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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 15


Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0004

Author: Dana, Francis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-06-03

From Francis Dana

[salute] Dear Sir

No answer as yet. There is another point touching the Treaty mentioned in my last, of much importance. That is to secure the same advantages for our proper productions when imported into the British Dominions in Europe, as is given upon the importation there of similar articles from their own Colonies on the Continent. At least secure the same advantages upon our proper productions, when imported there in our own bottoms, as if imported in their bottoms, to prevent Alien Duties &c.1 This was also in the same Bill of Mr: Pitt’s. If we can extend it to all Naval Stores Hemp in { 8 } particular, this Country may be made to repent of the present plan of Conduct towards the United States. I throw out these as hints to you upon the supposition you are authorised to make a Treaty of Commerce with Great-Britain. But enô of this matter.
I had a letter from Mr: Allen at Riga by the last post, where he arrived on the 27th. of May N.S. I find by it he is charged with a Packet for me deliver’d to him by Mr: Dumas, which he will bring on, I hope, as he intends coming here.2
I am relieved from much anxiety to learn by your Letter, as well as by Mr. Allen’s that your Son has at last arrived safely in Holland. The time he has spent on his route is unaccountable to me. I have been greatly concerned least this as well as the expence consequent upon it, might be disagreable to you. But on the other hand, it is some consolation, that your Son has a Mind capable of making much improvement upon such a route as he has made; and has now seen the greatest part of Europe. He has every where given a most favourable impression, as being possessed of very promising abilities; and I venture to say this opinion of him is well founded. But, my Friend, he is young, full of life, and spirit, and seems to feel a certain superiority about himself. Your vigilance is necessary to controle and govern this disposition. You will remember I am writing to you as one Father wou’d write to another his particular Friend, touching a favourite and deserving Son. I have no where heard of any misconduct on his part; but an education in Europe rarely contributes to the establishment of a good moral principle in the heart: and this I know in your opinion, is of more worth than the most shining abilities, accompanied with all the graces about which a Chesterfield makes so much parade. He is arrived nearly to that critical period which often fixes the complexion of a Man’s whole Life. I used to tell him if he did not cultivate carefully this moral principle, whatever his abilities might be, he shou’d never have my vote in Congress for a Minister of the United-States— He will be able to give you an account of some things here worth notice, and about which I have never written to you. You will caution him to speak of them to no one else— As to his Expences of which you desire an Acct: I am not able to give them to you with certainty, because the value of the Bills sold to discharge his second & last receipt at Hamborough is not yet known to my Bankers. I have paid to Mr: Payron of this City. 671. Ro: at 42 3/4d sterlg:, for the money he took up at Stockholm of Messrs: Brandenburg & Co: And to my Bankers 352–56. Ro: at the same rate; for his first receipt at { 9 } Hamborough. The second is yet unpaid, for the above reason. The Note he carried with him from hence of Expences which were almost entirely for Cloaths (an extravagant article in this Country, but most of them I believe are still in being and will answer for his younger Brother) as will appear from his Account may be averaged at 45d. sterlg: a Rouble, as I received them from 47 1/2 to 44. I have ordered the Cloaths and Books which he left here, to be put up. They will be sent for Holland soon, to the care of Messrs: Ingraham and Bromfield, unless I shou’d learn from Mr: Allen that we shall have some American Vessels here from Massachusetts; in which case I shall send them directly for America.3
