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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0006

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-01-01

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

Give me leave to congratulate your Excellency on the Commencement of the New Year and to assure your Excellency of my sincere Wishes, that it may be productive of all Happiness and the most perfect Liberty to You and Yours and our Country in General.
I think your Excellencys Mind must be much occupied at present. The late desperate Step, which England has taken has I believe astonished Most. Your Excellency was prepared for it by your Knowledge of her Temper and disposition to do every thing to bring on others the Miseries of War, which She feels herself. She seems to wish for Universal distress. Her desperate Conduct has alienated { 7 } from Her her best allies and Friends. If She cannot gain others, Ruin must ensue to Her. Never were a people more ignorant of the means of conciliating Friendship. They Attempt it only by means of Ravage. They have improvd on Cromwels Motto—Pax quaeritur bello, and they say Pax Quaeritur bellis.1
No one can read the English Kings Manifesto without being astonished at its fallacy and falsehood. I Hope it will be well Answered, I think I never saw a Paper, that might be so Easily refuted. I Know that Things of this kind are not much attended to by Politicians. Any or no Reasons justify them to plunge the Sword in a fellow Creatures Breast, but when History Records this Transaction She will Mark that the same folly or Maliciousness that Actuated Charles the Second to declare War against the Dutch influence their present Councils. I trust the Northern Powers and all Europe will see this business in its true light. Had they stopped their Ports against the exportation of Naval Stores last Year, I am Confident Things had not came to this Pass. But what a Time is this for the Universal Acknowledgment of our Independancy! England has made it a Necessary Step. She Cares not for Treaties, She laughs at Moderation. She ought to be met with a Manly Boldness. Her Conduct to her antient Subjects ought to be Stated, her Treatment of the Powers of Europe since the Peace of Paris set down, and Her Behaviour to all, since She began the War in America, Marked; and then it will Evidently result, that no Prince or People is safe, while She has the means of continuing her oppression, Insolence and Outrage. The Loss of America will effectually Answer this End. The Acknowledgement and Guarrantee of the American Independancy <is> ought to be therefor the true Object and as it is the real Interest of all. I am sure your Excellency will urge this Measure for it is next to Your Heart.
I Know not the Event of this business. I therefore put to your Excellency a Problem. Was the Discovery of Mr. Lawrens's Papers a Mischief or not?2
Sir J. York does not seem to be in a hurry to go to England. He has been in this Town two days. Perhaps He means to pay court to the Governor, perhaps He has Affairs to arrange with the English resident,3 Who I suppose will be the Go between of England and Holland—I fancy the Residents Letters are addressed to Mr. Danoot a Banker here.
I am pleased with the Text of the Sermon preached at Boston on the Choice of Mr. Hancock as Governor “And their Congregation shall be established; and their Nobles shall be of themselves; and { 8 } their Governor shall proceed out of the Midst of them.”4 It was an Happy Choice of Words.
The Answer and Resolves of Congress with respect to the Military will I Hope give Satisfaction.5

[salute] I am Sir your Excellancys Most Faithful & Obedient Humble Servt.

[signed] Edm: Jenings
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Jennings. ansd. 3. Jany. 1781.”
1. That is, seek peace in war had been transformed into seek peace in wars.
2. For the capture of Henry Laurens' papers and the use to which they were put, see vol. 10:307–308.
3. The British resident at Brussels, capital of the Austrian Netherlands, was Alleyne Fitzherbert, later the British plenipotentiary in peace negotiations with France and Spain (DNB).
4. Taken from Jeremiah, 30:20–21, these words served as the text for Samuel Cooper's election day sermon on 25 Oct. 1780 and were quoted in accounts of the sermon appearing in the Boston newspapers. That from the Boston Gazette of 30 Oct. was reprinted in the London Courant of 20 Dec. and may have been the source for Jenings' reference.
5. Jenings refers to an item from the Boston Gazette of 16 Oct. 1780 that various London newspapers reprinted, including the London Courant of 22 December. It reported the action Congress took on 10 (actually 12) and 24 Aug. in response to a memorial, signed by sixteen general officers, concerning the compensation of the officers and men of the Continental Army. In resolutions adopted on 12 Aug., Congress declared its concern for the welfare of the army and promised compensation for the effects of the currency's depreciation. On 24 Aug. it voted to increase the subsistence allowance due officers and extend the provisions of the half-pay resolution of 15 May 1778 to widows and orphans of officers killed during the war (JCC, 17:725–727, 770– 773; Greene, Papers, 6:80–84).

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0007

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-01-02

From John Bondfield

[salute] Sir

A Vessel that left Annapolis in Virginia arrived at this port yesterday.
The English under Col. Leslie enterd the Bay and landed at Hampton, they retreated a few days after, leaving their Camp Kettles and other Baggage in Camp. Their precipitate retreat is supposed from Advices received of the Landing of a considerable Body of French Troops at George Town in South Carolina. Lord Cornwallis was also obliged to call in all his out Posts to avoid being Cut off and was confind to a small Circuit round Charles Town. We suppose these Troops formd from a detatchment from the Cape. Mention is also made of some ships being taken off Charles Town by the Squadron that transported these Troops.1
The declaration of England has created great ferment in the Commercial Line owing to the General Obstruction which in consiquence takes place on all that extensive Neutral Navigation. The Dutch will be able to employ the greatest part of their Navy to the Northward. The Southern and American Seas will be no longer a contested point { 9 } for the House of Bourbon and we flatter ourselves to see hereby a speedy acknowledgement on the most firm Basis of the Independance of America by the whole United Powers in the World.

[salute] With due respect I have the Honor to be Sir Your most Obedient & Most Humble Servant

[signed] John Bondfield
1. In late Oct. 1780 a force under the command of Gen. Alexander Leslie entered Chesapeake Bay and subsequently captured Portsmouth, Va. The purpose of the attack was to divert forces that might otherwise be used against Cornwallis, but Leslie's lack of aggressiveness diminished its impact. Then, after only a month in the field, Leslie's force reembarked in order to go to the aid of Cornwallis in the wake of Maj. Patrick Ferguson's defeat at the Battle of King's Mountain on 7 Oct. (Robert Fallaw and Marion West Stoer, “The Old Dominion Under Fire: The Chesapeake Invasion, 1779–1781,” in Ernest M. Eller, ed., Chesapeake Bay in the American Revolution, Centreville, Md., 1981, p. 453–458; vol. 10:303).
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, 2017.