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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0045

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-08-23

To the President of Congress, No. 3


[salute] Sir

The Errand of Mr. Cumberland to Madrid, is a mere finesse of the British Ministry, intended to aid the Stockjobbers, keep up the Stocks, aid the Loan and the Canvas for an Election, and lull the belligerent Powers, while they prepare their measures for future Enterprizes and another Campaign. They have carried this Plot so far, that I see some paragraphs in the foreign Papers, which seem intended to counteract it.
The Truth is, according to my Information,1 that Orders are already { 86 } sent out by the British Cabinet to prosecute the War with Vigour in North Carolina and Virginia the ensuing Fall, Winter and Spring. General Prevost is about to sail, with some Frigates to aid their Operations on Cape Fear River. It is said at the same time they are sounding the House of Bourbon, through Sardinia, and have made some loose propositions of Accommodation, the Ground work of which is the Sacrifice of America and there is no doubt, they would yield to France and Spain very great things, to carry their point against America who may depend upon the utmost Exertions of their Malice and Revenge. But all this will not do. France and Spain are now responsible for their Conduct to the rest of Europe, especially the Northern Powers: and besides this, the Seperation between America and England, is an Object of more pressing Importance to France and Spain, than any Concessions, that England can make them. So that America need not be under any Apprehensions of being deserted.
If however, She were to be deserted by all the World, She ought seriously to maintain her Resolution to be free. She has the means within herself. Her greatest misfortune has been, that She has never yet felt her full Strength, nor considered the Extent of her Resources.
I cannot but lament however, that there is no Representation of Congress in this Republick, vested with Powers to borrow Money. This would be a double Advantage. We should avail ourselves of a Loan, and at the same Time lessen the Loan of England. A Loan once begun here, would rapidly increase so as to deprive the English of this Resource. This is the Method, in which Commerce may be extended between the two Republicks, and the political Sentiments and System of Holland changed. I fancy that several very solid Houses here might be persuaded to become Security for the payment of Interest and that Contracts might be made with them to send them Remittances in produce, either to Europe, St. Eustatia, St. Thomas, &c. to enable them to discharge the interest. Might not Merchants be found in Philadelphia, Boston, and many other places, who would enter into Covenant with the public, to remit such a Sum as should be agreed on in the produce of the Country to such Houses here? This Method, if Congress should think it expedient to fall into the way of sending Fleets of Merchantmen under Convoy, would easily succeed. The safe Arrival of the Fier Roderigue, with so large a Number of Vessels under her Care, gives great Encouragement to this Plan.
I have the Honour to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant
{ 87 }
Dupl in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 245–247); docketed: “No. 103 John Adams Aug 23. 1780 Recd. Jany 29. 1781 Errand of Mr Cumberland to Court of Spain Design of the British to prosecute the war. Sending troops under Prevost agt. No Carolina.” LbC (Adams Papers); notations: “Recd. in congress. Nov. 20.” The original, signed copy of this letter, presumably in JA's hand, has not been found although the JCC (18:1072) indicates that it was received on 20 Nov. and referred to committee.
1. JA's source for this and the following two sentences is William Lee's letter of 20 Aug. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0046

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-08-24

To the President of Congress, No. 4

[salute] Sir

I have only time by this Vessell to inclose the declarations of Sweeden and Denmark;1 but the chance of her going safe is so small that I should not send any thing very material, if I had more time. I have the Honour to be &c.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “recd in congress Decr. 3.” According to the Journal of Congress, this letter was read on 4 Dec. (JCC, 18:1116), but it is not in the PCC.
1. See JA's letter to the president of Congress of 14 Aug., No. 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0047

Author: Dalton, Tristram
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-08-24

