerting its powers for their relief, will create permanent resentment.”7 How many lives, and how many millions, has this country already sacrificed? Probably more lives, certainly more millions than the whole of the last war cost us. What was the fruit of the last war? Triumph and conquest by sea and land in every part of the world. What the effect of this? Defeat, disgrace, loss of America, West India Islands, African, Mediterranean, and German and Holland trade, the contempt of all nations, the Independence of Ireland, and a civil war in England; yet the war is to be continued!
“Gratitude to the nations which shall save them from our ravages, will stamp impressions never to be effaced.” Stop the ravages then; and the further gratitude and impressions will be prevented. “Further Treaties of Alliance and Commerce will be made.”8 No longer war, no further Treaties. This can only be the effect of British imprudence. The treaties already made are well known. What further treaties Ministry may drive them to, will depend upon themselves.
With the Independence of America, we must give up our fisheries “on the Banks of Newfoundland and in the American seas.”9 Supposing this true, which it is not at present, but our infatuation in continuing the war may make it so, what follows? If Britain lose them, who will gain them? France and America. Have not France and America then as urgent a motive to contend for the gain, as we to prevent the loss? Are they not an object as important and desirable to France and America, as to us? Have they not as much reason to fight for them, as England? Will they easily give up the Independence of America, which is to bear such tempting fruit? One would think this writer was in the interest of France and America still, and labouring to persuade them, that they are fighting for a rich and a glorious prize. The question then is reduced to another, viz. which has the best prospect of contending for them successfully—America, France and Spain, favoured by all the world, or England, thwarted and opposed by all the world? And to whom did God and Nature give them? Ministry lay great stress upon the gift of God and Nature, when they consider the advantages of our insular situation, to justify their injustice and hostility against all the maritime powers. Why should Americans hold the blessings of Providence in a baser estimination, which they can enjoy, without injury to any nation whatever.
“With American Independence, says he, we must give up thirty-five thousand American seamen, and twenty-eight thousand more, bred { 549 } and maintained in those excellent nurseries, the fisheries. Our valuable trade, carried on from thence with the Roman Catholic States, will be in the hands of America. These nurseries, and this trade, will ever remain the natural right of the people, who inhabit that country. A trade so profitable, and a nursery of seamen so excellent, and so necessary for the support of her naval force, will never be given up, or even divided by America with any power whatsoever.”10
If all this were true, what then? If Britain loses it all, by American Independence, who will gain it? These advantages are not to be lost out of the world. Who will find them, but America and France? These are the powers at war, for these very objects, if they are the necessary consequences of American Independence, will they not fight as bravely to obtain them, as the English? It is here admitted they are the natural right of America, will not she contend for it? Who then has the most power, one nation or three? Perhaps five or six before the end? Are 60,000 seamen a feebler bulwark for America or France, than for England? Are they feebler instruments of wealth, power and glory, in the service of America, than England? At the command of Congress, than the King? The question occurs then, who is the strongest? However, we need not lose so many seamen, nor the fishery, nor the trade with the Roman Catholick countries, by American Independence. America never thought of excluding England from the fishery; and even her seamen, her share of the fishery, and the profits of her trade to Roman Catholick countries would again, be useful to England, and center here, if peace were made now. But let it be remembered, America grows every day of this war more independent of England for manufactures, by the amazing increase of her own; and France, Spain, and even the states of Italy and Germany, and Ireland too, are every day putting themselves more and more in a condition to supply America; so that every day of the continuance of this ruinous war, increases the facility and the inclinations of America to supply herself elsewhere, and the capacity of other nations to supply her, and of consequence makes it more and more inevitable for England to lose the seamen, the fisheries, and the trade. The question recurs at every sentence, who is the ablest to hold out? America, that grows stronger every year, and that too in ways and degrees that England has no idea of, or England that grows weaker? But England's misfortune and ruin are, that it never knew America, nor her resources, nor the character of her people.
(To be continued.)
{ 550 }
MS not found. Reprinted from (Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer, 27 Aug. 1782.) This letter is based on paragraphs 5 through 9 of JA's letter of 16 June to the president of Congress, No. 84, and note 7 (above).
1. Cool Thoughts, p. 23. This and the following five quotations (notes 2, 5, 7, 8, and 9) are taken from a single paragraph in the pamphlet, p. 23–24, that appears complete in JA's letter to the president of Congress, 16 June, No. 84 (above). The paragraph there should be compared with the extracts used in this letter, for JA omitted significant blocks of text.
2. Cool Thoughts, p. 23.
3. For the speeches in Parliament on 5 May by Lord George Germain and Gen. Henry Seymour Conway, together with JA's comments on them, see his letters to Edmé Jacques Genet of 17 and 28 May(both above).
4. In stating that Galloway had “forfeited his life” and “rendered himself unpardonable,” JA probably refers to the March 1778 decision of the Pennsylvania legislature to attaint Galloway and a handful of other loyalists who had aided Gen. William Howe during the occupation of Philadelphia (Robert McCluer Calhoon, Loyalists in Revolutionary America, 1760–1781, N.Y., 1973, p. 400–401). Gnaeus Marcius Coriolanus is thought to have received his name in recognition of his capture of the Volscian town of Corioli in the service of Rome in the 5th century b.c. Later expelled from Rome, he led a Volscian army against his former masters, but was persuaded to turn back without pressing the attack (Oxford Classical Dictionary).
5. Cool Thoughts, p. 24. This is a paraphrase of a passage in the pamphlet. The first six words are derived from the previous quotation (note 2), and instead of “King's forces,” the pamphlet has “us.”
6. The ellipses appear in the newspaper. JA probably intended “King” or possibly Parliament.
7. Cool Thoughts, p. 24. JA here omitted the nine lines of text that appear in the pamphlet between this and the previous quotation (note 5).
8. This and the previous quotation are paraphrases of a single passage in the pamphlet (p. 24) that begins immediately following the passage indicated in note 7 and reads “and the obligations of gratitude to the nation which shall save them from our ravages will stamp impressions never to be effaced. Advantage will be taken of these dispositions, by the policy of France to establish treaties of alliance and commerce with them.” In the pamphlet Galloway intended “nation” to mean France. JA, by inserting “nations” and altering the second quotation as he did, wanted to indicate the inevitability, if the war continued, of treaties with Spain and the Netherlands. JA omitted the remaining eight lines of the paragraph in the pamphlet.
9. Same, p. 25. Despite being only partially enclosed in quotation marks, this entire sentence is an exact quotation from the pamphlet. Although the commentary which follows is considerably longer than that appearing at the same point in the letter of 16 June to the president of Congress, No. 84 (above), it repeats the arguments presented there, but with one notable difference. Here France appears as a claimant to the Newfoundland fisheries, whereas in the letter of 16 June, JA mentioned only the United States. The discrepancy may be due simply to an oversight, but it may also reflect JA's reluctance, in a letter to Congress, to introduce a new element into the controversy over access to the Newfoundland fisheries, perhaps the most divisive issue dealt with during the congressional debates in 1779 over the objectives to be obtained in any Anglo-American peace treaty (see vol. 8:index).
10. Same, p. 25–26.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0312-0004

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1780-07-14 - 1780-07-22
Date: 1782-01-29

III. “Letters from a Distinguished American,” No. 3

[salute] SIR

The Writer on the Consequences of American Independence adds, “the British Islands in the West Indies must fall of course. The same power that can compel Great Britain to yield up America, { 551 } will compel her to give up the West Indies. They are evidently the immediate objects of France.”1
It is very true, that if we continue the war, the West Indies must fall into the hands of France.—England has held them by no other tenure, than the courtesy of France and Spain, for two years past. Britons, be not deceived! You can defend these islands only by your Navy, and the friendship of North America. Your Navy is not what it was the last war. The loss of America has put it out of your power, for ever, until you regain the friendship of America, and a share of her trade, to have such a Navy, as you once had. Your ships are weak and unable to sustain the shocks of winds, and seas, and battles, as formerly. The masts and spars are not to be depended on as heretofore. The rigging, notwithstanding the immense sums granted for the sea service, is not as it was. Your ships are not manned, as they were, either in the numbers or qualities of the seamen. Your Officers then have not the same dependence upon ships, spars, rigging, or men, which they had in former wars, and consequently cannot perform what they once could.
The Navies of your enemies are as far from being what they were. They are as much improved, as your's are declined. It is also now plain, from a vast number of experiments, that the science of naval tacticks is now quite as well understood, and all the manoeuvres as ably executed by the French Officers as by the English. Add to this, the advantage that the French and Spanish fleets and armies have over the English, in the supplies of provisions, artificers, and materials, which they now draw from the United States of North America, and every man must see, that we hold these Islands at the mere mercy of our enemies, and if we continue this war, we shall infallibly lose them. Our policy is plain then:—“Let us make peace, while these Islands are our's, and America will never be obliged, nor inclined, in any future war, to assist France in obtaining them, as they are now bound to do by treaty, while this war continues. North America, it is plain, will never wish to govern these Islands. The reason is obvious: they will be as profitable to her as under the government of France, Spain or England, as they could be under her own, and she will be at no expence to protect, secure, or defend them.”2
If the British West India Islands should be taken by France and Spain, how are we to recover them at the peace? What have we taken, to exchange for them? What are we likely to take?
“Our only true policy is, to make peace, and save the Islands while we may.”—Once taken, it will be more difficult to recover them. Are { 552 } we able to keep peace at home, in Ireland, in the East Indies, and with the neutral maritime powers, who have unanimously declared against us, as clearly, as if they had declared war in favour of America; and continue the war long enough to annihilate the fleets of France and Spain, retake our lost Islands, and after that reduce the United States of America to submission? For these stubborn spirits will remain to be reduced, after France and Spain shall be beaten. Will our soldiers, seamen, and revenues, never fail till this is done? How many more years of war will this cost us?—And after all these miraculous feats shall be accomplished, will our resources enable us to maintain a sufficient force to keep down the power of France, Spain, and America? We have, hitherto, made it a maxim to go to war with France and Spain, whenever they had a fleet. The appearance of a formidable French fleet upon the ocean, has been offence enough to provoke a war. We must now add America; for America, if subdued, would be ever ready to revolt afresh.
“France, he subjoins, expects from the Independence of America, and the acquisition of the West India Islands, the sovereignty of the British seas, if not of Great Britain itself.”3
France expects only the freedom of the seas; and why should she not expect them? Have we any charter from above, for the government of the ocean? Sovereignity of the seas will never again be permitted to any nation. We have boasted of it, until we have revolted all mankind. America herself will never suffer France to hold the sovereignty of the seas, any more than England. No nation that ever arose upon the globe, had such powerful motives to maintain a perfect freedom of navigation and of commerce among all nations as she has. No nation ever had such advantages and resources to assist the maritime powers to support it. She is as sensible of this as we are. If by our unbridled rage we drive her to the provocation, and the inactivity of the neutral powers should permit it, she may form such further connections with France and Spain, as may give them a superiority of naval power over us, that will be terrible to us. But America herself will never suffer any power of Europe again that decided superiority over all commercial nations, which we have vainly boasted of, and which the past tameness of mankind has permitted. And America, little as she is thought of, will, for ever have it in her power, by joining with a majority of maritime powers, to preserve their Freedom. The only possible means then of preventing France from obtaining and preserving for some time a superiority over us at sea, is to make peace, and regain not the domination, but the neutrality { 553 } of America, and our share of her commerce. Thus, and thus only, we may save the West India islands, and an equal freedom on the seas. By making peace at present, we may have more of American trade in future than France, and derive more support to our navy than she will to her marine. But by pushing the war, we weaken ourselves, and strengthen France and Spain every day, to such a degree, that in the end they may acquire such a superiority as will endanger our liberty.
But if Great Britain is to lose the West-India islands, and the sovereignty of the seas, by the Independence of America, who is to gain them? If France is to gain them, are they not as valuable objects to her as to England? Are not their riches as glittering in the eyes of the French as the English? Are they not then as urgent a motive to them to continue the war as to us? We come again once more to the old question, who is likely to hold out longest? The immense resources of France, Spain and America, or the exhausted kingdom of Great Britain?

