A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0022-0002

Author: Chavagnes, Bidé de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-28

Bidé de Chavagnes to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] My Dear Sir

My concern for you, Messrs. Dana and Thaxter, and your dear children leads me to have the pleasure and honor of inquiring after your health, which much concerns me, and to give you news of my own, since you were kind enough to ask.1 I have been feeling quite well since our departure from Brest on the 13th of this month. After eight days of smooth sailing we arrived by some miracle at Ferrol, for the British fleet deployed in the gulf is taking advantage of the season's favorable winds to roam everywhere. They have tried to cut out one of our three deckers at St. Andero,2 and during the eight { 55 } days that we have been here our look-outs have spotted twenty-two vessels heading first for Cape Finisterre and then, in the last two days, for Cape Ortegal. Since my vessel is the poorest sailor, we were very lucky to outrun them. We ran into fog for nearly twenty leagues off the coast of Spain.
We are a large company here, three French ships of the line,3 two Spanish and a third preparing for sea, four frigates, and a convoy of 60 merchant ships whose arrival should be of great importance to our colonies, but I fear that it would be too dangerous to send it off now. A frigate has been sent to reconnoiter the British fleet, but although it is fast, I fear for her. We are in great need of favorable winds from the southwest or, better yet, a visit to this coast of our fleet at Cádiz. Otherwise I do not see how we can successfully leave Ferrol and sail past Cape Finisterre before the end of August, since such a fleet would be 4 or 5 leagues long. It is difficult to avoid being seen when one is constantly beset by small vessels that come as far as the harbor entrance to watch us. Since they are so quick, they scoff at us.
I have renewed my acquaintances at Ferrol, but fear staying here long enough to become bored. This is already happening, but I always eat and sleep on board. As you know, the shore is too expensive. The commandant of Ferrol and the consuls at Corunna and Ferrol are well and have inquired after you.
We are supposed to go on to Cádiz. If you are willing to risk sending me a letter there to give me your instructions, I would be most gratified.4 We have no interesting news at the moment. It is so hot that I am drenched in sweat as I write this. I wish good health to you, as well as to your friends and family. Keep in touch and never doubt the sincere sentiments of respectful devotion with which I have the honor to be for life, my dear sir, your very humble and very obedient servant.
[signed] Bidé de chavagnes
capne. des vaux. du roy de france
If you see Mons. de Sartine, please convey to him my deep respect.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “francia A Monsieur Monsieur Jonps Adams ministre plenipotentiaire des etats unis de l'amerique septentrionalle prés <la cour de france à versailles> A <La Cour>; second address by Chavagnes: “a m. De Renneval au bau. Des affaires Etrangeres pour donner son adresse”; in another hand: “chez m. de francklin a Passy a Passy” and “Dr de Versailles a Passy”; endorsed by Francis Dana: “Cap: De Chavagne Recd. Augt: 22d. 1780.”
1. Chavagnes may be referring to JA's letter of 16 May (above), but it contained no inquiry about Chavagnes' health and had been answered on 15 June (above).
2. Probably the ship of the line Invincible of 110 guns. A report in the London Chronicle of 15–17 Aug., dated 18 July at St. Andero (i.e. Santander, a major port on the northern coast of Spain), indicated that the British squadron of 17 ships in the Bay of Biscay had chased the Invincible and the frigate Venus into the harbor at Santander. Chavagnes' account may indicate that the British tried to attack the vessel within the harbor, either with the ships from the squadron or by means of a raid with small boats.
3. It is not clear whether Chavagnes is counting his own vessel, but the Bien Aimé was accompanied by the Bretagne, Royal Louis, Alexandre, and Magnanime. Only the first four went on to Cádiz, their intended destination (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 366, 368).
4. The next letter from Chavagnes in the { 56 } Adams Papers is that of [ante 24 Jan. 1781]. It is apparently a reply to a previous letter by JA, and JA's docketing indicates that he replied to it on 24 January. No letters from JA to Chavagnes between 16 May 1780 (above) and 27 Feb. 1785 (LbC, Adams Papers) have been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0023

Author: Digges, Thomas
Author: Williams, Alexander
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-28

