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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 13

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0035

Author: Stephens, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-05-23

From Joseph Stephens

[salute] Most Hond. Sir

Your excellency gave me liberty to write to you and being persuaded of your goodness and generosity gives me reason to think that I may use the freedom alredy given; when I left your excellency { 75 } monday last 13 May your excellency was kind enough to wish me success in what ever business I under took and said you would recommend gentlemen to me when it lay in your power. I can but kindly thank you for your good wishes and for what your excellency was kind enough to make me a present of and I beg of your ecellency would be kind enough to recommend me first to gentlemen. For I have no other expectations at present but to work at days when fortune favours me with any thing to do tis not possible for a poor man and a Stranger to begin any sort of Business without money without a friend or recommendations or help or assistance from any one personne in the world—which gives me reason to think I was born to be unfortunate for the more I try exert my self with honesty fidelity and every other good which has lay and does lay in my power to server every one and to advance my self with honesty but to no purpose am less respected then those of a quite differant Caracter; to the best of my knowledge I never wronged your excellency nor any one personne living in the world of one duyte1 nor do I wish to do it if riches ware to be gained by it.
I have now workd very hard for seven years past and run all manner of resks and dangers by sea and land and every hard ship possible for humane nature to endure but nither to proffit nor advantage to me which I am very sorry to be obliged to say; and those that know I am honest and faithfull seem to be fearfull to intrust me with any thing for fear I should now begin to be dishonest; five hunderd gelders would of been enough to of helpd me to made a good Begining to get an honest living which would not of been more to them that I applyd to then one duyte would of been to me. I hope your excellency will yet be kind enough to recommend me to some gentle[men][ . . . ] Who has a respect to others as well as them[selves] they ought to have respect enough for your excellency as to comply with so small a request as what I have mentiond; they are all quite willing your excellency Should recommend them to a great share in the american trade; I hope humanity and generosite will yet cover my head through your goodness and I now repeat my humble application to your excellency hopeing you will grant me your kind aid and assistance; and I am ever to obey your excellencys commands.2
[signed] J. Stephens
I am very sorry to here that your Mr. Thaxter is so bad I wish it was in my power to give him assistance he would be soon better for the worthy deserve good attendance when sick.
{ 76 }
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Son Excellence Monsieur Adams Ministre plenipotentairer des etat unis de l'amerique au pres des etàt generaux A la Haye”; endorsed: “Jos. Stevens May 23. 1782.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. Probably a misspelling of the Dutch word duit, meaning penny.
2. No reply by JA to this letter has been found, nor are there any more letters from Stephens in the Adams Papers, but on 13 June, in letters to Ingraham & Bromfield (LbC, Adams Papers) and Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje, below, JA solicited whatever assistance those firms might be able to provide Stephens.

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0036

Author: Willink, Wilhem & Jan (business)
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-05-23

From Wilhem & Jan Willink

[salute] Sir

As Messrs. Staphorst had to send the Prospectus of the Loan, with assurance of our respect to your Excellency, we beg Leave to refer to it.
We received this mail the following note from Cadiz—Letters from London give notice his Excellency Mr. John. Adams, authorises the privateers of his Nation, to take portugeese Ships, and shall likewise do it to take danish Ships.1
As we know nothing of this, we notwithstanding take the Liberty to enquire by your Excellency abt. the truth, to be able to inform our Friend for his Large concerns rightly abt. it, wherefore a Line for answer shall greatly oblige us.
We are told your Excellency proposed himself to come in Amsterdam, of whch. we together Should be very glad, as your Excellency presence 'd surely accelerate, the readiness of the required pieces.
We have the honour to be with respectfull regard. Sir Your Excellency's most Humble and Obedient servants
[signed] Wilhem & Jan Willink
1. Nothing further regarding this erroneous report has been found, but see John Bondfield to JA, 14 May, above, and JA's reply of 24 May to Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0037

