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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0199

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dana, Francis
Date: 1782-03-15

To Francis Dana

[salute] My dear Sir

Your favour of Feb 10/21. arrived last night, and I thank you for the Copy inclosed. I think that if the Ct. of St. James’s is capable of taking a hint, she may see herself advised to acknowledge the Sovereignty of the U.S. and admit their Ministers to the Congress.
There Seems to be a Change of System in England, but the Change is too late: the Kingdom is undone past Redemption. Minorca, St Kits, Demerara Essequebo, &c gone. Fleets combining, to stop the channell. And what is worse than all, Deficits of Taxes to pay Interest, appearing to the amount of half a Million, sterling in three Years, and stocks at 54. or 53.1 French and Dutch united too in the East Indies against them. The French have nothing to do, but take Prisoners the Garrisons of N.Y. and Charlestown. The Volunteers of Ireland again in Motion &c.2
The Dutch are now occupied in very serious Thoughts, of acknowledging American Independence. Friesland has already done it. This is the Second Sovereign State in Europe that has done it. But a certain foreign Faction are exhausting all their Wiles, to prevent it. But, would you believe it? all their hopes, are in Amsterdam. But what can be the meaning of these People? how do they expect, to get their Islands? how do they expect to exist? We shall Soon See something decisive.
I am of late taken up So much, with Conversations and Visits that I cannot write much, but what is worse, my Health is so feeble, that it fatigues me more to write one Letter than it did, to write 10 when We were together at Paris. Inshort to Confess to you, a Truth that is not very pleasant, I verily believe your old Friend will never be again the man he has been. That hideous Fever has shaken him to Pieces, so that he will never get firmly compacted together again.
I have bought an house at the Hague, fit for the Hotel des Etats Unies, or if you will L’hotel de nouveau Monde. It is in a fine Situation and there is a noble Spot of Ground. This occasions great Speculations.3 But my Health was such that I could not risque another Summer the Air of Amsterdam. The House will be for my successor, ready furnished. I shall live in it, myself but a short time.
I see no objection against your attempt, as you propose to find out the real Dispositions, of the Empress, or her Ministers. You cannot take any noisy Measures like those I have taken here. The { 324 } form of Government forbids it. You can do every thing that can be done in Secret—I could do nothing here in secret. Thank God, publick Measures have had marvellous success.
My Boy Should translate Sallust, and write to his Papa. Charles Sailed 10 December from Bilbao in the Cicero Capt Hill. Does John Study the Russian Language?
Pray what is the Reason that the whole armed Neutrality cannot agree to declare, America independent, and admit you, in behalf of the U.S. to acceed to that Confederation. It is so simple, so natural, so easy so obvious a Measure and at the same time so sublime and so glorious. It is saying Let there be Light and there is light. It finishes all Controversies at once, and necessitates an Universal Peace, and even saves old England from total Destruction and the last Stages of Horror and Despair. It is so much in the Character and to the Taste of the Emperor and Empress that it is amazing it is not done. However thank God We have no particular Reason to wish for Peace. The longer the War continues now the better for Us. If the Powers of Europe will in Spight of all Reason and Remonstrance continue to sport with each others Blood, it is not our fault. We have done all in our Power to bring about Peace. One Thing, I think certain, that the British Forces will evacuate the U.S. if not taken Prisoners this season.
I cannot get a Copy of the Miniature of G. Washg. made for less than 12 ducats but will have it done notwithstanding if you persist in the desire. We will also endeavour to send you a secretary and to execute your other orders as soon as We can.
My Love to my dear Boy. He must study the Greek of the New Testament &c.

[salute] Adieu my dear Fnd Adieu.

RC (MHi:Dana Family Papers); endorsed: “Mr. J: Adams’s Letter Dated March 15th. 1782. Recd. March 28th. O.S.”
1. JA does not indicate what stock he is referring to, but on the date of this letter the 3 percent consolidateds or consols were at 54 1/8. When the North ministry fell on 21 March they were at 54 7/8; by 1 April they had risen to 55 1/2 and a month later were at 59 1/2.
2. Probably a reference to the volunteer convention held at Dungannon, Ireland, in February, which, among other things, asserted the longstanding Irish demand that the British Parliament grant Ireland legislative independence by repealing or amending Poyning’s Law of 1495 (R. F. Foster, Modern Ireland, 1600–1972, N.Y., 1989, p. 246–247). For more on the volunteer movement, see vol. 8:358.
3. For example, the London Chronicle of 9–12 March reported from The Hague that “Every one is curious to know what will be done by the States relative to the memorial presented to them by the American Agent Mr. Adams; some imagine, that notwithstanding the warmth with which some members of the States have expressed themselves in favour of acknowledging the Independ• { 325 } ence of America, yet it would be very impolitic to make any such acknowledgment till the States of America are declared independent by Great Britain. In the mean time Mr. Adams has bought a very spacious house here, which looks as if he meant to stay some time.” The London Public Advertiser of 13 March carried a report, dated 3 March at The Hague, that “It is known for a Certainty, that Friseland has determined that the Americans should be acknowledged as forming a free and independent State, and Mr. Adams admitted in quality of Minister from this new Republic. His Excellency having purchased a House at the Hague, in order to reside there, at quitting Amsterdam, has occasioned many Conjectures.”

