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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0037

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1780-08-17

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

I never was more amuzed with political Speculations, than Since my Arrival in this country. Every one has his Prophecy, and every Prophecy is a Paradox. One Says America will give France the Go By. { 77 } Another that France and Spain, will abandon America. A Third that Spain will forsake France and America. A Fourth that America, has the Interest of all Europe against her. A Fifth that She will become the greatest manufacturing Country, and thus ruin Europe. A Sixth that she will become a great and an ambitious military and naval Power, and consequently terrible to Europe.
In short it Seems as if they had Studied for every Impossibility, and agreed to foretell it, as a probable future Event.
I tell the first, that if the K. of France would release America from her Treaty and England would agree to our Independance, on condition we would make an Alliance offensive and defensive with her, America ought not to accept it and would not, because She will in future have no security for Peace even with England, but in her Treaty with France. I ask the Second, whether they think the Connection of America of So little Consequence to France and Spain, that they would lightly give it up? I ask the third, whether the Family compact added to the Connection with America is a trifling Consideration to Spain? To the fifth, that America will not make manufactures enough for her own Consumption, these 1000 years. To the sixth that We love Peace and hate War So much, that We can Scarcely keep up an army necessary to defend ourselves against the greatest of Evils, and to secure our Independance which is the greatest of Blessings; and therefore while We have Land enough to conquer from the Trees, Rocks and wild Beasts We shall never go abroad to trouble other nations.
To the fourth, I Say that their Paradox is like several others, viz. that Bachus and Ceres did mischief to mankind when they invented Wine and Bread, that Arts, Sciences and Civilization have been general Calamities &c.
That upon their Supposition all Europe ought to agree, to bring away the Inhabitants of America, and divide them among the nations of Europe to be maintained as Paupers, leaving America to grow up again, with Trees and Bushes, and to become again the Habitations of Bears and Indians, forbidding all navigation to that quarter of the globe in future. That Mankind in general, however are probably of a different opinion, believing that Columbus as well as Bachus and Ceres did a service to mankind, and that Europe and America will be rich Blessings to each other, the one Supplying a surplus of manufactures, and the other a surplus of raw materials, the Productions of Agriculture.
It is very plain, however, that Speculation and disputation, can do { 78 } Us little service. No Facts are believed, but decisive military Conquests: no Arguments are seriously attended to in Europe but Force. It is to be hoped our Countrymen instead of amusing themselves any longer with delusive dreams of Peace, will bend the whole Force of their Minds to augment their Navy, to find out their own Strength and Resources and to depend upon themselves. I have the Honour to be, with great Respect, your most obedient servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); endorsed: “J. Adams. Augt. 17. 1780.”

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0038

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-08-18

From John Thaxter

[salute] Sir

Since I had the honor of writing You last, nothing material has occurred excepting the Declarations of the Danish and Sweedish Courts; which are entered in the Book, and will be forwarded by the first Opportunity to America.1 We sent off a few days agone a large Packet of Newspapers and all the letters by a Gentleman who came to Passy from L'Orient, and who returned thither immediately.2 I have wrote Mrs. A. of your health and safe arrival at Brussells, which I hope will render the rest of a prolix Letter less tedious to her in reading.3
Yesterday morning for the second time since your absence we recieved the English Papers. The Occasion of the delay I know not. You have undoubtedly seen them.
In the Gazette of France of this day there is an Extract of a letter from Colonel Laurens late President of Congress, respecting the Surrender of Charlestown—it is as follows.
“La défense qu'a faite le major Général Lincoln, a la tête d'une garnison composée de 1800 hommes de Troupes reglées, et de 1400. tant Miliciens que Mariniers, contre le Chevalier Clinton, commandant 12000 Anglois, et contre l' Amiral Arbuthnot, qui avoit sous ses ordres 10 vaisseaux de guerre, a été terminée par une capituation honorable, après 30 jours d'une canonnade et d'un bombardement continus, tandis que les habitans de la ville éprouvoient le besoin de vivres et de beaucoup de munitions nécessaires: cette défense ne peut que faire le plus grand honneur aux armes Américaines. Jusqu'alors nous avions différé de faire partir des renforts pour la Caroline méridionale; mais il vient de se réunir une Armée nombreuse, qui pourra bientôt aller inquiéter les Anglois dans leur nouvelle prise de { 79 } possession.”4 This Letter is without date, and to whom it was directed the Gazette does not mention—it was brought to Cadiz by the Peggy Capt. Bryan from Wilmington N. Carolina. I have copied this Extract, lest you should not meet with the Paper. The Printers of the foreign Gazettes begin to publish more reputable, and therefore more true Accounts of the firmness of our Country, than they have done of late. Even Monsr. Linguet has found room for one line in honour of American fortitude.
I should be happy to hear of the receipt of the Packet I sent to You by Dr. Plunket,5 and of your Health as well as of that of your two dear Sons to whom I send much Love.
Mr. Dana is well and desires his Respects to You—his Love to Master John, and also to son fils Charles.
I have the honor to be, with the most perfect Respect, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Thaxter
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Thaxter. ansd. Aug. 30.”; docketed by CFA: “Aug. 7th & 18th 1780.” CFA's docketing refers to this letter and Thaxter's earlier one of 7 Aug. (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:388). JA's answer has not been found, but for some indication of its content, see Thaxter's reply of 4 Sept. (same, 3:411).
1. The “Book” referred to by Thaxter is Lb/JA/12 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 100) containing JA's letters to the president of Congress. The Danish and Swedish declarations comprised the final letter, designated “No. 100,” in that Letterbook (to the president of Congress, 14 Aug., No. 1, note 1, above).
2. This was done on 12 Aug., but the person to whom they were entrusted has not been identified (to the president of Congress, 23 July, No. 99, descriptive note, above).
3. The earliest known letter in which Thaxter informed AA of JA's journey to Amsterdam is that of 21 Aug. (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:397).
4. No other information concerning this letter, reportedly by Henry Laurens, has been found, but see Francis Dana's letter of 19 Aug. (below). The following is a translation of the extract:
General Lincoln's defense, at the head of a garrison of 1,800 regulars and 1,400 militiamen and sailors against a force composed of 12,000 English troops under Gen. Clinton and 10 warships under Adm. Arbuthnot, has ended in a honorable capitulation after 30 days of continuous cannonading and bombardment during which the inhabitants suffered from lack of food and, more importantly, sufficient munitions. This defense can only bring the greatest honor to American arms. For the moment we have deferred sending reinforcements to South Carolina but eventually a large army will be formed that will greatly disturb the English in their new found possession.
5. Probably a reference to the material sent with Thaxter's letter of 7 Aug. (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:388), but Dr. Plunket has not been identified.
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.