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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 13

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0199

Author: Livingston, Robert R.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-09-15

From Robert R. Livingston

No 11

[salute] Sir

I have been favoured with your Letters from the 19th: April to the 5th: July, by the Heer Adams.2 How impatiently they have been expected you will be able to judge by mine of the 29th: Ulto: which you will receive with this. The events they announce are considered as of the utmost importance here, and have been directed to be officially communicated to the different States.
Your loan is approved, and the ratification herewith transmitted.3 The resolution which will accompany this will be a sufficient Spur { 466 } to induce you to exert every nerve to get it filled—for if the War continues, it will be essential to our Exertions, if it should terminate, it will not be less necessary to enable us to discharge our Army—in every view it is necessary.4 In the present situation of the states, money can be raised but slowly by taxation, new systems must be introduced, which cannot without difficulty be adopted in the hurry, confusion and distress of a war. They will however be adopted. Congress are constantly employed in discussing the means for a regular payment of the interest and The gradual discharge of the principal of their debt.
The other resolution arises from the difficulty of ascertaining what are really the funds of the United states in Europe, when more than one person can dispose of them.5 I am satisfied this resolution will meet your approbation, from the rule which you say you have prescribed to yourself. It will, I dare say, be equally agreeable to all our Ministers to be relieved from the troublesome task of bankers to the United states.
You mention the negociations on the tapis at Paris, but so slightly as to leave us in the dark relative to what they may be (presuming, as indeed you might have done on probable grounds) that we Should receive information on that head from Doctor Franklin, but unfortunately we have learnt nothing upon that subject from him. I must beg therefore, in order to open as many channels of information as possible that you would give me not only the state of your own affairs, but every other interesting information which you may receive from our other ministers, or thro' any other authentic Channel.6
I observe your last Memorial or Note is in French.7 Would it not be expedient and more for our honor, if all our Ministers at every Court were to speak the Language of our own Country, which would at least preserve them from errors which an equivocal term might lead them into. I mention this merely as a hint which is submitted to your judgment.
We are now informed that the Aigle and the Gloire, two frigates from France have just entered the Capes, closely pursued by a British Ship of the line and three frigates. It is strongly apprehended from the situation in which8 that they must either be destroyed, or fall into the Enemies hands.
Pigot is arrived at New York, with 26 sail of the line. The late changes in Administration seem to have made such a change here that I much doubt whether they will quit us this fall, at least till { 467 } they hear again from England, tho' they certainly were making every disposition for it before. I will keep this Letter open till I hear the fate of the frigates, and know whether our dispatches by them can be preserved.
Mr Dumas's application is before Congress. They may possibly appoint him Secretary to the Legation, which I heartily wish they may, as he certainly has been an assiduous and faithful servant. But there is no probability of their going further, as they would not chuse to appoint any but an American to so important an office as that of Chargé des affaires—Nor will their present system of oeconomy permit them to make so great an addition to his Salary as you mention, which is much greater than is usually allowed to secretaries, as their Circumstances require it to be less.9
The Aigle, Capt la Touche has been driven on shore and is lost within the Capes. Her dispatches, money and passengers have however happily been saved. The Gloire, the other frigate has arrived at Chester. I find no dispatches from you among the Letters that have come to hand, nor any thing from Holland, but duplicates of Letters from Mr Dumas. Congress yesterday passed the annexed resolution, which needs no comments.10

[salute] I am, sir, with great respect & esteem Your most obed humble Servt:

[signed] Robt R Livingston
RC and enclosures (MHi: John Adams, Embassy MSS); endorsed: “no. 11.”; by John Thaxter: “Mr. Livingston 15. & 18th. Septr. 1782.” For the documents enclosed with this letter, see notes 3–63, 4, 5, and 6.
1. In his reply to this letter of 6 Nov. (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:854), JA indicated that he had received the triplicate two days earlier, on the 4th, but see note 3.
2. These letters, which Livingston sent to Congress on 11 Sept. (PCC, No. 185, III, f. 41), included those of 19, 22, 23 (||1 and ||2), and 24 April (vol. 12:420–428, 441–443, 450–452, 458–459); 16 May; 9 and 14 June; and 5 July (1st), all above. Not mentioned in Congress' register of letters received, but which Livingston's letter clearly indicated had arrived, was JA's second letter of 5 July, above, with which were enclosed copies of the loan contract to be ratified by Congress.
3. Congress ratified the five loan contracts enclosed with JA's 2d letter of 5 July, above, on 14 Sept. (JCC, 23:579–580). JA sent the ratified contracts off to Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje enclosed in a letter of 5 Nov. in which he indicated that he had received them that day (LbC, Adams Papers).
4. This actually refers to three resolutions adopted on 14 Sept. that authorized the borrowing of an additional four million dollars in Europe, directed that the authorization be sent to Benjamin Franklin and JA, and instructed Franklin to apply to the French government for the loan's implementation (JCC, 23:578–579).
5. This resolution, also adopted on 14 Sept., informed the ministers in Europe that the superintendent of finance was responsible for the disposition of all funds obtained in Europe as was determined by congressional appropriations (same, p. 576).
6. Possibly in response to Livingston's con• { 468 } cern expressed here, Congress resolved on 17 Sept. that JA, Franklin, Jay, and Laurens were all expected to participate in the peace negotiations (same, p. 585). An extract from the minutes containing the 17 Sept. resolution is in the Adams Papers and is filmed under that date (Microfilms, Reel No. 353).
7. This is JA's memorial of 23 April to the States General in which he formally proposed a Dutch-American commercial treaty. He included the French text of the memorial in his letter to Livingston of 23 April (vol. 12:450–451).
8. A copying error occurs at this point because two copies of this letter in the Adams Papers read, “in which they were left, that they must either be destroyed. . . .”
9. Although Congress considered Dumas' salary and position on 16 Sept., it took no action regarding either. See JA's 16 May letter to Livingston, and note 2, above.
10. See note 6.