I can conjecture, I think, the particular reasons which induce you so earnestly to enquire into the moral Character, and literary abilities of a certain young Gentleman— You have a Daughter, Sir, Am I right? The cause is immaterial. He fell under my immediate observation but a short time, two or three months, if I remember right, as I went on to Congress: And before my return he left Cambridge without saying one word before or since upon the subject to me. Did he not go to Braintree from thence? I have some loose recollection that he did. I left him finally however with Mr: Hitchbourn. As to his literary abilities, they may be considerable, as far as I know. He had the Name of possessing such at College. But he wanted stability or application to his studies most certainly: and where this is the case, ’tis difficult to say what ones real abilities are, or whether he will make any thing at the Bar. That science is not obtained by inspiration. To answer your question therefore, I must ask another. Has he changed in this respect, and became assiduous to his Studies? If he has, I believe, he will succeed tolerably well— Idleness in youth commonly leads to some sort of immoralities. But dissipation seemed to be his capital foible. He is, I think, good tempered, of a frank, and open disposition: and one of those Characters of whom tis commonly said, They are their own greatest Enemies, but the Enemies of no one else. Take this sketch—I have not spared him— I hope I have not injured him. I give it to you in Confidence, and must therefore pray you to destroy this Letter after you have read it. It may otherwise thrô your inattention to such things (if I conjecture Right) fall into his hands: which wou’d be a disagreable circumstance.4
Yours &c &c,
[signed] D.
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Exy. J: Adams.” Filmed at 23 May.
{ 10 }
1. This sentence was an afterthought, written in the left margin here and in Dana’s letterbook, but with no indication where it should be inserted (MHi:Francis Dana Letterbooks, Private, 1782–1784). The editors have placed it at this point as the most likely location.
2. For Jeremiah Allen, a Boston merchant who would sail for America with Dana in September, see vol. 14:149, and Dana’s letter of 29 Sept., below. Dana received the packet carried by Allen on 18 June and acknowledged it in a letter to C. W. F. Dumas of [20 June] (MHi:Francis Dana Letterbooks, Private, 1782–1784).
3. In this paragraph Dana is referring to JA’s letter of 1 May, which announced JQA’s arrival at The Hague and indicated JA’s apprehensions about expenditures during JQA’s journey from St. Petersburg (vol. 14:464–465). JQA wrote to Dana on 12 May and supplied him with an account of his expenditures (MHi:Photostat Coll.). Dana replied to that letter, and another of 20 June (not found), on [14 July], repeating there in less detail much of what he says here about JQA’s promise and character. He particularly lamented the length of JQA’s journey and “the time you had been taken off from the regular pursuit of your studies” (Adams Papers). Dana noted the arrival of JQA’s 12 May letter in his next to JA of [6 June], below. Regarding the money advanced to JQA, Dana enclosed a full account with his letter of 12 Dec. 1784 (Adams Papers).
4. The “young Gentleman” was Royall Tyler, and Dana correctly surmised the reason for JA’s request in his letter of 24 March (vol. 14:358–359). Tyler had begun his courtship of AA2, the onset of which was described by AA in letters of 23 and 30 Dec. 1782 (AFC, 5:54–59, 61–63). Replying to those letters on 4 Feb. 1783, JA indicated that he did not “like the Trait in his [Tyler’s] Character, his Gaiety” and thought AA had “favoured this affair much too far, and I wish it off.” Nevertheless, being absent and without additional information, JA lamented that “I must Submit, my Daughters Destiny, to Her own Judgment and her own Heart, with your Advice” and that of the rest of her family (same, p. 88). But on 13 July, probably after receiving this letter from Dana, JA wrote “I hope there is an End of it [the courtship]. I hope never to be connected with Frivolity. Youths must Study to make any Thing at the Bar. The Law comes not by Inspiration. An Idler I despise” (same, p. 199). AA2 finally broke off the relationship in Aug. 1785 (same, 6:262).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0005

