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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0186-0002

Author: Cerisier, Antoine Marie
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-11-15

Antoine Marie Cerisier to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

Since you know the ardor and sincerity of my feelings for the cause of liberty, you can understand my gratitude at receiving the honor of your trust in the letter of 23 October. I regret only that I cannot devote all my powers and abilities to the defense of this noble cause. The duties with which I am burdened at present leave me scarcely a free moment. This did not prevent { 345 } me, however, from reading, with the utmost attention, Sir William Howe's Narrative. Despite its prolixity and details of interest only to those involved, I assure you that I have read nothing which seemed so consequential and decisive on one crucial point: understanding the impossibility of conquering America. Yet it is on this point that the English ministry has failed to meet the expectations of the British nation and there are still some, in this country and in others, who blindly believe in the infallibility of the London conclave: “It is too enlightened,” they will say, “to pursue this war, if it did not have solid and legitimate hopes for ultimate victory. The majority of Americans are well disposed toward England; and there is no doubt that they would be quite content to make an accommodation at the expense of their pretended independence.” The prejudices which the court of London works so relentlessly to perpetuate are so deeply rooted that we must try to destroy them. Every day, I see supposedly reasonable men who are infected. I thought, therefore, that nothing could be more proper to set them straight than the account by Sir William Howe, himself; that is to say, by a general who discovered what the real situation was and provided an accurate account of it. As a result, I have selected a publisher at Rotterdam to take on my translation.1 So I hope you will not object to my having kept so long the copy you were kind enough to send me. I was careful to mark in italics all the passages which might help destroy the false opinions. Since the work was sent to two printers, so that it might be finished sooner, I can only send you the first sheet from the letters to a gentleman. I have not yet received any of the Narrative. I will precede the whole with a preface in which I will demonstrate the impossibility of vanquishing America:
1. Because of the difficulties of the terrain.
2. Because of its inhabitants' dispositions.
I think that such a piece will serve very well as preparation for another which I propose, on the confidence and credit due a people whose independence is founded on a solid base and its resources on the production a large and fertile country, which can only increase in wealth and industry.
You see my plan; I am sure you will want to help me.
Mr. Wild told me you had accepted all the books he had sent you and that he was about to make a trip to Amsterdam. I do not know if he has left yet. As for myself, I do not even have time to go and check if there are any messages for you.
My address is still at Mr. Madrillon's in Amsterdam or in the Lang-nicus Straat in Utrecht.
I have the honor to be, with devotion and veneration, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant,
[signed] A. M. Cerisier
If you have other pamphlets on the same subject, and especially the proceedings of General Burgoyne that you promised me, I hope you will be kind enough to send them, for one cannot get them at Utrecht.
In Amsterdam you asked me if I knew of a good school for your sons. If you wish to send them to Utrecht, where the air is excellent, I know of one which I think they would find congenial.2
{ 346 }
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur Monsieur John Adams sur l'Agter burgwal près de l'Eglise Français à Amsterdam”; endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mr. Cerisier 15th. Novr. 1780 Ansrd. 19th. Novr.” There is considerable loss of text where the seal was both cut and torn away.
1. For Cerisier's translation of Howe's Narrative, see his letter of 17 Oct., note 4 (above).
2. Because of lack of space on the page, this paragraph was squeezed in between the closing and the previous paragraph, but was clearly intended as the final paragraph of the postscript.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0187

Author: Lee, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-11-15

From William Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

A severe attack of a dangerous dysentery, a sick Family ever since Mr. Searle left us, and above all, having nothing material to communicate, have prevented me from writing to you for some time past and indeed my principal object now, is to enquire after the health of yourself and your Sons, as it will give me sensible pleasure to hear that you have escaped the contagion of the late very unhealthy season.
It seems that the rigor with which Mr. Laurens was at first confin'd, has been a good deal relaxed and he is now permitted to walk abroad within the Tower Walls for the benefit of the Air; from what cause this has proceeded one can't precisely say, but it appears, there is a party in the Ks. Cabinet who are heartily sick of the War and wish for Peace with America on any Terms, but as the King is absolute, his Will, must be obey'd; therefore every effort is to be made to send 10,000 men immediately to Ama., which number I apprehend, they will find infinite difficulty in procuring; unless they send every regular Soldier from G. Britain and Ireland. 'Tis some years since I knew three Systems were hatch'd at Passy, all originating in Selfishness, Pride and personal malice and resentment. 1st., that America had no kind of occasion for Ministers or Agents any where else but in France and Spain. 2dly, That it would not be of any advantage for all the Powers of Europe to acknowlege the Independence of Ama., since France having done it was amply sufficient. 3dly, That it was very immeterial what became of the Southern States, or whether they were annex'd to G. Britain or not, as the 4 New England States were fully capable by their own efforts, to maintain and support their Independency against all the power of G. Britain. Designing Men are never at a loss for arguments, however unsubstantial and unfounded, to propagate their doctrines and unfortunately for America the two { 347 } first systems have been adopted. It has given me much concern to find Ideas similar to the last re-echoed from the environs of Congress; but I conceive it merits the most serious consideration of the Northern States, as I am convinced that ruin and destruction to the whole, must inevitably follow any division or seperation among the 13 States.
Monsieur Guichens return with his fleet and convoy will no doubt prove a cordial to the French Merchants and proves also that the last Campaign has ended like the two preceeding ones—An immense expence, a great deal of noise and bustle and nothing done. The capture of the Quebec Fleet was however very fortunate, as it may in some measure releive our Army that must have otherwise suffer'd immensely for want of supplies; for I understand that those which were ready and ought to have left Europe last Winter or early in the Spring, are at this time in the Ports of France.
The conversation in the H. of Commons the 7th instant and the resolves of the Westminster Committee of the 2d are worthy of attention.1 One can't help feeling astonishment and indignation at the conduct of some of the branches of the power where you are—can the corrupted part mean to subjugate the whole to their Rival and Bitterest Enemy? A union with the Northern powers would take away even the shadow of danger as they can, by only with holding their Naval Stores, in one or two Years annihilate the fleets of G. Britain. But at all events I do not see what the Dutch have to apprehend from a War with G. Britain more than they now suffer—Their Ships are taken in all parts of the World where met with and condemn'd; their Territory invaded; their independency as a sovereign Power in fact denyed, and insult heaped upon insult; without a means of redress, while their present conduct is pursued.
I beg you to present my best Compliments to your Sons & to be assured that I am with the highest Esteem & Respect Yr. most Obliged & Obedt. Hble Servt.
[signed] W: Lee
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “William Lee Esqr. Nov. 15th. 1780 Ansd. 19th. Novr.”
1. The most notable exchange in the House of Commons on 7 Nov. was probably that between Charles James Fox and Lord George Germain (see Thomas Digges' letter of 14 Nov., and note 4, above). In his letter of 29 Nov., however, Lee indicated that he was referring to a statement by Col. Samuel Hartley, actually Winchcombe Henry Hartley, that came immediately after the Fox-Germain exchange, to the effect “that we ought to treat on any terms with America, could it be effected without concluding at the same time a peace with France” (Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, 8 Nov.).
For the resolves adopted by the Westminster Committee of Association on 2 Nov., see the London Courant of the 3d. In its resolutions, the committee denied assertions that { 348 } the association movement had been responsible for the Gordon Riots and would foment future unrest; called for an immediate end to the American war; praised Sir George Saville for his efforts on behalf of parliamentary reform; and sought the reintroduction of Edmund Burke's “economical reform bill.”
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.