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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0153

Author: Rush, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-10-23

From Benjamin Rush

[salute] Dear Sir

The discovery of Arnold's treachery, and the new Bennington Affair1 in the South, have given fresh hopes and Spirits to the Whigs. We had forgotten former deliverances under our late losses and mortifica• { 303 } tions. But we now find that providence is on our Side, and that our independance is as secure as the everlasting mountains. We have discovered at last that God means that we should live only from hand to mouth, to keep us more dependant upon his power and goodness.
Our Citizens are not wholly corrupted—our Officers are experienced, and our soldiers are brave. We want nothing but wisdom in our Congress to collect and direct properly the Strength of our country. The representation of Pensylvania in Assembly which had degenerated to a very low degree, has improved considerably at the last election. Our men of education and ancient influence begin to take part in our governments so that we hope soon to see the Spirit, Union and dignity of 1775 revived among us.
Our friends in Europe have nothing to fear from any thing that can now happen to us. If our Stock of Virtue should ever fail us—there are certain passions in human Nature which will form as effectual barriers against British power as our Virtue did in the beginning of the controversy. There is pride and ambition eno' in certain individuals of your Acquaintance to rescue this country from the dominion of King George, if the people Should ever incline to submit to it. But the latter is impossible. Our Streets ring with nothing but the execrations of Arnold whose treachery had for its Object the Subjugation and conquest of America.2
Your Old friend Gates is now suffering not for his defeat at Camden, but for taking General Burgoyne, a persecution from a faction in Congress.3 His Officers acquit him. They say he did his duty and deserved praise. He is to be tried for his misfortune, at a time when he is deploring the loss of his only Son (a most promising youth) who died a few weeks ago.
With respectful Compts to Mr Dana I am my Dear Sir yours most Affectionately
[signed] Benjn. Rush
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Honble: John Adams Esqr: at Passy near Paris Capt: Bell”; endorsed by Francis Dana: “Dr. Rush's Letter”; docketed by CFA: “October 23d 1780.”
1. Rush likely refers to the Battle of King's Mountain on 7 Oct., news of which reached Philadelphia about the date of this letter. At King's Mountain, Maj. Patrick Ferguson and 1,000 loyalist militiamen were confronted by 1,400 backcountry riflemen. In the resulting battle, Ferguson died and 300 militiamen were killed or wounded and the remaining 700 taken prisoner. This victory over a large force detached from the main British army appeared similar to Gen. John Stark's victory at the Battle of Bennington. Since Bennington helped to seal the fate of Burgoyne's army in 1777, Rush hoped that King's Mountain would do the same for Cornwallis' forces in 1780 (Mackesy, War for America, p. 345).
2. Rush may have been thinking in particular of the parade on 30 Sept., the centerpiece of which was a float designed by Charles Willson Peale on which a two-faced effigy of { 304 } Arnold was drawn through the streets of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania Gazette, 4 Oct.; Charles Coleman Sellers, Benedict Arnold: The Proud Warrior, N.Y., 1930, p. 246).
3. Presumably Rush means that Gates' victory at Saratoga raised unrealistic hopes for his command of the southern army and thus his defeat at Camden brought a backlash, magnified by the unreasonable expectations. On 5 Oct., Congress ordered Washington to convene a court of inquiry into Gates' conduct and appoint a new commander until its completion. While Nathanael Greene was named to replace Gates, the inquiry never took place. It remained a possibility, however, until the order was rescinded in Aug. 1782 (JCC, 18:906; 23:466; DAB).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0154

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1780-10-24

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

I have this moment the Honour of your Letter of the twentyeth of this Month and it is, as cold Water to a thirsty Soul.
I have been busily employed in making Enquiries, in forming Acquaintances and in taking Advice. In hopes of Mr. Laurens's Arrival, and wishing him to judge for himself, I have not decided, upon some Questions that necessarily arise. I am not able to promise any Thing but I am led to hope, for Something. The Contents of Mr. Jays Letter, will certainly be of great Weight and Use. I am assured of the good Will of a Number of very worthy and considerable People and that they will endeavour to assist a Loan.
Let me intreat your Excellency, to communicate to me every Thing you may further Learn respecting the benevolent Intentions of the Court of Madrid, respecting this Matter. I will do myself the Honour, to acquaint you with the Progress I make. I was before in hopes of assisting you Somewhat, and your Letter has raised those hopes a great deal, for the English Credit certainly Staggers here, a little.
The Treatment of Mr. Laurens is truly affecting. It will make a deep and lasting Impression on the Minds of the Americans, but this will not be a present Relief to him. You are no doubt minutely informed, of his ill Usage. Can any Thing be done in Europe for his Comfort or Relief?
I have the Honour to be, with respectfull Complim[ents] to all Friends, sir, your most obedient humble servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); endorsed: “J. Adams. Oct 24. 1780.”

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0155

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Johonnot, Samuel Cooper
Date: 1780-10-24

To Samuel Cooper Johonnot

[salute] My dear Sir

I have just recieved your letter of the Seventeenth of October, and am obliged to you for writing to me, upon the subject of it.
{ 305 }
I ought to have written to His Excellency Dr. Franklin upon the subject before, but knowing His Excellencys Friendship for your Grand Papa, and that of Madame the Marquise de la Fayette, made me neglect it till now.1
You will present my respectfull Compliments to Dr. Franklin, and request his Excellency to be your Guardian, in my Absence, as it is difficult to remove you here, and you would not be pleased I think with the Change.
I have not received, any Remittance from your Papa Since We left America. It must have miscarried. As soon as I recieve any I will, write you about it. You speak French, I fancy, by this time, like a Native of Paris, and I hope you are making good Progress in all branches of Usefull Accomplishments.
With my Respects to Mr. & Mde. Pechini2 I remain yours &c.
[signed] John Adams
RC (Private owner, 1988); addressed partly by JA: “A Monsr. Mr. S. C. Johonnot chèz M. Pichingy Mtre. de Pension à Passy, au bas de la Montaigne”; endorsed: “The Hon John Adams Esqr Amsterdam Octob 24. Came to Hand Passy Oct. 28.”
1. This letter to Samuel Cooper Johonnot likely went with another of this date to Benjamin Franklin (Private owner). There JA asked Franklin to look after Johonnot and indicated that, in the absence of any remittances from Gabriel Johonnot, he would take responsibility for the boy's expenses. For Gabriel Johonnot's efforts to send JA funds to reimburse him for his expenses in acting as Samuel Cooper Johonnot's guardian, see his letter of 8 Sept. (above). In a letter of 12 Nov. (Adams Papers), Johonnot sent JA his father's bill of exchange (not found) for his endorsement. JA returned the endorsed bill with his letter to Benjamin Franklin of 7 Dec. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers), and informed Gabriel Johonnot of his action in a letter of the same date (LbC, Adams Papers).
2. That is, the Pechignys, proprietors of the school attended by Samuel Cooper Johonnot, which JQA and CA had attended before leaving for the Netherlands.
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.