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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0070

Author: Cooper, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-09-08

From Samuel Cooper

[salute] My dear Sir

Being Just inform'd of an opportunity of writing to you by the Way of Bilboa, I snatch my Pen, to give you a laconic Account of Things here. Last Monday1 all the Towns in this State assembled for Choice of a Governor, Lt. Governor, and Senators, according to the New Constitution, of the peaceable Establishment of which, I gave you some Account in my last.2 In this Town, for Governor Mr. S. Adams had 1 Vote; Mr. Bowdoin 64. Mr. Hancock 853. This last Gentleman, contrary to the Opinion of almost every one, had a large Majority of Votes even in the County of Essex, as well as thro the State, and will, there is no doubt, be the Governor of it. The Pleas employed in his Favor, were, the early, open, and decided Part he took in the Opposition to the oppressive Measures of Britain: the Risque he incurr'd by this of his Life and Fortune; the Employment of his Money for promoting the Revolution: To these Reasons it was added, that we ought to make it appear to the World that we are now the same People we were when the Contraversy began, by giving our first Honors to those who distinguish'd themselves at that Time, and that a contrary Conduct would disappoint our Friends in Europe, and gratify our Enemies. These Things were urged in Conversation and in Print. In short, the Popular Interest of Mr. H. appears from this Choice to be much greater in the State than even his Friends imagined. No Lieutenant Governor is like to be chosen by the People; in some Towns Mr. S. Adams has almost an unanimous Vote for that Office; in others Genl. Ward, Warren, &c.3
Arthur Lee arrived here some Weeks ago, and is still in Town. He has been much noticed by the principal Gentlemen among us: The { 135 } Captain of the Alliance, Landais, who brought Dr. Lee, did not hold his Command of that Ship thro the Voyage; It was either relinquished by him, or wrested from him. He treated the Dr., and all the Passengers brutally. A Court of Inquiry upon this Affair is now sitting: and among others the Dr. gave in to the Court a pointed Evidence against him, which finally imported that he must be insane.4
President Langdon has resigned the Chair of our University. Affairs in that Society are not yet settled.5 I had the Honor of waiting on Dr. Lee to Cambridge, and of introducing to Mrs. Dana. He seem'd pleased with every Thing he met with there.
The Chevalier de Ternay, soon after his Arrival with the Fleet from Brest at Newport, was blocked up by the British Squadron from New York, that had just been reinforced from England; at the same Time Clinton embarqued his Troops, and made an Appearance of coming thro the Sound to attempt R. Island. This gave an Opportunity of discovering the Alertness of our Militia, and their Zeal to act in Conjunction with our good Allies. At the Call of the Count Rochambeau, many thousands were soon on or near Rhode Island, which gave great Satisfaction to the General and Admiral France, and was very handsomely acknowledged by them. Clinton, however, never came down the Sound.6
