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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

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).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0139

Author: Johonnot, Samuel Cooper
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-10-17

From Samuel Cooper Johonnot

[salute] Respected Sir

I have found a little Inconvenience in having nobody here on the Spot, that I could call my Guardian. I spoke to Doctor Franklin of it who directed me to write to you and to inform you that if you would agree to it he would take me under his Care. I receiv'd the other Day a Letter from my Grandpappa in which he told me that my Father had sent you a large Remittance which if you receive and agree to the above Proposal, you will be so good as to transmit to Doctor Franklin and you will in the same Time much oblige Your Most humble & obedient Servant
[signed] S. Cooper1
1. See JA's reply of 24 Oct. (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0140

Author: Continental Congress
Author: Thomson, Charles
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-10-18

Additional Instructions Respecting a Peace Treaty with Great Britain

Congress took into consideration the report of the committee on the letters of 23 and 24 March last from the honble. John Adams minister plenipotentiary for negotiating a treaty of Peace and a treaty of commerce with the king of G Britain and thereupon
Resolved That the said minister be informed it is clearly the Opinion of Congress that a short truce would be highly dangerous to these United States.
That if a truce be proposed for so long a period or for an indefinite period requiring so long notice previous to a renewal of hostilities as to evince that it is on the part of the king of Great Britain a virtual relinquishment of the object of the war and an expedient only to avoid the mortification of an express acknowledgment of the inde• { 279 } pendence and sovereignty of these United States, the said minister be at liberty with the concurrence of our ally to accede thereto provided the removal of the British land and naval armaments from the United States be a condition of it.1
That in case a truce shall be agreed on by the belligerent parties, Congress rely on his attention and prudence to hold up the United States to the world in a stile and title not derogatory to the character of an independent and sovereign people.
That with respect to those persons who have either abandoned or been banished from any of the United States since the commencement of the war, he is to make no stipulations whatsoever for their readmittance; and as to an equivalent for their property he may attend to propositions on that subject only on a reciprocal Stipulation that Great Britain will make full compensation for all the wanton destruction which the subjects of that nation have committed on the property of the citizens of the United States.2
That in a treaty of peace it is the wish of Congress not to be bound by any public engagement to admit British subjects to any of the rights or privileges of citizens of the United States; but at all times to be at liberty to grant or refuse such favors, according as the public interest and honor may dictate; and that it is their determination not to admit them to a full equality in this respect with the subjects of his most Christian Majesty unless such a concession should be deemed by the said minister preferable to a continuance of the war on that account.

[salute] Extract from the minutes3

[signed] Chas Thomson Secy.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by Francis Dana: “Additional Instructions of Congress respecting the Negotiation of Peace Recd. Jany: 10th. 1781. at Paris”; in JA's hand: “dated Oct. 18. 1780.”; in an unidentified hand: “Oct 18. 1780 Hon J A.” In a letter dated 10 Jan. 1781, Dana informed JA of the arrival of the instructions, but indicated that he was not sending them on to Amsterdam because he feared trusting them to the regular mail. Dana's letter was written immediately below a copy of a letter from the Committee for Foreign Affairs to JA of 12 July 1780, and was filmed at that date (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 352). In a letter of 16 Feb. 1781, Dana informed the Committee for Foreign Affairs that he still had the instructions and it is possible that JA did not receive them until Dana met him at Leyden in mid-April (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:259–260, 367).
1. This and the following paragraph respond to the points raised by JA in his letter of 23 March (No. 23, above), but it is doubtful that the instructions would have made JA's task any easier if, in fact, Great Britain had ever proposed a truce. JA's instructions of 16 Oct. 1779 had provided for a cessation of hostilities during negotiations, provided that all British troops were immediately withdrawn from the United States, but the negotiations were to be preceded by British recognition of American independence (vol. 8:203, calendared; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:181–183). The new instructions provided for a pro• { 280 } tracted truce conditioned on the withdrawal of British troops, but it is unclear how JA could have upheld the character of the United States as fully sovereign and independent if the truce was designed to permit Britain “to avoid the mortification” of acknowledging that very fact.
2. This and the following paragraph are a response to JA's first letter of 24 March (No. 24, above), and are significant because JA's original instructions made no mention of the treatment of the loyalist refugees in the peace treaty.
3. JCC, 18:948–950.
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.