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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10


Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0019

Author: Cooper, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-25

From Samuel Cooper

[salute] My dear Sir

I have but a Moment to write by the Mars, a Vessel belonging to this State, the Voyage having been kept secret upon political Accounts.
I congratulate you on the Arrival of the Fleet from Brest at Newport, commanded by the Chevalier de Ternay, after a Passage of about 10 Weeks: not a single Vessel of the whole Fleet missing.
You will hear before this reaches you of the Loss of Charlestown, in which Genl. Lincoln and his whole Army were made Prisoners of War, and four Continental Frigates taken. The Place it is said was well-defended: but the Enemy having Command of the Sea Coasts, and received repeated Reinforcements from N. York, and the Difficulty we found in sending Aid, occasioned it's Surrender on the 12th of May. I cannot, however, forbear to regret that more was not done, and earlier, for the Preservation of so important a Place.
This Loss, the late Irruption from New York on the Jerseys, and the Arrival of the Marquis Fayette who apprized us of the Armament coming from Brest, have awakened us. We have done not a little to reinforce the Army. This State has voted 5000 men for 6 Months, and 5000 Militia for 3 Months.1 Great Part of this Force has already join'd or is near the Army. Tho the Term is so short in which they are to serve it is at a vast Expence the Men are raised. The People, however bear their Burdens, from an Attachment to our great Cause. I am sorry that after all our Experience we still raise Men for such short Periods—But Sic se Res habent.2
The Descent upon the Jerseys was accompanied with the usual, or even greater Examples of Barbarity and Rage. Springfield was laid in Ashes: many Women abused, and the Wife of a Clergyman who had distinguished himself in the Cause of his Country, cruelly murdered. The Enemy were well opposed, and obliged at last to retire precipi• { 31 } tately by Genl. Green with an handful of Troops and the neighboring Militia. Their Loss in killed and wounded amounts we are told to 900.3
In the Midst of our Joy at the Arrival of the Fleet from France, and of our Exertions for the Campaign we received two days ago an Account that a British Fleet is off Newport, supposed to be Graves join'd with Arbuthnot. They are said to be 16 Sail or upwards; 8 of which are of the Line: The French have but 7 of the Line and few Frigates. We expect a second Division from Brest, and ardently wish for their safe Arrival; For if we have not a naval Superiority on these Coasts, I expect little from this Campaign, and that Britain will hold New York, Charlestown, and other important Ports in Spite of all the Efforts we can make.
This will be delivered to you by my Nephew Mr. Richard Cooper, in the Naval Service of his Country, and a young officer in Capt. Sampson's Ship. I long to hear from you and my dear Boys, and how they improve. Col. Johonnot was in Hopes to have embarqued for France before now, but could not arrange his Affairs for that Purpose early enough. He hopes however soon to find an opportunity of seeing you and his Son. We are both under the greatest obligations to you for your kind Care of our Boy, who I hope behaves well. His Father sent a Remittance to you, he tells me, by the last Opportunity. The Alliance is not yet arrived—nor the Letters and Accounts you mentioned to me; nor have I, or Col. Johonnot received a single Line by the Fleet.4 A few days ago a Pacquet from you was left at my House, directed to Mrs. Adams. I was not in Town, but Mrs. Cooper without the Loss of a Moment, went with it to Braintree, and delivered it to your Lady, who is well, and endures your Absence in the most important Service of your Country, with a noble Fortitude.5
Pray remember me to the Honb. Mr. Dana and all Friends. My most affectionate Regards attend the young Gentlemen your Sons.
With every Sentiment of Respect and Affection, I am Your's in every Sense
[signed] Samuel Cooper
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Dr. Cooper. July 25. ansd Decr. 9. 1780”; by John Thaxter: “Dr. Cooper 25th. July 1780 Recd. 19th. Septr.”
1. For resolves adopted on 5, 22, and 23 June, raising troops for three and six months service, see Mass., Province Laws, 21:519–524, 568–572, 575–577.
2. But such is our destiny.
3. For the British raids on Connecticut Farms (now Union) and Springfield, N.J., on 7 and 23 June respectively, see William Churchill Houston's letter of 11 July, and note 2 (above). Hannah Ogden Caldwell was killed during the attack on Connecticut Farms. She was the wife of Rev. James Caldwell, a noted Presbyterian minister, army chaplain, and patriot (DAB).
{ 32 }
4. In a letter of 28 Feb., JA had informed Cooper that he had written to both him and Johonnot concerning Samuel Cooper Johonnot's expenses since his arrival. Those letters, both dated 23 Feb., were to go on the Alliance (vol. 8:374–375, 355–356). See also Gabriel Johonnot's letter of 8 Sept. (below).
5. The packet delivered by Judith Bulfinch Cooper may have included JA's letters of 28 March and 3 May, which AA mentioned in her letter of 16 July (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:375).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0020

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0020-0001

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0020-0001-0001

The Comte de Vergennes to John Adams, with a Letter from Vergennes to Adams

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0020-0001-0001-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-25
From the Comte de Vergennes
J'ai recu, Monsieur, la lettre que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'écrire le 17 de ce mois. Je l'ai luë avec la plus sérieuse attention, et pour rendre ma réponse d'autant plus éxacte, je l'ai placée en marge de chacun des articles qui m'a parû mériter des observations de ma part. Vous y verrez, Monsieur, que je persiste à penser que le moment de communiquer au Lord Germaine vos pleinpouvoirs, n'est pas encore venu, et vous y trouverez les motifs sur lesquels je fonde mon opinion. Je ne doute pas que vous n'en sentiez la force, et quelles ne vous déterminent à penser comme moi. Mais dans le cas contraire, je vous invite et même vous requiers au nom du Roi, de communiquer votre lettre et ma réponse aux Etats-Unis et de suspendre, jusqu'à ce que vous ayez reçu des ordres de leur part, toute démarche vis-à-vis du Ministère anglois. Je ferai passer de mon côté mes observations en Amérique, afin que M. de la Luzerne puisse en entretenir les membres du Congrès: J'ose croire que ce Senat jugera le sentiment du Ministère de france digne de quelque attention, et qu'il ne craindra pas de s'égarer et de trahir les intérêts des Etats-Unis en l'adoptant pour régle de sa conduite.1
J'ai l'honneur d'être très sincérement, Monsieur, votre tres humble et très obéissant serviteur,
[signed] De Vergennes

