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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 13

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0253

Author: Ridley, Matthew
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-10-21

From Matthew Ridley

[salute] Sir

I was honored with your favors covering Letters for Mr Jay which I delivered.1 My Papers are packd up as I am moving from my present Hotel.2 This is the Reason I cannot mark the dates: but the last was the 8h. Currt: I have delayed writing in Answer, being continually buoyed up with Hopes of seeing you here: and this is the Reason Mr Jay has not wrote. He desires me however to remember him to you and flatters himself it will not be long before you meet as he finds the Affair of the Treaty is settled.
Your first Letter made no small impression on me. I have no doubt Reasons will be given why the Commo. was given away—When I say Reasons I mean that I think you will find Mr. J not to blame about it. In my own mind I am satisfied the persons you mention would have been preferable.3 I hope however this Affair will make no impression upon you. You may rely our Friend J. means well: And I am satisfied he has a very great esteem and respect for you: and which I think no difference in political Opinions or adoption of measures (which are only matters of opinion) will in the least Affect.
I find by Letters from England Mr L. will not be able to leave there before the Spring on account of his precarious state of health.4
It is very strange that V. has never yet communicated what R's business was in England. It is that kind of Reserve which begets distrust often and which at all times prevents a liberal communication: All Things do not go right here and I should not be surprized was there to be a change almost similar to the one in England. Quarrels are gotten to a pretty great height—Fleury has attacked the Minister of Marine on account of his Expences—V. rather sides with the Comptroller, The Queen with the Marine and so between them there will be a Struggle untill either one or the other goes and maybe the whole. Should such an event take place some talk of Choiseul and Neckar.5 The Oeconomy of the latter and the profu• { 538 } | view { 539 } sion of the former may however prevent such an Union. The Effects I see in all this business is that most probably that of Peace may be retarded by it. Spain hankers as much after Gibraltar and Jamaica as ever the Levites of old did after the Flesh pots of Egypt. She has Influence here and it is well if they do not overshoot the Mark. I cannot but view with contempt these petty Struggles about a Barren Rock and an Island (neither of which will probably be given up by the present Occupiers) when I see America, an extent of Country immense, with 1500 miles sea Coast liberated, nay torn from the Body of a vast and powerfull Empire by a number of People not forming one fifteenth part scarcely of the Subjects of France and Spain. Liberty and such a Country were prizes worth contending for. See the blessed Effects of Unanimity! In seven Years has this mighty Object been accomplished! When I think on this business I am struck with astonishment and feel my Imagination Carried, I know not whither. Excuse this digression and believe me with respect Sir Your most Obedient servant
[signed] Matt: Ridley
If the war Should continue the silver Boxes6 may be wanting. I think the one you propose them for is the best that could be thought of. I am glad to find your Loan gathers as it Rowls. That Money will be much wanting. There is a talk of opening a Loan here for Eighty Millions. You may be assured I am right about the amount of our debt here. I do not hear if they propose letting us have any more. If the war continues we shall want some.
There are Letters as late as the 10. of Septemr from Boston. The French fleet which was arrived wanted much repairs. Pigot they say was arrived at new York and it appears by the some of the Papers that orders had actually been given for the evacuation of Charles Town. The Inhabitants had proposed to ask time from General Green (which I suppose would not be granted). Leslie had informed such as chose to quit the Town that there were Vessells prepared to carry them to Augustin, of all places in the World.
Mr J. bids me tell you the Letter Mr B. left for you7 is still in his possession, as he expected to see You and such particular directions are given with it he has not cared to trust it by any opportunity hitherto offered.

[salute] Thus ends my Second Letter.

