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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0092

Author: Digges, Thomas
Author: Church, William Singleton
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-09-20

From Thomas Digges

[salute] Dr. Sir

A Servant of the De Neufvilles going to Amsterdam early in the morning gives me an opportunity of sending a letter to you for Mr. Ridley1 in Maryland which I beg you to give to the first safe hand bound to America.
We are still without any authentic accounts from N. York or the quarters of the British Army tho the general Town report is that Ministry have been some days in possession of bad accounts from Sir H. Clinton. Many people are possessd of an opinion that Ternays fleet with an Army of French and Americans are to opperate against Hallifax and this opinion arrises from an account said to be transmitted from Sir Jo Yorke about a week ago, which He discoverd by some Emissarys in France.2 I have had opportunitys lately in doing the business for the Cartel to Bristol which brought over Mr. Temple to discover a little of the disposition in the Office of Admiralty and board of Sick and Hurt, and I discover a wonderful alteration this two months. They are much more civil than usual and discover many tokens to indicate they look upon their affairs in America in a very bad way indeed—Last week, they could not think of releasing on any account one or more Rebels from Prison to stand against those parole prisoners who came over in the Flag to Bristol—To day on an application for Capn. Manlys release (to stand against a Capn. Scott of the Golden Eagle Privateer taken in June by the Pickering American { 167 } Privateer and carryd into <Boston> Bilboa) they say it certainly shall be granted and that orders shall be sent down for his discharge in a day or two, so that I hope you may see Him in a few days.3
We are still in the bustle of Elections. There is a more than usual cry out from all partys against the American War—some ministerial Candidates have addressd their Electors on that score—this theme must be given them from the older hounds of the pack or they would hardly venture to nose it. The Cry however is very general “Our evils have all arisen from the American War. We shall be ruind if it is not put a stop to &ca. &ca.” Many people are of opinion, and speak it out, that the Cabinet have determind to abandon it and get the Troops away as well as they can. Some folks, on the side of ministry too, go so far as to say that they would give it up directly could they bargain with Amca. to hold possession of the Ports of N. York, Chas. Town &ca. for a little while, a few Years only, and these ports to be equally open and free to Ama., in order that by holding them they might prevent the French and Spaniards from Possessing all the Wt. Inda. Islands, but this is only talk, and they better talk not about possessing Ports if they really mean to get peace with Ama. I may be sanguine, but I really think their fears have put them very near making some proffers for peace with America.
A Privateer is arrived in a short time from the mouth of the Tagus and has given an account that there was an Embargo laid there on all English vessels. The news is not relishd in the City at all as the affairs of Europe indicate that Portugal if she is obligd to declare at all will join the side of Bourbon. The Portugue Envoy set out yesterday for Lisbon but I believe He only goes on his private affairs. The Envoy from His Court at the Hague is arrivd here to be in his place till his return to England. This departure of the Envoy happening at the same period with the account of the Embargo is much talkd of and supposd by many to prognosticate a War between England and Portugal.4 I am obligd to break off hastily the person waiting for my letter.
I am with the highest regard Yrs.
[signed] WS.C
Mr. Ap——l——ns best Compliments.5
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mr. J. A to the care of Mr De Neufville”; endorsed: “W. S. Church 20. Septr. 1780.”
1. For Matthew Ridley, see vol. 7:85.
2. See the London Chronicle of 14–16 September.
3. Despite Digges' optimism, the effort by Robert Temple and himself to obtain Capt. John Manley's exchange was unsuccessful, for Manley was not freed until 16 Oct. 1781 (Marion and Jack Kaminkow, Mariners of the { 168 } American Revolution, Baltimore, 1967, p. 127), but see also Digges, Letters, p. 279.
4. The report of the embargo was received on 20 Sept., but was almost immediately discounted as being “premature” (London Courant, 21 Sept.; London Chronicle, 19–21 Sept.). Luíz Pinto de Balsamão, the Portuguese minister, left London for Falmouth on 20 Sept. and was replaced by the Portuguese envoy to the Netherlands, Agosto Antonio de Souza Holstein (London Courant, 21 Sept.; Repertorium der diplomatischen Vertreter aller Länder, p. 317, 318). The reassignment of Souza Holstein seems to indicate that Balsamão was to be away for an extended period, but by 14 Oct. he had returned to the legation in London, never having proceeded farther than Falmouth. According to the newspaper report he had been called back “by Government on some important remonstrance, now on the tapis” (London Chronicle, 12–14 Oct.).
5. For John Appleton, see Jonathan Williams' letter of 23 May, note 2.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0093

