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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0137

Author: Cerisier, Antoine Marie
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-10-17

From Antoine Marie Cerisier

[salute] Sir

I was an ardent partisan of the noble cause of America, only on account of my great love for liberty. But, since I have the honour of Knowing you, I have another motive of loving America, seeing that it produces so worthy and so brave Gentlemen. When occasion has occurred, I have never been backward in serving it with my pen, the feeble but the only help which I could bring. And when this terrible war appears to last long yet, perhaps shall I contribute with my own person, to a liberty, whose fruits I hope enjoy when it is firmly established. I hope that the last action, which Lord Cornwallis has so pompously described, will have no bad consequences. But, will you give me leave to observe that this last battle appears to be a proof that undisciplined milices [militias] are not a match for European regular troops? The very same have I Observed in the wars of Netherlands. The first insurgents have been always defeated, as long as they could oppose to the Spaniards only new and undisciplined milicies.
I do not believe that France entertains hopes of recovering Canada, as it is spread. It should be, according to my opinion, a very unpolitic step: they could lose the whole fruit of this war. The French shou'd be obnoxious neighbours to you: and the least dispute could bring you to cast your looks towards England, if not for dependance, at least for a strict alliance. It should be also a very unpolitic step in the colonies to yield Canada to France in order that it should be a { 275 } match for the English in Georgia and Carolina. You must never lay down the arms, before your whole continent is free from European Yoke. Powerful neighbours at your both sides should make your independency very precarious. I shall not conceal you that my private interest prompts me to desire the independency of Canada, because it is a french settlement. I wish also that Acadia or New Scotland could be peopled, as before, with french Colonists. My greatest desire should be to live in a country where the french language and liberty should be dominant: and was I to be the [. . . gers?] of these countries, I would not that they were less free than Massachusets Bay.
I have, since my arrival, made some reflections upon the debt of America. I beg leave asking you: as not the congress in delivering the paper money made it accepted to its creditors for the very Sum which is marked. I know that the primitive value has diminished in the hands of private people: I have been Assured that now Sixty dollars paper money are worth no more than one ready money. I think there are means of annihilating and giving credit to this paper-money in the same time and by the same operation. There could be a Law to pay the public taxes, one part in ready money and the other in paper-money. All the paper-money brought to custom-houses should be torn to pieces and the congress, obliged to create new ones in order to answer the demands of citizens, Should have, by that mean, a great and inexhaustible treasure and Subsidy to supply its own Wants.
I have many other ideas on the same Subject. I propose to explain them on another ocasion, hoping that my liberty shall not displease you and that you could be so good as to accept of the testimonies of my Respect and veneration your most obedient Servant
[signed] A M Cerisier1
Je vous prie de me pardonner la petite vanité d'avoir tenté d'écrire dans une langue que je parle mal et que j'ai apprise trop tard pour pouvoir jamais la posséder à fond. Une autrefois je vous écrirai dans ma propre langue. If my expressions are barbarous in a language which I never write, and seldom have occasion to speak, I hope you shall only reguard my sentiments which <are sincere and warm> never shall change. My best compliments to your amiable young sons.
Je profite de l'occasion de Mr. Wild2 qui vous envoye toutes les nouveautés politiques, vous priant de faire remettre chez Mr. Mandrillon3 celles que vous ne prendrez pas, avec la procedure de Lord Howe4 que vous avez promis de me prêter.5
{ 276 }
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur Monsieur Guillaume Adams demeurant sur l'Agter-burgwal près de l'Eglise francoise à Amsterdam”; endorsed: “M. A. M. Cerisier ansd. 23. Oct. 1780.” In his next letter, Cerisier used JA's correct first name.
1. Antoine Marie Cerisier, a French-born writer, was active in the Patriot cause and author of Tableau de l'histoire générale des Provinces-Unies, 10 vols., Utrecht, 1777–1784, two sets of which are in JA's library at the Boston Public Library (Catalogue of JA's Library). Sometime prior to the date of this letter, and after reading the six published volumes of Cerisier's work, JA visited him at Utrecht and was impressed by the author's enthusiasm for the American cause. Cerisier played a key role in JA's efforts in the Netherlands, particularly after he moved to Amsterdam in 1781 and established Le politique hollandais, a major conduit for JA's dissemination of pro-American and anti-British propaganda in the Netherlands. For accounts of Cerisier and his relationship with JA, see JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 255–257; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:454; Schulte Nordholt, Dutch Republic and Amer. Independence, p. 125–126.
2. For Bartholomé Wild, a bookseller in Utrecht and Cerisier's landlord and employer, see his letter of 20 Oct. (below); and JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 257.
3. Joseph Mandrillon was a bookseller in Amsterdam, active in the Patriot cause (Schulte Nordholt, Dutch Republic and Amer. Independence, p. 128).
4. Probably The Narrative of Lieut. Gen. Sir William Howe . . ., London, 1780. Cerisier later translated the pamphlet and had it published in 1781 at Rotterdam and elsewhere as Campagnes militaires du Lieutenant Général Sir William Howe, en Amérique . . ., a copy of which is in JA's library (from Cerisier, 15 Nov., below; T. R. Adams, American Controversy, 2:716; Catalogue of JA's Library).
5. Translation: Let me take advantage of this occasion to ask that any unwanted political pamphlets, sent to you by Mr. Wild, be returned to Mr. Mandrillon, along with Lord Howe's narrative that you promised to lend me.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0138