[signed] MR
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Ridley.”; in another hand: “October 21th. 1782.”
{ 540 }
1. Ridley delivered letters to John Jay from JA on 6 and 14 Oct. (MHi: Ridley Journal). They were probably those of 1 and 7 Oct., above. The first was presumably enclosed in JA's to Ridley of 29 Sept. and the second, as Ridley indicates, in that of 8 Oct., both above, but neither letter mentions an enclosure intended for John Jay.
2. In his journal (MHi) Ridley describes his move from the Hotel de Vauban to the Hotel de Clary, No. 60, Rue de Clary, and indicates that on 23 Oct. he was finally in his new apartments.
3. JA wrote first and secondtwo letters to Ridley on 29 Sept., both above, but the letter referred to here as the “first” is, as printed in the volume, the second because of its position in JA's Letterbook. The issue raised by Ridley is William Temple Franklin's appointment as secretary to the peace commission, an action that JA opposed.
4. Henry Laurens reached London on 24 Sept. (Laurens, Papers, 16:26). But instead of returning to America, he went to Paris to join the peace negotiations, arriving there on or about 29 Nov. (JA, D&A, 3:79).
5. Jean François Joly de Fleury had replaced Jacques Necker as minister of finances in May 1781. By Oct. 1782, like Necker before him, he was at odds with various officials, including the naval minister, the Marquis de Castries, over their expenditures. Fleury did not seek to reform the system fundamentally, but rather wanted accurate data on expenditures so that he could make it work. By so doing he hoped to gain some degree of control over the massive budget deficits that were partly a result of the American Revolution and that helped precipitate the French Revolution. Even that was too much of a threat to entrenched interests, and in 1783, having lost the support of Vergennes and others, Fleury was forced to resign (Murphy, Vergennes, p. 399–400; Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 297).
6. See JA's letter of 8 Oct., above.
7. Thomas Barclay's letter of 27 Sept., above.

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0254

Author: Willink, Wilhem & Jan (business)
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-10-21

From Wilhem & Jan Willink

[salute] Sir

We shall be glad to hear your Excellencys happy arrival in paris, at my being in the Hague Mr Dumas informed me of the receipt of the 1000 Obligations, whch. I recommended to his care till further disposal.
Said Gentleman informed me he could want some money one time or another whch. he'd be glad to dispose on us together whch. Should be approuved by your Excellency. We beg therefore to know what Sum you are pleased to order to his disposition.1

[salute] In the meanwhile we have the honour to remain with the most respectfull Consideration Sir Your Excellency's Most Obedient & Humble Servants

[signed] Wilhem & Jan Willink
1. JA received this letter on 1 Nov., and in his reply of 2 Nov. (LbC, Adams Papers), he indicated that Dumas' expenses connected with the American legation should be paid, but that if Dumas needed additional funds, they should inform him, and he would advise them regarding payment.

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0255

Author: Warren, Mercy Otis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-10-25

From Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Sir

Many Months have Elapsed, and many Great Events have taken place since I took up my pen to address you,1 among which few are more important to this Country than the Dutch Negotiation, and perhaps None have been attended with Greater Difficulties, and none more Replete with Honour to the prime actors than this. Yet I should not have Ventured to pass my Censure on Its opposers, or to Give sanction to the Measure, by a full approbation of the spirit and Dignity which has brought it to a Completion. Had it not been repeatedly Called upon in the Late Letters to your friend, a friend (who though now a private Gentleman) is not Less Attentive to the Intere[st] of the public, nor Less Attached to the Minister at the Hague than when you both stimulated by the Noblest Motives of patriotism, and bound by the strong ties of Mutual Friendship, Nursed the Embrio of opposition, Discussed the Nature of Government, and Formed the plans of Revolution by the social Fire side at Plimouth. But the Enthusiasm of poetry has Languished under the hand of Time: and the Muse Grown too Timid, amidst the Noise of War, to Attempt an Elogium on the Virtues of patience, perseverance, and patriotism. Though the sterling Worth of Those Capital Virtues have been tryed in the Fiery Furnace of Intrigue, Deception, and ingratitude.
But the Historian must be very Negligent of Fame who is not ambitious that all the Extraordinary transactions in the Diplomatic system, should stand Conspicuous in his Work. But when the poignancy of sarcasm is strongly felt by the too susceptable Heart, some Little thirst of revenge will arise in the most Good Natured of the Human Race—nor is any office so illustrious, or any Character so sacred, but he must submit (if he provokes the threatening) Even to the Menaces of a Woman. He will not find himself secure though hid in the pallaces of princes, or sheilded by the stronger Bulwark of his own integrity. Therefore Depend upon it, a Blank shall be Left (in Certain annals) for Your Dutch Negotiation, unless you Condescend to furnish with your own Hand, a few more Authentic Documents to Adorn the Interesting page.2
If the Refinements of the European World has Wroght the Divine Science of politics into a Mechanical System, Composed of all the Foperies of Life,3 be assured Sir, America is not a Century behind { 542 } them in Taste. You will not therfore be surprized when told, that the test of merit is Wealth, And that Every thing which is Lucrative is Honorable in this Country. But as Mankind in all ages are Governed Less by Reason than Opinion—it may again become Fashionable to be Virtuous, and the Man be more Respected for the probaty of his Heart, than for the Trapings of his Horses. But as the Morals of a people Depend more on the Genius of their Rulers than the Mode of Government, the Leading Characters among us do not at present promise such a Happy Revolution in Manners. And so little prospect of success is thier to the struggles of the uncorrupted few, that I do not find my self quite willing your much Esteemed friend, Mr Warren, who has but just retird from the public Walk, (sickned by the servility and weakness of Man, and wearied with the unremiting Vigalence of Near twenty years in the Field of politics) should again return to the Embarased Scene—yet Convinced of the Necessity of sending our best men to Congress, and knowing you deem it a point of the utmost importance, I dare not urge my Arguments against His repairing to philadelphia to you. Were it prudent to Transmit them beyond the Atlantic, some of them you would acknowledge Weighty, Others you might place to the score of Female Timidity, Delecacy, or perhaps pride.4
What a Many Headed Monster is a Republic Grafted on the principles of Despotism. Nor is a sovereign without a Crown a Less Dangerous Annimal than the Monarch Whose Brow is Graced with the splendor of a Diadem.5
If any Expression in this appears like a Decay of public Spirit in the Wane of Life, a line from your pen might Revive the Languid taper, though not as the Rescript of a Minister, but as the Admonishions of a Friend.6
I need say Little of your Family as Mrs Adams Neglects no opportunity of writing you. She with all her livly Children spent yesterday with us on Milton Hill.
As I have touched on the Domestic feelings to which you are not insensible, I shall Mention a son,7 Dear to his parents, and amiable in the Eyes of his Friends, has any part of his Conduct since in Europe rendered him unworthy—that Mr Adams has Never once Named him in his Long absence. If he has, your tenderness will still impose silence. If not, the Flattering hopes of a Mother, will be strengthend in your Next Letter to one who subscribes with much Respect & unabating Esteem Your assured Friend & Humble servant
[signed] M Warren
{ 543 }