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0020-0001-0001-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-25
Enclosure: The Comte de Vergennes to John Adams
Lettre écrite à M. le Cte. de Vergennes par M. Adams, le 17 Juillet 1780Observations sur la dernière Lettre de M. Adams du 17 Juillet 1780.
1º. I should have been very happy . . . to communicate them. Iº. Les motifs qui ont déterminé le Cte. de Vergennes à donner ce Conseil à M. Adams, sont aussi simples qu'ils paroissent péremptoires: 1º. S'occuper d'un Traité de Commerce avant d'avoir fait la { 33 } paix, c'est s'occuper de l'ornement d'un édifice avant d'en avoir posé les Fondements; 2º. Dans l'état où se trouve encore l'Amérique à l'égard de l'Angleterre, annoncer à cette Puissance que l'on a oublié son Systême d'asservissement, ses cruautés, ses perfidies, c'est lui montrer beaucoup de foiblesse, ou aumoins beaucoup de bonhommie, c'est l'inviter à croire que les Américains ont une prédilection irrésistible pour elle, c'est la fortifier dans l'opinion, où elle est, que les Américains patriotes se soumettront par lassitude ou par la crainte de l'influence prépondérante des Torys; 3º. Proposer un Traité de Commerce qui doit avoir pour baze la confiance et une liaison équivalente à une alliance, tandis que la guerre est dans toute sa fureur, tandis que la cour de Londres veut, ou détruire, ou asservir l'Amérique, n'est ce pas accréditer l'opinion où toute l'Europe a toujours été, daprés les assertions de Ministres anglois, que les Etats Unis inclinent vers une défection, et qu'ils ne seront fidèles à leurs engagemens envers la france, qu'aussi long tems que la Grande Bretagne ne leur fournira pas un prétexte pour les rompre.
2º. Your Excellency will recolect that . . . the Court of London. IIº. On peut être muni éventuellent de pleinpouvoirs sans être obligé de les exhiber avant que les circonstances permettent d'en faire usage: ce cas arrive journellement. M. Adams est chargé de trois commissions très distinctes: 1º. De prendre part aux négociations futures de la paix: 2º. de conclure un Traité de commerce avec la Grande Bretagne; et, 3º. De représenter les Etats-Unis à la cour de Londres. Il ne faut pas grand effort de génie pour démontrer que ces trois objets ne sauroient être cumulés; Il n'en faut pas davantage pour démontrer que les deux derniers ne sauroient servir d'acheminement au premier. Il faudra, avant toutes choses, obtenir de l'Angleterre qu'elle reconnoisse l'Indépendance de l'Amérique, et que cette reconnoissance serve de baze au Traité de paix: ce ne sera qu'après l'avoir obtenue que M. Adams pourra parler d'un Traité de Commerce: En proposer un, tandis que la Cour de Londres se flate encore de soumettre l'Amérique, et qu'elle fait dans cette vuë les efforts les plus extraordinaires, ce seroit, à ses yeux, lui proposer une chymère, ce seroit faire une demarche qu'elle regarderoit comme une dérision. Il en seroit de même si on lui parloit dans le moment présent d'un Ministre Plénipotentiaire des Etats-Unis destiné à résider près sa Majesté Britannique.
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Ainsi le seul pouvoir dont les circonstances ont pu permettre à M. Adams de faire l'annonce, c'est celui qui l'autorise à prendre part à la négociation de la paix. Ses deux autres n'auront de valeur que lorsque cette paix sera conclue; ainsi il seroit au moins inutile de les produire actuellement, ainsi M. Adams ne s'écarte pas du but et de la nature de ses pouvoirs en les cachant à la cour de Londres. Quoique le Cte. de Vergennes ignore le contenu des instructions de M. Adams,2 il est persuadé qu'elles sont analogues aux réfléxions qui viennent d'être faites et qu'elles ne prescrivent pas plus la communication immédiate des pouvoirs relatifs au Traité de Commerce qu'elles ne lui ordonnent de faire une paix séparée avec la Grande Bretagne: cette opinion est fondée sur celle que le Ministére du Roi a de la Sagacité, de la prudence et de la fidelité du Congrès.
I think also that . . . to resist them, if hostile. IIIº. On vient de l'observer, le Ministére anglois regarderoit cette communication comme une dérision; ainsi c'est vouloir s'aveugler volontairement que de suposer qu'elle l'engagera à entrer dans des pourparlers, qu'elle lui fera dire autre chose que ce que portent les résolutions du Parlement, savoir: qu'Elle écoutera et recevra les américains en grace lorsqu'ils auront reconnu leur ancienne allegeance; or il seroit au moins superflu de s'attirer une pareille réponse, et les Etats-Unis n'en ont pas besoin pour connoitre les sentiments actuels de la Cour de Londres, et encore moins pour se préparer par des conseils et des armées à y resister: Il est étonnant de parler de préparation de conseils et d'armées tandis que la guerre est dans toute sa force, qu'elle dure depuis près de six ans, et que l'Angleterre n'a pas encore fait aux américains la moindre ouverture qui puisse les autoriser à croire qu'elle veut souscrire à leur indépendance.
The english nation . . . sigh for Peace. IVº. Le Ministére anglois ne feroit aucune réponse, ou bien il en feroit une insolente: Dans cette dernier supposition, pourquoi s'exposer gratuitement à une avanie, et se rendre par là la risée de toutes les nations qui n'ont pas encore reconnu l'indépendance des Etats-Unis. Mais il y a lieu de croire que M. Adams demeureroit sans réponse parce que le Ministére Britannique croira { 35 } n'en pas devoir à un homme qui prendra une qualité que la Cour de Londres doit regarder comme un insulte. Il ne faut point perdre de vuë que cette Cour regarde toujours les Américains comme de Sujets rebelles: Comment avec cette opinion le lord Germaine pourroit-il recevoir une lettre de M. Adams, se qualifiant Ministre Plénipotentiaire des Etats-Unis de l'Amérique Septentrionale, comment ce Ministre anglois pourroit-il entendre parler d'un Traité de Commerce, lequel ne peut se faire qu'entre Nations indépendantes?