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, William
Date: 1780-09-21

To William Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

Your favour of the 10th. is <just come to Hand> yet unanswered. I am fully of your opinion, that the British Cabinet are determined on a Prosecution of the War. It is not So much the Demands of America perhaps, as those of France and Spain which decide them. The English are not yet enough humbled to give up Gibraltar and the Floridas to Spain; and Liberty to Dunkirk and a more ample Extension to the Fishery on the Grand Bank to France, in Addition to American Independance: Nor are France and Spain So tired of the War, as to agree to less. Nor can the English yet think of free ships free Goods. Yet in all human Probability, if the War continues every year will add fresh demands, upon England.
The Dutch Gazetteers in general are not fond of Selecting News unfavourable to England. The Reason I Suppose is that it is not profitable.
I wish, for my own Part that Congress had a Minister at the Court of every maritime Power, and at Berlin and Vienna too. But the Expence of maintaining them is I assure you, a Serious Affair at present. Congress cannot remit to Europe: and they have not yet been able to borrow, in Europe enough to procure Cloaths and Arms and Stores for their Troops.
The Plan on which St. Thomas's is a free Port, I am not able at present to send you. Two Sensible Friends of mine from Boston who came directly from Copenhagen inform me that they there learn'd this Intelligence, but no particulars of the Plan.
I am happy to find that the Constitution of Mass. has your Approbation. I have a kind of Mixture of parental Affection and filial Veneration for it. You will See it, at large in the Leyden Gazette, in Time.
{ 169 }
Mr. Adams's2 Reason for declining to Serve the Town of Boston was good. He was going to Congress, intending to Spend the Year there; and therefore could not serve the Town. <H>We <do> ought not to hold the Doctrine of Sinecures, honorary or lucrative, in <the Mass.> America. I have myself once resigned a Seat in Council, and at another Time the Office of Chief Justice of the State, for the Same Reason, vizt because my Constituents would not excuse me from Serving in Congress, and I was determined I would not hold Offices at four hundred Miles distance from the Duties of them and deprive the public, by this means, of the services of others. When Mr. Adams returns from Congress at the End of the Year, he will be again chosen by the Town and then, if he designs to stay at home he will serve. But this you may depend upon that whether at Philadelphia, or at Boston, in Congress or in Council, or senate or House of Representatives, all his Time and Thoughts will be employed in the service of the Cause.
<There are, who have Served this Cause, through every Danger and at every Expence, for a long Course of Years. These I agree with you, understand the Subject better and are more to be depended on, than Some others, who are younger in the service and who instead of Sacrificing have made Fortunes by it. But We are not to expect, that these will always preserve their Influence. We ought to be prepared to meet the Neglect, the Contempt and even the Hatred of those We have devoted our Health, Liberty Fortune and Lives to serve. I know of no other Security, which a Man in public Service in <popular> any Government has, for his Happiness.>
1. The cancelations here and in the first sentence indicate this letter was written on 12 September. The blank page following it in the Letterbook suggests that JA put it aside with the intention of writing more, perhaps expanding on the views expressed in the canceled passage at the end of the letter. For the points made by JA in this letter, which are in direct response to those raised by Lee in his of 10 Sept., see that letter and notes (above).
2. Samuel Adams.
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.