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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12


Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0103

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-12-24

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

I receivd your Excellencys Letters of the 29th ultm.1 and 1st Instant yesterday and (not before) to my great Surprize and Yesterday was out of the Course of the Dutch post which arrivd to day. I was fearful that your Excellency had not quite recovered of your Illness in the Summer, the Nature of which is to Continue some time without great care. That your Excellency has been very busy I can well conceive, for I am sure you Are never Idle in the public cause.
I am happy to find that the Liberty I took in respect to the Illustrious Sufferer meets with your Excellenys approbation. Your Excellencys offer to reimburse the Sum proposed to be offered was unnecessary on many Accounts, but I thank you greatly for the manner in which you did it.
My Friend has a Communication with our Excellent Countryman, and has imparted to me what He said to the Governor of the Tower, videt.
“When I was in prosperity I thought myself and was generally esteemd an honest Man, Adversity hath discovered to me a Secret, I am very proud. I Hope however my pride is Laudable and becoming, I am too honest to borrow and too proud to beg.”
These are the Sentiments of a great Mind. With respect to the offer made to Him by a person unknown to Him. He says:
“I have often heard of E J. and always in Terms respectful and honorable tell Him how Much I feel myself obliged by His benevolent attention, which I Hope to relate in America. Explain my Case to Him, and say: that all I requird was permission to make Use of my own funds, or in Case of refusal, a Suitable Provision to be made for my Subsistance. While they refused or Shamefully neglected to do either, my circumstances and prospects were extreamly unpleasent but you my Friend are Master of the Subject, I have seen no Exaggeration, on the Contrary will if Ever it shall become Necessary add much to the late publications.” (Meaning those in the Courant began the 23 of Novr. and Ending the 28th.)2
Your Excellency will excuse the vanity I shew in transcribing the above passage as far as it relates to me, but I was forced to do it for the Sake of what followed.
Mr L says on the 5th Instant.
“Altho I am Very sick, yet somewhat more Composed than yester• { 157 } day, the fever has intermitted except there remains a deadly Heavyness in my Head. I continue to take the bark, and this Evening shall Submit to another Plaister of Flies. I do not feele as If I was in any Danger, but want of Sleep, of appetite and other wants and pains may very soon make me feele this is the first Time I have been able to use my pencil for some days, nor have I been able to read (my chief amusement) for many: Gods will be done.”
Your Excellency sees by the Above that He has refused the offer made Him. He has between 800 and 1000£ in the hands of Mr John Nutt.3 He says that He has a Hint given Him that his Enlargement is not far off—my Friend doubts it, but it is possible.4 He shall Know your Excellencys feelings for his Scituation by the next post.
The London Gazettes says that Kempenfelt has taken Eleven Transports containing 1000 men out of Guichens fleet.5
The most violent Englishmen here are exceedingly dejected.
I write to Madrid under Cover to Messrs Drouichets & Co banquiérs. The last letter says that Court is the same as ever, your Excellency understands how that is, better than I do.6 But I guess not too Good, Wise or active.
I trouble your Excellency to make my Compliments to Mr Thaxter and to beg Him to enquire after a Greek Hymn published at Amsterdam and supposed to be Homers.

[salute] I am with the greatest Respect Sir your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble Sert.

[signed] Edm: Jenings
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Jennings. 24. Decr Ansd 26. 1781.”
1. JA wrote two letters to Jenings on 29 Nov., both the first and second letters areabove. The first was never sent.
2. Henry Laurens’ letters quoted by Jenings here and later in this letter have not been further identified, but for Laurens’ comments regarding his treatment and financial situation, see Laurens, Papers, 15:380, and passim. For the accounts emphasizing the harshness and injustice attending Laurens’ captivity published by the London Courant, 22–27 Nov., see JA to Martha Laurens, 1 Dec., and note 1, above. On 28 Nov. the Courant was devoted almost wholly to George III’s speech to Parliament the previous day and the subsequent debate.
3. For Laurens’ attempts to obtain the release of funds held by John Nutt, a London merchant, see Laurens, Papers, 15:370–371, 377, 379–382, 408–409, 453–454.
4. Edmund Burke was actively promoting the exchange of Laurens for John Burgoyne during this time. Edward Bridgen, Jenings’ “Friend,” probably was aware of Burke’s efforts (Laurens, Papers, 15:389, 418, 432–434).
5. On 12 Dec., Adm. Richard Kempenfelt’s fleet of 12 ships of the line encountered 19 French ships of the line convoying over 100 merchant men. Because of the disparity between the strengths of the two fleets, Kempenfelt declined battle but managed to capture 14 transports carrying stores and 1,000 troops because of a tactical error by the French commander, Guichen. Reports of the encounter appeared in the London newspapers, including the London Courant and the Morning Herald, on or about 18 December. For an examination of Kempenfelt’s actions and the charge that he was sent to sea with too few ships, see Mackesy, War for America, p. 446–448.
{ 158 }
6. The letter to which Jenings refers has not been otherwise identified but was probably from either John Jay or William Carmichael. See John Jay’s letter of 15 Dec., above, for his comments on the Spanish court.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0104