Ces observations convaincront M. Adams que la france n'a pas besoin de la tentative qu'il propose pour connoitre et apprécier les sentimens et les dispositions de la Cour de Londres, et que nous savons dès-à-présent parfaitement bien à quoi nous devons et pouvour nous attendre de sa part dans la position actuelle des choses.
Idem. Vº. Le silence ou la réponse du Ministére anglois, quelle quelle soit, n'allarmera ni ne soulevera le peuple d'Angleterre. Ce Peuple désire sans doute la paix et un accommodement avec l'Amérique: Mais l'on a entendu encore que quelques particuliers, plustôt par esprit de contradiction que par conviction, parler de l'indépendance: Il ne s'est pas fait au Parlement une seule motion tendante à accorder cette indépendance:3 Le peuple a cependant des amis et des protecteurs dans le Parlement. M. Adams peut juger par là des embarras que la notification de ses pouvoirs donneroit au Ministére.
Another consideration . . . of my powers. VIº. L'Angleterre, comme le reste de l'Europe, est parfaitement éclairée sur la nature des engagements qui subsistent entre la france et les Etats-Unis: Le Roi lui a fait déclarer Ministériellement le 13 Mars 1778, qu'il ne s'étoit fait assurer aucun privilége exclusif par le Traité de Commerce du 6 février de la même année, et Sa Majesté a confirmé cette déclaration dans un écrit publié par ses ordres ainsi le pleinpouvoir de M. Adams n'apprendra rien de nouveau à cet égard, ni à l'Angleterre, ni aux autres Puissances de l'Europe: ainsi la fausse opinion où il croit que la Cour de Londres est à cet égard ne sauroit étre un obstacle à la paix: si cet obstacle pouvoit éxister, le Ministére anglois chercheroit lui même à le lever, s'il étoit déterminé à faire dependre de là la paix.
{ 36 }
There are at present . . . its accomplishment. VIIº. Il est certain que toute la nation angloise, et les Ministres eux-mêmes désirent la paix; mais ou l'a déjà dit, il n'a pas encore été fait une seule motion en faveur de l'Indépendance de l'Amérique; le plenipouvoir de M. Adams ne changera certainement par les dispositions subsistantes à cet égard; par conséquent, la communication, qui en seroit faite, ne faciliteroit, ni n'acceleroit la conclusion de la paix.
At this moment, . . . digest their plans accordingly. VIIIº. Cette réfléxion est très sage: Elle prouve que M. Adams sent lui même quil est des circonstances qui le mettent dans le cas de céler ses plenipouvoirs: Le Ministére du Roi pense que l'on sera dans des circonstances de cette espèce jusqu'au moment où la nation anglaise se montrera disposée à reconnoître l'indépendance des Etats-Unis: Cette reconnoissance ne sera pas facilitée par l'annonce d'un Traité de Commerce, car les anglais sont tres persuadés dés-à-présent qu'ils auront un Traité pareil avec l'Amérique, quand il le jugeront à propos; ils ont d'ailleurs, ainsi que M. Adams le dit lui méme dans sa lettre du 19. février dernier, une entiére connoissance de sa Commission, ainsi la communication de son pleinpouvoir ne leur apprendroit rien de nouveau à cet égard.
Notwithstanding the suppression of . . . to Great-Britain. IXº. On vient de repondre au contenu de cet Article: Il n'est pas un anglois qui ne soit persuadé que les Etats-Unis ne soient disposés à accorder les avantages du Commerce à leur ancienne Métropole: Mais persuader, non seulement à un Anglois, mais aussi à un être pensant, qu'en accordant l'indépendance en échange de ces mêmes avantages, la Cour de Londres feroit une paix honorable et avantageuse, seroit une tâche difficile à remplir: Si tel étoit le véritable sentiment du Peuple anglais, pourquoi donc fourniroit-il depuis six ans, sans murmurer, des subsides ruineux pour soumettre l'amérique?
I am the more confirmed . . . if that was settled. Xº. Ou le Ministére anglois recherche sincérement la paix, ou il ne veut qu'amuser et pénétrer { 37 } l'Espagne. Dans le 1er. cas, il exprimera les conditions auxquelles il désire la traiter; il sera donc obligé de mettre au jour ses vuës et ses demandes concernant l'Amérique: Il n'oubliera certainement rien de ce qu'il croira pouvoir acheminer la paix, et, de'accord sur l'indépendance, son premier soin sera sans doute de demander d'être mis au niveau de la france relativement au commerce.
Si au contraire le Ministére anglais ne veut qu'amuser l'Espagne, pénetrer ses desseins, rallentir ses préparatifs de guerre, M. Adams voudra bien rendre au Ministére de Madrid la justice de croire qu'il a la sagacité nécessaire pour demêler toutes ces vuës, et assés de lumiéres et de prudence pour déterminer la conduite qu'il lui conviendra de tenir.
Idem. XIº. Si M. Adams est aussi sûr que de son éxistence que les Ministres anglois n'ont pas envie de faire la paix à des conditions également convenables à la france et à l'Amérique, à quoi bon leur communiquer à présent un pouvoir dont l'on ne pourra faire usage qu'après la paix? Comment M. Adams peut-il se persuader que la Cour de Londres sera séduite par l'appât d'un Traité de Commerce, tandis qu'Elle manifeste encore une répugnance invincible à reconnoître l'indépendance? Quand Elle voudra la reconnoître cette indépendance, Elle proposera d'Elle même les conditions qu'elle croira devoir y mettre, et M. Adams peut être assuré qu'Elle n'oubliera point le Commerce: Ce sera là le véritable moment de produire ses pleinpouvoirs; Mais en attendant il faut travailler à établir la baze de la négociation, Savoir: L'indépendance de l'amérique; Et l'on ne pourra y réussir qu'en faisant la guerre avec vigueur et avec succés.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0020-0001-0002

