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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0131

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Date: 1780-10-13

To Samuel Adams

[salute] Dear Sir

This Letter is intended to go, by Monsieur Le Veillard,1 a Young Gentleman bound to America, with Design to <travail with> engage in the service of Mr. Holker or to lay the Foundations of a mercantile House either in France or America, as Circumstances may be.
I have the Pleasure to know his Father and his Family and the young Gentleman very well: They are all worthy and amiable, and have on many Occasions been very civil to me.
I wish him therefore, success, and to this End as good Acquain• { 266 } tance as may be in our Country. I take the Liberty to recommend him to you Attention, and Civilities.
Mr. Laurens is in England—I wish he were here. I cannot yet learn with Certainty how he is treated, the Accounts are So contradictory, Some Saying he is in the Tower and others that he is not yet arrived in London. I am Sir, with much Affection and Respect, yours
1. This is Louis Le Veillard, who sailed for America in March 1781 (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 4:52). He was the son of Louis Guillaume Le Veillard, a close friend of Benjamin Franklin and keeper of the mineral baths at Passy, whom JA had met while residing with Franklin at Passy in 1778 and 1779 (Franklin, Papers, 23:542; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:303, 317; 4:47, 63, 143). The elder Le Veillard wrote to JA on 3 Oct. (Adams Papers) to request letters of recommendation for his son. In his reply of 13 Oct. (LbC, Adams Papers), JA thanked Le Veillard for writing and the opportunity to send letters to America. JA also recommended the younger Le Veillard to Benjamin Rush in a letter of 13 Oct. (LbC, Adams Papers). In that letter, JA reported that the British intended to prosecute the war more vigorously, but did not mention Henry Laurens' capture.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0132

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Digges, Thomas
Recipient: Church, William Singleton
Date: 1780-10-14

To Thomas Digges

[salute] Sir

Yours of 6 and 10 are received. Upon what Principle is it, that they confine Mr. L. as a Prisoner of State? After So many Precedents as have been set. Sullivan, Sterling, Lee, Lovel, and many others have been exchanged as Prisoners of War.1
Mr. L. was in England when Hostilities commenced, I believe. He came into public, in America after the Declaration of Independence, after the Extinction of all civil Authority under the Crown, and after the Formation of compleat New Governments in every State. To treat a Citizen of a state thus compleatly in Possession of sovereignty de Facto, is very extraordinary. Do they mean to exasperate America and drive them to Retaliation? Are these People governed by Reason at all, or by any Principle, or do they conduct according to any system; or do they deliver themselves up entirely to the Government of their Passions, and their Caprice? I Saw so many Contradictions in the Papers, about Mr. L. that I hoped your first Account was a Mistake, but your Letter of the 10, makes me think the first Account, right.
Pray inform me constantly, of every Thing relative to him, and let me know if any Thing can be done for him, by Way of France, or any other.
Cornwallis's and Tarletons Gasconade2 serves to Passions, and making them throw off the Mask. I dont believe that { 267 } his Advantage is half so great, nor the Americans Loss half so much as they represent. Time you know is the Mother of Truth. Audi alteram Partem,3 and wait the Consequences. Fighting is the Thing—Fighting will do the Business. Defeats, will pave the Way to Victories. Patience! Patience! Il y en a beaucoup, en Amerique.
LbC (Adams Papers); directed to: “W. S. C.”
1. The principal difference between the case of Henry Laurens, and those of James Lovell and Gens. John Sullivan, William Alexander (Lord Stirling), and Charles Lee, was that while the four latter had been captured and exchanged between 1775 and 1778, each had been taken in America, with the disposition of their cases left to the local commander (DAB). In contrast, Laurens, who had been president of Congress, was captured at sea in the character of United States minister to the Netherlands, possessed a large number of incriminating documents, and was sent directly to England. The British desire to avoid recognizing either the de facto, mentioned by JA in the next paragraph, or the de jure sovereignty of the United States had led them to refuse negotiations with Benjamin Franklin over a prisoner exchange in Europe (to Thomas Digges, 14 March, note 1, above). To have treated the Laurens case differently would have undermined that policy.
2. JA probably refers to Cornwallis' letter to Lord George Germain of 21 Aug., as printed in the London Gazette of 9 Oct., a clipping of which Digges had enclosed in his letter of 10 Oct. (note 3, above). In his letter, Cornwallis devoted considerable space to the exploits of Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton at the Battle of Camden and elsewhere.
3. That is, hear the other side.
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.