[salute] ADIEU

(To be continued.)
MS not found. Reprinted from (Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer, 30 Aug. 1782.) This letter is based on paragraphs 10 through 15 of JA's letter of 16 June to the president of Congress, No. 84, and note 10 (above).
1. Cool Thoughts, p. 26.
2. Although this passage and that in the second paragraph below are in quotation marks, it is doubtful that they are quotations. The texts have no counterparts in Cool Thoughts, and the corresponding passages in the letter of 16 June to the president of Congress (No. 84 above) are not in quotation marks.
3. Cool Thoughts, p. 26–27. Although set off by quotation marks, this passage is a paraphrase that does not alter Galloway's meaning.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0312-0005

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1780-07-14 - 1780-07-22
Date: 1782-02-03

IV. “Letters from a Distinguished American,” No. 7

The writer, on the consequences of American Independence says that “France has long struggled to rival us in our manufactures in vain; this (i.e. American Independence) will enable her to do it with effect.”1
If England would awake out of her dream, and make peace, acknowledge American Independence, and acknowledge the American treaties with France, and make a similar treaty of commerce with the United States, upon the most generous principles of equality and reciprocity, neither France nor any other nation of Europe would be able to rival England in those manufactures which we most wanted { 554 } in America, those of wool and iron: The English manufactures, in these articles are at present so much better, and the Americans are so much more accustomed to them, that this trade would return to its old channel, and the American demand for them, and for many other articles of our manufactures would increase in proportion, as the population increases in America, and as their commerce with each other and with other nations increases, and the consequent means of paying England for what they purchase. This nation would find themselves so far from being materially hurt, by American Independence, that they would see a prosperity introduced here in consequence of it, that would excite the utmost astonishment at our own obstinacy, in contending so long, at the expence of so much blood and treasure, against it, provided we are wise enough to lay aside our groundless jealousies, and that hostile disposition towards America which is once more indulged with so much rancour; and provided we take care at the peace to settle all questions about boundaries, so as to prevent our own people from encroaching upon them; and provided we do not meanly aim at excluding them from any branches of commerce, fisheries or naval powers which God and nature have destined to them. If we will indulge the base passions of envy, jealousy and hatred against them, we may depend upon a reciprocation of these passions from them, and we may depend upon a dreadful enemy in them: but if we had magnanimity enough to comply with what appears to be the settled digested system of all the other maritime powers of Europe relative to America, to treat them with candour and friendship, we shall find as much real advantage from them, and more too, than we ever did. All will depend upon ourselves. Nothing is wanting but common sense.
But if we pursue this war, destroying the lives and distressing the commerce of America, we shall feel from that country such shafts of deadly hate, as will finally ruin our credit, destroy our manufactures, reduce to nothing our influence in Europe, depress our naval power to such an inferiority to France and Spain, as we never shall recover; leave the East Indies and Ireland in a state of Independency too, and the West India Islands ready to petition any other power for protection, and indeed this island itself at the mercy of an invader. If we continue this war, France and Spain too will be able to rival us in manufactures. They are both attentive at this time to this object; they are not only endeavouring to introduce our manufactures, but to accommodate them more to the taste and use of the Americans. And the Americans are daily growing more familiar with French articles, { 555 } and acquiring a taste for them. The advantages in trade, already granted to Ireland, and the consequent growth of manufactures there, will infinitely facilitate the introduction and improvement of manufactures; and the emigration of manufactures into France and Spain, by means of the intimate intercourse between Ireland and those kingdoms. In short, the continuance of the war will indeed be fatal: it will enable France to rival us in effect in our most essential interests; and there has hardly ever happened among mankind so obstinate and so blind a perseverance in error so obvious, for so long a time, as we have already pursued this ruinous war. Let us open our eyes. We are amused with insinuations that France is sick of the part she has acted. This is to suppose her sick of the wisest, most successful, most honourable, and noble part she ever acted.—Think as we will, all the rest of Europe and America are convinced of this:—and if we had sold ourselves to France, we could not serve her more essentially, in every interest, commercial, naval, political, or oeconomical, than by continuing this war.
Our cool thinker goes on. “We receive, say he, from the West India Islands, certain commodities, absolutely necessary to carry on our manufactures to any advantage and extent, which we can procure from no other country. We must take the remains from France or America, after they have supplied themselves, and fullfilled their contracts with their allies at their own prices, and loaded with the expence of foreign transportation, if we are permitted to trade for them at all.”2 If this was intended as an argument for continuing the war, I should have thought it the raving of the delirium of a fever, rather than a cool thought. Is it possible to urge an argument more clear for making peace now, while we may have our islands? How are we to supply our islands with lumber, and other necessaries, if we continue the war? A man who has really thought coolly upon the subject, would have advised us to make peace and save our West India islands. He would have told us, that by continuing the war, we should certainly lose them, and with them the articles so necessary to our manufactures. America does not wish the English Islands in the hands of the French. She is very ready to warrantee to the English all that are not taken, and very probably France would restore those which are, in exchange for other possessions which we have taken from them. America cannot wish to continue the war; because she gains nothing,* except in military skill; in the advancement of agriculture and manufactures, laying the strongest possible foundation for future commerce, prosperity and naval power. France and Spain { 556 } indeed may be supposed to wish its continuance, because they are gaining every year conquest of territory, as well as augmentation of manufactures and commerce, naval power, and political consideration in Europe. THE ENGLISH MALADY IS UPON US.—THE DISPOSITION TO SUICIDE, WHICH DESTROYS SO MANY INDIVIDUALS AMONG US, HAS SEISED THE PUBLIC.—WHEN PEACE LEADS TO GLORY, AND WAR TO NOTHING BUT DISGRACE AND RUIN, WE FALL HEADLONG INTO THE ABYSS OF THE ONE, AND LEAVE THE PLEASANT AND SAFE PATH OF THE OTHER.

[salute] ADIEU

(To be continued.)
*Nothing except these! Yes! and much more than what the letter writer has enumerated. She gains a glorious triumph over tyranny and ambition; a reparation, purchased gallantly with the best blood of her fellow citizens, for the violated rights of man; the power of establishing peace, freedom, virtue and independency, upon the spot, which was intended for the scene of their extinction; and of leaving an aweful and instructive lesson to the nations of the earth, for ever.3
MS not found. Reprinted from (Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer, 2 Oct. 1782.) This letter is based on paragraphs 16 through 19 of JA's letter of 16 June to the president of Congress, No. 84, and note 12 (above).
1. Cool Thoughts, p. 28.
2. Same, p. 27–28.
3. From its appearance and content, it seems unlikely that this paragraph was part of the original MS; it may have been added by Edmund Jenings at the time he sent the letter to the printer.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0312-0006

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1780-07-14 - 1780-07-22
Date: 1782-02-02

V. “Letters from a Distinguished American,” No. 6

IF “we receive from the West India Islands certain commodities necessary to manufactures,” as the cool reasoner on the consequences of American Independence pretends, “which we can procure from no other country;”1 is not this a motive for France to continue the war, as forcible as for us? The rivalry, and the enmity, between England and France, is so ancient, and so deeply rooted in the hearts of the two nations, that each considers the weakening of the other, as a strengthening of itself, and a loss to the other as a gain to itself. The English have, a long time, made it a maxim never to suffer France { 557 } either to have a navy, or a flourishing commerce. An active, prosperous trade, or a formidable marine, have ever been considered as a legitimate cause of war. And whether we think of it coolly or not, England would have been at war with France before now, if we had never had any war with America, merely to burn, sink, and destroy her Marine. Can we be so ignorant of the human heart then, as not to know that depriving us of these commodities, which we derive from the West India Islands, and which are necessary to our manufactures, will be an inducement to our enemies to continue the war? Depriving us of a commodity, taking from us a manufacture, is motive enough, if our enemies act upon the same maxims that we do; but, adding the commodity or the manufacture to themselves, is a double motive. In short, is it possible for this writer to adduce one reason for us to continue the war, which is not also a cool argument for France, Spain, and America to continue it? The question still is, Which can hold out longest, France, who has not yet laid on one new imposition, or we, who add annually almost a million to our perpetual taxes? America, whose whole national debt does not amount to more than five millions, or we, whose debt is more than 200 millions, at least sixty of which have been already added by this war? By making peace, we save the Islands, with their commodities; by continuing the war, we lose them infallibly.
“But this is not all,” says this cool declaimer: “We must add to our loss of seamen, sustained by the Independence of America, at least twenty thousand more, who have been bred and maintained in the trade from Great Britain to the West Indies, and in the West India trade among themselves, and with other parts, amounting in the whole to upwards of eighty thousand; a loss which cannot fail to affect the sensibility of every man who loves this country, and knows that its safety can only be secured by its Navy.”2
But has it been considered, that neither of the powers at war have any pretence of claim to these Islands now? That they will have pretences upon them if they take them, which we cannot hinder if we continue the war? That once taken by France, America is bound by treaty to warrant them to her? This treaty lasts no longer than this war. Another war, America will be under no such obligations, unless, by continuing the war, we should compel her into further treaties, which may be, though she would be averse to them.3 Is it prudency in us to hazard so much upon the events of war, which are always uncertain, where forces are equal? But we are now most impolitically entangling ourselves in a war where the forces and resources are two { 558 } to one against us? But will France and Spain be the less zealous to conquer the English Islands, because, by this means, they shall certainly take away so many seamen, and share them with America? Annexing these Islands to France and Spain, will increase the trade of France, Spain, Denmark, the United Provinces of the Low Countries, and the United States of America, and the twenty thousand seamen will be divided in some proportion between all these powers. The Dutch and the Americans will have the carriage of a great part of this trade, in consequence of the dismemberment of these Islands from you, and annexation to France and Spain. Do we expect to save these things by continuing the war? If we do, I wish we could reflect more coolly upon things. Every success we have yet had, in the whole course of this war, has been owing to fortunate contingences, or the mistaken policy of our enemies. It is too much for us to presume, that a series of miracles will be wrought for our deliverance, or that our enemies will never discover where their strength lies. We may bless our stars, and not our wisdom, that we have now an army, a navy, or an island in the West Indies.
“Will not Great Britain lose much of her Independence, if obliged to other countries for her naval stores?”4 Has she lost her Independence? Has she not been obliged to other countries for naval stores these five years?
“In the time of Queen Anne, we paid 3£. a barrel for tar to the extortionate Swede; and such was the small demand of those countries for the manufactures of this, that the ballance of trade was greatly in their favour. The gold we obtained in other commerce, was continually pouring into their laps. But we have reduced that ballance, by our importation of large quantities of those supplies from America.”5
But what is to hinder Great Britain from importing these large quantities of pitch, tar, and turpentine, from America, after we shall be wise enough to acknowledge and guarantee her Independence, by an honourable and advantageous peace with her? Great Britain may be obliged to give a price somewhat higher, because other nations will import them too. But this augmentation of price will probably be very little. Will the prospect of this higher price induce America to give up her Independence, and her new Governments, which, whatever we may think, are more firmly and solidly established than ours is? Will not our manufacturers purchase pitch from independent America? Will the prospect which is opened to the other maritime { 559 } powers, of drawing these supplies, as well as those of masts, yards, bowsprits, ship timber, and ready-wrought ships too, make them less zealous to support American Independence? Will the increase of the demand upon the Northern Powers for those Article, in consequence of the destruction of the British monopoly, in America, make these powers less inclined to American Independency?
The British monopoly and bounties, in fact, reduced the price of these articles in the Northern markets. The ceasing of that monopoly, and those bounties, will rather raise the price in the Baltic: Because those States in America, where pitch and tar chiefly grow, have so many articles of more profitable cultivation, that, without bounties, it is not likely that trade will flourish to a degree, to reduce the prices in the North of Europe.
Every day shews us more and more, that we undertook this war too rashly; without considering ourselves; without knowing the character and resources of America, and without weighing the relations between America and Europe. [ . . . ]6 they have all decided this question against us, and in favour of America, as fully as even France has done. They all think that the cause of America is just, and that every one of them is interested in supporting her Independence. They have not had motives so pressing as France, Spain, and Holland, to engage in open war; but the measures they are taking, are as clearly in favour of America. There is not a power upon earth so much interested as America in the capital point which they are establishing, That free ships make free goods.
“Should a war take place between us and the Northern Powers, where are we to procure our naval stores?”7 I answer, make peace with America, and procure them from her. But when you go to war with America and the Northern Powers at once, you will get them no where. This writer appears to have had no suspicion, when he wrote his book, of the real intentions of the Northern Powers. What he thinks now, after their confederation against Great Britain, I know not. It is remarkable that this confederation was known in Europe eighteen months, and in the American Congress twelve months (not indeed as an act executed, but as a sentiment and design in which they were all agreed, and for which they were all making preparations)8 before it was either known or attended to by that Administration, of which Lord North was the ostensible Premier.9 We may affect to be as much astonished as we will: We may cry: “How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have thirteen thankless children!”10We may { 560 } growl amidst the tempest, like Lear, and cry to the thunders: “Rumble your fill! Fight whirlwind! hail! and fire!”11 But we must submit to fate. Her ordinances cannot be repealed by our Parliament, which has not yet claimed jurisdiction over her in all cases whatsoever.