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0020-0001-0002-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-25
The Comte de Vergennes to John Adams: A Translation
I have received, sir, the letter that you did me the honor to write on the 17th of this month. I have read it with the utmost attention and in order to make my reply all the more exact, I have placed in the margin each of the points which appear to merit observations on my part. You will see there, sir, that I still think that the moment to communicate your plenipotentiary powers to Lord Germaine has not yet arrived and the grounds upon which I base my opinion. I doubt not that you will feel the force of them and that they will determine you to think as I do. But if that should not be the case, { 38 } I request and require you in the name of the King to communicate your letter and my reply to the United States and suspend, until you shall receive orders from them, vis-à-vis the English ministry. I shall, on my part, send my observations to America so that M. de La Luzerne may communicate them to the members of Congress, and I am persuaded that that assembly will judge the opinion of the Minister of France worthy of some attention and will not fear that, by adopting it as the rule of its conduct, it is neglecting or betraying the interests of the United States.1

[salute] I have the honor to be very sincerely, sir, your most humble and most obedient servant.

[signed] De Vergennes
RCand enclosure (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “M. le Cte. de Vergennes 25th. July 1780 Recd. 26th.”; docketed by CFA: “A Translation published vol. 5. p. 287 Dipl. Correspondence.” CFA refers to Jared Sparks, ed., Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution.
1. For JA's response to Vergennes' request, and Congress' reaction to his proposals and Vergennes' criticism of them, see JA's reply of 26 July, note 3 (below). Vergennes enclosed copies of the letters with his instructions of 7 Aug. to the Chevalier de La Luzerne. There Vergennes stated that he had replied to JA's proposals with the frankness due any minister of an allied power, but his objections had not dissuaded JA and had brought only new evidence of his unreliability and feeble attachment to the principles of the alliance. La Luzerne was to present the matter to Congress and request that JA be instructed to attend to the views of the French government and undertake no initiatives regarding his commissions (should they remain in his hands) without prior consultation and approval. According to Vergennes, this was necessary because of JA's delusions and willingness to discard his principles and thereby compromise both the alliance and the honor of his country (Henri Doniol, ed., Histoire de la participation de la France à l'établissement des Etats-Unis d'Amérique, 5 vols., Paris, 1886–1899, 4:424–427).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0020-0001-0002-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-25
Enclosure: The Comte de Vergennes to John Adams: A Translation
Letter written to the Comte de Vergennes by Mr. Adams, 17 July 1780Observations on Mr. Adams' letter of 17 July 1780
1. I should have been very happy . . . to communicate them. I. The reasons which have determined the Comte de Vergennes to give this advice to Mr. Adams are so simple as to appear preemptory: 1. To be concerned with a treaty of commerce before having made peace is to be concerned with decorating a building before laying its foundation. 2. In the situation in which America presently finds herself with regard to England, to announce to that power that its system of tyranny, its cruelties and perfidy, has been forgotten is to display too much weakness, or at least too much simplicity, and invites it to believe that the Americans have an irresistible predilection for England, and to strengthen its opinion that the American patriots will submit through weariness or dread of the preponderant influence of the tories. 3. To propose a commercial treaty, which must be founded on confidence and a union equivalent to an alliance, at a time when the war rages in all its fury and the court of London wishes to ruin or enslave America, is but to give credit to the opinion, which all Europe entertains conformable to the assertions of the English ministers, that the United States incline towards a defection and that they will be faithful to their engagements with France only until such time as Great Britain furnishes a pretext for breaking them.
2. Your excellency will recollect that . . . the court of London. II. One may be furnished with plenipotentiary powers that are eventual without being obliged to disclose beforehand the circumstances under which they may be used. This occurs daily. Mr. Adams is charged with three very distinct commissions: 1. To take part in the future peace negotiations. 2. To conclude a commercial treaty { 39 } with Great Britain. 3. To represent the United States at the court of London. It requires no great stroke of genius to show that these three objects cannot be accomplished simultaneously, nor that the last two cannot serve to advance the first. Before anything else, it is necessary to obtain from England a recognition of American independence, and that recognition must serve as the basis for a peace treaty. Until this is achieved, Mr. Adams cannot talk of a commercial treaty. To propose one while the court of London flatters itself with hopes of subduing America, and to that end is making the most strenuous efforts, would in its eyes propose a chimera, a demarche that it would regard with derision. It would be the same if one were to speak now of a minister plenipotentiary from the United States intended to reside near his Britannic Majesty.
Therefore, the only power which circumstances permit Mr. Adams to announce is that which authorizes him to take a part in the peace negotiation. The other two powers can be of value only after peace is concluded. At least it would be useless to produce them at present and consequently Mr. Adams will not depart from their purpose and nature by concealing them from the court of London. Although the Comte de Vergennes is unacquainted with Mr. Adams' instructions,1 he is persuaded that they are conformable to the foregoing reflections and do not direct him to immediately communicate his powers relative to a treaty of commerce any more than they order him to make a separate peace with Great Britain. This opinion is founded on that which the King's ministry has of the wisdom, prudence and fidelity of Congress.
I think also that . . . to resist them, if hostile. III. One can observe that the English ministry would regard such a communication as ridiculous, so that it would be to willfully delude oneself to expect that it would induce them to enter into negotiations or say anything more than is contained in the resolutions of Parliament: namely that they will listen to and forgive the Americans when they shall have acknowledged their former allegiance. But, at the very least, it would be superfluous to draw from them such a response, for the United States has no need for such an answer to know the present sentiments of the court of London, and even less to prepare with councils and armies to resist them. It is astonishing to speak of preparing councils and armies when the war is raging in all its fury, when it has now lasted nearly six years, and when America has not yet received from England the smallest overture which would permit America to believe that England would consent to its independence.
