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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0094

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1781-12-16

To Benjamin Franklin

I have at last recieved Letters from Mr. Dana. Mr. Sayer arrived in town yesterday with Letters to me, and dispatches for Congress, which I shall transmit by the best opportunity. Three days before I had recieved a Letter which came by Sea, but had been almost four Months upon the passage.1
Mr. Dana appears to be in good Spirits. He has communicated himself to the Marquis de Verac, and has been very candidly as well as politely treated by that Minister. He had not communicated to the Russian Ministry his Mission, on the 4th of October the date of his Letter. But he finds friends there, and is in a Way to procure very important Information concerning the Politicks of all the Northern Courts. His opinion of Dutch Policy is not raised by his Journey to the North. But he speaks with great Respect of the Dutch Minister at Petersbourg, as a Patriot in the only good and true system in these times. He speaks prudently of the Prince de Potemkin, the Comte de Panin and the Comte D’Osterman. The { 145 } Comte de Panin is in the Privy Council, but has not yet reassumed his Office, as Chief Minister of foreign Affairs, altho’ he has returned to Court. The Court has recieved the Answers of Versailles and Madrid to the Articles, and he hopes soon to know the Reply of that Court. Can’t We obtain a Copy of the Answer of Versailles?
Is not the last Speech of the King of England and his Answers to the Addresses especially that of the Commons, rather inflammatory? This King’s Ministers and Governors, some ten or fifteen Years ago, used to charge me with making “inflammatory Harrangues.” I think I have now a good Right to recriminate upon their Master. He seems to be a very Boutefeu.2 But it must be confessed that his Ministers manage Holland and some of the Northern Powers with a great deal of Art and Address. The Answer of Lord Stormont to Mr. Simolin accepting the Mediation of Russia, between England and Holland is a Master piece.3 Its supream Excellence consists in its matchless Effrontery, which is certainly not to be imitated by any other Court or People under Heaven. Such extraordinary things sometimes have an effect directly contrary to what one would naturally expect, and therefore it is possible this may succeed. It will not however most certainly, if a certain Proposition, which I am instructed to make, should be made in time as I hope it will.

[salute] I have the honor to be,4 most respectfully, Sir your most obedient and most humble servant

[signed] J. Adams
RC in John Thaxter’s hand (PPAmP:Franklin Papers); endorsed: “J. Adams Dec 16. 1781.”
1. From Dana, 22 Oct., above, and [8 Sept.]8 Sept. (vol. 11:478–482).
2. An incendiary or firebrand.
3. See JA to the president of Congress, 13 Dec., calendared above.
4. The remainder of the closing and the signature are in JA’s hand.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0095

