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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0047

Author: Adams, Thomas Boylston
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1795-12-23

Thomas Boylston Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] My dear Brother

It has been announced in the Dutch Gazettes as an extract from those of London, that you had delivered Credentials to his Majesty as Envoy from the United States.1 The article somewhat terrifies me, from the apprehension, that your visit will be protracted, beyond the term of our first expectations. Mr: Pinckney is probably in England by this time, as he was some weeks since said to be at Paris upon his return. Your next letters will I hope clear up my doubts to satisfaction; that is, announce the probability of your speedy return, which is wished for by many, but by none so earnestly as myself.
I have enquired of Mr: van Son respecting the case of the William Penn, and from what he says, should suppose it desperate. The papers, Cargo, and Captain were entirely French.
The business upon which I wrote you at full by Mr: Calhoun,2 rests in the same state, except that the French Government has refused to grant Mr: Monroe’s demand for an escort to accompany the specie hither; but gave no answer as to the liberty of exportation. I have recommended a resort to the Bill on Hamburg, in case the remittance from Paris cannot be effected. Since then however, Mr: { 101 } Monroe advises me to draw upon him if possible for the money, & I have consulted the Bankers upon the expediency of such a measure, but have not yet received their answer. Mr Monroe’s letter was in answer to my first, and did not arrive until after my second had gone, I know not therefore what will be the result of the proposal to use the other Bill. Some delay will I fear be inevitable in the payment at Amsterdam.3
The only interesting news in this quarter is relative to the military operations upon the Rhine. The series of illsuccess on the part of the French is yet unbroken, except a momentary advantage gained by the Army of Sambre & Meuse in the affair of Kreutznach.4 Later accounts say that this army has since received a severe shock, but that Pichegru has been successful in his quarter. As yet however there is nothing but rumor. Some general affair has probably taken place, but the French are out of the habit of giving Official details, & the Austrians too, when they are unfavorable to them, so that the only sure indication, on which side the balance of success preponderates, is by the retreat of one or other of the Armies. The surrender of Manheim operated extremely to the disadvantage of the French, as it reduced their numbers when they had most need of them, and gave their enemies greatly the advantage of situation. The reinforcements, that have arrived to the French have not apparently given them the superiority, because the desertions, which had previously taken place were scarcely supplied by the fresh troops. It seems to be the opinion that Dusseldorf cannot be retained, & if that falls, the operations will be entirely transferred to the left side of the River.
As a counterbalance for the defeats on the Rhine, some details have been published of signal victories gained by the Army in Italy over the Austro Sarde’s.5
Every body seem to turn their attention most to England at present. The King’s message to Parliament, which declares a disposition to treat for peace, produced a gleam of hope in many; but the distance between such an event and the commencement of negotiation, is perhaps wider than is generally imagined. It would puzzle me not a little I confess to divine, what those honorable terms will be, that all parties will insist on. Necessity must be the final umpire; no other can ever graduate the scale of pretensions. The age of miracles is passed, but a general peace in Europe very speedily would deserve to be ranked among the wonders of the world. I think with you that a prospect of Famine is much more visible.
{ 102 }
You need not be told, that this Country afords little matter for a letter of news. Since the decision of the question for calling a Convention, nothing remarkable has occurred. The three Provinces still hold out in opposition to the measure, it is therefore doubtful whether it will take place so soon as was expected.
The news from Paris of late, has been sufficiently uninteresting. The sudden command given to M Carletti to depart the territory of the Republic without delay has excited some speculation. Conversing with your friend the Baron upon the subject, he observed—“we have probably not had the whole truth of this business. Either M. C——s note was dictated by his superiors, or he must be a man sans tête. The probability is, that this occasion was seized as a pretext, but the real motives must have been founded upon something behind the curtain.”6 The Baron is among those who have expressed regret at the news of your new Commission.
