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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0222

Author: Digges, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-03-26

From Thomas Digges

[salute] Dear Sir

I got here this day and am nearly about the hour to Embark. I find I passd Mr Laurens Jnr at Rotterdam, as some questions were askd in the Hotel Where I put up for a person answering my description, from one who was at another Hotel who did not leave His name, but answered the description of Mr Laurens.
I stopt at the Hotel Angleterre at the Hague and found that P. Wentworth had gone from thence for England rather suddenly the day before; He went from Antwerp for Brussells, and by the time Genl Faucit2 went from hence, for Brussels also, I do suppose these Heroes in different line of action and for as little purpose (I hope) met at Brussels: Faucit is going to Hannover (as was said here) and { 353 } P. W embarkd in a purposely hird boat about 2 hours ago for England.
In the matter I lately visited You upon I have informd You of every step taken as well as my motives for acting, and shall keep nothing from You relative thereto.
Since our last conversation3 I have thought much on the subject of witholding from Dr. F a letter I bore to Him from M Hartley (wch I know is partly on a publick matter in agitation between them) as well as informing the Doctr that I had been in Holland;4 and upon much consideration I think I cannot acting fairly to Dr. F either carry back Mr Hartleys letter, or explain to Him my motives for being silent when I had got so much nearer Him and had matter of much private consequence to myself to explain and clear up, either by letter or personal appearance.5 Besides others, I have two motives for writing; the first is that of forwarding a letter wch I know contains matters of business between Dr F and David Hartley and wch would be rather unjustifiable in me to carry back to England, and the other is an explanation why I donot repair to Him while now abroad on the matter relative to myself. I cannot see another road for doing either without intimating to Him the Business I went on to You: I have mentiond my first intention to visit and explain it to You and the motives I had for altering that intention and going back as quick as possible to Engld and then Set out for Paris. That You did not think the matter in the stage it then was of so much moment as to think it necessary to make it known to your Colleagues;6 that my doing it soon and in person to Dr. F would be the best mode; That all future movements must be made known to Dr. F and Mr Vergennes, and that You urgd strongly to have any future movements in the business made directly to Dr. F whose residence made it more convenient to give the Communications to the French Minister. I am sorry in doing this that I have deviated from a purpose wch I had rather fixd with You; but on much thinking I really think I have done the best; for Dr. F would certainly here I was at Amsterdam and think rather odly of me that I had turnd my back upon Him and seemingly gone from a purpose of explaining a matter to Him which my reputation is at stake for.
I beg a thousd pardons for writing thus hastily and Desultorily to You. The Packet Boat is so near sailing I have not time to read over the letter and I am rather in the midst of hurry and noise. I will write You immediately on my arrival7 and if any thing occurs wch You want done or to say to me a line under cover to Mr Stockdale { 354 } Bookseller Piccadilly London will get safe to Sir your very Obedient Hum Servant
[signed] T Digges
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Diggs. from Helvoet as I Suppose.”
1. The location and date are derived from Digges’ second letter of this date written from Ostend (Adams Papers), in which he refers to his earlier letter to JA and introduces Jacob Sarley of New York, a partner in a mercantile house in Leeds.
2. In 1782 Maj. Gen. Sir William Fawcett was the most influential officer in the British army, but for the war in America his chief importance was as the principal British negotiator of agreements with the various German states to supply troops (DNB; see also vol. 9:64).
3. According to Digges he met with JA on 21 and 22 March. See Digges to Benjamin Franklin, 22 March (Digges, Letters, p. 357–362).
4. Hartley sent two letters to Franklin, dated 11 and 12 March respectively, under the care of Digges (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:290). Both touched directly on the possibility of opening Anglo-American peace negotiations. The first announced Digges’ mission. The second letter centered on the questions of how, when, and with whom negotiations would be undertaken. Hartley indicated that he discussed the matter with Henry Laurens, but that Laurens was wholly ignorant of his appointment to the peace commission. Hartley also wrote that he had “been informed that some gentlemen in this country (not in administration) have lately entered into a correspondence with Mr. Adams, relating to his commission of treating for peace” (same, 5:237). There are no extant letters between JA and anyone in England on the subject of peace negotiations, nor is there any mention of such correspondence in JA’s papers.
5. Digges’ apprehension about visiting Benjamin Franklin at Paris was justified. Franklin believed Digges had embezzled funds that he had supplied to assist American prisoners in England (Catherine M. Prelinger, “Benjamin Franklin and the American Prisoners of War in England during the American Revolution,”WMQ, 3d ser., 32:261–294 [April 1975]).
6. In view of JA’s complete account of his conversation with Digges in his letter of 26 March to Benjamin Franklin, above, Digges’ statement seems strange. But the fact that JA took four days to send his account to Franklin may lend it some credence. If JA initially did not think it necessary to inform Franklin of his discussion with Digges, it may have been because there was nothing new to tell. The matters about which Digges inquired were already more or less part of the public record and nothing that JA said to Digges was at variance with what he had already written to Franklin.
7. Of 2 April, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0223

Author: Lafayette, Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-03-27

From the Marquis de Lafayette

[salute] My Dear Sir

I Beg You will Accept My Best thanks for the two letters You Have Been pleased to write Giving the Particulars of Your Situation in Holland, and favouring me with Your Opinion Upon the Operations of Next Campaign.
I am Happy to find You Are likely to Get the Better of British Cabals, and Hope our independance will Be Soon Aknowledged throughout the United Provinces. Such a Measure from a Republican and Commercial Nation will prove Particularly Agreable to America. You will Vastly oblige me, My Dear friend, to let me Hear { 355 } of the Progress of Your Negotiations, and I do Assure You that independant of Public Considerations, the High Regard and warm Attachement I feel for You, will Greatly Contribute to My Satisfaction.
On My Departure from America I Have Been Desired By Mr Moriss to Represent the Necessity of a Pecuniary Assistance. It Has Been Granted, But four or Six Millions are wanting to Make up the Sum. Could it Be Possible to find them in Holland upon American Credit?
The defensive plans of general Connway are So Very absurd, that I think with You a General Evacuation will probably take place. However we ought not to Be too Sanguine. In all Cases, I am entirely of Your Opinion about what we ought to do. I Cannot write So Confidentially By post as I would wish, and will Be More Particular when an Opportunity offers. I Had a letter from Mr Jay.1 Things there as Usual. General Washington writes me that Every thing in the Several departements is taking a Good turn, and Great Improvements are Made. He Appears Much Satisfied with the Present Situation of Affairs.2
You are to Receive a Visit, not from a friend.3 That I Had from the Ministers Here. You will Vastly oblige me with the Particulars. But let me know, what I am to Say, and Not to Say. The Next Safe Opportunity I will write You a Confidential letter, and wish it was in Your Power to let me Have a Cypher to Correspond with you. I will Remain Some weeks more in france, and am Sure Congress will approuve of the delay.

[salute] With the Highest Regard and Most Sincere Affection I Have the Honor to be dear Sir Yours

[signed] lafayette
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “M. de la Fayette. 26 March ansd. 6 April 1782.”
1. Jay to Lafayette, 1 March. See Lafayette’s reply of 28 March (Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution, Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790, ed. Stanley J. Idzerda and others, Ithaca, N.Y., 5 vols., 1977–1984, 5:19–20).
2. Washington to Lafayette, 4 Jan. (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 23:429–431).
3. Thomas Digges.
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.