[salute] ADIEU

(To be continued.)
MS not found. Reprinted from (Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer, 27 Sept. 1782). This letter is based on paragraphs 18 through 25 of JA's letter of 16 June to the president of Congress, No. 84, and note 17 (above).
1. Cool Thoughts, p. 27.
2. Same, p. 28–29.
3. By stating explicitly that the obligations of the United States under the Franco-American Treaty of Alliance would cease with the end of the war, JA was departing not only from previous policy statements, but from the language of the treaty itself. In the two and one half years since the treaty had been signed, France had repeatedly called for statements from Congress and its representatives reaffirming the sanctity of the alliance and the adherence of the United States to its provisions. In every case the assurances had been given (see, for example, Benjamin Franklin and JA to the president of Congress, 23 July 1778, vol. 6:312). Moreover, Art. 11 of the treaty provided that “from the present time and forever, against all other powers” France would guarantee the independence and sovereignty of the United States and the United States would guarantee French possessions in America (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:39–40). In other words, the Franco-American alliance was perpetual.
JA's statement proceeded naturally from his view that the United States would be neutral in future European wars, and he had strongly implied this position in his revision of Thomas Pownall's Memorial (A Translation of Thomas Pownall's Memorial,19 April – [ca. 14 July], above), in his letter of 16 June to the president of Congress, No. 84 (above); and in Letters Nos. I and III (above). But implying that such would be the policy of the United States was far different from explicitly stating it, particularly in an essay written in 1780 and intended for immediate publication. JA said nothing to indicate that the United States would not honor the treaty so long as the war continued, or that it would make a separate peace, but the effect of his statement regarding the alliance was to intimate that if the British government wished to open discussions he would be prepared to listen. In Sept. 1782, when this letter was published, the statement was less radical because exploratory discussions were proceeding between British representatives and Benjamin Franklin in which Franklin had at least implied limitations on future American obligations under the alliance (Morris, Peacemakers, p. 273–274).
4. Cool Thoughts, p. 29.
5. Same, p. 29–30.
6. A full line of text has been lost here because of damage to the newspaper page.
7. Cool Thoughts, p. 31.
8. JA is probably referring to the observations contained in his letter of 4 Aug. 1779 to the president of Congress (vol. 8:116–117).
9. The passage, “that Administration, of which Lord North was the ostensible Premier,” is one of only two evident additions to JA's text appearing in the ten published “Letters” (for the other see Letter No. IV, above). Moreover, in referring to the North ministry's fall in March 1782, it is the only addition clearly made after the assigned dates—Jan.– Feb. 1782—of the “Letters” themselves. The passage was probably inserted by the author of the 16 Aug. 1782 letter introducing the “Letters,” for in that piece appears the phrase: “that execrable Administration, of which Lord North was the ostensible Premier” (Letter No. I, note 2, above). Edmund Jenings is the likeliest author of the letter and additional passage.
10. King Lear, I, iv, lines 310–311: “How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is/To have a thankless child!”
11. This is a composite of several passages from King Lear, the most relevant probably being “Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain! / Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters” (III, ii, lines 14–15).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0312-0007

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1780-07-14 - 1780-07-22
Date: 1782-02-04

VI. “Letters from a Distinguished American,” No. 8

The Cool Thoughts go on. “Timber of every kind, iron, salt-petre, tar, pitch, turpentine, and hemp, are raised, and manufactured in America. Fields of an hundred thousand acres of hemp are to be seen spontaneously growing between the Ohio and Mississippi, and of a quality little inferior to the European.”1
And is not this enough to cool the English courage, in the pursuit of a chimera? Is it possible to keep one country that has an abundance of these articles, and skill to use them, dependent on another? It is a maxim among the sons of Neptune, that “with wood, iron, and hemp, mankind may do what they please.”2 America not only has them in plenty, but artists and seamen to employ them, fifteen hundred miles of sea coast, and an hundred excellent harbours to use them in, at three thousand miles distance from her enemy, who is surrounded with nations that are courting her friendship. Are not these articles as precious to France, Spain, and Holland, as to England? Will not these powers be proportionably active to procure a share of them, or a liberty to trade in them, as England will be to defend her monopoly of them? And will not America be as alert to obtain the freedom of selling them to the best advantage in a variety of markets, as other nations will for that of purchasing them?
This writer is so cool, that he thinks of nothing. A little warmth of imagination would be of use to him; it would present to his view a variety of considerations that have never occurred to him. Three millions of people in America, and all the nations of Europe, have as great a right to the common blessings of Providence, as the inhabitants of this island, some of whom wish to lord it over all. The Americans have as good a claim to the use of the earth, air, and seas, as the Britons. What right has Britain to shut them up in the prison of a monopoly, and prevent them from giving and receiving happiness from the rest of mankind? Did the Creator make that quarter of the globe for the use of this Island exclusively? This may be a cool thought, but a very narrow one.—There is another very serious consideration, that our coolness, or our heat, makes us incapable of attending to. Great Britain, separated from America, has, in the course of this war, displayed a power and resources, vastly greater, especially at sea, than the other maritime powers ever before believed { 562 } she possessed.—America, separated from Great Britain, has displayed a power and resources ten times greater than any power in Europe, (even Great Britain herself,) ever suspected her to have. These are two discoveries which the other maritime powers have made. They now see, to a demonstration, that if Great Britain and America should ever be again united under one domination, there would be an end of the liberty of all other nations upon the seas. All the commerce and navigation of the world would be swallowed up in one frightful despotism, in this island. The Princes of Europe, therefore, are now unanimously determined that America shall never again come under the English government. Even if the Americans themselves desired it, which it is most certain they do not, nor ever will, the powers of Europe would not suffer it. For what object then are the English shedding their blood, and spending their millions?
“Will the Coasting trade, that of the Baltic and Mediterranean, with the small intercourse the English have with other nations in our own bottoms, furnish seamen for a Navy, necessary for the protection of Great Britain and its trade?”3
According to this supposition, Great Britain will have no other trade, than that of the Coast, the Mediterranean, and the Baltic to protect, and she may protect her trade in that case as well as Portugal and Holland, &c. protect theirs, and in the same manner. And to this situation she will certainly come, if she continues this war for any length of time. If the American Congress should take the resolution of prohibiting the importation of British manufactures, directly or indirectly, from any part of the world, a part which they will be likely to take, in order to weaken Great Britain, and strengthen their allies; if she continues this war, she will perceive the sources of her trade drying away, and the waters gliding into other channels; her seamen lessening and consuming, those of her enemies increasing; her capacity to defend her Islands, and even her East India trade, every day lessening, and that of her enemies to invade them every day increasing. So that it must end in the very evil this writer suggests: Whereas, if Great Britain makes peace now, the evil is avoided.
“Will her mariners continue as they are, when her manufacturers are labouring under the disadvantage of receiving their materials at higher and exorbitant prices, and selling at foreign markets at a certain loss?”4
I suppose the English will be able to purchase of the Americans their materials as cheap as other nations. But do they expect ever to recover her monopoly so as to prevent other nations from getting { 563 } American materials? So as to prevent the Americans from getting manufactures, productions, and all sorts of merchandizes from other nations? Let us consider this coolly. How much trouble did it cost them to prevent this communication before the war, when the American mind was possessed with all that fear, which is essentially the characteristic of monopolized colonies? When the American merchants had never travelled but to England: When their masters of vessels and seamen were ignorant of the French coast, and were taught to dread it as unknown and dangerous: Were the English ever able, under all these advantages, to prevent the Americans from eluding our art of navigation? But what has happened since this war broke out? Young American merchants, from every one of the Thirteen States, have crouded to France, and other parts of Europe, in great numbers, have studied the wants of France, and the articles she has which America wants, and the prices of all are stated in journals and memorandum books, which we can never obliterate. When such numbers of American masters of vessels have now explored the whole coast of France, so as to conduct vessels, wherever they please, even without pilots: When young Physicians, and Divines, and Lawyers, have travelled to France, formed acquaintance with men of letters, and established correspondences, which never can be extinguished: When American merchants and mariners have explored the creeks, inlets, and harbours of North America itself, ten times more perfectly than they were ever known before, to elude our frigates and cruisers: After all this, can we coolly suppose that the English ever will regain our monopoly, and prevent smuggling? If the English were to conquer America; if she was to submit, (suppositions as wild as can well be made,) no Custom-house officer, of any candour, will give it as his opinion, that they ever should be able to execute the act of navigation again in America. Fifty thousand regular soldiers, posted on the sea coast, and fifty men of war constantly cruising, an expence that would be greater than the monopoly ever was worth, would not effect it. Be not deceived! Impossibilities cannot be performed by Great Britain, and if her monopoly be gone, what is she contending for? The seamen then, which were secured to her by the monopoly, are gone for ever; and her only policy is to be as generous and magnanimous as France: in this way she has it in her power to prevent America from getting any destructive advantage of her; but by continuing the war, she will infallibly compleat the triumph of America and her own humiliation,—for civil, political, military, literary, commercial, and naval connections between Amer• { 564 } ica in every part of it, and France, and Spain, and Holland, are multiplying every day, and never will be checked but by a peace.
But what is the tendency of this argument, about the loss of seamen? If it serves to convince Britain that she should continue the war, does it not convince the allies that they ought to continue it too? They are to get all that England is to lose; and America is to be the greatest gainer of all. Whereas, she is not only to lose these objects, but her liberty too, and the lives of her best men, in infamy, if she is subdued: France, Spain, and Holland, and all the other Maritime Powers, are to gain a share of the objects, if Britain loses them. Whereas they not only lose all share in them, but even the safety and existence of their flag upon the ocean may be lost, if America is reduced, and the British monopoly of American Trade, Fisheries, and Seamen revived.
But let us coolly consider a few of the consequences of the redoubtable English conquest of America! Multitudes of the most learned, ingenious, and at present reputable men in the Thirteen United States, must fly abroad. Some of them the English would arrest; some of them would not fly to save their lives, but would remain there, to exhibit to mankind spectacles that Sydney and Russell never exceeded; but multitudes would fly. What would be the policy of France and Spain? Would they not immediately form American Brigades, as they have done Irish Brigades? Would not these be asylums for American Officers and Soldiers? Would not these hold constant correspondence and commerce too with America, and keep America on tiptoe for fresh revolts? Would it not cost America the constant maintenance of a larger fleet and army, than have been employed in the conquest, to preserve it?
The English are pursuing the most absurd war, that ever was waged by rational beings. Their very successes are ruinous to them, and useful to America. If they take a city, they only establish disaffection, open a trade which supplies the Americans with every thing they want, and their soldiers teach the citizens, and even the children, every branch of the art of war, the discipline, manoeuvres of troops, cavalry, artillery, &c. If their men of war and privateers take American ships, it only serves to form American naval officers and seamen, who are made prisoners, to as perfect a mastery of every branch of the sea service as their own. If American privateers take British seamen, they find beef and pudding, and grog and beer, among American sailors, and enlist with the utmost chearfulness into their service.
Let the English go on, and compleat the glorious work of destruc• { 565 } tion to themselves, and glory to America and the rest of mankind. Such infatuation is in the order of Providence. Our Thinker ought to excuse me, if I am as much too warm as he is too cool.
(To Be Continued.)
MS not found. Reprinted from (Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer, 17 Oct. 1782.) This letter is based on paragraphs 26 through 29 of JA's letter of 16 June to the president of Congress, No. 84, and note 20 (above).
1. Cool Thoughts, p. 31.
2. This quotation has not been identified.
3. Cool Thoughts, p. 33. This and the following quotation form part of a single paragraph in the pamphlet and appear as such in the letter of 16 June.
4. Same, p. 33. JA here omits the final sentence of the paragraph as it appears in the letter of 16 June.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0312-0008