The List mentioned in my last, was accidentally omitted, I forward it now, requesting as before, that it may be sent to its address; the Gentleman for whom the articles are intended, assures me it will not make a large packet, & may easily be conveyed by private hand, without trespassing much upon the corner of a Trunk.7 The Bill, you will be good enough to forward to me, as I hold myself accountable for the amount to you. If you should send them by a vessel, they may be addressed to me, to the care of Mr Beeldemaker or Mr Bourne.
I have two letters from our mother dated september 17. 18. but you have later doubtless, as we have news here, via London as late as the 10. Novr: from the U,S.8 It is bad enough to have been forged where it came from last.
The winter has not yet seriously commenced here; there have been fogs enough, but scarcely any frost.
Remember me to all friends that you may meet, and dont forget to forward me the Newspapers—which are in great demand.
With real affection I am your Brother
[signed] Thomas B Adams.9
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “JQ Adams Esqr:”; endorsed: “T. B. Adams. / 23. Decr: 1795. The Hague. / 14. Jany: 1796. Recd: / 25. do: answered.”
1. See JQA to TBA, 26 Dec., and note 7, below.
2. According to TBA, Calhoun was a “Gentleman from Baltimore” who had left Maryland in August to visit Europe (M/TBA/2, 13 Sept., APM Reel 282).
3. TBA’s letter to JQA of 11 Dec. (Adams Papers) contained a summary to date of an ongoing debate in which TBA was engaged with the Dutch bankers Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and Nicolaas Hubbard regarding payments due at Antwerp and at The Hague to cover interest on the Dutch-American loan. { 103 } Arrangements had previously been made for Charles Jean Michel De Wolfe to cover the Antwerp interest, and James Monroe in Paris had been organizing additional payments of these debts in specie. But Monroe was experiencing difficulties in getting the money to the Netherlands, as the French government had denied him permission to remove silver from France. There was also an ongoing dispute over how much money was properly owed to the bankers by the U.S. government, how overdue certain bills were, and which remittances should legitimately be credited to the American accounts. While the bankers eventually accepted the money from De Wolfe and received the silver from Monroe, disputes over payment of American debts in the Netherlands long continued (TBA to Oliver Wolcott Jr., 6 Jan. 1796, CtHi:Wolcott Papers; Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and Nicolaas Hubbard to TBA, 22 April, Adams Papers).
4. The French were unable to hold their advantage at the Battle of Kreuznach, which ultimately proved another victory for the Austrian Army just prior to the winter’s armistice ([Walter Keating Kelly], History of the House of Austria from the Accession of Francis I. to the Revolution of 1848, London, 1905, p. xxi).
5. At the beginning of Oct. 1795 the French installed a new commander of the Army of Italy, Barthélemi Schérer. He decided to push forward, and in late November the French Army successfully surprised and overcame the combined Austrian and Sardinian forces at Loano. By the end of the month the French had killed some 7,000 Austrians and taken both Austrian and Sardinian weapons, a fortified camp, and two fortresses. They also successfully opened the road to Piedmont (Cambridge Modern Hist., 8:444–445).
6. The Tuscan minister plenipotentiary to France, Francesco Carletti, had been involved in attempts to win the release of Princess Marie Thérèse Charlotte, Madame Royale, first from the French government under the National Convention and then again from the Directory. Carletti had also requested permission—in writing—to visit “the illustrious prisoner,” who Carletti believed was soon to be released to the Austrian government. Carletti’s note concluded with phrasing that the French government deemed threatening, and the Directory demanded his expulsion (Biro, German Policy of Revolutionary France, 1:450; 2:521–522).
7. The list, which was originally intended to be enclosed in TBA’s letter to JQA of 11 Dec., has not been found. In the earlier letter, TBA wrote, “The enclosed list, you will be good enough to let Tilley take to its address, & if you will charge me with the Bill of them, & forward the packet to me when you can, it will confer an obligation upon one of my friends & upon me” (Adams Papers).
8. AA’s letter of 17 Sept. is above; that of 18 Sept. has not been found.
9. TBA also wrote to JQA on 10 Jan. 1796 reviewing his earlier correspondence to JQA, providing updates on European affairs, and particularly complaining about the lack of ships sailing for the United States and the “damp & dirty” weather (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0048