The english nation . . . sigh for peace. IV. Either the English ministry will make no response or else it will be an insolent one. In the latter case, why should one needlessly expose { 40 } himself to an insult, thereby making himself the laughing stock of all the nations which have not yet recognized the independence of the United States? But there is reason to believe Mr. Adams would receive no answer because the British ministry will not think that it owes one to a man, who assumes a character that the court of London must consider an insult. It should not be forgotten that this court considers all Americans as rebellious subjects. With such an opinion, how could Lord Germaine receive a letter from Mr. Adams styling himself minister plenipotentiary of the United States of North America? How could this English minister bear the mention of a commercial treaty, which can only be made between independent nations?
These observations will convince Mr. Adams that France has no need for his proposed attempt to discover and evaluate the sentiments and intentions of the court of London and that we are already perfectly acquainted with what we ought and may expect from it in the present situation of affairs.
Idem. V. The English ministry's silence or response, whichever may occur, will neither alarm nor arouse the people of England. Without a doubt that people desires peace and an accommodation with America, but one finds that as of yet only some private individuals speak of independence and then more from a spirit of opposition than from conviction. There never has been a single motion made in Parliament tending to grant that independence,2 yet the people have friends and patrons in Parliament. Mr. Adams can judge from this the embarrassment that the announcement of his powers would give the ministry.
Another consideration . . . of my powers. VI. England, as well as the rest of Europe, is perfectly clear regarding the nature of the engagements subsisting between France and the United States. Through this ministry on 13 March 1778, the King declared that he had not secured to himself any exclusive privilege by the Treaty of Commerce of 6 February 1778, and has confirmed this declaration in a writing published by his order, so that Mr. Adams' plenipotentiary powers can disclose nothing new in this regard, either to England or the other powers of Europe. Thus the false opinion which he believes the court of London holds in this matter can be no obstacle to a peace. If any such obstacle did exist, the English ministry, itself, would find the means to remove it, if they were determined to make peace dependent upon it.
There are at present . . . its accomplishment. VII. It is certain that the whole English nation and even the ministers themselves desire peace, but as has already been noted, there has not { 41 } been a single motion made in favor of American independence. Certainly the plenipotentiary powers of Mr. Adams will not change the present situation in this regard and consequently the communication that would be made will neither facilitate nor accelerate the conclusion of peace.
At this Moment . . . digest their plans accordingly. VIII. This reflection is very sensible. It proves that Mr. Adams himself realizes that there are circumstances which may induce him to conceal his powers. The King's ministry thinks that such circumstances will continue until the moment when the English nation shall show a disposition to recognize the independence of the United States. That recognition will not be facilitated by announcing a treaty of commerce, for the English are at present well persuaded that they will have such a treaty with America when they shall judge it proper. They have besides, as Mr. Adams has mentioned in his letter of 19 February, full knowledge of his commission, so that the communication of his powers would teach them nothing new in this regard.
Notwithstanding the supression of . . . to Great-Britain. IX. In answer to this paragraph, there is not an Englishman who is not persuaded that the United States are disposed to grant the advantages of commerce to their former mother country, but it would be a very difficult task to persuade an Englishman or any thinking being that by granting independence in exchange for these advantages the court of London would make an honorable and advantageous peace. If this was the true sentiment of the English people, why have they, for these six years past and without complaining, furnished ruinous subsidies for the subjugation of America?
I am the more confirmed . . . if that was settled. X. The English ministry either seeks peace sincerely or it means only to amuse itself and penetrate the designs of Spain. In the first case, they will express the conditions on which they wish to negotiate. It will then be obliged to disclose its views and demands concerning America. It assuredly will forget nothing which it thinks will forward peace and, upon agreeing to independence, its first care will be to demand equality with France relative to commerce.
If to the contrary, the English ministry means only to amuse Spain, penetrate its designs, and slacken its preparations for war, Mr. Adams should be so good as to do the ministry of Madrid the justice to believe that it will have the necessary sagacity to discover the British designs and have sufficient understanding and prudence to determine the conduct it ought to pursue.
{ 42 }
Idem. XI. If Mr. Adams is as sure of their existence as he is that the English ministry have no inclination to make peace on terms equally suitable to France and America, what good purpose is served by communicating at present, powers which can only be used after the peace? How can Mr. Adams persuade himself that the court of London will be seduced by the lure of a treaty of commerce, while it still manifests a steadfast unwillingness to acknowledge American independence? When Britain shall be disposed to recognize that independence, it will itself propose the conditions on which it thinks proper to grant it, and Mr. Adams may be assured that the article of commerce will not be forgotten. Then will be the proper time for him to produce his plenipotentiary powers. In the mean time, he must work to establish the basis for the negotiations, namely the independence of America, and that can only be effected by carrying on the war with vigor and success.
The content of all or some notes that appeared on this page in the printed volume has been moved to the end of the preceding document.
RCand enclosure (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “M. le Cte. de Vergennes 25th. July 1780 Recd. 26th.”; docketed by CFA: “A Translation published vol. 5. p. 287 Dipl. Correspondence.” CFA refers to Jared Sparks, ed., Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution.
1. While he had not seen JA's copy of the instructions adopted by Congress on 14 Aug. 1779, Vergennes had known of their content since the previous November. See Vergennes' letter of 30 March, note 21 (above).
3. See JA's letter of 26 July, note 5 (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0020-0002