From Tristram Dalton


[salute] Dear Sir

This week honor'd me with Your kind favors of 23d Febry.1last, for which acknowledge myself much obliged.
With respect to the Vessel sunk in the W Indies, I took the liberty to address You, in July, from Boston—when the Owners, supposing your public important Commission not to permit any particular attention to such private business, forwarded to the Honble. Mr. Dana every paper they thought necessary, for renewing their Application to the Court of France, for redress2—begging leave to refer You to my said Letter on that Subject, be pleased to accept my sincere thanks for Your polite Offers of Service—which You'll permit me to value, chiefly, because I esteem them really meant—and let me add, my happiness will be doubled if you will put it in my power to render Yourself, or Connections, here, or abroad, any good Offices.
Friendship founded, in those early Years, when neither fashion or selfinterest sway the heart, produce the most lasting Fruits—As you are pleased to recognize that which was formed in our early days, I { 88 } embrace with Earnestness, the claim, and wish, as Opportunities, in our different Professions, permit, to experience and prove, that the Blessings which flow therefrom are the Result, and not the Germs, as is common in Contractions of later life when the World appears too designing and vitious, almost, to be trusted.
Your Opinion respecting Peace must be of great Service in the plans of the mercantile Line. Some Gentlemen, from expecting peace, have neglected the equipments of Vessels of War—but most are now convinc'd that, while any successes can pacify the people of Britain by any representations the Minister makes of them, that Nation will be so infatuated as to push the war; tho' the wisest cannot see with what rational Expectations. The conquest of America must appear ideal—the Chastisement of the House of Bourbon as much so; especially, considering the apparent disposition of the other powers of Europe. Under these sentiments of their Conduct, the Merchants, having pretty well recovered from their deplorable Loss at Penobscot, as also on account of their prodigious Success in capturing such a Number of the Fleet bound to Quebec;3 ten of which are brought in to this County, are pushing into the privateering Business, to the extent of their capitals. I have, thro' the war, kept largely in this business, which, however profitable, nothing but the Service it has done the Country, in the present Contest, would fully justify to my Disposition.
My success has been very various—like the tossing of the Sea, sometimes up to a good Height—sometimes engulphed, I yet carry good Sail, and hope the close of the war may leave me in that Situation, wherein I can best serve my Country and Mankind. But how I am interrupting your valuable Moments! Excuse me, & permit me to acknowledge myself to be, with true Esteem, Dear Sir Your obliged Friend & most humble Servant
[signed] Tristram Dalton
Shall I presume, by P.S., to ask the Favor of any Intelligence which may affect the disposition of the mercantile Interest, so far as is consistent with your every Consideration?
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Duplicate Mr. Dalton 24th. Augst. 1780.” Since the Adams Papers contain only the duplicate it is likely that Dalton's original copy was either not received or was lost. No reply to this letter has been found and Dalton's next letter to JA is dated 25 May 1782 (Adams Papers).
1. Vol. 8:356.
2. The brigantine Fair Play had been sunk inadvertently by a French battery at Guadaloupe in Jan. 1779. Dalton had requested JA's assistance in obtaining compensation from the French government for the loss in a letter of 13 May 1779 (vol. 8:59–60), to which JA's letter of 23 Feb. 1780 was a reply. For the loss of the vessel and the efforts to obtain compensation, see the letter of 13 May, and note 1. { 89 } No letter from Dalton to JA in July has been found, nor have the documents sent to Francis Dana been located in his papers. However, on 15 and 17 Oct., Francis Dana wrote to Dalton from Amsterdam that he had received Dalton's letter of 21 Jan. containing documents concerning the Fair Play and, after consulting with JA, had decided to visit Paris in an effort to resolve the matter. In a letter of 8 Feb. 1781 from Paris, Dana reported on the efforts that he and Benjamin Franklin had made and were making to obtain adequate compensation (all in MHi: Francis Dana Letterbook).
3. Reports of the attack on the supply ships bound for Quebec in the Boston Independent Ledger of 7 Aug. and the Independent Chronicle of 10 Aug. indicate that several Massachusetts privateers were involved, probably including the Essex, Junius Brutus, America, and Saucy Jack, and that nineteen vessels, approximately half the fleet, were captured. For the British account of the attack, which is somewhat different and indicates that it occurred on 12 July, see Thomas Digges' letter of 29 Aug., note 5 (below).
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.