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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 13

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0171

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1782-08-30

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

The inclosed Copies will shew you, the State of Matters.1 Besides these I have a Letter of Credence to their H. M.2 which has been presented accepted and recorded, long since; this Letter of Credence is as Minister Plenipotentiary. I have also recd another Commission for other Purposes not yet public.3 But Mr L. is named in none but that for borrowing Money, but so named in that that he { 409 } can do nothing, without his original Commission or a new one, as you See.
The Captivity of our Friend together with certain Intrigues of Passy Seems to have induced Congress to alter their Plan, by sending me full Powers to this Republick and by changing the Commission for Peace, by putting Mrs Lawrens, F. and J. and J with me into that.
Thus you See that it is impossible for Mr L. without a new Commission to do the least Thing in this Republick, even in the affair of borrowing Money, and I am under a Necessity of remaining here to finish the Treaties &c untill relieved by Congress. Will you be So good as to transmit these Copies, to Mr. L.—They will go Safer under your Cover, than mine.
I thank you for another Slip.4 The only Way to oblige Shelburne to do his Duty or to retire is to familiarise the People to certain Strange Names Faces and Facts as you observe. I Should think Fox and Burke Men of sufficient Experience to know the Influence of the publick Papers which form the publick opinion. Yet they have never Supported any one Paper. Nor did the late opposition as I could ever learn, ever support one. It is no great matter whether what is Said is well Said or not, provided the Nation is made to talk and think of what is right. Hold up the Object continually, in various Light and they will in time see the right Side. But the well disposed Party in England, if there is one, have constantly observed an opposite Conduct. They have concealed every Thing from the People, which they ought to know. Not a Paper dares use the Words “United States of America.” These Words constantly repeated would Soon frighten, Shelburne out of his feeble Entrenchments.
I am fully of your Mind that you could work to great Advantage in England at this Time. But I cant advise you to go because of the Suspicions it would excite. No American Setts his Foot on British Ground, without raising against himself, violent Jealousies, and it would put it in the Power of those who wish for nothing but Advantages right or wrong to make a use of it, which would do more harm, than you could do good by going.
The whole Story of Vaughan and Grafton, I remember very well. Pray wt is he about at Paris? Is oswald there too? If they have any Thing to say, it is wholly concealed from me.5 I know Fitzberberts Comn., it is to treat with the K. of Es. dear Brother the K. of France, (French King) and with the Ministers “ordinum6 Generalium federati Belgii, et omnium Principum et Statuum quorum interresse poterit.” Is this enough to authorize Us to treat with him? I { 410 } know what my opinion wd be, if I were alone, as I was a year ago. I would put an instant End to this Negotiation, (as Stubbornly as you please) and give Fox and Burke full Scope. But Providence has prevented this by disarming me, no doubt for my good as well as that of our Country. I have one general Consolation for all present Evils. Our Country is so happily circumstanced, that all present Evils will be compensated by greater future good. Every Thing turns to the Advantage of such a Country in the End.
My Imagination has been warmed, and my Heart enflamed, by the Contemplation of that vast Scaene which is opening in the West: So that I am not much affected with Measures that appear to me wrong at present. We have nothing to do, but march intrepidly on. My Countrymen the Mastmen, with an hundred yoke of oxen in a String, dragging a Pine stick through Swamps and stumps, never stop for an ox, that stumbles and breaks a leg or his Neck. They drag the lame or the dead ox along, as if nothing had happened. They dont even stop to flogg a vicious ox who kicks or gores but rather Sperit up the rest of the Team, to force him into his Place, in order for his own Preservation.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “His Excellency Mr Adams Augst 30t. 1782.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. In his reply of 5 Sept., below, Jenings indicated that three papers had been enclosed, and he identified them as commissions. From JA's comment in the final sentence of this paragraph, it is possible to tell that one of the copies almost certainly was his commission of [20 June 1780] to raise a loan in the Netherlands in place of Henry Laurens (vol. 9:452–453). The second was likely his commission of [29 Dec. 1780] to conclude a commercial treaty with the Netherlands (vol. 10:449). The third document cannot be identified.
2. Of [1 Jan. 1781] (vol. 11:1).
3. JA's commission of [16 Aug. 1781] to conclude a tripartite alliance with France and the Netherlands (vol. 11:453–454).
4. “Letters from a Distinguished American,” No. 1 (vol. 9:541–545).
5. In the LbC the text from this point to the end of the paragraph is underlined.
6. Opening quotation marks supplied from the Letterbook.