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-06-03

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

I have had the very great Satisfaction of embracing Mr Joshua Johnson after a long Separation, during trying & painful Times, the Sight of Him afforded me much Joy, which was not a little increased by his presenting to me your Excellencys Letters of the 18 & 21 April,1 having been for some time under much Uneasyness at not having had a Line from You, when I Know a fresh attack had been made on my reputation in order to lessen me in your opinion. your very friendly Letter has releivd my mind from all my fears, & inspired, me at the same Time, with the Spirit of forgiveness, Since I find I am not injured; but on the Contrary, as I flatter myself more esteemd by you than I was. I have been frequently very near driven from my natural Temper, but I trust, I shall now preserve it; your Approbation and the applause I have met with in England, from those, who have been informed of what has passed, will Keep me { 11 } cool even to the last Extremity, to which Things may come, for I do not yet think, I shall be forgiven the Injustice done me, but that the more fair my Character may appear, the Provocation to wrong me will be aggravated. Surely there has been Time enough for a benevolent Mind to recover from its Error, my Ennemys seems to Catch at every Thing to make himself & me miserable; for Instance Altho He must see now by the Declarations of his friend in London that all his first Suspicions Beliefs & Charges Are ill-founded, yet He now eagerly seises another ground of Accusations, & on that Endeavours to make the former good, altho they were totally different2
I having said without much Consideration that the Anonymous Letter was sent to You at the desire of Mr B. He has got that Gentleman to declare, that He did not make that request & instigated Him to write me a Letter thereon, which I beleive He is now sorry that He did.
I do not think myself bound to Answer My Adversary on this Charge, until He makes very Ample Apologies for his own Mistakes, which were I beleive infinitely more deliberately & malevolently made than mine, however I think it is not merely Necessary, that my Adversary shoud appear wrong; I ought for your Satisfaction to appear as right as possible none of his other reasons & circumstances as He called them, tended I thought to prove me guilty of the baseness, wherewith I was charged, & particularly his demand, whether I Sent the Letter at the desire of Mr B. would, in fact, if I had Answered it in the manner, for which I am now vilified for not having done, have served to my Justification— for if I had sent the Letter of my own head, & not, as I imagined at the demand of one of the Parties—I should have appeared as one of the most ignorant Plotters in the Universe, and to have forgot the Object of the Letter, I was supposed to have written, which was to have Kept it from your Knowledge, that you might have been injurd in Secret. but I made the Answer as I then thought was the Case, when the Question was put to me, I recollected Mr B had desired me to send to your Excellency an Anonymous Letter, a friendly one relative I beleive to some transactions in England, this request occurred to me when I made the Answer, that I did. I have since examined the paper which has no date, but which, I think is not relative to the question in dispute. However it is sufficient perhaps for me, to have thought at the time, that it was, to save me from the Imputation of a Wilful falsehood— in talking to Mr B since on this Subject, I have Stated this matter to Him as my Justification to Mr L. but held a very different Language { 12 } to Him. I told Him that I did not recollet to have said that I thought I might take the Liberty with Him when I made the Answer, I did, to Mr L. as I was told He had written to <Mr L.> Him; for Having very different Ideas of the Matter. I expressed myself in a different manner— I told Him plainly, that If I had not thought myself warranted to make the Answer I did from the request I supposed He had made, I should have almost thought myself bound to do it for his Honour, which required as it seemed to me, that He should transmit a Copy of the Anonymous Letter to the person intended to be injured by an Assassin, after He had sent one to Him, whose Mind was to be tainted with Suspicion, that otherwise He made Himself inconsiderately instrumental to the designs of a Calumniator.—that His sending it to me could be for no other purpose but to convey it to You.—That He was attentive to his Friends Security & that Mr L had been wonderfully attentive to the Honour of His at Brussells, & why should He Think I should be Negligent of the Security & Honour of Mine any where.—that He Knew me better, and that I thought I Knew Him so well, as to say He would not have complaind of what I had done, if He had not been instigated Thereto. & that in fact, altho He Knew immediately of the Letter being sent in to Holland, He had never disapproved of the Step—that it was triffing to dispute about the word desire, that there were tacit requests, as strong as express ones; & that if He sent it to be communicated to you, it was enough to wipe Away his Complaints of me— He told me He did not see, why there had been so much Earnestness shown in the Matter by Mr L.
I am drawing up a simple Narrative of this whole Transaction with Necessary Quotations & mean to send it to a Friend in America to be communicated to others, to whose Knowledge it may come in an imperfect manner for I Am fearful that Endeavours may be used there, as I have reason to think have been here, to lessen me in the opinion of my Friends. I flatter myself they have failed in Europe & may have had a different operation, but I cannot say, what may done in America with    Do you Know Him— I once had a Correspondence with Him. for this is now the mode of Attack.3
I shall be much Surprized if my Ennemy gives up this Matter & yet whenever He does I shall be Easy; I shall therefore Act with the Caution & reserve that your Excellencys recommend but if He makes no Advances, before He quits Europe I must take Care of myself, for I have now a Clue to his Conduct—having said with { 13 } some Agony that the treatment I had met with has disposd me to think no [worse?] of Americas Affairs; His friend said that He thought I was right, & sometime after told me that Mr L had said I had better not interfere in them. This had struck me much. that I think it more & more my Duty stil to Act for the Service of my Country. I have hitherto done it to the best of my abilities & with the Utmost faithfulness & Affection and I may add without disparagement to my Ennemy with as much Success as He had done— No Management therefore shall drive me from what I think just, & no one ought to attempt it, as I have as much right to do it in a private way, as any Man, but this will not be Acknowledged by those, who are Ignorant, that all Citizens in Republicks are Equal, altho one may have more Negroes than Another, and that the poor Man, who Acts with the Utmost Affection & warmth for the general good, has at least Equal Merit with the richest, however patriotic He may be.
He, who endeavours to drive an honest Citizen from serving his Country will hurt Himself in the opinion of all. He will give suspicions of Himself to every one & in partricular to Him, whom He unjustly suspects of baseness & endeavours to force from discharging the first Duty of Society.
all the bad passions which give rise to such a Conduct, ought to be checked— I trust Dr Price will attempt to eradicate them. He will certainly do something for us. I saw Him Yesterday, when He expressed Himself in the Language of a true Cosmopolite— I had sent Him some Papers, relative to our Debt & containing some Comfortable Anecdotes, relative to America. I did it to animate Him in his work.
I have informed your Excellency that I had sent Him for his perusal one of your Letters to which He returnd me the following Answer.