We have lately reinforced Genl. Washington's Army at an high Bounty and Wages: This Reinforcement is only for six Months7—and as the British Fleet is still near Newport, unless Ternay is strengthned by the second Division from Brest, or from some other Quarter, in a short Time, all our Hopes from the present Campaign will vanish. Eighteen or twenty of the Fleet from England with Supplies for Canada, have been captured, chiefly if not wholly by the Cruizers from this State; an important Blow to the Enemy, and an happy Supply to ourselves.
Your last Letter to me is of the 23'd of Feby:8 The Account it gives of the Honors done to the Count D'Estaing is greatly pleasing to me, as I have the highest Opinion of that Commander; of his ardent, intrepid, enterprizing Spirit; and at the same Time, his Sagacity, Prudence, and Self Command. I have known Occasions wherein all these great Qualities have been remarkably displayed.
Col. Johonnot writes you by this opportunity;9 accept my renewed Thanks for your kind Care of my Boy;10 and remember me in the most respectful and affectionate Manner to Mr. Dana, and all Friends. With every Sentiment of Friendship and Respect, I am, Sir, Your obedient humble Servant
[signed] Saml: Cooper
{ 136 }
1. The remainder of this paragraph, with some minor editorial changes, was translated into French and printed in the Gazette de Leyde of 28 November.
2. Cooper presumably means his letter of 23 May, not that of 25 July, which did not mention the Massachusetts Constitution (both above).
3. The minutes of the Boston town meeting held on 4 Sept. show that John Hancock received 858 votes rather than the 853 indicated by Cooper. In the election for lieutenant governor, the leading Boston vote getters were Jeremiah Powell with 167 votes out of the 339 cast, Thomas Cushing with 49 and James Bowdoin with 30 votes. Among the other candidates, Artemas Ward received 14 votes and James Warren only 1 (Boston Record Commissioners, Reports, 26:150–151). When no one received a majority of the votes for lieutenant governor in statewide balloting and James Bowdoin refused to serve under John Hancock, the House of Representatives chose Thomas Cushing (Stephen E. Patterson, Political Parties in Revolutionary Massachusetts, Madison, 1973, p. 246–247).
4. As a result of the court of inquiry, which recommended his court martial, the Navy Board for the Eastern Department suspended Pierre Landais from the command of the Alliance on 18 Sept. (PCC, No. 193, II, f. 747). For the proceedings of Landais' court martial, which lasted from 20 Nov. 1780 to 6 Jan. 1781 and resulted in his dismissal from the navy, see same, I, f. 451–596.
5. Samuel Langdon had resigned on 30 Aug., but the severe financial problems faced by Harvard College delayed the installation of Joseph Willard as president until 19 Dec. 1781 (Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 10:521–523; 16:256).
6. For Clinton's failure to attack the French and American forces at Newport, see Mackesy, War for America, p. 346–349.
7. For the “Resolves for raising 3,934 six-months' men for reinforcing the Continental Army,” see Mass., Province Laws, 21:519–524.
8. Vol. 8:355.
9. Of 8 Sept. (below).
10. His grandson Samuel Cooper Johonnot.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0071

