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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0282

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-06-21

From James Lovell

[salute] Sir

France appears to be most perfectly satisfied with the ||present mediators yet presses us|| for an Arrangement final of the most ||moderate terms. Franklin, Jay, H. Laurence and Jefferson are added to you||. You would be made very happy by such an Event being grounded on a Desire to alleviate the Distress of a great ||discretion but blush blush|| America ||consult and ultimately concur in everything with|| The Ministers of his most Christian Majesty the Independence of the United States according to the Tenor of our Alliance ||kept sole ultimatum||. I might have mentioned a Circumstance, not very material in the present Turn of Affairs ||all or less or one can conclude as plenipo||. It is a Satisfaction to me and others alike interested that your other ||parchments are untouched||. I hope therefore that we may conclude our ||haddock safe||.1 I presume you will be at very little Loss to come at the Clue of this Labyrinth. ||Gravier2 now|| persuaded of the absolute Necessity of the most cordial Intercourse between ||him and you strongly pressed for orders of that kind|| { 382 } | view and Suppleness knew not where to stop especially when under the Spur of ||at least Marbois||.3 It is needless to turn Welldiggers on this Occasion the whole is at the Superficies. I must officially convey to you some Papers. I shall use this same Cypher. I suspect that you did not before understand it from my not having said supped in Braintree. I guess I said New England.4
The President has sent the Papers before referred to.5 I furnished the Instructions in a Cypher. If any Thing prevents your coming at the Purport Doctr. Franklin can certainly decypher his. I was intended to send only one Set by one Vessel, but I think that would have added Something to the List of Oddities in this Business.
I do not despair of being able to write again by this Opportunity.
The Franklin came into the River Today. Letters from Mr. Dana are received to April 3d. Your last is still Oct. 24.6

[salute] Affectly

[signed] J L
Make 2 Columns of Letters under the rule of Sequence laid down here. Begin your 1st. Column with the first letter and your second Column with the 2d. letter of the Family Name formerly referred to. Go on to & then follow a b &c. &c. &c. Look alternately into the Columns, and so find what my Figures represent, and Vice versa to write yourself.
1   a    
2   b    
3   c    
4   d    
5   e    
6   f    
7   g    
8   h    
9   i    
10   j    
11   k    
12   l    
13   m    
14   n    
15   o    
16   p    
17   q    
18   r    
19   s    
20   t    
21   u    
22   v    
23   w    
[24]   x    
[25]   y    
{ 383 } | view
26   z    
27   &    
28   }   To be used as Baulks in the Beginning and End or within your words.  
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Honble. John Adams”; endorsed: “Mr Lovels Letter June 21. 1781.” Two cipher numbers in Lovell's list were lost when the seal was removed. JA wrote the deciphered text above several of the encrypted passages.
1. Lovell is referring to JA's instructions of 16 Oct. 1779 to negotiate an Anglo-American commercial treaty (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:183–187; calendared vol. 8:204). His hopes were ill-founded, however, for Congress revoked JA's authority to negotiate a commercial treaty on 12 July (JCC, 20:746–747; from the Committee for Foreign Affairs, 21 July, and note 4, below).
2. Charles Gravier, Comte de Vergennes.
3. The Chevalier de La Luzerne and his assistant, Barbe-Marbois, pressured Congress to accede to their wishes, see Commissions and Instructions, 15 June, above.
4. In May 1780, when Lovell first sent his cipher to JA, he explained that “the key Letters are the two first of the Surname of the Family [Cranch] where you and I spent the Evening together before we sat out from your House on our Way to Baltimore” (vol. 9:270–273). Lovell's explanations of his cipher were confusing for someone, like JA, who was unaccustomed to using one. Compounding that confusion was Lovell's frequent failure to follow his own rules when encrypting letters. Compare Lovell's explanation in his 1780 letter with that given here. See also The Lovell Cipher and Its Derivatives, Adams Family Correspondence, 4:393–399.
5. From the president of Congress, 20 June, above.
6. On 29 Jan. Congress received 17 letters that JA wrote between 14 Aug. and 24 Oct. 1780. An additional 27 letters written between 3 March and 23 July 1780 reached Congress on 19 Feb. (JCC, 19:96, 174–175).