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Hanson, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1781-12-25

To the President of Congress

Amsterdam, 25 December 1781. RC in John Thaxter’s hand (PCC, No. 84, III, f. 438–441). printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:70–71). In this letter, which Congress received on 18 Sept. 1782, JA provided the text of Lord Stormont’s announcement of 8 Sept. to the Swedish minister at London that Britain had accepted Russia as the sole mediator between itself and the Netherlands. It constituted Britain’s formal rejection of the joint mediation offered by Russia, Sweden, and Denmark in August and thereby precluded even an implied role for the armed neutrality in resolving the Anglo-Dutch war (to the president of Congress, 6 Aug., 1st letter, calendared, vol. 11:440). Stormont briefly summarized British grievances against the Netherlands that led to hostilities between Britain and its former ally. He noted that Britain refused Russia’s first offer of mediation because at the time there seemed little likelihood of success. Circumstances had changed, however, and the Dutch now seemed amenable to a separate peace. Britain would now accept Russia as the sole mediator because that nation had been the first to offer its assistance in resolving the Anglo-Dutch conflict. For Stormont’s formal acceptance of Russia’s mediation, see JA to the president of Congress, 13 Dec., calendared above.
RC in John Thaxter’s hand (PCC, No. 84, III, f. 438–441)). printed: (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:70–71)).

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0105

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Hanson, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1781-12-25

To the President of Congress

Amsterdam, 25 December 1781. RC in John Thaxter’s hand (PCC, No. 84, III, f. 442–444). printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:71–72. This letter consists of an English translation of Prussia’s declaration of 8 Dec., intended to remove any questions about the identity of Prussian ships trading in accordance with its previous ordinances of 30 April and 3 November. For the ordinance of 30 April, which stated that Prussia would maintain a strict neutrality according to the principles set down in the declaration of the armed neutrality, see JA to the president of Congress, 21 May, calendared (vol. 11:327). For the 3 Nov. ordinance establishing rules for identifying Prussian ships, see Scott, ed., Armed Neutralities of 1780 and 1800, p. 414–417.
RC in John Thaxter’s hand (PCC, No. 84, III, f. 442–444). printed: (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev.), 5:71–72.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0106

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1781-12-26

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

Your favour of the 24 was brought to me last night. It is true that I am not quite recovered of my Illness, I have Weaknesses and a { 159 } Lameness that is new to me. Ill Health is no Novelty to me, but Disobedience in my Legs and Feet, was unknown to me, untill I had the late Fever. I walk, however every day and find that I grow better, though but slowly.
Laurens has most certainly an honest soul. I think he must have his Liberty e’er long. Congress have it in their Power to imprison a whole Army, and Surely there is no stronger Reason for confining Mr L. than Mr Lovell or Gen. Lee.1
The Hymn to Ceres, I bought Sometime ago at Leyden, and have hunted for it every where in order to Send it you. But it is lost. I have not yet found it in this Town, will procure it, as soon as I can. I sent the 1st Vol of Pol. Holl. by Dr Dexter, and will send 2d Vol as soon as it is finished.
The Dutch will not accept the Mediation of Russia, but upon two preliminary’s 1. The Enjoyment of all the Rights of the maritime Neutrality. 2d a compleat Indemnification, for all the Losses, Sustained in the War. The English will never agree to either. So this little Bubble will burst like the great one of Vienna. But when will the Powers, leave off, this boyish Sport of blowing Bubbles with Tobacco Pipes and soap suds?
You Say the most violent Englishmen are exceedingly dejected: So, I am told they are here. They look as malicious as the Devil. But why do they not quit the Career, in which they will never find an End of their Mortifications?—a Career in which every Appearance of success, is a Misfortune and every Signal Defeat a Blessing?
It is no such Miracle. There are in England and Scotland five Millions and an half of Inhabitants—there are in the United States, four Millions. The former were at the Commencement of the War 140 Millions in Debt the latter not a farthing. The former were undone with Luxury and Corruption the later not quite. There is no Marvel therefore, in the Issue, They should have considered these Things twenty years ago, but they would not. G. Britain carries on the War, and pays her Interest and maintains her Govt at an Expence of <ten or fifteen> 25 or 30 Millions a Year America does not Spend two. This cannot last always. But many Reasons might be given in support of this opinion that the longer it lasts the better it will be for America in the End. If the Lion is killed Young Hercules will have the Skin. He does not want it however because he can be warm and comfortable without it.

[salute] With great Respect, I have the Honour to be, &c

[signed] J. Adams
{ 160 }
1. For another comparison between Henry Laurens’ situation and the earlier captures and exchanges of James Lovell and Gen. Charles Lee, see JA to Thomas Digges, 14 Oct. 1780 (vol. 10:266–267).
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/