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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 13

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0031

Author: Mazzei, Philip
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-05-21

From Philip Mazzei

[salute] Sir

Permit me to congratulate your Excellency on your complete success, which I am confident is owing to your prudent, wise, and indefatigable endeavours, at least as much as to certain favourable circumstances. From this place I knew, perhaps better than you could, all the obstacles you had to surmount; which would not be surprising, as it is natural to suppose that you have almost constantly kept company with the independent and patriotick part of the Inhabitants, while I was in the way of being informed of the most refined intrigues of the opposite party from an unquestionable Authority. I have spoken of your Excellency to a great Personage, and mentioned more than once that if any good could be made of the Dutch, you was in my opinion the most proper person to bring them to it, just as I had the honour to write you in my letter of 28. March 1781.1 I congratulate your Excellency once more, because you have really gained a great point. The Personage in question had his doubts to the last moment.
I took the liberty to trouble you again the 24 and 31. of May following,2 but having not been honored since with an answer, I am still in doubt whether it did proceed from want of leasure, or from my letters being miscarried. Since that time I have recd. of the Govt. of Virginia the duplicates of my Commissions and Instructions, which were kept either by Mr. Penet, or Dr. Franklin, about a year in France, and at last sent from Passy, and left at Mr. Favi's house3 in Paris by an unknown person, without any message, together with 4. letters from the Govr., and one from the Board of Trade. The Govr. writes me that it is the 4th. set of duplicates they have sent me. The letters being now almost 2. years old can be of no service.4
I think I told you, Sir, that according to my Instructions I was impowered to give only 5. [per] % interest for the money I was to borrow on the credit of my State, and that after I had heared from Dr. Franklin (with whom my Instructions direct me to confer and avail myself of his information and advice) that he had tried to raise { 69 } money for Congress in Genoa at 6., I had written to the Govt. of Virginia desiring them to enlarge my Powers accordingly. In a letter I wrote them afterwards from Genoa, which I inclosed unsealed to your Excellency before I knew you had left Paris, I informed them that I might raise some money there at 5., allowing 3. or 4. [per] % for charges at first, once for ever, as it had been done for the Queen of Hungary, the Ducal Chamber of Milan, and others, which is much cheaper to the borrower than one [per] % annually. After receiving the honour of your letter last year, I informed them of what you had written to me in money-matter, of my answer to you on the subject,5 and desired them, in case the conditions on which the Loan could be obtained did not suit them, to let me know it, and give me leave to act for Congress. The only letter I have recd. since is from Col. Maddison, dated Philadelphia 25. October 1781.,6 in which he tells me that my cipher was lost in the late confusions in Virginia, therefore that I must make no more use of it in my future correspondence, and refers to 2. preceding letters which I have not received. I am at a loss what to do, and know nobody to consult for advice but your Excellency. Could my finances afford it, I would immediately set out for Holland.
As to finances, in one of the said letters the Govr. orders me to draw the sum of 300. louis on the House of Penet & Co:; and says “you will therefore consider yourself as authorised to draw on them for that sum and be assured that your draught will be honored.” In another letter, in which he tells me some thing of the transactions of our State with that House, he says “we have been very attentive to the strengthening their hands.”7 My bill for the 300. Louis was protested, on pretence of having no funds in their hands belonging to the State of Virginia. I have since heared from a young Virginian Gentleman now in France, son to our Col. George Mason, that Penet had recd. orders from Govt. to pay me 6, or 700. Louis, but “by the by (says he) I have been lately informed that Mr. Penet has protested bills to a considerable amount, drawn on him by the Virginia Agent at New-Orleans.” Mr. Lynch from Nantes writes me in the mean time that Mr. Penet's affaires are in a sad condition.8 I have not recd. any money from Virginia ever since I had the pleasure to see you. Had I not had some property and good Friends in this part of the World, I should have been in a deplorable situation. But now the delay begins to be unbearable, and I often think of going to France, and embark for America. I want your advice to sanctify my resolution. Pray, dear Sir, do not deny it me; honour me with { 70 } an answer, and please to have it delivered to the Director Genl: of the Dutch Post, to whom this is inclosed by the Director Genl: of the Post in Tuscany, who, besides being my Friend, is ordered to take particular care of my letters.
I am sensible of your Excellency's multiplicity of business of the last importance; a few lines written by any body, and signed by you, is all I take the liberty to ask. And I have the honour to be most respectfully, Sir, your Excellency's most Humble and most Obedient Servant
[signed] Philip Mazzei
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Mazzei 21 May 1782.”
1. Vol. 11:233–237. For the “great Personage” to whom Mazzei had spoken, probably Leopold I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, see note 3 to that letter.
2. Vol. 11:335–336, 344–349.
3. Francesco Favi was the secretary to the legation of the Grand Duke of Tuscany in France; Mazzei often used him to deliver correspondence.
4. On 8 Aug. 1781, Mazzei wrote Thomas Jefferson, then governor of Virginia, acknowledging receipt of copies of various letters, along with copies of commissions and instructions relating to his appointment to raise a loan for Virginia in Tuscany, the earliest of which dated from 1779. Mazzei also complained of the “scandalous” delay that held up the papers in Paris for over a year. By the time Jefferson received this letter, Virginia's new governor, Benjamin Harrison, had already written to Mazzei on 31 Jan. 1782 to relieve him of his appointment. Mazzei had apparently not yet received that letter at this time; he acknowledged its receipt on 6 Sept. (Jefferson, Papers, 6:114–116, 162–163).
5. JA's letter was of 18 Jan. 1781; Mazzei replied on 28 March (vol. 11:58, 233–237).
6. Not found.
7. The first quotation likely comes from Jefferson to Mazzei, 31 May 1780, the second letter Jefferson sent to Mazzei on that date, which has been lost (see Mazzei to Jefferson, 8 March 1782, in Margherita Marchione, ed., Philip Mazzei: Selected Writings and Correspondence, Prato, Italy, 1983, 1:332–336). The second quotation is from Jefferson's letter to Mazzei of 12 May 1780 (same, 1:225–226).
8. Neither of these items has been located. A few weeks later, Mazzei would describe J. Pierre Penet of the merchant house of Penet, da Costa Frères & Co., as “an accomplished master of deviousness and a swindler” (Mazzei to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, 19 June 1782, same, 1:354). Mark Lynch was a merchant in Nantes who had exchanged letters with JA in July 1780 over some books that Lynch forwarded to JA according to Mazzei's instructions (vol. 9:503–504).