[salute] Dear Sir

I am much obliged to you for your kind note, & the Letter from Mr Adams which I have inclosed.4 I feel a particular respect for Mr Adams; & his good opinion makes me happy. I wish I was more Capable of giving Advice to the United States, they are indeed the Hope of Mankind, but they have stil many dangers to guard against, & much to do. God grant they may preserve their purity & Liberty & never be contaminated by European manners & Vices! The Establishment of their Independance is, I think, one of the most important Events, that has ever happened among Mankind.
{ 14 }
I have intended to Convey to them a few Sentiments, but I am so much engaged about two publications, which I have in Hand, that I cannot at present apply myself to any other business—(these are now out of Hand)
In some future time of leisure & spirits I may, I Hope, be Able to execute my design— I wish you, Sir, all possible Happiness. when you write to Mr Adams deliver to Him my best Respects.
with great Regard / I am,
[signed] R. P.
I could wish their was a Correspondence between your Excellency & this good Man.
The Gentleman, who translated the Aurea Libertas is named Kent.5 a friend of mine & to America He gave me most interesting Information three years ago, which was Neglectd by others, to our loss.
perhaps your Excellency Observed in the Parliamentary debates that a Lord Sheffield talked most Idly about America: Deane & Arnold are of his Acquaintence6
Let me beg of your Excellency to make my respects to Mr Jay & endeavour to satisfy Him as to my Answer to Mr L. on which He lays now such Stress.
I am with the greatest Respect / Sir / Your Excellencys / Most Obedient / Humble Servant
[signed] Edm: Jenings
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency John Adams Esqr.”; endorsed: “Mr Jennings / 3d June. ansd. 9. 1783.”
1. JA completed his letter of 18 April on the 21st (vol. 14:421–423).
2. This paragraph and the following five concern the controversy between Jenings and Henry Laurens over several anonymous letters intended to create divisions among American diplomats in Europe. The most notable, dated 3 May 1782, warned Laurens against JA and was enclosed by Jenings in his letter to JA of 6 June (vol. 13:98–100). There Jenings stated that he acted at the behest of Edward Bridgen, a claim that Bridgen later denied. The crux of the dispute was Laurens’ conclusion that Jenings was the anonymous author, a suspicion that JA, who tried to distance himself from the controversy, did not share. For the progress of the dispute to date, see the indexes to vols. 13 and 14; and for the fullest treatment of the controversy, see Laurens, Papers, vols. 15 and 16.
As Jenings indicates in this letter, the dispute was entering a new, more public phase. Both men soon published pamphlets to state their cases and vindicate their reputations. Jenings’ The Candor of Henry Laurens, Esq.; Manifested by His Behaviour to Mr. Edmund Jenings, London, 1783, published in July, came first. In September Laurens responded with Mr. Laurens’s True State of the Case. By Which His Candor to Mr. Edmund Jenings Is Manifested, and the Tricks of Mr. Jenings Are Detected, Bath, 1783. The exchange ended with Jenings’ A Full Manifestation of What Mr. Henry Laurens Falsely Denominates Candor in Himself, and Tricks in Mr. Edmund Jenings, London, 1783. See also Jenings’ letter of [ca. 8 July], note 9, below.
3. This person has not been identified.
4. Richard Price, dissenting minister and noted writer on politics and economics, became a close friend during JA’s later residence in England. Jenings evidently had enclosed JA’s letter of 24 March in which he praised Price’s writings and called on him “to { 15 } address the American Ladies” (vol. 14:334, 360).
5. The translator has not been further identified, but for the toast he translated— “Aurea Libertas,” or Golden Liberty—see vol. 14:415, 416.
6. On 15 April, John Baker Holroyd, Lord Sheffield, spoke during the debate in the House of Commons over the American Manifest Bill. Recognized as an authority on trade and commerce, Sheffield argued against treating the United States, with regard to trade, on any other basis than as a foreign state. He particularly opposed giving Americans any access to the British West Indian islands and the carrying trade. He believed that to do otherwise would be to abrogate the Navigation Act, thereby sacrificing “the marine of England” (Parliamentary Hist., 23:762–764; DNB). A few days after Jenings wrote, Sheffield published his Observations on the Commerce of the American States with Europe and the West Indies; Including the Several Articles of Import and Export; and on the Tendency of a Bill Now Depending in Parliament, London, 1783. It was arguably the single most influential publication supporting restrictive policies toward trade between the United States and its former colonial master. Jenings here, and in later comments on the pamphlet (to JA, [ca. 8 July], below), attributes Sheffield’s position to loyalist influence. In fact, Sheffield was the most articulate and knowledgeable advocate for policies that enjoyed wide public support as Britain sought to safeguard its economic future following the loss of its American empire. He ends his pamphlet by declaring that “the Navigation act gave us the trade of the world: if we alter that act, by permitting any state to trade with our islands, or by suffering any state to carry into this country any produce but its own, we desert the Navigation act, and sacrifice the marine of England. But if the principle of the Navigation act is properly understood, and well followed, this country may still be safe and great. . . . This country has not found itself in a more interesting situation; it is now to be decided whether we are to be ruined by the independence of America or not. The peace in comparison was a trifling object; and if the neglect of one interest more than another deserves impeachment [of the administration], surely it will be the neglect of this” (p. 74–75; Harlow, Founding of the Second British Empire, 1:221–222).
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.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/