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1780-07-26

To the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

I have recieved the letter which your Excellency did me the honor to write me the twenty fifth of this month.
The sincere respect I entertain for your Excellency's Sentiments would have determined me, upon the least intimation, to have communicated my letter and your Excellency's answer to Congress, and to suspend, until I should recieve orders on their part, all measures { 43 } towards the British Ministry: without2 your Excellency's requisition in the Name of the King.
I shall transmit these papers to Congress, and I doubt not, the Reasons your Excellency has adduced, will be sufficient to induce them to suspend any communication to the British Ministry, as it is undoubtedly their Wisdom, to conduct all such measures in concert with their Allies.3
There is a great body of People in America, as determined as any to support their Independence, and their Alliances, who notwithstanding wish that no measure may be left unattempted by Congress or their Servants to manifest their readiness for Peace, upon such terms as they think honourable and advantageous to all parties. Your Excellency's Arguments, or indeed your Authority, will probably be sufficient to satisfy these People and to justify me, whereas without them I might have been liable to the censure of numbers. For it is most certain that all due deference will be shewn by the People of the United States and their Servants both in and out of Congress, to the sentiments of the Ministry of France.
This deference however by no means extends so far as to agree in all Cases to those sentiments without examination. I cannot therefore agree in the Sentiment, that proposing a Treaty of Peace and Commerce4 is discovering a great deal of weakness, or that the Americans have forgotten the British System of Tyranny, Cruelty or Perfidy, or to invite her to believe the Americans have an irresistible predilection for England, or to fortify her in the opinion that the American Patriots will submit through weariness, or through fear of the preponderant Influence of the Tories.
And so far from thinking it would give credit to the opinion, if there be such an one in all Europe, that the United States incline towards a defection, and that they will not be faithful to their Engagements, it seems to me, on the contrary, that it would discredit the opinion which prevails too much in Europe that there is some secret Treaty between France and the United States, by which the former is entituled to exclusive priviledges in the American Trade.
It is very true, that the Independence of America must be acknowledged before a Treaty of Peace can be made: But the prospect of a free trade with America upon principles of perfect equality and reciprocity, like that between France and the United States, might be a powerful Inducement with the people of England to acknowledge American Independence. Indeed I do not see any other considerable motive that England can ever have to make that Acknowledgment.
{ 44 }
The Congress have given no positive Instructions respecting the time or manner of making these powers known to one Court or another. All this is left at discretion, and to a construction of the Commissions themselves.
It is very certain that all the belligerent Powers are busily occupied every winter in their Councils and preparations for the ensuing Campaign. And it is also certain that the Artifice of the British Ministry in holding up to view every winter some semblance of a design of reconciliation formerly and of Peace latterly, has been a real Engine of hostility against America, equal to a considerable part of the British Army.
Neither the people of America nor Mr. Adams have any the least dread upon their minds of an insolent answer, from one of the British Ministers, nor of the ridicule of those Nations who have not yet acknowledged the Independence of America. No man of any knowledge, justice or humanity in any of those nations, would laugh upon such an occasion: on the contrary he would feel a just indignation against a Minister who should insult a Message so obviously calculated for the good of England and of all Europe, in the present Circumstances of affairs.
I am very much mistaken, for I speak upon Memory, if the Duke of Richmond did not make a motion two years ago, in the House of Lords, and if Mr. Hartley did not make another about a Year ago, which was seconded by Lord North himself in the House of Commons tending to grant Independence to America.5 And it is very certain that a great part of the People of England think that Peace can be had upon no other terms.
It is most clear that the present Ministry will not grant Independence: the only chance of obtaining it is by change of that Ministry. The King is so attached to that Ministry, that he will not change them, until it appears that they have so far lost the Confidence of the People, that their Representatives in Parliament dare no longer to support them: and in the Course of the last winter, the Weight and Sentiments of the People were so considerable as to bring many great Questions nearly to a ballance, and particularly to carry two votes, one against the Increase of the influence of the Crown, and another against the Board of Trade and Plantations, a vote that seemed almost to decide the American Question, and they came within a very few votes of deciding against the American Secretary.6 Now where Parties are approaching so near to a ballance, even a small weight thrown into either Scale, may turn it.
{ 45 }
In my letter of the nineteenth of February7 I said, that my appointment was notorious in America, and that therefore it was probably known to the Court of London, although they had not regular evidence of it. The Question then was more particularly concerning a commission to assist in the pacification. This was published in the American Newspapers in a general way: but I have no reason to think they are particularly informed of these matters, if they were, no evil that I am aware of could result from giving them the information officially. Certainly they have no official information, and it is reported that they deny that they know the nature of Mr. Adams's Commission.
Without any great effort of Genius,8 I think it is easy to demonstrate to any thinking Being, that, by granting American9 Independence, and making a Treaty of Peace, upon principles of perfect Reciprocity, England would in the present circumstances of affairs make an honourable and an advantageous Peace. It would have been more for their honor and advantage never to have made this war against America, it is true: but having made it, all the dishonour and disadvantage there is in it, is indelible: and after thirteen Colonies have been driven to throw off their Government, and annihilate it in every root and branch, becoming independent in fact, maintaining this Independence against a force of sixty thousand men and fifty Ships of War, that would have shaken most of the States of Europe to the very foundation, after maintaining this Independence four Years, and having made an honourable Treaty with the first Power in Europe; after another power had fallen into the war in consequence of the same System; after the voice of mankind had so far declared against the Justice of their Cause, that they could get no Ally; but on the contrary all the maritime Powers are entering into a Confederacy against them upon a point which has been a principal Source of their naval Superiority in Europe: in these Circumstances, the only honourable part they can act is to conform to the opinion of mankind; and the dishonourable and ruinous part for them to act is to continue the War. For the principle, that the People have a right to a form of Government according to their own judgments and inclinations, is in this enlightened Age so well agreed in the World, that it would be thought dishonourable by mankind in general for the English to govern three millions of People against their wills by military force, and this is all they can ever hope for, even supposing, they could bribe and tempt deserters enough from our Army and Apostates from our Cause, to make it impossible for us to carry on the war. This { 46 } however I know to be impossible and that they never will get quiet possession again of the Government of any one whole State in the thirteen, no not for an hour. If England considers further, that America is now known all over Europe to be such a Magazine of raw materials for manufactures, such a Nursery of seamen and such a source of Commerce and naval Power, that it would be dangerous to all the maritime Powers, to suffer any one of them to establish a domination and a Monopoly again in America.