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0283

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1781-06-23

To the President of Congress

[salute] Sir

The answer from Petersbourg, as it is given to the Public, is this.1
Her Majesty, the Empress of all the Russias, declares: That as much as She been satisfied with the Zeal with which their high mightinesses have accepted her mediation, so much and more has her compassionate Heart been affected with the difficulties formed by the Court of London, in referring the reconciliation with the Republic to a subsequent and general Negotiation of Peace, between all the belligerent Powers, under the combined mediation of her Imperial Majesty, and his Majesty, the Roman Emperor. As soon as this negotiation shall take place, her Majesty promises beforehand to the Republick all the assistance that depends upon her, to the End, that the Republic may without delay return into the rank of neutral Powers, and thereby enjoy entirely, and without restraint, all the rights and advantages, which her Accession to the Engagements between her Imperial Majesty and the Kings her high Allies, ought to assure to her. In this Expectation, the Intention of her Majesty is, { 384 } conjointly with their Majesties,2 to persuade that Court to that moderation, and those pacific Sentiments, which their high mightinesses on their part have manifested. The Empress flatters herself, that the times, and the events which may unexpectedly happen will bring forth Circumstances of such a nature, as will put her in a situation, to make appear, in a manner the most efficacious, her good will and her affection, of which She sincerely desires to be able to give proofs to their high mightinesses.
This answer gives great Scope to Speculation and Conjecture: but I shall trouble Congress with a very few remarks upon it.
In the first place, without insinuating her opinion, concerning the Justice or Injustice of the War between Great Britain and the United Provinces; She imputes the ill success of her mediation between them, to the Court of London, and not at all to the Republick.
2dly. She applauds the moderation and pacific sentiments of their high mightinesses, and implicitly censures the Court of London for opposite dispositions.
Thus far the declaration is unfavourable to the English, and a pledge of her Imperial honour, at least not to take any part in their favour.
3dly. It appears that the Court of London has proposed a Negotiation for Peace between all the belligerent Powers, under the mediation of the Empress and the Emperor. But, as it is certain the Court of London does not admit the United States of America to be one of the belligerent Powers, and as no other Power of Europe, except France, as yet admits it to be a Power, it is very plain to me, that the British Ministry mean nothing but Chicanery: to unman and disarm their Enemies with delusive dreams of Peace; or to intrigue them or some of them into a Peace seperately from America, and without deciding our Question.
4thly. The declaration says not that the Empress has accepted this mediation, nor upon what terms She would accept it. Here We are left to conjecture. The Dutch Ambassadors at Petersbourg wrote last winter to the Hague, that the Empress would not accept of this mediation with the Emperor, but upon two preliminary Conditions, vizt. that the Court of London should acknowledge the Independence of America, and accede to the principles of the late Marine Treaty, concerning the rights of Neutrals.3 To this She may have since added, that Holland should previously be set at Peace, and become a neutral Power, or She may have altered her Sentiments. Here We can only conjecture.
{ 385 }
5thly. It appears that the Kings of Denmark and Sweeden have joined, or are to join, the Empress in a new effort with the Court of London, to persuade it to make Peace with Holland. But how vigorous or decisive this effort is to be, or what will be the Conduct, if they should still be unsuccessful, is left only to conjecture.
6thly. There are Hints at future Events and Circumstances, which her Majesty foresees, but the rest of the World do not, which may give her occasion to show her good Will. Here is nothing declared, nothing promised; yet it leaves room to suppose, that her Majesty and her high Allies may have insisted upon Conditions from the Court of London, which accepted may give Peace to the Republick, or rejected, may oblige Russia, Sweeden and Denmark to join Holland in the War. But all this is so faint, reserved and mysterious, that no dependence whatever can be placed upon it.
I am sorry to see the Idea of a Negotiation for a general Peace held up, because I am so well persuaded it is only an insidious Maneuvre of the British Ministry, as I am that many Powers of Europe and especially Holland will be the Dupe of it. I confess I should dread a Negotiation for a general Peace at this time, because I should expect Propositions for short Truces, Uti possidetis's, and other Conditions, which would leave our Trade more embarrassed, our Union more precarious, and our Liberties at greater hazard, than they can be in a Continuance of the War, at the same time that it would put Us to as constant and almost as great an Expence. Nevertheless, if proposals of Peace, or of Conferences and Negotiations to that End, should be proposed to me, which they have not as yet from any quarter, it will be my Duty to attend to them with as much Patience and Delicacy too, as if I believed them sincere.
Americans must wean themselves from the Hope of any signal assistance from Europe. If all the Negotiations of Congress can keep up the Reputation of the United States so far, as to prevent any Nation from joining England, it will be much. But there are so many difficulties in doing this, and so many deadly Blows are aimed at our Reputation for Honour, Faith, Integrity, Union, Fortitude and Power, even by Persons, who ought to have the highest opinion of them, and the tenderest Regard for them, that I confess myself sometimes almost discouraged, and wish myself returning through all the dangers of the Enemy, to America, where I certainly could not do less, and possibly might do more for the public Good.

[salute] I have the Honor to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant.

[signed] John Adams
{ 386 }
RC in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, III, f. 224–227). Dupl in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, Misc. Papers, Reel No. 1, f. 350–353); endorsed: “Amsterdam June 23. 1781.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. The following paragraph is a translation of the French text that appeared in various Dutch newspapers, including the Gazette de Leyde of 22 June.
2. At this point John Thaxter omitted a passage that appears in both the Letterbook and the duplicate. The Letterbook reads “to make immediately, a new Attempt at the Court of London,...”
3. See JA's letter of 11 March to Jean de Neufville & Fils, and note 3, 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.