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs Warren Ansd Jany 29. 1783.” Some loss of text where the margin is worn. Tr (MHi: Mercy Warren Letterbook). The transcript is considerably longer than the recipient's copy and significant differences between the two are indicated below. For a description of the nature and content of the “Mercy Warren Letterbook,” which is not in Mercy Warren's hand and was done years later from copies not now extant, see AFC, 1:93–94.
1. Mercy Otis Warren's last extant letter to JA was of 28 Dec. 1780, to which no reply has been found (vol. 10:445–447).
2. In this paragraph, Mercy Warren is responding to JA's reference in his 19 Aug. letter to James Warren, above, to the treatment of his Dutch negotiations in her planned history of the Revolution. Her request for more documents presumably means in addition to those contained in JA's A Collection of State-Papers, which James Warren's letter to JA of 1 Nov. (Adams Papers) indicates was enclosed in the letter of 19 August.
3. In this paragraph, Mercy Warren is responding to JA's comments in his 17 June letter to James Warren, above, but see note 4.
4. In the transcript, the commentary in this paragraph was expanded and altered as follows:
“You observe in a corner of your letter, that the refinements of the European world had wrought up the divine science of politics, into a mechanical system, composed of all the fopperies of life. Be assured Sir, that America is not a century behind them in taste. We are a people remarkable for our aptitude of improvement; yet it may require time to ripen and digest the plans both of policy and pleasure. You will not however be surprized when I tell you that already the test of merit is wealth; and that every thing lucrative is deemed honourable in your country. But as the morals of the people depend more on the genius and character of their rulers, than on the mode of government, it may in some future day again become fashionable to be virtuous, when the man may be respected more for the probity of his heart, than the trappings of his horses;—but at present there is little prospect of such a happy revolution in manners.
“Mr. Warren will write you by this opportunity, but though chosen a delegate, he will not repair to Congress this year. He has retired from the public walks—fatigued with the unremitting vigilance of near twenty years in the field of politics:—he declines engaging again in the embarrassed scene, while there is so little prospect that the struggles of the uncorrupted few, will bring back the minds of others to the point from which they have wandered. Death, desertion, indifference, or foreign employment have left few of the first capital characters in Congress.
“Several other arguments I could urge in favour of his determination; was it prudent to transmit them beyond the Atlantic. Some of them you would acknowledge weighty; others you might place to the score of female timidity, delicacy, or perhaps pride. Yet I am so convinced of the necessity of sending men of the most impeccable characters to Congress, that I rather wish him to go on.”
James Warren wrote to JA on 1 Nov. (Adams Papers; Warren-Adams Letters, 2:181–183).
5. Likely a reference to John Hancock.
6. In the transcript, Mercy Warren's comments were expanded as follows:
“I cannot conclude this without observing, that, though I may have been the last of your correspondents who has congratulated you on the success of your late negotiation, I believe I am not the least sensible of its importance: nor among the multitude of your friends, have you many who enjoy in a higher degree, your compleat triumph over the British Minister.
“We are none of us insensible of the anxieties, the fatigue, and hazard, you must have surmounted in your peregrinations from Court to Court; nor of the firmness and integrity necessary to obtain success. Your success in Holland has secured the claims of America—on a basis that promises wealth and honour:—and if we support a national character of our own, and are not wanting to ourselves, I may add happiness to posterity.
“Have you lately seen a son of mine now in Europe: a son very dear to his parents and very amiable in the eyes of his friends?
“Your lady and family spent yesterday with us on the summit of Fremont. Do you think our friends in France and Holland made any part of the conversation? I will acknowledge we wished for their company, { 544 } and sure I am that were you to behold the varigated beauties exhibited to the eye of reason and gratitude in this pleasant Villa, though you are surrounded by the glare of greatness, and caressed in the Courts of Princes—you would breathe a sigh for the social hour of private friendship, and the sweet moments of contemplation in so delightful a retreat;—'Where the free soul looks down and pities Kings.'”
In the first and second paragraphs, Mercy Warren is apparently responding to JA's comments in his letter of 6 Sept. to James Warren, above.
7. For Winslow Warren, who had been in Europe since 1780, see vol. 11:75–76, 296. JA mentioned him in his letter to Mercy Warren of 9 Dec. 1780, the same day on which he also wrote to James Warren, but since the only extant copies of those letters are letterbook copies in the Adams Papers, they may not have been received (vol. 10:404–407).

