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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

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).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0219

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1780-12-06

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

I thank you, for yours of 30 Nov. I return the two Letters from Mr. L. I had the Honour of one, from him, by each of those opportunities, nearly to the Same Purpose.1
Your kind concern for our Health is very obliging. I shall cover me with Flannels and Furs, like a Dutchman. A Mans Feelings, Soon remove all the Ridicule of it.
The “Pensees” will Serve to excite a Curiosity after the Memorial.2Many have read it, with Pleasure. But the Narrative of General How has made the greatest Impression here. All who have read it Say, that it is a demonstration of the Universal Abhorrence of British Govt. and of the Impracticability of Subduing or gaining America.
The Letters of Joly, I have never heard of.
G. Washington was at Bergen, very near N. York on the 9th of October.
We expect within a few Weeks to hear from Petersbourg that the neutral Confederation, is compleated and that the King of Prussia has Signed it. His Letters to the Prince probably brought this Republick into it. What Part will England Act, towards it? Rush on the thick Bosses?3
How many Troops will England be able to Send out in all? To the Islands, the Continent, Quebec, &c.? And by what Time will they be ready?
If France and Spain Should keep their whole combined Fleet in { 394 } the Channell next Year, will not the English Merchant Fleets be in some danger?
If they should send a Superiour Fleet to N. America, would not the whole British Power be in danger?
If American Commerce and Privateers, should extend themselves next year, farther than they ever have done would not the English suffer, Somewhat? What have they got last year, but Preservation from total Ruin by a series of Miracles? Can they be sure that such a series will continue?
1. The letters that JA enclosed with this letter have not been found, but “Mr. L.'s” letters to him were probably those of 10 and 28 Sept. from Arthur Lee (both above), to which JA wrote his first and secondseparate replies on 6 Dec. (both below).
2. That is, Thomas Pownall's Memorial.
3. That is, to throw itself against the shield raised by the armed neutrality (OED).
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.