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1780-07-14 - 1780-07-22
Date: 1782-02-05

VII. “Letters from a Distinguished American,” No. 9

The American Refugees, in England, are so great an obstacle in the way of peace, that it seems not improper for me to take notice of them. The first and greatest of them, the late Mr. Hutchinson, is no more. He was born to be the cause, the object, and the victim of popular rage; and he died the day after the commencement of the insurrections in London, and just soon enough to escape the sight of the vengeance against Lord Mansfield's house, which so exactly resembled that which was fifteen years ago inflicted on his own. Descended from an ancient and honourable American family; born and educated in that country; possessing all the zeal of the congregational religion; affecting to honour the character of the first planters; early initiated into public business; industrious and indefatigable in it; beloved and esteemed by the people; elected and entrusted by them, and their Representatives; his views opened and extended by repeated travels in Europe; minutely informed in the history of his country; author of an history of it, which was extensively read in Europe; engaged in much correspondence, in Europe, as well as America; favoured by the Crown of Great Britain, and possessed of its honours and emoluments; in these circumstances, and with these advantages, he was perhaps the only man, in the world, who could have brought on the controversy, between Great Britain and America, at the time, and in the manner, in which it was begun, and involved the two countries in an enmity, which must end in their everlasting separation. This was his character; and these his memorable actions. An inextinguishable ambition, which was ever discerned among his { 566 } other qualities, which grew with his growth, and strengthened with his age and experience, at last predominated over ever other passion of his heart and principle of his mind: rendered him credulous of every thing which favoured his ruling passion, but blind and deaf to every thing that opposed it: to such a degree, that his representations, with those of his friend and instrument, Bernard, drew on the King, Ministry, Parliament and Nation to concert those measures, which must end in a reduction of the power of the English, if they do not change their conduct, but in the exaltation and glory of America.
There are visible traces of his councils in a number of pamphlets not long since published in England, and ascribed to Mr. Gallaway. It is most probable, they were concerted between Administration and the Americans in general here, and Mr. Galloway was given out as the ostensible, as he probably was the principal author.
The “Cool Thoughts, on the Consequences of American Independence,” although calculated to inflame a warlike nation, are sober reasons for America to defend her Independence and her alliance.
The pamphlet says “It has often been asserted, that Great Britain has expended, in settling and defending America, more than she will ever be able to repay, and that it will be more to the profit of this kingdom to give her Independence, and to lose what we have expended, than to retain her a part of its dominions.”1 To this he answers very justly,2 that the bounties on articles of commerce, and the expence of the last war, ought not to be charged to America; that the charge of colonial Governments, have been confined to New York, the Carolinas, Georgia, Nova Scotia, and East and West Florida. That New England, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia, have not cost Great Britain a farthing; that the whole expence of the former, is no more than one million seven hundred thousand pounds; and that when we deduct the seven hundred thousand pounds, extravagantly expended in building a key at Hallifax, we can only call it one million.”
But the true answer is, that America has already repaid to England an hundred fold for all that has been expended upon her. The profit of her commerce, for one year, has been more than all that this kingdom has expended upon her in one hundred and fifty years. Whence is all the pride of Great Britain? Whence her opulence? Whence her populous cities? Whence multitudes of her cloud-capt towers, her gorgeous palaces and solemn temples, but from the profits of American commerce? But all this would not content her; she must tax America, and rob her of her liberty, as well as monopolize { 567 } her commerce. The latter she endured, but the former she would not bear, and who can blame her? None, none but those who are conscious of the guilt of forging shackles for her.
This commerce Great Britain might still enjoy, but will not. Why? Because she cannot enjoy it all. Where will be the injury to her from other nations enjoying with her a small share of the blessings of Heaven? If France alone were to possess a share, Great Britain might have some color for jealousy, that she would become dangerous to her; but when America herself in the treaty she sent to France, with a foresight, a refined and enlarged policy that does honour to human nature, so studiously and anxiously guard against excluding any other nation from an equal share in her commerce; when she had coolness and magnanimity enough, although under every provocation from Great Britain to resentment, to guard against excluding even her from an equal share of her commerce, what has Great Britain to fear. If she made peace with America, she would not be without friends in Europe; and if her enemies should profit by American commerce she and her friends would profit more. The balance will be preserved, and she will have nothing to fear. Commerce she may have with America, as advantageous as ever, if she does not lose the opportunity: But taxation, domination and monopoly, are gone for ever.
The writer proceeds, “Posterity will feel that America was not only worth all that was spent upon her, but that a just, firm, and constitutional subordination of the Colonies, was absolutely necessary to the independence and existence of Great Britain.”3
He should have said, That the ancestors of the present English have already found that America was worth all that has been spent upon her; that they have received, and themselves enjoyed more from her, than all that has been spent: that besides this, they have amassed more solid wealth from her, and transmitted down, by inheritance to their children, an hundred fold more than all the cost: And even now America remains ready to renew her commerce with England to as great an advantage as ever, if they will make a peace. Are domination and taxation necessary to trade? By no means. Their trade to Portugal and Russia is as profitable, as if these were not independent States.
That a share in the commerce of America is necessary to support long the independence and existence of Great Britain, I readily agree; but this share does not depend upon her having the government of that country, much less upon her drawing taxes from it. This depends upon the wants of America, and the capacity of Great Britain to supply them. Her wants will increase beyond all proportion to the { 568 } ability of Great Britain to supply in time; and her immediate demand upon her would be greater than she could possibly supply at present, if she made peace.
The independence of America would have no more effect upon the independence of Great Britain, than it either has, or will have, upon that of France or Spain, if she would change our hostile character against America into friendship, [as] they have done. But writers, from private views and private passions, are drawing the English on in error and delusion against their clearest Interest, against the voice of Nature, of Reason, of all Europe, and of GOD!

[salute] ADIEU

(To be continued.)
MS not found. Reprinted from (Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer, 23 Oct. 1782.) This letter is based on paragraphs 1 through 5 of JA's first letter of 17 June to the president of Congress, No. 85, and note 6 (above).
1. Cool Thoughts, p. 39–40.
2. In JA's letter of 17 June to the president of Congress, No. 85 (above), the remainder of this paragraph appears in quotation marks, although it is in fact an accurate paraphrase from Cool Thoughts, p. 40–41.
3. Same, p. 45–46.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0312-0009

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1780-07-14 - 1780-07-22
Date: 1782-02-06

VIII. “Letters from a Distinguished American,” No. 10

Let us proceed with our cool meditations. The author says, “Another argument much relied on by the advocates for American Independence, is, that a similarity of laws, religion, and manners, has formed an attachment between the People of Great Britain and America, which will insure to Great Britain a preference in the trade of America.”1
A similarity of laws facilitates business. It may be done with more ease, expedition, and pleasure, and with less risque of loss, mistake, or imposition, and consequently with more profit, in a country whose laws are understood, than in another where they are not. A similarity of religion is a motive of preference to those persons who are conscientious, and some such there are among the men of business even of this philosophic age. A similarity of manners and language also prevents many perplexities, delays, and impositions in trade: besides that the pleasures of society and conversation are some motives to a man of business. Laws, religion, manners, and language, therefore, will be motives of preference, aeteris paribus.2 After all, however, the { 569 } goodness and cheapness of commodities will be the only decisive temptations to Americans to come here to market. They can learn languages, enjoy their own religion, among a people of a different one; conform for a time to manners very different from their own, and acquire a knowledge of the laws of other countries sufficient to do business there, provided they find better and cheaper goods there to be bought, and a better price for those they have to sell. Can the English then give them a better price for their commodities than other nations, and sell them theirs cheaper than others? This is the main question; and there is no doubt that they can, in most articles, at present: it will not be long so. If they give other nations time to establish their manufactures by the continuance of the war, all this may be changed. Do the English expect ever to compel the Americans to take their commodities at an high price, when they can have them abroad at a lower? An American would laugh in your face if you were gravely to tell him so. Can the English trust their Custom House Officers, who are to be appointed in future, that they would not connive? Did they never hear of merchants privileged to smuggle? Did they never hear of Governors sharing profits? Do they expect that Juries in America will condemn? Do they expect their single Judges of Admiralty will be again admitted in America, to try seizures and questions of civil property at land, where the people have even insisted that Juries should be appointed to try all maritime causes? It is a chimera that the English pursue. If they could re-acquire the Government, they never could execute the laws which guarded the monopoly. They never could execute them before. Now both the knowledge, the temptation, and the facilities to evade and elude them are infinitely multiplied. If they could force a sufficient number of Americans to submit to regain the government, the great body of the people would think them usurpers and tyrants, and that they have a right to elude and evade their mandates by every art and every shift. It will be a forced government, maintained only by military power, detested and execrated by the people, even by the most of those who in a fright or a fit of delusion should now submit.
Their acts of trade never were executed in America, excepting only at Boston. At New York, at Philadelphia, at Charles Town, they were constantly evaded. The Custom House Officers never dared to put them in execution. Nay, they were never executed even in Rhode Island and New Hampshire. It was only at Boston, under a military power, and an innumerable host of Custom House Officers, where they were executed at all. And here, at the expence of constant { 570 } lawsuits, riots, tumults, and thousands of other evils. Before this war, the Americans were almost as ignorant of each other, as they were of Europe. Now they have become acquainted with both. There was little communication or correspondence, and still less trade between one Colony and another since this war. Great numbers of gentlemen of the first characters in the States have met in Congress, where they have learned every thing respecting other States. Officers and armies have marched from one end of the Continent to the other; became intimately acquainted with each other, formed friendships and correspondences with each other that never will cease; became perfectly acquainted with the geography of every province, city, river, creek, plain, and mountain. Waggons and waggoners have constantly passed from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and all New England, to Boston. Do the English suppose they will ever prevent the trade between one Colony and another again? Will they prevent tilt hammers from being erected, wool from being waterborne, or tobacco from being sent from Virginia to Boston? An hundred thousand regular soldiers, and every man of war they have in the world, would not accomplish it. But the English are in a dream. They know not what they are contending for. They think America is in the same situation she was ten years ago. They either know not, or consider not, what has happened there within these six years. This cool writer himself has been too much warmed with some passion or other to recollect what has passed within his own observation. It is much to be wished he would give us his cool Thoughts on the Consequences of American dependence, conquest, and submission. If he were to reflect upon the subject, he might easily prove, that it would be a constant source of vexation and expence to England, without any profit or advantage. It would be but a momentary, and that an armed, riotous, rebellious and distracted truce; a constant source of fresh American revolts, and fresh foreign wars. The English ought to dread the temporary submission of America, more than America herself. It would be the source of their certain, final ruin; whereas to them it might be only a temporary evil. Every rising country has infinite advantages over a declining one, in every view.