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1795-12-24

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dearest Friend

I wrote you this morning inclosing a Post note for 600 and went to Senate with full Expectation of receiving a Letter from you.1 The Door Keeper had the Letters for others but none for me— What a Disappointment! I went mourning and moaping about for Some time, grumbling at my Stars and almost blaming my best Friend: but it was not long before the Letter of the 15 was brought me from the President to whom the Post office had sent it by Mistake.
I am glad the Clover is covered and that French is paid extravagant as he is. The Anti Treaty People are not Supported by the People generally nor by their Legislatures. North Carolina has left them { 104 } in the Lurch and it is Supposed S. Carolina will not be up to their Pitch.2 In Short all the opposition to the Treaty is likely to vanish in Vapour and foul Smoke.
The Assembly of Virginia, however, have passed a Number of hairbrain’d Resolutions for amending the Constitution, in which I believe they will not be Seconded, unless by Kentucky. After the Experience of our own Government and that of France, when all Sensible Men are convinced that our Constitution, if defective in any Part, wants more Strength in the senate & Executive, to propose to make the senate dependent on Annual Elections and the House of Representatives to participate more in Executive Power is a flight of Ignorance and folly that I could not have expected from a People like the Virginians: nor can it be accounted for but by that Spirit of Irritation and Terror which is inspired by Conscious Debts.3
The Senate is as firm as a Rock and has received I believe an Accession of Strength in the new Member from Georgia.
The Newspapers begin to throw out hints about Titles and Checks and Ballances with a distant View to the approaching Election of Electors of P. and V. P.4 But this at present will counteract their own hopes: for Checks and Ballances having been adopted in Part at least in France, begin to grow more popular all over Europe & America. I dined with The P. Yesterday and shall again to day.
I wish to read your Observations upon Randolphs what shall I call it?— I sent it by last Post. I think it is too evident that the Creature meditated a total defeat of the Treaty; and he had too much Influence in proceeding several Steps in the Business. The Plan Seems to have been to delay the Ratification till the People should have time to set up Such a Clamour as to make it impossible to sign it at all. This was a very friendly Attachment to the Honour and Faith of the P. to be Sure. to say nothing of The senate or Mr Jay. Such a Character in the Cabinet and in the P.s bosom was a Serpent that might have Stung if his Invention Cunning and Courage had been adequate. The P. is more than commonly incensed as I hear against this Man and he certainly has great Reason. His Pamphlet has not blunted the Edge, nor diminished the force of Fauchets Letter in the least. It must totally destroy the Confidence in both Characters for what I see.—
There are Letters to the offices from Mr Adams dated in September— Dont be uneasy— We shall hear in due time.
I am in great Affection
[signed] J. A.
{ 105 }
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “December 24 / 1795—”
1. The post note JA sent to AA was to repay a debt owed to Cotton Tufts “and the rest I hope will answer your Ends till March. My Expences here are so enormous, two subscriptions for erecting Colledges in Kentucky and in the Western Territory and a small, too small assistance to Charles will make it almost impossible for me to answer the Demands on me during the Quarter” (Adams Papers).
2. The S.C. house of representatives, on 8 Dec., approved a resolution in opposition to the Jay Treaty and on 11 Dec. described it as “Highly injurious to the General Interests of the Said States.” The state senate failed by a narrow margin to approve a resolution thanking Pierce Butler for his vote against ratification of the treaty. The other senator from South Carolina, Jacob Read, had voted in favor of the treaty (John Harold Wolfe, Jeffersonian Democracy in South Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1940, p. 83, 87).
3. On 12 Dec. the Va. House of Delegates approved a resolution instructing the Virginia congressional delegation to introduce and promote four amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The first would require approval of all treaties by the House of Representatives, the second would remove the authority for trying impeachments from the Senate, the third would reduce Senate terms to three years, and the fourth would bar anyone holding a judicial appointment from holding any other office. The Va. senate agreed to these resolutions on 15 Dec., and they appeared in the Philadelphia press a week later (In the House of Delegates, Saturday, December 12, 1795, Richmond, Va., 1795, Evans, No. 29798; Philadelphia Gazette, 22 Dec.).
4. The Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 24 Dec., reprinted a piece by “The Ghost of Warren” from the Boston Independent Chronicle directly addressing the question of titles for the U.S. president and recalling the Senate debate on the subject in 1789 in which JA figured prominently. The article notes, “The more important project of giving to the President the title of a king, that the other attributes of royalty might follow in regular succession, was one of the earliest efforts of the aristocratic party in the Senate of the United States. Hardly indeed were they warm in their seats, before they felt the full force of their imaginary importance.” The piece argues that it was the House of Representatives that thwarted the Senate’s attempts to create a more monarchical title. The item concludes, “Let us always remember this sacred & inestimable truth—That the forms only of our Constitution will exist, when these authorities appointed by you cease to respect the interest, the feelings, and the principles of those by whom they are constituted.”
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.