A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0060

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Date: 1781-01-31

To C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] Dear Sir

I have to thank you for your Favours of 28 and 29 which arrived untouched, by any hand too inquisitive.
The extraordinary demand for Bread in England will be a great Advantage to America. It will raise the Price of it, by increasing the demand, in those Countries which trade directly or indirectly with America, and will raise the Price of it consequently there.
We have always Said in America “By and By will come a Leane Year for Grain in Europe and then the Powers of Europe will begin to think Us of Some Consequence.” There will I fancy be next Spring and Summer a vast Exportation of Grain from America, which will be an Advantage to our Credit. And if there should be another short Crop next year and the year after, in England and in other Parts of Europe, in that Case they will have an opportunity of Seeing some-what of the Resources of America—for in the midst of All the Difficulties of this War, Grain enough will be found in America to Supply all the Deficiency in Europe.
Pray what are the News from Vienna? That the English are labouring with all their might and intriguing with all their subtelty, and bribing with all the Money they can Spare, to draw in the House of Austria to Some Connection with them, I am very well perswaded. That the old Jealousy, Envy and Rivalry of that House towards the House of Bourbon, is not all extinct I believe—that it now pleads in favour of England I guess. But as the Emperor is a Man of Sense I rely upon it, he will not be taken in. If he Should be, it will only make the War, more passionate against England, And he will get nothing in the End but broken Bones.
The News from all Quarters in America is agreable. “All's Well” as the Sentinels cry at Sea. The Mass. Constitution gives new vigour to the state and its Neighbours.
Have you seen the Vie prive de Louis 15? It has been printed in 4 { 89 } Volumes, this month. I have read it through with as much Ardour and Impatience, as I did in my youth the Character of Lovelace in Clarissa Harlow and with more Indignation.1
This Work is a Sublime Compliment to America, as well as to Louis 16th. It is So to the reigning Monarch in Proportion, as his private Life, is a contrast to that of his Predecessor. But no Wisdom, no Virtue private or publik, no Exertions or Activity whatsoever in the Prince, Ministry, or Nation could have raised France out of that profound degree of Contempt, Misery and Debasement in which Louis the 15 left it, to that Pitch of Reputation, Opulence, and Power where it now stands, without the Seperation of America from Great Britain and her Alliance with France.
Let it be remembered by every Frenchman, that the first Congress was held the Same Year that Louis 15 died. That France had Seen Eleven Years of Peace and instead of rising out of the Misery in which the Peace of 1763 left her, she sunk deeper and deeper. That her Prosperity and Glory commenced with her connection with America and has grown with a Rapidity that surprizes all Europe ever since.
When other Nations shall read this Work and make the proper Reflections they will draw the natural Inferences. Such as 1. That France can never desert America. 2. That she ought to exert herself, with Zeal and that she will do it too. 3. That other nations, will do wisely to imitate the Example of France. 4. That the sooner they form Connections with America the more wisely they will act.
Pardon this abominable Writing. I cannot transcribe it.

[salute] Adieu

[signed] John Adams
RC (DLC: Dumas Papers); endorsed: “Amst. 31e. Janv. 1781 Mr. J. Adams.”
1. JA refers to Mouffle d'Angerville's Vie privée de Louis XV, ou principaux événemens, particularités et anecdotes de son règne, 4 vols., London, 1781, a copy of which is in JA's library at the Boston Public Library (Catalogue of JA's Library). Robert Lovelace was the unscrupulous rake who courted the title character in Samuel Richardson's Clarissa Harlowe and brought both to a bad end.

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0061

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1781-01-31

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Favour of 24 is received. I wish that Madrid would put an End to Husseys and Cumberlands Masquerades. They do no good, if they do no harm.
I think it is pretty certain that the English Ministry, are Seeking a Connection with the Emperor, but as there is nothing to be gotten { 90 } by a Connection with them but broken Bones if he has as much Sense as he is reputed to have, he will rather choose to sleep in a whole Skin.
The Duke of Brunswick Wolfenbuttle is not a Lille, but at the Hague.
Your Reasoning to Shew the Policy, the Justice and necessity of acknowledging American Independence, is conclusive to all the maritime Powers, and it is probable they are all Sensible of it. But whoever does it must have War with England, and this Startles them all. They choose to arrange Matters in such a system that all may go to War at once, if any do. And this takes time.
But if the armed Neutrality were all at War, against England, the Question is, whether they would all acknowledge our Independance? To be sure they all mean it, it is their Interest! and it is a part of their System!1 But Such is the Caution, the Timidity, and the Sloth, that I expect they would put it off. They will say We will treat you like Friends, but it is time enough. We dont know what may happen. Wait for the general Conferences of Pacification. Then We will take your affairs into Consideration.
I think however that Congress, should send a Minister to each of the Maritime Courts, or at least one Authorized to treat with all of them. Whether they will do it or not I cant Say. I fear they will be much divided about their foreign affairs.
By the Treaty France has agreed to join America, in proposing to other Powers, to acknowledge our Independancy.2 If Congress or any Minister of Congress properly authorized were to propose this to France she could not and would not refuse it. Why it has not been done I know not. The Unfortunate Division about foreign affairs, will account for many Things. I hope however that Something or other will turn up to make them more unanimous. If Mr. L. and I. do not find the Majority of their opinion, in one Point, their Information may make Gentlemen more of a Mind in many others.3
Have you read the Vie privee de Louis 15. It is just published here in 4 Volumes. I have devoured it, with the Utmost Greediness. History, Romance, or Libel, it is very entertaining and instructive. It is the greatest Compliment to America that ever was made. When We see the Distress the Ruin, the Humiliation and Debasement, of the French Nation and Monarchy, up to the very Moment, when America, was Severed from Great Britain and began to cultivate a good Understanding with France, when We see that from the Same { 91 } Moment France began to revive, and has been increasing in Reputation, Wealth Commerce, and Power, ever since and her flourishing and prosperous Condition at this day, America, ought to appear in her own Eyes as well as those of the French and then rest of the World, as a nation and Country whose Friendship and Alliance is worth cultivating. I dont mean by this however to diminish the Glory of the present Monarch whose Wisdom has taken Advantage of the Benefits which Providence offered to him.

[salute] Adieu

[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “His Excellency. John Adams Esqr. Jany. 31. 1781.”
1. The preceding eight words were interlined.
2. JA refers to Art. 10 of the Franco-American Treaty of Alliance (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:39), the implementation of which he took up with the Duc de La Vauguyon, the French ambassador to the Netherlands, in a letter of 19 Feb., below.
3. This reference to Arthur Lee and Ralph Izard, severe critics of Benjamin Franklin who had recently returned to America, is unclear. JA presumably means that because Franklin was the proper person to propose widening the Franco-American alliance, their strictures on Franklin's conduct might move members of Congress to demand that he be more assertive. If this was JA's hope, he was doomed to disappointment. By 1781 changes in membership and the growing influence of the French minister, the Chevalier de La Luzerne, had largely dissolved congressional divisions over the proper course of American foreign policy in Europe. For additional information, see Commissions and Instructions for Mediation and Peace, 15 June, Editorial Note, below.
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.