[salute] ADIEU

(To be continued.)
MS not found. Reprinted from (Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer, 26 Dec. 1782.) This letter is based on paragraph 6 of JA's first letter of 17 June to the president of Congress, No. 85, and note 7 (above).
1. Cool Thoughts, p. 46–47.
2. Or ceteris paribus, that is, other things being equal.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0312-0010

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1780-07-14 - 1780-07-22
Date: 1782-02-01

IX. “Letters from a Distinguished American,” No. 5

[salute] SIR

An uniformity of laws and religion, united with a subordination to the same supreme authority, forms the national attachment: but when the laws and supreme authority are abolished, the manners, habits, and customs derived from them, will soon be effaced. The Americans have already instituted governments opposite to the principles upon which the British government is established. New laws are made in support of their new political systems, and of course destructive of the national attachment. The new States, altogether popular, their laws resemble those of the democratical cantons of Switzerland, not those of Great Britain. Thus we find, in their first acts, the strongest of all proofs, of an aversion in their rulers to our national policy, and a sure foundation laid to obliterate all affection and attachment to this country among the people. The attachment, then arising from a similarity of laws, habits, and manners, will last no longer than between the United Provinces and Spain, or the Corsicans and Genoese, which was changed, from the moment of their separation, into an enmity that is not worn out to this day.”1
How it is possible for those rulers, in a government altogether popular, who are the creatures of the people, and constantly dependent upon them for their political existence, to have the strongest aversion to the national policy of Great Britain; and at the same time, for the far greater part of the people, to wish and hope for an Union with that country, and to be ready to unite in reducing the power of those rulers, as this writer asserts, I know not. I leave him to reconcile it. But his consistency, and his sincerity, are points of no consequence to the Public.
It is very true that there is no strong attachment in the minds of the Americans to the laws and government of Great Britain. The contrary is true; they have almost universally a strong aversion to those laws and that government. There is a deep and forcible antipathy to two essential branches of the British Constitution, the monarchichal and the aristocratical.—There is no country upon earth where the maxims, that all power ought to reside in the great body of the people, and all honours and authorities to be frequently derived from them, are so universally and sincerely believed as in America. All hereditary titles, powers, and dignities, are detested from one end { 572 } of the Continent to the other; and nothing contributed more to unite all America in the late resistance, than the attempt, by an Act of Parliament, to render one branch of the legislature in the council of the Massachuset's, independent of the people and their representatives. The government of these Colonies have all been popular from their first establishment. It was wise, just, politic, and necessary, that they should be so.—Nothing but that importance that was given by these governments to the common people, even to artisans and labouring men, and that comfortable state of life which is the fruit of it, could ever have peopled America. The severe labours of the field, in a wild country, and the dangers of the wilderness, where Planters were forced to carry their arms and their instruments of husbandry together to raise their bread, would have totally discouraged these settlements, if life had not been sweetened by superior liberty for themselves, and the prospect of it for their children. The first Planters of New England, Winthcap [Winthrop], Winslow, Saltenstall, Cotton, Wilson, Norton, and many others, were great men: they modelled their governments professedly upon the plan of the ancient Republicks of Greece. Penn, who founded the colony which bears his name, was another, and his form of government was as popular, as any in New England. Sir Walter Rawleigh did nearly the same in Virginia; so that democratical sentiments and principles were not confined to one Colony, of one part of the Continent, but they run through it. Even in New York and Virginia and New Hampshire, &c. where the councils were appointed by the crown, these very counsellors were seized with a strong proportion of the spirit of the people, and were obliged always to give way to the popular torrent. It is no wonder then, that every State upon the Continent has instituted a democracy, and that the people are universally fond of their new government. And a philosopher, who considers their situation, planted in a new country, with immense regions to fill up, by increasing population and severe labour, will see and acknowledge, that these kinds of governments are the best adapted to their circumstances, but calculated to promote their happiness, their population, their agriculture, manufactures and commerce, as well as their defence. It is the interest of all Europe, that they should enjoy these forms of government. They are best adapted to preserve peace, for the people always sigh for peace, and detest war; and it is their interest as well as inclination. It is the interest, and ought to be the inclination of every nation in Europe to let them enjoy it. As to the affection and attachment to the country, there was always more noise { 573 } made about it than sense in it. The affection of one nation for another, at 3000 miles distance, is never a strong passion. The Americans love and adore their country; but America is their country, not this Island. There are few connections by blood between that country and this, but what are worn out of memory by age. Why, then, should we amuse ourselves with unnatural expectations? We shall never have any hold on the love of America, but what we obtain, by making it their interest to be our friends, in a fair and equal commerce, and by favouring their benevolent views of planting freedom, toleration, humanity, and policy, in the new world, for the happiness of the human species in both worlds. They are a people whose feelings are too refined, whose views are too enlarged for us, sunk as we are in dissipation, avarice, and pleasure. They think the cause of their country a sacred trust deposited in their hands by Providence for the happiness of millions yet unborn. They now think their liberty can never be safe under government of any European nation, the idea of coming again under which strikes them with horror. The frozen souls of this country may scribble, speculate, and fight as they please, they never will have any future advantage from that, but in the way of a fair and equal commerce with them as independent states.
This author is certainly just in his sentiments, that the attachment to England, from a similarity of religion, is also very feeble. There is no predominant religion, and it is their policy that there never shall be. They are of all the religious societies in Europe; they are Churchmen, Lutherans, Calvinists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Moravians, Congregationalists, Quakers, Anabaptists, Menonists, Swinfielders, Dumplers, and Roman Catholicks.2
If the attachments arising from laws and government, from religion, customs, habits, fashions, and language, are such feeble ties, as this writer very justly represents them, what authority can we ever have over them, but by their general interests in a fair and equal commerce, as independent states? Will this writer say, it is their interest to become again dependent upon us? He has many times admitted, in effect, in this very pamphlet, that it is not. An American, even a Tory in America, will readily admit, they ever have admitted that Independence would be the most prosperous and glorious event for America, if she could obtain it.—They never contended for any thing, but the American inability to preserve it against the power of Great Britain. What would the rest of Europe say, if we were gravely to tell them, that it is the interest of America to come again under our dominion and monopoly? The interest of America in her inde• { 574 } pendence is too clear a point to be contested. How then are we to govern them? Are we to govern and monopolize them, against their interest and inclination, by force? With all their power and resources, and the aids of France and Spain, and Holland, favoured, encouraged and abetted by all the maritime powers of Europe? We have really a task beyond our forces. Surely, in such a situation, peace with America, and a treaty of commerce upon terms of perfect equality and reciprocity, would be a safe, an honourable, and an advantageous peace.

[salute] ADIEU

(To be continued.)
MS not found. Reprinted from (Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer, 11 Sept. 1782.) This letter is based on paragraphs 7 through 9 of JA's first letter of 17 June to the president of Congress, No. 85, and note 9 (above).
1. Cool Thoughts, p. 47–49. This is a condensation of a much longer passage, but without changing Galloway's meaning.
2. Same, p. 49. In the first letter of 17 June, No. 85 (notes 9 and 10, above) this quotation was enclosed in quotation marks and, with minor differences, was an almost verbatim transcription from the pamphlet. Here the passage retains Galloway's meaning, but is a shortened paraphrase of the quotation in the 17 June letter, and is not followed by the two additional quotations that appear there. JA also modified the passage to make it more generally applicable to the American states, in contrast to Galloway's more narrow focus on his Pennsylvania experience.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0312-0011

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1780-07-14 - 1780-07-22
Date: 1782-01-30

X. “Letters from a Distinguished American,” No. 4

[salute] SIR

The writer on the consequences of American independency proceeds, “It has been asserted, that America will be led, from motives of interest, to give the preference in trade to this country, because we can supply her with manufactures cheaper than she can raise them, or purchase them from others.”1—He has not favoured us with his opinion, whether we can supply them cheaper than others. If we can, the consequence is certain, that though independent, they will trade with us, in preference to others. If we cannot, they will trade with others, in preference to us, though they should again become dependent.—They now know the world, and they will make use of it, and the world will make use of them. Dependent, or independent, it will make very little difference. It is not doubted, at present, that we can sell our commodities to them cheaper, and give them a better price for theirs than other nations. But how long will this last? Certainly not long, if the war continues.
That we, or any other nation in Europe, can supply her with { 575 } manufactures cheaper than she can raise them, in time of peace, is most certain. Europe has a warrantee upon America for this for centuries to come, in the immense regions of uncultivated lands. It is demonstrably certain, that so long as wild land is to be had cheap, and it will be for centuries so long, America will continue to exchange the productions of her agriculture for the manufactures of Europe. So long the manufacturers, who may emigrate from Europe, will soon be metamorphosed into farmers, because they will find, as they always have found, that they can advance themselves and their children the faster by it.
It is very true, “that she possesses, and can produce a greater variety of raw materials, than any other country on the globe,”2 but it by no means follows, that it will be her interest to manufacture them, because a day's labour, worth two shillings, in a manufacture, produces but two shillings, whereas a day's labour, on wild land, produces the two shillings in immediate production, and makes the land itself worth two shillings more. We may, therefore, absolutely depend, that at a peace, America will have her manufactures from Europe, and, if it is not our fault, from us.
But, continues the writer, “a commercial alliance is already ratified, greatly injurious to the trade of Great Britain.”3 The commercial alliance with France engages a free trade between those two nations. We may make a commercial alliance with America, and engage a free trade with her too. There is no article in the treaty with France which gives her any exclusive privilege in trade, or that excludes Great Britain from any branch of American trade. It is at this moment as open and free to us, as any other nation, and it is our imprudence that we are throwing it away. Do we suppose that France will give up the benefit she has obtained by this treaty? Is not the commerce, the navy, the independence, and existence of France as a maritime power, at stake? Does it not depend upon American independence? If it does not, it will depend upon her rendering the Colonies, after a mock submission, useless to us, by fomenting continual broil, and wars between us and them; and upon getting that commerce clandestinely, that by the treaty she may have openly. Will she not contend as earnestly for her independence and existence as we do for a chimera? The commercial treaty with France is no otherwise injurious to the trade of Great Britain, than as it is a breach of our monopoly, which is broke in an hundred ways, and never to be repaired, if this treaty were annulled.
“Should France succeed in supporting American independence, no { 576 } one can doubt that other treaties, still more injurious, will be added.”4—Does he mean that America will make treaties of commerce with other maritime nations? This she will do; but upon the same footing of equality, freedom and reciprocity; without excluding us, unless we drive her to despair and revenge, and the same passions that we now indulge against her. Make peace now, and you are safe against all unequal treaties. Other nations must have an equal right to American trade with France and us. The maritime powers all see it, and we may depend upon it, they will take care to secure themselves both against us and France. “When America shall have a separate and distinct interest of her own to pursue, her views will be enlarged, her policy will become exerted to her own benefit.”5
Does this writer suppose the Americans so ignorant and stupid as not to know this, as well as he? Does he coolly think that they wish to have their views contracted, and their policy exerted against her own benefit, as it used to be, or to the benefit of others, exclusive of her own. It must be an icy soul indeed that can wish itself smaller, or that can desire to have its understanding employed against itself. Is this an argument to prove that the far greater part of the people wish to return to our Government? This would be narrowing their views indeed; but this writer may be assured that this evil, if it be one to us, is already done; their views are already enlarged, they know one another; they know us; and they know the rest of Europe better than ever they did. They know what they are capable of, and what Europe wants.
“Her interest, instead of being united with, will become not only different from, but opposite to that of Great Britain.”6 While we continue her enemy, it is her interest to weaken us as much as she can. But nothing can be clearer, than that her interest will not be opposite to that of any power in Europe, that will trade with her. She will grow; and every power in Europe that trade with her, will grow too in consequence of that trade, and ours more than any other.
“She will perceive that manufactures are the great foundation of Commerce.”7 The productions of agriculture are a foundation of commerce, as well as manufactures are.
“That commerce is the great means of acquiring wealth.”8 But manufactures are not the foundations of her commerce, nor is commerce her great means of acquiring wealth. Agriculture, and the continued augmentation of the value of land by improvement, are the great source of her wealth: and agriculture9 and commerce are but secondary objects, which do not bear a proportion to the former { 577 } of one to twenty. It is her interest to attend to manufactures for filling up interstices of time, and no farther: and to commerce, to send her superfluous productions abroad, and bring back what she wants, and to be carriers, for the sake of selling her ships and commodities; but all her commerce and manufactures center and terminate in the improvement of land, and will infallably continue to do so, as long as there shall remain wild land in America: so that it is politically impossible, that she should ever interfere with Europe, either in manufactures or commerce, for centuries to come. In the nature of things she can carry on no manufactures and no commerce which will not be useful to Europe, instead of interfering with it, and to us more than any other, if we would cease our absurd hostilities.
“Bounties will be granted to encourage manufactures, and duties laid to disencourage or prohibit foreign importations!”10 Will the farmers vote away their money to encourage manufactures, when they can import them cheaper? Will merchants give theirs to strip themselves of the profit of importing? And where is the manufacturing interest to vote at all? All this is against reason and universal experience; a clearer demonstration of this cannot be given than in the instances of salt petre and salt.
Bounties have been given this war upon these articles, manufactured in America, because we would not suffer them to import them. And such is the ingenuity and invention of these people, that hundreds of tons of salt petre were produced in a few months, and the women learned to make it in their families, as they make soap. Salt works were erected upon the sea coast of the whole Continent, and they are now able to supply themselves with these articles, when they can't get them from Europe; but it is at the expence of the interest of agriculture, and when their trade began to open again, these manufactures declined; and they now revive and decline, like ebb and tide, as there happens to be scarcity or plenty imported—and thus it must be.