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0032

Author: Livingston, Robert R.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-05-22

From Robert R. Livingston

No. 6

[salute] Dear Sir

It is so important to let you know that the late change in the British Ministry and the conciliating measures they propose have occasioned no alteration in the sentiments of people here, that tho' I am too much hurried, (this conveyance going sooner than was intended,) to take particular notice of the letters we have received from { 71 } you, and which remain unanswered, yet I cannot but avail myself of it to inform you that it will not have the least effect upon the sentiments or wishes of people here, who remain invariably attached to their independence and to their alliance, as the best means to obtain it. Sir Guy has written to the general a very polite Letter, complaining of the manner in which the war has been carried on, proposing to conduct it in future upon more liberal principles, and observing that “They were both equally concerned to preserve the character of Englishmen” and concluding with the request of a passport for Mr Morgan his secretary to carry a similar Letter of compliment to Congress. Congress have directed that no such passports be given.1 The state of Maryland, whose Legislature happened to be sitting have come to resolutions which shew their determination not to permit any negotiation except thro' Congress, and their sense of the importance of the Alliance.2
No military operations are carrying on at present, the Enemy having received no reinforcements, and growing weaker every day, of consequence afford us a fine opportunity of striking to advantage, if we are not disappointed in our expectation of a naval Armament, or even without such Armament if we have sufficient vigor of mind to rely on our own strength. I commit the enclosed for Mr Dana to your care;3 I wish it could get to him, if possible, without inspection.
Congress have determined in future to pay your salaries here quarterly.4 I shall consider myself as your Agent; unless you should chuse to appoint some other,5 and make out your account quarterly, and vest the money in bills upon Doctor Franklin to whom I will remit them, giving you advice thereof, so that you may draw on him. By the next Vessel, I shall send Bills for one quarter commencing the first of January last.6 I wish to have a state of your Accounts, previous to that, that I may get it settled and remit the Ballance.
I have the honor to be, sir with great respect & Esteem Your most obedient humble servt
[signed] Robt R Livingston
Tripl (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Secretary Livingston. 22 May. ansd 6 Septr. 1782 No 6.” Although JA wrote a detailed reply to this letter on 6 Sept., he acknowledged its arrival in the form of a triplicate in his letter of 4 Sept., below. A second copy in the Adams Papers, erroneously designated No. 7, was probably the original, and the duplicate of the letter is in MHi: John Adams, Embassy MSS. Livingston's previous letter to JA was that of 5 March (vol. 12:295–299).
1. Sir Guy Carleton's letter, dated 7 May at New York, reached the Congress on 14 May as an enclosure in George Washington's letter of 10 May. The Congress immediately took the resolution indicated by Livingston (JCC, 22:263).
2. This resolution by the Maryland House of Delegates was taken on 15 May and ap• { 72 } peared in the Pennsylvania Gazette of 22 May.
3. Livingston also wrote letters to Francis Dana and Benjamin Franklin on 22 May that contained much of the same information as in that to JA (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:436; Franklin, Papers, 37:398–399).
4. Livingston was anticipating Congress' action. Such a resolution, which took effect immediately, was adopted on 29 May, but it was repealed on 5 June and replaced with another that would apply from 1 August. The measure resulted from a general review of the salaries of all American representatives in Europe initiated on 9 May when the Congress received a letter from Robert Morris dated the 8th in which he indicated that La Luzerne, the French minister, had told him “that in future no sums will be paid to the ministers of the United States in Europe by his court.” This, according to Morris, made it necessary “to make provision for their support here,” and the solution that he proposed in his letter was essentially that adopted by the Congress on 28 May. The letter from Morris was accompanied by another of the same date from the secretary for foreign affairs in which the salaries of the American ministers and their secretaries were examined and nine resolutions offered to establish a new schedule for compensation. The question of salaries was considered on 28 May and 14 June, but no resolutions establishing a new schedule were adopted, and the issue lapsed until raised anew in late Nov. (JCC, 22:308, 316, 253–260, 306–307, 332–333; 23:741, 850).
5. Livingston renewed his suggestion that JA appoint an agent to receive his salary in his letter of 29 Aug., and Robert Morris urged JA to do so in his letter of 25 Sept. (both below), but there is no indication that JA ever appointed such an agent.
6. See Lewis R. Morris' letter of 6 July, below.
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.