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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0010

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, William
Date: 1780-07-20

To William Lee

[salute] Dear sir

Yours of the 8th I received in due Course of Post. The Letter from Clinton,1 arrived first at L'orient, in a Phyladelphia Newspaper, which had been sent to Mr. Jay. Mr. Wharton I think copied it and sent it to Dr. Franklin, who communicated it. Soon after it appeared in { 15 } Boston and other Newspapers without a hint of its Want of Authenticity. Within a few days past, I have seen a Gentleman from America, who says it was a mere Jeu d'Esprit; written by an officer in the Army, upon the North river. I have been all along afraid that our Countrymen, would at length imitate their Ennemies, in this Kind of Imposition, and always thought that whenever they did, they would be ingenious at it. It must be agreed this is ingeniously done, and conveys a great deal of Solid Truth and important Instruction, under this fiction. Yet I cannot think the Ingenuity of it a Justification or Excuse. We have no need of such Aids as political Lyes. Our Character for Truth, sincerity and Candor, is more real Strength, than ever can be derived from Such Impostures however artfully performed. The Influence this Practice has upon the World in destroying Confidence, and in poisoning the morals of the People, the pure and <sole fountain> Single Source of which is Truth, ought to induce Us to discountenance the Practice by all means. The Liberty of the Press by No means includes a Right of imposing upon Mankind by such detestable Forgeries. I cannot therefore think that the Reflection you quote from the Newspaper, was too severe. All that We can do is, to write to congress and beseech them to suppress such Practices. The signature of Charles Thompson, hitherto Sacred, will no longer be credited if something is not done to discountenance, such abuses.
Don Solano has not returned to Cadiz, but what will be done in the West Indies, Time alone can discover. Whether, Mr. De Ternay, will go to the W. Indies, stay in America, or come to Europe I know not. I have not contented myself with giving my sentiments of what ought to be done, by Word of mouth, but I have stated it in Writing with my Reasons at large to more than one Minister,2 and of All this I shall inform Congress in detail, who will see, and judge who is right.
You Say that a Speedy Peace is not at present in your View. This is so far from being surprizing to me that I wonder you should ever have had any pleasing prospects of Peace, from the Ennemys suffering some capital Loss in the W. Indies. They are in such a sulky, mulish, suicidical temper, that they would not make Peace if you took every Island they have. This is my opinion. The Suppression of the Riots, Committees associations Correspondences and all, have given Ministry more giddy Confidence than even the taking of Charlestown. I fear America, must reconcile herself to the thought of growing up, in the midst of War, and find her Resources in Patience, Labour and Oeconomy, where she may have them in Sufficient Abundance. I have the Honour to be &c.
{ 16 }
1. For the forged letter from Gen. Henry Clinton and a brief history of its publication, see JA's letter of 21 May to C. W. F. Dumas, and note 1 (above).
2. That is, Vergennes and Gabriel de Sartine. See JA's letter of 13 July to Vergennes, and note 1 (above); and Vergennes' reply of the 20th (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0011

The Dispute with the Comte de Vergennes


PartCode: M

PartNo: 2

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0011-0001

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0011-0001-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-20

From the Comte de Vergennes

J'ai reçu, Monsieur, la lettre que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'écrire le 13. de ce mois. Je suis très sensible à la confiance avec laquelle vous m'avez communiqué vos idées sur la position actüelle des Etats-unis, et sur le besoin qu'ils ont de l'assistance immédiate de quelques Vaisseaux de ligne et frégates. M. le chev. de Ternay et M. le Cte. de Rochambau ont été expédiés précisément dans la vüe qui fait l'objet de votre lettre; ils concerteront leurs opérations avec le Congrès et M Washington; et comme le Roi ne leur a rien préscrit sur leur retour en Europe, et qu'au contraire il leur a laissé la liberté d'agir selon qu'ils le jugeront utile pour le soulagement des Etatsunis, il y a tout lieu de croire qu'ils prendront leur station, durant l'hiver prochain, dans l'Amérique septentrionale si cela convient au Congrès, et qu'ils emploïeront les Vaisseaux et les Troupes qui sont sous leur commandement, selon le plan qui aura été arrêté entr'eux et les généraux Américains.
Vous jugerez par ces détails, Monsieur, que le Roi est bien eloigné d'abandonner la cause Américaine, et que sa Majesté sans avoir été sollicité par le Congrès, a pris au contraire des mesures efficaces pour la soutenir: je me flatte, Monsieur, que des procédés aussi généreux seront sentir en Amérique, et qu'ils y prévaudront sur les mensonges que l'Ennemi commun et ses lâches adhérents y repandent pour rendre la france suspecte, et pour conduire le peuple Américain à prendre des resolutions qui consommeroient son asservissement et son déshonneur.
J'ai l'honneur d'être très parfaitement, Monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur,
[signed] De Vergennes

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0011-0001-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-20

The Comte de Vergennes to John Adams: A Translation

I have received, sir, the letter that you did me the honor to write on the 13th of this month. I am very sensible of the confidence with which you have communicated your ideas on the present situation of the United States, { 17 } and their need for the immediate assistance of some ships of the line and frigates. The Chevalier de Ternay and the Comte de Rochambeau have been sent precisely for the purpose that is the object of your letter. They will co-ordinate their operations with Congress and Mr. Washington. And as the King has given them no precise orders regarding their return to Europe, but has left them at liberty to act as they shall judge proper for the relief of the United States, there is every reason to believe that next winter they will take their station in North America, if that shall be agreeable to Congress, and will employ the ships and troops under their command according to the plan that shall be settled between them and the American generals.
You will see from these details, sir, that the King is far from abandoning the American cause and that his majesty, without having been solicited by Congress, has taken effectual measures to sustain it. I flatter myself, sir, that such generous conduct will be appreciated in America and prevail over the falsehoods spread by the common enemy and its wicked adherents in order to render France suspect, and induce the American people to take resolutions which will consummate their slavery and dishonor.

[salute] I have the honor to be most perfectly, sir your very humble and very obedient servant.

[signed] De Vergennes
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “M. Le Cte. De Vergennes 20 July 1780”; notation by CFA: “See Dipl. Corresp. Vol. 5. p. 278.” CFA's reference is to Jared Sparks, ed., Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0011-0002

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1780-07-21

To the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

I have receiv'd the letter you did me the honor to write me yesterday; and am extreamly sensible of your Excellency's Confidence in communicating to me, the destination of the Armament under M. Le Chevr. de Ternay and M. Le Comte de Rochambau, and the probability that the Ships will winter in North America.
I assure your Excellency, that scarcely any News I ever heard, gave me more satisfaction; and nothing, in my opinion, can afford a more effectual Assistance to America, or make a deeper, or more grateful Impression, on the Minds of her Inhabitants.
I am infinitely mistaken if the Service of the King in the Conduct of the War, both in the West Indies and North America, does not derive such essential Advantages from this Measure, as will demonstrate its Wisdom to all the World, as well as to the English and the Americans, the King's determined Benevolence to the American Cause. I have the honour to be with the greatest Respect Your Excellency's Most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
{ 18 }
RC in Francis Dana's hand (PCC, Misc. Papers, Reel 1, f. 105–107); endorsed on the first page: “reflexion qu'il fait Sur la destination de M. de Ternay et de M. de Rochambeau”; additional notation: “No. 9.”; docketed by Congress: “N 9 J Adams to Vergennes July 27. 1780.” This date likely refers to JA's letter to Vergennes of that date (below), which was an additional reply to Vergennes' letter of the 20th (above). For the presence of this letter in the PCC, see the Editorial Note, 13–29 July (above).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.