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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0355-0001

Author: Dana, Francis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-09-08

From Francis Dana

[salute] My Dear Sir

It is not through want of attention that I have omitted to this time, to acquaint you of our arrival in this City. We reached it, after some perils, on the 27th. of Augt. N.S. sufficiently fatigued I assure you. For from Leipsic I began to travel day and night, and continued this practise all along the remaining distance. At Berlin we rested, or were rather stopped, nine days by the unfortunate accident of our voiture's being overthrown and broken into peices, between Leipsic and Berlin, the first time I attempted to travel in the night. I there bought a new one, which was warrantd to carry us to St. Petersbourg and back again, in the utmost safety. This however failed in essential parts, and required many repairs on the way. Notwithstanding the above accident, I found our advance so slow, through the abominable defects of Germans Posts, that I resolved to risk all again, and persist in travelling in the night; fortunately nothing of the like kind happened to us. We rested afterwards a day or two, at the following places, Dantzick, Konigsberg, Memel, Riga, and Narva, at most of which stages our voiture demanded repairs. This gave me an opportunity, perhaps not wholly unprofitable to our Country, to make enquiries into the commerce of these Towns; for they are all of them Ports. On the whole from Amsterdam to this City, we were fifty one days. Mr. Jennings gave me all Augt. to get in; but for the accident to my first voiture, and some detentions for the repairs of my second, I wou'd have accomplished my journey 12 or 14 days sooner with equal fatigue.1 After all, you will not be surprised to learn I am told, in effect, that I am here too soon—that the proper time is not yet come. In the name of common sense, I was about to ask you, what this Gentry can mean; but I believe we are at no loss to answer this question. I am promised however in the most flattering terms, every assistance in matters touching the joint or common interests of the two Houses, yet I am told not to expect it in matters that may be injurious to one, without being advantageous to the other.2 Such frivolous reasons appeared to me to have been assigned to show the time is not yet come, that I have presumed to question them. This I imagine may give offence, when I wou'd not wish to do it. But must an implicit faith but put in all things which may come from a certain quarter? Happily all our communications have hitherto been in writing: so { 479 } that they, whose right it is to judge each of us, may do it understandingly. I am not disappointd in this difference of sentiments upon my main business, yet I am somewhat shocked that I have been here 12 days, since he knew in a proper way, of my being in Town, and have not received the least mark of attention from our friend,3 except what may be contained in civil words only. The reason of this, we may conjecture, and perhaps we shall not be far from the Truth. I suspect Ishmael4 may have been a little instrumental in this conduct. It cannot be without design, I think. I have candidly, and I believe decently given my own sentiments upon the subject, and told our friend, what measures I intended to pursue, to endeavour at least to come at the end in view. He received my letter on the evening of the 25th. [5 Sept. N.S.]5 but I have yet had no answer. It was a long one, it is true, and he not understanding English, must have it translated; so that I do not absolutely conclude that he will not answer it. He communicated to me in confidence, what had been communicated to me before in the same way, touching a proposal made, to speak in plain English, by the Mediators, agreable to our utmost wishes: He did not tell me, as the other person6 had done, that the Mediation was rejected on account of that proposition by the Court of London. This I suppose to be the truth, though not a lisp of it is to be heard yet without doors here. I wish soon to receive a confirmation of it from your hand: when I can make that use of it I now want exceedingly to make of it. I take it to be a matter of great consequence to our Interests, and I build many hopes upon it in aid of my business. It seems to open the real good disposition of those Sovereigns for our Cause. I have made use of an argument of this sort to our friend in my last—Do not withold from me a moment, any information which you think can be improved to our advantage. Let no supposition that I may be otherwise informed of it, stay your hand. What comes from you, I shall think myself at liberty to make use of, at my discretion. You must have gained informations on your late tour, which will be of importance to me.