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1782-05-24

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

Your Favour of April 22d2 and that of May 8th. are recd. I will Examine, Mr Fizeaus accounts as soon as my Friend Mr Thaxter, is a little better, who is now sick of a Fever. I have attempted it alone, but I find a few little Variations from my accounts, of no great Consequence, which however perhaps Mr Thaxter may clear up.
{ 77 }
The arrangements of Time and Place, mentioned in Lord Shelburne's Letter, cannot be a Work of any difficulty: because that People whose dispositions for Peace, are Sincere, would be willing to go at any time to almost any Place, provided the Work was not to meet obstructions there. But the Question is, whether his Lordship and his Royal Master, have lowered their Ideas of British omnipotence, and cleared their Breasts of the old Leaven of Contempt for their Ennemies Sufficiently to agree to the Terms which will probably be expected.
You know his Lordship personally, and therefore I can tell you no News of him: but, I have taken some Pains for fifteen or Sixteen Years, to inform myself of his Character and Sentiments, and from all I could ever learn, it seems to me, that his Ideas of Great Britain and her Ennemies are at this hour as wild, as those of my Lord North were Seven Years ago. The Changes in his Sentiments have not kept Pace with the alterations in Things. Mr Fox appears to have much juster Notions and Sincerer dispositions, tho God knows he is no Idol to me.
If his Lordships Sense was Spoken by Mr Oswald, viz to allow of our Independance, on Condition of Britains being put into the State, she was left in, by the Peace of 1763. This is a matter of Negotiation with France and Spain, and We have nothing to Say or do in it. But France and Spain must have more Moderation than ever Britain had, if they agree to it. But perhaps he means also that Britain shall remain in Possession of Nova Scotia, Canada and the Floridas as ceded to them by the Peace of 1763. If this is any part of his meaning it is a very Serious affair for Us, and for G. Britain too, for the foundation would be laid by it for her final Ruin. She will be forever at War with the United States must expend immense Sums, in maintaining innumerable Posts and fortifications, and garrisons, and at last can no more hold it, then her Navy can rule the Moon. We shall be in perpetual hot Water, it is true: but it will keep up a military Spirit, which it is Britains Interest if she could but see it, to lay asleep.
For my own Part, I dont feel so much anxiety, about the Part We have to Act in the Negotiations for Peace, as I commonly have done, in matters even of less Consequence because, I see that France, Spain and Holland have so many just Pretensions upon England, and the Ministry in England so divided, as well as the Nation, and the greater and more powerful Part, so extravagant in their Notions and so afraid of making Concessions, that I dont expect, the Nego• { 78 } tiation will advance so far, as that We shall have to enter very Seriously into our Claims, for sometime yet. The new Ministers, and New Admirals must try their Hands first, to see if they can turn the Fortune of the War. At least this appears to me to be the Earl of Shelburnes design with which he flatters the King.
The King hates them all. But perhaps Shelburne the least. And the Nation dont appear, notwithstanding the Addrsses to have much Confidence in the new set. In short I dont believe that any one Man or set of Men, have so much of the Confidence of King and Nation, as to be able to make with Safty to themselves the Sacrifices, which will be found indispensible, at a Peace.

[salute] I have &c

LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “not sent.”
1. JA nowhere indicates why this letter was not copied and sent. With the exception of the letter of 24 May to Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje, below, there are no extant letters from him to any correspondent until those of 1 June to Edmund Jenings and Jean de Neufville & Fils, both below. Certainly the content of the letter—including his comments regarding Lord Shelburne, Richard Oswald, and Charles James Fox—was not particularly controversial. The most likely explanation is that he and John Thaxter were too ill to copy the text from the Letterbook and send it off to Franklin, a conclusion supported by JA's comments in his 1 June letters to Edmund Jenings and Jean de Neufville & Fils, but see also his letter of 24 May to Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje, all below.
2. Vol. 12:447–448.
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.