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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0128

Author: Laurens, Martha
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-01-16

From Martha Laurens

[salute] Sir

Your very kind and polite Letter, which I received in its proper time, deserved my earliest and most hearty ackowledgements, but the hopes of receiving some Intelligence from London with regard to my dear Papa, worth Communicating, joined to some other Circumstances, have been the means of my delaying a duty, which finds itself most strictly united with my satisfaction, as it is undoubtedly more agreable to me to write to you under the Title of my dr Papa’s friend, than when I addressed you only as an American Minister. My mind is at present in a state directly opposite to what it was when I first had the honor of writing to your Excellency. You will not be surprized at this Sir, when I tell you that I have just learned, by a Gazette indeed, that this worthy and inestimable Parent is at Liberty.1 I sincerely thank you Sir, for all that you have done to serve my dear Father during the time of his Confinement, and shall take a pleasure in informing him of it, as well as of your Civility to his Daughter. I thank you also Sir for your Congratulations on the late great Victory gained in America, and on the part which my dr Brother has had in it. I am happy to hear that he acts in such a Manner as to gain public Approbation, and am persuaded, that he has nothing more at heart, than to be useful to his Country.

[salute] I have the honor to be, with sincere good Wishes & great Respect—Your Excellency’s—most obliged humble Servant.

[signed] Martha Laurens
1. On 31 Dec. Henry Laurens was called before Lord Mansfield and admitted to bail. He “was much emaciated, and so heavily afflicted with the gout as to be obliged to make use of crutches” (London Packet, 31 Dec. 1781 and 2 Jan. 1782). According to his own account of the event, Laurens went from the hearing to lodgings in Norfolk St. and on the third day set out for Bath to restore his health (Laurens, Papers, 15:396–398; see also Morris, Peacemakers, p. 265). Moses Young, Laurens’ secretary, wrote from Nantes on 19 Jan. to inform JA that he planned to join Laurens at Bath and offered to carry any messages that JA might have for the freed prisoner (Adams Papers).
Laurens’ release on bail was controversial because of questions about the role he could play in peace negotiations. Wishful thinkers in England believed that Laurens, even after Yorktown, might convince the United States to settle the war without receiving full independence. The Morning Chronicle reported that “it is generally believed, that upon Mr. Laurens’s return from Bath, he will be appointed a mediator between Great Britain and Congress; and it is said, the most flattering expectations of a reconciliation between the mother country and her colonies are founded upon this gentleman’s negociation” (1 Jan.). Such reports, together with Laurens’ status as a prisoner free on bail, made it impossible for JA, or any other member of the peace commission, to have { 194 } official dealings with him regarding an Anglo-American peace (to Benjamin Franklin, 16 April, below). Such limitations did not mean, however, that when Laurens, with Shelburne’s permission, met with JA in April their discussions were not meaningful and accurate. In fact, Laurens served as a conduit to Shelburne for the official negotiating position of the United States as expressed by JA.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0129

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Bernhard, J.
Date: 1782-01-18

To J. Bernhard

[salute] Sir

I have received the Letter which you did me the Honour to write me, Yesterday from Leyden and it would give me Pleasure, if it were in my Power to give you a Satisfactory answer. But it is not. I am So far from having any Authority, from Congress to encourage officers, to go to America from Europe, with a View of obtaining service in the American Army, that my orders are quite the Contrary.
This War has continued in America, seven years, and the Army has been new formed So often upon the Expiration of the Term for which it was engaged, that there are at this day, a vast Number of officers, Natives of america, who cannot obtain service. Which will shew you, in a clear Light, the Impracticability, of my recommending any officer to Congress or General Washington for Service. All that I can do in such Cases is, when any officer is determined to go to america, at his own Expence and risque in order to see Service, to give him a Letter of Introduction to a Friend, who might shew him a personal Civility.1

[salute] I have the Honour to be, sir, your

LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “to be left with Mr F. J. Landman Merchant Amsterdam.”
1. Bernhard, a former captain in the Dutch Army, wrote on 17 Jan. (Adams Papers) to request JA’s assistance in joining the Continental Army at his former rank. Bernhard wrote again on 20 Jan. (Adams Papers) to thank JA for his consideration and to request a letter of recommendation to take to America. No reply by JA has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0130

Author: Clark, Gregory
Author: Horton, William
Author: Glover, Lewis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-01-18

From Gregory Clark and Others

[salute] Most respected Sir

Having full assurance of your assiduous attention, to Such of your unhapy Countrymen, as have had the misfortune to be Capturd. and shut up felons, In Brittish prisons, and of being Instrumental In their relief We now laboring under the unhappy Circumse { 195 } of Confinement, far distant from friends or Money, do most humbly implore your assistance In Supplying us with Some Money, to palliate In Some Degree the horrows of a long tedious Confinement. We are Sorry at the Same time to trouble your Excellency with Letters upon Such a Subject; But the Scantiness of our daily Sustinance, being barely Suffient to preserve Life much more to render it agreable, Compels us Contrary to our Inclinations to So disagreeable a request. If your Excellency Can See it in you way to grant the above request we Shall ever Look upon ourselves In Duty bound to make you ample Satisfaction, when ever it Shall please God to give us an oppertunity.

[salute] We are with the greatest respect your most obedient humble Servants under Confinement.

[signed] Gregory Clark
[signed] Wm Horton of milton
[signed] Lewis Glover
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To His Excellency John Adams Esqr. Ambassidor at France”; in other hands: “à Paris”; “28. fev.”; “rue de richelieu”; “Ché monsieur le grand banquer”; stamped: “MORLAIS”; endorsed by John Thaxter: “Lewis Glover 18th. Jany. 1782.”
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.