[salute] ADIEU

(To be continued.)
MS not found. Reprinted from (Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer, 3 Sept. 1782.) This letter is based on paragraphs 12 and 13 of JA's first letter of 17 June to the president of Congress, No. 85, and note 13 (above).
1. Cool Thoughts, p. 50–51. This and the other quotations used in this letter are all taken from a single paragraph in the pamphlet, p. 50–53.
2. Same, p. 51. In the pamphlet and the letter of 17 June, this passage is preceded by the two quotations that follow.
3. Same, p. 51.
4. Same, p. 51.
5. Same, p. 52.
6. Same, p. 52.
7. Same, p. 52.
{ 578 } | view
8. Same, p. 52.
9. Thus in the original. JA presumably intended, and perhaps wrote, “manufactures.”
10. Same, p. 52.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0312-0012

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1780-07-14 - 1780-07-22
Date: 1782-02-07

XI. “Letters from a Distinguished American,” No. 11, Unpublished

To illustrate his argument on the Consequences of American Independence, the Writer subjoins, a Comparison, between the united States and the West Indies. He Says the Exports from England were in 17712
  £   s   d  
To North America   4,586,882:   15:   5  
To Dominica   170,623:   19:   3  
To St. Vincent   36,839:   10:   7  
To Grenada   123,919:   4:   5  
  331,338:   14:   3  
 Difference   4,255,500:   1:   2  
“If We reflect on the Extent of Territory, improved and improvable, the Numbers of People, of Mariners, of Shipping, naval Force, raw materials, and Consumption of manufactures, he hopes We should confess the Continent of more Importance than the Islands.”3 He compares them 1. in Point of Extent of Territory. 2. Salubrity of Clymates. 3. Numbers of Inhabitants capable of Warring for the Empire, whereas the Islands are a dead weight in case of War.4 4. Variety of Clymates. If the West Indies furnish Rum, Sugar, Cocoa, Coffee, Pimento and Ginger. The Continent produces Wheat, Rye, Barley, Oats, Indian Corn, Rice, Flour, Biscuit, Salt Beef, Pork, Bacon, Venison, Cod, Mackarel, and other Fish and Tobacco. If the West Indies produce Some materials for Dyes, as Logwood, Fustick, Mahogany and Indigo; the Continent produces Indigo, Silk, Flax, Hemp; Furs and skins of the Bear, Beaver, otter, Muskrat, Deer, Tyger, Leopard, Wildcat, Fox, Raccoon; and Pot ash and Pearl ash, Copper, and Lead ore, Iron in Pigs and Bars, for our manufactures; besides all the Articles of naval Stores, Timber, Plank, Boards, Masts, Yards, ships for sale, Pitch, Tar, Turpentine, Hemp, and Salt Petre. Such of these Articles as are necessary for the manufactures and Commerce of England were sent there: the surplus only to other Marketts, and the proceeds of that surplus remitted in Bills of Ex• { 579 } change or Cash for British manufactures and foreign articles of Commerce.”5
As to the Consumption of Manufactures, America would demand and consume, if Peace were now made as many and more of our manufactures than she ever did, because her Numbers have greatly increased Since this Trade was interrupted. As to our supplying them again with foreign Articles of Commerce it is chimerical in Us, to expect it: neither America, nor foreign nations will submit to it. As to the long roll of Articles, which contribute to political, military and naval Power, it is extravagant to hope ever to regain them. All mankind are interested and have the most pressing Motives to Sunder them from Us. They would make Us an universal monarchy.
Power is intoxicating, encroaching and dangerous, in Nations, as well as Individuals. Surrounding nations are jealous, and envyous of a Power that they see growing too formidable for their Safety. Examples are innumerable. Spain under Charles the 5th.—France under Louis the 14th. were thought by the Powers of Europe to have become dangerous, and allmost all the World united to lessen their Power. How did Portugal break off from Spain? how did she maintain her Independency? how does she hold it now—but because that England, France Holland and other Powers, will not see her again annexed to the Spanish monarchy, Situated as Portugal is, if she were annexed to Spain it would make her dangerous to the other maritime Powers. How did Holland maintain her Independency? but by the determined Aid of England, and France? How did the Cantons of Switzerland maintain theirs?6
We are arrived at the Period long since foreseen and foretold, by cooler and deeper Thinkers than this Pamphlateer. It is an Observation of a sage and amiable Writer of the French nation, who has as much respect for England and as little for America as any impartial man in Europe, De Mably, “That the Project of being sole Master of the Sea, and of commanding all the Commerce, is not less chimerical, nor less ruinous than that of Universall, Monarchy, on Land. And it is to be wished for the Happiness of Europe, that the English may be convinced of this Truth, before they shall have learned it by their own Experience. France has already repeated several Times, that it was necessary to establish an Equilibrium, or Ballance of Power, at Sea: and she has not yet convinced any Body because she is the dominant Power, and because they suspect her to desire the Abasement of the English, only that she may domineer the more surely, on the Continent. But if England abuses her Power and would exercise { 580 } a Kind of Tyranny over Commerce, presently all the States that have Vessells and sailors, astonished that they had not before believed France, will join themselves to her to assist her in avenging her Injuries. Principles of Negotiation” p. 90.7
The Present Conjuncture of affairs, resembles so exactly the Case that is here Stated that it seems to be a litteral fulfillment of a Prophecy. A Domination upon the sea is so much the more dangerous to other commercial nations and maritime Powers, as it is more difficult to form Alliances and combine Forces at Sea, than at Land. For which Reason it is essential, that the sovereigns of every commercial state, should make his national Flagg be respected, in all the Seas and by all the nations of the World. The English have ever acted upon this Principle, in supporting the Honour of their own, but of late years, inflated with intoxicating dreams of Power, they have grown less and less attentive to it, as it respects the Honour of other Flaggs. Not content with making their Flagg respectable <We> they have grown more and more ambitious of making it terrible. Unwilling to do as they would be done by, and to treat other commercial nations as they insisted Upon being treated by them, they have grown continually more and more haughty, turbulent, and insolent upon the seas, and are now never Satisfied untill they make all other nations see and feel, that they despise them upon that Element.8 We have not only invaded the universal Liberty of the Americans, by cutting up by the Roots their ancient forms of Government, and endeavouring to subject them to a foreign Legislature in all Cases: but We had endangered the Liberty of France upon the Seas. Her Commerce, her Navy, her West India Islands her Fisheries, her East India Possessions, had all been entirely at our mercy, if North America had continued to this day a Part of the British Empire: We equally endangered the Liberty of Spain, her Fleets, her Islands, and the Communication between her Country and her Colonies would have been in our Power. What would have become of Holland? With what unbounded Contempt have We treated her. Her Liberty upon the seas, is so little respected by Us, that We annull at Pleasure all Treaties ancient and modern, and seize ships without a Colour of Law. The other maritime Powers are all now more attentive to Commerce than ever. They see America is necessary to their Views of Commerce. Each one of them sees that she must have a share of American Commerce or she cannot maintain her maritime Independency, her Liberty upon the seas. She sees also that if any one commercial nation of Europe were to enjoy an exclusive monopoly { 581 } | view in America, that no other maritime Power could preserve her Liberty. No Wonder then, that We see such Unanimity of Sentiment among the maritime Powers. No Wonder that all the sons of Neptune, are united to preserve the Independence, the Freedom and sovereignty of his Reign from our Invasions.
5. The Growing State of the Colonies, on the Continent which appears by the Exports.
            £   s   d  
 The Value of the Exports from England to North America was   in 1763         1,867,285:   6:   2  
    in 1771         4,586,882:   17:   11  
  Increase in Eight Years         2,719,597:   11:   9  
 The Value of the Exports from England to the West Indies was   in 1763         1,149,596:   12:   4  
    in 1771         1,155,658:   3:   11  
  Increase in 8 years         6,061:   1:   7  
 The Value of the Imports into England from the West Indies, was   in 1763         3,268,485:   14:   6  
    in 1771         2,800,583:   14:   0  
  Decrease in 8 years         467,902:   0:   6  
 He could not obtain an Account of the general Exports from the West Indies, and therefore, cannot make a Comparison, with those from North America, which were.   s   d  
    in 1766         3,924,606:   0:   0  
    in 1773         6,400,000:   0:   0  
  Increase in 7 Years         2,475,394:   0:   0  
 The Exports from Great Britain to foreign Countries have been generally computed at   7,000,000:   0:   0  
      £   s   d        
in 1771 from England to America   4,586,882:   15:   5        
  to the W. Indies   1,155,658:   3:   11   5,742,530:   19:   49  
            12,742,530:   19:   4  
The Exports from Scotland to America are not included; when added they will increase the value of the Exports from Great Britain to Upwards of 6,000,000: 0: 0 which is nearly equal to the amount of all the foreign Exports of the Kingdom, and one half of the whole Commerce of the nation, exclusive only of that to Ireland and the East Indies.10
It is reported that these Facts and Estimates were all laid before { 582 } the American Congress in the Year 1774 when this Writer was a member.11 They were minutely examined and thoroughly weighed, and with the most unfeigned sincerity it was wished and prayed by all, and with the most Sanguine Confidence expected by many, that they would occur to our Parliament, and prevent them from disaffecting by a perseverance in Impolicy and Injustice, So precious a Part of the dominions. Others who had studied more attentively the Character of this nation, and the Relations of America with Europe, had Strong Fears that nothing would Succeed. They have been found to have judged right. The Americans lament the Misfortunes of the English, but they rejoice in the Prospect of Superiour Liberty, Prosperity and Glory to the new World, that now opens to View, in Consequence of our Errors. They rejoice also at the destruction of that selfish and contracted monopoly which confined the Blessings, of that Quarter of the World to a single nation and at the liberal Extension of them to all mankind.
I shall conclude all with one observation upon the ability and Resources of America to continue the War and finally support their Independency. By the Resolutions of Congress of the 18 of March last, they redeem their two hundred millions of Paper dollars, at the Ratio of 40 Paper for one silver, which it seems is a full allowance, which makes the whole Value of their Paper Bills abroad of the Value of five millions of silver dollars, or 1,102,500 £ sterling.12
They have also resolved that the Loan office Certificates shall be paid in Proportion to the Value of money at the time they were issued, which is the only equitable Way,13 and these added to the 1,102,500 in Bills and to their debt contracted in Europe makes the whole amount of the national debt of the United states amount to about five millions sterling. Thus they have conducted this whole War, for five years for five millions, one Million a Year. According to the Estimate of this Writer the Exports from North America in 1773, were 6,400,000 Pounds. The whole Expence of five Years War, has not then amounted to the Value of one Years exports.
Compare this with our Expences. Lord Norths Loan only this Year is Twelve Millions. According to the Estimate of this Writer the whole Exports of Great Britain to foreign Countries North America and the West Indies, amounted in 1771 to 12,762,530:19: 4. Thus We borrow annually to maintain the War a sum equal nearly to our whole Exports.
Let a cool man judge, whether We or they can support the War longest. Let Us soberly reflect, what Burden this debt is to America. { 583 } It has been said that all the Colonies together, contracted in the Course of the last French War a debt of Ten Millions, double their market. Which was all nearly discharged before this War began. Be this as it may, I am well informed that the Province of the Massachusetts Bay alone, raised by Taxes half a Million and by Loan half a Million more, in the Course of the last War, and that before this War broke out it was all paid off. The Province of Massachusetts now has double the Number of Inhabitants she had in the middle of last War. Let this War continue as long as it will our debt will accumulate twice as fast, four times as fast in Proportion to our Abilities, as the American will. And at the End this Affecting difference, that in a very few Years she will pay the Utmost Farthing of the Principal, and We shall be very happy, if We can pay the annual Interest.
We knew not the Resources of America. We knew not the Resources in their Minds and Hearts. There are deep and great Virtues and Profound abilities in that People that We have not yet put to Tryal nor called forth to Action. Her Agriculture Manufactures and Commerce, are Resources, that We have no Idea of. But she is now recurring to another Resource that We neither understand nor can bear to practice. Oeconomy. They are striking off, every useless officer and office in their Army their navy, their civil departments and otherwise to save Expences, and in future they will conduct the War at half the Expence of the past. America is the best Friend We can have Upon Earth—and We shall find her, if We will not suffer her to be our Friend, our most fatal Ennemy.
Finis
MS (Adams Papers); filmed at 7 Feb. 1780, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 351. The text fills four folio pages, with the first numbered “38” in red ink, probably by either Edmund Jenings or the printer. For a discussion of the nature of the manuscript sent to Edmund Jenings, see the Editorial Note (above). This letter is based on JA's second letter of 17 June to the president of Congress, No. 86, and note 8 (above).
1. This date is not in JA's hand, but may be by Edmund Jenings. The date indicates that it was intended to follow the letter bearing the date of 6 Feb., the eighth letter in order of composition, but the tenth in order of publication (No. VIII, above).
2. The following figures are from Cool Thoughts, p. 59, but see the second 17 June letter to the president of Congress, No. 86, and note 2 (above).
3. Same, p. 61. In the second 17 June letter, and note 3 (above), this passage appears in quotation marks and both there and here has been condensed considerably from the text in the pamphlet.
4. The first three points are dealt with in separate paragraphs on p. 62–64 of the pamphlet.
5. Same, p. 64–65, but see the letter of 17 June, No. 86, and note 5 (above).
6. JA had dealt previously and in the same terms with resistance to efforts to upset the European balance of power in his letter of 4 Aug. 1779 to the president of Congress (vol. 8:108–120).
7. Gabriel Bonnot, Abbé de Mably, Des principes des négociations, pour servir d'introduction au droit public de l'Europe, fondé sur { 584 } les traités, The Hague, 1767.
8. JA took both the previous paragraph and this paragraph to this point, from his letter of 12 March to the president of Congress, No. 17 (above), but see also JA's letter of 12 March to Edmund Jenings, and note 1 (above). This material does not appear in the letter of 17 June, No. 86 (above).
9. This subtotal also appears in Cool Thoughts, p. 67, but see the letter of 17 June, No. 86, and note 6 (above).
10. The figures given above are taken from p. 66–68 of the pamphlet.
11. JA probably refers to statistics presented during congressional debates in Sept. and Oct. 1774 over non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation. The deliberations resulted, on 20 Oct. 1774, in the adoption of the Continental Association, signed by both JA and Galloway (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:137–140, 144, 147–149, 151–152; JCC, 1:75–81).
12. For the resolutions of 18 March to revalue the Continental currency, see Benjamin Rush's letter of 28 April, and note 4 (above); for JA's defense of the measure in the face of strong French objections, see his second letter of 22 June to Vergennes (below). At the bottom of the third page of the manuscript, perhaps referring to this paragraph, is a note in Edmund Jenings' hand: “See American Bank Gen Ad: Septr. 25.”
13. This measure was adopted by Congress on 18 April, but was not fully implemented until 28 June (JCC, 16:374–375; 17:567–569).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0312-0013