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0172

Author: Dana, Francis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-08-30

From Francis Dana

[salute] Dear Sir

I received your letter of Aug: 7th. yesterday afternoon, and at the same time the packet you mention. I thank you most cordially for your sentiments upon “something of consequence”: but I am no longer at liberty to pursue a course like that you point out. My la[st] dispatches, which I presume you did not read, tho they came open under your Cover, are clear and decided upon that affair. I am glad of it. They have relieved me from much anxiety.1 By the way the or• { 411 } dinance relative to marine affairs which I am told is enclosed,2 has not accompanied the letter. If it lays with you, pray forward it by the first post, and bear in remembrance my request about your treaty—oblige me if possible—I have not recd. the Genl's: picture. I wish you had thought to mention by whom you sent it, that I might have made enquiry about it. If Mr: Thaxter shou'd not have sailed, pray beg him without fail, to buy two sets of Nugent's New Pocket Dictionary French and English printed for J. Ash London 1778. and to present one set to my new correspondent and the other to Mrs: Dana.3 If he shou'd have sailed will you please in my name to present my correspondent with one set by the earliest opportunity. Mrs: D. may wait awhile, she is not so pressed to learn French, and let me know when you send it, or whether M. T. takes them.
Who is your present assistant, I think your letter is not the old hand.4 The enclosed you will be kind enoh to forward by the earliest opportunity. The one you will receive mark'd duplicate, is a copy of it. They must therefore go by different vessels; let this be attended to.
Your slow stepped people have shown the world they can occasionally assume the quick step, especially when they are apprehensive something is to be lost, or in danger of being lost if they dont strike into it. They marched in pretty good time with your Musicians. Now they have got to the Top of the Mountain, they must be allowed some time to take new breath, and to look about them; perhaps the heighth of it has made them a little dizzy when they cast an eye down upon their Flatts. They will soon feel the benefit, it is to be hoped, of a freer air, and acquire a degree of elasticity they have long been wholly unaccustomed to—Health to their Body Politic.
Fox's system wou'd save the British Nation from destruction: but it hath pleased Heaven to pour down upon their heads a few more vials of wrath, for their abominable abominations.
Adieu my dear Sir. May God defend, save, and prosper our Country.
Your's affectionately
[signed] FRA DANA
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mr. Dana 19/30 August 1782.” Some loss of text due to wear at the fold.
1. The dispatches included copies of Robert R. Livingston's letters of 2 March and 22 May, to which Dana replied on the 30th (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:209–213, 436, 679–680670; and above). It was the letter of 2 March that relieved Dana's anxiety, and specifically Livingston's admonition that “You will continue, I presume, to appear only in a { 412 } private character, as it would give Congress great pain to see you assume any other without an absolute certainty that you would be received and acknowledged.” Essentially this meant that Dana should do nothing to execute his mission as minister plenipotentiary to Russia, a state of affairs that reflected the longstanding French attitude, expressed by the French minister at Philadelphia in May 1781, that “the appointment of Mr. Dana . . . appears to be at least premature, and the opinion of the council is that this deputy ought not to make any use of his powers at this moment” (same, 4:453). On 10 May, in a letter that he submitted to Congress and enclosed with his of 29 May, Livingston made the prohibition against Dana's acting even more explicit, and on 27 May, when Congress returned the letter to Livingston, it resolved, “That Mr. Dana be instructed not to present his letters of credence to the Court of Petersburg, until he shall have obtained satisfactory assurances that he will be duly received and recognized in his public character” (same, 5:410–414, 446–447; JCC, 22:301).
2. Mentioned in Livingston's letter of 2 March, it is presumably the 2 Dec. 1781 “ordinance, ascertaining what captures on water shall be lawful” as amended on 26 Feb. 1782 (JCC, 21:1153–1158; 22:99–100).
3. It is not known whether Thaxter procured copies of Thomas Nugent's work and sent them on to their intended recipients, but a copy of the 1781 edition of The New Pocket Dictionary of the French and English Languages (Corrected and Improved) by J. S. Charrier is in JA's library at MB (Catalogue of JA's Library).
4. The letter was in Charles Storer's hand rather than the more familiar one of John Thaxter.
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.