Author: Dana, Francis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-09-08

From Francis Dana
(No. 5.)1

[salute] Dear Sir

I had the pleasure of your's of the 30th. of last month, on the 4th. instant but my eyes being again in a bad state, and being otherwise unwell, I desired Mr. Thaxter to acknowledge the receipt of yours.2 My first misfortune I have not yet intirely recovered from nor do I expect it, till I shall be able wholly to lay aside both the book and the pen, for a considerable length of time. I had begun upon the business you mentioned sometime before your departure,3 and had made considerable progress in it, but my eyes have obliged me to stop short of my purpose. This misfortune (without a pun) frequently casts a gloomy shade over my future prospects. 'Tis really the source of much melancholy contemplation: but I will trouble you no more with it.
Mr. Thaxter communicated to you all our intelligence of a public nature, but as this letter will be handed to you by Mr. Austin, who sets off to morrow evening for Amsterdam, I shall communicate some other parts of Mr.——letter to me.4 “You doubtless know that Mr: { 137 } Cumberland, one of Ld. George Germain's Secretaries, has been here sometime—His mission as well as admission, has given room to many conjectures.5 I am not apprehensive that Spain will make a seperate Peace; but I by no means think it prudent to receive the Spies of Britain into their Capital, and even into their Palaces. There are a great many wheels in our business, and the machine wont move easily, unless the great wheel be turned by the Waters of the Mississipi, which I neither believe, or wish will be the Case. Successes in America wou'd give it motion.” “My Adventurers” (you well understand him here) “are in a most perilous suspence. God grant them a happy deliverance.”6 You will want no Comments upon these Texts. I shall only say, Spain having secured to herself a free Commerce with America, hath now nothing to ask of her. Behold the effects of precipitate concession!7 If a young politician of a young Country, might presume to give his opinion upon matters of such high importance, he wou'd say, that shou'd America in the end, feel herself constrained to comply with the claims of Spain, that alone wou'd be cause of bringing on the exstinction of the Spanish Dominion on the East of the great River; As a Spaniard therefore he shou'd think it unsafe, and highly impolitic, to urge the claim, or even to accept of the exclusive right. It is to be hoped that the late important success of the combined Fleets over the Commerce of Britain, will not only teach them that similar ones are easily to be obtained, but that they are also among the most eligible, as they most effectually distress and disenable the common Enemy. Such however is the force of habit, that he who shou'd urge such policy, might be told, you are but of yesterday, and know nothing.
I am happy to learn you spend your time so agreably in Amsterdam, and find so much good will to our Cause and Country; and I lament with you that our worthy Friend8 has not arrived there. Ministers at the Courts you mention, wou'd doubtless render the Councils and Influence of our Country, more extensive and more independent; but these are things rather to be wished for than expected.
I am glad to hear you have my form of our Constitution: when you have done with it, please to forward it by the first private hand. I have a letter from that worthy character Judge Sargeant; among other things he says. “In the course of our travelling we have the pleasure to find a remarkable Candour in the people with respect to the new form of Government, excepting the 3d. article about Religion. There will be, as far as we can learn, almost an unanimous vote in favor of it; and more than 2/3ds in favor of that. This appears to be the case { 138 } at the Westward and Southward; and in the middle Counties where we have been; and the eastward Counties, were always in that disposition.”9 Thus, Sir, I hope we shall have cause to rejoice in the candour and good sense of our Countreymen, and in seeing them happy under a generous and free Constitution of Government.
I am, dear Sir, with much respect and esteem your much obliged Friend and obedient humble Servant
[signed] FRA DANA
P.S. My Love to the Children—mon Fils10 seems to have forgotten me.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr. Dana Sept. 8.”; docketed by CFA: “1780.”
1. Dana numbered his Letterbook copies, but except for this letter, did not number the recipient's copies of his letters to JA (MHi: Francis Dana Letterbook). This is the fifth letter since Dana's of 31 July (above).
2. Thaxter's letter was dated 4 Sept. and included a passage from John Jay's letter of 19 Aug. to Francis Dana (see note 4) in which Jay commented on Henry Laurens' mission. Thaxter also related the news of the Franco Spanish capture of a British convoy going to the East and West Indies and asked JA what his plans were for returning to Paris (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:411–412).
3. The task undertaken by Dana has not been identified.
4. The quotation below, together with that in John Thaxter's letter of 4 Sept. (see note 2), comprise approximately one third of John Jay's letter of 19 August. The rest of Jay's letter consists of comments on American and European affairs and an expression of satisfaction that JA had gone to the Netherlands (MHi: Dana Papers).
5. For the Hussey-Cumberland mission, see JA to Edmund Jenings, 29 May, note 4 (above).
6. Although Dana and JA may have divined Jay's meaning here, the editors have been unable to do so.
7. Since Spain enjoyed unrestricted trade with the United States without a treaty, a “precipitate concession,” there was little incentive to conclude one, particularly if it meant making concessions regarding western lands or the free navigation of the Mississippi River. The situation was somewhat similar to that which existed after the war in regard to British trade with the United States and which doomed JA's efforts to negotiate an Anglo-American commercial treaty. But compare Dana's statement here with JA's in his letters of 8 April to William Carmichael, and note 3; and 13 April to William Lee, and note 3 (both above).
8. Henry Laurens.
9. This quotation is probably taken from Nathanael Peaslee Sargeant's letter of 26 May (not found), which Dana answered on 22 Sept. (MHi: Francis Dana Letterbook). Sargeant referred to Art. III of the “Declaration of Rights,” which provided for public support of religion. Not drafted by JA, it was the most controversial article in the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 (vol. 8:238, 262–263).
10. CA.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.