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0200

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1782-09-16

To Edmund Jenings

I have the Honour of yours of 12. Your accounts from Paris coincide with mine, and make me happy. Vaughan has no public Character at all, and oswalds is the same with Carletons. The K. of Spain is not mentioned in Fitzherberts.
The Slips are great Curiosities. They were written with the Design of being printed as written by a Briton. The Publisher has told that th[ey] are of an American! Which makes the We's, Us's &c very Odd. They will think them from a Penitent Refugee. No matter. Why did they alter the Dates? They ought to have more Weight for having been written two Years and an half ago.1 No matter again. They will serve to keep up the Ball.
The Utmost extent of Fitzherberts and oswalds Powers, is such, that they ought to have been Sent home again, instead of inviting Holland and Spain to Send Ministers to treat with them. Mr. J is very right and if he is not over born, all will do well. I incourage his heart to Stand fast, and he writes me, he's of my Mind. But it is a dangerous Business that th[ey] are about at Paris. I dont like it, at all. Mr Franklin, had on the 12 of this Month been Sick three Weeks with2 the Stranguery, and severe Pains in his Thigh, as I have seen in a Letter from his Grandson.3
We shall soon learn, whether the Enterprise to relieve Gibraltar is really undertaken or not and what is its success. Will the Spaniards be afraid of the Equinox.
The Corps Diplomatique here, all Speak of the Independance of America as decided. Even the Minister from Russia Says it, and the Minister from Portugal Said it to me, not 3 days ago. In such a Case, where the Ministers of every Power in Europe, even those the most attached and obliged to England are so clear, why will Shelburne be obscure? He is a Blockhead. He has no sense. He is fur• { 469 } nishing to France and Spain, Weapons against himself. When the Conferences are broken off, it will be Said all over Europe that it is because England would not treat with America. I have at Length dined with D. Llano, the Spanish Minister. I meet now the whole Corps Diplomatique, at Court, at the House of France and that of Spain. The Ministers of Prussia and Sardinia and Liège are very sociable, and indeed the one from Portugal has been so several Times.
Do you love Latin? a few Days after my first Audience, I dined with a large Company of Patriots of the first Magnitude. The Custom here is to drink Toasts in a Boccale, as they call it. The Masters of the Feast, produced a most beautifull Glass, which had imprinted round the Brim of it, Aurea Libertas. He poured into it a full Bumper, and Addressing himself first to the Glass and then to me, pronounced these Words, with a profound Bow.

Aurea Libertas gaude: pars altera mundi

vindice te renuit, Subdere colla jugo.

Hoec tibi, Legatum, quem consors Belga recepit

Pectore Sincero pocula plena fero.

Utraque Gens nectet mox Suspicienda Tyrannis

Quae Libertati vincula Sacra precor.4

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “His Excellency Mr Adams Septr. 16. 1782.”
1. JA began the first of the letters that were ultimately published as “Letters from a Distinguished American” on or about 14 July 1780 and completed the final unpublished letter on or about 22 July 1780. As published in Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer, the ten published letters were given dates between 17 Jan and 6 Feb. 1782 (vol. 9:541–588). The editors have no evidence as to why they were redated, probably by either Jenings or the printer, but the new dates were presumably intended to make the letters appear more recent and thus more relevant.
2. At this point in the Letterbook, JA wrote and then canceled “billious Cholick.”
3. Not found.
4. Golden liberty rejoice! The other part of the world, with you as avenger, has refused to place their necks beneath the yoke. I bear these full cups with a sincere heart for you whom our Belgian colleague received. Each nation will form bonds, suspected by tyrants, which I pray will be bonds sacred to Liberty.
In the Letterbook at the top of the page following this toast, JA wrote, “Never was a Bumper quoffed with more good Will.”
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.