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0256

Author: Dalton, Tristram
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-10-26

From Tristram Dalton

[salute] Sir

I esteem myself greatly honor'd by the receipt of your Favor's of the 18th August last—and much obliged by the attention paid to my request respecting Capt Armstrong who, soon after my writing, returned from a severe confinement, having made his escape—of which I immediately advised to prevent any further trouble in that affair.1
You express yourself at a loss, Sir, to know, to what intelligence, thro' the war, I refer, in supposing the enemy to have been better informed of than her Friends.2 I did not mean such as Congress might have duly received, but such as the wellwishers of the cause we are engaged in seemed frequently to be without. The Decisions of Congress, thro' the contest, fully prove that their informations have been much better than those of the Court of Great Britain, whose insiduous designs and proposals have, thereby, in a great degree, been frustrated. But, Sir, it has been a frequent remark in this part of the Country, that any particular plans designs or movements of the enemy have been known to suspected Characters long before those of the opposite denomination have scarcely had a hint, which, I confess, might have been owing to the great vigilance and industry the former exercised, while the friends of our Country, putting the utmost confidence in the Persons to whom they had committed the management of their public concerns, neglected too much the means of informing themselves—a fault too common—and to a free Country, much more to one struggling for Freedom, often, if not always, proving in the end fatal to their Liberties.
Sensible of this in my private Sphere of Life, I felt doubly the obligation to procure all useful Intelligence when I had taken a Seat in the Legislative of this Commonwealth. This I plead in excuse for intruding on your important hours, so far as to ask the favor of any { 545 } advice you had time, or thought proper, to afford me. Permit me now to return thanks for the political intelligence You have honor'd me with, and for the pamphlet accompanying3—by that and other information it appears that the ancient spirit of freedom, which wrested the United Provinces from the hand of tyranny, but which has lain dormant a long time, revives, and promises to shine in its original Splendor.
The Success of these American States in the Cause of Liberty has been productive already of much good in the European World—and it is to be presumed the Effects of our Independence are scarcely visible yet. Ireland may, and ought to, thank us for the Blessings they have lately acquired, notwithstanding their Patriot, M Grattan, in his celebrated Speech, so insiduously contrasts the merit of the American Contest, with that of his Country.4
The People of the United Provinces will feel the happy influences by the revival of their ancient constitution, if they are as wisely conducted in future as they have been directed lately. They need only the Influence of the American Spirit and Firmness to lead them to wise measures. Their sluggish disposition may try the patience of Job, as I doubt not You have experienced—but that there is a latent spark of Freedom sufficient to kindle the Mass is evident from the great effects which your unremitted labours have caused. However easy it may be to obtain the favor of a Court, it appears to me far otherwise to rouse a whole People, who have been long buried under the influence of selfish pursuits, and a tyrannical Exercise of Government—to inspire them with new political life so as to see their public interest, and to feel their importance. This task was reserved for yourself. Your friends rejoyce in the important success that has crowned your Pursuits. The Alliance formed under your sole Endeavours, appears to me permanent, considering it proceeds from the united voice of a people—which, in such general concerns, tho' harder to obtain, is more to be depended upon, than the promises of Crowned Heads—as, in the one Case, a secret intrigue may escape the closest Notice, and alter the disposition of the Court, which Alteration can scarsely take place in a republick but in a slow progression, giving opportunity to counteract the designs of an Enemy.
The Assistance which the United Provinces can afford the Allied Powers is contemptuously spoken of by the British. It is true it may not appear so powerful as that of France, but when any one considers the difference their joyning G B would have made—the immense { 546 } extent of their trade, together with the similarity of many things between the Inhabitants of them and these States, as fully set forth in the first memorial presented to their H Ms5—it must be allowed, by all, that their friendship and Alliance were most desirable Objects—The Loss of which G B must lament.
Upon the first appearance of Affairs, after the Marquis of Rockingham's appointment in the British Ministry, We flatter'd ourselves an honorable Peace would soon have taken place—whatever just grounds there then was for such suggestions, our present opinion coincides with those you express, that the Court of G B. will be governed by the fate of their Armaments and of the fortress of Gibraltar.
The Situation of the different Governments in the Union you must have from various hands, much more able to acquaint you than is in my power. Thus much I am sure, that the Americans show no disposition to retreat. They seem as determined to push the war as when it began. It is true of this Commonwealth, that great are the wants of Money. The General Court are devising every means to revive public Credit, and to raise Money for current Charges, as well as to answer the demands of Congress. The People say they have not got the Cash nor can they raise it. Heretofore when pressed to what they, at the time, supposed the last extremity, the difficulties were overcome, I hope the new ones will meet the like good fortune. However, my dear Sir, it is to be sincerely wished that the Loan for the Use of Congress, solicited in Holland may be effected. I hear transiently that half a million is already negotiated—it would greatly releive at this time. The Enemy form high hopes from our apparent distresses on this account, not reflecting how often they have been the dupes of their own delusive dreams—which will again, in this instance, be their lot. New England has now more able bodied Men, more Cattle and Provisions than in 1775. Can such a Country give way—retaining the spirit of that memorable year. They do retain it. They cannot “look back—stop—or deviate.”
I note your observations on the Conduct of Denmark and Russia—and since hear that Sweden, more friendly, has proposed a treaty of Amity and Commerce with these States.6
I am sometimes of opinion that the Continuance of the war is beneficial to us, when I reflect on the intimacy and knowledge of their Trade Policy and Finances which every new Alliance with different Powers of Europe gives the Subjects of these States. Many years Peace might not furnish such opportunities. Would the Calm { 547 } of more tranquil times have afforded you the opportunity of lighting up anew the Batavian Spirit of Liberty thro' the U Provinces, and of causing the Body of People to unite in so serious and important an Affair?
But how am I, Sir, engrossing your time to look over what can be of no other Service than to convince you that I wish it my power to make the least Amend for the favors received. From the important business which calls your Attention I dare not promise myself frequent Intelligence. Give me leave to say, it is my sincere wish to hear from you when a leisure moment may permit.

