A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0150

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cerisier, Antoine Marie
Date: 1780-10-23

To Antoine Marie Cerisier

[salute] Sir

I have received the Letter which you did me the Honour to write me on the 17th. and I thank you for the favour as well as for your Care in procuring me, the Books. This Kind of Speculations is very entertaining to me, and I wish to have every Thing new, of the Kind that comes out. I shall keep all these Books and pay Mr. Wild for them when he comes to Amsterdam.1
Cornwallis's Victory, which We may well Suppose to be greatly exaggerated in his Letter, would not however, if it were literally true have any lasting bad Consequences. The Executions that he So barbarously threatens, may occasion Retaliations which <Humanity> Philanthropy would wish to avoid.2
The English made their first Efforts against the Northern States: there, they were able to do nothing, but shew their ill Will. They then fell upon the middle States. Here they succeeded no better than before. Now they have directed their Plans and Forces against the southern states. Georgia and South Carolina are at the Southern Extremity of the Continent, and have so few white People and are embarrassed with so many Negroes, that the English have gained { 299 } more Advantage, as they think. But it will prove in the End that the principal Advantage will be, Stealing a multitude of Negroes, and sending them to the West India Islands for Sale, and plundering other Effects for the private Emolument of some of the officers. The Militia of the Southern States, have not yet been practised to war, and are, I suppose Strangers to Discipline, but the Militia of the northern and middle states have had a good deal of Experience and are very good Troops. And it will not be long before the Militia of the southern states will be as well disciplined as any.3
I believe with you that France has no desire, to recover Canada in order to hold it—she may wish to have it, made the fourteenth state in the Confederation, and in this the other thirteen agree, as they do with you that Nova scotia might be the fifteenth. It can do no good to leave either of those Provinces in the Hands of any European Power. It will only lay a Foundation for future Wars.
I am happy to learn that you have turned your Thoughts, upon the Debt of America. It is a Subject very much misunderstood in Europe. The whole Debt of the united States, does not amount to Six millions sterling. For this Debt, they have carried on the War for near Six years. At this Rate, they might maintain the War an hundred Years, and at the End of it, be no more in debt in Proportion to the Numbers of People, and the Value of their former Exports, than Great Britain is now, even Supposing Against Fact and Experience, that the Population of America should not increase.
The Congress receive the public Taxes, either in Paper or silver at the Election of the Subject. They receive a silver Dollar in the room of forty Paper ones, which makes the Value of all the Paper Bills in circulation, about one Million and a Quarter sterling. A Loan of one Million and a quarter sterling would enable them to annihilate all the Paper Bills in Circulation and to conduct their Business in future by a fixed Medium.
One would think that a Nation of three Millions, of People whose Wealth consists in Land, Industry and the Produce of Lands, would not find a difficulty in obtaining a Loan in Europe of a Million and a Quarter, when Single Cities have Sometimes obtained as much.
Your English, sir, is very good, but if it will be easier to you, your Letters will be equally agreable in French. Your Sentiments in whatever Language conveyed, cannot fail to please and to instruct, a Republican, whose whole Life has been Spent in sincere devotion to Liberty. I have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect, sir your obliged & obedient servant
{ 300 }
1. See Bartholomé Wild's letter of 20 Oct. (above).
2. Cornwallis' letter of 21 Aug. to Lord George Germain, in which he reported on the victory at Camden, contained the statement that, although the success would dampen the rebel efforts in South Carolina, he would “give directions to inflict exemplary punishment on some of the most guilty, in hopes to deter others, in future, from sporting with allegiance and oaths, and with the lenity and generosity of the British Government” (London Courant, 10 Oct.). After Camden, Cornwallis did execute several militiamen who had taken the oath of allegiance and then deserted to the enemy. Events then unfolded according to JA's prediction, for as one historian put it, “in an auction of terror the rebels could always outbid” Cornwallis (Mackesy, War for America, p. 343–344).
3. On the date of this letter JA was still working on his twenty-six letters to Hendrik Calkoen and the views expressed in this and the second, third, and fourth paragraphs below, should be compared with those in the Calkoen letters, particularly Nos. 11 and 12 (Replies to Hendrik Calkoen, 4–27 Oct., above).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0151

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1780-10-23

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] My dear Sir

Your excellent Letter of the nineteenth I have recieved.
Your feelings I find are in Unison with mine, upon the behaviour of Cornwallis, and the Treatment of Mr. Laurens. It is not however at all surprising to me. I have ever expected, whenever I have crossed the Atlantic, to be treated with the same and with greater Indignities, if I should have been so unfortunate as to fall into the hands of the English. To Tyrants, Tyranny is always very dear: they take no delight but in exercising it; and this is now and has been long the predominant Character of the People of England, as well as the Government.
Reconciliation and Peace are but dreams of Philanthropy. Let Us think of them no more, but prepare to grow up in the midst of war. Let Us not be decieved with the Idea that next Campaign will be the last: it will be no such thing.
The Treatment of Mr. Laurens will have a deep Effect upon the American Mind. He is very dear to all honest Americans. His ill Treatment will be considered as a studied Insult, to all America: it will be considered as it is intended, as a glaring proof in the Sight of all the World, of their Contempt and Hatred of all America, and of their determination to pursue Hostilities to the Last Extremity.
I rejoice with You in the Arrival of the Alliance. Mr. Austin is gone to Nantes. The Affair of St. Martins makes a deep Impression.
I have not my health here so well as in Paris: but otherwise I like my Situation here very well—here I shall stay some time. My Boys are very thankful for your Benediction, and beg me to present You their dutiful Respects.
{ 301 }
The Trial of three Kings1 I have read. Mr. Guild had the only one, I have been able to see, and that he carried to America. It is flattering to Us—it is droll and very saucy: it makes so free with many Sovereigns, that I believe it will not be very easy to procure it. The Testament Politique2 I have recieved, and thank You for it. There is a Flood of Pamphlets upon the times, all of which are favourable to our Side. Have You read the Letters Hollandoises, Le Destin de l'Amerique &c.3
It seems as if the armed Neutrality would come to something in time, if my Information is not false.
I am not without hope that De la Motte Picket, or somebody is gone to De Ternay, but dare not hope too much. However if You were to converse two Hours with Mr. Searle, You would not be distressed very much. He is the only Man I ever met in Europe, who tells, what I know about the State of our Affairs. It is a Comfort to have one Witness.
Most affectionately Your's
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Hbl. J.A. 23 Octr 1780.”
1. [Ange Goudar], Le Procés des Trois Rois, Louis XVI, de France-Bourbon, Charles III, d'Espagne-Bourbon, et George III d'Hanovre, fabricant de boutons, plaidé au tribunal des Puissances-Européénes. Par appendix, l'appel au Pape. Traduit de l'anglois, London, 1780. Although the title would indicate otherwise, no evidence of an edition in English has been found.
2. [Jacques Pierre Brissot de Warville], Testament politique de l'Angleterre, Phila. [Paris], 1780.
3. See Bartholomé Wild's letter of 20 Oct. (above).
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.