I know there exists in some European minds a prejudice against America, and a jealousy that she will be hurtfull to Europe, and England may place some dependence upon this prejudice and jealousy; but the motions of the maritime Powers begin to convince her, that this jealousy and prejudice do not run so deep as they thought and surely there never was a more groundless prejudice entertained among men, and it must dissipate, as soon as the Subject is considered.
America is a Nation of Husbandmen, planted on a vast Continent of wild uncultivated land. And there is and will be for Centuries no way in which these people can get a living and advance their interests so much as by Agriculture. They can apply themselves to manufactures, only to fill up Interstices of time, in which they cannot labour on their lands, and to Commerce only to carry the produce of their lands the raw materials of manufactures to the European Market.
Europe is a Country whose land is all cultivated nearly to perfection, where the People have no way to advance themselves, but by manufactures and Commerce. Here are two worlds then fitted by God and Nature to benefit each other, one by furnishing raw materials, the other manufactures, and they never can interfere. The number of the States in America; their position and extension over such a great Continent, and their fundamental Constitution that nine States must concur to war, shew that nine of these States never can agree in any foreign war, or any other but for self defence, if they should ever become powerful. But in this case, however disagreable a prospect it may open to Americans, Europe has an everlasting Warranty against their becoming dangerous to her, in the nature of Men, the Nature of her Governments and their position towards one another.
All those Circumstances serve to shew, and the people of England begin to be sensible of it, that Europe will never suffer them to regain their domination and Monopoly, even if the English were able to { 47 } extort a forced Submission. In this situation then the only honourable and advantageous Course for England is to make peace, and open Commerce with America, in perfect consistency with her Independence and her Alliances. The people of England cannot be said to furnish subsidies without murmuring; for it is certain there never was so much murmuring and such radical discontent in that nation or any other, but at the Eve of a Revolution.
I very chearfully agree with your Excellency in opinion, that the Court of Spain has Sagacity enough to penetrate and to defeat the deceitful designs of the English, and am not under other apprehensions from thence, than that the report of a negotiation with Spain, will leave some Impressions in America, where I believe the English Ministry chiefly intend it.
I have already said that from the present British Ministry I expect no Peace. It is for the Nation, and for the change of the Ministry as a step towards Peace that I thought it might have some effect to make the communication, and to satisfy these people in America, who without the most distant thought of departing from their Independence or their Alliances wish still to take every reasonable measure towards peace. Your Excellency's Letter will convince them that my apprehensions were wrong, and your Advice will undoubtedly be followed, as it ought to be, for they cannot promise themselves any Advantage from the communication equivalent to the Inconveniency, of taking a measure of the kind, which ought not to be done but in Concert, against the opinion of the Ministry of France.
I have the Honor to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 471–482); notation on the first page: “No. 12.” For the presence of this letter in the PCC, see the Editorial Note, 13–29 July (above). LbC (Adams Papers); notations by John Thaxter: “Paris 12th. August 1780. This day Mr. Dana delivered Copies of Mr. Adams's Letters of the 1st. 13th. 17th. 21st. 26th. & 27th. of July to Comte Vergennes, to Dr. Franklin who was to send them by a Gentleman going to L'orient to Capt. J. P. Jones.”; and “Septr. 12th. 1780. Mr. Dana took with him to Amsterdam the duplicates of Mr. Adams's Letters of the 13th. 17th. 21st. 26th. & 27th. of July to the Cte. de Vergennes.” Although this is the last letter from JA to Vergennes to be entered in Lb/JA/11 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 99), it is preceded by JA's letter dated 27 July (below, and note 1). For information regarding this Letterbook, see the Introduction, part 2, “John Adams and His Letterbooks.”
1. The views expressed in this letter, as well as in that of 17 July (above), stemmed first from JA's reading of Thomas Pownall's Memorial Addressed to the Sovereigns of Europe, and more directly from his reply to Joseph Galloway's Cool Thoughts. In particular, JA's senti• { 48 } ments regarding Britain's interest in a commercial treaty, the desire of the European nations to end the British monopoly on trade with America, and the absence of any economic threat to Europe from American independence expressed in paragraphs 5–7, 10–12, and 14–18 of this letter should be compared with those in his letter of 16 June to the president of Congress, No. 84 (above), and in Nos. I, V, VI, VII, VIII, XI, and particularly X of “Letters from a Distinguished American,” [ante 14–22 July] (above).
2. In the Letterbook, JA wrote “with,” John Thaxter interlined “out.”
3. For Francis Dana's implementation of JA's promise, in accordance with instructions given before JA's departure for Amsterdam on 27 July, see the Editorial Note, 13–29 July (above) and the descriptive notes to this letter and that from Vergennes of 29 July (below). When copies of the letters of 17, 25, and 26 July were received by Congress on 26 Dec., they were immediately referred to a committee composed of Thomas Burke, John Witherspoon, and James Duane. Its report was adopted on 10 Jan. 1781 and, as JA predicted, indicated Congress' agreement with Vergennes (JCC, 18:1194; 19:41–42). JA was informed by a letter of 10 Jan. that Vergennes' opinion regarding the disclosure and execution of his mission was “well founded.” Having “no expectations from the influence which the people of England may have on the British councils, whatever may be the dispositions of that nation or their magistrates towards these United States; Nor are they of Opinion that a change of Ministers would produce a change of measures, They therefore hope you will be very cautious of admitting your measures to be influenced by presumptions of such events, or their probable consequences” (Adams Papers).
4. The remainder of this paragraph is an indirect quotation, in translation, from sect. I of Vergennes' point by point rebuttal of JA's letter of 17 July enclosed with his of 25 July (both above). In his effort to refute the criticisms contained in the letter of 25 July, JA quotes extensively from that enclosure, but see, in particular, note 8.
5. JA is referring to motions by Charles Lennox, 3d duke of Richmond and Lennox, on 7 April 1778, and David Hartley on 22 June 1779 (Parliamentary Hist., 19:1012–1031; 20: 901–915). Richmond's motion provided for an address to the king calling on him to withdraw all British forces from America. It was in the course of the debate over that motion that William Pitt, 1st earl of Chatham, gave his “dying” speech (see Edmund Jenings' letter of 5 March, note 9, above). Hartley's motion, which was not seconded by Lord North, called for the appointment of a peace commission that could, among other things, agree to a ten-year truce. For JA to refer to these motions is interesting because, while independence might have been the result, neither provided specifically for the granting of independence and both, at some level, foresaw an Anglo-American reconciliation. For Vergennes the references could not have been reassuring, for both motions were intended, at least in part, to dissolve the Franco-American alliance and end the war in America so that Britain could concentrate on its war with France.
6. See JA's letters of 23 and 24 March to the president of Congress, Nos. 23 and 24, and notes 4 and 1 respectively (both above).
8. At this point in the Letterbook is the canceled passage “or any other Talent than common sense.” This paragraph is an effort to refute the third point raised by Vergennes in sect. II of the enclosure to his letter of 25 July (above).
9. At this point in the Letterbook, JA wrote and then canceled “commerce.”