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0200

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-03-15

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

I think your Excellency must have been greatly surprized at the Vote, which the House of Commons came to on General Conways Motion agst the Advisers for subduing America by Force; but how much soever One may be surprized to see such a measure taken at this Time, it is perhaps more Amazing that it was not taken before; it ought to have been the Declaration of Parliament at the beginning of the Troubles and it would then have been done with some grace at present it has but very little; and yet one cannot but be pleased with it particularly when it has the Concurrence of the Body of the people, who cry aloud for Peace. What a Change of Disposition! There were formerly but few Englishmen, who would not have embraced their Hands in an Americans Blood, and annihilate the Country of the United States. He that attempts it now is declard an Ennemy to G B; they who did so before were by Consequence Traytors.
But give me leave to Ask your Excellency what is your Sense of the true disposition of the Court of London?1 I must Confess to you I think I see its former Hypocricy and Insidiousness continued Even in this proceeding. The King has no sincere design to Obtain peace however He will perhaps enter into some Negociation in order to impose on his people; He will enter into it in the Spirit of Lewis the 14th at the Town of Gertruydenburg,2 where during the Treaty He endeavoured to divide the Allies and afterwards pretending to have offered to make the greatest Sacrifices of his Glory and his Interest, He appealed to his people, and calld on them for their utmost Exertions and obtaind them by this Management. The King of England, as it appears to me, means to Act in a similar Manner. He pretends to follow the Dictates of the <Parliament> opposition in order to gain a general Concurrence and induce them to make those Efforts, which the Spirit of the Country can and will make, when it believes, { 326 } that the King Acts according to his Duty and its Interest. He means perhaps to make plausible Proposals, which he is sure will not and cannot be accepted. The Conduct of the Opposition enables Him to Act as He will for it seems not to have any certain Object. Perhaps the most decided men of it dare not yet Speak out and that they will Stop with their last Motion; if they do, their Conduct is Absurd: for As Matters now Stand, I do not see, that the Admiralty can issue any Commissions to Cruise Against the Subjects of the United States, for that would be endeavouring to subdue them by force, Which by this resolution of the Common cannot be used Against them either in America or Elsewhere, the words of the Motion being general—and may not Neutral Ships sail to the ports of the States with Merchandice and Stores? an Attempt to Seize them would Surely be a means of reducing the revolted Colonies by force, which is certainly contrary to the Letter of the Resolution.
While I am mentioning neutral Ships I must Observe to your Excellency, they advertize in England for neutral Vessels, among others, to carry troops and Stores to America. I Hope France and Spain will notice this, and that foreign powers will prevent their Subjects from entering into any contracts for this purpose, for it is certain, that it will be a breach of Neutrallity.
But whatever may be the Object of the English Ministry I trust that the late resolution comes most apropos to ensure Success to your Excellencys Mission in Holland.
There passed through this Town last Monday three English Couriers—one of them is gone to Holland and the other two to Vienna and Petersburg.
I have some design of going to Paris the End of this month and Staying there about a fortnight, unless your Excellency hath other Commands for me.

[salute] I am with the greatest Consideration Sir your Excellencys Most Faithful & Obedient Humble Servt

[signed] Edm. Jenings
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mr. Jenings March 15th. 1782.”
1. There is no specific response by JA to Jenings regarding this question, but see JA to Robert R. Livingston, 10 March, and note 1, above.
2. Jenings probably means that George III would initiate peace negotiations, but would insure their failure by offering terms unacceptable to the U.S. Such was the course Louis XIV followed at Geertruidenberg, Netherlands, in the winter of 1709–1710, during negotiations to end the War of the Spanish Succession, for which see vol. 9:96, note 5.
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.