From Thomas Digges

[salute] Dr. Sir

A Vessel from N York to Liverpoole which saild the 24th. June, brings advice that Clinton had got back to that quarter and gone up the No. River with 10,000 Men and several small boats.1 About a month ago an intimate friend shewd letters from that General mentioning that his intention was to try if Washingtons lines were forcible; I make no doubt this is the scheme he is upon—He will most likely look, and come back, which was the case with Him before.
The same Vessel brings an account of a smart action between the Trumbull frigate Cap. Nicholson and a Liverpoole Letter of Marque which got off.
A Passenger in a Ship from St. Eusa. to Holland who landed at the Downes and whom I saw this day at Loyds,2 told me He saild the 8th of June; on the 24th He was brought too by Adm. Graves's fleet of 7 sail of the Line in Latitude 34= Longitude 52= about 70 Leagues NE of Bermudas. This fleet saild the 18th June in search of Terneys Squadron after which Graves enquird very eagerly.
It appears there were no accounts of that squadron on the American Coasts at least near N York, on the 24th of June.
I am your Most Ob Ser
[signed] Alexr. Williamson
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Monsieur Monsr. Ferdinando Raymond San negote. chez Monsr. Hocherau, Libraire Pont Neuf a Paris”; endorsed by Francis Dana: “W. S. C.'s Letter Recd. 17th. Augt: 1780.”
1. At this time Clinton moved against Connecticut Farms and Springfield, N.J., and it is probably that expedition to which the report refers. See William Churchill Houston's letter of 11 July, and note 2 (above).
2. As a meeting place for marine underwriters, Lloyd's dates back to 1692 and Lloyd's Coffee House. While Lloyd's still was referred to as a coffee house in 1780, the loose gathering of underwriters had formed itself into a society in 1770, and had been located on the northwest side of the Royal Exchange since 1774 (Henry B. Wheatley, London Past and Present: Its History, Associations, and Traditions, 3 vols., London, 1891, 2:407–408).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0024

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0024-0001

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0024-0001-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-29

From the Comte de Vergennes

J'ai reçû, Monsieur, la lettre que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'écrire le 27. de ce mois. Lorsque j'ai pris sur moi de vous donner { 57 } une marque de confiance en vous instruisant de la destination de Mrs. de Ternay et de Rochambeau, je ne m'attendois pas à la discussion à la quelle vous avez crû devoir vous livrer sur un passage de ma lettre du 25. de ce mois: Pour en éviter de nouvelles de ce genre, je crois devoir vous prévenir que M. Francklin étant seul accrédité auprès du Roi de la part des Etats-unis, c'est avec lui privativement que je dois et puis traiter des matières qui les concernent, et particulièrement celle qui fait l'objet de vos observations.
Au surplus, Monsieur, je crois devoir vous faire remarquer que le passage de ma lettre sur lequel vous avez crû devoir étendre vos réfléxions, n'est relatif qu'à l'envoi de l'Escadre commandée par M. le Chev. de Ternay, et qu'il n'a eû d'autre objet que de vous convaincre que le Roi n'a pas eu besoin de vos sollicitations pour s'occuper des intérêts des Etats-unis.
[signed] De Vergennes
J'ai l'honneur d'être très parfaitement, Monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0024-0001-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-29

The Comte de Vergennes to John Adams: A Translation

I have received, sir, the letter which you did me the honor to write on the 27th of this month. When I took upon myself to give you a mark of my confidence by informing you of the destination of Messrs. de Ternay and Rochambeau, I did not expect the remarks that you have thought it necessary to make regarding a passage in my letter of the 25th of this month. To avoid any further discussions of this sort I think it my duty to inform you that since Mr. Franklin is the only person accredited to the King by the United States, it is with him only that I ought and can treat of matters which concern them and particularly those which have been object of your observations.
Moreover, sir, I ought to observe to you, that the passage in my letter on which you have thought it necessary to extend your remarks, concerns only the sending of the squadron commanded by the Chevalier de Ternay and had no other object than to convince you that the King had no need for your solicitation to induce him to concern himself with the interests of the United States.
I have the honor to be very perfectly, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] De Vergennes
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “M. Le Cte. de Vergennes 29th. July 1780. Recd. 30th.”; docketed by CFA: “a Translation published Sparks' Corresp. Vol 5. p. 304.” CFA refers to Jared Sparks, ed., Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution. LbC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers); notation by Thaxter: “Paris 12th. August. 1780. This day Mr. Dana delivered Copies of the Comte { 58 } de Vergennes letters of the 30th. of June, 20th. 25th. & 29th. of July to Mr. Adams, to Dr. Franklin, who was to send them by a Gentleman going to L'Orient to Capt. J. P. Jones.” and “Sept. 12th. 1780. Mr. Dana took with him to Amsterdam the duplicates of Cte. de Vergennes letters of the 20th. 25th. & 29th. July.” This is the last letter recorded in Lb/JA/11, which contained letters to and from the French foreign ministry. For information concerning this and other Letterbooks, see the Introduction, part 2, “John Adams and His Letterbooks” (above).
1. This is the final letter to pass between JA and Vergennes until JA's letter of 7 July 1781, announcing his return to Paris and readiness to discuss the proposed Austro-Russian mediation (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 17:304; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:550).
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, 2016.