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0020-0003

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1780-07-27

To the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

Since my Letter of the Twenty first; and upon reading over again your Excellency's Letter to me of the Twentieth, I observed one Expression which I think it my Duty to consider more particularly.
{ 49 }
The Expression I have in view is this, That the King, without being sollicited by the Congress, had taken measures the most efficacious to sustain the American Cause.
Upon this part of your Letter, I must entreat your Excellency to recollect, that the Congress did, as long ago as the year Seventeen hundred and Seventy six, before Dr. Franklin was sent off for France, instruct him, Mr. Dean, and Mr. Lee, to solicit the King for Six Ships of the Line:2 and I have reason to believe that the Congress have been from that moment to this, persuaded that this object has been constantly solicited by their Ministers at this Court.
In addition to this, I have every personal, as well as public motive, to recall to your Excellency's Recollection, a3 Letter or Memorial4 which was presented to your Excellency in the latter end of the month of December Seventeen Hundred and Seventy Eight; or the beginning of January Seventeen Hundred and Seventy Nine in which, a great variety of Arguments were adduced to show, that it was not only good Policy, but absolutely necessary to send a superiority of Naval Force to the Coasts of the Continent of America. This Letter together with your Excellency's answer acknowledging the receipt of it, I transmitted to Congress myself, and their Journals show that they received them near a year ago;5 So that the Congress, I am persuaded, rest in the most perfect security in the persuasion that every thing has been done by themselves, and their Servants at this Court, to obtain this measure, and that the necessary arrangements of the King's naval Service, have hitherto prevented it.
But if it was only suspected by Congress, that a direct application from them to the King, was expected, I am assured they wou'd not hesitate a moment to make it.6
I am so convinced by experience, of the absolute necessity of more consultations and communications between His Majesty's Ministers, and the Ministers of Congress, that I am determined to omit no opportunity of communicating my sentiments to your Excellency, upon every Thing that appears to me of importance to the common Cause, in which I can do it with propriety. And the communications shall be direct in person, or by Letter, to your Excellency, without the Intervention of any third person. And I shall be very happy, and think myself highly honored, to give my poor opinion and advice to his Majesty's Ministers, upon any thing that relates to the United States, or the common Cause, whenever they shall be asked.7
I wish I may be mistaken, but it cou'd answer no good purpose to { 50 } deceive myself; and I certainly will not disguise my sentiments from your Excellency. I think that Admiral Graves, with the Ships before in America, will be able to impede the operations of M. Le Chevr: de Ternay, of M. Le Comte de Rochambeau, and of General Washington, if their plan is to attack New-York.
If there shou'd be a Naval Battle between the Chevr: de Ternay and Admiral Graves the event is uncertain. From the near equality of Force, and the equality of bravery, and of naval science, which now prevails every where, I think we cannot depend upon any thing decisive in such an Engagement, unless it be from the particular character of Graves, whom I know personally to be neither a great Man, nor a great Officer. If there shou'd be no decission in a naval rencounter, Graves and his Fleet must lie at New-York, and de Ternay and his at Rhode Island. I readily agree that this will be a great advantage to the common Cause,8 for the reasons mentioned in my Letter to your Excellency, of the Thirteenth of this Month.
But still I beg leave to suggest to your Excellency, whether it wou'd not be for the good of the common Cause, to have still further Resources in view—whether circumstances may not be such in the West Indies, as to enable Monsr. de Guichen to dispatch ships to the Reinforcement of Monsr: de Ternay, or whether it may not consist with the King's Service to dispatch ships from Europe for that purpose, and further whether the Court of Spain cannot be convinced of the Policy of keeping open the Communication between the United States and the French and Spanish Islands in the West Indies, so as to cooperate with France and the United States in the system of keeping up a constant Superiority of Naval Power both upon the Coasts of North America, and in the West India Islands. This is the true plan which is finally to humble the English and give the combined Powers the advantage.
The English in the Course of the last War, derived all their Triumphs both upon the Continent of America, and the Islands, from the succours they received from their Colonies. And I am sure that France and Spain, with attention to the subject, may receive assistance in this War, from the same source, equally decisive. I have the honor to be with great Respect and Attachment, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient, and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
RC in Francis Dana's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 483–487); endorsed on the first page: “M. de R.” and “rep.”; and an additional notation: “No. 13.” For the presence { 51 } of this letter in the PCC, see the Editorial Note, 13–29 July (above). LbC (Adams Papers).
1. Although dated 27 July, the Letterbook copy of this letter precedes that of JA's letter to Vergennes of 26 July (above) and was probably written on the 26th. In the Letterbook, the space before the “7” in “27” appears to have been erased. Moreover, JA left Paris at mid-day on the 27th. This would have allowed him little time to draft the letter, revise it, and wait for Dana to copy it for his signature.
In any event, except for a letter to Mark Lynch dated, probably erroneously, 28 July (LbC, Adams Papers; see Lynch's letter of 8 July, note 1, above), this letter as dated is the last written by JA from Paris in 1780. On 26 July, JA obtained passports from Benjamin Franklin at Passy and, under cover of a letter of the same date from William Temple Franklin (Adams Papers), received Franklin's letters to be dispatched from Amsterdam. At about 1 o'clock in the afternoon of 27 July, after receiving passports from the police enabling them to leave France, JA, JQA, and CA set out for Amsterdam, arriving there on 10 Aug. (JQA, Diary, 1:35, 52). Because JA's Diary entries are brief and lacking in detail (Diary and Autobiography, 2:442–445), it is to JQA's Diary that one must turn for a full account of the journey. Fortunately, he described in great detail the country through which the Adamses passed, the stops along the way, and the people with whom they met (JQA, Diary, 1:35–52). JA would not return to Paris until July 1781, when Vergennes called him back to discuss the proposed Austro-Russian mediation.
2. On 22 Oct. 1776, Congress resolved that the Commissioners should obtain from France, “either by purchase or loan, eight line of battle ships of 74 and 64 guns” and, because of the dire need for the vessels, “the Commissioners be directed to expedite this negotiation with all possible diligence” (JCC, 6:895–896).
3. At this point in the Letterbook the text reads “<very lengthy> Letter or Memorial, <which I had my self the Honour to draw up, when I had the Honour to be one of the Ministers Plenipotentiary to this Court>.”
4. For the memorial, and JA's role in drafting it, see vol. 7:292–311.
5. Vergennes acknowledged receiving the Commissioners' memorial in a brief note of 9 Jan. 1779 (vol. 7:348). JA sent a copy of the memorial to Congress with his letter of 21 Oct. 1779, but neither that letter nor the Journals of Congress for 1 Nov., the date on which JA's letter arrived, make any mention of Vergennes' reply of 9 Jan. (vol. 8:222; JCC, 15: 1231).
6. At this point in the Letterbook are the following three canceled paragraphs. “In the months of September, October and November 1778, I intreated Mr. Chaumont, Mr. Garnier, and Mr. Genet, to represent to your Excellency <and to Mr. de Sartine> or to Mr. de Sartine, the Necessity of such a Measure, and was told by each of these in Turn, that he had done it.
“I offered to each of these Gentlemen such Reasons, as convinced them, of the Propriety, the Expediency, the Policy and the necessity of the Measure. And they each of them assured me they had been heard by your Excellency upon the subject with great Patience, Candour and satisfaction. I therefore took it for granted, that every Thing had been done which could with Propriety be done.
“The Reason why I did not apply myself, in Person or by Letter to your Excellency was this. Dr. Franklin, Mr. Lee and Myself were joint Ministers at this Court, and such was the Misunderstanding between my two Colleagues that if any one of the three attempted to conduct any Negotiations or Conference with his Majestys ministers, at that time, when it was an object of Jealousy, and it was true in Fact that <neither> no one nor any two of the three had a legal Right to make any Request or even any Representation to Court without consulting his Colleagues and procuring the Vote of his Colleagues. This was the only Cause why I did not apply in Person.”
7. Compare JA's comments in this paragraph with those in the next to last paragraph of his letter of 26 June to the President of Congress (No. 87, above).
8. At this point in the Letterbook the following passage was enclosed in parentheses and canceled: “by preventing the Ennemy from Cruising, by giving scope to Trade, by supplying the french Fleets and Armies in the West Indies, by giving an open Field to Privateers, and by distressing and terrifying the English.” In the Letterbook the remainder of the sentence was added, perhaps by Francis Dana.
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, 2016.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/