[salute] I am, with the most respectful Regard And Affection, Sir Your obliged Friend & most humble Servant

[signed] Tristram Dalton
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Dalton Octr. [2]6 ansd Decr. 23. 1782.” JA's reply has not been found.
1. Not found, but for some indication of its content, see JA's letters of 19 Aug. to Samuel Adams, Elbridge Gerry, and James Warren, all above. For Dalton's plea on behalf of Armstrong, see his letter of 25 May, and note 2, above.
2. JA's reference was to Dalton's comment in his letter of 25 May.
3. Probably JA's A Collection of State-Papers, The Hague, 1782. James Warren indicated in his letter to JA of 1 Nov. (Adams Papers) that JA had sent him the pamphlet with his letter of 19 Aug., above.
4. Dalton likely is referring to Henry Grattan's speech of 16 April before the Irish Parliament that was published in the Boston Independent Ledger of 26 August. There Grattan celebrated in general the Irish drive for legislative independence through the repeal of Poyning's Law and in particular the volunteer movement. In doing so he emphasized the differences between the Irish and American situations and, in particular, Irish loyalty to the British Crown.
5. JA's memorial to the States General of 19 April 1781 (vol. 11:272–282), which was included in A Collection of State-Papers.
6. See Arthur Lee's letter of 1 Oct., and note 3, above.

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0257

Author: Dana, Francis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-10-26

From Francis Dana

(Secret and confidential)

