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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

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.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0072

Author: Johonnot, Gabriel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-09-08

From Gabriel Johonnot

[salute] Sir

I Received your letter by the Frigate Alliance bearing date the 23d. Feby. last,1 Inclosing an Account of my son's Expences, on his Journey from Ferrol in Spain to Paris, and feel myself not a little Affected, that you should Intimate the most distant Idea, of the Necessity of { 139 } a Voucher for your Account. I could wish to be held in that view with you Sir, that not only every Expence you may be at, should be cheerfully repaid, but that I feel a most Gratefull sense of your Attention to my Child, and shall not fail in every Instance in my power fully to Manifest it.
By the Briggantine Pallas which sailed from this Port in June last, on board which Vessell I fully Intended to Embark for Europe, but fortunately as Circumstances are was prevented, and consequently saved myself from falling into the Enemies hands, as she was captured soon after sailing, by her to the care of Mr: Warren,2 I wrote you and Enclosed a bill for 600 livres, but as that Gentleman still remains with the British Admiral Edwards, who has Invited him to go to Europe in his ship, and it will probably be a long time before he gets over to France, I have herein Enclosed a second bill of the same sett, for Six Hundred livres, and a first bill of Another sett, for three Hundred livres, which I presume will be sufficient untill I have the Honor of seeing you, which I promise myself will be very soon, as I understand the Hermione Frigate has Orders to be in Readiness to go to Europe on the Shortest Notice. I go to Newport in a day or two to Obtain a Passage in her. Should any thing either prevent my going in her or her not going I will Embrace the first Opportunity to remit.3
I have Inclosed the Papers for several Weeks Past which will Inform you of every Intelligence worthy Notice.
I am with the Highest Esteem & Respect Your Most Obedient Most Hble: Servt:
[signed] Gabl: Johonnot
1. For this letter (LbC, Adams Papers), see JA's letter to Samuel Cooper of 23 Feb., and note 1 (vol. 8:355–356).
2. For Winslow Warren's capture on the privateer Pallas, see Mercy Otis Warren's letter of 8 May, and note 2 (above).
3. No further letters from Gabriel Johonnot have been found, but he did not embark on the French frigate Hermione. Samuel Cooper's letter of 9 Feb. 1780 [i.e. 1781] states that Johonnot was about to sail on the Continental frigate Alliance (Adams Papers).
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, 2017.