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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0341

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1781-08-17

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

The Day before Yesterday, were brought to my House, Fifty one Bills of Exchange, amounting to 40958 B.f. all drawn on the 22 June 1781 at Six months Sight, on the Honble. Henry Laurens Esqr. in favour of Mr. John Ross.
This is a Phaenomenon which none but you Philosophers can explain, at least I can think of but one Hypothesis, which might account for it. It is, that they had <Settled it in their Minds> received Information that I had gone to Vienna to make Peace; had made it, and thereby obtained Mr. Laurens's Liberty, and his Removal to Holland, and gone over to the Court of St. James's myself to be presented to the King of G. Britain. Say! do I reason like one of the initiated? I am glad they made this discovery, because by this means, I am almost out of the Scrape, and should have been wholly So, had not an unlucky Letter from Mr. Ross been produced, Copy of which is inclosed, in which Mr. Ross desires Messrs. Larwood Van Hasselt and Van Suchtelen “to present them for Acceptance to the Honble. John Adams Esqr. Representative at present from the United States at your Place, or to any of the Agents employed by him” &c.1
Probably this may be, in Payment of the Debt to Mr. Morris and Mr. Ross which you found due to them upon Settlement. However all conjecture are fruitless, as I have no Letter of Advice, or any Intimation concerning them. The Bills are drawn by Mr. Hopkinson and countersignd by Mr. Smith, like former ones, are indorsed by Mr. Ross, and have all the appearances of Genuineness.
Messrs. Larwood & Co. have agreed to wait, untill I could write to your Excellency, to know whether you could pay them, and whether you would choose that I, or any other should accept them. If you cannot pay them they must be protested, for my Loan is exactly in the State it was, when I had the Honour to give your Excellency an Account of it at Paris. And although the Dutch have beat the English,2 they dont yet venture to lend Money to America. I have the Honour to be
{ 458 }
1. The letter from John Ross has not been found. Ross became embroiled with the U.S. Commissioners in 1778 over payment for supplies procured on their behalf. He returned to the U.S. in 1780 to settle his accounts and pressed Congress for payment. On 20 June, Congress ordered Robert Morris to make a partial payment in bills of exchange; that is, in bills drawn on Henry Laurens and John Jay. The Congress did so in accordance with Morris' advice that “it is not necessary to wait for the absolute knowledge of funds being specially appropriated for payment of them in Spain and Holland.” In a diary entry for 23 June, Morris indicated that he issued Ross an order on the loan officer for the bills, which were apparently dated 22 June (vol. 6:28, 80, 379; vol. 7:16–17, 85–86, 119–121, 186; JCC, 20:680–682; Morris, Papers, 1:168, 169). See also Franklin's reply of 31 Aug., and note 1, below.
2. For the Battle of the Dogger Bank, see JA's letter of 18 Aug. to the president of Congress, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0342

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Bondfield, John
Date: 1781-08-18

To John Bondfield

[salute] Sir

I have received your favour of August 7. with much pleasure, and thank you for the agreable News it contains. The Dutch have at last, Sent off Parker with a Flea in his Ear1—pardon a very homely Expression. There is an End, sir, from this Moment of British Tyranny upon the Sea. The Heart and Spirit of the English Navy is certainly broke, and their Skill and Courage gone. They have lost their Courage in finding that the other maritime Powers have equal skill with themselves.
Pray Sir, am I not in your Debt—pray send your Account to Mr. Grand without a Moments loss of Time and draw upon him for Your Money.2 I am about settling Accounts with him and wish to have your Account included in it.
I have the Honour to be
1. For the Battle of the Dogger Bank, see JA's letter of 18 Aug. to the president of Congress, below.
2. Bondfield apparently sent his account directly to JA, for in a letter of 12 Oct. (LbC, Adams Papers), JA informed Ferdinand Grand that Bondfield was owed £390 12s.

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0343

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: McKean, Thomas
Date: 1781-08-18

To the President of Congress

[salute] Sir

We have recieved at last Parkers Account of the Action with Admiral Zoutman: according to which, the Battle was maintained with a continual fire for three Hours and forty Minutes, when it became impossible to work his Ships.1 He made an Attempt to recommence the Action, but found it impracticable. The Bienfaisant had lost his { 459 } | view Main-Top-Mast, and the Buffalo her Mizzen Yard, and the other Vessels were not less damaged in their Masts, Rigging and Sails. The Enemy did not appear in a better Condition. The two Squadrons remained some time over against each other; at length the Dutch retired, taking with their Convoy the Course to the Texel. He was not in a Condition to follow them. The Officers, and all aboard, behaved with great Bravery: and the Enemy did not discover less Courage. He incloses the particulars of the killed and wounded, and of the Damages, which the Vessels have sustained. The last is prudently suppressed by the Ministry.—List of the killed and wounded in the Action of the 5th. of August.
  killed.   wounded.   total.    
Fortitude   20   67   87    
Bienfaisant   6   21   27    
Berwick   18   58   76    
Princess Amelia   19   56   75    
Preston   10   40   50    
Buffalo   20   64   84    
Dolphin   11   33   44    
  104   339   443    
The Dutch List is   killed.   wounded.   total.    
Admiral De Ruyter   43   90   133    
Admiral General   7   41   48    
Batavier   18   48   66   besides Capt. Bentink  
Argo   11   87   98    
Holland       64    
Admiral Piet Hein   9   58   67    
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. 374–377) endorsed: “Letter 18 Aug 1781 John Adams Read 12 Novr.”
1. At dawn on 5 Aug. Vice Adm. Sir Hyde Parker's squadron with a merchant fleet from the Baltic sighted Rear Adm. Johan Arnold Zoutman's squadron, also with a merchant fleet, outbound from the Texel. The resulting Battle of the Dogger Bank was conducted at half-musket shot and resulted in extraordinary casualties for the number of vessels engaged. They exceeded, for example, those in the 1778 battle off Ushant in which thirty ships of the line fought on each side. The Dutch proved that they could fight the British navy on equal terms. The battle did much for their morale and was hailed as a victory. The action, however, left the status quo unchanged and was a British victory in the sense that { 460 } Parker's convoy went on to England, while Zoutman's put back into port (Mackesy, War for America, p. 395; Mahan, Navies in the War of Amer. Independence, p. 189–194). The account given here by JA is from a French translation of Parker's report of 6 Aug. that appeared in Dutch newspapers, including the Gazette de Leyde of 21 August. See also the report in the English newspapers, such as the London Chronicle of 9–11 August.
2. It is unclear where JA got his casualty figures. While the listing of British casualties agrees with official sources, that for the Dutch is incomplete and understates their losses. The figures accepted by most authorities, and which appeared in the Gazette de Leyde of 21 Aug., put the Dutch losses at 142 killed and 403 wounded for a total of 545.
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.