Your Son is still with me at the Hotel de Paris. He is desirous of my procuring him a private Instructor. I shou'd like this very well, as I shou'd be fond of having him with me, but I cannot yet obtain proper information upon this head—I shall endeavour to do the best with him. Your sentiments on this point may not be amiss—I beg you to write me under cover to Messieurs Strahlborn & Wolff Banquiers à St. Petersbourg. I had like to have forgot our news of the Action between the Dutch and English. The former it is agreed here acquit• { 480 } ted themselves most nobly: but why were they sent out so feeble upon so important a business?
My best regards to Mr. Thaxter, and all our Amsterdam friends, pray tell him he must write me all the publick news, especially from our Country. This is the finest City I have seen in Europe, and far surpasses all my expectations: Alone, it is sufficient to immortalize the memory of Peter the first. More of the real grandure of this City and Empire hereafter. In the mean time I beg to assure you of the continuance of that high respect and warm affection I have entertained for you long since Your Friend & much obliged Humble Servant
[signed] FRA DANA
RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); endorsed on the first page: “recd Decr 14.1781” by John Thaxter on the fourth page: “Augt 28th. 1781.” RC filmed at 28 Aug. (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 355). Enclosure: notation by JA on the first page: “[Stra]hlborn and Wolff, Banquiers a St. Petersbourg”; notation by Francis Dana on the fourth page: “Cyphers J.A. & F.D.” filmed with Ciphers and Cipher Keys (same, Reel No. 602). A corner of the folded enclosure is torn, resulting in the loss of a number of words on pages one through three.
1. For detailed accounts of Dana's and JQA's journey to St. Petersburg, see Francis Dana Journal, Amsterdam to St. Petersburg, 1781 (MHi: Dana Family Papers); and JQA, Diary, 1:89–101. Dana's Journal has not been published in full, but W. P. Cresson quotes substantial portions of it in, Francis Dana: A Puritan Diplomat at the Court of Catherine the Great, N.Y., 1930, p. 157–166. For letters recounting the journey, see Dana's of 28 July and 15 Sept. to the president of Congress (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:610–613, 710–714); and JQA's of 1 and 19 Sept. to JA and John Thaxter, respectively (Adams Family Correspondence, 4:206–207, 214).
2. Dana wrote to the Marquis de Verac, the French minister at St. Petersburg, on 30 Aug. to announce his arrival and received a reply, likely of the same date, in which Verac indicated that the Comte de Vergennes had written to prepare him for Dana's arrival. Dana wrote again on 1 Sept. to inform the French diplomat more particularly of his reasons for coming to Russia. Verac replied on the following day and, in this and the previous two sentences, Dana gives the substance of Verac's letter (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:681, 683–685). That Verac was enunciating French policy is clear from the Chevalier de La Luzerne's remarks to a congressional committee on 28 May. There he declared that “the appointment of Mr. Dana, therefore, appears to be at least premature; and the opinion of the council is that this deputy ought not to make any use of his powers at this moment” (JCC, 20:562–563). Dana enclosed copies of his correspondence with Verac with his letter of 15 Sept. to the president of Congress and it was only after they arrived that Congress, on 27 May 1782, resolved that he should not “present his letters of credence...until he shall have obtained satisfactory assurances that he will be duly received and recognized in his public character” (same, 22:301).
3. The Marquis de Verac.
4. This person remains unidentified.
5. In his letter of 4 Sept. to Verac, Dana provided additional information about his mission and his views regarding its implementation. In his reply of 12 Sept., Verac went into greater detail than previously concerning his views of Dana's mission, as well as the proposed peace conference and the participation of American negotiators (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:695–699, 705–707). For the significance of Verac's letters of 2 and 12 Sept. insofar as they clarified the nature of the proposed peace negotiations and French policy regarding them, see JA's letter of 21 July to Vergennes, note 3, above.
6. Probably one of the Dutch diplomats at St. Petersburg. In his letter of 15 Sept. to the president of Congress, Dana indicated that his other source of information about the mediation was “a public minister” in St. Petersburg (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:710–714), and in his letter of 17 Dec., Dana informed JA that he had derived “considerable advantage” from his good relationship with the Dutch minister (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0355-0002