Author: Digges, Thomas
Author: Church, William Singleton
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-10-17

From Thomas Digges

[salute] Dr. Sir

It was not until the 14th Instant that any person Whatever was permitted to see Mr. Laurens in the Tower.1 On that day after repeated applications for admission, Mr. Manning, and Mr. Laurens Jur. (a youth of 16 or 18 who has been some years at Warrington school) was permitted to see Him. An order went signd from the 3 Secretarys of State Hillsborough, Stormont, and Germain, to the Govr. of the Tower permitting the two Gentlemen above to visit Mr. Laurens for half an hour—the Warrant expressly intimating that their visit was to be limited to that time, and that they could not a second time see Him without a new order. The Govr. of the Tower sent a note to Mr. Mannings that He had received such an order from the Secys. of State, and He with young Laurens went accordingly last Saturday Morning. They found him very ill of a lax, much emaciated, but not low spirited, and bitterly invective against the people of England for their harsh treatment of Him. He spoke very handsomely of Capt. Keppel who took him and the Lieut. who accompanyd Him to London; but from the period of his putting his foot on shore He { 277 } was treated with a brutality, which He could not even expect from Englishmen. His weakness from Sickness, and the agitation on seeing His son, took up the first ten of the thirty minutes allowd Him to converse with His friends—the rest was filld with bitter invectives against the authors of His harsh treatment. His outer room is but a very mean one, not more than twelve feet Square, a dark close bed room adjoining, both indifferently furnishd and a few books on his table. No pen and ink or news paper has been yet allowd him, but He has a pencil and memorandum book in which He occasionally notes things. The Warden of the Tower, and a Yeoman of the Guard is constantly at his elbow tho they make no attempts to stop his Conversation. Mr. Manning and His Child being the first Visitors he has had, perhaps Mr. L——ns was led to say every thing He could about the Severity of his treatment, in order that it might be known abroad, and contradict the general report of his being exceedingly well treated. He has hitherto declind any Phisical advice, or the visits of any of those Creatures near Him who may be put on with a view to pump. Mr. Penn2 is making application and will likely see him. It is doubtful if the son will again get leave. His harsh treatment being now pretty generally known, every one is crying out shame against it,3 and they accuse a great personage known by the name of WhiteEyes4 as the immediate author of it.
You have read all the news I can give you. Since the late arrivals from So. Carolina, N York, and Jamaica, every thing seems to have taken a different turn. The inactivity of the French in Europe, the West Inds., and in No. America indicates that the Campaign will end with their doing nothing very effectual for America. This has seemingly induced the Cabinet to push the War in Ama. vigorously another year. New Regiments are raising, 10 or 12,000 Men are preparing to go, and every transport Ship that can be got is actually engaging to carry troops either to No. America or the Wt. Indies.
I am yrs mo truly
[signed] WSC
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur Monsr. <Ferdinando Raymond San> Chez Monsieur Henri Shorn a Amsterdam”; endorsed by John Thaxter: “W.S.C Octr. 17th. 1780”; docketed by CFA: “W.S.C. Octr. 17th 1780.”
1. Thomas Digges' account of the visit by William Manning Sr. and Henry Laurens Jr. to the Tower on 14 Oct. is longer and more detailed than that appearing in Henry Laurens' “Narrative,” indicating that Digges may have spoken to Manning or someone else with first-hand knowledge of the meeting, for there was no published account. William Manning Sr. was Henry Laurens' London banker, father-in-law of John Laurens, and guardian of Henry Laurens Jr. In his “Narrative,” Henry Laurens indicated that the order permitting the visit had been obtained through the intervention of Brownlow North, the Bishop of Worcester and half brother of Lord North (Wallace, Life of Henry Laurens, { 278 } p. 365; Laurens, “Narrative,” p. 27, 30; DNB).
2. Probably Richard Penn, former lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania and grandson of William Penn, who had carried the “Olive Branch” petition to England in 1775 and remained sympathetic to the American cause (DAB). There is, however, no evidence that he visited Laurens in 1780.
3. For the printing of a French translation, to this point, of Digges' report on Henry Laurens in the supplement to the Gazette de Leyde of 7 Nov., see Dumas' letter of that date (below).
4. From the context, this likely refers to George III; see also Digges' letter of 31 Oct.; C. W. F. Dumas' letter of 7 Nov.; and JA's reply to Dumas of 9 Nov. (all below).
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.