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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0169

Author: Digges, Thomas
Author: Hamilton, Alexander
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-11-03

From Thomas Digges

[salute] Dr. Sir

I have received your line with an inclosure the 24th. ultimo, wrote to the partys, and am now busey in putting forward four of the Horses { 324 } requird by my new Correspondant.1 By the time limited, I hope to send Him a set that will compleat His Carriage. As 17 or 18 have been sent from me since the 6th of last mo., I hope a considerable part of them will answer and give a good temporary lift. A Bundle of Books will go in a day or two coverd to Messrs. JDN and Son.2 I hope those sent the 10 Octor. have got safe.
No abatement whatever as to the person I lately wrote about—His health good, Spirits better, and communications as usual. Mr. S[ear]les letter, will be with Him tomorrow, He has had the contents of it before. The Youth3 is totally forbid further admittance and no hopes of him or any friend seeing him for some time.4 When I do not write, you may assure yourself that nothing new since the last written letter has transpird.
You see the sum and substance of the Speech and debates &ca. &ca. There was nevertheless no strong appearances in the House that the American War would be vigorously carryd on—at present no appearances of troops going there. Ten to 12,000 are likely to go in a month or two to the Wt. Inds. The Carolina fleet is to sail with that fleet, so that it is at present not easy to decide whether there are any going to Chas. Town, but I should rather suppose some were to be sent there.5
Several Ships for a week or ten days past have continued to slide away seperately from Portsmouth but whether meant, as is now reported, in order to form a part of a fleet going from the channel Squadron to Gibraltar, or as was before given out, to rienforce the fleet in the Wt. Indies, is not easy to say. I rather think they are gone for the Wt. Indies, to which quarter Sr. Saml. Hood is to follow with 5 Sail of the line. It is said troops are to go with Sr. Samuel (and I beleive some thousands are) but none appear moving towards the seaports yet except a part of Fullartons ragged Regiment6 who are a sad disgrace to every thing like a Soldier.

[salute] I am with high Esteem Yr very obligd & Ob ser

[signed] Alexr. Hamilton
1. Digges' meaning here and in the following two sentences is unclear. None of JA's extant letters seem likely candidates for that received on 24 Oct., but Digges may be referring to a brief covering letter by JA for an enclosure (not found) from Digges' unidentified “new Correspondant.”
2. Jean de Neufville & Son.
3. Henry Laurens Jr.
4. To this point, this paragraph was translated and printed in the Gazette de Leyde of 14 November.
5. The figures on reinforcements for America, given by Digges here and in earlier letters, are in line with the requests of Gens. John Vaughan and Henry Clinton, the former for the Leeward Islands. The appeals, however, notably Clinton's for 10,000 troops that reached London in late September, were far beyond the means of the North ministry to { 325 } meet, particularly with the French and Spanish capture in August of a convoy to the Indies carrying a sizable contingent of troops. Only with great difficulty did the ministry find six battalions in England and Ireland that, with recruits for regiments already in place and additional German troops, meant 6,000 additional men for Clinton. Of those, however, the Germans would not go out until the spring and three battalions were intended first for the West Indies and would only reach Clinton in Sept. 1781. Those going to the West Indies sailed with Sir Samuel Hood in late November, the remainder, except for the Germans, left for Charleston in Jan. 1781 (Mackesy, War for America, p. 375–377).
6. William Fullarton's regiment was intended for use against Spanish possessions in the Pacific, but the shortage of transports resulting from the capture of the English convoy in August (see note 5) caused its departure to be postponed. With the outbreak of war against the Netherlands the regiment was used against the Dutch in South Africa and India (from William Lee, 30 March, and note 7, above; Mackesy, War for America, p. 376).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0170

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1780-11-04

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

Mr. De Neufville, this morning brought to me, a number of Bills of Exchange, drawn upon Mr. Laurens, in the Month of July, amounting to seven or eight hundred Pounds Sterling, and informed me that your Excellency had declined becoming responsible for them and referred him to me.
I have enquired of Mr. Searle who informs me there are about twenty thousand Pounds in such Bills now on their Way.
If there were only seven or eight hundred Pounds, I would accept them for the Honour of the United States, and run the Venture of being able to pay them by borrowing or some way or other: but twenty thousand Pounds is much beyond my private Credit.1
I have been and am pursuing, all those Measures to which I am advised by Gentlemen, in whose Judgment I can justify placing Confidence, and am not without hopes of succeeding in some Measure: but I have not as yet been able to obtain any Money, nor any Certainty of obtaining any in future.
I write this therefore to your Excellency, that if You could see your way clear to become responsible for these Bills for the present, I will engage to see them paid with the Money I may borrow here, if I borrow enough before the Term for their payment expires, or as much of them as I shall be able to borrow: but in this Case if I should not succeed in obtaining the Money, your Excellency will be answerable.2
I should be sorry that the Credit of the United States should suffer any Stain, and would prevent it if I could: but at present it is not in my power.
The Successes of the English at the southward,3 added to the many Causes that obstructed our Credit in this Republick before, some of { 326 } | view which it would not be prudent to explain, will render a Loan here difficult: but I still hope not quite impracticable.
I have the Honour to be, with great Respect, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient & most humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); endorsed: “J. Adams Novr. 4. 1780.”
1. Stated here in terms of pounds sterling, the transactions ultimately undertaken by JA would be done in guilders, at the rate of approximately £100 to 1,111 guilders (to Benjamin Franklin, 24 Nov., and note 1, below; John J. McCusker, Money and Exchange in Europe and America, 1600–1775: A Handbook, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1978, p. 44). While the sums mentioned by JA are large relative to his available funds, they constituted only a small portion of the £100,000 (1,111,000 guilders) in bills of credit authorized by Congress on 23 Nov. 1779 to be drawn on Laurens (JCC, 15:1299). The inability of its representatives abroad to raise sufficient funds ultimately forced Congress to use only a small portion of the authorized bills (Ferguson, Power of the Purse, p. 55–56).
2. See Franklin's reply of 13 Nov. (below).
3. That is, at Charleston and elsewhere in the Carolinas.
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, 2017.