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-22

XII. “Letters from a Distinguished American,” No. 12, Unpublished

Before We dismiss these cool Thoughts it may not be amiss to Subjoin a few Reflections, upon the Certainty of American Independance.
We have repeated the Word Rebellion, untill the People have been wrought Up, to a Pitch of Passion and Enthusiasm, which has rendered them incapable of listening to the Still voice of Reason. Men are governed by Words, their Passions are inflamed by Words. Policy associates certain Passions with certain Words for its own Purposes. There are Words which command the Respect of nations, others irresistably allure their Esteem: others excite their Envy or their Jealousy: and there are others that Summon up all their Hatred, Contempt, Malice and Rancour. It is only necessary to let loose a Single Word, to Stir up Armies, Navies and nations to unlimited Rage.
The Word Rebellion has been too often repeated from the Throne, and ecchoed from both Houses of Parliament: too often repeated in the Prayers of the Church; in News Papers and Pamphlets, in private Conversation, and in the dispatches of our Generals and Admirals, not to have had its full Effect. It has wrought this nation, out of “its old good nature, and its old good Humour” to borrow Expressions of Lord Clarendon, into a Degree of Inhumanity, that cool Posterity will condemn to Shame, and our Armies and Navies to a series of Cruelties, which will form an indellible Blott in <the> our History.
{ 585 }
The Americans were fully aware, before this War broke out, of all the Consequences of the Cry of Rebellion. Our Governors and other Crown officers took Care to instruct them in the Nature and the Punishment of Treason, by elaborate Descriptions and Deffinitions in the Newspapers. There was not a circumstance in the Punishment of Treason but what was laid before the Eyes of the People at large. But all this did not Succeed. Their Love of Liberty was stronger than death. They did not Want to be informed in the last Speech from the Throne:2 that the Authors of all rebellious Resistance, to repeal or reform the Laws, must terminate in their Destruction or in the overthrow of the Constitution. This very cry with which we have annimated ourselves and our Forces to pursue the War will opperate as an eternal Barrier to any Reconciliation short of Independence. The People know, that however plausible and Specious, our Pretensions may be, if they ever submit to the Kings Government again, if it were but for an Hour, they shall be construed into Rebells and Traitors, Characters that they more universally and justly disdain, than the People of any one of the three Kingdoms.
In the civil Wars that have happened in these Kingdoms, in that for Example, which prevailed from 1641 to 1660, it originated in a Contraversy between different Branches of our Legislature, and each having been an undoubted Part of our Constitution, the nation was nearly equally divided. The Clergy were divided tho the greater Part took side with the Court. The Lawyers were equally divided. And this has ever been the position of this nation nearly ballanced between the Court and Country Party, leaning Sometimes to one and Sometimes to the other, as the Constitution seemed to require.
But in America the Case was different. In all the Colonies the monarchical Part of their Constitutions, the Royal Governors, were generally little esteemed or confided in, by the Body of the People. The Aristocratical Part, their Councils, in those Colonies where they were elected by the Representatives, were esteemed only in Proportion as they conformed to the sentiments of the Representatives, in those where they were appointed by the Crown they were not esteemed at all, except by the few who flattered them in order to get offices and those in that Country, where Men and Estates were so divided, were an inconsiderable Number: The predominant Spirit then of every Colony has been from the Beginning democratical, and the Party that ever could be obtained to decide in favour of Councils, Governors, the Royal Authority or that of Parliament has ever been inconsiderable. The People ever stood by their Representatives. And { 586 } what is very remarkable, the Lawyers and Clergy have almost universally taken the same side.
This has been the popular Torrent, that like a River changing its bed, has irresistably born away every Thing before it. The Sentiments of this People therefore are not to be changed.

Britain changefull as a Child at Play

Now called in Princes and then drove away,3

because the nation was so equally divided that a little good or bad success, a little Prosperity or Distress, was sufficient by changing the sentiments or the Professions of a small Number to alter the Ballance.
But if in that Case any foreign Power had intervened, if France, had taken the Side of the Patriotic Party against the Royal Family, or that of the Court against the Country and sent over to this Island Sixty thousand Men and Fifty sail of Men of War to its assistance, what would have been the Consequence? It is most certain that it would have decided the Contraversy at once.
In the Case of America, the popular Party, had a Majority in every Colony So divided, that all the offices and Authority under the King, when the Period of the Revolution came to a Crisis, were hurried away before it like Leaves and Straws before the Hurricane. We have sent over more than Sixty thousand Men, and a great naval Force to assist the Small Party of Royalists humbled in the Dust in order to make a Ballance. Were they able to succeed? Did They ever produce the least Simptom of Doubt or Hesitation in the Body of the People of the final success of their Cause. But now by the Interposition of France and Spain, our Forces by sea and Land, are so employed, our Resources so exhausted, We have called off So much of our Force for the defence of the West India Islands, that our whole Force is inconsiderable. The French themselves have a sea Force there perhaps equal to ours, and a Land Force, which amounts to a Great deal. What have We then to expect? It is obvious to all Europe that France and Spain, or either of them have it in their Power to finish all our Hopes in North America, whenever they please, and compleat the Tryumph of the Patriotic Party there. And they have motives So urgent to do it, that We may depend upon it they will. Why then are We putting ourselves to an infinite Expence to keep New York and Charlestown? If We wait for the People to declare in our favour, We shall wait like the Jews, for a Messiah that will never come, or like the Countryman who waited for the last drops of the River. When { 587 } We see that even the Inhabitants of New York are distrusted by our Generals; when they dare not confide to them Ammunition or Arms. When We see that all our Acts and all our Terrors, added to all the Joys of our Partisans, and all the sorrows of the Patriots, could obtain only 210 Names to an Address out of 120 thousand Inhabitants in Carolina, and when Clinton himself tells Us that Parties were lingering in the Province, and Magistrates under the late Government endeavouring to execute the Laws?4 Do You suppose the great states of N. Carolina, Virginia and Maryland will be idle? Will not the Congress exert themselves to relieve Carolina and Georgia at the very Time, when the Spaniards are marching with slow but sure steps through the Floridas, and New York will be blocked up with a French Fleet. <De Guichen And Solano are> The combined naval armaments of Spain and France may be an overmatch for Rodney, Gibralter is suffering in heroic Patience, and D'Estaing putting <Geary><Darby> the channel Fleet and this Island in Danger.5

