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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-06-10-02-0024-0001-0001

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
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, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/