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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12


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).

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0071-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-12-03

From C.W.F. Dumas

[salute] Monsieur

Je me proposois de vous écrire ce soir, pour vous apprendre la Résolution unanime que doit se prendre ce matin aux Etats-Généraux, pour la Garantie, par L. H. P. des 5 millions de florins que la France empruntera ici pour prêter aux Etats-Unis, lorsqu’on est venu m’apporter les deux Lettres ci-jointes,1 arrivées ici par la voie d’Ostende, où je suppose qu’un Vaisseau Américain aura abordé depuis peu. Je n’ai point hésité d’en payer le port demandé et même d’y ajouter une petite douceur au Porteur de Lettres, qui croit se souvenir qu’il y a encore une Lettre pour vous au Bureau, laquelle il m’a promis de chercher, si elle y est encore, et de me l’apporter. Quant à celles-ci, je me hâte de vous les acheminer par la Barque Marchande de ce jour. J’espere que leur contenu vous donnera sureroît de contement, et que vous voudrez bien me faire part des bonnes nouvelles qu’elles peuvent vous porter. Vous verrez, en les ouvrant que le couvert de l’une a souffert du frottement. Il me paroît cependant qu’on ne l’a pas ouvert, ni pu tirer le contenu pour le lire.2
Mr. l’Ambr. de France m’a appris que vous aviez reçu de nouvelles Instructions du Congrès, pour insister sur une Réponse de cette République à votre démarche du mois d’Avril dernier,3 et concerter la Négociation avec le Ministre de France ici: qu’il n’attend que la Résolution dont je parle ci-dessus, pour se mettre en chemin pour Versailles, où il conferera, entre autres articles, sur celui-ci avec le Ministre des affaires étrangeres: qu’il vous écrira ensuite, et me fera passer ici sa Lettre pour vous. Je l’ai prévenu de mon côté, que lor• { 109 } sque l’Assemblée d’Hollde. sera séparée, ce qui aura lieu dans 19 jours ou 3 semaines, j’aurois l’honneur de passer les Fêtes avec vous; et que si, dans mon absence, on remettoit quelque chose chez moi de sa part, ma femme me le feroit parvenir exactement.
J’ai eu l’honneur dernierement, de vous écrire une court Lettre de Leide au sujet de la glorieuse Burgoynisation de Cornwallis. On ne s’occupe dans l’Assemblée ici que de l’Affaire du D—; mais de la maniere dont on s’en occupe, on sera encore longtemps avant d’en venir à quelque décision. Si je devois détailler dans une Lettre tous les incidens qui arrivent à ce sujet d’un jour à l’autre, il y auroit dequoi remplir 20 pages. Il y en a cependant de curieux, que je garde pour nos entretiens futurs à Amsterdam.

[salute] Mon Epouse et ma fille vous présentent leurs honneurs, et j’ai celui d’être avec très grand respect, Monsieur Votre très-humble & très-obéissant serviteur

[signed] Dumas
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, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/