[salute] Finis

MS (Adams Papers); filmed at 7 Feb. 1780, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 351. The text fills two of four folio pages, with the first numbered “42” in red ink, probably by either Edmund Jenings or the printer. For a discussion of the nature of the manuscript sent to Edmund Jenings, see the Editorial Note (above). The fourth page has the following notations by Edmund Jenings: “See for Charlestown &c wherever it occurs. Letter marked B. Gen: A. Septr. 15. & look at all American News in Gen: Adv: particularly De Grasse &c Octr. 19.”; “East Florida is taken.”; and “See Johnson's Taxation Tyranny to apply passages wield feeble & ignominious weapon.” A fourth notation is so heavily canceled as to be unreadable.
Jenings' intentions regarding these notations are unclear, since no editorial changes apparently resulted from them. Nor can it be determined precisely when they were made, although their content would seem to indicate that they were done between mid-Aug. and late Oct. 1781. Jenings' changes in the last sentence of the manuscript may, however, indicate a date in late March or early April 1782 (see note 5). The first notation apparently refers to items appearing in Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer in Sept. and Oct. 1781. Although no complete run of the General Advertiser for that period has been found, Grasse did not leave France until March 1781, and other London newspapers for 19 Oct. 1781 contain an account of his entry into the Chesapeake Bay and the disembarking of the troops carried by his fleet (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 238–249; London Chronicle, 18– 20 Oct.). The second notation may be an inadvertence, since East Florida remained in British hands until the end of the war, whereas the capture of West Florida occurred on 8 May 1781 and was reported in the London newspapers in mid-August (London Chronicle, 11–14 Aug.). The third notation refers to Samuel Johnson's Taxation no Tyranny (London, 1775). That pamphlet, a sharp attack on the Continental Congress' adoption of a declaration of rights and grievances in 1775, was very much in accord with Galloway's views in Cool Thoughts. The passage “wield feeble & ignominious weapon” may be a quotation, but it does not appear in Johnson's pamphlet and has not been found elsewhere.
{ 588 }
1. Although this essay is linked to the previous eleven “Letters” responding to Galloway's Cool Thoughts, it is different in tone and substance from JA's previous efforts. It was likely inspired by George III's speech of 8 July proroguing Parliament (see note 2). JA apparently received an account of the speech on or about 22 July, the date of his letter to the president of Congress that commented on it (No. 98, calendared below), thus making this the only essay for which a date of composition can be determined with reasonable accuracy. More important, this “Letter” is less a reply to Galloway than it is a final, eloquent effort to remove the illusions that produced such works as Cool Thoughts and motivated the policies of George III and his ministers.
2. The remainder of this sentence is a paraphrase of the final sentence of George III's speech of 8 July, proroguing Parliament. In the speech as reported in Parliamentary Hist. (21:766–767) the sentence read: “Warn them [the members' constituents] of the hazard of innovation; point out to them the fatal consequences of such commotions as have lately been excited [the Gordon Riots]; and let it be your care to impress on their minds this important truth, that rebellious insurrections to resist, or to reform the laws, must end either in the destruction of the persons who make the attempt, or in the subversion of our free and happy constitution.”
Although JA does not quote from it, an earlier passage in the speech must have confirmed his view of the delusions under which the British government operated. There George III declared “the late important and prosperous turn of affairs in North America [the fall of Charleston], affords the fairest prospect of the returning loyalty and affection of my subjects in the colonies, and of their happy re-union with their parent country.”
3. The source of this passage has not been found.
4. In this sentence JA refers to three documents that appeared shortly after the British took Charleston: an address dated 5 June and “signed by 210 of the principal inhabitants,” an undated handbill, and a proclamation by Gen. Clinton issued on 22 May (London Courant, 10 July). The signers of the address appealed to Clinton for readmission “to the Character and Condition of British Subjects.” The handbill called on the able bodied men to join in the militia in order to put down “the small Rebel Parties that still linger at a Distance in the Province.” The proclamation required all subjects to assist in eliminating those who persisted in supporting the former rebel government.
5. The editorial changes made in this sentence are all by Jenings and may indicate that he worked on this essay on at least two widely separated occasions. Before Jenings made any changes this sentence read “De Guichen And Solano are an overmatch for Rodney, Gibraltar is suffering in heroic Patience, and D'Estaing putting Geary and this Island in Danger.” Jenings' first revisions probably came in the fall of 1780. In their issues on or about 23 Nov., London newspapers reported the arrival of Guichen's fleet at Cádiz on 23 October. On learning that Guichen was no longer in the West Indies, Jenings presumably deleted the passage referring to Guichen and Solano, the Spanish commander, and substituted “The combined naval armaments of Spain and France may be.” The first eight words of that passage were run over onto the blank page opposite the text. At the same time, or somewhat earlier, he may have deleted “Geary” and substituted “Darby the channel fleet.” This seems likely because Darby had replaced Geary as commander of the channel fleet at the beginning of September (Mackesy, War for America, p. 358–359). Jenings may have done no further work on the manuscript until late March or early April 1782 following the fall of the North ministry. At that point his last deletion, of “Darby,” would have been a response to the new Rockingham ministry's wholesale changes in its naval commanders, including the replacement of Darby with Adm. Richard Howe (same, p. 472).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0313

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1780-07-14

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] My dear sir

Have just received yours of the 9th and I thank you.
Waynes Agreement is thus explained. Gen. Arnold—Com. Jones, { 589 } and many other officers of the American Army and Navy, have all along made it a maxim that the whiggish young Gentlemen ought to convert the Tory young Ladies. Accordingly the genteelest Part of the officers of Boston and Philadelphia used to keep up an Acquaintance with several families which were suspected of disaffection, and used to hear the Tory Girls sputter Saucy things against Congress &c. This always gave offence to the stanch, and I suppose, that Wayne and Lee are about to put an End to it.
The consumed Charlestown is that which Burgoine burnt, near Boston.
I dont expect to get a Reputation as a Writer, by the things I send you1—I dont care a farthing about the Composition, but it has a good Effect here, to see such Things in the English Papers. But it has more Effect in America. Our Countrymen delight above all Things in these minute Investigations and are infinitely greedy after every thing of the Kind in the English Papers. They knock down Toryism with it. Our American People must have constantly something to think upon and talk about.
It will have some little Effect perhaps in England, tho not much. When it is too late they will recollect, some of these Things. I have never deceived the King, Ministry, nor People of England, nor their Governors, nor other servants in America. I have told them constantly these twenty Years, what would be the Consequences, of their unjust designs against America. And as if an Angel from Heaven had revealed to me, the secrets of futurity, my Predictions have been literally accomplished. I look back with astonishment and recollect, what I have said and wrote, which has been printed thro this Period, and compare it with the Events that have followed. One thing I confess I did not foresee, untill it was told me by a great Minister 18 months ago, the Union of the Northern Powers in our favour. This has been more favourable than I ever expected.
It is not, my friend that I have more Sagacity than any other, but because I was let into the secret of Affairs, earlier in Life than any others, by Such great Characters as Otis Thatcher and Mayhew,2 names that perhaps you little know. I wish I could find time to draw you their Pictures, and write their History. I dont know where to find greater or better Men, or Men who ever meant and wished better to G. Britain. But they all see deep enough into the system of Things and the Character of the K. and his Councillors and the Temper of the nation, to fear, that they would bring this Judgment upon themselves. They dreaded it, and all fell Sacrifices to it, as it is not { 590 } impossible that I may do, after them. But come what will I must do my duty.
I have written to you a great deal of vain idle stuff, which you will not expose. A Stranger in Europe, to every body, I thought it necessary to say things to you, which I am not much addicted to saying, and which I never say in Europe to any body else. I should be obliged to you if you would keep the Letters together, or burn them, that they may not fall into improper Hands.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “JA. July 14 1780.”
1. This letter probably contained the fifth part of JA's Translation of Thomas Pownall's Memorial and Nos. I and II of his “Letters from a Distinguished American.” For those writings, as well as the material enclosed by JA with his previous letter to Jenings of 8 July (Adams Papers), see the Editorial Notes at 19 April and 14 July (both above); and Edmund Jenings' letters of 15 July, and note 1; and 21 July, and note 3 (both below).
2. James Otis Jr., Oxenbridge Thacher Jr., and Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, whom JA had described as “Victims to the Enemies of their Country” in a letter of 31 Dec. 1772 to Catherine Macaulay (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:75).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0314

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1780-07-14

To the President of Congress, No. 92

Paris, 14 July 1780. Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 181–183). printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:857.
In this letter, read by Congress on 26 Dec., John Adams included reports from The Hague of 9 July indicating that the States General had appointed representatives to attend a congress at St. Petersburg for the implementation of the armed neutrality and that the new Spanish ambassador to the Netherlands had arrived. He then noted the numerous reports appearing in the English and European press concerning events in America, many of which he believed to be false or misleading, and the absence of any reliable information from America to counteract those reports. Adams called for the appointment of a secretary for foreign affairs who would send the congressional journals, American newspapers, and other information, declaring: “surely the Department of foreign Affairs is of Some Importance to the United States, and their most important Officers abroad ought not to be less informed, than every private Merchant.”
Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 181–183.)

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0315

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1780-07-15

To the President of Congress, No. 93

Paris,15 July 1780. Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 185–188) printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:859–860.
In this letter, read in Congress on 26 Dec., John Adams provided an account from St. Petersburg, probably from a French or Dutch newspaper (see the Gazette de Leyde of 11 July), of events in Russia pertaining to the armed neutrality. The report noted the expected arrival of Catherine II and the Austrian Emperor at St. Petersburg and that the Russian fleet at Cronstadt awaited only its final orders before sailing to enforce the armed { 591 } neutrality. Adams then included the preamble to Catherine II's ordinance of 19 May setting down the duties and responsibilities of her subjects in maintaining a strict Russian neutrality in the midst of the Anglo-French naval war, promising to send the full text later (to the president of Congress, 19 July, No. 96, calendared, below). Finally, Adams dismissed the possibility of an Anglo-Russian alliance and predicted that “England must come into the System of Rights preparing for Neutrals, or go to War with all the maritime Powers of the World.”
Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 185–188.)printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:859–860.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0316

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1780-07-15

To the President of Congress, No. 94

Paris, 15 July 1780. Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 193–195). printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:858.
In this letter, read by Congress on 26 Dec., John Adams included accounts, probably taken from French or Dutch newspapers (see the Gazette de Leyde of 11 July), from Constantinople, Stockholm, The Hague, and Hamburg. That from Constantinople reported a British blockade of a French merchant fleet in Turkish waters, a violation of Ottoman neutrality, and a subsequent battle between French and British forces that broke the blockade. The other reports concerned the measures being taken by Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark to enforce the armed neutrality.
Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 193–195.) printed: (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:858.)

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0317

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1780-07-15

To the President of Congress, No. 95

Paris, 15 July 1780. Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 197–199). printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:859.
In this letter, read by Congress on 26 Dec., John Adams sent a comparison of the strength, in ships of the line, of the British and French fleets in the West Indies that had appeared in the London newspapers. See the London Courant of 7 July.
Dupl, both text and signature in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 197–199.) printed: (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:859.)

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0318

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-15

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

I have receivd your Excellencys Translation into plain English of the Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe.1 I cannot but Admire the trouble, to which your Excellency has put yourself, in making intelligible the Obsolete and Phantastic Language of the Quondam Governor of Massachusets: but indeed the Matter of the Memorial is Excellent, and well deserves the Observations of the European World. I See from your Excellencys former Remarks on the Times, there is Nothing New in them to an American, who has had them, and much more in Contemplation during the Agitation of this Important Question. They shall be sent to England, whenever I can get a Safe { 592 } Conveyance and be Recommended to be published in the Most Advantageous Manner. The Letter to Mr. Wythe and the Report of the Convention &c. are sent, as is likewise the Character of Mr. Dana,2 but have not yet heard of their Receipt.
Two young Gentlemen, one I think of the Name of Gridley, passed through this Town the beginning of the Week, and gave us much Joy, on Account of a Report at Paris of a great Part of Walsinghams fleet being taken, and five ships of Greaves Squadron. I am Sorry the News has not yet been Confirmed by Your Excellency.
The English papers say, that Monsieur Guichen had Effected a Junction with Don Joseph Solano on the 4th of June. If true, we may expect good News from that Quarter—We want something to Comfort Us and humble our Ennemies.
Fresh Instances are given of the Corruption of England in the perjuries daily Committed at the Old Bailey3—I suppose that Gearys Squadron is by this Time returnd to Port—I Hope the Cadiz and the Brest Fleets will soon Join in full force. The West India fleet will be approaching the Channel in the Course of next Month. It is Large and Valuable; so much so, that being conducted into the Ports, we wish, they should be would well Compensate for all our disasters.
Has your Excellency seen the Observations on Lord G. Germains and Conways Speeches? They have been inserted in the general Advertizer under the Signature of Probus.
I have receivd four Letters containing the translated Memorial.

[salute] I am Sir your Excellencys Most faithful & Obedient Hble Servt.

[signed] Edm: Jenings
1. Jenings is replying to JA's letter of 8 July (Adams Papers), under cover of which, according to the next to last paragraph of this letter, JA had sent the first four parts of his reworking of Thomas Pownall's Memorial, London, 1780. The fifth and final part was presumably enclosed with JA's letter of 14 July (above), for Jenings acknowledged its arrival in his reply to that letter of 21 July (below). For the composition and publication of JA's revision, see A Translation of Thomas Pownall's Memorial, 19 April – [ca 14 July] (above).
2. No sketch of Francis Dana has been found, but for it and the other documents mentioned by Jenings, see his letter to JA of 9 July, and note 3 (above).
3. A reference to the continuing accounts of the trials of those arrested during the Gordon Riots that were being printed in the London newspapers at this time.
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/