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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

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.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0039

Author: Dana, Francis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-08-19

From Francis Dana

[salute] Dear Sir

I did not expect yesterday when Mr. Thaxter wrote you, that I shou'd have been able to have done myself that honor, by this oppor• { 80 } tunity, as I was much engaged in a particular business. I desired him to send you a transcript of part of a letter in the Gazette de France, said to be written by our worthy friend the late President Laurens; which he tells me he has done. I shall add, least the Gazette shou'd not come to your hands, the account there given from the Captain of the Pacquebot.1
Le Capitaine du Peggy, homme digne de foi, et qui s'est trouvé à Charlestown pendant la plus grande partie du siége de la place, dit de plus que les Anglois ne parviennent à passer la barre, qu'à la faveur d'un vent de S O violent, et qu'ils y perdirent un de leurs plus riches transports, qui étoit un ancien vaisseau de la compagnie des Indes. Il ajoute qu'aprés trois mois de siége, et d'un feu toutjours soutenu, les Américains ne pensèrent à capituler qu'aprés que la troisième ligne de circonvallation formèe, eut amené l'Ennemi à la portée du fusil, et lorsque perdant chaque jour un nombre de citoyens, par les suites funestes d'une petite vérole épedémique, et n'ayant plus pour se soutenir q'un peu de riz, ils ne puvent même conserver la moindre éspérance d'aucun secours. C'est dans cette situation que le Gouverneur Rutledge, et le Conseil, se replièrent dans l'intérieur de la Province, où ils firent tous les efforts pour reunir quelques troupes. Au départ du Capitaine Bryan, un détachement de 4,000 Royalistes, commandés par le General Martin,2 se partoit du côté de la Caroline Septentrionale; mais on sait de ce Capitaine que les Americains, loin d'être découragés par la perte de Charlestown, se disposoient avec la plus grande activité, a mettre obstacle à tous progrès ultérieurs de l'Ennemi, et à se venger de la perte qu'ils venoient de faire.
On the 7th. instant I received, via Amsterdam, a letter from Mr: Hastings of the Post-Office Boston, dated 10th. May: nothing new of course. He says he has sent me a form of our Constitution, but it has not reached me. I learn from several quarters that it is generally approved by the People, and that they will probably ratify it. This makes me more desirous to obtain this Copy. Pray enquire at Amsterdam of every American you meet, whether he had the care of this same letter, and the plan of the Constitution—the Newspapers sent also with it, I have received.
Mr: Gardoqui has drawn a bill upon you for about 900 Liv: in favour of Mr: Grand, which I accepted for you.3
Mr. Dean arrived at Passy about 3 or 4 days since. He has not called here. It is doubtful with me whether he will at all—at least till after your return. If you shou'd see Como: Gillon, please to present my thanks to him for his very obliging letter, and also the letters of { 81 } Introduction which he was so good as to procure for me. If I ever take that route, I shall make use of them.
I am anxious to hear from you, and particularly whether you have received my letter, enclosing a copy of one from the Comte de Vergennes to you.4 It was sent, together with others, by Mr: Appleton who cou'd not have reached Brussels before you left it. I hope master John, and mon fils are well. Please to give my love to them, and believe me to be with much respect and affection Your most obedt: humble Servt.,
[signed] Fra Dana
P.S. Since writing the above Mr: Dean has made me a visit.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Dana. ansd 30. Aug.”; docketed by CFA: “Augt. 19th 1780.”
1. The extract provided by Dana is a continuation of the account from the Gazette de France of 18 Aug. provided by John Thaxter in his letter of 18 Aug. (above). The following is a translation of the extract: The captain of the Peggy, a reliable source who was at Charleston through most of the siege, said that before the English crossed the bar they were met by a violent gale from the southwest that resulted in the loss of one of their most valuable transports, an old East India Company vessel. He added that the Americans considered a capitulation only after three months of siege under constant, sustained fire; after the British had constructed their third line around the town which permitted their guns to bear; when each day a number of citizens fell to a disastrous small pox epidemic; they had nothing to sustain themselves but a little rice; and they could not retain even the slightest hope of relief. It was in this situation that Gov. Rutledge and the council retired to the interior of the province, where they devoted all their efforts to raising some troops. At the departure of Capt. Bryan, a detachment of 4,000 royalists under the command of Gov. Martin set off for the coast of North Carolina, but one learns from the captain that the Americans, far from being discouraged by the loss of Charleston, prepare with the greatest activity to obstruct the further progress of their enemy and to avenge the loss that they have suffered.
2. Josiah Martin, last royal governor of North Carolina, had joined the expedition against Charleston and served under Cornwallis until departing for England in 1781 (DAB).
3. Although stated there in terms of Spanish currency, this may be a reference to the bill for goods sent to AA enclosed in the letter of 10 June from Joseph Gardoqui & Sons (above).
4. This is Dana's letter of 31 July enclosing Vergennes' of 29 July (both above).
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.