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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0016

Author: Vernon, William Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-22

From William Vernon Sr.

[salute] Dear sir

Yesterday I had the pleasure of receiveing yours of the 16th. March last forwarded from Rhd. Isd. by the Counte de Noailles, who arrived there fourteen days past, in the Squadron, under the command, of the Chevalier de Ternay; every ship of that divison are in Port, and the Troops in tolerable health. Hope they will soon join and co-operate with Genl. Washington, in reduceing, our common Enemy to reason—who continue their depredations of robbing, burning and plundering, with unremited ardour, as you will find by the News-Papers, transmited to you, by this conveyance.
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I find you had received several of my Letters, which was expected, you would have had, before you left France.
By the failure of the Penobscot expedition, and the reduction of Chs. Town, our Navy is reduced to a very small number. The Alliance, Confederacy, Trumbul and Deane, are the whole, except a small ship the Saratoga of 18 Guns, now ready to sail, on her first Cruise, comprize, the whole. The 74 Gun ship building at Portsmouth, will be Launched in Sepr.1 The Bourbon Frigate building at Connecticut River, perhaps may be off this Fall.2 The disaster of the Confederacy, in the loss of her Masts, you must have known, as also the success of the Deane on Two Cruises, in taking the Thorn ship of War and many other Prizes.3 The Trumbul commanded by James Nicholson Esqr. arrived in this Harbour five Weeks past, with the loss of all her Masts, in a severe conflict, with a Letter of Marque ship from Liverpool of 32 Twelve pounders and near 200 Men, bound to Georgia. She lost her Masts also, had 92 Men killed and Wounded, was obliged to bear up for N. York where she arrived, in a shattered condition, and we are credibly informed 51 of her Men were Kill'd and since Dead of their Wounds. The Trumbul had 7 Men Killed 31 Wounded 6 of whom have since dyed of their Wounds.4 She is compleated fitted and will sail with the Deane, tomorrow or next day, for the Deleware, to join the Confederacy and Saratoga.
Shall refer you to News papers for more particular intelligence of the success of Private ships of War.
I am greatly obliged, in the pleaseing Account, given me of my Son in Febry.5 not having a Line from him since Octr. I wish he may answer the expectations of all his Friends and connexions.
I think Sir you are mistaken, in our having a quit Campain this Year, its probable it will be an active, and a bloody one. Clinton has returned from the Southward, with all his Forces, leaveing a strong Garrison at Georgia and Chs. Town and will, its thought, exert himself to save a disappointed and obnoxious Ministry.
I am with great respect sr. your most Obedt. Hble servt
[signed] Wm Vernon
RC, (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “W. Vernon Esqr. 22d. July 1780 Recd. 19th. Septr.”
1. The ship of the line America was not launched until Nov. 1782. Congress had decided in Sept. 1782, however, to give the vessel to France as a replacement for the 74-gun Magnifique, which had gone aground on Lovell's Island in early August, when it entered Boston Harbor as part of the French fleet under the Marquis de Vaudreuil (Dict. Amer. Fighting Ships; Boston Gazette, 12, 19 Aug. 1782).
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2. The Bourbon was not launched until July 1783 and was sold uncompleted in September of that year (Dict. Amer. Fighting Ships).
3. For the storm damage that caused the Confederacy to put into Martinique in Dec. 1779, thus forcing John Jay to continue his voyage to Spain on the French frigate Aurora, see Morris, Peacemakers, p. 1–7; for the exploits of the Deane, see Dict. Amer. Fighting Ships.
4. For more information on the engagement between the Trumbull and the British privateer Watt on 1 June, see Allen, Naval Hist. of the Amer. Revolution, p. 499–506.
5. See JA's letter of 16 March (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0017

