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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10


Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0063-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-09-03

C. W. F. Dumas to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] sir

I congratulate you with all my heart on the good news that we have received of the capture of the English East and West Indian fleets by the combined French and Spanish fleets. Take this as a happy portent of the exploits of De Ternay, Rochambeau, De Guichen, and Solano. I would like to be at this moment Fama from my favorite Virgil: pernicibus alis hoc ipsa nocte volarem caeli medis, terraque per umbram stridens, nec dulci declinarem lumina somno; Luce sederem turribus altis America, gaudens hinc, veri nuncius, recreans fratres, inde territans tyranos.1
I have seen with great pleasure the article in the gazette concerning the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of which you are a distinguished member, and also that on the American Philosophical Society.2
So far I have waited in vain to be honored by the letters that you promised when we parted at Leyden. I would appreciate knowing a few days in advance when you plan to return to this quarter, so that I will be in town and able to meet you at Leyden. There is a Dutch gentleman, a friend of America, whom I have inspired with a desire to meet you and who has asked me to bring you to dinner at his country house, which is only two leagues from here. Upon receiving my note he will send his carriage for us, either at The Hague or at Leyden. He has promised me that you will remain unknown to the rest of his family.3
I hope, sir, that you are enjoying perfect health and the many pleasures of Amsterdam with your sons, whom I and my family embrace with all our hearts. I would be delighted to learn what you think of your stay in Amsterdam. The States of Holland will meet here on the day after tomorrow and at first glance it appears that nothing of importance will occur in the assembly. Our Anglomanes, in an effort to console themselves over the latest disaster, will rehash their old stories of an imminent Anglo-American reconciliation.
My wife sends her regards. I am with great respect, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant.
[signed] Dumas
{ 125 }
1. The Latin is Dumas' adaptation of Virgil, aeneid 4. 180-187, and reads: on swift wings would I fly on this very night, shrieking through the gloom mid-way between heaven and earth, nor would I let my eyes rest in sweet sleep. By day I would sit on America's high towers, finding joy in this, a messenger of truth and refreshment to my comrades, so bringing terror to tyrants.
2. Dumas is probably referring to the article in the Gazette de Leyde of 29 Aug., but see JA's letter of 22 Aug. to Jean Luzac, and note 2 (above).
3. The discreet Dutchman has not been identified, nor is there any indication in later letters that the proposed meeting took place.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0064

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-09-04

To the President of Congress, No. 5

Amsterdam, 4 Sept. 1780. RC (MdHi: Gilmor Papers).
A note attached to this letter by Robert Gilmor, a Baltimore merchant, indicates that he received it from Jared Sparks on 24 Dec. 1827. printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:45. In this letter, received by Congress on 3 Dec., John Adams sent the substance of London newspaper reports regarding the captures, on 9 Aug. and 12 July respectively, of large portions of the British convoys bound to the East and West Indies and to Quebec.
RC (MdHi: Gilmor Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0065

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Date: 1780-09-05

To C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] dear Sir

I have this moment the Pleasure of yours of the 3d instant, and I thank you for your kind Congratulations on the glorious News of the Capture of the British Fleets for the East and West Indies, by the combined Fleets of France and Spain. The Value of the Property the Number of Soldiers and Seamen, and especially the Dissappointment to the English Fleets and Armies, in the East and West Indies and in North America, give a great Importance to this Event—But when We consider it, as a Precedent, it is more interesting Still. This is the only wise Method of Warring with Great Britain. When France and Spain shall adopt the Policy, of convoying their own Commerce and cruising for that of the Ennemy, this War will Soon be brought to a Conclusion. Such a capital Success, in one of their first Essays will be likely to convince the two Courts, as well as their marine officers, of the Utility of this measure and induce them to pursue it, which I wish with all my Heart.
America would rejoice at your News, as well as at the Sight of the Messenger: but by a Letter from London of the 29th, it Seems that her own Cruisers have done a Similar favour to the Quebec Fleet.1
Two Vessells are arrived here one from Virginia and one from Philadelphia. Their Accounts are favourable. Kniphausen has been defeated in the Jersies, and has retreated to New York, as you will See by the Letters of General Washington and Green.2
{ 126 }
I saw with Pleasure the Revival of the American Philosophical Society at Philadelphia, and the Establishment of an Academy of Arts and Sciences at Boston. In a new Country, and a young Society Such Institutions are perhaps more usefull and necessary, than in older nations. But in order to render them more usefull to the World, would it not be proper to promote Some Connection and Correspondence, between them and the Academies of Europe. Would it be unworthy of any Academy in Europe to send, these infant Societies a set of their printed Memoirs or Transactions? Science, and Literature are of no Party nor Nation, they belong to the Great Commonwealth of Mankind. I hope that one of the first Objects of the new Societies in America, will be the formation of botanical Gardens, and Collections of the Birds, Beasts and Fishes as well as Trees, and Plants which are peculiar to that Country in order to a natural History of it. An ample field this.
I am very happy, sir, at Amsterdam—and uncertain when I shall leave it. When I return I promise myself the Pleasure of Seeing you, at the Hague, but I shall be likely to come upon you by surprize.
Is it not wonderfull, that it does not occur to the Friends of England, in the United Provinces, that the best Method they can take to shew their Friendship to her is to convince her of her Error. She is rushing like a madman down a Precipice. Is it Humanity or Friendship to Spur her on?
I am amazed that Avarice itself does not Stimulate the Misers who lend her Money, to Stop their Hands. If this War is continued but two Years longer, these Misers will loose their Money. The only Chance English Credit has for Salvation is to stop short, make Peace, acknowledge American Independance and Secure as great a share as they can of American Commerce before it becomes established in other Channels. In two years more, it will import little to American Commerce whether Great Britain exists or not.
Can it be Friendship to England, to fill the Universe with the most abominable Lies in order to keep up a false Idea of her Power, and the Weakness of America?
I am sir, with Sincere Esteem, your Friend and most obedient servant.
1. JA is referring to Thomas Digges' letter of 29 Aug. (and note 5, above). JA had acknowledged that letter and one of 25 Aug. (above) in a brief note dated 4 Sept. (LbC, Adams Papers).
2. See JA's letter of 2 Sept. to Francis Dana (above).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/