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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0217

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cooper, Samuel
Date: 1780-12-06

To Samuel Cooper

[salute] Sir

I have received your very agreable Letter of the 8th of September.1
Nothing could give me more Satisfaction than to learn the peaceable Establishment of the New Constitution. I Sincerely wish Mr. Hancock happy in his important office. Much will depend upon the Wisdom and Firmness of the first Governor, and much upon the Impartiality, and Liberality with which he hearkens to the Advice of Such, as have Abilities and Dispositions to give the best. There are Characters, in the Massachusetts very able, if they draw together, to conduct the State through every Perplexity and Danger: but if any little or great Animosities should estrange them from each other, the Consequences will be disagreable. They may be very pernicious.
I am impatient to see the Lists of Council, senate, and Assembly. The Attention of Nations is turned to the Massachusetts more than ever. That Commonwealth has a great Trust in its Hands, and I hope will be able to give a good Account of it. It has hitherto answered the highest Expectations.
Their high mightinesses have at length determined to acceed to the armed Neutrality. The K. of Prussia, will acceed to it. It is believed that his Letters to the Prince of Orange, induced his most serene highness to relax his opposition, because it is Supposed that he had Influence enough to have prevented the Republick from acceeding if he had been determined.2 At present however, the Dutch are much intimidated. They are afraid of every Thing. But above all Things, of giving Us a Credit.
As to Peace there is not a Thought nor a Word Spent about it. The War will last Several Years. If America were to seek Peace or even Reconciliation, and even if France would consent that she should, Great Britain would grant her no other Terms than unlimited Submission. Depend upon it, there never was more Malice, or deceit, { 392 } nor more wicked Designs than that whole Nation entertains against Us at this moment.
1. JA received this letter (above, and note 1) sometime prior to 28 Nov., for on that date a portion of Cooper's letter appeared in the Gazette de Leyde.
2. JA's statement reflects rumors exaggerating Frederick II's influence on William V regarding the League of Armed Neutrality. Certainly Frederick favored a Dutch accession to the league, but the decisive factor for both William V and the States General was the continued British assault on Dutch commerce (Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution, p. 146). Prussia acceded to the armed neutrality in May 1781 (James Brown Scott, ed., The Armed Neutralities of 1780 and 1800, N.Y., 1918, p. 397–403).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0218

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1780-12-06

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

I congratulate you, on the Return of your Health and thank you for the Extract from Dr. Styles, which I have communicated to Mr. Searle and Mr. Dumas as you desired. Shall be happy to See, the detail of Arnolds Conduct.
As long, as Congress and Courts Martial inflict So gentle Punishments upon flagrant Criminals, and then entrust them with Commands and Employments as if nothing had happened, So long we may expect to see Examples of Treachery, Desertion, and every other Villany. What an Instance of Bravery, and Baseness, this Man has exhibited.
There is one Measure, however, that would Scatter more Knaves than all the Discipline of the Army, or than all Committees of Enquiry, which ever Sat. It is a civil Action. Let the united States Sue, at common Law, every Man who has abused the publick Confidence, and let a Jury determine. I warrant you, a Jury would turn many a one out of his Chariot, into the Dirt. Arnold was accused of Plunder, or Peculation rather, by the Executive Council of Pensilvania. He ought to have been sued. If he had, he would never have had a Command again.
There are confused Rumours of Gates's having obtained Advantages of Cornwallis, but as We have nothing from England for three or four Posts know not their origin, or Credibility.
It is said in the Papers that M. Rochambeau, is come to Solicit for more Troops. More Troops would do no harm, that I know of, but they are not wanted. All We want is Money and ships. Men We have enough, and willing ones too. Without ships, Troops will do no good { 393 } at all. Untill the Courts of France and Spain, shall see the Policy and Necessity of keeping a naval superiority in the American Seas, one little rascally Nation, will continue to make Sport of all the Nations of the Earth.1
I have the Honour to be, with great Esteem, sir your most obedient sert
[signed] John Adams
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); endorsed: “J. Adams. Dec. 6. 1780.”
1. In fact, JA's hope was about to be realized. The Gazette de Leyde of 5 Dec. reported the arrival of the Vicomte de Rochambeau, son of the French commander in America. He brought the results of his father's conference with George Washington, held at Hartford on 20–21 September. Their request for additional troops was denied, but a fleet under the Comte de Grasse was dispatched on 22 March with instructions to aid the allied army if possible and through that means control of the Chesapeake was established in Oct. 1781 and Cornwallis' defeat assured (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 238–246; Arnold Whitridge, Rochambeau, N.Y., 1965, p. 99–104).
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.