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-07-23

To the President of Congress, No. 99

No. 99. Duplicate

[salute] Sir

I have been amused sometime with dark and unintelligible hints in Letters from London of some Messenger sent from Lord North to Madrid.1
Three weeks ago, I waited on the Comte de Vergennes at Versailles to acquaint him that I had an intention of making a Journey to Amsterdam for a few weeks, as I flattered myself I might form some Acquaintances or Correspondences there and collect some Intelligence that might be useful the United States.2 His Excellency desired me to wait some time, for that in eight or ten days he believed he should have something to communicate to me. I assured him I would not go 'till I saw him again or heard further from him. This day sennight,3 his Excellency informed me that he was ready to let me know, that a Messenger from the Court of London had arrived at Madrid: that the Spanish Ministry had demanded the sentiments of the British Court concerning America. He said he was not instructed. He was told that he must previously explain himself upon that subject. He determined to send an Express to London for instructions. This the Comte de Vergennes said would take up two months, and consequently leave me time enough to go to Holland, but if any thing should happen in the mean time, he would give me the earliest Information of it.
In the Courier de l'Europe of the 14th of July is this paragraph.
“The report runs, that a person, who has been Secretary of M. le Marquiss D'Almodavar during his Embassy from the Court of Madrid to that of London, arrived here, London, some weeks ago, on board the Milford coming from Oporto: that after a stay of eight days, this Frigate had orders to transport this Person to Lisbon, accompanied by Mr. Cumberland, Secretary of Lord George Germaine, whose instructions imply, that if at the End of twenty days, he is not called { 27 } to Madrid, he is to return here immediately. As soon as this Person arrived at Lisbon he set out for Madrid, where fifteen after Mr. Cumberland was invited to go, and where he is at present.”4
There is a body of people in England, who are zealous and clamorous for Peace, and the Ministry find their Account in amusing and silencing them, by some equivocal Appearances of Negotiation. They have ever made it a part of their political System to hold out to America some false hopes of reconciliation and peace, in order to slacken our Nerves and retard our preparations. They think also that they can amuse the Courts of France and Spain, with a talk about Conferances and Negotiations, while they are secretly concerting measures to succour Gibralter, and carry on their operations the next Campaign: but serious thoughts of Peace upon any terms that We can agree I am well persuaded they never had. But if they ever did entertain any thoughts of negotiation, it must have been at the time of their Consternation for Sir Henry Clinton and their despair of his success.
The total and absolute suppression of the Tumults in London, and the triumphant success of Clinton beyond their most sanguine Expectations, has now given them such Exultation and Confidence, that the People of America will dethrone the Congress and like the Israelites demand a King, that they now think of nothing but unconditional submission, or at least of delusive proffers of terms which they know the majority of the People in America will not agree to, in order to divide Us, make a few Gentlemen Apostates, and some Soldiers deserters.
I have the honor to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
Dupl in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 219–222); endorsed: “No. 99 John Adams July 23. 1780 Read Decr. 26.” LbC with closing by John Thaxter (Adams Papers); notations by Thaxter: “No. 99.” and “Paris 12th. August 1780. This day Mr. Dana delivered the originals of Nos. 91. 92 93. 94. 95. 96. 97. 98 & 99. & duplicates of Nos. 89 & 90 to Dr. Franklin, who was to send them by a Gentleman going to L'Orient to Capt. J. P. Jones who is at that place.” This is the final letter written by JA to the president of Congress during his residence in Paris in 1780 for which a Letterbook copy exists in Lb/JA/12 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 100). An additional letter in this Letterbook, dated 14 Aug. at Paris and numbered “100,” was inserted while JA was in Amsterdam. For that letter, see JA's letter from Amsterdam of 14 Aug. to the president of Congress, No. 1, note 1 (below). For information regarding this Letterbook, see part 2 of the Introduction: “John Adams and His Letterbooks” (above).
1. JA is likely referring to Edmund Jenings' letters of 22 May (Adams Papers), 27 May, 2 June, and 5 June (all above) in which Jenings related information received from an uniden• { 28 } tified correspondent in London concerning the Hussey-Cumberland mission to Spain. For JA's reaction to the reports and an account of the ill-fated mission, see JA's letter to Jenings of 29 May, and note 4 (above).
2. This is the earliest known letter in which JA indicates his intention to go to the Netherlands and the only letter in which he gives his reasons for doing so and that his decision had apparently been made on or about 2 July. This was immediately after his exchange with Vergennes over Congress' revaluation of its currency and prior to his correspondence with Vergennes over his mission and the need for additional French aid, but there is no indication that either confrontation significantly influenced JA's decision. In fact, there is no evidence that he planned to do anything more during his visit than is indicated in this letter or that he viewed his departure on 27 July as either permanent or a turning point in his diplomatic career. This seems borne out by his failure, except for his letters of 14, 22, and 23 Aug. to the president of Congress (Nos. 1–3, all below), to write to anyone in America concerning his departure from Paris until his letter of 4 Sept. to AA (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:409–410). Indeed, the first known letter to AA concerning JA's residence in Amsterdam was John Thaxter's of 21 Aug. (same, 3:397).
3. That is, a week ago. For the impact of the information provided by Vergennes concerning the Hussey-Cumberland mission, see JA's letter to Vergennes of 17 July, and note 6 (above).
4. This passage is an English translation of the French text in the Courier de l'Europe; opening quotation marks have been supplied. The same report appeared earlier in various other London newspapers, including the London Courant of 12 July and the London Chronicle of 11–13 July.
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.