Author: Dana, Francis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-12-17

From Francis Dana

[salute] Dear Sir

I have been long waiting with great impatience to hear directly from you, my disappointment has been owing in part without doubt, to your late illness, from which I hope you have entirely recovered. This climate agrees very ill with my health; for more than a month past, I have been almost constantly visited with a very severe headach, perhaps it is to be attributed in some measure to the stove fires, of which I have given a particular account in my letter to Mr: Thaxter.1 Mr: Stephen Sayer who has probably arrived in your City before { 146 } this time, has the care of a packet for you. I sent another under cover to Mr: De Neufville, by water, the vessel sailed from hence about the middle of Septr.—passed the Sound sometime in Octr: and yet Mr: D. in his letters to me of the 20th. and 27th. of Novr: makes no mention of it. This makes me very anxious about my letters. The vessel was a Russian bottom, and the Capt: was charged to deliver them with his own hand, by his owners. Every precaution in my power was taken, and they must take their fate. Shou’d they come to hand I hope you will give me the earliest information of it.
I want to write to you upon a special matter which it wou’d not be prudent to do, till we have settled our Cyphers. Don’t neglect the scheme I sent you. I am convinced it wou’d with a little use, be attended with very little trouble to you. I am fully convinced also that even upon a supposition that my principal business shou’d not succeed, it will be no disadvantage to us that I have come on. I flatter myself I have already acquired some useful informations. My ideas of things here have been much corrected. I have seen something of the policy of Friends and Foes, at this Court. And shall at least know what we have to expect from the one and the other.
I live here on very good terms with ||Minister of Holland|| and find considerable advantage in this connection. I now see that ||Comte de Panin|| has no weight, and ||Comte D’Osterman|| is of less consequence still if possible. The Marq: De Verac told me the day before yesterday that Congress had appointed four Commissioners to negotiate a peace when the time shall come. He did not tell who they were, and for particular reasons I did not choose to ask him. I hope they are good Men and true. If he is not mistaken I shall doubtless soon hear of it from you. You must give yourself some trouble to keep me well informed of what is going on. I hear you have presented a second memorial.2 I wish it may have the desired effect. We received the great news of the surrender of Ld. Cornwallis and his Army on the 2d. inst:.3 Thus the very first rational plan which has been formed, has happily been crowned with the most ample success. The world in general must now see that nothing has been wanting to distroy the whole British Force in America but the proper direction of that of their Enemies. There is no saying yet what impression this great event may make here. The consequence in America, I think, will be the evacuation of Charlestown and all the British posts in Carolina, which will not only set that State free, but Georgia also. The British will not surely hazard such distant posts another Campaign; besides, they will want to { 147 } strengthen their principal post New-York. That they will hold to the last moment, at every hazard. But what think you of Peace, has this event brought it nearer? Will the British now think that France means seriously to co-operate with the United States? And will this conviction seriously incline the British Cabinet to Peace?
To give you my own sentiments, I think they will still affect to brave it out. I hope indeed they will. Our time has not yet come. The coming over to the Continent of Ld: Mansfield with his whole family, as is said, is matter of speculation. Has his Lordship who has been the Chief adviser of this wicked war, out of which indeed great good has come, now stepped forth as the Harbinger of a Peace? Or has his sagacity, foreseeing this capital event of the total loss of a second British Army, taught him to dread consequences fatal to his person and connections and to fly from them?
I am sorry to learn that mon Fils is again in Spain. How comes this about. Colo. Searle and Majr: Jackson I am told are there too. Your Son is very well and wou’d have wrote to you if this had been a private opportunity. I have not got an Instructor for him, nor are there any good ones to be had here. He pursues his Latin as well as he can. [I shall] change my lodgings in a few days. Mr: De Neufville will give [you the] address: though it is more expensive it may yet be adviseable, to write under cover.

[salute] I am, dear Sir, with the greatest esteem & respect, your much obliged Friend & obedient humble Servant

[signed] FRA DANA
P.S. My best regards to Mr: Thaxter and all friends near you. If Capt: Bell who went over to England while I was in Holland, has not bought the Abbe Raynal’s History of the Indies (in English), and Smith Wealth of Nations, for me, pray give the necessary directions to Messrs: Sigourney & Co: to send for the last Editions of both works, on my account, and to forward them in my name by the first good opportunity to Mr: Jona: Jackson. Mr: Thaxter will make the necessary enquiry about this Business. I have forgot whether I desired Bell to leave that with you, or with Messrs: Sigourney & Co:.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “à Son Excellence Mr: Adams Ministre Plenipotentiaire des Etats-Unis à Amsterdam”; endorsed: “Mr Dana. Decr 6/17 1781.” Some damage to the text where the seal was removed has resulted in the loss of four words.
1. Not found.
2. JA had not presented a memorial since 4 May when he tried to present those of 19 April to the States General and William V (vol. 11:272–284).
3. Or, 13 Dec. N.S. Among Dana’s papers is an undated note informing him of Cornwallis’ surrender endorsed: “Account of the { 148 } capture of Ld. Cornwallis and his Army, recd. at St: Petersbourg Decr. 2d. O.S. written by the King of Prussia to the Count de Goetz his Minister, and by him communicated to me” (MHi:Dana Family Papers).
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.