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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0097

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Hanson, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1781-12-18

To the President of Congress

[salute] Sir

Having recieved an Invitation to the Hague, in order to have some Conversation with some Gentlemen in the Government concerning the further Steps proper for me to take in the present Conjuncture, I had determined to have undertaken the Journey to day: but the Arrival in Town of the Duke de la Vauguyon, determined me to postpone it until tomorrow. At noon to day, his Excellency did me the honor of a Visit, and a long Conversation upon the State of affairs, at my House. He informed me, that upon the Communication I had made to him, when he was here last in Person, and afterwards by Letter, of my new Commission and Instructions, he had written to the Comte de Vergennes; had explained to that Minister his own sentiments; and expected an Answer. His own Idea is, that I should go to the Hague in some Week, when there is a President whose Sentiments and Disposition are favourable, and demand an Answer { 149 } to my former Proposition, and afterwards that I should go round to the Cities of Holland, and apply to the several Regencies. He thinks that I may now assume an higher Tone, which the late Cornwallization will well warrant. I shall however take Care not to advance too fast, so as to be unable to retreat. His advice is, to go to the Hague tomorrow and meet the Gentlemen, who wish to see me there, and this I shall do.
I have been very happy hitherto, in preserving an entire good Understanding with this Minister, and nothing shall ever be wanting on my part, to deserve his Confidence and Esteem.
I have transmitted by two opportunities, one Capt. Trowbridge from hence, another by Dr. Dexter by the way of France, Dispatches from Mr. Dana at Petersbourg, by which Congress will percieve, that material Advantages will arise from that Gentleman’s Residence in that place, whether he soon communicates his Mission to that Court or not.
The English Papers, which I forward by this opportunity, will inform Congress of the state of things and Parties in England. The ministry talk of a new System. Perhaps they may attempt Rhode Island once more in Exchange for Charlestown, and try their Skill at intercepting our Trade.

[salute] I have the honor to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant.

[signed] John Adams1
RC in John Thaxter’s hand (PCC, No. 84, III, f. 434–437); endorsed: “Sec for F. Affs.” and “Letter 18 Decr 1781 M Adams Read 18 March 1782.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. When JA published this letter in 1810, he followed it with the observation that “this conference with the French Ambassador convinced me that he was either well read in the negotiations of D’Avaux or that he had been counselled by the Dutch patriots—my friends: perhaps both” (Boston Patriot, 1 Sept. 1810). For the writings of Antoine de Mesme, Comte d’Avaux, see JA to the president of Congress, 15 Oct., 2d letter, and note 5, above.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0098

Author: Adams, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-12-18

From Samuel Adams

[salute] My dear Sir

The Marquis de la Fayette is so obliging as to take the Care of this Letter, which, for the Sake of him, the Count de Noailles and others our french Friends, who take Passage with him in the Alliance, I hope will arrive safely. In the same Conveyance, there is a Packett intended for you from Congress,2 by which you will doubtless be informd of what has been doing there. It is six Months since { 150 } I left Philadelphia. You cannot therefore expect that I should give you any of the Intelligence of that City. I presume Mr L makes known to you every thing that is interesting.3 I wrote to you frequently while I was there, and suppose all my Letters have miscarried, as well as yours, if you have written to me, for I have not receivd one for many Months, except a Line by the Seiur de la Etombe,4 to whom I pay great Attention, both on Account of your Recommendation and his Merit. I give you Credit for a Packett of Gazzettes lately receivd, because I knew the Direction on the Cover was your hand writing.
Matters go on here just as you would expect from your knowledge of the People. Zealous in the Great Cause, they hesitate at no
Labor or Expence for its Support. Anxious to have a Code of Laws for the internal Government, adapted to the Spirit of their new Constitution, the General Court have appointed the Supreme Judges, with Mr Bowdoin who is at present perfectly at Leisure, to revise the Laws, and report necessary or proper Amendments.5 The two great Vacancies in the offices of President, and Professor of Mathematicks in our University are filled with Gentlemen of Learning and excellent Characters, the Revd Mr Willard of Beverly and the Rev Mr Williams of .6 The Accademy of Arts and Sciences is in a flourishing Way. A new Society is incorporated by the Name of the Medical Society.7 And this Metropolis has lately appointed a Committee to consider the present Arrangement of the Schools and report what further Improvements may be made; in which the better Education of female Children is designd to be comprehended.8 All these things, I know are pleasing to you. Our People treat Foreigners of Merit who come among them with Good Humour and Civility; being desirous of adopting the virtuous Manners of others and ingrafting them into our Stock. Laudable Examples on their Side and ours will be productive of mutual Benefit. Indeed the Men of Influence must form the Manners of the People. They can operate more towards cultivating the Principles and fixing the Habits of Virtue, than all the Force of Laws. This I think is verified by the Experience of the World; and should induce those People who exercise the Right of electing their own Rulers, to be circumspect in making their Choice. You are well enough acquainted with the Character of our first Magistrate,9 to judge what Effects his Influence may have upon Manners.
Inclosd are some of the Proceedings of a late Town Meeting, which I send to you as a private Citizen, for your mere Informa• { 151 } tion.10 The Meeting was called in Consequence of a Letter receivd by our Selectman from Marblehead, in which it was proposd that the Subject should be considerd in a Convention of the Maritime Towns. But this Town judgd it more proper to lay the Matter before the General Court, and have accordingly instructed their Representatives, and recommended it to the others to take the same Method. They could not think it becoming in them to write to you, though a fellow Citizen, on a Subject which concerns the American Republick, altho they have an intire Confidence, in your Attachment to the Interest of the United States, and to this Commonwealth which is an essential Part of them.
Please to pay my due Regards Mr Dana, Mr Thaxter &c. I rejoyce to hear of the Welfare of one of your Sons, whom we had almost given up as lost. The Count de Noailles tells me, he has a Letter for you from your Lady.11
Mrs Adams sends Compls. Miss has changed her Name and left her Fathers House.12

