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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0069

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Laurens, Martha
Date: 1781-12-01

To Martha Laurens

[salute] My dear Miss Laurens

I was last Evening, favoured with your Letter from Vigan of the fourteenth of November, and am very much obliged to you, for writing to me, upon this occasion, a Letter, which notwithstanding your modest and amiable Apologies does the highest Honour, to the Taste and mental Accomplishments of the Writer, and to the Virtues of a Daughter worthy of my excellent friend President Laurens.
Believe me, Miss Laurens, I never had the last Intimation or Suspicion, that your Father, was in Want of Money untill, I Saw, within a few days, some Paragraphs to that Purpose in a London Paper.1
A worthy friend of mine, Mr Edmund Jennings of Bruxelles has given orders, to supply your Father with 100 £ for his present Necessities, and I have written, assurances that as long as I shall have any Resource for my own subsistance, Mr Laurens, shall have a share of it if necessary, and I have agreed to pay Mr Jennings his 100 on Account of the United states.
Notwithstanding this, I apprehend you have written to his Excellency Mr Franklin at Passy upon the Subject.2 If you have not I should Advise you to do it immediately. America has found it difficult to establish in Europe, Funds Sufficient for her necessary Services, and has not been able to afford all the Relief, she desired to her sufferings Sons and servants. She is not however so poor I flatter myself as to be unable to furnish, to so distinguished and so excellent a Citizen the Sums that he may have occasion for. Mr Franklin I am persuaded, has it in his Power and not less in his Inclination, to establish a Fund in London, equall to all the Wants of Mr Laurens. It is but a very Trifle of Money that I have at my disposal. Yet this shall be at his disposal as long as it lasts. I have advised you to write to Mr Franklin: I will do the same. And I doubt not, but you may rest assured that nothing will be omitted for your fathers Relief.
I had the Honour to serve in Congress, with your Father and for his Abilities his attachment to his Country, and his inviolable Integrity, and numerous other Virtues I conceived an Esteem for him which will never be obliterated, but I did not know untill I received your Letter that my friend had a Daughter in France.
Give me Leave to congratulate you on the glorious News from america, and in the distinguished Share, of your worthy Brother in { 106 } accomplishing that great Event. After a very honourable and a very successfull Voyage to Europe, he had the peculiar good fortune to be present and to draw up the Capitulation. Very few American young Ladies, have your Happiness Miss Laurens to have a father and a Brother at the sametime among the most meritorious servants and brightest ornaments of their Country.
Congress have resolved to exchange General Burgoine for your father, and Mr Franklin who has received the Resolution, has written to England about it. I hope it may Succeed, especially as Another army has now followed the Example of Burgoines. Indeed I Sincerely wish that the English nation would permit Mankind to retain some Part of the opinion, that was once entertained of their Generosity. But they seem determined to put it out of all dispute, that they are not the same nation.

[salute] With every sentiment of Esteem and I respect, I have the Honour to be, your most obedient &c

1. The London Courant of 20 Oct. and 1 and 9 Nov. criticized the ministry for its treatment of Henry Laurens. Then, on 21 Nov., the editor announced a new exposé, declaring that on the 22d an account of Laurens’ imprisonment in the Tower of London would appear and exhibit to all “thewanton crueltywith which it abounds, and the eternal disgraceit reflects on those MONSTERS, who in theshapeof Ministers, havedaredto inflict it upon theunfortunate victimoftheirvengeance.” The piece, entitled “MINISTERIAL VENGEANCE Displayed, appeared in the issues of 22 and 24 Nov. and stated that for his entire captivity Laurens had borne the full cost of his subsistence, but that now, owing to the Ministry’s refusal to allow him the means to draw on those who owed him money, he was destitute. On 23 Nov. the Courant published a letter signed "ONE." The author declared himself a friend of Laurens who had been denied permission to visit him in the Tower. He confirmed the Courant's account of Laurens captivity and impoverishment and warned that Congress might retaliate against British prisoners if Laurens’ treatment did not improve. Additional commentary on Laurens' condition and the injustice attending his imprisonment appeared in the Courant on 26 and 27 November.
2. For Martha Laurens' letter to Franklin of 14 Nov., and Franklin’s reply, see Franklin, Papers, 36:52–55, 326–328.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0070

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Neufville, Jean de, & Fils (business)
Date: 1781-12-03

To Jean de Neufville & Fils

[salute] Gentlemen

I have no authority to interfere, in the Direction of the Continental Goods, which Mr Gillon contracted to convey to America, but Such as is derived from the Desire of Dr Franklin, to take the best care of them in my Power. I therefore hold myself obliged to observe his Excellencys advice in this Business.
In a Letter from his Excellency of the 26 Novr, he observes “The owners of the Ships talk of a higher Freight, of Selling the ships, of { 107 } Damages and of detaining the Goods till the Damages are paid. If I were informed what Freight what Price for the Ships, and what Damages they demand, I really could give no Advice in those Points, being totally ignorant of Such Business: but I am furnished with none of the Data on which to found an opinion; and can only Say with you that I think they have no right to stop the Goods; and I think also that the Keeping us out of Possession of 50,000 £ Sterlings worth of Goods for securing the Payment of a petty Demand for Damages, appears to me, not only ungeenteel and dishonourable Treatment, but a monstrous Injustice.” “If We could get rid of the Goods at a moderate Loss, We might at the Same time get rid of the Difficulty, our Necessity for having them Speedily forwarded not being so great as Mr De Neufville imagines. However I would propose this. Let the Goods first be delivered to you. Then let him make his demand for damages, which if you think reasonable I will pay; if not, let them be Settled by arbitration. After this you will judge what measures may be necessary for transporting them.” &c. “If the Goods are delivered to you, and you find it necessary to sell a Part of them, I wish you would make the offer of that Part to him. He bought them and knows what they are really worth.”
I cannot but Say that I think these sentiments of the Dr, just and his Proposals reasonable. Mr Gillon certainly contracted with Coll Laurens to carry these Goods in the South Carolina.1 He did not fullfill his Contract. He talked with the owners about these ships, and the Goods were put on board them by Mr De Neufville perhaps, but he never executed any Contract. He made signals for the Ships to come out to him at the Texell—they would not. If there were no Contract with Gillon, how can it be pretended that the Goods are answerable for the fullfillment of a Contract, if there was a Contract, it was no Part of it, that the Goods should be responsible, it was a mere personal obligation of Gillons for which the Goods are not liable in Law nor in Reason. If Mr Gillon has violated a Contract with the owners, which is far from being clear, he has certainly violated a very solemn one with Coll Laurens under his Hand and Seal, and I might as well pretend that these ships are liable for the fullfillment of that Contract.
However, I am ready to receive the Proposals of the owners, but I beg that the Damages they pretend to claim may be precisely stated. <if they are moderate> If they are Such as I cannot agree to, I am ready to choose with the owners three Sensible and impartial Merchants or others, and whatever Damages they shall award, shall be { 108 } paid according to Dr Franklins Proposal, upon the Delivery of the Goods to me or my order.
According to another desire of his Excellency I now offer for Sale the whole of the Goods to Messrs De Neufville, and beg the favour of them to let me know upon what terms they will take them, this would settle all disputes at once.

[salute] I have the Honour to be, with great respect Gentlemen your most &c

1. For the agreement between John Laurens and Alexander Gillon, see Laurens to JA, 28 April, and note 1 (vol. 11:293–296).
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.