Author: Dana, Francis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-09-08

Enclosure: Key for a Code System

1. The Empress. or Russian.
2. The Emperor—Austrian
3. The King.
4. The Minister—Ministry.
5. Prussia—Prussian.
6. Sweden—Swedish.
7. Denmark—Danish
8. Holland—Dutch.
9. France—French.
10. Spain—Spanish.
11. Britain—British.
12. Congress—America
13. United States—American.
14. Prince de Potemkin.
15. Comte de Panin.
16. Comte D'Ostermann.
17. Dr. Franklin.
18. Mr. Adams.
[19.] Mr. Jay.
[20.] Mr. Laurens.
[21. M]r. Dana.
[22. M]r. Carmichael.
3, 5. gives new life to the Confederation
The King of Prussia gives &c.
{ 481 }
4, 8. I believe, is our sincere Friend.
The Minister of Holland, I believe, &c.
4, 7. has been superseded.
The Minister of Denmark, has &c.
7, 4. is a perfect Faction.
The Danish Ministry, is &c.
9, 4. make the most of their Favours.
The French Ministry, make &c.
Thus reversing the numbers gives the Terms in the second Column.
For words in general, take Entick's new spelling Dictionary printed by Edw. & Chas. Dilly in the Poultry London 1772.2 This book is paged throughout, and printed two columns a page. The common course is to give the p[age,] next the column of that page, and lastly t[he place?] in the column in which the word in[tended is?] to be found. Thus No. 71. 1. 15. that is [page] 71. first column and 15th. line you will [find the?] word which was intended viz. Co[nfederation].3
But to be still more secure [you may choose?] to give the page opposite to t[he one intended?] and to reckon the columns from the right to the left, 1, 2, 3, 4. across both pages, and the lines from the bottom of the Column. Thus, to give the same word, No. 70. 2. 23. You pass over to the opposite page which is 71. and reckon the columns from the right, instead of the left, and counting up from the bottom of the second column to the 23d. word, you will find it the same. The 3d. column by the same rule, will give the word Conders, and the 4th. Concord.
This method will hold in all but the first page, which has no opposite, will render the decyphering extremely difficult, if not impracticable, for a person acquainted with the general method, by seeing that neither the page or the number of the Columns cited, agree with the book will conclude the reference made to some other. It is at the same time, I think, equally easy [an]d attended with very little trouble. Those [cyphers?] J.L. has sent you, are exceeding trou[bleso]me and tedious. I know you dislike [corresp]onding in Cyphers, but it may be [at times?] highly expedient. I shou'd have [ . . . ] upon a certain matter which has [ . . . ], but I dare not trust it.
P.S. Mr. E. Jennings has one of those books of the E[ . . . ]4
RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); endorsed on the first page: “recd Decr 14.1781” by John Thaxter on the fourth page: “Augt 28th. 1781.” RC filmed at 28 Aug. (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 355). Enclosure: notation by JA on the first page: “[Stra]hlborn and Wolff, Banquiers a St. Petersbourg”; notation by Francis Dana on the fourth page: “Cyphers J.A. & F.D.” filmed with Ciphers and Cipher { 482 } Keys (same, Reel No. 602). A corner of the folded enclosure is torn, resulting in the loss of a number of words on pages one through three.
The content of all or some notes that appeared on this page in the printed volume has been moved to the end of the preceding document.
1. It seems likely that this document was enclosed with the present letter. Evidence is provided by JA's reply of 14 Dec. (MHi: Dana Family Papers). There Adams indicated that the letter of 8 Sept., which had arrived that very day, was the first that he had received since Dana's departure. Then, in the fourth paragraph of his reply, JA began using the code supplied to him by Dana. It is significant that this very lengthy paragraph was done prior to JA's announcements, in the fifth paragraph, that he had received, “this Evening,” Dana's letter of 15 Sept. to the president of Congress (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:710–714) and, in a postscript dated 15 Dec., that he had just received Dana's letter of 22 Oct. (Adams Papers).
2. John Entick, The New Spelling Dictionary, London, 1772. Although Dana explains very clearly how to use a dictionary code, there is no evidence that Dana or JA ever used it in their correspondence.
3. Supplied from Entick's Dictionary as directed by Dana.
4. Dana wrote the postscript vertically in the left margin.
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.