[salute] Your affectionate

[signed] Saml Adams
RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr S. Adams. ansd March 2. 1782.” Filmed at [ante 2 March 1782] (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 356). For the enclosure see note 10.
1. This date is derived from Samuel Adams’ second letter to JA of this date, below.
2. See the letter from Robert R. Livingston, 20 Nov., and note 8, above.
3. Samuel Adams left Congress in late April (Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates, 18:xvii). He probably refers to James Lovell, whose last extant letter, other than a brief note of 3 Oct. introducing a Mr. Gibbs of Salem (Adams Papers), was of 21 June (vol. 11:381–383).
4. JA to Samuel Adams, 11 March (vol. 11:194, note 1).
5. The General Court commissioned James Bowdoin, William Cushing, Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant, David Sewall, James Sullivan, Robert Treat Paine, and John Pickering as members of the committee to revise the laws in a resolution of 30 Nov. 1780 (Mass., Acts and Laws, 1780–1781, Oct. 1780 sess., ch. 98).
6. Joseph Willard was installed as president of Harvard on 19 Dec. (Boston Independent Chronicle, 27 Dec.), at which time he announced that the college had awarded honorary doctorates to the Chevalier de La Luzerne, Arthur Lee, and JA; see also Adams Family Correspondence, 4:242–243. Samuel Williams of Bradford, Mass., was installed as the Hollis Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy on 2 May 1780 (Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 15:135–137).
7. The General Court granted a charter to the Massachusetts Medical Society in November (Walter L. Burrage, A History of the Massachusetts Medical Society . . . 1781–1922, Norwood, Mass., 1923, p. 63–67).
8. On 14 Dec. the Boston Town Meeting voted to form a committee chaired by Samuel Adams to “take into consideration the present arrangement of the publick Schools in the Town; and to Report what further improvements—may be made thereon, as soon as may be.” This committee apparently made no report and no further mention of educational reform has been found until 23 Sept. 1789, when a new committee was formed of which Samuel Adams was also a member. As a result of that committee’s work, the town meeting adopted a “new System of education” on 16 Oct. 1789 that explicitly provided for the education of “both Sexes” (Boston Record Commissioners, 26th Report, p. 220; 31st Report, p. 205–206, 208–210).
9. Gov. John Hancock.
10. The enclosure, filmed at 14 Dec. (Adams Papers, Microfilms, { 152 } Reel No. 355), consists of extracts from the minutes of Boston Town Meetings held on 11 and 14 Dec. (Boston Record Commissioners, 26th Report, p. 220; 31st Report, p. 214–217, 219). On the 11th the Town Meeting voted instructions to the town’s representatives in the General Court “to procure an Application to Congress, that they would give positive Instructions to their Commissioners for negotiating a Peace to make the right of the United States to the Fishery an Indispensible Article of the Treaty.” On the 14th the Town Meeting approved a circular letter to the maritime towns in which it set down the reasons why it had instructed its representatives regarding the fisheries and called on them to do the same.
11. From AA, 9 Dec. (Adams Family Correspondence, 4:255–261).
12. Samuel Adams’ daughter Hannah married Thomas Wells on 1 June (Boston Record Commissioners, 30th Report, p. 448).
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.