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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0117-0015

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Calkoen, Hendrik
Date: 1780-10-26

14. To Hendrik Calkoen

Letter 14

[salute] Sir

The fourteenth Question is “What is the Quantity of Paper Money in Circulation? What Credit, the Inhabitants have for it, in their daily Business? What designs the Inhabitants have by maintaining its Credit? What by preventing its Increase? and in what manner do they realize it?”
The Quantity of Paper Bills, in Circulation on the 18 of March last, was Two hundred millions of Paper Dollars.
The Congress then Stated the Value of it, upon an average, at forty for one, amounting in the whole to five millions of silver Dollars, or one Million and a quarter sterling. This they did by resolving to receive one silver Dollar, in Lieu of forty Paper ones, in the Payment of Taxes. This was probably allowing more than the full Value for the Paper, because by all Accounts the Bills passed from hand to hand in private Transactions at Sixty or seventy for one.
The Designs of the Inhabitants, in preserving its Credit, as much as they can are very good and laudable. The Designs are that they may have a fixed and certain Medium both for external and internal Commerce. That every Man May have an equal Profit from his Industry, and for his Commodities. That private and publick Debts may be justly paid, and that every Man may pay an equal and proportional share of the Public Expences.
And this is their Design in preventing its Increase: because it is { 238 } impossible, if the Quantity is increased to prevent the Depreciation of the whole in Circulation.
They realize it, in various Ways. Some have lent it to the Public, and received Loan Office Certificates for it, upon Interest, which are to be paid in Proportion to their Value in Silver at the Time of their Dates.
Some Purchase with it the Produce of the Country, which they export to the West Indies and to Europe, and by this means supply, the French and Spanish Fleets and Armies, both upon the Continent of America and in the West India Islands. Others Purchase Merchandizes imported with it. Others purchase Bills of Exchange upon France, Spain, &c. Others purchase silver and Gold with it—and others Purchase Houses and Lands. Others have paid their Debts with it, to such a degree, that the People of America, were never so little in debt, in their private Capacities as at present.
I have the Honour to be &c.
[signed] John Adams
Dft (Adams Papers); notation: “Letter 14.”

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0117-0016

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Calkoen, Hendrik
Date: 1780-10-26

15. To Hendrik Calkoen

Letter 15th.

[salute] Sir

Your fifteenth Quaere is “Does not the English Army, lay out its Pay, in America? at how much can the Yearly benefit be calculated? Are not the Prisoners, provided for in America? Who has the Care of their Maintenance? How was Burgoines Army supplied?”

When the English Army, was in Boston, they bought all that they could, and left considerable Sums there in silver and Gold. So they did at Rhode Island. Since they have been in New York, they have purchased every Thing they could of Provisions and Fuel, on Long Island, staten Island, New York Island, and in those Parts of the states of New York and New Jersey where they have been able to carry on any clandestine Trafick.
When they were in Philadelphia, they did the Same, and General How tells you, that he suspects that General Washington from Political Motives connived at the Peoples supplying Philadelphia, in order essentially to serve his Country, by insinuating into it, large { 239 } sums of silver and Gold.1 They are doing the Same now, more or less in South Carolina and Georgia, and they cant go into any Part of America, without doing the Same.
The British Prisoners, in the Hands of the Americans, receive their Cloathing chiefly from the English, and Flaggs of Truce are permitted to come out from their Lines, for this Purpose. They receive their Pay also from their Master, and Spend the most of it where they are. They also purchase Provisions in the Country and pay for it in hard Money.
I am not able to ascertain exactly the Yearly Benefit, but it must be considerable, and the Addition now of a French Fleet and Army, to supply will make a great Addition of Cash and Bills of Exchange, which will facilitate Commerce and Privateering.
And the more Troops and ships Great Britain and France send to America the greater will this Resource, necessarily be to the Americans.
I have the Honour to be &c.
[signed] John Adams
1. Howe, Narrative, p. 43.
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.