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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0331

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: McKean, Thomas
Date: 1781-08-08

To the President of Congress

[salute] Sir

This People must have their own Way. They proceed like no other. There cannot be a more striking Example of this, than the Instructions given to Privateers and Letters of Mark.
The Commander is ordered to bring his Prizes into some Port of the United Provinces, or into the Ports or Roads of the Allies and Friends of this Republick, especially France, Sweeden, North America, or Spain: and the Ship shall be at liberty to join, under a written Convention, with one or more Privateers or other similar Ships of War, belonging to Hollanders, Zealanders, French, Americans or Spanish, to undertake jointly any thing advantageous &c.
This is not only an Acknowledgment of the Independence of North America, but it is avowing it to be an Ally and Friend. But I suppose, in order to elude and evade, it would be said that these are only the { 446 } Instructions given by Owners to their Commanders: yet these Instructions are required to be sworn to, and produced to the Admiralty for their Approbation.
It is certain that the King of Spain, when he declared War against Great Britain, sent orders to all his Officers to treat the Americans as the best Friends of Spain, and the King's Pleasure, being a Law to his Subjects, they are bound by it.
But what is there to oblige a Citizen of the United Provinces to consider the Americans as the Friends of the Republick? There is no such Law, and these Instructions cannot bind. Yet it is very certain, that no Dutchman will venture to take an American.
I have the honor to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant,
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, III, f. 364–365).
1. In a letter of 9 Aug. from Jean de Neufville & Fils to the president of Congress, the firm reported that JA was shown the admiralty instructions given to two privateers that they had freighted to America. JA observed that the instructions were “an Acknowledgement of Independance of America; the admiralty by their Avowd instructions mentioning in particular, France America and Spain, as our allies and friends” (PCC, No. 145, f. 76). The two privateers were the Liberty and the Aurora, for which see JA's letter of 22 Nov. to Benjamin Franklin (Franklin, Papers, 36:95– 96).

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0332

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-08-11

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

On my return to this Town I found a Letter from London informing me that the 20£ was paid according to order.1 The Gentleman, who executed this Commission is named Bridgen and his address is Bridgen & Waller London, putting a little, b thus under the Seal, which prevents his Partner opening the Letter. He sent me the inclosed Copies of an Ode.2 I find in his letter the following Paragraph: “I hear that the new chariot, which your Nephew has just stept into, is in the highest stile. I Hope He wont drive too fast, least a wheel should fly off but that is his Business.” I fancy this alludes to A Lee, who I suppose has gained the Post, for which He was a Candidate.3
I do not Know whether your Excellency has read a little Work, called the Pou Francois. It is a sad libel on the Old Gentleman at Passy and others. I have no doubt that it is written by Tickel the Author of the Cassette Verte and Anticipation.4 We have reports here of an Engagement between the Dutch and English fleets, but nothing distinctively.5
I did myself the Honor of sending to your Excellency two Books { 447 } published 5 or 6 years ago on public Happiness the Gentleman promised to deliver them safely.6
I find Mr. Lee7 a great deal Better. He desires his Respects to your Excellency.
I am with the greatest Respect Sir Your Excellencys Most Faithful & Obedient Humble Servt.
[signed] Edm: Jenings
1. See Edward Bridgen's letter of 13 July, above, and JA's reply to Jenings of 18 Aug., below.
2. This enclosure has not been identified.
3. Arthur Lee was Jenings' second cousin. On 17 Jan. Lee was nominated to be secretary for foreign affairs, the post to which Robert R. Livingston was elected on 10 Aug. (JCC, 19:65; 21:851–852).
4. JA received a copy of [Delauney], Histoire d'un pou françois; ou, l'espion d'une nouvelle espéce, tant en France, qu'en Angleterre. Contenant les portraits de personnages intéressans dans ces deux royaumes et donnant la clef des principaux evènemens de l'an 1779, et de ceux qui doivent arriver en 1780, 4th edn., Paris [i.e. London], 1779, the previous fall (vol. 10:296–297). For JA's opinion of the pamphlet, see his reply to Jenings of 18 Aug., below. The work may have been attributed to Richard Tickell because, like Tickell's La Cassette Verte de Monsieur de Sartine, Trouvée chez Mademoiselle Du Thé, The Hague [i.e. London], 1779, its title was in black and red and it was sold by T. Becket of the Strand, London (T. R. Adams, American Controversy, p. 624–625, 678). Tickell's most celebrated work was his parody, Anticipation: Containing the Substance of His M---y's Most Gracious Speech to both H---s of P---l---t, on the Opening of the approaching Session, together With a full and authentic Account of the Debate which will take Place in the H---e of C---s, on the Motion for the Address, and the Amendment, London, 1778. See L. H. Butterfield, Anticipation by Richard Tickell. Reprinted from the First Edition, London, 1778 With an Introduction, Notes and a Bibliography of Tickell's Writings, N.Y., 1942.
5. For the Battle of the Dogger Bank fought on 5 Aug., see JA's letter of 18 Aug. to the president of Congress, below.
6. A copy of François Jean, Marquis de Chastellux, An Essay on Public Happiness, 2 vols., London, 1774, is in JA's library at the Boston Public Library (Catalogue of JA's Library).
7. William Lee.
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.