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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0252

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-12-26

To the President of Congress, No. 32


[salute] Sir

The public Papers of this Morning inform Us, that Sir Joseph Yorke left the Hague on the Morning of the twenty fourth, without taking Leave of any body, and bent his Course to London by the Way of Antwerp and Ostend.
Sometime in the Month of April last, a certain British Ambassador, who had an Inclination to take a few of the Pleasures of Paris in his Way to Germany, said in that City, where I recieved the Information { 439 } in the time of it, “To be sure the Americans will carry their Point, and establish their Independence, for there will infallibly be a War between England and Holland before Christmas.”1
If the War is considered to commence from the Departure of the Ambassador, Sir Joseph went off exactly in time to accomplish the Prophecy.
Since the Departure of Sir Joseph has been generally known, the City has been in a Fermentation. The English Ministry are cursed here as heartily as any where in general: Things are said by our Friends to be in a very good Situation: but I never know what to believe. The English are very bold I think—they are very enthusiastical—they are sure of the Assistance of Providence—as sure of Success against all their Enemies, as the old Lady was of Relief from Want, and making her Fortune by drawing a Prize in the Lottery. But have You bought a Ticket, Mamma, said her Daughter? No my Child, said the old Lady, I have no Ticket, but Providence is Almighty, and therefore I am sure of the highest Prize. Ticket or no Ticket.
I have the Honour to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams
Dupl in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 345–347); docketed: “Letter Decr. 26. 1780 John Adams Read 19 Novr 1781.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. In the Letterbook this passage reads: “To be Sure the Americans will carry their Point, and establish their Independence; <but> for <(with a Curse, which altho it would Sound with as much Grace from the Mouth of a British Ambassador as from a British Sailor, would not be proper for an American to repeat) why should they wish to rip open our Belly? the Belly of their Mother? I answered that their pious Child would never attempt to hurt the Belly, if the Mother did not attempt to “dash the Brains out. The Same Ambassador Added,> there will infallibly be a War between England and Holland before Christmas.”
When JA copied this letter out of his Letterbook in 1809 for publication in the Boston Patriot, he restored, with some changes, the canceled passage and inserted the following observation regarding the British diplomat's comments: “This, however, was but one of a thousand of the bitterest expressions which I have heard from Englishmen, relative to the connection between Holland and America. Nothing ever galled them so much. They could never keep their tempers when they spoke or thought of it, and although they blustered and quarrelled, nothing ever brought them to a serious sense of their situation and danger” (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 314).
The 1780 and the 1809 versions should be compared with the somewhat different version of this anecdote that appeared in JA's letter of 28 March to Edmund Jenings (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0253

Author: Digges, Thomas
Author: Church, William Singleton
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-26

From Thomas Digges

[salute] Dear Sir

I have had a sight of yours of the 15th, 17, and 18th Instant and am thankful for their inclosures.1 Whenever any publications worth { 440 } notice, come to Your hands, send them in like manner and they will find immediate insertion here. The Courant being now the most generally read paper for early American intelligence, I constantly give the American papers to the publisher of that paper, and at any time, missing of me, You may have occasion to send any thing worth republication You have only to cut out of the papers the articles and inclose them To Mr. Cooper No. 134 Drury Lane London.2 They will be very thankfully received and will be usefull to us folks here.
Before this reaches You, the accounts of our Cabinet proceedings with regard to Hostilities and war with Holland will be publickly known. We Englishmen seem in general to be much Elated at the rupture, and have already taken all the Dutch homeward bound fleets, their spice Islands, St. Eustatia &ca. &ca. &ca. The wise ones about the Ministry say there will be no war and that the Cabinet only act in this bullying manner to make the Mynheers truckle to and cry piccavi. They boast much of disunion in Holland, that there will be an insurrection of the people, that the other Cities of Holland are divided from Amsterdam, one province from the other &ca. &ca. &ca. This is the old American tune that they are playing, and will I guess have as little effect upon the Mynheers as upon the Yankees. If an insurrection is effected I guess the purpose will be to make a King of an insignificant Statholder.
We have no News from the Continent of Ama. A Frigate is arrived from Barbadoes with a most dismal account of losses sustaind in several of the Islands in the W. Indies in a storm which lasted from the 10 to 18th Octor.3 Barbadoes has sufferd most, 4,000 Inhabitants lost their lives, the principal part of Bridge Town destroyd and all the vessels in that Harbour. Antigua sufferd little—St. Kitts considerably in the shipping and Craft as well as Stores near the Water. Guadaloupe escapd tolerably well. Martinico very much, all the ships being blown out to Sea and several transports with Troops—St. Lucia, Domenica and Grenada (particularly the latter) felt a great share of distress. St. Eustatia sufferd exceedingly. As the dispatches are but just got to London no correct account can be given and you must be referrd to the papers of tomorrow.

[salute] I am Yours &ca. &ca. &ca.

[signed] W.C
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Church”; docketed by CFA: “26th Decr 1780.”
1. Of the three letters, only that of 17 Dec. (above) has been found and the enclosures remain unidentified.
2. This is Joseph Cooper, printer of the London Courant. The address is that given at the bottom of the last page of each issue for the submission of “Letters, Advertisements, and Intelligence.”
{ 441 }
3. The following is a summary of the reports from Antigua and St. Lucia of the massive hurricane that devastated the West Indies in October. The reports appeared in the London Gazette of 26 Dec. and were reprinted in the other London newspapers on the 27th. But the disaster's full impact was not clear until reports arrived from Jamaica, the site of the major British West Indian naval base, about 2 Jan. 1781 (London Gazette, 2 Jan.). The destruction of the dockyard and the loss of ships to the storm meant that the British naval effort would be considerably curtailed in 1781. In fact, of the 33 ships of the line that Britain had assembled in the West Indies prior to the storm, only 13 remained available for anything more than convoying in its aftermath (Mackesy, War for America, p. 380–381; Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 192).
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.