[salute] My Dear Sir

Soon after my arrival here I intimated to you that I had discovered something which I thought a clew to account for the advice given me by a certain person, and which you and I then were of opinion, was calculated to throw an obstruction in my way, and of course that I ought not to follow it.2 I told you I wou'd communicate it to you by the first good opportunity. None has offered till now. Here then you have it. In the project of a Treaty of Commerce which ||France|| had proposed to ||the Empress|| there is an article to this effect. When the Subjects of ||France|| shall carry in their own vessels, goods, wares, or merchandises, of the growth, produce, or { 548 } manufacture of ||France||, into the dominions of ||the Empress|| and shall receive in exchange for them, goods, wares, and merchandises, of the growth, production, or manufacture of ||the Empress|| that in such cases, there shall be a drawback of the Duties both of Importation and of Exportation paid by the Subjects of ||France|| upon all such articles imported, or received in exchange by them as aforesaid.
Now in order to induce ||the Empress|| to grant this most advantageous privilege to ||France||||France|| alleges that it will be for the interest of ||the Empress|| to do it; because ||France|| will have a demand for great quantities of the Commodities of ||the Empress|| which she will nevertheless not be under a necessity of purchasing of ||the Empress||after the war; for these reasons, that she can then obtain the same from ||America|| and altho' perhaps not at so cheap a rate, yet it will be for her interest, if||the Empress||shall refuse to grant this priviledge, to pay ||America|| from 15 to 20. pr: Cent: more for the same articles, as by taking those articles from ||America||||France|| wou'd enable her to take off a greater quantity of the commodities of ||France|| and the more easily to discharge the debts she may contract for them in ||France||.
The foregoing project, and the reasons urged in support of it were somewhat more detailed than I have given them to you above. As I cou'd not obtain a copy of them, I read them over with care, and in the time of it, reduced them to writing from my memory. The above is a copy of that memorandum and I believe I have not made any material mistake in it. Hemp, the article of which ||the Empress|| is most jealous of a Rivalry, is particularly mention'd by ||France||. Thus I found both Friends and Foes working against us here for their own private purposes; if to support and maintain a Rivalry between the two Countries can be said to be working against our Interests. However different their views may be, the effect is the same and equally prejudicial to us let it proceed from whom it may; and this junction in their systems rendered my task of clearing away such errors, much more difficult. The immense profit which ||France|| wou'd derive from such a priviledge must have made her consider it as an object of great consequence to herself. She cou'd not therefore wish to open any communication, which might possibly bring on an eclaireissement that wou'd render her project abortive. Is it unnatural to suppose that the pendency of such a negotiation might have been a sufficient ground for the advice above alluded to, or for others to prevent my forming any connections { 549 } | view { 550 } with persons in Government here? I view it indeed in this light, but perhaps I may view it with too suspicious an eye. It has had no tendency to convince me that it is an erroneous principle in our policy. That we ought to take care of our own Interests in Foreign Courts. This is in some places an unfashionable if not an unpardonable sentiment. Shou'd you think proper to write me upon this subject, I must beg you to do it in so disguised a manner as cannot be penetrated. For I have good reasons to apprehend that it is next to impossible to avoid a detection of my correspondence thro' the posts. I this day received a second letter which had been opened at the office, from Paris. They will open every letter bro't by their post, to discover any correspondence they wish to discover, without the least hesitation. For this reason I desire you wou'd never send me a copy of any dispatches you may know I have received, but instead of it, to give me notice when you receive any such, and I will write you what to do with them. By this same opportunity you will receive a letter for Mr: L——.3 Please to open it, read it, and beg Mr: T. whom we may safely confide in, to be so kind as to make out two or three copies of it, and to forward them by careful hands. I am unable to do this myself at present, and I dare not send a letter of that sort by the Post. Desire Mr: T. not to put up either of them, with any of your or my other letters, but to send them unconnected with any thing which, in Case of Capture, might discover from whence they came. You will pardon the trouble I give you in these matters, and be assured I shall never be unmindful of the obligations I am under to you. Since the above one of my Bankers has called upon me, and tells me all my letters which came under cover to them directly will certainly be opened at the office—that it will be necessary therefore to send them all by the way of Riga. I am my dear Sir your much obliged Friend & obedient humble Servant
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Letter by my Son. Secret & confidential.” Filmed at 15 Oct., Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 358. In this letter Dana used the code that he sent to JA in Sept. 1781 to encode several names, and they have been decoded from that source (vol. 11:480–481).
1. Francis Dana entrusted this letter to JQA, who departed from St. Petersburg for the Netherlands on 30 Oct. and reached The Hague on 21 April 1783 (JQA, Diary, 1:153, 174). On the following dayJQA wrote to his father, informing him of his arrival and the letter in his possession that Dana had absolutely forbidden him to send by the post (AFC, 5:130–131). Not mentioned in this letter or by JQA but presumably also carried by him on his journey was a code and cipher key dated 18 Oct. [29 Oct. N.S.] (Adams Papers; filmed with Ciphers and Cipher Keys, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 602; see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. Cipher, Francis Dana, 18 October 29 October N.S. 1782 54911, above). There, after a lengthy explanation of enciphering and deciphering, Dana wrote, “I do not expect you will ever write me in { 551 } cyphers, unless upon the most urgent occasions: nor shall I trouble you or myself in that way upon slight ones. 'Tis best to be armed at all points if possible. With this view alone, having a safe opportunity by your Son, I send you these Cyphers. We may occasionally make use of these for words at large, and when you receive these you will throw aside my former Cyphers.” For the code that Dana sent to JA in Sept. 1781 and which is used in this letter, see vol. 11:478–482.
2. It is impossible to identify the specific letter to which Dana refers because several written since his arrival at St. Petersburg hinted at information that he had obtained but could not communicate because he had no secure way of doing so. See, for example, his letters of 17 Dec. 1781 and 11 Jan. 1782 (vol. 12:145–148, 178–184). Presumably, given the content of this letter, the “certain person” was Vergennes, with whom Dana had had an interview before his departure for Russia. For Dana's March 1781 conversation with the foreign minister, as well as with Benjamin Franklin, and JA's comments on them and his advice to Dana regarding his mission, see vol. 11:266–270266–267, 267–270.
3. Dana's letter of 14 Oct. [25 Oct. N.S.] to Robert R. Livingston (PCC, No. 89, f. 650–656), which is printed at the former date in Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:812–814. Dana indicates in his letterbook that it went “By Mr. J: Q: Adams” (MHi: Francis Dana Letterbook, Official Letters, 1781 to 1782). JQA wrote in his letter of 22 April 1783 that Dana initially wanted him to hand deliver the letter to JA, but since then he had instructed him to give it to Duncan Ingraham, an American merchant at Amsterdam, to be forwarded to America (AFC, 5:130–131). Dana's concern over its transmission may be explained by the fact that it referred, somewhat obscurely, to the proposed Franco-Russian treaty mentioned in this letter, but also because he may have enclosed a cipher key similar to that sent to JA.
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, 2014.